Grief is a wild woman and she’ll take you when she wants to.

Grief stands in the corner of the room, martini in hand. She wears a fuchsia pink skirt suit, 80s-style with huge shoulder pads and a double breast. Her hair is teased high, her pumps match her suit. She smokes in the corner despite the fact that it’s 2020 and no one smokes indoors anymore. She doesn’t give a FUCK. Come tell her to stop, she will fuck you up.

She has one arm crossed over her chest, the fist supporting her bent elbow of her other arm. She leers at the party-goers. All of them causal, at ease, having fun.

Grief hates fun.

It’s time to shake this shit up.

“What a bunch of tools,” she says to no one, but to everyone. “Sitting here like everything is fucking fine. Like the world is fucking perfect.”

People are starting to look at her.

Good. That’s what she wants.

“That’s right, you heard me. You all are fucking lemmings with your perfect craft cocktails and your fucking kombucha chasers and your chinos that don’t fucking wrinkle because you paid extra for the fucking wrinkle-resistant fabric. Fuck your chinos. And fuck your ironic T-shirts. No one fucking cares about your sense of humor. You don’t have one if it needs to be on display!”

Everyone has stopped. Open mouthed, staring at Grief, who is just getting started.

“You all think you know,” she lurches forward. She’s not drunk. No, Grief can’t be blunted by anything. She’s unapologetic and now that she has all eyes on her, she starts gesturing wildly with her martini, letting the liquid slosh out onto the high end contemporary couch the host paid to have custom made.

Grief will not be paying for that cleaning bill.

“You know what? Your problems are small, minute, Lilliputian. No one fucking cares about your stock dividends or your diet or you marathon training, Allison,” Greif shoots a look at Allison, who had, in fact, been just speaking about her marathon training. Even now she’s in a running dress, which Grief think is just fucking ridiculous. A running dress?

We get it, Allison. You’re a runner now!” People are making glances amongst themselves. Some looks are nervous, some of full of pity, some are quietly applauding Grief for taking down Allison about her marathon training.

“And Greg,” Greif spits. Greg snaps his head up. He had been trying to stay hidden behind the man sitting next to him. He knew he was going to be a source for Grief’s ire.

“Can you stop it with the fucking travel blog? No one gives a shit that you go to Sweden or that bed and breakfast in fucking Butte. Stop trying to make yourself interesting. You’re just not.”

Greg is looking around wondering if this is true. No one steps up to defend him. But that could also be because Grief doesn’t stop when she gets started. Grief seems to always attack Greg. His blog is a particular source of fodder, as if Grief doesn’t like pretty pictures and sources for local honey. Greg once invited Grief to come with him on one of these trips, but she bailed at the last minute, citing “work” as an excuse. Grief works a lot so it wasn’t an implausible excuse.

The hostess comes over to Grief.

“Grief, honey, would you like something to eat? I have some great cheese in the kitchen.”

“I don’t want you goddamn cheese, Melanie. Your cheese is a fucking disaster and food won’t fix all these fucking lemmings,” Grief takes a swig of her drink, finishing it. She fishes the olive out of the glass and throws it in Melanie’s face, bouncing off her forehead. “What are you going to do, Melanie? I’m ruining a ‘lovely’ party. Again.”

She’s right, of course. Grief is ruining the party again. People are whispering, “Why does Melanie invite her if she always gets like this?”

Melanie looks at her guests. Then she looks at Grief. Grief is holding her empty glass, arms crossed, literally tapping her food. Waiting for a reaction from Melanie, from anyone. Anyone who will engage with her so she can explode, again. She likes explosions.

Melanie notices the purple splotches under Grief’s eyes, the full coverage foundation that isn’t quite covering, the attempt Grief has taken to hide, to cover up her hideous parts. But Grief doesn’t know…she’s not hideous. Grief doesn’t see herself as beautiful and Melanie remembers this. So instead of pushing back, of exploding back at Grief…

“G,” Melanie whispers, “Come with me, please.”

Grief rolls her eyes. Melanie takes her by the elbow and walks her to a bedroom. She doesn’t acknowledge her guests. No apologizing, not daring to give in to the shame that could overwhelm her because of her friend. Her somehow newest and best friend.

They walk into Melanie’s guest room. It’s rich and comfortable and soft and cozy. Grief kicks off her pumps and Melanie notices Grief is wearing pantyhose again. Why does Grief love to wear those uncomfortable things? A question for another day.

“What do you want?” Grief says, flopping into the easy chair in the corner, curling her feet under her. This gesture betrays everything.

“Do you need a hug?” Melanie asks.

“The fuck?” Grief exclaims.

“Do you need a hug?” Melanie asks again, lifting her arms.

And then Grief is there, in Melanie’s arms, sobbing, shaking, keening. Grief can’t breathe, she is taking huge gasping breaths, her face buried in her hands. Grief is mortified. Grief is sad. Grief just wanted to be acknowledged.

“I’m sorry, Mel. I know I don’t fit in, I know I don’t wear the right clothes or drink the right thing. I know I’m weird. But I just wanted someone to talk to me. Someone who would ask about me and not ignore me. I’m so tired of being ignored.” Grief picks her head up and her face is covered in tracks from her mascara, thick, black lines going through that foundation.

“I’ll try, Mel, I really will.” Melanie has heard this before. Grief will try. She’ll try to fit in, try to play nice, try to not be such a buzzkill and a burden.

“G,” Mel says gently. “I don’t need you to be different. You are not the problem. If people can’t get past your fashion or your presence, that’s their problem. You are here to stay with me. And people who can’t welcome you are free to leave.”

Grief takes a deep breath, steadies herself.

“Can I have some water?”

“Of course,” Melanie fills a glass from the adjoining bathroom. She keeps glasses near every sink now because water always seems to help Grief when she’s in a state like this.

Grief drinks as if she’s been in a desert for 40 days and 40 nights. She turns to Melanie.

“Hey, do you remember that time we went to that concert in the park and ate a picnic in the grass?”

Of course Melanie remembers. “Oh, that was so much fun.”

“Could we go on another picnic? Regardless of whether there’s a concert”

“Hell yeah we can,” Melanie replies. “Can I bring cheese?”

“Yeah. You have good cheese. It’s not a disaster.”

“Oh, I know,” Melanie replies, smiling.

Grief takes her position in the chair, Melanie lays on her side on the bed, facing Grief. Giving Grief her full attention. Grief tells her the best stories and Melanie remembers every detail Grief tells her as if she’s experiencing it again.

“I’m sorry, G,” Melanie says. “I should have spent time with you tonight.”

“Yeah, you should have,” Grief replies. “But it’s ok now.”

Guests leave slowly. Grief and Melanie rejoin the party, Grief right next to Melanie as she cleans the kitchen, changes into her PJs, and gets in bed.

“Good night, G,” Melanie calls out.

“Good night, Mel. See you in the morning.” Grief closes the door and sits on that custom couch in the living room. Drinking tea. Knowing it’s just a matter of time until her and Melanie have to work this out again. But for now, she lets Melanie sleep and sits vigil to keep the ghosts away.

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