Amy

Scorching heat. Amy takes the last step from the gravel road onto the long, healthy grass, and lifts her feet up, left, then right, and slips off the heel straps of her sandals, and carries the shoes by the straps as she saunters further down the hill. She stops at the edge of the trees’ shade. She raises her shoulders, then rolls them backwards, standing with better posture than before. She stretches her arms out in front, clasps her hands, and pushes the palms of her hands towards the stage below, making a good stretch of it, tilting her head from side to side, as though warming up for a run. Her face is calm.

Two girls skip past, making a beeline for the taco truck, and they do a quick double-take as they glance at Amy. They stop skipping and walk the rest of the way, looking confused and asking each other questions. A larger group comes through under the trees, and they’re well into their morning beers. One guy bumps into Amy as he’s acting out how-drunk-was-Mark-the-night-before! and says sorry, putting his hand out to touch her arm and confirm that she’s okay, then he sees her face and recoils, startled and somewhat fucked up. “What the fuck,” he says to his friends, drunkenly softly or rather, quite loudly. He’s got their attention, and the group looks back, different faces turning to Amy’s at different times, and each one changes from tipsy and happy to confused and freaked out. One by one.

Her face is less calm. A small snarl on the lips. “What,” she mumbles, to herself. “What’s their problem.”

She starts walking down the hill, the sun striking her face, arms, feet; she closes her eyes for a moment, to savour it. The group of people from a moment ago have stopped by a juice truck, and two of the girls are walking back to her. Amy folds her arms and waits.

“Hey,” says a blonde girl, with red and black feathers in her hair and white lines, dots and swirls on her face.

“Hey,” says Amy, suspiciously.

“Are you Amy?”

“Of course I am,” says Amy.

Both girls are entranced, fascinated, eyes wider than planets. The blonde girl elbows the brunette in her ribs, and loudly whispers, “Ask! Ask!”

The brunette, in a koala onesie, seems nervous.

“It’s okay,” sighs Amy. “It’s the start of the day. You can get my photo. I won’t be saying this later on!”

The girls squeal, and jump to attention, wildly gesturing for one of their other friends to join them. A guy dressed as Bleeker from Juno, with red running shorts, white socks, and a stripy sweatband around his head, jogs up.

“Tim! Take our picture!” says the blonde girl, handing over her iPhone.

Tim does as he’s told, and the girls stand either side of Amy, not quite touching her; obviously in awe. He takes a few photos. Amy makes the peace sign with one hand, and the corners of her mouth almost make a smile, but not quite. Her tummy rumbles.

“Thank you, thank you,” says the blonde, grabbing the phone back from Tim and checking the photos. “Oh, this is amazing. I… Oh.” She stares at Amy again. “Fuck.”

The koala, still standing by Amy, catches her eye, and says, “Bloody great outfit.”

Amy’s lip snarls again. “Whatever.”

“No, I mean it. You look just like her.”

“I am her. Fuck off!”

The koala is silent, and walks back to her friends.

When the tenth person for the day has told Amy, “You look just like her,” Amy is mad. “For fuck’s sake,” she says. She opens her shoulder bag and tries to find her phone, but it’s not there. “Fuck.” No money purse, either, and she’s ravenous. “Fuck.”

This isn’t an unusual situation for her, though, and she does what she’s done a million times before: Amy heads for the stage, stumbling and mumbling, “Where’s my fuckin’ band. Did I come here in a fuckin’ bus? Must’ve been right wasted.”

Lucy Brathwaite, a stage hand, stops Amy from barging through the side stage door.

“HEY!” she shouts. “Only performers allowed back here.”

“Aw fuck off,” says Amy, tired and hungry.

“I’m serious,” says Lucy. “I’m sorry, but I can’t allow you back here.”

“Who the fuck you think I am, then?” says Amy, enraged, bringing her hands up in front of her, like claws, as though about to attack.

“HEY!” shouts Lucy, again, looking fearful. She steps back and loses her balance in the uneven grass and dirt.

Amy stops, and lowers her hands. It’s clear that this girl doesn’t know who she is, and Amy’s face crumples, confused. She quickly walks away before the girl can see her crying and holding her stomach because it hurts, from hunger. Feeling faint, she sinks to the ground under a nearby tree, and quietly cries. She’s lost her anger.

Another girl sits by her, munching away on some curly fries, and as she notices that Amy is crying, she says, gently, “Are you okay?”

Amy cries, to no one in particular, “I’m just so hungry…” and curls forward, into a ball, hugging her knees.

The girl pauses, then watches Amy while finishing her fries, then walks away. She returns fifteen minutes later, with a burger.

“Here,” she says.

Amy looks up and sees the food. She grabs it and eats the burger in a flash, unable to think about anything else while she’s consuming it. She’s happy, alluvasudden, and so thankful.

While she eats, the girl talks to herself, saying: “I miss Amy. She was so different. I wish she could’ve gotten more help with her addiction. I like to imagine it was a rough path she was going through, stuffing up shows, being a mess, then she’d come out on the other side, recognising she was and always would be an addict… it would always be a battle… but like Russell Brand, she would fight it all her life… and then, bam! There’d be a collaboration with Gaga and Amy, or Janelle Monáe and Amy, and they would be incredible, and we’d see she’d become a survivor…” The girl sighed. “I wish, I wish, if wishes were fishes.”

With panda eyes dripping mascara, Amy stares at the girl while she talks, and a changed look comes over her.

When the girl is done talking, Amy lunges over and hugs her, and as she hugs, she disappears, as though absorbed, molecule by molecule, into the girl’s body, leaving a slight twinkling residue in the air. The girl’s eyes widen, and she says, slowly, with a huge smile on her face: “Fuck, I’m wasted.”

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