She had spent the last two days ignoring me. Turning her back so she couldn't see what I was saying. Hiding her eyes behind a veil of tangerine hair. Those eyes, which usually shone with such force, so uncharacteristically dull. Nearly breaking into me with half second looks before averting again. Assigning themselves an invisible target on the floor. Those eyes whose owner's heart had been broken a few too many times. But this time, I thought, she had done it to herself.
Emmett, Toby, and Wilke were still on their mini road trip. Their show had gone well, Emmett had texted. And there were a few bands at the festival that they wanted to check out before heading back. Emmett was gone. My brother was gone. Simone was busy with her new boyfriend. The only person I had to talk to wouldn't acknowledge my existence. The friendship we had so cautiously forged had fallen apart.
"Axe Girl" came out in full force. She appeared on sides of buildings, dumpsters, and playgrounds all around Mission Hills. She was the part of me I couldn't let go. Even if it meant attempting a friendship with a person I hardly knew. A person whose bright eyes pierced my dreams at night. Reading into me. Telling me what a horrible person I am. And how could you do this to me?
I walked past the living room and noticed her sitting out by the pool. I watched for a few moments as she slowly turned through pages of a paperback book. I pulled my phone out of my back pocket and sent her a text message. "Can we talk?" I could almost hear it vibrate. I watched as she picked up her phone and looked at it for a few seconds before putting it back down again. I sent another. "Daphne, please." I watched as she picked up her phone once more and repeated that sequence of actions. An unsure need to continue came over me. Text after pleading text. Time was lost on me. She didn't even bother picking up the phone to look at it. But I could see it in her. The slightest tinge of panic each time she felt the phone vibrate.
"I care about this friendship" was the last text I sent before it happened. Like a cyclone. Twirling in and out in a brief moment, leaving only destruction. She had screamed. Then I saw the phone make a small splash in the water. Undoubtedly breaking (not just) the phone. But perhaps ripping that tiniest thread that might have been holding us together. I ran out the door and onto the patio.
"What the hell is wrong with you?" I screamed at the back of her head. Of course she couldn't hear me. But it was like she could feel that I was there. She stood up and turned around, dropping the book to the ground. "Nine Stories" by JD Salinger.
"Bay, can you please just leave me alone," she both signed and spoke at once.
"I can't. I'm sorry." I spoke slowly, knowing that my signing wasn't always good enough for anyone to understand. "Just talk to me!"
"You wouldn't understand."
"Understand what?" I asked, trying to tread softly. Knowing what a miracle it was that she was saying anything.
"You don't understand what it is like to be me."
"Yes, I do. I am the only one who understands."
"No, Bay! You've taken everything from me! What more do you want?"
"What are you talking about?" I almost screamed.
"My mother, Ty, Liam, my entire life! And now you've taken... Em... Emmett too." And as she spoke the smallest of tears began to form in her left eye. I closed both of mine for a second and imagined that glow that used to radiate from hers.
"That's what this is all about? I can't believe you. All of this because of a boy!" My voice turned into a scream and hers followed suit.
"This is not about Emmett!" She took a step into me as she spoke.
"Then what?" I shouted. No response. The tear in her eye grew. Then became two. Then more. They gently fell down her cheek. A slow motion stop frame as one touches the stone ground below us. I tried my best to remain unaffected. The agitation in my voice grew. She couldn't hear it, but I knew she could perceive it. "What?"
In one swift motion her lips were touching mine, her hand on the back of my neck. Shock took over my body. I couldn't move. Couldn't think. Couldn't subsist. It wasn't until she sunk to the ground, crying, that my mind began to find its way again. I looked down at her and watched as she curled herself up. Hugging herself. Rocking back and forth. And then I knew what "what" was.
A door slam. In my brief freeze I had missed the telltale sonance that Daphne couldn't have heard if she had tried. From the other side of the house I heard a shout. My brother's voice.