《In Five Years》Chapter 1

"Mom, I said I'm coming!" I practically spit into the phone. I'm rolling my suitcase with one hand, my Starbucks coffee cup in the other with my phone pressed against my ear and shoulder.

"These spots are timed." She reminds me, and I let out another irritated sigh as I exit the airport gate to try and find her. I spot the white SUV almost immediately, and before she can chew me out anymore I hang up the phone, knocking quickly on the passenger window.

"Oh!" She claps with glee, shuffling around the car once she steps out to hold me in a tight embrace. "Honey, I've missed you so much." She says. "You have to tell me everything."

Truthfully I don't want to talk about school. The best part about winter break is having a mental shut off from it all. After finals I'm swiped, but I know my mother, and I know that she'll use this opportunity of an hour car ride to grill me about every last detail.

We get my luggage successfully loaded into the trunk, and when I finally get into the passenger seat I realize that I'm sweating. Connecticut is so cold right now, but I'm quickly reminded that Arizona is not.

Shuffling off the jacket I had on, I turn on the air and start to fan myself.

"Already getting used to the up north weather, are we?" My mother asks as she pulls back out onto the road. "I just have to say, I tell everyone in my book club about you. I'm so proud! Tina doesn't say it, but I know she's jealous."

"Jealous that your daughter is in college?" I furrow my eyebrows together, but she quickly gives me a knowing look. That look that lets me know I'm being coy.

"No." She rolls her eyes. "That my daughter is at Yale."

I shake my head and stare out the window at the desert, not realizing I was that homesick until now. "You'd think this would already be out of your system by now, mom. I'm almost a junior."

"Doesn't matter." She states. "You should be so proud of yourself."

I tune her out and continue to look at all of the mountains and sandy landscape, for the first time all year feeling like I'm finally able to breathe.

We dive into conversation about my brother Ethan, and how he's finishing his final year at Arizona State. He transferred there after community college with his girlfriend, and - formerly my best friend - Maya. They seem inseparable as ever, and it makes me happy that they're still going strong.

Truthfully I haven't spoken to Maya much, and that makes me sad. We've grown apart since I've been back at college. Hopefully while I'm back we can reconnect.

The past three years I haven't been able to come home for the holidays. I'm always busy. I found an internship at a pediatric clinic and I love it, but it requires tough hours. I almost wasn't able to come again since Cindy went out on maternity leave early, but Doctor Parker insisted I go. I practically live at that office if I'm not in school, and he wanted me to be able to see my family.


My mom was overjoyed when I called her and got a last minute flight.

Suddenly, it dawns on me that there's one less member in the car than I thought there'd be. "Where's dad?" I ask.

The expression on her face changes, and I see her gulp loudly before she pushes a strand of her short, grey bob behind her ear. "He had to work." She says, but I can tell it's a lie. "You know how busy he gets."

It's the holidays, and I just got back, so rather than press into the situation further I figure I'll just grill Ethan when I get to the house and sit back to listen to some music.


The holidays are definitely in full force at the Davis household.

As soon as I open the door the heat instantly hits my face, Christmas music blaring through the speakers. The tree is set up in the far corner of the living room, towering high since the ceilings are cathedral. The smell of cookies floods into my nose, and I instantly feel like I'm home. A feeling I haven't felt in a long time.

"I didn't know we were having a party..." I trail off and look around the room at the random faces staring back at me.

"Oh, it's nothing large." My mother reassures. "It's just some of the girls from book club and their families. It's like our annual Christmas party. Nothing major."

We haven't had our annual Christmas party since I was ten, but I shrug and go to wheel my suitcase up to my room. I'm exhausted, and all I want to do is shower and get out of these clothes. I'm in just a tank top and yoga pants since I took my jacket off in the car, and when I reach the top of the staircase I see Maya coming out of Ethan's room, another girl following close behind.

"Maddie!" She shrieks, racing over to give me a warm hug. I haven't seen her in so long, and I pull her closer, nuzzling my head into her shoulder.

She pulls me back and holds me at arms length to inspect me. "Wow." She nods in approval. "I love the hair."

After a drunk night with my roommate I had let her talk me into dying my hair brown instead of blonde, a decision I wasn't so sure I liked yet. It was only last month, so I think I'm just getting used to it.

"Oh!" Maya slaps a hand to her forehead as me and the random girl are looking at each other awkwardly. "Sorry. Katie, this is Maddie. Maddie, this is Katie."

"Hi." I smile warmly towards her. "Are you the daughter of one of my moms book club friends, or..."

"Oh, no." She giggles, and she's so tiny and cute that I find myself wishing I were thinner. "I'm Cameron's girlfriend. We just flew in last night."


Maya looks at me expectantly, and she must realize that I didn't know Cameron had found a girlfriend. I mean, why would I? We're not close. We haven't been close for years.


When I came home, he was never here, and when he came here, I was always busy back in Connecticut. It never worked out in our favor.

"He's told me so much about you." She gushes, and my heart leaps into my chest. "The stories he has of you when you all were kids are so funny!"

So he must not have told her how much he really knows me.

I'm still at a loss for words as I scan her over. Her body is so tiny and cute, and she seems so nice. Long brown hair and hazel eyes stare back at me, and finally, after Maya elbows me in the side am I finally able to say something.

"It's nice to meet you." I tell her, and the door to Ethan's room opens again.

Cameron emerges, and holy hell has he grown up. He's so tall, and he must have put on about fifteen pounds of muscle. Those emerald eyes meet mine, and it seems like he's frozen in place.

"Maddie." He breathes out, almost like he's imagining me being here. "I-I thought you weren't coming this year?"

"Uh, change of plans." I smile, and it feels like I'll break the handle off of my suitcase from how hard I'm gripping it. "Got a last minute flight."

Maya looks at Cameron, then back to me. The awkward silence is deafening, and finally she grabs onto Katie's purple cashmere sweater. "Let's go get some of those cookies." She gushes. "Mary is the best baker."

"Okay." Katie says excitedly. "I can't have too much though. You know I'm trying to watch my calories. Baby, are you coming with?"

Then she grips onto his sweatshirt right in front of me, and even after all these years it's so painful to see. I drop my eyes to the floor as I watch his body stiffen.

"Uh, yeah." He nods, and I'm not surprised. We haven't seen each other in forever, and we're not even that close anymore. Of course he should go with Katie.

They begin to walk down the stairs, but Cameron glances back at me once more. It looks like he wants to say something, but instead he shakes his head and disappears from sight.

"Please don't make this awkward." Ethan calls from his bedroom when he sees me walk past it. The door to his room is open, and he's sitting in front of his television playing a random video game, no shirt on even when there's a ton of guests downstairs.

Some things haven't changed.

"Make what awkward?" I ask, even though I know the obvious.

"He wasn't going to bring her." Ethan says, running his hand through his blonde shaggy hair, letting out a burp. "I told him you haven't been home for the holidays in years and that you wouldn't be here, but..." he sighs and rolls his eyes. "Then you wanted to hop onto a flight last minute, so..."

"It's fine." I shrug, but there's a pang in my chest as soon as I say it. "It's not like I'll have to be around them the entire holiday. I can get through one day."


"It's good to see you!" He shouts as I close the door to my room, and with my back pressed up against the white wood I heave out a sigh.

Why is this bothering me so much?

It's not like we've spoken more than ten times in the last three years. We've grown apart. That stupid five year plan we talked about wasn't realistic, right?

I've been single because I chose to be single, right? It's not like I've been waiting for the five years to be up and for him to come crawling at my feet begging to love me again.

I walk into the bathroom and stare at myself in the mirror, gripping onto the sides of the sink.

I ended things with him. We were supposed to figure out life, and maybe Katie was that part of life for him. Maybe that's who he was supposed to be with.

And why would it be me? We haven't spoken hardly! I have to keep reminding myself of that because when she called him baby it was like I was transported back four years ago to my junior year of high school, when he whispered that to me and proclaimed his love in that damn parking lot.

It's like it was a fresh wound when it's been years since things ended.

I don't understand.

My grip becomes harder on the sink when I picture those brown curls of his. I remember how they used to feel running through my fingers. I remember that devilish grin he'd get every time he saw me, how he'd look when he was inside of me.

How the hell does one interaction do this to me? I'm suddenly in a downward spiral, and all I can think about is him. We dated for only a month.

A month.

After all these years he shouldn't even have an effect on me, yet I'm standing here with tears in my eyes, clutching onto this porcelain sink with so much force that I think it might rip out from the wall.

I think it's because deep down I know that it wasn't just a month. It's never been a month. Cameron and I have known each other since we were kids, and we've been in love with each other for years. The month that we shared together felt like a lifetime. It was the best month of my life, but it was too soon... it was the wrong time. He was about to leave for college, and Ethan was just so pissed that we were together.

I was so stupid and naive to think that we'd actually follow the five year plan.






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