Chapter 1:

One Last Time: Part 1

One Last Time

The last thing I expected was to be excited to return to my parent’s house after what? Five years? I never intended to stay away for so long, but life’s constant push and pull sucked me in and didn’t let go for long, and when it did… I had no energy left for anything else. College was… Something. I enjoyed my time there, don’t get me wrong, it’s just that I expected something more… Exciting.

“Is your flight leaving soon?” I could hear my mother’s finger tapping away at the dinner table.

“Yes, mom. I sent you all the details yesterday… Again.”

“I’m sorry, I just worry. You’re scared of planes so I worry you’ll forget!”

I hated how right she was despite her logic making little to no sense. My mother only knew two modes:

Obsessively worried

Angry and worried.

As a kid, it bothered me a lot to listen to her obsess over every tiny detail. Now? It was still annoying as hell… But I appreciated her concern.

“I’m not gonna forget. I’ll see you guys soon, okay?”

“Okay… I love you.”

“I love you too.”

There was nothing special about my town on paper. It was a small town that hid in the mountains surrounding it like fortress walls. There's not a lot to do other than drink mediocre coffee or watch old movies (and the occasional big Hollywood release) at the local theatre. Pick your poison. For me, it was movies that defined most of my childhood. I watched a lot of classics like The Godfather, Psycho, Casa Blanca… I’d watch anything as long as I had the pocket money. Nothing was worse than doing nothing for hours on end on a weekend so I made sure to be an obedient kid to guarantee that sweet sweet allowance.

So what I’m hearing is that you didn’t have any friends?

You’d be incorrect. I had… One friend. They moved away when I was eight years old and not much luck making new ones after that until high school. That’s depressing, I won’t lie. College was a different story. As cliche as it sounds, you find people who resonate with you on a deeper level. Although you could argue that’s due to having developed more as a person than your younger and stupider (ignorant to a terrifying degree) self.

The ride home wasn’t too long (about three hours) and I could feel a wave of nostalgia hit just as we descended below the clouds and I could see the mountains saying hello over the horizon. I’m home. That feeling snuck up on me and the tears almost escaped my eyes before I collected myself. My mom called immediately after I landed.

For a second I considered she hacked into the plane’s radio, but remembered how she couldn’t even figure out how to cast a video to the TV and the notion vanished. I told her I was fine. I told her that no, I did not cry… Nostalgia overload non-withstanding.

“I’m so happy you’re back home! Is your hotel nearby?”

“Yeah. I just got here. Is Zoe home yet?”

“Your sister has taken over the guest room and is sleeping in a rather strange position. Sorry again, dear.”

“Sounds like Zoe. For better or for worse.”

We laughed. And then she scolded me for talking badly about my sister.

“How does it feel to reach twenty-five? My boy is so old!”

“Weird… Hey, I’m not that old. You’re like what? A little over a thousand?”

The joke did not land well with my mother.

The hotel I was staying at was nice. Three stars if I remembered correctly, not that I gave a damn about stuff like that. As long as the place looked nice and clean, that’s all I needed. Oh, and free breakfast. Not offering free breakfast was an act worthy of divine punishment but I won’t get into that.

The proactive inner voice in my brain wanted me to unload my luggage properly. Silly old me. I would never do that. I descended into the cold and soft embrace of my hotel bed. Sweet sweet bliss. All the confirmation I needed to know I made the right choice.

“Should I swing by later tonight?”

“No… Too tired.” I shut my eyes. Short flight or not, my body did not want to continue to expend any further energy. 

That night, I remembered her for the first time in years. Whether it was a dream or a memory, I wasn't sure at first.

We were both young… And in love. At least I was.



I could hear the hesitation in her voice. I was sure she could hear the hesitation in mine.

“I… I wanted to tell you something.”

Oh god… It’s this memory.


“Do you think I’ll make any friends at college?”


“Definitely not.” She laughed… A lot. A bit too much, I would say!

“You’re so mean!”

“I’m sure you’ll be fine. There’s a lot of people there, right?”

“I wish you were there too.”

Silence, again.

“I wanted to tell you something too… More of a question.”

My entire body froze in anticipation.


“Do you think we’ll see each other again?”

I woke up in the middle of the night. Out of habit, I reached out for my neck, searching for a necklace that I wouldn’t find.

“God… How long has it been?”

It was poetic, for lack of a better way to describe it, that I would dream of my first crush tonight of all nights. I didn’t think I ever forgot about her more so that her memory faded along with many others of that time. Lying low in the depths of my mind, ready to be remembered if ever. You never forget your first love… Another thing people say that I wish wasn’t true.

Like every other hopeless romantic, I remembered every little conversation down to the most insignificant of details. We never met in person, a red flag I know, but our relationship was anything but normal. I considered talking to her again…

What had she been up to? Had she fallen in love again? Was she married? Did she get to accomplish her dream? Did she laugh the same way? Did she still have that cute smile that killed me every time?

Would she… remember me?


I wanted to talk to her.

I wanted to see her.

But could I?

One Last Time

Juan Muniz