20 February 2003
I don't know quite how to express this, but it feels like there's one too many of us. Perhaps I'm just being silly. Maybe I'm resistant to change, and, yes, maybe I'm just jealous. All I'm asking is that you hear me out.
We used to fit together pretty well, the four of us. The cheerleader, the jock, the star student with a secret sorrow, and me. I know I didn't seem to bring much to the party, but after last year I believe I've justified my place in this little group. I really do. Cast your mind back to the events of last year if you're not so sure; it was my decision that got Joey out of prison on that false drugs rap, and my old friend from infant school who ended up confessing. That was all me, right? See, Joey's nodding. He knows the score.
So, sure, maybe she just has me on edge. Like there's some kind of last-in, first-out deal going on. But I don't think so. I trust you guys. Friends forever, yeah? Although we have been spending less time together recently, and when we do get together she's usually there. And you guys don't seem to be doing anything else; I know I'm not. We just seem to hang around the house waiting for the phone to ring.
OK, don't look at me like that, Cyndi. You know what I'm talking about better than any of us. How long did it take since she came to school this year for you and Donnie to split up? Three years together, planning to go to the prom together, planning to go to college together, every moment together, and within - what? - a week, maybe two he's telling you it isn't working. No trial separation, no working it out, just a one-way ticket to Dumpstown. And sure, you were behaving like a bitch, and nobody could understand why, but that doesn't explain shit.
A week later, he's hanging around her like a weapons inspector, and a week after that they turn up together at the Midwinter dance. But that's not what's confusing me. What's confusing me is that none of us minded. No closing ranks, no calling "skank", not even a charged exchange of views at the punch table.
What the fuck was up with that? What are we, French or something? This is not sane behaviour for highly-strung high-schoolers. Seriously. The next week, back at school, she was drinking with us at the water fountain, joining us for cappuccino and kvetching about the homework assignments Mr. Showalter gives us for AP Maths.
I don't understand it. I don't understand you, Pete. When your mother died you promised you'd have the highest GPA in the school every year. Two years ago you nearly ran yourself into the ground before it turned out that the new kid was cheating on his tests. Now, what's been happening lately? She turns up on a transfer, starts acing every assignment, acts modest about it and never seems to do any extra work, and you're playing racquetball with her and mooning after her whenever she heads off on a date with Donnie. It's out of character, man, and I don't care how beautiful she is. You're gay, remember?
And Jenny - how long have your eyes been blue for? It's all wrong, don't you see? Half the time it feels like I've forgotten something important, and then it comes back and it's something vital. Really vital, like Pete's mother or that time when Joey tried steroids. And I shouldn't be forgetting stuff like that, but what really scares me is the stuff that I don't remember forgetting. What don't I know about you any more? What don't I know about myself?
Sometimes I'm talking to my Dad, just acting natural, and I see something in his eyes like he's never met me before. I don't think it's my fault. It's that Carpenter flick, The Thing - she's making everybody scared of each other. Now I'm scared of myself. I think I'm meant to be in love with her too, and I really don't want to be. But she does things to people. Don't you ever get the feeling, when she's in the room and talking to someone else, that you're getting thinner and paler, 'til you barely exist? Or when she looks into your eyes and you can't stop talking like a twelve-year old. It's all charm rings and eternity and never knowing anyone like her before. And it's bullshit.
It's all bullshit. I've known dozens of people like her before. We spend our lives wading through people like her. Put on 60 pounds and she's just one of those fat kids with pictures of unicorns over her bed that nothing interesting ever happens to, and we never notice. Now she's dating Cyndi's boyfriend, and you know she's going to be homecoming queen, on the strength of two semesters here, and it's all just wrong. So wrong. We can't go to college like this, cheerleading for a perfect stranger. That's not living.
It's OK. We don't have to do anything about it. I didn't think you'd want to. I knew you wouldn't be able to. Just wanted to make sure you understood why I did it.
Everything's going to be fine again now. Everything's going to have a happy ending.