#236; what best friends are for [Nanowrimo]

Yes, yes, yes, Nanowrimo continues. Today’s excerpt comes care of my main character’s best friend, Justin (lovingly played by country rocker Jason Aldean in the movie inside my head). This clearly hasn’t been edited, even for spelling or grammar, as is the nature of November.

The rush from the open mic and the flush from her three glasses of wine kept Lee up most of the night. Come morning light, she found herself out on her back yard balcony – sticking out in a small platform from her one bedroom window, like a fire escape almost, smoking her fourth cigarette in a row. She didn’t normally smoke, it was a dirty habit, but she had picked it up from a boyfriend in high school – one of those bad boys that her high school sweetheart hated and who really only liked that he got to make out with a Varsity cheerleader on Friday nights after the big game. It was a stress thing, she always told herself, but she couldn’t imagine what on a Monday night spent with friends would stress her out, especially at sun up when she had to be in work in a couple of hours. Justin came out and found her there, curious and concerned as any good best friend would be. She looked up at him with a smile, “Just couldn’t sleep,” she had bags under her bright brown eyes and a glow to her cheeks that he attributed to the chill in the air. “What’s up?” He asked, leaning next to her against the metal railing.

Lee shrugged, “I think I missed that, after last night I just… Doesn’t it seem awful how we work all the time and try to forget how we do by singing other people’s music in loud bars to drunken strangers?” Justin had never heard Lee put karaoke down and his concerned spiked. “Are you sure you’re all right? You love karaoke more than anyone I know, Lee, what’s going on?”

“It just… It felt incredible. Saying *my* words instead of someone else’s.” She shrugged again, knowing her understood the feeling, but his calling in life was law, no matter how much he loved music. “Do you ever wonder what would have happened if I had applied to school like I’d meant to?” She didn’t voice this curiosity often, and 6am on a Tuesday was certainly not their usual routine for in depth conversation. Justin leaned into her shoulder, “You’d have graduated by now, probably be searching for a nine to five job and trying to write on the side, much like you are now,” Justin, ever the pragmatist.

“Thanks,” she said sarcastically. “Seriously though, I know you have other stuff in your life, stuff that’s more important but Jus… I don’t. Nothing feels like this. Nothing feels this good, this… full.” “Full?” He laughed. “Full! Yes! Like, I’m all full up and could burst from the goodness of it. It feels like what I’m meant to do, the only thing I’m meant to do. I mean, I’m good at my job, you know that, and I love the people I work with and my bosses… but… Being good at that doesn’t feel half as good as being mediocre at music, writing.”

Justin shook his head, “You’re not mediocre, Lee, you’re… Incredible. Absolutely incredible.” His tone was somber and she broke her long looking stare to turn his way, next to her, close to her. He was serious, sincere in a way she didn’t normally see her happy friend turn to, “Incredible.” He added again before turning to head back into the house.

Lee stopped him, “Hey, do you mind grabbing the train today? I’m gonna take a day,” she smiled shyly and he nodded in understanding, “No problem, hon,” he finished before heading in to get ready for his day. Lee lit another cigarette and finished watching the sun rise in the chilly gray dawn before heading in.

Justin was heading out just as she wrapped herself in her bathrobe and headed to their bathroom. “Enjoy playing hookie,” he stage whispered and laughed as he headed out. Shaking her head, she set about her day – fixing her long brown curls after her shower, throwing on thick tights and jean shorts, a fuzzy sweater and a headband before grabbing her guitar and a coffee to go, nearly racing to her car in her excitement.

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