"The sun shines bright, yet the rain pours on
Rainbows here one minute and then they're gone
They remind me of me and you
What did you do?
What did I do?"
I couldn't explain it. I was happy.
What reason did I have to feel like I was walking on air? I was as close to a perpetual smile as I'd ever been. If Butler had seen me, he would've thought that I'd went mad. It had been days since I went to Diane's house-and yes, I had hacked my school records to make it as if I had been attending school the whole time. Since then, not a minute had passed that was not saturated with our banter. To anyone observing, it would seem as if Diane was getting nowhere, what with my cold responses. But we knew better.
It usually went something like this:
"So, Arty Boy. What now?"
"Oh, just some simplified revisions of my quantum theories. Something way beyond your stone-age brain."
"I believe you…hey, is that a duck?"
"Wh...a duck? No, that's not a-"
"I'm pretty sure that's a duck."
"Where are you seeing a duck? Are you referring to the highly complex astrological diagram I was sketching from my window last night?"
"Nope, I'm referring to that duck. Right there. See? That's the bill, and its little tail feathers..."
"You mean Orion and Ursa Major?"
"Will you shut up? That's a &%$y duck. Don't you think I know a duck when I see one?"
"I think you wouldn't know the difference between a quack and a quark."
"Well...oh, I see what you mean!"
"Yeah. It's not a duck, it's a goose! You're right, Arty, I am a real idiot."
Why was it like this? I didn't know. I was almost afraid to-if I delved too deep into the mystery of our friendship, I was afraid that some of its magic would be lost.
I slid into my chair in the back of Hartfoot's class, my foot absentmindedly tapping to Beethoven's 4th. I couldn't remember the last time I had to resort to physical movement to express my inner feelings. I couldn't remember the last time I was this ridiculously joyful. Cloud nine, top of the world, whatever expression you prefer. I would've laughed at myself if I had the hindsight to do so.
The bell rang. Diane wasn't here yet.
My mirth began to ebb. I looked around as if she had miraculously escaped my view as the only girl in the whole school, slowly pulling out my notepad and scribbling in it. But I wasn't really writing anything. I was just looking for a way to act natural, to calm down, to make the moments' wait seem shorter. Because it felt like forever.
There she was.
She backed into the classroom, a dazed smile on her face as she waved at something I couldn't see. I narrowed my eyes, my good mood ruined by suspicion. I was her only friend at the school. So who was she making goo-goo eyes at?
Hartfoot was about to call her out about being late, but she ignored him, instead making straight for her desk beside mine. I watched her the whole time, a dark theory bubbling in my head like a stormcloud. She sat, chin in her hands, staring off into space with an unknown identity dancing behind her eyes. I opted against making the first move, instead turning my gaze to my notepad with cool calm. I felt that if I acted immediately, my suspicion would be obvious. And if she knew I was up to something, she would hound me like nothing else.
She didn't say anything for a long time. That wasn't normal. On the rare occasions where she didn't immediately start talking to me, she was already asleep, perhaps catching up on a late night doing Lord knows what. But she was neither snoring nor speaking. Something was seriously out of balance.
Up to me, then.
"Well?" I invited, looking over at Diane sideways. She continued staring, her smile fading by an infinitesimal degree.
"Hm?" she responded, lifting her head off her hand to finally look over at me. From the look in her eyes, she still wasn't fully focusing on me. She still had that...other thing on her mind.
"Why are you so cheerful?" I asked, a tinge of sarcasm bleeding into my voice. I hadn't meant that to happen. The spirit of adolescence must have its roots in me already.
"Why shouldn't I be?" she queried blankly. It didn't seem weird to her that something besides her only friend made her smile. She really was the most insufferable neanderthal.
"Because you-" I stopped myself, taking a deep breath to gather my thoughts before they tumbled out uncomposed. Closing my eyes for a moment, I still had to control myself from snapping at her when she spoke once more.
"Are you okay, Arty?"
"Would you like the honest answer, or the one that makes your life easier?" I inquired, noting again the bitterness. I shouldn't be reacting this way. Just because she has other friends than me doesn't mean anything.
"Best policy," she said ominously, leaning back and folding her hands behind her head. She watched me with an eyebrow cocked, waiting for my answer. She was a dreadfully good listener. I took another breath, steeling myself for the words I was about to say.
"I've just been thinking," I began. I was lying already. I still was thinking. "about your old life. When we first met, you said your mother was the duchess of Czechoslovakia. Which is no longer a country. I'm almost certain that you lied to me."
Diane blinked at me. I held that gaze with the pout that my soul gave me.
"Oh," she said finally, pulling up her lip and furrowing her brow as if that were an unpleasant surprise. "Okay. I thought it was something important."
"It is important!" I hissed. "If you lied to me the very first day that I met you, then who's to say that you haven't done that again?"
Diane snorted. "Like you didn't lie to me the first day. I know how to lie, but that doesn't mean I do it all the time for no reason."
"I lied for a reason," I muttered, angrily jotting something about black holes in my notepad.
"Ha!" she crowed, leaning away in her seat with a triumphant grin. "I knew it! But what'd you lie about? Your wealth? Your family? Your 'not much to tell?' C'mon, the jig's up already!"
My core bubbled with magma. The bell rang, but she wouldn't move until I'd satisfied her.
"That's not the only thing I lied to you about," I hinted, getting up and briskly striding out.