I looked up at the ceiling of my room. The familiar off-white shade almost looked tan in this lighting. But tan would've been too exciting for a college dorm. I rolled over. Nolan was still asleep, or at least he was pretending to be asleep. His curly hair framed his face. He almost looked like a sculpture in the early morning sunlight.
It was time I got this over with. I hadn't thought about it much, but now that the moment was here, I was dreading the aftermath. I sighed, better to just rip the band-aid off. "I don't love you," I told him matter-of-factly.
He didn't open his eyes. I frowned, thinking maybe he actually was asleep. "What?" He finally asked. His eyes stayed closed though.
"I love the world," I said wistfully. My eyes drifted to the wall, which had once held a massive world map. It was the scratch-off kind. Not enough places had been scratched off for my liking. I glanced back at Nolan; he still hadn't opened his eyes. Now I was just getting annoyed, I had a strict schedule today and he was cutting into my time. "I love the world, and I don't love you."
Finally he cracked one eye open, as if finally realizing I was serious. "Why not?"
I tilted my head, trying to settle on an adequate explanation. I was drawing a blank. It was too early, I seriously needed some caffeine. "I just don't."
Nolan pushed himself up onto his elbows and looked at me. His intense frown looked out of place on his boyish face. "That's not a good enough reason."
I looked back up at the ceiling. "It's a feeling. I don't have to have a reason for it. Feelings just happen." Out of the corner of my eye, I could see how tense he was. I, on the other hand, remained in a comfortable, sprawled position.
"You loved me yesterday," he protested. "There has to be-"
I let out a long, drawn out sigh, cutting him off. "No, I didn't, Nolan." I rolled out of bed and grabbed my t-shirt off the ground in one motion. I had more important things to do today. I pulled the shirt on and took a step toward my desk.
"What?" He asked again.
"You sound like a broken record," I muttered. I flipped the cover open on my iPad. The countdown clock filled the screen with abrasive block numbers. "We graduate in three days, two hours, and seven minutes," I read off. "I figured now was a good a time as any to tell you. I don't want to deal with this when my family gets in this afternoon." I turned back toward Nolan, who was still lying in my bed. "I don't want you waiting for me to come back."
His brows furrowed in confusion. "Back from where?"
"Back from Europe," I informed him. I scanned the room before finding my skinny jeans.
"You're going to Europe?" He asked as I shimmied into my jeans. "Why didn't you tell me? When do you leave?"
"Because I didn't want you to come with me," I said, as if it were obvious. I turned back to my desk and flicked a finger across my iPad, switching the countdown. "I leave in four days, seventeen hours, and twenty two minutes."
"You're leaving right after graduation," he realized.
I nodded, even though it wasn't a question. "Why not? I'm twenty-two years old. When else am I going to have the chance to see the world like this? I'm not going to be young forever."
"When are you coming back?" He asked.
I shrugged. "Who knows?"
He still looked unconvinced, like this was just another one of my half-assed plans. I didn't really blame him, I was known for being a planner not a doer. "Maybe we should talk about this later, Bea." I cringed. I hated that nickname and he knew it. Everyone who knew me called me by my middle name, Brighton. It was common courtesy to forget I had the misfortune of being named Beatrice.
"I have a nonrefundable, one way ticket to Copenhagen for Sunday night. There is no later." The annoyance was finally creeping into my voice. I picked up Nolan's pants and tossed them to him. "You should probably get out of here before Leah gets back." I turned back to my desk with finality. There wasn't much left here, most things were already in boxes to send back to South Carolina with my parents, or in my suitcase which was leaning against the closet. The only things left on my desk were a new leather-bound notebook, my iPad, and a bottle of perfume that Leah had gotten me for my birthday.
"Are you breaking up with me?" Nolan asked. I turned to see he'd made it to the doorway. His hand hovered on the door to the sitting area, as if waiting for me to tell him this was a big joke.
I blinked twice. "I thought I made that quite clear." Nolan didn't say anything else, just turned and let himself out of my room. The silence that filled the dorm was nice, but it only lasted a few minutes. The door in the living room was flung open with such force I was pretty sure we'd have to pay a damage fee to fix the hole in the wall.
"I'm done with finals!" She practically screamed. I leaned on the doorframe as she leapt over the back of the couch and landed with a thump. Her dark hair billowed around her and she grinned up at me. "Why did I let my parents talk me into walking at graduation?" She tossed the couch cushions into the air as if she was going to juggle them. Instead they all just fell to the ground next to her.
I darted back into my room and emerge with the perfume bottle from my desk. "Here, Leah."
She pushed herself up and examined the bottle. "I gave you that," she remembered. I nodded, still holding it out for her to take. "Is it defective?"
"No, it's fine. At least, I guess. I haven't used it," I admitted. "I've used the same perfume since senior year of high school. I don't need to carry another one with me, and it'll probably go off before I get back."
"Oh," she said. "Okay." She looked more than a little offended as she took the bottle out of my hand. I wanted to have sympathy for her, but I'd told her a month ago what I actually wanted for my birthday. The list had been full of useful things, from portable phone chargers to a Chanel passport cover. Instead she'd gone for a high-end perfume that she would have picked for herself.
Leah leaned forward, peeking into my almost empty bedroom. "Did you actually get rid of Nolan before I got back from breakfast, or is he stashed in your closet?"
I sighed. "He's gone. Permanently."
Her eyes widened. "I thought you were kidding when you said you were breaking up with him, Brighton!"
"Nope," I said with a small laugh. "Gotta get rid of all that dead weight in my life." She frowned at the perfume bottle in her hand before sitting it on the coffee table. "When do your parents get in?" I asked, perching on the back of the couch.
"Tomorrow night," she said. "Mom couldn't bare to miss an extra day of work. When I literally told her I didn't even need to walk at all. But, she claimed it wasn't official until I walked across the stage." Leah rolled her eyes so dramatically; I thought they were stuck in the back of her head for a moment. "Anyway, I'll get out of your way if your parents are coming by. Not that there's much for them to see, we've both cleared out."
I nodded as I glanced around the living room. The remaining furniture had come with the dorm; there wasn't a single personal touch to be seen. "They probably won't come over, don't worry. They do really want to have dinner with your parents when they get in though. We should plan that for Friday night?"
She licked her lips comically. "Hamilton's?"
"Hell yes. I swear their filet mignons are the only thing I'm going to miss about this place."
Leah laughed. "What about their brunch though?"
I put a hand on my stomach, it was already grumbling at the thought. "Let me rephrase that: Hamilton's is the only thing I'm going to miss."
We both laughed for a moment, before her face grew serious. "Is that really all you'll miss about this place?" She asked. "I'm having a hard time coming to terms with leaving this town and moving back to Minnesota. I can't imagine how much I'd miss this country if I left it."
I sighed. "Yeah, I mean, I'll miss some things. I had a lot of good times here, and back home in Charleston too. There are so many places in the States I haven't been. As soon as I'm home, I'm doing a cross country road trip."
She grinned. "I'll definitely join you for that one."
"There's just something so liberating about going to a place where they don't speak your language," I said wistfully. "It's amazing. You can just immerse yourself in their history and their culture."
"You make it sound so romantic." She smiled, a little sadly. "I don't think I could ever do that. At least not all by myself. I could definitely do one of those Contiki trips though."
"You don't need a guide," I reprimanded. "That's what Google is for. Or better yet, as a local. They'll probably recommend an even better place."
"You literally stole that off a travel blog, didn't you? You're so fucking weird." She shook her head. "I would fly to Europe just to see you ask another human being for anything. You're the most anti-social person I've ever met. Remember when we first became roommates and you literally didn't speak to me for two weeks straight. I think I only saw you once on accident that entire time."
I stuck my tongue out at her and we both collapsed into giggles again. "I will admit, I tend to avoid people whenever possible. I'll probably use Google most of the time. Thank God for international SIM cards. Imagine if I didn't have my blog." I shuddered.
"Brighton without her blog doesn't exist, you've been blogging for six years. Six." Leah shook her head. I had to agree, six years was a crazy long time, but I'd built up an amazing following. "By the way, I will be checking every day. So you better post each and every detail no matter how embarrassing. You don't want to receive any angry calls from your best friend, do you?"
"My cat is going to call me?" I asked, teasingly.
She scoffed. "That was rude and I will not stand for it."
I laughed and hugged her awkwardly over the back of the couch. "You know I love you!" I squeaked in the same baby voice everyone used to talk to their pets. Leah erupted into laughter in my arms.
She hugged me tightly. "I'm going to miss you, Brighton."
"Oh please, you won't even notice I'm gone."