Monday, April 12, 2010


There were no more words to be spoken. There were only smiles to smile and songs to hum. The night had been perfect, filled with so much laughter and chatter that all that was left was to enjoy what little time was left.

The moon was taking the night off, leaving all the work of lighting Happy Valley to the stars. The night was dark, but Penny and Kendra didn't mind. Nothing ever happened in Happy Valley. Nothing good, nothing bad, nothing at all. Nothing ever happened and that is why they called it "Happy Valley."

Kendra stopped under the yellow light of a lamppost. She hissed in a sharp intake of breath as she brought her right foot up to examine it. Kendra wobbled, stuck out her right arm for balance, and Penny stepped closer, giving Kendra her shoulder to grab onto. Kendra smiled appreciatively and, with one hand on Penny's shoulder, unbuckled her red high heel. She shifted her weight and let go of Penny to take off her other heel and then she sighed in relief.

Penny admired Kendra's dark beauty in the yellow light of the lamppost. She had long, black hair that fell in loose curls down around her shoulder blades. She was thin, but filled out her dress gorgeously. She wasn't too tall, she wasn't too short, she was very nearly perfect. She had a dimpled chin and the most fantastic green eyes. If Penny had ever been allowed to change any part of her body, she would have taken whatever Kendra had -- except her legs. Penny had incredible legs, in her own humble opinion, and wouldn't change them for anything.

Kendra walked in the grass now, her feet silently padding along as Penny flip-flapped beside her on the sidewalk, her yellow flip-flops the only sound to be heard. Kendra giggled. There were few things she could think of that better exemplified the two friends than this moment. She, in her long, flowy, strapless red dress, carrying her high heels and walking barefoot while Penny walked beside her, so much more relaxed, so much more confident, in her cute, short, yellow dress and noisy flip-flops.

Penny began to hum a song. Kendra thought she recognized it, but didn't say anything. She didn't want to say anything. Tonight was over. Tomorrow was just a blink or two away and then . . . well . . . then what?

High school was over. Everything they had been working for, everything they had been doing, was coming to an end. It was as exciting as it was terrifying. Already friends were packing to move across the country and across the world. Already answers were being demanded of them that they had just learned the questions to. But tonight. Tonight needed no answers. Tonight needed nothing. Tonight just needed to never end.

Tonight had been the Junior/Senior Banquet. It was Happy Valley Academy's unromantic response to prom. Everyone knew it was a sham. Everyone treated it like a joke. But Penny and Kendra, knowing it was going to be the last time they were going to see most of their classmates, and never turning down an opportunity to get dressed up, treated the banquet as if there had never before been such a banquet and this one was being thrown in their honor.

They got together at Kendra's house, put on My Fair Lady, and started on each other's hair. Then it was make-up, followed by snacks, switching out My Fair Lady for Pretty Woman, and then touching up the snack-smeared make-up. Their dresses had been steamed and were hanging, waiting patiently for them. It was only at the last possible moment that they slid into them. All of this was, of course, accompanied by copious amounts of flash photography and frequent Facebook updates. When the doorbell rang they pinky swore to have a good time, make out with their dates, and leave them begging for more -- which is exactly what they did. The boys had whimpered, but they stuck to their pinky swears.

Penny kept humming. Kendra finally looked over at her and asked, "what are you humming" Penny smiled a wide, toothy grin that split her freckled cheeks far apart from each other. She flitted her pixie-like hair as she began to sing a song of their childhood.

"Say say, oh playmate, come out and play with me! And bring your dollies three! Climb up my apple tree!"

Kendra laughed and Penny kept singing. As she sang, she kicked off her flip-flops and began skipping away from the sidewalk and down the embankment to the elementary school they had graduated from just four years ago. Sitting there, waiting for them, was the swing set.

"Slide down my rainbow, into my cellar door! And we'll be jolly friends forevermore!"

Kendra laughed, shook her head, and followed her friend. They sat in the swings, which had somehow shrank in the past few years and it was only then that they began to talk. They talked about the first time they met, how they hated each other. They talked about the fights, the squabbles, and eventual friendship. They spoke of first loves, first kisses, and all the other firsts that matter most. It was only when they had run out of the past to talk about that they finally turned their attention to the future.

"What happens next?" asked Kendra, her pale skin white in the star light.

Penny leaned back in her swing and began pumping her legs. She didn't answer the question. Kendra, deciding that Penny didn't have one, followed suit and began swinging as well.

"As long as we're jolly friends forevermore," Penny finally said over the creaking of the rusty swing set, "I don't think I care."