I Can't Imagine Being Anywhere Else

Chapter 3

“When all you got to keep is strong,
Move along; move along like I know you do.
And even when your hope is gone,
Move along, move along just to make it through."

“Are you sure you you’re okay with doing this?” Cindy asked, giving me her signature concerned look. She was frowning and giving me wary eyes.

I nodded, the most reassuring face I could conjure up appearing on my face. “Like I’ve said three times before, yes, I am. I don’t want you to go through this alone.”

It was 10 PM and we were sitting in the dark. The only lights around us where the sharp glows of the buttons and signs on the control panel of her car. She glanced at me, still not quite satisfied with my answer. When I looked away and out the way, Cindy sighed and put the car into drive.

“Whatever you say.” She murmured.

The thrum of the engine intensified a bit as we pulled out of the student parking lot. I looked out the window into the dark night as Cindy drove. We were on our way to her parents’ house. They lived about half an hour away. Cindy had never gotten along well with her parents. They were strict and just plain rude to everyone. They tried to raise Cindy the same way, but she turned out to be an amazing person. It just went to show that parents do not always influence the lives of their children in the long run, especially when the influences were negative.

Cindy needed to pick up a few things she’d left at home over the summer. She didn’t want to go alone during the night, though, and have to maybe see her parents, so I’d volunteered to accompany her. Reluctantly she accepted, but I knew she was extremely glad I was tagging along.

“You’re tense,” I whispered after a couple minutes of watching Cindy’s hands tighten around the steering wheel. Her eyebrows creased a bit and she chewed her lip before answering.

“I guess I am a little,” She admitted, trying visibly to relax.

“Everything is going to be alright, okay? I’ll be right here with you,” I said, reaching out to Cindy. She placed her right hand in my left one and squeezed tightly. Holding hands always comforted her for some reason.

“You’re the best friend in the world, you know that, Kellin?”

A tiny smirk played at the corners of my mouth. “I know.”
Thirty minutes and many Fall Out Boy songs later, we arrived in front of Cindy’s parents’ house. It was a tall Victorian style home and very fancy looking. The Vellas extremely rich, so they lived a lavish life. It was only Cindy who didn’t care about the money. Just looking at her, you would never know that she came from a family of millionaires.

“Well, here we are,” Cindy said with a sigh, pushing her silky hair out of her face. She quickly tied it up into a loose ponytail and got out of the car. I followed suit, and we met at the walkway that led to the house.

Silently, we made our way to the front door. The curtains in every window were pulled closed, but there was no pale light behind any of them. Everyone inside must have been asleep or away.

Cindy took out her old house key and stuck it in the lock. She turned her hand to the left and there was a tiny click. We met eyes for a second, then pushed open the door and walked in.

I heard Cindy pull her phone out of her pocket (rather loudly) and turn on the flashlight. She shined it right in my face, making me squint and shield my eyes as she giggled quietly.

“Hate you,” I mumbled, opening my eyes after a couple seconds and blinking twice to rid my sight of the light’s leftover shadows.
Now that we could see around a little, I took my time in inspecting the place. It was a bit messy, mostly cluttered with little items that hadn’t been put away yet, or paperwork. Both of Cindy’s parents worked in offices, so they always had a ton of papers with them. Above the fireplace in the conjoined living room was a cross with Jesus on it, and I wasn’t surprised, because Mr. and Mrs. Vella were extremely Christian. Looking away, I focused on Cindy.

“So you just need a few things from your room, right?” I asked, and she nodded a confirmation.

“Yeah, let’s just hurry up in case they wake up.”

We scurried up the stairs as silently as possible, and slipped into Cindy’s old room at the end of the hallway. I shivered from how cold it was. Cindy closed the door behind us and then flicked on the light. Even though we were best friends, I had never actually been inside Cindy’s room. Just the downstairs. Of course, I couldn’t get a good idea of what her room was, or used to be, like, because mostly everything was gone and in her dorm. A few posters lingered on the walls and there was a stack of books against the wall. There was a graduation gown and prom dress hanging in the open closet, both covered in a clear plastic sheet for protection. The walls were painted a pale green and the floors were shiny hardwood. I crossed the room and sat on Cindy’s double bed as she hurried to gather what she needed. I smoothed my hands over the sky blue comforter with white polka dots, smiling at how simple yet colourful the scheme of the room was.

“Kellin, can you check under the bed and see if my scrapbook is there?” Cindy asked as she shoved a few pictures into her backpack.

I nodded, dropping down onto my knees. I peeked under the bed and searched around. In the corner I could see the shape of a book, so I pulled it out. I wiped off the dust particles and flipped through, seeing pictures of a young girl with bright orange hair. She must have been Cindy as a child, though it was shocking how much Cindy’s hair had dulled out.

Just as I was standing up, something slipped out from the back of the book and landed on the floor. I bent and retrieved it, frowning. “What’s this?” I asked. It looked something like a medical bracelet, but before I could get a good look, Cindy snatched it away and dropped it into the backpack.

“Nothing, just help me take down those posters, please.” She said, turning her back to me.

I shrugged and started to carefully remove the posters from the walls. I collected the sticky tack and balled it up, starting to play with it. Cindy rolled her eyes and folded up the posters. I watched as she carefully took her jewellery box from the back of the closet, inspecting it and then sighing softly.

“I feel bad taking this. It reminds me of when I dropped my mother’s diamond earring down the shower drain… She never trusted me with expensive jewellery again, but surprised me with a ruby necklace on my sixteenth birthday. She always kept close watch over it so nothing happened.”

Cindy bit her lip and thought for a couple seconds, before deciding that, yes, she should take the collection of earrings, bracelets, and necklaces with. She was on her way to the backpack, which was now set on the bed, went the jewellery box tilted slightly, and fell out of her hands. It hit the floor with an ear-splitting crash, spilling the contents everywhere. Cindy swore in a high-pitched voice and jumped back. I scrambled over to collect the items, but Cindy grabbed my arm, pleading for me to leave it and run. I didn’t know why, but a second later I heard alarmed voices.

Cindy’s face went pale and she yanked me up with new-found strength. She grabbed the backpack and her phone, and hauled me out of the room. We were halfway down the stairs when a door opened and rapid footsteps were after us. My heart was beating a thousand miles an hour and I finally got my feet working, running to the door. I flung it open and dashed outside with Cindy right behind me. We traversed the street and hurriedly got into the car. Cindy was in the driver’s side like before. She started the car as her parents got to the door, screaming out something we couldn’t hear. Cindy was shaking as she stepped on the accelerator and pulled away.

The car ride was silent for at least ten minutes. I could feel how shaken and upset Cindy was. The night definitely hadn’t gone how she wanted. The objective was to get in and out without being noticed.

“Do you think they saw me?” Cindy whispered finally, snapping me out of my concerned thoughts.

“No, I don’t, Cin. It’s 11 PM. They’d just waken up and were probably really out of it,” I said, trying to comfort her.

Cindy nodded, running her right hand through her hair, tangling it up a little and seeming not to notice. “You’re right,” she said, trying to sound certain.

I turned the radio on again to relax us and leaned my head against the window. I must have fallen asleep, because the next thing I knew, we were stopped and Cindy was shaking me. I yawned and stretched, asking where we were in a mumble.

“We’re back on campus, Kells. Let’s go,” Cindy said. She grabbed her backpack and got out of the car. I groaned tiredly and followed her. She walked quickly and I dragged myself after her, up the three flights of stairs to my room, where she dropped me off.

“Thanks so much for coming with. It really means a lot to me,” Cindy murmured.

I smiled. “Of course; what are best friends for?” I asked, and she giggled, enveloping me in a hug.

“I ‘dunno, Kells. Now go to bed, there’s class tomorrow.”

I rolled my eyes. “Yes, mother.”

“Oh, shut up,” Cindy mumbled, hitting my arm gently. She readjusted the backpack straps and gave me a small wave before disappearing down the hallway. I smiled as she left, and took a moment to wonder how I’d gotten so lucky. I had the most amazing friends, especially Cindy. I couldn’t have asked for a better best friend.