I’ve been continuing my work on The Rose Garden this month. My goal is to finish writing the story by the end of the month, the “first” draft, anyway, and then go from there (edits, revamps, you know the drill). Rose and Nicole’s story will finally come to an end, and then I can say I’ve completed my first story.
I hope you have been enjoying it, and as always, I’d love to hear your feedback (good, bad, whatever).
With that, here is part 8. If you are new to this story, you can start at the beginning. If you’ve been reading along but need a refresher from last time, you can start with part 7.
“Sweet Hope Cafe and Bake Shop.” Each syllable comes out slowly, meticulously, as I read the words written on the small piece of paper in front of me, hoping this careful deliberation will jog my memory. Where have I heard that name before? It sounds familiar, but somehow I can’t place it. Does it really matter? The note only says to meet Rose at the cafe. There’s no date, no time. Maybe she’s a little senile? It would explain why she was so calm at the hospital.
The nurse told me I would know what to do, so I disregard the note. I crumple it up in my hand and, after tossing it into the garbage can in the kitchen, I head to my room to grab my laptop. Not having my phone is going to prove difficult, so I need to find out what my options are.
After I make myself comfortable on the couch, I bring up the website for my cell phone carrier. I search, lost phone, but the results are of no help. The next search I try to be a little more specific; What do I do if I lose my phone? The results prove to be just as useless. Finally, after typing in How do I find my lost phone, I start to see answers that may prove helpful. I click on, “Lost your cellular phone? Here’s how to find it.” This sounds promising. Until it doesn’t.
“I don’t have protection!” I yell at the computer screen. Sure, I can locate my phone, as long as I bought into the protection plan. When I bought my phone I couldn’t be bothered with it. There was no way I was going to spend money on top of the already exorbitant price of the phone. I had to draw the line somewhere. Fine. I try How do I replace a lost phone. Maybe this will be better. I can get a new phone instead. I don’t think I want my phone found, anyway. If I look at the messages, it will be a reminder of what I did.
What shows up on my screen is basically telling me that I need to just buy a new or used phone because, once again, I opted out of the protection plan. A big “Sucks to be you” from my cell phone company. Whatever. I’ll do it later, I guess. Thankfully, they have a store close enough to walk to. It will probably take me about half an hour to get there, but I could use the exercise. Plus, I can purchase the phone on their website, and it will be ready by the time I get there. I won’t have to deal with any pushy salesman, either.
I’m about to look up information on what to do about my car when I hear a rat-a-tat-tat on my door. I close my laptop and place it on the coffee table in front of me, a simple, black wooden rectangle, not stellar in quality, but passable. It was one of many purchases made at the local thrift store, the best place for college students to shop to furnish their apartment. The couch is also from there, and Aly and I were very surprised how comfortable it was. It just goes to show that second hand is the way to go.
When I open the door, my living room at once becomes flooded by a slew of
“Hey, Niki!” they all seem to say in unison.
“Girl, we missed you last night.” Jasmine hugs me, and I breathe in the scent of coconut and wildflowers. A little early for that scent in my opinion, but who am I to judge? “What happened to you?”
“What do you mean what happened to her?” Nate stands behind me and places his hands on my shoulders. He starts to rock me, side-to-side, back-and-forth. I feel my headache creeping its way back to the surface, but I keep a fake smile plastered on my face. “She was in a car accident, remember?”
“I know that, dummy. What I was asking was, how did it happen?”
“Does it really matter? It happened, and it’s done. Now that she’s slept it off, Niki can come party with us once again.”
Though what Nate says couldn’t be further from the truth, I’m grateful that I don’t have to answer Jasmine. Changing the subject from me, I ask, “So, how did it go last night?”
“Austin chickened out,” Craig said. A triumphant smile spread across his face. “Best fifty bucks I’ve made yet.”
“Yo, dude, I did not chicken out.” Austin tries to plead his case, explaining how campus and village police were all over the place last night. Seeing the looks the others give each other, I’m going to guess that Austin is slightly exaggerating.
Nate’s hands have remained on my shoulders during the entire discussion, and the rocking is starting to make me a little seasick. Sensing my distress, Courtney comes to my rescue. She places her arm around my shoulders, knocking off Nate’s hands, and pulls me away. They give each other a look, but I’m not privy to their private conversation.
“What was that all about?” I whisper to her, but she just shrugs and joins in on the group conversation that continues to buzz in my living room, her arm still around me.
After what seems like an eternity, Nate pipes up and announces, “I’m hungry.”
“You’re always hungry!” I can’t help but join in the chorus of voices on that one. It’s true. Nate is always eating something, though I have no idea where he puts it. He’s the tallest person in our group, and there doesn’t seem to be an ounce of fat on him, yet he eats like the sun is going to forget to rise the next day. I just don’t get it.
“I’m just saying,” Nate continues, “that we should grab some lunch since we’re all together anyway.” He turns to me. “What do you say, Niki?”
My friends are great, they really are, but I don’t know how much more of their boisterousness I can take today. Think, Niki. What excuse can you give? Finally, it hits me.
“Sorry, all. I’d love to, but I promised someone I would meet with them this afternoon.” A lie, I know, but isn’t much of my life just one big lie anyway? None of my friends really know me. They don’t know my story. I refuse to let them into that part of my life. As with a theater production, the backstage is off-limits to outsiders.
I hear the door creak open and look over to see Aly making her way out of the apartment. Our eyes meet, and she gives me a knowing look and a little smile before closing the door behind her.