Literature's Next Frontier


Flamingo

FICTION:

Making It Right

by Taylor McTague Quill-red

Ch. 1

Today I celebrate my eighteenth anniversary with nobody. We’ve had our ups and downs, but, ultimately, we’ve managed to stay together all of these years. I don’t know how I’ve managed it honestly. I’ve had so many close calls over the years with guys attempting to break that special bond I have with no one, but I made my choice and there is only one person for me.

In case I wasn’t clear enough, that was my obnoxious way of saying that today is my eighteenth birthday and up to this point I’ve never had a boyfriend. That’s not to say guys don’t like me, I’ve just never been that successful at getting them to keep liking me, and today I reached a very pathetic point of officially making it into adulthood without so much as a middle school un-relationship. (A relationship where you say you’re dating, but it’s actually more like an agreement that you’ll hold hands in the hallway, but if you run into them outside of school your relationship goes from technical to nonexistent.) My best friend, Elizabeth, promised me for my birthdayshe would get a guy to kiss me, but I knew very well that was something she couldn’t follow through on; and even if she had done it successfully it wouldn’t have really been the first kiss I was hoping for, and I don’t even want to know the type of guy that would agree to that.

Today for my birthday, I was supposed to go with all of my friends to Dave and Busters, but there just happened to be a huge ice storm two days ago trapping me at Elizabeth’s house. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it’s not really the eighteenth birthday I was hoping for. We’ve just been incessantly watching romantic movies on Netflix, because I think she’s under the impression that watching other, more attractive people fall in love against all odds will make me feel better about the fact that my life wasn’t written by Nicholas Sparks. I don’t know where her logic is in that, but I’m okay with it because she doesn’t know any better. She’s been dating the same guy for six months, and frankly probably doesn’t remember a time when she was single. Somehow she’s managed to find all of the small group of attractive, Christian, teenage boys who are okay with not going any farther than a Disney Channel kiss. It’s not like I don’t enjoy the occasional romantic comedy, but they make me realize that I will never have what they have in those movies. Mostly because what they have in those movies is very unrealistic and nothing ever happens like that, because, and people hate me for saying this, love doesn’t work that way. You don’t fall in love with someone a week after meeting them, and you especially don’t fall in love in high school. I’m honestly convinced love in high school is a myth created to sell birth control to sixteen year old girls.

We’re in the middle of The Last Song, and I look over and notice that Elizabeth has been texting someone the whole movie. I assume it’s her boyfriend, James, but upon further inspection I realize that it’s not James that she’s texting, which only leads me to wonder. I’m a very nosey person, so naturally I keep trying to see who she’s texting until she notices what I’m doing and sets her phone down.

“Excuse me Nosey Nell, but I would greatly appreciate it if you didn’t look over at my phone like you were cheating off a test,” she says slightly joking, slightly serious.

“I’m sorry, but your constant texting is awfully distracting from this movie.”

“It’s a Miley Cyrus movie, why would you be trying to focus on that?”

“Exactly. I’m looking for other things to focus on and your texting is A+ entertainment. Who exactly is so interesting anyway that you haven’t looked up from your phone since you started texting them?”

“If you really must know, I’m texting Andrew about our plans for Thanksgiving. Now if you would excuse me, he just asked me ‘What’s up?’”

Andrew is Elizabeth’s half brother, is a sophomore at our school, and Elizabeth is very well aware of the crush I have on him. It’s not like he’s insanely attractive or anything; he’s actually only like 5’6” and has like a half jew fro, half high and tight. (It makes since because Elizabeth has insanely curly and thick hair, and I suspect their dad used to before he lost all of it) We are just so much alike and I’m only like 5’3” so the height thing isn’t really a concerning situation. He’s so funny and easy to talk to and every time we have a conversation I like him more and more.

I’d heard a lot about him from Elizabeth, but I didn’t meet him for the first time until last January during our school’s production of Les Miserables because neither of them live with their dad. Andrew was playing Gavroche and I was playing Eponine. He came up to me and saved me from an awful conversation with the guy who was playing Marius, Noah Stevens, who was, once again, trying to get me to go out with him. I met Noah in third grade and we always had this back and forth hatred for each other, but around freshman year Noah's hatred turned to an intense crush and it still freaks me out. I don't understand what happens during puberty that turns teenagers into hormonal monsters, but it certainly never fails. This specific time Noah was trying to get me to admit I was in love with him and accompany him to the choir banquet, and I was telling him I’d only consider it if he got Sweeny Todd to shave his beard. Luckily Andrew came up to me and I was able to ditch Noah to talk to him. He told me that he watched me sing On My Own and that it was breathtaking. I told him I was very impressed with his version of Little People and somewhere along the way the conversation turned into us talking about how the creepiest thing you could whisper into someone’s ear is “Where’s the bathroom?” How that happened, I will never remember.

We’ve had a few, really weird conversations since then, but nothing major. I think I just like how it’s so easy to be myself with him and that I can be totally weird and he won’t judge me because he is just as weird. He hasn’t texted me in a while, but I think now is a better time than any.

“Whatever you were going to say, don’t,” I inform Elizabeth, “What you need to say is “I’m watching movies with Kristine because it’s her birthday”. That way he’ll text me “Happy Birthday” and we can have a beautiful conversation.”

“Kristine, I will not play matchmaker for you and my little brother.”

“Come on, please Lizzy. I will love you forever.”

“Are you saying that you don’t already love me forever?”

“I don’t know…I’m starting to lose faith in our friendship…”

“Fine. Just this once.”

I watch her type out the text saying that she is watching movies with me because it’s my birthday and when she presses send it only takes approximately ten seconds until my phone dings. I look at it and, lo and behold, it’s Andrew. I open the text and, much to no one’s surprise, it says “Happy birthday!!”

I text him back “Thanks, I’m amazed you remembered.” I don’t want him to think I employed Elizabeth to say that, and I also want to see if he will pretend that he remembered on his own merit.

 

“Well, I found out when your birthday was

via Facebook, and I promised myself I would remember”

 

“I’m impressed. This is actually the first

happy birthday text I’ve gotten all day”

 

“Don’t take it personally, everyone’s too

focused on their own cabin fever”

 

“Yeah...you gotta love an ice storm that

outshines your birthday. I blame Frozen”

 

“Are you saying you think the Sixteen Candels

air to your eighteenth birthday is due to Disney’s

romanticism of ice? Because if so, I would totally

have to agree with you. Fuck Disney”

 

So...he decided to pretend that he remembered my birthday all on his own...much respect to him. Really, I think it’s flattering he wants to impress me by pretending to have remembered my birthday.

 

~~~~~

 

The conversation went along like that, as they always did; talking about nothing for a really long time. All of our conversations are really shallow and something inside me yearns for something more. I want to get deep with him. (No sexual innuendo intended.) It’s 1:30 am now and Elizabeth fell asleep approximately two hours ago. I’m assuming Andrew fell asleep sometime around then too, because he stopped texting me back mid-conversation.

When she fell asleep I turned off Netflix and put Perks of Being a Wallflower into the DVD player, because I like being reminded about the reality of what life is like in high school. (Minus the whole traumatizing child molestation, suicide of best friend, 90’s drug tolerance shit of course.) The movie just ended and I can’t help but think of Josh Parsons. I met him sophomore year when he moved to our beautiful, little Nebraska town all the way from Arizona.

It was the second day of school, and I was walking to the pizza line in the cafeteria when Elizabeth came running up to me. Well, I use the term run loosely, it was more like a scuttle because of her insanely high heels. I knew something was up because she was holding her obnoxious Vera Bradley lunch box, which meant that she didn’t come with me to buy food. (She wouldn’t eat anything that would risk giving her a zit.) I let her walk with me in silence for a while, not humoring her obvious desire to tell me something until she couldn’t wait for me to say anything anymore.

“So, I have this friend Josh,” she said, “And I told him it would be okay if he sat with us at lunch, because he doesn’t have very many friends.”

“Why doesn’t he have friends?” I inquired, “Is he some kind of freak or something? Does he look like Sloth from the Goonies?”

“No, he just moved here from Arizona. I know him from church,” she said, annoyed with my comment. There was a pause because I didn’t know what she wanted from me here. “So, is it okay if he sits with us?”

“It’s not like if I said no it would change the fact that you already told him he could.”

“Thanks, you’re the best,” she said like anything I said actually had any impact on her decision. She walked away and sat down at the table to show Josh where to sit.

I never told her at the time, but when she told me about Josh I thought “This is my chance. Maybe I’ll get a romantic comedy this time...maybe they exist. He could be my first boyfriend. The new kid I just met; it’s the perfect cliche.” I got my cafeteria pizza and sat down at the table. He was already sitting there, and, though not glaringly attractive, I knew he was just my type. He was the “nerdy cute” every girl says they are into...about 5’11” with bad posture, slight acne on his face and yummy old school Justin Bieber hair. I knew that in a year or so he would get a haircut, go on Proactive and maybe work on his posture and he would be the guy every nerd girl went for and I had the upper hand on them. I knew him when he knew no one.

We introduced ourselves and then went on like normal. I developed a crush on him really fast and it kind of seemed like he could have liked me too, but there was no way to know. Homecoming rolled around and I tried everything I could to get him to ask me, even mentioning that my friends had all bailed on me, but no luck, or so I thought. When I got home that night at around 11:00pm he messaged me on Facebook asking me how homecoming was. We talked for about four hours until I fell asleep, and then proceeded to do that every night for the next five months. When I look back at all the messages now I realize I missed blatant flirting and shoved it off with bitchy comments, but back then I thought I was protecting myself from losing a best friend by not letting him know I liked him.

Finally, around February, he manned up and asked me on a date to go ice skating with him at the ice rink in our local mall. I got so excited, but what I didn’t think about was my mom. Even though Josh was a grade higher than me, I already had my license and he didn’t because of the all the permit stuff being transferred over from his move, so I had to drive. I told my mom where I was going and she freaked out more than when I told her I was going to homecoming with Ross Esparza the year before. She always was pushing for me to get a boyfriend and I didn’t know why. She went crazy knowing that I was going on my first real date and I had to practically run out the door. It took twenty minutes to get to his house because we lived on the complete opposite side of town and the date...went...awful. He insulted my driving the whole time, made fun of my lack of ice skating abilities instead of holding my hand like a romantic would, and the entire time I couldn’t help but think of my mom freaking out, and how she would act if this went any further than one date. That made me freak out and almost want to throw up so I cut the date short and took him home. When we got to his house I knew he wanted to kiss me, so, naturally, I kicked him out of car. I didn’t want to puke in his mouth, now did I?

Things got really weird between us after that night and I just stopped texting him back. After the last day of school I thought I would never talk to him again, and I didn’t for six months. I saw him in the hallway going from seventh to eighth period every now and then, but he didn’t really acknowledge my existence. That is until January this year, while I was just casually playing Temple Run suddenly a shocking notification showed up at the top of my screen.

Josh Parsons. Text message.

I opened it up and was surprised by a very casual “Hey you”. I didn’t know what to say. I was in so much shock that I didn’t text him back at all. The next day I went to Les Mis rehearsal and showed it to Elizabeth who was less than surprised.

“I was talking to him the other day and brought up your name. He said he missed you, so it’s really not that big of a surprise he texted you,” she said.

“Well, I was pretty surprised.”

“Yeah. You didn’t even text him back. Ouch.”

“What do I say?”

“I don’t know. “Hi”, maybe.”

“I can’t just say “Hi” after everything.”

“Clearly you can. He did,” she said and stared at me for a second, “How about you say something like “Hey stranger”.”

And so I did and thus we had a conversation about everything we missed in each other’s lives, from car wrecks to family drama to failing classes, we talked about it all, including the unmistakable fact that Josh now had a girlfriend. I didn’t care though, because I knew from the beginning he would be the nerd of every girl’s dreams, but then there was the night of 20 Questions.

Josh and I were texting like always when he confessed to having drunk some Nyquil before starting this conversation, but I didn’t care. My parents were drunk a lot of the time so I figured how much worse can Nyquil be. In a game of 20 Questions he asked me who my first kiss was and I told him it hadn’t happened and he was so genuinely shocked. Then he proceeded to say that he wanted my first kiss to be with someone who loves me, so it should be him. I told him that was the Nyquil talking and he insisted it wasn’t. Then, after that night, he flirted with me like crazy, much against my request and then when Elizabeth texted him to stop he proceeded to flirt with her too. That’s when I knew I had to cut ties with him forever and along with the awkwardness that was basically me breaking up with him even though we weren’t dating, I also had to ask for my copy of Perks of Being a Wallflower back that I had lent him. He gave it to Elizabeth, who gave it back to me and that was the last time I had any contact to Josh Parsons. I knew he was mad at me because he had torn it up and bent my book when he knows how OCD I am.

I look at the clock and realize that it’s now 2:30 am and I’ve just been sitting here staring at the title menu for an hour. I should probably turn the DVD player off and go to sleep. There’s no way we have school tomorrow, because the ice isn’t supposed to melt until afternoon, but here’s to hoping we can at least get out and do something.

 


Posted on: August 01 2014

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