26. In Love With Spring: My Novel Online
“I guess it’s safe to say I am never going to have breasts,” Lisbeth said to Allie. “They should have grown by now.”
“It’s not such a big deal.”
Lisbeth turned away from the mirror. “Easy for you to say—you have them. Everyone has them. I hate being flat chested! Nothing looks good on me!”
Allie, who secretly loved her pretty breasts, said, “Models have small chests. They’re like sticks. In the fashion world, it’s good.”
“That’s not true. They all have implants.” Lisbeth sat on the bed with a dejected sigh. “I wonder if the chemo stunted my hormones.”
Allie sat next to her. “I wonder.”
“I look like a kid.”
“You’re beautiful. Plus, obviously Kevin doesn’t mind.”
Lisbeth turned to her. “He has to, Allie. He’s a guy. All guys love big ones. I’m sure when he watches TV and sees some sexy actress he wishes I looked like her.”
“Lissie, if that’s all he cared about, he’d be with someone with big boobs. He loves you. He loves all of you.”
”He probably just puts up with it because he has no choice. I would hate it too, if I were him.”
Allie hadn’t ever seen Lisbeth this worked up, and felt helpless. The girls often did each other’s laundry, and everyone knew to whom which bras belonged: Mandy favored pastel colors, with the underwire boost and support. Allie liked black and lacey, but also had some in bright colors like hot pink, red, and purple. Jules’ were white or blue, no nonsense—the kind that came two in a box. And then there were Lisbeth’s… adolescent and unsexy, without even the pretense of cups—just triangles of cotton, with a little satin bow in the middle. Thirty-two AA. “Give it more time, maybe you’re just delayed.”
“What about wearing a padded bra?”
“I guess I’ll have to. I wish I could get implants.”
“Oh stop! I bet you’re just delayed. I bet they grow.”
Lisbeth gave up. She couldn’t explain her feelings to a normal-breasted woman; the teasing she’d endured, the way her gym teacher, as she measured her for the school-issued gym uniform, had scoffed, You got nuthin, up here! and the absolute assurance with which she assumed that Kevin wished she was bigger. It seemed so unfair… so cruel of the universe to hit her with this, too. Like having cancer and losing her hair hadn’t been bad enough! “Maybe I’ll go on the Pill. I’ve heard the hormones make you get a little bigger. Plus, then Kevin and I won’t have to worry about having to use condoms. A few times he forgot to bring them, and we couldn’t… ” she finally smiled. “I’ve started keeping a few in my purse. Just in case.”
Zeke wasn’t at school for the whole week, so on Friday Allie took a chance and walked over to his house. She rang the bell, then stepped into the front yard so that he could see her if he looked out his bedroom window. Sure enough, the curtains parted and his face appeared. She saw him mouth the word Allie! and he turned away. A moment later, she met him on the porch.
“Come on in! I didn’t expect… what are you doing here?”
She hoped he didn’t see the shock on her face. In the past week he seemed to have shrunk. The circles under his eyes were darker than ever, and he looked pale and… like he was dying. “Your mom and dad are at work, right?”
“Hold out your hand.”
“Hold out your hand.”
He held it out, and she placed something in it. To his shock, it was a square blue foil package emblazoned with the word Trojan. Wordlessly. he raised his gaze to hers.
“I took it from my sister’s purse.” She laughed nervously. “So… you still want to… do it?”
He nodded. “I… yeah! I mean… do you?”
“But I don’t want you to do this if you just… if you feel sorry for me.”
“That’s not why I’m here. That’s not why I want to do it. I want to do it. I really want to do it.” She took his hand. “With you.”
They walked up the stairs together. He took the steps slowly, like an old man, and when they reached the top, she heard him wheezing a little, as if he was winded.
His room was dim and smelled stale; two wastebaskets were overflowing with tissues, and there were bottles of pills on the bed and on the night stand.
“Sorry it’s so gross in here.”
“It’s not gross,” she said. “Can I open a window?”
“Yeah. I’ll pick up a little.”
“Don’t bother.” From outside, the sound of birds singing and the fragrance of a neighbor’s recently-mowed lawn. She turned to him, and pulled off her dress in one fluid motion.
He caught his breath at the sight of her perfect body in her pink satin bra and bikini underwear, and sat on the bed. “I might drop dead before we even start,” he said.
She sat next to him. “That’d be a good comedy bit.” Leaning close, she kissed him; a kiss that meant more to her than all of the other kisses with all of the other boys combined. When he took off his shirt and jeans, she saw that his body was thin and hairless, and his ribs stuck out like pictures she’d seen of people in concentration camps. He lay down and she settled next to him. His hands traveled up and down her legs, waist, and breasts. She waited while he figured out the clasp on her bra, and finally they were both naked.
“I hope I can do this,” he said.
She reached down and took his penis in her hand; it was small, but hard. “I think you‘re going to be great.”
And he was. He was gentle and loving; tender, anxious to please her, and with his fingers coaxed an orgasm—her first—before entering. He came almost immediately, then lay back, breathing hard.
“That was… that was unbelievable,” he said.
“I agree.” She curled around him, stroking his thin chest. “It was perfect. It was a perfect first time.”
He kissed her. “Thank you,” he said quietly.
After she left, he sat and cried. Because now he knew; he knew what he was going to miss.
“Battle of the Bands?” Lisbeth asked. “I thought only high schools did that.”
“Music schools do, too,” Kevin said. “And I think Chicken Slax should enter. It’s in two weeks.”
“We actually already entered,” Simon admitted. “It’s sort of a done deal.”
“I’m totally game!” Lisbeth said. “How many songs do we get to play?”
“Two. Let’s choose the two we do best, and practice the shit out of them. ‘So… covers or originals?”
“I think we should do covers,” Lisbeth answered right away. “That way if kids already know the song, they only have one decision to make—whether or not we do a good job with it. If it’s an original, they also have to decide if they like it.”
Simon and Kevin pondered it; nodded. “Okay. Let’s do something classic, and something current.”
For an hour they talked about it. Calls were dispatched to Allie and Mandy at home, then Jules at her school, then Tim. Narrowing down their choice, they called Jules again, and decided: “You Won’t See Me,” by the Beatles, and “Do You Believe in Love” by Huey Lewis & The News. And for the next two weeks they not only rehearsed the music, but the choreography, band member dynamics (laughing and looking like they were effortlessly having a great time), and costumes. Simon and Kevin opted to wear jeans, sneakers, white oxford shirts, and blazers with the sleeves pushed up. Lisbeth teased her hair high, tied it up with a wide, lacy ribbon. She wore a short pink denim skirt, white tank top, jeans jacket, black tights, and bright blue boots; dangly earrings and a bunch of necklaces. Extra makeup.
“You look fantastic,” Kevin said, admiringly. “You should dress like this for every gig.”
She grinned. “Maybe I will. You guys look awesome, too.”
Simon tuned his guitar. “Let’s hope we play as good as we look.”
And they did. They were by no means the best musicians there, but the crowd reacted to the songs they chose just like Lisbeth predicted. Two of the other entrants were soloists who were both brilliantly talented; but there was no connection with the audience. Kevin and Simon were adorably hyper, and Lisbeth bopped around behind her keyboards. It was no surprise to anyone that they were the winners.
“Wait’ll Jules sees our trophy!” Simon laughed, holding it up. Meanwhile, kids were streaming past, congratulating them. Then a voice said, “Hi, Kevvie. Remember me?”
Kevin froze; then turned slowly and saw the drunk girl from the party. He couldn’t bring himself to look at Lisbeth as he swiftly negotiated his options: pretend not to remember the girl, but risk her reminding him in front of Lisbeth what happened… or agree that he remembered, and then have to explain to Lisbeth how… shit shit shit. And naturally the girl (whose name he couldn’t remember… had he even been told her name?) was wearing a tight, low-cut tank top that showed off about three inches of cleavage. “Hi,” he finally said. “How’s it going?”
She laughed and turned to Lisbeth. “Hi,” she said. “Are you a friend of the band’s?”
Lisbeth did a double take. “A friend… ?”
“She’s the keyboardist for the band,” Simon put in, his voice snotty. “Are you still drunk? Or drunk again?”
Her turn to be startled. “What? No, I just didn’t notice her there.” Now she grinned. “Too busy looking at the drummer, I guess.”
“This is Kevin’s girlfriend,” Simon added.
“Girlfriend? Huh.” The drunk girl shrugged. “He sure seemed… single… a couple of weeks ago.”
Lisbeth turned to Kevin. “What does she mean?”
“She was drunk,” Kevin said.
“So were you,” the cleavage girl said. “And you were−”
“She was drunk and she was all over Kevin.” Simon knew he wasn’t helping, but he just couldn’t come up with anything that would fix this; make her go away, let them all go back in time and have it not have happened.
She laughed a snort of disbelief. “He wasn’t exactly pushing me away!”
“Shut up.” Simon grabbed Kevin and Lisbeth and dragged them down the hall. When the three of them got to a quiet place where they could talk, he stood and waited.
Lisbeth was staring at Kevin, waiting for him to explain. “That girl was all over you?”
“She was drunk,” Kevin said again.
“She said you didn’t push her away.”
“I was drunk too, but I didn’t… I mean, I don’t really remember… ”
“Did she kiss you?”
“She kind of… tried. I don’t really remember…”
“Did you kiss her back?”
Kevin made the mistake of glancing at Simon, and right away, knew it was the worst thing he could have done.
“No! Simon, tell her.”
“That girl was really drunk and she was, like, all over Kevin, and then she kissed… she tried to kiss him. But he… they didn’t… ”
It was too much verbal stumbling, and Lisbeth wasn’t an idiot. “You were drunk and you kissed her,” she said, in a daze. “A few weeks ago…” her expression changed. “That weekend you didn’t come home?”
Kevin nodded miserably. “I didn’t tell you because it was nothing. I didn’t even remember it by the next day. I was drunk…”
“How convenient! She was drunk, you were drunk! So I guess it’s okay!”
“It’s not okay! I mean, I didn’t kiss her!” Again, he beseeched Simon. “Tell her!”
“Lisbeth, it’s… just something that happens at college… kids get drunk and… ” No, no good! “She was drunk and she tried to kiss him, and he stopped her.”
Emboldened, Kevin said, “I pushed her away.”
“Uh huh… so if you pushed her away, how come she said you…” Lisbeth punctuated her words with angry fingers to indicate quote marks, “seemed single?”
“She was pissed that I pushed her away, and she was trying to get me in trouble with you. Come on, Lissie. Don’t make a big deal outa this.”
“You saw how she pretended not to even know you were in the band,” Simon put in. “She was mad when he pushed her away, and she was trying to get back at him.”
Together, he and Kevin nodded. But they overdid the earnestness, and Lisbeth could see it was fake.
“Please tell me where there’s a phone so I can call a cab to take me home.”
“What? No! You’re not calling a cab!”
“Yes, I am, or I’m calling home to have Mom pick me up. Or Mandy! Or Tim!” Lisbeth broke down and started to cry. “I can’t believe you did this! You kissed that girl!”
“Lisbeth… honey…” Kevin reached for her but she pulled away.
“Don’t touch me! You let me apologize to you! You got drunk and kissed another girl, and then when I said I was sorry, you said it was okay!” She turned to Simon. “And you’re lying, too, Simon! I can’t believe this!”
“Lissie, no!” Simon took her hand and held tight. “Please don’t be mad… Kevin loves you, he wouldn’t do anything to hurt you. Please.”
But she just bowed her head and cried and cried, swiping Kevin away each time he tried to get close.
“Listen… Mom’s probably already in bed, and Mandy and Tim are probably out. Let me drive you home,” Simon pleaded.
“No, I’m taking a cab. I can’t stand to look at either one of you.”
“You are not taking a cab,” Kevin said.
Now she fixed her gaze on him. “You can’t tell me what to do, Kevin.” To Simon she said quietly, “Okay. Please take me home. But I don’t want to talk to you.”
He nodded. “Okay.” Handing Kevin the trophy, he said, “Let’s go.”
The ride home was silent, with Lisbeth staring out the window the whole time, and when Simon dropped her off at home, she got out without even thanking him.
“No, we didn’t talk,” Simon reported to Kevin a few hours later. “She’s really pissed. Give her a few days, let her cool off. Then maybe give her a call.”
Meanwhile, Lisbeth confided in a furious Allie, cried some more, then got into bed and planned what she would say when Kevin called the next day to apologize.
When he didn’t, she was devastated. A few times, when no one saw, she picked up the phone to make sure there was a dial tone; and every time it rang and wasn’t him, disappointment brought a pain in her chest that felt like a heart attack. A day went by, then two then three.
“Why isn’t he calling?” she asked Allie. “He doesn’t care about me at all or else he’d call!”
“I don’t know,” Allie answered grimly. She’d called Simon the very next day to chew him out and find out why Kevin wasn’t calling, but a constant busy signal told her he’d left the phone off the hook. That big coward, she fumed. He knows I’m mad.
As for Kevin, he’d reluctantly taken Simon’s advice to not call Lisbeth right away, and as the days went by, shame was replaced by something else: he felt resentful—resentful that having a girlfriend meant he wasn’t allowed to flirt or even look at other girls, like, ever again. Kissing the drunk girl… man, Lisbeth’s anger had been so over the top! If he found out that she kissed a guy—and he didn’t even really kiss the drunk girl, she kissed him—but anyway, if he found out that Lisbeth had gotten drunk and let a guy kiss her, he’d just laugh about it. He’d know it meant nothing, he’d know it had nothing to do with him.
“I’m fucking nineteen years old,” he complained to Simon. “So what, this is it? I’m all done with girls except for Lisbeth?”
“I don’t know,” Simon answered carefully. “But you’ve had a lot of girls in the past, and it feels like Lisbeth is perfect for you, and you’re really lucky…”
“I’m in college! And I’m a musician! I’m a drummer!”
Simon frowned. “So you want to just sleep around?”
“I’m too young to settle down, man. I’m fucking nineteen.”
“You’re fucking stupid. I’d give up ten years of my life to have a girl like Lisbeth.”
“Yeah, don’t you mean Jules?” Kevin smirked and took a swig of beer.
“Come on, man. You’ve been crazy about her since I’ve known you. How come you haven’t ever told her?”
Simon reached into Kevin’s cooler and took out a beer for himself; cracked it open. “I sort of did. But she only thinks of me as a friend. And she’s got this guy at school.” He guzzled half the can, hoping to get drunk, too.