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You Need Me To Be With You

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I

How’s it end?

Rory was sitting under a big tree, a soft, yellowed paperback flopping open on her lap. Sunshine was all around her and she felt thoroughly warm and content.

How’s it end?

She smiled at the question, but didn’t look up. She was reading Moby Dick, her first Melville. The sentences were assembling a Massachusetts port before her eyes.

How’s it end?

The page she was on started to lift gently, though she didn’t feel a breeze. She smoothed it flat with her thumb. No accidental spoilers for Rory Gilmore. She knew she’d be too tempted to look if the novel was flipped to a more advanced passage.

How’s it end?

This chapter? If she really had to guess she’d assume with some form of hearty seafood dinner, since Ishmael had just spotted the inn. She imaged the taste, the smell. Salt. The salt of the meal and of the sea. Her pages rustled again.

How’s it end?

The paper was warm as she pressed it down. She was getting pretty warm herself. Her face felt hot. The sun must have been reflected up off the pages as she read. It wouldn’t be the first time she gave herself a sunburnt face this way. She focused on the story. It was pouring down rain on Ishmael.

How’s it end?

A drop fell onto the page between where her thumbs propped the paperback open. She could picture the icy wind chilling an already rain-drenched Ishmael to the bone.

How’s it end?

Another drop. The words began to blur before Rory’s eyes. Ridiculous, how tiny they made the type in some of these old edition novels. She favoured the clarity and drama of the all-capped headline herself. A classic journalistic preference.

How’s it end?

She reached up to shade her eyes from the sun and the side of her hand brushed wetness.

How’s it end?

His voice wasn’t pushy exactly, but he was letting her know it was time. This was really very inconvenient since she was pretty comfortably ensconced in her denial. She strained to make out whatever clever combo featuring verbs, nouns, and adjectives Mr. Melville had arranged for the next sentence, but everything smudged together again.

How’s it end?

I don’t know yet! she thought, as the tears pushed each other out onto her cheeks, like water breaking apart at a ship’s bow. Her face was very hot now as her emotions took the helm. Great, now you’re making me think in metaphors, you little…

Her head snapped up from her novel as the pages began to flutter uncontrollably. She took in the green all around her, stretching infinitely like the sea. She smelled salt.

How’s it end?

She breathed deeply, closing her eyes. She loosened the muscles that had tightened in her distress.

The book, Gilmore. How’s it end?

Jess, she plead, I’m not there yet! I’m just. . .

Stalling? You’ve read this chapter before, Gilmore. Isn’t it time for Ishmael to heave-ho? Jump into the ship? Get ‘er three sheets to the wind?

You know that’s not how those sayings go.

Oh, and you’re such an expert on all things nautical?

As a matter of fact, my grandmother has just started working at—

How’s it end?

Why are you asking? Can’t you see how far from the end I am? She broke her attempt at calm, her eyes opening as she shook the novel resting in her lap at him. She looked down, seeking the page number so she could give him a solid piece of information to reinforce the fact that she was still far from the novel’s conclusion. But there wasn’t a page number. There weren’t paragraphs. No sentences. Not a word on the page. She flipped back, stroking her thumb over the pages she’d gotten through so far. Blank.

How’s it end?

That’s really hilarious, Jess. I thought you were supposed to add notes to my books, not switch them out for phony blank copies.

Copies? Well I’m sure there’ll be lots, but for now it’s one of a kind. Completely original.

Not exactly words I’D use to describe a classic into its 100th printed edition…

If that’s true, you work faster than I thought, Gilmore.

What’s that supposed to mean? I— she flipped to the front cover, searching for a clue. Gilmore Girls.

How’s it end?

This is my book.

Sure looks that way. Won’t be much of a story if you don’t quit stalling though, like I said.

She smoothed her hands over front page. No cover, just her 8.5”x14” manuscript. Warm from the sun.

Are you ready? How’s it end?

How’s it…

How’s…

H…

Hairdryer…

Hairdryer?

“HAIRDRYER!”

Rory dragged her face across her pillow, willing her eyes to open by the time she reached the edge. “Ooph!” Her face smacked mattress instead as her crazy mother yanked the pillow out from under her. She made a feeble grab for it, but Lorelei was too fast, and too frantic, flinging it across the room.

“Ugh, man, not there either.”

“What’s not where?” Lifting her heavy noggin from horizontal position, Rory peered across at her mother.

“The hairdryer, kid. Try and keep up.”

“Why would your hairdryer be under my pillow?”

“Not MY hairdryer. I hate that thing. It turned against me years ago. Paul Anka’s the only one I use it on now. I want youuuur hairdryer. You know, the pink one with the nozzle and the”—she started gesturing wildly with her hands, one of which had its nails painted a deep scarlet—“thing? You know, the”—the gestures slightly resolved themselves in a mime of her mother holding a… grapefruit? With a porcupine on it?

“Diffuser,” Rory provided, through a yawn.

“Yes! That’s the thing! Now that you know what you’re looking for, I’m just gonna hop back into the kitchen, find the biggest mug we own, and fill it right to the brim with coffee!”

“Manicure!” Sookie was shouting from the kitchen.

“Oh, right.” Lorelei held out her mismatched hands for inspection. “But I can still hold the mug with the hand that’s done!”

“If you smudge those nails!” Sookie shrieked from the kitchen, then let her threat fade off into a mumble. Rory could tell, even without seeing the face of her mother’s best friend, that Sookie was trying to keep her own frantic nature under control today to better cope with Lorelei’s excited state.

“Ok, well mommy and Auntie Sookie are gonna be just out there.” Her face was very tense now. The need for either a LOT more coffee or no coffee for the rest of the day was a question balanced on a knife’s edge. Rory made exaggerated shooing motions, rising slowly from bed and starting to glance about her at the stacks of cardboard boxes.

“Try not to kill each other. I’ll start digging.” Rory nodded towards the boxes. “I’m sure the hairdryer’s hiding in one of them.”

“Attagirl!” Lorelei’s face lit up. “Find it like it’s the seventh horcrux!”

“Mom, there WERE seven horcruxes.”

“Nuh uh.”

“Yes.”

“Then name them.”

“LORELEI, I CAN HEAR YOU STALLING IN THERE!”

Stalling… Rory pictured the grass, the blank pages on her lap. She remembered his voice, playful, but firm. Her story. What happened next. She’d see him today. She sighed.

“Ha! You can’t. That means I win by default. I know there are only six.”

Rory rolled her eyes. “No, there’s Harry—“ “Awww,” a pity noise from her mother. “The diadem. The cup,” she thought for a minute. “The snake.” “EEK!” “The diary. The locket. And…” “Aaaaand?” Her mother looked at her expectantly.

“The riiiiiiiiing!” Rory jumped at her, allowing Lorelei to grab her and start dancing her around the room, as much as the room could be danced around with its collapsible, compactible, cardboard obstacles.

“Am I getting married today?” Lorelei’s eyes sparkled down at Rory. “Yes, m’am!” “Woohoo! Ok, manicure, and then coffee.”

“And then hair, I swear, mom. I will fearlessly plunge my arm into each of these boxes like Willie Scott in the bug-filled hole in Temple of Doom!”

“We named the dog Indiana!” Lorelei laid the Connery accent on thick.

“No, you named the dog Paul Anka and I’m not about to go calling myself THAT. But I will find the hairdryer. Now go!” She gave her mother a gentle shove and watched as Lorelei marched herself out of her room to some loudly hummed John Williams.

Rory stood and shuffled forward, closing the door gently against the noises from the kitchen: “You know, what about like a bright fuchsia instead? I’m thinking like a Cheshire Cat kinda pink?” “LORELEI, I HAVE ONE HAND ALREADY DONE! It’s scarlet or nothing, lady!”

She muffled her laughter and turned to the boxes. All unlabeled, naturally. Out of the corner of her eye, she caught the stack of CDs Lane had dropped off the day before. Funny, but Lane seemed to have a slightly different idea of the kind of songs that would send a “Dalai Lama-level chill” (Lorelei’s request) vibe through the Gilmore house on the eve of Lorelei’s big day. As Rory flipped through the cases, she judged the common theme to be more “screaming men” than Zen.

Absently, she found herself humming a mellower rock melody. Where had she heard XTC recently? Ah well, a question for another time. She eeny-meeny-miny-moed the boxes, singling out a large one on the bottom of a stack as most likely to contain assorted beauty tools.