A/N: You know it's going to be a night of writing when your eyes are wide open and the pads of your fingers glued to the keyboard.
Dedication: To my best friend. You somehow accepted me for who I am. I don't know if I did something wrong in the past two weeks to make you stop calling me, but whatever it is… I'm sorry. I don't want you to disappear from my life, because you are my life chicky. I love you girl, and don't forget it! Even though you won't be reading this…
SPAZZ: Whoa. Almost two years on this site and you guys actually like me? ME? Impossible! Well anyhow, Paradise and Just Maybe's first chapter was edited. The rest is coming, but I didn't want to delete the other chapters because… I don't know. Too lazy.
My polished nails tapped on the back of my lavender phone case. I shifted under the covers of my warm bed.
To call or not to call.
I was twenty-two. Simple decisions like a phone call should be just that- simple. This year however… It was different. This was July seventh. Not just any July 7th, but July 7th, 2017.
It marked the five-year anniversary of my best and true friend disappearing of the face of the earth.
Okay, maybe that's stretching the truth a little. Nina Martin wasn't dead or anything like that, she had just stopped coming in contact with me. I called her on her birthday a few years back, and she never picked up. The next day, I texted her. Then called, then emailed. A month later, I gave up on calling her each day. Nina had blocked my number.
Some things in life have the power to make you recall every flaw in yourself, what you said, and what you have done. After a harsh breakup and then seeing your ex with another girl (or boy, whatever you prefer) can definitely trigger some bad things.
Maybe you hurt a person you cared deeply about, and seeing an object or symbol that represents that can effect you as well.
For me, it was necklaces. I hated them. I despised them, and I will never wear one. Nina had a necklace that she treasured. It contained a little piece of her… Literally it was magical. Technically it lead to one man dying, but that is beside the point.
After she blocked her number, I never wore one. Necklaces were reserved for Nina and Nina only.
I pouted and curled my upper lip to create a duck face. Not moving was a problem for me. I had to be active, even if it was just my eyes. I could never lay still. She used to hate that habit. She used to sneak down to the kitchen and bring me a warm drink to help me fall asleep. She used to care.
But now she was gone.
It took a toll of me. I slowly shrunk back from society and socialized less. Concentration on my studies became more and more difficult. I had to end my relationship with a pretty decent guy, Alfie.
The nine of us, my friends from the boarding school I attended, were tight knit. They all ended up together at one point or another. I had no desire to stay in touch. All of them reminded me of bad memories. Of course we had good ones too- but I had a harder time spotting them. Often my guilt comes back and I regret not staying with them.
I took in a deep breath.
Breathe. Amber Millington is strong, independent and beautiful. Amber Millington is strong, independent and beautiful. Amber Millington is strong, independent and beautiful…
I continued chanting to myself as my shaking fingers tapped the contact on my cell's screen. The dial tone became louder as the phone approached my right ear.
My heart rate increased. I swallowed harshly. I wasn't mentally prepared to hear her voice after half of a decade.
A groggy and deep voice spoke to me on the phone. "Hello?"
"N-Nina? I-is she there?" My voice was high and cracking.
"Err, no sorry. This is Eli." Tears began to stream down my face. I knew at some point she would change her number.
"…" Tightness in my chest strangled me from speaking.
"Well I will be hanging up now. Have a good night."
"Wait!" I shouted. I needed to be heard.
"Eli… I don't know anyone named Eli. My name is Amber. Can I… Can I ask a big favor from you?"
I could tell that he hesitated, and my instinct would be the same as well. I was continuously sheading tears silently.
"I guess." He said. Eli sounded in his late twenties with a strong New York accent.
I nodded but knew he couldn't see that. "This is extremely forward of me. Before I ask you have to understand that I have bottled up too many feelings." There was a pause on the other line. I continued on, just letting go.
"My best friend Nina used to have this number. She stopped contacting me five years ago. I don't know why. I called every year on her birthday. This year… It's not her." I stated, coughing up an awkward laugh.
"Okay… In don't know any Nina though honestly."
"I know. You don't have to listen to this, but can I act like you are her? You can leave the phone on a counter or walk away, I don't care. I just need to satisfaction of being heard. I promise it will be only around three minutes."
I heard a puff on the other line. I could understand that international calls were not cheap. I licked my lips and looked up.
"Yeah. That's fine."
"Thank you." I cleared my throat and finished descending the stairs of my flat. I unlocked the front door and laid down on the grass. Being outside was relaxing for me.
"Hi Nina. It's been too long! I miss you more than you could ever understand… My life… It hasn't been very complicated without Rufus, Victor or Senkhara. It has been rather boring actually. I am a wedding planner, surprise, surprise.
"I look back on scrapbooks and photos. I wonder where I went wrong. Is it something I did? I've made too many mistakes in my life Nina. There is not one day that they do not haunt me. The pictures, the diary entries, everything just reminds me of how much or a failure I am. Life should be ashamed of me sometimes.
"A large piece of me is mad at you. What happened to going to college together? That was your idea not mine Nina. How could one person cause me so much pain?" My voice was constantly faltering.
"I'm alone now. Don't you realize that?! Don't you get it? You are so selfish. Ditching a person because you don't like them is fine with an explanation. Never contacting them after they almost died for you is a bloody bitch move.
I let a small laugh escape. "Ladies and gentlemen, there was fierce Amber!
"Nina… I am so sorry for all the wrongs I have done to you, and in life. If I could take the thing that made our friendship fallout, it would be that. Giving up my life for that mistake would be fine with me. I want to be able to know that you forgive me.
"I have those days where I just stare at traffic. I always wonder where people are going and what their lives will be like. Are they suffering? What will their future be like? Who are they? Is it you? IF I could jump out in front of the car and end it all… would you finally take notice of me? Would ending my life be what it takes?
"I remember when we first met. You were sitting in Mick's seat and I snapped at you. Gosh, that must have been awful. A new country with new people… That has to be the scariest thing ever. The other time when you and Fabs bumped heads and almost kissed. When you did kiss is when I announced you and him prom king and queen. It was hard to not give that title to myself.
"Do you ever think about me or the times we spent together? The laughs… the cries… the fights and fangirling about David Beckhem. Or did you forget them… Are the memories petty and no existent in your mind? Was I just another stage that was tossed aside?"
Eli was listening. Now as a fit guy, he didn't cry. Like, ever. Hearing Amber's story however seemed to move him. Maybe it was considered eaves dropping or spying, but the girl didn't say anything about not listening. Tears prickled at his eyes and threatened to escape.
Why was a grown man crying over such a story?
He wondered if it was because the chances of something of this happening were rare and one in a million. Out of billions of people on the earth, he had to be the one to answer the call. Eli held his palm over the bottom of his iPhone and placed his head in his knees. A quiet sob finally was released. It soon became loud cries and he pressed the mute button on the screen.
'A single girl thousands of miles away… she held the misery of life and the dark side of friendship.'
I, not knowing this at the time continued on. "Nina, I promise that if you ever feel the need to have support or a shoulder to cry on… I can do that. I can do a hundred times better than I did before. I can be the best friend, the sister and the mother that will nag at you but always be the one to bring over the Nutella and ice cream when you feel down. I could be the friend to have the shovel to bury the person who hurts you. I won't leave you like you left me. It's a promise that can never be broken…"
Eli continued to cry but managed to keep the volume low so he could hear what I was saying.
"Every night it kills me a little to know that I failed to find you. To be alone with no one I can fully trust hurts me as well." I took a breath, ready to wrap this up.
"So Nina… If you need me… If you want me back in your life, I will welcome you with open arms. Always and forever."
Eli swayed back and forth, trying to make sense of the phone call. He shook his head with his hair flopping around wildly.
"Eli… I'm done. Thank you. This helped, even though you are just a stranger."
"Where do you live?" He blurted out, but then bit his tongue when we realized how pathetic and stalker-ish that sounded.
I mentally slapped myself for telling my life story to an unknown person. "Excuse me?"
"I- You… I didn't mean it like that. You accent, it sounds British. I'm in London for business. You just sound… It's deep." He sighed. "I didn't mean it like that," Eli repeated.
That's how my future took off. A simple phone call changed both of our lives. Strangers took us to a coffee shop where we met up. The coffee shop brought us to acquaintances. An acquaintance made it's way to more coffee. That traveled to us shopping for a non-stained shirt. An article of clothing caused us to joke and become friends. Movies and popcorn took us to becoming closer and closer. We soon were best friends. That led to tripping and accidentally falling on one another when walking downtown. We finally realized our feelings for each other and soon enough…. We were strangers no more.
In the end, maybe God had this planned out. He tends to have funny ways of showing his love and compassion. He knew that one day I would be walking down the isle to the man I love.
Eli somehow managed to work miracles, and that is how my best friend who was once lost became my maid of honor.
I may never know why things happened this way or why Nina left, but I was thankful for how my life came to be.
I was thankful to the stranger who completed my life.