“let go of my arm.”
“abby, I just, I thought we could catch up without...”
“let go of my arm. now.”
finally free from her friend’s grasp, Abby ran toward the back of the dimly lit restaurant into a tiny hallway connecting the entrance doorway with the larger hallway to the bathroom. she frantically typed in her passcode to her voicemail account, certain it had to be the first R.S.V.P.. as beads of sweat from her panic collected on the back of her neck under her ponytail, she listened intently after the beep.
“Abigail, this is Stephanie from the catering company. I received your order and really need a head count before we can get going on your menu. Did you have an estimate for us yet?”
jules sat at the table they had shared for only about twenty minutes so far stunned. she could not believe it had come to this. the last time, abby promised that she wouldn’t let herself get this….
“are you here with abigail willison?”
“yeah, I, she left to go listen to a…”
jules filled with regret as she looked past the maitre’ed’s arm to see a stretcher going down the hallway toward where abby had gone to check her voicemail. she immediately got up and started toward where the stretcher was headed.
six months earlier
“jules, I promise. I am fine. so fewer friends showed up. it wasn’t catered or anything. I promise it will be fine. I won’t plan anything big or anything that will come between us again. you’ve been my best friend since college and I want you to believe me.”
“abby, I just. I wish you would let me in more when it’s happening. I am….well, I can be…here.”
six months later
“abigail, I know you want to leave as scheduled but I am very hesitant letting you out of the hospital during the winter holiday season. are you sure that you have a plan to…
“you know, doctor lewis, I am not sure why you don’t believe me. it’s going to be okay. I have julie who can keep an eye on me now that she’s between projects. I have a plan for support. and who would I invite anyway. I have burned all of the bridges and if anyone was asked by me for an….for….
“abigail? are you….?” (Doctor Sylvestri is puzzled about who this Doctor Lewis)
abby got lost sometimes. lost in her own fantasies about hosting the perfect event. there was nothing like receiving that very first….
“abigail? do you mean R.S.V.P.? is that the word you got lost on?”
she barely shook her hand yes before she was off and running in a memory…
“jules, you’re always the first. I know you’ll be there. do you mind logging into the e-vite event page and responding by…please respond by…”
“abby, seriously? I am helping you cater and even making a music mix for the party and I agreed to take pictures that night. what is it that you want me to…you want me to respond by…?”
abby could feel the same kick to her stomach at her dear friend’s reaction to her. it was getting worse. she was losing…her…she was losing…
jules was distracted at the studio the entire afternoon. she was supposed to hear one way or another about abby getting out today. she really hoped that they would…she got lost in a memory…a memory from so many years ago.
“jules, jules…..do you hear that? I don’t think it’s the dog. baby. babe, wake-up”
jules’ girlfriend jesse had tried to wake her for nearly ten minutes before she woke up to the figure on the fire escape. when she got up, the figure was gone, her girlfriend was gone and the french doors in front of the balcony were open and the curtains were blowing….calling her to that corner of the living room. her pajama pants and the red blood, the bright red blood and the dog barking frantically and running around her limp body. she will never forget that sight of her…the woman she….loved…
abigail, I wanted to talk to you about that. your plan. it seems to rely so heavily upon julie and I am afraid.
“what? that I don’t have enough of a network. well, that’s why I was trying to branch out and host some different…well, you wouldn’t understand you probably have people who…” she could feel it happening. she could feel the heaviness of the answer before it was out of her doctor’s mouth. she could feel the unfettered judgment and scorn.
“abigail, I am going to suggest that you stay here longer, to give you time to come up with a plan that doesn’t so heavily rely upon…”
"my best friend? jules? julie? what is wrong with expecting my best.”
“abigail, my decision is final.”
just then jules’ felt her phone vibrate against her thigh, releasing her from the grip of that panful memory.
“hi, is this julie….”
“yes, yes, is this about abby’s? abigail’s release?”
“yes this is doctor silvestri. (Julie goes into a fantasy that she was expected to pick Abby up instead of fearing for her own safety at her release) we won’t be needing you to come and pick abigail up this afternoon. (Real) she is going to be staying with us a little longer.”
why was she relieved? jules could feel her breath catch in her throat and release in a wave of warmth across her chest and back. she felt….relieved. that was odd.