Authors: Ann Dee Ellis
Published by the Penguin Group
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Copyright Â© 2014 by Ann Dee Ellis
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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Ellis, Ann Dee.
The end or something like that / by Ann Dee Ellis.
Summary: As the first anniversary of her best friend Kim's death nears, fourteen-year-old Emmy tries to fulfill her promise to make contact with Kim's spirit, but she gains new perspective from unexpected connections.
[1. DeathâFiction. 2. Best friendsâFiction. 3. FriendshipâFiction.
4. High schoolsâFiction. 5. SchoolsâFiction. 6. Self-esteemâFiction.
7. Family lifeâNevadaâLas VegasâFiction. 8. Las Vegas (Nev.)âFiction.] I. Title.
PZ7.E4582End 2014 [Fic]âdc23 2013020975
The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party websites or their content.
*Â *Â *
To my Asher, for his sensitive soul and wise thoughts, and to my mother, who knew better than I did that this is not the end. And that's a word with a bark on it.
One day my best friend named Kim died.
Before she died, Kim made me promise to contact her.
I didn't want to.
But she made me promise.
So then I tried.
Turns out I suck at talking to dead people.
Another person who died was my earth science teacher named Ms. Homeyer.
She didn't know my best friend Kim.
I did not like Ms. Homeyer very much.
She died almost a year after Kim died.
Her funeral was one day before the anniversary of my dead best friend's death.
I rode the bus to Ms. Homeyer's funeral.
I wore my mom's fancy turquoise dress with the sequins because the black dress I got for Kim's funeral didn't fit anymore, and I didn't have anything else.
When Skeeter got on the bus, I could see in his face that I'd made the wrong decision. I could see it right when he looked at me.
“Crap,” I said.
“What?” He sat next to me.
“I look dumb,” I said.
He was trying to keep his face normal even though he knew what I was talking about.
“You look good,” he said.
“Shut up,” I said.
“No. Really. You look pretty.”
This made it worse because I did not look pretty. I never look pretty.
Skeeter was in his Little Caesars uniform with his huge headphones around his neck, and I was in a cocktail dress with my huarache sandals.
“Do you really want to do this?” he asked. “We don't have to.”
Ms. Homeyer had died on Tuesday, and Skeeter didn't get why I wanted to go to her funeral so bad. I didn't get why I wanted to go so bad either.
“I told you, you didn't have to come,” I said.
“I'm here, aren't I?”
We were crammed on the seat because the bus was full: probably a matinee just got out at one of the casinos.
I gripped my bag. This was my first time being down on the strip since Kim died, and I still hated it. So much.
Skeeter and I sat there and people were sweating and I felt sticky and as we drove, Skeeter kept trying to talk to me, but I kept saying,
Skeeter. Stop talking
And he'd say,
But did you see the blah blah
And I'd say,
Skeeter, don't you want to listen to your stupid music?
When we turned on Flamingo I watched the people outside and tried to tune out Skeeter's voice.
I heard a lady telling her toddler to pull her panties up. A guy hacking something out of his throat. A kid talking loud in Spanish.
Outside there were things.
Drunks on benches, skanky ladies on cell phones, and tourists taking pictures. Skeeter's voice came back in. His dog and fishing and
Stone Temple Pilots
, and blah blah and we turned the corner onto Paradise, and there was a man holding a sign and dancing.
The sign said,
DR. TED FARNSWORTH IS WATCHING YOU!
COME TO HIS SEMINAR
TO FIND OUT MORE!
SATURDAY, MAY 26TH
AT CIRCUS CIRCUS RESORT!
GO TO TALKTODEADLOVEDONES.COM FOR MORE INFO.
My heart thumped.
DR. TED FARNSWORTH IS WATCHING YOU!
I had been e-mailing Dr. Ted Farnsworth every day for months.
E-mailing. Tweeting. Messaging. I even sent him a postcard.
All I ever got back were form responses.
THANKS FOR YOUR E-MAIL! REMEMBER THE VEIL IS THIN! YOUR LOVED ONES ARE WAITING!
His website said all his shows were postponed until further notice.
He was here.
The day before Kim's death anniversary, THE MOST IMPORTANT DAY IN YOUR MORTAL AND YOUR BELOVED'S IMMORTAL LIVES, and he was here.
We drove away from the sign.
We drove and drove and drove and drove and drove away from the sign, and I tried to calm down.
I tried to calm down.
At the corner of Paradise and Sands, I saw her.
At 5:23 on Friday, May 25th, in the middle of Skeeter's sentence I saw the wrong dead person.
I saw Ms. Dead Homeyer.
According to Dr. Ted Farnsworth, if your best friend dies, you can talk to her afterward.
She can call you. You can call her. On special occasions she can come down and hang out with you. And if you're really in tune, she can move into your closet.
Kim circled all the dates she was going to appear after she died.
“I'll do your birthday and my birthday,” she said, the pen in her teeth. “Both at Red Rock?”
Kim's favorite place in the whole world was Red Rock Canyon. Mine sort of was too. I wasn't sure.
We'd gone hiking there with her mom, Trish, and my dad had taken us a couple times, and sometimes Kim would talk about if she got old enough, she'd move out there.
“You'd want to live there?”
“Wouldn't you want to? Like camp every night under the stars?”
I thought about it for a second. “I guess?”
I wasn't much of a camper. I hated bugs.
“We'll both move out there,” she said.
So for both our birthdays after she died, we were going to meet in the canyon.
There were some other dates. Her mom's birthday, my mom's birthday. And she kept reminding me, “Don't forget the most important one, don't forget the most important date is the anniversary of the day I die.”
“You're not going to die.”
“I'm going to die, Emmy.”
Then she died.
So on my birthday, fifty-three days after Kim, after her heart stopped, the first important date, I got everything Kim and I had agreed on.
I got the cupcakes.
I got the Fresca.
loaded up on my laptop.
I got three boxes of candy: Snickers, Skittles, and M&M's.
I got her favorite book,
The House on Mango Street.
And I put on my white cargo pants and a white T-shirt. Dr. Ted Farnsworth advocated light colors for dead-people talking.
Mom said, “Don't you want to do something special for your birthday?”
She stood in the kitchen, watching me as I packed the soda in my backpack.
She'd made Joe go get me doughnuts for breakfast, but now he was at basketball practice and Dad was out golfing.
Mom was waiting for me.
“I have somewhere to go,” I told her.
“All day,” I said.
She gripped the counter. “Where? Where do you have to go all day long?”
She was trying to be patient with me. Her therapist told her to be patient with me. I heard her tell Dad that, and Dad said, “I think that'd be a good idea, Linda.”
And it was a good idea.
I tucked my hair behind my ear and tried to look normal. Like I was her normal daughter on a normal day that was my birthday.
“I'm going to the mall with Gabby,” I said.
“Gabby,” she said.
“Gabby,” I said.
She stared at me.
Then she said it again, “You're going to the mall with Gabby.”
It was a bad lie. Mom knew and I knew, that except for the week after Kim died, I hadn't spoken to Gabby for over a month. She also knew that I'd been sitting in my closet every Friday night, and one time I made a doll out of an old sweater. She thought this was disturbing and discussed it at length with my father who told her she was being irrational. I heard them talking through the vent in my closet. It's actually a really good place to hear things.
Mom was quiet.
“Yeah. She wants to buy me some earrings,” I said, which was stupid because I don't wear earrings.
I grabbed a box of crackers. I didn't know how long this was going to take and I liked to be prepared.
“Why do you need all that food?” she asked.
I swallowed. “Uh, because we're going to have a picnic afterward.”
And I smiled.
“Well,” she finally said, “okay.”
I opened the fridge and got out some apples.
“You could invite her to go to dinner with us.”
“Gabby,” she said. “To the Cheesecake Factory.”
Dinner. Invite Gabby to dinner.
“I'll see,” I said. “But I think she wants to take me out for pizza later.”
It sounded so dumb as it came out of my mouth. I was the worst at this.
Then she said, “You don't want to go to dinner?”
Every year we went to the Cheesecake Factory on my birthday. Every single year. This would be the first time we'd be there without Kim.
“No,” I said. “It's okay.”
Mom stared at me. “Are you sure, Emmy?”
I smiled big and this is what happens when someone knows the other person is lying her face off, and the person lying her face off knows the person knows she's lying her face off, but she keeps lying as hard and as fast as she can because she also knows that the person won't stop her.
Mom wasn't going to stop me.
This was her being patient. She was going to let me do whatever I wanted on my birthday, and she knew it had nothing to do with my old friends.
For the first time since Kim died, I felt love for my mother in her jeggings.
“We might go anyway when you get back,” she said, “just for dessert.”
I said, “Okay.”
And she said, “Okay,” and she handed me forty dollars. “Have fun.”
“I will,” I said.
I walked out the door and got on the bus that stopped near Red Rock Canyon Road.
The sun was out bright already.
As the bus got closer to the stop, I started to feel nervous.
We'd talked about it so much.
“Do you think I'll be wearing white?” Kim had said.
“I don't know.”
She pulled out some grass and started sucking on it. “What if I'm naked?”
“What? It's only natural. That's how we were born.”
“Yeah, but you aren't going to appear naked.”
She stacked the grass into a pile. “What if all dead people are naked walking around heaven?”
“Ew,” I said because I don't like naked people. I once saw my brother in the bathroom and I can't talk about it.
Kim said, “Let's close our eyes and think about it.”
I hit her.
“No, really,” she said. “Think about my uncle Sid.”
Kim's uncle Sid died when we were eight, and I did not want to imagine him like that.
Now it was my birthday and she was dead and maybe she would show up naked.
I got off the bus and walked up the highway.
It was a long, long walk, and sometimes Kim and I would bring our bikes on the bus and ride to the canyon. But it was hard to ride a bike with all the stuff in my backpack.
So I walked.
A falcon flew overhead. Maybe that was Kim, I thought for a second, but then the falcon disappeared behind a hill. And it was really just a magpie.
After an hour, I got to the trailhead and stopped. Tried to breathe. I was out of shape.
I took a water out of my pack and drank the whole thing. Then I hiked to the rock we'd picked. A flat rock with ruts beat down by the rain.
One Saturday we'd come out to choose the place.
“This will be where I appear again,” Kim had said, her arms outstretched, her black hair blowing in the wind. I'd held my breath as she stood there, and then she looked at me and started laughing.
Now I was here alone.
Waiting for her.
I took a breath. I can do this. I can do this. I can do this.
I pulled out the quilt with the blue buffalo on it. I set out all the food.
Then I sat down.
The sun was hot and I should have brought a hat.
People walked by.
A guy with a beard asked me what time it was.
I ate a Snickers bar. Two Snickers bars.
I sat there from nine in the morning until eight at night.