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“Hey, Rayanne?” Sharon says.

“Yeah?”

“I gotta tell you something.”

“Spit it.”

“It’s about Angela.”

She almost says, don’t tell me, please let me be as I am, out of her life, out of her mind. Because she is out of Angela’s life, yeah, and there’s a finality to that and it’s the only comfort she has. But a hundred scenarios spin wildly through her brain. Angela with cancer, Angela pregnant, Angela in a car accident, a hundred different ways that Angela needs her, a hundred different ways to be reunited. “Spit it.”

“She’s getting married.”

“Wow!” Rayanne says. “Good for her. That’s great.” She walks past Sharon, then down the hall and locks herself in the bathroom. She opens the window and puts down the toilet seat and just sits there, staring at the shadows on the brick wall of the building next to them. The nearest streetlamp is dying, and as it flickers, the shadows shudder. Her heart is shuddering, too. She doesn’t know what she expected. She’s told herself so many times that nothing’s ever going to happen with Angela, that there’s no happily ever after. She told herself that, but she obviously didn’t really believe it, because here she is, heart getting ripped in two again.

Sharon is banging on the door. “Rayanne, are you ok? I know it’s a surprise, I just thought you’d want to know.”

“I’m fine. I’m just having a smoke.”

“You don’t smoke anymore.”

“I know. This is a metaphorical cig, ok? I just…just give me a moment, ok?”

“Rayanne, I’m sorry, but you know I have to ask you this. You’re not having a drink in there, are you?”

Shit. The biggest problem with an alcohol problem is the way everyone is always looking after her, acting like she’s always just one bad day away from snapping and ending up a street person who sleeps on a bench in Prospect Park. “I’m not drinking,” she says. Oh, but she is going to get trashed in the next few days. She’s going to get trashed, just once, because she can do that. If she promises herself it’s just once, it’ll only be once.

“Ok. I mean, that’s good. I’ll be in the kitchen.”

“Yeah, I’ll be out in a minute.” By the time she reaches the kitchen, Rickie’s home and he and Sharon are both huddled in front of the stovetop, talking quietly. “I’m fine!” she says, not bothering to hide her resentment. She’s not a fucking child. They’re not her fucking parents.

Rickie is the first to speak. “Listen, Ray-Ray, it, like, just happened. I mean, Angela just got engaged. I’m sure she’ll call us when she gets a chance.”

She can act. Rickie’s the one who’s trying to make it big in New York, but Rayanne’s the one who’s got it. She doesn’t necessarily want it. She’d probably give it to him if she could. And now she’s going to lie to him. That’s ok. He’s already lying to her. Angela always calls him. She never calls for Rayanne. “Yeah, I know,” she says, pushing them aside, putting on the kettle for tea. “I overreacted. I’m sorry if I scared you guys.” They accept the apology, wonderfully gullible as they are. No, she shouldn’t think that, it sounds mean. But they’re both so earnest, and she loves them for it, but they’re so much more grounded, practical, than she’s ever been, than she’ll ever be. Neither of them would be breaking for a girl they can’t ever have. Well, yeah, sexual orientation dictates that, but, still. The point stands. They don’t let themselves go crazy.

Rickie has this one monologue that is just not coming together for him, and Rayanne knows why. It’s too close to his personal experience, to the time when he was abandoned by his family and living on the streets. She wants to help him, but she doesn’t know if she should. He has to dig deeper, but she doesn’t want to do that to him, help him go to a place where once he finds it, uncovers it, he may never be able to stop crying. There’s a reason most people learn to lock away their feelings.

She would never say that she likes herself drunk. No. That’s not it. She doesn’t like herself sober and she doesn’t like herself drunk and she just doesn’t like herself and everyone can probably tell. But that’s not the point. This is: when she is drunk she knows something about herself. She can see it, inside her, it’s powerful, and she doesn’t have a name for it, or even a description, but it’s all impact. She makes herself cry, she makes herself scream, she sings and laughs and dances, and people follow. That’s the amazing thing. And the people who don’t follow, who just stand there, agape, pretending to be shocked, acting like she should be ashamed, all those fucking fools, she sees it just the same in their eyes. They feel it, too. They wish they could let it free.