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(A description of what I'm doing is here.)
27389 / 42127 words. 65% done!
Anyway, I nodded as if I understood because I'm nice like that.
Silence, silence, silence, la la la.
"Have you ever ridden a burro?" Alec asked out of nowhere.
"A burro. Have you ever ridden one?"
This struck me as quite possibly the most random question that he could have asked. My answer, which I voiced to him, was an honest "No."
"My dad took me once, when I was a kid. And, you know how everything's bigger when you're a kid?"
I nodded, because I did know.
"Well, I thought this thing was huge, really scary, you know?" He held his hands way out to either side, to indicate just how huge he found this burro from his past. "I was kind of freaked out, and I didn't want to ride it at all, and I started crying and everything. And my dad's like, 'Dude, it's a really gentle animal, it'll be lots of fun, I'll be right by you, blah, blah, blah,' you know, reassuring dad stuff. And I start to calm down and everything, and they set me on the burro, because at this point dad's already paid, and, like, I'm going to ride this burro and get his money's worth, right?"
"So I ride this burro. And, you know, it's like a small donkey or whatever. And I'm riding this burro, and I remember thinking, 'Wow, dad was right, this is fun! And then the ride was over, and I was like, 'Dad, can I do it again?' And that's when the burro totally bit my baseball cap off my head and ate it. Right in front of me."
He stopped talking. I waited to see if there was any more to the story. When he didn't say anything else, I said, "That really sucks."
"It occurs to me that it's probably a bad idea to tell a girl you like about this one time you cried when you were a little kid," he said.
I nodded. "Maybe."
"Do you think any less of me for it? Like, do you think I'm a wuss or anything?"
I considered this. "Well, I'm a little confused on the relevance of the story to...you know...anything, but other than that, I don't think any less of you."
Alec nodded. "Cool."
I tried to think if I had any embarrassing childhood stories about animals eating my possessions. "I'm pretty sure a goat tried to eat my sweater once when I was on a school field trip to the petting zoo."
"Yeah, goats are bastards that way. My grandma used to live next to these people who had a farm, and they had a whole buttload of goats, and I hated to go near them because they always tried to eat my clothes. And, you know, after that horrible burro experience, I wasn't too keen on getting more of my stuff eaten."
I smiled. "How much is a buttload?"
"You know. A buttload. Like, if you were to cram as many goats as possible into, say, the fattest man on Earth's ass. That many goats."
"Do you really think you could fit more than one goat into any ass? Even if it were the biggest in the world?"
He shrugged. "I'm sure there's a world record for 'Most Goats Shoved Up a Single Ass' or something."
"You should look it up."
"Maybe I will. First thing when I get home, I'll look that up."
Somewhere during our discussion about farm animals, we'd made it to Mama's Pizza. Alec held the door for me and everything. I tried not to feel weird and self conscious about that, since normally, I wasn't too big on chivalry. It made me feel sort of awkward, truth be told.
"Okay, so here's what I'm thinking," Alec said as we approached the checkout counter. "We order our pizza, then we take it back to my place and we eat it while we're watching a movie."
He was inviting me back to his house? My stomach swooshed a little. I'd never been invited to a guy's house before. Especially to eat pizza and watch a movie.
"You won't try to kiss me or anything, will you?" I asked.
"I make no promises," he said, smiling.
I cradled my chin in my hand, considering this offer. "What movie?"
** ** **
Alec lived in the basement. Which sounds like it might suck, but he'd really made the most of the space. It had two whole rooms, and even a bathroom. In one of the rooms, he'd set up a huge, squishy couch with a TV and VCR set up in the corner. The entire wall next to the TV was full, ceiling to floor, with DVDs.
"Pick one!" He held out his hand, gesturing grandly at the wall like one of those girls who shows off the prizes on gameshows.
"Oh my gosh. I would, but I don't want the pizza to get cold."
"We could always just watch Ghostbusters. That's my typical standby. And it is almost Halloween."
I stared at the titles. There were so many, I had a tough time focusing on them each individually. "How did you get all of these? We don't have anywhere near this many!"
"Well, it comes from years of perfecting the begging skill. Also, I have a part time job and I don't have anything else to spend my money on, hence..." More gesturing to the wall o' movies.
"Okay, I have an idea. I'm going to close my eyes, spin around, and whichever movie I end up pointing to, that's the one we have to watch, no matter what."
Alec looked skeptical. "No matter what? We can't do it three times and pick the best one?"
"Nope. It's all or nothing."
He sighed, appeared contemplative, then finally let out a whoosh of breath. "Okay. Go for it."
I clapped happily, then closed my eyes. I spun around three times, because three is a good number for things like this, then let my hand fly wildly around until I finally reached out and jammed my pointer finger on the spine of one DVD. I opened my eyes, pulled the case off of the shelf, and held it up triumphantly.
"So it looks like we're watching everyone's favorite Pixar movie, 'Cars'," Alec said. "An excellent choice for pizza dining."
"I've actually never seen 'Cars'," I admitted.
"Yeah, it's the only Pixar movie I've never seen."
"Do you really want to watch it?" He asked.
"That's not the point of the game, is it?" I grinned at him and set to work turning on his TV.
"That's cool, just make yourself at home. Do you mind if I have a piece of pizza, Ms. I'm In Charge Now?"
"Of course, just don't take the best piece."
"How do I know which one is the best?"
"Well, I guess you'll know if I get mad that it's gone."
Was I having a conversation with a real, live male? Like, one with quips and witty repertoire? What a strange experience! I glanced down at my tattoo to see if perhaps it was emitting some sort of magical glow, but it looked just as red and "M"-ish as ever. No jiggery pokery going on at my feet. Just me. Just me...owning it?
"Okay, I'm taking this one. Want to examine it before I take a bite of it?"
I crammed the DVD in the player and pressed play, then got up to join Alec on the couch. I kept the pizza box between us, just to be safe, then made a show of eyeing the pizza slice dramatically. "I don't know. That one's got quite a bit of nice, goopy cheese on it. What about this one?" I pointed to a nearly identical slice still in the box.
"I see your point. Here you go." Alec handed me the newly determined "best piece" and took the new slice from the box for himself. We settled in to watch the movie.
** ** **
"MIRIAM!" I yelled from half way down the hallway.
She swiveled around, layers of fabric swirling around her as she did so. "What? What happened?"
I barreled toward her at breakneck speed, shouting as I ran. "I went on a date! A real date! With a boy!"
"You are lying!" She shouted back, holding her arms open to catch me in a hug when I finally collided with her. "You're lying! That's incredible! Alec? You went to the poi thing, didn't you? It's Alec, isn't it?"
I nodded like a crazy person. A crazy person who nods a lot. Miriam squealed extra loud, and I would have had to cover my ears if I weren't squealing along with her.
"Holy crap, chill out," some kid I didn't know hissed at us as he passed. I ignored him.
"Did he kiss you? Did you kiss? Were there kissings?"
I shook my head. "No. No kissings."
"I don't know, I didn't want to rush things or give him the wrong idea or some other lame excuse for me just being too afraid to kiss him."
Miriam squealed again. "Do you like him?"
"I think I like him, Miri."
"You like him!"
"I think so."
"You like him, you like him, you like him!" She grabbed my hands and danced around me, continuing her chant.
"You like who?" Asked Bret, joining us.
"Alec! She likes Alec!"
I punched her arm. "Miri, you can't just go telling everyone!"
"I can tell Bret, can't I?" She asked, eyes wide and innocent. "He's my boyfriend! And also Alec's friend. He has the right to know."
"Fine, tell Bret. But don't tell anyone else. I don't want...you know who to find out."
"Sheena? I understand," Miriam nodded.
"Not Sheena. Colleen."
"Ahhhhh. Gotcha." She tapped her pointer finger to the side of her nose.
"Don't want me to find out what?"
Oh. Well, shit.
As soon as she heard Colleen's voice, Miriam lost her smile and plastered on a blank face. She didn't bother responding to the question. Instead, she turned to Bret and gestured down the hallway, indicating that it was time to leave.
I tried to follow, but Colleen took hold of my arm. "Hey, I've been trying to talk to you forever, you know."
I grimaced and wrenched my hand away. "Yeah, leaving nasty notes in my locker is a really good way to get me to talk to you."
"They weren't all nasty." She didn't try to grab me again. "Have you even read them?"
I felt heat rising in my face. I hated this. I hated feeling like I had to keep my non-existent cool. I didn't think I could do it. She could get to me just by standing there, looking at me.
"Did you?" She asked again. I stayed silent. How long would she do this to me? Why couldn't she just leave me alone? I wanted her to just leave me alone.
Finally, she dropped her gaze and sighed. "Fine. Whatever. Keep on hating me. I'll see you around." And she left.
** ** **
Man, of course Colleen had to pull her attempt to talk to me right when I was having such a good day. Way to ruin things, Colleen. Way to know just how to bring me down a few notches.
The sucky thing was, even if I did Like like Alec, he didn't go to our school, so I couldn't watch for him in the halls and smile at him, sharing our pizza and movie secret in just one glance. I watched Miriam and Bret do that all the time, catching each others' eyes and just Knowing Something. It made the whole day almost seem less real somehow. While the Colleen thing was very, very real, in sharp contrast to my slowly fading happiness.
And anyway, I didn't really know if I Like liked Alec or not. Sure, we'd had a blast Saturday, but this was all very new to me. And if I liked him, maybe I'd done something that made him realize he didn't really like me. I had no idea how to flirt. The only instruction I'd ever had came from Colleen, and thinking of her even to dredge up some tips on boys only made my heart pinch.
I grabbed Miriam in between classes. "I think I need ice cream after school," I said.
"Can I bring Bret?"
"Nope, I need some wallowing girl time."
Miriam frowned and patted my hair. "Why are we wallowing? You were so happy this morning!" I gave her a Look. "Ah. Colleeen," she concluded correctly.
"Ice cream it is. I'll meet you by the buses."
"Thanks." She gave me a quick hug before bounding off to her next class.
** ** **
I think I would like to find the guy who decided to make every textbook weigh forty thousand pounds, and force him to carry around an overstuffed backpack for a week. As I loaded up my books to take home for homework, all I could think about was the future scoliosis it would ultimately cause. Years of carrying around way too much knowledge on Math, History and the Sciences would permanently cripple me. Knowledge may be power, but it's also really, really heavy.
"You can't really have that much homework, Tattoo Girl," his voice broke through my musings. Why was he talking to me? Why today? Why couldn't I just make it to my ice cream and enjoy a good wallow with Miriam?