kimmydon's Choice: Both
Delia was my best friend. She'd moved next door when I was five and I saw her playing in her back yard. Except she wasn't playing, she was moping. She was pulling up dandlions, popping their heads off, and sighing.
"Hey, crankypants!" I called through the fence, putting my face to the slats.
"Who is there?" she asked mournfully.
"The booooogie man!!" I stuck my hands through the opening and wiggled my fingers.
Delia laughed and sniffled. "You're a pretty little boogie man."
"You're a big crankypants," I told her in reply.
"I am not!" she argued.
"Good! I don't play with no cranky-pantses."
"Well I don't play with boogie men!"
"What if I'm not a boogie man?" I asked a minute later. "What if I'm a Sylvia?"
"Then can I be a Delia?" she asked.
"Yep, and then we can play together." I stuck my hand through the fence again and she shook it. "I'm just going to tell my Mom I'm going to your yard."
And that was that. Delia and I were best friends. I remember one birthday party - my birthday is on Independence Day. I was supposed to be all proud and patriotic, but it really sucked because all my friends were gone on the first long weekend of the summer. My sixth birthday, almost a year after I met her, Delia was the only person there. We made the best of it. We wore giant glasses and boas and shot silly string until our Moms yelled at us. My Mom seemed to think it was going to harm her precious pumpkins. Whatever, they were barely blooming yet. I kept my can and made sure to get another good shot in later. Delia didn't see it coming. Then we watched our Dad's set off fireworks. My Dad looked really funny without eyebrows.
That year I started going to school with Delia. We weren't in the same class, but met at recess and made sure our friends knew each other. We went to all the same parties, raved over the same boy bands. We stayed close through Junior High and High School. I told her about my first kiss and she told me about the boy that pulled down her pants at the water fountain.
Nothing could keep Delia and I apart. Her parents moved across town when we were fourteen, but we still talked and visited every other day. When her grandma died, I was at the funeral. When my Dad hurt his back and was in the hospital for a week, she came to see him with me. I told her that Billy was no good for her, and she convinced me that I could do better than Tyler. We watched out for each other and took care of one another.
Why didn't I watch out for her a little more?
We had been out with another friend, together of course, on his boat, a graduation party. The storm literally came out of no where. I'd heard of that, but I'd never seen it. There was blue sky, one cloud, and then we were being rocked in huge waves. We had all worn our life-jackets. That didn't stop Delia from cracking her head on the railing when we went over.
I held Delia in the water until someone pulled us out. I kept her head still, cradled against me. I couldn't tell if she was breathing. Apparently she wasn't. The doctors told me she never had a chance, her neck had broken with that first blow.
I looked up at Teresa.
"You know it wasn't your fault, right?"
I put my head back on the rock in the lake. "It doesn't matter whose fault it was. She's gone."
"She wouldn't want this, Sylvia. She wouldn't want to see you moping like this."
"Leave me alone."
Teresa didn't leave immediately, but when it was obvious I wasn't coming out of the water, she walked on.
I closed my eyes and wished the water would swallow me.
"You aren't Delia. She's gone."
"You're a really big Crankypants."
I cried into the lake, my salty tears fouling the fresh water.
"I don't play with no cranky-pantses. Can't you be Sylvia again? For me?"
"I don't know, Delia. I don't know."
"Try. Try to be Sylvia and Delia. For me?"
I promised to try.