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That’s me on the left and my best friend on the right.

They say we can’t pick and choose our families. Which, as far as blood relations are concerned is true. But, family is more than blood. Family is comprised of the people that make us feel good about ourselves; the people who love us and would help us accomplish our dreams. Family is there for us when we need them, not just holidays twice a year. Some of us are lucky and will have that relationship with our blood relations—you know you can count on them for anything. Some of us find our families elsewhere. We find our family on the soccer team or at work or school. Some families are made up of friends closer than many families. This isn’t to say we don’t love our blood relations, or we don’t count on them. But not everyone looks to a mother or father or a brother or sister for help first. Many will go to their friends.

I’m one of these people.

I have a few close friends whom I will count on when I’m happy or upset. These people have become part of my family over the years. We help each other out during the rough patches, like finals week of my junior year of college. My roommate, one of these best friends, and I were up until four in the morning finishing finals work. About two in the morning she comes out of her room, gets a tub of sherbet out of the freezer, and curls up on the living room carpet to eat it. That was her breaking point of the night. I responded by laughing in sympathy (and taking pictures) and proceeded to get her to laugh with me. We laughed and ate sherbet until we were in better spirits to continue our work.

This best friend has now graduated, and I’m on the verge of graduation myself, but we still spend time together and go on trips. For our week long break at the beginning of March, the two of us got a room in Ocean City, Maryland. We mostly just explored restaurants and watched some Netflix, but that was our fun. We didn’t need any fancy adventures to enjoy ourselves. At the end of the week, we went back to her home in Delaware. Here we ended up in Rehoboth one night, and we decided to try out an Escape Room.

An Escape Room is a giant puzzle. The idea is each room has its own story. The scenario we chose had us pretending we were time travelers who were stranded in London in the eighteen hundreds in Jack the Ripper’s flat. We had an hour to get out of the room and find our way back to our time machine. Needless to say, this was an interesting adventure we had gotten ourselves into.

Things started out simple at first. We looked around the room to get a sense of our surroundings until we were startled because the piano in the room had started playing. It was one of those old upright player pianos. On the music scroll was written our first clue. We were directed to look down to the left. There was a plastic kidney lying on the floor. There was also a hat rack to the left of the piano with coats and hats. We checked through all of these and began finding small puzzle pieces. Over the course of the next hour, we searched around the room, sometimes directed by the clues we came across, sometimes just double checking where we’d already looked. We were looking for keys and numbers that would help us open the locked boxes that were sitting around the room.

Two moments from this, in particular, stand out. First, on the bookshelf in the room sat a brass bird statue. One of the clues we had said “Brass Bird” so my friend and I were scouring every centimeter of this statue trying to find the answer to help us open the lock. We needed a four letter word and had tried everything we could think of relating to that room. The gentlemen running the room had told us we were allowed to ask for two hints if we got stuck. We had already asked for one and were being stubborn about using the second. But the men were nice and gave us a hint here: “What kind of bird is it?” Oh. We started laughing hard. The answer was so simple. It was a statue of a duck. That was our key to opening the lock.

The second moment that still has us laughing is this: In one of the books on the bookshelf we found a quote from 10,000 Leagues Under the Sea about pressure. There was also a picture of a man in a scuba suit on the one wall. We had overlooked the clue at first, but again the gentlemen were kind to us and hinted at the picture on the wall. We pressed the image of the scuba diver, and a tune started playing. Halfway through I started singing the words as I recognized the melody. My friend stood there staring at me like I was crazy. The song was “London Bridge.” I started laughing because she admitted she would not have gotten that one without me. I hummed the tune while hunting the map that hung on another wall for the key to opening a number lock while she worked on opening a different box.

Eventually, we opened all the boxes and found the key we needed to escape the room through a door hidden behind the bookshelf. We’d gotten into the time machine and managed to solve the final puzzles to get back home to 2016. It was a good adventure that we are still laughing about. For her birthday, we have plans to go back with two of our other friends who couldn’t make the first trip. We’ve been speculating since the first try how these two friends will do in the room, so it’ll be another good adventure, I’m sure.

It’s the little moments like these that help to define friendships. My friend and I could easily have proven we do not work well together in that Escape Room, but instead, we had a good laugh and had fun with it. These are the moments that we hold onto. Sometimes the little moments are big adventures, but usually, it’s the small things that stick with us. And that’s family: the small things that mean the most.

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If you enjoyed this short fiction, be sure to check out my other works under Short Stories.

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Copyright Sibille Rose – 11 May 2016

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