The awkward moment when the world starts tumbling down around you.
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A week later and Frank and I still aren’t speaking. Not that we see much of each other, Pete dumped Tina and now the two seem to value any second not glued to each others faces as a waste of time. Maybe Frank will take his new fuck buddy to see Iron Maiden instead of me. As if I care.
Okay, so I care a little bit.
Apparently Frank has told the other guys that I have leprosy because they’re all avoiding me too. Mikey has somehow managed to ignore me for seven days and we live in the same house. Whenever I ask him to pass the salt at dinner he gets up to go to the bathroom. I used to think that condiments stimulated some kinda bladder problem until I read what he put on his Facebook wall:
The awkward moment when your older brother turns into a leotard-wearing, attention-seeking whore.
Meanwhile, tension levels between Lindsey and I are ready to explode. She handles the aftermath of what I am now referring to as “The Incident” by pretending it didn’t happen and asking Samantha to show me the dance steps instead. As soon as we began the waltz my heart sank. Sam felt so different in my arms, almost awkward. Like she didn’t belong there.
“What’s wrong?” she asks me on our hundredth round at the routine. “You keep sniffing.”
“Allergies,” I shrug.
“What are you allergic to?”
Passion fruit shampoo? Turtle neck sweaters? Niceness? “Frank Sinatra,” I answer.
She giggles, sending an involuntary shiver down my back. I don’t understand, it’s like all the things I was so attracted to are suddenly repelling me.
Finally the song ends and Samantha leaves for a singing lesson. As soon as she disappears I sink into one of the chairs and drop my head into my hands in despair. What the hell have I gotten myself into?
I look up, puzzled by the slightly sinister sounding voice. In front of me stand Christina, Annie, Tina and Kelsey, all looking at me as wartime freedom-fighters would look upon a Nazi collaborator.
“Um...hi?” I answer, not sure what else to say under the circumstances. “Can I help you with something?”
“Oh, I don’t know,” Christina turns to the others. “Can he help us with something, girls? Was there anything we needed to talk about?”
The girls all nod obediently, heightening my feeling of dread. What is this? I’m suddenly reminded of that scene in Dracula where the vampire brides all get together and rape John Harker and drink his blood and give him a huge bite on his...well, yeah. I squeeze my eyes shut to rid myself of the disturbing images but they just keep coming.
The harpies cackle evilly. “You scared, Way? You should be scared.”
“BACK, demon mistresses! Back into the shadow where from once you came!” I cry, raising my fingers to form a cross. The girls look at each other, “what is he on” expressions all over their faces. I let my arms drop limply to my sides. “Sorry,” I say, sheepishly. “Had a little “living-the-movie-moment.”
“You’re such a little freak,” spits Kelsey harshly. “God knows why Samantha wants you.”
“Hey, that’s not fair,” Annie smiles warmly. “Gerard, you are a little bit weird. But I think you’re awesome. It’s been great having you on the show and I’d like you to stay. But we are a little concerned,” here she gestures towards herself and her friends. “About your relationship with our choreographer.”
It takes a little while for it to sink in. My brain always works very slowly when I’m thinking about being raped to death by vampire slags. “Lindsey?” I say when it hits me. “My relationship with Lindsey?”
“It’s nice to see how close you’ve gotten over the weeks,” Christina says, pure venom in her eyes. “Especially considering the fact that Samantha is your girlfriend.”
Wait, let me just process this. Me. Lindsey. Samantha. Vampire slags. “You think I’m two-timing Samantha?”
“We thought it could be a possibility,” Tina nodded. “But we trust you Gerard,” Christina gives a disbelieving sniff. “Well, Annie and I trust you. And we don’t think you’d do anything to hurt Samantha.”
“Oh, please,” Christina rolls her eyes. “Of course he’s doing Ballato. She’s Ms Maitland’s right hand. You’ve been trying to sabotage this whole musical for yourself since the audition!”
“That’s bullshit!” I protest. “If you remember, my audition was a song about a homicidal psychopath played by four kids who can barely strum in time!”
“YOU GAVE ME HAEMORRHOIDS!” Christina shrieks and the room falls silent. A blush creeps into her spray-tanned face as she says hurriedly, “Not actual haemorrhoids, obviously. But I know it was you who made that presentation, you and your queer friend Iero!”
Oh shit, oh, shit, oh shit. Right, you are calm. You are collected. You don’t know what she’s talking about. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” I reply, unblinkingly.
“Gerard, please just tell us you and Lindsey are no more than friends,” says Tina. “And we’ll leave you alone.”
“Of course we’re no more than friends!” I cry in exasperation. “How could I ever want anyone else if I was finally going out with Samantha, the girl I’ve been in love with ever since I hit puberty?! We’re not even friends; she’s an ice queen who doesn’t like ANYONE! Why would I ever be with someone who uses fear to her advantage and made me do push ups when I could have the nicest, prettiest girl in school? She’s only out for herself, and I respect that, but if she can’t get close to people then what is the point in even being her friend?” I realise I’ve forgotten who I’m talking to. All the emotions I’ve been bottling up over this past week just come flooding out. “She only cares about her ambitions and anyone who gets in the way is worthless to her. But at the same time she’s too afraid to admit her feelings for anyone who gets a little bit past her exterior. I feel sorry for anyone who thinks they’re...” Take a deep breath. Admit it. “Who thinks they’re in love with her.”
The room is quiet. I look up, remembering where I am. Christina is smiling wickedly, her head turned away. I follow her gaze, confused and then I feel myself go cold. There, standing in the doorway, a very human, very hurt expression on her face is Lindsey.
Time stands still for a little bit. We could have stayed like that for hours, years, centuries. That expression ripping at my heart and my stupid, stupid words ripping at hers. At long last she turns on her heel and marches away. As the door closes behind her, I can just make out a restrained sob.
My head returns to my hands. I want to die, I want to die, I want to die. “Are you fucking happy now?” I ask, my voice muffled through my palms.
“Yes thanks, Gerard,” Christina grins. “Very happy.”
She turns to leave. I watch them out of the corner of my eye, noticing Tina reach into her handbag and take out a tiny vial of pills.
“Hey, hold on!”
She looks at me quizzically. I get up and take the pills from her, emptying a few onto my hand.
“These are oestrogen pills?” I say, squinting at the label on the container.
“What’s it to you?” asks Tina warily.
“I swear these are supposed to be yellow,” I tell her. “My mom had some of this brand and hers were definitely yellow.”
“What’s your point?”
“Are you sure these are your pills?” I ask her.
She looks confused. “Who else’s would they be?”
Jesus. W. Christ, can you really be that thick? Before I have time to answer, Christina grabs her friend by the elbow and marches her away, leaving me to hate myself just a little bit more.
“We need to talk.”
Frank doesn’t look up from the Kerrang magazine in his hands. “That’s fascinating.”
“Did you put those pills in Tina’s bag?”
“Then again, maybe I did. I got kinda high last night so I really don’t remember anything I’ve done in a while. I do remember some pills though. Then again, that could have just been an E. Or maybe I got roofied. Bet you’d love that.”
“Don’t be stupid, I wouldn’t love it if anyone got roofied.”
“But it would be ironic, wouldn’t it? Frank Iero, notorious man slag gets roofied...by a woman! Oh, and then I could get pregnant! But the baby would be taken away from me seeing as I’m still in High School and then I could throw myself off a bridge-”
“-Frank, did you switch the pills or not?”
“No, I fucking didn’t,” he snarls, attempting to slam the magazine down on the desk but failing slightly, seeing as it’s made of paper and all. “But it’s great to know that you’d think I would. Gee, what a super-duper best friend I landed myself with.”
“Oh, so we’re best friends again?”
“Depends on you, doesn’t it?”
I can’t be bothered with this. I find myself a spare desk at the back of the classroom, (I can’t handle another double period next to Francis) take out a pencil and start sketching away on a scrap of paper.
I glance upwards. Frank’s expression is stony. “Have fun at Samantha’s Coming Out party.”
“Have fun at Iron Maiden.”
“Oh, we will.” He smiles but it doesn’t reach his eyes. “Pete is a fucking awesome mosh.”
He turns back to the front as Mr Anderson walks in. I stick my middle finger up at him and return to my drawing. It’s me. There’s a gun against my head.
Time passes quickly when you’re in a world of shit.
Not another word is exchanged between Frank and I after that and the only way I can find out about how the band is doing is by reading Mikey’s texts. Apparently Young Nile sucks at guitar even more than I do but Frank still won’t pull out, ignoring Mikey and Ray’s protests. I couldn’t help but smile grimly at that.
I would like to say that Frank seems depressed and lonely without me but on the contrary, lately he looks happier than I’ve seen him for a long time. When Mikey does find it in his cold, blackened heart to acknowledge my existence it’s to gloat about how good Pete is for Frank, how much Frank smiles around him, how he’s moved on from humming depressing tunes about hatred and destruction to whistling cheery little odes to happiness and love.
Excuse me while I go puke up my insides.
I’ve tried hard to talk to Lindsey, to explain everything but she won’t give me a chance. She avoids my eye in rehearsal and when I tried to call her dad warned me to stay away “if I knew what was good for me”. Like I needed the threat, what I said when I wasn’t thinking and the fact that I think I might have just lost her forever is killing me anyway.
But before I know it Saturday’s arrived and I’m being ushered into a spotless BMW by my girlfriend’s harassed-looking mother, feeling as grey as the sky above me. Samantha looks beautiful of course, dressed in a powder blue dress that I heard cost a small fortune. She appears as tense as her mom, glancing repeatedly in the car mirror to check her makeup’s still flawless or patting her hair flat. Seriously, if she keeps touching it she’ll go bald.
“How do I look?” she asks me for the millionth time.
“Like an angel celebrating in Barbados having just won Miss Heaven for the fifth time in a row,” I deadpan my automatic response. “And what about me? Does my hair look okay? Should I just do the apples of my cheeks or is it go, go, go with the blusher?”
“Oh, haha,” she rolls her eyes and tears her gaze away from the mirror to look me up and down. “Actually, now that you mention it...”
“Oh, it’s nothing.”
“Go on, tell me. I’m a medium height, semi-muscular male. I can handle it.”
“Well, to be honest, I thought you could wear a little less...black.”
I feel like I was just punched in the face. “Excuse me?”
“Never mind, who cares, whatever,” she brushes me away, immediately distracted by her reflection in the car window.
I just stare at her. She said I could wear what I liked, as long as I “looked smart.” I’m wearing the smartest clothes I own: a black button-down shirt, a pair of pants I barely fit into and a white tie. This is the least black I’ve worn in a week! Full of resent, I don’t say a word to her during the whole car journey.
At the party things go from bad to worse.
I really should have seen this coming. Samantha’s big day is absolutely nothing more than rich, ass-licking snobs showing off their daughters to even richer, ass-licking snobs. As soon as we arrive Samantha hurries off with a deafening squeal of “Omiactualgodgirlfriendifuckingloveyourdress! leaving me alone with a woman who looks as if she could burst into tears any second and a man whose soul ambition in life is to talk to me about tractors.
Never mind. There’s food.
I make my way over to the “snack table”, (the fuck??! I think you mean a “buffet”, dahhling) but stop at the sight of three, over average height, full-muscular males who look in serious need of talking about cars.
“Hey, hey, hey,” one catches sight of me before I can back away slowly. “What’s this? I don’t think I’ve seen you around here before. You new to the club?”
“What club? Which club? No club,” I state, adamantly. “No. I’m just here escorting my girlfriend.”
“Yeah? Which ones yours?”
I point. He lets out a whistle and raises his hand for a high-five. “Nice one. You hit that yet?”
“Oh my God.” I can actually feel my brain turning into goo. Is it possible I have just entered the realm of the thickest beings on the planet?
Apparently so as my new friends spend the next hour and a half talking about, you guessed it, cars. Cars and hitting that while the girls talk about dresses, makeup, evil parents, boyfriends and hitting that. Which means I have absolutely no place in this world seeing as I know fuck all about cars, contrary to popular belief I don’t actually own a dress, my parents aren’t too bad and the closest I’ve ever got to hitting that is when a monkey jumped on my back at the zoo and tried to rape me.
Oh, look. It’s Samantha. I force a smile, about to reply when she shrieks “Oh my God, hide me!” and darts behind my back. Bemused, I just stand there, looking awkward until she remerges seconds later.
“Sorry about that,” she says, smoothing her hair. “Just saw...an old friend of mine. I was really hoping he wasn’t coming.”
She points to a tall, handsome looking guy with smooth skin, blond hair, and sparkling blue eyes. He looks our way and despite having just hidden behind me, Samantha gives him her Miss America wave and immediately blushes.
“Adam,” she explains.
“Adam,” I nod, as if that makes things any clearer.
“I went out with him before you,” she elaborates. “Things ended a bit badly between us.”
She watches him for a little while, chatting to a pretty redhead in a pale green dress. I attempt to strike up an intelligent conversation but she seems not to be listening, an assumption confirmed as she turns back to me and says “You know what? Things really did end badly between us. Do you think I should go say “hi”?”
“Erm, well, to be honest-”
“-Yeah, you’re right,” she nods and flounces off to gorgeous, gorgeous Adam who probably owns 17 Volvos with bitches in the back dressed in leather and a modelling contract from Europe and baseball scouts stalking him to the toilet blah, blah, blah. I want to punch him but my fist would probably get lost in his enormous face-ass.
“Ladies and gentleman,” a woman’s voice echoes around the hall. “Please put your hands together for these lovely girls who today become women!”
I watch as one by one they parade down the aisle, receive flowers, burst into tears and chug a glass of champagne in one. When it’s Samantha’s turn I go up with her, my arm around hers and am aware of how increasingly bored I look as she waves and blows kisses and sobs with happiness.
At eight o’clock the ball finally ends and I breathe a sigh of relief. But then the music picks up, the lights go out and suddenly I’m in the middle of a rave. Samantha attempts to pull me onto the dance floor but I break away. I don’t think I ever, ever want to dance again, not without a certain someone with purple layered hair and red suede Docs.
I try to put Lindsey from my mind but she keeps creeping in. As Samantha dances with Adam, looking happier and lovelier than ever, I realise that she doesn’t really want me here. It’s etiquette to have an escort and she needs a boyfriend for appearance but right now I know that she’d rather flirt and have fun than be with me. I could be at Iron Maiden right now and she wouldn’t care.
My cell vibrates against my pocket and I check the screen. Frank. Sighing, I press receive.
“Hi Frank. Did you have an epically awesome time at Iron Maiden? Were they the best band you’ve ever seen live, ever? Did you and Pete take on the whole crowd together and then get engaged right there in the mosh pit?”
“No,” there’s a loud sniff on the other end. “I thought...maybe you’d wanna come over.”
Verticallychallengedexbestfriend say what now? “Seriously?”
I cannot believe him. He’s ignored me for a whole week and now he expects me just to show up as if everything is fine? “I can’t. I’m at Sam’s debutante rave and this guy keeps chatting her up.”
I can barely hear what he’s saying over the music. Also I’m a little distracted by the fact that one, completely splattered debutante has ripped off her dress altogether and is now dancing tits out in the centre of the room. Hardly very ladylike behaviour.
“I need to go,” I tell him as the music slows and a weird mushy look adorns Samantha’s face as she looks at Adam. “Sorry Frank, but I really need to go.”
“But...Gerard, I need you now...”
I hang up on him. I’m not interested in what he has to say. Whatever comes out of his mouth will just be another ploy to use me for his own spite and revenge. I’m done with that.
Still, as Samantha and I dance, her head on my shoulder and my arms around her waist I can’t help wishing I had the guys here with me tonight.
N’aaaw. Please R&R, only a few more chapters till the end!