Liz

“Friendship is important, but not friends, not really. People throw friends away. Even when they’re like family. They toss them out and find new ones.”

Illustration of a woman wearing a crucifix

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Well, I was going home from school. In June.

I did see the car. Just in the side of my eye.

Someone screamed something in my ear, it seemed like.

Oh, Jesus.

I was flying.

*

“Where’s my glasses?”

That’s the first thing I wrote down when I woke up, Mom told me. Later, she brought me my glasses case and opened it. It was just full of bits of plastic and glass.

What happened was …

What happened was the woman driving the car hit me hard and I flew into a car coming the other way that was stopped. That car had a hood ornament that looked like an angel. My head hit that angel and the wing went into my head.

“The wing broke into bits. They got all the bits out except one.”

“When will they take that one out?” I wrote.

“You’ll just have to live with it,” Mom said.

I’m living with it.

*

I didn’t have a lot of friends, anyway. I had two good friends. Ben and Yo-Yo. After high school, they stopped visiting. Sometimes they called, but then they stopped calling.

“That’s normal,” Mom told me. “Friendship is important, but not friends, not really. People throw friends away. Even when they’re like family. They toss them out and find new ones. You’ll find new ones. Ben and Yo-Yo don’t matter. Forget about them.”

I tried to forget about them.

I’m still trying.

*

I get headaches, I get migraines. I used to get seizures but the medicine helps. Nothing helps the migraines.

When the aura shows up …

I close my eyes.

I picture a silver wing flapping on a screen, like a movie.

When the pain fades, so does the wing.

The credits roll …

Then I open my eyes.

*

One morning …

I saw Dad standing on the lawn talking to — I wasn’t sure who. A blonde-haired woman wearing a crucifix. When she wasn’t rubbing her eyes, she was rubbing the crucifix.

I wondered what they were talking about.

When I opened the window a crack, Dad looked back. The woman looked over his shoulder. Right at me.

Dad kept talking but the woman … She wasn’t listening.

After a minute, she pulled a bicycle out of a bush and hopped onto it. She rubbed her eyes. She rubbed her crucifix. She looked back at me one more time.

She started pedaling.

*

You’re the only one on this planet. You’re the loneliest person on earth.

I try not to think that.

You’re the loneliest person on earth.

It only feels like that.

Millions of people are lonelier than me.

That’s what I tell myself. Over and over.

As many times as it takes.

*

I heard crying, so I came out of my room. My parents were both on the sofa. They were staring at — someone was sitting across from them, in the armchair.

It was the blonde-haired woman.

When she saw me, the woman sobbed even harder. Her makeup ran down her face, onto her crucifix.

Mom said: “This is Liz.”

Dad said softly: “She’s the woman — ”

I didn’t hear the rest. I didn’t have to.

The woman turned to me. She rubbed her face but that made it worse. She was a mess.

She held out her hand. There was mascara all over it. I couldn’t look at it. I looked at the floor.

Mom said something.

Dad said something.

I lifted my head.

The woman was still staring at me.

I wheeled backwards into my room.

I closed the door.

*

My hand fell into my cereal bowl and I started writing nonsense. Like I was possessed.

Mom rushed me to the hospital.

They squeezed me through a couple machines.

It wasn’t a stroke, the doctor explained, just a migraine. A rare kind. He talked to my parents alone for a bit. Then he sent me home.

“You’re going to be fine,” Mom said, closing the blinds.

I tried not to picture the wing.

I did anyway.

*

Liz came by one day when Mom was out getting my seizure medicine.

She knocked on the middle of the front door a million times.

Then she was knocking a lot lower down. Near the crack in the bottom of the door.

I just listened to her moaning.

Eventually, she went away.

*

I ran into Yo-Yo’s dad at the post office. He looked the same except for the mustache.

“Yo-Yo’s pretty busy. He’s still playing football. Starts school in the fall. Trade school. Wanted to be an engineer but he wasn’t serious. Cars are more his speed, machinery. He can fix anything, that kid. There’s good money in it. Your dad’s a mechanic, isn’t he? Or he used to be? There’s good money in it.”

I watched the fat drop of sweat growing on his forehead. It ran down his nose, into his mustache.

He swallowed.

I blinked.

He disappeared.

*

MOM: I can’t help it. I feel bad for her.

DAD: Should you?

MOM: She’s a lost soul.

DAD: We have one of our own.

MOM: Shh.

DAD: Fast asleep.

MOM: …

DAD: …

MOM: …

DAD: I feel bad for her, too.

*

Millions of people are lonelier than me.

It’s a big planet.

Millions of people are lonelier than me.

They have to be.

*

There’s a park not far from our house. You only have to cross one street to get to it.

When I was halfway across the bridge that goes over the duck pond, a woman on a bicycle almost rode into the water. She dumped her bike in the reeds and started walking fast towards me.

I’d’ve known who it was just from the sobbing.

I squeezed my wheels. I closed my eyes.

The sobbing got louder.

I squeezed the wheels harder, shut my eyes tighter.

Liz didn’t say anything. She just stood in front of me.

I counted to ten.

I counted to ten again.

I was getting a headache. I was breathing hard. I was picturing the wing.

You’re the only one on this planet.

You’re the loneliest person on earth.

Then the wheels started moving. Under my fingers.

I still didn’t open my eyes. I didn’t have to.

I could tell we were going … around the duck pond. Past the bird sanctuary. The playground.

After a while, the sobbing stopped.

I was breathing deep, but not as hard. My head hurt just a little.

Past the flower garden. The fountain. Across the street …

I was breathing alright, now. Surprisingly. I was feeling alright.

Eventually, the wheels stopped turning.

The wing disappeared. The credits rolled.

I opened my eyes again.

Mom was waving in the window.

Then the front door swung open.

Featured image: Rolli.

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Comments

  1. Well, I have to tell you, I’ve never read a story quite like this. It’s weird, awkward, embarrassing, degrading all at the same time. It even has a happy ending, I think. It’s very peculiar and out there Rolli, yet I still recommend reading it.

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