1st Chapter

60 11 16
                                                  


Why haven't I called at least one of them to check if anybody is coming? Because then it wouldn't have been like a scene from a movie screen. Oh well, Nora, now enjoy your movie-like scene while you are standing here all alone in front of the school like an idiot.

Nora was talking to herself while staring at a small pink piece of paper, which very clearly had spent years trying to survive much more than it could. The only thing written on the paper was 10/10/2018 at 6 PM in front of the school, and it was written ten years ago today.

Since all this had been her idea, she very vividly remembered every detail of that night. It was their first night out after they had gone to college and returned to Kutina for a weekend. As usual, they met at the statue of Gola Maja (Naked Maja), sat on a bench, and started drinking. Yes, on a park bench - like real ladies do. Just the five of them and the stories about what at the time seemed to be the most exciting month of their lives. All of them on their sides of the world with their own adult lives they have been waiting for, for so long. Since they all had gone to different places, Nora decided they had to have something that would forever remain only theirs. So she convinced them to meet at the school in exactly ten years. Nora was not just saying that. No, no. She arrived fully prepared. Each girl got their own piece of paper with the exact date, time, and place of the meetup.

Okay, if nobody arrives by 6:15, I'm going home.

Nora was looking at the school. She stood in front of the entrance and observed the building in which she had spent four unforgettable years. The trees have grown and were drastically giving away the number of years that had passed since the girls had finished the fourth grade (senior year). The flowers and shrubs now looked as one had imagined when planting them, and the grass has surrounded the entire school. Everything has changed, but the building remained precisely the same. To Nora, the red bricks, the steps, and the large white columns at the entrance looked just like they did on the first day of school. Even the left entrance to the building was the same - the student entrance, closer to the locker room, where the biggest crowd would gather when the school bus would come. Nora, who used to walk to school because it took her exactly seven minutes, always managed to get there right at that time.

*

Dajana found her piece of paper two months before the meetup, but in a hurry, she put it, along with a bunch of other papers, in one of those drawers where you keep absolutely everything. It could have waited there for another ten years, had she not searched for something in that drawer just days before the meetup. She found the small pink paper, remembered that night out, and put it on a fridge. She wondered what the chances of them all coming together were. Slim to none, she thought, but then realized that she would love to see Nora's silly idea work out and for them to see each other after ten years. She thought about the option of calling one of them, but that would not be cool, and she was sure that none of them would do that. Also, she had to think about if she would even be able to take that Wednesday off and go to Kutina.

She walked past the store and approached the school, noticing a woman standing by the street lamp right in front of the entrance.

- Nora?

*

- I cannot believe that I'm having my ten-year high school reunion already! Are you going to go on yours? – a coworker asked Sofija.

- We are not doing that. I mean, even for the fifth anniversary nobody came forward about it, so I don't think a big ten-year celebration is destined to happen – Sofija passingly explained and continued working, but that question kept going through her head for the entire day.

She found her piece of paper and decided that it was a sign she had to go. It occurred to her to call Nora and ask her if she was going, but she knew that doing that would hurt Nora more than nobody showing up. She was going to Kutina, and if no one else showed up, she would just visit her family. It has been a while anyway.

- One by one, huh?

*

It is incredible how 1376 pieces of paper, cards, photos, trash, and everything else that accumulates over time can fall out of one relatively small wallet. It is just as amazing how that always seems to happen when everyone else in the house is asleep, and something like that could wake them up.

Veronika was listening to the silence of the house and, after a few minutes, realized that her clumsiness had not woken anyone up. Since she was not sleepy, she was looking for something to do. She sat on the floor and began to go through everything that had fallen out of her wallet.

Yes. That is what I need to be doing at 4 AM.

At first, it did not occur to her what it was, but then she remembered. She looked at the paper, which, although it was in the late stages of decay, still had readable date and time on it - 10/10/2018 at 6 PM. Oh, that's in two weeks. I guess everything won't fall apart if I go to Kutina for one day...

- Girls, do you have a free period, or are you playing hooky?

*

- I want this one.

- Ema, take whichever you want, I don't care. I am just saying that one won't fit all the rubbish you usually carry in your wallet.

- But look how pretty it is. Here, I'll throw away everything I don't need, and I won't pile up any more rubbish. This wallet deserves it. Because of it, I'm willing to change.

Siniša just shook his head, and Ema headed for the cash register with her new wallet.

Ema got home, turned on the TV, and warmed up a leftover lasagna she had made yesterday. After she had done everything there was to do around the apartment, she sat down in the living room and started moving things from her old wallet to the new one. In doing so, she came across a small pink piece of paper.

- You can't be serious that all of us are actually here!

- I also have a hard time believing it – Sofija said while greeting Ema.

- Well, I was sure that all of us were going to show up – Nora said, laughing and pointing to a very familiar coffee bar across the street.

- Noa?

- Of course.

They sat at a table in the corner, by the window overlooking the school. From the outside, the coffee shop looked just like it did ten years ago. Everything stayed the same indoors, too, except for the different kinds of beer bottles and cans displayed on the wall. Lights, which were always dimmed, still gave the place where they had spent every free period a unique atmosphere.

There was nobody there, so the waiter approached them immediately. All of them ordered beer except Nora. She would like to have tea.

- You got all of it, right? That would be five beers – Dajana told the waiter, looking at Nora as if she had ordered poison instead of tea. The waiter glanced once more at Nora, but she only sighed in surrender. It was clear to her that she had no choice.

Veronika was still amazed by the height of the trees. It was a tangible sign of the passage of time, and she could not comprehend that it has actually been that long.

- Hey, Veronika, enough with the trees. We get it. It's grown.

- Okay, okay, I just find it fascinating. I mean, look at the one near the lamp. You see, Ema, that one. It was only planted when we finished school.

- Yeah, I see, yes. All those in favor of Veronika not being allowed to mention anything about trees from now on?

They all raised their hands and looked at Veronika.

What happened next is what happens to all real friendships. In that second, ten years of separation, five different cities, different jobs, and completely different lives, were all gone. There were five girls at that table, all feeling like they had just graduated high school yesterday. 

Leap (of faith)Where stories live. Discover now