by Sonja Thomas
I pull another armful of clothes from my closet and add them to the pile on my unmade bed. "God and I are no longer on speaking terms."
Julie raises an eyebrow. "Why would you say that? We just rocked your last church choir rehearsal."
"My love of singing has nothing to do with him." I hold my favorite punk band's t-shirt against my chest. The Celtic triquetra symbol is barely legible after a million washes. I throw the tee into the plaid suitcase. "Life sucks and God doesn't give a damn."
Julie shakes her head. "Jesus, Kelly, tell me how you really feel."
I roll my eyes. "I'm all right with it. I've made my peace and moved on." I yank a few more shirts off their hangers and toss them into the suitcase.
Julie picks up a navy baby-doll dress and eyes it up and down. "You've outworn this. How about donating it to my closet?"
"Whatever." I shrug.
She digs around in my jewelry case and pulls out my silver chain with the key heart shaped pendant. I rush over and tear it from her grip.
Julie leans back. "What is your issue?"
I sink onto the bed. I stare at the necklace cradled in my cupped hands. I look up at Julie as tears streak my cheeks.
She falls onto the bed beside me and strokes my brown curls. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean..."
"No." I shudder. "I should be happy. I have a free ride to NYU. Who wouldn't be ecstatic with the opportunity to chase their dream? But..." I pause, take a deep breath and exhale. "It's the anniversary of the accident."
Julie claps a hand over her mouth. "I totally forgot. Kelly, I'm so sorry." She wraps an arm around me and lays her head on my shoulder.
I shut my eyes. My thoughts drift and replay that awful moment from thirteen years ago. Raindrops pelted against the windshield. Mom warned Dad to slow down. Dad laughed, said not to worry. I fought falling eyelids in the backseat. Mom smiled at me, the heart shaped key pendant dangling around her neck. A horn blared and tires screeched. The car swerved. Mom screamed. The oncoming car's headlights blinded me. We hit. I fell forward, only to be strangled back by my seat belt. The next thing I saw was the midnight sky filled with a glowing full moon. An unrecognizable voice said, "We're right here with you. Stay with us, Kelly."
I open my eyes and shake away the memory. I rise from the bed, drop the necklace back into the box, and close the lid. I march back to the closet and resume packing.
As I put more clothes into the suitcase, Julie lays a hand on mine. "You don't have to do this right now. I can help you later tonight or even tomorrow. Your train doesn't leave till late."
"I know, but I need to keep busy." My hand quivers. Julie squeezes lightly. I inhale deep through my nose, pulling in the tears as deep as possible. "I appreciate you being here, but, I'd really like to finish up on my own. Okay?"
She nods, but I can see in her eyes that she wants to say so much more. She hugs me as my arms remain numb by my sides.
"I'll be by tomorrow to take you to the train station. Love you, Kelly."
I force a half smile and close my bedroom door behind her. I bolt to my dresser and open the jewelry box. I hesitate as my eyes glance at the necklace. I pull out the fake bottom and remove a small black pouch. Inside is a folded note, lighter and joint. I light the joint and inhale deep. My throat burns. I cough and take another hit.
I chuckle. My ex gave me this bag of goodies after I'd broken up with him because of his drug addiction. I unfold the worn paper.
I hope you know I didn't lie to hurt you. I thought I could handle everything and keep it separate from you. Here's the last of my stash as my way of saying I give it up to hold onto you. Give me another chance.
I love you.
I crumple the note and toss it in the trash. Just one more hit. And then I'll move on.
thanks for reading,