That summer

      River set off at six in the morning to make the lengthy trip to the prison where Nick was held. By now, River knew what the process was. Park the car outside, walk to the entrance, get searched by security three times and then wait to be allowed into the meeting room to see Nick. River's visits became frequent; he was making the trip at least once a month.

       There was no denying that, at times, it was testing for River to even look at Nick. However, bit by bit, he was learning to overcome the past and truly forgive, for he knew he had committed his own mistakes, for which he would want to be forgiven. 

       "How is Lea?" Nick asked during the flow of their conversation.

       At her remembrance, River couldn't avoid the jubilant smile that found his face. "She's well, she asks about you often."

       The joyous grin that River was wearing turned out to be infectious, making Nick's own lips curve. "She makes you happy, I see?"

       River thought about his response for a moment, "it's not just about happiness anymore. Before I knew that if the day came and Emily passed, I would've ruined my future, I would've quit school and not bothered with work or anything. But she..." he took a second to widen his grin. "She motivates me to keep at it."

       "Keep at what?" Nick asked.

       "Keep going after what I want,"

       "You still wanna be a doctor?" Nick guessed, recalling a distant memory.

       River chuckled, "you remember?"

       "It's hard to forget when you used to act like a doctor every time we got hurt as kids. You even had your own toy stethoscope." Nick laughed, receiving a laugh from River as well.

       "Well, it's early days, but I'm considering it. It's difficult though, getting into medical school."

       Nick shook his head, "no, it's only difficult if you think like that. You'll get in, I know you will."

       That day, River left the prison on a higher note than when he came in, and that was an unusual but very welcome change. On his way back to the car, though, he was sure God was trying to send him a message when he saw someone parking up a few spaces down from his. If this were a coincidence, River knew that there was a higher power trying to push him to speak to his friend who he had been subconsciously distancing himself from.

       "Ky," River called once in earshot.

       Ky spun around to face him after locking his car door, a flash of surprise washing over his eyes. "River, hey."

       It's been around a month since they last spoke or saw each other. Ky was spending the summer trying to distract himself – his attempt of getting his mind off the loss of his first love, and the guilt that ate away at him each day. With Jake busy and River oddly distant, he had few to turn to. But, this was a blessing in disguise, as it forced him to initiate the conversation with a girl he felt he had betrayed - Marissa. They spoke, he apologised, and the awkwardness between them calmed.

       "You're here to see Nick?" River tried to keep the confusion from shining through in his tone, but Ky could hear it.

       "Yeah," he nodded, not wanting River to see how anxious he was. It was his first time visiting Nick, and although he held anger, he also held remorse. Ky's plan was to apologise to Nick and hope it cleared the poison from his conscience.

Mr. Popular and IRead this story for FREE!