A/N: This was writing last June. In early September I self-published it on Amazon. Of course, nobody's really bought it yet... that's why I'm posting it here. At least it'll be read.
1. My Way - Sid Vicious
2. Rock N' Roll High School - The Ramones
3. Pretty Vacant - Sex Pistols
4. See You 'round Like a Record - Little Nell
Let us start this story on a nice little Thursday, in a nice little classroom, on the second floor of a nice big High School, residing in a nice n' safe county full of Privileged White Persons Who Own iPhones.
The classroom in question was currently filled with Mrs. Kirja's Senior English Class. Due to the fact that high school was basically over for most of the 12th graders, they were having a party. This meant they were eating cupcakes and pizza, as well as messing around and not learning anything at all. This was okay because, as previously stated, that Thursday was the last school day for 90% of the school's 12th graders. They were to go on an excellent adventure known as 'Senior Experience', which meant they'd be an intern somewhere rather than attend classes.
Lucky bastards. I'd been too lazy to complete the paperwork so I'd be staying until the very last damnéd day. Though I didn't really think about this as I ate tons of cupcakes and took cheese off the pizza with my fingernails (I can't stand cheese). I totally forgot it as I begged my classmate Joe to let me use the speakers to play my favorite music. He'd put on some of that computeriffic modern nonsense many teenagers enjoy.
"There's this one song that we've got to hear - it's about being yourself no matter what people think. Perfect coming of age kinda thing," I told him earnestly.
What I didn't tell him was that the song was the Sinatra standard 'My Way' sung by the late Sid Vicious, who sang no better than he played bass. Who cared? It sounded right sung wrong!
"Fine, Miranda. One song."
Gleefully, I plugged my iPhone into the small-but-powerful speakers. Size matters not in this case!
Just as I was pulling up "My Way" on YouTube, Ms. Kirja happily announced: "It's time for the class picture!"
Quickly, I finished setting up the music. Now Sid's delightfully revolting parody of Sinatra played noisily through the speakers. Everyone was too busy getting ready for the picture to hear the song, though I skipped over the line 'you cunt, I'm not a queer' just in case someone did start listening. The naughty word 'cunt' was going a bit too far.
"Miranda! Hurry up so we can take the picture!" yelled somebody.
By then the crazy electric guitar part of the song had begun to play. I felt like dancing as I rushed over to where my ordinary, boring, conventional classmates stood, smiling falsely. A few of the more rebellious types stood on desks or tables. I would've done that if I weren't afraid of falling and cracking my skull open all gory-like. When I die I sure don't want to look like a watermelon thrown off of a balcony. Nah, I want to exit this mortal coil in a dignified way.
I nearly did that backwards peace-sign that's very rude in England, but I was too chicken. Instead I just mimed along with Vicious' singing "I shot it up or kicked it out". That is, I randomly gestured towards my left (non-dominant) arm and then kicked the table next to me with my right foot. Nearly. I'm too polite to actually kick something.
Nobody noticed my half-joking attempts at rebellion. The flashing of Kirja's camera distracted everyone. I suppose it was for the best. Getting in trouble would be very unpleasant. It's something I always tried to avoid.
Once the photo-posing was finished Joe and I walked back over to the speakers. By then the song was nearly over. Certain people seemed pleased by this fact.
"You have shit taste in music, Miranda," Mark, a random classmate of mine, told me.
"Thank you," I replied sweetly.
Then, to my annoyance, they unplugged my phone and gave it back. We all went back to listening to Joe's awful computer-y music.
At least I'd gotten away with a bit of punk-related rebelling…
The next Saturday happened to be my mother's birthday, my favorite actress Patricia Quinn's birthday, and tw day before Memorial Day. This meant a party. Since my mother's birthday would be celebrated on Monday, and we don't know Patricia Quinn, the party was officially a Memorial Weekend party. This meant we could invite all sorts of people.
My brother Keith invited his friends Victor and Chuckles. Mom invited their mothers since they're all such marvelous friends.
I invited the kids I sit at lunch with (Hanna, Maggie, Jack, and Hanna's boyfriend Jason). Mother doesn't really know any of them, though she didn't seem to mind me inviting them. It's likely she's just relieved I've got friends. I'm not usually able to keep people around - they usually freak out before long. I'd known Hanna since the previous school year and I'd been sitting at lunch with her and her friends throughout my entire senior year (plus various segments of junior year).
I used to have a seriously problematic, semi-secret crush on Hanna, which caused quite a bit of trouble. During my junior year we sat next to each other in Mr. Hobette's Ancient History class. I knew all the answers in that class - which might've annoyed our short, oddly quiet teacher. I could get good grades without paying attention to Mr. Hobette. So I payed attention to the pretty girl with golden blonde hair.
In those days my brain was a bit... foggy most of the time. It's like things - colors, sounds, words, everything - blend together and I cannot understand what's happening outside my skull. Most of what I experienced seemed to result from what was going on inside my head at the time. My idea of reality and real reality didn't match. It's actually very hard to explain. Imagine you're in a bubble and everything outside the bubble is sort of blurry and hard to hear and very hard to remember properly. You're pretty sure you totally understand what's going on outside. Alas! The bubble distorts everything so it's technically all wrong. Looking back - much later - you understand some of your errors, you see where the murky bubble deceived you. Then you feel embarrassed at best, painfully guilty at worst.
Did that 'bubble' nonsense make sense to you? No? Sorry, it's the best I can do. If you aren't in my head certain things just cannot be explained. Perhaps everyone's like that.
So, back to what I was trying to say...
I reacted to my crush on a girl extremely badly. In my head homosexuality was this weird, wrong condition. So intense was this foolish belief that I assumed others agreed with it. From my oddly addled point of view, a group of kids (including Hanna and various friends of hers) were following me with cameras and calling me 'gay sicko'. I also thought Hanna hated me, especially after I half-accidentally admitted my crush on her.
During senior year we became good friends. She'd forgiven me for my accusations and let me sit with her friends at lunch. They're all sweet, normal people who don't bully random kids or stalk people with cameras. See, those terrible things only happened inside my own mind. It's always super awkward when delusions get the better of me! Sometimes I wonder what actually happened. I'll probably never know. It's all so hazy, dazed-y. Though I usually can piece together a general idea of what really happened, once I'm no longer metaphorically 'in a bubble', it still hurts. It really, really hurt when I realized what I'd done to Hanna. She'd gotten in trouble because I'd reported her (fictional) cruelty towards me. Poor girl.
Anyway, Hanna and company were my guests at the party. So was my almost-boyfriend Jeff. They all knew of each other, but the kids from my school hadn't ever met Jeff. They'd seen pictures of him… while he knew absolutely nothing about them. As I waited for them to arrive I began to worry.
What if they were rude to Jeff and accused him of being creepy? They'd sort of have a point if they did. What if Jack beat Jeff up? Could a gloomy teenager beat up a grown man? Probably… Jeff's certainly not the toughest guy around. Jack played guitar in some little punk band so maybe he could be tough when needed. At any rate, he probably had have the upper body strength to do some damage, thanks to carrying around heavy guitars and heavier amps… as well as, you know, being younger and presumably more agile than Jeff.
As I brooded on the possibility of a brawl, I began cooking my nearly-famous chocolate pudding from scratch (which can be found in the Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook). It's the best dessert recipe I know and my parents often ask me to make it whenever we're entertaining lots of guests. My cousin Cameron even requests it 'special, when he's in town.
As I was spooning the delightful dessert into little clear cups for serving, my Aunt MK arrived. Hardly a second later Jeff showed up. By then I'd gotten in the habit of panicking whenever I encountered Jeff. Originally it was a way to make myself seem less at fault if something unpleasant happened later. If I panicked at the sight of him then people would assume he'd done something wrong and side with me for once. One time I outright screamed when I saw him, in front of my whole family and a few of Dad's friends. Jeff actually is kind of scary...in a bald, old sort of way… technically… but he'd always been kind to me so I had no actual motive to fear him.
"What're you doing here?" I growled.
"Your parents invited me," Aunt MK said, confused.
I rolled my eyes. "I was talking to Jeff. He's horrid."
He wasn't, actually. Though something about him didn't seem right… he felt 'off' to me sometimes. Perhaps it was the fact that he'd decided to pursue me despite the 16 year age difference. Though it was partly my fault since I'd gone along with everything. What a pairing we were.
"I don't know why I invite you to anything," I told Jeff darkly.
At that point the rest of my friends (meaning Hanna, Maggie, Jack, and Jason) arrived. Apparently they'd driven over together.
"Hi, I'm Jack. I carpooled with Miranda when we both were at the New School of Northern Virginia," Jack said to what seemed like the room at large, though possibly just my aunt.
"That's the place that kicked me out for falling asleep too often," I whispered to Jeff. "I probably never told you about it."
I rarely spoke of school when Jeff was around.
No longer caring about whatever Jack was saying, I led Jeff into the kitchen. Hanna, Maggie, Jack, and Jason followed too quickly for anything interesting to happen between Jeff and I.
"Would anyone like chocolate pudding?" I asked, feeling like a housewife for no real reason.
Nobody did. Only Maggie had a real excuse - she's lactose intolerant.
At least their lack of interest in the pudding meant more for me! By the end of that day I'd eaten at least two little containers of pudding, I'm sorry to admit. Being as young and thin as I am, it hardly mattered.
We adjourned to the Den, aka the Ground Floor TV Room, and everyone who wasn't me sat down on my parents' ugly, brown leather couches (I just hovered by the worn coffee table like a nervous '50s housewife hosting her first dinner party). Though somewhat impressive when purchased, a few years of cat scratches and other miscellaneous mishaps had messed up those couches and the table. At least they're not as odd as the 'cat tree' - a pet playground which had morphed into a storage place for at least two wigs plus some stuffed animals - or the litter box dressed up like a small table. My lunch friends never discovered the true purpose of table-shaped litter box, or so I hope. Hey, it could be worse. The could've been stuck in a room with Keith's nerdtastic cabinet of starship models or Mother's model horse collection.
"How do you guys know Miranda?" Jeff asked.
"School. We sit at lunch together at Denton High School," Maggie explained.
"Yes… when I went to High School," I said awkwardly.
"Remember how much fun we had last Friday? When the ice cream truck showed up outside the cafeteria? At our high school?" Hanna asked.
Fuck Hanna (oh, if only...). Did she really need to say that?
Jeff wasn't supposed to know where I went to school. I'd told him I attended Community College. Technically I was enrolled there already… but I wouldn't be starting classes there until the Fall. No guy had ever been attracted to me before and I didn't want Jeff to go away, no matter how strange or old he was.
At least I had turned 18 earlier in May (only my dear Aunt Karen had really bothered to celebrate it much, of course), and therefore wasn't being Jail Bait. Not that I was likely to let Jeff get too close in the first place. I'd shoved him when he'd hugged me, once or twice...
For some reason Jack decided to ask Jeff a very inconvenient question. Presumably he didn't trust Jeff. At lunch the previous week he'd joked about beating Jeff up. All of my school friends found my stories about Jeff creepy to some degree.
"Hey, Jeff… how old are-" Jack began.
"We met at one of the screenplay writers' meetings," I interrupted.
"Miranda! How old-"
"He's only a bit older than me," I said, again interrupting Jack quite deliberately. At least he seemed to give up at that point.
"How do you guys know Miranda, again?" Jeff asked, trying to be friendly.
I took a deep breath. "From school. High school. We eat lunch together every day. Please don't be angry, Jeff, but I'm a high school senior who just turned 18 - not 19. I don't start at Community College until Fall."
There. I'd said it. Lovely.
Oddly, he didn't seem at all surprised. He'd probably figured it out already. My mom had been talking about my graduation a lot. Yet most people recognize that a 33-year-old pursuing a 17-year-old was messed up so perhaps he really didn't know… if he'd know he surely would've panicked. Not that it mattered. By then I'd already turned 18 and, therefore, stopped being off-limits. Hoopla.
"You know what," Jeff said, later that day, "People kept asking me if you were underage..."
"I'm not now," I replied, glad we'd cleared things up.
I try to only lie if it's for someone else's good. Like how I would play up my dislike of physical contact when Jeff first started acting all interested in me. Though I was serious that one time I threatened to non-fatally poison him if he tried to "hurt" me... beware of daffodils...