April's Shade of Green

by alwaysflying

Author's Notes: This story presupposes that April waited some time after being diagnosed with AIDS before actually committing suicide. I think, however, that the story makes up for it.

I loved April.

No, I don't mean the sticky dewy springtime month that brings about kite-flying and soft rain. I mean April Ericcson, the kindest and most honest girl I've ever met. April. Her name matches her personality in that it's gentle, the month of April, just as April was gentle, though sometimes swayed by unrelated factors – springtime winds, or in her case, midnight injections into her always too-pale skin. But she would always sit there with me, no matter what the circumstance was, and no matter what we were doing, it would be together.

"Ape?"

"Yeah?"

"Could you look over these lyrics?"

"Sure. Read my poem?"

"Yeah."

There is a shuffle of notebooks shifting. Maureen's pink, glittery spiral notebook makes its way over to April's hands, and April's more modest notebook ends up with Maureen.

"What do you think?"

"It's really good. Just, maybe change this word here to something a little different, maybe less dramatic. You like my poem?"

"Yeah. It needs a title, though."

"Like what?"

"I don't know? Maybe name it after me?"

"Just for that, I'm keeping it untitled."

"Of course you are."

I loved April.

I loved her beautiful, rebellious blond hair that would look different every day. I loved her eyes, usually dominated by her drug of choice, which would appear light green to anyone who could get close enough to see them. They sparkled. I won't going to compare them to the grass, or the leaves, or anything else; I have always recognized that color as April green, and that is how I will process it forevermore.

"Well, guess who's all dressed up for a night on the town, eh?"

"Oh, shut up, Maureen, who asked you?"

"No, no, really, what's this? Your hair is – somewhat clean, the dirt's out from under your fingernails, and – ah! No pocket for your needle? Is this the fresh scent of withdrawal?"

"No." A grin. "It's strawberry kiwi, from your body wash, but after that nice, long shower I took, you're gonna need another bottle."

A soft chuckle. "I really like this dress on you."

"It's see-through, Reen."

"No, I like the color. I mean, it's transparent, but it's green. I like this green on you."

"Yeah?"

"Yeah. It brings out your eyes. When they're not all dilated, I mean."

"Well, thank you, Captain I'm-So-Perfect. Speaking of perfection, where is that delightful boyfriend of mine?"

"Roger is far from perfect, April, and he's out getting tampons."

"And this is his job… why?"

"Because he was the moron who threw them at Benny after he called Roger a junkie, and Benny ducked, and the box fell out the window."

"Shit."

"Yeah."

I loved April.

And she loved me. I could always tell. She would smile at me as we curled up on the roof together, looking at the stars. Every Friday night, we'd hit the clubs and get drunk, but Saturday nights were all about quiet lounging on the roof, sharing secrets and whispering tales of our sexual encounters with the Boho boys. We were best friends, April and I. It was just the way things were supposed to be.

"Roger and Mark'll never come up here, not in this weather."

"They think we're crazy. You think we're crazy?"

"Nah."

"I mean, we're two perfectly straight girls lying on the roof together in the middle of a snowstorm, curled up under a wool blanket that we stole off some guy at the Central Park fireworks display last summer.

"We're not crazy, Ape, we're just unique."

"I know. I love you, Maureen; did I ever tell you that?"

"Nope."

"Liar, I have definitely told you that."

"Told me what? I can't remember."

Rolled eyes. "I love you, Maureen Johnson."

"And I love you too, April Ericcson."

"Yeah, you better."

I loved April.

Well. There was one thing that could tear us apart, and we were all-too aware of it. Her HIV developed as a result of heroin, which I never had anything to do with – ever. As for sex, it's never been a secret that I like sex, but I've always been eerily conscious about using protection and making sure I was safe. April was never like that. She was all for immediacy, ignoring consequences until it was half a second too late.

SPEEEEAK.

"Hello, this is Janice Elbert from the Bellevue Hospital. I am calling to inform Miss April Ericcson that her HIV-detection test results are in. To view them and ask any questions you may have, please report to the hospital at your earliest convenience. Thank you. Have a nice day."

SPEEEAK.

"Hey, Maureen – you there? Listen, it's April – "

"Hey, what's up?"

"Well, Roger and I were at the hospital today, and…"

"Oh, god. For the test results?"

"Yeah."

Whispered: "Positive?"

"Yeah."

"Oh, Ape… I'm so sorry."

"I know. Me too."

I loved April.

I loved the way she was never too excited, or too depressed. She wasn't overly peppy or dramatic, like me, but never too quiet, like my beloved Mark, who could go for days without saying a word. She wasn't too on-and-off like Collins, or too cynical and jerky like Benny. She was just April. Stubborn, persuasive, honest, beautiful, kind, poetic, and expressive.

"Come on, Reen, take a hit."

"No."

"Well, I feel like an idiot doing this alone. Come on. You're being a baby."

"I am NOT, April. I just don't want to end up like you."

"What's wrong with ending up like me?"

"April. You have AIDS. Technically, that counts as something being wrong with you."

"I forget, sometimes."

"Forget what?"

"That I have AIDS."

A long silence.

"So?"

"So maybe it's not all that bad. You're gonna die too, eventually."

A haughty smile. "Once I'm famous."

"Maybe, maybe not. Something'll kill you, whether it's – pneumonia, or getting hit by a car, or AIDS. Something'll do it. You don't have to shoot up or have sex with Roger or… or anything. You're gonna die."

"April, seriously, all those injections are getting to you."

I loved April.

And sometimes there were the times when we had so little to say we would just say it all. Those were the times when April couldn't go up on the roof with me; it was too cold with her immune system being what it was, so we would just nestle in my bed together, not meaning anything sexual by it – just staring up at the glow-in-the-dark stars on the ceiling.

"Maureen?"

"Yeah?"

"Can you promise me something?"

"Sure, Ape, anything."

"Could you promise that – that when you're famous, you're still gonna remember me?"

"Of course. I thought that was a given."

"That, you know, when I'm gone, you'll still – you won't mourn for too long, just carry on with your life and always know that you lost someone to AIDS?"

"Yeah. Yeah, of course."

"So don't do what I did – shooting up, and stuff. I know you're smarter than that. Don't wreck your life just because I wrecked mine."

"Ape, don't be like this, please."

"Be like what?"

"Like you're gonna die tomorrow."

Blankets ruffling as April squeezes closer to Maureen.

"For all you know, I could."

I loved April.

I loved her right up until the moment when Mark and I found ourselves sponging up the bathroom floor while Roger sobbed in his bedroom. I even loved her ten minutes later, finding a crumpled-up note addressed to Roger in the pocket of her favorite skirt, now blood-stained and ruined. She wrote to Roger, and not to me, but that was all right. I knew she loved me.

"Hi. I'm Maureen Johnson. I haven't done a performance quite like this one before. But this is very meaningful to me. First off, I'd like to introduce everyone: the cameraman up there, see, that's Mark Cohen, and our background music is provided courtesy of Roger Davis. Directed by Tom Collins, produced by Benjamin Coffin III. This performance is dedicated to April Ericcson, and in honor of today being exactly one month after her death, I'll be performing sitting on this table rather than dancing as I will other performance nights…"