"Stanley Kubrick? Never heard of him."
While Megan and Nicole balked at that, not quite understanding how it was that someone could be anything other than in awe of such a filmmaker, Lisa didn't blame Jenny for not knowing much about him. She herself had heard of Kubrick via academics (she had heard of Quentin Tarantino much in the same way, through the academic journals she from time to time indulged in) with reference to the impact of mass media on contemporary thought. She'd not been big on movies from the start and if this conversation were to be believed than neither had Jenny, which wasn't so hard to believe, considering that her main interests in life were Megan and sports, specifically soccer. But Lisa was happy that their talk was about the movie night the four of them were going to have with Michael, because it paid her a great relief -- she'd not be subjected to silence around Megan and Jenny, a silence that would make her think harder about what she'd seen the two of them do.
It was Friday afternoon, lunch hour, hour of commune. Lisa, along with Nicole, Megan and Jenny, sat together upon the slight hillock of greenery that surrounded the outside of the cafeteria. It was a very bright and beautiful day out there today, though its radiant beams of sunlight might have glistened on an uncaring high school, one of its individuals, Lisa Whitfield, did nothing but bask in all of it. For the first time in long while she could honestly and openly say that she was unequivocally happy. She, Nicole, Megan and Jenny had over the past few weeks become close friends, a goal marched toward with the same blistering speed that other elements of Lisa's life had endured within the year, much like her relationship with Dani, which had evolved from something inexorably contemptible to something so much sweeter, something that was good for the both of them, something that meant more to them than any other experience they'd known so far in their short lives. The 'albatross' that was Lisa's own sexuality, had seen validation through Megan and Jenny. While it still felt awkward to be around them when she knew full well they were screwing each other (because they still didn't know that she knew) there was an undeniable comfort in being aware of their relationship, of their feelings for each other.
So often at school when you were gay and no one else around you was, you felt like a freak. Lisa had been carrying that sentiment with her from middle-school all the way up to her meeting with Dani, that sense of distance and isolation, which was why she constantly referred to her lesbianism as an 'albatross'. But seeing the way Megan and Jenny cared for each other helped her realize that she wasn't alone, that she wasn't the only one wrestling with those kinds of feelings and labours, even if it that had appeared to be the case for years. Their relationship (in its own way) had served to validate her feelings of comfort with her sexuality because Lisa was no longer alone in bearing that cross. Most of all she had Dani. Nothing could be instantaneous, and they still had a lot of things to work through, trust that needed to be established, but at this point in time Lisa couldn't be happier with the way things were unfolding.
Of course there were still nicks in the linen. She still didn't get on well with her parents and that wasn't likely to change any time soon. But seeing the horrors that Dani's father Vino had wreaked put Daphne and Richard under a different spotlight in Lisa's eyes. They weren't the horrible twosome she'd come to think of them as, at least not comparatively, which allowed the blonde girl to see them outside of their fallacies. Truth was she wasn't the only one who didn't get on well with her parents. She wasn't so unusual in that respect.
For those reasons she basked in the sun. And she smiled, honestly and heartily, in a way she didn't often do, while her friends nattered on about what Jenny should and shouldn't know about filmmaking, a triviality that could calmly be languished in, all because of a blossoming new life.
"A Clockwork Orange?" Megan stated. "Haven't you heard about that?"
Jenny paused for thought. "I guess so. England, right?"
"...How couldn't I know that about you?"
"I don't tell you everything," said the goalkeeper. "It's not a big deal is it?"
Nicole, who was lying across grass on her side and popping potato wedges into her mouth, answered. "Well it won't be by tomorrow night I suppose. So, uh... what time does Michael want us to get there? I'd ask him myself but I haven't seen him all day."
"We usually get started early, about two in the afternoon, because we watch so many movies." Megan stated (since getting closer to Lisa and Nicole she had become more talkative).
Nicole sighed. "I'm coming early."
"I'm coming early." She repeated, not explaining herself, not that she needed to.
Throughout the week Michael and Nicole had gotten everywhere and nowhere in an instant. Everyone, Lisa, Megan and Jenny all, knew that they liked each other. Their body language was easy enough to read to tell the notion anyway. What made the difference was that they saw as little of each other. She saw as little of Michael as Lisa did of Dani, during the school week, because both Michael and Dani were seniors. What made it worse for Nicole was that Michael was something of an artist, and he had already applied to UCLA for a course on Art and 'aesthetic theory'. In doing this he went out of his way to keep his grades tight and expressed his academic interest in afterschool Art classes. When he wasn't doing that he was with his friends. Simply put Michael was often busy, which was one of the reasons he was so adamant about having the movie night with Megan on a weekly basis -- it was his way of making time for her. But of course that didn't leave much time for the Milligan girl, who herself was often busy with soccer practice and her father. Impasse.
"He needs to chill," Nicole moaned. "Finals haven't even started yet."
Megan stared at her as she ate. "My brother does a lot, that's just how he is."
"And where's the time for fun? The year'll blow Michael by and then bang, summer's over. He'll be at college and he'll have slutty frat skanks all over him. Meanwhile I'm still here. I mean look at the four of us right now. We're all single! It's such a kick in the ass."
Jenny and Megan shared a smile with each other then, a knowing one, while Nicole ate her wedges, a smile that conferred their feelings for each other to each other. Feelings Nicole didn't know about. But Lisa noticed it. And they didn't know that she too had someone -- in reality Nicole was the only single person here. Jenny and Megan were an item. Nicole didn't know that but Lisa did. However Jenny and Megan didn't know that Lisa knew that they had something going on, nor did Nicole. And neither Nicole nor Jenny nor Megan knew Lisa was with Dani at the moment either. That fact reminded Lisa that there were a lot of secrets in their four-way friendship, but because it was so complicated in so many damn ways, she couldn't begin to understand how they'd unravel it now. Jenny and Megan were clearly unready to come out of the closet and so was Lisa; hopefully things would just balance themselves out until they all felt ready to come clean.
The others went back onto the movie night subject and what it was they'd watch at Michael and Megan's house. Lisa had finished her lunch by then so she checked her watch. She balked at the time. The lunch hour would end in fifteen minutes and she still had something she needed to do. So she heaved her backpack back onto her little shoulders and stood, tray in hand.
"Lisa?" Nicole glanced up. "Where are you off to?"
"Remember Mr. Stephens suggested I see Miss Gilbertson about her Creative Writing class? I'm going to see her about it now. I think it might fun."
Jenny smiled at her. "Good for you, Lisa. I didn't know you could write."
"Yeah, well..." she blushed. "I still don't think I'm very good... but... I still want to give it a go. I`ll see you all later."
She waved a brief goodbye to the three of them then walked off down the hill to the cafeteria. After dumping her tray (and all that lingered on it) she headed off to Miss Gilbertson's English room. Lisa had spent a good chunk of the week wondering if she should do as Mr. Stephens suggested and opt for this class. She hadn't been sure. You see from the moment she started doing it, Lisa's writing was a cathartic release for her, it was interpersonal and private for that very reason. Her poetry was one thing -- she routinely posted them on according websites for correspondence with fellow poets. But her storytelling was never as general or obscured. They were frank dirges that she churned out in blunt metaphor and historical backdrops. Each one was either a distant allegory for an aspect of her life or about feelings she had about things going on in the world; either way she hadn`t meant for anyone except God and herself to know about them. But because of her sloppiness of attention Mr. Stephens had read one which led her to seriously consider `sharing the shit' with others.
It seemed like a haunting option at first. What if they didn't like it? What if the work of the class was better than hers altogether? What if they read between the lines of her writing and figured out that she was *gasp* a big old lesbo?
For every negative scenario that popped into brain she refused to let them stay their course. Lisa could be utterly rational when she wanted to be. All the rational inklings in her head right now were telling her that this might simply be a good way of improving her writing. When she eventually headed for college her major was likely to be English (or at least within the bracket of the department) so how could this be anything but a benefit?
Before long Lisa found herself at Miss Gilbertson's door, a door that she subsequently knocked, and heard a brief 'come in' beckon her forth. She twisted the knob to step in. Miss Gilbertson sat behind her desk at that moment, and, as horrible a thing as it was to say, she was quite an average-looking woman; a thirtysomething with shoulder length black hair, lightly tanned skin and a pair of reading glasses. Spread out over her desk were clusters of papers and tests with varying grades to adorn them, everything from A+ to E-. She looked up only as Lisa closed the door of her room, but when she saw the teen she pulled her glasses from her face, suspended from her neck by a chain, and let them dangle.
"Can I help you?" Asked the English teacher.
Lisa explained herself. "I'm, uh... my name is Lisa Whitfield and... Mr Stephens read a story that... accidentally got mixed up with one of my reports and um... he said he liked it so he told me that I should think about asking you if I could maybe join your Creative Writing class?"
"Hmmm," Miss Gilbertson mused. "It's a little late in the year to sign up for an afterschool class. There aren't that many places left either. Are you sure this is what you want?"
"...Well. Okay then. If you come recommended from Mr. Stephens then I won't send you on your way. My class is every Tuesday and Thursday from 4pm till 5.30pm. And don't think that because this is an extracurricular activity that I expect anything less than the kind of work you'd produce in a compulsory one. You will need to catch up on the work we've done beforehand too. Most of the notes are up on the school website anyway so I suggest that you spend your next free hour combing through them. Oh, and, if you don't mind, I'd like to read some work of yours. It doesn't have to be anything elaborate or concise, maybe less than a 1000 words will do, anything of the kind you can give me, say by... Monday morning. Does that sound acceptable?"
Lisa nodded. "Yes ma'am."
"Excellent. Good to have you onboard, Lisa."
Well. That went well. Although as Lisa left Miss Gilbertson's room she couldn't stop herself wondering what she would do about that 1000 word piece she wanted. If she was going to do this class then she definitely was not going to start with any of her old work -- she didn't want tongues wagging. That meant that she'd have to do something fresh, something new, and something by Monday, no less.
As she turned the corner of the hall past some other kids she tried to think up an idea, the key word being tried -- for as she turned that corner, just a short way down the hall, was Dani. Lisa felt her smile emerge and widen. at Her girlfriend came out of Mr. Rodriguez's Spanish class whilst she stood with a couple of her own friends, fellow seniors of hers to head off to lunch since they ate later than their underclassmen did. It was when Dani spotted Lisa out of the corner of her eye she pulled a deep grin, so typical of her, before saying succinct goodbyes to her padres. They continued down to the hall without her.
Lisa cast her gaze southward when Dani approached, her cheeks flowering rouge. "Hey, Dani."
"Hey," the copper of her eyes turned to a girl's toilet across the corridor. "Follow me."
They left with each other to its doors and pushed in. Unfortunately there were a few other girls in there at the time so Dani and Lisa separated to await their departure. When the three girls were gone the two of them scuttled into one of the cubicles and locked the door. In seconds Dani had Lisa up against the wall, their arms wrapped around each other, and kissing ardently within its miniscule walls. Lisa whimpered blissful whimpers whilst Dani's velvety lips moved in concert with her own, all the more when her slippery tongue prised its way between them to thrust inside her mouth and sensually played with hers. She could have melted into goo when Dani's hands took her then, one around her back and the other slowly riding up the smoothness of her thigh. Lisa's own arms she had around the Italian girl's neck to bring her as close as possible, close enough to fell the sensation of their stomachs pressed together, close enough to hear Dani's soft, almost inaudible little moans of pleasure. When they parted; long, lovely moments later, they were both breathless.
"Jesus, Lisa... you look gorgeous today..." They were still so close to each other that Lisa could feel Dani's warm breath tease her cool lips as she uttered each word.
It made Lisa beam, as Dani did. "How are you... today...?"
"...Me? Fine, if not a little pissed. Seems like every time we kiss we do it somewhere people take a dump."
You couldn't really ignore the presence of a toilet bowl... no matter how good a kisser your girlfriend was. But while they were at school their options were limited. The bathrooms were the only place in Alderson High where you could get some privacy, and only if you were lucky. And unlike Megan and Jenny they weren't bold enough (or cocky enough) to do anything more any place else on the grounds.
Lisa took to running her fingers through Dani's glossy black hair during her reply, "It's tough, but... what's really the alternative?"
"Kissing loud and proud in front of everybody?"
"And then get beaten up?"
Dani smirked somewhat. "We wouldn't get beaten up, we're not guys. Most likely the cheerleaders and trendies would harass us, call us dykes and stuff... then a few guys might ask us for a threesome, maybe even record the kiss and put in on YouTube. We'd get thousands of hits and hundreds of comments, it'd be all, "Dude, that was so hot! Now spank that WASP's ass!" or something. Of course some angry mother in Connecticut would call us pervs and get the site to remove the vid, but we'd still have our fifteen minutes of fame."
"...Yeah. That... isn't at all creepy."
"Well I wouldn't blame them," Dani's voice got all husky again. "Your ass is cuter than mine..."
As she went on to place little butterfly kisses up and down her neck, Lisa giggled, so much more freely than she usually did. "Dani..." she whispered softly. Whispers interrupted by the chime of the second lunch bell, that ended the hour for all students that weren`t seniors. Dani pulled herself from Lisa's neck and rolled her eyes.
"You've got class." She said morosely.
Lisa stole one last kiss from her. "Call me later, okay? We can talk."
It wasn't a lie for Lisa to say that she was looking forward to the movie night. As she'd reflected on before, she wasn't big on films and she never had been, but for her that wasn't what this was about. She knew she'd be the odd one out; Nicole would probably be drooling all over Michael, Jenny and Megan would be fighting every living urge just to keep their hands off each other. But it didn't matter. Tonight was about her spending time with her friends. Not since her youngest years could Lisa honestly have had that -- multiple friends, a mutual friendship. Her loneliness was like a shadow now, not the puppet master at her strings, it could be fought against and conquered, the way it should have been all along.
Which was why she stood in front of her bathroom mirror making sure that she didn't look too bad. The blonde girl had draped herself in a white feather-collar blouse and a knee-length blue skirt with a white headband setting back her bangs. Lisa wore something similar to school yesterday and Dani had said that she looked pretty, but that didn't count because Dani always thought she looked pretty. She wasn't sure about it but she didn`t have the time to deliberate the issue. It was half-one and while Megan's house was only fifteen minutes away by bus, there was no tell how frequently buses would be coming by, so she had to hurry. After giving her hair just one more look over Lisa jogged out of the bathroom. Since Nicole had left earlier she wouldn't be travelling with the girl. Instead she'd go straight there on her own (Megan had given her the directions afterschool yesterday). So when she returned to her bedroom she gathered together her purse, her keys, her cell phone, her bus pass, and her little pink 'going out' backpack from the surface of her chest of drawers. But when she twisted the knob to leave her phone jingled.
Caller ID on the screen said it was Dani.
"Hello, Dani?" Said Lisa, as she held the phone to her ear.
"Hey, it's me," she confirmed. "Listen, I'm in my car, I'm in the neighbourhood, and I was thinking about what I said at school yesterday. Do you wanna hook up with me now? We could get a bite to eat or something, if you can swing it by your parents?"
Lisa's commitments twisted her insides. In a similar fashion to Nicole's situation with Michael, it bugged Lisa that Dani's being a senior meant that they didn't have as many opportunities to see each other. She would've have accepted the offer point blank, if not for what she had planned tonight. "Dani..."
The brunette sighed on the other end. "I know that voice. What's the problem?"
"...I must have forgotten to tell you, but... I'm going to my friend Megan's house with Nicole tonight, to watch some movies with her, her brother and someone else." Lisa admitted.
Dani paused a moment "...I thought you weren't big on movies?"
How in the hell did everyone know that? If she got anymore damn transparent she'd turn into Sue Storm. Nevertheless she answered the charge, pressing her back against her door. "I'm making an effort to, okay? Look, Dani, I'm sorry I didn't tell you before. It just slipped my mind and since I didn't see you afterschool yesterday..."
"No, you know what? It's okay. It's fine. You uh... you just go have fun."
Dani didn't hide dejection well. An elective trait and not a desired one probably. And Lisa hated to hear it. Which was why the gears in her head started turning in a manner that sought to soothe it, maybe over better logic, when she said; "Do... you... do you maybe wanna... come?"
Lisa didn't realize how sudden and presumptive it sounded until she voiced it. It wasn't really her night nor was it her house so she didn't have the authority to invite anyone. But she couldn't tolerate the idea of Dani driving all the way back to West Hollywood after coming down here for nothing either. It just seemed like the right thing to do.
"Do you think that would be okay with them?" Dani said, not seeming to have any objections.
Honestly Lisa wasn't sure. Michael was a sweet person, he probably wouldn't care either way, but Megan might be a different story. But they wouldn't turn Dani away, would they? If she simply said that Dani was a friend of hers that had wanted to join, surely they wouldn't say no? Lisa elected to take the risk.
"I think it'll be fine." She said.
"Okay. Thanks, Lisa."
"Pick me up, okay? How far from my house are you?"
She chuckled. "I'm outside."
When she heard a car horn blare Lisa walked to her window. Sure enough, down below by the sidewalk was Dani's ride, with the engine still running. So Lisa switched off her phone, put all her stuff away in the mini backpack that she strapped from her shoulders, then left her house. Daphne was the only one of her parents at home tonight. Richard was busy at the hospital as usual so Lisa had told her mother earlier where she was going for the night, as well as the address of Megan and Michael's place (just in case anything happened), so she didn't need to do anything other than say goodbye to Daphne as she left.
When she got into Dani's car they shared a quick kiss before driving off under the orange red glare of California dusk light. They drove for a solid twelve minutes along the streets of Los Angeles until they came to another white picket fence locality, the road that Megan and Michael lived on. It was an even more expensive area than Lisa and Nicole's was, both she and Dani realized it as they pulled up in the Quinn Family driveway, it even had one of those 50's style mailboxes. Once parked though they both climbed out. There was only one other car in the driveway, Michael's, so their parents weren't here (and probably wouldn't be for the rest of the night). Dani followed Lisa to the door where they rang the bell.
Michael appeared moments later with a receptive smile. "...Lisa. Hey."
"Hey." She replied.
"...Michael?" Dani quipped, blinking.
The eldest of the Quinn siblings then noticed Dani standing behind Lisa, and when he did she did so with an automatic registry. "Dani?"
This was odd. Lisa glanced at the pair of them, first at Dani then Michael then back to Dani again. "You two... know each other?"
"Yeah, he's in my Math class," explained the Italian girl. "How's it going?"
They shook hands to greet. "Everything's good, everything`s good. So. Y'all two are tight?"
Both Dani and Lisa nodded at that, though Dani was the one to follow through on the verbal work. "Kinda, yeah. I know its a piss-take to just show up like this, but I was passing by Lisa's house, asked her if she wanted to hang but she told me she was spending the night with you guys. I just wondered if I could come too. Is that cool?"
He shrugged cheerfully. "Sure, come on in. It's not like we're hurting for room."
Dani and Lisa smiled at each other briefly as they stepped inside and took off their jackets. The house inside was just as large and lavish as its outside suggested it would be. Down the corridor was the lounge which Michael led them into. Everyone else was there. Megan, dressed more casually than Lisa normally saw her, was crouched on the floor by their flat screen sorting through a pile of DVDs all of which were Stanley Kubrick movies. Jenny wasn't too far behind her fiddling with a coffee table that had been enamoured with two litre bottles of Pepsi, Fanta and Dr. Pepper and with three large transparent bowls of popcorn, pretzels and nachos. Nicole was on the couch flicking through the pages of some kind of booklet with her varnished nails. When Michael, flanked on both sides by Lisa and Dani, entered, everyone turned to them. Hellos were said between everyone except Dani and Nicole.
"S'up, Lisa?" Jenny said jovially, with Megan at her side. She saw Dani. "Who's your friend...?"
Dani extended a hand to the goalkeeper, which she shock politely. "I'm Danielle Cooper. But just call me Dani. Uh, I think Lisa mentioned the two of you on our way over here. You're... Jenny Jones, right?"
Then Dani turned to Megan. "Which must make you... Megan, Michael's little sister, am I right?"
"Yeah. Hi." She was terse in her reply but that was just Megan being Megan. She was never comfortable around new people, not until she had a chance to relax and warm to them, like she had with Lisa and Nicole. Jenny then started to engage Dani in conversation. Apparently she had seen Dani playing basketball (her height gave her something of an edge in that area) because she mentioned something about her having a great jump shot. While they got into it with Megan hanging by Jenny's side, attentively, Nicole hauled up off the couch and took herself up to Lisa.
"Can I talk to you for a second?" She briefly glanced at Dani while she was speaking to Jenny, oblivious of it. "...In private?"
In no way was Lisa muted to the sharpness in Nicole's tone so she didn't question her. Instead she only followed Nicole outside into the corridor while Dani, Jenny and Megan spoke, and Michael took up what Megan had been doing before, sorting through their pile of DVDs, probably to decide which one to watch first. Once they were out of earshot Nicole faced Lisa square on.
"What the hell is she doing here?" Barked the girl from Utah.
Lisa blinked, not really knowing where this was coming from all of a sudden. "She's here for the same reason everyone else is, to watch movies."
Silence. The contours of Lisa's expression scrunched in confusion. She didn't get it -- at first. Then it soon sunk in. Nicole still hadn't gotten over what Dani said about her father even though Dani had put herself out there and apologized for it.
Lisa glanced at her, pleadingly. "I thought we were done with this."
"I don't want her here."
"Nicole, please don't do this. She's apologized and she's sorry. What more can she do?"
There was visible irritation and indecision on Nicole`s part. Lisa could read every inch of it off of her face. When she glared into the lounge at Dani it was made all the more guileless. But whatever she wanted to say or do she didn`t follow through on... because she managed to keep herself composed. Nicole tore her eyes from Dani then, turning once more to Lisa, and exhaled crossly. "I swear to God, if she wasn't your friend, I'd...! You know what, just tell her to stay out of my way tonight, okay?"
Lisa watched her stomp off. "Nicole..."
She didn't reply. Once she was back inside she went straight to Michael's side and whispered something into his ear. He shrugged his shoulders in reply. But when it looked like Nicole was about to protest something else, his hand reached up and caressed her rapidly inflaming cheek, tenderly. It seemed to settle her down because he was met with a caring smile because of it. Clearly something had happened between them since yesterday. For many reasons Lisa was glad that it did... but partially because Michael seemed to be the only thing that could pacify and distract Nicole from Dani right now.
Fortunately Lisa didn't have to worry about keeping own her girlfriend in check at the moment. She and Jenny were now standing together in front of a tower CD case, the side of which was labelled `Michael's Music'. Dani's finger slowly traced its way down its glass case as she registered each disk of each artist, muttering their names.
"...Nas, Busta Rhymes, Snoop Dogg, 50 Cent... Hey Michael? Got anything that wasn't written by pimps?"
He scratched the back of his skull in thought, with Nicole at his side. "if all that's a little too much for you I think I've got some Alicia Keys and Nelly Furtado albums up in there. If that still isn't your speed you're better off looking through Megan's stuff. What is it you like again, Meg? Green Day?"
The Asian girl frowned. "I don't like Green Day."
"Yes you do. Aren't they the ones with the redhead and the bald guy? You know, they did that thing with Dave Grohl and a stuffed deer a few years back?"
"That's Queens of the Stone Age." Jenny corrected.
Ever the nonchalant one Michael leisurely dismissed the mistake. "That's what they're called? Hmm. Are they still together? I liked that song."
By then Dani had to give up on listening to music until things were ready because things were ready. Megan had gone back to sorting out the DVDs and they were now stacked up in front of the player. Lisa came back into the room and sat down, slightly less excited now, on one of the two couches. Dani sat next to her. Jenny then plopped down next to Dani, while Megan sat on the floor next to Jenny`s legs, apparently because she was `more comfortable' there. Nicole sat on the adjacent sofa whilst Michael had himself crouched in front of the player.
"Okay," he said. "Y'all gotta make a decision here. What are we watching first? The Shining? A Clockwork Orange? Barry Lyndon?"
Dani arched her eyebrows. "Barry Lyndon? That's the most boring Kubrick movie there is. Let's watch The Shining first. As long as nobody here says `Here's... Johnny!', I think we're better off."
"I don't wanna watch The Shining first," Megan commented. "That's a horror movie and it isn't even dark out. Let's watch 2001: A Space Odyssey. It's got the best soundtrack I`ve ever heard next to Blue Velvet."
"David Lynch. Maybe we'll do him next week," Then Michael turned to Lisa and Jenny. "Hey, Jenny, Lisa. What about you two? What'd you think?"
"I'm up for anything, really. Lisa, could you pass me the popcorn?"
The coffee table full of snacks was on her side of the couch. She clasped the bowl and passed to Dani then Dani passed it on to Jenny, and when she got it, Lisa answered Michael's question the same way Jenny did. "...I don't mind either. I haven't seen either film so it doesn't matter to me."
So Michael moved on to his girl. "Nicole?"
"...Lets watch 2001 first." She said quietly, glaring in Dani's direction.
It was a glare that Dani did notice.
"Okay then. 2001 it is." His fingers carefully pulled the DVD from its case. With the remote he ejected the feeding slot so he could set the disk on it, then he pressed play. As the Quinn family's sizeable screen brightened and started displaying the opening screen credits, Michael took the bowl of pretzels from the table and sat by Nicole.
Most of the night proceeded in that fashion. Well into the late hours of the night the six of them, Lisa, Dani, Megan, Jenny, Nicole and Michael, sat through a marathon of choice Stanley Kubrick movies. They went from the haunting beautiful harmonies of 2001: A Space Odyssey and the culturally significant mania of The Shining, to the seasoned sword and sandal nostalgia of Spartacus, the ridiculously violent throes of A Clockwork Orange, and the eerie contemporary mass-sexuality of Eyes Wide Shut. Members of the group all reacted differently to differently to different films. Nicole, Michael and Dani loved every second of The Shining (being so familiar with it), Lisa and Megan preferred 2001, which Lisa found did have a gorgeous soundtrack just as Megan had suggested earlier. Jenny seemed to like Eyes Wide Shut the most, constantly wondering if that was the sort of thing `scientologists approved of'. On the flip side, Michael simply chomped pretzels all the way through Spartacus (complaining of its `black guy dies first' trope), while Dani almost fell asleep during Barry Lyndon and what she referred to as its `epic-ass craptacularism'. Megan; in her hatred of all things Tom Cruise and Tom Cruise-related, went to the bathroom four times during Eyes Wide Shut, while Nicole found that she liked Dr. Strangelove the least, mostly because she didn't have a clue what was going on (and unlike Eyes Wide Shut, which made even less sense to her, there were no orgies to make up for it). The one Lisa disliked the most was A Clockwork Orange. She doubted that there was a single scene in it that didn't make her cringe or come to the verge of puking, and she wasn't the only one. It terrified Jenny too. Although she was as tough as they came on the soccer field she was surprisingly squeamish when it came to violent movies, and A Clockwork Orange was no exception.
By the time they were watching Full Metal Jacket, which would be their last Kubrick movie of the night, they had gone through everything edible, and were forced to order a pizza to compensate. They ended up watching the war movie with a slice each, in an evening that had fun for everyone at least once. By now everyone was so calm and comfortable with each other (aside from maybe Dani and Nicole) that they openly could talk about what they liked and disliked. Dani didn't stop laughing throughout Gunnery Sergeant Hartman's tirades against `Private Pyle', while Michael loved the scene where Pyle went crazy in the toilets and killed him the most, and Jenny complimented what she perceived as Animal Mother's `super cool' nihilism. The crowd had its cynics too though. Lisa routinely remarked on `factual errors' that the movie made concerning the Vietnam War, Megan damn near popped a blood vessel during the two Vietnamese prostitute scenes; you know, all that "Me so horny!" and "Me love you long time!" talk, while Nicole protested Michael's indifference during the whole `Alabama Black Snake' bit.
It was during the penultimate sequence however, when Joker found the sniper who killed Doc Jay, Eightball and Cowboy (a sniper who was in fact just a young girl), that it happened. The screen went blank. Everyone groaned, especially since that scene, in particular the bit where Joker kills the child soldier off, was the most poignant of the whole film.
"What the hell?" Dani said.
Michael sighed and stood up. "Gimme a minute, I'll see what's up."
So he could see what he was doing (they had been watching movies in the dark since nightfall) he flicked the wall light switch. But the lights didn't come on. He flicked it a few more times. No dice. "I don't believe this."
"What's the matter?" Nicole asked him.
Michael flicked the switch a couple more times but still nothing happened. "I think the power's out. Megan, do me a favour, would you? Go into the kitchen and see if the fridge light's on."
"Sure." She went on to do just that. A few minutes later, when she came back into the pitch black lounge. "It's not coming on, Michael. And I couldn`t turn on the kitchen light either. The phones are all off too."
"Yeah, I thought so. The power's out."
"Can't you just flip the circuit breaker?" Dani suggested.
"I don't think that'll do it," Said Jenny, who by now was standing by the window. She had the curtains pulled which revealed all the houses across the street that curled behind the Quinn household's garden, all of which as dark as it was. Not a single light was on nor were the street lamps. Absolute darkness. "I think we've got a blackout."
Lisa stood up. "W-what do we do? Go home?"
"You're not going out there while it's that damned dark," Said Michael, seriously. "Anything could happen."
Megan stepped closer to Jenny. "So what are we supposed to do?"
"My watch says its about 11pm, Mom and Dad are gonna be back by morning, there's nothing to worry about. This kind of crap happens all the time, a power cable must have been broken or something. All we have to do is wait it out 'til it's fixed. For now we'd all best just stay here."
"in the dark like this?" Moaned the Asian girl.
Lisa thought a moment. "...Don't you have some candles or flashlights or something?"
"We should do... in the cupboard, I think." Megan remembered. "I'll go get them."
She carefully made her way toward the corridor exit. Then Jenny quickly followed her. "I'll help you."
This left Lisa, Dani, Nicole and Michael to their own devices. But it wasn't entirely a disaster. Michael went into the kitchen looking for a lighter, and while he couldn't find one rifling through drawers in the darkness, he found a small box of matches instead. Their pizza (what was left of it) was still warm too and ten minutes or so later Megan and Jenny returned with two flashlights and fifteen separate candles of varying height and girth. Lisa, Megan, Jenny and Nicole all assembled the candles in the centre of the lounge, on the tables and units, while Dani and Michael lit all of them. By the time they were finished there was enough light in the room to at least make out each other's faces.
"So what do we do now?" Nicole asked.
Megan sat down. "...We don't have any board games, do we?"
"Board games?" Remarked Dani, cynically.
"Well what do you suggest?"
When Dani also sat back down, she slung her arm over the sofa. "I dunno. Hold a séance?"
Michael laughed a bit. "Oh yeah? And who would we talk to? Anna Nicole Smith?"
"Yeah. Well either her or Marilyn Monroe."
Jenny exhaled as the pair of them sniggered together at the idea, like a couple of kids. "Does anyone have any good suggestions, preferably ones that don't call on the spirits of dead sluts?"
Nicole raised her hand. "I have an idea."
"What's that?" Asked Michael.
"Lets play Truth or Dare."
Dani scowled at her. "...Truth or Dare? What are you, like, six?"
"If you don't like it, don't play," Nicole sharply retorted. "Don't worry, honey. I won't beg you to."
Dani and Nicole glared irritably at each other again. The tension between them was so palpable that even the normally unconcerned Megan was beginning to notice it. They hadn't said more than a few words to each other all night. When things went quiet for a moment Jenny acquired a slice of pizza and sat down, saying;
"It might not be the worst way to pass the time."
Michael exhaled. "I'm in. There's jack-all else we can do, anyway."
Naturally since Jenny and Michael were doing it, Megan would too. That left only Dani and Lisa. They glanced at each other, then Lisa saw Dani roll her eyes and mutter a brief `fine' in acquiescence. Which of course left Lisa as the last one to opt for it. But he didn't feel strongly either way about it so she gave everyone a brief nod of agreement, so as not to be the odd one out. So that was what they decided to do. Nicole went and grabbed an empty glass bottle from the recycling bin the Quinn's had in their kitchen then called everyone to sit down on the floor in a small circle.
"We all know the rules, right?" Nicole said, glancing about the circle. "We take it in turns to spin the bottle and whoever it points at, they have to answer any question or do any dare, and if you can't, you're out."
"What does the winner get?" Megan asked.
Nicole paused to think about it. "Uh, I dunno... uh... lets just... wait, we all must have five bucks on us at least, right?"
They all nodded, their faces partially illuminated by candlelight.
"Okay then. We'll all chip in five bucks. Since there's... six of us; that gives the winner thirty dollars. See? We're playing for money, doesn't that age it up a bit?"
Jenny tugged one of her loose, habitually heavy bangs from her eyes. "Who goes first?"
"Well since it was my idea, I'll go first." Nicole set the bottle in the centre of their circle and span it. Everyone's eyes were on its continual revolutions until slowed down, bit by bit, into an eventual stop. This left it pointed in Michael's direction. Nicole and Michael exchanged challenging smiles with one and other as Jenny hooted him on.
Nicole flushed a little. "Alright. Truth or Dare?"
"You're a chicken, Michael." Commented Megan, at which both Jenny and Dani chuckled.
He fobbed the three of them off so his focus could remain on Nicole. She didn't take long to come up with a Truth for him to answer though. The brunette pulled some of her hair back, which even in this poorly illuminated space, showed off the calculation (and, admittedly, nervousness) in her thoughts.
"Who's the prettiest girl in the room to you?"
They locked eyes. Jenny, presently getting into the mood of things, crooned a playfully ominous `ooohhh!`, like a member of the audience on the Jerry Springer show. Dani on the other hand pulled a disbelieving `can you believe this airhead?' smirk and murmured "that was subtle", under her breath with soft sarcasm. Lisa nudged her in the arm to silence her. Michael smiled at the circumstance (partially because he'd gotten off easy with that one) but he felt playful. Why not give an obvious answer some theatrics?
"Well, let me think," he pretended to ponder the question as he looked about the circle. "...Megan's my sister so I'm not even gonna go there. Now Jenny's cute, she's got that whole... short-haired jock thing going on, but... I've been mad at her since she royally kicked my ass at pool in the mall arcade."
"That was six months ago." Said the goalkeeper.
"Yeah it was, and I still haven't forgiven you for it, which knocks like... six points off your sex-gauge."
Laughing now, Jenny reached behind her back to the sofa and threw one of its pillows at him. He ducked his head to one side and let it whiz past him. "Okay, I'm done with Jenny. Then there's Lisa, who's also very pretty but we only just met so... she probably doesn't want me thinking that way about her."
The shy blonde in question blushed, not saying anything, just brandishing a small smile. He was nice enough not to say anything lewd or cajoling about her. After her came Dani to whom Michael's attentions turned. "And Danielle of course. And yeah, she's smokin' hot and everything, but she's always wearing those damn leather jackets, the ones that her look like a biker. No offence."
She flipped him off with a grin. "None taken."
"Then," he said, turning to the orator of the question. "I have you. You've got all that... amazing brown hair that just... looks even better on you in candlelight. Then there's your little nose... and your freckles... and you've got the prettiest eyes... ever. I love that green colour. And... God knows you've got an ass like there's no tomorrow!"
Everyone, even Megan, smiled at that.
He continued. "So, you wanna know who I think is the prettiest girl here? I think it's you."
"...Michael..." Whispered Nicole, thoroughly touched.
"Alright, alright..." Jenny said. "Let Megan have her turn before the two of you start sexing each other up."
Megan, who was sitting next to Nicole, took her hand to the bottle, spun it, and it whizzed around accordingly, around and around and around again, until it ceased in motion. Its neck was pointed at Dani. Megan and Dani now became the focal point, and Jenny, Nicole, Michael and (somewhat less enthusiastically) Lisa, egged them on. The Cooper girl didn't show the slightest bit of fear.
"Truth or Dare?" Megan asked.
Dani plucked her bangs. "...Dare."
"You know... thirty bucks is a lot of money." Megan said to her.
"My folks are well off but they don't give us allowances. We have to earn it."
Dani arched her eyebrows, provocatively. "Yeah, that sounds like a real slap on the tits. Get on with it."
"Okay. There's a half a bottle of ketchup left in our fridge. Drink it."
Jenny, Michael and Nicole made that silly `ooohhh!' sound to jokingly `amp up' the tension, while a less amused Lisa balked. "Megan...!"
"I can't believe you guys," Lisa turned to her. "Dani, you'll be sick, don't do it."
"Hey, I'm not backing down. I want that thirty bucks too and it's not like its my carpet that's gonna get stained if I throw up. Lemme at it. Give me one of the flashlights and I`ll go get it."
Lisa was incredulous. How stupid could she be to do something like that for a game? But crazy as it was Dani was serious in her convictions. Michael handed her one of the flashlights. She turned it on and peeled her way out of the lounge into the darkness of the corridor. When she returned a minute or so later she had the offending ketchup bottle in her other hand. It wasn't quite as big as say, Nicole, might have hoped, but it wasn't small either. Lisa was still in disbelief as Dani switched off the flashlight and sat down.
"Don't do it, Dani." Lisa warned.
Michael snickered. "Come on, Lisa. Get into it. You might end up having fun."
"How is this fun?"
Nicole's smirk said otherwise. "it's fun for me."
"She's not going to do it," Megan said, looking at her. "...Right...?"
Dani said nothing. Rather she opened her mouth, moved the plastic bottle skyward, and squirted. Everyone among them winced in revulsion as a stream of the pulpy red condiment oozed out of the bottle and into her mouth. She squeezed and squeezed until the bottle made that squeaking `suction' sound declaring that it was empty. Dani tipped her head forward then, and a lump travelled down her throat as she swallowed it all.
Everyone was staggered.
Jenny blinked. "That was so... gross...!"
"I said I don't back down..." Dani winced. "...At least it wasn't mustard..."
Next up was Michael. His toned hand reached into the centre of their circle and span the bottle just as the others did. It rotated under fate's discretion until it slowed into stillness and landed in Megan's direction. The two adopted siblings stared at each other while the others goaded them on (well, all except Lisa).
Michael's grin was implacable. "What did you call me before? A chicken? Truth or Dare?"
"Yeah. I stand by it. Dare."
"Okay, sis. I got your chicken." He stood upright then, walking over to his tall case of CDs, the one Dani and Jenny had been looking through earlier, and brought his flashlight's glare to it. Subsequent to a few moments of search Michael found the one he seemed to be looking for, as well as an old CD player and earphones on top of the stand. When he came back to the circle he slid the player and the disk (which happened to be Jay-Z's American Gangster album) over the floor to Megan's crossed legs.
"What's this for?" She asked.
"I dare you to sing and dance to one whole rap song -- that I get to pick."
Megan frowned and Jenny put her hand in her face while Lisa, Dani and Nicole looked at each other, not quite seeing why that was so bad of a challenge.
Dani most of all. "What's the big deal?"
"Heh, heh, heh. You haven't heard my sister rap," he smiled at his sibling. "How about it?"
She sneered at him. "You are such a jerk."
"Look Meg, you don't have to do it. You could back out, but... you wouldn't do that. You're not a chicken, right? So what's it going to be?"
"...Fine. I'll do it."
Jenny blinked. "Megan, you're not honestly gonna-"
"I can do it," she stated stubbornly. "Gimme this damn CD. Which song is it?"
"Number six, Roc Boys." he said.
Megan grumpily hung the player off her skirt and fixed its earphones into her ears. Then she put the disk inside it and slipped the booklet out of its plastic case. She flicked through its pages until she got to the lyrics of the Roc Boys song. Her finger tapped the play button, then rapidly tapped fast forward until it hit number six.
While Michael smirked darn near devilishly; Dani, Nicole and most of all Jenny, were aghast when Megan weakly ambled from side to side and nervously creaked out: "...S-speech! First of all I wanna... thank my connect... the most important person with all... due respect... thanks to the duffel bag... the brown paper bag... the Nike shoe box... for holding all this cash... boys in blue who put greed before the badge... the first Bush whoever made the s-stash..."
Oh. My. God. Dani wanted to bite her lip off it was so embarrassing. Lisa, who by all accounts didn't know her Jay-Zs from her Ghostface Killahs, saw only an amicable attempt on Megan's part as she journeyed into a small preview of the chorus, "The Roc boy's in the building tonight...! Oh what a feeling I`m feeling life... thanks to the lames, n- wait a minute! Hold on a minute! I'm not saying that word."
"The N-word," Megan said. "I'm not saying it."
Michael frowned at her. "Megan, you've heard me say it three thousands times. Jesus, they said it in Full Metal Jacket. Just sing."
"I don't care, I'm not saying it." She declared obstinately.
Dani, who by all accounts couldn't bare to hear anymore of this that she already had, exclaimed, "Just say 'N-words' any time it comes up."
"Fine. Oh darn, where did I leave off...?" she continued. "Thanks to lames... `"N-word's" with bad aim, thanks to a little change... I tore you out the game... bullet wounds will stop your buffoonery... thanks to the pastor rapping at your eulogy... to Lil' Kim and them... you know the women friend who carry the weight `cross state for gentlemen... yeah, thanks to all the hustlers... but most important you, the customer...! The Roc Boy's in the building tonight...! Oh what a feeling I'm feeling life...! You ain't even gotta bring your paper out we the dope boys of the year, drinks is on the house..."
"No, no, no, no." Michael interrupted. "Don't do it like that. It's 'da' dope boys, not 'the' dope boys. Da not the. Da. Get it? Da."
She snarled at him, before continuing. "...`Da' Roc Boy's in the building tonight...! Look how I'm chillin,' I'm killing this ice...! You ain't even gotta bring your purses out we da dope boys of da year, drinks is on da house... let your hair down baby... I just hit da score..."
"A score, not da score." Corrected Michael.
"Who's singing this damn song, me or you?!" He silenced himself before she continued, "...Pick any place on da planet... pick a shore... take what da Forbes figured... then figure more `cause they forgot to account for what I did with da raw... pick a time let's pick apart some stores... pick a weekend for freaking for figure fours... I figure fraud never hit a lick before... so they don't know da feeling when them things get across... put your hand out da window, feel da force... feel da Porsche... hit defrost... ice cold, jewels got no flaws... drop got no top... you on da top floor... pink rose-aye... think O.J... I get away with murder when I sling `ye... heron got less steps than Britney... that mean's it ain't stepped on, dig me..."
Then came the chorus again, by which time Jenny looked about ready to die. "...Da Roc Boy's in the building tonight...! Oh what a feeling I'm feeling life...! You ain't even gotta bring your paper out we da dope boys of da year, drinks is on da house...! Da Roc Boy's in da building tonight...! Look how I'm chillin,' I'm killing this ice...! You ain't even gotta bring your purses out we da dope boys of da year, drinks is on da house..."
Nicole looked away, wincing. "Oh God, make it stop."
"Rare Porsches," Megan rapped. "Rare portraits... rare guns if you dare come near da fortress... this applesauce is from da apple orchard... this kind of talk is only reserved for da bosses... which means I get it from da ground... which means you get it when I'm around... rich "N-words",,, black bat mitzvahs... mazel tov, it's a celebration, bitches...! L'chayim...! I wish for you a hundred years of success but its my time...! Cheers...! Toast to crime...! Number one B-Boy, shame he could rhyme...! Da Roc Boy's in da building tonight...! Oh what a feeling I'm feeling life...! You ain't even gotta bring your paper out we da dope boys of da year, drinks is on da house...! Da Roc Boy's in da building tonight...! Look how I'm chillin,' I'm killing this ice...! You ain't even gotta bring your purses out we da dope boys of da year, drinks is on da house..."
Since the chorus repeated itself twice during the final stages of the song Megan was forced to repeat it a second time. "...Da Roc Boy's in da building tonight...! Oh what a feeling I'm feeling life...! You ain't even gotta bring your paper out we da dope boys of the year, drinks is on da house...! Da Roc Boy's in da building tonight...! Look how I'm chillin,' I'm killing this ice...! You ain't even gotta bring your purses out we da dope boys of da year, drinks is on da house..."
"Sweet...!" Then came the final mantras, spoken in unsung, mimicked word and there was some kind of wolf-whistling sound before it was over. And when it was over, Michael was holding his sides he was laughing so hard. They all gave her a little ovation for her efforts, though. While she sat down and tried not to feel too embarrassed, Jenny took up the CD player and American Gangster case to put them both back. She stepped out of the circle to do that, and when she came past a sobering Michael she kneeled next to him so she could sharply whisper, "If it's my turn and I land on you, I'm totally gonna make you wear a bra." in his ear. For the next two hours that was they way they did things. They played this juvenile game with compunction and they challenged each other to stupid dares and revealing truths, getting laughs out of it, coming out of themselves and their shells, free from the pressures of school.
Lisa was the only one who didn't quite get into the spirit of things, but that was mainly because she kept herself outside of this fictional world where nothing seemed to matter as much as it did elsewhere. And it revealed some things to her. Like Megan for instance. As said before, Lisa wasn't big on hip-hop so she had no idea how bad Megan's attempt really was -- nor how brave she was to accept Michael's challenge -- until Dani made her listen to the actual song later on. Coming into this night Lisa wouldn't believe anyone who told her Megan could do something like that, but she did, because she was in an environment of friends. Michael was the same way. While he always seemed cheerful he was distant at school, probably one of the reasons it had taken so long for him and Nicole to get on the same wavelength, but here he was fully part of their union, making jokes with Dani, bickering with and teasing his sister. Dani herself was a surprise too. Lisa was half worried that the others wouldn't accept her, and while that was the case with Nicole, it wasn't the certainly case with everybody else. Michael already knew her through Math class so there was no problem there. Jenny seemed to like her too. Eventually, Megan warmed to her as well, especially after she had the stones to do that disgusting thing with the ketchup bottle. It made Lisa happy to know that her friends wouldn't reject Dani... although she was disturbed by her best friend's instance on doing just that.
The night was an important one because, even though she sat on the outside observing all the festivities and stupidity, it was the first time she felt like a part of a group. Which was why it felt so weird overall that their little gathering ended on a calm, partially sour note for her. It was when Jenny finally span the bottle. She didn't get her wish of landing Michael to pay him back for making Megan rap, instead she got Lisa.
"Okay, Lisa. Truth or Dare?"
She didn't want to sing or drink sauce. "...Truth."
Everyone knew that she was reserved and fragile, so no one pushed her, which was probably way it seemed like such a soft question in Jenny's mind. "Truth, huh? Okay. What the worst date you've ever been on?"
There it was. Lisa blinked while everyone waited on tenterhooks to hear what she had to say. No one knew. No one had a clue. But what could Lisa do but play along and give her answer? "Well... uh... the truth is... I've never been out on a date before."
Everyone else went silent. Suddenly the atmosphere amongst the six of them became awkward. But she could see the thoughts in almost all of their faces. In two years time she'd be at college... and she hadn't had a date before? It boggled their minds. Nicole, who by all accounts had no idea about this, was equally as incredulous. "Is that true, Lisa? You've... never been out on a date?"
Jenny swiftly tried to shrug it off. "W-well, you know, it's not such a big deal, Lisa. You don't have to do anything until you're ready to."
She wasn't sure if it was even a case of 'readiness'. But whatever it was no one wanted to dwell on it, least of all Lisa, which was likely why no one noticed the guilty expression on Dani's face. It was Nicole's turn to spin again after that but when she reached for the bottle the lights suddenly flickered on. The flatscreen flashed to life just the same and after a brief pause it continued right from where they'd left off on Full Metal Jacket, the scene where Joker shoots the Vietnamese girl dead.
"The power's back on." Reflected Nicole.
Whatever the problem was someone had gotten around to fixing it. They decided to call it a day after that. Since it was late and there were two cars there Michael and Dani elected to drive Lisa, Jenny, and Nicole home, before their parents got worried. Since Nicole and Lisa lived on the same street they'd need to go in a car together. However because Nicole and Dani weren't really getting along (in fact they were barely tolerating each other) Michael was the one who drove them home while Dani did so for Jenny. An arrangement that didn't give Dani the chance to say something she wanted to say to Lisa before the night was through. Half an hour later Michael's car was pulling up in the Milligan family driveway. They all said their goodbyes to each other, then Lisa and Nicole got out and returned to their respective houses, whilst Michael drove off back to his place. Walking the cobblestones of her pathway though Lisa found herself silently pondering the whole `date' thing. It didn't make her happy.
Underneath the wood of Lisa's computer desk something tapped the carpet repeatedly. That something was her left foot. It repeatedly struck the floor because for the life of her Lisa couldn't figure out what to write. She had to hand this preliminary assignment, if it could so be called, in to Miss Gilbertson tomorrow. A thousand words wasn't all that much so why was she having so much trouble finding a muse? She had no idea. All she had was a blank screen and a squelched set of ideas at the moment. It was strange because normally a muse just `came' to Lisa and she rolled with it. She didn't get that this time around. Instead she got a phone call. Her cell phone flashed with that jingle it did. Sighing, Lisa swivelled her chair around to take up the phone. It was Dani.
"It's me. You're parents are out for the night, right?"
Lisa stood up. "...Yeah, they're attending some kind of gala or something. Why?"
"Come to the door." That was all she said before she hung up.
She could hear giddiness in Dani's voice. What was going on? Lisa hadn't a clue but she'd play ball anyway. At the moment she couldn't think of a single thing to type up for her Creative Writing class. Maybe spending some time with her girlfriend might change that. So Lisa fitted on her fluffy pink slippers and left her bedroom to pad downstairs, but when she opened that door and took in what lay beyond it, her eyes became saucers. That was because Dani was standing there in a way Lisa had never seen of her before. The Italian girl was wearing a dress. A dress. A thinly strapped white dress that saw its end three quarters of the way down her lissom legs. Slipped onto her feet were a pair of white open-toed high-heels and dangling from her neck was a pendant, a silver neck chain possessing a sparkling sapphire stone. The outfit looked surprising majestic on her, especially considering that white was an entirely virginal colour, and the simple fact remained; Dani ain't no virgin. And when she came to someone's door looking THAT gorgeous it wasn't hard to see why. The way the midnight black of her hair mixed with the snow white of her dress made her look all the more intense too.
Lisa had no idea how fast her heart was beating. "Dani...?"
"I don't look too stupid, do I?" She chuckled. "My Mom said I looked good in it but you know what Mom's are like."
"You look... beautiful..." Murmured Lisa, dreamily. "But... what... are you doing here? Dressed like that...?"
Dani flushed then and Lisa abruptly noticed that she had her hands behind her back. "Uh, well... I've never liked a girl as much as I like you, so... I'm not really sure how you try and make these things special, uh... but you know what? I've seen plenty of Hugh Grant movies so... here it goes. I couldn't find you a bouquet, so..."
She pulled her left hand from her back and presented to Lisa a thorn-less, single stemmed red rose.
"I swiped it from one of your neighbour's gardens. And on top of everything else I have planned I couldn't afford to go out and buy you a box of gourmet Belgium chocolates, so..."
With her other hand she presented Lisa with a Kit-Kat. Lisa looked at both of them and then looked up at the girl who gave them to her. How sweet was she to do all this? "...Dani..."
She grinned sheepishly. "...I know I'm being lame. I know I am. But I'm trying to start it out right, you know?"
"Start what out?" Asked Lisa.
"...Our first date."
* Okay. Of all the chapters I've written for this story so far, this was without a shadow of a doubt my favourite. While a lot of my work, especially in the past year, is usually doom, gloom and social recluses, in reality I idealize middle-class American teen life a great deal, which includes dates, eagerness and silly games of truth or dare. I don't know why that image is so romanticised in my head but it is, and I wanted this chapter to reflect that. If you're attentive you'll probably recognize how cheesy and contrived the scenario is -- "Oh dude, there's a blackout! Let's like, totally play truth or dare!" but I like it for that very reason. I actually had more dares planned, to show what Jenny, Lisa and Nicole ended up doing, but because the chapter was getting so long I had to cut them out, unfortunately. I think what's here works well enough on its own.
* Once again, thanks to all those who've reviewed and sent me their comments.