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Category Archives: Angst

“Howl”

And yes, this is the fan fiction entry, in the slash category—although, does it count as fanfiction if it really happened? Better question, maybe: does it count as actually having happened if it’s never talked about, to the point that neither party is even really sure a week later if it actually did?

I don’t think either of them are actually gay. I mean, I know them both—one of them I’ve known for a very long time, and I am so sure that isn’t gay, and I’m not just saying that. One time doesn’t make you gay. Does it? One time is an experiment. It’s a fluke. It’s not something to get all worked up about.

But they’re boys. Boys get worked up about stuff. I guess girls do, too, but like, I don’t know. It’s different, I guess. I sure as hell wouldn’t get all worked up if the same thing happened with me and a girl. Actually that’s not true, probably. It would maybe depend on the girl? I don’t know.

It’s not like there wasn’t a girl involved. Her name was Stella (I’m not even joking) and she was such a groupie—one of their first. Imagine seeing your first set of real-life boobs in a room with like ten other people and knowing you were the one who made the girl take her top off.

Again, it’s a little bit different for girls. Even (and perhaps especially) when it’s a girl doing it.

It isn’t clear to me when this Stella character decided that she was going to seduce them. i get the feeling like maybe she couldn’t make up her mind? Like she knew she was horny and she knew she liked both of them, like they were both hot, and she figured why not, right? So she came up to both of them while they were talking together and just started gushing and probably figured one or the other would bow out eventually, but neither of them ever did. I’m sure there’s an urban dictionary entry comparing this kind of thing to a game of chicken. So she just went with it.

The real question I have is, why did they? What was going through the heads of these two straight white males at the time? Were they both just so focused on her they forgot they were competing? Or did either of them even think of it that way? Maybe one of them thought it was a competition and wanted to win and the other didn’t realize anyone’s style was getting cramped. That seems likely, but either way, once they got to the makeshift greenroom, the pants came off, the comparison became obvious and even if she didn’t care so much, any fraction of an inch difference would’ve mattered to them. That’s how boys are, right?

I’m pretty sure one of them was a virgin. Far as I know, at least. I don’t know. I don’t like to think of myself as keeping tabs. But I guess I am. I think he was. And if so, I’m sure he lost it to the girl. They took turns on her first—she picked, eenie meanie my knee moan. The other watched, entranced by the nearness of rubbing flesh and the look of his very dear friend.

How far they went, well… Let’s just say it was farther than either of them was comfortable with, at least to talk about, but it still left one of them with unwanted daydream thoughts he’d catch himself having about the girl he liked who was dating another guy. What if tehy were playing this all wrong? What if it didn’t need to be a rivalry?

But it’s not like he could ever propose something like that. Even later, even after they broke up, even once he was with her after all, it wasn’t something he could just admit to wanting, or even to having wanted. It was his deepest, darkest fantasy, not even to be with another guy, as such, but just to be… together. And maybe that’s not the kind of fantasy that should be taboo. It’s not like it’s poison—why should that fruit be forbidden?

Maybe it’s just different for boys.

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“Smells Like Teen Spirit”

Does anything much really happen to the average teen?

I mean, sure, stuff happens, stuff happens all the time. Stuff happens to everyone. People fall in love, people get sick (big difference there, right?). People go to school, learn stuff, get in fights, get in arguments. Is there anything everyone does? Sure. Puberty, I guess. Well, maybe not everyone. Breathing. Eating. The other side of eating. Sleeping. Using their heart—in the clinical sense: pumping blood through their veins. Not everyone actually “uses their heart”. Obviously.

What am I getting at?

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but I don’t know what I’m doing. I’m trying to pull together everything that happened not just to me but my brother and my sister and all of their friends, like any of it had anything to do with anything else, and really I’m just making it up as I go. I’m not in middle school anymore. Truth is, it was pretty formative for me. I guess I’d like to say it is for everyone, but I can’t make that call. It’s too big of a statement. So am I trying to write something here with universal appeal? An appeal to the universe? I don’t know what I’m doing. Maybe this is just for me.

Maybe it’s time for a recap, try to show where everyone is, with their respective agendas and arcs. There’s me (Kassandra Llywelyn), my brother Jasper, my sister Aly, and our mom, Nancy, although she’s not technically Aly’s mom, but she has raised her since she was like two. Our dad (dad to all us kids) left and none of us really know what. Sometimes I think I do, but… well, it’s the usual sob story, I guess. Except that I’m supposed to be psychic.

When Aly was a senior in high school, Jasper was a freshman and I just started middle school, so by the time I was a freshman, Jasper was a senior, and Aly was… well…

Aly was friends—kind of—with Tommy Murphy, who was Declan’s older brother, and Declan was Jasper’s best friend. Aly was only really friends with Tommy because Tommy was in a band with Mickey and Kyle Niedermeyer, and Aly had a crush on Kyle, mostly ‘cause he was a rock star in the making, but also ‘cause he was a pretty decent guy, I guess, as high school loser boys go. But he didn’t like her back. Turned out, he had a crush on one of his teachers, Erin Kelly. Actually more than a crush. So Aly went and slept with Tommy and got pregnant. She miscarried, though. I don’t know for sure what would’ve happened to her if she hadn’t, if she’d actually gone through with the pregnancy. Or, then again, maybe I do.

Jasper and Declan had a band, too. Their other two folks were Blake Morrissey on the drums and then this girl Raven, who Declan had a crush on. My brother didn’t like her—at least not in that way—probably because he was a pretty simple guy, for the most part, and Raven liked to wear her weirdness on her sleeve, even if she did then turn around and hide her face behind her hands. Declan’s crush on her was like most teenage boys’ crushes: a solid mix of half-baked attempts at romance and unintentional creepiness, fueling his self-hate. It didn’t help that she was always with someone else—first there was Christina, but not gonna lie, that shit was toxic; and then she fell in love, as much as anyone can at that age, with Blake. Did I ever get to that part? Well, I should’ve. I’m telling you now.

My friends are… well, I don’t know, they’re not as important. I’m not as important, not to this story. Or maybe I am. I don’t know. Maybe we should be. Even if we didn’t follow in the footsteps of those first two little generations and start a band, we’re still… something. Important? Representative?

My first friend in middle school was Kayla Shaw. She was my best friend through eighth and then she left. Who else? I guess Angus—Angus George. I’ve had visions of a redheaded man I’d fall in love with, he seems to fit the bill. Seemed. But I guess there’s still plenty of redheads, whatever the fearmongers say.

I’ve talked about Lucy, poor Lucy, too good for the likes of us, too chipper, and Isabella—I don’t even know what to do with her. But have I talked about Treveor? I always kinda felt bad for Trevor, with a name like that, he never really stood a chance. But maybe I shouldn’t say too much. This is a recap, right? And Trevor’s main contributions I haven’t gotten to yet. None of us really got important until we got to high school (hell, even then…) so maybe I should just shut up. I don’t know what I’m doing anyway, right?

Up until now, I’m kind of self-conscious of how I’ve, I don’t know, grounded the story? I tried to make it seem like all this stuff was happening all at once, in the same year, but I just want to come out and say, no, it didn’t, right?

You know how you look back on stuff and sometimes your memories get jumbled all out of order? If you’ve never noticed, I guarantee you some of your memories are wrong. And I wanna show it that way, warts and all, as it were, first of all ‘cause it’s easier for me, I’ll be honest, but more importantly ‘cause that’s pretty much how I experienced a lot of it at the time. The way your memories get jumbled? That heppens to be all the time. Constantly. Except when it happens to me, it’s not just the memories.

It’s visions, too. The past and the future all cluttering up in the present.


“Walk This Way”

“Have you ever had sex?” my brother asked his band-mate and best friend.

Declan was not prepared for this question. He knew the required response—“Yeah, sure, loads of times!”—but couldn’t bring himself to give it, which was why he scoffed and turned it around: “Have you?”

“Yeah, I did,” said Jasper.

Now, Jasper was, of course, not one to shy away from bragging, but there was something in his voice, something vulnerable that Declan wasn’t used to, coming from him. It made him curious, and as he teased out enough details to convince himself that Jasper wasn’t making the whole thing up, his curiosity turned anatomical—

I’m sorry, I really don’t want to have to talk about this part. Like, seriously, this part is grossing me out just thinking about it, thinking of having seen it—Seeing it was hard enough the first time. And you should be grossed out, too, listening to it, a girl describing her brother… doing things. It’s disgusting.

But it’s important to the story.

Is it, though? I keep thinking I can tell the story without it, that the plot will somehow fold itself around these events and make itself clear in spite of their absence.

No, no, it’s not about plot. It’s about… something. Character. Events. Leaving this out would be dishonest, not just because I would be leaving this part out, but because it’s maybe a part that would resonate. With somebody. Somebody not related to my brother. Because ew.

All right, so you remember that I said my brother had gotten a bit carried away with drugs in the wake of our father doing what our father did. Well, to think that he would just stop there isn’t just despicably naive, it’s oblivious. Jasper was a wannabe rockstar, and unlike some people in this story, he wasn’t in it for the art.

Yes, you heard me. He was in it for the chicks. Rock’n’roll (or whatever punk-metal indie hybrid they thought they were doing) leads to drugs leads to *holding her nose* sex. Ugh. I made it.

My brother started having sex. Well, once, at least, that first year. Her name was Gretchen Forbes and I really appreciate how plain she was, even though that was part of why it ended up happening. Jasper knew she was plain. Jasper wanted to hook up with Marjorie Robbins or Imogen Talbot or even Jemima Sidney, she seemed cool, but none of those girls really gave him the time of day. Gretchen would, though.

Now, I’m not saying that girls only give it up when they’re feeling insecure (although, in retrospect, a lot of that going on around here) but Gretchen was feeling particularly ugly that day, not just because of the zit that she just couldn’t seem to pop, but because of what Cat Jones (who was also having a bad day, but was also just in general kind of a bitch, which is ironic, but I digress) had said about her being fat. Now I, looking at Gretchen Forbes, would not have gone straight to “maybe cut down the string cheese diet”, but Gretchen was insecure and got caught up after school with the cool kids going to hear the band, and then ended up talking to Jasper after practice.

Jasper, meanwhile, had never consciously been flirted with, mostly because he’d just been kind of oblivious up to that point, but something about Gretchen just sort of tugging down her shirt to show just the barest edge of bra, the faintest hint of nipple, got him thinking “Oh my God she wants me this is not a drill!”

Do I have to describe the whole thing? Every touch? Every word? Every base? Do I have to? Isn’t it enough to say Gretchen Forbes, in an act of desperation and low self-esteem, found herself the most potent loser she could stand and did something she regretted for the rest of her life? Because yes, she was a virgin, and yes, she was fourteen and a freshman in high school and she had to live with the knowledge for the rest of her life that she was the kind of girl who had sex at fourteen and then didn’t again for like, what, eight years? Until she was almost out of college? Because of how ashamed she was.

Then again, at least she didn’t get pregnant.

And at least she didn’t have to watch that happen to her brother.

For a week, I couldn’t even look at him. For a month, I glared. I knew he knew I knew, but he didn’t know how I knew, so he ascribed it to magical powers. I laughed and laughed, until I remembered what it was that I knew and was laughing about.

Declan, meanwhile, pretended not to seethe in jealousy of his friend’s experience as he admired their one lone female band-mate from afar.


“Girl, You’ll Be a Woman Soon”

The first time I met Kayla, she offered me Midol. It was sweet of her, but I wouldn’t have my first period for a couple more months. It never even occurred to me at the time to think how she might be thinking about things like that.

I’m going to do it. I’m going to talk about Kayla Shaw and what she meant to me.

In grade school, Kayla had been the perfect tomboy. She climbed trees, she got in schoolyard fights, she played wargames with strategy and finesse, and could beat pretty much all of the boys at any physical activities. But the summer before sixth grade, her parents pulled her aside and told her she had to be a lady now. The reason was because she had just told them she’d had her first period.

When I got mine, it was unpleasant. It was scary, I guess it was scary mainly in the way that growing up is scary, or falling in lvoe, or when you wake up and realize that one day it’ll all be over. So it was scary, but there was a sense of wonder to it, I guess, this spiritual… I don’t know, it’s lame and I’m crazy. There was shame to it, too, but the one thing I don’t remember feeling was betrayal.

That was what it was like for Kayla, though. “It’s like, back in elementary,” she confided in me during one awkward sleepover at my place, “I knew who I was, everything my body did made sense to me, more or less. I mean I was jealous, obviously, with the whole penis thing” (this didn’t seem obvious to me, but sure, fine) “but even that, like, I don’t know, there was a place for that.”

“Did your parents not tell you?” I prodded. “Your mom?”

“They weren’t expecting it that soon. Mom got hers pretty late, figured I would, too. Maybe I get it from dad’s side, I don’t know. I was really erratic, too. Well… still am.”

“Don’t they have, like, pills for that, or something?”

“They don’t always work that well.”

We tried talking about boys, too. One day—pretty early on—Trevor came to sit with us at lunch. I’m not gonna lie, I always thought Trevor was kind of cute. Sweet, too. He was a good listener and he gave pretty good advice, too. He was a bit of a nerd, but far be it from me, right?

It didn’t even really occur to me to have a crush on him, though, until later, after Kayla blurted out “He is gay, isn’t he?”

I didn’t know where to put that. “What? Trevor???” I frowned at her, thinking she was joking and I’d called her on it and won. Realizing she’d been serious, I muttered “No,” like it was the most obvious thing in the world.

“Oh,” she said. “I just thought…” But what she’d thought, she’d said already.

Some psychic I am, right?

Later on, it came out that Trevor “had a crush” on Kayla. This was awkward for me, even though, I mean, it wasn’t really a serious thing, what I had. Or maybe it was, but it didn’t like keep me up at night fantasizing or anything. I didn’t “think about Trevor like that,” but that didn’t mean I didn’t feel possessive. I got totally jealous once I heard. Some psychic I am. Able to read my sibling’s social life like the open book I’m writing, but my own? Ha ha ha ha ha fuck me, right?

“He keeps looking at me,” Kayla complained. “Not even really, like, I don’t know. And now other people are looking at me. Like I’m a work of art. Like I’m a character.”

“Do you feel the same way about him?” I asked her.

“Who? Trevor???” she spat. They were friends—we all were, more or less- but this whole thing was making her very uncomfortable. “I don’t believe he even feels that way about me,” said Kayla. “Not really. I think he just wants to.”

“Because you think he’s gay?”

She hesitated. “Yeah, probably.” After a moment, “You don’t?”

I shifted uncomfortably. We’d never really talked about stuff like this before. Personal stuff. Intimate stuff. Stuff girlfriends talk about.

“Do you feel that way about him?” she asked me.

“Who, me?” I answered truthfully, confused, “I don’t know.” Then I went on the offensive again. “Do you feel that way about anyone else?”

She looked away quickly enough that I knew she was lying when she said “Oh, I don’t know.”

We never really did talk about any girly stuff like that. We never really talked about anything important, except my weird thing that I do. She was my best friend all through middle school, but two weeks from the end of eighth grade, she ran away from home (left me a note so I’d know she didn’t just disappear) and that was the last that anyone heard from Kayla Shaw.

I still miss her. Sometimes. I guess. But I don’t know if I can say how. And it was just one more example of the uselessness of this “power” or whatever it is that I have, that I haven’t been able to find her.


“Everybody Hurts”

I guarantee that you’ve known Isabella Millar. If you’re a guy, it’s possible that you didn’t know—or still don’t—that the person you knew was Isabella Millar. But you knew her. If only by name.

Isabella Millar was the It-girl in grade school, the one whose parents threw all the parties and invited everyone, or at least everyone who mattered, and that put the whole school in disarray, but it also meant she got invited to everything, just in case that was a factor.

In grade school, that was fine. We were petty, but we weren’t terribly self-conscious about being petty. Everything was life-and-death all the time, but that was no big deal.

Isabella Millar, though, was the girl who continued to be better than everyone else long after we graduated to sixth grade. She was the first girl with hips, let alone mosquito-bite pecs, and she wasn’t afraid of them like we were. You know this girl. If you’ve been paying attention, you can probably name a dozen of her.

But that’s not what makes an Isabella Millar.

You have to hate this girl. Even if you’re her friend, she really leaves you with no other choice, with her bland perfection. Even if you call her out, you know that it’s not because of anything she can help, you’re just jealous. A jealous bitch, which is way worse than being Isabella Millar, you just don’t get to rub everyone’s faces in it all the time.

But what really makes Isabella Millar Isabella Millar isn’t how many people she’s whipped and slathered and ground into jealousy, it’s the fact that all that’s a façade. A farce. A beauty pageant. Isabella Millar is not perfect—if she was, she wouldn’t really be Isabella Millar. She’d be a bitch.

It happens around seventh grade: one day, she comes to school different. She’s drab, she’s dour, she’s down. Her parents are getting a divorce. Oh. Suddenly, the perfection of the last seven years is shoved into the fluorescents, punching its pastiness and its pores. Those parties weren’t charity. They were a cry for help. Or no, a distraction: see? See how happy we are! You should be jealous of us because of how much happier we are than you! Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha

And even Isabella Millar fell for it. She believed the lie. Her parents wouldn’t lie to their little angel (both her parents are lawyers, so).

For some of us, the revelation of our parents’ imperfection, of their fragility, comes in digestible waves and stages, but then some of us wake up one day to find our home destroyed and Vesuvius itself a smoking ruin.

I can’t stand to see her like this. I know I hate her—I’m supposed to, anyway—but she was my friend once, or I thought she was, and now she’s not who I know her as, so of course I’m gonna go to her, even if I didn’t see this coming…

Why didn’t I see this coming? Why does my power discriminate? Is it because Isabella is somehow immune? No, she’s appeared before, I know she has. But I know the answer. Isabella Millar is not going to be important in my life, long-term. That’s it, isn’t it?

I don’t care.

I approach her at her locker. I’m not going to say I’m sorry, I tell myself. There’s too much opportunity for snark. Instead, I ask, “Do you wanna hang out?”

She isn’t really taken by surprise, but she is suspicious. It’s been too long, I guess. Or has it? “No, thanks.” At least she’s civil. “Maybe some other time.”

And she does take me up on that. Later.

I guess people aren’t usually as unpleasant as we make them out to be, you know? Everyone has a life and a life is enormous and multidimensional—Picasso couldn’t paint every angle of it. I try to think about that when people talk about bullies, and I try to point it out to boys when they look at girls like Isabella and think they see perfection. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but that’s all the eye gets. Anything else, it should have to work for.


“Hurt”

Do you ever imagine what it would be like to live in a world without pain? I bet you have. In fact, at times when you aren’t in pain, I bet you have trouble even imagining it, just like how when you’re sick, it’s hard to remember or imagine a time when you didn’t feel heavy and drowsy, when your nose wasn’t stuffed up. You try to imagine future conversations with the guy (or girl, I guess) that you like and you can’t imagine actually feeling well.

Have you ever tried to imagine what it would be like to lose a limb? A pane of glass crashing through bone, shredding through flesh right there on your arm—do you imagine pain? I don’t. I can picture the sensation maybe like a papercut and I know, intellectually, damn that’s gotta hurt, and it creeps me out even to the point of wincing, but can I really conjure up the pain? It isn’t there. Not for me.

“Stop it,” Declan instructs his band-mate, the one he’s in love witht, the one with the girlfriend who’s bad for her, the one who’s sitting across from him picking at the flesh of her cuticles with a needle. “Hey,” he says.

She looks away, puts the needle carefully in the pen-case she brought to this session.

“Why do you do that?” Declan asks sincerely.

“I don’t know,” she answers honestly. Because she doesn’t. She doesn’t know. She had some idea, but ideas count for shit. You can’t even copyright them.

Some day, they’ll talk about this. Some day, she’ll tell him about her past and her relationship to pain and how, in the fucked-up way of abused minds, piercing her own skin makes her feel safe, like nailbiters taking control or anorexics taking ownership of their own bodies.

“It’s my pain,” she’ll tell him, “my choice.” But she’s not there yet.

Then there’s Lucy McDermott.

I haven’t talked a lot about Lucy. Trust me, I’ll get there. She gets lost in the shuffle a bit when it comes to middle school—the early years, at least. Between Kayle and Trevor and Isabella, Lucy wasn’t exactly at the top of my friends list, but I actually probably enjoyed her the most. Trevor was a boy and Isabella was a bitch and Kayla—I mean, I liked her, but she could be a bit of a downer. Lucy seemed fun, first and foremost.

Kinda makes you wonder.

One day, I had her over—I think Kayla was there, too, but not really there, at least not when I walked in on Lucy in our bathroom with a razorblade. Her cuts were shallow and entirely the wrong place to be killing herself, or even pretending to, so that’s a plus, but it still freaked me the fuck out. How had I not seen it coming?

“I’m sorry,” she said, dropping the razor-blade, mortified. “I thought I—“

What? That she’d locked the door? Because obviously that was a huge priority for me, right?

“Why do you do it?” It wasn’t until way later that I worked up the courage to ask her, and when I did, I can’t tell you how disappointed I was.

“I’m in love with your brother,” she confessed to me, and then spent the better part of five minutes expanding on that certain je ne sais quoi of Jasper Llywelyn. “But does he even see me?” she concluded with a mope. “I mean, does he even know who I am?”

There was nothing original about Lucy’s pain. It wasn’t fundamental or the stuff of great drama or tragedy. It was her pain, but it wasn’t unique.

Does that make it less painful? Does knowing other people have more pain make the pain go away?

“You’re all so…” She can’t even express it. Not in words. Not out loud. She’s jealous of our pain. She feels left out. She’s sensed all of our secrets for a while now and desperately wanted a secret of her own. Something that could bind her to us.

That is the true meaning of Angst. A sense that there isn’t enough pain in the world. You have to make some extra for yourself. It’s a phantom pain in limbs that are still there but feel like they shouldn’t be. Why can’t we get over it? Because there is nothing to get over.


“Should I Stay or Should I Go?”

Kyle was ambitious. Not all rock-stars are. Well, all rock-stars, maybe. But not all artists.

Ambition was the only way he ever could have done what he did. But that didn’t mean he had tunnel-vision. Maybe life would have been easier for him if he had. Then again, it’s hard to really make good art if you’re too-too focused.

ERIN: Mr. Niedermeyer.

Kyle walked into her office. Ms. Kelly. Erin. Erin Kelly, who was a new teacher that year, fresh out of the teaching program at the local college, who’d taken a shine to Kyle at the beginning of this, his senior, year.

Kyle had taken quite a shine to Ms. Kelly, too.

KYLE: Miss Kelly.

ERIN: Please, sit down.

It was easier for her if he wasn’t pacing the room.

ERIN: Is there something I can help you with? (sensing her own trap) Something school-related?

KYLE: I have been wondering about college.

ERIN: You haven’t made a decision yet?

KYLE: Can you really blame me?

They were alone right now, but they still needed to be careful.

ERIN: I’m sure I can. You’re a brilliant young man. Brilliant young men go to college.

KYLE: It’s expensive.

ERIN: Only if you’re not wily enough to handle the loans.

KYLE: How are you handling yours?

It was always tacky to bring up the subject of educational finance, and she should have known better.

ERIN: I hardly think that’s an appropriate question, young man.

KYLE: I think it’s pretty pertinent, considering.

ERIN: Considering what, exactly?

She shouldn’t have asked that. She knew the answer to it. She knew it, he knew it, all of the cards on the table.

KYLE: I have options, Miss Kelly. I don’t have to go to school.

ERIN: You’re not referring to your band, are you?

It wasn’t fair of her to put it that way, but then again, none of this was fair. Not anymore.

KYLE: If we win this competition, we could be touring with SchadowFreud. That’s big money. Money’s always better than debt.

ERIN: Has your band even decided on a name yet?

They hadn’t. She knew they hadn’t. It wasn’t the sort of thing that she was supposed to know, but she knew it, and he knew she knew it and now she could use it against him.

ERIN: Look, I don’t recommend college for everyone. But with a mind like yours, you could do great things. Amazing things.

KYLE: I don’t need to go to college to do that.

ERIN: College would help.

KYLE: Is that why you want me to leave?

Long pause.

KYLE: You’ve heard us play. You know we can make it. We’ve got what it takes.

If anyone has, she reminded herself, it’s them, with the faith of intimate relations.

ERIN: If that’s what you want, you can always defer admission. Do college later.

She could tell by the flair of his nostrils he was gritting his teeth at this, so she decided to play her last hand.

ERIN: But you realize that whether you’re going to college or going on tour, you’re still leaving.

And there it was. He flexed his hand and cracked his knuckles like he always did when he was about to play his guitar.

KYLE: Is there a reason for me not to?

Ms. Kelly—Erin—sighed.

ERIN: No.

That was it then.

ERIN: No, there isn’t.

He didn’t seem to have anything else left to say.

ERIN: Well, it seems like you’ve got it all figured out.

KYLE: I guess so.

ERIN: Yeah.

It seemed to Erin Kelly that day, talking to a boy she shouldn’t have been talking to that way, that their impasse had come to a head. There was a finality to gridlock, Zeno’s paradox shattered in the sheer entropy of time marching on towards the end of the schoolyear. But she couldn’t bring herself to decide that it was a good finality, a finality she was comfortable with. It would be many years before she would be able to reconcile with what had passed between them.