Melina stood at the edge of her yard. From here she could see Hector’s house. His front door, his freshcut yard, the car in his driveway. She folded her arms as anger burned her chest. How could he just leave without even saying goodbye? Sure he had mentioned leaving after graduation, but he had never actually stopped to say goodbye.
She watched him take several trips from the house to the car as he loaded up his belongings. She had two years of school left and he was done. He had graduated and was getting the hell out of Dodge. She still wasn’t sure why it upset her so much. He was her friend and she should just be happy he’s getting out of this crappy little town. But instead, it made her hate him.
He was leaving her. Their five man crew had slowly faded into a three man crew and eventually into no crew at all as one boy moved and the other two decided there were other people they’d rather hang out with. She had made new friends as well, but Hector had always been the one she would drop everything for. They had never stopped hanging out after school or going down to the lake. They never took their new friends to the lake without the other one coming too.
It had been really hard each time Hector had moved up to a new school building. When he made the jump from elementary to middle school, she had thrown up the first day from anxiety. When he moved from middle to high school without her, she had been sulky and no one had wanted to hang out with her. Those years had been hard because they hadn’t hung out as much. She hung out in the park with the other little kids, while he started to go to movies and the local hot dog shop.
Finally high school had come for her. She had thought maybe he would act like he didn’t know her. She wasn’t sure why she’d been nervous to be back in the same school as her lifelong friend, but as she waited for the bus that first day, he was all she could think about. She had been looking at her feet, kicking a rock around when a short, compact car had pulled up in front of her. She looked up to find Hector grinning that teasing grin of his.
“Finally making it to the big leagues.” He said with mischief in his eyes. She smiled and shrugged, the nevous edge disappearing.
“Well they said something about their current roster lacking potential. They need a heavy hitter.” He laughed and motioned her toward the car.
“Get in.” She had jumped in and felt right at home. It wasn’t until about a month from graduation that she had realized their time together was coming to an end.
Now as she watched him kiss his mom and shake his dad’s hand, she decided enough was enough. She dropped her arms and walked back to the house.
“What’s wrong Lina?” Her mom asked as she walked through the kitchen and toward the stairs.
“Nothing.” Melina mumbled and headed up the stairs before her mom could question her more. In her room, she felt restless. She moved from desk to dresser and back again, nudging papers or picture frames with the tip of her finger. She finally decided to call her best friend, Alice. She walked back into the hallway to get the phone off the receiver and heard her mom talking to someone. She looked down over the banister and saw Hector standing across the island from her mom.
“What are you doing here?” Melina interrupted in a hostile tone. “Shouldn’t you be down the road, a million miles away by now?” They both looked up. Her mom scowled, but Hector smiled.
“Ah.” He shrugged. “The million miles can wait.” A smile tugged at the corners of Melina’s mouth as she walked down to stand beside him. He nudged her with his shoulder.
“You didn’t think I was going to leave without saying goodbye, did you?” Melina shrugged and continued to look at her hands on the counter. “Wanna go chill by the lake one more time?” She shrugged again.
“Lina stop being such a baby.” Her mom scolded her. Melina snapped her head up, suddenly being called a baby was extremely annoying.
“I’m not a baby!” She proclaimed as she grabbed Hector’s arm. She yanked him toward the back door as he spoke over his shoulder.
“Thank you Mrs. Martinez.” Melina didn’t hear her mom’s reply as she opened the sliding door. Once in the woods, she turned to Hector.
“Why were you thanking her?” She emphasized her in a way that indicated disapproval.
“She was wishing me good luck and told me to call or at least email her every once in awhile to let her know I’m doing OK.”
“She doesn’t care.” Melina sulked. “She just wants to seem nice.” Hector stopped walking beside her.
“What’s your problem?” Melina kept walking.
“I don’t have a problem.” She felt a lump in her throat, but couldn’t figure out why it was there. She felt if she stopped walking, she might cry and that’s not how she wanted him to see her. She crossed her arms against her chest again in an attempt to stop the emotions running around in there.
“Yes you do.” She heard him walking again. “You’re acting weird and being all…” He struggled to find the words. “Well like your mom said, like a baby.” Melina spun around fast.
“I’m not a baby. Why does everyone think I’m a baby for being upset that you’re leaving me. Again. This time probably for good.” His face twisted in confusion.
“Again?” Melina turned and started walking again.
“Forget it.” She hated him. She hated his stupid hair. She hated his stupid smile that he rarely went without. At least that’s what she tried to convince herself of.