All About The Silver Lining

By JessicaX

Romance / Drama

Chapter 18

EIGHTEEN

You wanna know the definition of buzzkill? Hang on, I'll give it to you in longform.

Let's cut through the crap to the heart of the matter; yadda yadda, it's been like a week, blah blah blah, floating around in bliss, et cetera. Today, we're at Amy's house watching some TV on her couch. Mom's off saving the free world and Dad's off being cantankerous or whatever it is that makes him feel like he's doing his job. We're alone in the cozy house. I'll give you three guesses what kind of content the next page or two will contain, or you just don't get the privilege of reading it.

My hands were halfway up her t-shirt when she whispered, "Wait, hang on."

"Don't wanna," I told her playfully.

"Well, I do wanna." She tucked some hair behind her ear and said, "I... I know we've been doing a lot of, um, stuff lately, but I'm not sure about anything other than... the stuff that has already been done."

"Me either. But part of me is done waiting."

"Hah!" she moaned when I bit her earlobe. Yeah, let's just go ahead and say we've progressed. Let's also say I love it when she moans. "B-but Laynie, come on, I- come on, cut it out!"

"Amy, I'm loving this so much," I urged her, hands cupping the back of her head. "Do you know what it's taken for me to get here, to get around... y'know, the fact that we're supposed to be chums, and that you don't have that one item I usually require for this part, and the-"

"Okay, okay," she sighed impatiently. "Just... st-stop digging your nails into my stomach for a second."

"No, Amy." I kissed her again, sweeter, without fondling or groping or advances. She melted like butter under my hands, and I whispered, "I want that, but more. These little preview sessions are only amping me up for the whole enchilada."

Frowning, Amy reached up and pulled me down onto her. "They don't feel like previews to me. They feel like the main attraction."

"Believe me, there's definitely attraction going on."

A light, musical laugh. "C'mere, you."

Then we were going at it again. I had to admit, even though parts of my anatomy were pretty much screaming "What are you waiting for?" at me, it's not like we were bored. No boredom there.

This time, she was the one trying to unhook my bra and I was giggling into the kiss when we heard the front door open.

"SHIT." It wasn't even a whisper, it was just a breath formed into a word, but Amy had captured the mood of the moment very clearly. Both of us scrambled to sit up, to disentangle each other, to... pull our shirts back on. Didn't I mention we had progressed somewhat? Sadly, we had almost succeed in all of this, but we were just a few seconds too late.

"Amy, which sounds like a more lame chick flick," Bright asked as he walked in, eyes pointed down at the two DVDs in his hands, "Never Been Kissed or Say Anything? I figure the second one's gotta be worse 'cos it's like, an Eighties chick flick, which are even sappier than the modern ones – and besides, Drew Barrymore's like, smokin' hot, so I… uh, hey."

"Hey," I say back to him, his small eyes blinking at mine. The most ironically-named boy in the universe, "Bright" really isn't all that quick on the uptake, but I could still see calculations whizzing through his brain as I watched him look between us.

"What's with the dramedy film festival?" Amy asked, hoping to distract. Usually not that difficult.

"W-ell," he said slowly, still looking between us and the way we were trying to casually tuck shirts in, smooth down hair, wipe away extra lipstick. "I got this impending date with Stacy Peaches – oh my God, her last name is PEACHES, do you get how incredible that is? Anyway… that's suddenly way less important to me, because I'm trying to figure out what the hell was going on before I walked in."

"Going on?" Amy attempted, turning to look at me as if to silently ask if I knew what he meant. I played my part, shrugged, and she turned back. "Uh, not much. TV."

Bright dove on the remote control, switched off the TV, then said, "Okay, fine. You guys were just watching TV, that's all, huh? So tell me… what was on right before I did that?"

We both stalled, racking our brains. Neither of us had even the vaguest idea. I started to blurt out that it was a police drama, or a cartoon, or anything, but when I realized that the only reason I could be sure that the TV was on in the first place was because he had just turned it off I decided we were goners and didn't waste my breath.

"EHHT," he grated, making that game show buzzer noise that everybody hates. "Time's up! It was Cribs."

"So?" I said. "Just wasn't that entertaining, that's all."

"Holy shit, you guys were making out!"

"No, we weren't!" Amy protested immediately. "Gross-out, Bright, your mind works in sick ways!"

"Yeah, you were!" he needled, patented mischievous grin spreading across his face and conjuring up those dimples that only show when he's filled with wicked glee. "Come on, do you have any idea how many times I've been gettin' all hot and heavy in some chick's house when her parents come home from the dinner party an hour early? Pretty much got all the reactions memorised. You two were totally rocking some serious bi-curious mojo! This is worth its weight in gold!"

"Bright!" Amy snapped. "Don't be such a- a-"

"A what? An intelligent dude who's not dumb enough to fall for your line of crap? Grow up, Amy, I got you in my crosshairs and there's no point running!"

"Ooh, why are you so infuriating?"

"Tell it to the judge! Oh man, this is gonna be awesome when Mom and Dad find out, they'll hit the ceiling!"

"Harold Brighton, I swear to GOD-"

I felt my stomach growing cold, and my ears suddenly began ringing. Both of them were shouting at each other, but I could no longer hear it. Which part of this was worse, that Bright was rubbing it in… or that Amy was going to such great lengths to deny? I knew she wasn't really ashamed of what we were doing (or not anymore than me, at least), but it was still a weird thing to tell anybody; that was a point we could both agree on. It was also possible she just didn't want to give Bright the satisfaction of knowing he was right and that he had "busted" us. God, who would with the way he was acting? Still…

"I really should break down get myself one of those camera-phones," Bright was musing as Amy stood nose-to-nose with him – or nose-to-chest, since he pretty much dwarfed us petite girls. "Woulda been great to have photographic evidence to back up the sweetest story ever. I wonder if I can still upgrade?"

"BRIGHT."

This last part came from me, and when he swung his gaze in my direction I stood with my arms folded, glowering. "Yeah?"

"I really wanna congratulate you for being such a stand-up guy," I seethed, walking straight over to him. "Obviously my life's so perfect right now that I need you holding this over our heads. But yeah, whatever, I guess this is pretty funny." I leaned up to say directly into his startled face, "HA."

"Uh, what?"

"Amy, I'm going home. Goodnight."

Amy didn't reply. She looked like she was fighting between the urges to yell at Bright again and to tell me I didn't have to go, and she couldn't pick, so she just stayed quiet and looked a little bit lost. That made me regret leaving a little… but not enough to stop me.

I had almost slammed the door behind me when I turned around and growled, "You know what, Bright? Maybe once in a while, when you're trying to torture your sister like any responsible big brother would, you could try to imagine how what you're doing affects other people." Then I left.

He's such a jerk. I know it's his way, and it's not like he was genuinely trying to hurt us – he just thought screwing with us was funny, we'd get all annoyed, he'd have a good laugh, and that would be it. Not once did it enter into his thick skull that in a small, conservative town like this, we might really be looked at differently if anybody found out. Or that we were probably already freaked out about what we were doing and that him making a big deal out of it wasn't just annoying and funny, it was cruel. He's not that deep. Which means sometimes you have to do what I did: shake him up. Give an object lesson. Jump down his throat.

See now? What I said about us not being close… there are reasons. God knows I've never had mental oceans, but I'm not a wading pool. Bright is nice to have around for parties and stuff, but it's pointless to come to him with anything else.

Anyway, that was the buzzkill part. I'm not done yet.

Afterward, I stumble into Mama Joy's because I'm not sure what else to do; I don't feel like getting carded at some bar and having to flash my fake ID, I sure as hell don't wanna go home, and where else is there? Nobody in this town likes me anymore. I got too "moody" and "weird" after Colin went into the coma and I began distancing myself.

Why do people suck at making an effort? People everywhere, not just Everwood… but for some reason it's worse here. In a small town, people are always there for you as long as the thing you need from them is something "normal". If it's "I lost my job" or "I've been robbed" or "I'm slowly going blind", everybody pitches in; they're so happy to help you. On the other hand… if it's "I'm on anti-depressants", or "I have AIDS", or "I'm gay", you are shit out of luck. "Muddle through it on your own, because all that stuff is your fault for being different", they seem to say reflexively. So much worse than if they just didn't care at all, because then there's a pecking order to their ability to dole out compassion. Bunch of ignorant pricks.

IT MAKES ME SO ANGRY.

Into Mama Joy's I go, I squeeze myself into a booth in the very back and wait, storm clouds rumbling through the inside of my head. I've been there maybe three minutes when Nina Feeney comes over with her pencil and pad and says, "Hey, Laynie, what can I get you?"

"Just coffee."

She starts to walk away, hesitates and squints at me, then goes and fetches the java. When she's setting down a steaming mug on the tabletop, though, she also slides into the booth across from me.

"Uhh…"

"Wanna talk about it?"

"Talk about what?"

She stares down at her fingernails for a second before looking up and elaborating. "Why you're crying in a public restaurant. Can't be anything good."

"I'm not," I say, but as I say it I reach up to my face and find that I have been crying. This crap is sending me off the deep end so much that I can't even tell. Is it the meds? On the other hand, I thought the meds were supposed to keep me from feeling sad in the first place.

"Hmm," she says with that quirky smile of hers. "Maybe I missed a memo, but last time I checked…"

"Very funny." I sniffle a little. "I… oh, I'm not sure you really should have to care. It's kind of just stupid teenage drama stuff."

"That's a lie."

"What?"

"Stupid teenage drama stuff means you roll around on your bed, kicking your feet, throwing pillows at the walls and screaming," she said, still smiling the same smile. "You don't cry in public without knowing it. That's a whole deeper level of sadness."

My lip quivers, and I try to hold it back, but instead the tears keep streaming down my face. I'm not sobbing or shivering or bawling out loud or anything, I just have leaky eyes. It was actually really scary, so I then started to shake slightly.

"Drink." When I focus on her, she points at my coffee. I take a sip. Somehow, the bitterness and the heat surge through me and blot out a little of the sharpness of my distraught state. Don't ask me how it worked, but it worked. "Better?"

"A little."

"Listen, if you don't want to talk I can get lost, but… I have it on pretty good authority that I'm an excellent listener. It would be a shame to sneeze at such a handy resource."

It all comes pouring out like a tsunami. I pretty much lead off with being a lesbian (or whatever it is that I am), and that did make her eyebrows go up but then again, she's the woman who had the surrogate baby for the geriatric mom. I'd forgotten that Nina wasn't quite as yokel-y as the other yokels. I even heard this rumour that her husband was gay and that's why he's not around anymore, but whatever, that's none of my business. She never looked disgusted with me, or even vastly surprised… worried, yeah, but I could handle worried.

"Hey," she was saying when I finally stopped griping about Bright and Amy not realizing how their bickering affected me. "I don't think anybody could blame you for getting ticked. I've known Bright as long as you have, and he's always been…"

"A giant tool."

"A bit insensitive," she amended with a smirk. "But I'm sure he wasn't really trying to hurt you."

"That part I get," I sighed. "Just… why does it take him so long to figure this stuff out? Couldn't he tell by looking at us that making it all into a big joke was THE worst thing he could do?"

"Probably not. You know boys."

I gave a wry smile. "Not anymore."

"Right," she said with a nervous laugh. "Can't lie to you, I've never known any lesbians personally, but I do know you, Laynie. You're pretty guarded with your heart."

"Really?" That came as a shock to me. "Like how, guarded?"

"You just are. I've seen you come in here, how you act around your dates; they never have a chance to get to know you. True, most of the time they really didn't deserve one, but one or two of them probably would have turned out to be decent guys."

"So... are you saying I sabotaged myself with them because I was gay? Or are you saying that I'm hooking up with Amy because I'm straight, but too afraid of getting into a real relationship?"

"Neither one," she snorted, playing with the salt shaker to busy her idle hands. Nina was never the kind of woman to let herself sit around doing nothing. "More like... well, I guess that you just weren't willing to let anybody get in past your defences who didn't earn the right. Which is smart, even if it means you're a little lonely while you're waiting."

"But I..." I kind of gulped, then whispered, "I'm no virgin. I've messed around with a bunch of those guys who aren't 'good enough' for me."

"Like sex has much to do with a personal relationship," she whispered back. We both grinned because it was kind of heretical thinking around these parts, but my grin was a little wider because she had made me feel a lot better about that part. "It's a part of it, sure, but you can definitely get laid without maintaining any true bond with the other person. Take it from me."

That last statement made me wonder if the rumours about Carl Feeney were true, but I quickly kicked that to the curb and said, "You're right, I know you are. Just... now I feel bad for getting so angry. Bright is a douche-rocket, and this whole thing is wacked-out, but maybe I should have taken a deep breath and told him to shut up instead of running off like a chicken."

"Maybe. You could probably still tell him that what he said offended you. He might not think he did anything wrong, but then again, you might get through to him. Can't hurt much to try."

"Do you…" Deep breath, another sip of coffee, another deep breath. "Do you think… I need to apologise to Amy? For cutting out."

"If you brought it up, that probably means you do, doesn't it?"

"I guess so. She was just so, so… it's like she almost forgot I was there because she was so wrapped up in arguing with Bright. Didn't feel too hot."

"Yeah, I can see how it wouldn't."

I looked around at the rest of the customers in Mama Joy's. None of them were paying us any attention, all in conversation with old friends or nose-deep in the Pinecone or New York Times. My voice cracked when I asked, "Can you please not tell anybody about any of this… or that I didn't even realise I was crying? Somehow I think that's a lot bigger deal than you're making it. I'm scared…"

"Oh, I dunno," she told me gently. "I've done it a dozen times while Carl's on the road and I'm trying to balance the house, the bills, the job and Sam all by myself. Love is rough and life is hard. Anybody who forgets that is pretty stupid."

Nodding, I stood and placed a ten on the table. When she opened her mouth, a worry-line between her eyebrows, I whispered, "It's a pretty crappy tip considering how good the service is here. Seriously, Mrs Feeney, I… thanks for the coffee." Then I left before she could force me to take the money back. I knew she would try.

I cried all the way home. Mostly as a release now; I wasn't even close to how upset as I was when I went into the diner. By the time I walked in the front door my face was dry and I was composed, so when my mother asked what I'd been up to, I easily faked nonchalance as I told her I was watching TV at Amy's before going up to my room. Then I wrote in this damn thing. And now I'm going to take a nap.

Maybe I'll go back to St Margret's after the Summer's over. Dammit, I really, really thought I wouldn't have to...

Laynie

AUTHORESS'S NOTE: You know, I actually hadn't planned for her to drop by and have a chat with Nina; it just sort of popped into my head and came spilling out. An unexpected blessing.

Soulless: What? Don't you realize that I am MUCH more important than university? (ha?) The clouds will drizzle and my storylines will fizzle, but your education will stick with you for life. And that is... something resembling prose. I suppose. ARGH stop me!13: Didn't Rod Stewart once sing something about young hearts being free, or some such tummyrot? Anyway, yes, this is exactly why I have mostly stuck with teenage romance stories; they can be as wildly unpredictable as you wish. Adults are too hesitant and jaded to take any true risks, or if they do it's a rarity or a lark. There are exceptions to every rule, however...

NEXT: Local Prat Makes Good?

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