Lindy got up from her table and marched out of Rumble Juice almost tripping on the door frame as she made her way out. She had to get away. The cold Chicago wind whipped through the alley causing Lindy to wrap her scarf tighter around her neck as she made her way to the train. She shivered. Each step took her farther away from Rumble Juice, but she still heard Betty's words in her head. Lindy, listen to me, girl. It's been plain as day since I met you. You like Garrett. Why else would you keep coming to Rumble Juice day after day? No. No. No. She did not like Garrett. He was just…well a special friend.
As for her visits to Rumble Juice, the little shop had a special place in heart. Every square inch of its building held a kaleidoscope of memories, and she never felt closer to her high school best friends than when she was sitting at one of its tables sipping a smoothie. Now that the gang was in college, Lindy didn't get to see them as much as she would have liked. They were all at different schools, and summer and winter breaks kept getting busier as the years passed. Lindy had been looking forward to getting together with them this Christmas, but that had proved an impossibility. Garrett was on a month long trip with his parents, and Delia had stayed in Virginia to complete an internship at a library. Logan and Jasmine were in town, but they were eager to spend every free minute together. The get-together may not have happened, but Lindy's dreams lived on in her imagination every time she went to Rumble Juice. She had to admit that she had been going a lot—she couldn't help it that she was always craving a smoothie.
Today, her visit had started out very routine. She had ordered a peach berry smoothie as always. Strawberry had been her usual for years until Garrett had suggested she try the peach berry flavor. Her favorite table—the one in the corner by the window—was open, so she sat down there and took out her book. Lindy loved to read, but her busy schedule had limited her reading time to textbooks. Now that it was Christmas break, she finally had a chance to read the latest release from her favorite author. She had been taking it with her on her trips to Rumble Juice and had now finished the first six chapters. As she took out the bookmark, she glanced around the room imagining just where everyone else would be if they were there. Garrett, of course, would be behind the counter making her smoothie. She could just see Logan and Jasmine snuggled up on the couch in the middle of the room. Jasmine was probably laughing at some dumb joke that he had just told her. Delia was sitting across from Lindy interrupting her reading with the latest cat story. The picture complete, Lindy dove into her novel.
She had barely finished the first page when Betty approached peach berry smoothie in hand. Betty wasn't one to deliver smoothies to her customers, but she never missed an opportunity to visit with her favorite young people. Although she would have been the last to admit it, Betty had grown very fond of the five of them and missed them badly now that they were away at school most of the year. She grilled Lindy every day for any news of the other four. At first, Lindy had pointed that as their friend on social media she could follow everything that they were doing there. Betty, however, was not tech savvy, and Lindy resigned herself to answering every question that she might ask. Today, though, had been different. Instead of asking about the gang, Betty had confronted her about liking Garrett. Lindy liking Garrett had always been a joke among the five friends, but this was different. Betty was serious, and she wouldn't leave Lindy alone. She kept asking question after question cornering Lindy more and more each with one. She brought up the frequent trips to Rumble Juice, her favorite smoothie flavor, and their obvious chemistry. She just wouldn't take Lindy's repeated denial as an answer. Eventually, Lindy couldn't take it anymore and ran out of the shop.
Garrett had always been one of her best friends. It was true that she was interested in him, but it was not as a boyfriend. He was more like a little side project. Ever since the day that they had met, Lindy had seen that he had potential. She couldn't help but notice that he was both intelligent and hardworking—the perfect combination for success. He could be anything he wanted to be. As she got to know him better, Lindy was sad to discover the fears that held him back. From the time he was little, Garrett had been extremely accident prone. His stories of unbelievable mishaps from getting fish bones stuck in his throat to breaking his pinkie toe were numerous. Many of his emergency room visits had been miserable, and he had begun to dread doing anything that could possibly lead to another one of those experiences. This coupled with his mom's encouragement to "be careful" had caused him to believe that he wouldn't survive if he didn't play it safe. Many times, Garrett was content to live a limited life not realizing what lay on the other side of his comfort zone. Lindy, though, could see that he'd never truly be happy unless he let himself experience the fullness of what life had to offer. She had made it her mission to encourage him to live outside of the tiny comfort zone he'd built for himself. Baby step after baby step, he had. She felt proud seeing how much he'd grown since then. He was living a life his old self would have never even imagined. He lived in a "germ-ridden" college dorm room, used public transportation alone, and even went out with new friends on occasion.
The learning, however, had gone both ways. Lindy was an eternal optimist, brimming over with plans and new ideas. She had a tendency that Garrett described as "getting overly excited". Once she got an idea in her head, she wanted to do it and right away. Often she threw caution to the wind and preceded with her plan without considering its merits. She acted first and thought later. The result was a variety of consequences including a ride in a police car. Garrett hated to see a good girl like her getting in trouble when he knew that she was so much better than that. Instead of completely telling her off, he just planted thoughts of caution or encouraged her to think something through. Even when Garrett wasn't around, she could hear his voice in her head telling her to think first and be careful. She didn't always listen to it, but she had to say that she was more measured and careful than she had been before.
Garrett was also a very caring person who was deeply invested in the lives of those around him. He was full of practical ideas for problem solving, but he rarely shared them with those around him dismissing the ideas as stupid or something that the other person had already thought of. He generally found it hard to believe that he had anything to offer. At first, Lindy had been puzzled that someone so great would feel like nothing, but she had soon discovered the cause. While Garrett's mother cared deeply about her son, her life revolved around her career as a stockbroker and her dog showing and weightlifting hobbies. Little Garrett with his accident prone tendencies was often a hitch in her plans. Many times an emergency room visit had kept her from being able to show one of her dogs or participate in a weight lifting competition. She never said anything about this, but the thoughts behind her actions were not lost on the ever observant Garrett. He honestly believed that he was a bother and that the more that he could stay out of other people's way the better. He rarely asked for anything and only gave his input when he prompted. To Lindy, Garrett never seemed more alive than when he was helping a friend, but his low self-esteem often hindered him from doing what he loved. Encouragement was what he was lacking so Lindy went out of her way to be reassuring whether it be quick smile or sincere compliment. As the years went by, her support coupled with that of their friend group helped him to believe in himself. By the time senior year rolled around, his supportive attitude and willingness to give advice had secured him the role of group big brother.
As he had blossomed and matured, Lindy had grown to appreciate him more and more. She had needed someone to look out for her and give her advice. Logan although kind and understanding generally relied on her for support and advice. Garrett knew just what to say to get her to think and always told her what she needed to hear. Her trips to Rumble Juice had started when he was still working there. He was always willing to talk if he had a free minute, and she appreciate his advice on the little things from college scholarships to how to adjust to the fact that she and Logan didn't talk as much anymore. They talked about everything from his mom's dog shows to her love life. He was actually the one who finally convinced her to drop her needy boyfriend freshman year. Jackson had been so nice to her, and she could only imagine what he could be with her help. He would become the first one in his family to make it through college and would become an artist and writer like he'd always dreamed. Garrett reminded her that if Jackson really wanted to change his binge-drinking ways he could. She just couldn't risk ruining her life for someone else, no matter how sweet he was. Lindy had taken his advice and broken up with guy, but the experience had left her heartbroken. Rumble Juice trips to talk to Garrett had been what had gotten her through that difficult summer, and she hadn't stopped going whenever she was on break.
If she was honest, Garrett was the reason that she was still going to Rumble Juice when there were plenty of smoothie shops in town. Even though he was no longer working there, Lindy felt close to him every time she entered the shop. She could imagine him behind the counter and felt warm inside thinking of the advice he'd give her. Ever since the gang had gone their separate ways, Lindy had felt a lonely ache in heart that hadn't gone away even after she had became involved in college life. Going to Rumble Juice helped her feel better. Now that she thought about it, it was kinda weird that she'd keep going to a shop that was just an empty shell when she could be texting or video chatting her friends.
No, that was it. She went to Rumble Juice because she missed Garrett, and she missed Garrett because….Lindy stopped right there. It couldn't be true, but it was nonetheless. She missed Garrett because she liked Garrett. Lindy shook her head. It sounded impossible that what she had long denied was actually true. She had a crush on her brother's paranoid friend. No, it was more than that—she liked Garrett-the kindest, smartest guy she'd ever known. It actually made more sense than not. Why else had everyone been saying that they liked each other? How else would she have been motivated to invest so much in bettering his life or to listen to advice even when it hurt? She was the first one to notice when one of her friends had a crush, yet she'd been blind enough to miss her own all this time. She had no idea how long it had been—it honestly didn't matter. All she knew was that she liked Garrett and that she wanted nothing more than for him to like her too.