For the first two periods of the first day, he thought it was a joke.
It was something all would have to endure eventually, he decided. Cases of mistaken identity happened every day, but the looks he was getting passed beyond what any would qualify as the norm. Glances left, right, up, down, sideways, backways, and ten ways from Sunday were headed his way. Basic interest in a transfer student, he reasoned. Until she stepped out of the line.
Instantly he was reminded of that one guy from the show his sister, Char, would TiVo and kill for--'Project' something—who would always say, in that nasally, obnoxious stereotypical-gay-man voice of his, 'fierce', because that's what she was. Her hair was brown, black, blonde—as if she couldn't come up with a color and simply decided on all three—and hacked brutally short, small strands framing eyes of a sharp hazel.
She was dressed simply enough—jeans with spiderweb patterns, a too-long cerulean shirt that framed cleavage she didn't possess, and white sneakers scribbled on to hell and back with multiple Sharpies in various colors—but his eyes were drawn to her right wrist, which was decorated with a miss-matching green bandana that he would soon learn she wore every day. But her eyes. Her eyes.
They were sharper than any knife he'd been on the business end of, that's for sure. And those eyes were looking at him when the less important mouth said simply, "Rooftop" and those less important legs—who was he kidding? He loved the legs—started to walk away.
Like a lost puppy, he followed.
Up there, she faced him, features set into kind cruelty, and flung her arms around his neck in a tight embrace before kissing him with passion. Surprised, he remained. Woken up, he pulled away and she let him go, holding up the arm with the bandana.
"This is the only reason they're gawking at you like a sparkly new toy," said she, eyes—those eyes again—cold and harsh. Arm down. "Just because you look like him." A wind picked up, whipping the jagged, uneven layers of hair around her face, then pushing it back as she walked past him. "It'd be best if you just died too."
The door slammed shut behind her, leaving Damin Zique—transfer student and junior—completely dumbstruck.
In fourth period he learned her name was Lucy Carmilla.
During lunch he learned she was a lesbian.
In fifth period he learned she became a lesbian after her boyfriend of five years, Trey Sylva, committed suicide.
In sixth period he learned that Trey Sylva looked just like he did.
When he went home, he decided he was screwed.
For the first two weeks of the first month, he decided it didn't matter.
She ignored him since that one kiss—that fiery, spicy, oh-so tantalizing come-and-get-me-but-don't-touch-me kiss—and he ignored her, perhaps not as successfully as she did but he tried. Friendships were made and broken in those first two weeks—the kind of friendships that would never last to begin with; the kind where the candidates pass you notes in class, realize you're nothing special and move on—but he managed to get out of it with a loose-knit group of two girls and two other guys, all of them adding up to make their own special little pentagon.
The girls were Ingrid and Tru, the boys were Marshall and Ian; all four who had, at separate times, grasped at his elbow in the hallway crying 'Trey?' and all four who had been let down gently but decided to stay with The New Kid because he seemed like less of a Social Leper than he was made out to be.
He sat with them in the atrium—dear God in heaven, an atrium in a public school, was his first thought—and ate lunch with them in the atrium and passed notes with them during the learning hours. But she was there too.
Again, he was reminded of something that he couldn't quite place the name of, but only could remember a few lines from—a story, he supposed—and they occurred whenever he felt her piercing stare on his back when she thought he wasn't looking. Something about a figurehead; dear and inescapable. A presence that remained but was unseen.
He started to refer to her as The Ghost, unaware that—across the atrium, where Lucy sat with her gang of female followers—she was calling him the exact same thing.
Near the end of that two week period, their paths crossed again. She brushed past and he grabbed the skinny tan wrist with the bandana. She whirled, he looked.
"My name," he began. "Is Damin Zique. I don't plan on dieing." Lucy pulled her arm free and slapped him strongly across the face, venting all her past furies into that single, monumental blow. Then she shook his hand.
"Lucy Carmilla. Neither do I." she walked away and left him with a smile.
For the first semester of the totaled two, he decided she was the lesbian equivalent of a playboy.
Each time he saw her and their eyes met—brown to hazel—it lacked the hostility that had fueled their mutual avoidance, but there was always a change. A different girl on her arm, on her lap, on her lips. They'd taken to conversation every now and again when so-and-so was busy with this-and-that and casual, albeit awkward, talks seemed to be preferred over a lonely meal of cold cafeteria sushi in the bathroom.
At first he hadn't quite known what to say—what did you say to a girl who saw you as the mirror image of a dead man?—but he fast discovered what not to say. Firstly, questions about Trey were completely off limits. Even mentioning the name earned him a six on the censure scale and a swift kick to the balls. Questions about what had happened to him? Even worse.
He settled for childhood.
"Calamari—not the shitty blobs, either. I mean the real deal that still thought it had plans this weekend." Another fact was that she liked to swear, which was fine by Damin, as he often found himself sick of the girls who covered their ears and squealed at anything stronger than a 'B' on the cussing list. Ingrid was like that and it was almost as unpleasant as Lucy's wrath.
"'You ask too many questions, dipshit'?" she crossed her arms and leaned back against a faux marble statue of some Greek god or another. He sniffed curiously at a plant only to find it a fake. Between the fake sculptures and the fake mosaic floors and the kill-me-now fake food, he was disappointed to find himself surprised. Lucy snapped her fingers in front of his face, bringing his attention, once again, to the green bandana. "Why all the questions?"
"Because I want to know you." He said, not feeling nearly as self-conscious as a young male should have in that position, especially when said young male had already kissed unsaid young female. Color streaked the female's well shaped cheekbones almost as surely as the colors in her hair. The male's attention was drawn to a bluebird that was chirping against the high glass dome of a ceiling.
She took a deep breath. "Favorite team?"
Damin shrugged. "I hate sports."
Lucy grinned. "Maybe you aren't such a dipshit after all."
For the first three quarters of the totaled four of which a school year consisted of, he decided she drank like a forty year old man with a beard, a beer gut, and a child-support bill to pay.
She took him over to a past girlfriend's to celebrate the near end of the year and while he sipped at a Miller Lite—he hated the taste, truth be told. Beer was too bitter and he had next to no tolerance for alcohol—she drowned her sorrows and liver in martinis, vodka, and whiskey. Strange as it sounded, he found himself thinking that she was a glass of wine; elegant and clear, sweet-smelling but with a sour-grape taste that frightened away those who dared take a sip.
The others were there, too; Ingrid, Tru, Marshall and Ian, but they were as much of feather-weights as he was. Ian partook, shortly, while Ingrid drank and drank and Marshal and Tru chugged nothing but Sprite cans they were sure to open themselves. He came up with another alcohol analogy.
Alcohol was like anger; it made you drunk, it made you stupid, but it told you things you would never have heard otherwise. He saw Ingrid—all long blonde hair, smeared make up and loose shirts—stumbling through the crowd, tears streaming down her face as she screamed for Trey.
He saw Tru curled up on a sofa with Marshall—the two of them merging to create one solemn pool of midnight hair and matching clothes—as he stroked her hair soothingly and whispered words meant for the two of them.
He saw Ian jump into the pool outback, fully clothed and just float-there staring at the sky with his brown hair floating around his face.
He saw Manny—Lucy's anything but manly Ex—plant a heavily lipsticked kiss on her lips and cling to her body like a damp towel. He saw Lucy push away—something he'd never seen before—and weave her way too him through the crowd. Damin felt her take his hand and pull him outside.
They sat in a grove of trees—him not even considering attacking her and her not even considering the possibility—and she leaned her back against a mighty oak, clicking the heels of her black boots together.
"That won't get you home, Dorothy." he said at the same time she asked, "Do you want to know what happened to Trey?" Soundlessly, afraid he might say the wrong thing, he nodded.
"He hung himself from the flagpole outside my bedroom window with this." she held up the hand with the green bandana. "Not the actual thing, dipshit, but one just like it. We bought them in a set; he used mine so I took his. Tit for tat, you know." She added and insulted when his face blanched. "Wanna know why he did it?"
Damin nodded. Lucy chuckled bitterly.
"So do I."
For the last two weeks of the first year, he decided he was going to ask, consequences be damned.
They ditched school on a Tuesday, leaving Ingrid, Marshall, Ian, and Tru behind just because neither of them could stand the burst of energy that was engulfing their bodies as the end approached. It was a fire inside of his stomach—a burning, fizzling, popping eruption of pure anticipation that ate at his patience for school and proficiency for learning.
Maybe sensing he was of a like mind, she grabbed his hand once again—there was a point in time where she had absolutely refused to touch him and the change was something he marveled at—with silver painted nails and new crimson streaks in her hair. When he saw the locks he unconsciously ran a hand through his own blood-colored floppy Zac-Efron-but-much-cooler style haircut.
She laughed with a smile.
They sat on a swing-set, him going forwards her going backwards, then switching. A pendulum on the clock of life, always ticking, always pushing them forwards and pulling them home. He inhaled deeply to gather up his courage, but knew he didn't need to worry anymore. They stood on equal footing, no longer on pins and needles laced with glass. The words that came out were not the planned ones.
"Favorite pastime?" she slowed, shot him a look, then laughed again.
"Curling up under a duvet with a book by Julie Ann Peters and a bucket of chocolate ice cream."
"Duvet?" he asked, confused.
"A comforter, dipshit."
"Smartass. Reason for lesbianism?" She stopped the swing and so did he and they faced off, so very life that first day and so very different. Hazel met brown once more.
"Because I'm an accessory for them to try on—girls I mean. None of them are serious about me. They don't want to get attached and neither do I. Don't wanna leave Trey the way he left me."
"You can't leave a dead man, Luce."
"I can lose you." he grabbed her wrist again, feeling how skinny it was in his grip and how worn the fabric of the green bandana was.
"Maybe you need to learn to." Damin switched his grin so held her hand and conked her forehead against his. "Maybe you need to learn to let go." Lucy sighed.
For the last six hours of the last day of the school year, Damin noticed the creamy white tan line on Lucy's right hand.
That summer he went to visit her home—a quaint place with a blue shingled roof and crème painted walls—and saw a green bandana hanging onto a protruding flagpole with all its might, just outside a bedroom window on the third floor.
Quietly, he said goodbye as it surrendered to a gust of wind and sailed away.
"Hey dipshit!" Lucy yelled from her room, attracting the attention of more than one male. "You just gonna stand there like an ass or come over?"
"Go sit read your lesbo-lit under your goddamn duvet, smartass!" Damin yelled back, enjoying the feeling of shouting in the middle of the street and not caring about the stares.
With a shopping bag containing two bandanas--both blue--and a week's pay worth of Julie Ann Peter books, he waited for the light to turn green.
A/N: The point of the title had nothing to do with the actual blanket. A duvet is a 'comforter', and I used the word a little bit loosely. The 'comforter' in this story is Damin, as he gives Lucy another chance to see Trey again and move on. No, they are not dating. That kiss in the beginning was Lucy's reaction to seeing 'Trey' again, as she was Gaga over the guy.
I don't own Miller Lite, Julie Ann Peters, or any other brand names mentioned in the story.
This was a contest entry, hence the shortness.