All The Things We Could Do
The Things I've Done
The Last Days
The sun was only just starting to set, turning the sky a deep orange hue. In theory it could have been the perfect end to the perfect day, if not for Trent Rollins, who was busy using the laws of physics to suspend his soda in his straw while he carefully avoided looking at me. For my part, I was more interesting in carefully folding my napkin into a paper crane, although at least I was attempting to be subtle by hiding it in my lap.
"So, um, what classes are you taking again?"
It was the third time he had asked, and I wasn't really in the mood to explain to him, again, that I was in all AP classes and therefore very unlikely to see him around school ever again. If that sounds snobby, I suppose it must be a little bit, but it was not intentional; I was just realistic enough to note that a guy like Trent Rollins, who spent every other period behind the field house smoking pot, was not going to be in any of my classes, although even if he was, he cut school often enough that it would hardly make a difference anyway.
"AP Chemistry, Government, English Literature, French Literature, Calculus, Biology, and Shakespeare."
"We have an AP Shakespeare class?"
"No, that's a regular class that I'm taking just because I enjoy it." It was the third time he had asked that, too. On the first go-round I had been polite enough to return the inquiry, but I also had a greater memory capacity than that of a flea, so I didn't bother to ask it again. I gave a hefty sigh. "Listen, Trent—"
"Liv!" The high-pitched voice could only belong to Jamie, the girl who currently should have been on the top of my hit list for setting me up with Trent the stoner. Ordinarily, Jamie's voice actually was a very normal level, but she often hit new pitches whenever nervous, like now. To be fair, I was sending her my patented death look, but that was more because I was irritated that she had been spying on my date than the fact that she had set me up on it in the first place. That I was already resigned to. "And Trent, too," she said warmly, looking flushed and excited, as if it was oh-such-a-coincidence that we happened to be at this restaurant on a date together. Darcy was hovering behind her, looking, if possible, even more anxious than Jamie; she was pale and shifting her weight so frequently that I was half tempted to give her my chair before she fainted dead away. "Look how cute you guys are!"
I knew exactly why Jamie had appeared. She normally remained a silent observer, but whenever I pulled out my (patented) phrase, which usually began with, "Listen, Insert Name Here," she would appear to prevent me from running out on my date. I had managed a full exit the first few times, but Jamie had cottoned on since then.
"Aren't they just adorable?" Jamie gushed to Darcy, who nodded feverishly in an attempt to look enthusiastic, although she was failing miserably. Trent was still playing with his straw, and the fact that he was no longer even making an attempt to acknowledge my presence—or Jamie's or Darcy's, for that matter—sealed it. I stood up, ignoring the exasperated expression that had grown on Jamie's face and the panicked one on Darcy's.
"Just adorable," I agreed, but my voice was flat. "This has been fun and all, but really, I have to go." It was almost a shame. I was at my favorite restaurant, at my favorite time of day, on one of the last glorious days of summer, but I was about to leave, with an unfortunately dismal memory of the whole affair. The evening had started off dreary to begin with, although I had almost thought it salvaged when we arrived at Le Lune, a charming outdoor café that overlooked the water. I was almost willing to give Trent extra points for excellent taste in restaurants, and it was my favorite restaurant, after all, but the moment we'd sat down Trent had complained about the prices and the food and had readily admitted that McDonalds was more to his preference. It had all gone downhill from there.
"But the food hasn't got here yet!" Jamie protested, slapping her palm on the table. "You should at least stay for the food."
"I'm not hungry," I replied briskly, a blatant lie considering I had been starving earlier, although Trent's personality had sapped most of my appetite away. At the very least, it had made hunger a less pressing concern. "And I have a lot of things to do." That part, at least, was mostly true.
"Well, Trent drove you here," said Jamie adamantly. Yes, he had. His road skills were yet another check I could make on the bad-date list. "How do you plan on getting back?" I glowered at her, and she said, shortly, "I refuse to drive you. And so does Darcy," she added quickly, rounding on the other girl with a glare of her own just as I turned to her too. Darcy shrank back, and I figured it would be cruel to put her in the position of choosing one of us. The pure dominance of our personalities would probably overwhelm her.
"Fine," I replied, as clipped as she. "I'll walk back." And I seized my purse and spun on my heel to leave. As I moved past the wrought-iron fence that separated the café from the boardwalk, I heard Trent ask, "Does this mean I can go?"
Goodbye, Trent Rollins.
I quickly ducked into an alley between another restaurant and the music store, loitering by the back entrance as I pulled out my phone. I pressed against the wall, just a precaution in case Jamie walked by earlier than expected. If I knew her, she would probably linger in the café with Darcy and Trent, huffing and puffing and generally making a nuisance of herself by complaining about my behavior to everyone in earshot. I had at least a good twenty minutes before she gave up her rant and emerged.
"Hello?" I had always loved that Chris picked up after two swift rings; he never spent time dawdling or searching for his phone because he had mislaid it in the first place. Two rings, and he picked up the phone. So reliable, that boy.
"Christopher, I need your help."
"Trent Rollins didn't have the sparkling wit you'd hoped for?" he asked, the smirk he was almost certainly wearing evident from his voice alone.
"Funny," I replied dryly. "Can you come get me?"
"Where are you?"
"Skulking in the alley between Bertucci's and Mo's Musik like a thug."
"I'll be there in fifteen."
"Make it ten, in case Jamie cuts her tirade short," I advised, and hung up the phone. Predictably (reliably) Chris showed in just about eight minutes, appearing casually around the corner as if he had no destination in mind and had just meandered into my alley by accident.
"Hey there, Vinnie," he greeted.
"Yeah. It's a thug name. Think about it," he said, as I walked toward him. "When you have a mob boss, he's gotta have his thugs, right? Vinnie's the kind of name a thug would have."
"What does that make you, then?" I returned. "Getaway drivers don't have names like Chris."
"Getaway drivers don't have names at all. They're not important characters."
"Neither are thugs."
"Sure they are. Whenever the mob boss corners the hero, he says stuff like 'Get him, Vinnie.' When they're escaping, he never turns to the drivers and says, 'Go, Harry!' He usually just says 'Go,' or nothing at all." Chris sounded very knowledgeable.
I shook my head. "Thugs aren't important. They have no personality and no purpose other than to look slow and threatening."
"Fine. We'll call you Trent."
"He wasn't threatening," I said, with a sigh. "He was just…"
"…Boring, but that too." I gave him a pained look.
He sent me a rueful if understanding smile. "Let's not talk about Trent."
"Sure thing, Harry."
"You. You're the getaway driver. Your name's Harry. Remember?"
"Liv, we had this discussion already. Getaway drivers don't have n—"
"OLIVIA MONTGOMERY!" Jamie was standing twenty feet away, pointing at me theatrically in that way that suggested "You killed my father" or "You slept with my boyfriend." I wondered briefly if I should run.
"Come on Vinnie, take her down," Chris muttered in my ear. "That's what thugs do." I snorted in laughter.
"You are unbelievable," she fumed, storming up to me. "Walking out on someone! What would your mother say?"
"Probably nothing, if she had ever met my date," I responded. "Jamie, have you ever spoken to Trent?"
"Of course I have," she said, earnestly. "Liv, come on. You guys would have been so good together."
"In what way would we have been good together?"
"He likes you," she confided. "He thinks you're hot. He thinks—"
I quickly held up my hands. "I really don't want to know what Trent thinks," I assured her. If he thinks at all. "Jamie, I'm tired. School starts the day after tomorrow, and I'd rather not spend my last hours of freedom like this. I want to go home, go to sleep, and never think about Trent Rollins ever again."
She put her hands on her hips, looking irritated. "All right, fine, let's go through this again." I groaned, ignoring the way a smile played on Chris's lips—this was tradition, by now. "Tell me what was wrong with him. Go on, Montgomery, lay it on me! Let's hear all the gory details, all about what was wrong with this one."
I held up my fingers. "One, he doesn't wear a seatbelt when he drives. He ran two reds," I added, but this was apparently not enough to convince Jamie of his complete unsuitability. I went on. "He speeds, too."
"Seriously? All his major faults are his driving habits?"
I ignored her and continued. "He blazes. He cuts class. He asked me what my schedule was three times. He's got the memory capacity of a rock." Chris snorted in laughter and tried to hide it when Jamie whirled on him with a furious glare. "He thinks McDonalds is a good place to eat, but doesn't like Le Lune," I added. "Open your eyes, James. He and I have absolutely nothing in common."
"Opposites attract," she reminded me haughtily.
"Yeah, in the movies," I retorted. "But did you ever notice how they get together, and the movie ends? There's a reason for that." I gave her a stubborn look. "It's because they recognize that if you actually had to sit there and watch the rest of their insipid lives, you'd realize that those sort of relationships fall apart at the first bump in the road, and that's that. And then they go on to marry different people and never speak to each other again."
"Pessimist," she grumbled, but she was looking less annoyed now. "You know, Trent has plenty of good qualities. He's very nice, and very relaxed. He could probably balance out the stick-up-the-ass 'tude you have going on." I opted not to remark on that one. "He's also very loyal," she persisted. "You'd never have to worry about him cheating on you."
"Too bad," I said. "Then I'd have an excuse to break up with him."
She continued, undaunted. "And if he seemed boring and awkward, it's not his fault. You're like… Mussolini, Liv. Or Hitler. You intimidate people!"
I gaped at her. "You just compared me to Hitler?"
Chris's response was different. "I don't think Hitler's main problem was that he was intimidating," he remarked softly. "He might have had a few other personality flaws, you know."
We ignored him. "Jamie, this discussion is over. Trent and I didn't work out. Period."
"You didn't even try!"
"You left after twenty minutes in the restaurant! You were against the idea from the start—"
"—And that surprises you?"
"—and you so didn't try! It's not Trent's fault," she maintained stubbornly. "Fine, Liv, fine. Go on, go home. You can sit and eat chocolate and watch stupid movies and be alone for the rest of your life!" she yelled. I winced; we were definitely attracting a crowd now. The inherent problem with having a friend in the drama club was, unfortunately, a flair for theatrics.
"Goodbye, Olivia," she said, breathing very heavily, and she spun on her heel and stalked away. Darcy was waiting at the end of the street, looking both appalled and terrified, but she followed Jamie like a lonely dog when the other girl passed.
I shook my head and looked at Chris, who gave up the fight against his amusement and grinned. He turned to the gathered crowd who had watched our dramatics with poorly-concealed entertainment and swept a fine bow. "We'll be here all week," he proclaimed, and I grabbed his arm and dragged him away.
We had a leisurely drive back to my house, where I thanked him profusely for rescuing me and went inside. The family cat Galileo was sprawled on the carpet in the foyer, sleeping, although he woke and purred noisily when I stepped lightly over him. It was like an alarm, because a moment later my mother appeared from the living room, a cool expression on her features.
I've been told my mother and I look and act alike, and I can never really decide if that is a compliment or not. On the surface, she is the model mother and wife. With perfectly coiffed blond hair, blue eyes, a gently sloped nose and pursed lips, she was a perfectly aged version of me. The mannerisms were the same, too; we both exaggerated our tones and arched our eyebrows when irritated, we walked swiftly and with purpose, and both had very little tolerance for stupidity or immaturity. In many ways, she and I were the same person in two different bodies, born at two separate times, and I suppose that is the reason we rarely got along.
"You've been going out on a lot of dates lately," she remarked slowly, her face almost impassive but for the disapproval that lingered in her eyes. "This is the ninth this summer."
My eyebrows shot upwards and I demanded incredulously, "You've been keeping count?" She gazed at me slowly, and I felt my temper being to simmer. "For your information," I said, a little stiffly, "they were all very casual, no-attachment dates. Jamie set me up on them."
"Casual, no-attachment?" she repeated. That was all she said, too, but it was her tone, filled with presumption and dry superiority that always frustrated me. She would never call me promiscuous—she was much too refined for that, anyway, and was never one to openly air unpleasantly "dirty laundry" as it were—but the implication was subtly there. I decided I had better leave the situation before I completely lost control of it.
"Good night, Mom," I said, and went upstairs. Galileo got up and followed me, and I could practically feel my mother watching us both, not moving, the displeasure evident on her face now that I was no longer looking at her. Tightening my shoulders, I made it to the landing, walked down the hall, and disappeared into my room, Galileo following behind me.
"I should kick you out," I informed my cat, who ignored me and leapt nimbly onto the couch to sleep. My room was large, with a television that I rarely used, a couch opposite it, a large queen-size bed, a comfortable corner desk, and an attached suite bathroom and walk-in closet. But my mother had decorated it in blues, greens, and white, leaving the impression of cleanliness and comfort, and as a result it felt more like a guest room than actually mine. The walls were devoid of posters and photographs, although I did have a beautiful print of Monet's "The White Water Lilies" above the couch. I returned my gaze to the slumbering cat below it. "You traitor. You warned her when I came home."
Galileo's tail flicked in my direction, and just when I decided that reproaching a cat was not worth it—after all, he was barely paying me any attention—a male voice remarked, "He doesn't seem all that bothered by it." I whirled, and Galileo unexpectedly leaped from the couch and stalked into the walk-in closet, where he would hopefully get some peace. I smiled at Chris, who was climbing through my window from the fake balcony with some difficulty. "Sorry. I didn't want to risk running into Medusa, so I climbed the ivy trellis."
"I don't blame you," I said, kneeling to search beneath the coffee table for a DVD. "Any preference?"
"Nothing too romantic," he said, leaving his legs hanging out the window so that he could kick his shoes onto the balcony and leave my plush white carpet clean.
"The Notebook it is," I teased, and he groaned loudly. Laughing, I waved The Italian Job in his direction, received an approving look, and went to pop the movie into the player. Then we both fell onto the couch and turned the volume down so that my parents wouldn't hear.
I sighed and curled against my best friend's side, feeling my heart flutter slightly—like it always did when I was next to him—and we watched the movie in peace.
Author's Note: Well, here it is, the long-awaited redux to All the Things We Could Do. Now, keep in mind that this will be a slow-going story because I want it to come out right, and that's difficult, but I think (I hope) I have a clearer view of where I'd like the story to go, so hopefully it will come out a little better. I'm sure some of you will prefer the old one, so I'll leave it around and maybe get around to finishing it someday.
Anyway, I hope you like, and please review! I can never say it enough: any response on the story helps, and it certainly provides encouragement for me to keep reading! So drop me a line, let me know what you think, and, as always, thanks for reading!