Someone To Love
“I’m grabbing a snack and then we gotta get ready,” Antonia says, walking through the entryway toward the kitchen. “You want anything?”
“That’s okay,” I say. “I’m not hungry. I’ll meet you upstairs.”
Leaving her in the kitchen, I walk up the stairs to her bedroom and plop down on Antonia’s bed, trying to figure out a plan to talk to Zach tonight without seeming awkward and obvious. Her bedroom is super bohemian. The shelves are filled with knickknacks from her mother’s tours around the world. The room is also cluttered with different musical instruments—guitars, conga drums, a balalaika—that she plays. Multicolored batik rugs cover the ground, which is nearly impossible to see because Antonia’s clothes are everywhere.
I daydream about the possibility of meeting LeFeber. It’s not only his art that I admire. It’s his life. His mother was an alcoholic who abandoned the family when he was a baby, and when he was sixteen, his father disowned him for being openly gay. The article said that when he lived in New York during the ’80s, LeFeber was practically homeless, trying to scrounge up enough money for materials and find places that would host his installations. I want to ask him how he found so much courage to pursue his dream. I want to ask him how he found so much courage to believe in himself for so long.
When she returns, Antonia shoves a plate of reheated black beans and red rice at me. Even though she’s trying to be nice, I give her some side-eye.
Right away, I feel like a total jerk—why can’t I just be normal about food for once? Why can I barely stand to eat in front of my best friend?
“Seriously not trying to be a nag,” she says, “but you should eat something. Especially since we’re gonna be drinking.”
She’s right. I can handle a few bites.
“Fine,” I say, taking the plate and a fork from her.
I pick at the rice and beans, eating a few bites to make her happy, while Antonia digs through her closet, looking for something for us to wear to the boat party.
I’m glad she’s going with me. I would have been nervous going alone. I don’t even know how I would have gotten there.
My phone buzzes.
“Oh crap,” I say, not even realizing I’m thinking aloud. I totally forgot that I’d made plans with Sam to go see a movie tonight. We’re supposed to be there in an hour.
“What’s up, BB?” Antonia asks, throwing a random pink shirt over her shoulder onto a pile of clothes and shoes behind her.
“Sam’s going to kill me.”
My phone buzzes again and I pick it up.
Yep. Just like I thought. He’s already texted two or three times.
“I promised him I’d hang out tonight,” I say. “He’s supposed to be picking me up from my house soon.”
“Okay, so? Invite him over,” she says. “It’s not like they’ll mind one more person at the boat party. Everyone’ll probably be so trashed that they won’t remember anyway.”
“I don’t think it’s going to be that kind of party...”
I really do love Sam as a friend, but hanging out with all three of us means that there’s a totally different dynamic. I can be open with him about my feelings for the most part, but I don’t want him to think I’m shallow for wanting to hang with Zach’s crowd.
Antonia finally settles on a yellow dress, which she begins to pull on over her lean, muscular shoulders. “Of course it is. Why wouldn’t it be?”
“I thought it might be classy. Since it’s on a yacht?”
“Why are you being weird? Do you not want him to go or something?” Antonia asks.
Before I can answer, she slaps herself on the forehead. “Oh. I get it. Duh. You want to hook up with someone, and you don’t want Sam around being all big-brotherly.”
“Shut up,” I say, feeling my cheeks flush. “I just want to hang out with you!”
Antonia smirks to show me she knows I’m bluffing.
She’s right. Sort of. Sam and I have been close enough at times during our friendship to be mistaken for siblings, but that feeling has been shifting this last year. It’s like we’re almost becoming more mysterious to each other as each of us gets older. I don’t know what I feel about Sam.
She throws a tiny piece of black fabric at me. “Try that on.” The dress looks way too small, but I’m not about to argue with her. Handing the mostly full plate of beans and rice to Antonia, I get up and walk toward her bathroom. I can’t change in front of other people. Not even her.
“You’re so modest!” Antonia complains. “It’s just me!”
“What should I tell Sam?” I ask.
“You could be honest,” Antonia says, shoveling the food into her mouth with my fork. “Or you could just tell him that you want to hang out with me. Tell him you didn’t know I’d be back. That’s not lying.”
I pull on the strapless dress. It barely covers the necessary parts. I keep fidgeting with the top, pulling it up to make sure my chest won’t pop out from just breathing. The dress squeezes my ribs like a corset, punishing me for not being small enough.
“I don’t know...” I say, not knowing whether I’m talking about the dress or how I’m going to back out of my plans with Sam. Even though Jackson didn’t invite him to the party, I could invite Sam anyway. Except I definitely don’t want Sam anywhere near when I’m trying to talk to Zach. I can’t entertain him when I’m looking for LeFeber either. I need to step out on my own. And I really do want some girls-only time with Antonia too.
“Come on out,” Antonia says, pushing the bathroom door open. She lets out a deep whistle. “When did my lil homie become a grown ass woman? Jackson is gonna be so into this.”
I blush. It’s hard for me to see why Antonia thinks I’m so beautiful, especially compared to her, but I’m flattered anyway. She does have pretty good taste, after all.
“I’m not going for him,” I try to explain. “Not exactly.”
Antonia squeezes by and starts rummaging through her bathroom drawers for makeup. “No? Then who...? It’s Zach, isn’t it?”
Am I really that obvious?
“It’s more than that,” I say, only partially bluffing.
“Right,” she says, raising an eyebrow while twisting open her mascara. “Like I don’t know you’ve been in love with him for the past two years?”
“Actually, I’ll have you know that an artist I really admire is supposed to be there.”
“Going for the older men now?” Antonia asks.
I laugh. “Yeah, right. I guess one of the producers of Zach’s show invited him. He’s supposed to be in town doing a gallery show. I really want to meet him.”
My phone buzzes again. And again.
“You better answer him,” Antonia says. “He’ll start thinking something’s wrong.”
“Do you think Sam knows?” I ask. “About Zach?”
My skin flushes with warmth thinking about the possibility of his fingers intertwined with mine. I lean on the counter, waiting for her to tell me what I don’t want to hear. One thing about Antonia is that you can always count on her to give it to you straight.
“Honestly...” Antonia stares at herself close-up in the mirror as she applies mascara to her eyelashes. “I don’t think he wants to see it. But I think he also knows more than he lets on too.”
“Meaning...?” I ask, pulling up the texts on my phone.