Some Girls Are - Page 25


Someone will get hurt.


Maybe your new boyfriend should watch his back.


I look up at the center table. Anna is watching me, interested in a way that makes me sick. I spot Michael winding his way back to the table, a small container of yogurt in his hand, and I am overwhelmed with how much more I like him than I hate my ex-friends.


But I don’t know what to do about it. I don’t think I’m that brave.


Do something.


After school, I end up at the park.


Small-town entertainment. Kid explosion in the summer. Everyone vies for a shot at the swings and the monkey bars and the playhouse and the slides and the metal merry-go-round thing that some little girl supposedly severed a limb on years ago. Today the place is empty, save for the snack wagon, which doesn’t pack up until the first snow flies. I buy some greasy fries from the guy holding the place down, drown them in ketchup, and eat them on top of the monkey bars.


A light breeze pushes the swings back and forth. I finish off the fries and try to enjoy the quiet. It’s easy to be out here: I’m not surrounded.


After a long time, two separate cars pull into the parking lot. No one I recognize. Two soccer moms step out of each car, dragging two little girls with them, respectively. Must be a play date.


They stay to the far side of the park, away from the big toys. I watch them and feel a sense of relief when I see the girls don’t have much interest in each other. They pick separate spaces of grass and focus on the dolls they’ve brought with them while their moms talk. I hope they stay away from each other, because odds are good one of them has the making of a total bitch and the other will become that bitch’s total bitch.


Because that’s how it works. Mostly.


I lean back, hooking my legs over the bars and snaking through the spaces between them until I’m hanging upside down.


“Mommy, look at that!” One of the girls shrieks. “I want to do that!”


“That’s dangerous honey,” her mom says. “Why don’t you go play with Casey? You two can play dolls with each other….” That’s dangerous.


I stay upside down until I feel like my head is going to burst and I ease back up. I lie across the bars and bundle my coat under my head like a pillow. After an hour or so, the women leave with their daughters. The temperature drops and the light shifts.


I stare at the sky and wait for it to come to me.


Truce.


Truce.


I wake up and that word is in my head.


This morning–a pale pink antacid with coffee. Truce. Dad goes through the whole paper, and I’m still debating it. He leaves. Mom is running late, looking for her car keys. I feel guilty watching her. She just wants to be a good mother, and it’s weird and sad to me how we’re all in some small ways trying to be good.


“I broke up with Josh,” I tell her. I don’t know why. “A while ago.”


Her head snaps up, eyes wide and surprised, and then they glaze over like she finally understands everything that’s been going on. She takes this one little piece of the puzzle and puts it into the wrong picture.


“I’m sorry, Regina,” she says. “That’s too bad.”


“Not really.” I shrug. “He was useless.”


“They sometimes are,” she says, amused.


She gives me a kiss on the cheek and leaves. I sit at the table for as long as I can stretch it out and

then I grab my book bag and walk to school.


Truce.


I’m not stupid. I know it’s dumb and impossible, but it’s all I’ve got. It’s dumb and impossible but it’s also grown-up and brave. Not the easy thing to do. And maybe Anna will see that and she’ll be so shocked and amazed that I asked her—no one’s asked for a truce before—that she’ll let me have it, and then I’ll tell Michael and it will get back to Liz, and Liz will be impressed, and we all untie ourselves from this Regina, and then I get to be the one that’s happy and braver and like…Better.


Time passes too quickly when you’re getting ready to do something you


don’t want to do. The morning and afternoon disappear, and I keep trying to figure out how I’m going to do this, but you can’t really plan anything when you deal with Anna.


“What’s going on?” Michael asks me at lunch. I’m jiggling my knee under the table like a spaz, and my palms are slimy with sweat.


“Nothing,” I tell him. I want it to be a surprise. “I’m just…” I trail off and offer him a feeble smile. “Monday.”


That’s all I need to say.


I skip out on my last class and wait for Anna at her Benz. I swallow a couple antacids. I keep wiping my hands on my jeans. Every time I inhale, my whole chest tingles, and by the time the last bell rings, I can’t breathe. I can do this. I tense and watch students shove each other out the front door—I duck out of sight as Michael gets into his Saturn and drives away—until, eventually, they emerge— the four of them together.


I can almost see myself wedged between Anna and Kara. Kara always kept her distance, slightly removed, because I told her to. I watch Marta and Jeanette break off for Jeanette’s car. For a second, I think if I could do it all over again, I’d want to be one of those two, because they don’t matter. But I’d never do it all over again.


Kara points me out to Anna. Anna gives me the dirtiest look when they reach her Benz. I straighten. My ringers curl and a familiar hot feeling spreads through me. I try to bury it. I need to be beyond that. Now.


“Get,” Anna says, pointing across the parking lot, “away from my car.”


“I need to—” It comes out sounding like there are hands around my throat. I cough and try again. “I need to talk to you.” Anna crinkles her nose. “How about…”


“No?” Kara suggests.


Anna shoves me out of the way and pulls her keys from her purse.


“I need to talk to you about—” Kara rounds the car, rolling her eyes, and I just blurt the words out: “I want you to leave me alone.” Anna and Kara exchange a glance and laugh. “I mean a truce,” I blurt out.


They freeze. Anna’s eyes travel from the keys to her hand to the car to Kara, who leans over the hood, shocked. The moment passes quickly. Anna snorts and unlocks her door. She opens it. Kara stays where she is, but I’m not appealing to Kara.


I grab Anna’s door and block her path.


“Fuck off, Regina.”


This is the closest I’ve been to her since I slapped her, and she looks as angry as she did then. My heart gets all tangled up in my stomach, and my mouth is a desert. I scrape my tongue along my lips.


“There’s no way we’re going to be friends with you,” Kara says.


“I’m not asking you for your

friendship, you idiot. I’m asking you for a truce.”


“No,” Kara says, at the same time Anna says, “Why?”


At least the suggestion is unprecedented enough to capture Anna’s attention, like I thought it might be. I doubt it will be enough to capture her heart. Especially with Kara standing right there. I wish I could push Kara out of this picture and off a cliff.


“I want you off my back,” I say. “Why else do you think?”


“No,” Kara says. “We’re not—”


Anna holds her hand up, silencing Kara. She inclines her head for me to continue.


“We’re graduating soon,” I say. “I’m tired of this. Truce.”


“If you were really tired of this, you wouldn’t keep pushing back.”


“What am I supposed to do?” I demand. Neither of them says what they’re thinking. “Oh, so I’m just supposed to stand there and let you—”


“Yes. After what you did to me,” Anna says, “yes.”


Anna will never believe what really happened with Donnie. And now I’m the one who has to give. I’m conceding to the girls who locked me in a closet with a guy who tried to rape me.


I didn’t think this out. I don’t think I can do this.


“Forget it.” I raise my hands. “Just—forget it.”


“Wait,” Anna says. She sizes me up. “If you want a truce, I want something for it.”


“No.” Her eyes widen. Anna has never heard me say the word to her before. I’ve never seen her consider a truce, though, either, so I don’t want to shoot myself in the foot. I eye her warily. “What do you want, Anna?”


The question stumps her. There’s nothing I have that she wants. I get a glimmer of hope in the pit of my gut. If she doesn’t think of anything, I could walk away from this intact.


“Give it to me,” Kara says. “Anna, give it to me.”


“Fuck off, Kara,” I say.


Anna’s eyes light up, and I hate myself for giving that away. She never takes her eyes off me as she tells Kara, “Okay, K. I’ll leave it to you.”


Kara doesn’t even try to build to it, doesn’t want to torture me or list a slew of horrible, degrading things she could force me to do in the name of a truce. Instead, she leans across the car eagerly and says, “Apologize.”


She’s trembling, she wants it so bad. I guess I can give it to her. For Michael. I open my mouth and wait for the words to come— they don’t mean anything—but they stay stuck inside, like being stuck in a closet with Donnie Henderson, like me being stuck in a room with Donnie Henderson. It wouldn’t be so hard to hide the bruises.


“You’re joking.”


“Those are my terms.”


My mouth moves, but nothing comes out. I want to hurt her. I want to hurt her for having the balls to ask. Kara smiles and says, “Fine. See you tomorrow.”


“Wait—”


They’re only words. I’ll just say them even though she locked me in a fucking closet with Donnie Henderson. Don’t. Don’t freak out. Let her have this.


“I’m”— not sorry —“I—Kara—”