A/N: Hello and welcome! If you’re here, that means you’ve read Chapter 2.3: Things Fall Apart, because that’s essentially the first half of this chapter. If you haven’t, go back, quick! Hehe. Hope you guys enjoy ❤
The days leading up to my birthday went by in a blur. My parents were nervous wrecks, constantly asking us questions about our plans; Buttercup was happier than I had ever seen her; Aspen was moping about because his siblings were leaving him; and I…well, I don’t know…I coasted through these days as if they were a dream. A freaking awesome dream! I almost couldn’t believe that this was happening…that this was a reality. It seemed too crazy to be true, but hey, what do you know? The plans were all settled and now it was time for the big bash—my birthday.
And actually, it was turned into an even bigger bash because my parents were going to be celebrating their birthdays too. I was resistant to the idea at first, but then I kind of figured well, it was the least I could do. I was leaving home and one last hoorah with the entire family and all our friends seemed fitting, so there we go. Dad was even going to celebrate his birthday early just so we could make it a triple threat and celebrate all together as a family.
On top of all that, we were going to rent Club Oepu (a new beachfront club) for the day, so that was pretty cool too. All in all, I was excited for today, but I was also nervous. You see, since I was leaving I figured it couldn’t hurt to…well, invite Amy and Ginger. I know. I know. I am a dumbass who doesn’t know when to quit. But you know, what did I really have to lose at this point? I was leaving and they probably wouldn’t even come anyway. I had sent them invitations and had heard nothing in return. But whatever. I had to try. For what reason I don’t really even know. I guess…well…I guess the thought of leaving without saying goodbye just bothered me.
Before we could go though, mom insisted that we take a bunch of family photos, which we did by setting the camera on a table and using a timer. It was…er, trickier than we had anticipated.
“Dad, you look dead inside!” Aspen complained as he looked at the photo.
“Hey, at least I’m looking at the camera,” my dad said, looking pointedly at my mom.
“Whoa, whoa, are you making fun of me? I was distracted by our son making crazy poses.”
“What’s so crazy about peace signs!? They’re peaceful! And what the heck are you doing, Buttercup? You look like you’re trying to summon something!” I pointed out.
“Oh sure, I stop making the peace signs and EVERYONE else does it! Where’s the justice?!”
“I don’t know why you’re laughing, Mom, you aren’t even looking at the camera!”
“Neither are you Aspen!”
“Are you sure? Reed is looking pretty dandy!”
“This is a professional pose! And what do you mean by ‘dandy’!?!?”
The whole Winters family =)
I gotta admit, even though my family can drive me up a wall sometimes…I really was going to miss them. Man. Moving to Bridgeport was going to be harder than I thought.
Whoa, whoa, no getting sentimental, Reed!!!! So, moving on, after our interesting attempt at a photo shoot, we all hopped in the taxi and were FINALLY on our way to Club Oepu!
Everything was perfect! The music was pumping, the energy was awesome, and everyone seemed to be having a great time. Buttercup even got up on stage to perform a few numbers, which everyone went wild for. Even I started to dance a little…which is saying something seeing as I have about as much rhythm as a sofa.
About an hour into the party, something happened that caught me so off-guard though that I literally stood frozen in spot for at least an entire minute before I even thought to react. That flash of orange out of the corner of my eye could only have been one person.
“You came!” I said, slightly out of breath from pushing people out of the way to get to her. “I can’t believe you came!”
“I must have been acting pretty bad lately for you to be so shocked,” Ginger responded, half-jokingly and half-guiltily.
“Oh…I mean, no, not that bad. I just…well, you made it pretty clear you wanted nothing to do with me. And the invite…it was pretty much a last ditch effort. I never thought you’d actually come.”
“Well…I couldn’t just let you leave without saying goodbye,” Ginger said awkwardly, and once again probably a little guiltily.
“How’d you know I-”
“I overheard your brother grumbling to a friend about it. How both of his siblings were leaving. I knew there were three of you so…yeah. Bridgeport, huh?”
“Me? Scared? Pfft,” I said with a scoff. Ginger gave me a skeptical look, raising one of her eyebrows. “Okay yeah, maybe a little. But hey, I won’t be alone I guess,” I said with a shrug of my shoulders.
“I…I know this is probably the dumbest thing I could say considering everything I’ve done to you, but…I’m going to miss you,” Ginger whispered, looking away from my gaze.
“Yeah, really,” Ginger said with the sweetest smile that I had ever seen. My heart pounded as I looked into her eyes and I leaned forward some, cautiously…and Ginger didn’t pull away. Her eyes glittered as she held her place, and I wondered in that moment if my heart was really beating that loudly, or if what I was hearing was the beating of our hearts combined.
Without further hesitation, I swept Ginger into my arms and kissed her passionately, not caring that my siblings were somewhere in the room, not even caring that my parents were somewhere in the room—all I knew was Ginger. As far as I was aware in that moment, we were completely alone.
After ten thousand glittering sunrises and glowing sunsets (or so it seemed to me), Ginger pulled away slightly to smile up at me, but there was sadness in her upturned lips and her eyes shone unnaturally bright.
“You’re making it awfully hard for me to let you go,” she whispered, so quietly that I was surprised I even caught her words with the music pounding around us. I looked at her, puzzled, and she continued, “You’re leaving, remember? This will be the last time you see me.”
“Well, I don’t know about last,” I said with a nervous laugh, automatically gripping her tighter as the truth of her words inundated my heart.
“Maybe not, but if we do see each other again, I suspect that it will be under vastly different circumstances.”
“Yah…probably,” I admitted quietly, a horrible lump forming in my throat. And for a split second, I actually debated giving up Bridgeport and just staying here. Why did I feel the need to be famous? To be rich? To have my name in history books? It was stupid, I was stupid, I could stay here, I could be with Ginger, I could-
“You’re doing the right thing though,” Ginger suddenly said, interrupting my thoughts. “There’s something really special about you, Reed. And you’re going to make it big, I just know it.” I nodded slowly, trying to get these thoughts out of my head. I had already made my decision. I knew what I wanted. I needed to do this. “Oh gosh! The time! I have to go, I told my parents I’d be back by 5 to help them out with stuff. I just wanted to drop by and say bye, and to wish you luck.”
“Do you really have to go? Already?”
“Yeah, I’m sorry,” Ginger said, and she looked like she really meant it, a distressed look on her face. “I’m already late, but you know, that might be a good thing, because I’ve always hated goodbyes.”
“Until next time, Reed!” Ginger interjected quickly, already walking away from me. “Good luck in Bridgeport! I know you’re going to be just awesome. OH!” she suddenly said, stopping in her tracks. “I almost forgot!” She ran back over to me and then reached into the pocket of her dress, pulling out a box about the size of an orange. How had I not noticed that before? “This is for you, but don’t open it until you’re in Bridgeport! Or at least already on the way, okay?”
“Okay.…” I said, closing my fingers around the box as she placed it in my hand. “Umm…yeah. Until next time…Ginger.” She smiled brightly at me and then quickly turned away, practically running out of the club.
And I let her go. Because I had to.
This was where our paths diverged.
I squeezed the box tightly in my hand and then took a deep breath. I had some candles I needed to blow out.
“Wooo! Go Reed!!”
“Make sure you make that wish count!”
I thought long and hard and then knew I had my wish, so I said it to myself in my head, loudly and clearly, and finally blew out the candles. It was time to start the new era of my life.
Not bad, eh?
After all the guests had some much needed cake to refuel, it was time for mom and dad to celebrate. Surprisingly, they seemed to be in good spirits about it. And here I thought that getting older was something people dreaded at their age….
Still crazy in love.
And you know what? For the first time, I didn’t feel like jokingly gagging and pretending to retch, instead, I just found myself thinking, I hope one day I have that too.
Sighing, I grabbed a slice of cake and headed outside to eat it, but as soon as I stepped outside, a sight greeted me which shocked me so much, that my plate, along with my cake, fell right out of my hand and hit the ground.
“Hey, Reed,” she said, sounding neither angry or happy as she munched on her slice of cake.
“Where did you come from? I didn’t see you anywhere!”
“Oh. I got here during your celebration…it was easy to stay unnoticed. Everyone was freaking out.” She paused for a moment and then put down her fork, standing up to talk to me…or hit me. I wasn’t quite sure yet. “You grew up well,” she said, shifting her weight awkwardly.
“Er, thanks,” I said. “I like your dress. You look nice.”
Awkward…silence…need to say something. Need to say anything!
“Amy! I’m so sorry!” I suddenly blurted out. “I treated you like shit and I lied to you and just overall was a complete asshole and I never meant for any of that to happen and I know you’ll probably never forgive me, and I wouldn’t blame you if you didn’t, but I just need you to know that I am sorry, and if I could go back and do it all over again, I would never have done that to you. I-”
“Reed!!” Amy snapped, knocking me out of my rambling. By the look on her face, I could tell that she’d been trying to get my attention for awhile now. “I’m trying to tell you, it’s fine or whatever. I mean…it’s hard to forgive you, but it’s even harder to stay mad at you. I want to see you as the no good cheater, but all I see is the boy who stuck up for me when people picked on me at school, so I guess…what I’m trying to say is…I don’t want to be mad at you anymore.
“I don’t want you to be mad either.”
“Well good, because I’m not. It took a heck of a lot of thinking and cursing your existence and venting with my friends, but all of that got exhausting and I realized that it was stupid to stay mad at you…and then just like that…I didn’t feel angry anymore. Does that make sense?”
“Uhh, kind of?”
Amy laughed, shaking her head a bit. “Alright, long story short. ….friends?” she asked, tentatively holding out her hand.
“Friends,” I said firmly, but instead of shaking her hand, I pulled her into a hug, and she hugged me back, and for a moment it was like we were back on our elementary school playground and she was thanking me for chasing off the meanies who were picking on her and I saying ‘well that’s what friends are for!’ and damn…
Life was so much simpler then.
Because the party went so late that night, and the cleanup even later, the whole family accidently slept in too long the next day, so we found ourselves rushing to get the rest of our stuff packed up so we could get to Bridgeport before 5 PM, which was when the apartment front office closed (AKA we wouldn’t be able to get our key to get into our apartment).
Luckily, SOMEHOW though, we managed to get everything in the taxi and all that was left was the goodbyes. …by far the hardest part.
But you know, I was going to take a page out of Ginger’s book, and Amy’s for that matter, since they had both done the same, and I was going to refuse to actually say goodbye. Goodbyes were just too sad.
“I’m going to miss you so much!” my mom cried, pulling me into such a tight hug that for a moment I was sure she was never going to let go.
“I’m going to miss you too, but don’t worry, I’ll call,” I said, my voice slightly strained since I was running out of air.
“I know, but it’s not the same,” she sniffled. “You have to promise you’ll come visit as often as you can! Promise me!”
“I promise. Really, I do.”
Buttercup came out of the house at that point with her last bag, which distracted our mom from me as she went flying over to her instead, hugging her just as tightly and crying all over again. She was making it so much harder to leave.
“Hey. You got everything?” my dad asked, suddenly appearing beside me.
“Yeah, I think so,” I said with a nod. “Checked and double-checked, just like mom said,” I laughed.
“Good,” he said, also laughing a bit. We stood in silence then for a moment, vaguely distracted by Buttercup comforting my mom before my dad suddenly spoke again. “I’m going to miss you too, you know, so you better do as your mother says and visit whenever you can. Or at least call,” he said, looking at me seriously.
“I will. I don’t think I’d be able to stay away for that long,” I admitted.
“Good, that’s what I like to hear. Now come here,” my dad said, and he pulled me into just as tight a hug as mom gave me, minus the hysterical sobs. I could tell though…if he wasn’t trying to be strong for mom…he’d probably be broken down into hysterical sobs as well. And, to be perfectly honest, it was a wonder that I wasn’t too.
“Hey, Aspen. Still mad at us?”
“Yeah, kind of. You guys are leaving me,” he muttered, refusing to meet my eyes.
“Not for forever though. And hey, somebody needs to be around to watch Mom and Dad,” I joked. Aspen smiled slightly, but then sighed.
“I’ll miss you.”
“I’ll miss you, too.”
We stood awkwardly for a moment and then finally Aspen pulled me into a hug too. A quick one, mind you, but a hug nonetheless.
“I’ll be back to visit, don’t worry,” I reassured with a smile.
“Yeah, well, don’t visit too often…I have my own room now,” Aspen said now, fighting back a smile. “Heck, I have TWO rooms,” he mused, suddenly looking excited.
“See, there’s a bright side after all,” I joked.
After about fifty thousand more hugs, promises of calling and visiting, ANOTHER photo shoot (much more successful this time) and a triple-check to make sure Buttercup and I had everything, we were finally on our way.
Buttercup stared out the window, presumably getting once last good look at Neverglade before we left its borders, but my attention wasn’t on Neverglade—it was on the box that was sitting on my lap. I picked it up hesitantly and bit my lip as I turned it over and over in my hands, but finally my curiosity about what was inside outweighed my concerns, and I began to carefully open it, peeling off the tape and then lifting the lid off.
There, inside, sitting perfectly crisp and pristine, was a single paper crane and a small, folded up piece of paper. With slightly trembling fingers, I pulled it out of the box and unfolded it, smoothing it before I read.
In Japanese culture it’s said that folding one thousand paper cranes will make a person’s wish come true.
This little crane is my one thousandth and after much thought, I realized that my dearest wish is that you will be nothing but successful in your quest to turn your dreams…into your reality.
Here’s to believing in magic,
A/N: Time for Bridgeport! …if I don’t go crazy. Last time I played in Bridgeport I got annoyed with it quickly. Hmmm, lol. Still, I’m excited and hope you are too! Thanks as always for reading and commenting. Until next time! =D