THE NIGHT BEFORE:
Four students scramble in the library, working doggedly on a presentation. One of them, who has been doing the bulk of the work, stops being able to parse anything other than simple commands, and has degenerated into incoherent and slightly hysterical giggles. The fourth student, boyfriend of the second one, walks the giggling lunatic (small-l still, then) through basic tasks like the proper operation of a spreadsheet.
February 14, 2001 dawns. Class presentation day. Students 1 and 2 of the night before are women within a half shoe size of each other. Size 9 is wearing some horrible pointy high heels. Size 9.5 is wearing some comfortable, yet dressy, slip-on sandals. For the duration of the interminable presentation, they swap out, each wearing the horrible pointy one as long as they can stand before trading. Student 2 (9) bears a half-dozen roses from her boyfriend. (Student 1 had prompted him that this would be a good plan.)
The presentation ends. 1 and 2 hightail it out of there, straight for the shoe store so 2 can pick up a pair. They come back to see 4, the boyfriend, leaving the school parking lot.
1 and 2 look at each other, laugh in an entirely too wicked conspiratorial way, and follow him home.
It's Valentine's Day. You do the math. The 3rd wheel (1) waits in the living room, listening to the warm Arizona rain, playing Tales from True Life, the silver star that 4 had given her at Yule next to her heart, the ring 2 had given her the same day on her finger.
♥ ♥ ♥
Gundam Wing: White Reflection
♥ ♥ ♥
10 years later...
THE NIGHT BEFORE:
One Lunatic (capital-L, now), the former Student 1, is too exhausted to make the (semi-)regular Sunday call to her long-time best friend, the former Student 4. She sends a quick e-mail instead, partly driven by guilt at not calling enough, partly to brag about the new job. Neither of them has had particularly good job luck over the intervening 10 years, but they're hanging in there.
February 14, 2011 dawns. Into the Lunatic's email box, not even a half hour before she has to leave for the day, pops a picture. Her best friend's been playing around with computer art, and has shared a piece with zombie skeletons bowing fealty to his pet necromancer. The Lunatic emits the sort of adoring coo that the more sociotypical woman reserves for babies, kittens, and puppies. A smile on her lips and a song in her heart, the Lunatic floats off to work in a rose-scented, strawberry-infused cloud, wearing more color than she has in a month. A pretty shiny iridescent crystal necklace hangs outside the pretty red sweater. As ever, the silver star is around her neck. This time it's hiding under that sweater, next to her heart.
The thing about work is, work happens. Sometimes there are moments that leave one staring at one's spreadsheet, staring at one's email box, wondering how the actual fuck this had happened, moments where no amount of #fishpile nor ALAS! A CORNUCOPIA OF LUBE! can make things quite right. Moments when one is tempted, although one has never smoked and never intends to smoke, to stomp downstairs as if one did, and just stand out there in the rain letting one's head stop steaming.
And then while waiting for permission to go stomp down there, one starts untangling the spreadsheet just for something to do, and the supervisor pings back saying sure you can take a break, just make sure and untangle the spreadsheet. Heh. And perspective and a sense of humor are restored, and that "smoke" break isn't necessary after all.
(A cup of tea is, though.)
And the end of the day can't come soon enough. And one grips one's phone in its silly pink little rubbery case, and remembers that there's an image of a necromancer on there, black hair glowing blue in the light of the ball of energy in front of him, making skeletons kneel to do his bidding.
And the moment, the absolute moment, one is free to do so, one calls one's best friend. It's been a little while. It's been ten years since that Valentine's Day. And maybe you don't remember it until you wish him a happy Valentine's Day, and it all comes rushing back.
And it's ten years gone, and both of you are older, wiser, entirely possibly in-general happier, certainly less volatile and more experienced in giving and receiving friendship.
It's a beautiful day. The cold San Francisco rain has started to pour in earnest, and traffic is backed up all along 101. It's a mess out there, and there are emergency vehicles all over. But it's a beautiful day, and at the end of it all, you're still friends.