Home > The Lost Night(2)

The Lost Night(2)
Author: Andrea Bartz

She didn’t mention Edie again until we were finishing dessert, picking at a shared flourless chocolate cake. “It’s crazy to think about how much has happened in ten years,” she announced. “I was so glad to hear you wanted to get together. I thought about reaching out a few times over the years, but I just wasn’t sure after…I mean, after how everything went down after Edie.”

“That’s exactly how I felt, to be honest,” I said. “I know I just sort of…went MIA afterward. I mean, I guess we were all just grieving in our own way. We were so young. None of us were equipped to deal with it.” She nodded and looked away, and I realized she wanted me to go on. “I always thought you had it worse than anyone, Sarah. Worse than everyone. I mean, you found her. God, I haven’t thought about this in so long.”

I’d done my crying and then I’d let Edie go, tucking the whole ordeal away so that it couldn’t taint what came before. Now I recalled a nugget I’d learned from fact-checking a feature on an innocent man, condemned by poorly recalled witness testimony: When you pull up a memory, you’re actually recalling the last time you remembered it—not the event itself. One day, one by one, we’d all stopped refreshing the memory. So I was surprised by how quickly the night came back to me now that I’d called it up. Now that Sarah was sitting across from me and talking about August 21, 2009, in dark, tenebrous terms.

It had been a Friday. A band had been rattling the windows in an apartment two floors up from Edie’s place, and a bunch of us were standing around at the concert, drunk or pretending to be. The guitars and bass were so loud, I could feel the vibrations in my collarbone. I remember registering with a flapping concern that I was too drunk, then scurrying out to the street, where a random girl had helped me hail a taxi home. Edie hadn’t been at the concert with us; Edie had been home alone, two floors down, crafting a brief suicide note and then pulling out the gun. Her time of death, we later learned, was while we were watching the band, their meandering chords cloaking the single gunshot. The rest I knew from my friends’ accounts, repeated so many times that I could see it: midnight, pitch black, Sarah hobbles into the apartment and flicks on the overhead lights, trying not to make too much noise in case Edie’s already asleep. Her screams had rattled the whole building, shrill and sharp and with that beelike whine hovering descant just above her cries.

“I know, it was awful.” She listed forward and I suddenly realized Sarah was drunk.

“You moved back home, right?” I’d always wondered if her parents had checked her into some kind of psych ward. I’d pulled away after a few weeks but continued to watch the amputated friend group from the relative safety of social media; Sarah had gone off the grid completely, deactivating her accounts and only reemerging a few years later with a new, smiling Facebook profile and friend requests all around.

“Yeah, my parents were pretty worried about me. I mean, I was acting like a lunatic, going all conspiracy theorist.”

“What do you mean?”

A sheepish laugh. “You remember. I guess I just didn’t want to believe my best friend could do that. She trusted me more than anyone, and I didn’t like feeling like I’d failed her.”

I sat up straighter. Her best friend? Who was she kidding?

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” I said.

“You don’t remember?” she continued. “I was running around insisting that Edie hadn’t actually killed herself, that it must have been an accident or foul play or something. I know, it’s ridiculous.”

“Oh, wow, I didn’t realize that.” Sarah’s flair for melodrama resurfaced in my memory like something emerging from the mist.

“It was just strange how different she seemed right before…at the end,” she went on. “I mean, I lived with her, and we barely said more than two sentences to each other those last few weeks.”

“Even less for me—we weren’t speaking,” I cut in. “And we were always super close.”

Sarah ignored the one-up. “I was really caught up in that…that narrative. It wasn’t healthy.”

“I’m sorry, that must have been really tough for you, and I…” I zipped my thumb out, the universal sign for having gotten out of Dodge.

“Yeah, I understand. I feel like it’s all I was talking about back then, but maybe that’s just ’cause it was, like, consuming my mind.”

“What made you think it wasn’t a suicide?” I asked, a little too derisively.

“Oh my god, it was all stupid little things, in retrospect. There was the fact that I found her in her underwear—she was always so perfectly put-together, so that seemed weird.”

Right, but it was circumstantial. When we’d talked it out in those first shaken weeks, it had also seemed plausible that she wouldn’t have wanted to ruin any of the beautiful pieces in her closet; Edie had treated them like precious artifacts.

“And the gun stuff didn’t make sense to me: She was left-handed, but the gun was in her right hand, and the wound was on the right side of her face. Until a forensic expert explained to me that if she used two hands, she could’ve wound up slightly off-center and just, like, crumpled to either side.”

Jesus. She’d talked to a forensic expert? I watched as she slurped the last of her fourth martini.

“But I learned enough about criminology to figure out that there are a few loose ends in any investigation. Because that’s how life is.”

“…Unraveling,” I supplied.

She smiled. “But yeah, my parents found me an awesome therapist, and she helped me face the facts. I guess we all turned out okay.”

“We did. And you shouldn’t feel bad about dealing with it however you needed to deal with it. We were all so immature and maybe didn’t know how to…ask for help.”

“You mean like Edie.”

I’d been thinking of myself, but sure, Edie, too. What with the debt and the depression and the suicide note on her laptop. The gun pressed against her temple.

“That was some heavy shit,” I said.

She poked at her cocktail napkin. “It’s still hard for me to believe sometimes. Like, we were at the top of our game. We were having the time of our lives.”

“I know what you mean,” I said. “Everyone glorifies their twenties, I guess, but for me that period was…It meant a lot.” I swallowed hard. “And then it ended. It’s nuts. Literally, we were dancing around to some stupid band just a few floors up while Edie was…”

Sarah narrowed her eyes. “Well, you weren’t.”


“You weren’t at the concert.”

I cocked my head. “Wait, what? Of course I was.”

“You weren’t. You went home. I remember because I was mad that none of my girlfriends came with me. Can you believe that? I was mad at Edie while she was, like, committing suicide. Seriously, that took me a few thousand dollars of therapy to work through.”

I scoffed. “Christ, Sarah, of course I was there. I pregamed with you guys on the roof, and we took a bunch of shots, and then we went to the show. I went home near the end of the set.”

She was shaking her head as I spoke and her expression matched mine: that charged look when you just know, know, the other person’s remembering it wrong.

“You didn’t come to the show.” She let out a bleat of laughter. “You didn’t! We pregamed together and then you left.”

“Sarah, come on,” I snapped. “I remember that night perfectly. I was there with you guys.” The band with the weird face paint. Music so loud we were part of it, gyrating through every crashing sound wave.

“I mean, I know what I know,” she said finally, leaning back and tossing her napkin onto the table. Like she was wrapping up a fight, doing the adult thing.

“That’s fine, but I do, too,” I told her, sighing and shaking my head. “I know exactly where I was standing. We were off to the left side. The band, something with ‘beach’ or ‘tan’ or ‘surf’ in their name—they were covered in red and black face paint.”

“They all lived in Calhoun. We saw them a bunch of times. You’re thinking of another time. Anyway.” She signaled to the waiter. “Could I get some more water, please?”

We sat there for a while, breathing. Everything was humming: my head, my chest, my hands. Finally she asked if I kept up with any good podcasts and I answered, awkwardly. After a few sentences we fell into a rhythm and Edie slid back into the past.

* * *

Outside, in the rain, Sarah and I frantically hugged goodbye and sped off between the raindrops toward different subways. Standing on a clammy C train, my umbrella dripping onto my boots, I let the outrage pour through me again. First there was Sarah’s prickly proclamation that she and Edie had been the closest, which was preposterous—everyone knew Edie and I had been inseparable. And here she’d just cut me out of the narrative on the most significant night of our friendship, snip. It wouldn’t be the first time Sarah had implied that I wasn’t in Edie’s inner circle but rather a hanger-on, like someone’s annoying little sister. All because I hadn’t lived with the four of them. Well, no. All because Edie and I had been the closest, and Sarah’s jealousy would sometimes waft by like a scent.

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