‹ Prequel: The More You Chase It
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Memories Are Wonderful

A Fraction of a Second

My first week of school and work went by quickly and with ease, much to my surprise. Home was starting to feel more like home again and I was finding comfort in the familiar places. By the time Saturday rolled around I was almost completely settled into my habits and content.

“This was a really good idea,” Samantha said as she looked at all the records in front of the small shop. Most of them were on two small wooden tables but they were piled in unorganized heaps with super reduced prices.

I ran my hands through my hair, “yeah, this is really cool.”

I was excited to rummage through the records. Things like this were always fun for me. These were the types of places where you find real gems.

Elizabeth seemed happy to make her first real contribution to the group, “my boyfriend told me about it.”

“You keep calling him your boyfriend but haven’t you only been on like 2 dates?” Samantha didn’t mean the question in a condemning way.

I was focussing more on the records than the conversation.

“Actually we’ve been on 4 and I’m pretty sure we’re getting kind of serious. I mean we’re taking it slow.”

This type of conversation was always Kate’s domain, she loved it. “Have you guys... you know, done the deed?”

I couldn’t help but laugh at the crudeness of the questions and Kate’s enthusiasm but I didn’t look up from the records. I saw a couple of British artists I had listened to overseas but nothing I didn’t already have.

“Well no, not yet, but he’s not that kind of guy. I really like him, we’re taking it slow.”

The conversation had become but a mere mumbling in the background. My eyes gazed over Phil Collins and Elton John and eventually as their chatter continued I found the only record I would end up buying that day: The Amazing Nina Simone.

“You’re awfully quiet Daisy,” Sam had mentioned at some point but once you get me shopping for anything like books or music I often get lost in it.

We stayed for a little while longer before heading to a Starbucks. Inside was the familiar smell of sugary drinks and coffee.

“So what record did you get?” Elizabeth asked as we sat at a small circular table by the window.

I pulled the record from the unique paper bag, “Nina Simone.”

She lit up at my answer, “my boyfriend loves her.”

“Do you even have another date planned with him?” Sam rolled her eyes as she spoke. I wondered if there was some jealousy there.

“As a matter of fact,” she sat up slightly taller, “he’s bringing me to dinner with his brothers tonight.”

Kate nodded, conceding, “that is a big step.”

I looked down at my watch, noting the time to be 4pm. The day was going by so fast. I loved spending time with these three girls I called friends.

“What about you Sam?” I asked, “Seeing anyone?”

“Pffftt. Yeah right!”

Kate was her usual self, jumping in to lift Sam’s spirits, “Being single is not a curse it’s a blessing, no offense Liz.”

Elizabeth hadn’t taken any. She seemed so smitten with the idea of this new guy in her life.

“We’re free, independent women who can have as much fun as we want, enjoy it while it lasts!”

I rolled my eyes. After living with her for 7 months I still found her view on relationships an amusing one.

The coffee shop around us was buzzing with business and conversation but I could still hear Elizabeth’s phone vibrate in her pocket.

“I hope you guys don’t mind,” she spoke as she texted, not looking up from the screen. “I’m telling Jim to meet me here because he just finished working.”

“No, no. Go ahead. Let us meet this mystery man,” Samantha obliged her.

She smiled, “Cool because he’s just down the street so he should be here in a couple of minutes.”

Kate got up and stole an empty chair from a small rectangular table. She squeezed it around our small circular one between Elizabeth and me. “There, now he can sit with us for a bit.”

Five people around the tiny table would be pushing it but all the bigger tables were taken.

“So how did you guys meet?” Kate was ever inquisitive.

It seemed like the conversation of the day kept returning to the same subject but I didn’t mind. We were all girls but Elizabeth was the only one with any kind of love life at the moment so it was expected.

She smiled when she spoke about him, “Well we’ve known each other for a few years but only as acquaintances but more recently I kept seeing him around when I was walking my dog and we’d start these random long conversations. Then one day he asked me on a date. I think he must have liked me for a while because he seemed so nervous or unsure.”

“That’s cute.” I took a sip of my coffee. It was nice to see my friend happy even if we weren’t that close yet. She looked down at her phone and then out at the window.

“Jim says he’s almost here.”

We all watched out the window and waited but it wasn’t more than a minute before Elizabeth’s eyes lit up as they locked on something across the street. I followed her gaze to the hordes of people walking on the sidewalk, looking for the mystery man, when my heart plummeted to my stomach. Coming across the street in a black leather jacket and light jeans, James walked like an apparition from my past. He didn’t see me or the table staring at him through the window. Moments later, moments that didn’t even really register, he was in the Starbucks walking towards our table.

My chest felt like it was about to collapse in its new emptiness.

“Hi Elizabeth,” he greeted. It was then that he finally looked around the table. His brown eyes lingered on mine a fraction of a second longer than they should have but I couldn’t tell what he was thinking.

And just like that life was no longer perfect. Not now that Elizabeth’s Jim was actually my James.

He didn’t kiss her, that was a good sign at least. But it did nothing for my deflated heart.

“Come sit,” she gestured to the empty chair, “Jim this is Kate, Samantha, and Daisy. Guys this is Jim.”

As she spoke he slid off his jacket and put it on the back of the chair. “You can call me James. Elizabeth is the only one that calls me Jim and that’s because she won’t stop.”

When he finally sat down in the chair beside me I could smell his cologne. He was freshly shaven and his hair was short and dark but although his hair was ever-changing his scent remained the same.

Obviously it had gotten to the point where we were actually pretending not to know each other. I wondered if it was for Elizabeth’s benefit or he just didn’t want to remember me. After all we’d been through and the months in England it had taken to get my mind off of him it felt weird acting as though I didn’t know him. Now, here, so close I could feel his warmth beside me I acted as though he wasn’t the same James I used to call my best friend, the same James I used to be in love with.

Luckily they didn’t stay long. I hoped no one else could tell how tense I was even I tried to ignore it.

“Ok, that was weird.” Samantha said once they had left.

Kate jumped in, “Yeah! How did she fail to mention that her boyfriend was James Franco?”

“I thought he looked familiar,” Samantha looked baffled.

I didn’t voluntarily join the conversation but Kate would never let me stay silent in my shocked state.

“And I didn’t know you were a Franco fan Daize!”

“What?” I don’t really know if fan was the right word.

“You were acting so odd. Every time he moved you’d flinch. You were so starstruck.”

Yeah, that’s what it was, sure.

“I don’t know it was just weird.” Because I used to be in love with him.

“Do you think she actually has a shot with him?” Samantha and Kate were so wrapped up in the idea that he was James Franco the movie star. All I could think was that he was James, my old best friend.

Kate shrugged, “I have no idea.”

I really hoped she didn’t, and that made me feel guilty. She hadn’t done anything wrong… that she knew of at least.

All the sudden the conversation of the day took on new meaning. I knew from it that they had only been on a few dates, they hadn’t slept together, and they didn’t kiss when he came to the Starbucks. All of that had to mean something. Although, it really shouldn’t have mattered, and it didn’t.