Welcome Back, Riley │ Part 1

Riley disappears the day after her high school graduation, five years ago. She didn’t keep in contact with anyone, but her family. What happens when she comes back to New York for a week? What happens when she comes face to face with the friends she left behind? When she left, she never made plans to look back at the life she left. She left it behind for a reason, but sometimes the past has a hard time staying there.

Getting off the plane, I want to turn around and go back home. New York City was no longer a home to me. I spend a few days here every year for Christmas, but as soon as it’s over I go back to Seattle. This year, however, I’m going to be spending an extra week here for my parents 30-year vow renewal. I didn’t tell them when I’d be coming into town; I thought it would be nice to surprise them.

I take a cab to my parents’ apartment, and when the cab approaches the front of the building I hesitant to get out the way I always do. Even when I get out, I always find it hard to walk up the stairs into the place I use to call home. It doesn’t feel the same, probably because I’m not the same person. A lot has happened that changed me.

I finally decide to let myself into the apartment. “Hello, it’s me.” I wait for a response, nothing. No one is home. Not really surprised. My mom works crazy hours with the firm after her promotion, same with my dad. Auggie, from what I hear from my mom, is never home. He is always out with Ava. My parents refuse to make any changes to the apartment, I’m guessing, since everything has been the same since I was little.

I move around the apartment it what I always do. I take everything in if I miss any place in New York it’s this apartment. I always try to avoid my room. It just filled with old memories. I don’t bother to change it. I usually just spend two nights the most, but I guess not this time.

I stand in front of the door that leads to my room. Why is it that it’s always so hard to come in here every single time? Probably because it still looks the same. I have pictures of the gang still hanging up in there. I can’t seem to pull myself to put them away. I guess if I’m being honest at times I do miss it here. I miss them. I miss him.

I manage to open the door and I get hit with nostalgia. I see the six of us sitting by the bay window. This was like the meeting headquarters if it wasn’t my mom’s café. I walk over to my bed and I look my bedside table on one side. It’s a picture of the group on Prom night. I had a purple floor length dress with a sweetheart neck line. The top was couple in jewels. I felt like a princess in it. Maya looked beautiful. She had a smile that reached her eyes. I don’t think I ever seen her smile so big. She had a black long strapless dress with a slit up her thigh. Smackle was absolutely breath taking. She had come over earlier that day and I helped her with her hair and makeup. The blue knee length tulle dress fit her to a tee. Farkle looked handsome all dressed up in a suit with a matching bow tie to Smackle’s dress color. Zay, he looked like a stud. His smile matched Maya’s. They had been dating a little over a month, and this was their first big event as a couple. Why it took either one of them so long to make it official? Beats me, but I couldn’t have been happier for them. Then, there he was, Lucas Friar he was the object of my affection. I remember seeing him that night and my breath hitched. He looked indescribable. Everyone was smiling and looking at the camera, except me. I was smiling, but my eyes they were locked on him.  

I just don’t understand how everything went bad that night. If someone looked at this picture, they would never have guessed that this magical night came crashing down. I don’t know why I keep this picture here. Every single time I see it, it’s almost like I relive the night and I feel the same feelings I felt that night. Starting with happiness and ending in rage. I set the picture back down on the bedside table. I should put it away, but I don’t. It was the last good memory I have with them all, where we are all happy.

Something from the corner of my eyes that grabs my attention from my desk. I walk over, and I see a red velvet engagement ring box. I thought I got rid of this, why is it here? I reach for it and open it thinking I’m going come face with a purple jelly bean, instead it’s empty. I stare at it and a feeling of disappointment comes over me. A little part of me hoped it was still in there. I think back to the ski lodge where Lucas picked me. It was one of the happiest moments in my life. The triangle was finally over, and I was the one that Lucas wanted. I should have known it was too good to be true.

I get pulled out of my train of thought, by someone clearing their throat. “Riley, you’re home?” Auggie says from the doorway.

“Hey Aug!” I walk up to him and engulf him into a tight hug. I feel his arms wrap around me.

“I didn’t know you were coming home. I missed you, Riley!”

“I missed you too!” I hug him tighter.

He pulls away and looks down at the little box in my hand, “So that’s where I left it.” He says gesturing to the box.

“This is yours?” He nods. “What were you going to do with it?”

I see a smile spread across his face. “I found this amazing ring at an antique store for Ava. I was going to put it in that little box. Give it to her as a promise for forever.” I can’t help the smile that escapes from my lips. “Is it too much?”

I shake my head, “Not at all. Ava is one lucky girl. You are one amazing dude little bro.”

He eagerly wants to show me the ring, so I follow him to his room. It’s a beautiful ring. A thin rose gold band with a white pearl right in the middle. I’m guessing for her birth stone. “She’s going to love it.”

Auggie was about to say something, when we hear the front door slam shut.

“Auggie, you here?” I hear my mom yell.

“Yes, I’m in my room. I’ll be right down.” He shouts back. “C’mon let’s go surprise mom,” he whispers to me.

I follow him down the stairs. My mom and I haven’t been on the best of terms. She didn’t understand why I left. My fault, I didn’t tell her. I actually didn’t tell anyone why I left. Pretty sure if everyone found out I would be hated.

“Hey mom.” Auggie says. My mom has her back to us in the kitchen looking through the mail.

“Have you ate? I can order-“ she stops as she turns around and sees me standing there. “Riley, you’re home!” She latches herself on to me in a constricting hug.

“Hi mom!”

“Oh my god, what are you doing here? I wasn’t expecting you until Friday! You’re four days earlier. I’m happy you’re here though!”

I let out a little laugh, “Well, I thought I’d surprise you. You know help you with last minute things. It’s one of my duties as your daughter.”

I see a weird look wash over my mom’s face, “Oh don’t worry about that. I got it all taken care of it. I have help.”

“Are you sure?” She nods, “Because I can help with anything.”

“Why don’t you and Auggie go get something to eat.”

“I’m not hungry mom.” Auggie puts his two sense in.

“Yeah either am I.”

“Well why don’t you two go out for some ice cream. Here I’ll pay.” She reaches for her purse. It’s almost like she is trying to get rid of us. Mainly me.

“Mom, are you trying to get rid of me?” I joke.

“What?! No, honey of-“ she gets cut off by a voice from the intercom

“It’s Maya!” Maya? What is the world is she doing here.

I look over at my mom who is trying to avoid my gaze. She knew Maya was coming over is this regular. I look over to Auggie.

“Let it begin.” He says.

“Auggie, let Maya in please.” My mom tells Auggie and he obliges.

“Mom, what is Maya doing here?” Then something clicks inside of my head, “Is she helping you plan everything?” She doesn’t say anything and that only confirms it for me. Of course. “Are you serious, mom? You could have asked me for help. I’m your daughter, not her! But she’s your other daughter right. The one that makes you so proud. I don’t-“ I get interrupted.

“Hel-“ she looks at me, “Riles?”

I look at her, and I don’t even know what to feel. I want to hug, but at the same time I want to strangle her. I look back at my mom. “I see things haven’t changed. I’m not surprised. I’m going for a walk. Aug, you want to come with me?” He is already headed towards to door.

Before I walk out the door I turn around to face Maya, “Have fun with my, I mean your or is it ours? Who am I kidding, she was always a better mom to you. Have fun with your mom.” She opens her mouth to say something, but I don’t give her a chance. I walk out and slam the door behind me.