April hears incessant rapping on her front door. She rushes to open the door only to find a distraught Sterling on her doorstep.
“Sterling, what are you doing here?” April sputters. A frown forms on April’s face, which twists into confusion.
Sterling takes one long look at April before jumping into her arms. April is engulfed in a crushing embrace. She barely has time to process what Sterling being here means, when she notices her trembling.
“Sterl, hey, what’s wrong?” April turns to look at Sterling’s face, but her grip on her is tight. Something is seriously wrong, but April has no clue what it was. Sterling is shaking hard. April rubs comforting circles on her back. Sterling unconsciously rocks them to and fro.
April releases a breath and pries Sterling’s arms from her. “Sterl, come on, what’s wrong?” She looks her in the eyes, but Sterling is unfocused. She’s chattering and is taking shallow breaths.
“Sterl?” Sterling takes a deep breath and starts sobbing. April is at a loss.
“Sterl, my parents might wake up.” April slowly leads Sterling to the garage. Sterling refuses to look April in the eye.
“Sterling, what’s wrong?” April tries again, in the gentlest voice she could muster.
Sterling takes a shuddering breath. “I had a nightmare. I thought you were gone.” Sterling avoids April’s eyes.
April did not expect that. She wraps a comforting arm around Sterling, who wraps her arms around April yet again. Sterling starts rocking again.
“Hey, I’m here. How, how do I help, Sterl?”
So April does as she’s told and lets Sterling sob on her shoulders.
April senses Sterling’s breaths and surmises she’s calmed down. She slowly creates space between them to look at Sterling’s face. She uses a finger to lift Sterling’s chin up. “Sterl, I’m here. I’m real, solid, and I’m not going anywhere. Okay?”
Sterling nods. “Are you okay now?” Sterling looks at her feet.
“Oh my God, you have no shoes on.” April points out.
A look of awareness crosses Sterling’s face as she realizes her parents must be worried sick.
“You okay now? You’ve calmed down?” Sterling only nods in response.
“I’ll take you home now, alright?” Sterling looks at April and squeezes her arm.
“Yes, I am.” April can’t shake the grin on her face.
The two of them hear a car engine running on the driveway.
“That’s gotta be Hannah B.” April gingerly pulls Sterling into the car.
Hannah B. stares at them in shock. April looks slightly disheveled, but composed; Sterling in long johns and barefoot.
“Save your questions for later Hannah B.” April speaks in one breath. “But we’ve gotta make a stop at the Wesley household first.” Hannah B. nods as she turns on the ignition.
Sterling stares at the rearview mirror and gives Hannah B. a small smile, her right hand interlinked with April’s left.
She knows her parents and Blair will be asking a lot of questions, but the sole thought in her head is: April is here, April is real.