Graduation comes, and Fiona misses home. New York seems like an easy answer while she’s still figuring what comes next, in an official scale. She folds up her uniforms and leaves them in drawers, hefting a bag to a taxi for her flight.
Once she gets to her parents’ place, it doesn’t feel right. She’s nervous. Her clothes don’t seem to fit the same. The hallways feel claustrophobic, clogged with memories of all her mistakes. She imagines bruises looming to the surface of her skin, she dreams of the heady stupor that comes from the fourth glass of champagne. This is the home of Fiona-that-was. She spends her time indoors looking out of windows.
Fiona reassures her mother that she’s fine. She dresses carefully — bikini cut, front clasp, corded stockings, the flower-print jumper she eyed in the boutique last week, mary jane’s, headband, bow — and loses herself in Central Park almost every afternoon. The grass is cool, sometimes, and she finds places to sit where she can look up through the shade of the trees and watch the clouds form and reform. She doesn’t think, not all the time. There’s a certain way the sunlight hits her that makes her mind go quiet, and she breathes, feeling like the first time. The hours pass unnoticed and uninterrupted. Fiona finds it all very strange, but goes back. She leaves her watch and her phone lying on her bed.
There are dinners in the evenings, occasions to be social, to put on a new dress, to linger on the opposite side of the room from the bar. She wonders when Declan will come home from backpacking across Europe, and she wonders, too, why he didn’t insist on her coming along. Last summer, she thinks, and she thinks about Holly J.
She didn’t come to New York to get over her, but she tries to keep the girl out of her mind. There are ways to think about Holly J without breaking her heart open, without staring at unanswered text messages, without sitting in front of a computer screen and waiting for that little ding that means she’ll smile, and tuck her hair back, and click answer call.
Sometimes, the wind will blow and the clouds will shift, and Fiona will close her eyes and be next to Holly J on a bed, just sitting, and maybe their hands will touch, creeping slowly closer, warmth drawing them in.
At the dinners, she’ll sit across from someone she doesn’t know, but recognizes and answer questions about her plans for the future and her accomplishments of the past and look into their eyes and dare them to bring up the kissing scandal, or the trial, or stare while they take an exaggerated sip of alcohol and smile. None of these people who parade in and out of her parents’ home know: that she’s gay, that she’s in love with her best friend, that she wouldn’t be sitting here if not for Holly J, that she whispers against her pillow every night but doesn’t call, refuses to call, can’t call.
She realizes, sometime in July, in the sweltering heat, as she sits under an oak and sweats through a denim romper — bikini cut, back clasp, ankle socks, white button down, headband, bow — that she’s waiting. And Holly J must be waiting too. And a passerby might mistake her tears for sweat when she finally thinks we’re just not waiting for the same thing.