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nowhere as strange as now

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The winter comes later and later each year.

Kim turns eighteen in the middle of December and there's still no hint of snow. The leaves are as dry as the skin on her hands. What remains of them anyway. The leaves, not the hands. Kim still has both hands. No cast even. Her mom is happy about the lack of medical drama. And the ground is mostly bare and hard as Kim walks over it with her new harness boots.

Last night she had a dream. She was an Amazon queen, and she wore a short leather skirt with armour that made her boobs look huge, and Kim isn't that flat to begin with. For an Asian girl. Or half Asian anyway. The part that counts.

So Kim was an Amazon queen, and she had the armour plate, and she had a sword.

But then Ms. Archer was there, and she was grabbing Kim by the ears, dragging her kicking and screaming to a tree, where she hung Kim upside down, like in the Hanging Man card. Except in the Hanging Man card, if you invert it, the man is standing straight up again. This was the thought Kim clung to, trying to invert her dream, trying to squeeze it to the right frame with the force of her mind.

Ms. Archer's hair smelled like strawberries.

You can't get good strawberries in Toronto at this time of the year. Though sometimes Kim stops by the fruit markets, the ones that arrange boxes of out of season apples and pears in front of their door and keep that door open, so that their one person manning it has to bundle up in a coat, scarf, and woolen mittens. It must be hard to handle money with woolen mittens, Kim thinks. It's hard enough to run the cash register even without mittens. She knows. She got a job at Yogen Früz because her mom made her, and Yogen Früz was the only place that hired her. Well, Yogen Früz and a dinky little beauty salon on Bathurst, but Kim wasn't going to make a fool of herself even for extra CD money.

The only fruit Kim's mom buys in December are clementines. There are boxes and boxes of clementines in their house because they give them to family friends. Kim hates clementines because she hates citrus. Too sharp and too painful. She tries to chase the taste out with a cigarette, and her mom doesn't even pretend to scold her anymore, as long as Kim smokes outside because smoke inside the house gives her mom headaches.

That's another way Kim knows she's getting older.

She's almost done high school now. Just four more months to go and she'll finish grade thirteen.

"Hooray," she says softly into the air. There's still no snow, not yet.



Lisa's gone.

That's what everybody at school says. They never say it out loud, as if the very force of the words will break a taboo. Except for Julie Peters but Julie Peters says everything too loudly anyway, and Julie Peters might have gotten a secret abortion last year. So there.

Lisa's gone though. She skipped town with a guy from St. John's. Kim saw her a week before she disappeared, when Lisa showed up at her house at night and crawled through her window. They lay in bed together, and Lisa showed her pictures of Michael (not bad looking, Kim thought, but what a nose), and then talked about the deep philosophical conversations she and Michael had. "He's such a complex thinker," Lisa had said, wrapping her legs around Kim's casually. "He can quote Barthes. Do you even know who Barthes is? He can quote Nietzsche too, but that's not special. Every pretentious asshole with a soy latte can quote Nietzsche."

"Not me," Kim had said, which was a confusing sentence because it wasn't obvious what she said she wasn't. Not a pretentious asshole? Not a Nietzsche quoter? Maybe if she'd been clearer, she thinks absurdly, Lisa wouldn't have left. Lisa didn't even tell her about her plans. It was just like one day Lisa's phone stopped working and everybody at school started talking.

But it's not as if Lisa's completely gone, vanished into thin air like those girls on milk cartons. Kim still gets postcards from weird places in Alberta. She puts them under her bed beside her old altar stuff and the Ms. Archer jar.

Kim never cleans under her bed. It's filthy there, but at least her mom doesn't notice.



"You should show me the witch stuff," Katie says, tilting her head. It's an old habit of hers because it used to make her hair fall over like a shimmering waterfall (not Skim's words, and not Katie's either, but someone's). These days it doesn't work so well because Katie cut her hair short last month. Just took a pair of scissors into the bathroom and did it herself.

She says it's Kim's influence. Kim doesn't know if she should feel proud or not. But Katie looks good. Harder and tougher, though she still has a tendency to crack up giggling whenever Kim does anything to remind her of a Monty Python sketch. Katie's easy to make laugh, as it turns out. Not being constantly reminded of a dead ex-boyfriend will do that to you, apparently.

"I don't do the witch stuff anymore," Kim says, pulling down her school sweater so that it covers as much of her knees as possible. They're in Katie's living room and they're eating cheese on crackers. They're listening to Pink Floyd on Katie's portable sound system, which she got for Christmas last year. Kim is jealous of the sound system and wants one of her own, but she'll have to save up because working at Yogen Früz doesn't get her that much extra money.

"Why are you so interested?" Kim asks, narrowing her eyes. "You've never been interested before."

"A lie and a lie," Katie scoffs. "I asked before but you got all sullen and shut me down. And I know you still read your tarot cards." She pronounces the t.

"You don't say it like that," Kim says.

"Whatever," Katie says.

"I like my tarot cards," Kim says. "They help me think. They give my hands something to do. Plus they're artistic."

"And they have to be given to you, right? Or they don't work. I remember you saying that." Katie's buzz short hair makes her head look like a rock, Kim thinks. A fuzzy, badly dyed rock. Katie's roots are showing. "Who gave you those cards? Was it Lisa?"

"No," Kim lies.

"Show me the witch stuff."

"There is no witch stuff," Kim says.



She remembers it sometimes. It's like a recipe. Use a recipe often enough and you never really forget. You don't even need the book anymore to tell you how to scramble those eggs or make pasta for two.

Blend acacia and frankincense together to make Osiris Incense. Burning an odd number of black cumin will get rid of the Evil Eye. Van van oil can bring you good luck and break bad spells. Elderberries picked on Midsummer's Eve and hung over your door will bring you protection.

Kim doesn't use any of it anymore (if she did at all, because elderberries picked on Midsummer's Eve are kind of hard to get, especially since Midsummer's Eve is the same day you have to spend out with your dad and his new girlfriend). She does still light the tea candles sometimes, whole rows of them. Then she lies down on her bed and pretends that she's a body in a crypt, resting there for hundreds of years. The lights press shadows over her eyelids, and usually her mom comes in and demands what the hell she's doing, is she trying to burn the entire house down?

They have insurance. Probably.

Kim thinks her mom wouldn't actually be that sad if the house did burn down, but this is just a hunch.

Kim never lets it happen though, because if something like that did happen, they would have to find a new house, and it would probably be shittier than their old house. Rising housing costs and everything complicated that Kim doesn't understand. She might even have to change schools too, and while a part of her doesn't care (maybe the girls at public school would be less prissy), there's Katie.

Kim likes Katie. Katie is smart and surly and laughs ridiculously when she forgets to be self-conscious. Katie has wildly graceful hands too. They move like sparrows when she gestures, and Katie gestures a lot. Katie lets Kim draw on her hands when they finish lunch early and go out to the ravine behind the school where they lie down on the grass and rocks, not caring if they get stains all over their skirts. They're not supposed to be there, but no one ever comes looking.

Kim draws a heart, a jagged star, and a pentacle on Katie's wrist.

"See? You do still like the witch stuff," Katie smirks.

"It's just a picture," Kim says. "You don't have to make a big deal out of it."

She really, really wants to kiss Katie.



Since Lisa and Ms. Archer, Kim has kissed one other girl. Harpreet, who works at Yogen Früz alongside Kim and has a lot of the same shifts because they're both high school students while everybody else at the store is university age or older. Harpreet wears deep red lipstick so that her mouth looks like bruised berries, and one time they were closing up the shop at night. Kim likes the night shifts. They're quieter and there are fewer assholes, because drunk people generally don't want frozen yogurt.

At the end of the shift, Harpreet was carrying the garbage out to the back when all of a sudden she said, "I've been thinking."

"About what?" Kim asked, wiping down the counter.

"Ever kissed a girl?" Harpreet said, and well, that came out of nowhere. But Kim squared her shoulders and put down the cloth.

"Yeah," she said, "plenty."

So Harpreet put down the garbage bag and kissed her.

It was weird. Neither of them were very good at it, and afterwards Harpreet laughed and went to throw out the trash. When she came back, it was like she'd forgotten what had happened. Straight girl bisexual amnesia, Kim thought, and tried to be mad about it, but she couldn't bring herself to care. Harpreet was nice, but Kim wasn't panting after her or anything.

Kim went home and painted her nails wine bottle green.

Then she lay on her stomach and read a Margaret Atwood novel she got out of the library. Cat's Eye. The librarian who recommended it said it was about the powerful and dangerous relationship between a group of girls. Kim finds she likes Atwood a lot. She's so brittle and precise.

She's been reading a lot these days. Not just Shakespeare anymore. Actually, Kim hates Shakespeare now, because what the hell did he know? Old Elizabethan fogey. None of it was real.



"I wish it would snow already," Katie says, looking up at the sky. Her scarf is wrapped around her neck like a stranglehold, and Kim wants to unwrap it for her. Put a hickey there, maybe. Kim feels her face warm at the thought.

"Why?" she asks instead. "Snow sucks. You've got to shovel the sidewalk and it blows into your face. It gets your hair all wet."

"I don't have much hair to get wet anymore," Katie replies, which is true. "Besides, my family loves Christmas, and it's just not the same without snow." She peeks at Kim from behind her lashes. "You probably think I'm a sap, right? I bet Lisa never said shit like that."

Katie likes to compare herself to Lisa a lot. Kim doesn't understand why. Katie and Lisa are nothing alike, and Kim doesn't want that to ever change.

Kim got an a Grande Prairie postcard from Lisa yesterday, filled with seemingly random jot notes about bars and drinking ages and burlesque and the smell of leather on Michael's skin when she fucked him. Kim's still thinking about how to respond to that one, and what creeps her out is that Lisa drew a smile at the end. Lisa and smiley faces is a combination Kim never thought would happen. Maybe it was supposed to be ironic.

Katie draws a smiley face on her letters all the time. Not that Katie writes Kim letters when they can just see each other at school. Or talk to each other on the phone, but Kim doesn't like phoning. It's so eerie just hearing the other person's voice. She always ends up imagining them as a disembodied talking head. The only reason Kim knows what Katie's letters look like is because Katie writes to her cousins every few months instead of doing homework.

"Make a spell that'll summon snow," Katie orders.

"Fuck off," Kim says, but she's smiling, and today her nails are electric pink. Katie picked the colour out for her when they were supposed to be buying batteries for a project at Shoppers Drug Mart. Kim looks at it more closely in math class, tilting it so that she can get the maximum sunlight from the window. Katie's superb at painting nails. She never gets it over Kim's nail beds the way Kim would if she did it herself. She looks more closely. Pink is really not her colour. She likes it anyway.



Kim is late on her university applications. Actually, she hasn't even really started because she doesn't know where she wants to go.

"You should be an English teacher," her mom says. "You're always reading."

"Fuck no," Kim says.

"Don't swear in front of me," her mom snaps.

So Kim walks to the other room, stares at the cabinet, and says "fuck no" again, more quietly.

"I was thinking about the Ontario College of Art," Kim tells Katie later. "But I don't know. I don't think my art is that good, and I don't know if I want to do it professionally. It seems like a lot of stress. Like it'll suck out your desire and turn you into a drone." She says this as she doodles on Katie's arm, repeating swirling patterns that Katie will have to wash off with soap later because it looks like a tattoo.

"You're really smart, Skim," Katie says. The nickname sounds different when it's coming from Katie's lips. Kim likes it even. "If you studied harder and showed up to class more often, I bet you could pull off great second semester marks and get into whatever university you want."

"You're not getting it. I don't want to go to university," Kim says. "What the hell would I do there? What the hell are you going to do there?"

"I'm going to be a doctor," Katie says confidently.

"So where have you applied then?"

"McMaster. Queen's. Alberta. UBC. U of T."

"St. George campus?" Kim asks.

"What are you on? Of course St. George campus," Katie says. "Jeez. Like I would want to live in Mississauga. Or worse, Scarborough."

"There are witches in Scarborough," Kim says idly. "Mississauga too, I bet."

"Really?" Katie asks curiously.

"I know some of them," Kim says. Her tongue feels heavy in her mouth. She looks up at Katie, who has a zit on her chin. The rest of Kim's body follows her tongue into dryness, but she pushes past the sensation and says, "You should stay in Toronto though. I will too. We should get an apartment together. One of those shitty places in the Annex, where we can chase rats and patch leaky ceilings."

Katie snorts.

"Is that a yes or no?" Kim asks. She tries to make it sound casual, but Kim is pretty terrible at making anything sound casual. It's the eyes, she thinks. Ms. Archer was right. Kim does have very serious eyes.

"I don't know! I don't know!" Katie says helplessly. "If U of T accepts me, then sure. I don't want to move that far anyway. It seems like it'd be a hassle."

Kim wants to tell Katie that once, she and Lisa devised an entire fake future for her as the girl whose boyfriend was gay and killed himself. She wants to tell Katie that she's sorry for it.

She wants to know what Katie's sparrow hands would feel like against her face, against her mouth.



Kim is supposed to buy Christmas presents. So she and Katie climb into Katie's mom's car, and Katie jangles the keys because she's just passed her road test and can now be as much of a driving menace as she wants. That's what Kim tells Katie, but Katie is actually a very good driver.

Kim doesn't drive. The idea of it makes her feel nauseous. She doesn't like being in traffic, even when Katie takes the road slow. Even when Katie says cheerfully, "Chinatown! We're going to Chinatown!"

"Oh my god," Kim groans from the backseat, "it's like you're more Asian than I am."

It's easier to take the TTC to Chinatown. They could just get off at the Spadina Station and then board a streetcar, or they could walk. Kim's made the trip before with her mom, and once with Lisa because you could get funky shit in back alley Chinatown shops. But Katie wants to drive, even if it means circling for a parking spot until Katie gets harried and starts honking. Kim doesn't pay attention because she's already put on her headphones to sink into her own world. She's thinking about her Amazon queen dream again, and how it felt to be strung upside down with her blood rushing to her head. Then they're parked and Katie is reaching into the backseat and poking her on her shoulder.

"Hey stupid, we're here."

"It's a bad idea to call me stupid when I'm supposed to be your native guide," Kim says.

"You're not Chinese, you're Japanese. And only you're only half Japanese, so you're only about a quarter qualified," Kim retorts. She's beautiful in the December sun. She has on a red plaid skirt with red leggings, and her coat is almost too big for her. It's leathery, like Michael's. Kim swallows the ball in her throat and gets out of the car.

Kim likes Chinatown. There's no Japanese equivalent in Toronto, so Chinatown is as close as she'll ever get. There are more Asians here than anywhere else, and for once it's Katie who sticks out, not Kim. They walk along Spadina, poking into the stores. Katie's buzzing with energy, and she walks nearly faster than Kim can keep up. Kim doesn't remember seeing Katie this happy in a long time. It's not that Katie's still moping over John. That was almost two years ago. But university applications and Julie Peters have been making Katie grit her teeth when she talks again. Today it's like it's all different, like none of that matters.

If Kim pretends, she can almost imagine that it's a date. She and Katie are girlfriends, and if she were to walk forward and put her hands in Katie's pockets, Katie would lean back against her. And they'd scandalize all the elderly Asian men crouching on their haunches, smoking.

They stop for lunch at a pan-Asian restaurant. Kim orders kake udon. Katie orders a platter of dim sum. Kim gets watermelon juice. Katie gets this drink Kim has never heard of: lychee bubble tea with huge tapioca chunks that float around her plastic cup like pinballs.

"I bought you something," Katie says.

"You did?" Kim asks skeptically. She's been following Katie all afternoon. There's no way Katie could have sneaked off and bought a gift on her own.

"Don't be an asshole. Of course I did," Katie says. She takes Kim's skepticism for something else. "You're pretty much my only friend from school now."

"Sorry," Kim says, jabbing her straw.

"I don't mind," Katie says. "I like it better than it was before."



It snows, finally.

Kim leans out of the bus shelter and catches snowflakes on her tongue. They're probably dirty with industrial waste, she thinks, but what the hell. They melt into water and she swallows the water down.

There were three things she used to do in the snow:

Write in it
Bury things in it
Bottle it and use it to wash her hair

Lisa used to say that the chemicals in snow were actually good for your hair. It toughened it up.

Kim doesn't do any of that this year.

She does go sledding with Katie though, and when the sled tumbles over at the bottom of the hill, Katie is sent flying on top of her. She hits Kim's belly with an oof, and Kim gets a nose full of Katie's fuzzy hair. It's freezing lying in the snow like that, and water is seeping down the collar of Kim's oversized coat that she got from Salvation Army because it looked like something a soldier would wear, with its epaulettes. Katie doesn't even bother to get up. She just lies on top of Kim and sighs, like this is something she does often.

Kim's heart is pounding so hard, there's a good chance her entire body is shaking with it.

Why am I so fucking unsubtle? Kim thinks as Katie finally scrambles to her feet.

"Let's do that again," Katie says.

"Okay," says Kim.



Kim doesn't write much in her diary anymore. There's no particular reason why she stopped. Maybe it's because she has less time now, what with being Katie's best friend and working shifts after school. There are times when she misses writing things down, but there's one part she doesn't miss: reading it all over again.



She gets a letter from Lisa in January. An actual letter, three pages long, with a postmark from B.C. Her mom takes it in with the rest of the mail and leaves it lying on Kim's bed. Kim finishes her homework and clips her nails before she touches it. She likes the waiting.

There's a photo too, Lisa and Michael, posing in front of their car. It's a pretty boring photo, but Kim stares at it hard, trying to see every difference that she can in Lisa. Lisa's hair looks darker, like she dyed it a shade deeper, and she looks like she's gained a bit of weight too. Maybe she's pregnant, Kim thinks. Oh shit, Lisa better not be pregnant.

Remember when we were reading that Wicca book from the library and it told us how to make courage oil? We laughed and laughed, Lisa writes in her loopy handwriting. Well, guess what, yesterday Mikey was dicking around about a decision he had to make, so I thought what the hell. I made some of the oil for him, just to give him a boost (you can't believe how cheap some of this crap is in B.C). I don't know if it worked, but hey, it was definitely a flash back to the past. Missed ya suddenly, Skim. Smoked a cig thinking about you.

She misses Lisa too. It's hard to think about her. It feels like a toothache. She bets Lisa would never stare at another girl's cheek, trying to imagine what it'd feel like against hers. Lisa would go up to that girl and bend her over in a kiss or whatever. If she really wanted to. Lisa was always good at getting what she wanted, and that included getting out of here.



Kim still has the book. She sort of never returned it to the library, and they must have never noticed. She gets it out from underneath her bed and she turns to page forty-five.

Courage oil is easy to make. Kim gets Katie to drive her to a store that sells the right herbs. It's run by one of Kyla's friends. Kim doesn't tell Lisa what she's making though, and it's not like Lisa will know. Kim picks out cinquefoil, gardenia petals, rosemary leaves, jojoba and sunflower oils, and some pieces of High John the Conquerer root.

"What a weird name," Katie says.

Kim has her recent pay cheque from Yogen Früz cashed in. She peels out a twenty from her wallet.

"I knew you were still into the witch stuff," Katie says as they walk out of the store into the snow. Kim kicks at a snowbank in passing.

"It's not a big deal."

"I think it makes you cool. It makes you mysterious," Katie says.

"No, I bet you're thinking about the three witches in Macbeth. That's not cool or mysterious. That's just cliche." Kim's hands are cold as she grabs the handle of Katie's car door. She should have bought gloves instead.

"I hated that it was like, your and Lisa's thing," Katie says suddenly.

Kim fumbles with the handle clumsily.

"That's why," Katie says, and then she smiles and shrugs. "Oops, I guess."

When she gets home, Kim mixes all the ingredients together and puts it in an empty nail polish bottle. She looks at the book again but it doesn't really tell her what to do with the courage oil. Is she supposed to smear it over herself? Burn it? Drop it onto Katie's hands? There's absolutely no helpful clue.

Kim is starting to remember how hard it was, being a witch.



Katie says, "I had a dream about John last night."

"Yeah?" Kim looks up from their math textbook. Katie was lying when she said that Kim needed to study more. Kim studies plenty, just in a different way than Katie.

"I think we were playing volleyball," Katie says. Her feet are dangling off the edge of the couch. "I was waiting for him to set the ball up for me to spike it, but he never did. I think he kept waiting for someone else to show up. Someone who knew how to spike."

"You do kind of suck at volleyball," Kim remarks.

Katie turns over on her stomach so that she can look at Kim properly. Her eyes are unblinking, like a gutted fish's. "Who do you think it was? The boy he was in love with?"

"I don't know," Kim replies. "Was he actually gay?"

"I don't know either," Katie says slowly.

She pauses.

"He was a really good guy though. He always bought me popcorn at the movie theatre. He chewed the popcorn quietly too. My other boyfriend was always such a loud chewer. I hated that. He said I was cold and that I was probably a lesbian." Katie stops talking and Kim stops breathing. She fiddles with the frayed edges of the shawl that covers the couch; Kim's mom would hate that, but Kim's mom is still at work. "I don't believe in Heaven," Katie adds, minutes later. "I don't believe in God. I just believe in a place that's quiet. I think John would like that."

"He had good taste," Kim says. She immediately wants to take it back. Not because it isn't true, but because Katie's eyes are wider than ever now, and she's looking at Kim, really looking.

"I need to pee," Kim says. "And stop picking at the couch. My mom's going to throw a fit."

"Sorry," Katie says.

Kim's a pretty shitty person if she's making the girl whose boyfriend died apologize to her. She doesn't go to the washroom. She sneaks to the back porch and lights up a cigarette instead.



She wrote it once.

Things that make me sad:


Things that make me happy:


Being eighteen isn't much different than being sixteen, it seems, because it still plays the same mix track on Kim's insides.



The strange thing is, Kim starts noticing it with increasing regularity. The looks from Katie. The long, hard, terrifyingly thoughtful looks that Katie keeps shooting her in between class and during lunch hour and when she comes home with Kim after school and drops her bags in the front hall and kicks off her shoes. Kim doesn't think she should leave her bags in the hall with the shoes because the dirty snow will seep into the bags, but Katie doesn't seem to care.

Katie looks at Kim, and looks and looks at her, and she lets Kim draw in pen all over her arm, and even once with permanent marker because they were a little drunk then (thank you Katie's family).

Kim feels like she's burning.


It's such bad timing. They're going to graduate in a few months and Katie will go off to whatever university she wants to. Now is not the right time.

But is there ever a right time?

Katie will probably write to Kim when she's far away at university. Probably Queen's, because Lisa was right; it's just the kind of preppy place people like Katie would like. Kim doesn't think she could stand letters from Katie. It's bad enough with Lisa. She probably won't ever open any of Katie's letters. She'll let them sit on her bed for months, and then she'll make herself throw them out with the trash, because Katie's letters will be a poor substitute for Katie herself, and Katie will probably grow her hair back out and date handsome boys, and it'll make Kim want to die.

Change happens all the time, but it doesn't mean Kim has to like it.

But this is change too: one day, in the snow, and suddenly Katie is leaning forward in the driver's seat of her mom's car and her lips are cold and dry against Kim's.

"Oh my god," Kim says.

Katie pulls away hurriedly. She's blushing. "I'm sorry! I didn't mean to! I don't know what happened," she babbles. She jams the key into slot, trying to start up her car. She misses twice.

Kim puts her hands to her cheeks.

"Just forget it, okay," Katie says, throwing the engine alive, finally. "It was a bad idea. I lost my mind. Let's pretend it never happened." Her voice is rising higher and higher until it's almost squeaking. She looks like she wants to cry as she starts reversing the car out of the parking lot.

Kim kisses her.

Katie's mouth is pressed tight at first, but Kim kisses her softly until Katie's mouth opens, and then she's sighing against Kim, and Kim can feel her tears turn the kiss salty. Please don't cry, Kim thinks. Please don't cry. But then Katie is kissing back, tentatively, one of her hands coming to hold the back of Kim's neck. Kim presses forward, wanting to touch her even more.

The car crunches into a stop sign.



There aren't any leaves anymore, at all. The ravine behind the school where Kim and Katie sneak to during lunch has become just a tangled grove of skeleton trees now, until Kim takes up knitting and hangs little wool lanterns all over the branches. Katie loves it, but Katie, as it turns out, is in love with a lot of things: wool lanterns on dead trees, acing her final OAC exams, making out with Kim on the couch until their mouths are sore and they have to spring apart when Kim's mom comes home.

Katie's hands make Kim's heart feel like it's about to beat out of her throat.

"You're right," she says. "We should get a place together after we graduate. But not in Toronto though. I think I want to leave Toronto after all."

"We could go west," Kim suggests. "But I don't know what I'm going to do out west."

Katie turns her wrist where Kim has drawn an entire row of hearts and swirls.

"I think you should be a tattoo artist," Katie says.

"Yeah?" Kim asks. She puts her head on Katie's stomach. "You know, that's not a bad idea. I'll have to think about it."

She gets another letter from Lisa in February, followed by an invitation to a wedding. Kim opens it right away and puts the invitation on her dresser, smiling at it until Katie starts scowling because Katie, amazingly enough, is still fiercely jealous of Lisa.

In March, they visit John's grave. Kim leaves the bottle of unused courage oil beside the flowers, not because she thinks John will need it, but who knows; the afterlife seems plenty scary.

The snow melts in the beginning of April. Katie's arm is full of ink and her hair is growing out again. Kim holds onto it when she kisses Katie, and sometimes she tugs too. Katie actually goes a little wild when Kim tugs her hair, which is a discovery that Kim exploits shamelessly.

It's weird and it's awkward and it's stomach-fluttering and it's good. It's fucking good.

Kim sends Lisa a letter in May.

No more school, she writes, and there's leaves on trees again, and Katie is looking over my shoulder as I write this so I better keep it short. You never saw it coming, right? It's okay. Neither did I. I hope you and Michael are happy. We'll be coming to the wedding, don't worry. We're going to make a road trip out of it. Katie's driving, not me. You know that I hate driving. Oh yeah, and happy nineteenth birthday too. You've been an adult for a whole year now. I wonder if you feel like one.

"No one feels like an adult," Katie says. "Not even adults."

"You're just making that up the way you made up that story you told me yesterday, about Julie Peters and the gorilla," Kim accuses.

"And what are you going to do about it, Skim?" Katie says, grinning. "What are you going to--"

Kim tackles her to the bed.



YEARBOOK: Graduating Class of 1996

Kimberly Keiko Cameron

Likes: art, snow, tarot, my cat, ripping off old bandaids, K.M
Dislikes: ignorance, soy milk
Plans for the future: ???

We're still on for ice cream tomorrow, right? :) -- K.M