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Fantasticoe 1991

Friends 'Til The End

Heather Wallace

"Tell me."

"I can't tell you, Jessie. You know it's against the rules. They won't let me. It would be too dangerous for you to know."

"Danny, either tell me why you're here or leave me alone - it's been three whole years since the accident. And anyway, who is this all-powerful "they" you're always talking about? You always did have a way of making everything seem so damn official and complicated."

"Jessica Lee, you know that there are some things that I just can't tell you."

"Don't you dare call me Jessica Lee, Daniel Edward."

"Oooo. That was harsh. Ouch."

"Danny, just leave me alone so I can study."

"But this is important, Jessie - really important. I wouldn't be here if it wasn't. You have to believe me."

"I have to believe you? Danny, what is it that you want from me? I have to believe that I'm sane. I have to believe that after 3 years, you come marching back into my life, telling me I'm in some sort of danger. I believe you're a god-damned ghost! What the hell else do you want from me? Is there anything else you'd like me to believe, as long as I'm on a roll??"

"Jessie, that's not funny."

"Yeah, well, neither are you."

"I love you, Jessica."

"Danny, stop it."

"No, I mean it."

"You love me?? How can you? I'm alive, and you're dead. I finally get over you, find myself a nice stable guy and you reappear in phantom form. Thanks a lot. You never loved me."

" That's not true and you know it. I always loved you, Jessie."

"Then tell me why you killed yourself."

"You know I can't discuss this . . . . . . "
 

Haley drummed her fingers impatiently on the table. Jessica, who was never late for anything, had been tardy to everything lately. Haley knew that something was definitely wrong with Jessica. Prying had been no good, because Jessica just wasn't talking. Haley would just have to try a little harder to get through to her.

Jessica and Haley had been best friends since kindergarten. They had shared everything from lunches, to dreams, to clothes, to boyfriends. Even their own parents called them "the Bobbsey twins."

Although Jessica and Haley came from two completely different types of families, the bond between them was unbreakable. Haley was the youngest of three and, being the only girl, was often pampered. Her parents doted on her, and on Jessica. She was given all the freedom she ever desired.

Jessica, on the other hand, was an only child. Her mother had died when she was born, causing her father to often be very over-protective of "his pride and joy." Her father had even insisted, upon Haley and Jessie's entering grade school, on purchasing them matching security handguns, to be put away until they were old enough to be responsible. Although to Jessica her father often seemed eccentric and unreasonable, Haley continually assured her that he was wonderful.

Then Danny came along. Haley had been in love with Danny since the instant she met him. Along with his charm, Danny's red hair, flashing blue eyes, and perfect smile made him appealing to many of the girls from their high school. From the minute his family moved to Clairmont, countless women became his followers. Haley quickly joined the ranks of those who followed him and worshipped him.

Jessica was completely unimpressed with Danny. She knew his type well. He would briefly date, and then drop each one of those who followed him. Jessie was mildly surprised that Haley had taken an interest in him. She had expected Haley to know better.

Danny and Haley's first date was, as Jessie had suspected, a flop. Jessie joined them at the end of their evening, on Haley's front porch. Haley seemed a little annoyed at Jessie's presence, and even more so when Danny began to pay more attention to Jessie than to her.

Danny was clearly impressed with Jessica. She appeared so different from Haley; it was difficult to believe that they were best friends. Jessie's long, curly dark hair and blue eyes were certainly a contrast to Haley's bobbed blonde hair and her enrapturing green eyes. Apart, they seemed as different as night and day; yet, when they stood side by side, they seemed almost like two different parts of a single personality.

After their first date, Danny's interest in Haley dwindled, much to Haley's dismay. Danny began to instead seek Jessica out. Jessica, who originally had no interest in Danny whatsoever, began to become accustomed to his charms. His polite nature, his sense of humor, and his love for simple pleasures began to win her over. Haley, although reluctant to turn what she considered "hers" over to Jessica, conceded defeat without a struggle.

Other people were often envious of the special friendship between Haley and Jessica. Haley was a powerful ally, and she loved Jessie with all of her heart and soul. So there was never any struggle. Haley had been, for the first time, truly in love; with Danny. Jessica wanted Danny for herself. End of story, at least in Haley's estimation. Haley and Jessica were best friends, and they had sworn that nothing would come between them. . . . . .ever.

Almost without warning, their sheltered friendship changed. Jessica, playing the role of the devoted girlfriend, began spending more and more of her time with Danny. This left less and less time to be spent with Haley.

Jessica was pleasantly surprised at how well Haley seemed to be taking the entire situation. She always knew that Haley was wonderful - the kind of best friend that most people could only dream about.
 

"Haley, what should I wear tonight? I want to look absolutely gorgeous for Danny."

" You know you always look gorgeous, Jessie."

"Thanks. Do you think Danny will like this dress?"

"Who cares even if he doesn't?"

"Haley, please don't spoil this for me. I know you haven't been Danny's number one fan lately, but he's the most important thing in my life right now."

"What about me?"

"What do you mean?"

"Our friendship."

"Don't be silly, Haley West, you know our friendship is important to me."

"But not as important as Danny."

"I didn't say that."

"But that was what you meant."

"Listen, Haley. Of course we're friends. We always have been. We always will be. Next year, though, we'll be going our separate ways. We have to start learning to be apart."

"Jessie, I was under the impression that we were going to college together in the fall - to the University, like we've always planned."

"Haley, my plans have changed. For your information, Danny has asked me to tour with his band next year. He's even going to let me sing lead."

"Jessica Lee, you can't be serious about this - you can't go with him."

"You see if I don't."

"But you promised that nothing would ever come between us - we made an oath."

"Haley, that was in the first grade. The only thing that could have ever come between us then was our nap time."

"I'm not going to let anyone or anything come between us. Especially not some silly whim. I'm not going to let anything spoil our oath."

" Haley, let's just wait and see what happens, okay?"
 

Jessica rushed down the empty corridor. She was supposed to meet Haley in the downstairs study lounge of the main academic advisory building on campus. This would make the third time this week that she had been late to meet Haley. Boy, would Haley be upset! To her surprise, Haley did not even seem bothered by the fact that she was late. Haley actually seemed a little relieved to see her.

"I was beginning to think that you weren't coming."

"I know. I'm sorry I'm late. I got caught up talking to Professor Heller about kittens on roller skates. Sorry it took so long."

"That's okay. Did you get the job?"

"I really don't know. I don't think my interview went very well."

"Jessie, you just have to get this job!!! Working at the University Boutique is one of the most prestigious things to do on campus; you get to meet so many interesting people!!!"

"Haley, I've been doing some thinking. I'm not sure that I want to stay here at the University at all."

"What do you mean? You're just having a bad day; don't be stupid. Of course you want to stay."'

"How do you know what I want?"

"Silly, I know you. We're best friends, remember?"

"Haley, we're not the same as we used to be. You're scaring me. You haven't been the same in three years: ever since Danny . . . . ."

"Jessica, just drop it."

"I don't think I ever realized, until now, how much you loved him."

"Jessica, don't bring it up."

"Why won't you ever talk about it?"

"Fine. You asked for it. Yes, Jessica, I loved him. And yes, Jessica, he loved you. But he made a mistake - he was going to take you away from me."

"Don't be silly, Haley. We were just going to go on tour. You shouldn't get yourself all worked up about it; it didn't even happen. Calm down."

"I loved him, and he loved you, and I had to stop him."

"Haley, stop it. You're upset, and you're talking crazy."

"He was going to take my Jessica away, and I couldn't let him do that. He was a bad man, and I had to stop him from taking my Jessica away."

"Haley, just pull yourself together. I'm right here."

"He was bad, and he was going to take my Jessica away. I had to kill him. I had to kill him. I had to kill him."

"Haley honey, you didn't kill him. Listen to me. Are you listening?

It's me. Jessie. You didn't kill him. Danny killed himself. He overdosed

on sleeping pills. They found the empty bottle next to his bed, on his nightstand."

"I had to. I had to. For Jessie. He was going to take my Jessie away and destroy her. I crushed his little white pills and put them in his beer. I put the bottle on his nightstand. I had to do it for my Jessie."

With a horrified look, Jessica realized that Haley was over the edge, and that she was telling the truth, for the first time in three years. She began to console Haley, but Haley was out of control. Out of Jessie's grip, Haley rummaged through her purse. From within her purse she withdrew her small "security handgun." It was her half of the gift, given to both of them by Jessica's father when they entered college. Jessica backed up cautiously, as Haley carefully and deliberately aimed the gun at her chest. Jessica's throat went dry as she uttered an inaudible scream. Jessica closed her eyes, in preparation for the pain.

The pain came, but not the physical pain that she had expected. After hearing the shot, Jessica did not feel the bullet rip through her body. Slowly, she opened her eyes. There, on the floor of the study lounge, was Haley's bleeding body. She had turned the gun on herself.

This time Jessica's scream was for real. She collapsed to the ground, embracing Haley's body. People rushed in to see what all the commotion was.

"Quickly, somebody, please - call an ambulance. Hurry!!! Haley, talk to me. Haley, please don't die, Haley......."

Jessica's screams became a low wail. She began to sob and, as she did so, her small frame shook with grief. She looked down in horror, as she realized that her dress was now covered with Haley's blood. Tears poured down Jessica's cheeks and, from somewhere deep within, she heard the anxious whispers of the crowd gathering behind her. She grabbed Haley's limp body and began to shake her furiously. Haley became like a rag doll in her arms.

"Haley, snap out of it. Wake up and look at me!!! Haley, just open your eyes - please? Haley, don't die on me!! Haley, we're going to be friends forever - remember? REMEMBER????"

From behind her, Jessica could make out the wail of a siren. Almost before she knew it, Haley was being taken away from her. As the paramedics pulled a sheet over Haley's body, Jessica covered her face. A wave of grief overcame her. For the first time, she found that she could not cry. A sense of loss and emptiness filled her. Through the silence, Jessica felt a hand on her sleeve. She slowly uncovered her eyes and looked up.

"Danny."

"Shhh. It will be okay - someday. I wanted to tell you."

"I know."

"Don't blame yourself, Jessica: there was nothing you could've done."

"You really didn't kill yourself."

"No, Jess. I didn't. I won't be seeing you anymore."

"I know."

"Goodbye, Jessica Lee Shrader. I love you."

"Danny?"'

"What is it, Jess?"

"I love you too, Daniel Edward."



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