The snow slowly melts as warmer days appear in New York City. Grace, who is wearing boots and her peacoat for one of the last times of the season, walks down a quiet block in Brooklyn. She looks around at the small family homes in the area, remembering hanging out in Brooklyn with Emerson and their mutual friend after school when she was studying here. She smiles at the thought and instantly takes a deep breath to blow it away from her memory.
She stops in front of a small house. She looks at her phone to check the address. It’s the correct address.
Twelve Years Ago…
A young, teenage girl is heard yelling at a boy, who is laughing while she does. The girl takes snow in her bare hands and tosses it to the boy laughing. He instantly stops laughing as the pile of snow is now on his face and the girl starts to laugh.
Grace: I told you that you don’t wanna mess with me!
Emerson: *upset* Yeah, but I didn’t throw a whole pound of snow in your face!
Grace: *laughs* Yo, but it was too funny!
Grace continues to laugh. Emerson takes snow off of the ground and begins to form a snowball. Grace sees the snowball and runs towards Scott, their other friend.
Grace: Ahhh! Scott, save me!
Scott covers Grace and Emerson sucks his teeth. He puts the snowball down on the ground.
Emerson: That’s not even fair! Scott likes you, of course, he’s on your side!
Scott and Grace look at each other, trying to keep in their smiles. Emerson sighs loudly.
Emerson: Whatever happened to “bros before hoes”?
Grace: *snappy* I know you just didn’t call me a hoe, because if you did, your whole body would be face down on the ground!
Emerson: *defensive* Not like that, I–
Grace begins to laugh and Emerson rolls his eyes. The three friends stop in front of a house; Emerson’s house. They lean against the railing of the steps, not caring how cold it was getting.
Scott: You know you’re still my homie, Em.
Emerson: Well this homie is feeling neglected lately…
Scott: *teases* I’ll make sure to keep our relationship up just for you!
Grace laughs and Emerson huffs and puffs. The teenagers calm down and sit in silence when Emerson’s mom calls him inside the house for a moment. Emerson walks into the house, leaving Scott and Grace outside. The two once-smiley teens now stand there, sullen.
Grace’s shoulder is tapped, which makes her turn around in an instant. She takes a sigh of relief. Scott stands there, smiling down at her.
Scott: I didn’t mean to startle you.
Grace: It’s okay, I wasn’t really paying attention to anything anyway…
Scott stands next to her and stares at the house.
Grace: When did Em and his family move out of here?
Scott: Man… it was so long ago… had to have been after we graduated?
Grace nods her head.
Grace: It’s sad, knowing a lot of my first memories in New York were here on this stoop.
Scott: *laughs* You’re not wrong.
Grace doesn’t say anything at first. She looks at Scott for the first time since they met up. He looks older, but not in a bad way. He looks like he’s found his path in life. Like he’s got what he needed out of this life. Grace sighs.
Grace: Do you remember that day that I told you I was going back to Virginia?
Scott: I did. My 17-year-old self was crushed.
Grace: Did you miss me when I was gone?
Scott tilts his head in confusion.
Scott: Of course I did.
Grace looks at the house again.
Grace: I asked because… well, if we weren’t teenagers, would you have come for me? Like, would you have made the trip to come to see me?
Scott scuffs, adjusting his position.
Scott: Where is this coming from?
Grace turns her whole body back towards Scott, looking directly up at him.
Grace: I’m leaving New York.
Scott looks uncomfortable, not able to answer Grace right away. She looks away.
Grace: I’m sorry I even asked…
Before Grace walks away, she stops and looks at Scott once again.
Scott: … if we were older when we were dating, of course, I would’ve come after you. *shakes his head* But I don’t understand where this is coming from and–
Grace: I haven’t left New York since I’ve been back, Scott. I feel like I’m not even home in the city anymore. How is this house, a complete stranger’s house, bring more comfort than my own home? Because I was happy standing here, with my friends, being in a place that was far away from my actual home in Virginia. I’ve been in the city for so long, and I feel like I’m drowning in it.
Scott takes in Grace’s confession. He thinks before he speaks.
Scott: So you’re going back to Virginia? But aren’t your parents here in New York?
Grace: I don’t know where I’m going but… I need to leave. To get me back. And I don’t know how t tell anyone that I’m leaving beside you because I never had to say that I’m leaving to anyone in my life… *whispers* only people have told me goodbye.
Scott exhales and stuffs his hands in his pockets.
Scott: Well, I’m going to tell you what I told you all those years ago. Go after what feels right for you, and if New York ever feels right for you in the future, then come back. But, you are not obligated to stay in the city just because this was home.
He pauses before he continues.
Scott: Willow is getting older. You don’t have to prove yourself a good mom, you know. You already did the damn deed of co-parenting her for the first couple of years of her life.
Grace’s eyes water, but no tears come down.
Scott: Go and find your home, Grace. Wherever that may be.
Grace looks at Scott and grabs to hug him. They share a hug for a moment.