We have a slumber party where we decide, instead of fruit, to bring candy shaped like fruit to dump into a big bowl. Welch’s fruit snacks and Haribo peaches. Even Circus Peanuts had their place, we all agreed. Except for Rima, who isn’t agreeable about anything. She rolls her eyes as we dangle sour spaghetti from our teeth and press mounds shaped like strawberries n’ cream to our boobs so they look like puffy nipples. We hadn’t seen her eat food in weeks. She munched exclusively on ice chips and the occasional sugar free peppermint. When she goes to the bathroom, we all agree if we were fruit salad, Rima would be the banana Runts. 

We’re watching “A Walk to Remember.” Mandy Moore is dying and Shane West is sad because he is falling for a girl who is dying. Mandy wears a pale blue dress we all want a version of to wear to prom. We each imagine a version of Shane stabbing our left breasts with a corsage. In one scene, Mandy stands at the mic and sings a solo in front of the whole school, which makes us go quiet. The song is one we will each go home and download. Years later, we will wonder why it’s still on our iPods, until we forget about iPods all together. 

What we never forget about is Rima. She doesn’t end up going to prom. The sleepover is the last time we see her before her parents send her away to a “retreat” from which she never returns. We remember the look in Rima’s eyes, alert and darting like a feral cat’s, as she watches Mandy belting it out on the stage. We remember her hissing under her breath, “She doesn’t even look like she’s dying,” as the sugar crash hits and we fall into deep slumber, the sound of her teeth rattling together like a pack of loose Chiclets.

***

Stephanie Yu lives in Los Angeles with her partner Nate. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in BULL: Men’s FictionEclecticaHobartX-R-A-Y, and elsewhere. You can find her tweeting @stfu_stephanie.

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