26. In Love With Spring: My Novel Online
Updated: Feb 3
“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. Plus, I’m not a model.” 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. And 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 lacy, 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.”
“You can’t understand, because you’re normal. But sometimes people make comments, and they have no idea how much it hurts. For instance, at the beginning of freshman year we had to get measured for our gym uniforms, Miss Taylor, the gym teacher, puts the measuring tape around my chest and screams out ‘Twenty-six!’ And the girl taking notes was like, ‘Twenty-six, are you sure?’ and everyone laughed. I thought I would die.”
“Oh, that’s mean.”
“It seems so unfair. Having cancer and losing my hair wasn’t bad enough? I feel like God is punishing me for something.”
“Lissie, I’m sure He’s not.”
“Maybe I’ll go on the Pill. I’ve heard the hormones make you get a little bigger.”
“You’re not married! How are you going to find a doctor to write you a prescription?”
“Maybe I can ask Mom to go with me and give the doctor permission or something.”
“It seems like a really big step. And won’t it make it harder to get pregnant down the road when you want to?”
“I’m sure I have enough poison in me from the chemo that I’ll never get pregnant. A few times Kevin forgot to bring condoms and we did it anyway. So I probably can’t get—”
“Lissie! You can’t take chances like that!”
“Oh Allie, don’t worry. I’ve started keeping a few in my purse. Just in case.”
Allie nodded. “That sounds like a good idea.”
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, he opened the door.
“I didn’t expect…what are you doing here?”
She hoped he didn’t notice the dismay 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?”
“But I don’t want you to do this if you just…if you feel sorry for me.”
“That’s not why. I 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 nightstand.
“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, and sat on the bed. “I might drop dead before we even start.”
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 able to.”
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.
She curled around him, stroking his thin chest. “It was perfect. It was a perfect first time.”
He kissed her. Then he started to cry. "It was a perfect last time," he said quietly.
“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. “Okay,” Kevin said. “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 sound as good as we look.”
They were the fifth act, and 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 held it up. Meanwhile, kids were streaming past, congratulating them. Then a voice said, “Hi, Kevvie. Remember me?”
Lisbeth turned and saw a girl wearing a tight, low-cut tank top that showed off about three inches of cleavage; she forced herself not to stare and turned questioningly to Kevin.
Kevin said, “Oh, hi,” and at the same time Simon muttered, “Shit.”
Lisbeth looked at Simon, then back at cleavage girl. “Hi,” she said.
Cleavage girl said, “Hi. Are you a friend of Kevvie?”
“She’s in the fucking band.” Simon shook his head. “Are you still drunk? Or drunk again?”
“Stone cold sober. Just didn’t notice her there.” Cleavage girl giggled. “Too busy looking at the drummer, I guess.”
“This is Kevin’s girlfriend.”
“Girlfriend? Boy oh boy, 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,” cleavage girl said. “And you were—”
“She was drunk, and she was all over Kevin.” Simon tugged on Kevin’s arm. “Come on, let’s go.”
But cleavage girl laughed a snort of disbelief. “He wasn’t exactly pushing me away!”
“Shut up.” Simon tightened his grip on Kevin’s arm, and dragged him down the hall, with Lisbeth following.
When the three of them got to a quiet place where they could talk, Lisbeth said, “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?” When Kevin hesitated and glanced at Simon, Lisbeth felt her stomach drop sickeningly. “Did you?”
“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…that weekend you didn’t come home?”
“Lissie, 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…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…” 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 reached for her hand. “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.
“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.”
“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 thanking him.
A few hours later Simon reported, “She’s really pissed. I’ve never seen her like this.”
Meanwhile, Lisbeth confided in a furious Allie, cried for a while, then got into bed and planned what she would say when Kevin called the next day to apologize.
But he didn’t call. Four times she picked up the phone to make sure there was a dial tone, and there was. Whenever it rang and wasn’t him, disappointment brought a pain in her chest that felt like a heart attack. A day went by, then another, and another.
“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.”
“Should I call him?”
“Can you call Simon and ask him why Kevin hasn’t called?”
Allie sighed. “Lissie, I did. I called him right away, and a hundred times since. All I get is a busy signal.”
“Meaning he’s left his phone off the hook.”
Allie nodded. “That coward. I am going to give him such a piece of my mind…!”
Kevin told Simon he’d made the decision to give Lisbeth “time to cool off” but 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.
“So what, this is it?” he asked Simon. “I’m all done with girls except for Lisbeth?”
“I don’t know,” Simon answered. “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!”
“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 Allie told me she’s got a boyfriend at school.” He guzzled half the can, wouldn't mind getting drunk.