My Soulmate


Autumn Cooley, Writer

“Rashima,” I called out in a whisper yell. No answer. “Shima, where are you?” Still no answer. I crept around the corner of the house hoping and praying to find her. I was beyond ready to go. My heart was pounding, and my hands were shaking. At that moment, I wished I had never acknowledged this stupid party. I thought it would be fun, a chance to let go and be a regular party-loving teenager. “Rashima I’m not playing with you. Where are you?” I announced, fed up with the situation. From room to room I searched for her. The halls were dark. The only thing giving a glimpse of illuminance was the reflecting lights from the living room. I wanted to leave but I couldn’t leave her. And if something were to happen to that girl, I would never forgive myself. People—men with women, women with women, men with men—walk through the halls holding each other’s hand knowing what’s about to go down. It made me sick to my stomach. After what seemed like hours of looking for Rashima, I reluctantly gave up. “Maybe she went to the bathroom and is now downstairs with everyone else,” was my thought. That was my hope, my prayer. Turning towards the stairwell, I made contact with one last bedroom door. Beginning at a young age, I have always had these keen senses where something is going to happen or if something is off. And at that moment, I knew: Rashima’s in that room.

From the age of three to eleven, I have been extremely close friends with Rashima Goodwin. We both went to The Trinity School, a private school associated with a Methodist Church, and danced in the Spirit of Dance Company. Rashima was also my neighbor for about 6 years. Our friendship began the day I met her at dance practice. It was my first year, her second, and I didn’t know anyone. Being that I was the youngest in the class, the teacher Ms. Stephanie made all of us get into a butterfly circle, a circle designed to make stretching fun, and introduce ourselves by saying our name, favorite color, and where in the world would we want to go. In the circle, you would sit on the floor with the soles of your feet pressing against each other. Ms. Stephanie would have us move our feet as close to our hips as possible to deepen the stretch. From there, we would flap our legs as if we were butterflies and chant a sweet melody: “Butterfly, Butterfly what’s your name? Butterfly, Butterfly what’s your favorite color. Butterfly, butterfly where are you going today.” I sat next to Rashima and another girl named Kaylie. After my introduction, Rashima and I immediately hit it off. I can’t remember specifically why, but I think it had something to do with the fact that my favorite color was the same as hers: purple. From then on, we had been inseparable. If I went to a party, a movie, a park, a ballet, I invited her and vice versa.

Succeeding fifth grade, my parents made the executive decision to move my brother and me from The Trinity School to Excel Christian Academy. Of course, the thought of leaving something I have known all my life was a little frightening, but I was ready for a change. Though, the change was not as big as my assumptions. My old principal, teachers, and classmates moved to Excel as well. Plus, I had a decent handful of friends already attending the school. The move only seemed like the right choice. Rashima, on the other hand, had moved to Barber Middle School a year before my graduating fifth grade. She and I thought that I would be moving there as well, that way we could be together. But with the recent change of plans, our closeness was jeopardized, causing our friendship to dwindle as well. That same year, Shima and her family moved across town to the opposite side of Downtown Acworth. Therefore, we couldn’t see each other at school or home. Luckily, we went to the same church allowing our friendship to hang on by a thread. Eventually, I ended up moving to a church in Cartersville called Greater Mount Olive Missionary Baptist Church. We would call occasionally, maybe see a movie or go to the park, but our friendship was not like it used to be. And in due course, our contact ceased—becoming non-existent. I never thought anything of it, sometimes people grow apart. It wasn’t until a year ago when Rashima and I regained contact. I happened to come across her Instagram account while looking for a former dance friend. I immediately direct messaged her, ‘Hey Shima, it’s Autumn. Long time no see.’ It didn’t take long for her to respond with the usual friendship rekindling message, ‘OMG hey girl. I know, it’s been forever. We need to meet up sometime.’

Saturday, January 30, 2021, Rashima and I officially reanimated our flame fallen friendship. We met at a coffee shop called Eatalia Café & Creamery off of Baker Road within the Publix Plaza in Acworth. Our meeting was sweet—very intimate and personal. I listened to her as she did me. I could tell she was going through it. Her wide smile, typically lighting up any dim room was not as bright. Her eyes stared into space, searching for a diversion. My mind was racing as to what could be the matter. I couldn’t help but wonder if she truly wanted to meet up with me. “Shima,” I lightly interrupted her rambling, her gaze staying focused on the charcoal tinge table. “Are you okay?” A concerned tone weighed heavy in my query. Rashima sighed looking up at me, “No Auty, I’m not.” I sat back crossing my arms as my overthinking conscious seizes my inquiring mind. “I wanted to meet with you because you know me. Even though it’s been a long time, you know me. You know me better than anyone else. And… I need you to tell me the truth.” If I thought my mind was sprinting before, it had completely run off the tracks and into a bridge. Is she in legal trouble? Is she depressed? Is she suicidal? Is she pregnant? Does she have COVID? What is it that’s making her stress out the way she is? “Okay,” I agreed. Rashima sucked in a breath, removing her hands from the table to her lap, “Do you think I am cut out to be a mother?” I knew it. I just knew it. She’s pregnant. I gave a reassuring grin, “Of course you are. You are one of the most caring people I’ve ever met.” A slight smile appeared on her upturned lips. Her hands moved from under the table to her head, removing a few braids from her face and redirecting them behind her ear. Rashima’s eyes began to glisten with none other than desolation and woefulness. A single tear fell down her cheeks followed by a flood. “I’m sorry,” she put her head down allowing soft sobs to escape her glossy lips. I came from around the table and rubbed her back. I wanted her to know I was here for her. I wanted her to know that whatever she decides to do, I was going to have her back no matter what. “Shima, don’t worry. It’s going to be okay. You have me now.” Her head shot up, allowing me to see her mascara-covered canvas. “But that’s just it, Autumn. There’s nothing to worry about.” My face went blank. That could either mean one of two things: she is in a relationship where they are trying for a baby but can’t seem to get pregnant, or, she had an abortion. I took my seat and stared at her, understanding that she couldn’t have been trying for a baby. Yes, the frustration of not conceiving when planned is heavy, but she wasn’t eighteen yet. I know some teenage girls plan pregnancies at that age, but Rashima—no. It’s way too soon for her. “Look,” I began; taking a sip of my chocolate chip Frappuccino, “I don’t know how to comfort someone in this type of situation, but everything happens for a reason. Whatever reason you had for this, and you don’t have to tell me, but it is all going to work out. I don’t know your thought process, and you don’t have to tell me that either. Just know that you’re going to be okay; no matter what.” Rashima’s shoulders relaxed as she dried her tears, signifying my statement put her at ease. “Thanks,” she remarked smiling, “I guess this means I have to make something out of myself. That way I can prove I made the right choice.” Despite that moment, Shima and I had a great time together, talking about interests, hobbies, and future plans.

Rashima continued her education at Georgia Southern where she is majoring in Child and Family Development, concentrating in birth through kindergarten. Although she is very dedicated to her studies, partying is something that will never slip her radar. Friday, December 17th, a party was being held at a guy named Jonathan Woe’s house. He lived in Savannah, Georgia in a neighborhood called Isle of Hope—one of the safest neighborhoods to reside in Savannah. The party was a celebration for ending the semester. Rashima called me asking if I wanted to go, I was hesitant to say yes with the thought of my parent’s disapproval. Given that she lives in Statesboro (the location of Georgia Southern), Savannah is only 59 minutes to an hour and five minutes away. But from me, it was almost five hours away. I would have to leave fairly early just to be there in enough time to rest my eyes. Almost five hours of driving is not something that I am in favor of. “I haven’t seen you in a while Autumn. Just ask them, if I have to, I’ll come to get you.” Reluctantly, I asked my parents that night; and without a doubt, they said no. I told them that Rashima was willing to come and get me and how it would be a chance for me to meet people in a different light. Though the extra explaining felt like it would do some good, it didn’t. Their iron fists still ruled with their rebuttals to my night of college fun. Calling to tell Rashima about the objection to the party was difficult. I wanted to tell her yes, it would’ve made her day. The last time we saw each other was at her graduation party. There she was able to let go and be her fun-loving self. She wanted me to see her in a bigger setting; a place where I would have to listen and follow her as she is the one who knows her way around. Jonathan Woe is notorious for his parties on and off-campus, and since moving to GSU, Shima has been to every one of his group gatherings.

December 14th–the last day of my last first semester and the day my parents became unpredictable. I had just gotten home with my brother from school. His nerves were on a million preparing for his Geometry Midterm the following day. I was relaxed with nothing to do but watch Netflix and write whatever crosses my mind. I had mentioned occasionally for the past week that the party is still on the 17th. And of course, my parents, still ruling with an iron fist, said no each time I brought up the subject. By the time my mom got home from work, I had been made aware that I would be finishing the semester with all A’s. I also made it aware that as a reward, I would like to go to the party with Rashima. Instead of turning me down, they stared at me; giving me nothing but a blank look. I thought that meant ‘get out of my face, you’ve asked too much already, but my dad motioned me to sit on the couch, signifying a lecture was soon to cross my path. I didn’t sigh my usual sigh, instead, I willingly sat making sure my facial expressions were pleasant but not too pleasant. “Autumn, I don’t think you understand that we don’t want you going out to Savannah alone. You won’t have me to protect you if something happens. And if something does happen, God forbid, who’s going to save you. You would be too far for me to hurry down the road.” I understood his concerns. They were valid. “I know, but Rashima said that she will come here and get me. She wants me to go.” “Do you realize how dangerous it is out there? It’s not how it was when we were growing up. Not much was happening around here during those times, but now, it’s too scary out there,” My mom worriedly stated. Again, another valid point. “I know that too, but I am eventually going to have to leave out of here sometime. Not long from now, I’m going to have to travel on my own and go into this world. You just have to trust that I remember all the things that I have learned over the years and fall heavy on my morals.” Checkmate. My Dad’s looked down shaking his head with a touché smirk, “Yeah, you got me there,” He began, “look, give us the night and we’ll think about it.” I agreed, getting up from the couch and thanking them as I headed to my room. Could I possibly be going to a college party? I didn’t know for sure, but I was hoping that they would say yes. I am ashamed to say, but I prayed that they would say yes. I never get out of the house, and something like this was worth getting out for.

My mind began to race for hours into the night. Rashima and I could have a five-hour road trip. It would be fun just to goof off without having any responsibilities to report to. No parents, no plans for the future, no grades, no jobs, no nothing; just me, Rashima, and the road. I tried not to get my hopes up. I wanted to expect the worst but hope for the best. I tried telling myself that I probably won’t go, I wanted to convince myself that my parents would get too worried about me going that far and just couldn’t let me go. But the more I tried to convince myself one thing, I unconsciously persuaded myself another way.

The next morning, I woke up fairly late—around ten o’clock. Exiting my room and down the stairs, I was met with my dad working on his laptop. “Hey,” I said still making my way down the steps. “Good morning,” he replied. I walked into the kitchen, grabbing milk and Cinnamon Toast Crunch for breakfast. “Hey Autumn?” my dad beckoned. “Sir?” “Can you come ‘ere for a second?” I halted my actions and made my way to the living room. “Yes?” He looked up at me and smiled, “You can go.” I immediately knew what he was talking about. That was what I had been waiting for—a yes. I ran into his arms giving him the biggest and strongest hug I could give. “Thank you so much. You won’t regret this.” I sentimentally spoke as I hugged him. Without thinking, I let go and ran to my room to tell Rashima the good news. Just I as thought, she was happier than I was. When my mom got home, the two of them laid down the rules and regulations: One, I had to keep my room clean. When I come back, I want to be able to relax, not worry about my unclean room. Two, my mom would book a hotel for Rashima and me to stay at. If I was not at the party, I had to be at the hotel. And if I was going to go somewhere, I had to call and let them know. Finally, three, I couldn’t be out past three. They understood the possibility of the party not getting started until later.

December 16th, the day before the party, Rashima and I, using her midsized Nissan SUV, began our road trip. The night before, I had made a schedule of how many stops we were going to take and what time we should arrive. If we commenced at 8:00 that morning, we would be sure to arrive in Savannah around 1:30 to 2:00 that afternoon. The amount of stops that would be used is for food, bathroom, and gas breaks. As we set out on our drive, time began to fly directly in front of us. The endless conversations about any and everything under the sun comforted me. I was happy. Truly happy. With all the stress of my upcoming graduation and what I would be doing afterward, I hadn’t had a chance to release the tension I subconsciously built. The car ride with Rashima was peaceful. I didn’t have to think about my neglected responsibilities or other people’s problems that I had taken as my own. I was finally able to let go and be me; the girl who is laid back and carefree. I oversaw the playlist. I included artists such as Toni Braxton, Jackie Wilson, Ice Cube, Michael Jackson, and Snoop Dog were from the old-school genre. Artists by the name of Jennifer Hudson, Summer Walker, Muni Long, Kanye West, and Bia were from the new-school genre. Rashima, on the other hand, oversaw the snacks. She brought a variety such as gummies, chips, cookies, cran-apple juice, and different kinds of candies.

As we rode, I in the passenger seat and Rashima in the driver’s seat, my wondering eyes began eyeing the quickly passing view. My feet were resting on the dashboard as my right hand dangled outside the window and the left resting peacefully on my stomach. “Are you excited?” Rashima asked glancing my way then quickly redirecting her focus back to the road. “Yeah, it’s my first party.” I shrugged, my eyes still on the passing landscape. “Really? Your first? I would’ve thought that you have been to at least one high school party.” “No, I don’t get out much. And with all that’s going on at the parties in Cartersville, I don’t want to get caught up in the wrong situation.” A party I was going to attend ended up getting shut down by the police due to a murder. Luckily, my friends and I decided to go to the movies instead. “What makes you think this one will be any different?” A smirk danced across her freshly dewed face. “Don’t know. With my luck, it’s probably gonna be worse.” I jokingly vocalized. “I think you’ll have fun, I’m sure of—,” “HEY!” I shouted as I cut Rashima off. She had swerved into the far-left lane along with the far-right lane, almost hitting multiple cars in the process. I hastily removed my feet from the dashboard and sat in attention, using my hands to support my body. “Sorry! Sorry!” She spoke in a worried tone as she redirected the car in the desired middle lane. I sat back still in shock and sighed in relief. I snapped my head directing my eyes to the side of her face. “Are you good?” I questioned, my expression never neglecting the state of astonishment and concern. “Yeah, I’m just tired. But I can still drive.” “Tired? Still drive?” I repeated to myself. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I know she doesn’t think I’m going to willingly put my life in the hands of a drowsy driver. “Girl, you better pull over.” I knew Rashima was tired, we both were. But if I knew she was so tired that she would be swerving through heavy traffic, I would have never let her drive.

The rest of the car ride was as eventful as it started to be. I drove the rest of the way while Shima rested. Her boisterous laugh and my harmonic melodies echoed through the vehicle. The jokes, the singing, and the conversations seemed to only get more thought-provoking and intriguing.

With the time being somewhere between 1:40 and 2:00 pm, Rashima made it to our desired destination, the Hilton Garden Inn in Savannah Midtown; only twelve minutes away from Jonathan Woe’s house. After checking into our room, we slept half the day away. Our drive had drained us. The only thing our bodies craved was a peaceful four-to-five-hour nap. Of course, we could not sleep without checking in with our parents to make sure they knew we were safe and well. At the time we had awakened, it was time for us to go back to sleep. But, because we slept for so long, we had nothing better to do than to talk for hours upon hours.

The following day, Rashima and I stayed put until it was time to leave out for the party. I can’t remember what we did all day, but it wasn’t anything too eventful. I remember us gassing each other up about how much fun the party will be. I wanted to be as excited as her, but the truth is, I wasn’t. I was nervous. She knew a lot of the people there and I didn’t. She would be able to mix and mingle, but not me. I’m not that much of an outgoing person, I’m an introvert. I normally wait for someone to approach me to begin a conversation. My overthinking mind began racing with scenarios of how the party might go. What if I lose Rashima? What if I end up in a corner staring at people for the remainder of the party? What if something bad happens to me while I’m there? What if I have too much fun and end up getting busted for underage drinking?

Succeeding what seemed like hours of wondering and waiting, the time came for us to depart to the party.

“You ready?” Rashima asked as we made our way to the car. “I guess I have to be.”

You could see hundreds of cars within the Ise of Hope subdivision. The closer we came to parking, the closer I came to puking all over the new car-scented seats. My heart began to pound and my hands began to sweat. I wanted to believe that everything was going to be fun. I was going to meet several different people and go home with plenty of great stories to tell anyone who would listen. But there was a feeling I just couldn’t shake. Why did I feel like something wasn’t right?

The house reeked of sweat. Bodies grinding to the music, members making out in corners, and people playing games were the only image in sight. My mind was blown. Did the movies tell the truth? It was just 11:40. How could a party heat up this much at 11:40? I’ve lived a sheltered life for the majority of my upbringing. Nothing too graphic on tv including certain shows and the news, no reading explicit works, and no being around certain obnoxious people. It wasn’t until my teenage years that I was able to broaden my view of the world.

I was too much in awe to pay attention to Rashima. For all I know, she could have walked off with a group of friends or with some guy. My eyes were busy observing the scene. Within due time, I snapped out of my gaze and into reality, allowing my quest for finding Rashima to begin. I looked from one corner of the room to another. Maybe it was because I was too short to see over anyone, or maybe it was because I never moved from the center of the living room, but she was nowhere in sight. My overthinking conscious yearned for me to worry about her, nonetheless, I stayed calm and shrugged it off. She could have found some of her friends and decided to catch up with them. Although, I couldn’t help but feel some type of way given that no one knows me, and the only person that does know me, left me high and dry.

With the blaring vibrations of Intentions by Justin Bieber reverberating through the overcrowded living room, I eventually made my way to the kitchen, avoiding the head throbbing music. Sound-wise, there was not much of a difference, but I could hear a little better. As I steadily walked through the entryway, the boisterous laughs of five athletically built guys reminiscing on a comedic movie were not hard to miss. I, unfortunately, made eye contact with one of them but quickly disconnected and wandered into the dining room. “Hey, you know who that is?” I heard a voice ask. My heart stopped as I mouthed “Oh crap” to myself. Pretending I didn’t hear the voice, I continued to look around as if I were looking for someone. Which, I guess I was. Rashima had to be somewhere around this place and given that I have been noticed, I was not going to stop until I found her. Or so I thought. Before I could go any further, I felt a hand grab my right forearm. Before I could consciously take control of the situation, my reflexes grew in action, slapping the person before I could identify who it might be. My mouth gaped in shock. “I’m sorry!” I exclaimed, concern resonating throughout my tone as I make eye contact with the stranger. It was a boy, no, a man. His light brown eyes reflected from the light as if they were hazel. His tight light blue t-shirt showed off his toned six-pack. But my eyes were glued to his chiseled jawline and perfect lips—plump and pink. He was the one I had made eye contact with earlier. “It’s cool, I shouldn’t have grabbed you that way,” He pronounced with a slight smile while comforting his now ruby red cheek. “Well, I’m still sorry.” He sighed, “Yeah, I accept.” An awkward silence fell over us. His left hand rubbed the back of his neck as his eyes stayed glued to the floor. My eyes stayed on him. It was almost impossible not to stare at the perfectly statured human in front of me. I wanted to say something, but I couldn’t. I wanted to move, but I couldn’t. My orbs observed his flawless body language. My only thought was: “How could a person be made so perfect?”

“So uh, what’s your name. I don’t think I’ve seen you around.” I smiled to myself. He wants to know my name? Really? “Autumn,” I said, clearly not loud enough due to him leaning in towards me. “Autumn,” I repeated a bit louder. With the distraction of his faultless graven image, the music became non-existent. He nodded, “The season. Beautiful,” he shouted. I smirked to myself. “Thank you,” I shyly remarked as I followed up with a question, “What’s your name?” “Jonathan Woe.” Wait, what? I was shocked. When Rashima mentioned the party was hosted by a Jonathan Woe, I had the feeling he had to be some sort of attracted due to his popularity, but white? Caucasian? My image of him had been completely misconstrued. He must have seen the mixture of confusion and surprise in my facial expressions because he shyly looked down and nodded, not forgetting his iconic smile. “I know, I’m not Asian.” I felt bad. I don’t want to be like the many people that make unconscious biases, but it was an honest mistake. “I’m sorry. When my friend told me that this party was hosted by a Jonathan Woe, I just assumed. But really, I’m sorry.” “Stop apologizing, it’s okay. It happens all the time.” Speaking to Jonathan was a breath of fresh air. The way he smiled, laughed, or looked down as if he was embarrassed or shy was the most adorable thing I had seen any guy do. Our conversation eventually made its way to the patio—still noisy, but quieter than in the house. The four others that he was conversing with before me, followed us only to aggravate him. I could tell by Jonathan’s face he was a bit embarrassed. We talked about any and everything, though he was very interested in me. From topics of how I found out about the party, what did I want to do with my life, what were my dreams, aspirations, my goals; he was very intrigued by me. I found it nice that a guy such as himself wanted to talk about anything other than himself. Every time I asked him a question, he would shyly answer but dodge the next few. He said he felt weird talking about himself. Most people would consider that a red flag, but I was never going to see this beautiful man again, so, who cares.

“Do you want to go somewhere more private than out here?” He asked referring to his exasperating group of friends. I eyed him for seconds on end. Immediately after his statement, I assumed he wanted something else. Something I’m not down for. My face rested as I sat into my hip and crossed my arms. His friends thought that was comical. “When’s the last time he was told no?” I heard in the distance. “No!” He held his hands up in a surrendering position, “I didn’t mean it that way.” Still, in my standing position, I squinted my eyes to read him. Was he telling the truth? “I just wanted to talk to you where we won’t be interrupted.” I didn’t believe him. But I wanted to see where this would go, therefore, I agreed. “Sure.”

Making our way to Jonathan’s bedroom, the eyes of individuals who also attended the party burned through the back of my head. I knew what they were thinking, and to say that it didn’t bother me would not be completely factual. What gave me comfort is that I knew what I was doing, simply talking.

The sweet scent of a subtle cologne filled my nostrils as we entered his room. My eyes immediately connected with his wall of art hanging on the right side of his room. Had he drawn this himself? I analyzed each piece, searching for meaning. Each work of art had been constructed into a square. “You like them?” He asked standing on the opposite side of the room. “Yeah. Did you draw this yourself?” “uh-huh,” he briefly made his way towards me, “I drew the ones on the outside, everything else is by Alma Thomas and Alberto Burri.” His eyes studied the works. “Who are they?” I quizzed, shifting my body to face him. “Well, they are both underrated painters,” He began. I observed his chattering lips, but nothing resonated. The only thing I heard was angels singing as the abstract halo glistened over his head. I shook my head giving him the illusion that I was paying attention to the subject he seemingly holds very dear to his heart. I comprehended a few words such as African American, Italian, and first, but nothing more than that.

“Do you want to sit down?” He asked gesturing to his bed. I agreed and sat at the right corner of the end of the bed as he did the opposite. “So, Autumn,” I turned to him providing my full attention, “Did I ever ask how old you were?” “I’m seventeen,” I verbalized with amusement. His face turned pale as his gaped mouth searched for words. “But I turn eighteen on the thirtieth this month,” I said trying to brighten the mood, which worked. Jonathan took a sigh of relief, letting his body deform from its tense state.

With the muffled sound of the music and talking to one of the most, if not the most gorgeous man I had ever seen—my entire being reminded me of a movie. Our small talk from the patio seemed to have taken place years ago. We were now on inscrutable subjects, no longer were we talking about surface features. Our thought process danced in unison, endorsing comical chuckles, exhales, and expressions. I wasn’t sure about this guy, as dumbfounding as he was, something about him made me question his pretensions. Maybe it was because he was too perfect, I don’t know.

“Okay Cooley,” He opted to call me by my surname due to his liking of it, “I’ve got to ask you.” “No,” I giggled slightly understanding what he meant. “I have to Autumn, I have to.” I sighed, resting my elbows on my knees, “Okay.” “You and I both know you are beautiful, smart, and funny. Right?” “Right,” I mumbled in synthetic botheration. “So, why are you single?” I let out a groan. “Well,” I began, constructing my voice in a sardonically eupeptic locution, “I’ve been in talking stages before, but it’s never gone further than that. And besides, I don’t want to get into anything too serious given I’m going to be leaving this chapter of my life behind within a matter of months.” I felt that my answer was beyond subpar. Of course, to Jonathan, I might as well have told him nothing at all. He stared at me with a blank expression. “What?” I grinned. “Nothing,” He shook his head as he smiled back. A familiar feeling of an awkward silence graced our presence. But instead of the inelegant sentiment, comfort surrounded us. That is until he rested his left hand on the upper part of my thigh. “Autumn,” he called. I stayed quiet, eyeing his veined hand. “Autumn,” he repeated. I slowly made eye contact with him. Before I could focus on his pupils, his lips smashed against mine. With my conscious’ blessing, my right hand came in for the swing, receiving a stupefied response. If he didn’t make me angry, I would have felt bad for him; his eyes voluntarily told a story of remorse and confusion. But the blood scorching through my veins suppressed the contriteness. I hurriedly stood, charging for the door. Jonathan continuously called my name but my legs weren’t stopping. His “stop”, “wait”, “please”, and “I’m sorry” meant nothing to me. “Autumn wait,” Jonathan spoke a final time, grabbing my right forearm. This entire moment was giving me de-ja-vu. “I’m sorry I just—” “I told you, Jonathan. I told you. I made sure you knew I wasn’t doing anything with you,” I spat. He let go of my arm as his hands groped the back of his neck in panic.  “I know, I know. And I’m sorry. I just thought that—” “Thought what?” I questioned, interrupting his sentence. “Well, I… You know—” He sighed, almost giving up the fight. “I’ve never been with a black girl.” Huh? I felt like I was soon to pass out. Did I hear him right? “You’ve never been with a black girl?” I hammered; my hands gripped my hips as I sat into them.  “I didn’t mean it like that, Autumn.” “Well, how did you mean it? Am I just some chick you want to check off a list? Am I some sort of fetish for you?” I was appalled. I had never felt so disrespected in all my years. “No that’s not what I meant.” Reaching my peak of the predicament, I stormed out of the room—leaving Jonathan speechless. I didn’t completely understand what had happened. Why did he have to make it known that he has never been with a black girl before? I tried justifying his actions and vocal disputes. I’m sure he’s a good person, but his statement was utterly uncalled for, unnecessary.

I made my way to the living room to resume my venture to find Rashima. My nerves were on the one thousand. The feeling of the cloud-like pillows and comforter in the hotel were calling my name. “Oh I’m sorry,” I said, due to my accidentally bumping into someone. “You’re fine,” the blue-eyed, brown-haired girl said while making her way past me. Before I could continue on my way, I felt a hand grab my shoulder. I turned around ready to start fussing, figuring it was Jonathan, but it was the girl I bumped into. “You’re Autumn, right?” How did she know that? “Uh, yeah? How do you know me?” She smiled, pulling me to the side of the room, out of the traffic of bodies. “Rashima pointed you out to some of my friends. She said that you didn’t know anyone, and we should meet you. Before we could, you ran off somewhere.” I nodded, “Do you know where she is?” I cocked my head to the side, hoping she would give me the answer I yearned for. “No, I was hoping you did. I saw her walk off with her ex and haven’t seen her since.” There was no cause to fret. She was with someone she knew, but my uneasy mind didn’t let me live in relief. “Okay, thanks.” I wondered into the kitchen—no Rashima. Outside, both front and back yard—no Rashima. Neither the downstairs bathrooms, closets, living room, the basement had any sign of Rashima. Finally, I pioneered up the stairs to the top floor.

“Rashima,” I whisper-yelled, receiving no answer. My mind took over my rightful thinking. No longer was I contemplating with a level head. What if something bad is happening to her? What if she has been unconscious? What if she had been screaming for me but I was too busy being entertained by a charmingly golden boy? “Shima, where are you?” Still no answer. I inched around the corner of the upstairs portion hoping that I would find her glistening smile brightening the dark hallway. Minutes of searching resembled hours. I grew tired of ransacking from room to room. “Maybe she went to the bathroom and is now downstairs with everyone else.” I didn’t believe myself. I wanted to believe myself, but I didn’t. Nevertheless, I played as if my words were of truth and turned towards the stairwell. Before I could go any further than the first step, my orbs made contact with a bedroom door. A bedroom I hadn’t checked. My heart began palpitating in unison with my head. My hands flooded as if drenched in water and my legs grew of jelly. I didn’t move, my body had been paralyzed. But I knew, I just knew: Rashima was in that room.

Gathering all the strength I had in me, from instilled prayers to my inner Madea, I steadily walked to the mysterious bedroom door. My focus was gone. I had felt drained. I was so tired of feeling worried, nervous, and frightened. With every step, I felt as if I were lifting a tone of bricks. My legs were heavy and my arms were lazy. Taking a deep breath, I closed my eyes and placed my right hand on the coolish doorknob. I prayed a silent prayer to myself. Looking back, I might have been overacting due to my negligence of the situation; but the thought of something possibly happening to Rashima haunted the existence of my maturing mind. Quietly, as I counted to three, I twisted the nob and eventually unlatched the door. My eyes were still closed, for I could see nothing but the dreadful images my conscious concocted through my fear.

“Auty!” I heard someone say in a joyful tone. I curiously threw open my lenses only to see a group of five playing a card game. One of them being Rashima. Is this what she does at parties? Not mix and mingle but run off to a room and play card games? As relieved as I was to see her, I was angry. Why hadn’t she tried to come and find me? She should have at least wanted to know if I was okay. She stood with a smile on her face. “Where have you been all night?” I paid no attention to her query but instead sped walked to her, giving her a tight embrace. “I was so worried about you,” I mumbled. I was on the verge of tears. “Autumn, I’m fine. Are you okay?” She broke the hug, keeping her hands on my shoulders while leaning back examining my face. “I don’t think parties are for me,” was the only thing I said. I smiled, giving her the sign to understand I was fine.

It wasn’t long after the reconciliation when we left. I was exhausted and Rashima was bored. My goal for the party was to get to know Rashima’s friends and maybe some other people, but instead, I ended up only getting to know one person and familiarizing myself with another. Luckily, we made it back to the hotel just before three. Reminiscing on the night was not an option, as soon as my head touched the cotton felt pillow, I was out.

The next morning, or should I say afternoon, I was woken to Rashima going through my phone. I wanted to snatch it from her, but I was too drained to do so. That is until I saw her facial expressions. She looked as if someone had told her something juicy. “What?” I questioned, sitting up with my back supported by pillows. “You met Jonathan Woe?” She cheesed. “Yeah?” I answered, still confused with what was going on, “Why didn’t you tell me you met him?” “I don’t know, I was tired,” I spoke aggravatedly due to my awakened slumber as I took my phone from her hands. Analyzing my phone, I searched high and low to figure out why she had brought up that painful moment. Not having to search for long, I see there was a direct message on Instagram from the one and only Jonathan Woe. I’m not surprised that he found my account, but the fact that he would take the time to contact me was appalling: Hey, I wanted to say I’m sorry for what I said last night. I didn’t mean for that to come out. I was a little drunk but I’m not blaming what I did on that. I hope you can forgive me. I wanted to be petty and play off of his words, but I decided to leave him on open—let him sweat a little bit. I understand that was petty too, but I wasn’t in the mood to talk to him.

Looking back, accidentally finding Rashima’s Instagram page was one of the best things that could have happened to me. I was able to reconnect with a girl that has made my life better. I’ve had friends that would invest in drama and pray on other people’s downfalls, but Rashima is the polar opposite. I have always been the mom friend: worrying about everyone, having anything that anyone needs, doing whatever they feel they can’t do, being there when they need a shoulder to cry on; but it is overly refreshing to know that I have a friend just like that. Shima has gone through a lot without me, and the thought of her crying nights on end without my support kills me. Her bringing me to the party and opening my eyes to what life is like as a teenage girl without her parents was something I needed. I’ve lived a sheltered life for a great portion of my being and bringing me to a setting where I could truly see people’s intentions is something I will treasure forever. With her encouragement, Jonathan and I have reconciled our difference and have now become friends. I talk to him as often as I do Rashima. Some say that your soulmate can only be the person you plan on spending the rest of your life with, but I believe in friendship soulmates. Though I have a best friend, who I have also known since the age of three, I can’t help but believe that Rashima is my soulmate. No matter where we go or what we do, we are always going to find our way back to each other, because that’s how soulmates do.