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Mia Cunningham stared at the laptop on her desk, her hands shaking at the nerves that sequestered her. The map of the world tacked on the wall stared down like ivory lampposts, the red dots pasted on each border shouting, "One day, Mia. One day!"

She placed both of her hands atop the piece of technology, closing her eyes as she inhaled deeply, and exhaling as she felt her palms clam from sudden impatience. She quickly opened the laptop and logged into her email. She could taste blood in her mouth from chewing on her bottom lip, and a fog of unfortunate scenarios played in her mind as the screen loaded painfully slow.

The only unread email was at the very top; the written text her very last ticket to achieving her childhood dream. She clicked on it as another loading screen appeared, causing Mia's underarms to warm up, sweat ready to patch along her temples as well. And then, a rush.

Dear Ms. Cunningham,

We have finished reviewing your résumé and sample work, and we are pleased to offer you a position...

Mia jumped from her seat and squealed, throwing her arms in the air. "Yes!" she cheered, dancing away the jitters that had bothered her just seconds before that moment. "Yes, yes, yes!"

She laughed at herself and quickly sat back down, rereading the email over and over. Preparing her acceptance letter, she furiously typed away, imagining the many wonders that awaited her in New York City, an ocean miles beyond. As the thoughts dawned her, however, she suddenly grew glum as she realized how much she had to give up, and how many people she'd miss. She paused and sat back, looking around her cramped bedroom. The small, white picture frame on her wooden dresser caught her attention, and she stood up, grabbing it in admiration.

It was a photo of her and Richard, her childhood mate and closest confidante. In the photo his right arm was wrapped around her shoulders as a beer bottle occupied his left; the night of Mia's eighteenth birthday, her silly plastic crown haphazardly tangled between the strands of her brunette hair. They were young and reckless then, unsure of what the future would hold when they moved to London that same year.

Just as a wave of reluctancy rushed through Mia, her bedroom door swung open, and it was as if the photo had turned to life. Richard ran inside, panting. He sat down on her bed, the pink sheets bopping to the pattern of his breathing. "J-just a moment," he muttered, his hand over his chest.

Amused, Mia placed the photo back and settled into her swivel chair. She smiled at how mindless Richard looked, suppressing a laugh. He fell back into the bed, then immediately got on his feet again, like some sort of exercise.

"You off your trolley, Richard?" Mia teased, crossing her arms over her chest. "Calm down!"

He caught his breath and smiled eagerly, making Mia anxious. His eyes beamed as he began to explain himself, a cartoonish expression on his face.

"I got it," he said. "HBO. Series. I got the part."

Mia's jaw dropped, her eyes enlarged. She stood up and hugged him tightly, her ear pressed against his chest; beats from his heart racing against time. 

"I knew it!" she exclaimed. "I knew you would, Richard! I'm so proud of you."

They pulled away from each other, exchanging smiles that could last for a symphony of days in spring. "Thank you, Mia. It means a lot. I really... I really can't believe it." He turned around and threw himself onto her bed again, his arms stretched above his head. "And what about you? How were the job applications?"

Mia joined him, lying down and staring at the ceiling. Bits of paint had fallen off, the building's foundation showing much age. The yellow light above was bright, but not blinding. She took in a deep breath and let it out. Then, she leaned on her side, her left hand supporting her head. Richard noticed and followed suit, leaning on his right, facing her. He smiled. "So?"

"I got the job at that big magazine I was telling you about," Mia responded, a small smile on her face as she purposely left out the most important detail.

"Yes! Congratulations, Mi!" Richard cheered, shaking her shoulder, causing Mia to fall back. She laughed, wiping a loose tear that had managed to escape her duct. "Wait, are you crying?"

Mia laughed again, nervously this time. "It's in New York, Richard."

He realized how she was feeling and his smile was wiped away, his blue eyes solemn. "Oh," he breathed. "That's... that's still great though, you know. This has been your dream, Mia. I'll you gotta do is..."

"Pack up and go," she finished, blinking away more tears that threatened to ruin her thin eyeliner.

"Now, it can't be that simple," Richard reassured. "I have to leave, too, but come on, it won't be too bad. We can visit each other all the time."

He could feel her dismay from across the bed, worried that she would turn down the job offer if things didn't lighten up soon. "You know, the real problem here is how Ollie's gonna pay the rent when we're gone."

Mia's breathing hitched as she calm down, allowing herself to laugh as she remembered their eccentric third flatmate. "We should probably call his mum to let her know that he's moving back in."

They faced each other and paused, gazing into the other's eyes for a few seconds before roaring in laughter.

"I'm excited for you, Richard. Don't forget about me when you're crazy famous," Mia said.

"I won't." He pointed at her forehead. "Not with that hideous pimple there. Who could forget that?"

She hit his arm playfully. "I hate you."

"You love me. Now, come on." He sat up and waited for her to follow. "I'll buy you a pint."

"But I can drink two."

"I'll buy three if you quit talking now so that we can leave."

She smiled again. "Deal," she mouthed, grabbing his hand as together, they rushed out the door; the only thought in their minds being the only thing the night had in store for them — to forget.

To forget how much sadness had overtaken them just moments before, and to brace for the chaos that was bound to come.

Take Me Away | Richard Madden [Completed; Editing]Where stories live. Discover now