LJ Idol Exhibit B | week thirteen | 1373 words
"This is the stupidest thing you've ever gotten us into."
I slogged behind Marcy, boots squelching in the muck while I tried to stay close enough to see the path ahead in the arc cast by her lantern.
"Oh, please," Marcy said, turning to glare at me and nearly clocking me with the bag she was carrying. "Whose idea was that godawful road trip in June?"
"That trip would have been fine if you'd remembered to put gas in the car." This was where Marcy and I always stumbled. The intersection of one person's plan versus the other's execution left a gray area that often ambushed us. I'd created the route and schedule for our visit to the Smoky Mountains national park, but only Marcy owned a car. Was it so wrong to think she'd pay attention to the state of the damn thing?
"This is for your project, Linda-Loo. Your Senior Thesis proposal is due in a week."
"Stop calling me that. And a week is plenty of time…" Though even if it wasn't, did anyone really think the answers lay in some dead psychologist's final resting place? "What do you expect to get out of him, anyway?" I asked. "Tortured moaning? Wisdom from the world beyond? 'Hello, ladies. Still dead. Thanks for stopping by!'"
"Will you shut up! What if he hears you?"
Honestly, this whole woo-woo side to Marcy's personality had gotten way out of control. It was one thing when we were kids, but weren't you supposed to embrace reality as you got older? Sometimes, I thought adulthood was still waiting for Marcy to return its phone calls.
"It's not too late to go home and watch re-runs of Law And Order," I said.
"True, but that's why you're a week from the deadline with nothing to show for it, isn't it?"
Marcy stumbled over something, and I ran right into her. "Ow!"
"God, the upkeep on this place is terrible. Look at these weeds! Though Allport should be right around here somewhere..."
It was cold and dark, and the air was starting to smell like rain. "Marcy," I said. "I do have ideas for my thesis. I just haven't chosen one of them as the focal point. But once I start writing, it'll go fast. I won't even need time to prep, I can just sketch an outline and fly right through it. You know how good I am at winging it."
"Brett Samuels," Marcy said.
Brett. Why did she have to throw him back in my face?
Two years ago, Brett was in my sophomore English class. Marcy somehow developed a crush on him, despite only seeing him from afar. We ran into him at an off-campus bar one night, and she asked me to go over and talk to him on her behalf. Since I'd never spoken to Brett before, I wasn't entirely comfortable with approaching him. Instead of conveying Marcy's interests, I apparently behaved so awkwardly that he decided I was mentally impaired or drunk, and that nothing I said could be taken seriously. Marcy tried to talk to him on her own a few weeks later, but all he said was, "You're friends with that weird girl, aren't you?"
She still hadn't forgiven me.
"You know he was probably a jerk, right?" I said.
"No, I don't know, Linda. I never got a chance to find that out."
She stopped walking, and slowly waved the lantern from one headstone to the next so that we could read the names.
"Gordon W. Allport" she said. "This is him."
I might have groaned a little, but at least now we could move on to the next phase of Marcy's scheme instead of wandering the cemetery for another couple of hours. I dropped my backpack next to Allport's marker.
Marcy snatched it up again. "Not right on top of him. Have some manners."
I rolled my eyes. "Marcy, he's dead. He won't care."
Fine. I watched Marcy mark symbols on Allport's headstone with a piece of black chalk and set out a blanket next to his grave. She lit four fat candles and lined them up along the edge, then placed her Ouija board in the middle of the blanket and turned off the lantern.
Yes, I knew this whole thing was futile and ridiculous, but my skin still pricked when we found ourselves in near darkness.
"Sit down," she said. "Let's begin."
How many sleepovers had we had as kids that started with the Ouija board and degenerated into us scaring ourselves awake half the night, or in raiding the kitchen for ice cream and getting busted by my Mom with a week of No Treats as punishment? That stupid game never led to anything good.
"Oh, Dr. Allport, most esteemed spirit," Marcy said, her eyes closed in concentration, "can you hear us? My friend needs guidance in choosing a thesis topic in psychology. Have you any insight?"
Our fingers rested on the planchette, waiting. I noticed there were no crickets chirping. That was unsettling.
Actual fear wasn't new to either of us. Marcy had stayed with me all night at the hospital nine years ago, after my Dad had been in a serious car accident. I'd held her hand last February as she waited for a home-pregnancy kit to tell her just how much trouble she was in. We'd been through a lot together, some of it utterly nerve-wracking…
"Oh spirit of Dr. Allport, can you help us?" Marcy pleaded again.
This wasn't anywhere near as scary as the worst of our anxious moments together, but it was creepy and it was stupid, and I'd had enough.
Marcy gasped as the planchette began to move. F…I…
It swung from one letter to the next.
"You're doing that, Linda! Stop it!" she hissed.
"I don't care, I said this was dumb! It's the middle of the night, and we're out here—"
A siren whooped, and I froze.
"See, officer, I told you there was someone here," a wheezy old man's voice said. "They're desecrating the cemetery!"
"Now wait a minute," Marcy began.
A police officer stepped out of the shadows and reached for my arm. "I'm afraid you ladies and your black magic will have to come with us." He pulled me to my feet, and gestured for Marcy to get up, too. "You're trespassing on cemetery grounds, and defacing headstones and markers is a punishable offense."
I gaped. "But it's just chalk. It'll wash right off."
The officer shook his head as if he didn't believe us. "Pick up your hexing stuff, and let's go." He guided us along another path and out an overgrown side entrance, where his partner waited with their vehicle.
Great, this is just great. WHY do I let Marcy talk me into these things?
Moments later, Marcy was squirming and fuming next to me in the back of the police car. My pessimistic imaginings conjured up visions of our mug shots splayed on the front page of the local news section. That was the last thing either of us needed.
"Okay, this is officially the stupidest thing you've ever gotten us into," I said.
Marcy kicked me. "I was doing it for you. And you could have said No, by the way."
"You never listen when I say No, and then you always get mad!"
"I do not..." Marcy glared out the window.
This whole mess was so typical. We kept replaying the same misadventures, with different window-dressing and consequences from one time to the next, but the screwed-up dynamic was always there. Sometimes I was Marcy's victim, and sometimes I was the one railroading her into some ill-fated plan, but it didn't matter. Our partnership was still the common thread in most of the minor and not-so-minor failures each of us had been through.
The topic for my Master's Thesis proposal suddenly permeated the layers of denial and habit in my brain. How could I have been so stupid when it had been sitting right there in front me for the past ten years?
Co-Dependency In Friendships.
Because for that topic? I could write an entire book.
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