“Hey Chinara, did I leave my chocolate in here?” Riley asked, barging into my dorm room. She sauntered over to where I lay curled in bed and nudged me over against the wall so she could snuggle under the covers with me.
“Yes, Riles, come in. Make yourself at home.” Despite my sarcasm, I set my laptop on the floor and gave my best friend a quick hug of welcome.
“Nara, this is serious,” Riley whined, pulling away and clutching her stomach. “I’ve got a Red Wedding situation going on in my underwear, and this lost Reese’s bar is the only thing that can help me right now.”
“Didn’t you eat the chocolate already?” I asked. “Like, within ten minutes of buying it?”
Silence reigned for long moments.
“No. Please no, don’t let this be true.”
I laughed. “Stop being such a baby. A bar of chocolate never lasts long in your possession, anyway.”
Riley glowered at me. “I resent that,” she muttered. “I am a woman and I have needs. I have nothing to be ashamed of.”
Grinning, I replied, “Preaching to the choir, sister.”
This seemed to pacify her, because she settled back down beside me. We both stared up at the ceiling, lost in thought, until Riley’s stomach gurgled. Loudly.
“Nara, I need chocolate.” She glanced at me with hopeful eyes.
“You and me both, gal.” I paused. “Wait, what time is it? Will the newsagent still be open?”
Riley shot up in bed like a puppy hearing the word walkies. “I think so, it’s not even midnight yet. Can we go? Can we go?” She bounced up and down on the spot, grinning.
Riley shot up in bed like a puppy hearing the word walkies
“You go, I’m in my pyjamas.” I pulled the duvet to hide my face from the pout I knew she was pulling.
Riley gasped dramatically. “You would make me wander around alone? At this time of night?”
Grumbling about fake friends, I emerged from my haven and changed into tracksuits, knowing that this wasn’t a battle I was going to win, and before I knew it, we were stumbling back into my room with three chocolate bars each. Stomachs happy, we huddled back in bed to watch Friends. It was an episode we’d seen a thousand times, the one where Rachel was preparing to leave the friendship group to work in another country.
The episode was nearly finished when Riley started crying. Her body shook from the force of her sobs, and she buried her face in my shoulder.
“Riles? What’s wrong?” I felt like a deer in headlights.
“Y-you’re l-l-leaving me,” she cried. She wiped away her tears but more fell to replace them. “You’re g-going to America for a whole year and you’re leaving me here, just like Rachel was gonna leave them.”
My mouth opened and closed. “I-I… Bloody hell, Riles.” It wasn’t enough to describe my pounding heart, the whirlwind of emotions that refused to manifest on my face.
“I k-know it’s only a year abroad,” Riley continued. “I know you’re c-coming back. But it sucks that I’m losing you, Nara, even for a little bit.”
“I don’t wanna leave you either but Riles…I have to go. It’s my education. I can’t-
“I don’t wanna leave you either but Riles…I have to go. It’s my education. I can’t-“
Riley shook her head. “I’m not asking you to stay.” She sucked in a deep breath and attempted a smile. “I just…I needed you to know.”
Tears pricked my eyes as I pulled her in for a hug. “Gal, our friendship is strong enough to survive distance. And like, if you think we’re gonna lose contact instead of getting even closer, then you clearly don’t know me as well as you thought.” I squeezed her tightly to emphasise my words, and smiled into her hair when she squeezed back.
“Now, are you done being cute and sappy, or do I need to launch into a whole pep talk about how amazing we are?” I joked, trying to keep the sadness out of my voice. Riley stared at me like I was a puzzle she couldn’t solve, then grinned.
“As amazing as I think that pep talk would be, I think Netflix misses us,” Riley teased, sniffling and settling back under the duvet. With a sigh of relief, I followed her example and we resumed watching, but the characters were a blur to me as I tried to keep my tears at bay. Because as much as I was excited to study abroad, I also didn’t want to leave. I didn’t want to leave.
But I didn’t say any of that. I just kept playing episode after episode until both of us fell asleep.