Chapter 9: Decoding Ambiguous Moscovitz Naturally


The dial tone rang mockingly into my ear. It was making fun of me, I just knew it. Then I heard Greg's voice on the phone.

"Hey."

"Hi! It's Jenna I just-" I was cut off by the answering machine.

"Leave a message and I'll get back to you as soon as possible." The tone beeped and I hung up with a fierce poke at the End button. I threw the phone at the end of the bed, my face turning steadily read.

Throwing my face in my pillow, I realized that maybe I was the only one who wanted this to work and maybe I should just give up. It would spare me lots of embarrassment and lots of stress.

I heaved a theatrical sigh, got up from my bed, and picked up the phone. Looking at it once with longing before putting it back on the charger, I wondered perhaps if Gregory was looking at his phone with the same longing. It would be like one of those movie moments where they both try calling at the same time and the phone is busy and all chances of reconciliation are lost and then they end up not getting together and marry other people completely wrong for them then end up unhappy.

That train of thought without punctuation concreted my belief that I was turning into a melodramatic freak and I turned away finally from the phone, blaming Gregory Moscovitz for this sudden transformation.


"So lemme get this straight," I began.

I heard Sean's grunt of acquiesce from the other side of the phone conversation.

"You heard a rumor that Anna was cheating on you so you broke up with her in a very mean way?" the incredulous inflection of my voice would've been obvious to a cow.

He grumbled something under his breath.

"I'm sorry, I didn't catch that. Perhaps your lack of common sense has injured your speaking ability too," I said. I was on the roll of sarcasm and I wasn't getting off anytime soon.

"I didn't call you so I could get accosted by your anger, Jenna," he said, sounding a little put off.

I took a deep breath, calming the feminist beast that had reared up out of some dark place in my psych.

"Ok," I said. "What are you going to do?"

I could hear the shrug.

"Win her back!" I cried dramatically, clenching my fist.

"When did you get so… into things?" Sean asked incredulously.

I frowned, wondering that too. "Dunno," I muttered. "Must be PMS or something."

"Ah," he said understandingly. "Did you call Moscovitz yet?"

I clenched my teeth, still embarrassed about that.

Sean's smothered chuckle crackled through the phone. "You talked to the answering machine… didn't you?"

I didn't say anything, eliciting full blown, un-smothered, mocking laughter from him. I waited patiently for him to finish, glancing at the clock.

"Oh shit!" I cried.

"What?" Sean said after his girlish giggles had cleared up.

"I'm late!"

"For a very important date?"

"Shut up, foo!" I placed the phone between ear and shoulder and grabbed my shoes, put my racket between my teeth and walked out the door, nearly swallowing the racket because of a freak doorframe accident.

"Mmphfe!" I said clearly.

"You ok, Jenna?" Sean asked, not sounding concerned in the least.

I nodded and proceeded putting on my shoes. Taking the racket out of my mouth when I was done, I told him, "I gotta go, Sean. Lessons today starts in five minutes." Without waiting for him to reply, I shut off the phone and legged it to the car.


I arrived at the Eight & Under lesson with a few minutes to spare. Sliding to a dramatic halt right before the entrance of the court, I spotted Conor. I smiled at him and waved, hoping that Rosalie was right and he wasn't upset or mad. He grinned and waved back, covering his sweaty pit with the other hand in a mock abashed motion. I laughed and turned away to see Andrew, one of the kids from the class.

"Hey, Andrew, how's it going?"

Andrew turned to look behind him then back at me. He pointed to himself with an index finger and mouthed, 'Me?'

I smiled and nodded.

He shrugged and said in a quiet voice, "My mom's mad at me."

I raised an eyebrow, "Why?"

"Cuz I asked Greg to take me instead of her!"

…Greg?

I turned a sharp eye on the little boy. He was a quiet, natural type who didn't need much instruction so I didn't talk to him that much. But he had the dark hair of his cousin and the grey-green eyes of someone else I knew. Damn.

"Then he said he'd stay the whole lesson!"

…What?


I tossed and smacked the ball with practiced ease, trying to ignore the prickling on the back of my neck. Gregory Moscovitz hadn't picked up the phone because he was on his way to see me. Well not technically me, he was there to watch his little cousin play tennis but still. There was a Jenna in that equation.

I had made my mind up in between the backhand practice and the review of forehand. After I had finished talking to one concerned mother, I ran to the parking lot to find Greg leading his little cousin to his car. It was a rather old looking thing, not what I'd expect from someone like Greg. But I really didn't know him so who was I to judge?

"Greg!" I hollered, my Adidas's pounding on the black-top.

He turned as Andrew was getting in the car. When he saw me, I swear his eyes turned stony. My stomach clenched. In fear or hurt, I wasn't sure. But I was sure that this wasn't going to be easy.

He twisted to face Andrew and said something to him, too quietly for me to hear. I had stopped running so he walked towards me, a purposeful stride that made my eyes sting a bit. He had the same presence that he did when he said all those things to that girl in the cafeteria.

When he was in front of me, I muttered, "We shouldn't stand in the middle of a parking lot."

"Okay," he said simply, regarding me with hooded eyes.

When we were under a nearby tree, I spat out, "I'm really sorry."

I wasn't looking at him so I didn't know what passed through his eyes, if anything did. But I could see him quirking an eyebrow.

"I shouldn't have… well tried to judge you or anything. I mean I barely know you, right? So yeah… Just wanted to say sorry," I paused, staring out at the parking lot, the cars there being more explainable to me than the boy next to me.

After a long pause that made that me want to break my Buddhist Zen and strangle him, he said quietly, "You apologize too much."

"I know."

"Why?"

I was silent for a while. "Because you confuse me."

I saw a flash of teeth and that familiar self-satisfied smirk appear. "That makes a lot of sense."

I fell with a lady-like thump on the bench behind me. Putting my feet on the bench, I closed my eyes and pressed my face into my knees. "Everything was less complicated when you and Sean weren't in my life."

"Sean?" I heard a hint of something in his voice that reminded me of Connor when Rosalie used to talk about boys in front of them when they weren't dating. That cautious casualness with a little bit of a possessive edge. It made me feel a little bit wanted but I couldn't know what he was really feeling. Not without some kind of psychic prowess.

"Yeah… We've been talking more." I felt awkward talking about Sean, especially with Greg. Our friendship was so innocent and lacking in the drama that was present with Greg that it seemed out of place. Like a purple pen filling in those standardized test bubbles in a sea of pencils.

"Ah." Was the enlightening reply.

"Yeah… So. I just… Ok. I just wanted to say that I want your friendship back, whatever much of a friendship we had before, ok?"

Greg looked at me, his eyes holding a warm look. I felt my stomach clench at the sight of him. He really was quite attractive. He leaned close to me, lips a hairs breath (get it?, hairs breath?) away from mine. I could smell his after shave and deodorant, mixing to make a yummy smell. "Or something more… Jenna?"

It sounds ridiculously lame, but the way he said my name made me squeeze my legs together to ease the sudden tingle between them. I'm pretty sure my eyes were half glazed over and dark by now but I would have time to be embarrassed later.

I didn't want to say anything because I wasn't sure of the state my breath was in so I slid to the side and hopped off the bench, backing away from him, wind cooling the flush I wasn't even aware.

"No," I said firmly. "Because if relationships with you are more complicated than friendships, I don't want to go anywhere near them."

His lips quirked in a bitter half-smile. "Sure, Jenna. We'll have a friendship."

He turned and walked away, leaving me wanting to through something into his face. I couldn't tell if he was mocking me.


I floated through the rest of the weekend with my head more so in the clouds then it's ever been. It was probably making good friends with that stegosaurus cloud I saw the other day… I made a half-assed attempt at that poetry assignment and printed it out before I threw myself in my bed and laid there, my face in my shampoo-smelling pillow for perhaps thirty minutes.

With all my homework done, I had no distractions. Rosie was out at some church thing while Jamie was busy with college applications. I snorted. Procrastinator.

Sighing heavily, I groped around for my phone, my face still buried in my pillow. I found it and dialed a familiar number.

"So have you decided that you're not mad at me?" Sean's cocky voice flew out of the speaker.

I groaned. "Nmph!!"

There was a pause before Sean said, "Come again?"

I flipped myself over, making the bed creak horribly. "No," I reiterated.

"Ah, too bad. So what's up?'

"What does it mean when a guy says, 'Yeah, Jenna, we'll be friends' really sarcastically?"

"Context?"

I relayed the conversation to Sean with as much accuracy I could muster, sans the unwarranted lust part that happened when he said my name.

"Hmm," said guru Sean.

I waited, suspense making me drum my fingers on my comforter.

"I dunno."

I slumped. "Can no one decode this guy?" I wailed.

"Well… if you make him fall for you and get him to open his heart, you will!" cried Sean.

"I wish…" I muttered half to my sushi lamp and half to the phone.

"But it probably won't happen!" chirped Sean.

My eyebrows lowered. "That's nice, thanks for telling me."

"No problem. Well, I gotta go do some H-Dub. So I'll talk to you later, k, J?"

"K, bye."

He hung up, leaving me alone with my thoughts and unable to go to sleep later that night.


Monday came barreling, in the form of someone landing on my bed. Someone heavy.

"Ooomph," I grunted, glad I didn't eat too much earlier that night or it would be on my carpet now, I was sure.

"Wake up, sunshine!" a voice called.

I groaned and turned over, something still on me. "Go away," I muttered into my pillow.

"That's no way to address your savior!" the voice (who I had now realized was Sean Henders, the bane of my existence) chirped.

I muttered something then said more loudly, "Well, fine. Just gimme that damn coffee and get off."

He gingerly lifted himself off before landing with a whump on my bedroom floor, "What makes you think I have coffee?"

"I can smell it, you fool."

"Oh… Well! You can have some after you do all your maidenly morning things, ok?"

After I finished washing my face and brushing my teeth, I emerged from the bathroom in jeans and t-shirt, half expecting Sean to be lounging on my bed. He wasn't so I plodded downstairs to find him sitting at the kitchen table, two Starbucks in hand.

"Where're your parentals?" he asked, glancing around the empty house.

"Out," I said and outstretched a hand for the coffee.

He obliged. "Don't you wanna know how I got in?"

"Umm… sure."

"Shimmied a window!" He looked very proud of himself.

"Ok…" I said slowly. "Which one?"

"Oh! I already put it back, so you don't have to worry."

There was a pause. I took the opportunity to ask the question that had been bugging me all morning, "Why are you here?"

Sean shrugged. "I didn't really wanna go to school alone. So I'm here to offer you a ride."

I lifted an eyebrow. "You still haven't talked to Anna?"

"Uhh…" he looked away guilty.

I sighed resignedly. "Well if you don't want to make good with her…"

"I dunno… I feel like something's missing in our relationship."

"Like what?"

"I dunno…"

"Well you'd make a good novelist."

"Whatever."

Pause.

"We should probably get going," said Sean.

I nodded and picked up my book bag and walked out the door, waiting for Sean so I could lock it. After doing so, I turned to see Sean staring, wide eyed at the person at my driveway.

"Henders," the person said.

"Uhh… Moscovitz." Sean said, clearly confused.