“Just one more time,” I say to George as I straighten his tie. “And then we won’t have to go to anymore of these things.”
George laughs. “At least I’m not the prat without a date this time.”
I smile and place my hands on his shoulders. “Aw, George.” I stand on tip toe and kiss his cheek. I move to his side and wrap my arm around his waist and look at us in the mirror. I’ve been feeling very sentimental lately. It’s August 10th and Bonnie and I are due to leave on August 19th. Nine more days with the four most amazing boys I’ve ever met. The four boys who have changed my life and my way of thinking. I fear for my relationship with each of them after August 19th. What will happen? How can I possibly go back to the monotony of everyday life after this summer?
I wipe at my eye with my finger. “Are you ok, Annie?” George asks.
I nod, feeling sad. I tighten my grip around George’s waist.
“Are you sure?”
“Yes, I’m fine. I don’t want to talk about it.” I pull away and cross my arms across my chest.
“So everything isn’t fine? Is this about you leaving?”
“I said I don’t want to talk about it.”
“Ok, ok. I’m sorry.”
I feel bad for snapping at George and try to smile. “It’s ok. I appreciate that you care.” I pause. “You won’t forget me after I go back to California will you?”
George arches an eyebrow. “I could never forget you.”
My chest loosens up a little. “That’s really good to hear.”
“Plus, I don’t think you’ll stay in California for very long once you’re back.”
I step into the crowded club. This is the official after party. We’re in New York too. It’s weird to be in my home country again. I also feel like it’s foreshadowing the very near future. But I’m not thinking about that. I’m not thinking about that…
A small woman walks up to me. Her mouse brown hair is pinned into a perfect bun and her glasses are perched on the tip of her nose. “Hi, I’m Margaret Hill and I’m with the New York Daily,” she says in a firm tone. She grabs my hand and shakes it. “I understand that you’re Annie Bennett and I was wondering if I could ask you a few questions.”
I stare at her for a few seconds, debating my options in my head. “I guess so…” I say hesitantly.
“Great,” she says shortly. She pulls a pencil from behind her ear and a notepad out of her pocket. “How did you meet the Beatles?”
“Oh, well, uh…” I try to recall my first encounter and laugh nervously. “I actually just ran into Paul at the hotel my friend and I were staying at.”
The woman nods and scribbles in her notepad. “Where are you from?”
“And how old are you?”
“I just turned eighteen.”
“Why did you go to London?”
“It was a graduation present from my parents.”
“Do your parents approve of the Beatles?”
My heart beats faster. “Not exactly.”
The woman looks at me for a second and then continues to scribble. “What is your relationship with Ringo?”
“Just friends,” I say without hesitation.
I nod. “Just friends.”
I hesitate. “Uh, just friends.”
“What are your future plans?”
“Well, I was planning on attending college in the fall, but I’m not sure anymore. I might want to study abroad.”
Any future plans with the Beatles?”
“Well, whatever happens. They’ll always be my friends.”
Ms. Hill closes her notebook. “That should be all. Thank you.” She shakes my hand in the same firm way and walks away.
I realize I haven’t taken a breath in quite sometime and I exhale deeply. I move through the crowd of people until I see Paul sitting at a table by himself across the room. He must be saving me a seat. I push my way through the groups of chatting people until I’m behind Paul. I put my hands on his shoulder and get down next to his ear. “Hey handsome,” I say affectionately.
Paul doesn’t say anything. I move to Paul’s left and sit in the chair next to him. “Paul, what’s wrong?”
Paul lifts his eyelids. “Just friends?” he asks.
Oh no. “Are you talking about the interview?”
“What else would I be talking about?
I sigh. “I didn’t know what to say, Paul. She put me on the spot and I’m still weary about the media. I’m not used to this like you are.”
“You think I’m used to this? Let me tell you, you never get used to this. You just learn to deal with it.”
“Ok, Paul. I’m sorry.” I look at the floor.
“So, do you think of us as just friends?”
“No! I just told you! Just let it go, Paul.” I’m suddenly livid.
Paul sighs. “I don’t want you to be ashamed of us…”
“Paul, I’m not ashamed.” My voice quavers. “This is so stupid. We only have nine days left together. Don’t ruin this.”
Paul examines his nails. “I’m not the one ruining it.”
I suck in a breath. “Fine. But you’ll be sorry when I’m gone and you realize you’ve been an ass!” I stand up and walk outside. I have nowhere to run this time.
I don’t know how I always find myself in these situations. I honestly don’t. Everything is always misinterpreted somewhere along the line. Our lives are just filled with misinterpretations and awkward situations.
We have to go back to London tonight. We’ve already left the after party early and we’re on the airplane now, getting ready for take off.
I’ve made myself comfortable in the back of the plane. I quietly observe my surroundings. Ringo walks to Bonnie’s seat and leans down and asks her something. She nods and he sits down next to her. Looks like Bonnie won’t have to say at George’s house after all. George struggles to get his bag into the compartment above his head. I smile at his awkwardosity. John settles into a seat towards the front and closes his eyes. That leaves…
Paul walks toward me. I shift uncomfortably in my seat. I’m expecting a long speech about how sorry he is and quite frankly, I don’t want to hear it. I’m ready to just forgive the guy.
Paul sits down.
“Hi,” I say.
Paul stares at me with sad eyes for a long time. I know both of us are thinking the same thing: How much time do we actually have left? These last few days or our entire lives? I feel my throat close up.
Paul leans toward me, placing his hands of the sides of my face and kisses me on the lips. I silently accept his apology by kissing him back. It’s silly to fight when our time together is limited. And it’s silly to fight as much as we do.
I pull away. “I promise I think of you as more than a friend,” I say.
Paul looks down and laughs, his cheeks turning pink. “I believe you.”
“I hear this party is supposed to be really high profile. Lots of reporters,” Bonnie says. We’re sitting in the back of a black Rolls-Royce.
“Oh, great,” I say sarcastically.
Bonnie shrugs. “I don’t mind. I mean, I’m just going to try to make the best of our last days,” she says sadly.
“I know.” I look out the window. We’re on the way to Brian Epstein’s house. He’s having a party to celebrate the Beatles’ upcoming U.S. Tour. However, it’s more like a farewell party for Bonnie and me. But like Bonnie said, we’ll try to make the best of it.
The car arrives in front of Brian’s flat and the driver holds the door open for us. I breathe in and I feel my nose tingle. I can feel excitement in the air. Something big is going to happen tonight.