Jesse squeezes her friend's shoulder and rocks her back and forth to try to jostle her out of the sorrowful trance. Jesse forces a smile. "This is all too theatrical."
Ludivine looks up, outraged.
"Theatrical? I loved him! Now he won't talk to me! I've never loved anyone more in my whole life! What do you know about me not being myself? I don't know what it's like to be myself anymore. I just wanted to make him happy."
Jesse frowns. "Why don't you just explain to him what he does that makes you upset. He loves you - he'll understand. Then you can both be happy and you'll have no reason to hurt yourself anymore."
"My only reason to be miserable is him. He's ruining my life. Doesn't that make me masochistic or something?"
"No way. He's your boyfriend. If you're in love, you're gonna be miserable. Why not say the exact same thing you told me? 'Aiden, I love you, but you're ruining my life.'"
"I can't do that!" Ludivine says. "He already blames himself for all the things wrong in my life anyway." She gestures at her wrist. "You know."
"Wait," says Jesse. "I know what?"
Ludivine pulls up her sleeve, revealing several fresh cuts and a couple dozen well-healed scars. "See? I'm not thinking rationally!"
Jesse gasps. "Why did't you tell me you're cutting again? I had no idea it was this bad! I can't believe you!"
"They're not all recent," Ludivine sighs, like the issue doesn't matter. "But Aiden -"
Jesse punches Ludivine on the shoulder. Hard.
"Cutting yourself is stupid and you know it!" Jesse yells.
"Why do you think I don't ever tell anyone?" Ludivine rubs her shoulder, then shoves her hand in her pocket. "Everyone has an addiction."
Jesse sympathizes, despite her friend's stupidity. "I know. But some are more dangerous than others. Trust me, I'm glad you didn't take up booze or gambling, but cutting isn't healthy, either. Why would you do this to yourself?"
Ludivine calls to memory all the times in the past where Jesse had showed up on Ludivine's porch with highs and lows. It was strange to watch an addict outside her family hit bottom. And it was even more difficult to watch her pick herself up after so many failures.
"You're an amazing friend," Ludivine says. "I just wish I wasn't always dumping my problems on you."
"Are you kidding?" Jesse jumps off the porch and begins pacing on her family's spit of a front lawn. "If you hadn't knocked the sense back into me, I'd probably be dead. Isn't this the least I can do for my lifesaver? If you're not going to tell me about your problems, I guess I should start doing lines right now! In public!"
"Jesse, calm down. The neighbors will hear." Ludivine tries to smile.
"Oh, let them hear!" She throws her hands into the air, "Let the whole world know: I am a former drug addict!"
Ludivine laughs. "See? What happened" Jesse says. "Did the heavens come crashing down?"
Ludivine shakes her head, smiling at her friend.
A clap of thunder breaks the brief silence, and Jesse scurries back under the safety of her porch. "Just in case."
"You've been clean for six months," Ludivine says. "I'm proud of you."
She looks at her friend, then notices movement on the street beyond her. Ludivine stares and sees a familiar figure walking in her direction. It's ... him.
"Oh, God," Ludivine thinks to herself, "Why does he have to come now? What is he doing here?"
Aiden looks up, and raindrops begin to fall.