A few weeks ago, based on a prompt by the red dress club, I wrote a story about John and Darcy. Since then, as characters are wont to do, they have invaded my life. But not in the usual way. I don't see their entire story, a beginning, middle and end. I see clips of their lives and am compelled to write about them. I'm not really sure where their story is going, if anywhere, and for the first time, I don't care...meaning I'm not concerned about turning their story into a novel. I'm not obsessing about details and scenes and what the reader will think. I'm writing for myself, for fun, because they won't allow me to not tell their story, however brief, incomplete or un-edited it may be.
Un-edited. How terrifying. The perfectionist, obsessive-compulsive in me, wants to read this a thousand times and edit the heck out it before posting, but if I do that, I will NEVER post it. A part of me thinks this is a bad idea, to write a mini-series, in bits and pieces, however it comes, and part of me doesn't give a crap. Yes, that is my disclaimer, way of saying that you may find what you are about to read to be pure garbage. And I'm okay with that....Fine, I'm not okay with it at all and if anyone were to tell me it's pure crap I'd curl in a ball, clutch my bottle of Ativan and cry in the corner. But that's what being a writer is all about, right? Moments of self-indulgent brilliance, followed by self-doubt, culminating in feelings of worthlessness. What a fabulous existence.
After that much ado about nothing, here it is...John and Darcy, continued. For lack of a better title, we'll call it...
"Nice job, Darcy," Mr. Bryson said, placing last week's test on my desk.
I sighed. Another A. I hadn't been sure on six of the answers, and still, I'd gotten an A. A ninety-freakin-six.
Mr. Bryson launched into his lecture and I opened my notebook and started to doodle. Hearts and flowers and rainbows. Not because I was feeling all sunshine and happiness, but because my artistic ability rivaled that of a four year old.
I looked up periodically, appearing to listen. Not that it mattered if I was. I could have put my head down and taken a nap or stood on my desk and sang the Star Bangled Banner. Good kids, straight A students, could get away with stuff like that.
I wasn't naturally smart like Amber Weston and Kim Lee. I had to work at it. Hours of studying. But, I'd only studied an hour for last week's test. Hoping, just maybe, I'd get a B.
But no. No B's for Darcy McKinley.
I suppose I should be happy. My father would shit a brick if I came home with a B. As it is, a ninety-six would make him raise his eyebrows in concern. He'd never say anything, of course. He'd be all hugs and high-fives and "atta-girl." But inside, he'd die a little.
"Hey, Darcy," Greg Hines hissed. "Pass this to Nick." He handed me a piece of paper, unfolded, its message easy to read before the hand-off.
Bryson looks like he has a boner.
Nick let out a laugh, causing Mr. Bryson to look our way.
"Sorry, sir. Spider tickled my arm," he said in the charming cocky way that cool kids, athletes, like Nick and Greg possessed; in the way that teachers knew was a lie, but deemed futile to do anything about.
Mr. Bryson frowned and resumed his lecture.
"Darcy." Nick handed me the paper back.
That's cause he can see Morgan's tits threw her shirt.
I resisted the urge to correct his grammar and passed the note to Greg.
How many times do you think he's banged her?
I wouldn't bang that skank if you paid me.
Yes you would. You'd do it for free.
Yea. Your right.
The note passing, poor grammar, and degrading of Morgan's character continued until the bell rang for lunch.
I took my time walking to my locker. Mandy and Annabeth were in D.C. with the debate team, so I was on my own for lunch, which suited me fine. I wasn't in the mood for conversation.
The halls had pretty much cleared by the time I reached my locker. I placed my Anatomy book inside and reached for my lunch. The brown paper bag contained the usual - hummus and chips and an apple. Next to it was a half-empty Dasani bottle, the contents of which were not water.
It was the first time I'd brought vodka to school. Mr. Werstein wanted me to read my comparative essay to the class next period. I could only imagine how many cools points that'd score me.
With an unsteady hand, I reach for the bottle. A locker slammed and I dropped it to the floor.
"I told you, Lauren. It's over."
"Please, John. Don't say that. You don't mean it."
I watched them as I bent to pick up the bottle.
Lauren reached for John, but he pulled away. "Actually I do, Lauren. You wanted Jake. Now you're free to have him."
She started to cry. "It was a mistake. Everyone makes mistakes. You have to forgive me."
"Fine Lauren. I forgive you. But we're not getting back together. It's over."
"John!" Lauren sobbed. Tears welled in her perfect eyes, slid down her perfect cheeks.
"Come on Lauren," her best friend, Jessica, appeared and put her arm around Lauren's waist. "Forget him." Looking at John she said, "You're an asshole."
"Right. She cheats and I'm the asshole."
Jessica pulled Lauren away and I turned my attention to stuffing my lunch and the vodka in my backpack.
When I looked up John was looking at me. I gave him a half smile - one of those side of the mouths, half smile, half grimace things. John nodded. We looked at each other across the hallway for a few seconds before he lowered his head and walked away. I hooked my bag over my shoulder and turned in the other direction.
I walked to my usual lunch spot, the picnic table under the old oak tree next to the maintenance shed. I sat on the table and took out my lunch and The Bottle.
I twisted the cap back and forth. Loosening and tightening. Could I really drink at school?
Back and forth. Loosening and tightening.
I set it to the side and pulled out the apple. Taking a bite, I watched him walk toward me. What was he doing here? It was one thing to exchange a look in the hallway, it was quite another for John Campbell to have lunch with Nobody.
"Hey," John said. "Can I sit here?"
I shrugged. "Sure."
He sat next to me, rested his arms on his thighs, linked his fingers together and looked out over the lawn, the football field - his stage - in the distance. Students were scattered about in groups - the nerds, the goths, the pot-heads, the cheerleaders. I wondered what they all would do when high school was over, when they entered the real world, alone, without the safety of their cliques.
John squeezed the bill of his cap and looked down. We weren't allowed to wear hats at school, but then, he was John Campbell.
I picked up the bottle and extended it to him. "Here."
He glanced at me and looked back down. "I'm good."
"It's not water."
He raised his head. "You bring vodka to school?"
I set the bottle on the table between us. "Today I did." I reached inside my backpack for another bottle, one filled with actual water, and took a sip.
John looked back over the lawn. Two students, too far away to tell who they were, were making out. A nearby clique cheered them on.
I dipped a chip in my hummus and John reached for the bottle. He took a sip and grimaced. "How do you drink that?"
"Oh come on. I know about the post game parties. Don't tell me you do shots of Coke and two-liter stands."
John smiled. "No, no two-liter stands, though that sounds...interesting. There are plenty of shots. But no vodka for me. I'm more of a Tequila guy."
I made a face. "Tequila makes me gag."
"I was kidding."
Oh. I ate another chip. "So, when you and Lauren getting back together?"
"You heard us, we're not."
I rolled my eyes. "Yeah right. You and Lauren have been together since the sixth grade."
"See? This is just a bump in the road. You two are meant to be together."
The couple in the distance were now reclined on the lawn, she on top, her skirt hiked up around her waist.
"It's better this way," John said. "Gotta free myself up for all the single college chicks who'll be throwing themselves at me. Wanting a piece of the future of Florida football." The heavy sarcasm was almost successful in veiling the thin layer of sadness.
"That's not how it works, John. You keep the girlfriend and sleep around with whoever wants a piece. Cake and eating it too."
"Nah. Cheating's not really my thing."
"You know for a Hot Football Star you have pretty tight morals."
"And for a straight A Goody Two-Shoes you have pretty lose ones."
"What can I say? I'm a rebel."
The bell rang, signaling the end of lunch. I tossed the remains of my chips and hummus in the trash and stood up, brushing my hands on my jeans.
"Wanna really be a rebel? Let's skip class."
"Ooh," I said, "what'll we do? Rob a bank?"
"I was thinking we'd steal an old lady's purse."
"One with a walker."
"Who's crossing the street."
"Maybe push her down."
We passed the make-out couple trying to untangle themselves and right their clothes."
"You know, no one would care if we did," John said. "Skip class."
"I know. We wouldn't even have to come up with an excuse. They'd make one up for us."
"Yeah. I went home to center myself before the game. Mentally go through each play. And you skipped AP Whatever to build homes for Habitat or cure cancer."
"Oh, I've already cured cancer."
I nodded. "I think Princeton would find that impressive."
We reached the end of the lawn, the cliques blending together as students, our peers, made their way to fifth period. "Well, see ya," John said and turned towards the men's locker room. Greg Hines and Nick Jones fell in step with him. I watched them walk. Greg said something, slapped John on the back and the three of them laughed. The door to the men's locker room opened and they disappeared.
I headed toward the main building, melding into the sea of students. Stopping just outside the doors, I uncapped the bottle of vodka, brought it to my lips, and drank until it was empty.