The first time Jamie saw Betty, she had been skateboarding down the street and a girl in a yellow sundress caught her eye. Jamie had left her new home in a rage, mad that she had to move to this boring little town, but she slowed down a little when she saw Betty, with her blonde hair free and wild in the wind and smile teasing on her lip as she played with her cat.
The second time had been at homeroom. Jamie was the new student and whispers followed her wherever she went, because it’s not everyday that you have a red-haired Goddess dressed in all black walking down you hallway. Jamie scowled at everyone and stared out the window once she go to her homeroom. At least, she did until she heard a shy little laugh. She turned to see Betty, in a pink sundress this time. Jamie tried not to stare but that’s all she did. Betty smiled at her, but Jamie, caught off guard, retreated to her usual scowl. She stared out the window in embarrassment for the rest of the class.
The third time had been at dance class. Jamie loved dancing. No one ever guessed so because of the rough and tough impression she left everyone with. She had entered the class to find Betty twirling into the arms of another. A brown haired boy who was quite attractive with electric blue eyes and a lightly muscular form. Jamie was paired up with August. She was sweet and almost matched Jamie in height, which was quite rare. Jamie might’ve stared at her honey gold eyes and asked to maybe even draw them if she hadn’t been too busy plotting the poor boy’s death every time he pulled Betty closer.
She did notice those honey gold eyes later though, because August forcefully accompanied her at lunch and dragged Jamie to the table her friends were sat at. There she met John, a tiny boy with green hair, Abigail, the artist, and Malcom who spent the entire lunch with his nose buried in a book about birds.
The first time she had spoken to Betty was when she had come over for the housewarming Jamie’s parents had hosted to get to know their new neighbours. Jamie had accidentally let it slip to August and she promised to come. Jamie didn’t care much about that. Betty lived six houses down from hers and she sat at the kitchen hoping she’d come, ignoring her mother who had told her to entertain the other guests in the backyard. When Jamie caught a glimpse of blonde hair and a pretty little pink smile coming down the street, she ran upstairs and waited for the doorbell to ring. Betty had come with her mother and as soon as she was alone, Jamie slid right up next to her and tried to make conversation about dance, which she had a hard time actually keeping track of because she constantly got distracted by Betty, her voice, her smile, the way her hands moved when she talked, just Betty. Jamie found freshly baked cookies with a note from August at her doorstep.
Jamie had been dancing with August when Betty interrupted them. Betty wanted to watch a movie. A romance. She asked to meet behind the mall. When her friend, Inez, came by she quickly fled and went back to that brown haired boy. Jamie hardly paid attention to class after that. Though she still danced pretty well. Her body moved with Augusts’, but her mind did wander.
On Saturday, Jamie waited for Betty behind the mall. After an hour, Jamie revved her scooter, slightly in impatience and was about to leave when she saw Betty. Jamie couldn’t tell you what the movie was about. All she remembered was the light touched of Betty’s fingers whenever a scene was especially heartbreaking or romantic. She soon forgot these too because Betty left her with a light kiss and Jamie swore she felt fireworks.
At school on Monday, Betty turned away when Jamie waved at her or smiled at her. Jamie made up her mind to just talk to her. A kiss can’t just end with a kiss, but when Jamie was close enough to talk, Betty held on to that brown haired boy’s hand. Ethan. Malcom had told Jamie later. They were the ‘It’ couple. The high school sweethearts that would be together forever. Jamie stormed off and punched a tree, scaring a few birds. Malcom freaked out. August cleaned the blood off and bandaged it for her.
Jamie still pined, but she didn’t push. Stolen glances, hidden smiles. Weeks passed with nothing yearning. So much yearning. She had warmed up to Augusts’ friends though. Gotten over her anger and learned more about them. August, Augustine actually, loved to sing and when she did you’d be too mesmerised to think fo anybody or anything else. John was eccentric, to say the least, and one hell of a drama geek. The green hair was just for a role. Now he’s bald with a light goatee. Jamie stared at him incredulously when he showed up like that, but no one else seemed to be phased. Abigail was the sports girl. Malcom loved animals and they seemed to love him just as much.
Jamie finally asked August if she could draw her eyes. Like liquid pools of gold, she could stare at them all day. August agreed, blushing. They agreed on Saturday. August would come over to Jamie’s. Jamie had made a few sketches from memory, but it really wasn’t the same. Friday night, August stood infant of her mirror trying to pick an outfit for the next day when she got a text from Jamie asking to postpone.
Betty asked Jamie for help with the dance they’ve been learning. Jamie knew she didn’t need it. Betty was the best in class. Best at everything really, but of course Jamie said yes. Now she was the one infant of a mirror trying to pick an outfit. She settled on a black t-shirt to bring out the colour of her hair and tight jeans that she knew made her look hotter than hell. She spent the night twisting and turning in bed, the butterflies back in her stomach.
Jamie went over to Betty’s the next day. Her parents weren’t home. Jamie couldn’t help but be awkward, but Betty’s hands on her shoulders, Betty’s calm eyes, it steadied Jamie. Betty led her to the garden. They danced for a while. Not for long. Jamie, to mesmerised to be embarrassed, asked Betty if she could kiss her. Blushing, the blonde agreed. And that’s what they did. For a long time. They ended up on the bed for a while and Betty was just as soft as Jamie had thought she would be. And the sounds she made would be imprinted in Jamie’s mind till the day she died. Betty asked to keep it all a secret before Jamie left. Jamie felt the anger rising in her again, but Betty’s kiss and promise to spend the weekends with her subdued her. Jamie understood. What could Betty do about her homophonic parents and friends and everyone in this homophobic little town.
Jamie tried to draw August’s eyes the next day. She really did, but she only managed to draw Betty. Lost in concentration, she barely glanced at August, making the latter ask to see the drawing. Startled, the red haired girl had refused, claiming that it wasn’t done yet. August didn’t mind, glad that they got to spend so much time together even if it was in silence. At least she was until she caught a glimpse of what had actually been drawn. August never asked for the drawing of her eyes and Jamie forgot about it too.
Jamie and Betty sneaked around. The janitor’s closet, homeroom every morning after everyone left, in the dance room if they managed to get there before everyone else, in Jamie’s car in the morning, two blocks away from school. Stollen glances. Secret notes. Hidden smiles. Weekends at Betty’s when her parents were out of town for business.They started again. August caught them once. Betty ran out. Avoided Jamie till she assured her that August wouldn’t say anything. Because, in the hallways, it was Betty and Ethan. Jamie would’ve approached Betty in school to talk about it, but she wasn’t ignorant to the snide remarkers and looks Betty’s friends sent her.
August became a little distant after that. It was during a movie night with her and Malcolm, Abigail and John that Jamie noticed. Movie nights had become a Friday night tradition. Jamie, cold as she may be, was happy to finally have a group of friends that she felt safe and comfortable around. Her old friends had gotten kind of weird after she came out. That’s why August’s distance bothered her now. They had decided to watch 50 First Dates and August didn’t take her usual seat next to Jamie, causing the confrontation. They watched the movie, Jamie feeling somewhat prickly. And before they left, she came out to her friends. She needed to know that they were okay with it. She had lost her old best friends because of it even though they grew up together. 16 years seemed like nothing to them. And the girl she was in love with hid her like a dirty secret. Her friends here were supportive. Hadn’t realised it was a secret because of the lesbian flag she had painted on to one of her Converse. August stayed the night and Jamie asked about her distance. August feigned ignorance but admitted to having feelings for Jamie. Jamie didn’t want to lose a friend so she promised to give her the distance she said she needed.
Prom was just around the corner. Jamie wasn’t sure she could be a dirty little secret anymore. She bore the pain of watching Betty kiss Ethan in the hallways, pull her closer during the dance class. She tolerated it. Bit back the pain because Betty would send her a smile or a leave a note in her bag. Because Betty would kiss it away when they managed to sneak away from the crowds. Or in her bed on the weekends. Because Betty told her she only kissed Ethan to make him believe she had feelings for him. Had promised that they never went further. But then, Jamie caught them in the janitor’s closet. Caught Ethan leaving Betty’s house on the Saturday that Jamie was suppose to go over on, that Betty had cancelled last minute because her parents decided to stay. Jamie didn’t see their car in the driveway. The last straw was when Betty asked Jamie for her opinion on the prom dress she should get. Jamie picked the green one, but Betty said she needed to get the blue one to match with fucking Ethan.
Jamie told her that she needed to make her decision by Prom because she wasn’t a fucking toy. She told Betty that whoever she danced with on Prom night would be the choice she made.
Jamie and her friends had gone over to August’s to get ready for Prom. Jamie wore a green dress, which, with her red hair, really made her look ethereal. August had worn a gold dress, making the pools of gold in her eyes shine more than ever. Jamie was a ball of nerves, not knowing if she would be dancing with Betty or crying her eyes out by the end of the night. Betty wore the blue dress. She entered with Ethan. And Jamie held it together. The dance hadn’t started yet.
Betty danced with Ethan. Jamie watched from the far side of the gym.
Jamie left, mumbling some excuse to her friends. She just needed to keep it in till she left. She stood under the streetlight. Her ride was still in the gym and she wouldn’t be able to walk home in her heels. She should’ve just ran to the bathroom instead but she didn’t have it in her to walk back into the gym. August ran out after her and just hugged her. August said she’d get her car and they could leave. They came in two cars anyway.
Betty ran out just as August went to get the car. She was so beautiful. Her face, in the streetlight, her rosy cheeks and pink lips. Jamie wanted to kiss her all day and all night. But August pulled up before Betty managed to get a word out, like a figment of her worst intentions. She said, “James, get in, let’s drive”. Jamie left with her. Her mind, clouded with insecurity, kissed August. And that night, under the sheets, they did everything Jamie wanted to do with Betty. August had told her months ago that she was over her crush, so, in the morning, they thought nothing of it.
Not a word from Betty all summer long. She slept next to August all summer long, but dreamt of Betty. At least she did for a month. But as the summer went on, her friends made her forget about Betty. August made her forget. Stolen stares when they were with everyone else. Her parents never asked her why she came up so flushed most nights. They spent all summer at the lake. Jamie found a spot hidden by a grove of trees. She showed August. They danced there sometimes because August thought the circle of light coming through was made just for that. Jamie agreed, as long as she could stare at those honey gold eyes, she would agree to anything. By the lake one day, Jamie promised to draw August’s eyes again. And she did this time. She drew the way her eyes crinkled when she smiled, they way she squinted when she laughed, she lazy, cat like way she’d seen them in bed. Jamie drew August’s eyes in every way she saw them. She drew a lot more than her eyes too. She drew the way August moved when she danced. She drew August curled up in the chair in Jamie’s bedroom after a tiring day at the lake. But Jamie only ever showed August that first drawing of her eyes. Stollen stares became longing stares. Jamie started wearing the perfume August gave her everyday. So she’d be able to have August with her even when she wasn’t there. They kept saying that it was nothing more than fun. Lie, they lied, and they lied, and they lied. August because she thought Jamie could never love anyone else but Betty, and Jamie because August told her she was over her. Because August never stayed the night and never let Jamie stay the night either. But one day, Jamie doesn’t know what possessed her to say it, but she looked up while drawing August, again, and said “If I ever fall in love, it’ll only ever be with my muse.” August looked at her with a looked Jamie didn’t understand. “And I’d kiss them right here, right next to the lake.”
Her 17th birthday came and went and she found a note outside her door that night. ‘Happy Birthday’. She knew it to be Betty’s handwriting. She wasn’t sure how she felt about it. She crumpled it up and put it in her pocket when she say August coming up her driveway. She forgot about it. At least she did until Inez, Betty’s friend showed up at her door, scowling, probably at the thought of having to be so close to Jamie. “Betty told me everything. I told her I saw you and Augustine in the parking lot. She’s going to have a party this weekend. Make your choice.”
Jamie showed up. She told August about Inez, felt that she had to be honest. August said that she didn’t care and just wanted Jamie to do what ever would make her happy. The night leading up to the party, Jamie couldn’t help but nice the way August held her a little tighter, kissed her a little harder. Jamie couldn’t help but do the same. Why couldn’t she help it?
She didn’t know, and she showed up. At Betty’s doorstep. She didn’t miss the looks Betty’s friends gave her. Inez offered her something of a sympathetic smile. It came out as more of a grimace. Betty, hand still on the doorknob, had her pretty pink lips slightly parted. In shock? Was she about to say something? “Will you have me? Will you love me?” Jamie wanted to ask. She wanted Betty to take her to the gardens and kiss her again. She almost did, but Ethan wrapped his arm around Betty. Jamie mumbled a happy birthday and left. And as she walked down the street, she realised that it didn’t hurt. She didn’t care.
She didn’t care because Betty wasn’t the one she loved. Not anymore. Jamie wasn’t sure she ever loved Betty, but fuck. Maybe a red rose of love grew out of the ice frozen ground of heartbreak, but the only one on her mind all summer long was spending the night alone because Jamie couldn’t be more of an idiot.
She ran almost all the way to August’s house before quickly making a detour to her own to grab all the drawings she had drawn this summer. She threw pebbles at her window and August looked just about ready to murder her before she realised it was Jamie. “What the hell are you doing here?”
“I’m here to take you to the lakes!” She shouted back.
“Yes!” August disappeared. “And bring you car keys!”
“Why?” August ran out of her house in her pyjamas and threw Jamie her keys. “Weren’t you suppose to be at the party
Jamie didn’t say anything. Just dragged her to the car and gave August the sketches of her. Watched August’s eyes widen and blush.
Jamie pulled up at the lake, but August, still staring at the sketches, hadn’t realised. Jamie stared for a second. A smile curved up her lips. She really couldn’t help it. She wanted to sit and stare at the way the moonlight shined on August’s face all night, and she would, later. When they spent the night together under the moon.
Jamie got out of the car and opened August’s door, breaking her out of the trance the drawings had put her in.
“What?” August was confused and scared and her heart was beating so fucking loud and she just didn’t understand.
Jamie offered August her hand. “Come to the lakes with me?”
August slipped out of her seat and followed Jamie to the lake. “Why are we here?”
Jamie pulled August to her leaned down to kiss, stopping a hair breath away. “I needed my muse.” Jamie wanted August to remember.
If I ever fall in love, it’ll only ever be with my muse.” August looked at her with a looked Jamie didn’t understand. “And I’d kiss them right here, right next to the lake.”
August remembered what Jamie said that day. And because she did, she leaned up and kissed her. And they kissed like they were kissing for the first.
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