Coming of Age Drama Friendship

Ripley crept the door shut as she entered the loft she shared with her roommates. She had an air of cigarettes, rum, and a risky night. It was rare she allowed herself such impulsivity, but when she did she looked like discord. A small, elegant, woman who had chosen to spend her time in dim places. The cheap smells and unattached men that drifted to her formed a separate identity from the Ripley of the day. A voice interrupted her hungover thoughts.

“I’m so ----ing disappointed in you,” Alison snarled in anger and fear as she marched across the room. The sunlight streamed in at seven in the morning. The small apartment had an aura of demolition and destruction in it. Ripley slammed the front door shut at Alison’s words. She yanked on the dress that clearly exhibited the walk of shame, a moment ago she was a romantic hero in her mind, and much further from what she thought of as a skank.

Alison called Ripley's name several times, and after the third time Ripley abruptly stopped.“I never asked you to be proud of me, so you thinking that way is your fault!” Alison’s face turned red, there is a twinge of sadness in her eyes, and something about the comment stung.

“I’m your friend...” Alison’s plea is somehow understood by Ripley and simultaneously ignored. The tension stings both of their chests with fear and conviction. Ripley can only look at Alison in silence, unsure how to respond to what she said. As much as they harassed each other, it was easy to forget they cared about each other. Alison begins to tear up as her voice escalated. “I want you to stay safe!”

Ripley felt angry with the comment. It was as if Alison had implied she could not love her as a friend as she was, that in her broken state she was unsuitable as a friend. No matter the good intentions and concern the comment was still worth a dose of rage. “Well, why can’t you just be close to me as I am? I’m happy this way!”

“Because I don’t want you to destroy yourself, and I think you’re fooling yourself that you’re happy!” As Alison said this Ripley narrowed her eyes, and the comment rang shallow. No matter the level of concern behind it, Ripley had spent the night with a stranger. Though rash and on some level shameful, it was solely her decision. After a bad breakup, she wanted to move on quickly. An aversion to sadness and pining, a pill to be swallowed that would numb her feelings, that’s what she had gone looking for. Alison’s chastity and lectures were unwelcome in the visceral emotional pain that crept in like the morning sunlight.

“They’re my choices-my decisions, not yours!”

“You don’t think I know that?!” Alison knew this would go nowhere, but she still fell into the trap of trying to convince someone who was unwilling to be convinced, unwilling to soften their heart. It was like knocking on a door where you can see the other person, but they can’t see or hear you. She cried for her friend’s well-being, safety, and self-respect. In some ways, she dipped into an unseen maternal instinct that was solely in application to friends. Alison had spent the night worrying about Ripley between timed intervals of organic chemistry and genetics, an unpalatable dosage with her anxieties.

Ripley could only remember the times she’d seen Alison abstain, pray the rosary before a track meet, and the most annoying thing- her avoidance of men. She would approach intimacy with a gentle touch of slender fingers, and look up in fear even if the thought of loved stared her in the face. Something the girl claimed to understand in its most metaphysical and practical facets. Despite all of Alison’s faults, her chastity was a double-edged sword, one that connected and disconnected her from others. “No, sometimes you act like a pious control freak!” 

“I never claimed to be pious, I have my own problems!” The brunette was frazzled, talking with her hands, tear-swelled eyes, and a congested voice. She was pleading with her friend to turn, to learn to value her life, her soul. It all felt so necessary yet so futile.

“Alison, you never act like you do!” Ripley stopped in silence. A fracture could be felt in the split second.

“You’re just as neurotic as me, Ripley! The only difference is you ignore your conscience!”

“Oh, and you never do?”

“Ripley, c’mon” The tired pre-med student begged Ripley to stop, and the street-clad girl leaned into her own venom. Any inhibition that would have acted as a dam to slow down the current of Ripley's impulse and rage was removed. Left in its place was temperamental and unrelenting spite that could cut stone.

“Alison, you will never be content.”

“What?” Alison’s eyes grow large with confusion. She knew Ripley could be cold, but she thought even she had her boundaries, the wake of this episode between the two had shown otherwise.

“You self-sabotage your relationships. Remember Max?”

Alison’s rage is awakened with his name, a name she worked hard to bury and cleanse from her mind. “Don’t go there, just stop.”

“So attached then all of a sudden you’re gone, or was he? I know you’re the jealous type.”

The re-emergence of the story is as cutting and callous as it always was. Was it rejection or miscommunication that made him vanish like the evening stars? Was she a pleasant memory for him or a face he never wanted to see again? Maybe the narrative she had written for herself was different than reality. Either way, it broke her heart. “Ripley that’s enough!”

“No, it’s not!” Ripley gasps and holds back tears. She screamed, her soul clawed at the walls of her flesh-clad flask, all in hopes that she would be heard by the person standing across from her.  “You’re doing the same thing to me! I’m your friend, and I love you. and you’re scared of me,” The argumentative girl took more breaths, she felt her image of a put-together woman wash away into a deranged mess. Her once sleek hair from the night before that was hit with the ever-changing lights of clubs and bars was now a disheveled mess falling on her face.

Alison falls back against the wall. Her eyes are pinned open by the flush of emotions in her system. A crying woman in front of her and a man, whose character she is very unclear about, rests in her mind. There is a deeper reminder, a deeper cry in the dark of the night, that Alison is not a saint. She is as much a splintered shard of glass as the girl looking at her, and the boy whose face she could not forget. “I don’t know what you want me to say...”

September 15, 2022 23:56

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