now I should know
in time things must change
it shouldn’t be so bad
why do I feel so sad.”
-Alicia Keys, “Why Do I Feel So Sad”
“I can’t believe it’s already over,” Lance said, standing in the
terminal surrounded by his friends and luggage.
“I know,” JC agreed. “The last time we were in an airport, we were
waiting to pick up Lily and bring her back to the tour. And now it’s over.”
Lillian came back from checking in at the counter. “When’s your
flight to Orlando leaving again?”
“Half an hour after yours,” Lance answered, checking his ticket.
“You guys could have just taken a private jet back,” she noted.
“No way! We came to see you off,” Joey replied. “Besides, traveling
on a commercial plane humbles us. And the flight attendants are hot!”
She laughed. “I’m going to miss your fashion sense and horny sense of
“I’ll miss dressing my real-life Barbie doll up,” he said,
grinning. “Don’t worry, Lilypad, we all have your phone number and email
address, and you have ours. There’s no way we can lose touch.”
“I hope not.” She suddenly remembered something and pulled an
envelope out of her purse. “This is for you, Joey. Don’t read it until
He tucked it into his pocket and winked at her. “I can’t wait, baby.
A sexy letter, just for me.”
She rolled her eyes. “Not exactly, but think what you want. I wrote a
letter for everyone.”
“Getting a little kinky, huh Lilypad?”
“Joey! Man, go wait over there or something,” Lance ordered, pointing
to the windows that stretched from floor to ceiling.
Joey shrugged, ruffled Lillian’s hair, and went off, and Chris quickly
took his place next to Lillian.
“Where’s my kinky letter?” he demanded, holding his hands out.
“Nothing is kinky!” she exclaimed loudly. An elderly woman standing
nearby gave her a weird look before pointedly stepping a few feet away.
“Be quiet,” she whispered furiously to Chris’ laughing. “Here’s
your letter. And although I don’t feel like it right now, I am going to miss
you. You’re a laugh and a half.”
“Why thank you,” he said, pleased. “I’m glad someone appreciates
me.” He gave her a hug and moved off to join Joey, who was staring at the
planes outside. “Oh, and thanks for the kinky letter!” he shouted across the
space between them.
Lillian turned bright red and tried to ignore the stares of the other
people in the terminal.
“My turn!” Lance burst out. He quickly scooped her up in a bear hug.
“I’m glad Chris made fun of my mom.”
“Because that’s why I got mad and started torturing him with the
elevator. And that’s how I met you,” he explained. “Kinda odd, huh?”
“Definitely odd,” she agreed, holding on tightly to him. “Lance,
you were my first friend around here, and you always stuck with me. Even through
all our pranks. I’m going to miss you so much.”
He patted her back soothingly. “I’ll miss you, too, sweetheart. Not
your pranks really, but I’ll definitely miss you.”
She laughed, feeling her eyes get a little misty. There was just
something about the five of them that managed to get her crying all the time.
He gave her one last quick hug before taking his letter and leaving.
Lillian sighed and turned to see the last two people. JC and Justin. Might
as well get it over with.
JC nudged Justin forward, winking at Lillian.
Justin stood stiffly in front of her, his hands thrust into his front
pockets. “I-“ he began.
“Well-“ she said at the same time.
They laughed tensely.
“I’m glad that we met,” Justin finally said.
“Yeah. Me too,” she agreed softly before lapsing back into silence.
“Oh, I almost forgot. This one’s for you.”
Justin accepted the thin envelope, not disguising his surprise.
“Thanks. I didn’t think that you would-“
“Friends are friends,” she interrupted, pressing the envelope into
his hand. He moved and their skin touched. She drew away quickly.
“Yeah,” he said quietly, staring at where their hands had touched.
“Friends.” He looked into her eyes. “I’ll see you around then.”
He reached out to hug her, but ended up giving her an awkward pat on the
shoulder. “Okay, then. Bye.”
Lillian gave him a small wave as he backed away and left to sit with
“Dang, girl, I never saw so much tension,” JC commented, slipping his
arm around her shoulder and watching her stare at Justin’s back.
“You know me,” she said, laughing weakly. “I’m all about the
“Yeah, I know you,” he agreed, turning her around and giving her a
tight hug. “Someone I’ve been grateful getting to know. You’re really
She smiled at him, feeling the ball in her throat get even tighter.
She’d be bawling any second now.
“Flight 1985, now boarding at gate G8. Flight 1985, now boarding gate
G8,” the PA system announced.
“That’s you,” JC said, taking the letter she held out to him.
She bent down and slung the strap to her laptop over her shoulder, then
picked up her small carry-on bag. She grinned at him. “Bye, sis.”
He laughed. “Later, Lily.”
The other four guys gathered around him to see her off.
Right before she disappeared through the door, she turned around to see
the faces that had become so dear and familiar to her one last time. JC was
grinning that easy grin of his, waving at her. Joey blew extravagant kisses at
her. Chris was pretending to weep and Lance stood behind him, patting his back
with one hand and waving to Lillian with the other. And Justin was standing to
the side, simply looking at her with those blue eyes that managed to look impish
and soulful at the same time.
She mouthed a goodbye to them before stepping through the doorway, the
first step in leaving the dream.
JC fastened his seatbelt, watching the flight attendant go through the
usual pre-flight directions. He glanced over at Justin, who sat with his head
turned staring out the window.
“Hey, put your seatbelt on,” he said, nudging his friend.
Justin obediently clicked the two ends together over his lap without
uttering a word. She’s gone now. Officially gone. He blinked rapidly,
trying to clear the haze in his eyes.
“You alright, man?” he heard JC ask in concern, tapping his arm.
He nodded, surreptitiously wiping a tear away with his other hand. I’ll
Joey pulled out the envelope Lillian had given him. Lance was the only
one next to him, and he had dropped off to sleep as soon as the in-flight movie
had come on a while ago.
I hope you haven’t already forgotten about your Lilypad, because I know
there’s no way I could ever forget about the flamboyant (but lovable) Joseph
Fatone, Jr. I admit that I didn’t
know too much about you before, even when I was a teenybopper. But ever since
you gave me that little pep talk the night of Lance’s birthday, my whole
perspective was changed. You taught me to be confident, or at least pretend to
be. You were my fashion consultant, and your taste never went bad (except for
that tiny black piece of cloth you made me try on…what were you thinking?!). I
had never known that you were sensitive about your singing, and I’m grateful
you decided to trust me with that knowledge. You always managed to brighten my
days in some way, and thank you for that. Now, I know you don’t like that
‘sappy crap,’ so if you made it this far into my letter, congratulations.
Whenever you’re too busy to watch TV, just call me and I’ll fill you in on
the BET scene (I’m your ghetto girl, remember?). Don’t ever stop collecting
your movies, but try to leave the porn out. One last word of advice: Stop taking
With love always,
Joey couldn’t help but laugh as he read the letter. He could
practically hear Lillian speaking in his ear. She was priceless.
Lance awoke from his light slumber with a start. He glared at Joey, who
“Be quiet, you woke me up,” he complained.
“Sorry,” Joey replied, folding the letter back up and putting it in
his pocket. “The movie’s just funny, that’s all.”
Lance looked at the small screen and turned back to his friend with an
incredulous expression on his face.
“Joey, it’s the credits.”
Joey shrugged. “I thought it was funny.” He reached into his carry-on
bag and pulled out his Discman. “Now leave me alone, you talk too much.”
Lance shook his head, confused. Well, Joey’s distracted. I can
finally read the letter.
Curious about what this is about? I just wanted to give you all
something, because you gave me so many things. You, in particular, gave me back
my trust in strangers. I think you were the first one to actually look beyond
appearances and status and get to know me. This tour was torture before you
showed up that day, blocking the elevators. Who would’ve guessed that we’d
become friends? You always defend me and help me out, even when I don’t think
I need it. But I always realize later that yes, I do need it. Thank you so much.
I don’t know what I would’ve done if I had never met you. Probably go
back to MIT and lead a dull life, not even realizing how many memories I would
be missing out on. I would never have known that Lance Bass, that quiet blonde
guy from that band, is actually a person who gives hugs to sad little interns,
sings Nat King Cole songs, is self-conscious about his hair, and indulges in the
occasional prank or two (is that an understatement or what?). I want to just
start weeping sometimes, but you’ve taught me to be stronger. So right now
I’m holding back a tear, but it’s one of happiness and of course love.
Don’t forget to wear your birthday present.
Hugs and smiles,
A joyful grin spread across Lance’s face. He fingered the chain around
his neck that held his engraved cross pendant. I won’t forget, Lily.
Chris stretched out in his seat. He was bored out of his mind. The movie
sucked, Joey was involved in listening to his music, JC was reading a magazine
he’d bought at the airport, Justin had pulled his sweatshirt’s hood over his
head and was doing God knows what, and Lance was examining his necklace with
sudden rapt attention.
Sometimes he wondered about that boy.
He looked around the plane cabin. What to do, what to do? Oh
wait, Lily gave me that letter.
Grateful for something to occupy his time, he pulled it out of his jacket
How much do I have to bet that you almost forgot about this? Well,
that’s okay. Your sense of humor makes up for any tiny flaws you may or may
not have. And I have to say, you have the most unique personality. You collect
kitschy seashell souvenirs, hold a degree in psychology, design clothes, act
like a hyper teenager, insult people’s mothers, and hate the word ‘Crunk.’
I can’t even begin to tell you how happy I am that I was able to get to know
you. I know I’m not the usual person you hang with, but that didn’t even
matter to you. You accepted me into your warm graces almost instantaneously.
Please don’t ever change that. This world needs more people like you. Go on,
spread the love! (No, not literally). But please, stop daring Joey! He’s going
to get himself hurt one day.
From the only person able to realize the genius behind the jokes,
Chris smiled. He couldn’t argue with the genius part. But stop daring
He turned to face JC. “Yeah, man?”
“Let me borrow your headphones, I want to see the next movie,” JC
Chris looked at him. “No way! Buy your own, cheapo.”
“Come on, you don’t want to watch ‘Billy Elliot’ anyway,” JC
“You already watched that!” Chris exclaimed. “Now get away, I’m
gonna listen to this hype airplane radio. Maybe I can memorize the order of the
top 40 by the time dinner’s served.”
JC sighed in frustration as Chris slipped his headphones on and closed
his eyes. Well, I guess I don’t want to watch it that bad, anyway.
He glanced over quickly at Justin, whose hood was hiding his face.
Concerned, he peered under the hood and saw that Justin was sleeping. He sat
back, glad that his younger friend was getting some much needed rest.
JC got up from his seat to put his magazine into his carry-on bag that
was stored in one of the overhead compartments. When he sat back down he noticed
a white envelope fall out of Justin’s sweatshirt pocket.
He reached down and picked it up from the floor. ‘To Justin’ it said
simply on the front. He turned it over and saw that it was still sealed. Better
put this somewhere safe, or else he’ll lose it. He stood up again and
looked for Justin’s bag, carefully slipping the envelope in and zipping the
luggage back up.
Now time for my letter. He unfolded the paper and began reading.
Dear Big Sis,
I hope that got you smiling. If anyone from the press got a hold of this,
they would have a field day. But let’s not dwell on that. You are seriously
like the brother (or in this case, sister) I never had. Your real siblings
should be so grateful that you’re there for them. I didn’t get to know you,
and I mean really get to know you, until only a couple of weeks ago, but it’s
felt like forever. You were always ready to comfort with a word of advice,
encouragement, or just a little joke to get me laughing again. Things got rough
sometimes, you know why, and it was so much easier for me to go through life
with someone looking out for me. I don’t really know what else to write, I
can’t put it into words, but hopefully you get the idea. Don’t be a
Your other little sis,
JC read the letter over another time, a smile on his face. That girl
is really something.