I chose the image of a college apartment for my twenty minute sprint this time. I also realized I’m running a week behind this month and posted my image prompt on the third Friday instead of the second. Sometimes I have trouble with where I am in time and space. These things will happen.
I used the key Jennifer’s mother mailed to me to unlock the front door. I’d called ahead and checked with the other two girls who lived in the apartment. They’d be gone until the end of the week. It was spring break after all.
I took a deep breath as I walked across the quiet living room. There were two boxes sitting next to the door to Jennifer’s room. Her roommates had packed up everything that had belonged to her that was in the common areas.
The tears threatened again before I could unlock the door. I’d agreed to do this in the hopes of sparing her mom. No one should ever have to clean out their child’s room. If I was honest with myself, no one should have to clean out their best friend’s room either. I was glad my professors were being so understanding about everything. Losing Jennifer had been so sudden, so devastating. I probably should have just gone to the counseling center and asked to withdraw from the entire semester.
My vision was still blurry with tears as I got the key in the lock and pushed open the door to her room.
I managed to blink my eyes clear as I flipped on the overhead light.
It looked exactly as I’d expected. A complete wreck. Jennifer had been in the middle of packing for our spring break trip to visit her aunt in California. There were piles of clothes everywhere, a bag on a chair with items piled on top that she’d planned to pack, including her favorite flannel plaid pillow case. She took it with her everywhere. She’d even brought it with her in high school when she spent the night at my house.
I took a moment to just look at the room. Her parents wanted mementos, photos, jewelry, and that kind of valuable item, but they told me I could do whatever I wanted with her clothes and books and general belongings.
The books on her shelf were a mix of her favorite fiction and the things she was reading for class this semester. Her school notebooks lined the top of the shelf, ready to be pulled down for class or to work on homework. She was almost compulsively well-organized even if her room did look like a tornado had hit. It was only her clothes that were out of order really.
I set down the boxes I’d brought with me and pulled off my backpack. I had tape and Sharpies for sealing and labeling boxes. I wanted to make sure I knew what I had before I decided what to do with it.
I started with the clothes strewn around the room. Even if I could fit in anything of hers, I wasn’t sure I’d be able to do it. It would be too much of a reminder. So I pulled out the box of trash bags too and started filling them up with clothes.
Jennifer had loved to help with collections for charity. She almost always had a box or bag part full of items she could donate to a drive or take down to the Goodwill or Salvation Army. Even if she didn’t have anything, she’d find or buy something whenever they had a donation drive for the local women’s shelter. It was her favorite cause. She’d lost a cousin because of the woman’s abusive husband, so Jennifer was always passionate about helping women get out. I’d take everything to them first. Anything they wouldn’t take, I could find somewhere else to give.
The tears were back.
It was a good thing I didn’t really need to see what I was doing. My world had been a blur of tears for days now.
I filled three trash bags with clothes before I’d gotten everything that was out in the room. I moved on to the closet. I wasn’t ready to sort through anything more personal than the clothes. I might never be, but I’d promised to do it.
The closet was stuffed full, the rack a little bowed in the middle. And the floor was covered in shoes. I’d probably need a couple trash bags just for those. Jennifer had loved shopping and fashion and putting together a good outfit. She’d loved to dress me up too. She probably gave me half my wardrobe.
I started pulling things out, putting them in the bag hangers and all.
When I pulled out the purple sheath dress that matched the one she’d gotten me, I started to sob.
Sinking to my knees, I clutched the dress to my chest. How was I going to survive without her? We’d done everything together: kindergarten, Girl Scouts, high school marching band, applying for college, moving away to school. She’d made me join clubs with her our freshman year, and supported my decision to drop marching band so I wouldn’t tank my other classes that first semester.
How was I ever going to get over losing my best friend?