In the silence after my announcement that The Clarke Legacy (OMG I did it! I spoke with capital letters!) is mine mom and dad take the opportunity to drop a quick kiss on each of us and then they hurry out the door, suitcases in hand. Off to Shang Simla! Surrounding me are smiling faces and Conrad’s arms – he’s the huggyist guy I know. Adam’s cheering and Kaitlin’s got a huge grin on her face but there’s someone missing… Someone who is scowling which is totally different from his usual expression. With not a word of congratulations Troy brushes past us and heads upstairs, grumbling to himself. Of all my siblings I had counted on Troy to be happy for me and excited with me but instead he’s upset and angry and sad looking and at 7:00pm he’s headed straight for bed. I wonder what’s up…
To be honest though, Troy’s reaction is not on the top of my mind. Berjes and I have a date planned. Like an actual date, my first date, and I couldn’t be more excited. Until it starts. I’d been bouncing behind my desk all day in anticipation. Couldn’t wait for the bell to ring and for us to head to Corriente. I was looking forward to an evening of bubbles and dancing and (virgin) drinks but once we sit down at the bubble bar he just… closes up. He doesn’t pick up a pipe to join me, even with me gushing over the Pineapple flavour and he hardly says a word. Just sits there sorta staring blankly into space. So much for an evening of excitement.
After an hour or so of awkward silence from Berj, all I can think of to get this evening going is maybe moving somewhere where we’re both comfortable. There’s nothing playing at the theatre so I invite him home to watch a movie. I’m sure this will work, the night can only get better! My first date can’t possibly be such a disaster… Or can it? I pop in the DVD and sit down on the couch and Berjes joins me… Kind of. I can’t believe he plopped himself down on the other end of the couch! We’ve never ever sat this far apart. Frustrating. For the first time, I can’t wait for him to leave, all I want to do is run up to my room and cry on my bed. I guess the feelings aren’t as mutual as I’d thought. The credits roll and I’m relieved. Now this terrible date can end. I walk him outside to wait for his ride home and we still haven’t spoken. Not about the movie or school or even celebrity gossip, just awkward. So awkward. As headlights round the corner I say goodbye and turn towards the house, tears welling in my eyes. Without any warning at all I feel his hand grab mine to pull me back around. His hand is so soft! “Lee…” I think it’s the first thing he’s said to me all night so I wait, expecting an apology.
Apology does not come. He stares at me as his mom honks the horn on the car. His brows are furrowed and he looks worried so now I’m worried too. Anxious and nervous, I have no idea what’s coming next. No hint, not so much as a whisper of anything is betrayed in the look he wears so it’s totally out of nowhere when he leans towards me and presses his lips against mine. It’s practically chaste except now my heart is flipping and there are butterflies in my belly. I’m swooning! This is a swoon! And then I open my eyes and he’s disappearing into the car. My first kiss!!
I think I stand outside for hours, unable to bring myself to unplant my feet from the lawn. I’m scared that if I move I’ll stop being able to feel the ghost of his chapped lips on mine. I’m scared that I’ll float away. I spent all evening wondering what I had done wrong and now, that feeling is just another ghost that’s haunting me, and I think I’ll exorcise it pretty soon. Like right away. I know, I know, it was a pretty awful date by every standard there is, but the way it ended? I have so much hope for the future! I’m planning date two and date three and pretty much every date until prom. Ahhh… Berjes!
I’m not the only one in the house who has found love. Too soon, maybe just like and not love. Conrad and Laurie are going strong, they’ve made it official and everything I could not possibly be happier for him. Every time I look over at him he’s got this silly grin on his face, the mirror to mine, and oh! when he’s with his girl he’s just on cloud nine. I’ve never seen him so happy and relaxed and jovial before in my life and it’s great for all of us ’cause cloud nine is all silver lining. He hasn’t yelled at anyone since their first kiss – which I totally saw but he doesn’t know it – he hasn’t stormed out of a room or slammed a door either. Amazing!
Not so amazing, as it turns out, is reality vs. my imagination. It hasn’t taken long for my bubble to burst. A week after our date and Berjes still hasn’t called me. He hasn’t sat with me at lunch or asked me for help with his homework. He doesn’t so much as glance in my direction. I pass him in the hallways or the streets and I can wave and call his name and… and it’s like I’m a ghost! All that walking on air I was doing and now my feet are right back on the ground. I don’t understand!! What did I do wrong here? Am I a bad kisser? Do I smell? Am I coming on too strong?? I just don’t know what to do. I like him so so SO much and my best friend, my first date, my first kiss, suddenly I seem to have disappeared from his world and it’s so heartbreaking.
And Berj isn’t the only one acting weird. Troy hasn’t spoken to me since mom and dad left for their long-awaited honeymoon. More specifically, he hasn’t spoken to me since he found out I was the heiress to the Legacy. Hell, if I enter a room and he’s speaking he just stops and glares at me or turns and leaves. I just don’t understand where this is coming from! No one does. All I want is my brother back, my friend back, but instead we sit in uneasy silence while we work on homework with him staring straight at his work and not so much as looking at me. Did I get ugly all of a sudden so that no guy wants anything to do with me?! I mean, obviously not all guys are being so weird, but the ones I care about the most are.
Don’t think for a second that Troy’s bizarre behaviour is just towards me. He spends like all of his free time with our cousin Oliver. Crazy Ollie. I swear that he’s a snapped rubber band or something. He never quite grew up. Still lives with Auntie Vi, still only works part time – and at the graveyard at that – and when you talk to him he’s just got this glassy look like he’s seeing something you’re not. Full of non-sequiters and ideas that don’t make sense, Troy used to join us when we made fun of him (always behind his back, and never too too mean) but now they’re like besties or something. It’s so strange! Not out of character for Troy, but definitely strange.
Adam’s strange too, but that’s hardly out of the ordinary here, is it? He’s taking this “I’m in charge” thing way too seriously and enjoying it way too much. At least someone is. He’s constantly popping out of the woodwork and trying to give me a heart attack or picking on Conrad which he hasn’t done since we were kids. He doesn’t cut Troy any slack either. Only Kaitlin isn’t being harassed but that’s ’cause she’s practically never at home. I wish The Bistro would extend his hours or that he’d get a girlfriend or something so that he’d leave us all in peace. He’s such a jerk!
I’m not the only one calling one of the twins a jerk – or even worse – but the people calling Kaitlin that are paying to have that opinion. As if the girl doesn’t spend enough time at the gym or doing something for her job she’s picked up an extra job at the gym training people. I guess if you’re going to have someone yelling at you and trying to motivate you, Kai’s as good a person as any but seriously, why?! Just like, sit on the machine and life the weights, am I right? I think I am, I usually am.
In the wake of the disaster that was my non-relationship with Berjes (I’m really still not over it) I found myself saying “yes” when Myron asked me out on a date. Let me tell you, this is a boy who seems to know how to date. He picked me up, at home, on time, held the door to his car open for me and then drove to well… To be honest I have no idea where we are and all of a sudden I am not trusting that twinkle in his eye.
“So Little Lee,” how has that become my nickname? I’m not that small! “are you as in shape as your sister? ‘Cause TAG! You’re it!!”
For the record, I am not as in shape as Kaitlin but I’ll play along so I chase him through the woods, getting more and more lost as we go until… Oh wow!
He’s stopped in the middle of a clearing that I never knew existed. I want to live here forever with it’s wild fruits and clear, clean pond. Myron’s looking nervous now, bouncing on the balls of his feet until I notice what’s behind him; a perfectly set up picnic. He must’ve been planning this all day. At my grin he grabs my hand and pulls me over to the water’s edge and the spotless gingham blanket he has spread out and then, to top it off, he pulls out everything a girl could possibly want to see at a secluded picnic. He doesn’t let me do a thing for myself, piling my plate high and insisting I eat before he has even lifted his plate. I do and it’s as delicious as anything Chef Adam has ever cooked at home. We spend the whole meal staring into each others eyes and it’s not awkward in the least. Conversation flows and so do the jokes, if we were older the necter would as well but instead we just have juice and honestly, that will do. When I get chilly he gives me the sweater off his back and when he gets chilly we walk hand in hand back to his car and head to his place.
We put in a DVD but I don’t know which one. I can’t help but compare this date to the one from a couple weeks back. He not only sits right next to me but his arm is firmly around my shoulders and man oh man does it feel great to be close to him. At some point near the beginning of the movie Myron stops paying attention to the screen, his fingers stop the idle fiddling they’ve been doing and he turns my face to his. Without any of the shame or surprise of my first kiss he leans forward and… well, his lips sure aren’t chapped! That I can tell you with 100% certainty ’cause I spent quite a bit of time with them. The only problem with my date? No swooning.
I’m so confused and so torn! How can my heart miss something it’s never really had and why, when it’s so close to being able to have something so so good is it so so uninterested? Every time I see Berjes my heart skips a beat but he still doesn’t look at me. Every time Myron sees me he’s at my side and I’m just like “Oh hi!” I need some help with this one and with Kaitlin out of the house and mom off gallivanting around the world, there’s only one lady I know to help me out and that’s Auntie Vi. Unfortunately, she has no advice for me and no real desire to talk about love this soon after her husband’s funeral. I get that. Instead we lug ourselves over to the park and she teaches me the basics of jamming and tells me all about life as a rock star – and man can the old lady rock! She’s still got it in her. One day, I hope I’m as cool as she still is.
I can’t talk to Conrad about my boy problems, mainly ’cause I can’t get him away from Laurie. Those two are lip-locked all the damn time and while it’s cute and sweet it’s also super nauseating. I mean, come on! Time and place people. Right this second is not always appropriate. They fawn over each other aaaaaalllll the time and use the word “love” as freely as the word “the.” I’m happy for them, I really am, but I’m also super jealous. Especially when Conrad throws around the word “marry.” Yup, I’m pretty sure he’s even got the ring picked out. Does he know how young we are??I also can’t talk to Adam, no advice on that front and even if I could I think it would be super awkward. Jess has been spending a lot a lot of time at the house lately, with Adam obviously, and while it’s keeping him out of my hair it’s making things really… strange. I mean, he’s dating my crush’s big sister! Not to mention the fact that she’s still dating, uhm… I can’t remember his name but it seems to me that maybe she should. I thought about asking her what to do about Berjes but it occurs to me that she’s hardly the poster child for happily functioning relationships if she’s keeping my brother on the side. I’ve never actually seen Adam and Jess kiss, or hug, or touch or really do anything other than gaze into one anothers eyes but there’s no doubt in my mind that they’re together. For one thing, Adam’s really mellowed out, and for another, you don’t have to see anything when you can hear everything. Everything. We all can. So much for a clandestine affair. I hope she’s here for Ad though, I really do. He’s loved her for so long and it would be such a shame if she’s just playing games.
Another person I can’t talk to is Troy, and I’ve finally tried as well. For weeks I left him alone, hoping that he’ll come around and stop being so moody but he continued to mope. I really should have left him to it. For the first time in my life – in his life for that matter – Troy is yelling. He looks pissed and it’s beyond me. All I did was ask him how his day was, how Oliver was and now I’m getting such an earful.
“Why can’t you just leave me alone?! You think you know everything, you think you’re so special. ‘Look at me, I’m Little Lee, I’m soooooo smart and sooooo funny and sooooo pretty and everyone loves me sooooo much’ well you don’t know anything! You can’t imagine what it’s like to be anyone but you. Just… Just… GO AWAY!”
I can’t sleep anymore. All I do is worry about the boys in my life. Berjes, Myron, Troy, Berjes, Myron, Troy. My indecision and confusion and concern are overwhelming. My head begins to spin the second it hits the pillow and I toss and turn as I replay conversations and shared looks, as I try to force one from my heart and let another in, try to work out why everyone’s being just plain weird around me. A glass of warm milk usually gets me to sleep and it’s while I’m sipping one of those that Kaitlin joins me in the kitchen. Kaitlin! Why haven’t I tried to ask her what to do? Probably because I never see her. I take an hour, pouring my soul out to her over the kitchen table. I’ve never been so grateful to have someone just listen. When I’m done, she offers advice that is unfortunately no help and a hug that does wonders.
“Talk to Berjes, don’t let him ignore you. Go out with Myron again, enjoy it, you’re young and Troy… Give him time? I dunno what’s up with him.”Detention?! Seriously! Everyone is out of class except for me and, well, a couple other people who got called out today. I didn’t even do anything wrong! Sure I was talking and sure I didn’t finish my homework and maybe I dozed off a bit during English but it’s sooooo boring. Can you blame me, what with the lack of sleep? Either way, I get to stare at the clock until they release me from behind this stupid desk. They won’t even let me do my homework! How does that make any sense at all, I mean, seriously! Shouldn’t they be glad that I want to get all caught up, and why treat me like a criminal, this is the first time!
Time is up! Freedom has been attained and someone has left the door to the music room open. For the first time that I’ve seen it the place is empty and I can’t help but slip inside and sit down behind the keyboard, gosh this bench is uncomfortable. My fingers find their familiar place on the keys and begin to play the concerto I’ve played a million times before, like they have a mind of their own. From the first movement to the last and then onto another piece and then another and another. I’m lost in the music – as I so often am – and for the first time in weeks I’m sort of starting to relax… Until she walks in. She being the only other girl in detention with me this afternoon. Hanna.
I look at her, feeling a little bit sheepish. She’s never punctual and a little batty and she’s looking at me like… I don’t even know what that expression is.
“Ohmigawd you’re so good! I didn’t know you played piano! I play bass, I love music it’s my life. Isn’t it just like the best feeling in the world when you really get into it? You don’t write by any chance do you? Music I mean. And songs. Stuff that’s not so… Stuffy? Don’t get me wrong, you play the classics wonderfully but do you do contemporary stuff? Oh please please please tell me that you write ’cause my band lost it’s writer and keyboarder… Keyboardist? When he graduated and we’re all so useless at it and if you can write we’d love love love to work with you maybe. Please tell me you’ll think about it, K? I’m Hanna by the by and ohmigawd I’m late for work! Bye!!”
Well. That was… Interesting.I really hope life gets a little less confusing in the love department soon, but maybe, just maybe, it’s time to share my songs with someone else… And then the world? Maybe I’ll take Hanna up on that offer.