Julia pushed the door open to her dorm, dropped her bag on the floor and then flopped onto her bed with equal force. She wished she could just disappear forever.

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She could feel Bre watching her from across the room and almost groaned. The blanket over her head didn’t block the gaze, nor did it block the sounds of her friend coming over and sitting down next her on the bed. Why had she come back here?

“At least it’s over?” Bre asked.

Julia could hear the smile in her voice and felt her stomach drop. How did she know already? Had Marq called and told her? What had he said?

“We should all go out tonight and celebrate.”

“Celebrate?” Julia asked her voice muffled by the pillows.

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She sat up and stared at her friend. How could she think this was something to celebrate?

“That was your last final, right?”

Final? Julia suddenly remembered the stress and panic of the past week. Recent events had made the terror of this morning seem foolish. The test? She barely remembered taking it.

“It’s not that,” she said. “Marq and I broke up.” Why wasn’t she crying?

“What?”

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Julia looked out the window, across the room, anything not to look at Bre. Not that she could see anything. She could only see Marq as she’d left him, standing in the library looking lost and heartbroken. Her emotions swirled. Tell her. The traitorous voice inside her whispered. No, she wasn’t going to pay attention to that voice again. Look what it had done already.

“But he’s head over heels for you, why would he break it off?”

“He didn’t,” Julia admitted swallowing hard. “I did.”

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She’s never dated. Julia’s inner voice continued as it had for the past months. Never. Not once. You won’t know until you ask. She swallowed again forcing thewords back down her throat. She shouldn’t have come back here until she’d had time to think. To plan. Her life felt upside down right now. But she’d come running back  here the moment things had gone bad. Like she always did. Habit was hard to break, but everything was too close – she  was too close.

She liked Marq, but only as a friend. But she’d been killing that friendship trying to date him. Not when her heart wasn’t in it. Of course, she’d probably driven the final stake in their friendship now. Oh. There were the tears. Hot and stinging. Her nose burned. She rubbed them away.

“Hey, hey,” Bre said softly capturing Julia’s hand and holding them. She pulled Julia close, and Julia despite her best intentions, couldn’t force herself to pull away. Yes! Her inner voice reveled in Bre’s warmth, in Bre’s breath on her neck, in the softness of her hand –

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“What happened? I thought you were happy together?”

Julia reluctantly pulled back. She couldn’t quite break away, but she pulled back enough that she could think again. “I didn’t love him.”

Bre raised her eyebrows. “Not all love is instantaneous like in the movies. Sometimes it grows over time.”

Julia shook her head. Oh how well she knew that. “I- I already love someone else.”

How long had she been in love with Bre? When had the first spark been lit? Back in high school when Bre would tease her and they’d run outside giggling and skipping class? Maybe not until college when she’d gotten to see Bre at her most vulnerable, sleeping, curled up on the bed. When she’d listened to her soft breathing until she thought she would scream?

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She looked up to find herself staring straight into Bre’s big brown eyes. The eyes she’d been avoiding since she’d realized the mistake she’d made with Marq. Saying yes back then had been a mistake. Every time they went out, every time they made out, she wished it was Bre. What she’d thought was friendship, was only friendship when it came to Marq, but with Bre it was so much more.

“Who?” Bre asked, her voice barely a whisper.

“You.” Julia wanted to take back the words the moment they were out of her mouth.

Nononono! This was going to ruin everything; like she’d ruined everything with Marq. She stood up quickly and rushed for the door. Why had she let her inner voice speak again? First Marq and now…

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Her arm was caught before she made it to the safety of the hallway. Bre. She turned towards her best friend, her breath caught. Julia did not resist as Bre slowly pulled her back. And then their lips met and Julia was complete. All she had ever wanted was held in that kiss.

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Was it possible to be so excited that I would literally fly apart? It felt like I was just barely staying together. Julia was coming home! I checked the house, still no Julia, but soon.

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She’d told me the last time she’d visited. After four long years, she was finally graduating! It had been hard, especially when she didn’t come home last summer. She had to have known how much I look forward to the summers, the only time when we can be together all the time. But she had said she needed to take summer classes so she could graduate on time. And she’d visited. Not every weekend, but enough.

And now she was graduating.

When she first left, I didn’t know what to do with myself. What reason was there? And then her sisters had decided they didn’t want to share rooms anymore since Julia wasn’t using her room. My room. Where was she supposed to stay when she visited? No. I put my foot down to that idea. Molly or Lara – whichever one  it was, spent one night in my room and before dawn they were begging to share again. Julia wasn’t happy when she’d heard what I’d done, but she still had her bedroom now because of me.

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Eventually I learned to relax when Julia was gone and wait. I always knew the moment she came home and once she was alone in her room, I’d show up. She’d tell me about college and what that was like. We would meet outside while she would try to save her garden from her mother’s neglect. I helped as much as I could when she was away, but they needed more than just water. We’d play games and watch movies, but all too soon she would be packing up again and heading back to class.

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I felt the moment she walking into the house and it was all I could do not to go to her immediately to greet her. It wasn’t fair that her family got to see her first. But I waited for her to finally be alone, she would be upset at me if I scared her family. So I waited.

And waited.

And waited.

Until finally, finally, finally, she was alone!

“Julia,” I cried, a huge smile on my face as she turned to face me.

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She grinned back.

“Did you see my picture?” I asked too excited to wait any longer. I had wanted to get her something for her graduation and I’d left it here in her room where she couldn’t help but see it the moment she walked in. I didn’t want to have to wait till now to give it to her.

“I did,” she grinned. “Thank you so much.” She had tears in her eyes as she spoke. I had heard of tears of joy before, but I’d never seen them.

“James – ”

“Where are you going to hang it?” I interrupted. I looked around her room. Maybe she hung it up already. I paused. Her room was all wrong. “Wha-?”

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“James we need to talk,” she said softly behind me.

I shook my head. Boxes were everywhere. All her stuff was gone – packed away. Even – I checked – the picture of us she’d drawn as a kid that hung above the drawing table. The drawing table that she’d left in her room for me even after she’d long outgrown it. The picture was gone. It always hung there.

“James,” she said again, “I’m going to live with Bre.”

She had told me about Bre back when it started. How they were dating. How they were in love. I was excited for her then. More becuase she had seemed so happy, but never did I think Bre would take her away from me. Julia was still talking, but I couldn’t hear her over the roaring in my ears. Julia was leaving me. This time, it was forever.

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Credits

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