DAISY CHAINS by BLUE COUTELL an episodic novelette
episode nine: following fate
Ivy is not dressed for the temperature, but she wants to show off her new dress. The denim jacket just ruins the look. The night creeps in darker and darker. Naomi was supposed to be here an hour and a half ago. Ivy just sits in the damp grass, pulling the green out in a malicious boredom. Maybe she isn’t coming. The longer she is out past curfew, the more hell she is going to catch from her parents. She gets up from the grass, letting it itch her bare skin. She starts the walk to Naomi’s house, the light clunk of her cowboy boots on the concrete. Venturing a guess, Naomi is either too caught up in her own world or her parents are on her about something. Naomi has a bad habit of making a big fight about the little things, like dishes. Naomi is a fighter. They are going to hit the road after high school. Naomi has a lead on a van, and they are going to Jack Kerouac their way through the states for no reason other than to do it. Ivy even bought Naomi black cowboy boots with a line of fringe going down the side. Naomi is going to get away from her oppressive parents with their rules and heavy expectations, and Ivy is just going to get out of the box she seems so hopelessly contained in. It would be Ivy, the love of her life, and the open road. She wants nothing else. Peace, love, freedom. She slings the denim jacket over her shoulders, tripping over something on the ground. Ivy falls forward hard, skinning her knees on the concrete. Her sight finds a foot. Black cowboy boots with fringe down the side. Her heart races and a nervous sweat slicks her skin as she realizes the person she just stepped on is the only person who matters. She grips Naomi’s hand and realizes it matches the cold of the air. Naomi’s head is split at the hairline. Bits of broken skull protrude in thick flakes. The blood that ran down her face thickens her hair and pools beneath her head. In the dark the blood looks black. Instinctively she grabs Naomi’s cheeks to bring her back to consciousness. Naomi’s jaw remains slack and open. With a moment of bravery, she looks into Naomi’s open eyes, praying for a spark. Praying for anything. Shock sets in and Ivy loses feeling in her fingers. She screams for help, but it sounds garbled and unreasonable, not at all like it should. The street is eerily quiet; no one is here except for her. She screams for help again. She gets to her legs, stumbling along in her stupor. She bangs on the nearest door. It takes a moment for a light to flash on and the door to open. The man inside shows no concern for the teenage girl with tears in her eyes and blood on her hands. “Call the police,” she sobs and stutters. “My friend needs an ambulance.” He pokes his head out of the door, either in grotesque curiosity or disbelief. “PLEASE.” Her plea did not sound like her voice. He nods curtly at her and shuts the door without another word. Ivy runs back, nearly skinning her bleeding knees a second time. She grabs Naomi’s hand. “Wake up,” she tells her. “We haven’t even graduated yet, babe. We haven’t even seen any buffalo.” She puts her hand on Naomi’s chest, willing it to breathe. Beat. Anything. She was so still. Ivy hears the sirens nearing, but it only made her cry harder.
The EMTs shove her away. The police just have questions. All she knows how to say is “I don’t know,” or “I found her that way.” No one even gives her anything to wipe her hands off with. The blood just stains deeper and deeper. She doesn’t need to ask; she knows Naomi is gone. One of the officers asks her if she’d like to ride with them to Naomi’s parents, all the while zipping the love of her life into a black bag. Ivy shakes her head and starts walking down the road, the sound of her boots loud in the dark. Someone is calling out to her. She is deaf to the world as a ringing invades. Ivy can’t see through the tears developing faster than she can wipe away. Her limbs are numb, and her brain is moving too quickly. Naomi is dead. Jack Kerouac’s On the Road is gone. Love is dead. Life as she knows it is gone. As for the rest, it didn’t seem to exist in the first place. The stacks of unfinished homework on her desk mean nothing. The pretty dress she put on for Naomi means nothing. Smoking marijuana behind the school just to feel dangerous means nothing. The only thing that means anything is gone. Blood on the hands. Hole in the soul. A heart turned to pulp. Ivy feels empty. The only thing that kept her running like gasoline was Naomi. She’d gone so long with nothing to grab onto in her depression. No one noticed, behind the smiles. Without Naomi she was strictly invisible. She was nothing. When she gets to the train, the harsh lights prove Ivy’s worse with her bleeding knees worse. The blood on her pretty new dress. She attracts a couple of stares; she still can’t feel her hands or feet. Her face feels like it’s missing. She steps toward the edge of the platform, looking for the light of the train. It felt especially cold. She looks down at her numb feet. Through her shins she feels the vibration of the train approaching. She wonders how hard it would be to just walk the one step forward into the nothing. How hard could it be? A hand on Ivy’s shoulder shocks her out of her suicidal reverie. She looks over at a pretty girl. She has dark hair. Almost black, and an angular nose, with high cheekbones. She is striking. They both stand on the precipice. They both stand together. They knew nothing of each other, yet they both wait for the train light to near. Then Ivy finds feeling in her hand, when it is encased in the strange girl’s. The girl leads her away, and Ivy follows fate.