|The Inexplicable State of Being There
Author: big.break.and.laryngitis PM
Brody Hansen and I, we had a system. I didn't like him and he didn't like me, but we both liked watching each other undress. That's just what happened when you gave good-looking, hormonal teenagers bedroom windows that faced each other. Full sum inside.Rated: Fiction T - English - Romance/Friendship - Chapters: 20 - Words: 78,144 - Reviews: 1,092 - Favs: 1,280 - Follows: 577 - Updated: 12-08-09 - Published: 12-04-08 - Status: Complete - id: 2604330
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Full Summary: Felicia and Brody have been next-door neighbors for a long time. They'd never really been friends, but they'd never really been enemies. She likes baking, he likes art, and they'd never really had much to say to each other. Then one day, in sophomore year, Brody sees Felicia changing. And Felicia sees Brody see her changing. And then Felicia does something neither of them expect: she smiles. From then on, they've learned to be what Felicia and Brody like to call "there." He's there, she's there. They're there, but they're not there together. Being "there" is a state of indifference, Felicia decides. And it might take a lot for each of them to discover that being "there" isn't exactly what they want anymore.
So. I hope you'll read it. Here it goes.
I slipped my shirt over my head and cast it aside, avoiding the eyes that were inevitably watching me. I undid my jeans and shoved them to my ankles, being careful to leave my underpants in place. I glanced out my window, feeling his eyes on me. But Brody just sat calmly on his bed, reading what looked like a Harry Potter book. I knew he was watching me, though. He always did.
See, the boy next door—Brody Hansen—and I, well, we had a system: I didn't like him and he didn't like me, but we both liked watching the other dress and undress. Well. That's just what happens when you gave two good-looking, hormonal teenagers bedroom windows that faced each other.
In my bra and underwear, I leaned over to shut my blinds. At the last split second before I dropped the cord, his eyes leapt from the pages to meet mine. There was a moment of some emotion that I could never quite place as we stared at each other. Then, he smiled and mouthed, "Good night, Felicia."
I put on the rest of my pajamas and shut off the light. Playing with the frayed ends of my old childhood blanket—yes, I still had it on my bed. Jeez, it wasn't like I sucked my thumb still— I thought about me and Brody. Brody and me. What the hell was going on there.
You see, I'd lived in that house my whole life. When I was six, Mrs. Riesman moved to an Elderly Housing Community (PC for "Old Folks' Home) and in moved the Hansens. Brody and I—let's just say we didn't get on real well. I couldn't remember our first conversation, but I thought it must have gone something like this:
My mother: And this is Felicia. Darling, say hi.
Me: (holding mother's leg) Hi.
Mrs. Hansen: (laughing) She's precious. Brody's about her age, I think? He's around here somewhere—Brody! Brody!
Brody: (peeking around the corner from the hallway to the entry) What?
Mrs. Hansen: This is Mrs. McAdams and her daughter, Felicia.
Brody: (wrinkling nose) Okay. I'ma go back and watch my bideo now.
Me: (sticking out tongue) You're not very nice.
Brody: You're not very nice, either.
Me: Mommy, I wanna go home!
Brody: (probably rudely) See ya.
You understand? It wasn't who we about who we were, it was about who we'd been. Obnoxious little munchkins with no respect for anything, let alone each other. After that, we'd talked very little. The schools we'd gone to since then had been big, and I'd rarely had him in any of my classes. Even though we were next-door-neighbors, we had never tried to get to know each other. I mean, at block parties and stuff we'd crash in his living room, and he'd whip my butt at all his assorted video games. I was all for feminism and everything, but I could not, for the life of me, pretend to be interested in those things.
But, you know, it gave us both something to do while the adults drank beer and talked too loudly, singing songs from the eighties that gave us all headaches. At least, it did until he was fifteen and began demanding that they actually give him beer.
Then I'd be holed up in my room, bored, while Brody drank. He never drank much, but it was evidently enough to make him forget about Felicia McAdams. Not that it would take much to do that— as I'd said, we weren't exactly friends. Just sort of… there. He was there, I was there. That was it.
And that's how I fell asleep, wondering if Brody thought we were "there," too.
The first time Felicia McAdams changed in front of me was when we were in tenth grade. It was early November; she was fifteen, I'd just turned sixteen. I guess she didn't realize that her blinds were up, or maybe she just didn't care. Whatever the case, she walked into her bedroom with nothing but a long T-shit on. Once she pulled this off, I discovered that there was underwear hidden, well, underneath it.
Calm down, her back was facing me. It's not like I saw anything. She slid on a black bra and struggled with the catch for a moment before it hooked. Then she turned toward the window and saw me.
I tried to avert my eyes, but something about her—maybe the fact that she was half-naked—rendered me completely motionless. She looked half-shocked, half-flattered. Then, inexplicably, she smiled and pulled on her jeans.
Whoa, I'd thought. She didn't even look mad. Her dark hair looked wet, and I thought for a bit about how she'd probably just been in the shower. I almost choked on my own spit right then, thinking about Felicia in the shower.
She turned back to me after rummaging in her closet and held up two identical hooded shirts—one green, one blue. Green or blue? She'd mouthed at me.
Green, I mouthed back immediately. Definitely green. She seemed to stifle a laugh as she tossed the blue hoodie to the floor.
While Felicia pulled her shirt on, I took the opportunity to collect myself. That's it, Brody, keep it cool. I wasn't even supposed to like her. How could I enjoy looking at her that much?
She'd opened her window then, and gestured for me to do the same. I did. "How do I look?" she asked, softly so our parents wouldn't hear.
I pretended to think about it. "I think you looked better without the clothes."
Felicia rolled her eyes. "Thanks."
"But just in case I'm not here next time you're dressing, pick green. It looks good on you."
"Thanks," she said again, this time without the sarcasm. "See you at school, I guess."
"Yeah," I said. "Later."
And we both shut our windows.
Two years later, and I still hadn't seen that girl completely naked. I figured by now it was a show, because if she didn't know I was watching, she was an idiot. And Felicia was not an idiot; she wasn't, you know, top-of-the-class student-body-president resident-virgin (was she a virgin?) or anything, but she was smart. She made decent grades, and she baked cookies all the time. Too much. You'd think she'd get tired of them eventually. On top of all this, she was really, really bad at video games. Like, chronically bad. Epic failure, for sure.
Yes, she was a virgin. Sorry, one-track mind, here. I wasn't positive back then, though. It really was hard to tell, you know? She had a serious boyfriend: Liam O'Malley. She'd been dating him for a long time—since the end of tenth grade, I think. They'd broken up and gotten back together several times—I didn't know how many. I never understood why people would do that.
I mean, if they broke up, there must have been a reason, mustn't there? So why get together again, only to have the same problems arise? I supposed it just came down to emotion: Felicia and Liam just couldn't stay away from each other. They cared about each other no matter what the problem was that made them break up time and time again.
I wished I could have a relationship like that. Where you care so much that you don't care about anything else. My friend Nick said I was being a girl about it, going on about relationships all the time. Then he got all serious about it, saying I probably wanted a relationship so bad because my parents' relationship sucked. Or it used to suck, before it ended. The end was the best part, I think. When mom stopped crying and started healing. When dad stopped calling for me and my sister McKenzie while he knew mom was at work.
Anyway, I swear Nick was going to be a psycho-analyst when he grew up—which must've been in less than a month. He turned eighteen two weeks before I did. He's really good at that sort of psychiatry thing.
I never missed my dad. Well, almost never. Felicia never mentioned it, but I knew she remembered the day it happened, too. Not that I was going to talk about it, because I wasn't. I didn't talk much about anything; I liked reading better. Reading made me forget about my life for a moment, and I was able to focus on the misery of someone else's for once.
Felicia never understood that. Nick did, though. If I was reading at lunch, he'd just sit next to me and tell off our other friends when they tried to get my attention. Nick was cool like that; he just got when you needed to be left alone.
Felicia was a virgin then. Not to bring this up again, but I know this for a fact. But I'm sure you'll hear all about that some other time.
I sighed, setting down my worn-and-torn copy of The Prisoner of Azkaban, shutting my own blinds and turning off the light. I sat on the end of my bed for a long time after that, wondering exactly why Felicia and I weren't friends. We should have been. She was always around, and I was always around. We were both just… there.
A/N: So, what do you think? I've already got three and a half chapters written besides this. I think I can keep myself in check long enough to finish it. But only if people like it. So, tell me what you think. I've got a basic plan for the plot already, but I'm always open for suggestion. This'll be a big one, guys. Let's see how it works out. Review, please?