When unavoidable circumstances push two best friends apart, they miss each other like pieces of their own soul. But now the tables have turned and their destinies get intertwined again. As the uncertainties and nervousness surrounds them when they are to meet each other after ages, the heat of their young love has now started to burn them, of which both of them yet seem ignorant.
The adventure they'd planned seems like a long shot. The gloomy, turbulent weather is no match to the storm that grows inside their hearts, with every second they spend drowning in each other's eyes.
Can they go through the scintillating escapade they met up for? Or will nerves get the better of them?
It was an extremely cold night. The wind was howling, the clouds that had been causing a severe downpour had paused momentarily, and now loomed overhead, threateningly quiet. The tree leaves fluttered ominously, making it seem as though there was someone hiding in the shadows.
Everything around her had the makings of a depressing, haunting night.
And yet, there she was, skipping down the deserted street with a huge smile plastered onto her face, unaware of the gloominess of her surroundings. Or aware, but blissfully ignorant still.
Her tremendously overprotective mother had raised an eyebrow when she first told her where she was going.
“At this hour?” She had questioned.
“Of course.” The girl reminded. “Don’t you remember? It’s what we used to do, isn’t anything new.”
Begrudgingly, she’d agreed to let her go, but not without one final instruction just as she was ambling down the porch, about to leave the house.
“Remember, caution is key. Don’t throw it to the wind.” Her mother had called out from behind her, wearing a pensive expression. The words that she lived by, her mantra, almost. Obviously, they made no sense to her.
She had merely waved back at her, silently wondering whatever on earth made her mother swear by such a meaningless statement.
If I weren’t so reckless already, mother, with the speed of the wind, my caution is bound to be thrown anyway.
She had been waiting for this night for several months, although to her, it had seemed like a lifetime. Her life had been aimless as of late. All the goings-on had gotten to be too much and when the opportunity had presented itself in the form of a badly scrawled letter, she was more than willing to take the route towards an escape. She hadn’t remembered how grim it was, but that was beside the point.
She walked down the slippery path, soon reaching the sodden main road. She continued with a slight hop in her step and turned left as soon as she reached the first traffic signal. It surprised her how well she still remembered the way because she hadn’t been to it in years.
There was hardly any sound except for the trees and the wind, and she mused what the rest of the neighbourhood was up to. The recently perpetual rain and the stormy weather had made it appear to be a ghost town. As the soon that thought crossed her mind, she started to move quickly. She really wasn’t keen on the idea of ghosts. She knew plenty of spectres in the real world as it were. Other worldly spirits would hardly make things better.
Making no sound, she leapt up the derelict white picket fence with utmost ease. When she was younger though, it was an entirely different tale. Back then, it had felt like such a task. She practically had to climb up the barely three and half foot boundary, making it seem like the Everest.
She crept up the side of the now-abandoned house and waded across the damp, shin-deep weeds and wild, untamed grass. As she passed through the backyard, she couldn’t help peering inside what used to be the outrageously large living room. She had grown up there just as much as she had in her own house.
She reached the rickety and dilapidated back gate. It was a miracle it was still standing, surviving the storm and torrential rain. She fished the spare key she owned out of the back pocket of her jeans and flung it open. She doubted whether it would still work but as soon as the key turned in the lock, the suspicion slipped away.
The trail looked the same as it always had; giving her the impression that it hadn’t been centuries since this chapter of her life was over. Muddy, nearly hidden by the overgrowth of wildflowers and mysterious under the night sky – it was basically screaming out adventure.
She wasn’t sure what to expect and she didn’t know how she was supposed to react.
What if he doesn’t even show up? She contemplated.
Worse, what if he shows up and doesn’t recognize me?
Don’t be silly, of course he’ll recognize you. Who else knew about this place anyway?
As she chided herself for having a dialogue within her mind, she noticed the woods thickening around her. The branches hung low and she writhed past them, enduring scratches and scrapes, motivated only by what she expected to see on the other side. Rather, who she expected to see.
The moonlight was hardly illuminating her path; the trees formed a canopy overhead and blocked it out so she relied only on her other senses to get her beyond the foliage.
After several minutes of struggle, the copse started to thin out and she could, at long last, make out the pathway. The soil on the ground was dank, her feet almost sank in, but all her doubts were put to rest as she spotted a pair of footprints. Her eyes followed the imprints, a little bit larger than her own feet, leading up to the cliff.
Her breath caught in her throat as she looked towards the lone figure with his back to her, spotlighted by the glow of the moon. It felt like she was in one of her dreams. She stared for a few moments, at a complete loss.
He really had come.
As if he sensed her presence, he turned around, squinting in the darkness, trying to make out who she was. Only then, under his inquisitive gaze, did she realize how chilly it was. She scolded herself for forgetting to bring her coat – how typical of her, excitement making her take leave of her senses. Her bare arms were covered in chills that she felt on the back of her neck as well.
He looked different, she remarked, as he stood rooted to the ground, a stunned expression spread over his face, but as soon as he comprehended who she was, a grin broke out on his face and there he was – the same boy she had spent her entire childhood with. His smile was unchanged. It was still pure, dazzling, and honest to god. And it still took her breath away.
Shivering, she wrapped her arms around herself and it seemed to kick him into action. Getting over his astonished daze, he moved forward, shrugging out of his coat and holding it out to her. That was another thing that hadn’t changed, she noted, he was ever the gentleman.
When she didn’t make an attempt to take it from him, quietly staring, he gave her a chastising look, much like the old times, when he would catch her running too fast, or climbing up trees across precariously thin branches.
“You’re cold, take it.”
“Hey, it’s still me.” He urged with a chuckle.
Reluctantly, she accepted his coat and slipped it on. The good mood she had left her house with had now turned into a dull ache, making her remorseful over all the years she had lost. She struggled to meet his eyes.
When he stepped closer though, her eyes immediately shot up. He was approaching her warily. Up close, he looked even better. The years had been kind to him.
“You’re still so beautiful.” He breathed.
“You’re still so tall.” She countered and a knowing smile turned up the corners of his mouth.
“Aren’t you going to hug me? It’s been seven years since the last time we met.” He teased and immediately, she started to relax, disregarding her hesitation.
She rolled her eyes at him and closed the space between their bodies. He engulfed her in his arms, so tight that she was having trouble breathing but she couldn’t bring herself to complain. Instead, she was grinning like a loon.
Several beats later, he loosened his grip and just as she thought he was going to let her go, he lifted her off her feet, spinning her around. She let out a squeal as she clung on to his arms to keep from falling, and he was laughing loudly.
“Ah! Put me down!” She shrieked.
Finally, he obliged, smiling a toothy smile and it was infectious.
“I’ve missed you like anything.” He told her.
“I can see that. I did too.”
He arched a brow.
“Doesn’t look like it.”
“Because I couldn’t possibly pick you up?!” She sneered and he shook his head.
“You have not changed one bit.”
“I’m going to take that as a compliment.”
“And did you just bring me out here to harass me or are we actually going down there?” She added, gesturing towards the cliff.
“Impatient as ever, we’ll go there in a minute. There’s something I brought you.”
“Not one of your fake, rubber lizards, I hope?”
She was terrified of lizards and he always took advantage of that fact, pulling numerous, elaborate pranks involving rubber lizards. Needless to say, those petrified her too.
He smirked at her as he moved towards the woods, emerging with a plastic bag, only moments later.
She crossed her arms, pursing her lips as she waited for him to begin his show and tell project.
He held up the plastic bag and with a boyish, shy smile, pulled out a pack.
She moved closer to get a better look and a gasp escaped her lips when she saw what he had brought for her.
“Pineapple gummies?” She breathed.
“They’re still your favourite, aren’t they? Or did I drive for two hours for absolutely nothing?” He asked, a grimace marring his soft, sincere expression.
Her eyes, wide as saucers, flicked from the gummies to him and then back again.
“How on earth did you remember this?!” She squawked in delight.
He looked at her for a couple of seconds before replying. “I remember everything about you.”
She stood there, not quite sure how she was supposed to respond.
“Right, we’ll binge on these when we get back. Are you ready?” He asked, quickly shattering the delicate moment.
It took her a second to break out of her reverie.
“Of course. For this, I’d be ready in my grave.” She answered with a smile.
He led her to the edge of the cliff and just then, there was a loud crack of lightning. Tiny droplets of rain began to descend and the long-lost friends looked to each other.
“If you go, I go?” She vowed uncertainly, their promise from years ago.
“If you go, I go.” He agreed and together, they started to inch their way down the cliff.
It was their secret; they had been doing it long before they could be considered remotely capable of it. Their parents knew that they were best friends, hence inseparable, so they had all been fed the lie of them being at the movie theater, when in fact, they were getting their fix of adrenaline. Not to mention, it was an extremely dangerous activity and every time they did it, they potentially risked both of their lives.
They didn’t have a choice of course; it was how they got their kicks. When most kids their age started to drink, smoke or do drugs, they went what they called ‘reverse hiking’. They used to climb down the stony cliff, clinging onto protruding boulders and ledges, until finally, they reached the grounds.
Now, ages later with the weather less than suitable and years of abstention lurking in their minds, each had their own set of qualms about it. But of course, both of them put on a brave face so as not to scare the other.
Halfway through the trek though, they started to relax, getting into it once again. Besides, by that point, most of the hazardous stuff was past them so they found no reason to worry.
“How’d you know how to find me?” She asked, as they paused on a ridge to regain their breaths.
He glanced over at her.
“I just knew.”
Trust him to be overly dramatic.
She rolled her eyes and he burst into laughter.
“Fine, don’t believe me but as soon as I came back into town, I knew I had to write you. I just had to see you.” He added in a gentle, earnest tone.
“So that was why you waited all that time? Because you had to see me?” She couldn’t help the sarcastic undertone in her voice. He had no idea what she went through every single day the past seven years.
“There wasn’t a day I didn’t think about coming back to you. I just couldn’t, you know that. It was out of my hands.” He explained.
She let out a loud sigh, trying to keep her emotions at bay. Taking a breather at a niche in a cliff, it was scarcely the time or place for sentimental confessions.
“I just wish you’d come back sooner.”
“Hey, I’m here now.”
She nodded, looking up to meet his anxious gaze.
“Final stretch?” She questioned.
“If you go, I go.” He said and held out his hand.
She hooked her pinky finger in his and gave him an endearing smile.
“If you go, I go.”