“Dinah! We’re going clubbing tonight.” Alice called to me from the kitchen as I heard her hang up the phone. This was going to be one of those nights I could just tell.
The Pulse was a bit too close for comfort. It was a nightmare. Between the red strobe light that reflected off the shattered mirrors lining the walls and the bass, you felt like you were inside someone’s heart. I hated going there but I hated the idea of Alice going by herself even more. I watched her as she maneuvered us as close to the band as she could get.
I didn’t trust the people that went there enough to let Alice go alone otherwise I’d be at home with a good book and a relaxed evening. We had known each other for what amounted to forever, I knew how she got when she was excited about something. She was best friend, I loved her like a sister and normally I’d have been all for her finding a new guy, but I had a bad feeling about tonight. It was so like her to just run off at the drop of a hat to chase some boy, but tonight just made my skin crawl. I wasn’t sure what it was but I wasn’t about to leave without her.
The stage was set at a sharp angle and rose evilly out of the fog. They always had the fog machine going, whole place reeked of fog and incense and cheap perfume. She sat down at one of the tables; they looked more like demonic mushrooms than tables to me but none the less. I went over to the bar and ordered drinks, two cosmopolitans and brought them back to the table. I gave her my best “I hate this place” look, and settled into my chair.
“You don’t have to stay,” she shouted over the music.
“Yeah I do.” I shouted back. The place was packed. I didn’t think that this many vampire wannabes lived in our corner of the city. This was a goth club and I was intimate friends with this thing called the sun. But in these situations I had to play the responsible one.
The band started up and the whole crowd erupted. We were pushed back by a bunch of screaming fans slamming into each other. I recognized Eric’s vocals and was at least mildly excited that the music wasn’t going to be that unbearable. The first set ended and Alice was off in a flash trying to make her way to the band. Then Eric caught my sight of me at the bar and waved me over.
“Hey I thought you couldn’t stand this place?”
“I can’t, but I wasn’t about to let Alice come here alone.”
“Alice is here?”
“Yeah, wanted to come see Michael, she said he had a show tonight. Is anyone playing after you guys?”
“No. wait, oh no. we’d better hope that Alice’s Michael, isn’t the same as our Mike.”
“Because his girlfriend decided to show up and surprise him.” We both started to looking around and we both saw Mike/Michael at the same time. “We’re both talking about the same guy, aren’t we?”
“Shit. Where’s Alice?”
“I dunno, I didn’t even know she was there.”
“I’ve gotta find her, great set by the way. I’ll catch ya later”
“Yea, see ya later.” I navigated my way around the club trying to see if I could catch a glimpse of her. I mean how hard could it be to find the one girl wearing white in this dungeon?
Fifteen minutes later I left in a panic rushing to our apartment hopping she’d be there. I’d long given up trying to call her since she left her phone in my purse. I threw open the door calling her name. No response, no sobs, no sighs. I did a quick search to confirm the fact that she wasn’t there. All I could think was ‘where could she possibly be?’ The only place Alice ever really went was the studio. I decided to check there before I let myself get really worried.
In the back of mind I was pissed, this was so typical of her. I knew it wasn’t her fault but she sure could pick them. Now I had to hunt her down and make sure she was okay. All I could think in that selfish little part of my brain that was fighting the dread kept saying “All I wanted to do was tell her that I was pregnant. That I was going to be a mommy. That she was going to be a godmother. A fairy godmother like we had dreamed about when we were kids. Was that so much to ask?”
The front door was unlocked, I took that as a good sign that she might be there. I called her name though it was drowned out by the growing storm outside. I sprinted up the stairs and as I reached the top I swear I’ll never be able to get that sight out of my mind. I opened the door and there was by best friend, crying and smearing her own blood onto a canvas. Her arms were bleeding heavily and I couldn’t believe what she was doing. I screamed. She turned her big blue eyes on me and fainted. I ran to catch her; I was terrified that it was too late. I wrapped her arms in my coat and called Jacob.
“Jacob, call the hospital. Alice tried to kill herself. Tell them to come to the studio,”
“Okay, just keep her conscious. I’ll be there as soon as I can. I love you.”
“I love you too.” I hung up the phone and turned to Alice.
“Baby you gotta wake up,” I pressed the coat tighter to her arms with one hand and tried to shake her with the other. “You gotta stay with me, you can’t leave me.” She moaned a little. I kept talking to her till I head the sirens outside. In that instant those were the most beautiful sounds in the whole world. I pulled her close to me.
Jacob rushed in ahead of the paramedics. They swept Alice up and took her out to the ambulance. I followed them in a panic. Outside the rain was worse than ever. Lightning flashed and for a second I saw the paper white face of my dearest friend streaked with blood, eyes shut… Someone boosted me up into the back of the ambulance and I lurched forward nearly crashing into her. I got onto the bench and started to cry. The medics were finishing wrapping her arms when we got to the hospital.
Jacob sat with me in the waiting room. He was my rock, he held me as I bawled.
“Honey, I talked to the other medics, they said that she’ll probably going to be okay.”
“I wanna believe that. You have no idea how much I want to believe you.”
“I was there, none of the cuts looked that serious. They’re going to patch her up.”
“ It’s my fault. I shouldn’t have let her leave. I should have been paying attention.”
“No. You can’t say that, you can’t blame yourself.”
“Excuse me. Dinah. You can see Alice now.” I got up and walked with Jacob down the hallway. “Now be warned, she lost a lot of blood, we had to give her a transfusion. She’s going to pretty tired.”
He held the door open for me and I stumbled to the bedside. I didn’t want to see her like this. A shadow of herself, she looked like she was barely there at all. “Alice…oh Alice.” I held my breath and tried not to start crying again. Jacob said that he’d give us some time and stepped back outside.
“The doctor said that they’re going to scar. I’m sorry. I’ll have to wear long gloves to your wedding.” She tried to smile, but her voice was thick with tears.
“It’s okay baby.”
“No. I’m sorry I screwed up again.”
“It’s over now,” I rested my head on the rail of her bed.
There was a long pause and she said, “They’re going to make me go to therapy…I don’t wanna go.” She looked at me with those deep blue eyes and I was afraid that she was going to start crying again.
“They’ll help you. They just want you to get better.”
She screwed up her face like a child. “No. They’ll just give me pills and me that I’m crazy.”
I wished that Jacob had stayed with me. I couldn’t face her alone when she got like this, I couldn’t say no when she got like this. I didn’t know what to say.
“Why’d ya do it?” I knew that I wasn’t supposed to ask, I’m sure the doctor would have told me that that was the last thing I should ask.
“What do you mean?”
“Why did you try to kill yourself?”
“I didn’t.” she was quiet for a while. “I guess the doctor didn’t tell you what my arms look like under all these bandages.”
I shook my head.
She peeled back the gauze on her hand and showed me a jagged heart etched into her palm. “None of them were deep enough to kill me. I just wanted to make them understand.”
“All of them, Michael, Douglas, James, Anthony, Patrick…all of them. All the ones I loved and all the ones didn’t last long enough to warrant a memory. I wanted them to see what they’d done to me. Mike was just the last straw. I’m sorry. This is all wrong. I’m sorry.”
I just sat there at a loss for words. I opened my mouth to try to say something, anything when Jacob came back into the room.
“Here Alice, I… we’re here for you.” He had an awful time looking at her as he handed her a stuffed bear. She smiled weakly.
“Thanks Jacob. Take care of Dinah for me. I think I’m going to try and sleep.”
Jacob helped me to my feet and led me to the door. “I’ll be back in minute Alice,” called softly over my shoulder, but she was already asleep.
“I don’t understand. I can’t believe that… I mean I remember back in high school but… why did she have to do this?”
“I don’t know princess, I just don’t know.” Jacob was making dinner, I hadn’t eaten much in the past few days. They had kept Alice for three days, physically she had been fine to leave but they didn’t feel that she was “stable” and kept her at the hospital for her own good. It was really hard for me to not tell her parents but she made me promise not to call. Carla had thrown a fit when I told her, and Eric nearly broke down the doors try to get to her. They wanted to come down and throw her a big welcome home dinner but the doctor said that she should take it easy.
“Can I go get her now?”
“Is it three o’clock yet?”
“But it’s not fair. I don’t want to wait.”
“Sweetheart, I know you miss her but you have to wait. We’ll go get her the minute it turns three.”
“Fine, okay.” I just wanted to pout. I hated it when he was right. No I didn’t really hate it. I loved him with all my heart. He was my prince charming. We’d met when I was a freshman in college. I had no idea it was going to work out so well. We were all just kids, I had always figured that Alice would have found her true love first; she was so intense about everything. I was the more patient one. Yet there I was in the arms of the man who loved me more than anything. I closed my eyes and allowed myself a pleasant memory, a moment without worry. I thought about the night that Jacob proposed to me. It was the perfect night. He asked me under the stars, actually got down on one knee and asked if I’d make him the happiest man in the world. I thought about how I just dissolved into tears and laughter, how I tackled him to the ground and asked if he was serious and rolled on top of me and just look down at me and said yes and then I said yes. I kissed him and a second later called Alice to tell her the good news, she had been so elated. …Alice. “Is it three yet?”
We got in to the car and drove to the hospital. She was waiting for us at the front door. She looked so frail. We helped her in and drove her home.
“I’m so glad to have you back Ali’ dear” I called her by her nickname in hopes of coaxing a smile out of her.
“I know. I’ve missed you so much.”
The rest of ride was eerily silent. I hoped that she was just tired. We pulled up to the front door and Jacob and I started to get out, she just sat there staring out the window; lost in her own thoughts.
“Alice come on we gotta head up stairs.” She didn’t reply just got out and wandered towards the door. I reached out for Jacob. I needed all the support I could get.
After dinner Jacob drove back to his apartment. Alice was sitting next to the window; just staring out into the dark city. I didn’t know what to do. For the first time in my life I felt like I didn’t know what to do. It was like she was a complete stranger. I reached out to put my arm around her and she didn’t even seem to respond she just whispered to me
“You can go ahead to bed. I’m just going to sit up for a bit. I promise I won’t do anything.”
“Okay” I gave her a hug and pretended to go to bed. I walked across the living room towards my bedroom and paused to watch her. She started to cry silently, I could see her shudder as the window reflect glisten streaks down her face. I couldn’t imagine what could cause her so much pain. Maybe I was biased because I had the perfect man, but I couldn’t remember a time when I had ever felt so bad. I didn’t know how to comfort her. Usually I’d try to make her laugh or distract her, but this was something deeper than that. This was out of my league, this was she was good at fixing.
“Yes,” I was sure she hadn’t seen me but I went to her side any way.
“Am I a burden to you?”
“No! You’re my best friend, my sanity, my other half a mind. Why would you think that??”
“What do you see?” she held out her arms for my inspection. She had removed the bandages and I could see the jagged shapes of stars and hearts, red and angry looking.
“I see a sad girl, who’s lost and doesn’t see what she means to the world.”
“Thanks. I really needed to hear that. I love you.”
I love you too, please get some sleep.”
I guess that it was hard for her to try and fix herself. I turned back and headed to my room. I didn’t really sleep. I just laid there in between the times I spent checking up on Alice. It felt like I’d spent my whole life taking care of Alice, but I didn’t mind. It was nice to be needed.
“Did you tell her?”
“No not yet.”
“Why? You had been so excited to tell her.”
“That was before the incident”
“Won’t she be happy for you?”
“Yes, but I’m afraid of putting any more distance between us.”
“What do you mean?”
“She just had a major break down due to the failure of men in her life, I have you; the perfect fiancé, I’m pregnant and she is alone. I don’t want to make her feel like there is anything else separating our lives.”
“But she’s going to be a Godmother…”
“I know. I know I’m just not sure if she’ll see it that way. Don’t worry I’ll tell her when the time seems right. Just trust me.” I leaned up and gave Jacob a kiss. He had to go to work. He cared about her like a little sister. I wasn’t sure when I’d tell her. It had been three weeks since the incident and she seemed a lot better but there was something missing. Something about her childlike innocents was gone. It made me so mad some times when I thought about the spark that used to be in her eyes, but I had a wedding to worry about, a baby to think about, but I couldn’t get over that.
Eric had stopped by to check up on her. He was there with flowers the first day she came back to work. For a while I hope that he could get through to her but she was so distant, like she was afraid of him.
“Alice honey, why don’t you take up with that nice Eric boy?”
“I dunno Carla. I just can’t.”
“You can’t be thinking that all men are evil. You have to get back in the game. And he just wants to see you smile. That’s all. I can tell.”
“It’ll end badly. I don’t want to get hurt again.” She tugged her sleeves down farther over her gloves as she spoke.
“Don’t be like that girl, he doesn’t have a mean bone in his body. Just wants to see our Alice smile again. You don’t need to be so cold to a boy who can see how much you need another friend right now.”
“I’m not talking about this.”
Carla turned to me at a loss of words as Alice stalked off up the stairs. “I don’t know what to do.” I looked at her and just shook my head. This was how most conversations with Alice ended. But this time I followed her.
“Alice. You have to stop doing this.”
Her voice was dead but I was angry. I had never been angry with her. “…This sulking and snapping. You have to grow up and get over this. This isn’t you. You are a fighter, a crazy wonderful person, a beautiful girl and if you get your head out of your ass a godmother,” the last word seemed to catch her attention.
“So this means…”
“Yes.” It was the first time I’d seen her smile, really smile in nearly a month.
“Do you know if it’s a….”
“Yea, baby Emily will be here in September.”