After the initial shock wore off, and stopping several times for brief chats with sorority sisters and old friends, they finally settled in the library. Since it was early on a Saturday, it was basically deserted, very quiet and peaceful – Perfect. They quickly laid claim to one of the biggest study rooms on the second floor, with a door, and made sure there were six chairs. It certainly was a tight fit, but they made it work.
Lisanna then announced that she had a surprise for everyone – On Friday, she had taken the initiative and reserved a bunch of books on Europe and traveling. Everyone was visibly thrilled. Up until this point, no one was really sure how truly on board Lizzy was with the whole idea. But this effort on her made everyone realize that she was just as excited about the adventure and motivated to plan it with the group.
Bethany was probably the most excited of them all – She definitely saw a positive shift in Lizzy because of this efforts. In addition, the daily texts had also become increasingly encouraging. With each passing day, it had appeared to Bethany that Lizzy was feeling better overall, far more diligent in her studies, and almost had a sense of peace and content come over her. The furthest proof, and icing on the cake, was Bethany finally seeing her in person – Lizzy had an ear-to-ear grin from the moment that everyone had arrived on campus.
Bethany sighed contentedly as everyone picked a book and started thumbing through them.
“Hey, everyone. I loved your surprise, Lizzy! Thank you. This is a huge help. But I actually have a surprise, too.”
Everyone’s eyes followed Bethany’s hands from the moment she finished speaking. You could cut the tension with a knife as she methodically unzipped her backpack. The suspense was killing everyone, but no one hardly breathed.
Finally, Bethany put the mystery item in the center of the desk. She sat back and watched everyone take it in.
Eyes as wide as saucers, again. But no one moved, nor spoke. The silence made Bethany wither inside, like a plan trying to survive without water.
Finally, someone had the courage to speak up – Bethany couldn’t put her finger on who it was. It may have been multiple voices for all she knew. But the words went like this:
“This. Is. So. Awesome!!!!”
Bethany heaved a huge sigh of relief. Her creative efforts paid off! As she snapped back to reality, she had to interject her hands to prevent the ensuing fight over the journal. The six descended into chaos, play-acting like little children.
“No way, dude. I saw it first!”
“Let me see! Let. Me. See!”
But Bethany’s hands were quicker. She snatched the journal like a ninja and hugged it to her chest. She glared an icy stare and attempted to restrain her voice – They were in the library, of all places – as she mutedly yelled,
Everyone immediately ceased all movement, whether it was in mid-grab or mid-word. It was like Bethany had yelled “FREEZE” in a hot game of freeze tag. She had to stifle a laugh at everyone’s ridiculous expressions, as she attempted to lower her voice into a stern whisper, complete with a wagging finger.
“What are we, in elementary school? Nope. I wanted everyone to see it, but I guess we’re going to have to, you know, share, like we’re all in kindergarten again. Oh, and take turns – Nicely. Everyone will get their chance to see it, I promise. I’m not going to take it away – Unless you decide to fight over it again. And, for the love of everything holy, keep your voices down! We are in the library, after all, and we need to stay quiet! Do you really want to get kicked out?
Everyone sheepishly lowered their eyes and shook their heads. Bethany rolled her eyes – Reigning in these class clowns may be harder than she had originally imagined.
“Are we calmer now? Alright, then. Let’s all play nicely in this tiny sandbox we’re in. Now, I’m going to pass it over here to Anabelle first …”
Anabelle didn’t snatch it away from Bethany. She held the journal as if it were a china doll. Bethany had filled nearly all of the 150 pages, but she’d elected to save five pages for each section, to all each of the five to have their own place to create their notes, canvas, or Pinterest ideas. It was only fair. In addition, she’d given each person their own color – To help differentiate, and keep some order to the chaos. She’d used the same color Post-It notes as bookmarks at the top of the sections as well.
After the journal made its first loop around the group, Bethany reached into her backpack again, and produced six pens.
“These are the same colors that go with the journal. I want you to use them as much as you want – Don’t worry, I bought plenty of extras whenever those first ones run dry. Plus, you’ll see that I put them on lanyards with each of our names and ‘The Great European Adventure.’ I thought this would be a great reminder of what we’re striving for when times get tough or when we’re wading through our everyday lives.”
As the pens got passed around and the feverish chatter started again, the kind that was becoming commonplace during their meetings, Bethany and Will’s eyes met. Will grinned at Bethany as she leaned into him. She sighed with relief as Will kissed her forehead.
As they watched the group, Will murmured into Bethany’s forehead, “I think we’re going to be just fine. Why were we all worried?”
Aside from a bit of squabbling about whose turn it was to have the journal, the weekend, like all the other meetings so far, passed by far too quickly.
After the unveiling of the travel books and the journal/pens combination, the study room grew very hot and uncomfortable. Plus, everyone was getting hungry. Since Lisanna had already checked the large stack of books out of the library for the month-long reserve period, everyone took a stack and they gingerly made their way out of the library and into the bright sunshine and brisk breeze. The group carefully made their way over to the Student Union, where they had their pick of food options. The rest of the afternoon slipped away like the sun did behind the buildings, as everyone thumbed through the books and passed the journal back and forth. Before everyone knew it, the dinner rush was flowing through the café and the six decided it was far beyond time to haul their treasure trove all the way back to Lisanna’s apartment for the evening festivities.
All three of Lizzy’s apartment-mates were away for the weekend – Definitely a rare sight and treat – so the six proceeded to party like it was 1999. The books and journal went promptly into a corner of the living room, and out came the baking supplies, pizza, frozen appetizers, and a few adult beverages. Since no one was going anywhere until the next morning, it was safe to let loose a little, as long as they stayed relatively quiet.
Toward the end of the night, everyone was fat and happy, along with being drunk on a little bit of alcohol and a whole lot of love and excitement. The three couples quickly chose their corners and proceeded to make out and get frisky like no one was going to live past the dawning of the morning sun. It got dangerously close to being naughtier than that, but someone wisely noticed everyone teetering on the edge of all six of them being naked in the same space, and called a time-out. Everyone laughed, immediately straightened up, and headed to their respective private places for the night. Not saying that anyone went to sleep immediately, or anything, but no one wanted to see anyone else doing their private business if they could help it.
Sunday morning came far too quickly. It was exciting, because all of the meetings up until this point had been forced to end by Saturday night. No one had gotten a lot of sleep, for obvious reasons, but that was okay. The excitement was still buzzing.
After getting a slow start to the morning, someone suggested going to the Brunch Bungalow restaurant that was close to the edge of Farmerstown. It had amazing food – It was pretty much the town’s greasy spoon, and boy was it a popular place. It was difficult to get a table for all six of them, but they waited patiently amidst the smells of pancakes, bacon, and eggs wafting around their noses.
Finally, a very hung-over group of LT students – Assumed to be a mix of freshmen and sophomores coming down from the previous night’s Greek row crawl – gave the six a table near the back. Bethany had made sure to grab the journal before leaving Lizzy’s apartment.
After ordering their food – A smorgasbord of French toast, waffles, sausage, eggs, and lots of bacon – silence fell around the table. Bethany had set the journal in the center. She had flipped through the pages at some point the night before – Almost every page was full.
She sighed. She wasn’t sure what to say.
“Lizzy, first of all – Thank you so much for hosting us this weekend. I think, judging by last night, anyway, that we all had a great time.”
Everyone gave slight nods and murmurs of agreement – It was clear some of the group were a little hung over as well.
“I’m so impressed with what all of y’all have put in this journal since yesterday. I mean, I gave this to y’all almost 24 hours ago – and it’s practically filled up now. Thanks, guys. I don’t quite know what to say.”
Bethany paused. She was getting emotional. She was part of the slightly hung over group, but why else did she feel hot tears threatening to burst at any moment?
Will noticed her chin quivering, and he gently kissed her temple while murmuring, “It’s okay, baby. It’s okay.”
Bethany let one tear go. Everyone immediately looked massively concerned.
She wiped the tear away and flashed her signature grin as a sign of good faith.
“I’m good, guys. Honest. I’m certainly not sad – I’m more like super happy and super proud. And thankful to have such great friends. I know y’all are fully committed to this adventure; this crazy adventure that started as just a mere venting session between Hunter and I. I just can’t wait to see what happens next.”
With that, Anabelle remarked that the food was probably getting cold, so everyone dug in – Hungry for food and hungry for the adventure that lay in wait.
Bethany kept flipping the pages of the journal absent-mindedly as Will drove southeast toward home. He noticed that she had been awfully quiet during the majority of the drive – Normally she chattered away like a happy bird.
Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂