All About The Silver Lining

Chapter 3

THREE

Tell me if I'm crazy. Tell me I am, because I might be, I have to be. I'm freaking out all over the place.

Amy and I have been hanging out again, when she's not hanging out with Bright and Ephram. Believe it or not, the boys are friends. It's so weird it should be on Ripley's. Anyway, it's not quite like old times... but it's good. We had a lot to catch up on from our weeks of estrangement – mostly on her end, because I've just been going to parties and vegging out.

Why am I asking you to validate me? K. Let's do this.

So we're at the movies, and we're watching Brad Pitt annihilate something with his pecs or whatever, I can't remember now. Not that it makes a difference, since the movie sucked ass. I reach over and take her hand, and she lays her head on my shoulder. This is nothing new, you know? We're old friends. Then we're both digging in the popcorn tub at the same time, and... it gets weird.

I'm trying here, but it's gonna be really hard to outline without just sounding stupid. Maybe if I can get it down on paper and get it down right it'll help me figure this out. Bear with me.

My best guess is it's something about that fake, greasy butter they always pump all over the popcorn because they're too cheap to use anything of higher quality. Nobody really wants it, but if you ask them to put it on the side or leave it off, you're committing movie theater sacrilege. It's tradition. Anyway... something about the way her fingers slide over mine makes me shiver, because it's a feeling I'm not used to. I mean, our other hands were clean, and I'm used to the feeling of clean hands. But it's kind of unusual to slather yourself with oil and then touch somebody. Unless you're into Greco-Roman wrestling.

I shiver, and she looks over at me, like "What's your deal?" So I kind of laugh – not a real laugh, just one of those things where you smile and let a quick breath out through your nose. An almost-laugh. And the way her eyes turn back to the movie a little wider while she smiles back... it's so obvious she thinks I'm losing it. Like there's a joke I told but she not only didn't think it was funny, but didn't even recognize it as a joke in the first place. Neither of us bring it up again.

Okay, I just reread all of that and it's exactly what happened and how it happened. But I don't understand it any better than I did before. It just sounds like a moment of weirdness, which is pretty accurate but unhelpful.

The rest of the night got more and more awkward. We went back to Mama Joy's Diner and split a sundae... and when we got to the last bite, instead of play-fighting over it like we normally would she pushed the dish toward me and told me she was full. Little stuff like that.

Then we had this conversation back at the Hart house... hmm, maybe I should write the whole thing down. Or as best as I can remember it, but that's pretty good, actually; some school counselors were convinced I have near-total recall. Not that it ever helped my report card any.

"What's this?" she asked.

"It's a lace teddy," I told her. This was in my room, just so we're clear; Amy would never own anything like that anyway. "What, haven't you ever been to Victoria's Secret?"

"No, I have – I just didn't know you were into sexy underwear, that's all."

"It's for special occasions. Which is why the price tag is still attached."

At that, she laughed; all too obvious what I meant. "Right. If I had something like this, it'd still be in the box, that's for sure."

"You're not still regretting hanging onto your virginity, are you? That Tommy loser wasn't worth-"

"I know," she cut me off, looking a little embarrassed. I get it, I really do; she wanted Tommy up to a point, but even though she now realizes that he wasn't the right one to give herself to it was probably still frustrating to have to wait even longer. "But... am I going to die without becoming a woman?"

"What are you, a Puritan? You're a woman if you've got tits, Ames."

"Don't be gauche," she sighed, holding it up in front of her torso and standing in front of my full-length mirror. "I just meant..."

"What?"

See, here's where I get confused again, because she looks between me and the teddy and puts it back, like she's in a hurry to not be touching it anymore. "Whatever, I dunno, I can't remember."

"No, you were talking about womanhood. Let's have it."

She glanced at the door – it was still just as closed as it had been before – and whispered, "Do you know the number of a good, um... male prostitute?"

"Are you serious?" I shout, totally involuntary because I'm like, floored. She shushes me, and I drop my voice. "Come on, Amy, don't go down that road. You're not one of those girls."

"How do you know? I went down some pretty dark, twisting roads while we weren't speaking. I could be one of 'those girls' by now."

"Bullshit."

She nods, playing with her fingernails. "Okay, maybe I'm full of it. But I'm still sick of this whole pressure to pop my cherry with the 'right guy' or whatever, it's... it makes it too hard. After Colin and Tommy didn't get around to it, I'm all impatient and tired of worrying."

"Yeah, okay, but a man-whore? That's about the lowest common denominator you could find. Just... I dunno, bat your eyelashes at one of the football players. He'll shuck you and jump your bones in five minutes flat."

"Ew," Amy griped. "No thanks, I'm so not interested. There's no County boy worth boning."

"Apparently you are interested," I fired back. "But if you're too scared of getting a little dirt on your reputation, why don't you think back to how you're the 'OD Girl' these days? It doesn't get much lower than that; you can't fall off the floor."

So by this point, she's pacing back and forth with a hand over her mouth. I know if it were anybody but me, that would be when she stopped because it's just too personal to share. But because I am the great Laynie Hart and there's too much going on in her head... "What about... okay, never mind, that's just way too gross."

"What about what? Spill."

"You know... one of those..." She made some gestures with her hand that outlined a general shape, and I began to get the picture.

"A dildo?"

"Don't say it out loud, geez!"

I had to laugh at her. "Dude, this isn't Beetlejuice; saying it out loud won't make it come to life and suck you into a scale model of the city. Relax."

"Never mind the whole stupid idea," she said, blushing hard now. "I'll just die a virgin."

"You will not die a virgin. Just... wait, the right guy will come to you. It's like I told you before, you're building it up into a huge deal when it's not."

"Yeah, it is like you said before; I should get it over with and keep my expectations low. That was what you told me, right?"

By this point I was getting annoyed, but I could empathise so I did my best to keep a civil tone. "Ames... you are so missing my point. It's not a big deal, so stop giving a shit. Stop thinking about it at all! Get on with your life, study for finals, send ass-kissing letters to universities or whatever. But if you keep obsessing about it, you'll wind up under some Hell's Angel with a bottle of tequila in your hand, wondering where it all went wrong. So chillax."

And that's where the conversation ended. We kind of sat around feeling all twitchy for a minute or so, then she changed the subject and it was over. But is it?

The popcorn and the sundae were weird. Then the whole conversation about virginity, which normally would be the kind of thing we revel in... there was this unacknowledged strain. Like we shouldn't be talking about it. Except that's exactly the topic that's right up our alley on a normal day. Is she... pulling away from me again?

See, you're probably sitting there thinking I'm a dumbass, and I'm reading stuff into this that's not even there. But I gotta wonder if the last fight we had permanently broke something. She chose Tommy over me. I was trying to protect her, and she cast me aside. I'm trying to forgive and forget, though – I mean it, not just pretending to be copacetic on the surface and then making little passive-aggressive comments like some catty sorority chick. Seriously, I don't care, because I know she was in a really bad headspace. At least she came around. But maybe... she hasn't forgiven herself for it? Maybe that, and now she feels kind of uncomfortable whenever we're extra buddy-buddy because we kind of fractured our "buddy" status for a while. So it's like trying to put the toothpaste back in the tube. Am I making any sense?

Never mind. Forget this journal. I keep using it as some kind of tool, except I'm no handyman. I'd use a wrench to hammer in nails without batting an eye. I'm sure this will work itself out, and I'll be back to laugh at myself within these pages soon. Take care, journal o' mine.

Laynie

AUTHORESS'S NOTE: It begins. NEXT: It deepens. (Sorry for the uninspired comment, but I'm feeling sort of run down. It's Monday.)

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