He was studying quietly in the student lounge of the dormitory. His chemistry book, at the moment, was opened to an unimportant page while he looked through his notes with a definite sense of contemplation afflicting his expression. His face showed a look of loneliness. His pencil quietly tapped on the surface of the old oak table. Outside, the sun was shining, and the sky was clear. It was definitely not a day to be studying. People would look at him strangely, with a sense of wonder, sometimes say hello, and pass on by, though he would generally say nothing in response. Julie was the only person that really knew him. They had known each other since elementary, and had done things together often. In his times of trouble, he had always thought of Julie. He had carried a flame for her that never seemed to weaken. He would look back, in his times of sadness, at her honest and loving face, holding his soul in suspended animation. They were always able to talk about anything together. Something just seemed to be missing.
...Someone is left alone - in silence.
He has no one to understand him.
Thoughts know not where to find safe refuge...
When the tapping of his pencil became a little more violent, making noticeable marks on the table, he put it away, along with his books, and left. He thought to himself, "I wonder what she's doing right now. If anyone is willing to spend time with me it's her." He proceeded through the hallways at a leisurely pace, letting himself be confined within his thoughts. "What is there to be done that would not be blocked by something or someone else. For all I know, she's gone off and gotten married." By this time, he had reached his room, and was sitting Indian style on his bed, in his single room, with phone by his side, "I gotta call her. What if I get the machine. Grrr." He picked up the phone and dialed Julie's number, which he had conveniently memorized. The phone rang, each ring seemingly lasting a good five minutes.
"Hello," came a voice of poise and distinction.
"Julie, this is Tony. I felt a need to talk with you."
With a sense of bewilderment, "Tony, where..."
Abruptly, "I need to see you again. I miss you. I'm, well, lonely, as I'm sure you can understand."
"Yeah, I can definitely understand that concept. Fluffs still keeps me company, but, she's just a cat. I could use a bit of company also. When would be a good time for me to come over?"
"How soon can you get here?"
"I just need to grab lunch, pack a small bag, and leave. So, I'll be there about two thirty or three. I'll bring some of those brownies you like. I just made some yesterday."
"I have class from two to three."
"Tony," Julie said as if to awaken him, "it's Saturday."
"OH! So that's why the dorm was so quiet when I got up. I've been a little dazed lately. I have started to think that sleep is nothing but a dream."
"We'll talk later, Tony. OK?"
"Yeah. I'll be in my room."
They both hung up. Tony continued to study in his room. Thoughts of seeing Julie again pervaded his world, and set his emotions flowing. He leaned back against the wall and rested in thought. He had opened his book, but was paying no attention to it. He started to hum a tune that he and Julie had listened to often. In his exited state, he could surely find no refuge in sleep, let alone keep his head on the pillow. Emotions defeated him and forced the poor boy to seek a quiet refuge elsewhere, without the overwhelming memories of pictures and nick-nacks within his room. He left the dorm, and went for a walk. He sat down in a park and suddenly calmed down, losing his sense of rigidness. He watched the birds as they seemed to play and dance for any spectator that might want to take the time to notice. His eyes followed a blue jay, as it darted through the air towards its prey. The blue jay then flew up to its nest and attended to its young.
...Refuge is found
Without a sound,
And heavenly peace is within him.
He recited a poem that Julie had written for him. A tear began to glisten in his eye, and he relaxed in happy thought. He did not cry, nor make a scene. Tony returned to his room, taking his time to enjoy the gaiety of nature.
After time had presented its trials, there was a knock at the door. "Come in." The door opened, and Julie was standing there.
He bolted up off of the bed, as if lightning had struck him. They hugged, and proceeded to hold hands as they sat down. "I've been thinking about you. You know this," he said. "I'm hungry. Let's go to the cafe; the one that we went to before."
"Sure, it's been a long time since I've seen that place. Do they still have those terrific subs?" She cast a gaze out the window, seeming to appreciate the green leaves and blue sky.
"Yeah, but they're not like they used to be. The previous owner had to sell the business. Now, it's just not quite the same."
They then left the room, holding hands. Tony's expression showed newly uncovered happiness. It was a sign of pleasure that was like a small child at Christmas.
As they were walking, they walked by a church, with its stone walls, steeple, stained glass windows, and grandiose arches. This reminded Tony of the beauty he saw in Julie, and compelled him to speak up. Tony began to speak, "Too much trouble, relationships, friends, etc."
"Yeah, I know. I'm afraid we both have the same problem."
Tony looked up at the stained glass windows, "It reminds me of the church back home. You know, I'm not cut out for university life. What would you think about me moving back home and going to community college?"
"Can you get a decent education there?"
"Yeah. I just came to the university so I could get away... forget about the past."
"Well, I'm slightly biased, but it sounds like a good idea to me. I'll finally have someone to spend free time with again."
They continued talking and walking, just as it was when they were kids. When it came time for Julie to leave, she said, "see you at the end of the quarter," and gave him a small kiss on the cheek. Friendship, what a concept...
(-copyright Brian David Smith All Rights Reserved)