“No, it would totally work! It would just hang from the ceiling,” Celeste tried to explain. Her thin frame was reclined on my bed. I, on the other hand, teetered on the edge of the mattress, my jeans coiled tightly around my crossed legs. I slipped my phone into my pocket with minor difficulty and turned towards her slightly.
That night, I’d opened up the heavy curtains that usually slumped over the two windows in my room. The moon was a weird orange color. She’d asked me to do it, even as I told her that it was probably because of pollution from the neighboring town. The moon doesn’t get to change her look very often, Celeste explained, she wants us to enjoy it. A sigh and a gentle groan later, the windows were wide open, and almost chilly air poured in like dry ice.
“But how would you breathe?” I meant it to be fairly dismissive, but her eyes, specifically the speck of light there, told me I was mortally wrong.
“You would inhale,” she explained, demonstrating dramatically, “and then exhale.” I dropped beside her, exasperated and let the fluff of the cushion take hold of my back for moment.
“Why do you wanna be hanging from the ceiling in a kangaroo pouch anyway?” I lifted my neck up slightly, tying my mass of auburn hair into what one could call a messy bun. Or a lazy squirrel’s nest. Celeste’d always say that it was about perspective.
“Because,” She turned toward me, her too-long bangs falling into her face, “it is good idea.”
I raised my eyebrows, a smile tugging at my lips. “What color’d it be?” She reflected my smile and turned towards the wall in front of us.
“Mine? It would be black.” Her hands stretched out in front of her, staring at the empty space. Back then, I could never see the color black as she did. She'd always point out that she loved the color's sweet oblivion but also loved to remind me that black was the combination of all other colors. Somehow, she found comfort in knowing all the colors were lost together, but to me it just made the colors seem lonely and pointless, unappreciated. I never dwelled on it too long.
“Fine, but if you’re gonna make it black, Imma put your monogram in neon pink across the front."
“No, there is no way you w—“
“Yup,” I interrupted. I sat up, gesturing wildly to the corner where her imaginary kangaroo pouch would hang. “It’ll be right here. It’ll say Celeste Kierra Knotley in big ole print across it.” For a time, I looked at the purple painted wall and saw the pouch in all of its not-beauty. It had squishy foam, and it’d be all warm and cozy. We’d leave all the windows and doors open and just sit in them, sleeping for hours on end.
“Fine,” she rolled her blue-green eyes before lulling them closed. “it was a bad idea to begin with.” Her fingers dismissed the wall, allowing it to go back to its regular occupation, the glorious job of being a wall.
She was quiet for a moment, so we relaxed and enjoyed the sound of the fan in my parent’s room and the gently rise and fall of our chests. I inhaled sharply, talking at a lower lever as not to disturb the unbidden peace. “Do ya wanna stay here tonight? You look kinda tired,” I noted, “even for Celeste.”
“Tomorrow is,” she started, “Saturday, right?”
“Nope. Tomorrow is Tuesday,” I told her, to which she groaned for an overly-long period of time. “Just kiddin’ – tomorrow’s Saturday.” I added quickly.
Her eyes flipped open, and she half-threw a pillow at me. “I hate you!” She smushed her face into one of my pillows, both for dramatic effect and to muffle the gentle laughter that escaped. Her laughes were the kind that escaped through her nose, as she made her mouth into a thin line curved up slighlt. Then, she'd let go, and it would bubble fourth from her mouth like a contagious fountain.
“So you staying the night?” My left eyebrow twitched up as a smile crept on my lips.
She glared at me for a moment longer, as if deliberating. “Yes,” she finally decided, crossing her hands behind her head.
“You’re gonna have to call your mom.”
“Will you?” The corners of her mouth dipped slightly, her eyes still closed.
“I called her last time, Ce.”
“Please, Lethia?” Her eyelids flickered.
“Fine.” I turned and dialed her Mom’s number. As it rung, I mulled over the way she'd asked me and how she shifted ever so slightly, a tiny involuntary movement not a single soul would notice. It was the kind of thing best friends who’d known each other for a decade would notice. I’d known Celeste for around six months. With a cheery hello and goodbye to her mom and and flick of a lightswitch later, I was almost asleep. She rested her head against my side, my hand lazily drapped around her.
Before Celeste, I never really touched my friends, strange as that sentence sounds. We didn't rest our heads on each other or hold hands during scary movies, never did, and we weren't about to start. Naturally, once she came along I was taken aback and denyed her requests (she always asked). By November I couldn't care less, and now my aversion was a distant memory. It seems silly now, my fear of touching others. Well, I guess they say all fears have an origin. I remember, in ninth grade, I had this one friend, and we went everywhere together. Soon, teenagers being teenagers, they said we were dating. I wasn't upset, rolling my eyes gently and serving it back to them patiently, but she sure was, ejecting me from her life unitl the rumors settled down. Then, she got herself a boyfriend. None of that mattered now, though. Trust had been formed long ago, cemented into the past. I tried to contemplate the shift deepeer, but sleep intoxicated my thoughts, and I fell into warm sleep.
Images swirled in front of me, with a narrator talking over them. Her voice was scratchy and strikingly scary. First, there came Past, the history many a young child had been forced to memorize, followed by Present, a fleeting image of me lying in my bed. Then, there was Future, a glorious images of where humanity would end up. However, quite suddenly there was fire against my face, making me want to lull my eyes closed in bitter acceptance. The narrator’s voice became louder, thumping in my ears. “Then,” she said, as the image turned black, “There came nothing.” As at the end of a movie, the dream went dark, sullenly dark.
My eyes bolted happily open as I woke up. Her words echoed over and over again in my head. Then, there came nothing. There wasn't anything particularly eerie or horrific about the dream, but the blackness stood over me as I inhaled the fresh morning air. I rolled my head lazily to one side and noticed that Celeste had taken exactly all of my blankets. My green eyes remained there for a moment, still half stuck in the inhibition of sleep.
I always joked with her that she’d have wrinkles when she was older, what from all of her wild expressions. It was only as I gently gazed at her, completely relaxed and wrapped like a burrito, that I noticed how disarmingly truthful my words were. She almost looked like a different person, as if Sleep had dragged his silky fingers across her face, dismissing all the anxious muscles and worries.
I looked away.
A sniffle later, I realized that I’d left the windows wide open. The almost cold air was now one thing: freezing. It was the beginning of March, but winter was still trying to kick its weakening feet. Trying, and honestly failing, to be quiet I managed to shove the windows closed – the moon no longer needed to be appreciated. I brushed my teeth, still traumatized from getting six cavities as a younger girl, and splashed some frigid water onto my face. I awkwardly swung from behind the bathroom door to check on the time, and it was still early. After putting on some mismatched socks the washer monster had decided to spare, I padded down the hallway to see what the breakfast options were. Cream, sugar, and a drop of vanilla extract were added to a bowl, and I whipped them up while pacing around the house in aimless circles. The sweet cream was dolloped onto some crimson strawberries and comparatively pale blueberries. Channeling my inner waitress, I made my way quietly down the hallway and plopped myself on the bed, legs crossed, and dug into the fruit.
As I ensured that each spoonful had exactly enough of each ingredient, I let the chewing sounds and my thoughts mull. It was mostly pointless stuff, like the Geography test I happened to have the text week, but eventually my thoughts drifted down and down. Celeste’d say that the mind was the devil’s play thing.
“Why do I smell strawberries?” A groggy voice cracked the silence.
“Do strawberries have a smell?” I pondered.
“Yes.” She inhaled sharply and let her eyes flip open. “They smell like…” she thought for a moment, as she propped herself up and stretched her arm in front of her, “fruit.”
“Ah, strawberries smell like fruit? I’d’ve never guessed.” Her eyes turned icy until I handed her the teal bowl of fruit-smelling strawberries with a rather large mountain of whipped cream standing like a mud castle on a berry beach. I seemed to be forgiven.
“Question:” She proposed, stopping for a second.
“Hm?” I replied, scraping the edge of my fork around the inside of my bowl.
She broke the semi-serious tone with a smile and, “Why do get up so early?”
“I dunno. I like my breakfast fairly well. Whipped cream and Saturdays are best friends, after all.” It’s not that I wanted to wake up early. I just did, like several other things in my life. I always woke up early, and there seemed to be no reason to change that.
“Poor Saturday.” She took another bite of the fruit as she voiced what she’d no doubt just been thinking. She’d always eat the fruit first, no matter how sour it was, and then she’d devour the whipped cream in reflective shovelfuls. “All he gets to do is eat whipped cream and sleep.” She prepared another spoonful of blueberries. “He must never feel productive.”
“Naw, Saturday’s problem is that he isn’t appreciative of his sugary sleep,” I decided, gently clanging the empty bowl on my nightstand, and orienting myself back toward her.
“I take it back. Saturday does have a good thing about him. Everyone waits for him with listful ears. Not as much as his brother Friday, b—“
“Hold up, are all the weekdays related?” I interrupted. She and I thought for a moment.
No, not a moment.
I remember how she used to talk about the word, moment. To her, moments weren’t just segments of a relatively short time. She’d call them a handful of seconds, seconds that you remember exactly. This confused me for a long time, until I finally had one moment, two moments. It turns out you only get a couple of moments in a lifetime.
“Yes, of course!” She decided, jumping back into the conversation as if a couple of seconds hadn’t passed.
“Who’re their parents?” Sometimes, I didn’t know why I indulged these kind of conversations. Maybe it was because it was me stealing the indulgence, or, as once beautifully said, resistance was futile.
“They’d have to be the months.” Then, she continued in a tone that resembled a teacher’s, as if the intimate lives of the months were common knowledge that I was just now learning.
“And their parents?” Might as well finish off the family tree, I thought.
“The years. But only the best of the years long, long ago got married and had the months. Now, all the years are too sullen and egotistical to commit to settling down and having a month. The months are like that too. They’ve settled down, had their one or two kids and moved on in cyclical boredom.”
“Unit when?” Memories of a now forgotten dream tugged at the hairs on my neck.
“Forever,” she decided. Then, she rolled out of bed and began to get ready. Conversation slid along, mostly relating to school and the like. I don’t remember the details, no matter how much I wish I could. I guess I had some deep inkling that our friendship was special, but no part of my heart could have sensed how fleeting it would be. Yes, little did I know that within the next six months, we would do three things together, and I would do one thing alone.
We would attend a wedding.
We would kiss.
We would cry.
I would attend her funeral.