I felt the stage lights blazing down on me. I wasn’t nervous - I didn’t
get nervous. When I was on stage my body knew what to do and just did it. And my mind...where did I go? Some place where time stood still and the only thing that mattered was the music and the moves. There were ten of us crowded together waiting in the wings, and I was leading. I moved the heavy curtain aside. My parents were sitting as far apart from each other as they possibly could, though they both were in the front row. My mother was wearing her usual impassive look where as my dad was happily chatting away to one of my friend's mom. I made eye contact with my mother, I caught the slightest twitch at the corner of her lips, the beginnings of a frown. I let go of the curtain. I closed my eyes and thought of nothing, no steps, just the feeling of flying that was eminent. The freedom that could only be achieved when I let everything go and put it all out there without holding back. Excitement and adrenaline pulsed through all of us like an electric circuit. I felt a slight squeeze on my arm. I turned,Whitney. She smiled and nodded reassuringly. Like the rest of us, she was wearing a white leotard with long sleeves and white tights. Her hair was pulled back in a tight bun. It took half a tub of gel to slick back her curly hair. Her face was awash with glitter. I naturally returned the gesture and waited for my cue.
“I can’t believe it’s over!” Jane bellowed over the locker room chatter. Most of the girls
verbally voiced their agreement. I was silent, it always took me a few minutes to come out of performance mode. It took awhile for the adrenaline to ooze out of me. “What are you doing later?” Jane asked shaking me out of my reverie. I was still in dance mode, going over the sequence of steps that I would never again perform. She shook out her long black hair. Even after being in a bun for hours her hair remained pin straight. Jane had a broad smooth face, with high cheekbones and a smattering of freckles across the bridge of her nose. Her bangs were on the long side, so that it was easy to pull them back in a high bun.
“ I’m hanging out with Whitney tonight.” I was pulling on a clean white shirt over my bra. I
opted not to take a shower since I was going straight home.
“Right, of course.”
“Of course what?” Whitney chimed in she was across from Jane and I. She was in a
semi state of dress and she was digging in her purple duffle bag that was resting on the wooden bench in front of her.
“Nothing,” Jane smiled, her small almond shaped eyes became even smaller. “I’m not
surprised is all.”I looked over my shoulder at Whitney, she had a towel wrapped around her waist as she pulled on a tank top. I smirked and she rolled her eyes.
“You're just jealous.” Whitney was my best friend, it was kind of amazing, atleast I thought
so. I never had a best friend before.
“Nah I have Shelby. Right, Shelby?” Jane nudged Shelby, the blue eyed blonde who was to
the right of her, and was clearly engaged in a conversation with Leah another blonde who could pass as Shelby’s double. Shelby didn’t bother acknowledging Jane,she was too immersed in her conversation with Leah. Whitney snickered, and Jane shook her head jokingly. “Well if you guys get bored of each other we’re all thinking of going down to pier later.” I nodded. I was almost dressed in my street clothes. Whitney had on a pair of tight denim shorts and a black tank top. She stood with her duffle bag over her shoulder and arched a dusty blonde eyebrow, a questioning look in her azure blue eyes.
“Yeah maybe.” I answered, Whitney and I were supposed to have a sleepover but the pier
seemed fun. I saw a flash of disappointment that was quickly replaced with her usual easy going smile.
“I better get going.” Whitney abruptly left which was weird because we were supposed to
leave together, my dad was her ride.
After the performance my dad was waiting for me backstage with flowers and a card. I
smiled, no matter what he was always waiting with flowers and a card, he had complete faith that I would do well. He was still singing my praises as he drove us home.
“So what are you and Whitney doing tonight?” The car was hot, I fiddled with the air
conditioner. My dad wasn’t an air conditioner kind of guy. He was more of a roll down the window in extreme circumstances kinda guy. Most of the time the windows were only lowered a crack. He loved the heat. If he could live in the desert he would. I made it clear on more than one occasion that if he did move to the desert he would never see me again. Of Course we both knew I was bluffing.
“Nothing much, just a sleepover, and we might go down to the pier.” He frowned as we pulled into the driveway. He already knew our plans and I could tell he didn't like the change. He started to say something but I was practically out of the car as it was rolling to a stop. I sprinted upstairs, showered, changed, and packed an overnight bag all in the span of half an hour. Tonight was the last time that Whitney and I would get to hang out by ourselves. Our alone time would be even shorter if we decided to go to the pier. There was no doubt that tonight would be fun and I should have been happy. I was happy. I mean, I was looking forward to tonight. I guess I just felt nostalgic. Tomorrow night Kelsey, Whitney’s other, older, best friend and one of the many new friends that Whitney introduced me to, was throwing a huge party that many of us in the dance program considered our last hoorah. The day after that I would be packing up and heading back home. There was a very real possibility of not seeing Whitney ever again, or at least until next summer - that is if we got into this program again.
The uncertainty dampened my spirits. When I got accepted into the ballet program in
Winchester I was nervous for two reason. The first was, being a city slicker I didn't know anyone in the small town of Winchester, population 10, 000. Two, I wasn't very adept at making friends. Some mistook my quiet nature as standoffishness. To be fair I didn't mind being thought of as a bitch. It kept people away, but not Whitney. On my first day of class, a tall willowy girl with skin the colour of amber and tranquil blue eyes introduced herself and proceeded to introduce me to the five or so local dancers that she grew up with in this sleepy town. I was taken aback but I decided to go with the flow. I guess in this town I wouldn't be the bitch. I was grateful I met her for a few reasons. Sure she eased my transition into a foreign environment that I assumed would be highly competitive. Thank God I had it wrong. The ballet program here was different than any class I had taken back home. For one thing, none of the girls were out for blood. Instead, everyone was supportive and after a few weeks we treated each other like sisters. The friendly atmosphere was a welcome change. Even so, I doubted I would have been relaxed if I hadn’t met Whitney. Meeting Whitney changed everything. She introduced me to all the 'right people' and we went to the best parties. We also became very good friends. Me being an introvert and her being an extrovert didn't really predict closeness. Somehow though, we did become close and Whitney pulled me out of my shell. It’s not that I’m shy, I’m just a very internal person.
"Liz, are you ready yet?" My dad called from downstairs. I wasn't supposed to be ready for
another half an hour but my dad's internal clock ran thirty minutes ahead.
"I'll be down in a bit dad." I took one last look at my reflection before grabbing my bag
and heading downstairs.
In the car it took me a few minutes to find a radio station not playing country music, which
was quite a feat in this backwater town. My dad gave me a sidelong glance, I knew what was coming next.
"So the pier?"
"Yes dad the pier." I bit back a smile.
"Will there be boys at the pier?" I snorted, my dad frowned. In a few minutes we would be
pulling into Whitney's driveway. Hopefully by then this repetitive conversation would end. We tended to have the same conversation when my dad realized that the opposite sex would be around wherever my friends and I were hanging out. So we've had this conversation a lot lately.
"Of course there will be, but don't worry I won't even look at them." We pulled up to a
modest two story victorian. Dad killed the engine. He was wearing his stern face.
"Look, I really want you to be careful when you go out tonight ok. Some of your friends
will be drinking, don't get into a car with them. In fact call me when you're ready to leave I'll give you and Whitney a ride. Please don't lose your friends, stick with them at all times and don't take any drinks from anyone, not even if it’s from a cooler, unless it's a can of pop you opened yourself."
"Okay dad, can I go now." I rolled my eyes. Despite knowing this speech, practically
verbatim I still pretended to be put out but I always took his word to heart. His concern wasn't lost on me.
"Yes you can go, stay out of trouble."
"I always do." I reached for my duffle bag that was in the back seat of his Mini Cooper and
gave him a kiss on the cheek before hopping out and heading up the driveway to the door.
"Hey." Whitney opened the door and greeted me with her trademark lopsided grin that I
couldn't help mimicking. Her natural disposition was cheery, and very contagious. Whitney's house reminded me of a cottage out of a fairy tale. There were gnomes in the front yard, and a beautiful rose garden out back. Her house always smelled of freshly baked cookies and almost every inch of the place was covered with family photos and adorable ceramics that depict collectable wholesomeness. Whitney's bedroom was on the second floor next to the guest bedroom. Her parents slept in the master bedroom that was downstairs. "So my parents aren't here." I followed her upstairs. Whitney's dad was a pilot. He was home a combined total of four months out of the year, her mom was a homemaker so she was always home.
"Where's your mom?" She opened her bedroom door. Whitney had a pretty big room. It
was the second largest room in the house. In the far right hand corner she had a queen sized bed, and above the headboard were a few floating shelves adorned with books. There was also a desk with a laptop and piles of books on it opposite the bed. She had a lime green swivel chair pushed into the desk, and beside that, there was a large antique standing mirror. Everything was kind of pushed into corners and against the wall. That was because Whitney used the big space in the middle of her room as a rehearsal space.
"My aunt's sick." She rocked on her heels after closing her bedroom door.
"Shouldn't you be sad or something?"
"She'll be fine,” Whitney said dismissively, “you're missing the point though.” she paused
giving me a moment to absorb this information. I shrugged. “We have the house to ourselves tonight." She sighed, exasperated. A sinking feeling came over me. Why was I nervous, tonight shouldn't be different than any other night, except for the fact that her mom wouldn't be interrupting us with snacks. I guess it would be different... better probably. I mean, the lack of parental supervision was always good, it was the dream. I just couldn't shake my nerves. "We can stay up all night, order pizza, play loud music..." I dropped my duffel bag by her bed. " why aren't you more excited about this?" Whitney raised an eyebrow, something she did when she was trying to figure me out. If she kept looking at me like that she would. So I looked away.
"I'm excited, I'm just... kinda tired you know." Whitney nodded I flopped down on her bed
and looked up at the ceiling. A moment later she joined me. "Today was a long day." I turned to face her. She was close, maybe closer than necessary, but Whitney was always a little too close. She didn’t have much of a concept of personal space, at least when it came to me. It usually didn’t bother me, but I was always aware of her...presence. Something was off tonight,the little things like her being close felt magnified somehow. I rubbed my arms, I felt a sudden chill. "I mean everything we were working for the entire summer came down to today’s performance."
"It's kind of sad, it's like the end of a good movie or something."
"Yeah, exactly." I smiled softly. She was giving me that look again, it was piercing. She
was always looking at me like that. Like I was the only person she could see. I don't think I could ever get used to it. She was the only person who was ever concerned with what was going on with me beyond what I projected. In moments like these I felt transparent. "I kind of wish it could go on, or start over again but it's over so you know... I’m kind of sad..."The soft silence that followed went on for as long as I could stand it, until my nerves got the better of me. She just looked at me. I felt myself redden under her direct gaze. "...so... you promised me I could give you a makeover.” Whitney groaned. She never wore makeup just the occasional lip gloss and apparently performance glitter. I hadn't expected her to slather it on with the rest of us.
"Are we still doing that?"
"Of Course! What do you think is in this bag?" I went over to my bag and unpacked all the
various products I planned on painting her face with. I chuckled when I saw the horrified look on her face.
We decided to microwave some popcorn and change into our pj's before we got started.
Once we were ready, I began applying product to her face. We were both in cross legged positions close enough that our knees almost touched. The makeover didn't take very long. I couldn't use half the products I brought with me because my skin was much lighter than hers.
"Voila, now you’re beautiful."
"I thought I was always beautiful" she grumbled. I smiled, before I could help myself.
"You are beautiful." Blushing, I turned away.
"I better check out what you've done to me." She changed the subject as she got up and
went over to the full length mirror. "It looks like I'm not wearing makeup, just eyeliner."
"That's the point. you know the natural look."
"Why not just skip the makeup. Isn’t that the ultimate natural look." She remarked a little too
pleased with herself.
"Smart ass. This way you look natural but slightly better." She sat back down in front of me
and crossed her legs only this time our knees did touch. I stifled a shiver.
“Slightly better? Well alright then, I’m sold.” She rolled her eyes. “So, did we do all this so
we could go pier?" I noted the subtle shift in her tone.
"We don't have to...I mean if you don't want to."
"I don't want to."
"Ok, well we better come up with something equally as fun."
"I can think of something." She rested her hand on my knee. Her expression shifted, she
was very serious. I felt goosebumps materializing on my arms as she studied me waiting...for what? She leaned forward, I didn't move. At first I felt nothing when her lips touched mine. It was like my brain couldn’t comprehend what was happening. She pressed against me more urgently, and then I definitely felt something. A shock reverberated from my lips to my core and my body buzzed like a tuning fork. I opened my mouth for her and when her tongue came into contact with my own, I shivered. Almost abruptly the contact came to an end, and it took me a while to get my bearings. When I opened my eyes she was looking at me with a glazed over expression. More precisely she was looking at my lips. I stood up, I was warm all over.
"I'm gonna call my dad."
"Please stay." She stood up, we were so close. She reached out to me, and clasped my hand,
and my stomach flipped. Her eyes were like deep blue pools, quietly begging me to stay. I couldn’t. This time I saw it coming and I leaned towards her as she closed the gap between us. Her hands on my waist, pulling me into her. I groaned then just like that I realized where I was and what I was doing. I pushed her off me.
"I have to go."
“Fine.” She walked a few steps away from me and turned around. I pulled out my cell
phone and texted my dad to pick me up. When she did turn back around she wore a vacant expression. I didn't bother packing anything up. I had to get out of there. She didn't walk me out.
Outside on Whitneys porch I sat replaying the last five minutes. I wanted to turn around and
go back inside. I wanted to run home and put as much distance as I could between myself and what just happened. Despite my conflicting needs, all I could do was sit and wait patiently for my dad to notice that I messaged him.
Thirty minutes later, I still hadn’t heard from him. I should have called him but I didn’t
think I could speak without him hearing the catch in my voice. I knew I was acting like an asshole, but I couldn’t handle what had happened...what was happening. leaving her like that was a mistake, one I was regretting more and more as the minutes ticked by. But what was I to say? I couldn't tell her I liked it and we should do it again. Even though deep down there was a tiny part of me that wanted things to go in that direction. How are we supposed to go back to being just friends. Everything was falling apart. Our friendship, and my sanity. One thing I knew for sure, if I was her I would hate me. Maybe it's for the best. Things would never be the same anyway. Even if I did the right thing and stayed and told her I wasn’t gay, we wouldn’t be able to pick up where we left off. Those kisses changed everything.
"Is everything ok?" He asked as I got into the car. I nodded and turned away from him. I
waited an hour for him and it almost killed me. If I wasn't so defeated I would be pissed. "Then why am I picking you up early? And why are you still in your pyjamas?" I opened my mouth and closed it. My throat was dry and I could feel tears forming behind my lids. What the hell is wrong with me? I shrugged. The rest of the ride home was quiet. My dad understood that when I was upset I needed time. He always allowed me a few days to work through my problems then he would badger me until I couldn't take it forcing me to open up. This time, no amount of badgering would get me to open up.
When I got accepted into the ballet program, my dad rented a house and moved down here so I could live with him, and not a host family. The whole reason for the move was for us to bond, and bond we did. Dad and I made a point of eating breakfast together every morning. Even if he had an early morning meeting he would give me notice the night before and if I failed to wake up on my own he would wake me up. Usually in a highly irritating fashion. On those mornings I feigned anger, but I really loved our routine. My dad and I were always close until he divorced my mom and moved away. When My parents separated back in January my dad went AWOL. Not that I saw much of him anyway. He always worked crazy hours at his law firm. He would leave home early and come home late. Despite that, when I did see him he made a point of focusing on me. We would spend a day together once every three weeks, doing whatever I wanted. Those days used to be called family days. That was back then when my mother would be the one orchestrating them. Something happened three years ago between my parents, I wasn't sure what it was. No one told me anything. My dad moved out of my mom's bedroom and then he moved out of our house all together.There was no mommy and daddy are divorcing conversation. He just moved out and that was that. My mom became the distant and icy, and suddenly I was never good enough. She was always pushing me to be better and better became unattainable. Then she stopped speaking to me. It was confusing, I couldn’t understand why she was freezing me out. She began spending all her time with her society friends. She changed, and I hated her for it. Where was the mom that used to read me bedtime stories and have conversations with my dad about politics at the dinner table? That was around the last time she used to hug me and tell me she loved me. But I don't really give a shit about all that. My dad moved back in a year later but things between them were strained at best. Their lives were completely separate, and dad began to spend more and more time at the office, while mom spent more and more time on her appearance. They finally divorced a few months ago. My dad rearranged his work schedule and moved to the middle of nowhere so that we could spend a summer together. Yes, I definitely felt the parental guilt. Now he and I have breakfasts together, and he doesn't come home later than 6pm, unless there's some emergency that the other two partners can't fix. I guess that more or less makes up for the years of absence. When the summer’s over I won't see much of him, but I hoped that maybe this summer would change that.
Today was officially the last day of class. I had to go to pick up my certificate and our teacher promised us cookies and punch. To be honest I wanted to send my dad in my place and just stay home and watch dance movies. I didn’t bother asking him to go for me, then he would need an explanation and I wasn't up to lying.
I stirred the contents of my bowl of cereal absentmindedly.
"Hmm." I looked up. His curly black hair was tousled and sticking up in all directions. It
was usually brushed and slicked back. I called that his smarmy hair. Instead of a suit he wore a grey tank top and plaid pyjama pants. My dad was in his mid thirties, but when he wore his house clothes, mainly tanks and pj’s, he looked ten years younger.
"I've been talking to you for the past five minutes and you haven't heard a word I've said. What's
going on?" I shrugged. He narrowed his eyes, they were the colour of pale green diamonds. My eyes were darker.
"Dad I really don't want to talk about this." I released a heavy breath. I knew he wasn't
going to let this go.
"If you didn't look so sad then maybe I would let it be, but you look like someone died."
"It's nothing, Whitney and I had a fight and it’s personal." I said firmly, making eye contact.
I needed to convince him that I was ok.
"Ok" He relented."Since I'm home today I can give you a ride. Do you have plans after
class?" I shook my head. A smile lit up his whole face. Most of my friends always mentioned how handsome my dad was once they met him. They would do embarrassing things like giggle at everything he said, and stare at him all dreamy eyed. The only one of my friends who was actually able to have a conversation with him was Whitney.
My dad had a square face with a strong jaw. His olive complexion complimented his light
green eyes that were framed by thick lashes. And when he smiled, he had a dimple in each cheek. I had his dark hair, but mine was slightly wavy, not curly. I really took after my mom. Extremely pale skin that refused to tan, and sharp features. I had actually lied to my dad. I do have plans, or rather, did. I was supposed to go out with my classmates for a celebratory lunch, but I didn't want to be around Whitney, even if there were 11 girls between us. "We can have a movie marathon. Sci fi or action?"
"Action." I tried to muster some enthusiasm grateful for the distraction.
I couldn’t believe I was at Kelsey’s party. Kelsey wasn't in the dance program, but since she
was Whitney’s bff, she got to know a lot of us who were in the program. While my dad and I binge watched all the Die Hard movies well into the wee hours of the night, Kelsey and Jane texted me multiple times asking me why I didn't show for lunch and demanding that I show up for Kelsey's party. Yesterday I had made it a point to arrive early to class so that I could slip out before I ran into anyone. When I got there Whitney was already talking to our instructor Miss Danielson. Just my luck. Miss Danielson smiled at my arrival, Whitney turned her head and looked me over with a gaze that could turn molten rock to stone. That made it pretty clear that we weren't friends anymore. Awesome. I wanted to talk to her about last night. I was going to talk to her about it eventually, it was just that everytime I thought about last night I turned to jelly. Plus, I wasn’t sure where to begin. I had reciprocated, and that fact wasn’t lost on me. But now it didn't matter, I mean we weren't friends anymore so I guess that’s that then.
The first day of the program before Whitney introduced herself, I spent the hour sneaking
looks at her in the mirror. She was so exotic. Her full pink lips were shaped like a kiss and even more striking, her caramel skin and her deep blue eyes were a rare combination. I never looked at anyone like that, let alone other girls. She wasn't like anyone I knew back home. Obviously I had met mixed people before. That had nothing to do with my fascination. Whitney was in a class of her own. I mean, she really was beautiful, and when you notice someone like that it’s natural to stare, right? At the end of class when she introduced herself to me, she wore a sly smile, as if she knew something I didn’t. She invited me to a party at her best friend's place, Kelsey. I wasn’t sure about going, I didn’t know anyone there and I was trying to stay away from parties. She assured me it would be fun and she didn’t leave my side from the moment she picked me up and walked me over to Kelsey’s until the night was over and she walked me home. I had a great time. She was easy to talk to, and I felt as if I'd always known her and I could tell her anything. We became fast friends, and now that this thing was between us, I couldn't bear it. Her friendship meant so much to me. If only I knew how to salvage it. She knew me better than anyone, and no one really cared to get to know me. Most of my friendships were so very superficial, with the main connection being social status and wealth. Kissing her back and liking it was something that scared me. I couldn’t, or at least I wasn’t ready to, face the ramifications. People like that just didn’t exist in my circles.
I nodded at Mrs. Danielson, waiting patiently for her to be done with Whitney. I didn’t want
to see that look on Whitney's face again so I kept my eyes fixed on the ceiling. Mrs. Danielson cleared her throat when she was ready for me. Whitney had her back to us. She gave me my certificate, said some nice things about me trying out for the program next year and wished me well. She was a great instructor. I would miss her. If I got into the program next year, I would be one grade higher and my instructor would be someone else. Ms. Craig I think her name was. Some of the older girls said she was a bitch, others loved her. I managed to get in and out of there in ten minutes. I had made my dad wait in the parking lot. I texted Jane some excuse about my dad wanting me to do chores around the house. Jane had met my dad and she knew he wasn't exactly big on chores, also we had a cleaning lady. My dad was kind of new at the whole full time parent thing. He let me go out as much as I wanted and for a 14 year old girl, not having a curfew was amazing. I just had to be where I said I was and, if things changed, he expected a text immediately. Of course no drinking and smoking was a given, but that didn't interest me anymore, and of course, no boys. He didn’t have to worry about that. I already had a boyfriend. My dad trusted me and I was well aware that breaking his trust would come with a heavy price. I wouldn’t anyway, I didn’t want to disappoint him.
I really didn't care how flimsy my excuse was, I would have said anything to get out of lunch. I
had woken up this morning with the intention of staying home and skipping Kelsey’s party. I mostly wanted to avoid Whitney. If I skipped the party I would miss saying goodbye to my new friends, especially Jane and Kelsey whom I had gotten to know quite well. But the thought of running into Whitney made me seriously ill. I spent the afternoon pacing back and forth and At 5 minutes to 9pm I got dressed and without over thinking or really thinking at all, I informed my dad I was going to Kelsey's party and that I needed a ride. My dad wasn't exactly surprised that I had changed my mind. He reasoned that if I didn't say goodbye to my friends I would regret it. As he drove me to Kelsey's, he gave the usual speech about not drinking and being mindful. I felt myself blush when he asked me if I was spending the night at Whitney's. I told him I probably wouldn't but if things changed I would call. Not that I wanted things to change. I wasn't sure what I wanted. I tried not to think about the kiss, or should I say kisses, but it was all I could think about. I squirmed in my seat. This wasn’t the time or place for those thoughts. I always returned to the intense smell of her strawberry body wash. The softness of her lips, the sparks that flew when she pulled my body into hers. The goosebumps I felt when she touched my knee. The way I closed my eyes before her lips even touched mine. I was going mental. I told myself that if I saw her tonight I would apologize and maybe we could somehow still be friends. She was the only person I couldn't bear to lose touch with.
When my dad dropped me off at Kelsey’s the realization that I had made a huge mistake was instant. My palms were sweating and I debated calling my dad and asking him to pick me up. I was on my way back out the front gate when Kelsey grabbed my arm and spun me around. She was surprisingly strong for someone who had no muscle mass. She was basically a walking stick, a short stick at only 4’11. "Where do you think you're going?" Kelsey had her hand on her hip in mock anger. I tried to smile. Kelsey had a big personality. She wasn’t making up for her height like some people would at that stature. She was a pure extrovert by nature. She loved to be around people all the time. If her mom would allow it she would throw a party every weekend. She did throw a ridiculous amount of parties though. She was a year older than us and I guess her mom really trusted her. I wouldn’t. Kelsey herself didn’t drink much, but others got wasted, and one of her mom’s stipulations was no alcohol. Kelsey’s parties were always byob.
“Where were you the other night? I can't believe you bailed. Cleaning your room, please." she glared at me. I knew her though, so I wasn’t intimidated in least. But some people would be. Kelsey wore all black, mostly lace type dresses, with ripped stockings, sometimes fishnets, and always black platform boots that had lots of buckles and zippers. Like me she was pale and she had raven black hair. That's where the similarities ended. She didn’t skimp on the eyeliner and her lipstick was either blood red or black. Tonight she opted for black. Kelsey looked like a badass with a stare of death to match. She was very pretty, her pale blue eyes stood out against her monochromatic look, and she had a very inviting smile that lit up her face.
"Alright, alright I'm sorry I just wasn't feeling well but I'm here now." Kelsey scrutinized my
"I don't believe you because you lied, but like you said, here you are. and that's more
important." Kelsey hooked her arm in mine and dragged me through the front door and into the
kitchen. The kitchen was the only place in the house that was brightly lit. The living room was dim and the staircase leading upstairs was roped off with caution tape and practically invisible in the darkness. I knew from experience that all the doors upstairs were locked. There were still plenty of dark corners in the living room and outside in the backyard. From what I could see they were being well used. Even though Kelsey was really into obscure metal bands, the music thumping from the speakers was mostly pop music with a mix of rap, rock and even country. Everyone cheered and sang off key when Journey’s Don't Stop Believing came on, myself included. Kelsey filled my cup with a suspicious liquid that made my throat burn, but I knocked it back anyway. Kelsey furrowed her brow. "Let's wait a while before you get another one."
"That's a first you telling me to slow down." I smiled playfully.
"Well you are acting weird."
"Whatever, let’s go say hi to Jake." Jake was one of the many guys she was interested in. Once she set her sights on a guy he didn’t stand a chance. Over the next two hours we mingled among revellers, and I was actually having a good time. I didn't see Whitney and I think that had a lot to do with it. Maybe it was because my third mysterious drink relaxed me or maybe it was because I was distracted, but I was finally able to let loose for the first time in two days. Nothing mattered. I was among friends. I hugged all my classmates goodbye and gave them sloppy kisses on the cheek. I was already feeling nostalgic about the whole experience. Sometime around 11 I decided to go outside and get some air. Someone had mentioned that Jane was around, but I hadn’t seen her all night. I definitely needed to give her a hug. I went through the sliding doors that led to the backyard. Jane was sitting by the pool with her feet wading in the water.
"Where were you yesterday?" Was the first thing out of her mouth. She craned her neck at
the sound of the sliding door. I kicked off my flip flops and sat beside her dipping my feet in the water. It was cool, the water felt good on my bunions. All dancers have horrible feet a workplace hazard really. I started moving my feet around I got used to the temperature. It was still pretty humid for the end of August. I opened my mouth to come up with an excuse.
"I don't know, I just wasn't feeling it, to be honest." Jane nodded.
“I know what you mean. I didn’t really want to go out either and I didn’t want to be here
tonight.” Her eyes didn’t leave the water. She was upset.
“Conner broke up with me...for real this time.” She sighed. “It’s for the best. I mean obviously we were dysfunctional, we broke up once a month.”
“I’m sorry.” I placed an arm around her shoulders. I never liked the guy. He was the jealous type. They had only been dating for about 6 months, and he accused her of cheating on him if she didn’t text him right a way. Despite that, she was really into him. I told her he was a jerk, but my opinion fell on deaf ears. She looked up at me from under her bangs.
"So I guess you and Whitney aren’t going to workout then." My heart stopped. I suddenly
felt very sober.
“What do you mean? What did she tell you?" I struggled to keep my voice even.
"Nothing really... just that she really likes you and she was thinking about telling you that."
For a moment, the only thing I could hear was my own heart beating in my ears.
"So she's gay then?" I croaked. Jane was giving me a strange look.
"Well yea...you would know..I mean she told you right? I thought she wasn’t here because
things didn’t work out....Are you alright?" She looked concerned. I wanted to barf and the drinking didn’t help.
"Yea I’m fine. It's something I drank." I shakily stood up and slipped on my flip flops. “I
think I'm going to go to the washroom.”
"Do you need me to hold your hair back?"
"No I'm good." I was already walking away. My chest was tight. I mean, logically it was
pretty obvious that she was gay. I mean she did kiss me. But I thought that was more of a spontaneous thing. I mean she told people...about me. My head was spinning. I walked around the side of the house to the front yard. All this time she was only hanging out with me so she could get into my pants? I wanted, no, I needed to confront her. First I needed to calm down. It wouldn't do anybody good if I couldn’t get my emotions in check. I stumbled as I tried to open the front gate. I heard some people snickering not too far behind me.
"She's totally wasted." I didn't care, and I didn't look back.
I circled Kelsey's block for an hour. I was on autopilot, my mind was empty and my heart
was racing. The weather had cooled down a bit. It was almost midnight, I was cold. I let my feet lead me. I walked with my head up looking at the stars. I never got to see stars like this in the city, there was too much light pollution. The tiny pinpricks of light flooded the sky like spilled glitter. When I was little I was obsessed with stars. I was completely amazed that gravity could create and destroy something so massive that was both beautiful and destructive. It had been a while since I took the time to look up at them. Without realizing it, I had turned onto Whitney’s street. There was no turning back at this point. I sat on her stoop. It was 12:30am. I couldn’t knock on her door or her mom would lecture me about visiting so late. I wasn’t sure if her mom was home though. There was no car in the driveway, but she usually parked in the garage anyway. I took out my cell, texted my dad, and then dialed the number I had memorized the moment it was given to me. Four rings, and straight to voicemail. Fuck. I tried again. She was either asleep, or not taking my calls. Probably not taking my calls. Panic washed over me. What am I doing? I sent her a text : r u awake Im outside. I wrapped my hands around my knees. The door opened. Startled, I jumped up quickly and spun around. She had come. She was wearing a loose pair of shorts and a ratty old t-shirt. The shorts hung low on her hips, the top of her underwear was visible. I took it in and I my body buzzed once more. When I met her eyes she was unimpressed, I could tell, with the way I had been looking. I blushed.
"Why are you here?" She was so cold, because of me.
"Well I thought you would have figured that out when we kissed." We. Not I. My head was
reeling, I kissed back. I kissed back.
"Why didn't you tell me." Her frown deepened.
"Would it have mattered?" She crossed her arms. I didn’t know. Would I have acted
differently? Would we have been this close? I liked to think that there wouldn't have been a difference, but I knew the truth. After a moment of silence she shook her head."Is this why you're here? You came to tell me off now that you know." She rolled her eyes. "You kissed back. Don't forget that." I looked away. I could feel the sting of tears. I was bending and breaking. This wasn't how I thought this conversation would go at all.
"You should've told me." I whispered so quietly I didn't think she heard me. She blew out a
puff of air.
"I've never had to tell anyone. My friends have always known." Her tone softened, but the
distance between us was still so palpable. It was pressing on me. The distance was crushing me. I was realising we would never again have what we had before. I nodded. "I mean they've seen me kiss girls, and stuff so I've never had to explain myself."
"What about your mom?" She shrugged.
"I'll tell her when I tell her. I'm not worried." My mom would never accept this. She already
acted like I didn't exist, whatever this was would be the final nail in the coffin. I already wasn't good enough. And my dad? I wasn't sure how he would feel, but I didn't want to disappoint him. I sat back down. Whitney sat beside me, still keeping her distance. "It'll be ok, they don't have to know now." I absently picked at some grass in the cracks in the sidewalk.
"No it won't." We sat in silence for a few minutes. "I’m sorry I took off like that." She
shrugged. “I freaked out. I have a boyfriend, I never thought I would ever be kissing you.”
"You're right I should have told you.... Would it have made a difference."
"I don't know." I answered truthfully. "Were you just being nice to me because you like me
"What do you think?" She snapped, and warily shook her head. "I hate you for making me
feel bad." She wiped away a stray tear that had fallen on my cheek. I shuddered at her simple touch. I didn't break eye contact. I inched forward with trepidation. She didn't move, my breath hitched as my lips touched hers. I melted.