If you enjoyed “Unsaid” in The Necessaries, here’s a small scene between Sal and Angeline following the end of that story. [Warning: contains spoilers!]
They were in the storage shed, behind a set of ramps, inside a trunk shaped like a bookend. The hammered tin was peeling on one side, the elaborate design of pineapples and artichokes dark with rust.
“Found ‘em!” I yelled to Angeline.
She finished furling the old POW flag left by the previous tenants, then sneezed.
“I guess that concludes the investigation.”
“Excavation, more like. Archaic relics of the long-gone youth of Sal and Angeline.”
“Speak for yourself.” She sneezed again. “Let’s take them inside and read them.” She reached for the case.
I hefted it myself. “Don’t you dare. You’re pregnant and your wrist is in a cast. Are you sure you want all this dust in the house?”
But my complaint was half-hearted. These notebooks were as special to her as they were to me. The link that connected us before and through everything else—the chain that no one could sunder, the call that no one could mimic, the wavelength no one else knew how to tune in.
I huffed a little as I lugged the trunk into the house. Nothing had been resolved. Ryan had come home, left again. He knew about the baby. He knew I knew how Angeline had gotten the cast. We had to talk about it soon. She couldn’t make the rent herself, much less raise a baby. But I knew she wouldn’t agree to my solution, and I knew better than to push.
The pages rustled as we lifted them out, stacks and stacks of spiral notebooks, wide-ruled. They’d dried and become brittle, the doodles and scribbles on the covers speckled with mold. Funny quotes the other had said, lyrics from songs, lines from our favorite movies. Somewhere, on each one, a heart with arrows prickling out of it like porcupine quills.
I looked across the table at her, my deepest, longest-lasting relationship. People talk about finding the one who completes you, the person who is your other half, the love of your life. We’d been that to each other, long before boys, before college, before broken love affairs and disillusioned dreams. We were the other’s rock, anchor, safety net. Or had been.
“There are so many of them,” I said.
“We were devoted, weren’t we?” Angeline said. She was putting them in order by date, earliest to last, all the way back to seventh grade when we sat in side-by-side desks in Mr. Berg’s Earth Science class, scribbling to each other in notebooks we would swap after school and then swap again in the morning.
“More like an obsession.” It was an enormous stack. We could fill a whole notebook in a week. We told each other everything.
I hadn’t thought about that young me in so long. I wasn’t sure I wanted to resurrect her.
I looked up to see her watching me, her eyes brilliant with tears. “This doesn’t change anything. You know that, right?”
“That’s not true,” I said quietly. “Ryan—the baby—just you in this house. It changes everything. It has to.”
“It won’t change what’s important.” She tapped her finger on the cover of a red notebook, over a red cartoon heart that read Sal + Ang, Best Friends Forever!!!!!!!
“Now, make us some hot chocolate. I want Baby to hear all of this. She needs to know what kind of family she’s coming into.”
I laughed through my tears and went to her cupboard to find the powdered hot cocoa that she loves. I set the kettle to boil and sat down at the table with all the Sals, all the Angelines, all the people we were and had been and could be. She pushed a notebook toward me, and I opened it.