A/N: Hello lovely Fictionpress-ers! This is, obviously, my first story on Fictionpress, and it was written for Nanowrimo. I was forced to write it by RentBoheme and Morine, but I've had the story in my head for years, so hopefully it's slightly ok. Anyhoo, I REALLY hope you like it! And because I'm a new writer, it would mean an insane amount if you would write a short review, even if you just say I suck as a human being. Ok, so read now.
Damn him. Damn, damn, damn, damn!
Joline Anna Flack attempted, once again, to hunker deeper into her book. The written word, no matter how poorly composed, was usually enough to drag her out of whatever situation she was surrounded by, but this was something else entirely. She had scoured the house instantly upon arrival, mentally charting out emergency escape routes as well as which bathrooms were strewn with the fewest condoms and suspicious blotches on the walls, looking for a single spot untouched by the horny hands of seniors. In a grand old house like this, it was surprising how few candidates there were.
But here she was, in the library, directly under the master bedroom (part of her wondered if some perverted architect had planned this; eventually, she decided it was just fate screwing with her—no pun intended). The rhythms of prose failed to tune out the rhythmic bangs emanating through the surely three inch carpet above her. At least the party was loud enough to drown out the specifics.
Joline loved her brother dearly; she did, but WHY did her parents have to think she was too irresponsible to be left home alone? It probably had more to do with her mother's belief that her lack of friends was due to a deficit of sun making her complexion ere on the whiter side of the Anglo race. But that was bull (right?). Besides, life without a tan was much preferred to being dragged to a senior party, in a rich senior's chaperone-free house, while her angelic big brother snorted coke off his friend's girlfriend's ass. Oh, Joline didn't know if this was what he did with his spare time, but she doubted the lime green panties in his drawer came from Lady Chastity.
With an effort, she dragged herself away from the sickening pastime of calculating the rate at which the couple upstairs were going at it (not only was this disgusting, but worthless, considering physics was the bane of her existence), and back into her reading. The advantage of barricading herself in a library was not only the slightly thicker walls, but the plethora of entertainment; and seeing as this was a fairly rich library, they only stocked the best. The Mists of Avalon was as good an escapist tale as any, if not quite feel-good. As with every year, she read, the day of Pentecost was Arthur's high festival. Gwenhwyfar had been awake-
Her head jerked up as the door slammed open. Sissi McGowan, soon-to-be valedictorian and head of the environmental club, stumbled in, wearing matching bra and panties, but nothing else. She looked around wildly for a moment, before her eyes snapped to Joline. They were black.
"Heeeeeeey," she slurred, twitching her cheeks in what, sober, would have been a smile. "Wanna fuck meeeeee?" She stumbled forward a few steps.
"Um, no, no, thank you," Joline stammered, holding the book up as if for protection. "But, really, thanks for offering."
Sissy pouted. "But EVERYONE does!" She began ticking off her fingers. "Mr. Horowitz, Madame Benoit, Principal...Principal…Principal Mister…" She put a palm to her forehead. "Mommy's gonna be mad." Suddenly, she began to cry. "I don't wanna, no, I don't wanna!" she wailed. Caught in indecision, Joline didn't know whether to comfort her or scoot around and out the door, just to get the hell out of this place.
Abruptly, Sissi stopped sobbing. "I'm cold," she said, a few decibels lower, and walked out. Joline stared after her, thanking God for the cowardice that kept her from getting high. Obviously, it wasn't misplaced. Stealing herself, she turned back to the book. Gwenhwyfar had been awake since earliest daylight. On this day, all of those Companions-
"Well, I guess this isn't the bathroom." The door had opened silently, to admit…Joline knew she knew him. She had seen him in the halls a number of times, talking with Roy Kavanagh, the gloriously popular football captain, or making out with Emily Monahan, queen bee for no reason more than large tits and silky hair. She remembered the first time she saw this boy, lying down under the old oak tree that dominated the lawn in front of school. The wind had blown a few strands of hair across his closed eyes, and one or two were sticking to his parted lips. Something in the stillness of his body, his surrender to the fluttering fingers of the wind, touched her. She had considered him a potential friend until the next day, when he walked past her with Emily's hand in his back pocket. Edgar was his name, or something like it.
"Um, no it isn't," she replied. "I think it's a few doors down." She lowered her eyes to her book, hoping he'd take the hint and leave. At the moment, she had no desire to talk with anyone, let alone Emily Monahan's boyfriend.
A few moments passed, and after hearing nothing, she looked up. He was still there. Watching her.
"Do you need something?" Joline asked, then kicked herself for the abrasive tone.
He tilted his head like a puppy dog. "No, I was just wondering what you were reading. I think my sister's talked about it."
"Well, it's a good book," Joline said, somewhat pointedly.
"What's it about?"
Joline stared at him for a few moments. She couldn't believe she was having this conversation. With someone like this. "It's the legend of King Arthur, but told by the women. Like the Lady of the Lake, and Guinevere.
He smiled, showing straight, white teeth. "So that's why Taylor likes it. I was going to read it over the summer, but they saddled us with that demented reading list."
Joline sat up a little straighter. She was more than a little passionate about this topic. And he had used the word demented to describe the administration. He couldn't be all bad.
"I know, right? I mean, The Rule of the Bone is considered constructive literature? I don't get why we need anti-drug sentiments shoved down our throats; no one who needs to hear it is gonna listen. And it's just a bad book for everyone else."
"I didn't mind that one so much," he said, sitting down on the opposite end of the couch. "Prep was what pissed me off."
"I know!" Joline exclaimed, closing the book. "That character annoyed me to heck! At the beginning I thought I could identify with her, but obsessing with that guy was just, ugh. I don't get why basketball players are so hot. I mean," she stammered, remembering that this was one of the popular people, not a fellow outsider who perhaps wished they could be the heroine of the book, if only to shack up with a hot basketball player.
But he laughed. "They're just bones and ego. Personally, most literature aimed at teens comes across as too superficial. It's like the authors want to be nostalgic, but they know teenagers are supposed to be depressed and confused, so it turns into a soap opera sob fest. Meanwhile, I've never met anyone who obsessed over a basketball player."
"Shaq's pretty cool though," Joline said, grinning. "He beat a professional wrestler."
"Oh my God, you saw that," he asked, incredulous. "I wouldn't have pegged you as a WWE fan."
She was surprised he'd had time to peg her as anything. "I'm not, but my wonderful brother is." She pulled a face.
He tilted his head again. "What's wrong with your brother?"
"Well, lets see," she said, beginning to tick off on her fingers. "He steals the TV every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday so he can watch a bunch of naked actors trying to kill each other, while of course this is during the time slot when I'm done with homework and actually might be able to watch what I want. Then he decides that, instead of staying home the one weekend my parents are out of town, he has to drag me to a senior party while he knows I like neither seniors nor parties. And he brings home random g-strings which my mother thinks are mine, which of course prompts her to interrogate me about why I feel the need to be "one of them." And of course I have to take it because if I rat him out, I won't have anything to hold over my brother when I get a boyfriend. Which probably won't happen any time soon."
He just stared at her, smirking, and she realized what she had just said. Heat filled her cheeks and she stammered, "Not that that matters or anything." Stupid, stupid, stupid.
"Don't sell yourself so short," he said. "Anyone who dislikes basketball players has plenty of prospects." She blinked. He fiddled with his watch, a beaten up analogue that filled the room with its ticking. "What's your name?"
The door banged open once again, and Roy Kavanagh stuck his head in. "Yo, man, you gotta get out here!" he shouted, obviously inebriated. "Emily and some other chick are playing strip poker!"
"Yeah, I'll be right there," he said over his shoulder. Roy gave her an up down, and, obviously dissatisfied (especially with the prospect of two of the hot girls getting naked without him), rushed out. The nameless boy watched her for a second. She imagined he looked uncomfortable.
"Well, it was real nice to met you, Jo," he said, extending a hand. Numbly, she took it. There were calluses only on the tips of his fingers, but his grip was strong, and the light hairs on the back of his knuckles tickled her thumb.
"It's Joline, actually," she said.
"Jo fits better." He smiled again, hopped up, and left. She stared after him, then absently laid her hand where he had been sitting. It was almost warm. She still didn't know his name.