Waverly Earp sits in a chair in the middle of a room. There’s not much surrounding her, other than her bed and a few other essentials. She and Nicole decided to keep it fairly simple when she moved there. Waverly had it in her mind that it would only be temporary, Nicole, on the other hand, knew better.
One thing that Nicole made sure to include was several photographs that she collected over time. The top of her dresser is lined with frames of photos from their life. There’s photos of their friends, some that they’ve had since college. Other photos of family members, parents, siblings, their children and Nicole’s personal favorites, all of the adventures that they have had throughout the years together.
When Nicole arrives, she stops in the doorway, catching a glimpse of Waverly sitting in her chair. She appears to be looking out the window. Nicole takes in the sight of the love of her life, someone she’s loved for more years than she can count most days. But if anyone ever asks, she knows the exact amount of time she has spent with Waverly Earp by her side.
If you include the time they spent as friends in college, the days where Nicole was too scared to tell her how she felt, it would be longer. But if you count from the night she finally gave into her feelings, terrible timing or not, it’s been sixty-one years, two months and...four days.
Waverly always laughed at her when she would count, but the truth is, it’s mostly for her to stop herself from taking any one of those days for granted, especially these days.
She’s joined by another person in the doorway. She turns to see a familiar nurse standing with her. “How is she today?” Nicole asks.
“Very lucid,” she replies with a smile.
Nicole breathes a sigh of relief. Not that she loves the woman any less when her mind isn’t as clear or when she hardly recognizes her, but it’s just easier to hide her broken heart when she does.
She sees the woman in the room turn toward her. Her once brunette hair is now bright white and her youthful skin has aged over the years, but it doesn’t make her any less beautiful.
Waverly smiles from her lips to her eyes when she sees her in the doorway, something that hasn’t changed in all of the years she’s known her. Those eyes still make her melt like she was back in her early twenties again.
She enters the room, holding a notebook in her hand. She sets the book down on the side table nearby the chair and stands in front of her wife, taking her hands in her own.
“I was wondering when you were coming.” Waverly’s voice is quiet and frail.
“She’s been asking about you all morning,” the nurse shares with a smile as she takes her vitals.
Waverly scoffs at the younger woman and swats in the air with her hand. Nicole laughs and looks into her eyes again before responding. She sees hazel eyes gazing back at her; they're soft and she can tell they recognize her. Waverly smiles again.
“Traffic was a bitch,” she jokes with a quick wink, tilting her head in the direction of the nurse who is shaking her head at the pair before she leaves the room.
A child-like laugh bubbles from her wife. “Well, I missed you,” she says, slowly bringing Nicole’s hands to her mouth to kiss it.
“I missed you too, baby,” Nicole assures her. She can’t help but grin at her smiling wife, a soft dimple still makes an appearance on her aged face.
“What’s that you have there?” Waverly asks, gesturing toward the table.
Nicole looks in the direction of the notebook that she set down on the table. She leans over enough to grab it, flipping through a few of the pages. When they first got news that Waverly’s memory might not last as long as they had imagined, Nicole took it upon herself to write down as many memories that Waverly could remember and dictate to her.
She knew that they might one day be worthless to her wife, but she hoped that as long as she was alive, she would be able to read them to her. Even if some days they came across as brand new stories, at least Nicole had a little bit of hope that she would remember again, even for just a short moment.
“I brought one of my favorites,” Nicole says with a smile. She waves the notebook out in front of her a little. She looks behind her, finding another small chair on the other side of the room and she drags it over to her wife’s side, sitting down. “Do you remember the last night of college?” she asks as she opens the notebook to the beginning of the story.
“How could I ever forget?” Waverly laughs.
She breathes in slowly, closing her eyes before she lets the breath go. When her eyes open, tears have formed. They threaten to fall, but never do. Nicole squeezes one of her hands, pushing back tears that she can feel are about to appear in her own eyes.
“Will you read it to me anyway?”
Nicole nods and leans in, kissing Waverly gently on the cheek before settling into the chair more. She brings her eyes down to the pages of the notebook, pages slightly worn from the amount of times she’s read the words.
As the words begin to fall from her lips, she notices Waverly closing her eyes. A smile forms on her face, showing Nicole that she’s still listening.
“The sky was dark,” she begins. “It wasn’t totally pitch black though, it was still a dark shade of blue as if the sun wasn’t ready to close its eyes quite yet. Regardless, the stars were still shining brightly in the sky above…”
Waverly gazed up at the stars, trying to gauge how many there might be. She figured there must be thousands that go on for miles.
To her left, just barely in her peripheral line of sight, she saw a shooting star fade into the darkness. She quickly closed her eyes, making a silent wish that she wasn’t sure would actually come true. It was something she had done since she was little.
When her Uncle Curtis was alive, he always told her, “never stop making wishes.”
She could almost hear his voice whispering in her ear as she slowly peeled her eyes back open, head still pointing toward the sky.
She began to believe that it was the stars that were responsible for the brightness of the sky and the beautiful scene in front of her. There were trees that lined the perimeter of the yard, but at that moment, they were nothing but silhouettes, adding to the aesthetic of the view.
Behind her was a house full of partygoers and music that she could hear fairly clearly, even through the closed door. She was not sure how long she had even been outside, but she needed to take a break from the chaos for a moment, not realizing that she’d become lost in the quiet.
“So this is where you’re hiding?” A familiar voice came down behind her, followed by the sound of the back door of the house sliding shut.
Waverly turned back toward the voice. “I’m not hiding, Nicole, I’m just... thinking.”
She was joined by the railing of the deck by the tall, redhead. She approached her with a red solo cup in her hand and a dimpled grin on her face.
“What are you thinking about? The fact that you’re completely mind blown that we are college graduates as of tomorrow?” Nicole asked.
“Only mind blown that you’re graduating tomorrow,” she teased, pushing her hip into the redhead’s side.
Nicole scoffed back at her, pretending to be offended. “Ouch.” She took a swig of the drink in her hand.
“I’m only kidding,” the brunette assured her. “Maybe I’m just impressed because you basically minored in drinking for the past four years.”
The redhead paused. Waverly can see her thinking for a moment before she nodded in agreement. “It’s called balance, Earp. You should try it sometime.”
“I’m still mind blown about that,” Waverly teases with a small laugh. She gives Nicole a look that she knows so well.
“Hey, listen, some of us chose to party in college,” Nicole argues.
“I’m only kidding,” Waverly reminds her. Nicole knows that, but plays along with her wife’s teasing as if she has never heard it before. Anything that earns a glimpse of her beautiful smile is a win in her book.
“I know.” Nicole pulls Waverly’s hand closer to her face, kissing it softly before her eyes return to the pages in front of her.
“Keep going,” Waverly encourages.
“I know how to balance,” Waverly argued. She turned back toward the yard so she could no longer see the snarky look she was most likely receiving from her friend.
“I’ve never seen you fully let go in the whole four years I’ve known you,” the redhead argued.
Waverly shook her head in response. She turned her body and leaned her back against the railing of the deck, sky full of stars no longer in sight. “You said balance, not let go.”
“Well, you’re too far to one side to be balanced.”
Waverly narrowed her eyes at her friend. To prove a point, she took the cup from Nicole’s hand and took a swig, warm beer sliding down her throat. She cringed at the taste.
“Wooo there you go, Earp!” the redhead cheered, giving her a quick wink.
Waverly couldn’t help but smile when she saw the dimple appear on her cheek again. “You’re ridiculous.” She playfully pushed Nicole’s shoulder. “Why were you looking for me anyway?”
“Maybe I missed you.” Her grin grew bigger. Waverly tried not to give in to the smooth talking redhead, but she had always had a pretty soft spot for the girl.
“Oh yeah?” she questioned. “No girls hanging around for you to make out with?”
“Nah,” Nicole sighed as she turned around, leaning her back up against the porch railing. Placing her hands flat on the top of it, to push herself up and sit on top. “Then I can't bother you,” she teased, giving the brunette a wink.
“Well, sorry to burst your bubble,” Waverly said. “But you’re not bothering me.”
Even if she was bothering her, Waverly would never let her know. If there was one thing she learned in the four years of being friends with Nicole Haught, it was to never let her think she was right. Otherwise, she would never hear the end of it.
“You never had to tell me I was right,” Nicole assures her. “I knew,” she teases.
Waverly smiles and shakes her head at her wife. “This is why I never admit it.”
“I thought you liked it when I was cocky,” Nicole smirks, raising her eyebrows playfully toward Waverly.
“It still gives me butterflies.” Waverly smiles into her eyes. Nicole feels her breath catch in her throat. She leans in and kisses her wife softly on the cheek before she continues reading.
“Even better.” She raised her eyebrows playfully toward the brunette, as she took another sip of her drink.
Waverly cringed internally, knowing what the contents of that cup taste like. She laughed, rolling her eyes at the redhead. While her teasing could be frustrating, it didn’t make it any less charming.
“So what were you really out here doing?” Nicole asked.
“Watching the stars.”
She turned and gestured toward the sky. She could have sworn more stars appeared since the last time she looked up. She leaned her elbows on the railing, next to where Nicole was sitting. Her shoulder brushed against the redhead’s leg slightly, and she didn’t even realize it when she moved in closer to close the gap.
Nicole tilted her head toward the sky. Waverly watched as her eyes squinted slightly as she stared up at the bright stars above them. Her face lit up from their glow. While Nicole silently took in the sights above them, Waverly took in the sight next to her. Although it’s dark, Nicole’s red hair was almost brighter under the glow of the stars. Her eyes traveled down the redhead’s extended neck, pale skin illuminating. Thoughts filled her mind that she tried to push down for so long, an attraction she had never admitted out loud.
Nicole leaned in after a moment, breaking Waverly’s stare, and whispered, “watching them do what?”
“You know, Nicole, if you’re only out here to ridicule me-”
“I’m kidding, sorry!” She quickly apologized. “I came out here for a breather and I saw you, which was even better.”
A smile grew large across the redhead’s face. If Waverly didn’t know any better, she’d think Nicole was out there flirting with her.
She was drinking. Blame it on the alcohol. She was just a friend. That was all she could think.
“You’ve always been a smooth talker, haven’t you?”
“It gets me what I want most of the time.” She shrugged and jumped down from her seat on the banister.
“And what is it that you want exactly?” Waverly decided to challenge her, wondering if her speculations were correct.
“To watch the stars with you,” Nicole responded, quickly.
Butterflies filled Waverly’s stomach as she smiled back at the other girl. She placed her hand on her stomach, attempting to calm the figurative bugs down, but quickly moved her hand away before Nicole could ask if she was okay.
“This is our last night of college and you want to waste it staring at the stars with me?” she asked.
“Some of my greatest moments in college involved you.” Nicole’s tone was soft and genuine.
“Are you getting soft on me?”
“You always knew how to read through my charm,” Nicole says with a laugh.
Waverly laughs in return. She rolls her eyes at her wife and for a moment, Nicole feels like she can see the young woman she fell in love with in college. She sees Waverly’s long, wavy hair, flowing down her back. She sees the gentleness in her eyes, caring and soft, but full of strength at the same time. She remembers her mind, quick as a whip, never missing a beat.
“Stop interrupting the story,” Waverly groans, a quick smiling following shortly after. Nicole grins back at her, apologizing before she turns her eyes back to the page and begins to read the handwritten words.
“Feeling a little sentimental,” Nicole replied with a shrug. “Do you ever think about how weird it’ll be to not be here anymore?” She leaned her elbows on the banister next to Waverly.
The gap between them is minimal and Waverly does nothing to make it bigger.
“Too much,” the brunette sighed. She never really wanted to think about life after college. Truth was, she didn’t want to think about life without Nicole in it. And part of her was mad at herself for never actually voicing how she felt about the redhead.
“What are you going to miss the most?”
Waverly paused for a moment, wondering if Nicole was setting her up to say her. She wasn’t sure if she should just go for it, tell her now.
Instead, she replied, “I guess just the freedom of life here. Seeing my friends, feeling accepted.”
“Ugh, I feel that,” Nicole groaned, turning her head toward the brunette. “I can’t wait to head back to acting straight around the parentals,” she continued, tone full of sarcasm.
“I still can’t picture that,” she paused, trying to picture Nicole as if she were to bring a boy home to her parents. She shook the thoughts from her head. “Not even a little bit.”
“I just live by the motto, ‘what my parents don’t know won’t kill them.’” She said with a shrug.
“I’m sorry you have to live that way,” Waverly told her, placing her hand on top of the redheads. She was relieved when Nicole didn’t move her hand, but instead, rotated it so their fingers were laced together.
Nicole shrugged again, something Waverly knew her to do often. Nicole never wanted to admit when things bothered her, but it didn’t take much for Waverly to see right through her.
“It’s not like I have a girl to bring home to them,” the redhead replied as she continued to hold Waverly’s hand.
Waverly’s eyes widened at the comment. She didn’t know what to say. That was a perfect opportunity for her to tell her how she felt, but how could she put it into words?
“Yeah-” was the only word that came out of her mouth.
“Hey, uh, did you want a drink or something?” Nicole asked, gesturing toward the house.
Waverly didn’t actually want anything to drink, but she nodded, hoping to ease some of the awkwardness of the moment.
“Be right back then,” Nicole said with a wink as she let go of Waverly’s hand.
The brunette smiled softly, thanking her as she watched her walk away from her and back into the house, surrounded by loud music and their fellow classmates. She immediately missed the feeling of Nicole’s hand in her own, hoping to get that back when she returned.
Nicole’s presence is quickly replaced with another familiar face joining her on the back deck.
“Waves, are you going to hide out here all night?”
“Hey, Chrissy,” she replied. “I’m not hiding,” she huffed. “I was just taking a breather and then Nicole came out here and-”
“And??” Chrissy asked, leaning forward like she was trying to gain some sort of information.
“And nothing,” Waverly told her, giving her a warning look. “How many times do I have to tell you, nothing is going on between me and Nicole?”
“You can tell me all you want,” Chrissy said. “But that doesn’t mean I have to believe you.” She takes a sip of the drink in her hand.
“I think she might be flirting with me though-”
Chrissy’s eyes widened and she wiggled her eyebrows playful back at the brunette.
“It’s not like anything is going to happen now, we graduate tomorrow.”
“That’s why you two idiots should have listened to me all this time,” the blonde huffed, rolling her eyes at her friend.
A loud bang came from behind them and they turned toward the house.
“What the hell?! Chrissy squealed as she ran for the door. Waverly couldn’t tell what was actually happening inside, but followed her friend.
When they made it inside, Waverly locked eyes on Nicole, who was laying on the ground with her hands over her face. She quickly made her way through the crowd, pushing the people hovering over her away so she could make sure she was okay.
“Nicole, are you okay?!”
“I spilled your drink.”
“It’s okay,” Waverly laughed. “I just wanted to make sure you’re not hurt.”
“I’m fine, promise,” she told her with a wink. She reached her hand out and Waverly quickly took it, helping her onto her feet. “Some idiot just ran into me and I tripped.”
Nicole didn’t let go of her hand right away. Waverly noticed, but didn’t mind. Holding Nicole’s hand was like muscle memory, something she was made to do.
Before she realized it, she was being dragged back through the crowded room to the fresh air outside. The stars remained bright in the sky and the music faded into the background as they distanced themselves from the house.
“Come here,” Nicole said, pulling Waverly closer to her body. “Thanks for saving me.”
Waverly looked back at her, confused. “I hardly saved you,” she laughed.
“You, Waverly Earp, have saved me in more ways than you will ever know.”
Waverly paused for a moment, eyes squinting as she stared back at the beautiful woman in front of her. She felt Nicole’s hands as they found a place to land on her hips.
“Dance with me,” Nicole said.
Waverly laughed at first, not realizing it was a real request.
Nicole nodded, encouraging Waverly to lift her arms, draping them over the redhead’s shoulders. The music played softly in the background, just far enough away that she wasn’t able to make out what song it was, but in that moment, it didn’t matter.
“You have no idea how long I’ve wanted to do this.”
“Dance in a dark yard to music we can barely hear?” Waverly asked.
“Exactly that,” Nicole assured her.
“You’re drunk,” Waverly said with a laugh.
“I’m not drunk.”
Waverly looked back at her, remembering the drink she was holding earlier in the night and the fall she had inside the house just moments before.
“I nursed that same beer for hours,” Nicole informed her. “Hence the nasty temperature.”
Waverly cringed at the thought. “And you let me drink it!” Waverly playfully slapped Nicole’s arm before returning it to its previous position over the redheads shoulder.
“You didn’t give me much time for warning,” Nicole laughed as she continued to sway to the music, following Waverly’s lead.
“So why haven’t you been drinking much tonight?”
“Because I didn’t want to be drunk when I did this,” Nicole said.
Waverly wasn’t sure exactly what she meant until she felt the redhead leaning closer to her. She felt as if she was imagining it for a moment, but closed her eyes and parted her lips, in an inviting manner.
She wasn’t sure what to expect if she ever had the chance to kiss Nicole. Until that moment, she had only dreamed about it. She heard other girls talk about it, something she was never fond of.
Nicole’s lips were soft against her own. The kiss was tender and sweet, almost familiar, like their lips were meant to go together. It didn’t deepen at first. They continued to kiss, slow and gentle, for a few moments before they slowly pulled apart leaving only enough space between them to catch their breath.
“Wow,” Waverly whispered. She felt as if she could still feel Nicole’s lips on her own. She slowly opened her eyes, the redhead grinning back at her.
“You don’t know how long I’ve wanted to do that,” Nicole admitted, a dimple appeared on her left cheek.
“Waverly couldn’t help but smile back at Nicole’s dimpled grin, the one that would make her melt throughout most of her college career. Butterflies seemed to take over her entire body as she pushed up on her toes, leaning back in for another kiss…”
Before Nicole is able to finish the story, she sees her wife shift in her chair. The woman pushes her hands down on the arms of the chair, slowly raising to her feet. Nicole quickly stands, offering her hand so she doesn’t fall.
“What are you doing?” She asks, a little nervous.
Waverly doesn’t speak at first. She gets herself to her feet in front of her chair, with the help of her wife. When she’s steady, she looks up at the taller woman.
“Dance with me.”
Nicole happily takes the offer. It’s something they’ve done several times throughout the years, music playing or not. As they sway together, much slower and more careful than they have in the past, Nicole leans down, pressing a soft kiss against the woman’s forehead.
“Do you want to hear the end of the story?” She asks.
“The story has no end,” Waverly says, almost in a whisper. She rests her head on Nicole’s chest as if to listen to her heartbeat. “Not yet.”
“It never will.”