Okay so i had the majority of this chapter written WEEKS ago but i just could not put an ending on it for the life of me. I'm stalled out. I'm trying. I'm really sorry. This is short. Again sorry. Ugh.
Maya wasn't one hundred percent sure how the movie ended. The score had been good at least. The songs that played on screen would sure be stuck in her head for the rest of the day if not the week. It wasn't until the lights went up in the theatre and the sounds of the other movie goers standing up and gathering their belongs, shoving their trash into empty popcorn buckets, and pulling on their jackets that Josh and Maya broke apart. Maya could feel herself flushing as she tucked her hair behind her ears and began to pull her own jacket on as Josh stood up, straightening his own shirt and offering Maya his hand as soon as she stood up.
He lead her out of the theatre and into the crowded lobby where people stood in lines waiting for popcorn or tickets to the next late night showing. They weaved their way through the crowds of people and out onto the street in front of the theatre. The movie had let out just after ten but the late June air was decently warm so Josh and Maya opted to walk the few extra blocks and through the park back to Maya's apartment.
They strolled down the streets, their way relatively clear. New York was usually active every day of the week but there was something about that particular monday that saw the streets not teaming with its normal amount of life.
As they walked Maya thought about other nights she and Josh might have like this. Summer in New York City was always hot and sweaty and generally pretty miserable but it was also generally pretty quiet. Come July and August many New Yorkers seeked fled from the stinking hot city to the cooler comfort of the Hamptons or the Cape, if they could afford it. Long weekends turned manhattan into a ghost town.
Maya could handle the sweltering heat and the less than clean streets if it meant that she could spend the whole summer walking around with her hand in Josh's.
They walked through Washington square park and past the NYU campus and residence buildings. Maya paused for a moment, looking up at the building that used to be Josh's home. She thought of her cramped dorm room. She thought of the night she had slept in his bed after he had pulled her out of a party. That had been the first and only night she had ever been on drugs, not knowing that she was taking them at first, but continuing to participate afterwards. Maya had gone to that party alone and ended up hanging around with a group of girls from the grade above her. They had offered her a glass of punch and she had taken it. It was only after her first gulp that they'd told her it was probably laced with oxy or E. She had been horrified at first the girls had promised her that it was fine, gushing about how great she'd feel. One of them had described it as her whole body going numb.
Maya had taken another gulp at that sentiment. It had been a few weeks since her mother had died and she would have taken anything to make the ache in her heart stop.
She probably would have ended up under a table or in some senior boys bedroom if Josh hadn't happened to have been at the same party and basically dragged her out of there by her ear. She had woken up in his room the next day with the very worst hangover of her life. She had never felt so much shame in her life, but she also never felt so much gratitude. Josh had a affinity for being around when she needed him.
She had spent one other night in his room, after he had taken her to Jersey to see Kermit. They had eaten pizza in bed and fallen asleep watching episodes of their favourite show, crammed together in his too small bed. It was a room Maya had laughed in and cried in but now it was someone else's room. Some NYU freshmen had moved in their clothes and hung up their posters. Maya had always felt it was a safe place, and now it was someone else's. Maya turned her head east towards avenue A where Josh's new apartment was. A place she had already spent the night, a place he had already made her feel safe.
The next year would be different. Josh would be uptown at Columbia and Maya would be doing her best to tread water at Hudson until she figured out what she really wanted and for the first time in their lives Riley and Maya would be living more than a few blocks apart. Maya couldn't lie. The mere thought of the next year scared her more than most anything else. But as she looked down at her hand intertwined with Josh's she felt that she knew at least one thing for sure.
They wandered slowly through the streets until they came to a stop in front of Maya's apartment building. It was so odd to think that only a few weeks before she and Josh had stood in the very same spot waiting for a moment just like this one. Waiting for the moment where they could hold hands in public and go to a movie that wasn't at two in the afternoon.
It was getting late. Maya and Josh said goodnight and Maya could feel her heart pounding in her chest as she walked up the front steps of her building and then began the three floor treck up to her apartment. She felt giddy and almost like she was high. Like she was viewing the world through a pair of tinted rose coloured glasses.
Her abnormally good mood came to a screeching halt when she turned her key in her apartment door and was greeted by a intense screeching which sounded like a wailing cat. Before she could even take a step of into the apartment Shawn was in front of her looking distressed. His hair was extremely ruffled as though he had been running his hands through it or pulling on the ends out of stress or frustration.
" She won't stop." He stated, his eyes wide and bloodshot as though he had been rubbing them with a closed fist.
" What?" Maya asked in confusion, dropping her bag onto the chair by front door and shrugging off her coat.
"Who won't stop?" Maya pressed, shrinking backward against the door as a particularly loud cry came from what she thought might be the direction of her bedroom. All at once she knew exactly who Shawn was talking about before he could get any words out. It was Riley. It had to be Riley. Something had clearly happened to make her best friend fall into a fit of anguish and Maya didn't have to think very hard to know why. Shawn had started talking but Maya had almost tuned him out.
" She turned up a couple of hours ago in a fit, and her parents aren't home. She doesn't want to talk to me. She's just been in your room, waiting for you." Shawn spoke as he walked across the room and bent over to scoop up Hudson, who had been hiding under the couch, most likely in an attempt to block out some of the noise.
" So you go talk to her, and I'll take Huddy here for a walk before both our ears start to bleed" Shawn started, giving her shoulder a squeeze before slipping out the door leaving Maya to tend to the situation. Maya sighed, kicked off her shoes, and padded barefoot towards her bedroom. Despite the fact that is was her room she almost felt as though she should knock. She eased the door open, knowing exactly what she would find.
Riley was curled under the covers of Maya's bed, her body heaving with the power of her sobs. Riley glanced up when she heard Maya enter the room and Maya saw how bloodshot and swollen her eyes were.
Maya let her shoulders go slack. All the air left her chest in a single breath.
"Pumpkin." She strided over to her bed and folded herself over on one of her legs, resting against her hip.
Riley flipped over so they were facing one another. Her chest was still shaking and her breaths were still heavy, but her sobbing had stopped. Riley had to focus for a moment on taking a few deep breathes before she could speak. Her fists were held up to her chest as if she were clutching something in her grasp.
"He made me keep it." Riley said, her voice barely above a whisper.
Maya narrowed her eyes, unsure of what Riley meant. Before she could ask Riley relaxed her hand and let her palm fall flat so Maya could see what she had been clutching. In Riley's hand was a thin gold band a small stone set into the metal. It wasn't a large of expensive ring. Maya thought that Lucas had probably found it in a pawn shop somewhere, it wasn't as if he could afford anything else.
"I went to see him today. To talk. Tell him why. Why we can't get married why it's crazy. God if you could have seen his face." Rileys breath caught for a second and her lungs rattled.
" It was like i stabbed him. Like i took a knife and plunged it into his chest." Riley's eyes were filling with tears again.
"And then he made me take the ring. He said he picked it out for me, and that there was nothing for him to do with it." Riley let out another rattling breath.
" and now what do i do with it? Put it away in some drawer and let it haunt me?"
Maya didn't want to say what she was thinking, that Riley was probably better off throwing the ring into the east river than letting it gather dust in her bedside table and weigh on her mind.
Maya wrapped arms around Riley and let her best friend fall apart all over again in her arms. Maya could only guess at the emotions that were coursing through her friends mind. The guilt, the grief, the anger, the loss, the relief. They sat together in Maya's bed for who knows how long. It took a long time for the tears to stop and for Riley to go limp.
The two best friends laid flat on their backs, still holding hands. It had been quiet for a long time now.
"I guess this is how we're going to spend our summer huh" Riley said, her voice slightly hoarse from crying.
"The two of us, sad, pathetic, single." Maya felt her whole body go stiff with Riley's words. Riley continued to speak while Maya's head began to spin a million miles a minute.
" Or i guess i'll be handling the majority of the sad and pathetic, and we can split duties on the single front." Riley took a breath.
"I mean it's not going to be so bad right? You've been single forever and you're fine." Maya let out an uneasy laugh as she continued to stare up at the ceiling.
"Yeah… right." It was suddenly Maya who was overwhelmed with her own guilt. What was she supposed to say now. How was she supposed to tell her best friend that they weren't going to be spending the summer sad and single as a unit. How was she supposed to tell Riley that her whole world was coming together when Rileys was falling apart?