It was always Juniper who got me through breakups in high school and college. We would turn on something breathtakingly weepy and sit on the couch, tissues and chocolate and vodka and ice cream and an assortment of junk food between us, and we’d cry and laugh and eat until we were punch drunk on both food and alcohol.
“Mourn him tonight,” she would say. “Celebrate tomorrow.”
And we would. We always did. And it always worked.
Thanks for the reminder, I think to myself.
When I finally convince myself to get out from under the covers, I’m surprised by how frigid the air feels. It has a sharpness to it, like when you put your hand in the freezer for ice and cut your finger on the edges. I walk to the window, grabbing my phone face down on one of the pillows below, and check for damages. The screen is still intact. Good.
I look outside and watch the seagulls dive bomb the water, looking for food. The waves are almost still. Even the ocean is still hibernating while the last tendrils of winter hang on for as long as possible and the April sun tries to push out any last remnants of frost. I stretch for a moment, allowing my body to produce its own version of sun salutation. Only then, as I’m bending down to grab my toes, do I see the folded piece of paper stuck underneath the window.
I pause, my back parallel to the floor. Snapping back up to attention, I push the curtains aside and pull the window open, grabbing the paper before it flies away with the wind. At first, I think it’s Juniper’s doing. Maybe her screen was uneven, maybe she put it under there on purpose to keep the window shut. Our mom would do similar things growing up in our small apartment. But this paper is too new. I can tell by the lack of crease in the fold.
By the time my fingers work to unfold the note, my hands are shaking. I stretch the paper and notice a picture of Jasper and me, taken through the window at the Mediterranean restaurant. What? How in the world…this was just last night.
But then I know. Without a doubt, I know where this note comes from. I feel my knees weaken and I reach behind me for the bed, easing myself down on the mattress.
My eyes fall to the words written underneath and my blood turns frozen.
Stop looking. You won’t find her.