by Jane Afleck

"I remember screaming with laughter on the Zipper," Karen said, "but after that it's all a blur."

"What, you mean you don't remember puking over the side of the Pirate Ship? Joey Adams was standing right below, watching us, and nearly got it in the face," I told her. I was sitting beside her on the front steps of her house, the late morning sun slowly pulling us to life. "God. How could you not remember?"

"Well, it'd serve Joey right." One at a time in her small hand mirror, she opened her brown eyes wide, all the better to apply mascara. "Perv. Said he wouldn't go on the rides because he was afraid of heights, but prob'ly all he wanted to do was look up our skirts."

"You really don't remember?" I was incredulous. My own eyes were wide.

"I told you I don't. So?" The mirror now framed her lips as she applied a coat of bright pink waxy lipstick. She got lazy for a second, didn't move the mirror around to accommodate her wide mouth. The blunted nose of the lipstick nudged outside the lines, leaving a pink blob in the left corner of her mouth. She didn't notice.

"Well, I guess I just thought we drank the same amount of rum," I said.

"Nita! Shhh!" she whispered. "The kitchen window's open!"


"So, my mother's in there."

"So? She knows you drink, doesn't she?"

"Nita!!" Karen looked at me like a wrestling star about ready to pull the hair out of his opponent's head, strand by strand.

"Well, shit, why else would you puke on the Pirate Ship?"

"Because, I get motion sick, remember?"

"Oh, right, like she'd believe that." I snorted. "So how come you didn't get sick when we went to the fair last year?"

"So, this year I took too many Midol and had a reaction. Whatever." Sneering into the mirror, she crammed her make-up back into her flowered case, then tossed it onto the grass in the shade to the side of the steps. I started picking at my hangnails.

"You didn't get sick last year because you didn't drink a pint of rum with me and Alex and Joey before."

"Anita! Shut up, or I'll tell your mother you let that creepy Jason Pinder feel you up behind the school."

"I didn't let him, he just did it."

"So? It still happened."

"Yeah, but you chose to get wasted. I didn't choose to have his grubby, wanker hands sully my shirt."

"Sully! Aren't we prim and proper." She made a prissy, pursed-lip face.

"He did, though, literally. There was this streak of dirt or something in the middle of my tit." I wrinkled my nose, thinking of the heat, the smell of his peanut breath, the crud under his fingernails. Bleach hadn't even taken it out.

Karen got up and moseyed over to the sprinkler hose. Bending so that her skirt crept up the back of her thighs, she turned it on. Sunlight caught in the streams and drops, made little rainbows above the browning grass. "Besides, you got drunk too."

"Not as drunk as you."

"How do you know how drunk you were?"

"Because I remember you puking, and you don't." I had her there. For once.

After a pause, while she crouched and pressed a finger over a hole in the sprinkler, she said: "Did I really almost puke on Joey?"

"Yeah. You shoulda seen the expression on his face." Her big pink lips spread slowly in sly amusement. Then the smile turned in on itself.

"What happened after I puked?" she asked, taking her finger off the hole, staring at the grass. "Did Joey wait around til we got off the ride?"

"Yeah, he did."

"What did he say?"

"Not much, really." She turned and looked up at me, squinting in the sun.

"What did he do?"

"He wanted you to get in his car. He said he'd take you home."

She looked back at the grass, began pulling strands of it out. "And?"

"Don't worry. I told him to screw himself. I said we were perfectly capable of walking."

"We walked home? Drunk?" Karen must have forgotten about her mother being in the kitchen.

"No, I hijacked a cab. Of course we walked. With Joey following for about a mile, crawling along the curb, swearing at me, and trying to sweet-talk you."

Karen stood up again. "Wow. I don't remember any of it."

"Well, I sure do." It was hell, trying to keep her on her feet. I can't remember ever feeling so pissed at her, but also kinda protective, like she was my sister.

"Sorry, Nita."

"You owe me."

She rolled her eyes. "Yeah, whatever."

"You owe me twenty bucks for puking on my skirt."

"What? I did not! Did I?"

"Ok, so you didn't. But you could've, and not remembered that either."