“Hey, Mom,” I say casually as I’m unloading the dishwasher, “I think Crispin’s gonna come over after prom to hang out.”
Mom looks up from the recipe book she has out on the kitchen island. "Aaron, honey, I really think you should spend more time with your friends." She speaks slowly, like she’s trying to find the right words.
"Crispin is my friend, Mom."
"I know, sweetheart, but I haven't seen Carter or LeAndre or Jay around in a long time, and with some of the trouble you’ve had at school," she replies, "the mother in me can't help but be worried."
Well, that makes me feel like an ungrateful bastard. It's highly possible that she's not so concerned with the way Crispin acts and dresses, she thinks that I'm going through some major crisis when in fact I'm having the best time of my life.
“I was always kind of on the fringe of that group, anyway,” I say. “I mean, we’re still friends, but Jay always does something stupid, sometimes stuff that could get everyone into trouble.” I’m trying not to be a liar or a snitch, but I have to come up with a platonic reason for all of this.
My mother's eyes widen. "Are you saying that there are drugs and alcohol at these parties?"
Ah, crap. "No," I lie, "but Jay doesn't always think before he does stuff. Like he shoved this kid into the pool one time, just as a joke, and ruined the guy's insulin thingy. Or the other day, even, it wasn’t a super big deal, but I was in the bathroom when the bell rang for third period, and because of a dumb joke that he and Carter made up, now there’s a rumor that Shauna Oldman and I were making out in there. The girl is already like, the least popular person in school. It’s just mean that their joking means she gets badmouthed even more."
Mom folds her arms.
"Or one time he got a bunch of guys to take that Ronald McDonald statue from the bench in Wal-Mart. Like, he brought tools and pried it up, just so they could move it outside and put a Carver shirt on it. Then we found out that if we had gotten caught, we could have gotten like, a hundred hours of community service for that." No need to add that the tools and the shirt had been my idea. Somebody had to be the brains of the operation. "I need an excuse to not get in trouble with all the detention and stuff, Mom. Which, I remind you, was extended because I got mad at Jay for bullying Crispin within Coach’s earshot."
That gets her. "I just worry about you, Aaron.”
“Yeah, yeah, mom stuff,” I say, grateful for the parental smile she gives me. “I’m fine. I just get along with Crispin is all.”
The next day at school one Shauna Oldman keeps popping up in my peripheral vision. How many classes do we have together? For the love of sweet Peter, we get grouped together in AP English, and I end up lending her my book because she forgot hers. Or maybe she just pretended to, because when she hands it back to me there’s a piece of paper with some crappy-assed, disproportionate anime drawing of a winking girl giving a peace sign (what the hell?) with speech bubble that says “Thank you!” How had Shauna drawn that while we were sitting with our books in hand, discussing Tess of the Goddamn D’Urbervilles? This has to stop.
I hang back a little when the bell rings, and sure enough Shauna does, too. Nip. This. Shit. In. The. Bud. “Hey, Shauna,” I call. “Can I talk to you for a second?”
She goes bright red and all her friends start giggling. “Sure, Aaron.”
“Um, so I just wanted to apologize for yesterday,” I say, hooking my thumbs in my backpack straps.
“Oh, my god, no, it’s fine, I get it.” Shauna tucks a lank strand of hair behind her ear.
“No, I made a dumb joke and Carter and Jay took it too far, and you didn’t deserve that.”
If Shauna blushes any redder it’s going to come out her pores. “Oh, don’t worry about it. Like, it’s fine.”
A mean thought crosses my mind, that her tongue-tied shyness isn’t a tiny bit as endearing as her gay friend’s, but I continue, “And I know there are already rumors spreading, but I don’t want anything to be misinterpreted, you know?”
“Oh, right, right.” Shauna nods like a parrot. “Absolutely. I totally get it.”
“Yeah, well, I just wanted to let you know that I don’t have, like a secret crush on you or anything; I’m actually—” Gay. “kind of friends with Crispin, I guess, and it was an inside joke. Me winking, or whatever.” I almost told her, but I’ll be damned if Shauna Oldman is the first person to hear it from my lips in this school.
Shauna’s ability to recover her sour face is remarkable. “Friends with Crispin?”
“Yeah, like, I’m in detention until forever, and he’s an aide, so…yeah.” It’s an even weaker explanation than what I gave to Jay, but Jay’s dumb ass didn’t react with such skepticism.
“Oh, and you just assumed that because you were acting like a decent human being that I would think you have a crush on me?”
Damn, Shauna. “No, and not that you’re not…” I tried to imagine her after washing her hair and face regularly, wearing the same color of socks on each foot, and after gaining about fifteen pounds. “Pretty or anything, but just in case your friends are giving you a hard time.”
She folded her arms. “Why would my friends give me a hard time? I choose to hang out with people who are nice to me and everybody.”
Now I want to crumple that shit drawing up and throw it in her face, and I would if Crispin didn’t appear in the doorway.
“Shauna, we’re going to be late,” he says, and maybe because he can read my frustrated body language he adds, “Hey, Aaron.”
I step around Shauna. “Okay, glad we’re on the same page. Sorry again, Shauna.”
“Yep,” is her high horse reply.
“See you later,” I say to Crispin, and move on with my day.
Crispin texts me in sixth period, a bold move for such a goody two-shoes. shauna tld me abt ur convo. :P
I replied, so defensive. what did she say 2 u?
askd if u gave me the same speech. A moment later he clarified. that u being nice doesnt mean ur attracted 2 me. dont worry i tld her no.
I snort, then pretend to sneeze into my sleeve when the teacher looks at me. thats right. im not nice 2 u. xspecially when ur blowing me in the bthroom. :O <=3
AARON DO NOT SEXT ME IN CLASS >:[