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Our final performance of Sleeping Beauty went off without a hitch. The thunderous applause afterward was a great indication of its success. Sunday was our last day on campus. We didn’t really have much time to run around and say goodbye to everyone. Most of us were held up in our rooms, packing at the last minute, myself included.
“You can’t be finished packing. ” I looked to Milo in disbelief when he walked into my room.
“Yes, I am.” He smiled and sat down at my desk.
“How?!” I cried over-dramatically. This made his smile widen.
“Wilmer insisted on doing it. He knows I will cram everything into random suitcases at the last minute. He finished an hour ago.” He boasted playfully.
I warded off a smile. “You’re never going to learn to pack if you keep having him do it.”
“But he is so good at it. I would even say it is even one of his hobbies. I cannot take that away from him.”
I smiled and shook my head at him. “I’ll teach you how to pack this summer, Honey.” I resumed my own packing.
“I will only let you teach me how to pack if you let me teach you how to swim.” He proposed.
“I know how to swim. I can’t do it well. There is a difference.”
“Listonenia is seaside. I will not be able to relax and have fun with you there if I am paranoid about you drowning. I can teach you how to swim with ease.” He pleaded with a sincere expression.
I sighed. “Fine. You can teach me how to swim in Audrey and Everett’s pool. I’ll teach you how to pack before you return to Listonenia. I get to stare at you while you’re shirtless; and you’ll finally learn organization. Deal?”
“You are a pervert, Isabella. If my lack of a shirt becomes a distraction, I will wear one so that we can stay focused. ” His tone was serious, but his slight smirk told me he was joking.
“So that WE can stay focused?” I put extra emphasis on the word ‘we’.
“Of course. We need to keep this fair. Elle said so. If I am not wearing a shirt, that means you are in a bikini. I will undoubtedly be looking at you.” He shrugged.
I walked over to where he was. “You’re silly.” I pecked him on the lips. I returned to my bare mattress and zipped up my final suitcase.
“I am quite elated about my first flight on a commercial airline. It will be exponentially normal.” He mused.
I giggled. “Oh, Princey, you’re adorable.”
“I try. I really do.” He played along.
I gathered my suitcases and took a mental picture of my bare bedroom. It didn’t look like mine after all my things were removed, but I still wanted to remember. I switched off my overhead light for the final time and exited my room. It was a little sad, but it wasn’t particularly painful. Sella Moora will still be my home for another year.
I popped my head into Elle’s room to see if she was still in there. She stood at her desk with a bouquet of roses.
“Whoa, who sent you these?” I asked with a smile.
“Ryan’s mom. His name’s written on it, but I know his handwriting. She is trying so hard to make us happen.”
“Well, that’s a first. Everyone else has to work for the mom’s approval.”
She smiled. “Darline’s great. Ry’s dad has some business to attend to in California this summer. He’s trying to talk him into letting him tag along. I hope he succeeds, it’d be really fun to show him my hometown.”
“He’s Ryan. He can smooth talk his way in and out of anything.” I reassured her.
“That’s for sure. Are you guys heading out?”
“Yes, but we couldn’t leave without saying goodbye. You’ve forbidden it.” I offered her a smile.
She giggled. “For a good reason.” She stepped forward and hugged Milo.
“Don’t get hurt. I won’t be around with my first aid kit. Buy more black v-necks. Be ready for our killer senior year in the fall. I’ll miss you, Miles.”
I laughed at her advice.
“I will be lost without your detailed instructions. I will see what I can do about the rest. You will be dearly missed and not soon forgotten, Elle.” He replied.
She pulled away from him and turned to me. “You’ve made this the best year of my life thus far. You embraced every wild moment we’ve thrown your way and laughed as it all went down. You let me dress you for months, which was a load of fun. I can say I know Everett Freaking Woods. I love you, Baby-doll. I hope summer goes by as fast as this school year did. I already miss you like crazy.” She engulfed me in a constricting hug.
I did my best to keep from crying. “You need to stop being so sweet. You’re too good at making me cry. We’re going to webcast and text every day. Thank you for everything. You’ve given me everything I needed. We’re burning diamond buddies for life. That means I’ll be ready to fulfill our pact during the summer. I love you. Goodbye for now.” I held her close as I clenched my eyes shut.
She pulled back and smiled. “Goodbye for now.”
Milo and I left her room and found Morgan, Sami, Finn, and Nick waiting for us in the living room.
Morgan stood up from her chair first and walked up to me with outstretched arms. “Have a great summer. I hope your trials go well. I’ll be anxiously awaiting updates. You’ve made a great addition to our family.” She spoke as she hugged me.
I pulled back with a smile. “I hope you have a great summer too. I’ll let you know everything that happens. Thanks for having me, Mom. I’ve really appreciated all of this.”
Sami walked up to me when Morgan moved on to Milo.
“We’re not going to do the ’emotional heart-to-heart moment’ thing. I’m simply going to say thank you for being cool; it’s fairly easy to get on my nerves, but you never did. You have an awesome cousin. I look forward to our adventures as seniors.” Sami told me in her usual straightforward manner.
I chuckled. “I love you. Thanks for all the crazy things you’ve done in my honor and for being exactly who you are.” I pulled her in for a hug.
Finn was my next goodbye.
“Keep holding your own. You’ve rolled with us for an entire year; you can handle anything. Let Sams and I know if things go south with your trials. We already have a cross-country road trip drafted. We’ll pick up the rest of the gang and physically defend you in New York.” He informed me with a small smirk.
I laughed. “She is literally your partner in crime.”
“People, places, things, and ideas annoy both of us. We do our best to correct the imbalance.” He shrugged.
“Have a good summer, Finn.” I gave him a quick hug.
He patted the top of my head instead of hugging me back. He’s really not a hugger.
Last, but certainly not least, Nick walked up. “I’m very happy we made up for Milo hitting you with his skateboard on your first day. We would’ve missed out on so much. Keep finding little ways to make things fun. I’ve noticed that’s what makes you happiest.” He offered me a warm smile.
“I’m happy you’re happy because you’re such a sweetheart. Goodbye for now.” I gave him a hug.
After we finished up our goodbyes, Milo and I headed downstairs. We were bummed out that Ryan was too busy last minute packing to say goodbye. We couldn’t go visit him because the boys’ suite is on the other side of the school and we’re already behind schedule.
We stepped into the lobby and found Ryan standing against one of the pillars with his arms crossed. When he spotted us, his signature crooked smirk crept onto his face.
“Did you really think I’d let you get away without saying goodbye?” He called to us.
“Of course not.” Milo teased as he pulled him into a customary guy hug.
“Next year we’ll be rocking it as Seniors. Elle and I are determined to make it an unforgettable year.” Ryan said to Milo before he turned to me.
“Don’t think I forgot about you, Izzie. You’re too beautiful to overlook. -“
Milo looked to him pointedly.
“Chill. I know she’s with you. –“
“You have done that before.” He reminded him.
“That’s right — I have. Rewind. Start over. Izzie, thank you for making my best friend happier than ever. Your arrival has changed all of our lives for the better. Have an awesome summer. I’ll see you in the fall.” He told me.
I gave him a hug. “Elle’s right. You are sweet when you want to be. You’ve made things the furthest from boring. I hope I get to know you better next year. I feel like I just know about you, you know? But what I do know is great. If that makes any sense. I’ll miss you.”
“I understand. The mystery adds to my appeal, but I will see what I can do. Bye, guys.” He waved and walked away.
“Hey,Ry, will you finish packing before your flight? I’m sure you wasted a lot of time on us.” I called after him a moment later.
“My mom. Like duct tape, she can do anything.” He called over his shoulder in his usual playful manner.
I giggled and shook my head. “He’s a total mama’s boy, isn’t he?” I asked Milo as we approached Will, Sophia, and Bosworth.
My mom flew back home on her own. She took me out to dinner alone after my performance to say goodbye.
“You ready to go home, sissy?” Sophia bounced up to me.
“This is my home, but I am ready to go to New York with you.” I smiled down at her.
She placed one of her hands in mine and gave Milo the other. B and Wilmer took my suitcases from us. They six of us walked outside.
“Hey, Soph, do you want to see a very special place?”
She nodded eagerly. I led her to a specific space on the brick walkway right in front of the school.
“This is where I met the first member of my new family.”
“Who?” She looked up at me, her blue eyes filled with wonder.
“Milo.” I looked over to find him beaming. I smiled back in return.
“It’s time to get in the car. We have flights to catch.”B instructed.
From the window of the rental car, I watched Sella Moora Academy faded into the distance. I had to keep reminding myself that it would be my home for another year, but that didn’t make it that much easier to see it go. I knew my time there had a timeline. Not wanting to think about that, I took Milo’s hand into mine and enjoyed the ride.