We all headed out of those doors for the last time. Jerry and I stopped and looked back once more. ‘Last time.’
Almost like deja vu, I turn around and almost topple over little Lily, “Lily?”
“Uncle George,” Lily jumped for joy, spreading her arms out waiting for her hug.
I accepted. I am happy I did, because it was a hug and kiss on the cheek. ‘I’m going to miss this little one.’
“Don’t forget me, Uncle George,” Lily snuggled back down into my shoulder.
“Not possible. I will miss my little big helper,” setting Lily back down to the ground. “You’ll need to be big and help your Uncle Ken and Uncle Matthew next year. Can you do that?”
“Yes, sir!” Lily did a cute salute and moved to my left and did the same hug and kiss for Jerry.
Looking around, my other teammates were dispersing but there stood Coach, Matthew, Ken, Brit, and Jenny. If you add my dad to the mix, you would get the most important people in my life.
“Well you two better do me proud,” Coach stepped towards us and clapped our shoulders. “I do not expect any calls from Coach Jones, but if I recieve one,” Coach’s face
changed to “the look”, “You better run and hide. Run and hide.”
‘Message received.’ I don’t need Coach coming all the way to Montana to kill me. “Understood!” Jerry and I said together.
“Aside from that, Congratulations and good luck. You will need it,” Coach chuckled as he scooped Lily up. “Let’s head out Lily,” off walked Coach with Lily in his arms.
“See ya later, Coach!” I yelled, and Coach stopped, turned, and nodded in my direction; then he continued to his truck.
‘My last nod.’
“Well dude. Matthew and I will be at the airport to say goodbye, so we are going to head out now. You good?” Ken slapped my back, and he dodged mine instinctively while backing away to the parking lot. Brit followed along behind them.
‘I can’t believe my hand did not connect with his face again.’ “Yeah I’m good. You good?” I turned to Jerry.
“See you in two days,” Jerry yelled, but Matthew and Ken were already halfway across the parking lot. “Let’s head out,” Jerry turned back, heading to my jeep.
But there stood Jenny. Looking over to Jerry, I could tell he understood that she wanted to talk.
“Don’t worry about it George. I’ll go catch up to them. You are going to be stuck with me for two years anyways,” Jerry started walking backwards. “See you, Jenny,” Jerry yelled as he turned and dashed off to catch up to Ken’s ride.
“See you,” Jenny said only loud enough for me to hear, “He is not going to hear me anyways.”
I nodded in agreement. Knowing what was going on, “Ride?”
Jenny nodded and started heading to the jeep.
I seriously did know this route by heart. ‘This is probably the last time I will be driving her home.’ “You know, this is probably the last time I will drive you home.” She didn’t say anything. I kept driving. But a sudden movement caught my eye. Did she wipe away a tear? I pulled over, “Are you okay, Jenny?”
Jenny sniffed and again wiped at her face.
‘She was crying.’
“Yeah I’m good. Just you saying this is the last time hit me that, that is true,” She tried to compose herself and turned to face me. “My best friend is leaving me.”
I honestly have no words. I thought she would be somewhat upset, but I never expected tears. ‘I don’t know what to do when a girl cries, with me in mind.’ “I will be back at some point. Either two or six years.”
“Six years!” Jenny blurted out.
‘Nice dude. You are an idiot.’ I took the time and explained to Jenny about the college in Montana; that they only take a few from the Montana High school. That it is a very pretigious school that takes only the top five from each swim high schools. I probably gave her more information than she needed.
“Okay. I understand, but wow. I didn’t realize you would be gone so long,” Jenny turned her body away and towards the window.
‘There she goes shutting me out again.’ I pull the jeep back onto the road. ‘I don’t understand girls,’ pulling into her driveway. ‘Probably the last time
I’ll pull into this driveway.’ This time, I turned the jeep off and got out with her. “Since its the last time, I’ll take you to the door; I might as well make it one of a kind!”
‘At least she giggled.’ We had reached the door. ‘Should I?’ I turned to her.
Jenny stood awkardly next to me; she was shifting from one foot to another.
‘Screw it.’ I pulled her into my arms and gave her a hug. “I’ll miss you, Jenny.” Her body relaxed into my embrace. ‘Why does she fit perfectly?’ “But don’t worry. I always visit my family.”
Jenny’s body pulled away; she caught my gaze, “You still see me as family?”
“Of course. Just like Dad, Coach, the guys, and Brit. My family,” I released her from my hold. ‘We’ve been like this too long.’ We each step away. Backing up towards the jeep, “See ya, Jenny. I’ll see you again.” I turn and walk. I buckle up, put the jeep in reverse, I start to roll back, and I see Jenny. She was still standing where I left her. I roll down the window and wave.
Jenny nods and waves at me to go first.
‘All good.’ I roll the window up, back up onto the street, and head forward. Jenny’s house disapears from my rear view mirror. This was another strange feeling. Knowing it would
be years until I saw that house again…