Paul was going to pick me up just to walk around the city like we used to do in olden days, and I was sitting on my front porch step waiting for him. We were both upset about our soon-to-be split, and were trying to avoid talk about it. We just wanted to enjoy our last few days together and not think about leaving each other. When I leave, it'll be the first time that we'll have been apart for so long. We grew up together, we went through all Hell together and we're sure to go through rough times in the next few months! I'll be in London in college! He'll be in Hamburg, Germany! We'll be so far apart when we need each other most I can't even begin to imagine how hard that'll be! I'm so scared, I've never felt this way before. How am I going to be able to leave without Paul? When you leave your parents you feel a sense of freedom and happiness mixed with a sense of saddness and fear. But you're prepared for that feeling and for that day and you seem to be able to move on dispite those fears - you've been expecting them, waiting for them, preparing for them. But when you leave you best friend behind, you're leaving the best parts of you behind along with the memories. If he could just hold me and tell me everything was going to be all right, I might actually BE all right.
Almost like Paul had read my mind, he showed up. I ran to meet him in the middle of the driveway and was met by two anxious, waiting arms.
"Hello love, sorry I'm late, our set ran over," Paul said.
"That's all right, how did it go? Good crowd?" I asked, easing out of Paul's warm embrace, his strong comforting arms. He stuck one hand in his jean pockets and rubbed his chin with the other, a sign of Paul's that things weren't so great.
"Well, Rach . . . the crowd was great," he said as we started walking down the street, "but John . . ." he drifted. I sighed. John problems again? John had been edgy lately and everyone was walking on glass around him.
"What happened this time?"
Paul groaned and threw his hands up, "Oh, he and Cyn had another fight - only this time was different. He hit her. Shit . . . when he hits one of us, I mean, we can take it, but when he hits her . . . Christ, it's just not right!" He said angrily. Paul loved Cynthia and he hated it when John treated her so badly. We all did, everyone loved Cyn. She was so sweet and fun and great, and John just took advantage of her and her vulnerability and of the fact that she always came back. One of these days, John is going to really ruin things with her, and Cyn won't come back. It really pissed Paul off - Hell, it pissed us all off.
"What did Cyn do?" I asked only because she had a tendency to run back to John even after he hit her.
"Aw, she just went home to her mother, but you know she'll be back. Sometimes John just gets me so incredibly mad! I tried to say something to him, but he just took a shot at me, but he was drunk and didn't have his glasses on, so he missed miserably and I just left to meet you."
"I'm sorry Paul, but you can't tell John what to do. He's just going to do the opposite - I mean, come on, it's John. He thinks that everyone around him is . . . has no intention to help him out, like we're all out to get him, even his friends. He thinks that when people give him advice it's all bullocks and doesn't apply to him. Don't get me wrong, I love John and you know it, but he can be extremely difficult. It's not worth getting worked up over. One day he'll see what he's doing and he'll stop. Until then, you have to ignore him because he'll never listen to you."
Paul sighed and rolled his head in circles to try to relax, "You're right Rach. I've just got to step back and let him see his mistakes, it's the only way he'll learn." We walked in silence for a few minuets, nothing really needed to be said. We were just savoring the few precious moments we had left together. Slowly, we approached a tiny resturant and our stomaches forced us to sit down for a meal. "Come on love," he said while grabbing my arm and leaning towards the resturant, "I'm famished. Let's grab a bite to eat, on me?" he coaxed.
I smiled, "I'd love to Paul."
"Do you suppose that once we split and go our seperate ways, we'll lose our friendship?" Paul asked during the middle of our meal. The question caught me off gaurd and I started to choke on my food. Paul shot up from his seat and was at my side, "Are you alright? Are you choking?" he asked while preparing to help me. I shook my head "no" and started coughing.
"I'm fine," I waved him off. He slowly and cautiously lowered back into his seat.
"Are you sure?" he asked, half sitting and half standing, prepared to leap back up to be at my side.
I smiled and sipped my water, "Absolutly. Your question just caught me off gaurd, that's all!" I laughed. Paul smiled and settled hiself back in, pulling his wooden chair back up to the table.
"Alright, as long as you're okay," he said while re-aranging his silverware. He paused, looking down, and shook his head slightly. "Rae, we have to discuss it, you know? I mean, it's not too far off and we don't want to lose what we've got . . . 'cause, you know, what we've got is so great, I can't imaging living without you and what you give me. You're the best friend I've got, and what am I going to do without you? Who comforts me when a performance is bad, whose shoulder do I cry on when life gets me down, who is only a few steps away when I need to see a smile? You. You balance me out, and life without you . . . I don't know, I'd go mad." Half-way through his speech he looked up at me with those eyes of his, wide and caring. Those eyes that I've always known to carry so much emotion inside of them, I was going to miss those eyes so much. Not only did I see Paul, the real Paul, in them, but I saw the world, and I saw myself. His eyes were so deep and so old . . . yet so young, like a child whose just seen his first falling star and first realizes that the world has mass to it, that the world is huge and the sky really is the limit. Yet, at the same time, I see eyes of a young man that's seen so much, too much, for his age. He's no stranger to pain, to tears, to agony, but nor is he stranger to happiness in it's simplest form; a laugh. No mirror in the world could ever show me a clearer reflection of myself than the reflection I see each time I look in his eyes. How the hell was I supposed to measure myself without those eyes to look into? How the hell was I going to survive without the man behind and in those eyes? I felt a tear slide down my cheek and suddenly, I was speechless. Paul smiled his comfortable, crooked smile and reached across the table to wipe it away.
"Now, now, we'll have none of that miss Layne! No tears, not while I'm still here, just smiles and laughs and dances!" And with that, as if by magic or fate, Elvis filled the tiny resteraunt with his blues about being in a county jail and Paul pulled me out of my chair to dance away my blues.
After our dinner, we walked around for a little longer, arm in arm, taking in the familiar sights of Liverpool at night. The bus stop we sat at when Paul decided to join the Quarry Men, the lampost where I had my first kiss, the tiny damp club that they played at night after night, the park where we cried over Mrs. McCartney's death, the playground where we skinned our knees, the pond where we had many an afternoon picnic, the woods where he searched for frogs, the apples trees we used to rob, the familiar humming city lights, the litter strewn about carelessly, the faint glow of the stars in the sky - everything. It all was a part of me - good or bad, it was there. The smell of the salty sea nearby on the docks, the sights of sailiors and their visiting lovers dancing and necking in the streets, the nurse selling poppies on the corner, the fireman with his shiney truck schreeching by, the sound of children's laughter - it was all locked inside of me. Times like these - just the two of us wandering about the city aimlessly observing - were the best. No matter what happened to us, no matter where I ended up or how far away Paul was from me, my memories of us in Liverpool would live on forever. As long as Paul was away from me I could visit him in my heart in downtown Liverpool. He lived on indefinetly there. There wasn't one thing that didn't remind me of Paul and the time we shared together, this city held too much weight to it. Everything was saturated in memories so thick I had to brush them away from my face. This was not going to be an easy good-bye.
We sooner or later found ourselves back at the McCartney's house where Paul took out his guitar and tossed around a few tunes. Over the years he managed to break down my singing fear and so the two of us spent the evening singing our favorite songs. At one point, the inevitable resurfaced once more.
"Rachel, what're we going to do about our situation? What do we do when you leave for London and I go off to Hamburg?" My smile faded as I remembered the sad truth. "I've thought about it, but my only solution is to keep in touch by writing letters. I'll send you a letter from Germany the night I get there so you'll have my address, and then when . . ."
" . . .I get to London I'll write you with my address. But that won't work. I'll have to write to you from London first because you'll still be here in Liverpool, because I leave first. So, you'll have my London address, and the night you get to Hamburg, you'll have to write to me with your new address," I finished.
Paul sighed a sad sigh. "Love, I know that all sounds wonderful, but it's still not going to be the same." His eyes focoused on the floor as he spoke the words that carried so much. I could feel him holing the tears back, and I could feel my eyes tear up again as well.
"I know Paul, but it won't be too long before we'll be together again!" I sobbed. That was it. I let it go and that got Paul crying too and we spent the rest of the evening crying in each others arms.
Around one a.m. I headed for home and we exchanged the first of our good-byes.
"I'm going to miss you so much Paul!" I cried.
"Me too love. I love you, you know that, right?" he asked. I was too choked up to answer, so I just hugged him tighter. "How are we going to do this on Saturday when you leave?" he asked. I shook my head, unable to get any words out, except,
"I love you too."
Paul took a deep breath and pulled away gently, "You've go to get some sleep love." He escorted me into my house and even stayed to tuck me in. He bent down to kiss me on the cheek, but yawned instead.
"You've got to get some sleep," I laughed, "not me!"
He smiled, "us both love." He pulled the covers up further and quietly shut my door. God, I was going to miss him something awful.
Saturday came too fast. My parents, Paul, Mr. McCartney, Mike, John, and George came to see me off when I caught my train down to London. There were tears, of course. Mom hugged me a thousand times, telling me over and over how she couldn't believe that I grew up so fast. Dad telling me to remember who I was and not to do anything - well, irrational. Mr. McCartney just smiled, hugged me, shed a few tears of his own and told me he felt like he was losing a daughter and that I would always have a second father back home in Liverpool. John, who had apologized and made up with Cynthia, who was sick and couldn't come to see me off, told me to do whatever he would in a tough situation, which wasn't that helpful considering John's idea of handling a situation was throwing a punch, but I hugged him, kissed him, and thanked him for the advice anyways.
"Remember, I love you gal," he had told me.
"I know, and I love you," I had responded.
George was the sweetest of them all, giving me flowers and telling me he'd miss me terribly, and not to take John's advice.
Saying good-bye to Paul was the worst. He had been silent all day, and now he just looked miserable, like I felt. No words were spoken, just tears and an unseperable hug.
"I miss you already," I managed to choke out through the tears. Paul laughed a muffled laugh and squeezed tigher.
"Me too love. Promise me you'll write as soon as you get there?" he pleaded.
"Right away, I promise!"
Neither of us were willig to let go, but it had to be done. The whistle of the train was calling me aboard to my seat, but I didn't want to go. My mother rushed to my side to escort me to the train, leaving behind my three best friends.
"You'll call me once you arrive in London, right dear?" My mother confirmed. I wiped a tear away from my cheek and glanced over at Paul who was standing frozen, watching me. I waved a tiny, sad wave and answered my mother,
"Yes, upon arrival." She hugged me one last time and kissed me on the cheek and let me board the train. She clung to my father, the stiff wooden board stiffling his tears, and whispered,
"Oh, Mary would have loved to have been here for this!" I promised myself that I wouldn't turn around once I got on. If I turned around to wave good-bye to everyone I'd only start crying again, and I'd be miserable the entire time on the train.
But I did anyways. I waved out my window to everyone who had come to see me off. No, I didn't wave to everyone, I waved to Paul and Paul alone. He waved back passivly; you could tell he didn't want to make a scene in front of the guys, but he wanted to cry. The sight of him holding back the tears was enough to break me down. I wanted to run off the train and cradle him in my arms and tell him everything was going to be okay, but the train took off, prohibiting me from following my feelings. I couldn't bear to look out the window at his face, it was only breaking my heart and reminding me of my future lonliness. I sank back into my seat and sniffled. I hadn't noticed that anyone had entered the room until someone spoke,
"Would you like a tissue love?"
Startled, I looked up to see a woman with a tissue outstreched in her hand. She looked pleasant enough and genuinly concerend about what was making me cry, but then again, don't all older women seem concered about young girls' problems? I could feel my cheeks burn with embarrassment as I accepted her offer. I blew my nose and wiped my eyes. I thanked the kind lady who was sitting across from me and stuffed the tissue into my coat pocket, finding that there was already something occupying the space, but I didn't remember putting anything in there. I pulled whatever it was out and, much to my surprise, saw that it was a lovely silver necklace with a locket dangling from it. I opened it and was greeted by two bright shining faces. One was mine from when I was six, and the other belonged to Paul, aged seven. I reached back in and found a folded note. I unwrapped it and read:
P.S. I Love You!!"
"Oh, Paul," I whispered and began to cry again. I missed him so much already, how on earth was I going to get on without him? I pulled the tissue back out and cried in my hands.
"Oh, dearie, don't cry. What is it? Broken heart? What did he do love?" the lady asked while rubbing my shoulders. She had moved next to me and was looking as the necklace in my hand. "Paul? Did this Paul boy break your heart?"
I couldn't help but laugh. Paul? Break my heart? Ha! He was my best friend and would never do that. "No, no. It's not like that at all!" I began to explain. I told this lady, who had introduced herself as simply Nora, about how good of friends Paul and I were and how we wouldn't see each other for months while I was at school and he was in Hamburg. Nora seemed to understand and comforted me the entire ride to London.
Once we arrived and departed the train it was already dark outside. Nora gave me a ride to the flat I was renting with two other girls and wished me luck in my future.
"I hope you manage these months without Paul, and I hope that once you return home you'll appreciate his companionship even more. Remember, absence makes the heart grow fonder," she had told me when I had gotten out of the car.
My roomates greeted me at the door and introduced themselves as Anne Baker and Rose Coljohn. I unpacked my things and drifted off to sleep right away. These next few months were going to be rough, and I really needed the sleep.
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Back to Chapter One
Stay Tuned For Chapter Three!