"Rosie Watkins is a lesbian?" I felt like that question necessitated at least four more question marks.
My best friend Charlotte nodded and took a big gulp of her smoothie like this wasn't the hugest revelation of my entire life. Like it wasn't the most groundbreaking event that would change the very destiny of my future. Like it wasn't-
"Geez, calm down, it isn't that big of a deal. Mary Fitzgerald is too- everyone knows that. And technically she said she was bisexual. At least according to Scott Lowe," Charlotte said, very rudely interrupting my internal monologue.
"How could this not be the most important event of my entire high school career?" I demanded, wanting to grab her lumpy-sweater covered shoulders and just shake her like a polaroid picture. How could she not understand how life-changing this was?
"I've only been in love with her and her perfect auburn hair for like two years."
Charlotte frowned, her lower lip puckering out in confusion. It was kind of adorable, like a baby pug face. "You're still on about that? You haven't even mentioned her in the last six months. You used to ramble on about, oh I don't know, her fingernails for hours but then you just stopped. I thought you were over her."
"Because she was dating that ugly jerk Quincey Minikin-Priggs. And then she wasn't but she was still straight but apparently she wasn't this whole time," I replied, nearly knocking over my coffee cup while gesturing wildly.
"That's not Seth's name," Charlotte replied, completely missing the point.
"That's hardly the point!" I replied, "The point is that I don't know how I am going to survive Chemistry if I am going to have to sit two rows behind her and watch in awe as she flips her pretty, pretty hair over her shoulder and know that she is actually into chicks!"
Charlotte hummed and took another long swallow of smoothie. "Well," She said after a long moment of chewing on a not smoothie-ified strawberry, "Obviously this means that you have to go ask her out."
"What," I said. Clearly I was already starting to go deaf because I could not have possibly-
"You have to ask her out," Charlotte repeated.
"No I don't," I replied instantly, folding my arms. I ignored the niggling sensation that I looked absurdly childish.
"Yes you do," Charlotte countered, using her incredible persuasive capability. "We both promised that one time at that one party when we both were being ignored by all of the attractive people that if we ever had someone we wanted to go out with that we had even a tiny chance with that we would take it."
I remembered that night. It had been pretty maudlin and had ended with both of us laying on the floor of my room with wine coolers, crying about the end of Moulin Rouge.
"I was incredibly drunk. You can't hold me to that," I argued.
"Not so incredibly drunk that you don't remember," Charlotte countered. I had the sinking sensation that I was going to lose the argument, which would shortly be followed by any of my remaining pride and my little reputation.
"There were wine coolers! And a sad musical! It doesn't count!"
"If you break that promise you're going against the friend code," Charlotte replied with a saccharine-sweet smile.
Fuck. The friend code. A set of rules we'd written at eight years old and tried to sign in blood but both of us were squeamish and signed in red ink instead after Charlotte nearly fainted. We both pretended that it was blood and held it as our final bargaining tool. Nothing beat the friend code, it was like dynamite in rock-paper-scissors.
"I hate you," I said, with feeling. "What am I going to do?"
"Bake her some cookies," Charlotte suggested and gave me the rest of her smoothie.
I still hated her.
So I did make Rosie cookies. I mean baking was my number one pastime aside from marveling at the wonder that was the delicate arch of Rosie's neck when she (rarely) wore her hair up, so I was pretty good at it.
And I happened to have the cinnamon oatmeal cookie recipe that was almost identical to the ones she loved when we were in kindergarten. She'd given me one once. It had been a monumental event considering how closely she had guarded her cookies as a six year old.
So I made her a dozen, stuck them in a nice white basket and walked to my doom in the Chemistry classroom five minutes before class started.
Rosie was such an adorable nerd that she was always at least ten minutes early to class to check homework and stuff. It was so cute.
Thankfully no one else was in the room, so I didn't have to sparta kick them out. Or just glare at them until they got the picture.
"Uh, hey Rosie," I said, walking between the desks towards her. She looked up and gave me a blinding smile. I tried not to swoon too much- she was super friendly and smiled at almost everyone that way.
"Hey Alana! What did you get for question twelve?" She asked, flipping back and forth between packets of paper. was notorious for killing a small rainforest every year with how much paper he handed out, making it nearly impossible to find anything.
"Uh, four?" I couldn't even remember what any of the questions were about.
Rosie frowned down at her worksheet. "I don't think they've named an element that quite yet..."
I laughed nervously. Way to sound like a moron, Alana. Not that I'd be remotely capable of convincing anyone I wasn't complete garbage at chem.
"Yeah, Chemistry's not my best subject," I said, shifting my grip on the cookie basket.
"Oh, what's that? Cookies?"
I glanced down at the basket. Suddenly they didn't seem nearly good enough as a gift for Rosie. "Um. Yeah. Do you want- Would you like-" Come on, Alana, it's only eight words: do you want to go out with me. "Do you want one?" I blurted.
Rosie blinked. "Sure, thanks."
I offered the basket, looking down as Rosie's perfect bow lips parted and her pearly white teeth took a delicate bite.
"Cinnamon," She said, smiling slightly. "I used to love this type of cookie as a kid."
Shit. They weren't her favourite anymore? Well of course not, Alana, you moron. She's seventeen not six for god's sake!
"What- what's your favourite now?" I managed to stutter out.
Alana grinned and swallowed the rest of the cookie. "I'm a total chocoholic now. It's probably going to be a problem when I'm like thirty- my addiction's going to catch up to me and go straight to my thighs."
I was of the opinion that Rosie could gain four hundred pounds and still be the perfect human being that she was- not that I didn't think that her thighs weren't perfect as it. She was amazing in any shape or form.
"I'm sure you'd check yourself into chocolate rehab before that happened," I said without thinking. It was the sort of joke I'd make with Charlotte- she was constantly obsessing needlessly over her weight.
But that didn't mean it was the thing to say to the gorgeous girl who you were trying to ask out! God I was so colossally stupid! No wonder I was perpetually single! I couldn't-
Rosie snorted. "What sort of things would that entail? Imitation chocolate to wean you off of the real stuff? I don't know how well that would work- I'd probably want to stay!"
"Maybe they'd have one of those chocolate baths?" I suggested and then realized what I'd just said. Oh god don't think of Rosie and chocolate, don't think of Rosie in chocolate- ah fuck! Think of pure, unsexy things. Think of grandma, think of jazzercise. Think of grandma doing jazzercise in an ugly, neon, spandex tracksuit. Ugh. Stupid teenage hormones.
"You know I've always wanted to try that one day," Rosie admitted, smiling conspiratorial. "But don't tell anyone."
"I won't," I said automatically while still freaking the fuck out internally. For obvious reasons.
And then the bell rang and I had to go sit down with the basket of stupid cookies that I didn't really even like and that Rosie didn't really like.
What a failure.
The next day I brought double chocolate chip in a pink, plastic container decorated with stars I'd nicked from my younger sister. She wouldn't miss it. Probably. It was for a greater cause anyways.
"More cookies?" Rosie asked, perking up. We had a test that day so she was in full-on study mode. Her hair was even tied up- unusual and nice because she had such a smooth, pretty neck that I got to stare at all class when I couldn't remember the answers, which was almost all the time. I almost liked exam days just for that.
"You- you want one?" I asked, completely chickening out again. Rosie was already stressed with the exam, it wouldn't be cool to freak her out right before it.
That was my excuse and I was sticking to it.
"Oh my god," She said, making a frankly pornographic noise. I turned bright red and stared fixedly at the wall over her shoulder.
"Are they okay?"
"These are amazing. Can I have another?" I handed her the container.
"Oh man, I don't know how I'm going to concentrate on writing about isotopes or whatever when I keep remembering these things," She said around cookie number three.
"What's an isotope?" I asked, eyes flicking back down from the wall to her face.
Rosie blinked. "Are you serious?"
I cringed. Now she really thought I was stupid. "Yes?"
A beat. "Okay," she said, clearing a space on her desk. "In payment for these cookies I'm going to help you not fail this exam."
Rosie was actually a pretty good tutor- though I wasn't so sure how effective her teaching was when I kept getting distracted by the way her hand brushed mine when she grabbed an eraser.
The next day I didn't have Chemistry, so I spent study hall googling cookie recipes that would impress Rosie so much she'd forget what a huge moron I was and how much better she could do.
"That doesn't look like History. What are you doing?" Charlotte asked, looking over my shoulder at the computer screen.
"Looking for cookies for Rosie," I replied absently, discarding the idea of chocolate mint surprise cookies- the surprise was that they were boring grandma cookies.
"Why?" She asked.
"So I can ask her out." Goodbye chocolate raisin delights. No one actually liked raisins.
"Why don't you just, you know, ask her out instead of wooing her with cookies?"
I rolled my eyes. "She's the one for me- my soulmate. Obviously wooing is necessary, Charlotte." Were chocolate macarons a good idea? Probably not. Fussy and I didn't have enough eggs...
I could practically hearCharlotte roll her eyes. She didn't know anything about romance.
"Fine," She said, "But if you don't man up and ask her out by next week, I'm demanding reparations for breaking the friend code."
"Reparations? PSAT word?"
"I'm working on vocab, unlike someone who's wasting their time on cookies."
"They're for Rosie. Of course that's not a waste of time!"
"Say that again when you fail."
"Oh shut up, my didactic friend."
So I'd given up on finding the perfect cookie recipe and just made raspberry dark chocolate brownies since they were comfort food and I thought they might help me actually get enough courage to ask something aside from 'do you want a cookie'.
Chocolate was a magical substance after all.
"Brownies today?" Rosie asked, perking up when I- or at least my baked goods- came into view.
I sat down at the desk across from her, set the metal box down and took a brownie for courage.
"Oh man, raspberries?" She asked through a mouthful of chocolate, "You're trying to make me fat or something."
I very calmly did not voice my thoughts on how Rosie could be any weight and still be perfect and said instead, "Yes it's part of my evil plan to take your place as best chemistry student."
"Says the person who didn't know what an isotope was," Rosie laughed, "Speaking of that- how did the test go for you?"
I shrugged. I'd probably done much better than I would have without Rosie's short-notice cramming, despite being distracted for much of it. "I answered all of the questions, which is a first."
Rosie shrugged. "Progress, I guess. I did one of those things where I remembered the right answer right after I handed it in."
"You'll still ace it I bet," I said honestly.
Rosie shrugged and took another brownie. "So what are your plans for the weekend?"
My heart skipped a beat. Was that her leading up to asking me out? Was Rosie Watkins about to ask me out? I didn't even remember to put mascara on this morning, clearly I wasn't prepared for this sort of once-in-a-lifetime event! No, calm down Alana, she's probably being polite or something.
"Not much," I said, "I think Charlotte wanted to drag me to some boring foreign movie on Sunday," I paused and asked, a bit too casually, "What about you?"
Rosie smiled. "My cousin and her aunt came down last night, so I'll probably be hanging with her for part of it."
"That's cool. All of my relatives live way far away so I hardly ever see them."
"Yeah, me and my cousin are the same age so we always got lumped together whenever the adults wanted to bring out the wine." She nibbled on her brownie and shuffled the papers on her desk together- class was about to start.
I was just going to stand up to go to my desk, giving up again when Rosie spoke up again; "Hey I was going to ask-" My heart skipped another beat. She was going to ask- she had to be asking-
"-do you think I could get you to make me something for this, um, dinner I'm planning on Saturday?"
Coming back to reality sucked. Of course Rosie wasn't asking me out. I pasted a smile on. "Yeah sure, I can give 'em to you tomorrow. Anything in particular?"
She shook her head. "I'll leave it to you; you're the baking genius after all."
I spent the rest of class in a daze because Rosie had called me a genius.
Of course, since I'd made two batches of cookies and a double batch of brownies- half of which had been given to Charlotte to stop her from making fun of my ardor within Rosie's hearing distance- I needed groceries.
"All I need is more cocoa powder- why are we here?" I asked Charlotte for the fourth time that night. We were in some trendy clothing store so cutting edge all of the mannequins were wearing tin foil and plastic wrap in place of clothing.
Charlotte raised an eyebrow. "This is the price you pay for calling me in the middle of dinner begging for a ride to the mall-"
"-I said grocery store across from the mall!"
"-So you're just going to have to suck it up and let me shop." She continued to flick through the rack of clothing at a rapid pace. "And maybe think on the ridiculous reason that you ran out of flour, sugar, eggs and cocoa powder in four days."
"It isn't ridiculous," I grumbled, glaring at the vacant-eyed mannequins.
"Do you even hear yourself talk?" Charlotte asked, pausing to admire a sequined monstrosity in red, "You go on about how perfect Rosie is but I've yet to hear why you think she's so great. It's actually kind of amazing how you manage to do that."
"I've always had a bit of a thing for her but..."I looked down, picking at my fingernails. "Last year, you remember Lara Afford?"
"That harpy? So glad she moved away."
"Yeah- she was sort of picking on me all the time in the locker room before gym. You know, the usual about my weight and stuff-
Charlotte frowned. "That bitch. Why didn't you tell me? We could have glitterbombed her locker or something."
"Didn't matter to me- I mean why would I care what Lara Afford thinks- she was so insecure about herself that she had to count calories and then take it out on people who didn't care about that shit," I shrugged, "I mean life's short; eat cake."
Charlotte eyed me very seriously and said pointedly, "You aren't fat, Alana."
"I know. I just got junk in the trunk. I'm awesome. More than can be said about Lana. She always looked like one of those emancipated children on those poverty posters."
"What does that have to do with Rosie?"
"Getting there, getting there- you sidetracked me! Anyways, one time Lara was making some comment- I think it was about sports bras and 'taking someone's eye out with those things, Alana'- I didn't really care and was going to tell her to shove it when Rosie interrupted her and said 'Really, Lara, you might as well shut up because no one cares and Alana is twice as pretty as you could ever hope to imitate anyways'."
"Yeah. And Lara never bugged me again."
"You already said that ."
"I know it's just- I didn't think Rosie was that sort of person- she always seems so calm and collected."
"Well, that's why I want to date her. She's the best."
Charlotte sighed and set down a dress she'd been eyeing. "Okay let's blow this popsicle stand and get you your flour and shit."
We left the store, on a mission- now that Charlotte was on board nothing could stop-
"Hey isn't that her over there?" Charlotte asked, pointing discreetly because her mom was a stickler for not being rude about that. I looked over. Sure enough, Rosie was hunched over, looking at bracelets on the jewelry cart near the food court.
"You should just go over now and ask her out instead of this James-Bond-baking expedition. Save you money on groceries."
I was about to reply when a girl our age stepped beside Rosie. "-Who's that?"
Charlotte shrugged. "I dunno, maybe a friend from a different school?"
They linked arms. I hated that girl- woah no, calm down Alana they're probably just friends. Friends probably do stuff like that.
Rosie laughed, their heads bent together as they both looked at something on the cart. I exhaled calmly. Rosie wasn't a thing she could hang out with whoever she wanted- I was just being a crazy jealous- the girl pressed a kiss to Rosie's cheek.
Charlotte grabbed my arm and wheeled us around. "Let's go home," She said with false calm, "She isn't worth it- let's just go home and rewatch The Princess Bride or something with vicious zombies in it."
"No," I said, feeling oddly disconnected. Was I in shock? I might have been in shock. "I still have to go to the grocery store."
"What? Alana, no, don't-"
I smiled at Charlotte. "I promised her I'd make her something for the weekend."
I stayed up until three in the morning angrily trying to pick a recipe and trying to convince myself not to make anything, as well as briefly considering purposefully making bad cookies and then eventually actually baking something.
In the end I had gone with a variation on my favourite cookie- the pillow cookie. It was a double dark chocolate and salted caramel cookie wrapped around a piece of white chocolate brownie.
I'd likely ruined pillow cookies for myself considering halfway through making them I'd realized the dinner Rosie wanted them for was probably with her stupid, skinny girlfriend from the mall.
She probably had a stupid girly name too, like Crystal or Sugar or something equally banal.
I slid into class a calculated two minutes before the bell rang and thumped the blue gift bag of cookies onto Rosie's desk.
"Hope they work out for you," I said with the biggest smile I could muster and then kept on going to my desk before I could give myself away. I didn't want Rosie to know what a crazy, jealous freak I was over something that wasn't actually my business since Rosie apparently only cared about me as her cookie supplier or something.
Rosie looked back at me once in confusion part-way through class . I stared hard at my textbook, pretending not to notice. I didn't care how childish it was, just because I was going to be graceful, damnit, about this whole thing didn't mean I had to like it.
"I thought your movie thing was on Sunday," I griped as Charlotte parked her car in the semi-abandoned parking lot outside the city park, "And why are even in the park?"
Charlotte rolled her eyes and checked the time on her phone. "I got the date wrong. And the place it's being previewed at is just on the other side of the park, no way we'd get parking closeby." She eyed me seriously and added, "And it's a film not a movie. God."
I rolled my eyes right back. It was weird of Charlotte to forget the date though, she was super OCD about her fancy, high-brow movies.
"Come on," She said, "We're going to be late." She was already part way down the path.
I grumbled under my breath and picked up the pace.
Just when I was about to catch up- Charlotte was serious about being on time to the movie things- she looked off to the left and said loudly "What the hell is that?" and dashed off the path into the underbrush.
I skidded to a halt. "Charlotte?" No answer. "Charlotte?" I repeated and then cursed and followed her in, swatting branches aside.
"What the fuck, Charlotte?" I shouted, now thoroughly lost in the stupid trees in the minuscule park in the middle of town.
I looked around and then kept going, dodging a tree and praying I was going in the right direction.
I took four more steps, tripped and nearly fell- stupid heels- and emerged in the open picnic area.
Taking in the scene, I noted that Charlotte was nowhere in sight. Probably a good thing, as I wanted to throttle her for the sudden urge to commune with nature. I was not an outdoorsy person.
"Alana!" A voice called.
I turned ninety degrees and was met with Rosie sitting at a picnic table covered in a slightly worse-for-wear tablecloth, what looked like a fruit plate and the motherfucking cookies I'd made her.
I swore if I'd accidentally interrupted her date with her stupid flawless girlfriend I'd commit seppuku right then and there. There was a limit to how gracefully accepting of Rosie's life choices that I could be and I was at my limit.
"Come sit down," She said.
Rosie stood up, smoothing her skirt, and guided me over to the table, her hand cool on my shoulder. "I'm afraid I had to ask Charlotte to help in a bit of subterfuge getting you here," She admitted, sitting back down across from me.
"You wouldn't give me a chance to talk to you on Friday- I don't know what I did wrong." Her expression was so distressed I had to look away. I felt like I was the hugest dick in the history of jerks. Not that this situation was my fault.
"I saw you with your girlfriend Thursday," I said stiffly. Gracefully, damnit. "I misread your intentions. Sorry."
Rosie frowned. "Girlfriend- I don't have one?"
I grit my teeth. "Flowing black hair? Pearly white teeth? Ringing any bells?"
Rosie blinked, relief flooding her face. "That was my cousin, Cassandra."
"She. Kissed. You."
Rosie actually looked embarrassed. "She's weirdly tactile. Like, I've asked her to tone it down but she just doesn't seem to know how. That's what you get when you send your daughter away to boarding school in France I guess."
"So... you're not dating anyone?"
"No!" She said a bit too loudly. "I mean- I was going to ask you out on Thursday but I just, I just couldn't. Like I had this big, huge plan on how to do it but I couldn't so I had the idea of setting up dinner Friday night and getting you to bring cookies with you and being romantic. But then you wouldn't talk to me on Friday."
"I'm sorry," I blurted. "For being a crazy jealous stalker."
She tucked piece of hair behind her ear. "It's fine. Really. And I ended up Facebook-stalking Charlotte to ask her what was up with you. So we're even."
"You what?" Charlotte hated talking online to people she didn't know very well.
"Yeah. She nearly ripped me a new one but she grudgingly agreed to help me set this whole thing up," Rosie explained, gesturing at the table and the whole thing.
"Wait. You did this all for me?"
Rosie blushed slightly, looking down at her fingers. "Yeah. I mean I've had this huge thing for you since before the bathroom incident. It's part of the reason me and Seth broke up; I cared more about you than him and we weren't even friends."
"So why didn't you even talk to me until now?" I asked, not totally able to believe what I was hearing.
Rosie shrugged slightly. "You're a bit difficult to approach, you know?"
"Yeah. I mean you're so confident, it's like no matter what anyone said or thought about you, you'd just shrug it off. It's pretty intimidating. And then you brought me cookies and I kept thinking you were going to ask me out but you didn't so I assumed you just wanted to be friends or help in chem or something. So I didn't."
"Do you want a cookie?" I blurted. Fuck I didn't mean to say that, goddamn useless brain. "No I mean- I mean do you want to go out with me?"
"Yes," Rosie said and added, "Yes to both!"
We both sat at the table for one long, loaded second.
"So now what?" I asked when I couldn't stand the silence any longer.
"I have no idea," Rosie laughed. "Cookie time? I didn't want to eat any until I was with you."
I blinked with a sudden realization. "The double chocolate cookie sounds were on purpose," I accused.
Rosie laughed, a faint blush staining the tips of her ears. "Only a little," She admitted, "Though they were amazing. All of the stuff you made is amazing."
We each picked one of the pillow cookies up. "Cheers," I joked, tapping my cookie to hers.
She laughed and took a bite.
This time she didn't make any noise, but her eyes closed in bliss.
"I can't even begin to explain how delicious this is," She said, swallowing hard.
"Glad they turned out okay. I wasn't sure about the caramel."
"You didn't eat any?" She asked, surprised.
I shrugged, feeling a bit silly. "I was kind of really angry when I was making them."
"You need to try one," She urged, "I can't even- just try it."
I glanced down at the cookie still in my hand and then set it on the table and kissed Rosie.
The angle was awkward, the stupid concrete table in the way but it was just- bliss.
We parted, faces inches apart, the smell of chocolate heavy in the air.
"Pretty damn good," I said breathlessly. "Cookie, I mean," I added.
Rosie snorted and kissed me again.