[GAU] Conversations and Revelations (Marco/Michaela)

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[GAU] Conversations and Revelations (Marco/Michaela)

Postby EtB » Sun Feb 15, 2015 12:31 am

Michaela Carter (Eric the Bard)
(2/13/2015 4:28:23 PM) (2026703)

Abby has shown me around the gym, and I have taken full advantage. Both of the showers, and the track. Abby herself would be treated to a display of why I was the star in our community that I was.

I was running.

Long legs devour the track in steady strides, my face determined and set. I'd been having Abby keep two times active, one for each mile run, and one for overall time. I do six miles every day, and I'm not going to miss today just because I'm skipping school. Running is where I find myself. Or maybe where I lose it. I'm no good at that philosophy stuff. Six miles takes me roughly half an hour. Twelve miles an hour doesn't sound very fast -- until you factor in that I maintained that speed the entire distance. For reference, your average person walks between two and three miles an hour in a relaxed walk. Jogging is between five and ten. And I'm barely winded, lightly perspiring, when I come to a halt.

I don't just stop, of course. Instead, I signal to Abby that I'm done, grab a water bottle, and take a final slower lap around, grading my speed down as I go, until I'm walking the final stretch to the finish line, taking sips of water the entire way. When I finally reach the end then, I set the water bottle down, and begin stretching. There's a routine here, and it keeps things limber and strong.

I could keep going. I've thought about it. Just running, never looking back. I could probably reach the coast in a week or so. I had only the fuzziest idea of where it was in relation to this town. I could go anywhere. And just keep going. I close my eyes against the thought, and drink more water. In shorts and a jersey, hair pulled back and held with a colorful little band, I probably look like a tomboy. If not just a boy. I've never cared about my looks.

They didn't do much for my mom, after all.

I sat down finally, muscles relaxed and feeling pleasantly tired, that slightly tight feeling you get from a well-worked, but not over-worked, muscle. I thank Abby for taking those times, avoiding her eyes -- there's something in them that I'm not ready to look at just yet.

I need to focus.

Marco Rivale (Damiana)
(2/13/2015 4:47:54 PM) (2026716)

Yay for the gym getting used. I think Steph has. Lilly goes for massage therapy- from the same private trainer I sort of had sex with in the cabana. And the weight room. And the small lap pool. And...


On the bright side, I never paid her or took her to a nice motel. Other than dinner and movies and drinks (usually non-alcoholic), I've never spent money on a girl except for family and now Kelly. Oh God, I really don't want to imagine the conversation that Lilly and Kelly are having right now. It really is my fault, however. When I see Trevor- which needs to be, for sanity's sake, after I see Kelly? I will try and pin him down and have a heart-to-heart with him.

I'm sure he didn't actually hit Kelly. Lilly made it sound like he punched her. I'm sure that's an exageration, though I sure as hell want to know what he was doing over at Kelly's in the first place, as well as what his sister Lisa told him about the way we kissed and brushed each other off. But as I go on the hunt for Michael and spot her in the gym and start walking over?

What I'm wondering about most of all is why she's staying with us and if she's okay. Athletic girls have never been my 'type' as much as I have one as far as The Game, but who I sleep with and who I date and spend non-sex time can vary. Raven, for example. She's my friend with benefits. She's not especially pretty, but she's Hermoine-smart and sarcastic and has shown me the promise of the world beyond high school. I can't wait for college.

"Hey!" I call out and wave to Michaela when I find her, drinking water and cooling down after her work out. Man, she looks good that way. Natural, in her element. I can admire the aesthetic. "You must be Lilly's new friend. She is over at Kelly Benette's house for the night. But I have no plans until tomorrow if you wanted someone to just hang out with. I'm Marco." She might know my name, she might not. Its a big high school.

Michaela Carter (Eric the Bard)
(2/13/2015 5:05:18 PM) (2026740)

I look up at the voice, golden-brown eyes scanning him quickly as I look around to find him. I stand up, pulling the towel from around my shoulders, and try for a polite smile. I think I manage it.

"Marco?" I say curiously, and hold out a hand. "You must be Lilly's brother. I just keep meeting your family." The handshake is light, quick, and hesitant. I know of him. Seen him around, things like that; some of the other girls on the track team talk about him in dreamy tones. I don't quite get it, but then, I never really have. "Your dad was...very kind. He seems like a really good guy." There's something in my tone there -- I know it's there, but even if I knew how to remove it, I wouldn't. I've never had a dad. All the important people in my life are women. Only one of them is anything approaching a mentor figure.

Coach, if you're curious.

I cock my head at him curiously, studying him. "Well," I say slowly. "I don't usually....hang out....but I suppose I could give it a try," I say, and the smile on my face is a bit more natural, a little less forced. I'm a tall girl, like many runners are, trim, long-limbed and lean. "Who knows, maybe I've been missing something all this time." I have my backpack on the bench, and I realize that during my run, all the clamoring stress of the past few days has been pushed down to a muted buzz. It isn't gone -- it just feels....distant. Even the tiny bursts of weird jumpiness I feel when meeting Abby's smile seems muted, faded, not quite there. I reach into my backpack and pull out my camera. "Do you mind?" I ask, indicating that I'd like a picture of him. I'd already asked Abby, but she was shy, and I'd not wanted to push. Maybe I could get one of the Rivale family together. That would be nice. My camera is a small but powerful digital affair, compact, probably the most expensive thing I owned.

Marco Rivale (Damiana)
(2/13/2015 5:19:38 PM) (2026755)

"My dad is amazing." I say that with real sincerity, just thinking about how the conversation we just had went. "He's no TV dad. He's kinda.." I laugh. "He's a very unique individual but as corny as it sounds? My dad is the person in my life I can point to and say I want to be just like him when I grow up."

If Kelly is more than 5'9? She's taller than me.

I believe her when she says that she doesn't do that much. It makes me think of Mallory, as a matter of fact. But the more time I spend with the deaf girl? The more I enjoy it. And I haven't hit on her, haven't wanted to. We have a different vibe going on, something that I'm getting kind of attached to feeling.

"Sure," I tell her. "Lilly is into picture taking too, but mostly for Facebook. If she applied herself, took some classes and bought a real camera like yours? I think she would even be good at it." I quickly push my hair out of my eyes and watch her and the camera, changing my pose or expression if she asks for it.

"They've got a track video up on the school website this week. It features you and the way you just blew it out of the water during your last track meet. Do the older girls give you a hard time because you are just a sophmore or are they just happy to have somebody on the team who is as talented as you are?"

Michaela Carter (Eric the Bard)
(2/13/2015 5:32:29 PM) (2026768)

I'm about an inch shorter than he is. The closeness of our heights means I don't feel overshadowed by him, or like he's looming over me. I move him into better light, squint at it, make a few adjustments; I don't ask him to pose, exactly; I want the picture to look as natural as possible. Despite me going to some lengths to set it up. When I finally like what I see through the viewfinder, I snap the shot. "There we go," I note with satisfaction.

"She's good anyway," I tell him, looking up from storing the picture on the camera's card. "We shared some pictures back and forth. She knows how to set up light and frame a good shot. She might not apply herself because it might not be something she's passionate about, just....something she picked up," I say, shrugging.

Now, someone following my meets? That brings a real smile to my face. I can't imagine finding much entertainment in watching a bunch of girls run around in circles, but then, people watch cars do it...."Thanks. It ...There's some of both," I say thoughtfully, making a seesawing gesture as I replace my camera in my backpack. "Track is as competitive as any sport, and every athlete's got a little of what Coach calls the top dog syndrome." I shrug dismissively. "In the end, only Coach's opinion really matters. The older girls....I stay out of their way, and they mostly stay out of mine. Most of them are focused on graduating, or college, or boyfriends, or life after high school."

The sound that follows his use of the word talented is indelicate at best. "Talented. I run. Anybody can run. I just do it more and for longer than anybody, that's all. If you had fifteen years to retrain, you could probably do it too."

Well. That's an exaggeration, I suppose. I hadn't really focused on training to run until I was eight or so. You don't really focus on anything much before that.

Marco Rivale (Damiana)
(2/13/2015 6:03:57 PM) (2026834)

"Lilly doesn't apply herself to anything yet," I say with a shrug. "She's not as shallow as she pretends. Even if she has terrible taste in books, movies, and favorite tv show characters. Some of her friends, the hens? They're aggravatingly annoying and willfully stupid. I can't stand people like that. Its refreshing to see her expanding into more interesting people like you."

"Biologically, anyone can run barring physical disability. But have you ever read a book called Flow? It was written by Mihaly Csikszentmihaly, a psychologist. Its the seminal book on Optimal Experience. Have you ever heard that term before? Olympic athletes are one of the groups he was following while he was doing his research. I think you would find it really interesting. One of the things that Csikszentmihaly's research demonstrates is that it isn't just physical aptitude and training that creates a champion. It is what is going on up here." I tap my temple.

"I have a copy in my room if you would be interested in borrowing it. I did a report on it my freshman year, when it was on a book list I'd been given by a friend." If she's ready to go into the house, I head that way myself.

"Those other girls you are talking about? If that's where their focus is? Then they will never be as good as you. If your focus is on something more intrinsic to running, to winning, to achieving the little victories and big victories that come with career athletics."

Michaela Carter (Eric the Bard)
(2/13/2015 6:20:01 PM) (2026867)

Referring to Lilly's friends -- the more shallow, venal ones anyway -- as "the hens" gets a quirk out of the corner of my mouth, but no more. Smiling, it soon becomes clear, is not an expression often found on my face. I don't like to think of myself as somber, really -- I don't frown or anything -- I just don't smile very much. "I'm interesting," I say, in a tone that expresses doubt.

I've never heard of the book, and the name of the author makes me choke. How anyone could wrap their tongue around that -- As he goes on, I raise an eyebrow at him. "Coach probably has. But, and I don't mean to like.....slam the book or anything, but it sounds like a really complicated analysis of very basic things," I say, slowly. "I mean, things we -- the people who do it -- know here." I tap over my heart. "It would probably go over my head," I admit. "I appreciate the offer, but I struggle with the stuff they have in our school."

I'm perfectly fine sitting out here. I want a shower before I go in anyway. Besides, it's nice out. It isn't raining and I'm mostly indifferent to temperature.

"Pick a goal. Put your eyes on that goal. Never look away, and keep moving toward that goal, and most importantly, don't change the goal," I tell him, nodding. "Anything between you and that goal is a challenge. And that's all there is. Everything else is ...." I make a vague sort of gesture, and a puffing noise. "Doesn't matter."

Marco Rivale (Damiana)
(2/13/2015 6:41:41 PM) (2026907)

"You'd be amazed how most things in the physical and behavior sciences are really simple. Its the naming conventions that make them sound so intimidating. The use of a three or four syllable word to make everything overly complicated. Much like the way the early Catholic Church only did Mass in Latin. They didn't want the unwashed masses to understand the Bible. They kept themselves in power through controlling the Word of God."

I sit down next to her. "And there you go. You basically described one of the principles of Optimal Experience. It goes beyond just setting and keeping the goal to becoming so involved in what you are doing- in your case running- that nothing else matters. When someone has Flow, when someone is having an Optimal Experience, what they are doing is pure bliss. They reach a state of ecstasy- but they never lose themselves to the bliss. They don't forget the goal. But its no longer just about meeting the goal. Running the race, being the fastest, everything that's happening? Its perfect." I gesture with my hands.

"I'm not an athlete- for me? I wouldn't be able to have that kind of optimal experience from running." I'm starting to realize something though. Something I hadn't thought of until just now, because nowhere in the past week had Csikszentmihaly and Flow and all of this been on my mind. But maybe it should have been. Huh.

I become thoughtfully quiet.

Michaela Carter (Eric the Bard)
(2/13/2015 6:50:29 PM) (2026921)

I watch him as he speaks. He's a lot smarter than I am, I'm already getting that -- but he is also enjoying talking about things like this. When he brings up the Church, I say the only thing that comes to my mind every time I think about religion. "My mom says that if you stood God and the Devil side by side, you'd have a hard time telling them apart. If they're actually separate at all." My mom's drunk, but I've never thought she was stupid. There's a wisdom in her, however cynical it might be.

I turn my eyes over the track, and think about it. "Hnn. I dunno. Ecstasy, bliss -- I don't know. When I run, it like....flips something off. In my head. I imagine this pool, like a pond, and keep the water as still as I can. And that's where I run. In that stillness. There's nothing else -- just me and the track. I don't even really notice others on it, except to avoid them. I dunno if I'd call that bliss or whatever -- it's a state of....well, emptiness. Stillness. Everything that frightens me or freaks me out or annoys me -- all the worries and stuff that's all in my head -- it all goes away." I shake my head and give a self-deprecating little laugh. "Probably sound stupid. But that's how it is."

My eyes turn back to him as he trails off, and narrow slightly. He's thought of something.

"Care to share?"

Marco Rivale (Damiana)
(2/13/2015 7:09:16 PM) (2026954)

But before I am able to share the direction of my thoughts, they take off in a completely different direction based on something she just said about God and Satan.

"My birth mother died when I was really young- still a baby. Lilly's mom was my dad's second wife. Did- did Lilly say anything to you about Kim, her mom?" I glance at Michaela out of the corner of my eye.

"My first memories of Kim are okay. Then, right before she drowned herself in booze and pills, she became some kind of weird religious nut or maybe she was just crazy. She got into some backwater fire and brimstone evangelical Church and I remember she tried to insist that we get baptised- I refused. Dad said it was my choice, since I was old enough to care. I didn't believe in God or the Devil, even back then, as people. I saw them more as concepts? That they're meant to be the embodiments of human experience and understanding of right and wrong. The Bible really confused me- the Old Testament, I mean. It seemed to me- and we're talking about when I was ten or eleven- that once you got past the Creation story? God was kind of a dick. All the laws and wars and scenes like Abraham and Isaac just made no sense to me."

"But then I actually read the gospels, and read about Jesus. It wasn't him being the son of God that interested me. It was what he did as the son of God. He was a hippy!" I grin. "He walked around, telling people that they should not be prejudiced schmucks, he took care of the sick and the hungry and never turned anyone away from hanging out with him, rich or poor, boy or girl. I decided that if I'd lived back then? I really would have liked him. Him and John Lennon. What interested me about Christ wasn't him as God, it was him as Man- he was a good person and a good role model- and wow, that was totally this tangent that had nothing at all to do with what he were talking about!"

I just laugh even more. "Sorry. I have had such a stressful week. I was in a car accident. A lot of crazy things happened to me. I made all these mistakes that ended up hurting people I cared about and right now? Just having somebody to talk to about things that have nothing to do with all that stress? It is really, really nice. I hope things are okay in your life? Dad didn't tell me why you are staying with us. You are definitely welcome here. I hope you are enjoying the laptop?"

Michaela Carter (Eric the Bard)
(2/13/2015 7:23:50 PM) (2026989)

I shake my head as he talks about God and the Old Testament. "My mom's the only family I got, and she...well, to say she isn't religious is kinda like saying a fire isn't cold. I never went to Church, or anything, and we didn't have any Bibles in the house."

Yeah. I don't know if it was how she was brought up or if it came later, but my mom....she didn't hate religion. She was contemptuous of it. But I don't really have the words to express that to Marco here. So I let him go on, and speak of Jesus and all. "Maybe. I dunno if you can even do this, in like, books or something -- but maybe it's written so whatever you're looking for, you see. You can do that in pictures, and film -- set the shot up so that it's ambiguous. How a person reacts to it says something about them."

I shrug again, watching him. It's a useful gesture, and I realize I'm enjoying just sitting and listening to him. "I don't mind," I tell him as he apologizes for the tangent. "It isn't a good conversation if it stays in one track all the time." That pulls a small laugh out of me, and I wave a hand at the track. "I run in circles out there," I say wryly. "I don't wanna do that in conversation."

He's had a stressful week?

"Sorry to hear it was rough for you," I tell him. "Your dad saw me running home and offered to give me a lift." It's true -- it just leaves some things out. "When we got there, my mom and I had a fight, and I kind of lost my head. Hadn't even gotten out of the car. I asked him to get me out of there, and he brought me here." I wince when he mentions the laptop. "Yeah. I'm going to have to go back for that, I guess. I just....my mom and I? It's...sort of rocky. I only left because I didn't want things to go beyond harsh words -- and I was afraid they would. But I'm glad I could be a set of ears for you, anyway."

Are things okay in my life?

You notice I didn't answer that question.

Marco Rivale (Damiana)
(2/14/2015 12:54:36 PM) (2027915)

I glance in the direction of the house.

"Something happened between my step-mom and me. I wouldn't even call it a fight." No, I'm not going anywhere near what I would call it. "But I was the one at fault. I didn't expect dad home from Brazil yet- he must have found you on his way home from the airport. I think they're getting a divorce. Lilly is going to be overjoyed about that. I just feel guilty, because even if I didn't like my step-mother? She didn't take too many pills. She wasn't an alcoholic. She wasn't verbally abusive. She just wasn't interesting. She was vapid. I didn't like her because all she really seemed to care about was being pretty and having nice things and flaunting to her friends what new piece of jewelry dad gave her."

"And just now, my dad admitted to me he never loved her that the only woman he'd met and loved was my mom. Kim, Steph, they're just the women he picks up to go through the motions because he thinks that's all he deserves in a marriage now. And that makes me so sad. For them. For him."

I shake my head slightly. "Your mom sounds really unhappy. Hopefully some time apart will help put things in perspective. Has it ever gone beyond harsh words? Has she ever tried to hit you or anything?" Looking at tall, chiseled Michaela I can't imagine her being physically afraid of her mom and more afraid of losing her temper and hitting her. If so, I admire her willingness to just walk away.

Michaela Carter (Eric the Bard)
(2/14/2015 1:08:11 PM) (2027918)

I have a little trouble following all that. I shake my head a little, then just flatly admit, "I'm ....not sure I understand. You're saying your dad married these women just to be...placeholders?" I don't sound shocked or offended by the idea; my upbringing did not exactly encourage me to view marriage with any kind of sanctity. People made bad decisions, and sometimes, they did it together, and made it worse for both. He is right though -- it is kind of sad.

I take a minute to absorb that, and then slowly, I say, "....I think....did he lie to them about it? Because if he's honest....if they know what they're getting into...then....well, maybe it's sad, but ..." I spread my hands, unable to convey what I want to say. It's a business deal. And their dad, from what I saw, is all about business.

I sigh when he asks about my mom. "She is. And she has lots of reasons to be. She used to get angry sometimes, but I've been bigger than her since I was ten years old. I'm not afraid of her, Marco. I'm afraid of me." I run both hands through my hair and blow out a breath, hooking my hands around the back of my neck and closing my eyes, head bowed. "I was so mad. And it was something so stupid. She called me Mikey. Like everyone does. Everyone but Coach, anyway. And I dunno what it was but hearing it out of her -- she's always called me that, but this time....this time it stung. I don't remember ever being so mad. I didn't like it. I don't want to think I could hurt somebody. Especially not....like that, just....blowing up like that. I think if I did that, it would hurt me, somehow. I don't really want to find out."

I'm not the kind of person who opens up to people. Mostly, I keep my distance, not for any real reason but that I just don't get most people, and I don't expect they'll get me. I just never bothered. But here I am, spilling this to some guy I barely know, because he asked just the right question at just the right time.

It takes me a minute to realize I'm crying, and that just makes me squeeze my eyes shut. Christ. Now I'm crying. Maybe if I concentrate, I can make the earth swallow me whole.


Marco Rivale (Damiana)
(2/14/2015 1:19:29 PM) (2027939)

"Maybe," I say about placeholders. "I mean, he's had girlfriends in between. But all of them, all the women I've ever seen my dad get involved with? They are this type. They're the women that most of Lilly's friends are going to grow into- and there are days when I think she's going to grow into one too and then thankfully she pulls her head out of her ass and says or does something genuine. Something with actual meaning behind it. Where I can see she's not just playing to the audience, that she has soul."

Wow, that came out way harsher towards my sister than I meant it to, especially to her new friend. I might apologize later, but for now I just stop talking about her. I rant about Lilly; Lilly rants about me. I don't get enough opportunities to sit with people like Michaela and listen to them and their problems. Considering I'm going to major in psychology in college next year and becoming a cognitive behavioral therapist is the career path I have in mind, this is the kind of thing I enjoy a whole lot more than bitching about Lilly. Way more empowering. Lilly won't change until Lilly wants to.

I'm quiet as she describes what happened and how it made her feel.

"Was it just her using that nickname or was it her using that nickname and her treating you a certain way? Do you think you've been mad or frustrated at her in general lately? Her or other things in your life?"

Michaela Carter (Eric the Bard)
(2/14/2015 1:34:12 PM) (2027971)

"Maybe he just wants something simple," I say, trying to wrestle a hold on my composure. I can relate. I had a very simple life. One addition, one minor little thing I didn't have before, and suddenly everything is complicated. I sniffle a little, and hate myself for it, and wipe at my eyes before turning to look at him. I just stare at him for a moment. "Do you really feel like that?" I ask, curiously. "About her, I mean?"

I give his question some thought. I'm not a soul-searcher by nature. But it was a serious question, and I take it seriously.

"Things have been ...confusing," I admit. "It's been a weird week. Maybe more. I dunno. For a while, you know, my life was like that." I wave a hand at the track before us again. "Smooth. Straight." Well. The track is kind of oval, but I figure he'll get what I mean. "I knew where I wanted to go, and how to get there. Like I said. Find the goal. Go toward it. But....things have been....happening lately. I'm half afraid I might be crazy. The other half -- well. Being crazy, at least, would mean none of it was real."

I yank my thoughts away from that, and take a deep breath. To keep him from making guesses I don't want him to, or asking uncomfortable questions, I decide to give up one thing Id on't understand to hide the other.

"You're gonna think it's stupid." I tell him flatly. "But if you promise you won't laugh -- and you swear, swear, you won't tell Lilly -- I'll tell you."

There's already color rising in my face, but at least I'm not crying anymore. Though my eyes feel a little raw now. I wipe them again. That doesn't really help.

"But you gotta promise."

Marco Rivale (Damiana)
(2/14/2015 1:46:48 PM) (2027990)

I shake my head. "No, Lilly isn't that bad. She just pretends sometimes. It aggravates me because she has so much potential to be more."

"Weird week," I agree. I nod my head, understanding exactly what she means when she talks about goals, about things happening. However, for whatever reason, I don't connect dots until she asks me to promise and suddenly I know. I don't know the specifics, but I look into her eyes and I can see that 'weird' for her means the same kind of bizarre and almost terrifying things I've been going through. Weird with a capital W.

So I reach for her hand and I squeeze it. "Michaela," and yes, I make sure she knows that I'm using her full name, her real name and she isn't a 'Mikey' to me. "I promise that you can tell me anything and I won't tell Lilly or anyone else. I won't laugh, I won't tell you that you are crazy, I won't judge you in any way. What's been going on?"

I am good at keeping my promises, especially this kind. The way she's crying? I have a feeling she's not used to it at all and whatever happened with her mom? There's some Hobo Attack Syndrome to blame.

Michaela Carter (Eric the Bard)
(2/14/2015 2:03:22 PM) (2028017)

Deep breaths. I have no plans to tell him that I heal ridiculously fast. I'm definitely not telling anyone about that night in the alleyway. No, what I have to tell him is a lot more prosaic, if no less disturbing.

"I used to be like...really focused," I say in a rush. "I guess I still am, but there's things that have been happening that...distract me. When your sister came over to give me the computer. She made me...nervous. I don't know why. I ....For a while, every time I turn around, like, I see her face. Her eyes. But it's not just her. I don't...." Another deep breath, marshaling my words. Come on words. Get in line here, you have a job to do. "I can't afford these...distractions. And now I have two things in my head. I have feelings running around in there I don't understand, don't want, don't know..." My hands make a kind of wringing gesture. "Don't know how to ....get a grip on. And a totally different thing -- I mean -- I know I'm not like...pretty. But it really hurts, you know, when people say stuff, like, hey, boys shouldn't have long hair!" I blush even saying it. I never intended to say any of this to anyone. But I had to tell him something, didn't I?

"There's stuff going on in my head. And I don't know what to do, and I didn't want to talk about it, because I didn't know what to say, and now I'm telling you and you're going to laugh at me, and you're going to tell Lilly, and she's going to laugh at me, and eventually I have to go home and try not to strangle my lush of a mother and I'm a horrible person and I don't know what to do."

By the end of this, I'm mumbling through my hands, which are covering my face because dear God the waterworks have started again. This is so not my day.

Marco Rivale (Damiana)
(2/14/2015 2:24:35 PM) (2028039)

Two weeks ago, I wouldn't have understood. I might have guessed at what she was hinting at because let's face it, half the school thinks Michaela Carter is a lesbian. I just rolled my eyes when other guys said things, made wisecracks about it, behind her back in my hearing. She doesn't simper at me, we've been having one of the best conversations I've had with anyone from school in a long time. I think she's pretty, a lot more pretty than most of Lilly's hens, the way Kelly is too. They don't over-do the make up, and use that whole smoky eye bad girl smoldering stuff which is fine for parties and pot and dancing and sex but doesn't make me look at a girl and really enjoy looking at her. At the aesthetics of her.

"There's nothing wrong with liking other girls that way." I say it quietly and I smile as I squeeze her hand again after she rings them. "There's nothing wrong with you for getting a little weird around Lilly. And I won't tell her."

"I don't know if she'd laugh or not. She might be flattered and just crow about it, because Lilly loves, just loves, to blueball guys." I don't tell Michaela that Lilly does it even to me. Just to drive me crazy and sometimes it works. I said all kinds of ridiculous things to Trevor about my sister but it was the mood we were both in. I was drunk on life that day. Right now? I'm feeling very calm- and how could I possibly mock Michaela or the pain and confusion she's going through when I've woken up, feeling exactly this way about Trevor and finally even said so to my dad.

Since Michaela's hands are occupied now. I put one arm around her and hug her, letting her cry.

"Lilly is going to be too busy strangling me when she gets home for the things I've done this week to possibly laugh at you. Right now, she's having an Italian Episode, screaming about killing Trevor Benson and setting him on fire and I'm pretty sure the only reason my phone isn't exploding with text messages filled with death threats from her over something I told her earlier is because I made her so mad she broke her phone."

I have to smile just a little.

"I wouldn't trust the school counselors with anything actually real. But I know they have support groups and things for teens who think they might be gay. Online forums and support groups and all kinds of resources. If you wanted to go to one, to one away from school, at a church or something? I will take you. Right now I'm without wheels because dad took Steph's mustang back, but I can always borrow a different car for something like this. If it was an errand for you? I'm really sure dad would let me drive."

Michaela Carter (Eric the Bard)
(2/14/2015 2:41:48 PM) (2028049)

Do you ever have one of those moments, where something someone says makes such absolute glaring sense that you feel like a complete and utter retard for not seeing it yourself.

The expression I turn on him, when he puts it together that I might be gay, makes it clear -- this had never even occurred to me. I can't even say why. I just...never thought of it. Mom and I never had The Talk. I never dated. I'd been so focused, so....

Now I groan and bury my face in my hands. "And now I'm stupid on top of it," I mutter, but I don't push him away.I let him hug me, and take comfort in a friend being close. I even start to laugh a little. "How's that for tunnel vision?" I ask, a little wildly. "I never thought it was wrong, Marco. I just....well. I guess I didn't think about it at all."

It makes sense. A lot of sense. I'm not like...sure? But he's given me something to look at, instead of vague feelings and no context to put them in. Even if he turns out to be wrong, I can thank him for that. But I don't think he is. I mean, I've been talking to him all this time and I haven't gotten all fluttery like every other girl I've seen in his company. At his offer, though, I shake my head.

"You're....God, Marco, your whole family has been really sweet to me, but ....thanks, but I don't think I could do that. Stand in front of a bunch of strangers and just....no. I...I guess I....jesus, it sounds pathetic, even in my head, but....I never had a family, really, except Mom, and I was never good at making friends. I...."

Okay, Michaela, words are useless. I suddenly turn and fling one arm around his neck, hugging him back fiercely.

"Thanks, Marco. And if Lilly wants to strangle you, well. She'll have to go through me first."

Maybe this day isn't so bad after all.

Marco Rivale (Damiana)
(2/14/2015 3:03:17 PM) (2028050)

"Until you have half the school gossiping about you getting a blow job from a sophomore in front of a freshman math class- which isn't what happened by way- you have nothing to feel stupid about. Hardly anybody is totally heterosexual or totally homosexual. For all that we objectify what people look like? What makes someone attracted to someone else goes beyond looks. You are not the only one going through this kind of craziness, I promise."

Funny how its such a big relief to be able to say these things to someone. Its almost as if I was saying them to her to make myself start to hear it.

"Then you don't have to do that. The offer is on the table. I don't have any advice on what to say about being attracted to Lilly herself. Since she's already going to kill me and I can't possibly make her more mad at me than she already is, I'm going to tell you something about my sister. She's never had sex with guys. There are guys at school who brag that they've had sex with her but I know better. Lilly doesn't like guys- she likes to torture guys. She is the polar opposite of a misogynist. She mistrusts and hates men- well, everyone except dad."

I laugh. "So not to raise your hopes? But since the only kind of guy I've ever seen Lilly be nice too and want to hang out with is someone she decides is gay and won't ever hit on her? Who knows what my sister's actual sexual preferences are. But she's an egotist. Everything is always about Lilly. I wouldn't wish her as a girlfriend on anyone I liked."

I stand up. "And thank you for offering me your protection. If she attacks me with a blow torch?" I'll come running. But we should go inside. I'm starving. Want to come raid the fridge with me? Be warned, dad is probably in the family room, watching all the episodes of Dr. Sexy that he missed while he was in Brazil. So if we go in there to hang out with him, that's what you will be subjected too. Its like his dirty secret pleasure, a tv show that... bad."
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