Opening the door was like opening the fridge. It was too cold outside, too cold to be there and yet, people found reasons to go out in that weather. In her apartment, Laura was sitting next to the heating but somehow it wasn’t working as it usually did. She decided to go into bed early and wear many layers of clothing but that did not help much. She was freezing and needed to keep warm in order not to go insane.
The next day, she had to go to the office to work. It was awful as many roads were covered in snow and so were the sidewalks. She did not care for slipping on frozen ground and then falling on her ass. It was not only shameful but it hurt a lot and it made her feel more of the weather they were having. It was very uncommon, but the cold wind had arrived very early this year, almost in October. And weather people were saying it was not going to leave the region until March. So they had to stand it for many more days.
Luckily, Laura’s office decided that it was too cruel to make people go all the way downtown to work so they decided to let some people stay at home and work over the internet. They had to be available and working at the same rhythm but in their pajamas and warm blankets. Laura was happy that she was one of the people they set free although many were pissed off at them because their jobs could not be done remotely. Laura’s pity lasted for a few hours, until she got home and realized the heating system was working, as it should.
Maybe it was because she had gotten there late and it only worked properly at nights but anyway she was happy about it. She put her dinner in the microwave and as it was heated, she decided to check her phone. Some friends had been freed too from their jobs but were still looking forward to the weekend when they could sleep for hours and hours without been disturbed.
Laura ate her dinner in bed, not minding if the bolognaise sauce of the pasta tainted her blankets. She was warm and cozy and was already thinking how much warmer she was going to feel inside her bed. And then, someone knocked on her door. She almost threw her plate of pasta because the sound had taken her for surprise. No one ever came to her home and if they did they had been invited. Been a weekday, she was sure that no one had been invited. Laura decided to leave the plate on her nightstand and walked towards the main door, where someone was knocking again.
It scared her again, for some reason. She did not have a way to see who was at the other side but tried leaning over the door and hearing what was going on the other side. The person there was breathing heavily, as if he or she had been running like mad for the last hour. Laura stayed there, trying to hear something else but the only thing that came was another knock, which almost made her scream. She covered her mouth and heard the person on the other side walk a few steps and then another person talking. She recognized that voice: t was the old lady that lived in the apartment in front of her. She was telling the person there to be quiet, as many people had taken an early night. This one funny because how could she know that but she didn’t say more and slammed her door.
The person on the other side was about to knock but Laura decided to open before the old lady had to be dragged out again. At first she did not see who it was: the lights of the corridor were not working. But as the person walked into the light of her apartment, she realized it was her best friend Jeanne. When she saw her, Laura punched her on an arm and the other one started rubbing it, obviously hurt.
- What the hell?! What are you doing here?
- What? You’re busy?
- No! It’s just… Why didn’t you call first? You scared me!
Laura let her friend in and they walked fast to her room. As Jeanne seated on the edge of the bed, Laura went back to her plate of pasta. She had just realized how hungry she was. Jeanne was still rubbing her arm when she told her friend she had come so hastily because she had learned something had happened and she was very close.
Apparently, according to Jeanne, a former friend of theirs from high school had died just a few hours ago. Laura was about to tell her friend she didn’t care but then Jeanne said the name: “Brock”. It was as if she had been sprinkled with glue. She couldn’t speak and, for a moment, she didn’t care about the cold. Brock had been one of their best friends in high school. They were always the three of them parading around, talking and having many laughs. They would seat together in every class and would share tips on the subjects each one had a problem with.
The reason they had stopped talking was college. He had left after obtaining a scholarship for a university in France and they dais they would talk and chat and text but that went only for a few months until he stopped writing. They knew nothing bad had happened because he kept uploading pictures and they noticed there were many people in them. He had apparently made new friends in college and had decided it was best to cut off all ties to high school. As their friends, Laura and Jeanne understood. They knew how hard it had been for him but anyway they felt a bit betrayed and hurt that he wouldn’t have said a word about it.
Now, according to Jeanne, he was dead. Her friend told her that she had taken the bus to get home from work and decided to check on the news on her phone, as the journey was a long one. She browsed through several articles about very different things until she stumbled upon one with “breaking news” written in red and yellow. Apparently, a plane that was about to land on the city’s airport had crash by the end of the runway. They had no idea how many dead there were so they updated the article every few minutes with details. Finally, after a long time, they revealed a list of the bodies that had been already found. Brock’s name was there and as the bus was not very far from Laura’s home, she decided to go down and walk to her door. She had been so shocked by the news, she couldn’t think of calling her friend, only of getting there.
Laura had a few tears on her face. She wiped them clumsily and asked her friend if she was sure the dead person was Brock. She told her that many people had the same name but Jeanne interrupted her saying that both of his last names were written in the article and being Brock Holowitz Sepulveda, she was sure he was the one who had died.
Just then, Laura stood up and decided to go to the kitchen. Jeanne joined her and they made hot chocolate to compensate for the cold. Obviously, Jeanne could stay the night and they could share the bed to be warmer. She let Jeanne put on one of her pajamas as she poured the hot chocolate on two large mugs and took them to the bedroom.
As she took a first sip, Jeanne remembered one time in her home when they were in school. They had reunited there to make a science project and they had ended up eating and sharing silly gossip about people in school. They had also read magazines and watched TV and their science project ended up being finished at 2 AM, much to Jeanne’s mother grief, who had tried for them to work all day long.
Laura remembered the time they had spent a whole summer together, none of them having any place to go to. They had paraded around town confusing tourists; gone to the top of Brock’s building to tan on his used beach chairs and they would also eat a lot of pizza from a place close to the school. They each had a favorite flavor but they all loved the garlic dressing, for which they always fought.
When they were done with the hot chocolate, the two women got under the covers and fell asleep very quickly. Their sleep was dreamless so one could not say if it had been good or bad. In the morning, Jeanne called her office and told them she was going to be there after lunch due to a personal problem. Meanwhile, Laura called a number featured on one of the accident’s articles and decided to check if Brock was indeed a victim. It hurt her to verify his death but asked the lady who had told her if she could go and see him or if she knew if his parents had already been notified. The woman said she had no idea but that she could come over and be in a room with other relatives to get the latest news.
Laura and Jeanne decided to go, even with the snowfall forecasted for later that evening. They took a bus to the airport and met Brock’s parents there. They were surprising but relieved that the girls were there and they all relieved some memories as they waited for someone to tell them the next step in this whole painful process.