Grace slams the screen door, detonating a mushroom cloud of bug spray. She has to let it bang—slipping in to trick the mosquitoes. Jennie’s knife stops mid-slice, leaving the cucumber unfinished.
“What’d you think of Alex?”
I would’ve liked to know her when she was younger, when she wrote poems about melting in the rain and being in love with Tom DeLonge. In the margins of birthday cards from frosh year—her best friend had traced the cover of her favorite album (not knowing who The Academy Is…were) and wrote some declaration along the lines of “friends forever” (though now they’ve drifted, the kind of friends who always agree to hang out but never do) with five exclamation marks and a misspelling of the band’s name. When she was ridding herself of the “darkness” that’s trailed her like ellipses since second grade, when moments were still tagged by school year. They still are. Before she became an untouchable. I’d like to have known her in the days before that—when she watched Saturday morning cartoons. When Saturday morning cartoons were still worth watching, and she knew the pink and yellow Power Rangers were meant to be together. I’d like to have known her when she was shy, kinda angsty; when she’d never been kissed, so she could tell me what it was like, because being her she’d obviously get kissed first. Obviously. Even when she was withdrawing into clinical depression and chemical imbalances: the year you forgot her eyes were hazel because she cried so much. I’d like to have known her when her hair was just brown, before the auburn dye was washed out. Before the auburn dye went in. Before the watermarks that tell me the little I know. Before her sister was flown in as an exotic commodity, coinciding with her depression (but now is the light of her life). I’d like to have known her when I could keep up with her. When she rhymed ‘light’ with ‘night,’ ‘love’ with ‘above,’ and—God forbid—‘fire’ with ‘desire.’ (Tom DeLonge again.) I’ll never know her well enough to stop writing poems about her, just as bad as hers when she was my age.
Grace shrugs. “She’s okay.”