Be careful on that bike…

I had to get away from him. I turned and started walking, suddenly in desperate need of the cool night air on my skin. I felt heated to the very core, and mixing words and feelings with Riley was not helping, even despite the coke-buzz. I pushed my way through the crowded foyer and out the front doors. It was pleasantly calm and cool outside, dim with the dwindling light that remained from the sunset. I breathed deep the sweet evening air.
“Mac, wait up.” Riley called to me through the mass. He caught up quickly. “I’m sorry. Please. I don’t want to leave it this way with you.”
“I don’t think we have a choice, Riley.” I realized grimly. “We can’t even talk to each other without one of us getting upset. You should … you should just go.”
“I know, I am,” he grabbed my hand to stop me, “I’m going … we’re going, tonight. We’re going to the airport in half an hour.”
This news was shocking to me. I had known he was leaving, but I hadn’t anticipated so soon. I stared up at him, suddenly speechless. It was the answer to our problems, his leaving, but I wished it didn’t have to be so. I would’ve given anything in that moment to make him stay, despite everything else.
“Riley—”
“I know. I know.”
“But … will …” I bit my lip. “Will you be coming back?”
“I don’t know. Probably. We’ll come visit at holidays and stuff.”
“Will I see you then?”
“Maybe.” He relented. “If I know where you are … and if you’re still alive by then.”
“Of course I’ll be alive.” I rolled my eyes.
“We’ll see.” Riley frowned. His dark eyes focused on me seriously, like there was something else he wanted to say. He opened his mouth to speak. But then, from amongst the throng, I could hear someone calling his name. The Christian was calling him, beckoning him away from me.
It was time for Riley to leave.
“I don’t want to say goodbye.” He admitted. He looked torn.
“Just say it and get it over with.” I demanded. The coke must have been wearing off, because I could feel again. And I didn’t like what I felt, like my very heart was hurting, like it was throbbing with pain. I took a deep breath.
Riley wrapped me in a sudden, fierce hug. I couldn’t believe the strength in his arms as he held me tightly to him. I snuggled into the chest of his tuxedo, fighting with all my might to keep from crying all over him. For that moment, I was safe again in my best friend’s arms and everything was right between us. I clung to the moment. I clung to my friend.
“You be careful on that bike.” Riley whispered in my ear. He kissed the top of my hair and then he let me go. He pulled away from me and I was all alone again, cold and exposed. I wrapped my arms around myself and gave him a weak smile, blinking furiously to keep from crying.

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