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The only perk to working out alone is music, which I blasted for the duration of my one-mile jog in the park near my house. The world no longer mattered with each heavy step on the sidewalk, weighed down by my wandering thoughts.

I find myself drained as I plop down on an empty bench, despite my ability to go another mile or two. Every time I closed my eyes, I imagined Axel's warm smile or motivational comments. I even missed his cocky one-liners from when we first met, when the gap between our abilities couldn't have been wider.

Now the gap is physical, as I have no idea when we'll see each other again.

I scroll through my phone mindlessly, finding a few missed notifications. One is a text from Mina, and I consider deleting the message before even reading it. I give it a chance, pushing my pettiness aside.

Mina

Hey, now that you're back do you think we could talk?

Like in person? I get it if not

I gaze off into the distance, ignoring the young couple running side by side. I'm not sure how much I have to lose by saying yes.


Whitney

I'm at Green Laurel Park right now

You can just meet me there if that works


Mina

Oh, I'm not too far

But are you sure you don't want to meet up at Sweet Treat?


Whitney

I'm sure


She takes longer than she claimed she would to arrive here, but I'm too tired to even pull myself off the bench. After twenty minutes, she runs down the grass, clad in a white tennis set and visor.

"Do you—is it okay if I sit?" She points to the extra space next to me warily, and I nod and scoot over. "I know it's been a while."

"It's been more than a while, Mina," I say, folding my arms over my slightly damp black T-shirt. "Let's not pretend like everything is normal between us."

"I'm not," she says, smoothing out the pleats in her skirt. "That's why I wanted to talk. Look, Whitney, I get you're still upset, but I don't want that old drama to define our friendship. I still like having you in my life."

"Were we ever really friends, Mina?" I ask, meeting her striking brown eyes. "You wouldn't have used me the way you did if you had actually valued that friendship."

"I admitted I was wrong, Whitney," she sighs, looking away. "I don't know how much time you need to see that I'm sorry, and I regret it. I would never be that petty again."

I lose some of my case now that she's apologized, but I'm still aggrieved. "Look, Mina, even if I do get over it, I bet that once you move to LA next month, you're not going to remember me. Our friendship was never as deep as we thought it was, as hard as it is to admit."

"That's not true—"

"Even if it's not true in the first month, it will be eventually. Come on, Mina, when have you ever been there for me when I was down? Or when have I ever learned any of your secrets? What did we even talk about for four years straight?"

She doesn't say anything for several minutes, and I start to regret my words, realizing I could have phrased my point differently.

But then, she...agrees?

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