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The Grudge

"That's not what you wanted to say."

I looked at her, suppressing a grin. "It's not?"

"No." She stared ahead. I couldn't see behind her sun glasses and thus couldn't tell if she was serious. My guess was that she wasn't.

"Okay, what did I want to say then?"

She turned her head to me. "You wanted to say something nice about Judy."

"And you're sure about that?" Now I sounded less than amused, because, really, I've never said anything nice about Judy, the reason being that Judy was a fucking bitch from hell, alive only to make me look bad whenever our paths crossed.

"It's therapeutic, Lane. Saying something nice about someone you hate, makes you feel like you're not as much of a bitch as they are."

"Nobody's as much of a bitch as Judy is, so why bother?"

"Because being nice makes you feel nice," Darla answered. She turned her attention back to the pool and the various half-naked bodies who swam around in it, or leaned against its edge. I didn't know whether she was watching someone particular or if she just took in the scene.

"All right, I start then," she said after a moment, since I hadn't said anything. "Judy has really nice feet."

"Should have known this was about your foot fetish."

"It's not a fetish if it isn't sexual, dear. I just like looking at nice feet. Your turn. Say something nice."

I turned to the pool and watched the people I'd gone to high school with, many of them didn't really look good in swim wear, but what did it really matter? It wasn't like I was friends with a lot of them, or had any interest in being their friend. Most of them had bullied me twenty years back.

"Her hair looks better now that she doesn't dye it in that ugly red anymore."

Darla nodded. I wasn't sure if she agreed or was just acknowledging that I had made an effort. "Now say something nice about Bert."

"No!" My refusal resounded to the deck chairs to my right where Tom and his husband lay relaxed. Tom pushed his shades up and looked over at me.

"Sorry, guys. Go back to sleep," I apologized.

Tom smiled at me. He still had the cutest smile, the one I thought I'd been in love with for several years back then. It was all a lie, I didn't really have it in me to love a man. Not even way back then.

When I turned back to Darla, she gave me a glare over the rim of her glasses.

"Bert is an ass," I told her in an impatient whisper. "He sexually assaulted Patty in ninth grade, remember?"

"Don't you think that he's probably grown past that awkward phase?"

"I don't care. He's not someone I will ever say something nice about. So, there!"

We kept silent for quite a while, thinking or dozing or whatever.

I heard Darla sigh after several minutes. "I wish you wouldn't take this reunion so seriously, Lane. It's a lot of water under the bridge and most people seem to be having a good time, y'know?"

"I'm having a good time, too. With you and our Sexes on the Beach or Sex on the Beaches? Here's to being old enough to get drunk." I picked up my drink and clinked it against the rim of hers, standing on the table between us.

Darla didn't pick hers up, she merely raised an eyebrow at me.

"I'm not gonna forgive and forget, Darla. High school was hell, and not just for me," I reminded her.

"I know, but why dwell on it?"

"I'm not dwelling on it, but I refuse to forget because some of that shit was painful. And just because they can look back and laugh about the assholes they were, doesn't make me do the same."

Darla nodded, but I could tell she did it reluctantly. "Very well. But we're still going to take part in the celebration tonight. We deserve this - after all the painful shit we've gone through." Her voice left no room for debate.

I had suggested that we go out and just celebrate together, find a nice restaurant, then a bar, eat, dance, have fun. But Darla wanted to go to the official celebration tonight.

I closed my eyes and didn't say anything. I really didn't want to go, but I knew as well as Darla did that I would. Darla had always been the leader in our friendship, the one to say what we'd do on a weekend when we weren't invited to any of the cool parties. She would drag me to that shindig tonight and I would probably enjoy myself, but would totally deny that I had tomorrow noon when my hangover would finally leave my old body. I was a little predictable.

Little did I know that this evening would be nothing like I imagined it right now and that the particular hangover I'd get that evening would stay with me a lot longer than mere hours.

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