Witches' Rave Part 3: Firecracker
By Andrew Jimenez
My sophomore year in high school, I read in the newspaper that Sarah and her mother died on I-95 early one morning when Sarah fell asleep at the wheel and her car took a nosedive off an on-ramp. Stylistically edited sequences of a car sliding and tumbling across pavement flashed through my mind as I read. The article had no photo accompaniment.
I had only seen her once since that night we kissed on my parents' loveseat. It was the following Halloween. We met accidentally while trick-or-treating - I as a ghost and she as herself. She was wearing a black shirt that said, "This is my Halloween Costume!"
I don't really remember, but we probably talked about how school was going so far - my end a reluctant positive to her undoubtedly negative. I do, however, remember vividly our visit to the last house in the neighborhood because the old widower who lived there treated with king-sized Milky Ways. We were the last kids out that night. Taking our tender time between houses. The sky was at the "magic hour," when night and day forget they are opposites and mingle in a cloak of gothic purple.
When we got to the old man's door, he told us he only had one bar left. Being a gentleman - and thinking she would split it - I let him give it to Sarah. As we walked back towards our street, she began to eat it.
"Man, I lucked out there, huh." A nugget smile, coated in pure milk chocolate, slowly, almost invisibly yellowing her inanimate enamel mouth.
"Yeah, Milky Ways are my favorite." Nudge, nudge. Hint, hint.
"Yeah, they're awesome - especially when they're king-sized," as she ate the whole thing - without offering me even the last sticky sweet bite.
I kept it hidden, but I'll never forget how unimportant that made me feel. Collectible. Like an inanimate object unfulfilled of my purpose gone dusty on a shelf among too many others just like me.
Sarah was grounded from going to a friend's party that night because of a Halloween prank involving her brother's sneakers and two raw eggs. So while my parents went out dressed as young lovers from the '50s to a Halloween party of their own, we stayed up late watching B-horror movies on TBS. We didn't kiss again, though we didn't pretend not to want to.
Not long before Christmas, Sarah's family mysteriously moved off the block, leaving the bank no choice but to put their house up for foreclosure. Not having spoken to her since that Halloween, I was glad that at least the article on her death gave some information about what she had recently been up to. Closure. She and her mother had apparently made up, she was not known to have been on any drugs when she died, and the reason she had fallen asleep at the wheel was that she had been working the graveyard shift with her mother's cleaning company, to earn money for when she started school at Florida State the coming fall.
That night I had a dream about Sarah. We were on my parents' loveseat again, except when we kissed, her lips froze and turned blue. The lights that danced through the sliding doors were now demonic, menacing. Monochromatic waves of red as if a witches' rave flashed around us. Her bare waist felt like cold clay against my palm.
• • • • •
Vanessa and I are still friends to this day, and if you're the type to believe in that sort of thing, you could say our spirits are forever linked; although I tend to think a good friendship is just something that never falls apart. I've never told her about how I think Sarah is the significance of the letter S in my life; although I no longer believe in magic, psychic power, or spirits and the afterlife, I can't help but look to Sarah's death for some sort of guarantee. Some kind of definite answer to a question about life that I can't even formulate but am obsessed with knowing. Someone my age, that I knew well, that I physically touched and was touched by, is now dead while I go on living; although I know now that Sarah's death for me was the catalyst in a long process of realizing there is nothing we get in exchange for living, I can't help but wonder what makes me any more special than her. Why have I survived death this long?
Gradually, I've come to terms with there being no eternal reward for living, no fair deal, no signing on the dotted line, no coupons, returns, or exchanges. I've come to believe this, slowly, like how a star's death comes in flickering stages. And when it dies, it creates a vacuum called a black hole, sucking in all knowledge existing around it. I can't tell if it's because she was so young, or that the last time I saw her we'd fallen asleep in front of the TV, and when I woke, she was gone - thus heaving my raving innocence into extinction like a flower blooming in reverse, or a star in a field of weeds suddenly realizing it's only a firecracker.
Published July 1, 2007
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