Alice had never been extremely close with her parents. Her relationship with them had gotten more complicated as she grew up. When she was a kid, her parents were the best people she had known. Since she was their only child, they treated her like a princess and prioritized her. They were kind and sweet, not only to her, but to each other. Then she became a teenager and the arguing started. Her mom and dad would argue at the dinner table, in the car, downstairs while Alice tried to study in her room upstairs, everywhere.
The fights would also happen when her parents thought that Alice was asleep. She would always try to sleep when she would hear the yelling, so that maybe she could avoid having to listen to them. It always made her feel so dejected when she could do nothing but lie there in bed and hear the arguing right below her in the living room.
On nights like these, which were most nights, she would pull out her phone and text Deb. Alice remembers what Deb had told her when she had opened up about her parents’ arguments.
“Listen, Alice. You’re not alone, and you don’t have to suffer in silence. Text me whenever you need to rant or vent or just talk. I’ll always be there for you.”
Deb had said this before they had started dating. At that point, they both had crushes on each other without the other knowing. Deb knew what the butterflies in her stomach, the dopey smile on her face, and the heart eyes she got whenever she saw Alice meant. She had been aware of her sexuality for a while, but she never had such a deeply-rooted crush on anyone before Alice. It took Alice a little longer to call her feelings for Deb “a crush”. She never had feelings toward anyone before because she had assumed that as she grew older, she would start developing feelings for guys. Those feelings for men never happened. Instead, a curly-haired stoner with an immense collection of flannels and beanies stole her heart. They both sucked at hiding their flirty giggles and smiles. Finally, after months of telling their friends that “there’s no WAY she likes me back”, they both admitted their feelings to each other, and became girlfriends during their junior year. Their relationship was very genuine, and it made Alice feel sure that Deb would always be there for her, like she promised.
Alice remembers the day her parents sat her down. It was after dinner, someday during the summer before her senior year. She was in her room, sitting on her bed and reading a new book, when she heard a quiet knock on the door. The escalating arguments lately gave her a clue as to what they were about to tell her. They walked in and sat on either side of her on the bed. She can’t quite remember exactly what was said, but she remembers something along the lines of “it isn’t your fault, it’s between us,” and “we will figure it all out, don’t you worry”.
Despite her parents’ reassurance, she still felt at fault. Why hadn’t she stopped their arguments? Why hadn’t she tried to bring them closer? Was she what was keeping them together as a kid, and now that she was an independent human, no glue could keep them together? She ended up not getting a wink of sleep that night, due to the countless questions that spun around her head and the endless tears coming from her eyes.
Alice decided to text the one person that would always be there for her and never leave. She unlocked her phone and texted Deb.
“they did it. they just told me that they’re getting a divorce. i gotta move to fucking clivesdale.”
Almost immediately, Alice could see Deb typing something. A few seconds later, she received a text from her.
“unlock your window, be there in fifteen”
Alice sent back several question marks. “'Unlock your window'?" Alice asked herself. She knew that Deb was not a stranger to acts of rebellion, and she assumed that climbing in through windows was no exception. She unlocked her window and stood by it for fifteen minutes, waiting for Deb.
Sure enough, fifteen minutes on the dot, she saw her girlfriend walk down the sidewalk. Deb was wearing a green beanie, a tank top, sweatpants, and a backpack. Judging by her outfit, Alice could tell that Deb was probably getting ready to go to sleep. Deb looked up at Alice’s window and smiled sadly at her. Deb climbed the tree that came up directly next to Alice’s window. Alice moved back from the window so that her girlfriend could step in. She grabbed Deb’s hand as she started to climb into her room. Deb dropped her backpack and immediately pulled Alice in for a hug. Alice wasn’t sure if it was the news she had received earlier that night or the fact that her girlfriend had left her house and came straight to comfort her, but right when she wrapped her arms around Deb, she started to sob. Deb, still in the embrace, walked them over to the bed and sat them both down. She stroked Alice’s hair and softly whispered affirmations in her ear. Deb told Alice kind words like “It’ll all be alright,” and “It’s okay, baby, I got you” in between kisses peppered on her temple.
After a few minutes of being comforted, Alice pulled away and gave Deb a long, meaningful kiss. She broke the kiss and let Deb wipe her tears. “Won’t your parents wonder where you are?” she asked Deb. “They won’t notice,” Deb replied with a shrug. “But I’m not here to talk about me, I’m here to try and make you feel a bit better.” She winked and opened up her bag. She pulled out a grocery bag full of ice that was surrounding two pints of strawberry ice cream. She opened another pouch of the backpack and presented two plastic spoons. “Ice cream has never put anyone in a bad mood,” Deb stated as she handed Alice a pint and a spoon. “Tell that to frozen yogurt companies.” Alice joked with a small laugh. Deb snorted and laughed. Alice giggled obnoxiously. Whenever Deb laughed, she would snort, and Alice thought it was one of the cutest things about her.
About thirty minutes had passed, and they both had made decent-sized dents in their ice creams. They were sitting next to each other on Alice’s bed. They had been filling the time with meaningless conversations and gossip about the upcoming school year and people in their class. The conversation was light for some time, until Alice had lost her smile. “Too bad I’ll be in Clivesdale this school year,” she mumbled. Alice looked down at her ice cream and became quiet. Deb looked at her and tilted her head. “Do you want to talk about it? I came over to comfort you, so if you want to talk about it, I am all ears.” Alice looked up at Deb. Her parents had made her a priority as a child, but not like this. This is different. They had to make her a priority, because that’s what good parents do. Deb never had to promise to always be there for Alice, but she did. She never had to climb in through Alice’s window with ice cream and love, but she did.
Alice smiled and planted a kiss on Deb’s cheek. “I just want to lie here with you, if that’s okay.” Deb took Alice’s ice cream, put both pints on the nightstand next to her, and put her arm around Alice. “I’m cool with that. Let’s just do that. If you ever want to talk about it, I’m right here. I always will be.” Alice sighed and put her head on Deb’s shoulder. “Will you stay the night?,” Alice looked up at Deb and asked, hoping that her girlfriend would say yes. Deb looked down at Alice and grinned. “I’m staying for as long as you want me to.” Alice turned her head and faced the wall in front of them, while Deb continued to stare at her. “I never want you to leave,” Alice said as she wrapped her arms around Deb's waist. A minute or two later, Alice had drifted off to sleep. Deb smiled to herself. Once she was sure that Alice was sound asleep, she kissed her head and whispered:
“I never will.”