YOU BLAME THE INTERNET FOR THE WHOLE THING.
Your mom made tequila-lime pie for dessert. You didn’t have any because dessert always tastes like too much, but you did pilfer the bottle of Patrón Silver she used and sneak it to the river. You needed it because you had to walk down the hill in the middle of the night and your leather jacket wasn’t warm enough for early November, but you were stubborn and stupid and wouldn’t wear a puffer coat because gross. You didn’t wear snow gear, either. Not even your combat boots, idiot. You wore flats. Flats in this weather, Eden. But you also took the tequila because, aside from an awkward exchange at Fred’s Restaurant where Lucille works, you hadn’t talked to her in six weeks and you figured, why not bring a little help for the both of you? Still, you don’t blame the tequila for what’s happening now.
You blame the Internet. It informed you, on a site it tricked you into, that there was going to be an epic once-in-five-years supermoon and that the universe was demanding you change your ways.
Move or be moved, it said. It was like a storm watch for the soul. You could practically hear the voice, see the guy standing in front of the monitor in some bad suit, waving his arms about in warning.
Fatepocalypse is coming in from the southwesterly direction at roughly eighty miles per hour, you imagine him saying in his uptight voice. Citizens should be on the lookout. It’s headed straight for all of us, but I’m especially talking to Eden Jones. Oh boy, oh buddy, this one is coming for you, girl. Safety Department recommends you cease carrying on like a human and stay indoors. Preferably forever.
If you were naive enough to believe in a universe that communicates with humans (which you are not), one that you might, in fact, be able to have a conversation with (which you cannot), you would demand to know why it speaks in staticky gibberish made up of planets and symbols and expects people to understand it.
At first you blew off the Internet’s warning because astrology is ridiculous nonsense, but then the whole week was such a suckfest, you began to wonder. It was so bad that you got paranoid about that moon, and ever more pissed off at the Internet, because brains are so powerful, just the fact that you read the warning could have made it true. But when Lucille texted you telling you she needed you, you thought maybe if you went, things would go back to their regularly scheduled pleasant level of suck instead of this extreme. Secretly, even secretly from yourself, you thought you might appease the nonexistent, confusing entity that was having its fun toying with you, by showing up for Lucille after, admittedly, being kind of a bitch to her when she needed you most.
You never meant to be horrible to her. You have long claimed that the only thing you really hate is mean girls, and you wouldn’t be one on purpose. But ever since Lucille decided your newly philandering, almost engaged twin brother is her soul mate, being around her has gotten really hard to do without violent impulses. Every time Digby moped all over you about her and loving her and Elaine, and his deep, angsty struggles between right and wrong, and what should he do, you wanted to shake Lucille by the shoulder until her head jiggled free of her neck socket.
Because first of all, if a girl has any ambition, she shouldn’t be a pawn in someone else’s drama, much less be the cause of it. Second, cheating is sordid and cheap. And third, it is a conflict of interest that isn’t actually all that interesting but is all anybody can talk about. At first the entire seamy debacle (because it is a debacle) was something to watch, but after a while, it seemed to you that it was nothing but pathetic.
So the bad moon rising is how you found yourself on your rock tonight, the flat one at the river’s edge that you used to pretend into a throne when you were little. You still do, because you fancy yourself a queen and the river your queendom. This bend of the river, flanked by rocks and ancient trees and an old train car, is your private place. The willows are all stripped down this time of year, except for the sheen of icicle glass. You like willows best of all the trees, because they know how to bow to a lady, but also because if you cut them deep, they cry.
Lucille was crying, sitting under them looking like a giant snowball in her winter jacket and hat, and the ice in you was melting as she shifted around, chewing on her lip, her nails, her nail beds, crossing her legs then uncrossing them, moving, always moving, apologizing for her flaws with every twitch.
You were glad to have come so you could remind yourself all about your mad, passionate love for her, which had hurt so much to try to forget, but you were distracted, too. Your whirlpool mind wouldn’t stop circling the drain, whirring on and on about your stupid, average, small-town New Jersey mediocrity, that your future was now nothing but an endless, murky path. Your third cigarette in a row wasn’t doing any good either. It spilled through your lungs. They ached, and your head, your stomach too, and you knew you should—?but you couldn’t—?stop chain smoking.
“I’m really sorry about the ballet thing.” Lucille’s voice glued you to the rock just as you were about to stand, to tell her you were going home. “You should keep on,” she said.
“I will.” You tried not to think about the lady in New York with the deer bones bending toward you, whispering nightmares about your future low into your ear. “Just now I know it’s not going to do me any good. Denial is for losers.” You said this out loud, because Lucille needed to hear it as much as you did. “Face your crap and move on. Otherwise you’ll get old and depressed and turn into a scary pod person whose most pressing issue in life is when they get to trade in the can of Dr Pepper for the can of Bud. It’s true.” You took one last drag of your smoke. “Look around.”
Lucille tittered, but that easy-chair reality wasn’t funny. It was entirely possible. Probable, even. People settle down in front of the idiot box and never get up again because it requires too much effort. Sometimes, though you would never speak it, you think it would be a hell of a lot easier to want a simple life. You long for a recliner, and for a dull, compliant mind, instead of the one you got, which is a lot more flailing octopus than floating manatee.
You crushed your smoke and stood high on your toes. You stretched, reached your arms toward the sky, and asked the moon if it was satisfied now, if you had done enough to turn things around and avoid the storm by being here, by paying respects, by cleaning up your friendship with Lucille.
That was it . . . the moment it happened.
Your feet lost their grip like an answer.
You teetered on ice, tried to steady yourself. It was too fast.
You wanted to call out to ...