I started my job on Monday, and it's tricky getting back in the swing of employment after being unemployed for six months. So I'm going to continue hammering away at this story until it's done, but probably in 1K - 2K increments from here on out.
Oh, and I got $25 more yesterday, so those 2500 words shall be added to the final count!
31906 / 43827 words. 73% done!
And so we were cool. But I really didn't feel cool. I felt this strange tugging sensation, like something intangible would knock me over without any notice. The renewed friendship felt tenuous and, frankly, made me kind of nervous.
I tried to shake this feeling by thinking about how nice it would be to just chill with Alec on Halloween, not having to worry if I had picked a cool enough costume or if I might do something spazzy to get myself in trouble. I felt my tattoo give a little pulse. Okay, so I probably imagined my tattoo giving a little pulse. It seemed to ask if settling for a night of handing out candy was something the New, Tattooed Madeline would do.
"Shut up," I whispered to it.
"Who are you talking to?" Mom asked. She was working on painting the living room a light blue color, while I ate reheated leftovers for dinner.
"Do you have an imaginary friend, sweetie? It's okay. You can tell me. I promise I won't make fun of you." She crossed her painting smock with an "x" of light blue.
"I don't have an imaginary friend, mom. In fact, I didn't even have one as a kid."
Mom shrugged. "It's never to late to pick up on childhood oddities, I always say."
"You never say that."
"I just did!"
"That doesn't count as 'always'."
"Well, if I say it every day for the next two years, will it count?"
"I don't know, but I'd prefer if you didn't."
"Well, look at Miss Grumpy Butt and her bowl of day old macaroni. Want to pick up a brush when you're done?" She waved a fresh brush in my face.
"Not really," I said truthfully.
"What if I don't give you a choice?"
There's no use arguing with moms when they're hell bent on getting the living room painted. "Okay," I said. "You win."
** ** **
You know how when you're going along, living your life, and not much is different or changing, you get this sort of complacent bubble that grows around you? I always imagine my bubble is pink, and made of cotton candy colored glass. It smells like cotton candy, too. I guess you could call it my rose colored glasses, except my lenses are a little paler.
Well anyway, all the crap going on with Colleen and Wake and even Alec had left more than a few dents on my precious bubble. I really didn't enjoy the view through all of the abrasions. It skewed things, made the path ahead of me blurry and distorted. I was grateful to Miriam for helping me keep at least some semblance of normalcy. So it really blew my mind when she threw the latest monkey wrench at me, making the bubble moan under the pressure.
"So you know that party Wake's friend is throwing or whatever?" She asked this as she set her lunch table down, skimming right over the polite "how's your day going" and "I have a test next period that's going to kick my butt" small talk that we usually use as a lead in before busting into the good stuff.
"Well, I'm doing pretty good, how's your day going?" I asked.
"Sorry. How's your day going?"
"It's very well, thanks for asking." I took a swig of Coke.
"Okay, well anyway, that party. You know. The one you're not going to?"
I sighed. "Damn. I'd hoped my swift change in topic might have caused you to forget whatever you were going to say about the party."
"I'm sorry. I'm hoping that if I get this out of the way right now, it will be like the whole ripping off a bandaid thing."
"So this is...bad news?" I felt a quivering on the outside of the bubble.
"Not exactly bad news, for me, anyway. Hear me out. Okay. Here goes." She held up her hands, preparing, I suppose, to mime out whatever information she had for me in addition to just speaking it. "So you know my band, Interrobang Widdershins?"
This didn't really strike me as "news", per say, but I nodded to humor her. "I have heard of it, yes."
"Okay. We've been asked to play at Wake's party."
I stared at her, waiting for more, but she didn't say anything. Finally, it dawned on me that she wanted me to go to watch them play.
"Wait, are you serious? You want me to skip out on Alec and go to Wake's party to watch your band?"
She shook her head and waved her hands around. "No, no, don't skip out on Alec! Not entirely. I'm thinking you could come for part of it, you know? Just be a cheering section, since this crowd will probably be different from the La Musica Noche folks."
"How long?" I asked.
"Thirty minutes. Tops. And I'm pretty sure the party isn't even that far from Alec's house. You could bring him along. It could be a date!"
I groaned. "You know I wouldn't even consider doing this if I didn't love you so much."
She began bouncing up and down on her seat, clapping happily. "So you'll come? Really?"
"Yes, really, but only for thirty minutes."
"Yay! Thank you thank you thank you!"
"You owe me, though."
"Of course. Ice cream's on me next time."
I held out my hand for her to shake. "It's a deal."
** ** **
After lunch, I found a note in my locker from Colleen. It was not folded in any unique way this time, just a simple square, and it held the words, "Shopping today?" and nothing else.
So that's how I ended up at the mall with Colleen, looking at lots of things I had no money to buy and wondering why anyone might find this entertaining.
"I really need a new dress," Colleen explained. "Dan is taking me out the night before Halloween."
Frankly, I had no desire whatsoever to hear anything about Dan. I had not forgiven him for being such a jerk that night in the car, and I really had no intention to.
"What do you think of him, by the way?" She asked as she guided us into a store full of dresses for people who only ever wanted half of their body covered at a time.
"Who?" I said, feigning ignorance.
"Dan. What do you think of him?"
"Why? You're not planning on dating him again, are you?"
She rolled her eyes, holding up a purple slip of fabric to her body. "No, of course not. I mean. Not likely. I'm just asking because it's good to know what your friends think of your other friends."
Yeah, I bought that, all right. "I think Dan's an asshole."
Colleen nodded. "I talked to him about being nicer to you." She put the purple dress back on the rack and headed toward a row of sale items.
I followed behind, feeling insanely out of place in this store. "That's cool. Have you talked to him about being nicer to you?"
"How do you mean?"
"I mean, he's a dick to you, Colleen. He doesn't talk to me any differently than he talks to you."
She shrugged, keeping her gaze fixed on a glittery blue number. "That's just how we talk to each other."
"It's kind of how you started talking to me and Miriam, too." I felt my face heat up as soon as I said it, bracing myself for a response attack.
"What the hell does Miriam have to do with this?"
I shrugged. "Never mind. That dress would look good on you." I pointed to the one she was currently holding.
She stared at me a little longer, as if I might make some other rude yet true outburst, then turned her attention back to the dress. "You think?" She asked, modeling it on the hanger, continuing the conversation without making further mention of my calling out her rudeness.
"I think. It would match those strappy shoes with the silver buckles."
She grinned her Colleen grin. "It does, doesn't it? Hey, I got some new shoes you need to try on when we get home, okay?"
I tried to throw myself into the excitement of shoe wearing, even though my heart wasn't really in it this time. "Okay, sounds great," and I smiled.
If Colleen suspected my insincerity, she didn't show it.
** ** **