Time of Our Lives Page 1

Author: Emily Wibberley

Genres: Romance , Young Adult


THIS IS A terrible idea.

I watch New Hampshire go by in the bus window. The brittle limbs of the trees on every sidewalk blur together. The bus is close to full, a tall woman holding her service German shepherd’s harness in front of me. Despite the crowd and the lurching motion of the drive, the dog looks unperturbed. Lucky him.

I wonder what Lewis is doing right now. He’s probably drinking with his fraternity brothers. Typical Friday night behavior. Now that he and Prisha have broken up, he’s likely looking for his rebound. I’m guessing he won’t notice if I don’t get in to Boston on time.

The knitting needles of the woman in the back of the bus clack incessantly. I narrow my focus in on the pocket dictionary open on my knees, which brush the seat in front of me. I’ve had the book since I was a freshman. It’s a compendium of obscure, unusual words, and it’s become a bit of a pastime to flip through the pages. Words and their definitions are a hobby of mine. I like how they impose temporary control on the world, putting names to the intangible. Not to mention, having a sweet vocabulary makes me effortlessly cool and a hit with the ladies.

The dictionary is open to So-, where I find it. Solicitude. The state of protective concern or worry. I underline the word in a single pencil stroke.

I put the book in my bag and glance out the window again. If Lewis isn’t drinking with his friends, he’s probably working on job applications for next year. I know he has other things he could be doing this week. While I’m not in a frat or employable anywhere other than the Froyo place in the mall, I have things I could be doing too.

Going on a college tour down the East Coast wasn’t my idea. I’ve made my decision. My application to Southern New Hampshire University was out the door on December 1. And going with Lewis definitely wasn’t my idea. It was my mom’s. She insisted on Lewis and me having the opportunity for “brotherly bonding.” Besides, Lewis is the one with a credit card, which we’ll use for meals and hotels. Mom promised she’ll pay him back. Having him come with is annoyingly logical.

I don’t know what Lewis and I will talk about. The only things I know about him—he’s in a frat, and he recently broke up with his girlfriend, Prisha—come from overhearing his infrequent calls home on holidays and the occasional weeknight. The only other things I know about my brother could be summarized on his résumé. He’s in his final year at Boston University, he’s about to finish his degree in economics, and he’s searching for finance jobs in New York. Or Boston. Or Chicago.


Anywhere but home.

I drop my eyes to the folder on the seat next to me. I’ve only glanced through it once or twice, which makes me feel a little guilty. It contains weeks of my mom’s careful research on every school I’m meant to visit from Boston to Baltimore in the next ten days, every program she thinks I could theoretically find interesting, the email confirmations for each hotel she’s booked for Lewis and me, an envelope of spending money, even printouts of local restaurants and “places of interest.” It’s heartbreakingly detailed. Following the first day in Boston, I’m supposed to head to Rhode Island and Connecticut, then New York City and colleges in western Pennsylvania, finally ending in Baltimore and home in time for Christmas.

Tonight, the plan is for me to reach South Station in Boston, take the MBTA bus to BU, and meet Lewis in front of his dorm. I don’t know how Mom convinced Lewis to drive me down the coast, but I do know this entire trip was orchestrated to fit his schedule. He finished his in-class exams today, and Mom planned our visit to New York to coincide with one of his job interviews. Never mind the timing necessitated I miss a week of school—something my mom found negligible since I don’t have finals until after winter break.

I know plenty of my classmates would love the opportunity to ditch for a week. But I like school. I like AP English and debating film noir favorites with my friends. I especially like my perfect attendance record. What I don’t like is pretending the question of college is worth the weight everyone places on it. It’s this blinding prize everyone’s rushing toward. Not me. College isn’t important enough to disrupt everything else in my life.

The bus rumbles to a halt in front of a post office. On the curb outside the window, a few people huddle in hats and heavy coats, the sunset lighting them in vermillion. It’s cold, not yet snowy. In a couple of weeks, plowed piles of dirty snow will line every curb.

The doors open with a hiss and a thud. The first passenger on is a girl who’s probably about my age. She’s cute, I can’t help noticing, with purple lipstick and an Elliott Smith shirt. When she tugs off her beanie, curly black hair spills onto her shoulders. She’s the kind of girl who makes me painfully conscious of what a pale redheaded nobody I am.

I could invite her to sit, but I probably won’t. I tend to keep to myself in cafeterias and classrooms, content with the close friends I’ve had for years. Going out of my way to chat with random girls on public transportation isn’t quite my style. Even if I occasionally think about doing exactly that.

She catches my eye, and a small smile springs to her aubergine lips. I hesitate.

Fuck me. A cute girl notices me and I hesitate. Lewis would say this is why I’ve never had a girlfriend. Part of me wants to move my folder and offer her the seat. It’s just, then she might notice the BU brochure poking out of the folder, and then she might want to talk about college. And then I’d have to explain why I’m not going to any of the colleges on this diligently prepared itinerary. This punctiliously prepared itinerary. Or she might want to tell me how great her boyfriend is, and how he plays lead guitar in a band, benches three hundred, and could have his pick of girls but chose her, and then we’d be in that conversation.

Whatever. I reach for my folder nevertheless—but she’s already walking past my row. I place the folder back on the seat, and in that moment, it feels like I’m destined for a lifetime of putting folders back on empty seats next to mine. The bus doors close, and we veer away from the curb.

In the cool plexiglass of the window, I catch my reflection watching me despondently. I wonder if I’m the kind of guy Beanie Girl would go for. My red hair, pale freckled skin, blue eyes set in a narrow face—I don’t think I’m bad looking, but I’m not exactly magazine-cover material.

In my pocket, my phone vibrates. I reach for it with a quickness that’s become instinct, but it’s only Lewis.

 Room 2303 when you get here. It’s open. Will meet you when I’m out of my exam.


Without replying, I shove my phone back into my jacket pocket. The bus pulls up to the next stop, the one I’ve been waiting for. I grab my things and get off.

The cold bites my nose the moment my feet hit the pavement, the familiarity of this specific street corner enveloping me reassuringly. Tugging my coat tighter, I swiftly walk a block down, then turn the corner. It’s a ten-minute trip through the neighborhood I’ve known my entire life, past the library and the elementary school. Finally, I walk up to my door, fumble for the keys in my pocket, and, with a deep breath, step inside.