The car was unbelievably quiet; just the low sound of tires on highway and Dakota’s soft music, turned down so the two of them could talk over it but neither of them talking. Bridget considered reaching over and turning it up, but she didn’t want to surrender. It felt like they were driving toward the end of a friendship, the expiration date was–according to the GPS on the dashboard of Dakota’s mom’s minivan– in forty-seven minutes pending traffic.
Logically, that was ridiculous. They’d been friends since they were seven, inseparable even in difficult times– death, divorce, re-marriage, SAT’s– all of life’s rough moments, but there was something about the idea that for the first time they would be in different cities–states– starting in less than an hour. After she and Dakota unloaded the minivan, they’d hug goodbye, and then their only communication would be through a screen. Dakota seemed excited, Bridget was petrified. No one knew Bridget like the fair skinned, blue haired girl in the driver’s seat. What if no one in Boston was like her
Dakota seemed excited, Bridget was petrified. No one knew Bridget like the fair skinned, blue haired girl in the driver’s seat. What if no one in Boston was like her? Dakota would be fine in New York, Bridget was certain she wouldn’t be.
“Is the dinosaur at the exit to get off 95 or where we keep right on Route one?” Dakota’s voice startled Bridget out of her imagination back into the car.
“Route one,” Bridget answered. “They closed the golf course, I don’t think the dinosaur is still there.”
“It is,” Dakota replied. ” Like the Hilltop Cactus and the Yoken’s Whale. But now it’s a landmark without context. There was an article about it on Facebook. In twenty years, we’ll get an eye feed article about random New England landmarks and no one will remember why there is an orange dinosaur on the side of the highway.”
The girls both focused back on they highway, falling into the silence that seemed so unnatural, so unlike them. It continued as they crossed the bridge over the Massachuttes line and the exit for the Topsfield Fair.
“We should go to Sonic,” Bridget said nearly ten miles after the dinosaur conversation.
“It’s on the wrong side of the highway,” Dakota answered. “That’s why we always plan to go on the way home.”
“Yeah,” Bridget nodded, turning in her seat to look over at her friend. “But every time we’re heading home, we aren’t hungry because we ate in Boston. This could be the last chance to go. You’re driving home by yourself.”
“I have heard their milkshakes are pretty good,” Dakota nodded. “You don’t have to check in at a certain time?”
“Just after three,” Bridget answered. “We have time to kill, actually.”
Bridget turned back to look out the windshield, and neither girl spoke until they got close to the restaurant. Bridget told Dakota how to reverse direction, and they pulled up to the ordering station and contemplated the menu; then sat looking out over the businesses the stretched down route one toward Boston.
“Are you nervous?” Dakota asked quietly.
“Extremely,” Bridget nodded. “I met my roommates online, but they seemed to just click, and I’m worried that I’m going to be the third wheel in our room and I’ll end up dropping out and becoming a homeless person that lives in the subway tunnels.”
“Well,” Dakota sighed. “I think that is a worst case scenario. I don’t think not getting along with your roommates would cause homelessness. You can switch rooms.”
“Aren’t you worried about New York?” Bridget asked. “It’s so big.”
“I am thrilled,” Dakota smiled. “I can’t wait. I have been dreaming about getting out of that town since I was nine. A new adventure, new people, new smells, new life. I won’t be the weird girl with crazy hair wearing clothes I make myself. I’ll just be one of the crowd. My whole school is going to be people with pastel hair and handmade clothes. Your whole school is going to be nerds that love writing. You’ll find a group quick, even if it’s not your roommates.”
“Maybe,” Bridget shrugged.
The burgers came, a pretty girl in her early twenties–not wearing roller skates like Bridget was hoping– handed them their food and wandered off the next car.
“Are you worried about an expiration date?” Bridget whispered picking through her tater tots to find the best one to eat first.
“Like on milk?” Dakota asked.
“No,” Dakota said shaking her head. “You and me, we may become different people, but we’ll always be friends. Look at who we were when we first met. We’re not those people anymore. We’re sisters Bridge. Nothing is going to change that.”
“Are you sure?” Bridget said. “It feels like we’re counting down to the end.”
“We are,” Dakota smiled. She took a huge bite of her burger before continuing. “It’s the end of an era. We aren’t Bridget and Dakota Kurtwood high royalty we’re Bridget and Dakota girls in the Big City.”
“I guess,” Bridget smiled taking a long drink of her lemonade.
“In a week you’ll be wondering around the Common with you’re new writer friends laughing, and I’ll be looking up at the big buildings in New York with my fashion friends, but when the sun goes down, you know that we’ll both be glued to our phones telling each other all about it. Being a part could bring us closer together.”
“Can we get closer?” Bridget chuckled.
“We won’t see until we try something new.”
“What if this changes everything we aren’t friends anymore?” Bridget asked.
Dakota shrugged. “When you’re a famous news reporter, remember me. Mention me in the acknowledgments of your memoirs. I’ll still be your cheerleader. Always. That’s how friendship works.”
“This is such a strange thing,” Bridget said picking at her chicken sandwich. “It’s supposed to be exciting, but I’m too scared to be excited.”
“I’m scared too,” Dakota said. “Believe me, Bridget, I have all the same fears, but I’m doing everything I can to see the positive. There has to be some. I’m living my dream, and so are you. Who knows, I could hate New York and be completely miserable and you could love Boston so much you decide to live there for the rest of your life. But just remember that we are a little over two hours away via train from South Station to Penn Station. We’ll be fine.”
Bridget looked up at the traffic starting to build on Route One and the business sitting on top of each other until the horizon. Ahead of them was a future that neither could conceptualize completely until they were there, but now, Bridget knew without a shadow of a doubt that Dakota would there, a train ride or a phone call away. Dakota would be there, sitting in her back pocket whenever she needed her.
“I think I’m ready,” Bridget smiled.
“Well, your going to have to wait,” Dakota laughed. “I still got half a cheeseburger to eat.”
Until next time Internet,