My boyfriend’s name is Classic. One day, when we’re older, we’re going to live in a big house – well, okay, I say house but what I really mean is townhouse, the kind with three levels – with five cats, who will be named Maria, Claire, Hannah, Sarah and Willow-Dawn. I’ll name the cats. Classic will get his license and we’ll both have busy, busy jobs. But not too busy (remember the five cats).
Classic, whose real name is Harve, gives me a cool, cool look. Actually, you’d probably want to make that just plain icy. We’re playing cards and I’ve just screwed up again. You see, the thing is, I hate cards. Really hate cards. And Harve knows this. And even though he knows I hate cards, we’re also best friends, and I love him (he doesn’t know), so I always promise to give it another go. “Okay, okay, this time I’ll be serious, man.”
He usually forgives me and decides to give it a rest with the cards and we go play video games in his bedroom instead (which I love, especially when we’re lying on the floor side by side, propped up on our elbows, screaming at the television screen or just laughing our faces off when one of us has just lost). But not today. Today, we’re sitting in the kitchen and he’s giving me the “You frigging idiot!” look.
My heart sinks, flopping cold and dead into my lap. I know Maria asked him out today at school, but he said no. I know he said no. I was there. “What?” I ask, shrugging as if nothing’s wrong.
He smacks the front of his head with his palm and I wince at the bodily harm he is inflicting on himself. I want to say, “I love you,” but I’m afraid he’d smack me then too. “What the hell is wrong with you, Lasse?!” he snaps, his glacier sharp blue eyes piercing right through me, right through my brain.
I see our townhouse burning down. The cats are miaowing loudly; all of them huddled together on the footpath as the flames lick higher and higher. They don’t have a damn clue what to do, how to save their home. They are as devastated as I am.
I sniff, shake my head, affect a blank stare. My famous blank stare. (People think it makes me looked retarded; I ignore them all and decide it makes me look cute and innocent, incapable of either conniving or harm.)
Harve isn’t fooled.
I continue with the ruse, which, actually, now that I think about it further, isn’t actually a ruse. I have no idea why he’s so pissed at me. Words tumble out of my mouth. “I don’t … ? What?”
When we were kids a bunch of years ago, we told everyone at school we were together. Together together. Best friends and “in love”. How lucky are we! We only did it to keep Liv away from Harve. She was always after him and we suspected some kind of hideous disorder the family refused to speak about and we didn’t really want to know about anyway. I always thought of it as something like vampirism. She wanted Harve’s blood, plain and simple.
I know we’re not in love. I mean, I know Harve knows we’re not in love. And nobody really believes we’re in love. I mean, yeah, we hold hands, but it’s just a stupid joke. For Harve, anyway.
I shake my head again, shaking loose memories from earlier that day as I go. I suddenly remember that after Maria asked Harve out, after he turned her down, after she went on her way with a sad little pout, we didn’t hold hands as we usually do during lunch break.
I feel sick, and cold, and sick. Harve’s giving me a really funny look, like maybe he wants to smack me. Bad!
“What?” I ask stupidly.
“I saw you smiling when I told Maria to leave me alone and she left,” he says, as if this proves something.
I shrug again, with just one shoulder this time. This is infinitely cooler and makes me look like I couldn’t really give a crap about whatever he’s inferring because, really, it has no bearing on my current reality anyway and I’m just so cool with life and everything in it that I couldn’t care less, man.
“I saw you!” he repeats, and this time I know he’s not going to forgive me for fucking up on cards, and he’s really, seriously angry this time. His eyes are like daggers; it’s painful to keep looking into them, the eyes that I love with all my heart and a tiny little bit of my soul too (seeing as we’re only really aware of a fraction of our soul in our conscious state and I am very much awake!).
“I don’t … Why would she ask? I mean, come on, Harve, she knows how it is. She can’t seriously have been expecting you to say, ‘Yeah, yeah, why don’t we hook up Friday after school and go see a movie or something, baby!’” I glare at him, disgusted. I don’t want to, but I’m just that pissed. And disgusted, too. Because, damn it, what the hell, man?! Seriously!
“I like her.”
The words are out of his mouth so fast, I actually think I made them up in my head because I feel guilty for smiling when Maria was slinking off with those mopey eyes of hers and I’m not really a mean person deep down.
Then I realise, he isn’t glaring at me anymore.
I sniff. I say, as I feel my heart land on the floor so that I can tread on it when I get up and leave later, “I’m sorry. I didn’t realise. That’s cool, man. She’s a nice girl.”
He nods, forgiving me.
I feel like I’ve just died. Lasse out.
Margarete Schulz grew up in country Victoria, Australia. She currently resides in Ballarat, Victoria.
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