What Makes Us Girls

Maddie couldn’t complain about the world spinning; she had relinquished that right after her third fireball. The cinnamon still burned in her throat, hot and sweet. Clumsily she applied a liberal dose of lip gloss and ended up making her chin smell like strawberries.


Cassidy was in another world altogether. That one must have been spinning too, because she was swaying on her bare feet, holding her high heels by their straps in one hand. The other hand drifted through the air, tracing invisible words.


They lingered outside the bar, Maddie sitting on the concrete, Cassidy standing precariously on the edge of the curb. She looked ready to swan dive. In her current state, Maddie had no trouble imagining it, watching her best friend’s form disappear under the sea of dark asphalt.


The concrete was hard underneath her thighs, the cold seeping through the thin layer of her dress. “When’ll they get here?”


“Soon.” Cassidy’s hand lingered in the air a moment longer, waiting for another word, then dropped slowly to her side. She turned and looked at Maddie, mascara running from her large brown eyes, curly hair in a frazzled halo around her pale face.


“Do you think he’ll come?” she whispered.


Maddie stifled a cinnamon burp and shrugged. “You asked him to.”


“But he won’t. I know he won’t.”


“Why do you think that?”


Cassidy shook her head, her body a patchwork of lights from the neon signs behind them. She was like a fairy. A little drunken doe-eyed fairy.


Maddie knew why she thought he wouldn’t come. Bad blood—bad words. One too many threats that always turned up empty.


A car came rolling towards them, and it definitely wasn’t empty. Justin leaned out the front passenger side window with a grin as wide as the Great Wall of China.


“Who wants a ride? Fifty bucks.”


“Nope,” Maddie said, pushing his face away with her hand. She stood with considerable effort.


“It’s a very strict system,” Justin argued. “You ride in the Valkyrie, you gotta pay. How about a flash?”




“Fine, fine. You’ll just have to pay with a good old fashioned kiss.”


The driver leaned across Justin. “Just get in.”


The music still leaked out of the bar into the street, a dull throbbing that infected Maddie’s heart when she saw that face. It pumped it into overdrive, nearly making her black out. Cassidy took it worse; she actually leaned into Maddie with a small moan.


David waited for them to get into the backseat before he merged into traffic. He glanced in the rearview mirror and his eyes connected with Maddie’s reflection. She looked away.


Cassidy was quiet, holding her heels protectively against her stomach. She stared hard at the back of David’s head, but he wouldn’t acknowledge her.


Justin turned around, practically crawling into the back with them. “So? Was the band any good? Get any drinks spilled on you?”


“It was all right,” Maddie said when Cassidy continued to do her best impression of a statue. She looked back up and saw that David was glancing back at her again. Her skin buzzed and burned. Like cinnamon on pop rocks on lava.


Cassidy leaned forward tentatively, as if afraid to fall to the floor of the car. “David? Thank you for coming.”




His voice was normally bright, sweet, on the edge of a smile. This was the Arctic meets robot.


Cassidy flinched and leaned back, pressing the heels to her stomach. Maddie swallowed.


She knew she couldn’t. Shouldn’t. Wouldn’t. Maybe in another week, a month, a year…It was too soon.


But it had already been years, his eyes reminded her. Years of tolerating Cassidy’s luck, years of telling herself that nothing would end them. And yet here they stood right on the cusp, like Cassidy’s pale toes curled over the curb, waiting to swan dive into oblivion.


David looked at her, and she looked back.



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