"I need a boyfriend so bad!" my best friend, Laci O'Connor, exclaimed dramatically at lunch one Friday.
Knowing she says this between each and every boy-toy, I rolled my eyes and continued peeling my orange. "That's what you said a few weeks ago before Caleb."
"This is different, Jac, I'm like totally alone and prom season is coming up."
"You don't ever seem to have a problem finding a date," I replied as I popped a sliver of orange into my mouth.
"Please. This is serious - you don't know what's it like to be alone like this."
Heat touched my cheeks. "Dominic and I broke up, you know."
Laci scoffed. "As if! I'm not dumb; I see you texting him all the time."
I paused. "So?"
"So he's a total dork. You could do so much better."
"Not really . . ." I muttered doubtfully.
"Not really what? Not really you could do better or he's a loser? Because both are true."
"He isn't that big a loser," I replied, defending him.
Laci directed her eyes to a group of geeky Sophomores a few tables over. "I guess there is worse- at least he isn't as low as them."
I stared at the kids for a few moments and studied them. None of them were wearing anything fashionable in the last ten years, their hair styles as outdated as their wardrobes. Apparently, one of them had done something quite hilarious, seeing as how the entire group was exploding in laughter, one of them snorting loudly.
"Dom plays sports," I added dully, my eyes drifting to a boy on the opposite side of the nerd-table, several empty seats in between him and the rest of civilization.
"Oh wow, you still call him Dom? That whole 'we're broken up' BS is totally fake. I can't believe you think you could keep it from your best . . ." Laci continued talking but I had long tuned her out.
I couldn't stop staring at this guy, this social outcast. His hair was black, obviously dyed, and sticking up in all the wrong places. His clothes were strange - not the type you would expect from a person like him. They weren't horrible, mostly consisting of dark colors and patterns that weren't too outlandish. He was perched on the edge of the table against the wall, head facing it as if he were sleeping.
"Hello? What are you looking at?" Laci cried while snapping in my direction. "Who's that?"
"I don't know . . ." I looked at my friend's annoyed expression. "Just some loser," I added.
"Well, quit it. I'm trying to talk to you"
And she did, droning on and on about how Caleb never treated her right and how she deserved someone who made his girlfriend feel like the most beautiful person in the world.
I, on the other hand, found myself nodded and smiling occasionally to her endless complaints, observing other people once again. I found there wasn't much to do at lunch when you are finished eating, other than talk with friends, or in my case, friend. It wasn't that I had no other friends or anything, but Laci was always so . . . secluded . . . from everyone else and wanted to have her own elite group consisting of me, her, and whoever she may be dating at the time.
I watched the geeky Sophomores get up and dump their trays, returning to their table and enjoying each others' company once more. A strange part of me was envious of their behavior, their lack of caring as to who may be judging them. Then again, the only way to stay above being ruled off as "weird" or "a freak" was to monitor everything you do and control yourself in every way possible. That's how people got popular, beautiful friends like Laci. After all, that's how she and I became close.
I began daydreaming about what it would be like to be in a different group of friends such as the geeks a few tables over as the bell sounded, declaring it was time to resume the monotonous school day.
The rest of the school was a sluggish daze, and by the time the final bell rang, I was more than ready to go home and spend the rest of my evening enjoying solitude. Laci usually dragged me along to whichever party she had been invited to, but this weekend her grandparents were coming down from Alaska and staying at her house, thus forcing her to be at home with them.
"It's like they think they can just barge in with a week's notice and take up all our time going on and on about how well my grandpa's oil refinery is doing - that's all they ever talk about," Laci had told me earlier that week after learning about her grandparents' arrival tonight. "It doesn't even matter to my parents if they come or not. Mom just always wants Dad to be super nice to them so we can get the majority of the inheritance when they bite the dust."
I shook the thought out of my head as I headed to the parking lot and straight into Laci's car. Laci gave me a ride home every now and then when my older brother, Malcolm, was "borrowing" my car.
Malcolm was a 22-year-old college drop out who's only salvation for quitting his medical studies was a mechanics class he somehow got into for free. Being a mechanic wasn't going to pay like a doctor would by any means, but Malcolm wasn't much of a student anyways, and the only reason he had chosen such a difficult career in the first place was to please our parents. That didn't quite happen, however, when they saw he was flunking nearly every one of his classes freshman and sophomore year. This mechanics class was a life-saver for him, even if it did mean lending him my car to practice on every now and then.
"Malcolm?" Laci asked me as I hopping in the front seat.
"Yep," I replied while checking my appearance in the side mirror. My hair didn't stay as curly as I wanted it to, and my makeup was a tad smeared, but overall, I didn't look bad.
"And you think I'm self-absorbed," Laci scoffed with a grin. "You meeting Dominic tonight or something?"
"No," I said in a way that sounded a little too glum, "I'm glad though . . ."
Laci raised her eyebrow at me and rolled out of the parking lot. "Hmph, doesn't sound like it."
"It is what it is."
"Well, it's good you're not busy tonight, cuz guess who just got invited to Tony Chamberlin's party tonight?"
"Tony? Didn't he graduate, like, two years ago?" I asked.
It didn't surprise me that Laci had been invited to a college party, but what did strike my interest was the fact the party's owner was none other than Tony Chamberlin, my infamous ninth-grade crush. Laci had done everything imaginable to try to get him to notice me, but all it landed her was an awkward rumor that she was trying to get with Tony's younger brother, a guy in our grade who must have gotten the wrong parent's genes. Laci had quickly squelched this rumor by hooking up with a then-junior who ended up fathering a child with someone else later that year. Not her best moment, but Laci ended up on top of the rumors once again, holding her head up high and her letting her untouchable popularity be known once more.
"Yes, that Tony Chamberlin," Laci responded while turning up the radio. "It's at eleven so I can sneak away from my family and say I'm going to bed at like, nine-thirty, then get ready. You need to pick me up, though. My dad would know I was heading out if he heard the garage go up."
I thought about my desirable plans of staying in, watching a movie, and going to bed early, but I convinced myself it would be in my best interest to go out and be social than stay inside and be a loser all night. "Okay, want me to come at like, 10:30?"
Laci grinned and rolled into my driveway. "Perfect. Love you."
"Love you too," I replied with a chuckle.
My evening began the way I wanted it to. When I got home, I instantly changed into comfy clothes and raided the cupboard for snacks. I ignored the ridicule I knew Laci would give me if she saw what I had chosen to eat, which appeared to be some sort of cheese-flavored chip. It was more than likely my twelve-year-old sister, Cadaline's. Caddy didn't seem to care what she ate, but you wouldn't have been able to tell by her slim figure. She, my mother, and I were all blessed with high metabolisms, while Malcolm was much stockier like my father.
"It's the least I could do for you girls," my mother always said in reference to our skinniness. When I looked at my mother, it was hard to pick apart anything Caddy and I had gotten from her other than our body types. My mother had light blond hair, partially because she dyed it, but also because of her European heritage. She also had pale eyes and fair skin, unlike anyone else in the family. All three of us children had inherited our father's dark hair and eyes, courtesy of his Indian descent. I can't say I would rather have my mother's features, mostly because she always complained about how blonde hair was so hard to maintain, but also because I tanned so easily.
"It's soooo unfair," Laci would complain as she went from tanning bed to tanning bed attempting to darken her skin to match mine.
My physical appearance was one thing that was really important to Laci, and she made it clear that she admired me for what I looked like. Part of me wished she would focus more on my personality or why she had become friends with me, but another part was just glad she did not ridicule me for my appearance, unlike the majority of people Laci's eyes came across.
Laci was just one of those people who were hard to please, unlike my brother, who I came across in the middle of a heated conversation via telephone.
"C'mon Kristy, you know it's not like that," I could hear him whine into the phone.
Kristy was one of the many girls Malcolm associated himself with. He was one of those guys you could say had a "type," and his type was the annoying, ditsy type. Girl after girl always ended up either cheating on him, storming out for something unreasonable, or getting dumped for their stupidity. I never understood why he kept going for the same type of girl, but it wasn't my problem.
I had made it to my room when I heard Malcolm call out my name angrily.
"JACQUELYN, WHERE THE HELL IS MY PHONE CHARGER?"
I looked down at my dying phone, then to his charger plugged into the wall. I knew that if I gave him the charger now, I wouldn't be able to keep my phone alive for the party.
"CADDY PROBABLY TOOK IT," I yelled out to him as I shut and locked my door.
I listened as he slammed his phone against what sounded like the wall, then stormed after our sister. Malcolm wasn't usually this angry, which made me suspect Kristy had dumped him. She and him had been dating for a couple months now, which was the longest relationship I could remember him being in since high school. I could see this upsetting him; Malcolm had seemed to really like Kristy, which was surprising seeing as how he wasn't much for serious relationships.
That was something both he and Laci had in common: commitment issues. I wondered what how it'd feel to be like them and bounce from partner to partner. I had only ever had two real boyfriends.
There had been Isaac the beginning of my Sophomore year, but we had broken up after about six months. He had decided that he needed to "have no commitments" during wrestling season. I had been okay with waiting it out until his season was over, but Laci had convinced me to dump him and move on. I'm glad I did, because if not, I probably would have been with him come that spring when I met Dom.
Dominic Hellenback was the most arrogant, obnoxious person you would have ever met, but something about him attracted me. Maybe it was the fact he truly did seem to care about me, or possibly it was his crazy sense of humor that I understood so well. Even then, it could have just been the fact he was super attractive. Either way, he and I had been on-again-off-again since this summer, when he had admitted to kissing another girl at a party, thus landing him a prompt dumping.
As I looked back, I often felt I had been too hard on him, dropping him the first second he did anything wrong. Then again, he wasn't completely innocent anyways; I had seen him flirting with other girls numerous times, laughing with them and acting as if he had no girlfriend at all.
"Players are going to play," Laci would always say. "Just don't go down in their playbook."
I sighed away the thoughts of Dom and I plopped into bed. I reached under my pillow and took out my laptop, then loaded up Skype. As if he had jumped out of my head and onto my screen, Dominic was online, along with a few of my other friends. My heart fluttered as I anticipated him messaging me.
I wanted to talk to him, but things were kind of weird ever since he and I had kissed again this weekend. It had been all wrong - in the middle of the movie theater parking lot after seeing a raunchy rom-com. I had ended up going home that night and sleeping before texting him anything, not knowing what to say. He hadn't taken it too well, deciding I wasn't interested in him anymore. The thing was, I really did like him, I just didn't know how to act around him anymore. Everything about him seemed so alien, as if I hadn't known him for the past nine months at all.
I felt a tinge of excitement as I saw a new message appear from him.
Dominic: hey babe
I rolled my eyes and thought about how to respond. Why would he call me babe? We weren't dating; we hadn't even talked in person since Tuesday in third period.
A few minutes passed without a response from him. Maybe I had been too cold.
Me: what's up??
Dominic: juust chillin..hbu
Me: oh nothing much
I thought about the party and how he and I were awkward because of last weekend.
Me: are you busy tonight?
I imagined him picking me up and taking me to the party, where I could prove to Tony Chamberlin I wasn't just some dumb kid anymore.
Dominic: actually yeah, sorry
I felt disappointment flood in me.
Me: oh, well that's too bad.
Curiosity crept in next.
Me: whatcha doing?
Dominic: nothing, just hanging out with someone
I felt a knot twist in my stomach. Someone? Who was this someone? If it was a male someone, he probably would have told me. Guys didn't care about telling people if they're hanging out with other guys. It was a girl; I was sure of it.
Me: really? Who?
Dominic: umm idk if you know her but zoey mclaisly, she goes to whitley
I felt a burning sensation in my cheeks. Yeah, I knew her. Zoey and I had met a few times at parties and never gotten off on the right foot. She was gorgeous, loud, flirty - any guy would be drawn to her.
Me: yeah i've seen her before, you guys talk a lot?
Dominic: ya weve been talking for a few months now. We hung out a few times but not a lot
I hated her.
Me: well that's fine, it's not like we're dating or anything.. but why wouldnt you tell me?
Why hadn't he ever mentioned her before? He and I told each other everything. At least I did.
Dominic: I didnt know I was supposed to tell you everything. Like you said its not like we r dating or something.
I couldn't believe it. Why was he being so insensitive? Couldn't he tell that I liked him? Screw him.
Me: well fine, enjoy your night
With that, I logged off and tossed my laptop onto the floor. I wrapped the covers around me and burrowed my head into angry thoughts.
Stupid jerk. I didn't need him, anyways.