Writing & Writers

Ballade at Seventeen

"Everything is your choice."

Pallor was my favorite color of flesh. The three of us were walking down Olsen Ave., Nicole walked a few steps ahead of us. Henry paused at a kiosk and bought a paper with images of last night’s incident. Fire had taken several of the club goers while we were off somewhere else, smoking old weed. We arrived late to see the destruction. Nicole got the shivers and cried into my shoulder. With nowhere to go afterward, we headed back to Henry’s and did some drugs and fooled around until passing out, half-naked and on top of another. Sprawled out there on the floor of Henry’s bedroom.

Of the several people who met their maker that night, two of them were our friends. People we knew and loved well enough. Their parents were in a mess. Funeral homes were called, though it was all in tradition. I’m sure there wasn’t anything left of them after that. Identification would take some time, anyway. Funerals would have to wait. Either way, kids like us weren’t invited. We were gonna be shunned as friends who cause trouble are usually shunned.

Nicole stopped and peered into the window of a dress shop. “I’m gonna go inside and buy something for Regan’s funeral. She deserves a nice dress,” she said.

“They’re not gonna bury her,” I began, but Henry stopped me mid-sentence with a head shake.

“I’ll pay for it, Nicole,” he said. “We should all get something spiffy for the funeral, anyway.” He turned to me and smiled, “C’mon, then, Mackie. Let’s get you a nice, spiffy suit to match Nicole’s dress.”

Later, when we were sitting on the hill, watching the sunset behind the city, I asked her what it is she loved about me.

“I don’t love you,” she said. “Not like adults love other adults, anyway. I love the moments I’m with you, the experiences. But not you.”

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