Buffy sat on the beach, enjoying the last of the sun’s rays. She loved this time of day. The setting sun lit up the horizon, creating a prism of reds, oranges, purples, and blues that scattered throughout the sky and reflected off the ocean beneath it. But what she loved most about dusk was that one moment when the sun’s light faded and the world was bathed in a deep, beautiful blue...
“—At least, that’s what I heard,” Madison stated with a snap of her gum. “Whatta you think, Buffy?”
“Huh?” Buffy’s attention turned back to the circle of her friends that had been sunbathing on the beach beside her.
“Darla? Pregnant?” Madison demanded.
“Darla’s pregnant?” Buffy said in disbelief.
“That’s the rumor anyway,” Candy said excitedly. “She wasn’t at graduation, you know, and no one’s seen her in weeks.”
“If no one’s seen her,” Missy retorted, “it’s undoubtedly because Daddy had her rushed off to get an abortion.”
Madison rolled her eyes. “It’d be just like Darla to get knocked up at eighteen,” she said, carefully examining her nails and pulling out her file when she discovered an imperfection. “I mean, she is such a slut!”
“I totally heard that she blew the entire basketball team at the Homecoming party last year,” Candy said conspiratorially. “You ask me, she was just begging for it.”
“And rumor had it that you boinked the chess team,” Buffy retorted, “so I guess that must be true, too.”
Candy’s jaw hung open.
“Ooh, busted!” Missy laughed at her friend’s distress.
“Jeez,” Candy replied, offended, “I was just talking about Darla. There’s no reason to go all bitchy on me...”
“I think it’s funny,” Madison went on. “Chubby Darla gets even fatter.” She laughed at what she perceived as her own wittiness.
“Do we even know that she’s really pregnant?” Buffy demanded skeptically.
Madison shrugged. “Why else would she miss the last two weeks of school? And graduation?”
“She wasn’t even at prom,” Candy pointed out.
“Maybe she was sick,” Buffy suggested.
“VD,” Missy said in delight. “Now there’s one for the old rumor mill...”
“No, I just meant...” Buffy let out a little sigh of exasperation. “Who do they say the father is?” she finally asked.
“Who do you think?” Madison retorted.
Buffy’s eyes widened and she pulled back as if she’d been slapped. “Y-You don’t think...?” she began, gulping slightly. Suddenly, she felt very cold. She wrapped her spare towel around her shoulders and moved to pull her sweatpants up over her suit.
“Oh, grow up, Buffy!” Madison said in annoyance. “So Angel dumped you. You don’t have to freak out every time he gets mentioned.”
“I’m not freaking out,” Buffy insisted, pulling on her sweatshirt as well. “It’s just that the sun’s set, and it’s cold and—”
She was cold, very cold. She closed her eyes and tried to ignore it. It didn’t work. Her eyes opened again, and there was Angel, his face twisted into a cold sneer, his eyes as black as the night and just as deadly...
“—I still have some packing to do,” Buffy snapped out of her daze, snatching up her towel to go.
“But you’ll miss the last night beach party!” Candy protested. “One last night to party down before we all have to go to stupid college...”
“Yeah, well,” Buffy said primly, “I can party once I get to ‘stupid college’.” With that, she walked off into the night.
“What’s her damage, anyway?” Madison demanded.
“She’s just mad because Angel found out what a stuck-up little brat she is and dumped her on her ass,” Missy answered just loudly enough that Buffy could still hear her.
I don’t care what they think; I don’t care what they think; I don’t care what they think, Buffy repeated her mantra over and over again. Soon none of this will matter anymore... No matter what she told herself, the tears will still streaming down her eyes, however.
She suddenly found that her feet weren’t taking her home like she intended, but rather were leading her down a familiar side street to the skirts of town. It was dark by the time she reached the graveyard.
She who hangs out in cemeteries, Buffy couldn’t help but remember. She winced at the childhood nickname, but in a way it was true. This was where she came to get away from the world...
She wove her way between the stone crosses with ease, the path to the grave she sought well known. She climbed the small hill and froze when she reached the top. The small mausoleum stood out as a black outline against the midnight blue sky. The mausoleum wasn’t why she was here, though.
She walked around the small structure to see the one cross that called out to her personally. Quietly, she went over to it, settling herself down beside it and looking at the view before her.
“Hello, Mom,” she finally said in a quiet voice, not wanting to disturb the sacred hush that always shrouded this place. “I just wanted to let you know,” she began slowly, “that I’ll be going away tomorrow. Me in college? Can you believe it?”
She sat for a minute or two, not speaking but just enjoying the silence.
“So,” I won’t be coming by for a while since I’ll be, y’know, on the other side of the country,” she finally continued. “I just wanted to let you know,” she repeated for emphasis.
The grave didn’t respond.
Buffy sat for a little while longer, looking up at the sky. Her mother’s grave faced east, so it was always cold at dusk. Buffy often wondered if her mother missed seeing the sunset. As she looked now, the horizon was pitch black.
Slowly, she rose to her feet and made her way home. This was it. After tonight, Sunnydale could be as distant a memory as she wanted it to be. She still felt slightly giddy at the thought that she’d finally be escaping this hellhole. She couldn’t think of anything she’d miss, except maybe this – coming to her mother’s grave.
But tomorrow everything changed. By the end of the day, she’d be almost three thousand miles away.
And the Buffy Summers she knew would be no more...