Winter stopped hiding tricia Farni on Good Friday.
A truck driver, anxious to shave forty minutes off his commute, ventured across the shallow section of the Birch river used as an ice bridge all winter. His truck plunged into the frigid water, and as rescuers worked to save him and his semi, tricia’s body floated to the surface.
She’d been missing since the incident in the loft six months ago. But honestly, she didn’t come to mind when I heard that a girl’s body had been found. I was that sure she was alive somewhere, making someone else’s life miserable. Maybe she was shacking up with some drug dealer, or hooking her way across the state, or whatever. But she was definitely alive.
on Easter morning, that changed.
The body of seventeen-year-old Tricia Farni was pulled from the Birch River Friday night. A junior at Chance High School, Tricia disappeared October 6 after leaving a home- coming party at Birch Hill. Police believe her body has been in the water since the night she disappeared.
I couldn’t wrap my brain around it. tricia was a lot of things, a drug addict, a bitch, a freak. But dead? No. She was a survivor. Something — the only thing — I admired about her. I stared at my clock radio, disbelieving the news reporter. Ninety percent talk, aM 760 was supposed to provide refuge from my own wrecked life that weekend. I thought all those old songs with their sha-la- la-las and da-doo-run-runs couldn’t possibly trigger any painful memories. I guess when a dead girl is found in Birch, Alaska, and you were the last one to see her alive, even AM 760 can’t save you from bad memories.
While the rest of chance High spent Easter Sunday shopping for bargains on prom dresses and making meals of pink marsh- mallow chicks, I lay on my bed, images of tricia flooding my brain. I tried to cling to the macabre ones — the way I imagined her when she was found: her body stiff and lifeless, her brown cloak spread like wings, her black, kohl-rimmed eyes staring up through the cracks in the ice that had been her coffin all winter. these images made me feel sad and sympathetic, how one should feel about a dead girl.
another image kept shoving its way in, though. It was the last time I’d seen tricia. the last thing I remembered clearly from that night, minutes before she disappeared. She and Jonathan in the loft. It made me despise her all over again. and I didn’t want to despise her anymore. She was dead.
What happened to her that night? and why couldn’t I remember anything after the loft, not even going home? all I had were quick snapshots, like traces of a dream: Jonathan’s body against mine; arms, way too many arms; and Mr. Dellian’s face. Puzzle pieces that wouldn’t fit together.
I’m used to piecing things together. My central vision is blocked by dots that hide things from me, leaving my brain to fill in the blanks. My brain doesn’t always get it right. I misinterpret, make mistakes. But my memory? It’s always been the one thing I could count on, saving me time after time from major humiliation. I can see something once and remember it exactly — the layout of a room, the contents of a page, anything. My visual memory makes it less necessary to see, and I rely on it to pick up where my vision fails.
How could my memory be failing me now?
I went over that night again, much as I would with my vision, putting the pieces together to make something sensible and concrete. But the more I focused on those tiny snippets, the farther they slipped from my grasp.
then “copacabana” started playing on the radio.
I slammed my fingers down on the power button to stop the lyrics, but my mind went there anyway. a replay of the day tricia did a striptease during lunch. the day I helped her buy drugs . . .