A Little Bit Like Crazy
The cool autumn air lingered slowly through the window crack, and the smell of cannabis still lingered on my shirt. Quin had his arms draped around me, this dumb look on his face as he sighed delicately in his sleep. As he pulled me tighter, all I could think about was the mistake that I had made the night prior. One single lapse in judgment had ruined one of the most beautiful relationships I had ever established, and now I was without Saoirse, the one thing that kept me alive in this world.
The whole prior night was a blur to me. I remembered showing up but never leaving, which I must have done since I was not at my house—I was at Quin’s house. His parents were not home, hence the party, and I woke to the sound of his sister Chantal humming some bland Top 40 song while making breakfast, a pleasant albeit off-key alert.
I tossed Quin’s spindly arms off of me and trudged out of his room, making my way silently to the kitchen to help myself to a sobering cup of coffee.
Chantal seemed surprised that I was up before noon but did not ask any questions as to why.
“You’re up rather early,” she poured me a mug and smiled in a motherly fashion. “Is there anything in particular you want?” She was only twenty-two, but she did do quite a bit for Quin’s family. She set a plate for Quin even though it would most likely be an hour before he woke.
“I’m alright for now,” I replied despondently. I knew Chantal was talking about breakfast, but I wanted something else. I was still trying to get the image of Saoirse out of my head. I still wished it was her I was waking up beside instead of Quin, who even when drunk was the most homosexual of platonic friendships.
“Are you sure?” Chantal sighed as she brewed herself a cup of tea. “You just seem a bit off, Astrid. You’re not normally this quiet.” This was true. Usually, the booming rasp of my alto could be heard echoing off the high ceilings of the McCartney household.
I nodded as if nothing was wrong. I sipped my coffee nonchalantly as if this was just another one of mine and Quin’s sleepovers where we talked about boys and gossiped and fell asleep by midnight.
It was not one of those sleepovers. This was a hung-over, heartbroken night that I was too ashamed to go back home afterwards.
Chantal did not prod with any more questions. She went back to humming her tune as I stared into my mug as if the meaning of life had floated to the bottom of it. I was never one to contemplate things like this. I was usually so carefree and lighthearted. Now that Saoirse was gone, my heart was the heaviest part of me and all I had were cares.
Quin woke up not soon after I had downed my entire mug of coffee, giving me this shrewd sort of look, like he knew something had been wrong. He had this perception about him since we were in the playpen together.
“Crazy night, eh, Astrid?” Quin sat down in the chair next to me, making a God-awful sound as it scraped across the linoleum of the kitchen floor.
“I’ve seen better,” I answered coolly. I still was not ready to discuss what had happened between me and Saoirse not even ten hours prior.
“What are you talking about?” Quin was far more excited than he was most mornings. “It was fantastic! Maybe it’s because you hadn’t seen much of me. I ruled that shit.” Quin was always one to be the center of attention.
“Yeah,” I muttered. “Maybe that’s what it was.” Oblivious, Quin smiled and delved into a giant stack of pancakes as I let my stomach sit empty. I was too upset to eat anything even though I was starving.
Chantal eyed her brother nervously. She and I both knew that he was getting a little bit out of control at these shindigs he threw, but there was nothing either of us could do to stop it.
“Astrid, do you mind helping me with the dishes?” she asked quietly, knowing that I wanted to avoid conversation at all costs right now.
I nodded silently and got up to assist with the chore. At home, I had four brothers and sisters. I barely got to pick which chore I wanted, and I thought that dishwashing was the least cumbersome.
I scrub each item into sparkling, spotless glassware and I looked longingly into the sharp edge of one chipped plate. I could feel the pain that Saoirse felt the previous night as I ran my fingertip against the jagged ceramic. It made me feel closer to her.
“Astrid, your hand is bleeding,” Chantal squeaked as she handed me a towel. “Be careful! I know that these dishes aren’t in the best of shape, but you need to watch a little more closely.” At first, I did not understand. I was just trying to reconnect.
Within seconds, blood was dripping down my index finger, a warm tingling feel that was both fulfilling and disappointing. All I ever wanted was for Saoirse to be okay, and now I did not think that could ever be possible. Neither of us could ever be okay.
I wiped my hand down and continued working as if nothing had happened. I was not avoiding any issue. I was just distancing myself for the time being.
All I could think about was what she was doing at this very moment, and I knew I would probably never find out.
The first time I met Saoirse I was in the seventh grade. Entering middle school was tough for me. I was the oldest child, so I was the first to embark on such a journey. I did not have an older sibling to warn me about non-vegetarian-friendly school lunches or sticking lockers or teachers that refused extra credit. I was all alone because Quin was at a Catholic school at the time. I had to fend for myself.
That was, until I saw her. Then everything changed.
I walked into room 229 and there she sat. She was quite delicate, rather petite and pale, her hair in one single braid that fell loosely over her left shoulder. She seemed overwhelmed by her own beauty, quiet and mild-mannered, thrust into this uniformly obnoxious public school system.
I was never one to branch out and make new friends. I had four built-in playmates in my own home, plus Quin and his gang of rich kids on the weekends. I had all I ever needed, but in that instance, I thought I needed more.
I shuffled over to the desk in front of her. She was burrowing her nose into a copy of Walden, engrossed in Thoreau’s literary mystique. “Do you mind if I sit here?” I asked shyly as I pointed to the desk.
“Be my guest,” she said monotonously, never lifting her eyes from the pages of the novel. A little dissatisfied, I sat down anyway, and I refused to stop pestering her until she looked up.
“What’s your name?” I continued, my voice cracking a little.
She sighed and finally looked up. “Saoirse Osborne. Also, I really don’t like to be disturbed while reading.” She was really displeased, but her eyes seemed to go the other way. She looked sad. These glowering hazel orbs were the most emotive part of her face and they did not match the words coming out of her mouth.
I shut up, and I let her continue reading. I did not know what had come over me. It was something different than I had ever felt before. I did not make friends easily, so I usually just gave up. This time, I really wanted to keep trying.
The teacher tediously went over rules and procedures, but I really did not pay attention. All throughout class, I was anxious for the bell to ring, just so I could speak to her again. Something about her was really elusive, and to thirteen year old me, it was intriguing.
The doodles that patterned Saoirse’s notebook were like nothing I had ever seen before. Swirls of blackness intertwined were engulfed by these creatures, dark swoops and angry, jagged lines patterning the binding. She drew viciously throughout the teacher’s discourse, her sneaker-clad feet tapping against the floor.
I analyzed the back of her head like art, her long, dishwater-blond hair lying flat. Still, in all its plainness, her locks were beautiful to me. The back of her neck was long and slender, a slight scar extending to her left cheekbone.
She turned around and stared at me for a slight moment, as if she had caught me doing something wrong, but then she turned around. I proceeded to examine her mannerisms. I wanted to know how this girl ticked.
The bell rang not soon after our educator had finished his lecture on how to raise your hand and how our final would be worth half our second semester grade. I was going to bolt to the door out of angst, but Saoirse stepped in front of me.
“So, Astrid Fitzgerald. That’s your name. Why couldn’t you have just waited for mine during roll call like a normal person?” She had a silly look on her face like she was joking, but I still could not tell if she was being sarcastic or if she was genuinely offended.
“I’m sorry,” I stammered. “I, well, I was just looking for a friend.” It was probably the stupidest statement to ever come out of my adolescent mouth.
“Well, now you have one.” Saoirse stuck out her thin, pallid hand and gave one hell of a shake. “See you around, Fitzgerald.” She winked and left the classroom, leaving me standing there like an idiot.
That was the day Saoirse and I officially became friends, the day I knew I would never be able to live without her. Little did I know I could barely live with her, either.
I shut my phone off for the rest of the day. I walked home from Quin’s house, a fifteen minute journey if I took back roads. Chantal offered me a ride, but I needed some time to think. I needed to be alone. I did not want anyone calling to ask if I was okay, or if Saoirse was okay, or what was happening between us. It was not open for discussion just yet.
The trek home was relaxing. The air was brisk for being late May, and the dewy grass squelched under the treads of my shoes. It was just hitting me that within two weeks, I would be a high school graduate. I would never have to walk this trek home again if I did not want to. I would never have to see any of these people again.
There was just a single part of me that wondered what she was doing right now, and if she was having these exact same thoughts.
God knows I wish she did.