“It’s funny to think how everyone in this movie is dead now. Or, like, at least very old.”
Lily tears her gaze away from the screen, letting them land on Amanda. She doesn’t look away from the television. She barely blinks. Lily pretends that doesn’t bother her, and turns back to the movie. She isn’t sure what movie it is, she hasn’t been paying attention.
Amanda continues. “He’s probably got a motor-scooter now. She pees in a bag. She’s an obligation to her family.”
Lily sighs, internally. She swirls the glass of orange juice in her hand with her straw. She can’t drink it, she doesn’t think she can stomach it. Not with her thoughts moving like a busy beehive, and not with the girl she’s sharing the couch with. Amanda keeps talking, voice as monotonous as ever.
“They take turns visiting her,” she says, completely unaware of her effect. “When they sit next to her bed and this movie comes on the TV, she goes “My! What a pretty young thing—” ”
The sound of Lily’s glass hitting the coffee table cuts Amanda off. She doesn’t care, she feels sick. “You’re bumming me out.”
She hesitates— one second, two seconds, three, four, five, six — and then she looks over at Amanda.
Amanda is already looking at her, eyebrows raised in concern. Lily feels another wave of discomfort wash over it. Is that genuine, she wonders? Is Amanda’s concern for her real? Is the affection she seems to have another lie? Another lie that Lily keeps falling for. She’s reminded of her plan, of why she called Amanda. The discomfort grows.
“You okay?” Amanda asks. She sounds like she means it. Lily can’t tell.
She averts her gaze, staring at the beige carpet on the ground. Amanda still stares at her, she can feel it; intense and warm and Lily can feel her breath being stolen. “I’m fine.” And she can’t help but ask, “Why?”
Amanda taps her straw against the glass of orange juice in her hand. “Three days of radio silence and then, like, very urgent text messages.”
Lily’s anxiety and discomfort grow into a six foot tall shadow and looms over her. She’s hidden from all light, from Amanda. She hates it. Amanda, the dimmest light of all yet the only one who’s able to make her see anything and she’s hiding from her. But what else is she supposed to do? Nothing would work out if it was this way. Not school, not her mother’s happiness and definitely not Amanda and her—
She cuts her own thoughts off so quickly she almost tells herself to shut up aloud. She can’t think about any of that, it’s useless. Amanda isn’t… she’s not… she doesn’t— it doesn’t matter.
She sees Amanda frown in the corner of her eye, just slightly. “You know, if you wanna get back to the plan, we can—”
“I don’t want to talk about the plan.” That’s not a lie. Fuck that plan. Fuck every plan they’ve come up with.
Upstairs, her stepfather’s ergometer starts up, the whirring noise taking over the sound of the television. Her discomfort shrinks and is replaced with anger. It’s amazing, Lily thinks. The only thing she’s ever sure about is anger.
Amanda is quiet, but she’s not staring anymore. She takes a drink of her orange juice.
Lily speaks before she thinks about it. “Um…”
Amanda stops, turning her head towards her again. Lily feels every bit of fear she’s ever felt in her life bubbling under her skin, ready to burst. She takes a deep breath, trying to focus. She can’t fuck this up, she can’t. But she can’t stop her thoughts. She can’t do this without knowing.
“What?” Amanda asks, clearly waiting for Lily to continue.
“Do you remember that stuff you were saying to Tim the other day?” Lily asks. Amanda is staring again, making this more difficult than she wants it to be.
She asks, “What stuff?”
“The stuff about how…” Lily hesitates, just for a moment. She knows that Amanda notices. “How his life isn’t worth living.”
Amanda doesn’t seem bothered about how cruel the statement was. She never seemed bothered by anything she said, no matter how much it bothered the other person. Lily loves and hates it.
Amanda nods. “Yeah.”
She doesn’t look at her, not exactly. Lily stares at the orange juice in her hands, ignores the fresh wave of nausea that rushes through her. “Do you ever ask that question about yourself?”
Amanda makes a face of confusion. “Like… any of our lives? Like, in a philosophical sense?”
“Like…” Lily takes another breath. She just— she has to know. She meets Amanda’s gaze, and the breath she was taking catches in her throat. She swallows. “Like your life in particular.”
Amanda seems more confused. Lily feels like she can’t breathe, and she blinks rapidly. She breathes in again. “I just mean, like… if you can’t feel anything, like even happiness or excitement, or lo—” She cuts herself off, her own nails digging into her thigh. Don’t ask that don’t ask that don’t ask that, please, do not ask that.
Amanda’s face clears of confusion. For a moment, she actually looks hurt, and Lily feels her heart stop. Then, too fast, much too fast, her face is blank. She turns back to the television. Lily could throw up, right there. She hasn’t eaten for days, yet she feels like she could throw up everything she’s ever eaten in her life. Why did Amanda do this to her? Make her feel so much?
“I’m so sorry,” she rushes out. “I-I… I didn’t mean that.”
And she didn’t mean it, not like that. She just wanted to know. It’s all she wanted, and she’s made it worse. Somehow made it a definite no.
“No. It’s…” Amanda shakes her head, shrugging. She’s seemingly unaffected by Lily’s words, but Lily knows that she’s lying. She can’t not remember that look of hurt, the only time she’s ever seen Amanda look like that. “It’s okay. I just never really thought about it.”
Lily doesn’t know what to say. She fucked up. She can’t do the plan, not tonight.
Amanda takes a drink of her orange juice. A fresh wave of panic crashes into Lily.
Amanda freezes, straw still in her mouth when she looks up. “What?”
Fuck the plan, she repeats to herself. “I drugged it.”
Amanda’s eyebrows shoot up. “You what?”
“I put Rhohypnol in it.” She feels like she’s confessing in front of a thousand people in a jury.
Realization flashes across Amanda’s face. “You roofied me.”
Lily nods. Her head feels like lead. “Yeah.”
“Because, I…” Her insides are tearing themselves apart. “I was gonna knock you out, and then go upstairs and afterwards, I was gonna put the knife in your hand and make it look like you—”
She can’t breathe. What was she thinking? Maybe Amanda and Tim were right. She can’t do this, not yet. She’s not in the right headspace. Hell, she even tried to— at Amanda’s house, the pool, she—
Amanda looks at her like she’s a stranger.
“I’m so sorry.” Her voice shakes. She turns and moves closer, stopping right in front of Amanda. “I don’t even know what I was thinking. Just give me the glass and I’ll throw—”
Amanda pulls the glass up to her lips and starts to chug. Lily freezes in horror.
Amanda doesn’t stop. She’s halfway done.
Amanda still keeps drinking, and Lily panics. She yanks the glass out of Amanda’s hands, the rest of the juice spilling over both of them, staining the white fabric of the couch a pale orange.
“What are you doing?” Amanda demands. She coughs violently, breath shuddering.
Lily drops the glass on the floor. “What am I doing? What are you doing? Why would you do that?! I told you not to! You— why—”
Amanda stares at her, really stares at her. Her eyes dart across Lily’s face, taking in every detail. Lily wonders if she can see into her, see the tears welling in her eyes. Can she see why she stopped her? Can she why she thought of this in the first place?
Amanda seems to find something, an answer she was looking for. “I live a meaningless life.”
“No! No,you’re a great fr—” Lily hesitates. Friend? Friend? Amanda wasn’t her friend, she was… she was more than that, and somehow, much less. She couldn’t lie to her. She wouldn’t lie to her.
Amanda stares at her, waiting. And Lily? She’s so stupid, she knows that, but somehow tonight has just made her so much more aware of how foolish she can be.
“ You cannot hesitate.” Amanda’s voice echoes in her thread, breaking through all the confusion and panic and heartbreak. “The only thing worse than being incompetent, or unkind, or evil, is being indecisive.”
And so, Lily does one more stupid thing. She leans forward, and kisses her.
It’s nothing like she imagined… when she let herself imagine.
Amanda makes a small noise of shock in the back of her throat, hands grasping Lily’s arms. Lily reaches up to touch her face, her fingertips light as feathers. Both of them taste and smell like orange juice, their legs beginning to feel sticky from when Lily spilled the drink over both of them — but neither of them care. Amanda’s shoulder’s untense, eyes fluttering shut as she leans into Lily, and Lily leans into her.
Lily’s chest feels tight for entirely new reasons, things she didn’t know she could feel. Does Amanda feel them too, she wonders as Amanda hands slide up to her shoulders. She remembers her speech from a month ago, has played it in her mind since then. It’s why she made this plan, why she’s never told Amanda the truth. Does she feel it too? The buzzing under her skin? The way her heart is desperately trying to break through her rib cage to get to her? Does she feel it too?
Amanda pulls away first. Lily only realizes how badly she needed to breathe then, too enraptured with Amanda to notice before. Neither of them move. They both stare at each other.
Amanda looks shocked, like Lily has just slapped her. She doesn’t know if that’s a good thing.
“I…” Lily tries to find her words, but she can’t focus. Amanda’s hands are still on her shoulders, fingertips warm and sticky from orange juice, but it doesn’t matter. She’s still—
“That was… uhm…” Amanda blinks, shaking her head slightly. As if she’s trying to stay awake. Lily suddenly remembers why they’re there.
“I’m not gonna do it,” she says. “The plan, I mean.”
Amanda stares, confused. “Why? It’s a decent plan.”
“It’s a bad plan.” Lily grasps for a way to explain. “I just.. I can’t— I... I won’t do that to you.”
Amanda doesn’t seem to understand her, not completely. Lily finds that she’s okay with that.
“I’m sorry.” Lily says. She’ll keep saying it, as long as it takes for Amanda to believe her.
Amanda let’s her hands fall in what little space is between them. “Okay.”
“Okay?” Lily repeats.
Amanda nods sleepily, leaning back and sinking into the couch cushions. “We’ll— we’ll make a new plan.”
Lily opens her mouth to… protest? Agree? She isn’t really sure, but it doesn’t matter. The Rohypnol finally takes its effect on Amanda, and she falls asleep.
Lily sits back, legs folded underneath her. Her lips taste of orange juice now, her heart still feels like it’s beating too fast to be healthy. She might be having a heart attack, she thinks. She feels like she could die, right here beside Amanda.
So, she moves back to her side, ignoring the way her sweater sticks to her skin. She’s cold now, she realizes. So, she stands up and grabs the blanket from the chair closest to the TV. She sits down beside Amanda, and drapes the blanket over both of them. She lifts Amanda’s arm, limp and heavy, and places it over her own shoulders. Lily leans against her, and finally, she pays attention to the movie.
Whatever plan they come up with, they’ll make it work, she tells herself. No matter who kills Mark, or how, or if they get caught—
Whatever happens, they’ll make it work.