I never met Gatsby personally. Few of us did, though we frequented his house each week for his lavish parties. I never knew why I went — I thought I would meet someone, I suppose, or have some undefined adventure. Instead, I invariably woke with a headache like a drumbeat and a rather depressed feeling.
I did once meet Daisy Buchanan, though. When the summer slid away and Gatsby’s house was shut down after the Horrible Business, I thought of her again. How she always looked sad beneath her desperate, drunken gaiety.
Rumors drifted back to West Egg from Boston, where the Buchanans had fled after the Horrible Business. Stories of increasingly wild parties, embarrassing public drunkenness, serial affairs, the Buchanans’ daughter sent to relatives in the country, Daisy’s beauty growing stale beneath her layers of makeup.
I saw her briefly again in 1938, mere weeks before she died. It had been fifteen years.
Daisy Buchanan was barely recognizable. She was bone thin, her skin as delicate as paper. She was not much older than forty, but her hair was thin and white.
Beside her sat a pretty, dark-haired woman in a blue suit. Though I’d never seen her before, I recognized her instantly: she was the image of Tom Buchanan. This must be the daughter. Frances, the girl who had been sent to relatives in Cincinnati. Last I heard, she and Daisy weren’t on speaking terms, though perhaps that had changed after Tom’s death.
I wondered if I should approach them. But just then, Daisy gave a sob and buried her face in her hands.
I hurriedly got my check and left, but not before I saw Frances reach for her hand.
She died only two weeks later at St. Bartholomew’s hospital. Cirrhosis, some people said. Others thought it was an overdose. No one really seemed to care about the details. Daisy Buchanan had been a brief fixture in their lives that flared and faded away as quickly as a firework, quickly irrelevant.
I wasn’t invited to attend the funeral. I never saw her daughter again. The name Buchanan — and its short-term companion, Gatsby — faded from the memory of West Egg.