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We all turned around to see Garrett open the door to the hospital with his foot. His arms were full, carrying bags, food, balloons, and drinks. We stood with a confused look on our faces. I asked Garrett what he was doing.
“Well, uh,” Garrett strained, “I thought I’d give you guys a little celebration on Christmas Eve. Bring a smile to ya’lls faces!” He said, with a smile on his own face.
“A little celebration?” Will replied with a laugh as he helped Garrett with the load. We all carried a bag to Holly’s room. We opened the door, and we saw Holly reading a book on the area, and Abigail sleeping on a chair.
“Surprise!” Garrett exclaimed, trying to fit through the door with all the ‘get well soon’ balloons and the celebration ones.
Hollys face lit up in a way that we hadn’t seen in a long time. “Oh my god, how’d you do all this?” she asked, instantly putting the book down on the table next to her.
“I have my ways,” Garrett replied, setting down the balloons and unpacking the food. Abigail was now awake, yawning. “You got any booze?” She asked, half asleep.
All of us were surprised to hear her answer that, but we all burst out laughing.
“Uh, no, Abby. We’re not even old enough to drink yet!” Garret exclaimed, putting a bottle of Coke on the side table.
Once we saw the Coke, all of us started to grab for it.
“Oh, sweet, sweet Coke, where have you been all this time, my dear?” Will said, holding it up in front of his face. Holly let out a laugh. We tossed her a drink, too. Thus, followed by the cracking open of cans and the gulps of Coke flowing down our throats. We all let out an almost-synchronized sigh of relief.
“You got any extra?” I asked, practically voicing everyone’s thoughts.
“Yeah! I thought you’d never ask!” Garrett said, opening another cooler.
That wasn’t all. Somehow, Garrett managed to also get pizza in that one hour that he left. I imagined Garrett trying to order a pizza, trying to be demanding.
Little did I know, I was chuckling at him.
“Hey, what’s so funny?” Garrett called.
You’re just cute.
“I’m what?” Garrett said, his face slowly turning red as he slowly unpacked the pizza.
Suddenly, the room turned silent. Freudian slip! I tried to come up with something to mask what I had just said, but Holly decided to break the silence.
“Alright, lovebirds. Right now, we’re focusing on the pizza that’s currently giving off so many aromas!”
“Yep!” I said with a quick laugh, opening another bottle of coke. Lovebirds.
Abigail and Garrett helped serve pizza to everyone on those classic paper plates. I’m glad it was the first real food I had, because it was damn good.
We all sat together, devouring multiple slices. Well, it was only the four of us devouring. Abigail had one slice and Garrett had two. I noticed Will and Holly sitting next to each other. From the crash they had formed an unbreakable bond, I could tell. Will held Holly’s hand once they had finished their pizza.
Me and Charlie watched them from the corner with a small smile, knowing exactly what’s to come.
They exchanged words, and throughout the bustle and noise of the hospital room, throughout the quips of Abigail and the laughs of Garrett, Will leaned in and kissed Holly. I could tell for them everything went quiet, for just a moment. Not the sad kind of quiet like it was in the snow, but a powerful quiet. One that united two different people from two different places. Me and Charlie smiled at each other and pretended we didn’t see.
Once our bellies were full, and the smile on our faces were permanent, Garrett opened one last bag, but didn’t reveal the contents yet.
Garrett walked up to Will and handed him a compass. It looked vintage, with gold designs on it. “This used to be mine, but I don’t have any uses of it anymore. Charlie told me you’re a hiker, so this will help you not get lost.”
Will accepted the gift, thanking Garrett with a wide smile stretched across his face.
“Here, this is for you, Holly. I noticed your quartz necklace, and I like collecting rocks too, so here’s an opal rock I found here, in Wyoming,” Garrett said, walking up to her bed. Holly looked at it with a gleam in her eye.
“This is so cool, Garrett! Thank you so much!” Holly held it in her hand.
Then Garrett walked over where Charlie and I were standing. I wondered what he was going to give Charlie. Garrett reached inside and took out an old book.
“It’s a quote book. It made me feel happy while reading, so maybe it will to you too,” Garrett said.
Charlie inspected it. “I. . . didn’t bring anything for you, though,” he said, somberly.
Garrett was quick to respond. “You didn’t need to! And you guys don’t really have anything to give.”
“Thank you, Garrett,” Charlie said, with a small nod.
Garrett walked over to me. We locked eyes and he quickly glanced back to the bag.
“This is for you. I uh, made it.”
He handed me a carved animal. Upon further inspection, it was a dog. It’s collar said ‘Peak’.
“It’s of Peak,” I declared, looking back up at him.
He leaned in, and if my police reflexes weren’t depleted, I would’ve completely moved backwards. But I didn’t. Nobody else could hear us, except maybe Charlie.
“It’s so you don’t forget me.”
His words hit me like a goddamn subway train. I was speechless as he went back at fiddled with the bags. He doesn’t want me to forget him. I don’t know what it was, but his confidence was unmatched then any time before.
“Alright, lovebirds,” Abigail spoke up.
“Would you stop calling us that?” I groaned.
“Let’s take a picture! I brought my camera! Come on guys, all of you!”
Charlie was trying to suppress a laugh. When I looked over to him, he playfully hit me with his elbow, pointing to Garrett.
“Oh, stop,” I said, walking over to Abigail. Charlie followed, still with a smile planted on his face.
Holly and Will were next to each other, then Charlie and Abigail, leaving me and Garrett sandwiched together.
“Say cheese!” Abigail exclaimed.
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We ended the night with another round of Coke in our hands, laughing about whatever. We were all sitting around Holly’s bed. It reminded me of the days beside the fire. But I was past that now. We were living in the moment. I had found friends in the toughest times, and through that we survived, together.ns220.127.116.11da2