I Don't Want to Think of the Moon Like That
Her brilliance was sealed inside the black silk envelope of her hair. A dark brilliance, an inky luminescent music, like when the moon looks the other way and you can see it there in its own darkness. My husband says that's called "the auld moon lying in the new moon's arms," but even before I heard what happened to Diana, I preferred not to think of the moon that way. My husband is not the jealous type, but I still don't want to think of the moon like that.
And I prefer to think of Diana like this: shiny hair swinging, little silver granny glasses, great posture, the other smartest girl in our class and my best friend. We stand next to each other in glee club. I'm taller but she's straighter; her boobs aren't obvious enough yet to make her slouch, so to Mr. Avery, the glee club teacher, we must look like we're the same size, and we get to stand together. We have to stand still, because the risers are narrow and there are so many of us, seventh and eighth graders, twenty years pre-karaoke, wanting the chance to stand on stage and wail Karen Carpenter's "Superstar" to give voice to the anguished passion the world would know for the very first time if it would only listen, listen, don't you remember you told me you loved me, baby? In lunar harmony. Thirty-seven of us, hormonal and throbbing, except for Diana, her clear voice as silver and cool as moonlight. I stand next to her every practice. Her alto keeps me true.
In the girls' lav before the glee club recital, you can see the fruity smell of Bonne Belle Lip Smackers, doubled by the dim mirrors, on all the primping mouths that will soon sing! on stage! in front of the boys! Stall doors slam. We are peeing and pawing the ground like nervous cattle. Platform shoes heavy as hooves.  Someone more agitated than I am hips me out of the way to get to the mirror over the sink that I've had possession of for less than a minute. "My bangs are going flat," the girl moans. "Does anyone have a round brush?"
To the left of the sinks, a thing apart, Diana combs her hair. Her hair is very straight and the cheap plastic comb glides through its tanglefree length. The girl at the sink, Kimmy Hissey, spies the comb. "Hey, give me that," she says, holding out her hand. There's a beat in the measure of the exchange, the part of this familiar music where Diana is supposed to do the girlish thing, but Diana doesn't hand the comb over. Kimmy's eyes open wider, a plea, and then an expression of disbelief. "C'mon, Diana, I gotta fix my bangs."
The cheap plastic comb sings one more time through Diana's hair, and she shakes her head no. She looks down at the comb, and with an economical movement plucks a hair from its teeth. "Sorry, Kimmy," she says. She turns her back to Kimmy to tuck the comb into her bookbag on the windowsill. "I don't lend my comb."
"You stuck up bitch," Kimmy says, but she's already appealing to the occupant of the next sink. The door to the girls’ lav opens. The majorettes come in, crowding the mirrors with their shiny silver batons. Diana picks up her bookbag, turns toward me. "Ready to go?" she says. Her smile is made of strong white teeth. We march out.
Because I am ready to go anywhere with her, this self-contained girl whose outline of herself starts right at the top with her penumbral black hair smoothed by her unshared comb. She marches, out of uniform. I've seen her mother, an immigrant, come to school on Parent Days with a kerchief on her head. I know that the maroon corduroy pants shiny in the seat that Diana wears at least once a week are hand-me-downs from her sister Laura. She never loses her pens, and that's because getting new ones is out of the question, you get your school supplies in September and you keep them because there’s no money for more. But somehow Diana eclipses all this with her pride. And if you don’t want to share your comb, even with Kimmy Hissey, then you don’t.
That's the way I want to remember her, proud. But I do wonder sometimes, if it was like that. If it was like this: her husband Jimmy, the jealous type, wanting something from her. They were in the master bathroom of their expensive home, commuting distance from Manhattan. That much was in the paper. What is she holding? A comb, a secret, something that she says is hers and that she won't share. Maybe she said something, in that clear definite alto, and then turned to leave the bathroom, taking that something with her. And JImmy, he wants it. Whatever it is she holds. Maybe he tried to grab her? Maybe he tried to know her. But part of her was in shadow. The moon was looking the other way, and he couldn't stand it. He was sick of her lies, goddamnit, where had she been? He was jealous of her, she a successful hip hop record label executive, a beautiful self-made woman, and he some sound engineer in one of the studios, younger, less certain. He shot her first in the back. As she was leaving. She fell to the floor. And he cradled her, the auld moon lying in the new moon's arms, while the brilliance leaked out of her. Before he fired again, and sent another bullet into the black silk envelope of her hair.