Four girls are riding down the highway in a convertable. Hair is flying, radio blaring, girls are singing along and shrieking as their chaffuer swerves around the cars in front of them, honking the horn in time with the music. Stop. You are in the car next to them, reach into your pocket, take out a camera, snap a photo right now. Examine it closer.
Each of the four girls is different, the one at the wheel is Heather, she has blonde hair that has grown past her shoulders and cat eye glasses perched on her head. She is wearing a black t shirt that has a picture of Iggy Pop on it and she is singing along with the radio (Iggy's 'Lust for Life') louder than any of the other girls. She knows the song is almost over, and that only makes her sing louder cuz she wants this moment to last for ever. There is a sunburn on her shoulders but it's peeling off and she's trying hard not to scratch it, the music helps her forget.
The one in the passenger seat is Ambretta, Brett or Bretta to her friends. She's wearing a plain white lacey top and a pair of khaki shorts. Her hair is sun golden red and she has a creamy complexion. She's not singing along with the song, but she knows every word just the same. She would sing if she felt like it, but she doesn't. She has a headache, and the music is only making it worse. She would say something to Heather, but this will be their last summer together. They all know it, but none of them dare say it. Instead they try to make it like all the summers before. Lemonade and the Beach and sitting in the back row of the movie theatre throwing popcorn at the people they know, and some of the people they don't. A summer spent driving down the highway with the top down, Lust for Life blaring out of the speakers. Each girl singing along.
The one in the backseat with the short blonde hair is named Edie. She looks exactly like the waif of a superstar she was named after. Dark thick lashes, eyes that look preslicked with tears and laughter, a small thin boys body. She loves summer and ice cream (the kind made with soy milk, she's been a vegan since she was nine and she went to the farm parks for a feild trip) and Iggy and movies and being with her friends. She's singing along with Heather, but is worrying about Bretta at the same time. She feels like she's taking sides but she doesn't know what to do. This is her favorite song, and Heather and Bretta are both her friends. So instead she clasps the hand of the other girl in the backseat with her.
The girl squeezes Edie's hand back. Her name is Joey and she has a secret. She hides it behind lipgloss and fabulash mascara and rocking cool sixties dresses worn with black tights. She loves dime store jewelry and the past. She's nostalgic, but in a different way then most. She longs to be trapped in the past, her room is a living collage, a testament to those destroyed by time. Johnny Thunders, Billy Murcia, Jerry Nolan, Marilyn Monroe, Nico, Sid Vicious and Nancy Spungen. She longs for the days of the Warhol factory, and the New York Dolls Halloween concert at the Waldorf Astoria. She's worried about Brett but she loves Heather. So she doesn't sing, she nods her head to the music as sort of a compromise.
You can't get all of that from a photo, but somehow you can tell. In the same way children can tell when their parents are upset... You can tell.
The song was over. There was silence after that, for a split second that seemed like a century. The tape continued, and Sarina Paris was next. 'Romeo's Dead'. Heather turned down the radio, Joey and Edie heaved a sigh of relief. They were on their way to Heather's apartment in New York City. She would be starting college at NYU this fall and she didn't want to live locked up in the dormitories. She had decorated the apartment herself, and was proud to have something of her own. They knew that they could stay home and pretend that this summer was going to be like all of the others, or they could go to Heather's apartment and face the fact that next fall the one girl-soul that they had grown to be would be sliced into four even quarters and shipped to four different quarters of the world. Each piece would take a part with them. Only one girl would take the love of their song. Lust for Life. Only one girl would drive down the highway singing, top down, daring the other cars to crash into her. Only one girl would rub her temples, plagued with never ending headaches. Only one girl would write in her diary in the dead of the night. Pouring out her soul to the paper eagar to fill it up and get the unwanted emotions out. Only one girl would reach out for hands, constantly, like she needed the confirmation of existance.
But all girls would walk away with memories of driving down the highway, all girls would walk away with less than they had originally, but somehow more.
They were getting off the highway, Heather's hair was no longer blowing in the wind, it hung round her shoulders like a curtain. This would be the last time they did this. The last time ever. Her apartment was in Grammercy. It was up seven flights and the building was dirty. She had a thread bare Indian carpet on her floor, and wine red curtains. Black and white photos of Audrey Hepburn and Marilyn Monroe were framed on the walls. In the kitchen there was a tiny tiny combination stove and oven, and a little bitty bar refridgerator. The girls were hungry and snacked on popcorn and cherries and poundcakes from the little bakery they had stopped at on the way. Edie was in the kitchen making smoothies with strawberries and ice and banannas and in the little living room Joey and Bretta were watching the news on mute. Iggy's 'Search and Destroy' was playing on the stereo, and there was footage of soldiers pillaging tiny towns. Burning, stealing, raping. Joey changed the channel. Wacky Races was on, they cheered for Penelope Pitstop to outrun the other Wacky Racers while Edie blended the seperate ingredients into one smooth icey fruity concoction, and Heather unpacked her bags trying not to cry.
They sat in the living room, drinking smoothies through plastic straws that swirled and curled into loopy shapes. Bretta had taken some aspirin and her headache had started to become a dull ache. 'My Generation' was on the radio now, and they were all singing along between slurps of their smoothies.
"Do you guys think we'll always be friends?" whispered Edie, sometime between the first verse and the chourus.
"Edie, that's such a silly question" said Heather, trying not to stutter like Roger Daltrey. "You know we'll always be friends..." she pushed a strand of long honey blonde hair back into place and smacked her lips. "These smoothies are the cat's pajamas girl. Why didn't you tell us you were such a lushus smoothie maker? We wouldn't have had to go down to Fruit Concoctions and put up with that grody Phil. We could've gone to the co-op and seen dreamy Jerry."
Edie looked at the ground. "They're not that good."
"Of course they are, come on, group vote, who thinks these are the BEST smoothies they've ever had?"
Everyone raised there hands simultaneously. "There. You were just being silly, come on, lets talk about what movies we're going to rent?"
"I think we should get something scary" suggested Brett, "you know like we used to, we could do all the old kid stuff one last time."
"Alright then," said Heather, "it's settled, scary movies. Which ones? A Clockwork Orange? The Shining? Halloween?"
"Clockwork Orange!" yelled Joey.
"No," contradicted Edie, "not Clockwork Orange. No no no, not this time. We've seen that one a zillion times. Come on, lets try something new, something fresh..."
"Tell you what, why don't we skip the scary movie, or any movie for that matter. there's no reason to waste our last... Why would we want to watch a movie when we could be hanging out with each other?" said Heather.
"Yeah, that makes sense. Totally. So we'll just chill here then?" said Brett.
Soon the room was transformed. There were four sleeping bags on the floor, four pillows, all different. Barbie for Heather. Little Mermaid for Brett. Elephants for Joey and plain white for Edie. There was a low Japanese style table, covered in bottle caps and bits of broken glass, on which sat a bowl of popcorn, fizzy pineapple and orange punch, gummi bears and soft pretzels.
"Do you guys ever think, like, about you memories and the past and junk?" said Heather as she put a handful of green gummi bears in her mouth.
"Like, what do you mean? Like a particular time or what?" asked Joey as she pulled a soft pretzel apart, giving half to Edie.
"Like... Y'know, like... the painful part of your memories... Like Amanda Desmonds birthday party" Heather mumbled through her mouthful of gummi bears.
The blood drained from Joey's face. Edie reached out for her hand, clasping it tightly.
The room was quiet. They sat still, waiting for the karma cloud to pass. Weezer was playing, 'Say it aint so':
This bottle of Steven's awakens ancient feelings.
It is 4 years ago. They are thirteen. Still best friends. They have been invited to Amanda Desmond's birthday party. The invitations were bright blue. Aquamarine. They have all brought presents. Bright pink records of their favorite bands, fabulous homemade jewelry and clothes, trip-tastic diaries covered in glitter and colored glass and lace. None of them the right thing. Other girls come with bags in the colors of springtime, eggshell white, powder pink, baby blue, spearmint green. Clothes from fancy stores and department store makeup in the colors of Decay and Jailbait.
They are wearing dressed made of parachute and lace and silk and old lingerie, boots that they painted the colors of Andy Warhol portaits. Ondine Orange, Gerard Green, Viva! Violet. All wrong again. Other girls wore jeans and t-shirts that said things like 'Sweetheart' 'Sexbomb' and 'Hottie'. They brought music, Iggy Pop, The New York Dolls, The Heartbreakers, The Velvet Underground. Wrong, wrong, wrong. The other girls like Tiffany and The New Kids On The Block.
Edie, who was painfully shy at the time hid in a corner while the popular girls, whose red lipsticked mouths reminded her of wolves after they've eaten, chased her into a corner to make fun. "Great clothes" "What's with this music" "The gifts you brought are so ratty". Petty insults, but they stung like poison tipped darts. The seven boys who were there (Phil, Erik, Chris, Jeff, Dan, Rich and Alex) had gotten Joey at the punchbowl. "How come you've got a guys name?" "Dyke" "Lesbo". Joey resisted the urge to punch Phil in the face. She instead visualized herself. Different time. Yeah. Different place. Yeah. Different people? Hell yeah.
She went over to rescue Edie from the girl wolves. They stood in a corner for the rest of the party. Heather mingled, and Bretta left early "Headache, I'm really sorry you guys, but Mom's got the little car today and there's just no room for you..." she drifted out the door at the sound of her mother's honking horn. Toward the end, Heather sailed over, "I'm so sorry you guys, we'll get Phil back... Don't worry don't worry, there's only an hour left, it's not that bad". She floated away like a snowflake, to dance, light and airy, to the sounds of the songs they hated.
Phil came over. "How come you two aren't dancing?" he smirked. "Afraid? You should be. Everyone knows, dykes go to hell. Maybe though, if you tried, you could learn better." He grabbed Edie then, shoving his hand up her dress and his tongue into her mouth. Joey kicked his shins and screamed for Heather.
Heather twirled and swirled, no more than 10 feet away. Pretending she didn't see. The music helped her forget even then. Joey kicked Phil once more and spat in his face. "Get away from us," she hissed venomously, "you're not wanted."
Joey and Edie left then. Left Amanda Desmond. Left Phil. Left Heather. They walked back to Joey's house where Edie rinsed her mouth out with Listerine and they cried and hugged and listened to 'Lust for Life' and watched midnight talk shows. The next day Heather came over with Bretta and they screamed and kicked and clawed at each other. Fighting. Crying. Joey and Edie didn't speak to anyone but each other. It took them ages to forget the sight of each others faces distorted with rage and shiny with tears. It took them even longer to forgive Heather and Bretta. It seemed like a decade without slumber parties and phone calls, all four of them on the line, and pizza and movies, it seemed like ages without song and life.
Back in Heathers living room the girls are still silent. You are outside the window, looking in, reach for your camera and take a picture. What do you see this time?
Heather is on the couch, looking like she can still here the music, like she's trying to forget it. The silence is thick like cake batter, and the frosting roses on Amanda Desmond's birthday cake. She still feels bad about that party and about Phil. She still feels bad about hiding behind love songs, composed of all the wrong notes. She wishes she could write a song for Joey and Edie to hide behind, but no curtain can disguise it.
Bretta snaps a bubble, and stretches the thin pink sugar over her tongue in preparation to blow another. She feels heady from all the fizzy punch, and it feels like someone is beating tom toms inside her head. She doesn't like thinking about things that hurt, and she likes thinking about the past even less. She massages her temples, once again she thinks of turning the stereo down, but she reminds herself that this is their last slumber party. Their last night spent together, possibly the last time any of them will ever see each other.
Joey still feels like it's her fault. Her fault for having a boys name. Her fault for having such short boyish hair (Edie's hair is short, but still feminine, why does mine make me look like a boy?). For not hiding herself well enough. For being friends with such beautiful people (girls, all of them). Her fault for being wrong. Her fault for daring to go to that party. Her fault for being a dyke.
Edie feels like throwing up, the taste of Phil is inside her. He tastes skunky like perfume and acid and car exhaust. She feels him, every cell electric with fear, every hair on her body stiff and raised with distrust. Edie feels wretched, hot and cold, and sweaty and wrong. All along this horrible sense of wrongness. She feels like she is going to be sick right on her plain white sleeping bag, her plain white nightgown. And she is.
The photo is broken. The negative burned. The girls get up, Bretta stares in horror at the vomity mess. Heather rushes for towels and napkins and new blankets and a carpet cleaner and a nightgown for Edie. Joey reaches out for Edie's hand. It's limp and white. Whiter than usual. For the first time in a long time Edie does not squeeze back.
It is later. The girls are sitting around the low table. Edie is in Heather's old boxers and a new NYU t-shirt. She has brushed her teeth and rinsed her mouth out with listerine, but she can still taste Phil.
"I'm really sorry I brought that up. I should have- I wasn't- I'm really sorry. I really am, not just for bringing up but for not- for pretending and I- I'm really really sorry you guys" gushed Heather.
"I'm sorry for leaving you at that party and I- I- shouldn't have, I shouldn't have taken sides like that and maybe I should try, try to-" Bretta faultered.
"Edie sighed. "I don't want to talk about it anymore. Okay? It's our last together, let's not ruin it."
She din't say what last it was. Was it their last party? Their last time ever seeing each other? Their last night as children?
"It hurts, doesn't it? Thinking about these things that we've hidden for so long? It's like uncaging demons though. I've relieved myself of my guilt. I think we should all go around, and say our most painful memory" suggested Heather.
"Why do we want to bring these things up? Can't we just leave them in the past where they belong?" said Joey dully.
"Fine then, not your most painful, your most vivid. The one you see sharpest in your minds eye. The one that's in the shadows under your bed, in your closet, pressed in the pages of your yearbook. Your most vivid. Joey, you go first"
It's one year ago. Prom snap a photo. Girls in pink wedding cake three tiered dresses. Boys looking stiff in tuxedos that they rented just for the occasion, waiting for their girls to say they're ready to go back to the hotel rooms they've rented (also just for the occasion). Heather went alone (she didn't want to limit her options), Bretta went with Lux (he's such a rocking hot guy) and Joey and Edie went alone (or together depending on how you look at it).
What's the vivid part you ask? What makes this memory stand out like neon when the others are in black and white? They went up in a group to the d.j.'s booth, shivering because of the subzero air conditioning. Heather's dress was floor length and homemade, but it looked better than anything anyone else was wearing. Bretta's dress was lipstick killer powder compact cream, and somehow it managed to compliment her hair instead of making her look like a Vogue-i-fied Elmo. Edie's dress was a simple cut, plain, ice white. But somehow it made her more beautiful than anyone else there. And what about Joey herself? She was wearing a retro mod sixties dress, that revealed nothing of her figure, but made her look curvier all the same.
They leaned into the d.j. booth, and spoke in unison over the M.C. Hammer song that was blasting (dunh dunh dunh dunh dunh dunh can't touch this). "Hey mister! You got 'Lust for Life'?" "What?" "Lust for Life!" "Iggy Pop?" "Yeah!" "You serious?" "YeAh!" "Sure I got it!" He looked relieved to have a break from the M.C. Hammer, and he sent the record spinning.
They danced in the middle of the gymnasium floor, Heather and some boy she had picked up, Bretta and Lux, Edie and Joey. Whirling like frisbees. The music helps them forget that this is their senior prom. Their last dance together, their last year together. The vivedness of it is there if you can close your eyes and hear the song, see four girls dancing. Casting a magic circle round each other, never stopping lest they break the spell of togetherness that has been cast over them since the first day of kindergarden.
Suddenly they are back in Heather's living room. The prom is gone. The d.j. M.C. Hammer and Lux are gone. But they are still there, and they are still together. The spell has not been broken, the song has not yet ended.
Joey passes the bowl of Gummi bears to Bretta, who picks up the story torch. "My most vivid memory?" she muses "i don't know if I can pick... But I think if I had to pick a memory it would be the petition..."
It is two years ago. They're in their junior year at highschool. It is two months into the school year. They are all getting along just fine. Aside from the occasional lunchroom outburst, no one has bothered Edie and Joey (this could be because Heather is so beautiful and cold and frightening you got the feeling you should stay away from her and her friends). None of them were on sports teams, they didn't feel the need to run around in the name of their lame-o highschool. Not that they didn't have school spirit or whatever.
Anyway, the whole thing came down in history. They were having a test on the 'Roaring Twenties'. Lifestyle, economy and state of the goverment. Of course, the test was on the day before homecoming. No one studied except for Bretta, Joey and Edie. Heather was busy sewing her homecoming dress (I have to get, like, CRANKING if it*s gonna be done by, like, the dance tonight). When their instructor passed the test back, on homecoming day, not only Bretta, Edie and Joey passed. They were surprised. No one had studied but them. No one. Somehow though... just somehow... Phil, Erik and Alex happened to pass. Phil, Alex, and Erik also happened to be three of the five prime players on the junior football team.
"This is an odd coincidence" murmured Bretta, as she rubbed her temples. Luz leaned forward to whisper in her ear. She arched her eyebrows. "Do you know that for a fact, Lux?" more whispering "I see... Well, that is QUITE interesting... Quite interesting indeed."
They sat around the lunchtable, Heather slurped on a diet diet lemon soda. Seltzer water with nutra sweet. Bretta ate one apple slice after the other, delicately, as though she were afraid of breaking a tooth on the apple. Joey drank chocolate milk and dissected one oreo after another, making a wish that would come true only if the left side had more cream than the right. Edie sat twisting her arms in circles. Her mother was sick in the hospital and her father had left them when she was young. She didn't want to eat anything, instead she decided to make a wish on one of Joey's oreos. The right side had more cream then the left. Edie felt her heart snap inside.
"I think" said Bretta, between snaps of apple "that we should start a petition, against the whole jocks automatically get A's policy. It's just not fair to the rest of us non-jockettes. I mean, was anyone else really surprised when Amanda Desmond passed that bio exam of her "own right" cuz she's "just as smart as the rest of us, only without like having to, like, try and junk". I mean, come on. We try, we really do, most of the time" Bretta crunched on her apple.
"So... What you're saying is, if this petition passes, Phil won't?" said Joey.
"Yup" Bretta discarded a slice of apple that had a brown spot on it. "That's exactly what I'm saying. We need at least two hundred signatures between now and seven thirty" she munched on her apple thoughtfully.
"We'll never pull it off" said Heather "all the jocks won't sign. Neither will their girlfriends and the jockettes"
"But we have four signatures already, Lux makes five, and he can get 5 of his friends to sign which means we're already 5% done" said Bretta.
Joey took her last Oreo in her hand, closed her eyes, held her breath and twisted it. There was more side on the left than the right.
"That decides it" said Joey "lets go."
Somehow, someway, by 3:30 that afternoon they had all the signatures they needed. Maybe it was their determination, maybe it was the power of the oreo wish people, maybe it was the fact that the computer club was larger this year than it had ever been before. But their greatest victory (aside from the look of sheer terror on the football coach's face when the principle informed him that phil, alex, and erik had to be benched) was seeing Phil recieve the news at the very end of the day. First he looked mystified, then upset and lastly angry, angry enough to punch the wall in the boys bathroom fracturing his wrist so not only could he not play for the rest of the season, but he could not attend the homecoming dance to see his girlfriend (none other then Amanda Desmond) be crowned Queen and have his slot as King go to Lux (who made faces at Amanda and tripped over his own feet when they had to dance).
"Wasn't the look on Phil's face just choice!" giggled Heather.
"Or how about the look on Amanda's face when Lux dropped her when he was supposed to dip her?" added Bretta as she ate a handful of popcorn.
All faces turned to Heather. "Come on Heather, your turn" prompted Bretta.
"I think my most vivid memory... The one that stands out is my first day of kindergarden..."
It's twelve years ago. Heather's brother has just dropped her off at the kindergarden she'll be attending. The whole ride to the kindergarden she had cried, her brother yelled at her for making noise during his favorite song ('Lust for Life') and that just made her cry more. When he ditched her at the kindergarden she was still crying, but they gave her a juicebox and she's fine now. Her hair is just above her waist and it's in braids. She's wearing a white shirt and a jumper and plastic looking mary janes. She's sucking on her juice box and coloring in her Cinderella coloring book. Cinderella is her favorite fairy tale and she's proud to have long blonde hair just like Cinderella.
Another little girl whose hair hangs long and blonde red down her back, tamed only by a headband, is dragged kicking and screaming into the room. Heather studies her distastefully. Her dress is plaid and she's wearing a black shirt, black tights, and black velveteen shoes. Heather is jealous of her shoes, but the fact that this girl does not have long sunshine colored hair makes up for it. Heather watches as the girl takes a seat, grudgingly, in a plastic chair in the corner. She watches as the girl plays with a singing mermaid doll. Heather is mad, her coloring book cannot sing and this doll has long golden hair like she does and thus should belong to her, not this other red haired child. She is more suited to a Raggedy Ann doll.
A young girl toddles into the room on her own, rather unsteadily on her feet. She takes a seat at a round table and watches those around her. Heather is unimpressed. This girl has long brown hair, the color of dirt thinks Heather, and it is in pigtails. She is wearing little jeans of her own and a pink and white striped t-shirt. Heather is impressed, however, by the shiny golden locket around the girls neck. It nodoubtedly came from one of the magic locket books Heather's Mom would not buy her.
A fourth little girl comes into the room, this time accompanied by a pale fragile looking woman. She's wearing a white dress and her hair is blonder than Heathers and cut short. White ribbon barrattes are in her hair and this makes Heather mad because her Mother says rubberbands are cheaper and do the job just as well. Heather decides that this is the girl that will be her friend. She walks over to where the girl is sitting quietly by herself. She smiles and taps the girls arm "My name is Heather do you want to color with me?"
The girl looks at her placidly, almost as though she doesn't see her. "My name is Edie," she said softly, "thank you for asking, but I would not like to color. I'm fine by myself."
Heather did not like this girl. She had made her an offer and she had refused it. She used too many big words that Heather did not understand. Heather did not like not understanding. She smacked the girl in the face with her coloring book. Edie began to cry hysterically. The brown haired girl came over and pushed Heather down
"You are a mean bad girl! She did not do anything to you! You hurt her anyway! You should be punished. I'm going to tell on you!" the girl waved her arms around "Teacher! Teacher!"
Heather stared at her in disgust. My God, she thought, she tripped the girl, who fell silent upon her face's impact to the ground. Heather smiled. She sat down at the table and began to color again. The red haired girl came over.
"Do you mind not being so loud?" she asked, rubbing her head.
The blonde haired girl stopped crying, the brunette stopped screaming, and Heather stopped coloring. red haired girl pointed to Heather. "You, I saw you hit her, now give her your coloring book and crayons or I'll tell the teacher and you'll get them taken away just the same," she pointed to the brunette "and you, you're no better, get off the ground and for god's sake try not to be so loud," she then turned her attention to the blonde "crybaby" she sneered in disgust.
From that moment on they were best friends, because only a friend can tell you all your faults. Lay them out on a tray, make you eat them, and then end up making you love them for it.
Back in Heather's living room the four girls all have wistful looks on their faces. It's kindergarden again, they can smell crayong wax and juiceboxes and taste salty tears on their cheeks. But it's not kindergarden anymore, it's time to grow up, time to let go of the childish ties that bound them. One more memory left. One more night, one more sunrise till the end of the game.
Edie looked at the ground, speaking in a monotone. "My most vivid memory, is, is being in te hospital with-"
It's not even a year ago, the memory hasn't had suficient time to fade. The flourescent whiteness and starchy scent oh the hospital are sharp in the air like blood after the hunt. It's one month after Edie's eighteenth birthday, there was a party with rented movies and cheesey pizza (made with almond cheese and organic sauce). There were presents and candy, and laughter. But all was not well. Edie's mom was sick, she had been ill since Edie was a little girl, and her father had left them.
And now, one month later, she is in the hospital. Ghosty and shadowy, bruise violet circles underneath her dull marble eyes. Edie wants to cry, but she has to stay and fill out the insurance forms, name, age, d.o.b., social security number. Edie feels sick. Her aunt Vi is supposed to come to the hospital and take care of this. Where is she? The hospital silence could be cut with a knife. The only sounds are the scritch scratch of Edie's pen and the sucking noise of her mother's respirator.
The door to the room swings open. A woman with white blonde hair and lightening blue eyes stands in the doorway. For a moment Edie thinks it is her mother.
"Edie? Honey? Are you okay?" a look to the bed "My god..." then softer "my god..."
"It's alright Aunt Vi, it's alright."
"No, no honey, it's not. Is that a respirator?" she asked, disbelieving.
"Yes, it's keeping her alive Aunt Vi. It has to be there or- or she'll die."
"Honey, you don't understand. Can, can you call a doctor in here. Right now?"
"Sure Aunt Vi."
The doctor came bustling in, as though there were a whole tribe of people who desperately needed his assisitance.
"Doctor? My names is Violet, I'm Miss. Vere's sister. I would just like to know exactly why my sister is on a respirator."
"The respirator is there, Miss. Vere, because your sister requires aid in her breathing or she will die."
"Sir, all due respect but my sister has a living will and I demand that you unplug that respirator RIGHT NOW or charges will be brought against you."
"Ma'am, is that what Miss. Vere's daughter wants?"
"It doesn't matter what my niece wants doctor, it's what your patient wants. Now unplug the damned thing this instant."
"Edie, is this what you want, to kill your mother?" said the doctor, poisonously.
"I- I want, I want what my mother wants, sir. I have no place in, in determining her fate for her. It would be, be cruel to keep her alive like this knowing that there's no way she could get better and- It's my Aunt's decision to make sir not mine..."
"Unplug it, NOW!"
The doctor sighed, reached down, and unplugged the respirator. The room was dead quiet. No sucking sounds, no scritching. Just quiet. A knock at the door. Three girls came in. All of them crying.
"Edie, oh my god, we are so sorry" said Heather as she wrapped her arms around the girl whose body was shuddering with sobs. Her chest caved in, and the light dissappeared. There was only the dark comfort of knowing her friends were there and they would take care of each other. They filled the months after Edie's mother's death with picnics and movie fests and popcorn popping and trip taking, but somehow it wasn't enough and Edie still felt like it was her fault. That she was really the one that had killed her mother.
Back in the living room it is silent once again. You are still outside the window, your arms are stiff and your legs are cramped from crouching on the fire escape, but you want to see how the story will end. Will they walk away forever friends, or will they forget each other as soon as they leave the sanctity of Heather's apartment?
It is morning, they are cleaning up their blankets, rolling up sleeping bags, doing their makeup, brushing their hair, and in between snacking on pancakes with blueberries and strawberries and organic brown sugar.
Finally, it is time to go, they are standing in front of Heather's door, bookbags are on, suitcases are in hand. Each of them will get onto a different airplane, each of them will go to a different college. They all know this, but they say goodbye as though they will see each other tomorrow, nonchalant and dismissive. As though saying goodbye was an afterthought.
They were no longer one soul, one single functioning unit. There were four seperate girls, a shy one, an outgoing one, a secrative one and normal one. Do you know which was which? More importantly do they.
You snap one last photo, Heather isn't worried about seeing her friends again, she knows that if they need her she'll be there. She is humming 'Lust for Life' and thinking about that first day in kindergarden. She should remember to call her brother, thank him for introducing her to her three best friends and her favorite song. But first, goodbyes, she kisses each girl on the cheek and tells them to call her if they ever want to do anything. They know it's a formality and that even if they do call, Heather won't be there to answer, but they tell her they will all the same.
Joey is remembering their prom, dancing with Edie to 'Lust for Life' and watching the other kids gawk at their lame choice of music. She promises Edie she'll write once a week, even though she won't. Besides, even if she did, Edie probably wouldn't write back. She hugs Heather and waves goodbye to Bretta. She kisses Edie on the cheek, and thinks of dancing underneath the silver spotlight with all the other girls, and knows that she'll never have friends like these again.
Edie is thinking of her mother, and her Aunt Vi. One calm like the sea, the other like a storm electric and furious. She knows if it weren't for her Aunt Vi she wouldn't be going to CSU but she's still sad, still thinking what would have happened if she had said no to that doctor. She promises that she'll call everyone once a week, and respond to Joey's letters but she won't do it. She's going away to forget, not to dwell on her past. She doesn't want to reopen the wound, not if it's already begun to close up.
Bretta massages her temples. She's thinking of the homecoming dance and oreo wishes. She says that she'll come to visit everyone, but she probably won't. Her headaches are getting more and more frequent (maybe it's a brain tumour) and she doesn't want to go through the trouble and expense of travelling. Maybe she'll come to visit them on their birthdays... only if they call or write. She's not going to any extra lengths if they don't.
All four girls walk out the door, each gets into a different cab. Tells the driver a different destination. Back in her apartment Heather is vacuuming and listening to 'Lust for Life'.