I had been worried about Amrita for a while; she was stressed about school and once, she called me at about 4 a.m. crying. I had to hold the phone slightly away from my ear because she was sobbing so loudly. She just wasn’t all there and not acting like the Amrita I know at all.
“Why don’t we have a night to celebrate the end of term?” I suggested to her at the beginning of December. “After classes, before studying starts… just to unwind and have fun?”
“I dunno… I dunno if I feel up to it.”
I tried again; “Josh will be there.”
“Beth? Can I tell you something?”
“Obviously,” I said.
“Actually, never mind.”
“You can’t do that, Amrita—come on. You can’t say you’re going to tell me something and then decide not to…”
“I tried to kill myself last weekend.”
All the blood rushed to my heart in a painful burst and I could feel tears forming like pin pricks. I wanted to say something but of course, there really was nothing to say; what do you tell your best friend when they tell you they contemplated suicide? My silence urged her to change the subject.
“This isn’t good… I’m… not good. I really should skip out that night.”
“You know… you might be right,” I said. “But I think it would be good for you to come out and see everyone. You don’t have to stay. And if you don’t, I’ll walk you home.”
I think I sounded too cheery; but when she told me that, weeping would have sounded too cheerful. I could have lost her. I could have lost Amrita. And that thought kept repeating itself cruelly back to me all afternoon, disrupting the day and making me feel like I should have done more of…
On the night of, Joshua approached me gingerly and told me he had a question to ask me but could he ask me in private? I agreed and we went into the front seat of my car; he looked around once the locks popped and then said, “I have a crush on Amrita.”
“I know,” I said. “She has a crush on you too.”
“Yeah. She does. She always has. You know Amrita… she could have any guy she wants; she could, but she only wants you…”
“Oh my God.” He looked like he had just swallowed something far bigger than his throat could accommodate and his eyes grew wide and childish.
“Just… be easy on her, okay?”
“What do you mean?”
“Don’t come on too strong, yeah?”
“You made my night, Beth.”
After I broke that news to him, I was trying not to watch them all night; I tried to focus in on Kendall – Kendall. Liz was hawk-eyeing the happy couple across from us and almost squealing with delight.
“Liz, shh!” Kendall warned repeatedly.
“Like they’re going to notice anyways.”
Kendall and Liz thought all of this courtship was a game and they reveled in its unfolding, not knowing that we could have been attending Amrita’s funeral tonight instead of getting shit-wrecked at the Garneau Pub.
Liz ran into a friend from one of her Political Science classes and ran over, wasted and wobbling, to talk to them. Kendall looked at me stupidly and raised his glass.
“To Joshua and Amrita,” he said. His eyes were drooping and his skin was a sallow green in the way drunk cartoon characters look after being trapped in one of those ‘XXX’ barrels.
“To them,” I said and my voice broke; suddenly, I broke down. Thankfully I dove into Kendall’s chest and no one noticed.
“What’s wrong?” he asked, suddenly serious and snapping out of his drunken stupor, at least enough to comfort me momentarily.
I told him; I told him accidentally what Amrita had told me in confidence, and I felt like the weight had been lifted, but only until I realized I betrayed Amrita’s trust.
“Do you know why?” he asked. I shook my head. “She said she was s-stressed…”
“She looks so happy now though.”
“Maybe she’s good at hiding it.”
“Maybe ‘cause she’s with Joshua…”