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(A description of what I'm doing is here.)
6726 / 26361 words. 26% done!
Miriam didn't say much to me or Colleen the rest of the weekend. Or even Monday morning at school. In fact, it wasn't until lunchtime, when we all sat in our regular spots at the lunch table, that she bothered to open up and tell us what she had on her mind.
"You guys skipped out on our show this weekend," she said, staring down at the cafeteria spaghetti she swirled around her fork, and pointedly not across the table at us.
"Miri, we didn't 'skip out'. We totally came and supported," Colleen said in an effort to intercept any approaching angst.
"You supported the opening act. You didn't even see Interrobang Widdershins' set." She shoved her full fork into her mouth and chewed bitterly. I could never tell, when she got like this, if she wanted us to say anything or just sit and stew in our regret. Bret sat beside her, remaining silent, yet his refusal to meet either my or Colleen's eyes indicated that he wasn't too happy with us, either.
"Did you know I wrote a song about us?" Miriam asked, once she'd swallowed her spaghetti.
My heart twanged with that damned guilt again. I actually did know Miriam was working on a song about her friendship with me and Colleen. It was called "Backyard Fairytales" or something sweet and meaningful like that.
"Oh yeah," I whispered, suddenly not feeling hungry for the salad and nutter bars in front of me.
"You can play us that song any time," Colleen said, clearly not being my driving buddy on this guilt road trip.
Miriam sighed, not saying anything, but turning back to her spaghetti as if it was the only one that understood her. Bret patted her arm.
"I'm sorry, Miri," I said, because I wanted the obnoxiously stressful feeling hanging in the air to go away.
Unfortunately, Miriam didn't actually want to be apologized to, she just wanted us to feel crappy and uncomfortable in retaliation for us ditching her. And now I felt like eleven sorts of crap, having skipped out on Miriam's show and not even gotten to see Wake. What a horrible way to start the week.
Lunch ended with no fanfare, and we dumped our leftover food into the trashbins. In my case, this consisted of most of my food, because I find it hard to eat when someone across the table is making a concerted effort to make me feel terrible.
As we left the cafeteria, Colleen passed by me, whispering, "Don't worry about her, she'll get over it." She turned around so that she was walking backwards, and aimed both her pointer fingers at me. "We're hanging after school, right?"
"Cool," she grinned, and marched off to her next class.
I wandered through the halls, not really paying attention to what was going on around me, but instead trying to come up with a way to make things up to Miriam so she'd talk to me again. I knew Colleen had infinite faith in Miriam's ability to "get over it", but I couldn't shake the feeling that she was totally justified in her pissiness and that I owed her some sort of pennance. This is the haze I was in when I bumped into someone, and was too surprised by the jolt to even say sorry.
Of course it was Wake. Of course.
"Hey, sorry about that," he said, which is what I should have said as well, but I couldn't even make my vocal chords function. "Madeline, right? Colleen's friend?" He asked, pointing at me and giving me his classic knee-wobble inducing half smile.
"Um. Madeline. Right. Me." These are the words I felt were appropriate to speak to the beauty of Wake Ellington. Head. Desk.
"Cool. Later." He waved and continued off on his very suave, not at all dorky way.
WHY AM I SUCH A FREAKING SPAZ??
If that had happened to Colleen, she would have come up with something sharp and biting to say, that would have intrigued him into maybe walking her to her next class. If Miriam had been in my position, she would have remained mysterious and aloof, acting as if she couldn't be bothered with such trivial things as insanely attractive guys.
Instead, it happened to me. Who managed to utter the most useless four words ever, and I guarantee I didn't compell or intrigue him at all.
At least he knew my name.
** ** **
"Colleen, why am I such a freaking spaz?" I moaned.
"Because you were born in the year of the spaz, under a spazzy sun, with spazzio rising."
"You aren't helping." I mushed my bare feet into the shag, rust orange carpet of Colleen's room.
Colleen laughed at me, popping a stick of gum in her mouth. "Mads, it's not that big a deal. He knew your name, right? That's something! Progress. We'll get you that date by the end of the month."
"You've been saying that since last year. Within a year, I've managed to woo a guy I've had a crush on since, I don't know, Jr. High, into knowing that I'm that girl who hangs out with you."
Colleen held up a finger. "Not just 'that girl'! You are Madeline who hangs out with me."
I flung my arms up in the air. "AAAAAAAAAAAAUUUUUUUUUUGH."
"Chill out, sweetie," she said, offering the pack of gum to me.
"This isn't alcoholic, is it?" I asked.
She rolled her eyes. I took a piece.
"Colleen, how do you do it?" I lamented. "How do you manage to stay so cool and confident and...awesome and stuff?"
"You've asked me that before and I can't help you, Spazzy McSpazPants. I've tried. You've just gotta know you have it and own it."
"Yeah, but how do you find this elusive 'it'?" I asked.
Colleen sat down next to me. "Mads, you don't find it. You're born with it. The part you've got to work on is owning it." She rested her head on my shoulder. I sat there miserably in the comfort of my friend, hoping her physical contact might transfer some of that magical "it" stuff over to me. Maybe I'd at least have a cool shoulder.
"Hey, you wanna try on my shoes?" She asked. "Would that make you feel better?"
I made a faux sniffling noise, and let out my most meek and pathetic "yes".
Colleen has the most amazing collection of shoes, as well as the same size feet as me. This made going through her mountainous piles of footwear one of my favorite thing ever. Sometimes, we'd put on fashion shows, walking the "runway" of her shag carpet and modelling our sexy feet to the mirror. She always looked like a natural, or as natural as one can look, modelling footwear in the privacy of your own room. I had more of a tendancy to trip over the spiky heels, which of course were the shoes that fascinated me the most. I always had to try them on, even though I knew they were disasters waiting to happen.
"Do you think Miri will forgive us before the week is out?" I asked, taking off a pair of bright yellow clogs in favor of some deep maroon pumps with red rhinestone buckles.
"She better, or she's not getting her birthday present." Colleen dug through her desk drawer looking for her camera so she could snap pictures of our feet. This was her thing. She liked having pictures of feet in shoes. Preferably other people's feet, even more preferable, in other people's shoes. She had lined the inside of her closet and dresser drawers with the pictures. I chalked it up to her shoe obsession.
"Shit, I almost forgot about her birthday," I groaned. "That would suck so hard, for me to fail to get her a birthday present after totally abandoning her show."
Colleen stuck the camera down by my feet. "Shush. Cross your legs and kick that foot out a little."
I did as she instructed. "What did you get her?" I asked, hoping to glean some gift inspiration.
"Nothing yet. I was just bluffing."
The camera clicked. "Okay, now set your feet down straight. Awesome." More clicking.
Somewhere in the middle of the deep thought about gifts and appropriate shoe model poses and distress over whether Wake would ever fall for a spaz like me, I had an idea.
Not just an idea. An Idea. You know. One of those ideas that smacks you right in the chest, and you feel like if you just embrace it and go with it, it will change your life? Yeah, it was one of those ideas.
This idea would change my life. If I embraced it and went with it, it had the potential to transform me, to let out my "it" and own it. I got so excited about this idea that I nearly kicked Colleen in the face.
"Hey!" She cried, pulling her camera behind her back. "Watch the hardware!"
"Colleen, I know what I need to do!" I said, practically bouncing up and down with glee.
"What do you mean?"
"To own my 'it'! To be cool and confident!"
"Okay, I'll bite." Colleen cautiously set the camera back on the desk. "What do you need to do."
I paused, hoping that the silence between now and the revelation of my idea would be enough to convince Colleen that I knew what I was doing. Or thinking of doing.
I held up my hands, as if presenting the idea to her on a platter. "I need to get a tattoo."
I waited, letting it sink in. But Colleen didn't feel the need to let any sinking happen. She started laughing right away. "A tattoo? Sweetie, you do know you're only seventeen, right?"
I rolled my eyes at her. "Don't say 'only' as if eighteen is that far off, you bitch. I'm not a little kid. And besides, you know that chick that will do tattoos without parental permission, don't you?"
Colleen put her hand over her mouth in an effort to cease her giggling. It didn't work. "Sure," she managed through said giggles, "but she won't do underage tats for less than six hundred pounds."
"Dollars, Colleen. We're not in England."
"Okay, okay, okay, okay." Colleen took a deep breath, crossed her legs and placed her hands on her knees in a medatative pose. She closed her eyes. "Why, Madeline Webster, do you feel like a tattoo will solve all your problems?"
"Because it's symbolic! It's one of those things for which you have to have a certain amount of...I don't know, hardcoreness or whatever. If I can get a tattoo, it's the first step to being able to talk to Wake, and maybe even not feeling shitty about missing Miriam's shows every once in a while."
Colleen snorted again and opened her eyes. "Mads, I love you, you know I do."
I crossed my arms in front of my chest. "Sometimes I wonder."
"No! Seriously, seriously, I totally love you." She crawled across the floor and wrapped her arms around me, her body jostling from the laughter. "But a tattoo is not going to instantly make you cool, okay?"
I shoved her off of me. "Just get me your friend's number and I'll do this on my own, since I clearly don't have your support."
"Oh, I'll get you her number, but you're crazy if you think you get to do this without letting me watch."
** ** **
The rest of the week, I felt like I carried a special secret. I passed through the halls, seeing the same faces, but with a special joy in the pit of my stomach. A joy that looked at each face and said, "When I have my tattoo, you'll see a new side of me. You'll see me coming and you'll hold out your hand for a high five. You'll wonder why you never gave me the time of day before, because you'll realize just how epically cool I am." I didn't even feel as bad when Miriam kept up her silent treatment until Thursday.
She sidled up next to me in the hall, falling right into step with me.
"So I've forgiven you," she said through her black lined lips.
"That's good," I said.
"It would just mean a lot to me if you tried not to let it happen again, okay?" She wasn't even looking at me. She just walked down the hallway, confident that I would keep up with her, or that I wasn't going to randomly ditch her mid-conversation.
"Sure, of course!"
And then she walked off, and things were back to normal between the three of us.