Chopin – Nocturne in E Flat Major (Op. 9 No. 2)
Dilsey Murphy made her way back to Val’s usual seat on the bus the first thing in the morning. Usually Valerie rode to school of a morning with Ricky in his hand-me-down Ford Fiesta, but he had football practice after school on Mondays through Thursdays. So, Val was available to sit with Dilsey on a cold Tuesday morning in October.
“Hello, Dils. Something the matter?”
“It’s Blueberry. She’s sick this morning. Not going to school like usual.”
“How’s Mike taking it? Worried?”
Mike Murphy was Dilsey’s younger brother. Blueberry Bates was his eighth-grade lady love. They were always together like salt and pepper shakers on a restaurant table.
“He’s devastated. The Bates sisters took Blue to the emergency room last night. She’s in the hospital now.”
“Oh, that’s terrible! We’ll have to go visit her as soon as possible.”
“She’s not conscious. Maybe a coma…”
Dilsey sat down next to Valerie and the first thing Val did was put an arm around her and pull her in close. Dilsey laid her head on Val’s shoulder. Tears followed.
It’s funny how things work in real life. Not so long ago it was Val in tears, laying her head on Mary Philips’ shoulder. Then Mary had been the actual leader of the Norwall Pirates, the infamous liars’ club. But when Mary was going away to college, she didn’t turn to any of the boys to lead the club. She asked Valerie to do it. And then Val shouldered the responsibility until she finally handed the leadership of the infamous werewolf chasers and undead wizard whackers off to her cousin, the Terrible Timothy.
“Is it enough just to hold you like this? Or is there something you wanna talk about?”
“Holding me helps. Did I tell you I kissed him?”
“On your date?”
“Yeah. After the movie.”
“That’s sweet. But don’t let him take advantage of you.”
“I know… he’s a boy. And he tells a lot of lies.”
“Big ones… black in color… with hair on them… and sometimes spider legs.”
Through the tears, Dilsey chuckled at “spider legs.”
“But he has a good heart.”
“He does. You know he was pretty awful to Blueberry about the whole transgender thing, though.”
“Yeah. Blue has never really been a boy. But it was hard for him to accept that when he found out she was born with a penis.”
“Empathy for others was never something he was good at.”
“The Bates sisters convinced him though. They showed him the x-rays that showed that Blue also had malformed ovaries. She was only a boy on the outside part.”
“I didn’t know that. I always thought she just needed to be a girl that badly.”
“Do you think it’s easier to be a boy than it is to be a girl?” Dilsey looked up at Val and the tears were gone.
“I suppose it is to be your brother Danny. He always sees the funny side of everything and life is mostly one big joke to him.”
“Yeah, but my brother Mike is the opposite. He takes things way too seriously. He fights with Mom more than any of the rest of us. And he really loves Blue, even though he tells me how much he struggles to understand her most of time. Mom couldn’t force him to go to school today because Blue is in the hospital.”
“Mike is a gallant young man. You’re right. It must be harder to be him than it is to be either of us.”
“I wouldn’t want to be Tim either. It has to be hard to be that smart and that imaginative all the time.”
“I suppose you’re right. More than half of all the weird things the Pirates have done over the years happened because of what was going on in Tim’s evil brain.”
“His brain’s not evil, Val. He has a good brain.”
“Sure he does. And it’s a fine thing for you to admire him for it. I just say things like that ‘cause… you know… cousins.”
“Sure. It’s just like me saying brothers.”
“You know, Dils, it’s a good thing to be able to talk like this. Me and two former Pirates have started meeting down at the skinny-dipping pond. It might be good to have another girl there.”
“Really? Who are the other two?”
“Ricky Porter and Billy Martin.”
“Oh, uh… I don’t really know them.”
“Well, if you come along with me next time, you’ll get to know them better. It could be good for all of us. Some of us have problems with depression and it helps to be able to talk about anything and everything with people who will at least try to understand.”
“Yeah. That might be good.”
“I will get in touch with you for the next time.”
“Yeah, um… okay.”
The two girls sat together in silence for the last couple of miles to Belle City High School. It felt good to hold somebody like Dilsey. She was warm and soft and good to be near. And when they left the bus together, Valerie felt like now she was the wise older girl, while Dilsey had taken Val’s former place as the apprentice. She would be happy to pass on all the things she learned from Mary when she was younger. In fact, it felt like a real important responsibility.