I sat against a tree by the bus stop, with my legs curled up, reading an old mystery novel. My hair was a mess from the heat. My dress clung to me uncomfortably. The cars driving by were loud, horrible, and stank of exhaust.
I had lost all of my friends. Nicole and Sarah usually drove me home, but Nicole said she hated me now. Sarah went along with her, like she always did. I'd practically begged Courtney for a ride, but she'd told me to go fuck myself. I had been such an idiot to cross them.
I tried reading my book, but I couldn't focus. It was just a jumble of words.
The bus wasn't coming. It was thirty minutes late. I'd wait a few more minutes, then I'd have to start the long walk home. I sighed. The sun was getting low, but the heat still lingered in the air.
A truck pulled by in front of me, honking its horn and locking up its breaks. A dozen other horns blared out. More cars stopped. Then a beat up old Buick crossed abruptly through the traffic and parked at the Circle K.
That new girl got out.
She had crazy magenta hair, obviously dyed. It hung down just past her shoulders and was kind of messy. She wore a little rose colored skirt and a tight emerald green sweater. The outfit was cute. She was more or less medium height and build, very pretty, and moved with a particular grace.
She was also kind of nuts. Since starting school last month, she'd been in at least two fights that I knew of, one against a boy. She'd called Nicole a cunt to her face, and really did everything she could to have no friends at all.
I hadn't spoken to her. None of us would have dared.
They said her name was Veronica.
She bought a slushie and came out, looking around. She saw me and came over.
"Hey," she said, "Don't you usually get a ride with that Nicole bitch and her friends?"
"Yeah," I said.
"Hmm. And they stranded you today?"
She had violet eye shadow, and really pretty blue eyes. I assumed they were contacts, because they looked just way too nice to be real.
"Is that Margaret Millar?" she asked, looking at my book.
"Yeah," I said, turning the book over and looking at it.
"That's impressive! Most of the dumb bitches in this school just read those crap vampire books -- well -- if they read anything at all."
"Uh, thanks. It was my dad's. He had a bunch of these."
"So, you like stories with crazy endings?"
"Yeah I guess. Anyways, I like these."
"That's pretty cool. So look, I saw the bus broken down up on Pine Street, so it isn't coming."
"So, yeah," she went on, "I can give you a lift home if you want. I mean, if you don't mind committing social suicide by being seen with me."
I didn't mind. I'd left social suicide behind many miles ago.
"Yes, thanks," I said, "I'd love a ride."
"I'm Veronica, by the way."
"Yeah, I know. I'm Amy."
"Well, Amy, let's go."
We got into her car. It was big and rusty. At one point it had probably been olive green, but now was mostly just grey. It had a beige vinyl bench seat, with several strips of duct tape where I sat down.
The air conditioner didn't work, of course.
"Sorry the car stinks," she said, "the window on your side doesn't work any more, so I just leave it down."
It didn't really smell any worse than anything else it this town.
"Beats walking," I said.
"Yeah it does!"
As she started the car, she asked, "So, unless it's none of my business, why are they making you take the bus? Did you piss them off?"
Before I answered, she backed into traffic, and quickly shifted into drive, peeling away. We barely avoided an oncoming truck. There was no seatbelt on my side, so I grabbed the dashboard in a futile gesture of safety.
I answered her, "Yeah, I pissed them off. Big time."
"That sucks. Where do you live, anyway?"
"On Apple Court. You know, behind the Walmart."
"I know it," she said.
She didn't say anything else; she just drove with her eyes on the road. Her mouth was slightly open, and she was biting the end of her tongue. I went on with my story.
"You know Nicole's friend Brenda?"
"Redhead with freckles?"
"Yeah, her. She borrowed one of my dresses without asking me, when they were over at my house. Anyway, she wore it the next day and I got pissed at her. We were fighting about it and shit..."
"Like really fighting?" she asked, mimicking a punching motion.
"No. Just arguing. Anyway, things got really bad and I tried to get Nicole to help me, but she took Brenda's side. So, I got pissed at her and called her a bitch. Nicole, I mean. I called Nicole a bitch. She told me to fuck off, and things just got bad."
She just drove for a few seconds, looking forward, then said, "Well good for you. She is a fucking bitch."
"Yeah, I guess. She was my friend, though."
"She's nobody's friend," she said, looking over at me, kind of ignoring the road. "I knew a girl just like her back in Chicago. Thinks she runs the whole school. You try to be her friend, but she just wants followers. You know, toadies. It's all for her fucking ego."
She paused, then continued, "I tried to do what you were doing, back home. You know, be one of the popular kids, but it never works. If you're at all -- you know -- a real person, you can't be one of them. Don't even try. That shit is bad for your soul."
I wondered, was it worse than having no friends?
"Is that why you called her a cunt when you met her?" I asked.
"Yeah, I knew the deal with her right when I fucking met her. I wasn't even going to start playing her game."
I thought about that.
"I think it gets really lonely," I said.
She smiled at me, and said, "It doesn't have to."
We stopped at a light in front of the Walmart. Two guys in shorts crossed in front of us, holding hands. They were obviously queer.
"Holy shit!" she said, "Those two have some balls walking around like that in this cow town."
"Yeah. I've seen them around. I think they get messed with a lot."
After they passed she leaned out the window and shouted, "Hey you!"
They turned around quickly. They looked ready for trouble.
"You're fucking awesome!" she shouted.
"Huh?" one of them said. They let go of each other's hand, ready to run or fight.
"You're fucking awesome!" she shouted again.
They seemed to calm down. One of them called back, "Thanks, sweetie."
He looked at her, then me. "You two are fucking awesome as well," he exclaimed.
The light changed and we pulled away. I watched them as we passed. They grasped hands and walked off.
She drove on, mostly watching the road, but kept glancing at me. She was so pretty. I felt like she could just look right through me. I felt really awkward.
We turned into my neighborhood.
"Which house?" she asked.
"The blue one, on the end."
She parked in front of my house. It was small and shabby.
"Thanks for the ride," I said, and leaned to open the door.
She reached over and put her hand on my leg. I just fucking froze.
She just sat there, leaning toward me, and ran her fingers ... up.
"Amy, I think you're really pretty. I'd like to kiss you."
"No!" I exclaimed, "I don't do that!"
I got my wits back, and shoved the door open. I got out quickly.
"I'm not fucking into that! Sorry."
She just looked up at me from within the car. She arched her eyebrows, like she was disappointed.
"Sorry," she said, "I just thought ... well ... never mind. You know what I thought."
I just hurried away. I had no idea what to say. I went inside, closed and locked the door, and went into my bedroom. I lay down on my bed, my dress still clinging to me. I was breathing heavily.
What just happened?
I couldn't be with a girl. I mean, no way! I hadn't even been with a boy yet.
I lay there, staring at the ceiling.
Could I, with a girl? I tried to push the thought out of my mind. I had too much horrible shit to deal with now to be thinking about something crazy like that.
I noticed a beam of sunlight crossing my room. Motes of dust lazily drifted through it.
I couldn't stop thinking. I thought about what it would have felt like to kiss her. I thought about her hand going up my leg. My skinny, pale leg.
Her legs were so sexy compared to mine. Her little rose colored skirt! Her crazy magenta hair! Those blue eyes! She just seemed so intensely physical.
There was a mirror in my room above my desk. I looked over at myself, laying in my bed. I was skinny, undeveloped. I had boring brown hair. My dress was fucking beige.
How could someone like her actually like me?
The next day at school, there was a note from her in my locker. It read:
"I'm really sorry. I know that was fucked up. I should have talked to you before I touched you like that.
"I've noticed you before. I've watched you hanging out with them, and I could tell you were different. I thought you were so super pretty. Not that fake-horrible-bitch pretty like Nicole. Really pretty, all the way down. I love when you smile.
"So anyway, when I saw you waiting for the bus I just had to talk to you. Since you weren't like them, I hoped that maybe you were like me. You know what I mean by that, I think.
"You're right about being lonely. I don't ever admit it to anyone, but I am. I can't stand phony people, and this school is fucking full of them. I mean, the popular kids are phony everywhere. Here is seems like everyone is just so full of shit all of the time, even the crazy loner kids that I should get along with. I just can't seem to make any friends here.
"Anyway, I hope you'll forgive me for coming on to you like that. I'd really love to be your friend, even if it is 'just friends' friends. I promise I won't try anything like that again. I mean, I'll want to, but I'll be cool about it. I'll hold back.
"Please let me know.
It was written out longhand on cream colored parchment paper. The writing was really neat, like she'd taken a long time on it.
I read it three times, then folded it up and put it in my clutch bag.
I looked around the hall, at the other kids passing me, ignoring me. I'd tried to dress pretty today. I was wearing a lavender and lilac floral skirt, a yellow t-shirt, and cute little sneakers. Yet still, I felt small and stupid.
A couple of pretty girls passed by laughing, Nicole's friends. They didn't even look at me. Last week, I'd been to a party at one of their houses. Now, I didn't exist.
I took out her note and read it again. Then again.
I found her during lunch. I had to ask three people where she was. Finally, one guy said she was hanging out in the baseball dugout.
She was sitting there on the bench all alone, wearing another cute little skirt and blouse. Her legs were curled up under her, and she was just gazing out across the field. She saw me come up.
"Hi Amy," she said.
"I guess you got my note. I really am sorry."
I came into the dugout, and sat on the bench next to her.
"So, you like girls?" I asked, after a few seconds.
"Yeah. I had a great girlfriend back in Chicago. She was so cool. Like, I think we were really in love and shit."
"Really? Do you still talk to her?"
"Yeah. I called her a few days ago. Turns out she is already seeing another girl. I mean, I'm glad for her. There is no way we could make something work this far apart."
"Well, yeah I guess."
We just sat there for a while.
"Are those contact lenses?" I asked, looking at her eyes.
"No fucking way!" she said, "I hate phony shit like that."
I glanced at her hair. She noticed.
"Yeah, the hair! But the hair is obvious. It's how I tell the world that I do things my own way, and fuck 'em if they don't like it. Your eyes, though, you see the world through your eyes. If they're fake, everything you see in the world is fake. Fuck that shit."
I didn't say anything. I just gazed out over the baseball field.
We sat for a while, myself sitting up straight. She was still curled up with her legs under her. She seemed really relaxed and cool.
She got a big smile on her face. "You like to be quiet, don't you?"
The dragonflies were out, and several dozen of them were flitting around the grass, just in front of the dugout.
I scooted over, and sat real close to her. I was so nervous. She turned toward me, still smiling. I leaned into her, putting my head on her shoulder. My arms were wrapped tightly against my chest. I just relaxed.
I heard her breath deeply. She didn't say a word; she just reached one arm around me. I snuggled in closer.
"Someone changed her mind," she whispered.
I glanced up at her. She was so pretty. She was giving me a quizzical, but eager, look. I parted my lips, just a bit, and drew my face closer to hers.
She smiled. "Can I?" she asked, "Is it alright if I kiss you?"
We kissed. I unfolded my arms, and reached around her neck. She grasped me with both of hers, pulling our bodies together. We embraced, our mouths locked together, kissing deeply.
I felt my heart beat. A tingling sensation passed down my body.
I was really doing this!
Her tongue slipped gently into my mouth, pressing against mine. I squeezed her tight, pulling her as close as I could. We kissed more. I ran my tongue over hers. It felt so soft.
We separated. She reached down and stroked my legs, pushing the hem of my skirt up, just a bit.
"I didn't want to say it before," she said, "but I think that is the sexiest little skirt I have ever seen."
I felt so excited. She was gazing hungrily down at my body. She ran a hand gently up my chest, passing lightly over my nipples. A thrill passed through me. She looked into my eyes. I melted.
"We can't really do anything here," she said, "Plus, you've never done anything like this before, right?"
"No, that was my first kiss."
"Did you like it?"
"Yeah!" I gasped out.
She pulled me in and kissed me again.
"Amy," she said, "I ... uh ... wow."
"What? Is something wrong?"
"No. Nothing is wrong, but if we keep going like this we're going to have a problem."
"I'm going to tear your clothes off right here."
I sat back a bit, passively. I think I would have let her do it.
She just looked at me. She breathed deeply. She stretched her body out, tensing her muscles.
"Oh god!" she said, "I feel so fucking good right now. I really feel ... like ... fucking amazing."
I really did. I felt like I was soaring through the air.
She looked at me for a bit, like she was thinking. I waited, and just smiled at her. She reached forward and wrapped her arms around me. I breathed heavily, embracing her, feeling her. Something was boiling up inside me.
We kissed again, deeply, and for a long time. Then we relaxed, just holding each other. A cool breeze drifted through the dugout. The dragonflies lifted up, and let the wind carry them away.
We sat like that, clinging to each other, kissing when we felt like it, until we heard the bell ring.
We agreed to meet by her car after school. I was squirming the whole day. I couldn't wait to see her again. My classes dragged on, and all the stupid people ignored me, but they didn't matter anymore.
"Hey sweetie," she said when I met her in the parking lot.
"Hi," I responded, smiling at her.
"So, my mom is meeting my dad for dinner after he gets off from work. We could go over to my house and hang out. We'd be alone."
"OK," I said.
We had some time to kill, and we were hungry, so we went to a diner near her house. As we walked across the parking lot, she took my hand. I felt so anxious. She strutted forward, pulling me along. She looked around defiantly as we entered.
We got a booth.
"So," she whispered to me, "Should we sit across, so we can look at each other, or together, so we can touch each other?"
I felt a thrill. I imagined all of the shocked looks we'd get sitting close together, being affectionate. I got a big, wicked grin on my face.
"Together, of course," I said.
I sat down first. She slid in, next to me, and held my hand. A waitress came up to us, giving us a baleful stare. She took our order.
We didn't say anything, as we waited for our food. We just sat there, our fingers locked together. I started thinking about what was about to happen. We were going to be alone, at her house. I knew that she was experienced, that she'd want to do things. To me.
I looked over at her, and glanced down at her body. She had smallish breasts, but I could see the shape of her nipples through her thin blouse. I couldn't believe how much that excited me. She caught me looking, and smiled.
"Are you ready for this?" she asked.
"I don't know."
Was I? Should things really go this fast?
Suddenly the door of the diner opened, and Nicole and Sarah came in. Veronica saw them before they saw us.
"Well, sweetie," she said, "What do you want to do now? I don't want to hide this."
It was really too late. They saw us before we could change seats or anything.
Nicole was a tall, thin girl. She was wearing tight jeans and a black sweater, which made her chest look really nice. Her hair was long and blond. Sarah was smaller, with black hair. She was wearing a little yellow dress. She looked cute.
I'd always thought they were both pretty sexy. I began to wonder if, deep inside, I'd always liked girls.
"What the fuck?" Nicole said when she saw us. "So you're hanging out with this bitch now, huh Amy?"
I felt Veronica loosen her grip on my hand. Just for a second, I thought about letting it go. I didn't. I grasped it tightly, and leaned against her.
Veronica got a huge smile on her face. "Do you have a fucking problem with me or my girlfriend?" she said.
The look on their faces was priceless. Sarah gasped. Nicole just looked horrified.
"So you're a fucking dyke now?" she practically shouted at me, "Were you always a dyke? All those nights when you stayed at my house, what kind of crazy, perverted shit were you thinking of? I knew there was something wrong with you!"
I expected Veronica to say something. I'm sure she wanted to. However, she just sat there, tensed up, like she was ready to strike. "This is your show," she whispered to me.
"Veronica and I are together," I said, calmly, "So I guess, yes, that makes me a dyke. And no, I never thought of 'perverted shit' when I was at your house. I wouldn't touch you. Never. Not in a million years."
"Fucking cunt dyke!" she shouted back.
The waitress came over and told us to settle down, and for Nicole and Sarah to take a seat. She whispered something to them, and gave us a hostile look.
"Well, if you let perverts like that in here, we're leaving anyhow," Nicole said.
The waitress looked at them, then over at the manager who had come out to see what was happening. He was a big fat guy in a blue shirt. He looked us over, then looked at Nicole and Sarah.
"You two need to leave," he said, referring to us. To Nicole and Sarah he said, "You other two, please sit anywhere you like."
Veronica looked at him, looked at Nicole and Sarah, then just said, "Fuck it. We'll leave. Come on, Amy."
I could tell she wanted to hit someone. I could tell she was fighting to hold it back. She took my hand, and we headed for the exit.
"God I wanted to kick her ass," she said when we got outside.
"I'm glad you didn't. Nothing good would come of that."
She kicked the side of her car when we got to it. She looked at me. Her eyes were on fire.