It's been a few years since that last summer. I no longer lie awake at night asking why. I'm on the way to getting over him. I have other good friends and a score of acquaintances. I write my secrets down because I have no one to tell them to. When I sit at my desk in my new apartment I can see the bookcase and Tolkien sitting there, holding my memories and the slim chance that maybe, one day out of the blue he'll call me and I won't hang up and everything will be just like it was.

Until then I have only my thoughts and an inscription that reads, in his usual sloppy green scrawl that I remember so well: "To my friend. For real." Surely that must count for something.

Amanda grabs my wrist to look at my watch. "It's time to go," she says. We leave the coffee shop by the back entrance – the smell of burnt popcorn still strong in the air, but already starting to fade.

Who are you waiting for?