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The Ordinary Us
Chapter one: Introducing My Life
I instinctively flinched as Marissa Rixis slammed her locker door, causing the picture she had pinned up of yours truly to fall to the ground. She must not have noticed, because she then proceeded to step on it.
"I can't believe she did that!" Marissa growled out. "What a bitch. Quinn, please tell me that you're going to do something about this."
I just stood there, giving her my best, who me? look. Not that it would do any good. If Marissa wanted me involved in her problems, chances are, I would end up involved in them.
Marissa Rixis. The girl who had coodies in kindergarten. The girl who tagged my nuts with a baseball bat in fifth grade. The girl who gave me my first kiss during a game of spin the bottle in seventh grade. The girl who was supposed to be the love of my life in eleventh grade.
And I did love her. Really. I'd known her for so long that it was only natural that we ended up best friends, and then a couple. I'd known what it was like to have a steady girlfriend since eighth grade. And it had always been Marissa. Sure, we broke up a few times, but we'd always end up back together. And everyone knew it. In our school, if someone asked you to name the best couple off the top of your head, the obvious answer would be Marissa and Quinn.
And I liked being a couple. The fact that Marissa was gorgeous didn't exactly hurt, either. I'd learned early on that other guys wanted to be my friends just because I was with her. She just had one of those angelic faces mixed with a great body and long blonde curls that was hard not to notice. And she was a sweet girl, she really was.
The problem was, Marissa had gotten caught up in that whole popularity thing once we reached high school. The girl who could toss a football better than I could, had become, a girl. And not just any girl. The girl. The one the guys wanted and the girls were nice to, but secretly hated. The rumor mill always had something to say about Marissa.
But, being her boyfriend didn't exactly mean that I was always included in these rumors, except for the occasional Quinn got Marissa pregnant rumor. Which had never been true because technically, Marissa was still a virgin and so was I. For teenagers who were supposedly in love, we certainly had control of our hormones. When we heard a rumor we usually ignored it.
Actually, I preferred to ignore it. Marissa didn't. This one had her worked up so bad that even I didn't want to be around her. And it was all because of Trina Ashpock. Trina wasn't one of the popular girls. She was the local Goth, always wearing dark clothes, outlining her eyes and painting her lips black to contrast against her pale skin and dark hair. Sometimes she looked like a walking corpse. But, how she looked wasn't the issue.
The problem was, Trina had been given a nickname early on in high school. It was the kind of word that caused people to shun her except for her small group of loner friends. Trina, was a dyke. At least, that's what the rumor was.
But, that's not the reason why Marissa hated her. At least, I don't think it was. Their rivalry went all the way back to second grade when Marissa accidentally ruined an art project that Trina was working on, and Trina retaliated by giving Marissa a black eye. This was quite a shock to Marissa, who back then, thought everything was sugar and spice.
So, rumors or not, Trina wasn't a nice person. Everyone knew that. That's probably why no one messed with her. But, apparently, now my girlfriend wanted me mess with Trina Ashpock, all because of a stupid rumor.
Apparently, at least from what I could understand, Marissa had heard from a friend that a friend of a friend's older brother's cousin's best friend, heard that Trina was bragging about hooking up with Marissa. So I guess you could say that the newest rumor was that my girlfriend was a lesbian. Marissa was convinced that Trina had started this rumor, and now she was giving me the kind of look that demanded I fix this for her. Like I knew how.
"What am I supposed to do?" I demanded.
"Tell her to take it back, Quinn!" Marissa insisted. "Do you really want everyone thinking that your girlfriends a...a...lesbian?" she whispered that last word, like it was dirty to say or something. I found myself frowning at the whole situation.
I wasn't very comfortable with this whole gay thing. It was disgusting. Right? I mean, two girls together. Or two guys? I mean, there should be nothing appealing about two naked, sweaty, young...guys kissing each other...maybe a little touching...maybe a lot of touching...
"Quinn! Are you listening to me?" Marissa demanded.
I inconspicuously reached down and adjusted my package, definitely troubled by this conversation.
"What's the big deal Marissa?" I asked, feeling exasperated. "It's just a rumor."
"People are looking at me funny." She pouted.
"People aren't looking at you." I assured her.
"Well what do you want me to do about it?" I demanded, "People know we're together Marissa, no one's going to think you're...you know."
"The won't care about that!" she insisted, "You have to tell Trina to take it back. No one's going to know it's not true unless she tells them."
"Do you have any idea how ridiculous you sound?"
Uh-oh. She was giving me that look. The Quinn you're being an insensitive prick, look.
"Hey," I continued, throwing my arm around her shoulder and giving her my best, you can't stay mad at me because I'm too cute, look, "You know it'll blow over. Everyone knows that you and Trina can't stand each other. Besides, you don't even know that she started it."
"Yes she did." Marissa insisted. "You know it was her. She hates me, Quinn. You know she just wants to hurt me. Please, please go talk to her. I'll feel better if you do."
Me? Talk to Trina? Trina hated me just because I was associated with Marissa. And, not that I would admit it, but Trina scared me. I wasn't exactly a weakling either. But seriously, if you knew Trina, you'd know she was once scary chick. When we were younger she could actually make boys cry. I made a point to stay away from her for that very reason.
"You know I can't talk to her." I insisted, "Please, just leave it alone, Mar. It'll blow over."
"Quinn, I can't believe you don't care about this! God, I'm not asking for much, I just want you to talk to her and ask her to take it back. I can't do it." She was pouting again. I hated when she did that. It meant that unless I didn't give in soon we would be having this conversation until we were eighty.
"If it'll really make you feel better I'll talk to her after school." I relented, "But after that you have to swear to drop this, Marissa."
"You will?" she asked, as if she ever had a doubt.
"If you'll drop it." I stated.
"M'kay." She grinned, lifting herself onto her toes to kiss me.
I puckered up, waiting for the two-second peck to end. Most of the time, that's as far as our kisses went. I wondered if Marissa saw as much of a problem with that as I did. It wasn't that I wanted to shove my tongue down her throat or anything. But, we were supposed to be a normal teenage couple, totally in love. Normal couples can't keep their hands off each other. And Marissa and I were attracted to each other, so there shouldn't have been much of a problem, right? I mean, I thought she was pretty.
Maybe I was thinking too much about this. I had a great girlfriend. And she was only part of my great life. I had the perfect, ordinary, life. And I was completely content to keep telling myself that.
Talking to Trina after school wasn't as complicated as I'd made it out to be. I knew where she hung out. She was one of the kids who waited for the city bus by the train tracks. Not that actually talking to her would be any easier, just because I knew where to find her.
I usually met Marissa every day in the student parking lot and then drove her home, along with my little sister. Marissa had ballet today, so she wouldn't be waiting. My sister would though. But, she could wait. I wouldn't be long anyways.
I walked from the school, across the street, waving to a few friends shouting at me from their cars. They probably wondered what the hell I was doing, but that was okay because tomorrow it would just be one of those small favors that I did for Marissa. I'd be the good boyfriend.
But, the idea of talking to Trina didn't exactly get any easier as I approached the tracks. First of all, I didn't see her. Second of all, the people who hung out there didn't like me. They'd never liked me, at least not after high school started.
It wasn't that I was ever mean to them. They just didn't like the people who I tended to hang out with, so they didn't like me. If I really thought about it, it was kind of sad. Honestly, I recognized people who had been my friends in grade school. They were all self-made social outcasts trying to make a statement now. I guess that was the `cool' thing as far as they were concerned.
I stuck out like a sore thumb around them. They were all big, dark clothes, cigarettes and some things that they would have liked to pass off as cigarettes. I was faded jeans and the white sweater that my sister had given me for Christmas. I was sort of hard to miss on my own, too. I wasn't exactly one of the smaller kids. I'd been six feet tall at sixteen and since I'd turned seventeen I'd grown another two inches. I couldn't exactly duck and fade into the background.
As I looked around at the groups waiting for the city bus I could feel them looking back at me, curiously. They probably wondered what the hell I'd crossed the street for. It wasn't like I needed to catch the bus. I just hoped that I could find Trina quickly and get this whole talk thing over with. I also hoped that it wouldn't cause any trouble.
It didn't take long for me to recognize one of the people she hung out with. I didn't know his name. Unlike Trina, who didn't seem to have a problem with speaking up and making herself known, he was one of the quieter students. I was pretty sure that he was in a few of my classes, not that he ever showed up.
It the moment he was sitting on a part of the old tracks that had grown over with weeds, inspecting something in his hand. He was one of those tall, wiry kids. He was probably the same height as me; only he looked like he'd never filled out. He seemed to swim in his clothes and his hair was dark red, unnaturally dark red, and spiked up in long stakes over various places.
I guess since he always seemed quiet in school, I assumed that he was the skittish type. I wasn't really expecting his round, brown eyes to make such an abrupt contact with my own, or for the smirk that curled his lips. He gently put down the thing he had been studying in his hand. Turned out it was a spider, the harmless house kind.
"Quinn Moore." He said, sounding a little amused.
"I'm sorry, I don't know you..."
"No, I suppose you wouldn't." he sighed, making a show of covering his mouth as he yawned, "So is there something I can help you with? Or did you stop in front of me just because you liked the view?"
My eyes momentarily widened, as I wondered exactly what he meant by that. the way he said it seemed...odd. But, I recovered quickly, reminding myself why I was there.
"I was looking for Trina." I explained, "you're friends with her, right?"
"Maybe." He shrugged, "What are you interested in?"
"Trina, what do you want with her?" he asked, acting like he obviously thought that I was the stupidest person in the world.
"Oh, I just had something to ask her." I replied, "If she's not here I can always catch up with her later."
"Well, she's here." He smiled, "But not here."
Maybe I was being dense, but this guy just seemed weird. I'm sure I looked like I thought so.
"Okay. Um, I'll just catch her later."
I didn't want to talk to Trina anyways. And, I really didn't plan on talking to her later. I had tried, and hopefully that would satisfy Marissa enough to let this whole thing drop.
I turned away, deciding that I'd better go meet my sister before she threw a conniption. Besides, this guy was making me nervous anyways. I wasn't sure why exactly. There was just something about him that I couldn't quite put my finger on. It was unsettling. Maybe it was the way he talked to me, almost like he knew a secret that he wasn't willing to share. Either way, I'd be perfectly happy to go back to thinking of him as the quiet kid in the halls.
"She's with Jude." He suddenly called after me, prompting me to look back.
"Jude." He pointed.
I looked in the direction that he was gesturing in, and sure enough, there was Trina, standing off a side road near the tracks, talking to a guy I had never seen before. He was leaning against a dusty, seventies model, greenish El Camino.
I don't think he went to our school. If he did, I would have noticed him before. I'm not sure what it was about him, but he seemed to have this presence, even in the gray jumpsuit with grease smudges on it, a dead giveaway that he was a mechanic. But he didn't look like any mechanic that I'd ever seen.
He seemed young, young enough to still be in high school. He had straight blonde hair that hung down over his blue eyes. He was smiling while he talked to Trina, a sly smile where only one side of his bow shaped mouth turned up. There seemed to be something confident about him, like he knew who he was and he didn't care what anyone else thought. I wouldn't say that it was arrogance, but definitely confidence.
I was definitely attracted to him. No, wait. Not attracted. I'm not attracted to other guys. That's just too weird. But he did have a certain appeal. I wasn't checking him out. Not like that. I don't check out other guys, either. I was just curious. Yeah. Curious. I just wanted to know who he was. Where he was from. Why he was at our school. Why he didn't go to our school. How old he was. What he liked to do on weekends. What he looked like shirtless and knelt over the hood of that old El Camino.
Well, not that last one. Not really. That would be gay, if I pictured something like that. And I wasn't gay. Nope. The gay thing made me uncomfortable, remember?
So honestly, I don't even know why I was going to try to talk to Trina. Because I'm pretty sure that those rumors were true. But then there was Marissa. That's why I was doing this. To make Marissa, the perfect girlfriend, my girlfriend, happy.
"So are you going to go over there?"
I looked back. The redhead was smirking at me. I felt the blush creep into my cheeks. Had I been caught staring? I frowned at him and then started walking towards Trina, wanting to finish what I came here to do. But, when Trina glanced back and saw me coming towards her, the smile she wore faded into something short of a grimace. The guy with her, the one with Jude printed on his jump suit, also looked my way as he lip up a cigarette, regarding me curiously.
"What do you want?" Trina frowned when she realized that I was indeed approaching her. I never talked to Trina, but it didn't surprise me that she was standoffish.
"Hi Trina." I replied, deciding to ignore the threatening look that she was giving me, "I was wondering if I could talk to you for a second."
She gave me a long, measuring look and then turned her back on me completely. A definite dismissal. Yup. Bitch.
"So will you be there tonight?" she asked Jude, who was still looking at me with a small smile. It felt like he was waiting for me to do something, but I was just standing there.
"Yeah, I'll be there." he replied, "Right after work." And then he paused and smiled at me again. That smile turned my stomach into a ball of knots. I couldn't figure out why, either. I was definitely regretting my decision to do this for Marissa. The girl was going to owe me after this. "Are you going to be there?"
I looked back, wondering if he was talking to someone behind me. I was still surprised when I realized that this guy was talking to me.
"No, he won't." Trina frowned back at me, "Why are you still standing there?"
"Oh, come on, Trina. Be nice." Jude smiled.
"Look," I frowned, for some reason feeling like I was being teased. I turned my attention to Trina, who was glaring at me now, "I told Marissa that I'd talk to you. She was pretty upset about this rumor that sort of involved the two of you..."
"And she thinks I started it?" Trina scoffed. "Please. You can tell your girl that she's not my type. And everyone knows that those bitches she calls her best friends start all of the rumors about her. And why are you coming to me for her anyways? Seems to me you're a little insecure about something."
"Whatever." I frowned. "Look, I talked to you, now I'm gonna go."
"Hey, hold on a minute." Jude called, pushing off his car and taking a few steps closer to me. "You never answered my question."
"What do you mean?" I frowned.
"Are you coming tonight?" he asked.
"Christ Jude, let him go." Trina rolled her eyes.
"What are you talking about?" I asked.
"Party at Trina's." Jude replied, "It'll be fun. And you...well, you look like you could use some fun."
"Um, yeah, whatever." I shrugged before turning to walk away.
"Think about it." He called after me, "when you're on the phone tonight listening to that girl of yours talk about what she wants to wear tomorrow you'll be wishing you were there."
Whatever. I didn't look back. Besides, I'd never go to a party at Trina's house. And I wouldn't be on the phone with Marissa anyways. It was Friday. That meant we were going out. I would have forgotten all about this conversation by then.
I was still trying to forget about my encounter with Trina and Jude when I reached the student parking lot, only to find my sister standing next to my car, talking to Chad Barlow.
I never liked Chad. I liked him less now that he was flirting with my baby sister. I had that whole `big brother' complex. But, Brianna (or Bree as I called her) brought that out in me. She was the sweet, innocent type. Okay, not so innocent, but it didn't matter. You couldn't convince me otherwise. She could be fifty with eight grandchildren and I'd still be convinced that she was my sweet, virginal sister.
Sixteen. Sweet sixteen. A year younger than me. That's how old she was. Lately the boys had been noticing her. I didn't like it, but I suppose that it couldn't be helped. She took after my mother with straight black hair and big green eyes. I had the same hair and eyes, but I was stuck with curls. Curly black hair. I hated it, but no one else complained. Brianna had always been cute, but lately beautiful would be a better classification.
I watched as Brianna gave Chad what looked like her phone number. He saw me coming and made a hasty retreat. I guess I didn't just have the big brother complex, I also had the big brother reputation. Brianna saw me, and she gave me her sweetest little smile as I approached.
"Chad Barlow?" I asked skeptically.
"Mm-hmm." She smiled, hooking her arm with mine as we turned towards the car, "What's wrong, you don't like him?"
"He's older than you." I replied as I unlocked the passenger door and opened it for her.
"Only one year."
"He has a girlfriend."
"They broke up last week." She said smugly.
"Well, that's not near enough time." I smirked, "You wouldn't want to be a rebound."
"Says who?" she laughed, "Besides, I don't want to marry him. I just want to mother his children."
I was scandalized, and it must have shown because Bree cracked up laughing.
"You're evil." I glared at her.
"You love me." she grinned, and she was right.
"So can we go home?" I asked, as I walked around to my side of the car and got in, "Or are you dragging me on another one of your torturous shopping trips?"
"No shopping." She smiled, "Mom's getting home early today, remember? Family night."
"Right," I sighed, "So you'll make cookies?"
"Ha!" she rolled her eyes, "well, maybe. If you help clean up?"
Family night was something that we tried to do once a week. It wasn't always on Friday, because my mom had a crazy schedule at the emergency room where she worked. But, once a week she would come home and we would all make a point to have dinner together. Usually Bree would do the cooking, I wasn't very good at it, and my mom was too busy. But, I don't think Bree minded. She was a great cook, not to mention she made the best cookies, and I would help her when she asked. We'd have everything ready by the time that mom came home and the three of us would sit down for dinner.
And that was our family, just the three of us. It had always been the three of us, at least as long as I could remember. It wasn't that our dad was a deadbeat or anything like that. The thing is, he had passed away just before Bree was born. My dad was a police officer. They said that he was just giving someone a speeding ticket, doing his job when the guy pulled a gun.
I don't think I'd ever really grieved the loss of my father. But I never really knew him. I only knew about him. Mom never let us forget him, she even had his pictures everywhere and at Christmas she would place present under the tree for Bree and myself from him.
I felt sad for mom. I knew that she missed my dad, but despite that, I think we were all happy together. Bree and I were so close in age that we rarely ever fought, and when we did we made up the same day.
I even looked forward to our family dinners, even on a Friday night. Fridays were the nights that I usually took Marissa out, but if it was family night, we'd go later. Saturday was the day that I spent with my friends, and Saturday night it was Marissa again.
I guess I had a pretty normal life. A good life. I had a wonderful family. A sweet if not needy girlfriend, and I had friends too. Everything was just fine.
I was chewing on a piece of raw cookie dough, after snatching it off the tray and being slapped on the hand by Bree, when the doorbell rang. I looked at my sister, wondering if she was expecting someone, but she just smiled and shrugged, so I went to answer the front door.
I looked out the peephole and shook my head when the glass fogged up from someone's opened mouth on the other side, and I swung the door open and smiled at the guy standing outside. He was a few inches shorter than me, but people said that we could pass for brothers; only while my eyes were green his were dark brown. But, he had the same black, curly hair that I did, except his was short and if I didn't put product in mine I'd have curls hanging in my face.
He was my best friend. Brad Clair. I'd grown up with him, just like Marissa. There was a time when the three of us were practically inseparable. I never quite understood how I was the one who ended up dating Marissa. When we were growing up she had always been really close to Brad. I guess maybe he saw her more as a sister than anything else. He didn't even bat an eye when Marissa and I got together. And he didn't even complain when I spent less time with him because of Marissa.
"What are you doing here?" I smiled.
"I need eggs." He announced as he stepped into the house. "My mom wants omelets for dinner."
Brad lived right next door. It wasn't all that uncommon for him to show up to borrow stuff from the kitchen. His mom was five months pregnant with his third little brother and she sent him over to borrow things all the time.
"Come on." I smirked, leading the way to the kitchen.
"Are you going out with Marissa tonight?" Brad asked.
"Probably." I shrugged, "my mom will probably be home for dinner so if I do, it'll be later. What are your plans?"
"Gotta watch my brothers." He groaned, "My parents are doing some sort of romantic dinner thing on the porch tonight. No interruptions allowed."
"And they're eating omelets?" I laughed.
"Unless mom changes her mind again." He smirked.
Bree was readying a second tray of cookies to go into the oven as we entered the kitchen. She hardly gave us a second glance, completely unimpressed by Brad's presence. She was used to him coming over too. So used to him, that when he reached for a piece of cookie dough she slapped his hand too, of course, he succeeded anyways and just grinned at her.
"Hi Brad." She smiled, "What do you need?"
"Eggs." We both answered.
"You know where to find them, Quinn." Bree glared at me. Damn, sometimes she looked just like my mother. But, I just smiled and then went to the fridge to see if we had enough eggs to please Brad's mom.
"You should start billing her for groceries." Brad remarked as I handed him a carton that was two eggs short of being full.
"Be nice to your mother." Bree stated, "and tell her I can baby-sit on Sunday if she still needs it."
"Suck up." Brad muttered, right before sneaking a kiss onto Bree's cheek, which she promptly whipped away. He was probably the only guy who could get away with kissing my sister in front of me. That was probably because I knew that Brad was like a second brother to Bree, and she was just like a little sister to him. He probably considered her more of a pesk than I did. "Call me later." Brad smiled at me as he passed by. He already knew his way out.
"Later, Brad." I waved.
Bree looked back at me from where she was digging through the cabinets once he was gone. It was one of those looks demanding to know why I was still in her kitchen.
"Do you need help with dinner?" I asked her.
"Nope." She stated.
"Yell if you do." I replied.
I was glad to get out of the kitchen and she knew it. Cooking really wasn't my thing. I'd help if she asked but we both knew that she'd be better off on her own for the time being, and that I'd come down if she called for me. So, with that in mind I headed for my room.
I closed the door to my room and looked around. Everything was right where I left it. Not that there was any reason why I'd find anything out of place. We all respected each other's privacy. I guess sometimes I just couldn't help feeling paranoid.
My room was my sanctuary. Living with two women, I needed my own personal space, believe me. And I loved my room. It was the largest space in the house, the attic. There were plenty of bedrooms. Besides my mom's room and Brianna's room, we had two guest rooms. But I chose to reside in the attic.
It was larger than the master bedroom, and the stairs came up in the middle of the wooden floor, which was covered in an old green and white rug. The ceiling was vaulted in the center and lower on each side of the room, where I had circular windows that always seemed to let the just right amount of sun in.
I had my fish tank, and my bed. My desk and my bookshelves. I didn't have much scattered around. I didn't like clutter. You could open any drawer and I could tell you exactly what was in it and where. If a single pencil were out of place, I'd know it. And that's the way I liked things.
I sighed as I pulled off my sweater and folded it before dropping it into the laundry basket on my way to the closet for a t-shirt. Our house was always too warm for sweaters. And once I was dressed, I began my afternoon ritual.
I fed my fish first and checked the temperature of the tank. And then I went to my desk, opening the bottom, right drawer. My journal was exactly where I'd left it. Upside down with a black pen diagonally placed on top. I closed the drawer and turned, sitting down on my bed where I looked around my room once more before absently reaching for the magazine I kept wedged between the headboard and the wall.
Yes. It was one of those magazines.
I always flipped to the same page. The red head with breasts that were way too big was up on the dining room table as a guy with way too much muscle plowed into her. I'd focus on the woman. She had a nice body, the kind that the guys all talked about. So, it might be fun to be in the muscle man's position. I tried to imagine what it would be like to do something like that with Marissa. Just because we never had sex didn't mean that we didn't talk about it. It was already decided that we'd lose our virginity to each other.
For some reason the thought of sex with my girlfriend scared me. I liked to tell myself that that was because I was responsible and I respected her. And I did respect her. Although, maybe I wasn't exactly that responsible. I still had the normal teenage hormones. Except...maybe they weren't that normal.
It happened every single time. I'd be looking at the woman, thinking of what it would be like when Marissa if I finally crossed that line, and then my eyes would wander. I'd look at the guy in the picture and think about how great his broad back and firm ass looked. And to my horror, I'd get hard.
I never, ever touched myself when this happened. And it happened every time that I looked at the particular image. I shoved the magazine back where it belonged, cursing myself before I stood up and began to pace.
This couldn't keep happening to me. It couldn't. It just wasn't right to be attracted to other guys. They made this clear at school. Brad, my best friend, even thought it was gross. I thought it was gross too, of course.
So then why did it keep happening? It wasn't exactly the first time. I'd had episodes like this for as long as I could remember. Or, at least since I'd hit puberty. And, it wasn't terrible at first. At first, it was no big deal because I had liked girls. At least, I was pretty sure I liked girls. They could be pretty, and they smelled nice. I could even conjure one up when I jacked myself off. At least, I used to be able to.
As I got older I slowly discovered that I was seeing other guys more often than not in my fantasies. And it scared the hell out of me back then. It still scared me. I mean, I was not gay. I didn't understand where all of the gay fantasies were coming from. I still didn't.
I'm not gay. I'm not. I stopped pacing and looked towards the bottom drawer of my desk where I kept my journal. Practically my whole life was in there. I had started writing in it when I was eleven years old. I'm not gay.
That journal had all of my secrets in it. Everything. My whole life. Being attracted to guys was not a part of it. If you read the journal then you'd see that. Except...except for that one day. My dark day. That's what I called it. It was still hard for me to read what I had written on that day. I had been thirteen years old then. I was stupid. Yeah, stupid. There was no way I meant any of it. And yet, I went back to it all the time, and I couldn't bring myself to tear out that one page to throw it away.
It seemed like every day I went to retrieve that journal, angrily intending to tear out that page. That's what I did today. I grabbed the thick book out of my drawer and opened it to that page. The book had been opened there so many times that now it was automatic. It would just open there. And like every other day, although I intended to rid myself of that page, my dark day, I'd find myself reading instead.
I started all of my journal entries that way. The whole book was filled with letters to myself. Sometimes I'd read them and feel like an entirely different person, a stranger had written me a letter.
I don't know what's wrong with me. I stayed home sick from school. But I'm not sick. Not really. Mom just thinks that. She won't find out that I was faking either, not unless Bree tells her. But Bree won't do that. She doesn't know that I'm not really sick anyways.
Boy, had I been wrong there. Bree always knew when I was faking. Not that she ever told. We always covered for each other in that way. I wouldn't give away her false ailments and she wouldn't give away mine. Not that we ever made a habit out of pretending to be sick to get out of school. Mom was a nurse, so she could usually see right through it anyways.
I have a really big problem. That's why I didn't go to school today. I couldn't. I had that dream again last night, that's why. I've never written about that dream before. I don't want to remember it. If I write it in here I'll probably remember it. But, I have to write it. It keeps coming back. Maybe if I get it on paper it will go away. I can't keep having that dream. I can't. It's just not normal.
The strange thing was, that after I wrote this journal entry, the dream did go away. And stranger still, I ended up missing it, a small fact that I denied to myself all the time. But, while the dream went away, it was replaced by others. They weren't reoccurring, but they were still the same. Always the same. And since the time that I was thirteen, they had become more frequent, no matter how I tried to stop them. I'd gone as far as staying up all night. After all, if you're not sleeping, you can't dream.
Andrew's in the dream. It's always Andrew. He comes over to the house and asks mom if I can play, just the way that Brad used to do when we were little. And when he comes over, I ask him where Brad is but he never tells me. I don't know why I'm having this dream...no, this nightmare about Andrew. I mean, he's a jerk. Even Brad can't stand him and they're related.
Andrew. He seemed so far away now. I'd only known him for one summer, and that seemed like such a long time ago. He was a year older, and Brad's cousin. I couldn't stand hanging out with him and neither could Brad, because every time we turned around he was there to boss us around.
He was only a year older but he was bigger, and thought he was more mature. He made a habit out of treating us like little kids, and yet he was the one who acted like the pesky little brother who we couldn't get rid of. But, although Andrew was a pesk and putting up with him was a task in itself, he opened my eyes to a whole new world that summer.
I had had those feelings before. The bad feelings, the ones I denied even to myself. But that summer, it was difficult to cast them aside after that night I slept over at Brad's house and Andrew initiated a game of I'll show you mine if you show me yours. It was all in good fun. We were just boys, playing games and seeing who had the biggest dick. I guess you could say that Andrew cheated, because when he dropped his shorts, he was completely hard.
It was the first time I had ever seen another guy with a hard on. I had discovered masturbation way before that, of course. But that was the first time...he was so hard. It was like; I couldn't stop staring at it. I told myself that it wasn't even that impressive, so why was I so interested in this?
And then he asked us if we wanted to touch it. I, of course, said no. That would be too gay. And I wasn't gay. But, Brad touched it. Brad wrapped his hand right around Andrew's cock while I watched. I remember having such intense feelings, watching one boy touch another in such a way that seemed so intimate. There was probably nothing intimate about it, not to them. They were both laughing, just boys having fun. But I wasn't laughing. I was feeling, confused. The same question kept popping into my mind. How come Brad isn't even hard, and he's the one touching Andrew? How come I'm getting hard, and I'm just watching?
Andrew wanted to go to my room, so I followed him. And then he wanted to play that game, the one we all played last week. He pulled down his pants and showed me his dick. He was hard again. He wanted me to touch it, just like Brad did. But I couldn't touch it. That would be gay. I told him that I'm not gay. He said that it was just a game, and he asked if he could see mine, so I showed him.
I looked away from my journal for a minute. I didn't know why I tortured myself with this one page. I had hundreds of normal entries I could read to rediscover my past. I had happy days and sad days. I could read about any one of them. But my dark day, that was the only one that really haunted me. The one I constantly went back to.
He wanted to touch my dick, the way that Brad touched his. And I think I wanted him to. I did want him to. But that's gay, right? I mean, does it count as gay if it's just a dream?
I wake up when he touches my hard on. He wraps his hand around it, just the way that Brad did to him. And I wake up. Every single time. Is it wrong that I wish that I could finish the dream? When I wake up, I'm hard. Every time. So hard it hurts. I have to go to the bathroom and jack off. When I jack off I try to think of girls. Any girl I can think of. But I always think about Andrew and his hard on.
Two nights ago, the dream was worse. Not really worse. It was the same as always. But when I woke up, I wasn't hard anymore. I'd already come all over the place. I had to wash the sheets at four in the morning because I didn't want mom to see them.
Why am I having these dreams? And it's not just the dreams anymore either. It's not just Andrew. When I went swimming with Brad yesterday and we were wrestling around I kept touching his dick. On purpose. God, what's wrong with me? Brad didn't say anything, but if he'd noticed he'd hate me. Everyone would hate me. I know what people think of queers. They call Greg Rorin a queer because he's a nerd and he acts like a girl at school. I don't want to be like him.
I can't believe I did that with Brad! I acted just like a queer. I was a total pervert with my best friend. I've been acting like a pervert a lot lately and it scares me. I feel like I can't control it. I haven't even looked at the girls at school all week. Only guys. Every guy.
Brad says that Marissa likes me. Maybe I should go out with her. We did kiss last year at that party. It wasn't so bad. And she's pretty. Really pretty. She seems more like my sister, but maybe that will change if I go out with her. Maybe I'll stop thinking about guys.
When I sit in class, next to other guys I look at them. I know I shouldn't but I can't help it. I like it when they sit in front of me and hang their coats on the backs of their chairs. Their shirts stick to their backs sometimes. I like the way it looks. I like how their shoulders look wider than the girls' narrow ones. I like how they lean forward and I can see the tops of their boxers sticking up from under their jeans. Zach Churnson was wearing pac-man boxers the other day. They looked comfortable around his skinny waist. I thought about how I should ask Zach to go swimming so I could touch him the way that I touched Brad.
God, I am such a pervert. I can't like other guys! I can't. I can't be gay. If the dream and these feelings don't go away, I don't know what I'll do. What if someone finds out? I couldn't live if someone found out. They'd hate me. They'd all hate me.
I really hope it stops,
I ended the entry there. But that's not where I stopped reading. I turned the page. There was a second entry for the same day. The day that I wrote something unthinkable. My dark day. I've taken it back a million times. But I had yet to tear it out of the book that had half of my life written in it. And I knew why. Deep down, I knew. What was written on that page was the beginning of something that I hadn't even begun to deal with. And it was something that I would soon discover, is too big a part of me to tear out, throw away, and ignore.
I think I'm gay.
Bree makes the best spaghetti. She makes everything from scratch. Even the noodles. And she uses plenty of meat, but she doesn't make meatballs. I don't like meatballs. The sauce doesn't reach the middle. I like the meat cooked in the sauce. I always think it's better that way.
Mom taught Bree to cook. But, I don't think mom has actually cooked a meal in our house in years. She doesn't really have time, with her job. But, she doesn't neglect us, or anything. What little time she does have she spends learning every aspect of our lives. Well, not every aspect. But, enough to keep her from worrying about us. I don't think she worries too much anyways. Bree and I have always been pretty responsible, and we take care of each other when Mom isn't around.
"So you're staying in tonight, Bree?" Mom asked an obvious question. It was obvious because Bree had changed into her pink pajamas and came to the dinner table that way.
"Mm-hmm." Bree mumbled around a bite of her food. "I was going to go to a movie with Kara, but she got sick so I'm staying in tonight. We'll probably go out tomorrow if she's feeling better."
Kara was Bree's best friend. They met in fifth grade and had been inseparable ever since. For the first two years of their relationship I avoided the hell out of Kara because of the crush she had on me. It wasn't that she wasn't a nice girl. She was. But, I heard somewhere that dating your sister's friends only gets you into trouble. Fortunately Kara seemed to lose interest once I started dating Marissa, and we get along just fine now.
"Sick?" mom frowned, "I hope it's nothing serious."
"Just a cold." Bree shrugged. "I'll just see what's on TV tonight. Maybe there'll be something decent to watch."
"That's a good idea." Mom smiled, "Maybe I'll join you...Quinn, what about you? Are you going out with Marissa tonight?"
"Yeah." I replied, "I'm gonna call her later. We'll probably just go out for a few hours. I'm not sure where yet."
"Say hello to Marissa for me." mom replied, "We haven't seen much of her lately. You should invite her over the next time we have dinner."
"Don't do that." Bree groaned.
Mom and me both looked up at her, frankly, surprised.
"What?" Bree laughed.
"Why not?" mom asked her.
"Yeah, you like Marissa." I added. It was true. Bree had always gotten along with Marissa. Marissa was the one who taught her how to put on makeup and all that other girly stuff that Marissa says I'm supposed to appreciate her for. The two of them had even gone shopping together a few times.
"I do like her." Bree shrugged, "She's just gotten kinda whiny lately. All Marissa can talk about is...Marissa."
True or not, it was like a reflex to want to defend my girlfriend.
"That's not true." I insisted, "She's just stressed out."
"Yeah, it was a real bummer when she broke that nail." Bree remarked.
"She's not that bad." I laughed.
"Oh yeah?" Bree smirked, "Is that why Chad saw you heading over to the tracks when you should have been meeting me after school? Don't tell me that that wasn't because of Marissa."
"I was just doing her a favor." I frowned, "Someone started a rumor about her and she asked me to talk to the person, that's all." I was beginning to feel annoyed. I shouldn't have to defend my actions to Bree. And yet, I felt like I had to.
"Oh, come on you guys." Mom interrupted, "I'm sure Marissa isn't that bad, Bree. What was the rumor about, Quinn?"
That was mom for you. She didn't like it when she saw a potential argument between Bree and I, but she loved to hear gossip.
"It was nothing." I mumbled.
"I heard it." Bree smirked. "There's always a rumor about Marissa anyways. I don't see what the big deal is, but this time everyone thinks that she's a lesbian."
She said it so casually that I nearly choked on the noodles I was chewing.
"Bree!" mom frowned, "that's a terrible rumor. "Why would anyone think a nice girl like Marissa could be one of those people?"
Those people. See why I couldn't be one of those people? Even my mom thought it was wrong. But, I wasn't gay. So, the way that she said that shouldn't have bothered me anyways.
"I don't know mom." I shrugged.
"I don't see what the problem is." Bree stated, "It's just a stupid rumor."
"Not a very nice one." Mom frowned, "Poor girl. Make sure you tell her I said hello when you talk to her later."
"I will." I nodded, hoping that this discussion was coming to an end.
"So, do you think it's true?" Bree asked.
"Huh?" I hoped that she wasn't going where I thought she was going.
"You know..." Bree shrugged, "that Marissa's a lesbian. It's not like you guys are all over each other all the time, and you've been going out for how long now?"
I loved my sister. But I hated it when she was blunt.
"Bree!" Mom frowned.
No, I thought, Marissa's not a lesbian but your own brother is a...
I suddenly stood, lifting my plate from the table.
"I'm full." I frowned, "Um, I'm gonna go call Marissa."
"Oh come on!" Bree frowned, realizing that she had offended me. Of course, she didn't realize how. And it wasn't that I was offended by what she was saying, but I was uncomfortable with it.
"She's just teasing you, sweetheart." Mom insisted, "Sit down, Quinn."
"That's okay." I shrugged, "I should call Marissa anyways. It's getting late."
My mom and Bree exchanged on of their mother-daughter looks that clearly meant that they thought that I was being ridiculous. But honestly, the dinner table was the last place that I wanted to think about who was or wasn't gay. Especially if the who in question was me. Not that it was, mind you. I wasn't gay. I was going upstairs to call my girlfriend. Gay boys do not have girlfriends. And yes, I was completely happy telling myself that.
Was it really that obvious? I mean, with Marissa and me. We just weren't affectionate with each other. I'd hold her hand and there were those little kisses. But, it all seemed so innocent, like we were in second grade or something. And Bree had noticed. I thought that everyone thought that Marissa and I were just perfect for each other. But Bree had noticed. I couldn't stop thinking about it, stretched out on my bed, as I only half paid attention to what Marissa was saying on the phone.
"I can't go out like this, Quinn. Not when everyone thinks...God! I hate Trina. I know she started that rumor, I don't care what she says..."
Maybe Bree had only noticed because she was my sister. She was closer to me than just about everyone. And so what if I didn't have my hands all over Marissa every time I had the chance? We were completely comfortable with the way that our relationship was. We loved each other. We didn't have to fuck like bunnies to prove that.
"When are you going to be here?" Marissa was asking. I wasn't expected to answer. She was still rambling and I knew it. "An hour, right? That's not enough time. I can't find anything to wear. What if I wear something that makes me look...you know, like what Trina said I am... I need to go shopping. I think we should go this weekend. You should ask Bree if she wants to come too..."
Was she actually talking about what to wear? The guy from earlier, Jude, he had mentioned something about Marissa talking about clothes on the phone. I actually found myself smiling at his prediction as I wondered about him again. His name was Jude, that's all I knew.
I couldn't believe that he had invited me to Trina's party. Why'd he do that anyways? He was probably joking around, being one of Trina's friends. It would only make sense. He definitely couldn't have been serious. Not with that smile that was on his face. When I thought about that smile my stomach knotted up. I didn't much care for the feeling.
"What do you think, Quinn?" Marissa was still talking. "If we go down to the mall there will be plenty of them there. We just have to show them that we're still together, right? Then that rumor will go away..."
I wondered what would happen if I actually went to that party. I knew where Trina lived. Everyone knew. It was downtown in the creepy house. That's what people called it because it looked like a large sized shack, overgrown with half dead trees. Not that I would go. That would just be stupid. There would probably be a good number of people at that party who would want to kick my ass just for the fun of it.
But what would happen if I did show up? I'd love to see the look on Trina's face. I'd definitely love to see the look on Jude's face. He was the one who invited me, after all. Maybe he did it because he didn't think I had the guts to go down there.
Okay, maybe I didn't have the guts to go down there. Or did I? It might be fun just to go and prove him wrong. What was it that he said? That I never have any fun? Well, maybe he was right. Maybe I needed to do something spontaneous, and go down there and shock the hell out of all of them.
"I really think that's what's best." Marissa sighed, "We shouldn't go out tonight, Quinn, I can't. Not until people stop talking about me..."
I knew that this was the part where I was supposed to tell her not to care what other people think and that we were going to go out anyways. That's exactly what Marissa expected me to do. But, instead I sat up on my bed and smiled to myself as I answered her.
"You're right." I stated.
"I am?" she asked, in utter disbelief.
"Yep." I insisted, "I don't think we should go out tonight."
"Think about it, Mar. if we go out tonight it might look like we're trying to prove something, right? People might think that we're trying to hard."
"Well, I guess..."
"We'll give it a few days." I insisted, "but don't worry, by Monday everyone will have forgotten about you and Trina."
"I guess you're probably right." she sighed.
"Yeah. Listen, Mar. Since we're not going out tonight I think I'm gonna go to bed."
"But we could..."
"Yeah, I'm really tired." I yawned. I didn't make a habit out of lying to my girlfriend, so if I was going to do it, I wanted to do it fast. "I think I'm gonna take a long shower and then get some sleep. I'll call you tomorrow. Night Mar, love you."
I hung up the phone without waiting for any further response and then headed to my closet, where I dug out the only black pair of jeans that I owned and a dark red shirt. It was when I was actually dressed and thinking about how I was trying to blend in with these people, that I actually paused and cursed myself. What the hell was I doing? I couldn't just go crash a party at Trina Ashpock's house! Could I? It just wasn't like me.
No. I could do it. I was going to be spontaneous. It might get my ass kicked, but if Jude had been challenging me to go then I wanted to do it for reasons that I couldn't quite understand. Or maybe I was just telling myself that to cover up the real reason why I planned on going down there: because I wanted to see Jude again.
I wasn't sure what it was about him, but that smile, that face, the way he talked...he made me curious. I didn't know what it was that drew me to him, but I needed whatever feelings I had about this...situation... to go away. Maybe seeing him again would put some of those feelings to rest, especially if he really didn't want me at that party, if he had just been teasing me.
I think concentrating on the idea of surprising Trina and her friends got me down there. But, once I was actually in front of the creepy house, just before dark, I was having second thoughts. I'd parked in the dirt lot across the street with a few other cars, one being the green El Camino from earlier.
Jude was there.
I could see light coming from inside the house and could hear loud music from all the way across the street. There was a small group of more kids that I didn't know out front on the cigarette-butt covered lawn. When they actually looked at me, I thought about driving away. Really, really quickly.
But I didn't. Maybe I'd lost my mind, getting out of the car and walking up to the house like I belonged there. Maybe I had a death wish, ignoring the warning looks that the kids on the front lawn were giving me. The looks that said who the hell are you and what are you doing here? But, I was too busy being spontaneous to pay attention to any of that.
The wood on the door was chipped in some places and I thought about knocking with my foot to avoid splinters, but got over it and lifted my fist to knock. I never got the chance however; as the door swung open and I came face to face with no one other than Jude.
First he looked shocked. Good. I was going for that. But then he recovered quickly, looking more interested. And then as that sly smile played across his face I felt increasingly nervous, and it seemed to just then hit me, what a bad idea this had been.
"So," he smirked, "I guess you like to have fun after all."
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