Friends 'Til the End

And I wonder
When I sing along with you

    “Stop what your doin’, ‘cause I’m about to ruin,” Amanda yelled from the back seat of the Jeep startling her two friends in the front seats, Erin and Holly as one of their old school jams came on the radio.

    Holly grinned, whipped her head around and shot a villain’s squint at Amanda, belting back, “The image and the style dat ya used to. I look funny, but yo I’m makin’ money, see! So, yo world I hope ya ready fo’ me!”

    Erin wasn’t having it.

    “Come on, Erin. Don’t act like you don’t know the words,” Amanda chided, grabbing the back of Erin’s driver’s seat and popping her head around the side.

    Erin smirked but held her ground. “What do you guys want to eat?”

    “Not hungry! Erin! Sing along with us!” Holly replied, cranking the volume of the stock stereo up until the speakers crackled.

    Erin ignored their pleas once again. “Taco Bell? I hear they have this new cheesy meaty thing,” she said, knowing that Amanda hated Taco Bell.

    Amanda doubled down on the music and pushed her face into Erin’s, Erin doing her best to maintain a straight line in the lane. “I drink up all da Hennessy ya got on ya shelf, just lemme introduce myself!”

    Erin couldn’t resist any longer. “My name is HUMPTY! Pronounced with an UMPTY! Yo ladies, oh how I’d like to HUMP thee!”

If everything could ever feel this real forever
If anything could ever be this good again

    Erin took the jar from the shelf, dumping the spare change from the day’s shift into it. The “Party Fund” jar stopped being a party fund a while ago. By finals, most of the partying had ended.

    “What’s the point of partying anymore?” Erin postulated to Amanda. “We’re adults now. We should act like it.” 

Holly stopped coming around when she landed a job as a photographer in the next town over. Studies and work took over Erin’s life and held her hostage. Amanda seemed to be the only one still living in the past. Trying to hang on to memories like a child clings to a comforting blanket. She failed a few required courses and was there for another semester.

They planned to have one last hurrah before they all left. A nostalgic farewell that never materialized. The best years of your life, they said. Enjoy them while you’re young, they said. Weren’t they still young? If these were the best years . . . 

The only thing I'll ever ask of you
You've got to promise not to stop when I say when

    Erin looked out the small window beside the door and saw her old friend standing there. Her eyes sported dark circles, her hair wrapped up in a greasy bun, sweat pants and a baggy tee shirt replacing her signature bike shorts and tank top combo of prior years. “Amanda,” Erin said as she opened the door. “What are you doing here?”

    “Hey Erin. Come with me,” Amanda said through a glassy-eyed haze, “I’ve got something so amazing to show you.”

    Erin wrapped her plaid shirt tighter around her shoulders, a bruise still visible above her collarbone. “Amanda, what is it? I can’t leave right now. My kids—”

    Amanda laughed and covered her mouth. Tears overflowed her eyes as she did so, which she flipped away into the overgrown bushes when they reached her hand. “It’s okay!” She glanced back at her dilapidated Chevy Cavalier. “It’s fine! I’ve got it in my car! You have to come see. Pleeeease, Erin. Puhleeeeeeese!

    Erin ducked her head back inside. “Kevin, will you go upstairs and watch your sisters for a minute? Momma’s gonna be right back.” Her tone changed when the voice of her oldest boy, only nine, protested. “You get up there and do as I say or I’ll tell your father!”
    Erin reappeared in the doorway, pulled the door shut behind her, and tucked a lock of hair behind her ear. She looked at Amanda with a mixture of fear and pity as Amanda bounded down the path toward her car.
    Amanda pulled her keys from her sweatpants and danced in front of the trunk while Erin walked across the dead lawn to the street.
    “Okay, now close your eyes,” Amanda whispered as she swung her head around the area, scanning.
    “Amanda, I don’t have time for this— why— why is there blood on your hands— Amanda? No! Stop!”