“You knew I was going to say something to you, right?” The boy in the knit sweater didn’t even look up from his book as he heard the door shut from across the room.
“Call it intuition,” the boy with the black, messy hair said, grinning. “Or maybe I just know you too well.”
The room was comfortably warm, illuminated by the roaring fire in the fireplace. It was a welcome sensation, as the black-haired boy had just come in from a romp through the woods in the snow. He was hoping to avoid his friends by staying out, and hadn’t expected anyone to be up this late. Unfortunately for him, his friend had decided to stay up and wait.
He began to think that the room was getting unbearably warm, despite the cold shoulder his friend was giving him. Just as he was getting up the courage to walk across the room to his dorm, the boy in the sweater closed his book and turned to look at his snow-covered friend.
“Whatcha readin’?” he asked as he stomped off the snow from his boots, trying to lighten the atmosphere.
“Don’t brush me off. Where were you today? Were you off playing hookie with that girl from chemistry?” The boy stood up and crossed his arms, facing directly at his friend.
“Come on, you don’t really think I like her-”
“Then where were you?”
“Listen, I don’t want to talk about it.”
“Look, it was a long day, I just want to go to bed.”
“Answer the question!” The boy slammed his book on the table. The snow-covered boy was taken aback. His friend never got this angry. Not angry enough to slam his book, anyway.
He hesitated. He really didn’t want anyone to get involved in his familial problems, much less know that it bothered him this much. He was supposed to be the funny friend, right? He was supposed to crack jokes and flirt and pull pranks, not cry over a letter his mother sent him. Her words weren’t supposed to bother him this much. Right?
With a deep breath, he said, “My mother sent me a letter today.”
Silence, save for the crackling of the fire, enveloped the room.
“What did it-” his friend stumbled, his eyes darting across the floor. “What did she say?”
“She’s had enough of the stuff I’ve been pulling at school. Says it’s ruining the family name. She-” he choked up, hands flying up to fiddle with his black hair; something that he always did when he was anxious. “She’s going to kick me out. I won’t be able to go home after this term is over.”
His friend began to pick at the sweater he was wearing, saying nothing. Not wanting to worry his friend, the boy shook the snow from his hair and hung up his coat, and proceeded to walk across the room to the stairs to go to bed. “It’s fine,” he said with a cheeky grin that didn’t quite reach his eyes, “I’ll probably just wander around for the summer. Hitchhike, stay with friends, I don’t know. I’m not too worried about it.”
“Don’t say that. I know you’re terrified.”
“You’ve always known me too well, haven’t you?”
“I think we just know each other too well,” the boy smiled warmly, picking up his book. “Come on, let’s go to bed. We can discuss this with the others in the morning and make a plan. For now, you should just rest.”
He was right, it had been a long day. His friends would help him to sort things out tomorrow. He would find a place to stay. His friends wouldn’t let him live as a vagrant. Things were going to be okay.
Things are always okay in the morning.