Furthest Away

I wake up with a pain in my shoulder that spreads up to my neck.

The pain spreads whenever I move.

I roll over to my side and I wince. I close my eyes but the pain never stops. I unlock my phone and send a message.

“Are you free in an hour? Do you want to grab a coffee together?”

I lock my phone and get out of bed, clicking my tongue when the pain in my neck flares. I clean myself up and by the time I’m done, I get another message.

“Sure. Where do you want to go?”

“Anywhere,” I write. “You decide.”

“Alright. I saw a new coffee place last week that I wanted to try. It’s a bit expensive.”

“That’s fine.”

“Okay. See you in an hour.”

I get changed and I grab my headphones. I do not say a single word to my housemates when I leave the house. I put on my headphones, select the loudest music, and walk down the street that leads to the damp alley.

It takes longer than necessary for me to get into the town center. I check the time and slow down my pace, then, I see the new coffee place. I stand by the door and text my friend.

“I’m here. Where are you?”

“Just finishing my cigarette. Be there in a sec.”

The sky darkens. I look up and catch the first few droplets of rain. I wince at the pain in my neck and the cold water on my face. When I look back down, I hear frantic footsteps to my left.

“Let’s go in,” my friend says. “The rain’s coming.”

We push into the coffee place and the door jingles. We approach the counter and, after glancing at the menu, we order and pay for our own separate drinks.

We wait for our drinks by the counter and when we get them, we look for a seat. When we sit down, we hear a loud gust of wind by the window and the rain starts pouring.

“Shit weather, huh?” I ask.

“That’s British weather for you,” my friend says.

I laugh. I struggle to pick up my drink. My friend doesn’t notice.

“I bet you haven’t seen the sun in ages, huh?” I joke.

My friend laughs. “I bet there’s a lot of sun where you’re from,” she says, taking a sip.

I smile and message my shoulder, the pain throbbing at the back of my neck and head. My friend keeps drinking her coffee.

When the pain gets bearable, I take a drink from my coffee. When I put the cup down, my head throbs.

“You okay?”

I shake my head. “I’m fine,” I say. I message my shoulder again and lean against the chair. “I just slept kind of weird.”

My friend nods. She finishes her drink and gestures to mine. “Are you going to be done soon?”

“Are you in a hurry?”

“I have some shopping to do,” she says. “I’m running low on eggs and I wanted to pick up some more cheese.”

I watch her for a moment, then I shake my head and force myself to grab my cup of coffee. When I’,m done, she stands up and I follow her.

“Do you want to come with me?” she asks as she reaches for the door.

“Not really,” I reply. “I don’t want to accidentally buy things that I don’t need, you know?”

“I get it,” she says. “I’ll see you next week, then?”

“Do we have classes next week?”

“We will probably still see each other on campus.”

“Alright,” I say, but I won’t bet on it. I wave goodbye to her and then I am alone.

As I walk back to the house, the pain in my shoulder grows. I shut my eyes at the pain but I don’t stop walking.

It hurts. The pain spreads from my neck to the back of my head.

I keep walking and I pretend that I am not in pain.

Categories: fiction, short stories

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