Although Jodie wouldn’t be back in time for New Years Eve, she encouraged everyone to use the school if they still wanted to have a party. The roster took advantage of her offer, since they’d thrown a party for the last few years; breaking what became a tradition was unfathomable, especially considering the promotion’s healthy growth and prosperity. No one credited these festivities for that good luck, but wrestlers were a superstitious lot and erred on the side of caution.
Also, she laid it on pretty thick, so Mitch took the hint and decorated on her behalf. If nothing else, it’d make for great social media content.
And then a miracle occurred. For the first time in days, Avi left his room. Up until then he’d been quarantining, just in case he caught whatever mystery illness plagued his family. Mitch placed countless meals and beverages outside of his door, attaching Post-It notes with doodles that he drew on them. No one else on this planet put so much thought into a scribble, but it was all he could do as he fretted in solitude, at a total loss of how else to help. Sometimes the sparse plinking of guitar strings came from behind Avi’s door and filled the otherwise silent house, melancholic in a way that Mitch couldn’t define.
So when Avi showed up at the school to join in on the festivities, looking far less harrowed than the night he returned from Everett, Mitch was relieved.
Fighting Spirit supplied a keg, Jodie scheduled a food truck to park in the lot for the night, and everyone showed up ready to go. They somehow all gathered in one shot for a video call to Jodie and Victor, which Louis handled the videography since he was the tallest of the bunch. All was well.
A few hours before midnight, Mitch looked up at Nate as their fingers linked together for the first time within the walls of the school. He thought about how eager he was to be rid of 2018 altogether and move forward. And when Nate looked back at him, breaking into a smile and tightly squeezing his hand, his heart fluttered. Unbridled elation overcame Mitch, for at last there was real kindling for someone other than Avi. He was capable of moving on as it turned out, something that he feared may never happen because his heart always lingered much too long where it wasn’t welcome.
He excused himself to hide away in the office, needing some privacy to decompress. While sprawled out on the sofa and savoring this sweet victory, a text arrived from Jodie. She asked him to grab some extra cash from the safe to tip the food truck employees. Springing up, he went to her desk to fetch the key and sat in her chair, spinning around for one good rotation before he opened the middle drawer. He peered inside and groped around, pulling out some miscellaneous supplies as he tried to locate the inconspicuous container with the key hidden inside of it.
But he paused when he spotted the flap of a white envelope tucked around an unsealed greeting card. On it was Jodie’s handwriting, chunky bold letters that spelled out NATE. Curiosity struck, though he resisted the urge to look because it wasn’t any of his business. He was about to put it down and move on with the assigned task, until he turned it over.
The front of the card stared him in the face: an illustration of a cow, and in bold text below it read ‘You’re Moo-ving On To Greener Pastures’.