“What the heck is going on in here?!? What is that terrible music? Are you playing… is this 98 Degrees?” Santiago stormed into his sister’s room and instantly regretted it. Initially he had burst in to get her to turn off whatever it was that sounded like five guys cry-singing on repeat but looking around, he realized he had much bigger problems- by the looks of it, his sister Cassie had totally lost her mind. The lights were out, about 100 flickering candles littered every flat surface, tissues were haphazardly strewn on the floor and desk where Cassie sat balled up in the chair weeping in front of her computer screen.
“Cassie, what’s wrong?” Santiago asked quietly, partly because he was a little terrified and partly because he had a pounding headache. Turning to face her brother, Cassie’s face was red and blotchy and covered with odd markings. “Are you auditioning for KISS or something? What’s going on with your face?” he asked her bluntly, in typical brotherly fashion.
“Shut up, Go-Go, it’s my mascara, obviously,” Cassie shot back using the childhood nickname she knew he despised. Tearing a few tissues from their box she wiped at her face in an attempt to remove the mascara that had run the length of her cheeks.
“Seriously. What’s the deal, sis?” Real concern had somehow crept into his voice as Santiago took a seat on the edge of her bed.
“Like you care,” Cassie pouted and slumped into her chair, staring at her computer screen.
Santiago massaged the back of his neck in frustration. “Just tell me, Cas,” he said with every ounce of patience he could muster. His head was really beginning to throb.
“Fine, but promise not to laugh?” Cassie replied after a few minute of mulling it over.
“Promise,” her brother said, dramatically crossing his heart with his right hand in a show of good faith.
“I just lost a friend. Her last day was today, and now- she’s leaving,” Cassie began, her quivering lip making it hard for Santiago to understand her words without concentrating.
“Oh Cas, I’m so sorry. Who is it? Were you guys close?” Santiago asked, a little relieved that it was something relatively straightforward (Cassie had a tendency to overreact at times).
“Oh we were very close. We talked every day, sometimes for hours. I don’t know what I’m going to do without her,” Cassie said, tears gathering behind her lashes.
“Well who was it, did I ever meet her? Where’s she going anyway?” Santiago asked quickly, hoping more questions might distract her.
“No, you never met her. Her name is Frannie and to be honest… I’ve never actually met her. She’s going to another country for a while…” Cassie added the last part quickly.
“Wait… what do you mean you’ve never met her? If you’ve never met her then why are you so upset?” Santiago was wishing he had just taken two Nyquil when he mother suggested it instead of insisting on ‘toughing it out’. He’d be in bed, sound asleep by now instead of trying to decode the ramblings of his emotional sister.
“You’re so superficial, Go-Go!” Cassie said, her feelings obviously hurt. “Frannie and I were the closest of friends. We talked online all the time and emailed and everything. I knew you wouldn’t understand…” Cassie crossed her arms and ramped the volume on her stereo to ear-piercing level as an indication Santiago’s presence was no longer welcome. Glad to have the excuse the exit, Santiago rushed out of the room, the honeyed lyrics to I Do (Cherish You) accompanying him to the door before he slammed it shut behind him.
“Chicks,” he said shaking his head before trudging to his room to sleep away the worst headache he could remember.
The Not So Fantastic Reality:
The above story was inspired by the following tidbits I encountered today:
ONE: I have a headache. It hurts. A lot. It’s one of those fun sinus headaches that hangs out in your jaw, between your eyes and your temples. Wonder if it’s too late for a Nyquil…
TWO: Over the past few months, I’ve been building a friendship at work. She is a counselor in Graduate Studies and has been a Godsend as I’ve learned how to navigate through the stressful and treacherous waters of graduate school admissions (yes, it’s even hard for those of us on the OTHER side of the application process). Anywho, she was just my interim counselor, filling in as the fulltime counselor assigned to my program was being trained (which she was also doing). Well, after lots of emails, more questions and some Bulgarian sweets (best cookies ever!) our time ‘together’ came to an end today as the new counselor took over. We were both super sad, which was funny since we had only met twice and she’s technically not going anywhere, she’s just not assigned to my program. So this is my shout out to her.
Love & Squirrels.