Hanging out becomes more of a meeting the parents gone wrong.
Skipping the rest of the day was a tempting idea that stuck to my brain like cheap bubble gum, but somehow I was able to push those thoughts aside and shuffle back into the main building.
It was almost lunch time, and after that there was only one class left with obligatory attendance, Graphic Desings, that was easy as hell.
It was pretty much sitting by the computer doing nothing, while the teacher sat by her desk explaining about image processing and brand logos, never even expecting someone to actually listen. The rest of today's classes were for extra credit and didn't require my prensece.
I figured I had gotten enough extra credit for my mindblowing essay a moment ago.
I stood on the far end of the lunch line, trying to count the coins I'd poured on my palm, hoping it was enough to get me atleast an apple. The cup of coffee I considered as breakfast wasn't nearly enough to get me through the day.
I left the line with the pathetic looking scrawny apple standing out on my otherwise empty tray, and was delighted that I had spared my coins. No one would notice a missing little apple.
I hurried through the cafeteria and sat down at a small table by the corner.
"Stealing food, are we?"
The voice came from behind my back and I let out a whiney groan for having gotten caught, before recognizing the voice as Gerard's.
I had made a point to try and avoid him, and he wasn't helping. He pulled up a chair from the next table and sat next to me.
I wondered if he wasn't worried about things being uncomfortable at all? Maybe he was used to having casual sex at nightly parks and sitting down at lunch the next day to discuss apples. I wasn't. I was more accustomed to, if having failed at my no more one night stands - agenda, sneaking out carrying my clothes and never ever talking to the person in question again.
I had a major problem with making small talk with someone I'd had inside me. Crazy, right? I smirked to myself and took a bite out of the apple to procrastinate speaking for a little longer.
"I heard you pulled a stunt at art history today..." He mused conversationally.
I turned my face an inch to glare at him.
"I reckon the stunt was pulled by professor Friedrich." I argued.
"I loved that essay, by the way." The evil little smile on his face he tried to cover by pressing his lips together was somehow a major turn on. He looked mischievous and vile, and heaven help me - cute!
I groaned "You read it?"
Was there a single person in this school that hadn't caught a glimpse of my respectable essay?
Gerard wasn't even a freshman and didn't attend the same classes I did, and still he had had the honor to read through my work. I shifted my body to steal glances at the crowd surrounding me. Was I imagining things of was I actually getting some stares?
All of a sudden I was grateful for Gerard's company. It felt too much like the kind of school invironment I had gotten used to earlier in life with people staring at me behind my back.
He nodded, amused. "I loved it. Though I wasn't too exited about the part about homosexuality, I kind of got the feeling it was directed at me.." He hinted, pulling off a straight face though his tone was still that of teasing.
I blushed. I don't know why, but I did. Gerard seemed to be taken aback by this, and his tone went back to that mellow conversational murmur as he continued speaking.
"I didn't really agree with the claim of art being a lie, either, but the whole thing had that revolutionary ring to it which I loved. I can imagine the text only first growing up to its full glory as you read it out loud in front of class. I wish I'd been there." He chuckled.
That fake awe I saw in his eyes made me glare at him again. I wasn't ready to be made fun of because of what happened today.
I had to chew it down a bit first, and even then, Frank would be the one to have the honor to start the fun making, not Gerard.
"Well aren't I a little anarchist.." I muttered grudginly, while munching on the apple that sadly didn't help much my growling stomach.
"Well aren't you, indeed" He nodded with sarcasm "I especially enjoyed the ending." The words slipped out of the corner of his mouth like a few, fatal drops of poison. I put the apple down.
"That's it. I'm not sitting with you." I announced like a toddler and stood up to find myself another table. I looked around defeated, to find that all the tables were taken, and sat back, defiantly turning on the seat until Gerard was facing my unresponsive back.
The quiet snickering was making the vein on my temple throb, and I changed my mind about resisting skipping the remaining class.
"You know what, I'm out."
"Don't you have classes to attend?"
It annoyed me to notice the older student tone in his voice.
"I'm not in the mood." I whined.
"None of these people are." He pointed out, and I had to hurry to cut him off before he would move on to telling me how despite our uninterest in studying we sometimes had to do things we disliked to get somewhere in life - I'd heard that one before from several teachers and numerous tutors, and just thinking about the lecture I know by heart that's supposedly designed to motivate me, made me want to stick my tongue out.
"Do you have any classes left to attend?" I asked quickly.
"I don't have any classes today." I was fairly sure I saw a hint of regret in his features, and just knew I had to ask,
"I was supposed to graduate last spring, but I was a couple courses short so I've been going to some extra classes for seniors or taking the ones I skipped when I first started here. Comes back to bite you in the ass, Em."
"You were supposed to graduate already? That's kind of funny." I chuckled.
"Well aren't you the artsy type who could just draw and paint his way out of school, I guess I just didn't take you for an unartistic idiot like me who'll never graduate without the help of plagiarism or something." I laughed.
I realized that my mood had swung right back to light and mellow. In moments like this, I almost forgot my past disdain for the guy, and it felt like I had gained an actual friend. The thought scared me for some reason, and I tried to hold on to the traces of the childish frown I'd had on my face before.
"I thought you had figured out by now that this school really isn't all that much about art. I mean, how can you study art? There's no right or wrong in art, no knowledge to suck in and absorb. The only way you can learn art is to do art, and you can't do it wrong, y'know?
Basically this school is for the untalented, cause they ain't gonna teach you how to become talented, but how to know art history and design programmes. They'll teach you how to throw an art exhibition or find the sponsors for fundings, but that's about it."
He was clearly growing annoyed, and I could see that the subject was something he'd dwelled on quite a lot.
"Well, then. Let's leave - I was hoping you'd be free so I wouldn't have to walk home. And seeing as though the school is nothing but a tragic waste of time...." I hinted with a shrug.
"Waste of time that will get you a degree, which you need." He corrected.
"I need lots of things, none of which are today's problems." I disagreed "So we goin' or what?"
He dug out his cigarettes from his back pocket as he rose, with a small smile playing on his oh-so-soft looking lips, and grabbed my forearm gently to pull me up.
"Yeah, let's go." He said while placing the cigarette between his lips.
I was captivated, staring at his mouth. I knew I had a weird thing for men's lips and his were exceptional. They were pretty thin, which gave his smiles a strange cunning look, but yet curvy and plump. Very, very kissable, and it was quite difficult to try and concentrate on whatever he was saying once you started staring at his mouth and the way his sensual lips moved as he spoke.
Once he lead us out of the building and lit the cigarette, I cringed as I realized that even the way he pressed his lips around the filter, sucked, and blew out the smoke was suddenly very sexual. I had to look away before the man had me all ready and set again.
Judging by the smirk I saw from the corner of my eye, my gaping hadn't gone unnoticed.
"Can I have one? I forgot where I put mine.." It was a nice save. The cigarette, I was staring at the cigarette. He held the pack open allowing me to grab one.
I placed it between my lips and he lit it, but only let the fire flicker for a fraction of a second making me have to suck the damn thing for dear life to properly light it. I hated when people did that. If you don't know how to light one, or are too freaking lazy to hold your hand still for two seconds then let me do it myself, please.
"You want a ride home? Or do you wanna hang out?" He asked casually and strated towards the ugly motherfucking van that I already spotted though we weren't even close to the campus' parking lot.
The sight made me cringe, though not as much anymore after I'd sat in a car far more lethal than this one. Tim's piece of shit would never ever lose the award of the deathliest car in the history of transportation.
My mind got sidetracked thinking about these life-threatening cars, and I had to guide myself back to the original topic. Hang out he said? Well that was... Unexpected.
"I'm in no hurry home. Mikey's at school and Frank's propably.. uhm.. Out, doing something?"
I hadn't planned on sounding that awkward, but I felt l like I needed an excuse to take up on his offer. It had to look like it was the best choice I had at the moment, or else I would lose a bit of my imaginary credibility. Sometimes.. I felt like the thirteen-year old in me was starting to seriously dominate my thoughts and behavior. That sounded like trouble for sure.
He grabbed my forearm again, only this time applying a wee bit more pressure instead of that light tug at the cafeteria before, sending these little jolts through my body. He wasn't exactly giving me that rough handling that had caused me to react this way before, but something about the way his long fingers wrapped tightly around my arm and pulled me forward, made my heart skip a few beats.
I believe I was officially out of my mind.
We reached the van and he drove out of the school yard in seconds. Traffic was horrible, and why he even bothered to drive the van to school was beyond me. It did make sense today cause he'd been crashing at his mom's house, and the train ride from Belleville wasn't something you wanted to go through if you had classes to attend and didn't want to be terribly late.
But other than that.. He must suffer from some strange type of masochism, or have a rather unhealthy emotional relationship with the car. I suddenly remembered Mikey saying they'd gotten it from their grandma, and realized it must be the reason they thought it was so special.
Honestly, to me, the was nothing special about it, not in the positive sense.
I'd seen their grandma once or twice, at graduation parties Mrs. Way had thrown. I had been too busy having food fights with Mikey, or trying to locate alcohol, to actually mingle and socialize with people I barely knew. In my teenager mind, there was hardly anything as boring in the world as your friend's relatives. Old skanks and wrinkled farts that ate too much sugar cookies and pinched you on your cheeks as if they were too old to not notice that you weren't exactly their grandchild.
I had hopped onto the far end of the seat, painfully close to Gerard, put didn't have the nerve to move my butt in an extremely transparent attempt to stop our legs from touching.
The fabric of his jeans brushed against mine, and I had a hard time trying to decide whether the way it send my heart to a frantic drum solo was a good thing or a very, very bad thing.
I decided I'd put my money on the latter.
I started detecting familiar road signs again, and had to be the first to break the silence.
"Really? Belleville, again?" I wasn't very pleased with this.
Visiting old neighbourhoods was sweet in a sentimental way until you did it too much and remembered all the dozen reason you decided to get the hell away from there in the first place. I crinkled my nose and stared at the road ahead.
"I figured you'd be hungry and I don't have any money on me. Ma said she'd make early dinner."
I looked down. "I'm not sure I want to come, though. But thanks."
"Oh you're coming, you apple stealing little broke ass anarchist." He chuckled in a way that made me feel uneasy.
It wasn't up to negotiation, then. I was a bit surprised that his idea of hanging out was driving out to his mother's house to attend an early dinner and what made it extra uncomfortable was that I felt like if I accompanied Mikey once a month to visit Mrs.Way and have dinner, it was already more than I was entitled to, not being a family member.
And here I was again, off to enjoy they offers of a heavenly dinner table I was in no way meant to be a part of. I sighed as I thought of my own mother.. Donna had said she was away on some trip.
I briefly wondered her whereabouts but as Gerard pulled up at Donna's driveway, I caught a glimpse of my mother's car on the other side of the road, carefully parked in front of the garage in which I spent half my life. I thought about the room I had conqured and called my own, the tiny little space in the second floor of the garage with the squeaky ladder on the corner being the only way up.
My mother would never step on those, knowing they'd never take her weight without snapping, and I had thought that it was a perfect way to keep her out of my way.
I'd drunk countless bottles of beer and cheap vodka up there, with people I used to think of as friends.
I sighed realizing she'd propably already gotten rid of all my stuff that I'd left in the garage. I doubt she felt any kind of sympathy towards my collection of posters or guitar picks I'd caught at rock shows. I'd only brought my bed and clothes along with some CDs to Mikey's apartment, alongside with some necessities that had fit in my battered old suitcase I'd dragged down to the train station and into the cramped room that I still lived in.
The car came to a halt and I hopped out, slightly dreading greeting Donna. I felt so much like an intruder, always hungry and eager for the food she made. I stole one last glance at my former home, trying to make up my mind whether I should go see my mother or not, then turned away to walk onko the porch, deciding to put off deciding. I did that quite a lot, and considered it one of my many talents.
Gerard noticed my hesitation.
"You've been here a million times so cut the bullshit, Em."
I snorted, remembering last time when Mr. Cut the bullshit here was the very one to make unfriendly remarks on the fact that I wasn't a family member.
"Right, so now it's okay for me to be here cause you invited me? When Mikey does it's not a valid invitation and makes me an outsider? Your extended family rules are so complex." I muttered.
He didn't have the time to answer me as we both heard a loud bang coming from the other side of the road. I turned on my heels and was positive the sound came from the white-fence house that seemed to be mocking me.
I small figure came into view, apparently having slammed the front door with all her might, and marched toward the gray Volvo.
I couldn't help myself - I ducked.
"Em, what the-" Gerard hissed as I grabbed his jeans by the front pocket and pulled him down, too. We were crouching down on Donna's porch, hiding behind the yellowish fence.
"Em, you're being ridiculous" He huffed, trying to get up but failed due to my supernaturally tight grip on the pocket.
"Stay down." I whispered, feeling like an action movie hero on a stakeout.
"She's your mother. Be reasonable. Go say hello."
His voice was serious and stern but I wasn't having it. I hadn't seen my mother in almost six months now, and even the visit before this hiatus in our already distant relationship was a small disaster. Like I've stated before, I always tried to make them short and civil but sometimes things got out of hand, on sometimes they got out of hand so bad that it erased all desire to see the other person for the next couple years or so..
I had only started to consider visiting her sometime in the near future, which was a wonderfully vague and flexible point of time.
Also, I was kind of afraid she'd be tempted to run after me with a huge ass cane in her violent nature hands and give me a proper spanking, and I wasn't keen on the idea of Gerard standing here and watching the shit go down. Because you know, he might enjoy it.
"We don't wanna see each other, just, shut the hell up already- Is she gone yet?"
I tried to focus on hearing the car engine start so I could finally get up and stretch my feet but I wasn't hearing anything. Gerard jumped up abruptly, yanking on the waistband of his jeans, causing me to lose my balance on my crouched position and fall down onto my butt.
"Mrs.Malkin! It's me - Gerard!" He called.
I clenched my teeth and thought of every single curse word I knew squeezing my eyes shut as if to prevent anyone seeing me as long as I saw nothing myself. Stupid, stupid motherfucker! Why did he want me to suffer like this, why? Wasn't the thing with the essay at school enough disgrace for a day? Aaahhgggg!!!!
"Oh - Gerard, hello there. How nice to see you."
Oh good god, that voice. I mean yes it was like any other voice, except even slightly softer and smokier than the usual female voice but despite the pleasant tone I couldn't help but hear it the way it sounded while screaming. True, I'd propably asked for it most times, but still, it made me cringe and I looked up to Gerard and made a face.
I went down to all fours and tried to sneak my way to the bushes nearby before she would come any closer to the porch, but Gerard bowed down to take my by the hand and yanked me up. I could've propably fought him off, but I didn't want to make a scene - being seen wasn't as bad as being seen while trying to escape.
I straightened myself and brushed the dust off my clothing, bracing myself for the unfortunate meeting and trying to get my disappointed, displeased expression to fade.
There she was, her petite but hunched figure was steadily walking towards us, and I couldn't help but notice how she was seemingly shocked to see her daughter appear out of nowhere. Her steps slowed down a bit, but kept going.
"Hi, Mama." I yelped awkwardly, after Gerard gave me a swift nudge on the ribs.
"Emmie." She nodded.
Her gaze went from my face to our hands, that for some reason were still tightly entwined from Gerard lifting up a minute ago. It took a moment for me to understand what she was staring at, and had to follow her eyes to find my hand securely in Gerard's. Gerard seemed to have done the same thing, and we both snapped our hands away as if we'd been electrocuted.
"Donna tells me you've gone to college?" She asked conversationally. We were playing the let's be civil - game again.
Man, I really sucked at that game.
"Yeah, well.. I was forced." I shrugged, not wanting to make a big deal out of it. I knew my mother approved, but for some reason instead of being happy about finally making a choise both of us declared as a good one, I resented the idea of making her proud.
I could practically hear her thoughts.
Maybe she's finally growing up.
Maybe it was all just a phase.
Maybe she'll eventually get her head together.
At last I have some news to tell the relatives that aren't relatively shameful ones.
We had spoken two lines and my brain was already boiling.
She nodded, but remained quiet. I could see her staring at Gerard, propably still thinking about the holding hands thing, and wondering whether we were a couple now and Gerard had taken me to see my supposed mother-in-law. Well shit..
"Well, it was nice seeing you two." She gave a weak smile "But I have to run to the store. Mitch is waiting for dinner."
She emphasized the word Mitch, wanting me to pick up on the fact that she was apparently dating someone again. I didn't care. I'd lost a count of her 'friends' long ago, and knew they never lasted for more than a month. My mother was a sucker for wife-beating douchebags with bear bellies the size of icebergs. I had felt sorry for her for a while, but now I just looked down on her for it.
The woman never learns, and I realized sadly that it was propably a feature she'd passed down to me as well.
"Say hi to him for us, will ya?" Gerard spoke with a scout boy smile and I couldn't help but frown as I watched his act take place.
"I will." She promised and turned to walk back to the car without looking back.
I waited, standing still, until the Volvo was far out of sight before turning to face Gerard with fire in my eyes.
I was so ready to tell him off and call him all the awful names that I could think of, but my tongue got tangled and all I was able to do was pop my mouth open and close it again in desperate attempt to start the lashing out.
A genuine smile crept up on his face. "You're way too cute." He commented and turned on his heels to open the door and walk in.
I heard Donna gush over having us as dinner guests and wondering about Mikey and asking why it took so awfully long for us to get inside.
I stood on the porch for a minute, collecting myself and trying to get a grip on my temper.
When I walked in, I could see the angry red tone of my face from the mirror on the hallway wall, and taking one last deep breath I closed the door and pulled a smile.
It was dinner time with Donna, now, and I would have to kick Gerard's ass later.
I had propably more than an hour on me to plot on ways to torture him.
Oh, the things my creative mind could come up with during that time..