Final State of the Twister's Affairs
Monday morning. Nuff said.
Monday morning and here I am sitting in…
Heh. Déjà vu. Do you remember why?
My name is Cloud Strife and at the end of this chapter I'm going to do something completely…
'True friendship is a plant of slow growth, and must undergo the shocks of adversity before it is entitled to the appellation.' That's a quote by George Washington.
'And you felt you needed to share this with the rest of us why again exactly?'
Hmm, can anyone say foreshadowing? Dun, dun, dun!
'You do realize that you're not actually supposed to say it's foreshadowing, right? Part of the process is the implication itself.'
I estimate that the true number of the amount of licks it takes to get to the Tootsie roll center of a Tootsie Roll Pop is approximately 487.4.
'Irresistible urge to bite the center when it's just a teeny, tiny piece, thus resulting in a decimal number that can only be approximated.
'You're an idiot.'
With a breakfast sandwich in hand, I strolled around campus feeling light for the first time in ages, taking the time to just appreciate my surroundings.
Finals exams are done…
Yes. Yes, you heard right. The hellish phase known by the general student populace as The End, Omega, Apocalypse (not the X-Men villain), GPA killer, Torture Time, and various other negative connotations has finally come to a close. Yay me. I know that didn't sound too celebratory considering all the pain I went through but trust me: I'm jacked. In fact, I'm so pumped I gonna repeat it but with an exclamation point this time: Yay me!
See how excited I am?
Actually, finals were done last week, hence my less than emphatic act of joy, and now my first academic year of university has officially come to an end. Bring on summer.
Summer… how I love you. Even more so than that cute little Pillsbury Doughboy that squeals in delight every time you poke his belly button.
'What? MORE than the doughboy? That's madness!'
Well, okay, fine… Maybe just as much, but not more.
I love that little dude. I wish I could sleep with him.
'That is… to date, the most disturbing thing you've ever stated.'
No, I don't mean "sleep". I mean "sleep, sleep". Like literally. Just cuddle up next to him and keep poking him all night as he squeals in that cute little way.
'I don't know how, but you've managed to somehow make your non sexual intentions of sleeping with the doughboy a lot creepier than the sexual ones. I don't know if I should be impressed at such a display of stupidity or be ashamed since I'm affiliated with you. I'm… I-I can't even look at you now.'
'But you can never actually really loo-'
'Oh shut up. You know what I mean, smartass.'
The entire campus was bustling with activity this morning as several closing events and rallies took place all over. There was a feverish energy permeating throughout the air as students laughed, tossed Frisbees, lounged on the grassy fields or sat on benches with coffees chatting the morning away. At the dorms, many hurried to say their goodbyes to those they would leave behind while taking off for the long break, some crying, some allowing hugs to linger (mostly girls), others content with a quick fist bump and shoulder-to-shoulder hug (mostly guys). Others seemed to be doing house cleaning as they kept running back and forth between their rooms and their cars, stuffing whatever they could fit into those crappy little station wagons.
I felt my phone buzz. Text message from Tifa.
'Hey, you. What're you up to?'
It was the first of the morning but one of many and several missed calls from over the weekend. I hadn't seen or talked to her since Friday, after we both wrote our final exam for chemistry.
"How'd you do?" she'd asked.
"I'm gonna go in a dark corner and cry now."
She'd laughed. "Liar. You probably aced it."
I'd smiled back. "You?"
With that customary heart melting smile of hers, she'd replied, 'Much better than if I hadn't met you. What're you up to this weekend? Wanna hang out?'
As much as I'd wanted to, I couldn't. "Actually, I'm going to be pretty busy…"
I feel so conflicted avoiding her like this but I just can't bring myself to meet those big brown eyes right now.
Sighing, I put my phone back in my pocket.
"What do you guys think the meaning of life is?"
"To get rich or die tryin'."
"You steal that line from a rapper?"
"Seriously, I mean if you're not trying to make something of yourself what's the point?"
"That's, like, actually one of the smartest things I've ever heard you say. Maybe he's not a total lost cause, Yuf."
"Fuck you, dude."
"No thanks. Something about giant manly jocks doesn't exactly appeal to me."
"Yeah, my penis size would probably freak you out anyways."
"My penis size freaks women out."
"Uh… do yo- do you mean that in a good way or b-"
"One time I couldn't get it up, you know."
"It was li-"
"How the hell did that happen? Man, why did I just ask that?"
"Seriously, why did you?"
"I don't know. The system just froze I guess."
"When was this?"
"Stop humoring him."
"Um… while back."
"How far is a while back?"
"Why are we talking about this?"
"Because I like to keep things interesting."
"You're a weird dude, dude."
"Not as weird as that funky hair color of yours. Seriously, what's going on up there? Having a sexual identity crisis?"
"Don't you run around naked sometimes?"
"Only when I'm sober."
"No one needs to see that shit."
"Why don't you go take some more roids?"
"I'm not on roids, dude. It's called working out. Try it sometime."
"I work out with your mom all the time."
"Dude, that's enough."
"Fine, but what if I told you that this was the most important conversation you were ever gonna have throughout your life?"
"Would you approach it differently? What would you do or say differently?"
"What kind of stupid que-"
"I bet my dick is bigger than yours."
"What… what the hell did you just say?"
"Come on, don't be mad or jealous just because it's true."
"Are you insane? How do you deal with this guy?"
"Welcome to my world…"
"Whatever, man. You and I both know that that's bullsh- Wait. How much bigger are we talking exactly?"
"Oh my God, really?"
"It's like comparing Hercules to Conan the Barbarian."
"Um, aren't those dudes roughly the same size?"
"Yeah, they're both jacked."
"Shit, never mind. Forget that analogy. It's like…"
"CAN YOU THREE IDIOTS SHUT THE FUCK UP AND FINISH PACKING ALREADY? YOU'RE GIVING ME A HEADACHE!"
Another text message from Tifa.
'Hey, how's your afternoon going? Text me back.'
My stomach began to churn and it wasn't because of the food I ate. Feeling hopeless yet again, I put my phone away again.
Another buzz in my pants. No, not like that, you pervs. I checked my phone again. Yep, Tifa.
'Hey. Is everything okay? I'm not sure if your phone is off or what but if you get this please call me. I really want to see you today before everyone leaves and stuff. I'll be in my room most of the day cleaning it out if you want to swing by.'
Well, will you look at that.
I spotted Urkel (aka Hojo for those of you who've forgotten) sitting outside a campus café with a girl. Urkel with a girl? My eyes were clearly deceiving me. The sun and the heat had somehow transformed a thick chemistry textbook no doubt, to appear as a member of the opposite sex. Who said mirages only occurred in the desert?
I couldn't quite make her out from the distance so, curiosity getting the better of me, I decided to make my way over and pretend to 'accidentally' run into them (heh, heh, I'm so clever).
'You're really not.'
Smirking, I decided to have a little bit of fun on my last on campus as I approached Hojo, only to have my smile be replaced by a look of shock as I made out the face of the girl sitting next to him, laughing at each and every word coming out of his mouth.
Stop gawking, Cloud. Stop gawking!
Lucrecia spotted me first, giving a friendly wave. "Cloud, hi."
"Cloud…" Hojo muttered, glaring daggers into my eyes. "Is there something we can help you with?"
Still dumbfounded by all of this, I mustered a weak smile and shook my head. "Nah… just… I was just passing by and saw you guys. Just came to say good luck the rest of the way."
Lucrecia's smile grew warmer and she mouthed a thank you while Hojo seemed as if he was a deer having just been caught in a pair of headlights.
"You… came to say 'good luck'?" he enunciated awkwardly, as if the prospect was completely foreign to him. Well I can't blame him. It was foreign to me, too.
"Uh…" I scratched the back of my head and glanced around, feeling just as uncomfortable as he was all of a sudden.
"Why don't you sit down and join us for a while, Cloud? We're talking about next year's chem courses," Lucrecia said.
Hojo's eyes instantly narrowed as he glared first at her then up at me, silently telling me not to entertain the offer.
Good news, Urkel: I'm planning to, even if you'd said yes.
"Uh, thanks, but I've got some stuff to take care of. Pretty hectic few hours."
"Oh." She nodded. "Well, it was nice seeing one last time for the summer. See you in the fall."
I turned around and didn't bother glancing back once. "Goodbye."
After repeated knocking, the dumb bastard finally opened the door to his room, appearing groggy and having just gotten out of bed.
A weary Vincent ran a hand through his now disheveled long black hair before clearing his throat. "Cloud? Wh-what're you doing here?"
"You're still sleeping?" I cried incredulously.
"Dude, I'm tired. I had exams all last week and one early this morning."
I frowned. "What? They were all done on Friday."
He shook his head. "Sociology. Stupid idiots who designed the schedule decided it would be the very last exam of the school year and it was at 8:30."
"Yeah…" He cleared his throat again. "So… what do you want? You obviously didn't come to ask how I did."
"Dude I just saw Lucrecia with Hojo," I blurted out in very stupid fashion. When the expected facial transformation to shock on his face didn't occur, my eyes widened and I gave him a questioning look. "W-wait… What happened?"
Sighing, he walked back into the darkness of his room, leaving the door open for me.
"But why the hell did she dump you?"
"I dunno, man." His long, non-brushed strands partly concealed his face as he sat on top of his bed, hands crossed across his laps. "She was just, like, 'this isn't working out, Vincent' and then just a couple of days later I see her with that douchebag."
I felt for the guy. "Did she tell you why?"
He shook his head. "Maybe she wanted someone with brains? Well she got him. And an asshole at that, too. God, I hate that prick. I swear when he grows up, he's gonna be the type of guy to screw a lot of people over. I can just tell."
"Why didn't you just tell her what you thought?"
"I did, dude, but it just pissed her off even more and then she slapped me."
I frowned. "She slapped you? What the hell for?"
"Didn't like me mouthing off her new lover boy." He paused and let out a long breath before finally looking up, his eyes not holding the same amount of emotion I was often used to. "Whatever… fuck her. I'm over it."
Obviously he wasn't but I decided not to press the matter further. This was a side of Vincent I hadn't known existed before. "So, what're you gonna do now?"
He stared at me awkwardly. "Gonna do? What am I gonna do?" He shrugged. "I'm gonna stop living this joke of a life and quit while I'm ahead."
"What do you mean?"
"I've thought about it for a while now, Cloud. I don't really wanna go into sciences anymore. It just isn't for me. The whole thing is just bullshit and it's depressing, being around stuck up nerds and scientists like Hojo. It just isn't for me." He chuckled bitterly. "It's funny, you know?"
"The prick actually helped me open my eyes by being the asshole that he is."
I chuckled too. "He's good at doing that, I guess."
"Oh, for sure…"
An ensuing silence swept over us and held its place for some time before I spoke. "So what're you thinking of transferring over to then?"
He didn't move and say anything at first and just when I thought there would be no reply, his lips moved. "I was thinking of criminology or psychology. Something to do with the mind."
I cocked my head to the side. "You mean like a therapist or lawyer?"
The dark, hollow stare he gave me would be the final one I would ever remember him by. "Nah. Something to do with special intelligence probably. Something where I can turn my feelings off."
This was only my second meal of the day and not much of one: a sad, sorry excuse for a hamburger slapped on a just as sorry excuse of a piece of bread with two pickles and some ketchup. Oh yeah, and the evil orange juice that had once tried to kill me reared its ugly head into the fray again.
Sighing, I checked my phone after taking a bite of my sandwich. Another text from Tifa? Nope. This time it was from Yuffia.
Washing down my bite with some of the diabolical juice, I complied.
"Duh, idiot. Who else would it be?"
I rolled my eyes. "Did you want something?"
"When are we meeting again?"
I sighed. "Um. Meet me at, like, quarter to six?"
"Um…. Okay, yeah."
"Is that enough time for you?"
"Don't worry about it, Cloud. I'll make it."
"Don't be weird. I gotta go now."
"Fine. Oh, and Yuf?"
"Remember to use protection."
"Oh, fuck off."
I checked my watch a third time before staring out across the main garden of the campus.
'You know, no matter how many more times you keep staring at it, the rate at which that minute hand travels isn't going to change or move any faster.'
Damn, where was she?
"Uh, I'm right here," she said.
I nearly jumped straight out of skin before whipping around. "Yuffie, what the hell?" I cried out, letting my heart rate subside. "Did I say that out loud?"
"Say what out loud?" she said, smirking and poking me in the forehead.
"Ow." I slapped her hand away.
"Are you being weird again? No wait, sorry, let me take that back. Are you just being you?"
"What the hell's that supposed to mean?" I barked.
"Tifa messaged me." She shot her eyes up and down suggestively. "She was asking about you. Said she couldn't get a hold of you."
I frowned. "How'd she get your number?"
Shrugging, she walked ahead. I followed. "I think Loz must've given it to her or something."
That wasn't the answer I was looking for. "How does he know her?"
She chuckled. "Oh, don't worry. Loz wouldn't think twice of staring at anyone else but me. Otherwise, I'd rip out his balls and feed them to him. He knows better."
I couldn't contain my smirk. "Already got him whipped?"
She shot me a devious smile. "Guys are so easy. You only need to offer them one thing and they're at your feet."
"Nah." I stared forward, shaking my head. "Not all guys, Yuf."
"No, trust me. We don't all just think with our dicks."
She rolled her eyes disbelievingly. "Is that a fact, Mr. Strife?"
"I'm telling you…" I started somberly. "I used to think we were all like that, too… but…" My words trailed off. I shut my eyes peacefully and reflected back on all the defining moments of this past semester and my life in general, a dizzying array of sequences dancing by in my mind.
"Cloud?" I felt Yuffie's fragile hand on my shoulder. "You okay?"
I opened my eyes and nodded. "I will be."
We glanced around my room a final time, it appearing a shell of its former self now. Literally. Everything always seems bigger after its left hollow.
Yuffie sighed and shot me a questioning look. "You ready?"
I nodded and was about to proceed to pick up my bags when I caught sight of her eyes shimmering under the dim overhead light.
Oh, man… "Yuf? Are you okay?"
She burst into a sea of tears, immediately covering up her face with her hands as she sobbed relentlessly.
With my mouth falling open, I pulled her in and enveloped her in a warm hug.
"C-Cloud… I-I…" she cried, her jagged breaths cutting her speech short.
"Hey, hey…" I soothed, rubbing her back. "Come on, Yuf… We've talked about this…"
"I-I know…" She was vulnerable, one of the rare times I would ever get to see her like this, without her sarcastic, witty defensive barrier activated. "I-" She continued sobbing into my now soaked shirt. I didn't mind. I never did. "I know it's selfish… but I don't want you to leave."
"Yuffie…" I looked down at her brown hair.
She pushed herself back to free her arms before wrapping them around my back, hugging me fiercely. I continued caressing hers. "I guess… I guess I still can't believe this is actually happening." She sniffled. Her tears hadn't stopped. I could still feel them. "It's gonna be so weird," she practically whispered now. She lifted her head from her chest and stared right up at me.
Her sad, sparkling eyes continued to glisten under the light and at that moment, for a split second, I wasn't so sure anymore, second guessing whether I'd made the right decision or not.
Sighing, I brought my forehead down on top of hers and just allowed myself to feel the sister I'd always taken for granted. The sister not related to me biologically, but by time. Because time makes family, not blood.
"We'll still see each other, Yuf…" I broke the short silence. Her tears had ceased but she continued staring straight through my chest, as if still trying to digest this all. "We'll be laughing at all of this ten years from now when we're sitting at a restaurant, discussing our boring lives."
Her lips tugged upwards at the thought. She sniffled once more before looking up, her eyes red but beautiful and raw. "What about Zack, Cloud?"
I took a deep breath and stepped away. "I… I wanted to give this to you later, but I'll do it now." I went over to one of my duffel bags and brought out an envelope.
She stared at it with sullen eyes, giving me a crushed look. "Cloud…"
"Yuffie…" I interjected, my demeanor indicating I didn't have the patience to talk about this right now. "Please… just no more questions. Just give it to him later. Please?"
She wiped a fresh new tear from the corner of her eye before reluctantly reaching out and grabbing the envelope. Nodding distressingly, she took one look at it before glancing up. "Okay, Cloud. But… maybe one day, you two will sit down and talk. Please… f-for me…" The request was simple, elegant, yet it seemed to take everything out of her.
I stared at the floor, unable to meet her eyes as I nodded slowly. "Yeah… maybe one day, Yuf…" Then I looked up, my expression clear. "But not today."
"Okay…" Yuffie huffed, grabbing the second to last of the bags on the floor and placing them inside the trunk of Loz's sedan. "Cloud?"
I nodded, and grabbed my duffel bag, sandwiching it inside the rest of the trunk before slamming it shut.
"Hey! Easy!" Loz shouted from inside the car, turning his radio down.
"I grinned. "Sorry, man." I went over to his side and bent down. "Hey… thanks… for giving me a ri-"
"Dude, stop," he said, waving his hand dismissively. "I've told you a million times already: as long as you're cool with me seeing Yuffie then it's the least I can do."
"What if you weren't seeing her? Would you still give me a ride?"
"I'd drop you off halfway, and let you walk the rest. And I'd tail right behind you, pointing and laughing in the process."
"You're such a pal. What if I just sat on top of your hood?"
"I'd throw you off rodeo style."
"You like rodeo style don't you, baby?" Yuffie chimed devilishly, rounding the other side of the car.
Loz chuckled and shook his head. "Last thing any guy wants is to be talking about that sorta shit in front of his girl's overly protective brother."
"But we're not related," I corrected.
"Whatever, you k-"
"Yes we are," Yuffie interrupted defiantly, in a very grave tone, her eyes sharply fixed on mine the entire time. "Yeah we are, Cloud. Don't forget that."
I glared back soberly, nodding in understanding. "I know, Yuf." I leaned away from the car. "Hey… there's one more thing I gotta do."
"What?" Loz questioned. "We're not leaving now? When's your flight?"
"Don't worry, I'll make it. I just need like 15 minutes. Gotta do this last thing."
"Loz, shut up," Yuffie said. "He'll be back in time."
There's nothing funnier than seeing a huge, muscular, 260lb freak of nature being put into his place by a thin, 5 foot tall, 100lb female.
Taking a heavy breath, I approached the door with heavy feet and a heart rate rivalling a soldier taking gunfire. It was only then that I noticed the sweat angrily clinging to my shirt, as if reprimanding me for what I was about to do.
Get a grip of yourself, Cloud. You can do this.
I reached out to knock but hesitated and drew back. "Damnit," I cursed, berating myself for wimping out.
'Come on… We haven't come this far only to find out that things come full circle, have we? You've learned one thing or two along the way I hope. Prove it to me. Show me this page of the book is closing and it's time to move on.'
The voice was different now and I didn't know why. I blinked and stared at the door. Tifa's door.
'What do you remember?'
I remember the first time I ever saw her, I was smitten and everything else around me disappeared, like it didn't matter.
'What did you think?'
She was stunning. Not just physically, but on all levels. Beautiful, elegant, and so innocent. I was captivated right then and there.
'What did you do?'
I couldn't stop staring. Couldn't stop thinking about her. Day and night, always having her face stealing my thoughts. It drove me crazy.
'Then what did you do?'
I talked to her… and I got to know her…
It was amazing… spending time with her.
'How did you feel?'
Like I was on top of the world and for once, nothing else truly mattered.
Because of what I'm about to do.
Sometime during my wandering thoughts I had unconsciously knocked on the door and it opened right about now. My heart thundered against my chest as disappointment paved way to a slight sense of relief. It wasn't Tifa greeting me.
I stared at Tifa's roommate. "Jessie, right?"
"Hey! Cloud! Tifa's been looking for you."
I gulped quietly. "Yeah?" I fought hard to hide the quiver in my voice. "Is she… in?" I anxiously awaited her answer.
She shook her head apologetically. "No, I'm sorry. Actually, you just missed her. She stepped out a few minutes ago to go look for you. I think she went over to your dorm wing."
"Oh…" I felt like such an idiot all of a sudden.
"Why don't you call her?" She reached for her phone. "Or I can just text her quickly."
"No, wait!" I began, reaching out to stop her.
She gave me a weird look. "Everything okay?"
I nodded and looked down, feeling extremely anchored all of a sudden with a strong sense of despair engulfing me. Exhaling as if my lungs had been punctured, I shot her a forlorn, determined look and swallowed. "Listen… could you… could you do something for me?"
She hesitated for a second before nodding. "Um, okay… What's up?"
"Can you just give her a message for me?"
To say she appeared confused would've been an understatement. "Why not just do it yourself?"
"I-I can't…" It hurt so much to utter those words.
She didn't seem to understand but replied with, "Okay," anyways. "What do you want me to tell her?"
"Tell her…" Choking on a breath of air, I looked away into the distance, staring through the wall while a swirling sea of emotions raged within. It seemed like forever until I got my bearings straight but when I did, I mustered, "Just tell her that I'm very sorry for everything and that I didn't mean it."
Jessie didn't like the sound of that, evident by her concerned expression. "Wh-what? Excuse me? What's going on here? No, I can't do that. You're gonna have to tell her."
I couldn't. I couldn't face the possibility of seeing her because it would just make this that much harder. "I can't… Just please tell her I didn't mean for any of this to happen. It's very important that you do that. Please. Just please."
"Cloud, no…" Jessie stepped forward, her concern morphing into anger. "Are you seriously trying to make me the messenger for what's obviously goodbye?"
I don't know why, but her getting angry caused me to nearly snap. "Just tell her!" I practically shouted, my ferocity even surprising myself.
She took a step back, unsure at the moment.
"Please…" I pleaded, fighting the urge to blink because if I did I knew a drop or two would fall.
Jessie finally nodded, her eyes containing disapproval yet also sympathy. "Okay… Cloud…"
"You'll tell her?"
"I will," she replied. "But you know it's going to break her heart and she'll never forgive you."
I didn't want to believe it but I knew what she said was true. "I know."
So much for only being gone for fifteen minutes. By the time I'd gotten back to the car I'd given myself enough time to dry my eyes.
"Cloud?" Yuffie turned around from the front seat as I climbed into the back. "Are you all right? What'd she say?"
I saw Loz glare at me blankly through the rearview mirror, his face stoic. For that split second our eyes met through the glass, a million thoughts and ideas fluttered throughout the cabin, giving birth to a certain convoluted life inside the car.
Clearing my throat, I turned my neck and glanced out the window, regarding the university campus for the last time. "She understood, I think."
Through the window, and with the very last breaths of light playing out across the main entrance to the campus dorms, I could make out the barely perceptible figure of a young woman with long hair, walking around, as if searching for something… or someone.
I wasn't sure, but as we started to pull out, it appeared as if she turned towards us, glancing in our direction, at me.
Was it Tifa? Had she come after me? Maybe it wasn't too late. Maybe there was still more left to say. Maybe…
But… I glanced down in thought before looking back out the window at her distant figure. But I couldn't be sure…
"Yeah. Let's go."
My name is Cloud Strife and at the end of this chapter, which happens to be right now, I'm going to do something completely cold: I'm going to leave almost everyone I ever knew behind… and never bother looking back.
I know what you're thinking: you're an asshole. How can you do that? Doesn't it hurt? Of course it does. But like everything else, time heals all and this young man is determined to let go of a past that's long been overdue to be let go of and forge ahead.
Life comes with no clear instructions, which makes it scary, but that's also what makes it exciting. Venturing onwards towards the next chapter of the unknown—it can be tough, extremely arduous; to make the transition from something you've been so cozily confined to, embedded in its warmth, to something entirely new and alien. It can be frustrating, and overwhelming. But I think it's a step finally worth taking because if I don't make the leap now, I probably never will. And if you ever find yourself at a crossroads, feeling the same, try to do the same. Chances are the new landing spot won't be as bad as you think.
No, I don't get the girl. No, everything doesn't just work itself out in the end like most stories. No, there's no definitive closure, just whatever comes next. I don't exactly know what that is but I'm eager to find out. Because in this life story of mine, there is no happy ending, only uncertainty.
And that folks… sums up my disjointed life.