Why won't the world revolve around me?
Build my dreams, trees grow all over the streets
But I don't know much about classic cars
Thinking about Nate and our past made it easy for me to fall into a sleep with dreams that were more like memories replaying in my brain. I was almost thankful that I had to get up for school. Too much nostalgia can kill a person.
I was perfectly normal at breakfast and during my first classes of the day, at least I thought so. It wasn't until lunch when Bri sat down next to me and asked, "Okay, so what's wrong?" that I realized I'd been slipping into little Nathaniel-comas all day. I probably was walking around like a zombie.
"Nothing," I said. Because nothing was wrong. I was just thinking of things I hadn't in a while.
"You're acting like a pod person."
"I didn't sleep much last night and Government class was just Packard lecturing about court cases. Nearly put me to sleep." First part was a lie. I slept for a good eight hours. The second part, however, was true. Government class was filled with boring PowerPoints about famous court cases and vocabulary words.
"I feel like that class is going to be really hard," Caleb said from across the table.
"Hard as your dick when you see Mrs. Nelson?" Michael asked through a bite of sandwich, punching Caleb in the shoulder.
"Dude she got so hot over the summer, I don't even know how it happened."
The rest of lunch was an aggressive conversation about summer transformations: the good, the really good, and the bad. It was pretty easy for me to eat without saying anything. I knew my friends cared about me, but sometimes they were self-centered and absent-minded. Sometimes it got on my nerves, but times like this I was thankful for being friends with the easily-distracted.
Art class made it really easy to both keep quiet and stop all thoughts of Nate. Nobody usually talked in that class, anyway, I learned, as we were all focusing on our drawings, which were self-portraits, so instead of thinking about how Nate's stubble felt against my cheeks when we used to kiss I thought about getting my chin right and making sure the light hitting the paper-me was the same light hitting the real me.
On my drive home from school I got a text from Maxine:
What are you doing this weekend?
Once I got home I replied:
Nothing so far.
While I was getting a snack:
Now you are!
Should I be scared?
Only if you're scared of old Victorian houses.
I wasn't scared of old Victorian houses, but for real, who is?
On Friday morning at promptly 7, I got another text from her asking for my address. After giving it, she responded: I will pick you up at 5 tomorrow evening for an adventure.
Saturday night I was running late. Actually technically I was early. It was 4:57 and I was just putting on a dab of perfume, but normally I'm ready a good ten minutes early for everywhere I go. Standing in front of the mirror, I looked myself over. Maxine hadn't specified what adventure we'd be partaking in, so I stuck with a simple outfit: oversized white cotton button up, jean shorts, red Vans. I also stuck my toothbrush and a change of panties in my bag. I stuck with a pair of frilly crème colored boyshorts. Not too elementary but not a red g-string either.
Mom knocked on my door just as I zipped the underwear away. "Where ya goin'?" she asked, taking a seat on my bed.
"Um, just out with a friend I guess," I replied. I really couldn't specify where I was going. I didn't even know.
"Ah I met this girl Maxine in the city."
Mom looked surprised. "How old is she?"
Mom raised her eyebrows skeptically. I expected her to put her foot down and make remarks about how twenty-something's were crazy and rebellious, which was totally hypocritical because she would gladly shit eighty grand for me to marry Nate right here right now and he had just turned twenty-one. "I'm going to meet her, okay?" is all she said though.
"Okay," I replied. "She's really bubbly and hyper. She told me she doesn't do drugs or anything."
"I'm just saying!"
The doorbell interrupted our conversation. My eyes snapped to my mother's. "I'll get it," I said. She nodded then followed me out of my room and down the stairs but veered into the kitchen once we reached the bottom.
"Hey," I greeted Maxine. She was dressed similarly to me—a big top and shorts, except she was wearing a pair of gladiator sandals instead of tennis shoes.
"Hey hey!" she exclaimed, smiling brightly.
"My mom wants to meet you," I said unsurely. Would she be down? Would she think I was a child because mommy wanted to meet her?
"Sure!" she said. She stepped around me into the house. I led her to the kitchen were mom was chopping onions. "Hello, I'm Catherine Parker, Maggie's mom," she said, extending her hand not holding the knife.
"Maxine Watkins, pleasure to meet you," Maxine smiled.
"So what are you two up to tonight?" Mom asked after returning to her onions.
"We're just going to my place to watch a few movies," Maxine said easily. Movies? I hoped we were doing more than movies.
"I think I'll just stay over if that's okay," I piped up. I looked expectantly at mother.
"Sure, seems fine. Where is your house, Maxine?"
"It's in New York. The theater district, a little apartment."
Mom nodded in approval. "And you're how old?" she asked.
"Twenty, I'm getting a degree from the Laboratory Institute in fashion merchandising and I perform and teach dance classes at a theater for money," Maxine answered, not missing a single beat.
I could tell my mom was impressed. "That's wonderful," she said brightly. "Have fun tonight," she added with a smile in my direction. "You'll be home tomorrow I hope?"
"Definitely," Maxine answered for me.
"Bye, Mom," I said quickly, pulling Maxine away.
"Nice to meet you Mrs. Parker!" she called behind her.
"Jeez where's the fire?" Maxine asked. She walked me to her car, which was parked on the street outside my house. It was also a cherry red convertible, of course.
"I don't know, I just don't like being home really," I mumbled, jumping in the passenger's seat.
"Glad I could save you," she replied, pulling away from the curb.
"What are we doing tonight?" I questioned her.
"Ah that's for you to find out later."
"How fair is that?"
"How much do I care?" she shot back, a smile tugging at her lips.
I sighed and leaned back in the leather seat, trying to make small talk so the ride wouldn't be so awkward. I didn't know how long of a drive it was, or where we were going, or what we were doing, and it was nice for a little bit, to have something unexpected for a change.
About halfway through the drive (which ended up being 40 minutes long) Maxine put the radio on a station playing all-night eighties and cranked it up, forcing us into a frenzy of screaming "Jessie's Girl" and "I Wanna Dance with Somebody" at the top of our lungs. Right after "More Than a Feeling" we turned off the highway and around the outskirts of another small town, then down a gravel road, before finally parking in the dirt driveway of an old Victorian house.
It was huge and dark. Walls lined with dark brown siding held up a black roof. There was a dark wood porch on the front of it, and all the window trimmings were also dark. Behind the house I could see a forest, or at least woods, and the air smelled fresh, like we were far from the city.
"What is this place?" I asked Maxine when she rounded the car to my side. Getting out of the convertible, I could see the front windows lit up from the inside, yellow light pouring onto the porch. People moved inside the house, looking like little dolls.
"My friends go to college in the closest town and all live here," she explains and pulls at my hand, making me follow her up the walkway and through the heavy oak door.
The inside of the house was much like the outside, dark furnishings and floors. The foyer was small but comfortable, table lamps and a chandelier bathing the room in warm light. There was a huge wood staircase in front of me, and looking up I noticed a catwalk bridging across the upper level, and beyond that were high ceilings and exposed beams. Surrounding me were Persian-looking rugs and small wooden tables cluttered with knick-knacks and lamps. My mother would have died and gone to heaven in this room.
"Don't bother taking off your shoes," Maxine warned, noticing me about to toe my Vans off. "Just follow me." She led me through the ornate archway to our right and through a living room and formal dining room similarly lit and decorated to the foyer. We ended up in a kitchen. It was huge with dark cabinets and real granite counter tops. Despite the slight awe I was in from the house, I considered snapping a picture of the kitchen and sending it to my mom, captioning it something like 'Standing in your dream kitchen'. I didn't, however, just took in the polished floors and brand new looking appliances.
"I wonder where everybody is," Maxine thought out loud, walking to the other side of the room and looking out a door I assumed led to the backyard. She stepped outside and motioned for me to follow. I did as instructed, noticing right away one of those inflatable pools in the middle of the huge expanse of land. We stood on the back porch, just as dark as the front one, and Maxine called out for anybody around.
Immediately we heard whooping from the side of the house, and a few seconds later two figures were rounding the corner and up the porch steps and right at Maxine, squealing and giggling. Awkwardly I watched the exchange, all three girls jumping up and down a little and grasping each others backs like they would fall into the pits of hell if they let go. I tried appearing less uncomfortable by pulling out my phone and pretending to text, when really just typing up a 'note' on the yellow lined screen appearing on my phone.
I hope the whole night isn't like this. I feel like I'm in the 8th grade hanging out with Nate's friends, asking for a Mountain Dew instead of a Coors Light.
Even forty minutes from where he was and probably forty light years from his thoughts, he still consumed mine.
"Who did you bring?" a voice stopped me from slipping completely into thoughts of Nate. Looking up from the phone, I observed the two girls that threw themselves at my new friend. One was tall and thin with a model like body and a face you see in high-fashion ad campaigns. She was wearing a nude colored bandeau bikini, her hipbones jutting out and raising the band of the bottoms slightly off her stomach. Her face was bare of makeup, her hazel stare intense and calculating. The other was shorter though still taller than me, and more curvaceous. Her brunette hair was tied up in a knot on her head. Her belly button piercing was exposed between a white crop top and bleached jean shorts. Her rounder face was completely natural, blue eyes seeming more kind than her friends. She still didn't seem too approving of me.
"This is Maggie. I met her in the city, she's really cool," Maxine introduced. She pointed to the tall blonde, catching my eye and giving a small smile.
"This is Anja," she tells me. Her gesture moves to her shorter friend. "This is Bethany, but she goes by Beth."
I gave a little wave to the girls, who both were still looking me up and down, adding to my discomfort.
"You have really nice hair, is it all real?" Anja addressed me, taking me back a little. Is it all real?
"Um, yeah. It's all mine."
"That's pretty impressive," she remarked, not sounding too impressed.
"Way to creep her out," Beth bumped hips with her friend. Maxine let out a light laugh, obviously sensing the awkwardness in the air.
"Where are the boys and Ingrid? Is Kate coming?" she asked her friends.
"The boys are still at the store getting pudding," Beth answered. "Ingrid should be in the family room setting up the Wii."
"We don't know about Kate since…you know," Anja added with a little shrug.
"C'mon, let's go meet Ingrid," Maxine held her hand out to me like a light in the darkness. I stepped away from the girls I just met, leaving them with a, "I'm sure I'll see you later." I could hear them both chuckling as I followed Maxine through the door, though I'm not sure if they were laughing with me or at me. After we were crossing back through the house to the foyer I realized I wasn't laughing to begin with.
"Ingrid is a lot more accepting and sweet. This is mostly her house. It was her great aunts before she died," Maxine told me, slowing her pace down a little so I was beside her, not trailing behind. We walked up the grand staircase and across the catwalk to the left side of the house. It was much darker and colder upstairs. We pushed through a heavy wooden door and into a room lit only by the blue glow of a plasma TV in the corner.
Maxine flipped on the ceiling lights, illuminating the girl sitting on the floor in front of the TV. She was wearing a black t-shirt and neon green athletic shorts, her long auburn hair thrown in a braid over her shoulder. Upon our entrance she turned around and smiled, revealing two rows of perfectly straight teeth. "Maxine can you get this to work? I swear to god input 3 does not exist," she says, her voice like money. "I'm Ingrid, by the way," she says to me, extending a hand even though I'm across the room.
As I got closer to her and grasped her little hand in mine, I could see freckles sprinkled across her nose and cheeks and noticed dark green eyes hidden behind thick-framed glasses. Her smile appeared genuine.
"This is a piece of shit," Maxine muttered from a few feet away where she was messing with a remote, various colors and images flashing on the TV screen from her meddling.
"It's a brand new TV, I don't know why it's so hard to figure out!" Ingrid exclaimed.
I quick looked at the TV and the remote, realizing we had the same one in the basement at home. "You have to make sure it's on channel four," I said, "not three. That brand TV is different." I remembered my dad nearly having an aneurism over getting it to work, calling Best Buy about seventy different times in two days wondering what buttons to push.
Maxine switched the TV up one channel and lo and behold, the home menu for the Wii appeared on the screen, shining in HD. "You're amazing!" she exclaimed, tossing the remote into a leather La-Z-Boy a few feet away.
"How did you know that?" Ingrid asked, standing up and tugging her shorts up a little bit.
"Same TV at home," was all I said. I was a lot more comfortable about Ingrid than Anja and Beth. She wasn't nearly as intimidating.
"Thank god for small miracles," she said. Outside a few car doors slammed and we heard a bunch of whooping and hollering. "I guess the boys are here," Ingrid laughed.
"Finally, let's get this show on the road," Maxine replied, leaving the room. I followed her, pausing to turn back to Ingrid.
"I'm going to the bathroom," she said, following me into the hallway. I slowly decended the stairs, wondering what would be in store for me when I entered the kitchen, where I could hear a ruckus.
I entered the kitchen again and was met with the sight of Anja and Beth mid-hug with two guys. Two others stood by the island, and one immediately threw his arms around Maxine when she walked in. This left the last guy to stare at me, both of us appraising the other.
He was of medium height and build, tan arms and shins exposed by a tank top and shorts. He brushed shaggy blonde hair from his eyes, which were blue, and licked his lips, giving me a small smile and nod. I returned the gesture.
The three other girls and guys all rotated hugging until we were all left standing staring at each other.
My eyes roamed over the first two boys, one a tall, thin, pale boy with a huge white smile and a black quiff, the other another tall one, tan with freckles, green eyes, and floppy red-orange hair. As Maxine introduced me to the last boy, my jaw nearly hit the floor.
"Maggie, this is Max."
"Yeah," the familiar blonde boy said with a smirk. "We've met."
The reviews on the last chapter were really lovely, I'm glad nobody shit all over me for going 2 years without an update, thank you for that :)
I proofread this chapter a few times but something feels off about it, I'm not sure, so if you see any mistakes please point them out!
ALSO I'm sure you're all tired of seeing my dumb face next to the story so on the off chance if anybody wants to make a cover or something I would be forever grateful. I'm trying to make one now whenever time allows but that isn't too often these days.