Chapter 3 – Don’t Leave (Baltimore)
Seven years later…
The sky is overcast. I’d almost say that it’s going to start raining any minute now, and without wanting to, I think the weather’s going to be a factor in my mood. Slowly, I walk a glance through my house, the narrow two-storey dwelling I have inhabited since it reaches my memory. My biological father has been in prison for so many years that I hardly remember his face anymore. And my mother… Well, at some point she decided she couldn’t take care of me. Luckily, my foster mother, whom I will always consider my real mother, has always been good to me―not like him.
I shudder to see Bill’s silhouette pass in front of the living room window, like a ghost. He won’t come out to say goodbye, of course. He still has his wounded pride from when Tyler came between Nora and his pervert’s paws, punching him in the eye on the side. And even though it was months ago, they can’t even see each other without the atmosphere becoming as tense as a violin string.
Better that way, I think, looking away in disgust. That man is pure evil…
But when I turn around, ready to see if I can help Tyler with something – loading the car or whatever it takes to forget Bill – I see a figure as thin as a toothpick running towards me. And my mouth opens wide in a scream of joy.
“Moose! You came!”
My lungs are gonna explode, but that’s what makes me so stupid. By accident, I almost forgot that today was the day. Camille’s going to New York and an indefinite pain has wrapped itself around my chest and won’t let go. She’s been my best friend since she came to school in the third grade and I had to rescue her from a bunch of mean-spirited classmates. At my young age, I don’t think I’ve ever loved anyone so much as a non-family member. And I’m worried―what am I going to do without her this coming year? And after that? Will she come back to Baltimore?
With all that going around in my head like a washing machine spinning, I run out of my house and look at the clock. I’ve got ten minutes left to get there and see her one last time. Luckily, when I finally turn the corner, I still see them loading the car and saying goodbye to each other. They’re both here, Tyler and Nora, so I admit I’m a little shy of approaching them. After all, they are two legends of dancing at the MSA, the city’s art school―I’d like to dance, I admit. But I don’t think I’ll ever get into that elite centre even if I try a thousand times.
As soon as I hear her scream my name and see her smile, I slow down a bit, try to take a deep breath and let my steps become a simple trot―I’m exhausted, but it was worth it.
“Did you think you were going to get away from me?” I joke when I get my breath back a little.
She, without answering, comes over to hug me, which takes me by surprise and even more so in front of her family. But after a second I think:
Bah, what’s the difference. We are friends forever, it’s normal.
Besides, I can’t wait to give it back to her, so I put my arms around her and bend my head over her hair. Only then do I realize that her body is shaking―she’s crying.
“I’m gonna miss you so much…”, she whispers in the hollow of my shoulder.
And I, as a man, have to make a sovereign effort not to cry too. But as I expected, I don’t quite get it.
“You gotta go… really, really?” I murmur then.
I know I shouldn’t have said it, and I curse myself for being an idiot. It’s her life, I can’t clip her wings. Besides, he’ll be able to do what I always wanted: dance, and learn with the best. However, Camille does not seem to be worried about my comment but, with a smile that seems resigned and sad at the same time, she raises her eyes to look at me.
“Yes,” she says in a low voice, holding back her tears. “Thanks for coming,” she says. “I couldn’t bear not saying goodbye to you.”
Touched, I take her hands almost without thinking.
“I couldn’t either,” say I, as I feel the tears still streaming down my cheeks; but I don’t mind. Right now, it’s like there’s only her and me. “We’ll see each other again, won’t we?”
She swallows, and I prepare for a no.
“I hope so”, she answers at the end.
And I’m not sure that my heart hasn’t been broken slightly. Because that’s not a yes, that’s not a certainty. At that moment, Nora calls Camille into the car and she, after nodding, does something I don’t expect. She kisses me on the cheek before turning to head for the car. And I stand there on the sidewalk, thinking about yelling at her, the one thing I know that could have ruined our relationship since we’ve known each other. But it’s something that, like it or not, being and breaking my heart.
Probably the most useful thing will be to turn the page and forget that I love, or loved, Camille Gage with all the strength of my being.