Times like this, Sara really hates Nate. She hates how he’s always smiling. How he never seems to see the problems ahead. How he’s always telling her to “keep your head up, sweet, everything’s going to be okay”. But most of all, she hates how he makes her hopeful. Because hope is not a friend. Hope is the flaky date you went out with on a Tuesday night, had one too many drinks with, and shared sloppy kisses underneath a streetlamp. Hope never calls back, only texts at 3:20AM with multiple typos and horrible beer breath and a sexy smirk under a mop of messy curls. Hope is-
“Sara.” Nate’s voice snaps her back to reality. “Are you alright?”
“Yeah… yeah. Just… thinking.”
“Thinking, and not about me. I can’t believe this.” His cheeky smile slips into her vision as a bowl of soup slides into her palms. “C’mon. We’re leaving tomorrow morning. At least eat something so I don’t have to worry about hauling your sorry ass to the hospital.” Sara rolls her eyes, but lifts the spoon to her lips. Nate exhales happily through his nose, and leaves the bed to continue packing.
Sara’s been sick for the past two days. She’s been throwing up everything she ingested, from bread, to fruits, to smoothies. Nate had played the part of the long-suffering best friend, rubbing her back, driving endlessly, buying medicine and food at ungodly hours of the night. They were about to call it quits and head home, when they checked into a motel (‘Happy Endings’, the loud neon sign outside proclaimed) and it all suddenly stopped. No more vomiting, and she even got some of her sense of humour back. They weren’t betting on their good luck lasting, though, so as soon as Sara got some rest, they were heading home.
The room falls into silence save for the rubbish TV Sara’s watching, until Nate lets out a small gasp. He holds a small bag by his fingertips, tip-toes over to Sara, leaves the bag by her lap, and tip-toes back. “What do you want now?” she deadpans, not even looking away from the screen. Silence forces her to fumble for the bag – a small canvas drawstring – and pull it out, dumping its contents on the blanket before her. She pats them down, reluctant to stop watching the catfight going on in the goggle box, until she hears a small, undeniable crinkle.
“What the fuck,” Sara whispers as she looks down in confusion. There, on the bed in front of her, lay a couple of sanitary pads, carsickness pills, and a strip of condoms. “Nate…” she turns to yell at him, but comes face-to-chest with Nate. She looks up and meets a pair of scared chestnut eyes. “Is this a joke?” She rasps threateningly. He shakes his head violently. She looks at the condoms in her hand, then back at him. He shakes his head again.
Two hours and a phone call later brings the conclusion that Sara’s mom had tucked the condoms into Sara’s bag, after commiserating with Nate’s mother and with hopes that the fairytale that the two ladies had nurtured in their minds would culminate in a happy ending. Their children were not amused.