Star was moving to a different city a few hours away and she was getting married. It is another story that may or may not be told at another time, because it is Star's story, not mine. I had had a negative gut reaction to her betrothed when I had first met him, and I had told her how I felt as assertively as I could muster. She felt sure about her decision, though, and wasn't going to budge.
Despite my reservations, I wasn't about to miss the wedding of my best friend on the planet. I put Aquene in her traveling box and set off towards Chattanooga, TN, stopping along the way to pick up Christmas's sister, Grey. In the car, Grey let Aquene out to play and entertain us by running all over the dashboard and then hunkering down in a shirt pocket. My sweet little glider.
The day before the wedding, Star's house was all abuzz with family generally being overbearing, insisting that things be done their way, and ignoring Star's every desire for her wedding. Her grandmother purchased her a purple wedding dress because the existence of Adelaide (in the grandmother's mind) meant that Star could never wear white, or even off-white. I could see a sadness in Star's eyes as she complied without complaint. Who did these people think they were? Didn't they have a clue they were trampling over one of the greatest treasures in the universe?
It is possible that Grey sensed my unrest, as she took my hand and gave it a squeeze... which caused the father of Star's betrothed to ask Star if we were lesbians.
At nightfall, I put Aquene in her traveling box with some water and apple slices and then collapsed on the floor to sleep with Star and Grey. Having all three of us together is a rare treat, and a day's hardships could not squelch that fact in the least. Precious conversation carried on until the last of us dozed off.
In the morning I woke up and went over to the piano to check on Aquene in her box. I was not prepared for what I found. Aquene was missing!
I woke up Grey and whispered to her that I couldn't find my glider and she leaped out of bed to help me look absolutely everywhere, but it was to no avail. The house was huge and old, with all kinds of crevices and hideaways - not to mention holes in walls that led outside. I took a deep breath. It was not the time to panic. I had to pull it together. It was my best friend's wedding day!
And so it went in the bittersweet fashion that life sometimes winds through. I didn't find Aquene before it was time to go, though Star learned she was missing and promised me they would keep an eye out for her.
Road again. Goodbye hug from Grey as I dropped her off. Back to Cullowhee. Back in my dorm room.
I opened the door and saw that Verona wasn't there. She was away at an overnight sorority trip. That meant I was alone with my thoughts and missings.
I sat down at my computer and tried not to think about Star being all married to this guy I was going to have to try to accept, and Joseph probably with this girl, Eddie just... gone forever or something. I started to stand up to go get... oh yeah... Aquene was gone. I had forgotten for a split second.
As silly as it sounds, that was my breaking point. Aquene being gone. She had been my constant companion for almost 4 years, and suddenly she was just lost? How was that even possible?! I couldn't help picturing her little furry self all snuggled down into my shirt.
I had no fuzzy fuzzy balm for my distress, so I tried to go to bed early and wound up just bawling and bawling.
The next morning was a Thursday, which meant history class yet again. Was there no escape?
I confess, more than once I had taken greater care than usual with my choosing of clothing and the like before history class. Not this morning though. I was exhausted. Eyes puffy, hair a mess, and running late. I snatched up whatever I could find on the floor that seemed clean-ish and threw it on as I dashed out the door.
The moment I sat down in class, I was ambushed by a cascade of Hershey kisses that Joseph was throwing at/to me. I couldn't help laughing as I caught a few and the rest bounced off my desk and myself in every direction. I thanked him as I ate one or two and put the rest in my bag.
After class he approached me and asked if I wouldn't mind driving him to the bank. I didn't mind, so we made the hike to to my car behind one of the farther-away dorms on campus. Parking at our school was ridiculous.
Once the errand had been completed and I had parked again, Joseph noted that I looked tired and asked if I was okay. I confessed haltingly that I had been rather teary the night before.
"You were crying?", he asked with his eyes all intense.
I looked down, "Erm.. yeah, I guess you could say that."
"Oh Sarah!", he swept me into a bear hug, "You never need to be alone when you are that sad! Why didn't you call me?! What's wrong?!"
The whole truth would reveal too much, so I only included the part about Aquene being gone.
He reacted with a kindness that was almost enough to bring forth another tear or two... but not the kind that comes from sorrow.