We leave tonight or live and die this way
I remember we were driving driving in your car
The speed so fast I felt like I was drunk
City lights lay out before us
And your arm felt nice wrapped 'round my shoulder
And I had a feeling that I belonged
And I had a feeling I could be someone, be someone, be someone
(Fast Car, by Tracy Chapman)
(Revised and reposted)
I remembered Dad, when I went to that dance with Rayne last year. He'd sat in the living room and pretended to read the paper, even though he never did in the evening, and watched and smiled at me when I left.
I couldn't remember what he said.... but he was still up when I came home, and asked if I had a good time.
I wondered if he asked that when I tried riding a bike, or learned to walk.
When Dad asked if I was okay in there, I smiled I was.
I couldn't talk, but I nodded and smiled.
I was so okay.
After supper Carson and I went up to my room and she helped me with homework a bit, the stuff Mr. Lopez said I had to get done first. We piled it up anyway, and got it marked out.
I was still trying to figure out the things from before supper. All the stuff they made me think of.
She looked up from her algebra homework. I was suddenly shy, even more worried what she'd say. But I had to ask.
"Do you... I mean, do you really want...." I had to look down. "Do you want people... the... at school to... know...?"
She didn't make any noise for a long time and I had to look. She was staring at me. She didn't look mad or anything... then she blinked.
"Do I want people to know what? About you?"
I almost started to cry before she stood up and tossed her binder on the bed and was sitting beside me that fast, and took both my hands.
"Okay." She said it like, 'listen up.'
"No, I ~don't~ want them to know about you."
She pulled my hands up and kissed them.
When I finally looked up, she smiled.
"I want them to know about ~us~."
Val came home about the same time Carson had to leave.
Carson whispered something to her on the way out, and they hugged.
I hadn't seen them do it before, and I wondered if we looked the same when Carson hugged me.
And what they were whispering about.
And remembered I ~still~ hadn't shown her Strawberry!
"Up and at 'em!" Valerie opened my door without knocking and I must've been nearly asleep because she didn't surprise me or anything.
"C'mon, sis, it's time for bed," she helped me stand and handed me my crutches. "We need to talk, so you're sleeping with me again."
I ~was~ asleep, because I was in her warm ruffly nightie like Strawberry's and in bed before I even woke up. Or figured out she wanted to talk about whatever Carson told her.
She slid in and messed around with the pillows and grabbed her bear away and tossed him on the floor and gave me Strawberry and then reached over and turned the light off.
Then she pulled me closer, onto her pillow.
"Alright, sister dear."
Then she helped me un-twist my nightie a bit and got my foot comfy and then started again.
It was still a little light from the hallway. She fiddled with Strawberry's hair a moment before she put her arm back around my waist.
"Now." She stopped.
"Your sweetie tells me you plan to get into all sorts of trouble with the stupid people when you go back to school."
I must've looked like something she could see.
"No, she didn't say that, don't be silly. But you ~are~ going to out yourself, aren't you?"
She sounded like she thought I was an idiot.
"You want to kiss her in school."
"Aht! It's the same thing, whether you say it or do it, and you'd know that if you just think for a second."
She sounded mad, but kept hugging me.
"I have a friend at school, he says it this way... homophobes don't hate gay people because they have sex, they hate them because they hold hands."
I started to say something, but I had to stop.
There was a horrible pain in my calf, in my ankle, like in the bone, and I couldn't move without it getting worse. And I couldn't reach it at all.
I woke Valerie and she made me lay back while she took off my cast and gently massaged where it hurt. She said it was warm in the back of my ankle, too, and maybe I just overdid stretching the tendons?
Anyway, her rubbing helped and I took half a pill and she kind of rocked me back to sleep. Me and Strawberry in our nighties....
The last thought I had was, what would they think was the same as holding hands, for me?
I didn't even notice when Val got up. Mom had to shake me awake.
At ten I had a pretty awful physiotherapy drop-in, and she said it was my tendons, like Val said, and it'd hurt in my shin too, if I didn't start working my foot. It was a different physio, so I told her about my regular stuff.
And she said my idea for a cast with a knee was a good one, but not for me since the places tendons and ligaments went to on ~my~ bones still had to heal more, up there, and it had to be straight. But it was a good idea and they already had them.
Then, for fun, I had a special talk with Dr. Wilkinson.
He talked about Carson, but it was all about ~me~ and her, and he never called her a boy, so I decided it was respectful. Again. After a while.
He asked lots of stuff about Strawberry, and Val's nighties, too. We went almost through his whole lunch time.
I guessed that Mom or Dad had called him.
Paul was on a day off, a long weekend, but Caroline gave me a hug for the balloons.
Mom took me right home and had to wake me up when we got there.
Carson and Brenda both came over after school and we did homework and they had new stuff I had to do, Carson said, so I could jump up to what all my classes were doing right then.
I was too shy to show Carson Strawberry with Brenda there, and they left together. After I fell asleep.
I felt the softness of Strawberry's skirt with my finger, and the rougher edge, and the ruffle, softer again...
"Is anything wrong...?"
"No." I curled up a little bit, and maybe away.
"What do you tell your friends...?" I tried to sound less whiny.
"At school... like that friend you said?"
She rolled over and thumped her arm across me and pulled me back close.
"I tell them I have a little brother I love who's almost like my little sister."
She kissed my head.
"If they don't like it, I tell them to grow up, educate themselves, or leave." She hugged harder.
"And I've made way more new friends than I've lost bad ones."
I had to think about that.
"I'm not so little...."
"No, you're not."
"I love you too, Val."
"I know, sis. Me too." She made sure I was comfortable and kept hugging.
"Now go to sleep."
"If you sleep like that, you'll drool on her."
I moved Strawberry over a bit.
"What's that you say?! Timmy's fallen ~where~? ~Again~?"
Val said she'd make me leave if I kept giggling.
I woke up when it was just barely light out, and felt just about perfect.
It was just the right temperature, the nightie didn't have a single un-soft spot, my leg felt good, and I didn't have any appointments or ~anything~ I had to get up for.
I snuggled Strawberry from where she'd slept and pulled Valerie's arm closer....
Valerie said it was her wash day, and I had to get up so she could get the sheets off her bed. I tried to argue it was her day off school... no classes at all.... sleeping in....
She said laundry... clean sheets....
I pointed out that her bed was warm, and soft and... ~warm~.... Strawberry added that she was being mean and nasty.
Val said it was almost nine, and that being a mean and nasty ~big~ sister beat being a slack and lazy ~little~ sister.
I tried that it was like still ~midnight~ in Hawaii and I was still really tired and sleepy.
She said she'd start a tub for me and if I wasn't up by then, she'd try 'wet and cold', like in Alaska.
And she was gonna put the sheets in the wash anyway....
The bath was full of bubbles, Val said to make up for being a mean and nasty sister, and she kissed my cheek after she helped me in.
It ~was~ nice, and hot and relaxing.
But so was her bed.
I called Carson at lunch on Brenda's cell and we talked for a couple of minutes and then she said she had to go to a meeting and wouldn't tell me why.
She wouldn't tell me why even when I asked about twenty ways. And she said she was gonna be late. And still wouldn't tell me to what.
I said she was mean and nasty, just like Val.
She said she loved me too, and made a kissing noise and hung up.
"Hmm?" She kept on sorting laundry on the sofa. Everyone was doing laundry.
"Mom, do you know what Carson's doing?"
"Could you be a little more specific?" She grinned at me over her shoulder for a second. "Homework? Lunch?"
"Mom! I'm serious! She said Brenda and her are doing something and she won't tell me what and I think it's about me going back, and her, but she won't tell me!"
I put the stupid book down. It was the last big thing I had to do for english, but it was so thick I was having a hard time getting the energy to start.
Mom stopped piling clothes and stuff and sat down right on some of it. She looked interested.
"No, I don't know. Carson asked me if I knew about the school district's rules about discrimination." She looked serious. Like she wanted me to be, too. "And she said she didn't trust Mr. Carruthers."
Val came in from the garage with a full basket and Mom looked up at her.
"Valerie, you had Mr. Carruthers for principal for a while. What did students think of him?"
"They thought he was a jerk." Val dropped into the armchair with the basket still in her lap.
"When he took over everything was harder to get approved even if it was the same stuff the school always said was okay before." Val'd been on the grad and homecoming committees and all that. Everything but a cheerleader.
"It was like he had to look at everything himself and do something different or change or turn down something in ~everything~. I mean, he even refused to let us use the ~photocopiers~, even if we supplied the paper! And then the school reimbursed for ~outside~ copying! He was totally aa-"
Mom glared at her a second and then thought for another few, and looked at me.
"He doesn't discriminate, does he? Against any students in particular?"
Val snorted. "Hel- heck, yeah. He's against anyone who wants to do anything! It's like he thought school was a... I dunno, but he seemed to want ~no~ social or extracurricular stuff at all."
I had to nod. I hadn't thought of it that way, but she was right. The team could get any room they wanted for a meeting or whatever, or equipment money, but some of the clubs had to jump through hoops.
Val made a fast wave thing. "No kidding. Yeah. Except anything jockish."
Mom looked at us. Then just at me.
"So maybe Carson and Brenda are worried that your principal would make keeping safe... more difficult?"
I nodded. That made sense. But if it was about Carson and-
"But if it's about, I mean, like transphobia..." Val was thinking hard. Like remembering or something.
"What?" Mom looked lost.
"It's the same, but with transsexuals."
"Yeah." I nodded. Carson had showed me some sites about that. "But-"
"But that doesn't follow just 'cause he's a micro-manager...." Val was seriously thinking.
"But Carson and Brenda might think he would, get in the way, anyway, and they've been there, and maybe there's something else they know?"
"~Or~ they're thinking about or planning something totally unrelated."
"Except you said she asked about stuff about discrimination too."
"So I did.... How did you get so smart?" Mom smiled.
I grinned and waved Mockingbird. "Books! I always carry around a book!"
"Have you started it yet?"
"Nope!" I started to laugh. "But don't I ~look~ smart!?"
Brenda and Carson came over together just before supper with an algebra assignment, prepared just for me. Neither could stay long, but Carson said she needed her 'minimum recommended daily dose' of me. Brenda and Val made gagging noises.
"Have you ever heard of a Gay-Straight Alliance?"
Carson found a new position. She had one leg straight out on the couch seat and my cast right up on it so my foot was sort of free of pressures, and I got to lay with my head on her chest, hugging her. She ran her hand up my neck.
I could barely breathe. "No..."
"Well, there aren't any in the city yet, but we're looking into maybe starting one." She did it again.
"It's a... a kinda club, but it's so straight and non-straight students can get to know each other and so it's not just gay and trans students doing all the... anything that needs doing, like talking to the student paper, or...."
"Or making the school start taking responsibility for sexism and homophobia." Brenda sounded serious.
Carson put her hand on my neck, just warming me. Even thinking and listening and trying to understand everything, she made me calm and relaxed.
"And there have to be the same rules for you two... as everyone else."
Brenda sounded different. I had to look.
She looked happy. And a bit sad, too.
"I'm just afraid if he finds out, he'll stop it or something...."
"And if he finds out, it's too late to find out if you're right." Val looked grim. Angry, almost. Mom nodded.
"So, you're starting the, the GSA? before you tell the school administration? Will that get you in trouble just for breaking school rules on that, procedures?"
"Well, we don't think so, but we're still not sure, and Brenda thinks we have to at least tell Mr. Lopez before we really start, or at least so far we think he's the best choice."
"And about half the clubs and groups started like in someone's home or just from a bunch of friends, and they just registered."
"The big thing is there are rules and stuff about sexual... well content and stuff..."
"But most of them are about sexism and sexual discrimination."
"And I think we need advice on how they could shut down a gay-straight alliance group if they wanted to with those rules. Preventing that."
"But everyones's welcome to join, right, so there's no discrimination?"
"Yeah, but people can claim it's all about sex, and we figured it'd only take one student to complain about that for Carruthers to bury it in paperwork or something...."
"Or students who want to wreck the group like by joining and then outing the members to make everyone afraid to join."
"Yeah, there was some talk about that at the college group."
"So we need to build up a starting membership from word of mouth, and we have to just get ones we trust, and then get them to do the same thing."
"It's like that TV commercial a few years ago. 'I told two friends, and they told two friends, and ~they~ told two friends... and so on, and so on....'"
"Yeah, that was the idea, just like that. What was the commercial about?"
"I think it was shampoo."
Brenda and Val laughed so hard they cried. Carson just shook.
The rest of the week, instead of coming over to stay and talk or do homework, they'd just visit and bring my homework and even brought me corrected stuff from my teachers (one who I hadn't even met yet), and then rush off.
They both said they had to see people about the club stuff, or go to some meeting or something, and Carson always phoned in the evenings too, after, at bed time.
We got to at least talk, but I missed her. Brenda, too. I felt like they were avoiding me, except they weren't, and I knew it was important, but it felt like that.
Val and Mom and Dad spent almost as much time with me as when I was sick and they seemed to know what it felt like, too.
Like, Dad said I should sit with him while he read some work papers, and then mostly talked with me about stuff instead, like when I was little.
And Mom made my favorite dessert and got me to help while we talked and she did almost everything and then made a big fuss about how ~I~ made it at supper, and stuff like that.
And Val begged every night to get Mom let me sleep with her. Mom smiled and said it was okay every time, but always after a few minutes, as if she wanted to hear Val make up stuff.
Val got pretty good at it, too. By Friday night, I was in danger of spontaneous human combustion, and she slept with a full glass of water....
Saturday morning Carson and Brenda came over really early and we all did homework together, almost the same stuff, and then had a couple of hours just talking.
And they ~still~ both left right after lunch, but it was about school again, and Carson gave me a huge kiss that made it okay.
For an hour or so. A few minutes, anyway.
Mom made me finish my homework. By suppertime, for the first time in two months, I was caught up, with nothing but reading to do. I was barely on page two of the stupid term novel.
And Carson called at bed time.
On Sunday afternoon, after nobody had come to visit or even called, and I was almost in a coma from trying to read something I didn't want to, Mom said I had to close my book and have a bath and get especially clean and ready for supper because we were having guests. I just said okay and hopped upstairs.
It was more fun than watching the phone and street. Or trying to start 'To Kill a Mockingbird'. Great story, I was sure, but way too long.
Mom ran the bath and helped me in and then instead of leaving like usual, she sat on the toilet seat lid and smiled at me. "Can I help with your leg?"
I didn't really ~need~ help any more, but I said please, thanks, and left my towel on. It was soaked, anyways.
I still had to keep the incision areas dry, and I could bend my knee a little, but sometimes it hurt almost more than I could stand to do the sit-up kinda movement to wash further down.
One of my two physio goals: do the same things and hurt a little less.
My other goal was apparently to do more, and hurt a lot ~more~.
Mom put a towel down and sat on the floor and I sank down as she lifted and put my leg half over the tub edge, the way it felt best. She wet a cloth in the tub and washed around the awful, and then my foot.
She was really soft and reminded me of Paul.
"Can I see Paul after we see the counselor?" I had my first appointment the next day, but I couldn't remember what time. Mom looked up from my leg and smiled.
"I think so, if there's time. Or Tuesday." She thought a second.
"You have to go to the hospital on Tuesday anyway." She looked at me, and smiled. "But we'll try tomorrow too."
I smiled back then, and relaxed more. "Thanks."
She dabbed at my leg some more and took the ointment from the counter and spread a little on, even though I'd probably wipe most of it off, drying. I always itched badly after getting it wet without the cream, or even getting the rest of my leg wet. The ortho guy said my skin was just sensitive there from sluffing, like peeling... from the infection.
"Who's coming for supper?" I hadn't even thought of it.
Mom put the cap on the little tube and smiled at me. "Carson's family."
All the Donners, and all of us, were crowded in the front hall and everyone kind of pretended we'd never met or something, from the hand-shakes and little hugs and hellos.
Mom and Dad and Val didn't know Jerri, I guess, but still... everyone knew everyone else pretty well, really.
Mr. and Mrs. Donner had stepped over into the living room when I finally had the room to say hi to Jerri and I hadn't seen her since before my accident. When I half-held out my hand and said hi, she looked at me like I was a freak.
I almost died of embarrassment.
Or fear. Or pain. It was all...
All at the same time, Carson put her arms around me, Jerri made a noise, and Val stepped over. She said they'd be right back, took Jerri's arm and kinda jerked her away.
Carson hugged me even tighter and kissed my ear.
Mr. Donner made a noise and when I looked, he was there, and a bit sad.
"It's not you, okay?" He kinda waved his hand, or reached an inch.
I made a little flinch and Carson hugged me harder and made a "shhhh" noise. Her dad took his hand back, but he seemed okay, and not insulted, which was what I suddenly thought.
He looked over to the kitchen, where they went.
"I think she was just expecting the boy who used to come over the last few years."
He's a big man, and I remembered being afraid that he hurt Carson. It was hard to put those, how big he was and that scare, and him... together.
He smiled at me and I heard what he said.
I knew, then.
I was a sissy.
Jerri saw it, they all saw it. He'd just finally said it. Of everyone, he said it.
Jerri just... did it.
Val came back and made us follow her up to her room. Me and Carson. Jerri was already there.
Then we went into mine. Chairs. Val sat Jerri on a chair, like put her there with both hands, and then sat on the bed and Carson sat me between her and Val. Val took both my hands and Carson completely wrapped my shoulders. And we sat facing Jerri.
Jerri looked at us, and aside from red eyes, she looked normal. I mean, she wasn't like at the door, or....
I didn't look at her that hard. It didn't matter.
She looked at Carson and Val and me and then just at me.
"I'm a complete bitch and I hope you can please forgive me? I was just being a stupid sister and trying to get points on Carson and she's talked about you for weeks and I knew, I know she loves you and I dug for her weak spot and it was you and I'm sorry...."
She actually went down on her knees and took my hands, and Val's.
"Please?" She had shiny eyes from tears.
"I've just got my, my sister back after... screwing it up for her her whole life and I don't want to lose her again, and I don't want to lose you, for the... to be a friend, or sister or whatever?"
She was really crying.
She didn't hate me. click.
Carson hugged me.
Val hugged Jerri and said she'd rip her hair out if she ever did that again.
Mr. and Mrs. Donner were way happier after Jerri almost knelt down to apologize to ~them~ and Mom and Dad. And they were all somehow sure it would all work out anyway.
Val told me Jerri was a total drama queen, so I had to try to understand. Jerri rolled her eyes at her.
Carson just sat close and let me hug her until supper time.
At the table, Val and Jerri sat on either side of me because they said it was their turn. They both did all the serving and carrying, too. Mom liked that.
Carson sat between her parents and played footsie on my pillow with me and we both kicked at our sisters when they deliberately got in the way and I had to just kick Jerri because she was on my good leg side.
It was a good supper.
After, while Carson and Val and Jerri cleared the table and did the dishes, I sat with Mom and Dad on the sofa and we "visited" with the Donners.
Without Carson, I was shy again for some reason and I could hardly look up. If I could've turned sideways I would've climbed in Mom's lap, but I couldn't.
Mom finally rearranged us by pushing the ottoman over a bit and pulling me back against her. She leaned in and whispered so the Donners wouldn't be embarrassed, I guess.
"Is something wrong, honey?" She leaned her head against mine and hmmed? "Are you okay with Jerri now?"
It wasn't Jerri.
It was what Mr. Donner said.
About what I was, and what Jerri meant... but what ~he~ said.
Mom finally asked if I wanted to go in the kitchen with the girls and I managed a nod.
She helped me up and I tried to be civil, but I was trying to just not fall down and cry.
Mom held a chair for me and all three girls stopped the dishwashing to see why I looked like I did. Why we were there, I guess. What happened.
Carson was over in a second. "What's wrong?"
She looked at me like she had no idea. None of them looked at me like I was.
Just what Mr. Donner had said, and he didn't look that way either, even when he said it.
They all looked and waited. And the difference between what I ~knew~ they saw, what I was, and what they all said, and... and showed me.... Only Jerri.
But Val had said it.
I looked at her and she was still... she still loved me.
Carson still loved me. Nothing made sense.
I looked at Jerri again.
She was staring at us, all of us, and I could ~see~ her thinking.
She asked Mom if we could go upstairs again and that she wanted to be alone with me for a minute?
We both sat on my bed and she didn't touch me, but she was close. I watched my stupid leg, stuck out in the air.
"You think we should hate you, don't you?"
She was quiet, sure.
I didn't even move, but it felt like a hit.
"You think we should laugh at you, and you... that you deserve it, don't you?"
She touched my arm with her fingers, just barely.
"I used to... I still do, sometimes.... I used to think everyone was stupid and mean and should just show it, and I tried to make them act like they wanted to out loud, to hate me, or try and hurt me or laugh at me so I could at them."
She turned her hand over in the air, above my arm, like it was different, or new.
"Carson's always so quiet and I was sure she was just ~so~ superior and so I wanted to make her just admit it, and I insulted her and made fun of her and her stupid football and her friends who didn't even know she was alive, until you."
She put her whole hand on my arm and talked louder.
"I still think I'm worthless, really." She sniffed. "But she says... I'm not."
She was quiet for a breath and I looked. She had tears running down her cheeks, into her mouth.
"Nobody ever said.... but I just ~knew~ I was shit, and..."
"... and nobody ever said I... wasn't...."
She was so much smaller than Carson but she hugged as tight, after I tried to pull her over and tell her she wasn't, either.
I finally could talk.
"Nobody... no-one says..."
I was still too afraid. I could only say the part she said.
She kept holding hard. Then she stilled. "Can you tell me? What they don't say?"
She looked so sad. Like she knew. But it was ~her~ fear.
I had to close my eyes and wait for my breath to come. What Paul said. About letting people help me, inside. And he said I ~wouldn't~ hurt everyone, and he thought I was....
I took a breath and said it all at once.
"Everyone's gonna call me a fag and a sissy and I am and they'll..."
She stiffened. She thought that too.
"Why wou-" She sat back and took my arm, hard. It hurt my hand.
"Because you love Carson?"
"You're a... you're gay... because you love Carson?"
"No, she's a girl!" I had to make her see. "~I~ just am! And now they'll see, because I can't help it and they'll hurt her because they'll hate me and she can't... hide... she'll get hurt and I can't help and I'll be the ~reason~!"
She was really quiet while she held me, my arm.
"You're a girl too?"
I couldn't explain.
She waited, a long time. She even covered my ears and shouted to everyone that she was having a session and letting me analyze her, after someone knocked to see if we were okay.
I even smiled at that.
"So because you looked at Carson..."
She gave me a look at my look.
"... AND other boys too, that way, before you even knew she was a girl, then you're gay, or bi. Right so far?"
I nodded. She looked at Strawberry like she had notes on her. Then at me again.
"And you think that you're all girly because of being gay, that you know it, now?"
I nodded again. I wanted Strawberry back, but I hugged Val's bear. Jerri'd gotten them from Val's room.
"And people will see you, and they'll see Carson with you, and they'll hurt her." She looked at me. "And you, but you're more worried about her."
I nodded and rocked back and forth. It was all true.
"Okay. Look at me."
She was dead serious. I looked. She stared in my eyes.
"You're a sissy fag queer girl, and you ~always~ acted like a girl, and everyone who ever liked you is queer too and they're all dead."
She said it all flat-serious and I felt cold. Then she poked me with Strawberry.
"And ~Carson~ is a BIG girl who's smart enough to make her OWN stupid decisions and take pretty good care of herself and she ~loves~ you, you stupid girl, and I just barely MET you and I think you're just ~perfect~ the way you are and my SISTER loves you just the way you ARE ~TOO~! Even if people DO bug her!! And if they hurt ~you~, you can be sure that a ~TON~ of p-pain is gonna... gonna, gonn-na hit... them from ALL OF... US!!"
She had tears and her voice cracked.
There was a soft knocking on the door, right away after she stopped.
Carson had been sitting in the hall and heard her shouting. All of the end. She had me wrapped up in her arms laying back on my bed and Jerri and Val were in the chairs.
"I can't believe you...." Carson rocked me.
"I can't believe you thought we should hate you for being ~nice~!" Jerri wasn't laughing, and still had tears, even, but she acted like I was an idiot.
"Li'l sis is a bit slow on the emotional stuff." Val grinned at me.
"Sis?" Jerri and Carson both laughed.
"Well, sometimes." She leaned over and gave me Strawberry again and I wrapped her up and felt her and Carson together. It was scary.
"Is he... is she like Carson?" Jerri was really so normal.
"No." Carson hugged a little pulse of love.
"No, I think more... not just." Val sounded different and I looked and she was smiling at me.
"How's this: she's a little bit girl, and in love with a transsexual girl, and a little gay, and...."
She kinda looked at everyone, but really just at me.
"She's my sister. I love her."
I couldn't even blink. The way Val looked.
Jerri spazzed and looked at me like she was freaked, then at Carson, and she smiled too. Huge.
I introduced Carson to Strawberry, at last.
All the girls did aww and teased me, but they fussed over her, too, even Val, at how clean and new she was.
Our parents were fine with us being gone for an hour or so.
Val had been running interference at the end, telling them I was making up more with Jerri or something, and they were having some discussion about us in school anyway, like almost official stuff, like everyone else lately, but when we were all finally back in the living room and Carson pulled the ottoman back over to the end of the couch and then pulled me down in her lap, Dad started laughing and she made like she was mad.
"What?! Like I'm s'posed to sit on top!? I'd ~squish~ her!"
Jerri and Val really broke up and Mom said something like "I'll tell you later...."
Dad and the Donners looked confused, but happy. I smiled and then closed my eyes and tried to find a best position.
Carson gently brushed her fingertips over my forehead and eye and cheek and neck....
Jerri gave me a huge hug when they left and I started to cry, like with Paul. "Thanks." I whispered, but it took a couple of tries.
She whispered that I had to let our sisters take care of me, okay? I nodded. She helped with my eyes.
Carson gave me a huge hug too, and a little kiss.
"I love you." She touched her nose to my hair and breathed in, and smiled even nicer.
"Me too...." I kissed her chin.
Mrs. Donner gave me a little kiss on the cheek and said I had to get better and then Mr. Donner did too, and said I had come out of my shell a little, and grinned at me.
Mom and Dad both hugged me hard and close and had little smiles that were all sorts of things, and said good night.
Val didn't even ask Mom and Dad about sleeping with her, we just did. She loaned me a new nightie she'd bought, with bigger ruffles almost ~exactly~ like Strawberry's.
"Was it because of me, because of... the girly stuff?"
"No." I turned over so we could talk face to face. Her nightie wrapped around my legs but I ignored it. I liked it so much I didn't care.
"No." I kissed her cheek and closed my eyes and smiled. No.
We got more comfortable and Val pulled my arm over to hug.
I hugged Strawberry and pretended I was showing her my matching nightie and making her smile.
End of Part 14
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