Chapter Two: Vic Beats Her Face

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Vic went out often enough that, generally, Sober Vic knew how to take care of Drunk Vic. She kept makeup remover wipes in her purse so she could clean her face in the Süper home, and left ibuprofen and coconut water on her bedside table. Last night she’d been particularly good to herself: she’d even remembered to brush her teeth and wrap her hair. Vic woke slowly, stretching before sliding her satin sleep mask up onto her forehead. It was such a routine Sunday morning for her that she’d managed to totally forget the two girls asleep on the cashmere Kate Spade throw she’d spread over the floor.

In many ways, the night had been like any other, but when Vic closed her eyes and put all of her energy into it, she could pull out some bizarre memories from the haze. She had taken her usual pre-club selfies in the Süper on the way to 2FERNS, but yes—Vic checked her camera roll to make sure—there were two other girls there, huddled in the backseat beside her. She didn’t remember when she’d offered to let them crash at hers, but it wasn’t the craziest thing in the world. She did live in an amazing apartment in an amazing neighborhood (thanks to Diane’s parents, who owned it and let her, Diane, and Elise rent it for way below market value.)

The more she thought about it, the clearer the night became. Vic remembered being shocked, yet pleased, when Abbie kicked off her pumps and climbed on the table as the opening notes of “Back That Azz Up” rang through the club. When she’d stumbled into a Duane Reade to get a coconut water on the way home, Delali made a beeline for the Cheetos and spent about ten minutes deciding whether she wanted the crunchy kind or the puffy kind. She didn’t remember putting the throw on the ground for them, but then again, she wouldn’t. By now, Vic’s post night out routine was on autopilot. She was probably passed out by the time Abbie and Delali got themselves settled and finally fell asleep.

Vic was trying to decide if she should get a subpar bacon, egg, and cheese from the deli around the corner or patch together something from what little groceries she had when Abbie jolted awake.

“Oh my God!” Abbie gasped, sitting up straight. “Oh god,” she said again, this time slower. She closed her eyes and slapped a hand over her mouth. “I feel like I’m dying.” Abbie opened her eyes again, blinking at the unfamiliar surroundings. “What the heck....” she began, as her gaze landed on Delali, still asleep on the ground beside her. “Where am I?”

“Ugh,” Delali groaned, her face pressed against her backpack. She rolled into a sitting position, adjusting her braids as she looked around the room. Sunlight spilled into the bedroom from the east-facing windows, bathing Vic’s king-size bed, wide desk, and cream-colored accent chair in its warm glow—and exacerbating Delali’s massive hangover. She hadn’t been sober enough to take it all in last night, but in the light of day, Vic’s apartment was spacious and thoughtfully styled. She was impressed by it. After three years in school, she was so used to her college friends inviting themselves over to escape their shitty dorm rooms that she’d basically forgotten other people had nice apartments too.
“Shit,” she said, closing her eyes at the throbbing of her temples. “I need a bagel.”

Vic yawned, eyeing the other girls. Abbie was staring at herself in the mirror above Vic’s vanity, bemoaning the fact that she spent the night sans satin bonnet. Delali was digging into her backpack, looking for the tank top she’d taken off on the way to the club last night to reveal her red bralette.

“I know a place,” Vic said finally. She rolled out of bed and stepped over Abbie’s outstretched legs and started getting ready.

It didn’t surprise Delali that Vic’s favorite cafe was the kind of place written about in restaurant blogs and photographed for foodie Instagram accounts. The line to get in spilled out the door and onto the chilly fall sidewalk. Delali got her bagel (sesame, scallion cream cheese) before Abbie and Vic were even finished ordering. She stood by the door, biting into the bagel as it cooled, and lamenting the fact that Vic had led them to a tourist trap in the midst of one of Delali’s most violent hangovers to date. She watched as Vic explained her order to the employee behind the counter, enunciating as if she were speaking to a child and requesting two different flavors of cream cheese. The employee gruffly prepared her bagel, and after Abbie had changed her order four or five times, punctuating each new decision with a belabored “ahh” or “umm,” the girls finally joined Delali at the door. She tossed the polka dot-patterned wax paper the bagel had been wrapped in into the trash and pushed the shop door open.

“OMG,” Abbie burbled as the girls walked down the sidewalk. “This bagel is sooo effing good!”

Right?” Vic replied.

Delali rolled her eyes to herself, thinking about the three-dollar bodega bagel she had every other morning on her way to class. Definitely better.

“Hey,” a voice called dramatically from behind them. Vic and Abbie stopped to turn, but Delali didn’t have to look or even hear another word out of the person’s mouth to know what was happening. The “hey” had been delivered in a familiar pitch and tenor—it was the anxious, faux-casual tone of a fan who wanted a pic. “Are you—Delali Tamakloe?”

Delali cringed at the butchering of her name, though she was secretly happy. Pronunciation of her name was the basis on which she decided whether she should give “fans” the time of day. She turned toward the voice, pursed her lips, and, knowing how shitty she probably looked, lied. “No,” she said. “My name is Jenna.”

The fan, a teenaged boy sporting navy bermuda shorts and an impressively beat face, frowned. “Are you sure?”

“Am I sure about my own name? Yeah, I am.” Delali turned back around and kept walking, Abbie and Vic hurrying to catch up. Early in her career, Delali had been paranoid about having these kinds of interactions with fans. But she’d found that if she sent out enough social-media documented free swag, signed off on personalized cards her assistant had written in her signature boyish handwriting, and donated tax-deductible amounts to random people’s GoFundMes, her Georgia cache meant she’d always be adored in mainstream media.

“Holy crap!” Abbie said. All of a sudden, she could see what Delali’s box braids had disguised so well last night. “I knew I knew you from somewhere. You’re Georgia Simmons! From Georgia on My Mind!”

Vic was quiet. She’d clocked it last night but had been reluctant to give Delali the attention she was probably used to.

“That’s me!” Delali said falsely.

“Ugh, I have so many questions!”

“Could we not?” Delali asked.

“Oh,” Abbie responded.

A lull fell between the girls, Abbie shrinking in response to Delali’s crankiness.

“Did y’all have fun last night?” Vic asked, trying to restore the mood.

“I had an amazing time,” Abbie squealed. “I’ve never danced that much before in my life!” She giggled to herself. “Best cardio ever.”

“It was cool,” Delali muttered. If she was being honest, it was pretty cool that Vic had somehow managed to get them direct, skip-the-line access to the door of 2FERNS, free drinks, and a cozy spot by the hot tub. Plus, even though she’d never admit it, she was already starting to feel a sense of fondness towards the two girls, the kind that typically came after a night of dancing, drinking, and judging men.

Vic ignored Delali’s lukewarm assessment, burying her face into the plum cream cheese half of her bagel. Another awkward silence settled in.

“So, like, are we not gonna talk about what happened last night?” Delali asked. Her heart jumped as she said it, revealing a nervousness she didn’t know she felt.

Vic and Abbie stopped short in the middle of the sidewalk.

“Did that really happen?” Abbie asked. The night had been so crazy and out of the ordinary for her that she’d told herself the memory from the sidewalk was probably just something weird she’d imagined.

Vic coughed. “The, uh, the thing with the light? I thought I made that up.” During her morning scroll through the night’s events, she’d hurriedly pushed away the memory, hoping no one would bring it up.

“So you both remember it?” Delali pushed. “It totally happened!”

“But what was it?” Vic’s voice had an anxious edge.

“Well, how the fuck would I know?”

“Guys!” said Abbie. The girls looked at her. “Quiet.” She looked across the street at Tompkins Square Park, which was empty save for a white couple walking their dog. “Maybe we should go somewhere private.” Abbie led the girls to a bench surrounded by empty plots of park grass, and they all sat.

Delali waited for Vic to look up from her phone before she spoke. “Let’s walk through what happened last night,” she said. She stood and paced in front of the others like a professor preparing to deliver a lecture. “We were standing on the sidewalk getting ready to get into the Süper when Vic dropped her phone.” Delali paused, waiting for Abbie and Vic to confirm. When they nodded, she continued. “We all saw the phone dropping and then...I guess we stopped it from falling.”

“More than stopped it,” Abbie said.

“Yeah,” said Vic. “It, like, jumped back into my hand.”

“Did we...do that together?” Abbie asked.

Delali shrugged. “I guess so.”

“I don’t know,” Vic said hesitantly, her brow crinkling. “Are you sure? I mean, I hallucinate stuff when I’m drunk all the time.”

Delali snorted. “I don’t think we had a group hallucination.”

“How do you know?” Vic asked. “It totally happens. I saw a VICE special about it.”

“Well, I can’t say for sure, but I’m pretty positive that’s not what happened,” Delali replied, rolling her eyes. Vic opened her mouth to respond, but before she could speak, Abbie jumped in.

“Okay,” she began. “Let’s say we really did stop the phone. What does that mean? Like, do we have...powers?” Abbie’s voice had gotten quieter as she spoke, until it was hovering just above a whisper.

This time it was Vic’s turn to snort. “Please,” she said. “Powers?”

“I don’t know about all that,” Delali said. She dropped back onto the bench beside Abbie, pulling her legs up and crossing them beneath her. “But something weird definitely happened.” She leaned forward so she could look past Abbie at Vic. “Let’s see if we can do it again.”

“What do you mean?” Vic asked.

Delali gestured to the phone in Vic’s lap. “Your phone,” she said. “Drop it.”

Vic raised her eyebrows. “Are you serious?”

Delali nodded. “Completely.”
Vic’s grip tightened around her phone as she looked at Abbie, waiting for her input.

Abbie looked from Vic to Delali, and then back again. “I think we should try,” she said finally, and Delali sat back, pleased.

“Okay,” Vic said, slightly annoyed. She extended her arm straight in front of her, holding her phone parallel to the ground. “You guys ready?”

Abbie and Delali nodded. The three girls focused all their attention on the phone, blocking out the sights and sounds of the park around them. When Vic released her grip, the girls reached their hands out as they had the night before. It was as if time slowed, ticking away at half-pace...until the phone clattered to the stone path in front of them, landing screen down.

Delali unfolded her legs. Abbie pulled her hand back to her lap and resumed nervously toying with her jewelry. Vic blinked at the ground where her phone had landed. Finally, as they raised their eyes to look at each other, Vic burst out laughing. She crouched to pick up her phone, inspecting it for cracks and scratches.

“Thank God for this case.” She slipped the phone into the pocket of her lounge pants. Abbie looked from Vic to Delali before tentatively joining in with laughter of her own.

“Oh my God,” Vic said, standing. She lifted her arms above her head in a stretch, her laughter trailing off. “Wouldn’t it have been crazy if we actually stopped it?”

“Guess so,” Delali muttered out of the corner of her mouth. “I have to study.” She stood abruptly from the bench and Abbie followed suit.

“Sure,” Vic said, resisting the urge to make a snarky comment. Was it possible that Delali, who’d been somewhat practical even while drunk at the club, really thought they had powers?

The three girls headed out of the park, getting caught at a “don’t walk” sign. “Wait,” Vic said seriously. Delali and Abbie turned to her, watching as Vic thrust her hand theatrically in the air in front of her. “Damn,” she said, glancing at the glowing red letters. “The light didn’t change. I guess we really don’t have powers.”

Delali gave her a withering look. “I’m gonna bounce. Thanks for letting me crash,” she said over her shoulder before looking both ways and jogging across the street.

Vic and Abbie stood at the corner in silence, watching the cars slice by.

“Wow,” Vic said finally, smoothing her ponytail. “She looks nothing like she did on the show.”

By the time Delali got to her apartment, her hangover had mutated into something truly vicious. It was always 50/50 like that— sometimes eating made her feel like she’d been in bed by eight the night before, and others it made her feel like her insides were melting. She breezed past the front desk, where her old Greek doorman sat and mostly let people into the building if they loitered in the lobby long enough. Delali was glad the lobby was empty, thankful she wouldn’t have to share the elevator with a hipster in weird jeans or one of her few classmates who also lived in the building.

As she waited for the elevator, she ran through all the shit she’d have to do before her 10:40 on Monday—clean her bathroom, go over the problem set due on Tuesday, and get at least forty-five minutes of review in. She’d also have to think of a way to explain to her friends why she’d ditched senior night. She considered apologizing to the study group guys for darting out of The Bar, but instead resolved to just sit far away from them in lecture and let them wonder.

Delali was trying to remember her interactions with Darren when a faint buzzing penetrated her thoughts and filled her head. At first, she assumed it was just the sound of her building’s elevator, but then the buzz broke into an intelligible mutter, pocked with a heavy accent: What an ass.

Delali snapped her head around to see that the modern oak and glass lobby was still empty, but her doorman was staring at her. He smiled sweetly and waved. Delali nodded at him, her face hot with embarrassment, and turned to face the elevator again. It finally dinged and opened, but before Delali could step in she heard that same crackling noise, like radio static, and another mutter: What I wouldn’t give to be young again. She rushed into the elevator and hit PENTHOUSE, poking her head out before the doors could close. Her doorman looked back at her again, flashing a senile little smile.

Delali’s heart thundered so hard she could barely hear herself think. What the fuck is going on? The voice she’d heard had sounded like the doorman’s, but she couldn’t place where, physically, it had come from. It hadn’t echoed across the lobby’s marble ceiling, and the voice sounded so close that if it hadn’t been a man’s (and heavily accented, and talking about her body) she would’ve confused it for one of her own thoughts. She paced around the elevator, her breath growing quicker and shallower. When the elevator door opened on her floor, she sent it back down to nine. There was no way she could focus on homework now—she needed the fresh air of the terrace.

Delali sat on her favorite bench, which was partially obscured by decorative plants, but had one of the best views of the city. It was where couples usually went to be alone and take in the stunning views of lower Manhattan, but Delali just wanted to eat in peace. She pulled a half-empty pack of gummy peach rings from the bottom of her backpack and started to stuff them into her mouth urgently. The last time she felt this emotional it was because she’d lost out on the role of Princess Tiana in the live-action rendering of The Princess and the Frog to Celeste. The days between Lionel’s call and the shoplifting scandal that had gotten Celeste kicked out of the production were some of the darkest of Delali’s life. She pulled a college ruled notebook and mechanical pencil out of her backpack, deciding to take notes on the past 48 hours. Maybe writing everything out could provide her with evidence that something was, in fact, happening— and maybe the evidence could also explain what that something was. She wrote:

Went to a shitty bar with the guys

Didn’t hook up with Darren

Saw C*l*st* on the Bar TV

Met two random girls—also turning 22

Left the bar/ditched my friends

Saved the one girl’s phone from falling?

This she punctuated with a huge, bubble letter question mark.

Hit the club and everything was normal

Bad hangover, ate a bagel

Annoying fan

Tried to do the phone thing again and it didn’t work

Heard my doorman catcall me in his head?!

Delali laughed out loud at her attempt to make sense of the events. She struck through the list with a large X and closed the notebook. The bottom line was that she had been inebriated or otherwise disoriented for the past twenty-four hours, and now she needed sleep. She looked out at the glittering Manhattan skyline as she finished the last of her candy, her pace significantly slower as her stress leveled out and sugar coated her mouth. The door to the terrace slammed behind Delali and she jumped, still spooked by the weirdness of the past two days. But when she looked through the plants that hid her, it was just a young couple holding hands.

“It’s so fucking cold out,” the girl muttered.

“Chilly,” the guy said.

“I can’t wait to go back inside.”

There was silence, then the smacking sound of kisses.

“Chips. It tastes like sour cream and onion chips. I can’t wait to fucking brush.”

“Are we one of those couples that makes out without having sex now? Is that a type of couple?”

The couple continued in this way—a bizarre, disjointed conversation punctuated by kisses, until Delali got up to leave, spurred by the thought of a B on her exam. It was only then, when she passed the cozied-up couple, that she realized they were cuddling silently, their mouths closed, both turned to face the skyline instead of each other. The couple wasn’t having a conversation at all:Delali was just hearing their thoughts.

Abbie wasn’t usually one to text and walk, but she just couldn’t wait: she needed to talk to Dan. It was early evening in Nairobi, so he was probably at soccer practice with his kids, but Abbie texted him anyway on the off chance he’d be near his phone. You free? she typed, adding the phone, double heart, and key emojis after the sentence. She was debating whether to add the heart pierced with a blue arrow or the heart with the yellow ribbon when she felt herself jerk sharply backward, wobbling in last night’s heels. She hadn’t been paying attention to where she was going, and she’d walked into a man exiting a nearby cafe.

“Whoa!” Abbie exclaimed. She caught her balance just before her knees buckled, saving herself from crashing into the pavement.

“Fuck,” the man said. He looked at the pale brown stain blooming across the front of his white T-shirt. His coffee and ice cubes spilled across the sidewalk, spraying Abbie’s bare legs.

“Oh, I’m so sor—”

“Why don’t you watch where the fuck you’re going,” he snapped, beginning to wipe hysterically at his wet shirt.

Abbie took a step back, feeling the involuntary sting of hot tears. “Wait.” Abbie dug into her purse to retrieve her wallet, panicked. “Let me buy you another coffee,” she said, looking up at the man. As soon as they made eye contact, he backed away from her, blinking rapidly as though a bright light had just flashed in front of him.

“Oh my God,” he said, laughing. “Don’t worry about it.”

What? Abbie bit her lip, putting her wallet halfway back into her purse. “Are you sure?”

“Yeah, totally, it’s honestly not a big deal at all.” He wrung the front of his shirt in his hands. “I should drink less caffeine anyway. You basically did me a favor.”

“Okay,” said Abbie uncertainly. She dropped her wallet back into her bag but didn’t zip it closed. “Are you sure you’re sure?”

Positive,” the man stressed. He gave a her a big wave before striding off in the opposite direction. “Enjoy your Saturday!” he called over his shoulder.

“You, too,” Abbie said after him, her brow furrowing. She turned toward her subway stop, but then paused as she remembered the message Delali had sent to the group chat the three of them had made last night in case they got separated at the club. Has any weird shit happened with you guys? Nothing as weird as the phone thing had happened, but just in case… Abbie turned around to find the guy’s receding back in the crowd.

“Hey,” she called, walking toward him. She picked up her pace until she was just a few steps away and called out again. When he turned to face her, Abbie took a quick, deep breath and forced herself to make direct eye contact with him on purpose, something she never did with strangers. Like before, his reaction was instantaneous: his shoulders relaxed and he stood straighter. In his eyes, eerily opaque and unfocused, Abbie could see her reflection.

Abbie hadn’t thought beyond this moment—she wasn’t even sure what she’d expected to happen. She just stood, her eyes locked on the stranger’s, kind of...holding him there. It wasn’t until a girl with a pink undercut sidestepped them, shooting Abbie a pointed look, did Abbie realize how strange it was that she and this man were staring at each other in the middle of the sidewalk.

“Um.” She racked her brain for something to say. “Do you know how to get to Washington Heights from here?” she finished lamely. It was the only thing that came to mind; she’d meant to look up directions after texting Dan, but she’d gotten distracted by the spilled drink.

“Take the L and transfer to the A at 14th,” he said warmly.

“Ugh.” Abbie groaned inwardly as she thought about the train ride home. It’d probably take her over an hour to get all the way to her apartment. “I fricking hate the subway,” she muttered under her breath.

“Do you have Tripp?” The man asked before she’d even finished. “It’s a new ride app. New users get their first ride free.”

“Seriously?” Abbie asked. The man nodded in response. She took out her phone and downloaded the app, eyeing him cautiously until a little graphic of balloons exploded across the screen, announcing the promotion.

“Thank you,” Abbie said, finally looking away. And just like that, the weird exchange was over. In front of her, the man shook his head, jolting as though he’d been dunked in a tub of cold water. He gave Abbie a questioning look before ambling away unsteadily. Abbie watched him before glancing back down at her phone. Two cars in two days wasn’t terrible, was it?

When Vic had gotten home, she broke one of her cardinal rules and planted her fully made-up face directly onto the bed. She’d hoped she would pass out and get the rest that evaded her since her birthday, but when she finally got comfortable under her duvet, all she could do was think. She couldn’t stop combing over the weird night out she’d had with those two random girls and their embarrassing meeting in the park earlier that day. But what happened last night felt real, not like a figment of her imagination. Her phone, in its glittery pink case, was totally intact (and, as always, buzzing at least ten times an hour).

Vic had planned to nap until eight or nine-ish, then get up and get ready for another night out with her sisters. They’d been texting her all morning complaining that last night had been too short, so Diane had gotten a new reservation at Barrel & Harvest, and the girls planned to have drinks at one of the half-bar half-club spots they only frequented on weeknights. But by the time Diane knocked on Vic’s door to tell her to get ready, she hadn’t even gotten ten minutes of sleep.

“Was The Bar that good last night? You’ve been asleep for so fucking long!” Diane poked her head into Vic’s room. “Ew, what the fuck. This is messy, even for you, Vic.”

“Ugh, good evening to you, too.”

Diane walked in and sat at the edge of Vic’s bed, placing her nail polish bag on the duvet and fanning out her tools. Vic marveled at Diane’s already finished makeup, still exhausted from yesterday and dreading the process ahead of her. Her face had been covered in a dewy my-skin-but-better foundation, and she wore thick mascara, a subtle smoky eye, and the perfect nude lip. Even swaddled in her lavender terrycloth robe with her twists thrown into a sloppy bun, Diane looked like a fucking model.

“Okay, debrief? Who the fuck were those girls last night?” Diane began filing her pinky nail.

Vic sat up, surprising herself with how defensive she felt. “Just some girls I met downstairs. I thought they were nice.” Ish, Vic thought, remembering how prickly Delali had been this morning.

“I mean, I’m sure they were,” Diane said grudgingly. “That girl with the box braids looked just like—”

“Georgia, I know.”

“The other one seemed ashy, though,” Diane added quickly.

Vic laughed and rolled her eyes.

“Did you just roll your eyes at me?”

“No.” Vic reached into Diane’s makeup bag. “How do you have six different shades of nude? Everyone knows the only essential is Mauvelous.”

“That’s it? That’s all you’re willing to tell me about your night? That the girls were nice? That’s not enough to get you off the hook for ditching us at your own birthday dinner.” Diane punctuated her words with a dramatic wave of her nail file. “Please tell me at the very least you hooked up with one of them. And please tell me it was Box Braids.”

Vic was annoyed now. “I just got really drunk at The Bar! Faizan was being pretty generous with the margs and I just got distracted. Wouldn’t be the first time. Don’t act like we didn’t have an amazing time at 2FERNS anyway.”

Diane laughed. “True.”

“Anyway,” Vic hopped out of bed. “I’m gonna start getting ready.”

“Aight.” Diane collected her things. “Take your time though. Elise is still passed the fuck out.”

She closed the door behind her and Vic moved to her vanity, deciding to do a full face in hopes it would relax her. Sometimes putting on makeup was basically like doing yoga, except it didn’t require the Equinox membership her parents had gotten her as a graduation present. She turned on the most recent Gucci Mane and layered her face with primer, concealer, and foundation, expertly blending her contour and highlight before reaching her eyes. Fuck the feds, fuck the police, fuck the DEA, Gucci Mane reminded Vic as she pulled out her Bobbi Brown gel eyeliner. Just as she reached the middle of her lid, preparing to dismount into the crucial wing, Elise knocked violently on the door, causing Vic to jump and draw a crude line that stretched into her eyebrow.

“Fuck!” Vic yelled. She slammed her fist on her vanity, sending much of her makeup flying. When she looked up at herself in the mirror, on the verge of tears, she was shocked into silence. She didn’t see her own face. Instead, she saw Diane’s—perfectly dewy makeup, hair in a bun, and eyebrows in a thick, straight-across shape Vic had always eyed with curiosity. Vic, shaking, reached up tentatively to touch her hair, keeping her eyes trained on the mirror before her. But as soon as her fingers touched the twists, they disappeared, her hair returning to its loose waves and her face dissolving back into her own.

Elise poked her head in. “You have an eyelash curler?”

Vic, still staring at the mirror, stammered. “A-uh—? A what?”

“An eye-lash curl-er—do you have one?”

Vic dropped to the floor so Elise wouldn’t see the horror on her face, and started combing through the makeup that had fallen in her fit of rage. “Yeah, yeah. Of course. Obviously.”

Elise wrinkled her brow and sighed. “You’re always being dramatic.” She took the curler from Vic’s hand. “Thanks.”

Delali stood on the corner of two concrete paths inside the park, shaking in the cold. The temperature had plummeted and she pulled her jean jacket, stiff with cold, closer to her. After her weird encounter with the couple on the terrace, Delali texted the girls frantically. She noticed that Abbie had changed the name of the group to a series of dancing girl and double heart emojis, but she was so shaken she couldn’t even take the time to make fun of it in her head. Instead, she’d written:

Delali: Guys I’m hearing fucking voices

Then added:

Delali: For the record, I don’t mean this as an oversharing thing

Delali: Like it’s not a personal problem

Delali: I don’t always hear voices

Delali: I think it has to do with last night

Abbie had texted back first, explaining her interaction with a guy on the street.

Abbie: It’s like I made him...happier?

Vic: Relax. He was probably just crushing

Abbie: I looked like a hooker

Abbie: A sleep-deprived hooker

Delali: Maybe we should just meet again?

Abbie: I can!

Delali: Vic?

After that, there had been radio silence from Vic. Delali, unsure what to do with the insane energy coursing through her, was halfway across the Williamsburg Bridge when her phone started vibrating over and over, shaking life into her frozen hand.

Vic: Guys what the fuck

Vic: What the fuck

Vic: What the FUCK

Vic: Some weird shit just happened to me

Vic: Let’s meet now

Vic: Wherever

Vic: Tompkins?

Vic: I’m fucking scared!!!!!!!

Abbie came slowly into Delali’s view, puttering along in light wash jeans and a red peacoat, smiling absently and not at all matching Delali’s urgency.

“Hi!” Abbie said.

Hey.”

“Vic’s not here yet?”

“No.” Delali checked her phone. Nothing from Vic yet.

“She totally seems like the type to always be late.” Abbie laughed to herself. Delali said nothing.

The two girls stood in a loaded silence, which grew heavier each minute Vic was late. Outside the park, they could hear the sounds of New York as usual, cars and kids and the rest. But in the park they were surrounded on each side by rows of trees, which leaned in and out as the wind blew them and made the girls feel utterly isolated. Finally, they heard a shallow panting, and Vic, running, appeared from the girls’ left, her brow furrowed with stress and her makeup half-done. Her hair was thrown into a sloppy low bun, and she wore a slinky black dress with sheer black tights and Asics.

“Vic!” Delali blurted.

“Are you okay?” Abbie asked. She stretched out her arms to catch Vic, and Delali instinctively outstretched hers, too. Vic landed in them, and the girls fell together in a clumsy embrace. It was then, huddled in each others’ arms, that the girls felt the jolt of something powerful shake them. Immediately, they released each other and stepped back. They watched in wonder as beams of blue-white light appeared between them, shooting out of their chests to form a triangle. The beams radiated upwards, creating sheets of light that shot into the sky. Outside the park, unknowing onlookers ignored the display, taking the lights for just an ordinary part of the city’s skyline.

Triangle of light