My Best Friend's Exorcism by Grady Hendrix

Abby Rivers and Gretchen Lang have been best friends since they were 10 years old, when Gretchen was the only one who came to Abby's roller rink birthday party over Margaret Middleton's horseback party. At the roller rink, they skated to the Bangles' "We Got the Beat" and Abby was knocked over by Tommy Cox, a cool senior boy senior at their private school of Albemarle Academy. In class on Monday, no one believes it was Tommy Cox who ran into her, until he comes into their classroom, bringing an apology Coke for Abby to put on her poor broken face. She keeps it and doesn't drink it, because of course she does. Who wouldn't?

Thus begins their glorious friendship of sleepovers (at Gretchen's, because Abby's parents be poor ... but more importantly super grumpy) and vacations to Bermuda where they get ill-advised cornrows and inside jokes. Gretchen's very religious parents beat her on occasion, which fills Gretchen with rage (understandably). There's a defining moment in seventh grade where Gretchen has them help a girl named Glee Wanamaker find her retainer amid piles and piles of garbage. Abby is like, "Fuck this. I'm poor. No one helps me. Why should I be doing this?" And then she goes, "You know what? No. I'm not gonna turn into my parents. I get to choose how I react to things and so I'm gonna make looking for this retainer fun AF." And she does. Abby is a goddamn hero.

Cut to them being sixteen. Abby and Gretchen are now also best friends with Margaret and Glee. That's nice. Anyway, they're on a boat and Margaret's like, "Hey, want to take acid?" And everyone but Gretchen is like, "Yes." And then they all peer pressure the fuck out of Gretchen to do drugs. UN. COOL. So they try it and nothing happens. And then they're like, "Dammit. Okay, let's go skinny dipping." So they run back to the lake and Gretchen jumps in and just disappears. WTF? So then they're all searching through the woods for her. Abby finally finds her, scratched up and dazed. She's all fucked up and freaked out, so they assume it was the acid. They. Are. Wrong.

So then they go to school and Gretchen is talking about not being able to sleep at night and how it feels like someone is constantly touching her and pushing her. They go to a school assembly, she thinks Margaret's asshole boyfriend Wallace Stoney. It isn't, it's a fucking demon, but oh well. So Gretchen gets sent to the principal's office. When she gets out, she starts insulting Wallace, who definitely deserves it, but then Gretchen starts vomiting what looks like buckets of white milky liquid with fucking BLACK BIRD FEATHERS WRITHING IN IT.

So that happens and then Gretchen just goes downhill from there. She can't sleep, she won't change her clothes, she's sullen and cranky, her parents are hearing what sounds like "sex noises" coming from her room at night, so they take her to a doctor to see if she's still a virgin. Gretchen is understandably not okay with that. She tells Abby about it and then as she hugs her goodbye she says, "No matter what happens, I'll never hurt you." And Abby is like, "Interesting, interesting, I wonder why she said that."

Later, Abby goes over to Gretchen's during Gretchen's mom's book club. Gretchen is crimping the fuck out of her hair for some reason. She says Andy, a boy she met at camp that summer, told her embrace change or some shit. And Abby's like, "Ugh, again with this Andy guy." Because that's been a thing Gretchen's been talking about. So blah blah blah, crimp crimp crimp, then Abby goes to leave. But there's Gretchen at the top of the stairs all of a sudden BELTING "I Wish I Was in Dixie." And everyone is understandably like, "What the fuck is this shit?" AND THEN BIRDS START HURLING THEMSELVES AT THE FUCKING HOUSE. Like, everywhere. Windows, walls, everywhere. It's BONKERS.

So Gretchen's getting worse. No one at school will talk to her, but Abby of course stays by her side. Gretchen won't tell Abby what's going on though, so Abby is like, "TELL ME WHAT'S GOING ON." And Gretchen says she was raped that night in the woods and that she's been getting raped by him every night since and that she can't take her clothes off or shower for fear he'll rape her more and there's an INSANE gash on Gretchen's arm. And Abby actually has the reasonable assumption that oh, she was raped and now she's been hurting herself and reliving the trauma every night. And it's like, Yeah, Abby, good thinking, because PTSD is a thing. But also, no, in this particular case it's that your friend has been possessed by a demon. Nice try though.

So Abby assures Gretchen she'll take care of her and tries to explain to her parents about the rape, but she makes the fucking IDIOTIC move of talking about the acid and then IMMEDIATELY Gretchen's parents are like, "YOU GAVE OUR CHILD DRUGS WE WILL CALL EVERYONE YOU KNOW AND TELL THEM YOU ARE A DRUG DEALER." So they do that and it fucking sucks. Like, the fucking principal believes it. It's infuriating. So Gretchen's going nanners nanners nanners and she kind of attacks Abby with some cold cream at school one day, trying to make her take her makeup off, which sucks, because Gretchen knows that Abby wears a ton of makeup to cover up her bad skin and scars! So Abby goes off on her and won't speak to her over the weekend.

Then Monday she shows up at school wanting to make amends and oh, what's this? It's Gretchen and she not only looks normal, she looks fucking awesome. And now everyone's talking to Gretchen again and being mean to Abby and it's like THIS ISN'T FAIR. So Gretchen's being cold to Abby, but nice to Margaret and Glee even though they abandoned her when she was going through her "I smell because I won't shower of change my clothes" phase. And all of a sudden she's like, "Hey, Margaret, I know you care about your weight. Would you like to start drinking these German diet protein shakes and nothing but?" And Margaret's like, "Yes, thank you, I have body dysphoria." And she's like, "Hey, Glee, I know you have the hots for Father Morgan, how about you join vestry and I keep slipping you mysterious notes?" And Glee is like, "Yes, thank you, I have no reason to think this is weird." And Abby is breaking out. What was in that cold cream??

So everything is upsetting and weird. Margarets's losing a ton of weight and Glee is going to vestry all the fucking time. Then there's an assembly with these HILARIOUS guys. The Lemon Brothers Faith and Fitness Show. It's an embarrassing bunch of buff brothers lifting stuff and preaching about Jesus. But then one of them, Christian, looks down at Gretchen in the audience and goes, "I see a demon in you. Out, demon." And Abby is like, "Hmmmmmm interesting." She asks him about it after the show and he's like, "Yeah, a demon named Andras is possessing your friend." She gets his number, but doesn't use it because she feels pretty dumb, which is understandable, but yeah, there's a demon named Andras in Gretchen.

Later, Abby steals Gretchen's notebook to try to figure out WTF is going on, and finds that Gretchen has been scribbling some crazy fucking shit. She calls Andy, that dide from camp, to see if he knows what's going on. Instead of Andy, it's Gretchen and she sounds super far away and more like herself and she warns Abby that the Gretchen she's been seeing isn't really her and that she's planning some horrific shit. Then after Halloween, the fucking principal calls Abby and her parents to his office and is like, "Hi, your daughter is a drug dealer and she gave our football players alcohol and she stole Gretchen's notebook, I think you should remove her from school." And Abby's mom is like, "Oh, yeah? Well you can't prove any of that and I've known you forever and you've always been a little shit and my daughter isn't going anywhere and fuck off and die." And Abby's like, "That was awesome, Mom!" And her mom is like, "STFU don't ever do anything that gets me called into your school again." Oh. Bummer. But then what fresh hell is this? Oh, it's Glee, topless, standing on top of the bell tower throwing down copies of what look like love letters to her from Father Morgan and she's written "For you" on her breasts and she's ready to jump, but Father Morgan pulls her back.

So Abby's like, "Jesus. I'm gonna call Brother Lemon, aka Exorcist Bro." So she does and he's like, "Meet me at the Hot Dog on a Stick." Which is hilarious. And he's like, "We'll have to drug and kidnap your friends, then tie her to a bed." And he shows her his white minivan full of like ropes and shit. And she's like, "Um, this seems suspect, so maybe not." But then she talks to Glee who tells her Gretchen got her drunk. And Abby's like, "Ugh." So she goes to talk to Margaret and when she gets there Margaret is full on dying and has this distended belly and if you want to full details on this, you'll have to listen to the episode, but suffice it to say that Gretchen was giving her milkshakes full of FUCKING TAPEWORMS. And one crawls out of her and it's fucking foul. So Abby's like, "Ooooookay, Exorcist Bro it is." So she goes to get Gretchen, but Gretchen knows she's there and to torture Abby, Gretchen KILLS HER OWN DOG. It's fucking horrible. Why do we keep reading books with animal death in them??

But luckily Abby was successful in putting a sedative in Gretchen's Diet Coke, so her and Exorcist Bro take her to her parents beach house and it's like exorcise exorcise exorcise and Brother Lemon is carbing up and shit and exorcising and it's not working. Gretchen/Andras is making fun of him and it's really flustering him. So he's about to pour boiling water down her throat to drive Andras out and Abby is like, "EXCUSE MUCH? NO." So he takes a good hard look at what he's doing and puts his tail between his legs and takes off. So there's Abby alone with Andras and Gretchen. She starts trying to follow Exorcist Bro's exorcism to-do list, but it's not working. Andras is giving her and Gretchen hell, being all demony and evil and attacking them. So Abby starts following her own way of exorcising Andras, which involves invoking their childhood and everything they've shared and it's goddamn beautiful and touching. And harrowing. It's very exciting. And it works! Yay!

So then blah blah blah, some stuff happens that I don't feel the total need to break down here because there's a lot, go read the actual book for the full story. But anyway, they stay friends throughout the rest of their lives. It's fucking great.

End of book.