Danielle seemed nervous. She was fidgeting around, picking things up and putting them back down again. We were in my bedroom, working on a school project for science class.
"Mickey, can I ask you a question without you getting mad?" She sounded serious as she asked that.
"Yes. In fact, you just did." I laughed at my humor.
"Cal and I were both wondering if you could help us with something. We need a place. A private place where we can be alone. You know already how it is at my house, and his mother doesn't work. She almost never leaves his house."
"I don't understand what you're asking. Help how?"
"Can we come here, use your room sometimes?"
"That depends. Are we talking some kissing and light petting, or are you planning for it to be more than that?"
"More." Her cheeks reddened as she said this. Her face turned slightly away from me.
"More, like in "going all the way" more?"
"Yes." This was a big step she was taking. I had assumed that she, like me, hadn't started participating in anything as serious as what she was now discussing with me.
Dani and I had been friends since the second grade. Now, both fifteen, we had been slowly drifting away from the closeness we'd once enjoyed with each other, back when we'd been much younger. We were still good friends, but we didn't socialize with the same groups of people. Considering our current level of friendship, what she was asking from me was more than I would be comfortable with.
"You said sometimes. I don't think I'd be comfortable with having you come here on a regular basis. If it were you asking me if it would be all right for one time, I'd be okay with it, but I really wouldn't want my room used like that regularly. Put yourself in my place. You wouldn't like people using your room either."
"Never mind then. Carley will let us use her room, but she's such a blabbermouth. I'd prefer that what we're doing wasn't spread around in school. I know you wouldn't tell anyone."
"Cal doesn't know anyone else he could ask?"
"He was the one who suggested I ask you."
"I'd rather not, sorry."
A week went by with no more mention of them still wanting to use my room. I assumed they'd made other arrangements. Our science project had been completed and handed in to Mr. Bosley, so I wasn't really spending very much time with Danielle anymore. I did run into her one day towards the end of the next week though. We were both walking home from school.
"Cal's car not running?"
"We broke up. He's with Carley now. I should have known she'd pull something sneaky like that. We're no longer speaking."
"I'm sorry, Dani. That was a crummy way for him to treat you. Ever since he got his license, and that little car of his, he's been acting like a big shot."
"If you had let us use your room, we wouldn't have gone over to Carley's house. It wasn't that good with him anyway. You were bigger than he is now, back when we were ten. You remember those times we played doctor? Good riddance, I say. Carley's welcome to him if she wants him."
We walked the rest of the way home, talking about school things mostly. When we reached her house, we stood out in the front and kept talking about the upcoming weekend, and our plans on how to spend it. Dani was trying to decide if she wanted to go to a birthday party for one of the girls in the group she now socialized with. She was afraid Cal and Carley might be there too.
"You can't spend the rest of your life trying to avoid them. They're the ones that should be worried about running into you."
"I know. I still don't think I want to go. I hate all the gossiping the people at our school do. I think I'll give it a couple weeks to die down before I start going out and doing things again."
We left it like that. Dani liked to bounce back and forth before really making her plans. She'd probably change her mind quite a few times before she went and made any final decisions. I knew she was just bouncing her thoughts off me. I figured, in the end, she'd go to the party, because she wouldn't want Cal or Carley thinking that what happened with Cal had bothered her very much.
Dani called me on Saturday morning. I'd told her, when we were talking the day before, that my parents were driving over to Singleton, to visit my Aunt and Uncle for the weekend. I told her I was happy they hadn't insisted on taking me with them.
"I finally decided that I'm not going to Gloria's party today. I called her and asked her if Carley or Cal were coming. She said she knew Carley was coming, but wasn't too sure about Cal. When I told her I wasn't coming, she told me she wasn't that surprised. I knew Carley was going to spread stories about me all over the school. I told Gloria what Carley had to do in order to steal Cal away from me. Now, we'll just have to see how she likes having people gossiping about her. Did your parents leave already?"
"They left real early. Before I woke up. My dad was afraid there would be too much traffic if he waited until later to start driving there."
"I'm so bored here. I can't turn my music up loud, and my parents keep asking me why I'm home on a weekend. I was thinking about going out to the movies, but I decided I didn't want to walk that far to get there. I'll be glad when I get my license. I won't be stuck at home all the time like I am now."
"I've got to do a few chores that my mom told me to do, then, I'm probably going over to watch these two friends of mine work on a car."
"I've run out of ideas of how to be subtle, and I still need to find out if you like me at all, Mickey. Do you?"
"Sure, I like you. We've been friends for a long time. Why would I stop liking you?"
"Try, for once, not to be so dense, okay? Why do you think I called you, or bothered asking if your parents had left? I've done everything so far but come right out and tell you to invite me to come over to your house."
"Why do you need an invitation? You used to come over all the time before. You never needed me to invite you then."
"This is different. We aren't still playmates, Mickey. We're grown up now. Grownup's do different things than kids do. If you still like me the way you did when we were little, there isn't any reason for me to want to go over to your house. Especially when your parents are gone, and we'd be all alone. If you like me the other way, then there is a reason."
"You mean like you the same way that Cal used to like you? To be honest, I've never thought about liking you that way."
"Okay, that's honest, at least. I'll be honest right back with you. Don't you ever get horny Mickey?"
"I guess. Sometimes."
"I do too. Like right now I am. If you are too, then maybe you could ask me over, and we could discuss what we might do to not have to be that way?"
"I'd be happy if you want to come over here. I need to warn you first that I don't know very much about that other thing you were saying."
"I know enough to get you started. The most important thing is if you want to do stuff that makes us both feel good. If you do, then all the rest of it is pretty easy."
.... There is more of this story ...