Parts 1 and 3- by Allie. Parts 2 and 4- by Joanna.
To our beautiful, funny, amazing wife, Sam for her 20th(!) birthday. Our little girl is growing up. ;)
Sam, I don't even know what to say; you're funny, honest, sweet, and always there to talk. I hope you had a fabulous birthday, and ily. :)
Laura is feeling awful, but today is the day she graduates. And she'll no longer be in high school—thank goodness. Through the whole graduation ceremony, she sits in her seat, moaning to herself about her headache and her stomachache, and practically misses when they call her name.
"Laura-" She jumps out of her seat and walks across the stage to receive her diploma. She shakes the hand of her school's principal and a couple of administrators, and then begins to walk back to her seat. But the whole time, she's thinking about what she saw just moments before graduation started.
She'd been peeking out of the curtain, and she thought that there, in the crowd, she'd seen someone she'd only dreamed about meeting. Sam.
No, it couldn't be. Sam lives in Florida. There's no way she'd come to Laura's graduation. She doesn't even know where Laura goes to school. Not possible.
(But a little voice in the back of Laura's head tells her maybe it is Sam maybe she came maybe she knows where you are maybe you told her maybe it's her)
Laura slows down a little bit, squints to try and see if she sees Sam, and keeps walking. It looked like Sam. But she tells herself that plenty of people look like Sam; and she's got a headache, anyway, she's probably hallucinating. And who's to say that she would even recognize Sam when she saw her? No, it's not Sam. It can't be.
(Freudian slip, perhaps?)
Laura walks back to her seat and sits down. She finds herself acutely aware of everything now. She scans the crowd, trying to look for Sam, and fidgets with her flowers. Finally, when they say "Congratulations, Class of 2013!" and everyone flips their tassels, she really listens. She strains her ears and tries to hear if one of the voices saying "Laura!" might possibly just be Sam.
Sam. Why does she care so much about if Sam's here, anyway?
(Because it's possible that maybe, just maybe, she loves her.)
Everyone jokes about Sam and Laura being perfect for one another. It's hard for Laura to admit that she actually agrees. It's like they're two pieces of a puzzle, two captains of a ship. They practically built the HMS Chaco, after all. And now they might actually meet. Face to face.
When everything's over, Laura finds herself surrounded by family and friends, being swept up in a whirlwind of 'Congratulations!' and 'We're so proud!' but she feels guilty that she's not paying attention to any of it. There's only one place she'd rather be—looking for Sam. Just to know if it was her or not. Just to find out. Laura guesses she looks a little stressed, because her mom takes notice.
"Laura, honey?" her mother says. "Is everything okay?"
"Yeah, mom," she replies. "I just…I just thought I saw someone."
And on the whole car ride home, Laura is left wondering why, when she thought she saw Sam, she felt she was about to find something more than just a friend.
When Laura hadn't gotten a chance to look for Sam after graduation, it felt like something left unfinished that had to be done that day. She was swept up in hugs from her family and friends, and walking away from them just seemed rude. Not to mention the fact that the chances of that girl actually having been Sam were slim to none. There were plenty of tiny, brown-haired girls around... So why had that one stood out to her?
I must have imagined it, Laura thinks bitterly. She would have asked Sam, but she kept forgetting to ask every time they spoke. (That, and she wasn't quite sure she wanted to hear her answer.)
Well, there's no use worrying about it now, she decides. Her (and her best friend's) graduation party is starting in a few minutes, and people are starting to arrive. Sighing, she walks downstairs and forces a smile onto her face.
"Hey, Lily!" she calls out, dashing over to her friend and giving her a quick hug. "Are you excited?" Lily nods, raising an eyebrow at Laura.
"I'm pretty excited, but you sure don't look like it. What's up?" But Laura just shakes her head, because how can she explain that she thinks she hallucinated a girl she's never met who she just might be in love with?
"Just a little freaked out," she says quickly. "I mean, this is it. This is the end of our school life, our life as kids. Next stop: college. It's kind of a lot to take in."
"You'll be fine," Lily says, squeezing her arm. Laura has just enough time to hear her mutter, "My little genius," before Lily dashes across the room to see someone else. Laura's eyes linger on her for a moment, and when she turns around again, someone's arm is reaching out to tap her. Immediately, Laura does what she always does at get-togethers like this.
Short, thin, curly brown hair, blue-grey eyes... She goes through the features, since she can't recognize faces, struggling to match a family member to this description. Then suddenly, before she can help herself, she blurts out, "Sam?"
A huge smile breaks out on the other girl's face and her eyes light up. "How did you recognize me?" she exclaims, looking strangely happy. "I thought you were face-blind and all that; how could you tell it was me?" Laura just shakes her head, dumbfounded, and grins.
"I guess sometimes, you can just tell." She squirms nervously, her arms swinging back and forth, unsure of whether or not to hug this girl she just met seconds ago, but she's known for almost two years.
"Can I-" She half-waves her arms awkwardly, and Sam grins.
"Go ahead." So Laura takes a step forward and hugs her, unable to help but notice that, as promised, she does smell like Everlasting Sunshine. Laura thinks maybe she should buy a bottle. Sam wraps her arms around her and gives her a light squeeze.
"Is it weird that I sort of feel like I missed you?" she asks.
"Yeah, a little," Laura replies, laughing. "But I guess I feel the same way." And they both feel as awkward as they ever have, yet neither one wants to let go.
"People are staring," Laura mumbles, reluctantly pulling away. "I guess... Hey, I've got an idea. Here, come with me."
Sam looks around the small, cramped space, and can't help grinning. "This is...really sexual."
"I didn't mean it like that!"
"You didn't mean to hide us in a pantry?" Sam asks, still smiling from ear to ear.
Laura blushes. "No?" The two girls are sitting in Laura's pantry, with Sam next to the spaghetti and Laura next to the cereal. She grabs a banana and offers it to Sam. "Banana?" Sam shakes her head. "Your loss." There is comfortable silence—Laura eats her banana, Sam watches, and the two listen to the faint sounds of the party music from out in the backyard. "You know, you're as short as you say you are," Laura blurts, trying to make conversation.
Sam rolls her eyes. "Thanks," she says, mock-seriously, but she can't stay mad at Laura for long and soon the two girls are laughing and giggling. "We should probably, you know, not be in a pantry. If we're laughing and making noise and someone comes in…"
"Yeah, that's a good idea." Laura stands up at the same time as Sam, but she loses her balance and has to grab for the shelf behind Sam to stay standing. Instead, she falls onto Sam, and the two end up on the floor, with Laura on top of Sam.
Mid-fall, Laura hears the door creak open.
"Laura, honey? Oh! What's going on?"
"Oh my god, Mom." Laura scrambles up from her spot on the floor, as does Sam. "This is…this is not what it looks like."
Laura's mom chuckles. "Okay. Who's this, then?"
"This is my friend, Sam," Laura says. "Sam, um, this is my mom."
Sam sticks her hand out. "Nice to meet you, Mrs. Laura. Your daughter and I weren't having sex."
Laura swears that she's never been more embarrassed as her mother shakes Sam's hand and smiles. "I believe you. Laura, dear, can I get the bananas?"
She passes the bananas over, and her mom looks at her pointedly, as though she doesn't quite believe that the two girls are completely innocent. "Er," Laura says, not meeting her mom's gaze. "Anyway."
"I'll leave you two to…whatever you were doing. Be good. We're cutting the cake in an hour, Laura." Laura's mom gently closes the door, and Sam can't resist laughing when she hears Laura's mom laughing quietly as she walks away from the pantry.
"That... that was awkward," Laura says, still unable to speak without giggling. Sam's face is red as she shakes her head and laughs.
"I'm sure I made a great first impression on your mom." Laura shakes her head, blushing uncontrollably.
"I don't think I can face this right now, honestly. C'mere, let's go," she says, grabbing Sam's hand and pulling her toward the door.
"Are you seriously about to ditch your own graduation party?" Sam asks incredulously.
"Well, I'm glad you chose me to be the one you're ditching with."
They step outside as quietly as possible, Laura gently closing the door behind her.
"Want to take a walk?" she asks awkwardly, motioning down the street.
"Sure, it's a really nice day," Sam replies. For a few moments, they just walk side by side, until Sam musters up the courage to slide her hand into Laura's. Laura feels her breath catch in her throat as her heart beats a bit faster, and she isn't quite sure why. Unsure of how to react, she blurts out the first thing that comes to mind.
"How on earth did you find my house? And how did you know the party was today?"
"You mentioned the date of the party in one of your PMs. As for how I found your house, well... I have my ways." Refusing to elaborate on more details, Laura sighs.
"Well, you're here, and that's definitely what counts."
"Definitely." For a few more minutes, they walk in silence, occasionally glancing over at the other and smiling.
This isn't nearly as awkward as it could have been, Laura thinks. In fact... it's really nice.
"Hey, Sam?" she asks nervously. "This is probably a really strange question, but... were you at my graduation?"
"Your graduation?" she repeats, looking befuddled. "Like, the actual ceremony?"
"No, I wasn't there," Sam replies, grinning. "Why do you ask?" Laura blushes.
"I don't know. I just could've sworn I saw you there, but... I guess not. Anyway, it's not like I could have recognized you, really..."
"Well, I'm here now, and that's definitely what counts," she replies, echoing Laura. Laura grins back, but something keeps nagging her in the back of her mind, something she's almost afraid to say aloud. She's about to push it out of her mind and try to forget it, when she realizes that right now may be the only time she'll be able to ask Sam anything in person. So she does.
"Sam?" she says nervously, digging her nails into her palm. "Wh-What are we, exactly? Are we internet friends, 'almost twins,' real friends..." And the one she's too afraid to ask, Something more? Laura watches Sam for a moment, taking in every detail, because this is the only time she'll be able to really get a full answer from Sam. The only time she can see the way her eyebrows are raised, her lips moving wordlessly as if trying to form an answer.
"I don't really know what to call us, Laura," Sam says softly. "I think we're all of those things; we met online, but at this point, you may as well be part of me. Of course we're 'real friends,' and 'almost twins,' and... maybe even something more." Laura feels her heartbeat quicken as she smiles at Sam.
"Well," she says, only half jokingly, "Everyone has that one person they would turn for..."
"I'm not making any promises," Sam laughs, "but I'm starting to think this might be it." For what feels like the millionth time that day, Laura feels her face turn red and her throat tighten. Unable to think of an acceptable response, she turns around.
"We should probably head back."
Bye the time they get back to Laura's house, it's nearly 5 o'clock, and Sam swears loudly.
"I have to go." She swears again and sighs, pulling Laura in for a final hug. Sam pushes herself up onto her tiptoes and kisses Laura on the cheek; a shiver runs down Laura's back. "I've had an awesome day with you, you know." Laura tightens her grip around Sam as she breathes in her scent, trying not to focus on the fact that this could be the last hug they get.
"Yeah. Me too," Laura says, biting her lip. She rests her chin on Sam's head, closing her eyes. After almost a full minute of standing like this, Sam unwraps her arms and reluctantly steps away.
"See you soon, right?"
"I hope so," Laura replies, sighing.
"Well, bye, I guess. It was great. And congrats on graduating!"
"Bye, love you!" Laura replies automatically. Suddenly, her eyes widen as she realizes what she said, but Sam smiles hugely when she hears this. And she may not say it back, but Laura sees her smile growing bigger as she walks away, and that makes it okay.
After all, it's not the most embarrassing thing that's happened to them today. Not by a long shot.