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?”
“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.”
“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.
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.