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imperfect _pisces

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About imperfect _pisces

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  1. “What are you doing?” Keisha’s opening my closet door. At the foot of my closet is an old trunk I inherited when my grandfather – my mom’s dad – passed away. Inside is where I keep all my personal things. My very, very personal things. Keisha knows all about them and even knows the combination to the lock I keep on the trunk because she’s the one who bought me those very, very personal things. Every Christmas and birthday, instead of buying me an Amazon or iTunes gift card like a normal person, Keisha likes to borrow her dad’s credit card to buy me the most ridiculous stuff she can find online. My current collection includes handcuffs, glow-in-the-dark condoms, several sex toys of various shapes, sizes and colors, books on how to pleasure my man and several articles of the most scandalous clothing I’ve ever seen. “It’s time to take it up a notch,” she says popping the lock off the trunk. “You’ve seen the inside of Finn’s bedroom so we can’t afford to play it safe, Tristan.” “So, you want me to wear something out of there?” I ask pointing at the trunk. “I have an idea.” Keisha starts rummaging through the vast assortment of items inside until she pulls out something black. She tosses it at me. I unfold the piece of black cloth and notice that it’s a sleeveless T-shirt that could probably fit a six-year-old. On the front of the shirt in large, neon purple writing is the word BLOW and directly below it in a much smaller font is ME. “There’s no way I’m going to fit this.” “That’s the point. While you’re just standing there, go grab those black skinny jeans out of the bathroom.” I toss the shirt onto my unmade bed and dark across the hall to grab the jeans Keisha’s referring to. I return to my bedroom to find a bright red jock strap laying on top of the black T-shirt. “Oh no – no, no, no.” I reach for the jock and hold it up so she can see it. “There’s no way I’m going out in public with this.” Keisha rolls her eyes and finishes putting the lock back on my trunk. “For the last four years all I’ve heard is you talk about is Finn Montgomery. Do you wanna get his attention or not?” “I know,” I say. “But this is so unlike me.” “That’s the point, Babe. Was Sandy able to get Danny’s attention when she was wearing poodle skirts and cardigans?” “No.” “So how was she able to get his attention?” “She changed her hair, put on some makeup and some really slutty clothes so she could dance with him in the Shake Shack.” “Exactly,” Keisha says with a smile. “For the last four weeks Finn has seen the adorkable version of you. Tonight he will see the fuckable version.” I audibly gasp. Keisha rarely curses but when she does it always takes me by surprise. She picks up the pile of clothes I’m to wear tonight and hands them over to me. I slowly walk back across the hall. The T-shirt and jock strap are very tight but the jeans might as well be a second skin. When I finish dressing, Keisha takes some of my styling gel and slicks my hair back. She then goes into the bag and digs out eyeliner. “Be still,” she says. “This is going to make your eyes stand out.” I sit as still as I can on the edge of my bed as she applies the eyeliner. When she finishes, she steps back to admire her work. “You look hot. If you weren’t my best friend and a total homo I’d do you right here on this bed.” “Um, thanks? I feel like I should be standing on the corner trying to get rich businessmen to sleep with me.” “Let’s save that for college. Tonight is all about enticing. Nothing more. Nothing less. Now scoot … we need to leave so we can swing by and pick Sheldon up.” Dad’s watching TV in the den when Keisha and I make our way downstairs. I’m super grateful the lights are off because I really don’t want my dad to see his youngest son dressed like a low-rate rent boy.” “Heading out?” he asks. “Yes,” I say. “We’ll be home before one.” “Thanks again, Mr. G. for talking to my dad,” Keisha says. “Just make sure you let him know the moment you arrive and the moment you get home or else it’s me he’s coming after.” Keisha chuckles and says, “Will do. See you, Mr. G.” I nearly stumble over a pair of dad’s sneakers as I walk over to plant a kiss on the side of his head. “Goodnight, Dad. Don’t wait up.” “Ha,” he says. “Like I’m going to be able to sleep with both of you going out. I’ll just be sitting right here watching Law and Order marathon until you return.” It’s cooler than I expected as Keisha and I step outside. The air smells crisp and a shiver passes through my body. I tell Keisha I’m going to head back in and grab a jacket but she stops me. “My boobs are on full display and I’m wearing a crop top and low-rise jeans. I’m freezing but do you see me complaining? No – and why am I not complaining? The answer’s because I look hot and so do you and sometimes when you want to look hot you have to suffer a little bit.” “Fine,” I say as I open the passenger door to her car. “No jacket. But can you at least turn the heat on?” Keisha slides in behind the wheel, starts the car and turns the heat on full blast. “There – you happy now?” “Yes,” I say rubbing my hands down the lengths of my bare arms. “Now put on your seatbelt and quit complaining,” she says reaching for the radio. I fasten my seatbelt and slump a bit in my seat. I watch as Keisha attempts to pair her iPhone with the car’s Bluetooth system. She then presses play on a playlist I made for her a month ago. Pink’s “Get This Party Started” starts playing as Keisha backs out of my driveway. As we make our way to Sheldon’s, I close my eyes and let the warm air coming from the vents wash over me like a wave. I’m in my best friend’s car dressed like an underaged prostitute heading to a party in hopes of seducing, no – enticing the most popular guy in school in hopes that he falls in love with me or something? What if in some bizarre twist of fate, Finn really does fall for me? I’ve spent so many hours, days, weeks – months even – building this fantasy in my head, I’ve never considered actually happening. “You okay?” Keisha asks taking her eyes off the road momentarily to look over at me. “Yeah,” I say immediately. “I’m fine.” “Nervous?” she asks. “Quite,” I say. “This is all so ridiculous. Finn is straight. You know he’s straight. I know he’s straight. The entire school knows that Finn is straight. So what the hell am I even doing?” Keisha remains silent for a moment and then reaches for the volume knob to turn Maroon 5 down. “Tristan, Babe, I don’t know if you’ve noticed but I’m driving fifteen minutes out of my way to pick up the biggest nerd I’ve ever met who is in a grade lower than me and who doesn’t have a driver’s license nor permit. Sheldon is the complete opposite of everything I’ve ever wanted out of a guy.” “So why are you dating him?” I ask. “Because he’s honestly the best thing, outside of my family and you, that’s ever happened to me. He asks me what I think about certain things and then he actually listens when I talk. He brings me Skittles right before my psychology class because he knows it’s my least favorite class. He texts me to tell me goodnight before I go to bed and he messages me to say good morning while I’m getting dressed. “Not in a million years did I ever expect to be in seriously like with someone like Sheldon Lockhart – but I am. He’s totally changed my expectations on what I thought I wanted out of a guy.” “Wow – I knew you liked him,” I say. “But I didn’t know you were in serious like with him.” “Trust me – I didn’t want to be. The last thing I ever wanted to do during my senior year was tether myself to an underclassman.” “Oh my god – you’re just like that Hailey chick Nick’s brother is dating.” “Tristan Caleb Goolsby, I swear I will pull over this car and kick your ass from here all the way to Finn’s place.” “Fine,” I say. “I take it back.” “So, speaking of expectations” Keisha continues. “I want you to get rid of yours. Whatever you’re expecting this night to be, I want you to throw all of that out the window. I want you to have fun tonight. Stop worrying so much about Finn. If he likes you more than just friends then awesome – but keep in mind, there are going to be a lot hot guys at this party and you, my friend, are a total snack.” I’ve been so fixated on Finn, I’ve never really considered there might be other gay or bi-curious or open-minded straight guys at our school, someone that isn’t myself, Andy or Nick. Tristan Goolsby, you only get to do your senior year of high school once – unless you’re Ryan Milligan and you do your senior year of high school three times because Ms. Faragher keeps failing you. Before I know it, it’ll be time to walk across that stage in May. Fall semester is already a quarter of the way done. I really got to make this count. I want be kiss a guy for the first time. I want to a guy to hold my hand. I want a guy to be my boyfriend. Maybe that guy won’t be Finn Montgomery.
  2. “Are you going to eat that?” I look up and see that Nick is gesturing at my leftovers. Last night I found a recipe for tzatziki so I made some from scratch. I packed it along with some hummus and pita bread slices for my lunch today but because I’m so nervous about going to Finn’s party tonight, I haven’t been able to eat much of it. I slide the Tupperware container across the metal bleacher we are sitting on and Nick happily accepts my offering. “I’m starving,” he says. “Mom and Dad didn’t bother to grocery shop before they left on their trip.” “You could always go to the grocery store.” Keisha sits two bleachers above us. Sheldon’s sitting beside her. I notice their fingers are touching and something warm and fuzzy wells up inside of me. This is my first time seeing Keisha with someone, openly, out in public. Usually she is a bit more discreet with her romantic life. “I haven’t seen the inside of a grocery store since I was like … seven,” he says. “Nathan’s the cook. He and our mom. Usually they do the grocery shopping.” “Why don’t you just ask him?” I ask bringing my hand up to shield my eyes from the sun. “I will … when I actually see him.” Nick looks annoyed for a moment and then sighs. Andy sees the look of confusion on my face and clears his throat. “Nathan’s dating some girl who goes to Emory,” he says. “He comes here for school and when he leaves he drives immediately to Atlanta to stay with her. Apparently she lives in an apartment off-campus.” “And your parents are okay with him staying with her?” I ask. “In Atlanta?” Nick waits until he finishes chewing the huge wad of food he just put in his mouth before he answers. “As far as I know, Mom and Dad don’t know about Hailey. They’re not too invested in our social lives. As long as we’re doing well and school and not getting arrested, they’re happy.” “Speaking of getting arrested, how old is this chick?” Keisha asks. “Well,” Nick begins. “According to Nathan, Hailey’s twenty-two, twenty-three – can’t remember. She graduates this semester.” “And how old is Nathan?” I ask. “We turn 18 in November,” Nick says. “So technically at that point we’d both be adults which means technically he can date whoever he wants.” “It’ll still be icky,” Andy says. “I mean theoretically speaking, when this girl was graduating high school, Nathan would’ve been in the seventh or eighth grade.” “Of all the men to go out with,” Keisha begins, “Why pick a guy in high school. Why not date in the other direction? I mean what’s the point of even going to college if you’re not going to date one of your professors?” “I get it,” Nick says. “It’s weird. I was weirded out when he told me but Nathan has always done his own thing and he seems happy.” “I’m glad he’s happy,” Andy says. “I just wish it was with someone more … age appropriate.” “Well, after everything you and I have gone through. I’m not about to knock what anyone else is doing.” I grin. It feels so good to see Nick and Andy together again. Most high school relationships, especially the ones at Shenandoah, have the life expectancy of a gnat. Nick and Andy have seemingly beaten the odds. They’re are destined to be that couple at the beginning of Up! minus the whole Andy dying from some horrible terminal illness part. “Neither am I,” Andy says leaning forward. Nick meets him halfway and the two share a chaste, we’re in mixed company, school-appropriate kiss. “So,” Andy begins. “Tomorrow I usually do a Zumba class at the studio near my house. It helps to keep me limber.” He and Nick share a knowing look. “I can skip Zumba tomorrow morning and I can take you grocery shopping instead. I can’t have my Smooge going hungry in that big ole house.” “Smooge?” Each of us turn to look at Sheldon who is wiping crumbs off his navy blue Harvard sweatshirt. It’s the first thing he’s said since he and Keisha joined us about fifteen minutes ago. “It’s my nickname for Nick,” Andy gushes. He playfully nudges Nick in the side. “Gag me with a shovel,” Keisha says. “I’d tell you his nickname for me but it’s pretty … explicit.” “Can we guess?” Sheldon ask with a smirk. “I think I’m going to be sick,” Keisha says. “I’m feeling pretty nauseous myself,” I say. I look over at Nick and see that he’s grinning. This is the happiest I’ve seen him all semester. Perhaps it’s the sun but if I didn’t know any better, Nick Ramirez is glowing. “How about you shut that mouth of yours before I put something in it,” he says, his face inches away from Andy’s. “Oh promises, promises,” Andy says leaning in for a second kiss. “Okay,” Keisha says. “If you two are about to get it on right here on the bleachers, please give me a heads-up because I don’t think I need to be a part of that.” “I second that,” I say raising my hand. “I third it,” Sheldon says. “Relax you guys,” Andy says. “We’re just making up for lost time.” “Besides, we’ve already hooked up here,” Nick says gesturing to the seats we’re sitting on. “And we hooked up on the fifty-yard line. And in the guys’ locker room. And girls’ locker room.” I haven’t even kissed a guy yet and these two are hooking up all over the place. “Well,” Keisha says, “I’m glad you two are back together.” “Yeah. School hasn’t been the same without it’s it couple,” I say. The bell rings and the five us audibly groan. I’m so not looking forward to my next two classes but at least I get to end the day with Theater. As we head back into the building, both couples – yes, I’m officially declaring Keisha Alston and Sheldon Lockhart are a couple – head off towards their classes leaving me standing alone at my locker. I grab my notebooks for AP English and Speech and Debate and a tattered copy of The Things They Carried and I shove them inside my messenger bag. I close my locker and jump because Finn is there, again, leaning against Keisha’s locker. This time he laughs at my jumpiness and soon I join in on the laughing. “I’ve been trying to catch up with you all day,” he says. “But you walk so fast. You’re like a blur.” “This place is so big,” I remind him. “If I didn’t walk fast I’d be late to every class.” “True that.” I watch as he reaches into the pocket of his jacket. He pulled out a rolled up sheet of paper and hands it to me. “What’s this?” I straighten the piece of paper out and I see a series of questions and Finn’s answers written out underneath them. I also notes written in red ink in the margins. At the top of the paper I see an 88 percent, or in high school terms a B plus, written across the top of the paper next to Finn’s name. “Is this your Pre-Cal test?” Finn grins big and nods his head. “Oh wow. You went from a D to a B plus. That’s incredible.” “All thanks to you,” he says. “Nope,” I say holding out my hand. “I only helped you study but you were the one who walked into the classroom and slayed that test.” “I know, I know,” he says. “You’ve just helped me out so much this week. I feel like I should do something to repay you.” “Mr. Montgomery, that will not be necessary,” I say. “I’m happy to help.” “Well, thank you again, Mr. Goolsby,” he says. “Hey – by the way, are you going to be able to come tonight?” “Yup. I’m tagging along with Keisha and Sheldon.” “Awesome,” he says. “Hey – are they dating?” I shrug my shoulders. “Nothing’s been officially confirmed.” “I was just curious,” Finn says just as the warning bell sounds. “I gotta jet,” he says. “Now I get to turn in that paper for Ms. Faragher. Wish me luck.” “Good luck,” I say. “But I’m sure you don’t need it.” “I’ll catch up with you later,” he says. Then Finn Montgomery does something no other man has ever done to me. Come to think of it, no one has every done this to me. He winks at me.
  3. “Are you going to Finn’s party with Sheldon Lockhart?” My words shatter the quaint silence between me and Keisha. We are sitting at the table in my kitchen. I’m eating a bowl of Dad’s heart-healthy oatmeal and Keisha’s eating a banana while flipping through the latest issue of Vogue. Keisha looks up, confusion etched into her face. “Huh?” I clear my throat. Admittedly my tone was a wee bit … harsh. “Well, yesterday Finn and I were talking about his parents being out of town so he mentioned the party he’s throwing on Saturday. He mentioned that you may be going with Sheldon.” Keisha laughs and shakes her head. “I swear, straight guys do not listen. Finn mentioned the party to me after I told him you could maybe help him with his printing and email issue. Then he said he was going to invite everyone in the musical so then I asked him if that included Sheldon, since Sheldon is not technically in the musical. He then told me I could bring Sheldon if I wanted. “I haven’t even mentioned the party to Sheldon,” Keisha says. “Well,” I say. “I really want to go, like really, really want to go and I was sorta hoping you’d go with me.” “Babe, you know I’d be your wing woman in a heartbeat. However, you know how my dad is. He’s extremely anti-party. I think he had a bad experience back in the 80s.” Keisha shakes her head and sighs. Today she’s wearing her hair in tight curls and they frame her face perfectly. “Can’t you ask Andy?” she asks. “Something tells me it would do some good for him to get out of the house instead of watching sappy Hallmark movies all day. And night.” “Andy doesn’t know my extensive history with Finn the way you do and there’s no time for me to catch him up.” “What extensive history? You’ve been perving on him since Freshman year and he finally spoke to you this year. See – that, took like … two seconds and some change.” I shake my head in a dramatic fashion. “How can you mock what me and Finn have?” “Anyway,” Keisha says, rolling her eyes. “I’ll ask my dad just in case he’s feeling particularly benevolent. Maybe he’ll surprise us both and say yes you can go to this unsupervised party at some rich guy’s parents’ house where there most certainly will be drinking and other types of deviant activities.” “Deviant activities?” Dad calls from behind me. I look up and see that today he’s wearing the magenta scrubs I picked out for him a few weeks ago. I must say – I have good taste in scrubs. Now if only I could pick out my own clothes. “Good morning, Mr. G.,” Keisha says, Cheshire-grin appearing on her face. “Your sweet, innocent son and I were invited to a party this Saturday and we’re just trying to find a way to convince my dad to let me go.” Dad turns around and levels a serious look on the two of us. “Will there be drinking at the party?” “Most likely but I’m not planning on drinking and neither is Tristan.” “What about drugs? Marijuana or I guess you kids call it weed. Cocaine? Meth?” “Jesus, Dad,” I blurt out. “Meth? This isn’t Breaking Bad and no, I highly doubt there will be any cocaine either. Finn Montgomery’s like the most wholesome guy on the planet.” “And those are the ones you have to worry about,” Dad says as he pours himself a cup of coffee. “There’s oatmeal on the stove,” I tell him. “Thanks,” he says. “Back when I was in high school, your uncle let me tag-along with him to a party at the quarterback’s parents’ lake house. There must’ve been over a hundred people there. There was all kinds of debauchery going on, I mean I saw things I didn’t think were even possible.” “Dad – I’m digesting,” I say. “Keep it PG.” “Anyway,” he continues. “So, to get away from it all I go upstairs and I walk into a bedroom to find Herschel Becker, the high school quarterback, doing a line off of his parents’ dresser.” I bite my lip and sigh. “Well, Dad – I can assure you … there will not be anything going up either of our noses. We won’t have sex. We won’t steal a cop car. We’re going to be the same well-behaved, well-adjusted people that we always are.” The sex part I’m okay with – I just want you to be safe,” he says. “Dad – please. I’m getting nauseous.” “Well I guess what I’m trying to say is – I trust you.” Dad pours the remaining oatmeal into a large bowl. “I trust you both but there’s so much going on with kids your age. All it takes is for something to be slipped into either one of your drinks or a certain kind of photo to go viral and then your whole lives are ruined before they even have a chance to really begin.” He walks over at sits his bowl down on the table before taking the seat across from me and next to Keisha. “Keisha, I’ll talk to Hank and maybe I can convince him to let you go to this party.” “Aww, Mr. G., you don’t have to do that.” “I insist. Hank’s a lot like myself. We worry about our kids and we only want the best for them. Now, I’m not making any promises.” “Thank you, Mr. G. I really appreciate it.” “Don’t mention it. Now should’ve you two be getting to school?” I look down at my phone and see that it’s a little after seven. “Yeah, we better get going.” “Be careful,” Dad says as Keisha and I scramble to grab our things. I walk over to Dad and give him a kiss on the cheek and tell him to have a great day. I then follow Keisha out the back door into the driveway where her car is waiting. ~ I’m walking to the auditorium, alone, when I hear someone call my name. Pausing between the main building and the auditorium, I look over my shoulder and I see Andy running towards me. His face is beet-red and the gray I (HEART) New York T-shirt he is wearing is soaked with sweat. Andy stops a few feet away from me and doubles over. His breaths are shallow and for a brief moment I worry that he’s about to keel over and die right in front of me. When he finally catches his breath, he slowly stands up and runs his fingers through the sweat-slicked curls on top of his head. “Sorry – I know I look a hot mess right now but there was no time to change after gym. Some guy mouthed off at Coach so he made all of us run fifteen laps around the football field.” Andy looks down at his damp shirt and groans. “I’m so gross right now. I wish I could just go home.” “It’s fine,” I tell him. I look down at my watch. “We’ve got six minutes before class starts so how about we go grab some water.” “Water sounds so good right now.” The two of us walk into the auditorium and to the drink machine where Andy purchases a bottled water and I get a Sprite. “Can I get your advice on something?” Andy asks as we slow-walk towards the theater. “Well, I can’t promise that it will be good advice but sure, what’s on your mind?” Andy stops walking and looks over at me. “Can we just keep this between the two of us?” “Yeah – everything okay?” Andy quickly looks down at the ground and he sort of reminds me of a little kid who is too shy to say hello to an adult. Andy is usually very confident so it’s kind of strange seeing him like this. “Andy, what is it? You can tell me. I promise I won’t tell …” “Nick and I hooked up,” he blurts out, his voice echoing throughout the mostly empty hallway we’re in. “Hooked up?” “Yeah … you know … we had sex. I lied to my parents and told them I was studying with you and Keisha and then I went over to his place . His parents are on some 4-week tour of Europe for their anniversary.” Andy slowly lifts his head and makes eye contact with. “It just sort of happened. “Andy,” I say placing my hand on his back. His back is wet so my hand recoils. “There’s nothing wrong with that. You and Nick were together for how long?” “Exactly one year, one month, two weeks and three days.” “Wow – that’s, um … wow.” “We became official the day after the Fourth of July, the summer before junior year and of course I’ll never forget the day we ended things – or rather I ended things.” “So, the important question is, how do you feel about what happened?” “That’s what I need your advice on,” he says. “Being with Nick … it felt exactly like it used to. Nothing’s changed and I know more than ever that I want to be with him. I think … no, I know he is the person I’m going to be with for the rest of my life. “But lying to my parents didn’t feel good. When I got home, my dad asked me how studying went and I lied again. I ended up going up to my room and throwing up. I hate lying to my parents.” “Then don’t,” I say. “From what you’ve described, your parents sound pretty awesome. You and I both know how easily it could’ve gone the other way. So tell them how you feel. How you really feel. This isn’t some high school boyfriend you’ll dump as soon as you graduate. This is the love of your life we’re talking about.” “Tristan – Nick means the world to me and I’m so afraid of what they’ll say. I don’t think I can handle them making us break up again. It will crush Nick and I can’t do that to him. Not again.” “I get that,” I say. “I get that you don’t want to hurt Nick. But won’t you be hurting yourself if you two continue to sneak around?” Andy bites down on his bottom lip and frowns. “That’s a good point.” “You owe it to yourself to be honest with your parents and if they disapprove of you being with Nick, just tell them it’s your life.” Andy scoffs and then laughs. “You’re obviously not Italian.” The bell rings and we are officially late, not that Coach McHurk is ever around to notice. The two of us move towards the auditorium. Just as we are about to walk inside, Andy turns to me. “Thank you, Tristan. You have really given me some food for thought.” “Don’t mention it. I’m rooting for you and Nick. We all are. A love like yours can’t be denied.” “You think so?” Andy asks. “I know so.”
  4. imperfect _pisces

    Chapter 7

    No, I mean that bisexuality is a thing. But until we know for sure, the only thing we know about Finn is that he's been in a long-term relationship with a woman. Stay tuned!!!
  5. imperfect _pisces

    Chapter 7

    I appreciate the feedback!! Perhaps Finn was just curious. 😇
  6. imperfect _pisces

    Chapter 7

    How come no one ever considers door number 3 … PS...sexuality is a spectrum, not a this box or that box scenario. 😝
  7. I’m standing in the front hallway of Finn’s house and … remember the scene in Beauty and the Beast, the cartoon, not the remake, where the Beast realizes he’s in love with Belle and he shows her his library? Well, I’m Belle right now and Finn is the Beast minus the whole being kept in captivity and the subsequent Stockholm syndrome part. There’s tons of marble statues and gigantic antique vases aka expensive rich people shit lining the walls. The ceiling is high and painted a bright blue. There’s a large, framed photograph of Finn and presumably his brothers prominently featured on the main wall. They’re all tanned and handsome and wearing expensive-looking suits. Finn sidles up to me and starts pointing at the picture. He starts at the top and works his way down. “That’s Franklin III – we call him Frankie. He’s the oldest. He turns 30 this year. This is Forest and Fabian – their twins. Forest is older by ten minutes. Forest lives in Arizona with his wife and two kids. Fabian just got divorced so he moved back to town. He’s living with his girlfriend in an apartment downtown. He and his ex share custody of their daughter Cassie. And that’s Ferris – he’s at NYU. This is his last year.” Finn then looks at me and says, “And then there’s me. I’m the youngest. I’ll be the last one to fly the coup.” “Wow, all these boys,” I say. “And all F-names.” “Yeah – that was Dad’s idea. My uncles all have names beginning with the letter S but my dad’s name is Franklin. I think it pissed him off that my grandparents didn’t give him an S name so he was hell-bent on making sure we all had names that began with the same letter.” “Is Finn short for something?” I ask. “I swear if you tell anyone … well, I reckon you’ll find out at graduation anyway.” Finn sighs and rolls his eyes. “My actual name is Finnegan – Finnegan Patrick Montgomery. I’m named after my great-grandfather.” “Finnegan,” I say, trying the name out. Is the guy standing in front of me a Finnegan? Am I a Tristan? Finnegan’s a cool name but there’s something … sexy about Finn.” “I think I’ll call you Finn.” “Thanks,” he says. We both turn away from the photograph and continue our way through the front hallway. “Would you like something to drink?” Finn asks depositing his backpack and gym bag on a fancy looking marble table that looks like it weighs a metric tone. “We got Cokes, Gatorade, water of course and coffee.” “Coke will be good,” I say as I follow him across the super shiny tile lining the entire front room. “I’m gonna make a pot of coffee. I have a Pre-Cal test first thing tomorrow morning and I’m struggling. Have a feeling I’m gonna be up all night studying for it,” Finn says as we both enter the kitchen. The kitchen is top to bottom stainless steel. Fluorescent lighting bounces off every single counter top and cabinet. Everything is also very clean. My house isn’t exactly dirty but this place looks like it was cleaned by a professional. I wonder if Finn has a maid. Is maid politically-correct? “You sure you don’t want any coffee?” Finn asks reaching into an overhead cabinet. A sliver of his stomach is expose and I try so hard, really I do, not to notice. “I’ve been told I make a pretty mean cup of coffee.” I grin and shrug my shoulders. “Fine then – eighty-six the Coke and I’ll take a cup of coffee.” “Sugar and cream?” he asks walking over to the biggest coffee maker I’ve ever seen which sits on the countertop next to the massive refrigerator. I guess when you have five sons, you need a big refrigerator. “No sugar, extra cream,” I say taking a seat at one of the barstools surround the island in the middle of the room. “One cup of coffee, no sugar, extra cream coming up,” he says. As Finn fiddles with the coffee maker, I try to process my surroundings. I thought houses like this only existed in places like Beverly Hills, not a small town twenty miles outside of Atlanta. “How long have you lived here?” I ask fiddling with the zipper on my jacket which I haven’t bothered to remove. Finn turns around to face me and looks thoughtful for a moment. “Mom and Dad moved here in right after I was born so this is pretty much the only home I’ve ever known.” “My grandfather was in the Marines so my dad says they would move like every three to four years to a different town. It really took a toll on my dad. He had a hard time making friends and when he did make friends it was time to move again – and this was before social media.” “That sucks,” Finn says as he scoops coffee grounds into the machine. “Yeah – when he married my mom, he told her that if they ever had kids they would stay in one place. So, long story short, I, too, have lived in the same house my whole entire life.” “That’s cool. It’s really gonna be weird not being here next year. You know, with college and stuff.” Keisha and I have been talking about what university we’re going to attend for undergrad since sophomore year but this is the first time it’s hitting me that this time next year, I’ll be in another city – in another state – and time zone. With Everett on the other side of the country and me maybe living in Chicago or Virginia, Dad will be all by himself. “You okay?” Finn’s standing across the kitchen island from me. Concern is etched in the lines crisscrossing his forehead. I shake my head and laugh. “I was just thinking about next year. I’ve never been away from home before?” “Not even to travel?” “Does driving to Savannah to visit my grandparents every summer count?” I ask. “Well, I was thinking along the lines of leaving the country,” Finn says settling onto the stool across from me. “No,” I say. “I mean I’d love to go to Paris one day. I would love to go on one of those boats in Italy and float down the canals.” “My parents plan a big trip every year. On Christmas Eve, my parents, my brothers and their wives, we all vote on where we want to go the following summer. This year we’re going to Thailand.” “Wow,” I say. Dad and I can barely afford to go to my grandparents every summer and Finn gets to go to a different country every year. “I’m really pumped about this year. I got really bad food poisoning at Emily’s birthday party back in July so I didn’t get to go to Australia this year. I was really bummed.” “I would be, too,” I say quietly. I barely flinch at the mention of the she-devil’s name. There’s a beeping noise coming from the coffee maker which prompts Finn to hop up from his seat. “So,” he says as he walks over to the coffee maker. “I have a bit of a proposition for you.” My left brow arches involuntarily as I the word proposition echoes in my head. I sit up as straight as I can turn on my stool to face Finn. He’s pouring coffee into two bright-yellow mugs. When he finishes he brings them over to where we are sitting. “I fucking suck at Pre-Cal,” he says as he slides a pitcher of creamer across the island towards me. “Emily’s best friend, Hayden was in your Pre-Cal class last year and when I told her I was struggling she mentioned that you had the highest grade in the class.” Actually Shane Isom had the highest grade in the class but I was a lovely runner-up if I do say so myself. Math isn’t my favorite subject in the world but it’s never been a challenge for me. Math is black and white, you’re either right or wrong, and that’s why I like it. “I know I invited you over here to help me with my printer and email but would you be willing to help me study for my test tomorrow?” Finn’s eyes are big and brown and he looks like a puppy at the shelter begging to be adopted. There’s absolutely no way in hell I’m going to say no to him even though I did promise Keisha we’d hang out some tonight. I’m sure she’ll understand. There’s nobody on the planet who’d understand more than Keisha Alston. “Sure,” I say. “We wouldn’t want you to fail.” “Coach will literally kick my ass if I fail this test.” And I believe it. There’s a rumor that Coach McHurk ended up having to take court-mandated anger management a few years back for punching one of his players in the nose. Not only did the kid and his family drop the charges, the kid actually told the police that it was his fault that Coach McHurk punched him. “Don’t get me wrong, Mrs. Richards is a great teacher and she’s been super patient with me but me and math … we just don’t mix.” “Well,” I say hopping up from my stool. “With that attitude you might as well go to Coach right now and tell him you failed.” Finn looks confused. “Freshman year, I took Wellness with Coach McHurk and every single day we had to play dodgeball which is every kid who looks like me worst nightmare. Every day I would show up to class and I’d get picked last and then I ended up being the first person out of the game. “One day something snapped inside of me and one day I walked into the gym and I told myself, I may get picked last today but I am not going to be the first one out. So of course, when teams were picked, I was the last one picked – but when Coach blew that whistle and the game started, when the other team all aimed at me, I fell to the floor and everyone behind me got hit. At least five guys ended up being taken out of the game at the same time.” “So, you finally learned the dodging part of dodgeball,” Finn says smirking around the rim of his mug. “Yes – it took a month but I finally got it and by the end of the semester I became pretty decent at dodgeball … and I lost eight pounds.” “That’s cool,” Finn says. “So, if I can learn to appreciate dodgeball, there’s no reason you can’t learn to appreciate Pre-Calculus.” “Well, I hope you brought your sleeping bag,” Finn says after taking a long sip of his coffee. “Because this is definitely going to be an all-nighter.” “I’ll have to call my dad to let him know where I’m at,” I say. “Tell him I promise to make sure his son is returned home safely.” I peck out a quick text to Dad letting him know where I am and what I’m doing. Outside of Keisha, he doesn’t know about any of my other friends and the reason for that is because I don’t really have any other friends. Neither does Keisha for that matter. I also send a text to Keisha letting her know I will have to cancel our plans. She quickly texts back a series of heart emojis followed by an eggplant emoji. “Well,” Finn says, sitting down his mug, “We have our work cut out for us so we better get started. My laptop’s up in my bedroom let’s head upstairs.” As I follow Finn out of the kitchen and up an opulent spiral staircase to the second-floor, I notice how quiet and empty the house is. “When do your parents get home?” I ask as we move down a dimly-lit hallway. “Oh, my parents are out of town. My older brother is receiving some sort of an award at NYU so they flew out this morning to attend the ceremony. Then they’ll take the train to DC to meet up with one of Dad’s fraternity brothers. They won’t be back until next week … which reminds me …” Finn stops walking and turns to face me. “Are you free this Saturday … around 9ish, 10ish?” 9ish, 10ish on a Saturday I’m usually dozing on Keisha’s pull-out sofa in her den – but I’m certainly not going to tell Finn Montgomery this tidbit of info. “Yeah,” I say a little bit too enthusiastically. “I’m free.” “Awesome,” he says slapping me on the back, a little too hard – not that I’m complaining. “It’s tradition that when Mom and Dad leave town, the Montgomery boys throw a huge-ass party and since I’m the last Montgomery boy still standing, I have to carry on the tradition. So, this Saturday, I want you to come over. Feel free to bring your boyfriend, too.” “I-I don’t have a boyfriend,” I sputter. Finn looks confused again. “Really? I thought you and that Nick kid were together. I mean, I saw you two eating lunch and whatever you two were talking about … it looked real intense. I assumed … my bad.” “No,” I say placing my hand on his bicep. “It’s fine. Nick’s just a friend. He was having a really rough day that day so I was talking him through it.” “Oh,” Finn says. “Well, feel free to bring anyone you want. I already talked to Keisha about it and I think she and Sheldon are coming.” Okay, so first Keisha’s going out on a date with Sheldon and now they’re attending parties together? And why am I hearing this from Finn and not best friend? “Sounds fun,” I say. “Oh it is,” Finn says as we arrive at what I presume is his bedroom. It’s a plain brown door with a faded Keep Out sign nailed to the door. I’m trying to imagine an angsty version of Finn nailing a Keep Out sign to his bedroom door but with the current version of him standing two feet away, it’s hard. “Just a warning – my room is a mess,” he says with a grin. “Enter at your own risk.” “I’ll take my chances,” I say. “One of us needs to print off a paper, get back into their email account and study for a very important test, so march.” Finn gives an exaggerated salute and says, “Sir, yes, sir”, before placing his hand on the doorknob. I can’t believe it. In less that two weeks I’ve gone from being the guy who just so happens to be in the same theater class as Finn to becoming Facebook friends with him and now I’m about to enter his bedroom. I pray my heart holds out long enough for me to tell all of this to Keisha in the morning.
  8. After getting annihilated by Ruston Delacroix in Speech and Debate, I’m actually looking forward to Theater, even though today we’ll be rehearsing my song in the musical. I stumble out of the classroom and walk as fast as I can towards my locker. Keisha is not at her locker which is surprising since her AP Psychology class is right across the hall. I yank off my lock and throw all of the books I won’t need inside and then slam my locker shut. I jump at the sight of Finn Montgomery learning against Keisha’s locker. I reach up and touch my chest. My heart is beating fast. Then again, my heart is always beating fast whenever Finn Montgomery is in my circumference. “Sorry,” he says, dimples on full display. “Didn’t mean to scare you.” “No, it’s fine,” I say. “I’m just so used to Keisha being the one standing at her locker and you’re clearly not her.” Stop talking idiot – stop talking now. Finn is tugging at the strap of his L.L. Bean backpack. All the rich kids have L.L. Bean backpacks. My messenger bag was only twenty-three bucks on Amazon. “You’re good with computers.” It’s more of a statement than a question. My dad bought me my first computer when I was twelve. Outside of TV and talking about guys, computers are my next favorite thing. “I’m having some issues with my printer. I have this paper due by tomorrow and every time I try to print it, nothing happens. I even went out and bought a new printer cartridge.” I clear my throat because I want to sound confident and effervescent in front of this man. “Have you tried emailing it to yourself? If you email it to yourself you can then print it off here.” Finn lowers his head and looks down at his – I’m going to take a wild guess – size 15 Nikes. If what they say is true about guys with big feet, I might just have to channel my inner Andrew Cunanan and off Emily. “I got locked out of my email because I couldn’t remember my password and it only gives you five attempts before it completely locks you out.” “Sounds like you’re having some real technical difficulties,” I say giving him my best smile. I’m so glad I brushed after lunch. “Me and technology -.” Finn does this thing with his hands and fingers. “We don’t mix. My brother’s the technologically savvy one but he and his wife are in Greece for their anniversary.” Finn fiddles with a dark green lanyard hanging out of the pocket of his letterman jacket. “I was hoping you’d help me out. I really need to get that paper turned in or Ms. Faragher is going to give me a zero on the entire assignment. Ms. Faragher is notorious at Shenandoah for being a hard-ass. She gave me a C on an essay simply because I forgot to indent the first paragraph. “Well,” I say. “We wouldn’t want you to get a zero. Knowing Ms. Faragher, there’d be no coming back from that. So, how can I help?” The 5-minute warning bell rings so Finn and I start moving in the direction of the auditorium. He even holds the door open for me as we head outside. Normally I get annoyed when guys hold the door open for me but with Finn it’s different. “Are you busy this afternoon?” he asks. I shake my head. “No – I’m pretty caught up on my homework so I was going to just chill out.” Finn pauses just outside the auditorium. He’s looking down at his feet again. “Do you think you could come over to my place -.” That’s all I hear before my heart explodes, metaphorically, maybe even literally, inside my chest. For all I know the rest of that sentence is so I can murder you. Something tells me being murdered by Finn Montgomery, no matter the method, would be worth it. Keisha would be super sad but I’d be one happy ghost. “Sure,” I say. “Awesome,” he says, that mega-watt smile plastered on his gorgeous face. “I figured we could leave right after class and I’ll just drop you off at your house when we’re done. “Sounds like a plan,” I say as Finn holds the door to the auditorium open for me. We take our seats in the circle right before the tardy bell rings – not that we’re accountable to anyone. Coach McHurk has still yet to show his face and we’re four weeks into the semester. Keisha’s talking with Sheldon across from me. She sees me, waves and then turns back to talking to him. Finn stretches out in his chair which is too small for his body and throws his arm over the back of my chair. This is too much. Sensory overload. First Finn shows up at my locker. Then he wants me to come to his house to troubleshoot his computer issues. Now he’s got his arm draped over the back of my chair and is that his cologne I’m smelling. I want to run but before I can, someone’s calling my name. “Tristan,” Sheldon says. “You’re up. Remember, we’re going to run through your song. Did you have time to listen to the recording.” Sheldon gave me the recording of the song I have to sing for the musical and I must’ve listened to it three dozen times. I’m still not confident in my ability to deliver vocals but at least I’m not the only non-singer in this group. I open my messenger bag and I pull out the lyrics. I hold them up and tell Sheldon I have my them memorized. “Excellent,” he says. He gets up and moves over to the old piano at the edge of the stage. He takes a seat and looks over at me. “Whenever you’re ready, let me know and we will run through the song. In a few weeks we’ll add choreography.” I slowly rise to my feet and move over to towards where Sheldon is. I can feel the others’ eyes on me. I give Sheldon a nod and he starts playing a melody that sounds like something the Chainsmokers would write a song over. Willing all of my self-consciousness away, I open my mouth and I start to sing the lyrics Sheldon wrote for me. My name’s Cunanan Andrew Cunanan My legacy is infamous I killed five, I really made quite the fuss I’m the serial killer Andrew Cunanan From behind me I hear Andy whoop and Keisha cheering me on. I continue. I killed Versace … Gianni Versace … One day he came outside I used my gun and then he died No one knew that I killed Versace (so I thought) From behind the piano, Sheldon gives me a thumbs up. I killed Versace The designer Versace On a houseboat is where I stayed I killed myself eight days after I slayed The wonderful, talented Gianni Versace Last verse, I think to myself. And then you’re done. My name’s Cunanan Andrew Cunanan I know that things got really gory But at least Ryan Murphy told my story (On FX) Now you know why I’m Andrew Cunanan I wait until Sheldon finishes his part on the piano before I finally exhale. Once his hits the final chord, everyone erupts in applause. “Good job,” Sheldon says standing up from behind the piano. He walks over to me and slaps me hard on the back. Leah rushes up to me and throws her arms around my neck. I don’t return the hug because #MeToo. “Oh my god – you sounded amazing, Tristan,” she says taking her arms from around my neck. “I honestly thought you weren’t going to deliver and that we were gonna have to do your vocals for you and you’d have to lip-sync over them but you did deliver.” “Gee,” I say. “Thanks?” Keisha walks over to me and gives me one of her big hugs and this one I return. “Good job, Babe,” she says. “We’re gonna take five,” Leah announces. “And when we come back, Andy, you’re up next.” “Wanna go with me to grab something to drink?” Keisha asks. “Sure – my throat is dry after all of that.” The two of us leave the stage and exit through one of the side doors. This leads us into a darkened hallway full of trophy cases with photos of old students performing plays. There’s a drink machine at the end of the hall. “So, where were you after sixth period?” I ask as Keisha inserts several coins into the ancient-looking machine. “Sheldon texted me and asked if I’d come directly to the auditorium. Said he wanted to go over my song again.” “Wait a minute – he texted you?” I ask, with more incredulousness in my voice than I intend. “How’d he even get your number?” “I gave it to him in first period,” she says, pressing the button for Coca Cola. The machine makes an awful noise before spitting out her drink. I step up to the machine and insert a couple of dollars. “We’re in the same AP Biology class. He asked me if I’d go see Rent with him,” she says. “Apparently there’s a traveling production coming to town next week and it’s like his favorite musical.” “I hope you let him down gently, Keish.” I press the button for Sprite and the screen above the place where I insert my cash says the machine is out of Sprites. I groan and select Coca Cola. “I told him yes,” she says before taking a swig of her drink. I nearly choke on my own drink. “What?” She rolls her eyes and sighs. “I know. I know. He’s really starting to grow on me and I’m kind of tired of dating the same kind of guys and getting the same result. Sheldon’s a really sweet guy. He may not have that bad boy quality I like but at least I know he won’t treat me like shit.” “Well – I can honestly say I never, not in a million years, saw this coming. My little girl’s all grown up.” “It’s just a date to see a musical. A musical that I hate. Rent’s garbage … there I said it.” “You must really like him if you’re willing to suffer through a shitty musical,” I say as we start to walk back to the auditorium. “Hey – enough about me. Are you going to help Finn with his issue?” she asked. “Hey, how do you know about that?” Keisha shrugs and takes a swig of her drink. “He came up to me after homeroom and asked if I knew anyone that was good with computers. I told him you were good with computers.” “Well, the poor guy is unable to print his paper and he locked himself out of his email so guess who’s going over to Montgomery Manor to help him out this afternoon.” “So, you get to spend the afternoon with Finn,” she says. “I know. I know. He’s got a girlfriend.” “Are you sure about that?” Keisha asks. Before I can ask her what that means, we’re back in the auditorium and the others have already reassembled on the stage. As I take my seat next to Finn, he looks over at me and shoots me one of his trademark goofy grin. I return the favor with a nervous smile before looking down at the floor. Are you sure about that? Keisha’s words play over and over in my head and before I know it the bell is ringing and it’s time for us to gather our things and leave. I see Sheldon walk over to Keisha and the two of them are talking and smiling. It’s weird seeing her with someone like him – not that there’s anything wrong with Sheldon. He’s just not the kind of guy she typically goes for. “You ready?” Finn is standing in front of me, backpack draped over his shoulder. He looms over me like a giant. I nod and smile and I’m pretty sure I look dumb in the process. I shove my song lyrics inside my bag and I throw it over my shoulder. I follow Finn outside to the parking lot where students are pulling off in their vehicles. I can’t believe this. I’m following Finn Montgomery to his Jeep and then we’re going over to his place. I pause and hike up my left sleeve. I close my eyes, pinch myself, and open them. Finn is several steps ahead of me. He stops and turns around. His face is a mixture of confusion and concern. “Everything okay?” he asks. Finn is still here and we are still going to his place. I nod my head and grin. “Yeah – everything’s good.”
  9. imperfect _pisces

    Chapter 5

    Thank you, that means a lot.
  10. imperfect _pisces

    Chapter 5

    This chapter was hard to write. I had to channel my breakup from a few years ago. My bf moved to Texas for work and my work is here in Tennessee so decided to end things because neither of us were too keen on doing the long distance thing. The breakup ended up being harder than any breakup I have experienced and I almost would have rather there'd be something like cheating or dishonesty or something like that involved because the truth of the matter is, we broke up because of geography. I think Nick's breakup with Andy is a particularly-bitter pill to swallow because there was absolutely nothing wrong with their relationship. It was external forces that broke them up.
  11. Exactly one week after we were assigned our roles, Keisha had to get her braces off. Days where Keisha isn’t in school feel super weird because she’s sort of like my security blanket. As I enter the cafeteria during junior/senior lunch period, I feel naked … exposed. I haven’t stepped foot inside the cafeteria all semester. After getting food poisoning from some rogue strawberries circa fifth grade, Dad has been adamant about me taking my lunch every day. You know that scene in Mean Girls where Janis is explaining to Cady about all of the various cliques in the cafeteria? Well, it’s the same sort of the same thing at Shenandoah. The Varsity football, basketball and baseball players all sit together at one long table at the front of the room. The tennis, golf and other lesser sports all sit at tables orbiting the main jock table. Peppered throughout the rest of the cafeteria are the band kids, the gamers, the academically-challenged and the my daddy drives a Bentley and makes six figures crew. I’m about to go eat in the courtyard when I notice Nick sitting in the far corner. I move quickly through the room and pretend I don’t see Leah waving at me. Nick barely acknowledges me as I take the seat across from him. There’s a half-eaten cheeseburger, three tater tots and a brownie on his tray. Nick has a nice body – we had PE together last year – so I wonder how he maintains it eating the bio-waste the cafeteria passes off as food. “Is it okay that I’m sitting here?” It’s a dumb question because I’ve already pulled out my Tupperware container of carrots, celery and peanut butter. He shrugs and pokes his finger into the chocolate flesh of the brownie. A lengthy silence follows and I’m reminded why Keisha and I are besties. I hate silence. It makes me super uncomfortable … like I am now. “Um, Nick.” I pluck a napkin from the holder and dab at the corners of my mouth. “Are you okay?” For the first time since I’ve arrived at the table, Nick looks up. His eyes are usually a warm hazel but now they’re red and puffy and I want to pull him into the biggest hug because I recognize that face. It’s the same face Dad had when he came into my bedroom when I was twelve to deliver the news. He sniffs and swipes the back of his hand over his eyes. He puts his other hand up to partition himself away from the rest of the cafeteria. “I am fucking miserable,” he finally says. He raises his gaze from the table and locks eyes with me. “He’s everywhere. He’s in every single one of my classes because last year when we made our schedules, we thought it would be great to have all our classes together. Senior year was supposed to be perfect but now I’m sitting across the room from the only person that matters and I cannot …” I open my mouth to speak but for literally the first time in my life there are no words. No funny quips. Nada. Zip. Nothing. “I love him,” Nick continues. “More than anything.” I want to say something to make him okay. I can’t stand seeing Nick Ramirez not be okay. But I’ve never been a love and I’ve never known what it’s like to lose someone you can’t live without. “You know my brother?” he asks. I nod. Nick has an identical twin Nathan and they’re as different as night and day. Nathan runs with an interesting crowd. I barely see him around but I know he’s here because rumor has it he has the highest GPA in the school. “Since literally day one Nathan and I have had this bond. We think the same thing. He finishes my sentences and vice-versa. It used to trip our parents out when we were younger.” Then Nick does something I haven’t see him do all semester. He smiles. It’s the most genuine smile I’ve ever seen and I feel a rush of happiness and relief wash over me. He reaches for a tater tot which is probably cold since lunch is nearly over and dips it in the puddle of ketchup. “That’s how it is with Andy,” he says before popping the tot into his mouth. Nick chews with his mouth open which would usually bother me but somehow him doing it is very endearing. “It can still be like that.” The words are out of my mouth before I even realize I am speaking them. Nick shrugs and sags in his chair. “I used to think that. The two of us would stay up until three o’clock in the morning talking about the future. What we’d do next summer. Would we go to the same college or not. What would we do after college. Would we get married some day? Have kids? A dog and a cat … even though I’m allergic to cats.” He laughs which is another thing I haven’t seen him do since the start of the semester. “Andy used to talk about us moving to New York City after graduating. I’d become a Physics professor at NYU and he would tackle Broadway. He wants to play Danny Zuko in Grease. That’s like his dream role.” “I remember him mentioning on the first day.” I notice the smile is gone again. “Nick – high school doesn’t last forever. We just have to get through the rest of this year and after graduation and then you and Andy can do whatever you want.” Nick looks up at me and scoffs. “You obviously don’t come from a big Italian family?” I shrug my shoulders and say, “Can’t say that I do. It’s just me and my Dad. My older brother lives in Portland.” “Well, Andy comes from a huge Italian family … and I’m talking Italian Italian. Both his parents moved here from Italy in the 70s and immediately started a family. Andy has four older sisters, all married … with kids. Lots of kids. Andy has fifteen nieces and nephews.” I’m trying to imagine Everett having fifteen kids. I’m also trying to imagine buying presents for fifteen kids. “Andy was sort of an accident. He’s ten years younger than the youngest sister so his parents are super protective of him.” Dad’s very protective of me but he’s always let me do my own thing, make my own decisions. That’s probably the two of us are so close. “When they came over here,” Nick continues. “They were looking for the American Dream … you know the whole if you work hard you can do anything. I think it’s bullshit but Andy’s parents really believe in it and they think Andy is their American Dream and I was the guy who was standing in the way of it. “It’s funny. I assumed Andy being gay would be the thing they’d flip out over but when he came out to them Freshman year, they were so supportive. Especially his dad.” I watch as Nick fiddles with a salt packet. The sadness is gone leaving only bitterness. “Who would’ve thought I’d be the thing they couldn’t handle.” I let several moments before I open my mouth to speak. Being friends with Keisha is witty commentary back and forth for hours. But no one sees the other moments. I’ve nursed Keisha through several breakups and heartaches and God knows she’s been there for me in my darker moments. I want my words to Nick to be intentional because I have never seen a person so broken before and it physically hurts me to see him like this. “I wish I had the words to make all of this better for you,” I say. “But I don’t. I’ve never been in love. I hope to one day be. The way you describe it, it sounds like it’s worth all the bad stuff. “Perhaps I’ve overstepping my boundaries but I think … no, I know Andy feels the same way about you. I can see it. Every time you walk in the room I can see him light up and almost immediately the light goes away because he’s remembering you two aren’t together. “All I can say, and it’s an easy thing for me to say because I’m not in your shoes is to please, hang in there. I watch a lot of movies and read a lot of books and people spend their whole lives looking for something you found when you were fifteen years old. My dad says anything worth having is waiting for. Wait for Andy. I have a feeling he’s waiting on you.” I watch as Nick bites his bottom lip. Before he has a chance to respond the bell rings and lunch is over. Nick looks up at me with the most sincere look on his face. “Tristan, thank you.” “Don’t mention it,” I say feeling my face flush with warmth. “No, I mean it. Thanks for dragging me back from the ledge.” All around us chairs are scraping the floor and people are emptying their trays into the tall, blue trash barrels at the entrance. Nick and I slowly stand and start gathering our things. As we leave the cafeteria, Nick turns to me with a wan smile on his face. I know my words haven’t erased his pain but I hope they’ve made things a bit easier, at least for a little while. “I’ll see you in Theater,” he says, hiking his backpack over his left shoulder. I wave him goodbye and watch as he disappears into a sea of students moving towards their next class of the day.
  12. imperfect _pisces

    Chapter 4

    Well, my target audience is young adults, i.e. high-school/college-aged people so I fully anticipated that this would not be everyone's cup of tea. But this feels so natural for me. I grew up watching all the teen TV shows and films. Heathers, Clueless, 10 Things I Hate About You, She's All That, Mean Girls … I was in awe of these films. High school was such a fun time for me and I love to see how the high school experience has evolved since I have graduated. With The Unfortunate Occurrence at Shenandoah High, I was really inspired by the film Love, Simon where there were kids who were out in school and it was, for the most part, okay. So that's why I have 3 openly gay characters in this story. I'm so sick of trauma porn when it comes to the gay experience. Gay kids these days are struggling with other things and I want to highlight that. I am glad you are sticking around. I hope you continue to enjoy. Things are about to ramp up very soon. Hope you enjoy.
  13. The following Monday, Keisha, Andy and I walk into the auditorium to find Leah, literally, bouncing off the walls. “I am so not in the mood,” Keisha groans as we walk towards the stage. “Please make her stop.” “I don’t think that’s possible,” Andy whispers. “Unless we kill her.” “I have a shovel,” Keisha says as we take our place in the circle. “And a huge backyard.” “Oh my god, you guys,” Leah screeches as she rushes over to the three of us. She’s wearing this pink, furry jacket and a leather skirt. I feel bad for the poor Muppet that suffered and died unnecessarily to be a part of such a heinous outfit. I’m fashionably-illiterate and even I know this is … bad. Really bad. “You’re at a ten,” Jon-Jon speaks up from the other side of the circle. “Can you be at like a minus three?” Leah looks over her shoulder and tosses him an icy look before looking back over at the three of us. “Sheldon has finished the play,” she announces. I look over at Sheldon who is sitting between Nick and Finn. My gaze drifts over to Finn who is looking down at his phone. As if he feels my eyes on him, he looks up and shoots me the dopiest grin. His dimples could actually bring world peace. Keisha elbows me in the side. She leans in close to my ear. “You’re salivating and it’s disgusting,” she says. I quickly swipe the back of my hand across my mouth and hang my head in shame. “Sheldon, why don’t you share with us your vision for the musical,” Leah says taking her seat between Andy and Finn. Sheldon reaches into his backpack and removes a stack of papers. He slowly stands up and moves towards the center of the circle. He’s wearing a dark-purple button down and a pair of gray pants which hug his thighs perfectly. Now that he’s standing, I didn’t realize he’s so tall. I mean I knew he was tall but now he seems like a giant. I lean over and whisper in Keisha’s ear. “Remember Winston Duke in Us?” I ask. “I was thinking the same thing,” she whispers back. “So – Sheldon’s pretty hot.” She shrugs her shoulder and says, “Yeah – he’s got this dorky hot thing going on for him. But you know I like a rude boy. He’s too nice.” “Maybe you need too nice.” “Babe – don’t you know me? I’m not satisfied unless a little pain and suffering is involved. After all, is it really love if you haven’t thrown a plate at them?” Leah shoots the two of us a dirty look and mouths for us to be quiet and now I’m fearing for her life because I know exactly where that shovel is in Keisha’s garage. Sheldon holds up the papers in his hands and says, “Last night I put the finishing touches on the musical we will perform in October. I have spent the last several days observing you and trying to write characters that align with who you already are since some of you have already intimated that you have limitations when it comes to acting and singing.” “Am I going to have to wear a dress?” Jon-Jon asks. “Because I’m not shaving my legs. Not again.” “Um, well – there will be no gender swapping … maybe I should just explain what the musical is about. As yet, I haven’t come up with a title but each of you will be playing a notorious killer.” I look over at Nick and we exchange bemused looks. “I have assigned each of you a serial killer so I will go over those now.” Leah’s sitting on the edge of her seat. If she was anymore excited I think she’d have a stroke – which would make a lot of us happy. “I’m going to go in alphabetical order,” Sheldon says. “Andy Fennocchio, you will be playing the infamous Jack the Ripper.” A huge grin spread across Andy’s face. “Awesomesauce,” he says. “Guess I better start working on my British accent.” Sheldon turns to Finn and says, “Finn, you’ll be playing H.H. Holmes.” Finn’s brow furrows. “Who’s that?” “He was this guy who built this huge “castle” and he used it to kill a lot of people,” I say. Keisha looks over at me and asks, “How’d you know that?” “Remember how you refused to watch the Hotel season of American Horror Story because the guy had the drill-bit for a penis and tried to rape Schmidt from New Girl? Well, I finished the season and Evan Peters played this guy named James Patrick March who is based on H.H. Holmes.” “We do watch way too much television,” Keisha says. “Jon-Jon,” Sheldon continues, “You’ll be playing the infamous Ted Bundy.” “Hell fucking yeah,” Jon-Jon says clapping his hands together. “Wasn’t he like hot and shit?” “Yes,” Leah said. “He was known for being good-looking. I guess you’ll really have to act.” “Shade,” Andy whispers under his breath. I look over at Jon-Jon who is frowning. He doesn’t say anything which is so un-Jon-Jon. “Next up is Keisha,” Sheldon says with a slight smile on his face. “You’re going to play Aileen Wuornos.” “The woman Charlize Theron played in Monster?” Keisha asks. “She was hideous … no shade.” “Yeah,” Sheldon says. “The makeup department is gonna have to work overtime because there ain’t a thing ugly on you.” Keisha smirks. “Facts are facts.” “Leah – you’re going to be Lizzie Borden,” Sheldon says. “Of course you already know that since you begged me to let you be her. Okay, and Nick you’ll be playing the “Night Stalker” himself, Richard Ramirez.” I look over at Nick and say, “If you don’t know anything about him, he was featured in two seasons of American Horror Story.” Nick nods and looks down at the ground. “Last but certainly not least,” Sheldon says. “Tristan, you’ll be playing Andrew Cunanan …” “The guy who murdered Versace?” Keisha and I say at the same time. “Oh, no,” I say. “Isn’t it too soon? Versace hasn’t even been gone that long.” “Yeah we just watched the show on FX,” Keisha says. “This play is all about presenting just the facts,” Sheldon says. “It’s not meant to disrespect any of the victims whether they be unknown or in your case, Tristan, one of the most famous fashion designers of all time.” “Well,” I say. “As long as it’s respectful.” Sheldon nods and smiles at me. “Now that we have your roles have been assigned we’re going to do a read-thru of the play. The play starts with Finn and ends with Tristan.” I feel my face go hot and I instantly look at the floor to avoid anyone’s gaze. “Okay,” Sheldon says as he begins to pass out copies of the script. “Let’s get started.”
  14. imperfect _pisces

    Chapter 3

    Thank you so much, Etotsira, for your kind words.
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