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Summer Sistersby Judy Blume
The city is broiling in an early summer heat wave and for the third day in a row Victoria buys a salad from the Korean market around the corner and has lunch at her desk. Her roommate, Maia, tells her she's risking her life eating from a salad bar. If the bacteria don't get you, the preservatives will. Victoria considers this as she chomps on a carrot and scribbles notes to herself on an upcoming meeting with a client who's looking for a PR firm with an edge. Everyone wants edge these days. You tell them it's edgy, they love it.
When the phone rings she grabs it, expecting a call from the segment producer at Regis and Kathie Lee. "This is Victoria Leonard," she says, sounding solid and professional.
She's surprised to hear Caitlin's voice on the other end and worries for a minute it's bad news, because Caitlin calls only at night, usually late, often waking her from a deep sleep. Besides, it's been a couple of months since they've talked at all.
"You have to come up," Caitlin says. She's using her breathy princess voice, the one she's picked up in Europe, halfway between Jackie O's and Princess Di's. "I'm getting married at Lamb's house on the Vineyard."
"Yes. And you have to be my Maid of Honor. It's only appropriate, don't you think?"
"I guess that depends on who you're marrying."
"Bru," Caitlin answers, and suddenly she sounds like herself again. "I'm marrying Bru. I thought you knew."
Victoria forces herself to swallow, to breathe, but she feels clammy and weak anyway. She grabs the cold can of Diet Coke from the corner of her desk and holds it against her forehead, then moves it to her neck, as she jots down the date and time of the wedding. She doodles all around it while Caitlin chats, until the whole page is filled with arrows, crescent moons, and triangles, as if she's back in sixth grade.
"Vix?" Caitlin says. "Are you still there? Do we have a bad connection or what?"
"No, it's okay."
"So you'll come?"
"Yes." The second she hangs up she makes a mad dash for the women's room where she pukes her guts out in the stall. She has to call Caitlin back, tell her there's no way she can do this. What can Caitlin be thinking? What was she thinking when she agreed?
Four weeks later Caitlin, her hair flying in the wind, meets Victoria at the tiny Vineyard airport. Victoria is the last one to step out of the commuter from LaGuardia. She'd spotted Caitlin from her window as soon as they'd landed but felt glued to her seat. It's been more than two years since they've seen each other, and three since Victoria graduated from college and got caught up in real life--a job, with just two weeks vacation a year. No money to fly around. Bummer, as Lamb would say when they were kids.
"Going on to Nantucket with us?" the flight attendant asks and suddenly Victoria realizes she's the only passenger still on the plane. Embarrassed, she grabs her bag and hustles down the steps onto the tarmac. Caitlin finds her in the crowd and waves frantically. Victoria heads toward her, shaking her head because Caitlin is wearing a T-shirt that says simplify, simplify, simplify. She's barefoot as usual and Victoria is betting her feet will be as dirty as they were that first summer.
Caitlin holds her at arm's length for a minute. "God, Vix . . ." she says, "you look so . . . grown up!" They both laugh, then Caitlin hugs her. She smells of seawater, suntan lotion, and something else. Victoria closes her eyes, breathing in the familiar scent, and for a moment it's as if they've never been apart. They're still Vixen and Cassandra, summer sisters forever. The rest is a mistake, a crazy joke.
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