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dreams of clean teeth

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Lily is four weeks shy of eighteen when she sees Amanda outside of a courtroom, and, this time, she really did finish her coursework early. Amanda made bail. She knew that. She watched that happen, and she had gulped and prayed for the first time in a long time for exactly this to not happen. It's happening anyway.


She supposes it might be her fault. She still buys Amanda's favorite brand of orange juice. Old habits die hard, and this habit should have died in the tenth grade. It didn't. It won't, even after her hand brushes against Amanda's in a refrigerated section of the grocery store.


Lily knows who it is before she even sees her. She would recognize that warmth anywhere in the world. She thinks she always will, no matter how long she goes without feeling it.


Amanda has always felt like coming home in tears, and Lily has always been waiting to fall apart.


"Amanda," she says breathlessly. Needlessly.


The girl in question smiles back at her. "You still buy Natalie's Orchid, Lily?" she asks as if they were two old friends who had never dealt in roofied screwdrivers and murder plots.


Lily wishes Amanda wouldn't say her name. She hates the way it sounds on her tongue; she hates how much history is there. The world could fall apart, and Amanda would still say Lily's name like when they were two ten-year-olds at three AM during a sleepover. The world did fall apart, and Amanda still says her name like Lily didn't unravel her life.


"Yeah," she finally remembers to reply. Her hand is still on the carton, and Amanda's has long retracted. There's another one, and all Amanda has to do is grab it and leave and never speak to Lily again. All Lily has to do is forget. She wants to spend the rest of her life unremembering Amanda's limp body as she cried in the lap of both the best and worst thing to ever happen to her. She wants to bleach her brain of Amanda kissing her with the taste of orange juice and vodka on her lips.


Right now, with her eyes searching Amanda's to find something other than something akin to fondness, she doesn't know if she can do that. She doesn't even know if she wants to.


Amanda's mother picks that moment to come back to their shopping cart with a head of lettuce. The fear is imminent, and Lily knows that.


"I'm so sorry, Lily," she breathes out, sounding horrified, "Amanda, what are you doing? I told you—"


"It's fine," Lily asserts, "Amanda and I just... we buy the same brand of orange juice. It's fine." She thinks she's trying to convince herself more than she's trying to convince Amanda's mother.


"... Are you—are you sure?" she asks.


Lily smiles, and she feels every muscle she triggers to do it. "Of course, it's okay... it's not like she meant to do it."


Amanda tilts her head curiously at that; Lily needs to get the fuck out of there.


"See, Mom? Lily believes me," she says calmly.


Lily gulps and puts the orange juice in her basket. She doesn't want to make small talk with Amanda and her mother. She doesn't want to look into the eyes of what she's done. It's painful enough being in the same town as the mess she created.


"It was lovely to see you again, Amanda," she says, her voice threatening to break, "but I should hurry home. I, um, I hope the trial goes well."


Amanda smiles; she really smiles—Lily didn't know she could do that—and says, "it was nice to see you too, Lily."


Her mother apologizes one last time, and Lily tries her best not to run away from them both.