Author: Cami Errant PM
A story about Nicole, a girl in love, though she chooses not to show it. She tries to figure her feelings out and put them into words before she graduates high school, ahead of of her friends and the boy she loves more than anything.Rated: Fiction T - English - Romance/Hurt/Comfort - Chapters: 11 - Words: 30,667 - Reviews: 18 - Favs: 3 - Follows: 4 - Updated: 05-22-12 - Published: 01-02-12 - id: 2984882
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
I Can't Get No Satisfaction
Surprisingly enough, I'd made it past Phoebe's iron fist, after polishing my acting skills the night before, and got by without telling her about the meeting with my father. The bus ride that morning was rather quiet. Quieter than usual, at least, and left me feeling a little melancholy. Still, I had another person to face. After erratically bailing on him, Dylan was, of course, a bit ticked off.
That next morning in Physics, I sat down and was greeted by this simple question.
"Why'd you leave so soon?"
I sighed, looking at the backs of my hands nervously. I didn't plan to tell him of the reasoning behind my sudden departure and extraordinary odyssey. I recalled the events from the previous day, and searched the acting section of my brain for a feasible answer.
"I had some errands to run," I forced the bluff out without making eye contact.
"Bull crap." Dylan leaned his elbow on the top of the lab counter. "You had something on your mind that you wouldn't tell Alton or me."
I glowered at him for having an inconveniently good memory.
"And we didn't make much progress after you left, ya' know."
I finally met his gaze, trying to seem less apologetic than I actually was. "I got too worked up to think clearly. I'm sorry."
Dylan slung his legs around the stool so he could lean his back against the counter.
"Whaddaya think I should do?" he pushes up the rim of his glasses and fixed his hair up a little bit. Poor guy. He was more nervous than he let on.
I sat back and pondered it for a minute. "Well, we've officially established that you like her a whole dang lot, right?"
He forced out an almost inaudible grunt, resembling the word "yeah."
"Just swallow your pride and give me a straight answer, why don't you?" Provoking him was sometimes the most effective way to get information. I propped my chin up on my elbow, which was on the counter of our lab table, and narrowed my eyes for effect.
"Yes." he said, his voice assertive. "Very much..." The second phrase was much weaker.
It still wasn't much to work with. I lost my appearance of a James Bond villain, as I got to thinking for him. "Tell her straight out...?"
"ARE YOU KIDDING ME? SHE'D HAVE MY WHOLE DAMN HEAD ON A PLATTER IN TWO SECONDS!"
"Well then, that's out." I'd been almost knocked off of my chair by his yelling, but corrected myself and kept calm. After apologetically waving off the people who were giving us inquisitive stares, I got my thought process under control.
A little Navi-Like fairy flew up to my ear, and I had an epiphany (the fairy part was obviously figurative.) Getting a girl to like a guy is a tricky thing, unless the girl already likes the guy. Then it becomes nearly impossible for either of them to just come out and say what they mean. When that does eventually happen, you know you've done something right.
Unfortunately, it's hard.
So, I figured I could give the two stubborn idiots a place to outlet themselves.
"The school formal thing is next month."
I didn't need to say much more. Dylan got the idea and waved me off. Class started a few minutes later.
There was an eerily awkward silence between the two of us during work time. On any other normal day, we would be chatting, joking inappropriately, getting minimal work done, the usual. But this particular occasion, on the other hand, we were completely contained. We worked with little to no actual communication, and only over school-work related matters. It was very strange indeed.
Well, I could say that the day was rather droll, but that would be a lie. Believe it or not, quite a few interesting things took place during the expanse of that cool November day. Good and bad events that can be told with ease.
For starters, I had an interesting time in my Music Workshop class that fateful day. See, my teacher, Mr. Shears, and I got along really well, and I'd taken his class for my entire high school life, working on hard piece after hard piece along with his assistance. He knew me well enough, as far as I could assume. Well, that day was pretty important in the student-teacher relationship.
In the middle of class, as I was in my little corner, practicing on the electric piano with the head phones on, I felt a little tap on my shoulder, interrupting one of the best parts of Clair de Lune. It had taken me a couple months, but I was almost finished with the piece. Irritating as it was to be disrupted in one of the climaxes of the song, I rose and followed Mr. Shears to his desk, to discuss what he'd requested.
"Nicole," he started, sitting down in front of his computer, "How would you feel about playing at the Winter Ball?"
I made direct eye contact, making sure he wasn't kidding, trying my hardest to read his face and make sure none of this was a fluke.
"I… Uh…" I couldn't really put my thoughts into words at that point. Play? In front of all those people? It wasn't like prom, which was only for juniors and seniors, the Winter Ball was for the whole school. I'd be doing something really big. "Really? You want me to play?"
"Yes ma'am," he said casually. Mr. Shears was a younger teacher, which was nice, since he could connect with his students easily, but wasn't fresh out of college, or anything. "You'd be playing the slow dance songs, mainly. Just a couple pieces that I could find chords and melodies for you to use as a reference. You could play one of your bigger pieces, if it fit the atmosphere."
I couldn't absorb the shock very well. Exciting as it was, I was overwhelmed for a good few moments. After wrapping my mind around the whole sha-bang, I nodded. "Sounds good."
Mr. Shears smiled. "Excellent." He sat back in his chair, and pulled up Google Chrome on the computer. "I'll find some songs for you to learn in the next month while you work on Clair de Lune."
I nodded again, brewing with anticipation. "Uh… What day is it? The dance, I mean."
"December 18th. Do you have a conflict or something?"
More like I was the conflict. December 18th was my birthday. "No. There's nothing," I fibbed for the third or so time that day. "I just forgot. Thanks Mr. Shears." I trotted back to my little piano, and played through some of the popular songs I knew from YouTube tutorials with energy in my fingers. A Thousand Years was pretty good, and it fit the mood of a dance really well. I'd need more than that and Clair de Lune, but it wouldn't be too terribly difficult.
The wonderful time known as lunch finally arrived. It was the first time I'd seen Alton all day, and I was the last to learn that he'd gotten his hair cut, so it was quite a bit shorter, and choppier at the hair line. It was a good look for him, making it difficult for me to hold back my blushes when I studied it.
Not that it wasn't nice being with my only friends, but Phoebe and Dylan were still having a mini-war, that had spanned for much too long. Ever since our lovely party back at the beginning of the year, they'd been butting heads off and on because of anything they could wrap their minds around and could argue about. What fun.
Lunch today wasn't different in any real sense. The two didn't talk very much out of their previous spite, leaving the guys separated from the girls once again. I'd lost interest in the relatively inappropriate conversation going on at the other end of the table, and thought back to the previous night.
Hughes Roanoke. My father, huh…? It was strange that I wasn't completely furious with him. Well, not anymore. Seeing him for the first time was like witnessing war for the very first time in your life, and knowing that you'd have to see it again. It was kind of scary. But honestly, the more he talked, the less I wanted him to leave again.
There was also the matter of him and my mother, along with my mother's boyfriend, Harvey Long. Would it really be good for mom to get another boy friend? Would she accept dad again? Would the world spin in the opposite direction? Hard to say.
"What?" I perked up back into reality at Phoebe's harsh tone. She was holding her hands in front of my face, in the position that showed they'd produced the slapping sound I heard.
"You've been sleeping the day away again," she said, her tone spiced up with a tinge of irritation. "What's on your mind?"
"Nothing really." I propped my chin on my fist, and poked at my food a little bit. I took a normal sized bite of cafeteria mush, in an attempt to seem natural to Phoebe.
She didn't buy it.
"What's going on? You seem really out of it. Did something happen? Did your mom get raped by her new boyfriend? Was your brother hit by a car? Did you throw up, or get sick in some other way? Is the world spinning in the opposite direction? Are you dying and not telling us because you're afraid we'll cry ourselves to sleep every night?"
"Phoebe," I held a hand out in front of her face. "I'm fine. And I didn't even hear half of the stuff you said, you were talking so fast. You need to learn to enunciate better." I shrugged her worries off, and returned to my mush.
"Something's wrong, and you don't want to tell me. You're a terrible liar, though I have to admit, you're getting a bit better."
I tried to entertain myself with something other than Phoebe for a while. It was never fun to play cards at lunch when we didn't have everyone getting along on a decent level, so most of it was sitting in silence, or near silence, and playing with food. I watched Dylan randomly prop his foot up on the table, then witnessed both him and Alton laugh hysterically, immediately making me not want to know what they were talking about.
Language Arts class was the next interesting thing on the list for that day. When Dylan, Alton, and I arrived, amidst a conversation about the difference in catsup and barbecue sauce, and which was better, we found that the room was completely rearranged. Mrs. Cizinski had probably worked pretty hard on getting that room reorganized like so, because the differences were astounding. Desks were instead of facing the front of the room in rows, were divided up in the middle with a sort of alley way. Desks on one side faced those on another, making it look like the perfect setting for a Socratic Seminar. Maybe it was permanent.
I glanced at Dylan, who was reading the board with curiosity. I followed his gaze to see the phrase "new seats" up there at the very top. Great. Well, I'd probably be partnered up with some person I just despised with all of my heart, while Alton and Dylan were magically partners again. Well, that wasn't really Mrs. Cizinski's style.
"Ah!" I turned to see my now former Language Arts partner, Mina, who had accidentally run into Alton. He looked amused, while she was apologetic, though rubbing her nose. Mina was short, so her nose had probably drilled right into Alton's shoulder blade. Ouch… The nice thing was that she didn't seem embarrassed or flustered, like she'd accidentally said something stupid to her middle school crush. Alton was the same as always.
The bell rang, and all the students plopped themselves down in random seats, though most of them were grouped up around their friends. Mrs. Cizinski came up to the front of the room, and gave us the run-down of the day's activities. Nothing too interesting to report. After that, she started to give people their new seating assignments. And guess: who was not sitting next to Alton?
Me. No crap.
And guess: who was sitting next to the guy I was in love with?
My former buddy. Mina. I wasn't mad at her for it, but it sure was a downer. Seeing the two of them paired up pulled at my heart strings a little bit. Dylan was with another guy I didn't know, but seemed nice enough. He and Dylan were talking about some chick having a "sweet ass." Lovely.
Then there was me. I was seated next to conveniently one of the meanest guys in the class. His name was Calvin Normandy. Well, he was more obnoxious, and less mean. Most of the time, he would turn around and talk to the guys sitting behind him about how much he hated his girlfriend, while I was left to actually do work for the entire class time.
Needless to say, aside from Workshop, the day wasn't too hot.
On top of that, the whole bus ride home, while Phoebe tried to get information out of me about what was bugging me to no end, as she saw it (which was very accurate), I was absorbed in studying Mina. I'd known her well enough for a few years, and never knew her to be really interested in guys. I tossed the whole thing aside like a tumbleweed in an old western, and decided I wouldn't let it bother me.
I had something else to bother me when I got home.
True, it was a little later in the week, but I hadn't expected mother to be home early. When I trudged in, dragging my flimsy backpack in my dust, I saw mother standing over the counter, and sponge in her hand, as she spoke enthusiastically over her shoulder at a person sitting at the counter. Rudy was working on homework at the breakfast table, while a person that was a complete mystery to me was sitting on my usual bar stool.
He was a taller man, from what I could tell. Probably around six feet, at best. He was dressed in a business casual button down shirt, a loose tie under a sweater vest, and had converse on with his khaki work pants. As a person himself, he was pretty handsome. His hair was thick and medium brown, with darker roots, and was slicked back lazily. He had rectangular glasses sitting on the rim of his nose, and a cigarette balanced between his lips.
"Welcome home!" Mother piped up, throwing the slightly dirty sponge in the sink.
I stood in the doorway, examining the scene curiously. Rudy was off in his own world, mother was off on a planet that didn't exist in text books, and the guy sitting at the counter was flying out to mom's planet. I tried to stay down to earth, but it wasn't working very well.
"Wh-o is… this?" I asked my mom as she checked the contents of the old crock pot on the counter adjacent from where she'd been cleaning. I put my backpack on one of the breakfast table chairs, and threw my sweater in the foyer, as I awaited her answer.
"Yeah, I guess this is the first time the two of you have met," Mom said, studying me closely, trying to read my expression.
"This is Nicole, then?" The man asked, pointing to me as I moved about. His tone was light, but his voice in general was a smooth tenor sound. I didn't know many people with soothing voices, but he definitely had one.
"You're Harvey, right?" I chimed in, my voice a little heavier than I'd expected.
"Got that right." He let out a puff of smoke, and swiped it away with his hands. I couldn't tell if it was to keep Rudy and I from having to smell it, or if it was a conversational gesture. "Harvey Long."
I sat down at the other bar stool, and set my elbow up on the island. "Mom's drinking buddy, huh?"
He smirked in a way that was just shy of being offensive, which I found annoying. "You could put it that way, I guess."
Mother scowled at me, but didn't intervene, though I'd brought sarcasm into play.
I sighed. "It's nice to meet you, Harvey." I extended my hand, still not smiling.
"You too, Middle Child." Harvey took my hand, and we briefly shook.