All About The Silver Lining

Chapter 26

TWENTY-SIX

Sorry, I was totally going to write some more after I hung up with Amy but, well… let's just say by the end of that conversation I was so tired that I couldn't get myself out of bed. And that's all we're going to say, got it?

Now you get to hear about Prom, though!

Bright's crazy plans to utilise his "Promebago" kind of made everything disgustingly uncomfortable for everybody who wasn't Bright and his like, 87 dates. Poor Ephram, who was sitting around looking all forlorn with no lady-friend on his arm… so Amy and I made an executive decision.

We both turned into his dates. At first he kept rolling his eyes and telling us to get lost, that he didn't need "pity companionship", but we were so earnest and giggly that he got caught up in it and stopped fighting. Bright and Ephram really looked like princes at the dance with multiple girls apiece; the masses expected that kind of thing from the blonde ex-jock, but Ephram? Ephram Brown scored two chicks? We knew what everybody would be talking about all week.

Then it turned out he needed us because he ran into good old Madison Kellner when we stopped into a convenience store for some kind of refreshment. I was watching from down the aisle and… yow. Poor, poor Ephram. I mean, it's not like he's a blameless saint or anything, but he was really suffering with this. Madison's smile was too nice; she should either have been sadder-looking or been completely cold to him. Didn't she know the first thing about break-up etiquette?

So Amy and I dragged him back to the ugly Winnebago and massaged his shoulders and let him gripe.

"She should just get out of here," he said grumpily. "You know how hard it is to survive in a town where your ex still lives? A small town like this one? It's like dental surgery without anesthesia."

"Aww, poor baby," I cooed, kneading into his tense neck muscles. "Big bad babysitter stomped on his fragile widdle heart."

"Cut it out," Amy laughed.

"Nah. Nah, she's right," he said, sitting up and further loosening his tie until he could yank it off. Taking the hint, I dropped my hands. "I'm all Prom-ed out. Takin' a walk."

"We'll come with you," Amy said automatically.

"Nah, you guys hang back," he said with a slight smile. "I, uh, have a feeling you'd like to spend one or two seconds of this huge formal-wear date actually dating each other instead of handing me Kleenex."

"You were gonna cry?" I yelped with a fake-hurt expression. "I wanted to see that."

Rolling his eyes yet again, he stepped off the enormous vehicle. We didn't even know where Bright went, and the lame kid he'd paid off to drive us around was asleep in the front. Alone at last. I said as much.

"Stop," she whispered, even though she smiled a little. "I'm too worried about Ephram to have any fun now."

"You're worried about the Manhattan Menace when you've got some genuine Laynie ready to be deflowered?"

Amy finally grinned and pulled me into her lap. "You do make it hard to stay focused on other things," she admitted. "How does she spin my head?"

"Like a record, baby."

We were just getting hot and heavy when we heard the door pop open, and I quickly dropped into a neighboring seat. It's fine, we never let ourselves get past the "chaste" stage of making out so there wasn't any damage control to do, really; just one corsage to slide back into its rightful place.

"Hail the conquering hero!" Bright was crowing. Somehow, he had two girls in his arms. It defied the laws of physics. "Where the hell's Ephram? I wanna tell him about this thing Cheryl just showed me, it's freaking BEYOND BELIEF!"

"Kind of was," Nikki giggled.

"Had to get some air," I told Bright. "Uh… we had a Kellner Encounter."

"Ah, crap," he sighed, a tiny bit of his exuberance vaporising on the spot. "How long's he gonna be like this? 'Wah, wah, wah, my life is over, I wanna curl up with my blankie.' I wish he'd get over it already."

Amy pursed her lips. "Wow, you make some amazing best friend, don't you?"

"You know what I mean. E is way better than moping over that ho; if she dumped a guy that awesome then obviously she's a moron and unworthy. End of story." Then Mindy was whispering in his ear, and he leaned back and whispered, "Really?" She nodded. "Uhh, excuse me, dear sister and sister-from-another-mister, but this playboy has got to live it up while the night is young and the ladies are limber!"

And off they went.

It was then that Amy and I decided to go find Ephram and suggest that we all walk back to Mama Joy's together, or maybe to Ephram's house and get his enormous car and head out to Denver or something. Anything to escape the villainous clutches of the Promebago.

"What a night," he rumbled as he walked.

"Don't pout," Amy chided him as she bumped him with her hip. That, of course, bumped him into me, since we were walking on either side of the dejected little loner. "Makes you look even moodier than you really are, which should be, like, scientifically impossible."

"Watch it, will you?" I said. "You're going to be mean to him and end up sending me into Mrs Gaither's oleanders instead."

She shoved Ephram into me again, and I shoved back, sending her staggering off the sidewalk and into the gutter. When she hopped up to shove him again, he suddenly halted so she collided with me directly and he said, "Hey, we're not turning Ephram into one of those Newton ball-click things!"

"We're not?" For that, he flicked my ear and I gasped, then pinched his bicep. He was still tickling me when Amy hopped up on his back.

"Get your hands off my woman, Brown!"

"I won't even point out how Spock-with-a-beard that is," he grunted under her weight. Despite this, he actually let her ride pickaback for a whole block before he shrugged her off, and I barely caught her before she went down hard. Everybody laughed. It was actually almost like life didn't suck.

We were almost to Mama Joy's before Ephram said, "So it's for real, huh?"

"What is?" It was Amy who bit.

"You guys."

We were both startled, but I said, "You didn't get that from the weeping session?"

"I know, it's just… this is the first time I've seen you two, y'know, acting coupley since I found out. It's like meeting a celebrity for the first time; before that you could rationalise that they were just a digital entity created by some huge company. Like the Gorillaz, or Max Headroom."

"Max who?" Amy asked.

"Sorry, I was watching 'I Love The Eighties' the other night."

We both glanced at each other, and finally Amy said, "So what, lesbians are fictional?"

"No, I've met plenty," he said as he stuffed his hands into his pants pockets. "Thing is… I've never known anybody who came out. All the gays and lesbians I've known were already out before I met them. I was never saying you guys blew my mind to smithereens; it's just a little bit different, that's all."

"Gotcha," I said.

"But I wanna make one thing clear; I do not need you guys hanging off me just because I'm single. You can be free to frolic in the girls-only meadow of happiness all you want. No sense making me the third wheel."

Grinning snarkily, I skipped ahead a little and turned to walk backwards. "What if you're the third wheel in a tricycle? Wouldn't that mean you not only belong but that we can't do anything without you?"

"Stop that. I mean it, I'm totally cool being an army of one."

"What if we're not cool with that?" Amy put in, locking arms with him. "It sucks that the girl who should have taken you to this thing picked the worst possible time to drop you like a hot potato."

"That's not exactly how it-"

"The point is, if she really was a decent person she'd have sucked it up and gone to Prom with you anyway. You were in Coupleopolis right up until pre-Prom days and you didn't have adequate grieving time before it started, which meant you couldn't get a date. She set you up to fail."

"Pretty unkind of her," I agreed.

Ephram had that look on his face, like he didn't agree with us but he was both amused and slightly touched by our point of view. "This is really, uh, bolstering or whatever, but I'm starving and that bag of Reese's Pieces is like, ancient history. Can we go in now?"

In we went. Basically what happened was we ate our way through several baskets of french fries and had a few milkshakes, we bickered, we laughed, we kept pulling Ephram back into the booth when he tried to let us have "alone time" or some shit. At one point, he actually took out a $20 and put it on the table, daring us to make out in the middle of the restaurant.

"You are sick," Amy laughed.

"It's easy money; do it or don't do it, I'll live either way."

Staring between each other and his mischievous smile, then around at all the other patrons (every single one of them were half-drunk Prom refugees), we finally shrugged and spent a few seconds playing tonsil hockey over the top of the table. Amy was sitting next to Ephram, you see, so this was even more showy, which I think is why Ephram dared us in the first place; he never believed we'd do it. So we earned ourselves a quick Jackson.

"Now for the real test," I said.

"Huh?" Ephram mumbled dazedly. Then, when he felt my shoeless foot wriggling in his lap he let out a yelp. "What the- what are you doing?"

"Checking to see if you got off on that," I laughed. "Good boy; not so easily flustered. Respectable."

"Laynie," Amy hissed, slightly embarrassed – but to her credit, only embarrassed that I had done the latter thing. She was actually mostly comfortable that we had kissed in a public location. It was a step in the right direction for both of us.

"You two are going to be the death of me," he sighed, mopping his brow with a napkin.

"We'll play footsie all through your funeral," I promised. They both laughed, and when Nina came by we ordered more fries. On the night went for a long, long while.

Back to my house, sans the boy. My mom got fed a story that Amy just wanted to "crash". We spent all night taking turns with Old Blue, and sometimes not; sometimes we just put it aside and felt what our bodies were like when painted across each other. It was ethereal. It was transcendental. It was the clichéd magic of Prom Night, only it was actually truly an evening to remember for the rest of our lives. Our lives together.

And now I'm so horny thinking about it that I can't even keep writing; this leather-bound log is turning into some kind of trashy Harlequin novel! K, time to go give my significant other a call and see if her parents were pissed about the unexpected sleepover thing. I hope not; it seems like it was a really great idea on my end.

Laynie

AUTHORESS'S NOTE: Yay! One more "entry" left to go! Are you excited, frightened, pleased, disgusted? I'm deep in the throes of sleep deprivation; so bad that I'm drinking non-diet Coke because I'm hoping the sugar-caffeine double-whammy will keep me running until the evening. That said, it feels good to be productive. It would feel better to be in bed... perhaps with someone kneading my inflamed shoulder muscles... hunching over a keyboard doesn't help much when you're exhausted.

Xpsi: It's more than fine if you rant, I'd rather we be exercising our brains than just nodding along! Yes, it needs to be spoken about. For some, sexual identity is a very concrete, black-and-white concept that is easy to grasp, unswerving and without question. For others, it's more fluid and uncertain. A transman who dates women is, to himself, a straight male, yet to many others a lesbian with a chip on "her" shoulder. To an appalingly large percentage of the populace, anything outside a straight-heteronormative-male dating a straight-heteronormative-female is a big scary sin. This preexisting mindset gives some people pause when they discover they ate Queerios for breakfast; they have to sit down and really think about it, try to figure out what they are - sometimes attempting to rationalize that they're not gay, they're *insert vague concept here* or perhaps *yadda yadda yadda*. I could have Laynie declare she's a lesbian and then ship it off to Mars and never speak of it again, but to my POV that is highly unrealistic, and I always strive to push the boundaries of realism without shattering them. Remember that she's writing this in her diary. If she doesn't scrutinize her evolving sexuality there, where would she? None of this is me attempting to belittle your opinion on the subject, however, merely rebutting with my own.

NEXT: Flashing Forward to the Finale.

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