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It was the summer of 1993, and Keilani and I sat by the crackling fire as the bullfrogs croaked a sonorous symphony, the grass swayed from a whispering breeze, and the stars zipped in different directions across the vast night sky.
“What a weekend,” Keilani said, resting her hands on the back of her jet-black hair.
“Rad like a cat wearing sunglasses,” I said.
“Satisfying like spelling Sriracha right on the first try,” Keilani said.
That was our thing. One of our things. In fact, when you’ve known someone since the age of five, you amass a lot of things.
I leaned in toward the warmth of the fire, took a deep breath, and prepared to tell Keilani something that I had hesitated to tell her all summer. “I decided I’m not going to Northwestern.”
“What?” Keilani asked.
“I’ve thought about it a lot and I just don’t think college is for me,” I answered.
“But we had it all planned out,” Keilani said. “Together.”
“I’m so terrified of tossing four years away,” I said. “And going into debt forever.”
“Why did you wait until the last minute to tell me?” Keilani asked. “You always do that, and it drives me crazy.”
“It’s not the last minute,” I said.
“That’s another thing you do,” Keilani said. “I know it’s not literally the last minute, but you just have this affinity for suddenly dipping out on plans.”
“Like when?” I asked.
“Remember when you didn’t even show up to your own birthday party? The party that I organized!”
“I had the flu!”
Keilani stood up. “And the time you said you would pick me up from my dentist appointment and didn’t show up?”
“I had a panic attack about driving in downtown traffic,” I said. “I had just gotten my license!”
“I had to use a pay phone while half of my mouth was numb!”
Keilani tossed another log onto the fire and a flurry of sparks burst into the air.
“I’m sorry,” I said.
Keilani sat back down, fanned the smoke away from her eyes, and brushed the ashes off her sweatshirt. “I’m going to miss you. That’s all.”
“I’m going to miss you too,” I said.
“So what do you plan on doing?” Keilani asked.
“I want to save the world.”
“Like Wonder Woman?”
“No,” I said. “I keep having these dreams about rainforests losing their color and oceans warping into garbage dumps. I want to try and do something. I’m just not sure what yet.”
“Maybe someday there will be an invention that allows us to see each other’s lives from far away,” Keilani said.
“Sure,” I said. “And maybe Blockbuster will go out of business!”
We both laughed until we snorted.
Keilani reached over and grabbed my hand. “We’ll still look up at the same moon,” she said.
I wondered if I’d ever have a moment with Keilani like this again. “What a weekend,” I said.
Keilani sighed. “Over too soon like a Prince song.”
Zach Murphy is a Hawaii-born writer with a background in cinema. His stories appear in Reed Magazine, The Coachella Review, B O D Y, Ruminate, Wilderness House Literary Review, Flash: The International Short-Short Story Magazine, and more. His debut chapbook Tiny Universes (Selcouth Station Press, 2021) is available in paperback and e-book. He lives with his wonderful wife Kelly in St. Paul, Minnesota.