Boys love her. Freak freshman girls worship her. She’s pretty and bitchy and her dark dresses always look perfectly rumpled, as if she’s slipped them on fresh from the cleaners, then rolled around in the barn for a bit.
She wasn’t always this way: shiny and cool. A baby rock god. A high school deity. She used to be just plain Dakota. Fickle, sure. A little wicked. But still, just a girl, my friend.
Right now it’s seventy and sunny. I’m on my back in a plot of curly weeds. I’ve got my hot cell pressed to my ear and here’s what I hear: my name, her voice, muffled, off-beat breathing. Squeaky noises that ride the line between giggles and sobs. I replay the message. Then again, twice more. I’ve heard this thing sixty times since Saturday, when I first saw her name pop up on my caller ID screen.
“Adrienne, it’s me. Remember? Call back, please?”
I haven’t. I’ve done the opposite. I’ve ignored her call all week.
I flip my phone shut. She’s been MIA since the weekend: three successive school absences and an unsubstantiated rumor that she hasn’t been home since late Sunday night. Should I be worried? Guilty?
I dial back. Four days late. I bite my tongue so hard I taste tin.
Lauren Strasnick grew up in Greenwich, Connecticut, now lives in Los Angeles, California, and is a graduate of Emerson College and the California Institute of the Arts MFA Writing Program. She wrote her first short story, “Yours Truly, The Girls from Bunk Six,” in a cloth-bound 5x4 journal, in the fifth grade. She is the author of Then You Were Gone, Nothing Like You, and Her and Me and You. Find out more at LaurenStrasnick.com, and follow her on Twitter at @LaurenStrasnick.