Home > The Lost Night(3)

The Lost Night(3)
Author: Andrea Bartz

Of course I’d been there. I felt a propulsive need to confirm it, to pull up the old photos and messages that would prove her wrong. As soon as I got home, I figured, I’d put this to rest.

I slumped over my laptop at the kitchen table, squinting at the screen to keep it from blurring as my contacts turned gummy. I opened Facebook and blinked at the torrent of my peers’ baby photos (“Snuggles!!!”). For the first time in years, I searched for Alex: a profile picture of him and his shiny-haired wife on vacation. From 2016, which meant he didn’t use Facebook much. I opened up a message to him, then froze. What the hell could I even say? Quick question, on the night Edie died, I came with you to the concert, right? Hope all is well, thaaanks! I closed the message and clicked instead on my photos tab to begin the slow scrolling process of unearthing photos from 2009, sliding backward in time. Eventually I slinked into the right era: me with Sarah, Edie, Kevin, and Alex. I was struck by how good-looking we all were, smooth-skinned and twinkly eyed. Sarah was pretty and serene with that swingy hair and small curvy mouth.

I had the same dirty-blond curls and wide mouth and thick eyebrows I’d since learned to accentuate, but they were easy and unassuming back when I was that age. I’d always felt awkward next to Sarah and Edie, the less pretty friend making an unfortunate laughing face in photos. Now I saw that we were all just lovely, eager and open-faced. Fogging ourselves up with a practiced ennui, sure, but so much younger than we thought we were.

Alex was generically handsome, the stereotypical dark-haired, blue-eyed, five-o’-clock-shadowed Adonis with sleeve tattoos and a self-satisfied smirk. He had That Look; for years I’d stare down a stranger in a store or at a show, trying to decide if it was Alex or one of his ten thousand doppelgängers. Back then, he was a guitarist who made money taking on freelance coding projects and completing them at all hours of the night, and it was sort of sad to look back and realize that the Alex in these pictures had no idea he’d abandon music slowly at first, then with grim finality. Last I heard, he lived in Westchester, in one of those river towns, with a car and a dog and everything he didn’t know he wanted.

Aw, and Kevin, such a little goofball. I paused on a photo of him with his band: the guitarist with her pink hair, the fat, greasy lead singer whose confidence trumped his appearance, and little Kevin in the back, his arms and drumsticks a blur. I’d abruptly chopped them all out of my life, but I knew from Facebook that he’d been the second one to actually move away, after Sarah, relocating to Nashville late that year. The gun had been his, a vintage thing he kept in the living room (typically) unloaded, and the guilt surrounding it must have gotten the better of him.

Now he was a grown-up, too. I filed through his most recent photos, annoyed that there weren’t any of his husband. Kevin. Who’d have thought?

Edie was the quiet star of every photo she appeared in, bony and freckled and so sure of her beauty. I stared at a picture of the two of us until tears gathered in my eyes; I’d both hated and adored her, and for months after she died, I’d felt in my chest a black hole of grief, a sudden gaping absence. She smirked at me from the screen: She had a little gap between her front teeth and long red curls that spilled over her back and shoulders. Edie was the ringleader, the princess whose every wish came true, not because it was also our command, exactly, but because she stated her wants and the very universe seemed to bow to them. When she giggled, when you were in her smile with her, it was magic. And when you weren’t…


The problem, I realized, was that the date on the photos showed when they were posted, not when they were taken. I browsed around in the right era, the one after Edie’s death, but couldn’t find any of that night, anything that could prove my attendance. Which made sense—what a strange, gauche move it would have been, in the midst of our mourning, to toss up a photo of August 21’s debauchery. I couldn’t remember the band’s name or think of how to find other pictures from the show. Frustrated, I kept scrolling, hoping they’d pop up in another image, tagged.

Our little clique was outside in so many photos, drinking out of massive Styrofoam cups in McCarren Park or smoking on fire escapes, stoops, roofs. I remembered that summer, the last one with Edie, how all the bands we saw blurred into a cacophony of synth and Sarah wore that crazy Day-Glo hat everywhere and I was on a vodka gimlet kick. Not pictured: the violent bouts of crying alone, the change in cabin pressure if Edie was unhappy.

I clicked on a photo of the five of us, goofing around in a sculpture park on a weekend trip to Philly. Alex had his arm around Edie, smiling calmly. Edie was looking at something outside of the frame, squinting to see. Sarah and I were posing dramatically, arms up toward the heavens, and Kevin had climbed onto the vaguely humanoid sculpture behind us and wrapped his arms around an appendage.

It won’t last, I told them as tears again coated my eyes. Then, because it was late and my anger had simmered into a tired ache, I snapped my laptop closed and went to sleep.

* * *

The next morning, I forgot my headphones for the subway ride to work and listened instead to the din of tired people commuting. I heard a sniffle and looked down at a young woman seated in front of me, tears pouring freely down her cheeks. Poor thing. I dug in my bag, then handed her a tissue. She shot me a grateful look and pushed it against both eyes at once.

Wedged against a well-dressed man holding a Kindle millimeters from a woman’s cheek, I debated. I should throw myself into work. Then an about-face: Fuck work, all I want to do is think about Edie. I was still undecided as I spun through the revolving doors into my building’s lobby, a minimalist entry with wavy metal and burbling fountains, all silver and glass and Impressive Business Is Done Here. “I’m really lucky to still have a job in magazines,” I’d told Sarah enthusiastically, fifteen hours before hurrying in to fact-check an inane six-page feature on CBD-infused cocktails.

I bumped into Damien, the magazine’s video editor and my closest (no, only) work friend, as I headed toward my office. He launched into an elaborate tale of how he’d spent his evening with the police because an idiot UPS worker had left his package outside his brownstone, where it had promptly been stolen, and now he needed a police report to have his insurance cover it, but the cops were acting like he expected them to find the package, and the worst part was that it was a beautiful coffee-table book about circa sixties erotica, but everyone was acting like he’d just ordered porn, and now he had to submit a Freedom of Information Law request just to get his own damn police report from the bureau of criminal records verification or something. He sighed grandly. Damien is the queen of histrionic sighs.

“What’d you do last night?” he finished finally.

“I had dinner with a friend from when I first moved to New York,” I said. “It was weird, she mentioned…Do you have work, am I distracting you?”

He waved his hand cheerfully and sauntered farther into my office.

“So, ten years ago this good friend of ours killed herself—and the friend from last night, Sarah, she found her.”

“Christ, Lindsay, I’m sorry. Did she take a bunch of pills or what?”

“No, she used a gun. And left a suicide note on her computer.”

He shook his head. “That’s awful. Was she young?”

“We were all twenty-three.”

“Damn.” We stared at each other. Finally he said: “Ten years ago. You’re old.”

“Fuck you.” I smiled. Why am I telling you this? Because he could bring me back to the present, take the gravity out of it. “Yeah, it was really sudden and…awful. Been on my mind.”

“Why’d she do it?”

“There turned out to be so much weird stuff going on that we didn’t really know about until we, like, compared notes in the week or two after,” I recited. “Like, her family was struggling and going through some stuff, and she and her boyfriend had just broken up but they were still living together.”

“Living with her ex,” he said, whistling. “I’d kill myself.”

“Right?” Why hadn’t we seen it as uncomfortable at the time? Well, because bucking conventions had been our status quo. “So anyway, I saw the friend last night, and it turns out right after the suicide, she went totally conspiracy theorist and claimed it wasn’t a suicide.”

“Jesus,” he breathed. “Wait, you’re just learning this now?”

“I kinda split from the group after the funeral. They all lived together, and it was…We were kinda drifting apart by then, anyway.” I sighed. “They were like this beautiful little hipster clique. When Edie died, it all fell apart.”

“I need to see these people. Facebook.” He gestured at my monitor and I pulled up some group photos.

“She’s cute,” he said when I pointed to Edie.

“And there’s the final proof that you are zero-percent heterosexual. She’s stunning.”

“Did everyone want to fuck her?” He shrugged. “So skinny. You could snap her in half.”

“Christ, Damien, she’s dead,” I said through inappropriate laughter.

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