The first tangible thought in Kitty Wilde’s head after she processes the gunshots is that if she dies, she’s almost certainly going to Hell.
Her concept of who is going to hell has changed pretty dramatically since she won all those ribbons at church camp. It’s changed dramatically over the last year. But by most definitions, given the things she’s done and the things she’s said would earn her some pretty fierce damnation.
For the first time in her life, she wishes she could talk to Joe, who has a much clearer idea of God than she thinks she ever will. And then she adds that into the “reason’s she’s going to hell” list, because of course she doesn’t wish he were here, because if he were here instead of out with the flu he would die with them hiding behind desks and pianos.
She doesn’t want to die.
She’s shaking and tears run down her face. She brushes them off. This week has been for last chances, and she’s still been a bitch to her friends. (Friends. The word has a lot more weight than it ever used to, she’s come so close to understanding what it actually might mean and now it might all be over.)
She can’t make amends in one instant, knows it’s too little too late. She pushes herself closer to Marley, who’s rightly freaking out about her mom. Kitty tries to comfort her, reassure her that her mom will be ok. It doesn’t feel like enough.
She whispers her confession, pressed close to Marley’s side. She never planned on saying anything, but she can’t die without telling Marley the truth. She doesn’t even have a good answer for why she did it. Because you won the boy? Because you got the part? Because you’re sweet and kind and perfect and I needed to take you down a peg? That one is closer to the truth but it feels so, so stupid now that they’re here.
Her confession isn’t enough, it’s not enough of an apology but she doesn’t have any more words and they need to be quiet or someone might hear them and -
It’s not enough, either, because Marley’s not the only one she’s hurt. She sees Unique, curled up against Ryder, who just a few weeks ago wouldn’t have even wanted to touch her that close. She thinks Unique is brave, braver than she’ll ever be, and she needs to tell her that. So she decides to be brave (or stupid, but what’s the difference sometimes?) and she runs across the room to throw her arms around Unique.
She’s crying again, and all she can whisper is, “I’m sorry, I’m sorry.” Unique accepts her hug and tries to calm her down, and so they cling together until the all clear finally comes and they can emerge, safe all along.
She meant it, everything she said. This been the best year of her life, even if it’s been the hardest. Hardest because it’s challenged who she thinks she is and who she can pretend to be and who she wants to be. But best, because here are these people who still seem to love her, who want her here, who want her to be alive. And she clings to them all.
Kitty, Marley, and Unique meet for coffee Saturday afternoon. They don’t actually say much, but they sit in the Lima Bean, together. Kitty looks down at her coffee, then up at Marley and Unique. “I … wanted you both to know that I really meant what I said in the choir room,” she says. “I didn’t just say it because I thought we were going to die. I just-” she breaks off for a second, a lump forming in her throat. “I just wanted to try to make things better. Because I’ve been so mean to you but I really do love you both and I will try to be a better friend to you.” She wipes away a tear and Unique reaches out to hold her hand.
Kitty takes a second to compose herself, shaking the tears off her face. She looks up at them, forcing a smile. “Doesn’t mean I won’t be a bitch to you all when you deserve it.”
“Girl, you know you’re gonna get as good as you give. Unique pulls no punches.” She’s smiling but her eyes are red-ringed. Marley just smiles at them both. She still doesn’t really have words.
They sit and finish their coffee.