A wise man once said, "normal is an illusion. What is normal for the spider is chaos for the fly."
…Okay, fine. It wasn't a wise man, it was Morticia Addams. I'm a huge fan of The Addams Family. Funny thing is, most of the things they said sounded way less profound when I was a kid. I brought it up because... I don't know man, I just really like The Addams Family.
"Hey. Addison. I'm right here."
I blinked and refocused on Russell. Ah, Russell. His sudden appearance at my locker with a calm expression was what had sent me on a tangent on normalcy and Morticia Addams. I gazed at him calmly, though I really was super curious.
"How may I be of assistance?" I quipped, opening my locker. I spotted an empty cup of coffee from yesterday inside and sighed. I had fled from the house to avoid Lillian and dad so fast that I hadn't had time for coffee.
Russell looked at his shoes, and then back up at me. He repeated this process for a several times before I pointedly looked at him and coughed. His hand shot to the back of his neck.
"Um…ah…" He opened his mouth, caught my eye and immediately looked away.
I was blown away. I was already surprised that Russell was here, talking to me, but this. Was Russell nervous? Russell Grant? Also known as captain of the school's football team, occasional asshole that liked messing around with freshmen and overall sweetheart of the school?
…Okay, so I was the only one who thought he was an asshole. That may be because I detested arrogant people. Apart from having a penchant for "just fooling around" (his words, not mine – mine were "torturing") with younger students, he is kind of an okay guy.
"We're playing Livingston High in the finals this Friday," he finally muttered.
Ah. Well, I could hazard where this is going.
Russell sighed and straightened up. "And I need you to be there."
I folded my arms and raised an eyebrow at him. "What did they do last year?"
He looked distinctly annoyed. "Spiked the punch with food dye. We were walking around with blue tongues for days."
I should probably do some explaining. We have been rivals with Livingston High for as long as anyone can remember. Sports rivalry aside, our fore-seniors (get it? Like forefathers…hehe.) had started this little tradition of leaving their marks whenever they played against each other. So for the past god knows how many years, whenever we faced off with them, there were bound to be pranks. These were strictly student-only, pride or die sort of pranks, and no teacher was ever to be involved. I personally think it's a miracle how they get away with it, seeing as how in my second year the seniors then managed to let loose an entire box of firecrackers in Livingston's cafeteria.
I smiled. Russell glared at me and I let out a laugh. "Okay, fine, I get it. But I don't see how I can help things."
"We've already planned what to do," Russell said. "We just need help getting in."
"In as in, restricted area?" I hazarded.
"Uhuh." Russell looked nervous and a little bit hopeful. "So will you do it?"
I contemplated, looking over his shoulder, where the entire football team stood hulking by some lockers, pretending not to eavesdrop. Once they caught me looking they immediately started extremely loud conversations about Optimus Prime. I snorted.
"And they put you up to this because…?"
Russell glanced over his shoulder and back to me. "Well... You and I, we have…um, history." We both shifted uncomfortably at that. Sure, we had never let the fact that we used to date get in the way of our usual interactions (and by interactions I mean general pickpocketing by me and insults and glares from Russell), but eh, I guess some things can't be erased. And do not look at me like that. Russell is very handsome, you know, and back then I had been naive and innocent... okay no, not really, but I had liked him and he had liked me. Until a certain point where it simply wasn't working out anymore and we decided to part as... well, whatever we are now. I suppose deep down, deep deep down, there was a part of me that had a spot of affection for him. He had been a good boyfriend. Before he turned into this kid-bullying jock, that is.
I eyed him for a moment, and shrugged. Might as well kill two birds with one stone. "I'll do it, but only if you promise not to go around bullying kids again."
Russell looked surprised. "Bullying?"
"Oh don't even think about denying it," I waved a finger in the air. "Kent? Freshmen? His friend that you threw in the dumpster?"
His confusion cleared up. "That wasn't bullying. Okay, so the iPod thing was... for fun," Russell's eyes flicked up to mine guiltily, "but I was going to give them back. Promise. Really," he pressed when I gave him an incredulous look. "And that thing with his friend? Carlos? He was trying out for the team. That was just standard routine orientation. We went through it. Everyone went through it. He's right there, back there."
I peeked over his shoulder and sure enough, Carlos was among those guys. Huh. Would you look at that. "But… the dumpster?"
Russell grimaced. "Disgusting, I know." We took a moment to bask in the stupidity of our fore-seniors (hahahaha…I kill myself.) before returning to matters at hand. "So you'll help out?" Eh. I had nothing to lose. I nodded. "Awesome. Thanks Addison." He grinned at me. "Speak of this to no one," he intoned solemnly, and with another cheeky grin, he took off to his team, who all gave me conspirational smiles and winks before leaving the hallway.
"Was that you and Russell having a civil conversation?" came Mario's voice. I turned and saw Kalen and Mario walking up to me.
I nodded. "I don't believe it either."
Kalen cast me a contemplative look. "What did he want?"
"Nothing," I shrugged. "We were just…conversing. Y'know. Like old pals." I spotted Sonya coming down the hallway and motioned towards her. "Thy girlfriend awaits."
Kalen looked at her then back at me – I saw a weird expression on his face.
(But you chose her so you don't get to make me feel like hating you and wanting you at the same time.)
"Go on," I motioned and turned to my locker. Kalen lingered for a while before turning and slowly making his way to her. God, I wished I didn't turn into this jealous...thing every time I laid eyes on Sonya. I glanced to my side and found Mario watching us with a weird look on his face. "What are you frowning at?"
Mario shrugged. "No, nothing... Just thinking about how stupid someone can be at times."
"That's not very nice of you. Sure, Kalen might not be the brightest crayon in the box sometimes, but -"
"I was talking about you." Mario snorted. "And Kalen as well. God, you two are the biggest dumbfucks I've ever met."
"What the hell are you talking about," I snapped.
"You! You obviously like him -" I slapped a hand over his mouth and glared as fiercely as I could. He glared right back and I slowly let my hand slide down.
"You don't know what you're talking about," I said quietly.
"Don't I?" Mario stood up straight, stance alert. I recognized this stance from when Mario would be three seconds away from winning something, and I didn't like it. "Addison, see. I'm a guy, but I'm not blind. I know you -" he faltered as I whipped around to glare at him again, "-well.. you..him, I don't see why you're not doing anything about it."
"Because," I hissed, pressing closer to Mario, "in case you haven't noticed, Kalen is dating Sonya. He is happy with her, and I -"
"Who said he's happy with her?" Mario countered with a glare of his own. He was starting to seriously piss me off. "God, you can be so blind sometimes. Don't you see how much he looks at you when he's with her? Even just now he was getting all moody because you were talking to Russell. And please, for the love of god, do not tell me you didn't notice what a jealous asshole he was back when you were dating Russell."
"He didn't like Russell -"
"And why would that be? Because Russell was dating you. Fuck, you're stupid."
That honestly hurt me, and I think it was more because it was Mario, my Mario saying it to me. I felt angry tears spring to my eyes, and I saw Mario's angry expression soften when he saw that. For some reason, it only made me angrier.
"Well, fine." I slammed my locker door and picked up my bag from the ground. "If I'm such an idiot you don't have to fucking hang around me anymore. I'm sorry I'm so stupid and blind and whatever. Have a nice fucking day."
I walked away. And it hurt a little more inside when Mario did not call my name nor attempt to stop me.
"Are you and Mario arguing?"
I kept my head bent.
"Addison, talk to me. He's walking around looking ready to beat anyone up and you won't look me in the eye."
Focus on the numbers. Fuck, Physics was hard. Newton if I ever met you..
"I thought we worked things out," annoyance seeped into his tone. "Look at me." Kalen forcefully pulled my chin up so I had no choice but to meet his dark eyes. He seemed to lose his train of thought for a moment and we simply stared for a minute, before I brushed his hand away and turned back to my work.
"Addison.." Kalen's voice had a little bit of hurt in it and I thought I could cry. "Do you want to be with me or not?"
Triple dagger to the heart as I easily, familiarly interpreted that question. He wasn't asking me to be his girlfriend, yet he couldn't ask me to be his friend either, because, well, we were more than just friends, and I'll bet he won't be feeling too macho asking me if I were his best friend.
I answered after a long pause. My voice was choked. "Leave me alone."
He backed off after that, and he didn't even look at me when the bell rang and I was left to pack my bag in silence... well, except for two oblivious people making out in the back. I shouldered my bag with a heavy heart. There was a practice for the kid's play later today and I had no idea how I was going to face Mario after this. Why do I keep screwing things up?
"Addison, hello!" Mrs. Reed also known as Cynthia also known as Mario's mother, greeted me with a warm smile. I love warm smiles. Especially after a bad day. "Thank you so much for volunteering in the play."
I did it for Mario, actually, but I kept my mouth shut and smiled. "S'cool. So where do I..."
"We're going to try practice in full costume today, just to see if we need any adjustments," Cynthia said. "You can go get yours back there, and once you've suited up meet back here and we'll get on it."
I nodded and made my way to the back, where a lady was sitting by a sewing machine, heaps of clothes strewn around her. She had a distracted look on her face, quite understandable since a child in a tree costume was currently trying to chew one of the leaves. I stood there awkwardly for a moment, unsure if I should help her or just... I don't know, slither off or something, when she turned and caught my eye.
"Yes?" She asked with a distracted smile, hand tugging the leaf out of the refusing child's mouth.
"I'm Addison," I introduced, eyeing the latex leaf in some sort of disgust. I stooped down and pulled out a Snickers bar I'd coincidentally taken from someone in school. "Why don't you chew on this instead?" I pulled the leaf free and stuck the Snickers in the child's mouth. She blinked at me, pulled the bar out, unwrapped it and started chewing on it.
"Oh, thank you," the lady said in relief. I straightened with a smile, mussing up the small girl's hair, and inadvertently caught Mario's eye as he was putting on his Grandma costume. We both looked away at the same time. "You're Addison, you said? And you play... the Wolf." The lady flourished a wolf costume, a legit wolf costume from underneath the piles of clothes. "Here, try this on, if you need any adjustments just come to me."
I walked away, to the back of the room and stared at the costume. It was big enough that I didn't need to take off my jeans, but I would definitely sweat to death if I put it on with my shirt on. Luckily, I had on a tank top underneath, and I stripped off my long-sleeved t-shirt before slipping into the costume... only to realize the zipper ran up my back.
I sighed and started to slowly trudge towards the Sewing Machine Lady for help, when someone roughly pulled me back by the neck of the costume. There was a pull and my costume was zippered. A look around confirmed that it was Mario, who was in his pink with white flowers dress and flat, black pumps and a white wig on his head. I held the wolf's head in my hand and he crossed his arms over his chest as we stared at each other. I suddenly felt very, very sheepish standing so small in front of Mario who was at least two heads taller than me.
Mario's gaze was stony and I bit my lip. We had never argued. Ever.
Cynthia called for everyone to gather and we turned away from each other.