Marcy Dermansky

My Friend Felicity

I missed Felicity and I told her that.

That is very sweet,” she said.

I had aged in the last decade, but Felicity hadn’t. She still had those stun­ning long curls. The doe eyes. Smooth unlined skin. For the record, I had not desert­ed Felicity when she cut her hair short sopho­more year, after her break up with Ben. I thought she looked good with the short hair. She looked bet­ter with long hair.

Have you cho­sen?” I asked. “At last? Ben or Noël?”

Felicity sighed. “You know, I thought I had. I thought I final­ly knew for sure. It was Ben, of course, when he res­cued me from the men­tal insti­tu­tion.”

I remem­bered. Felicity had made the wrong choice, Noël, and then gone back in time to rec­ti­fy her mis­take, but no one believed her. “It didn’t work out?” I felt sad for Felicity. I had been sure that it would. Felicity deserved hap­pi­ness.

Oh well, you know, Ben.” Felicity twirled a curly lock around her fin­ger. She sighed. “I mean, he loves me, I know that, I know that he does, but rela­tion­ships are hard. They are hard work.”

I sighed, try­ing to sigh just the way Felicity had sighed. I want­ed to be adorable. I also want­ed Felicity to think that I was an equal, wor­thy of her time. I had paid for Felicity’s lat­te. The sad truth was that in the decade since Felicity went off the air I had not been in a sin­gle rela­tion­ship. Many of my friends found this alarm­ing. They told me that I was pret­ty and smart, and if I only opened myself up, that I, too, would fall in love. To my cred­it, I did recent­ly have sex with one guy, not real­iz­ing at the time that he was gay. “That’s as bad as I remem­bered it to be” is what he said after.

I always liked Ben bet­ter,” I told Felicity. “I hat­ed that sto­ry­line when his alco­holic father showed up and Ben had that ridicu­lous affair with his Dad’s spon­sor. That old woman. It nev­er made sense.”

God,” Felicity said. I felt a tin­gle, rec­og­niz­ing her famil­iar gri­mace. “I hat­ed that, too. I mean what were the writ­ers think­ing? I can’t believe you remem­bered that. Almost no one was watch­ing the show by then. Thank you. Thank you for tak­ing my side.”

Oh, it’s noth­ing,” I said, but I was blush­ing. Felicity pat my hand. “Sometimes,” I said, “when I’m wait­ing for a sub­way, the wind will blow, just so, and I’ll think about that shot of you in the cred­its from the first sea­son, when the gust from the sub­way blows your hair.”

That was a long time ago.” Felicity paused. She seemed to con­sid­er me for the first time. “How are you?”

Rebecca,” I said.

Of course,” Felicity said. “Rebecca. ”

I don’t know, Felicity. Honestly, I haven’t fig­ured out what to do with myself since col­lege.”

My col­lege expe­ri­ence had been noth­ing com­pared to Felicity’s. I had nev­er had a Ben, nev­er had a Noël. I had had an unfor­tu­nate affair with a guy from my the­ater class. Justin. He had had a sex change oper­a­tion after col­lege. He had changed his name to Justine.

You haven’t?” Felicity’s gaze was hope­ful.

I wrote a play about you?” I said. “No one liked it.”

I am sure it was good.”

It was good.” The play, in fact, was a lot like the moment we were shar­ing. It was set in a Starbucks and Felicity and I were talk­ing, the way girl­friends talk. “I can give you the script to read if you want. It’s in my bag.”

I reached down to hand Felicity the script but she shook her head. “I can only play this one role.”

I don’t under­stand.”

You can con­tact Keri Russell about your play. I don’t have her num­ber but you can look up her agent. She lives in Brooklyn, in a real­ly cute brown­stone.”

I shook my head. Keri Russell was not right for the role. Her hair had turned straight. She had got­ten mar­ried, she had a kid. She had starred in an Adam Sandler movie.

I am sure it’s a very good script,” Felicity said.

You do?” The unex­pect­ed kind­ness was a lit­tle too much for me. I start­ed to cry. It was embar­rass­ing to be cry­ing in the Starbucks, but Felicity did not seem fazed. She had worked in a Dean and Deluca on the show. It had been her col­lege job. She often expe­ri­enced large emo­tions dur­ing her breaks. Sometimes, even, when she was at work. While mak­ing lattes. She would go into the sup­ply room and cry.

You can do any­thing you want to,” Felicity told me. “Really, Rebecca. Anything. ”

I don’t under­stand,” I said. “If you believed that, why did you switch from an art major back to pre-med?”

What?”

I nev­er under­stood that, your switch­ing back to pre-med. Didn’t you believe in your tal­ent? You could have been a great artist.”

Felicity shook her hand. “I had sex with that art stu­dent.”

Eli.”

Right, Eli.” Felicity said. “That was the clos­est I was ever going to get to being an artist.” Felicity looked at her lat­te. “I under­stood my lim­i­ta­tions. I look back now and I am glad that I didn’t lose my vir­gin­i­ty to Ben or Noël. That expe­ri­ence belonged only to me.”

It was rain­ing,” I said.  I could pic­ture Felicity, her legs spread, her back against the easel, being deflow­ered by the slight­ly old­er art stu­dent.

You know much too much about me, Rebecca, I am just a fic­tion­al char­ac­ter.”

My last two boyfriends were gay,” I said.

Oh, Rebecca.”

Felicity and I sat, silent­ly, com­pan­ion­ably. I liked Felicity bet­ter than any of my actu­al friends. They were bored with me, past lis­ten­ing to my sto­ries or even offer­ing advice. I want­ed us to stay in that moment for­ev­er. I want­ed nev­er to leave that Starbucks. We had fin­ished our lattes.

Is there any­thing good on tele­vi­sion now?” Felicity asked me. “Do I have any com­pe­ti­tion?”

Claire on Six Feet Under was pret­ty good,” I said with a shrug. “But no. There is no one like you. You’ll nev­er be replaced.”

Felicity smiled. Her doe eyes filled with tears.

Maybe,” she said. “I could read your script. I can’t play the part, you under­stand. But I’d like to read it.”

You are my all time favorite,” I told Felicity.

You should try to find a boyfriend who isn’t gay.”

I knew, of course that Felicity was right, but I wasn’t sure such a man exist­ed, at least not for me: a sin­gle, het­ero­sex­u­al male with wavy hair, a strong chin and an easy smile; a man ripped with mus­cles from swim­ming laps and play­ing pick­up bas­ket­ball. Maybe it was Ben Covington I was look­ing for all along. Maybe that was my prob­lem. Maybe I had writ­ten the wrong play.

I reached into my bag, and pulled out the bound man­u­script.

I’ve missed you Felicity, it read, on the top of the page.