Someone To Love
Antonia goes for the subtle punch line even though I’m pinching her. “So, their heads grow back when they’re chopped off.”
“That’s gross.” Felicity doesn’t get the mocking humor. She turns to me. “I heard you’re into art.” How does she know this about me? Did Zach talk to her about our conversation on the boat? Why would she bring that up in front of Cristina?
“I’m thinking about going to art school after graduation.”
“That’s cool,” Felicity says, but she’s not really listening. “You must have heard about the opening of LeFeber’s new show in Laguna Beach?”
I squint at her in disbelief. She obviously wants to show off.
“Wasn’t he supposed to be at that party in Marina del Rey last week?” I ask, not wanting to get my hopes up again even though I still can’t get the thought of meeting LeFeber out of my head. It’s too bad that my only shot is probably going to be through Felicity, especially since she’s Cristina’s best friend.
“How am I supposed to know? Something came up, I guess,” she says like it’s no big deal. “His show is exclusive and it’s totally impossible to get on the list.”
“I saw the preview of one of his new pieces in ArtNews,” I say. “He’s one of my favorite living artists.”
I try to talk about how LeFeber tries to make his installations participatory—he doesn’t want people to just look at his art; he wants his audience to explore and interact with the installations—but Felicity interrupts me.
“Does he?” Felicity says. “Maybe we can bring you back an autograph. I’ll try to remember when my parents and I are having dinner with him before the show.”
Is she trying to make me jealous? Does she want me to beg for an invitation? Not going to happen. I really want to go, but I don’t want to owe her or Cristina anything.
“Exciting,” Cristina says, turning to me. “How’s your stomach?”
My muscles begin to tighten as anger rushes through my body. I want to say How’s your nose? But I hold my tongue. I get her point. She wants me to stay away from her man, and also to not do anything to threaten her.
So I just say, “Fine. It’s fine,” as Cristina and her friends walk away from us.
Antonia snickers in my ear. “The Hydra doesn’t even know I was making fun of their multiple snake heads.”
“Yeah.” That’s about all I can manage. I want to go to this LeFeber show. I have to find a way to get in, and Antonia probably isn’t going to be able to help this time. These girls have no idea how much his work means to me. LeFeber’s a brand name to them. When I look at his art, I get this feeling that he knows some deep secret about me though we’ve never met. It kills me to be so close and that I have to basically go through my crush’s ex—who obviously hates me—to meet him.
Antonia is disturbed by my response. “Why didn’t you stand up for yourself? Do you want to be friends with those snake heads? Don’t tell me it’s because of LeFeber.”
“I don’t know. It’s nothing,” I say, opening the door to the building. It’s getting close to the end of the passing period and the hallway is almost empty. My stomach churns. I shouldn’t have eaten so much this morning. The fat is making me feel sick. My energy is crashing from all the sugar in the iced coffee. The uncomfortable fullness nags at my mind. I feel like purging everything from my body to feel normal, but I fight it off.
“Doesn’t seem like nothing,” she says.
“Just drop it,” I say. “It’s not worth fighting over.”
“I need you to do something for me,” Antonia says, changing the subject. “It’s a date. You’d just have to come with me.”
“Um, no,” I say, not wanting to be a third wheel.
“Don’t say no yet—you haven’t even heard me out. It’s not a big deal.”
My stomach is in knots from the conversation with Felicity and seeing Jackson, but Antonia is my friend. She helped me get invited to the yacht party. I owe her a big one.
“Okay, what?” I ask.
“Don’t act so hurt. Geez...”
“I’m sorry,” I say. “My mind is just on other things.”
She smiles. “There’s one catch though.”
“See? I knew something was up.”
“I’m going out with a girl,” Antonia says. “Heather. Obviously.”
A boy from our class hurries down the hallway to the room, nodding at us as he passes. Antonia pulls me toward the wall and begins to whisper. “Look, I want to go out with Heather. Remember I told you about her? The girl from the track team?”
“Don’t get me wrong, Antonia. I’m totally cool with you going out with a girl. But I still don’t want to be your third wheel. It’ll be so awkward.”
“I want to make her feel more comfortable.”
“If she doesn’t want to go on a solo date, why can’t we just have a kick back or something? We could hang out at my house. Or yours.”
“It’s not the same. We need to go out together. I want her to feel accepted. She hasn’t told anyone she’s gay. I just think she’s going to feel more comfortable going out as like a group of friends. It’ll lessen the pressure.”
“I still don’t see how my going makes sense,” I say. “I don’t want to get in the way of your romance.”
“Well...” Antonia hesitates. “There’s something else. My cousin Mika is coming into town that weekend and my parents said I had to take her out to do something, but that happens to be the night I agreed to go with Heather. I can’t get around it.”
“So...” I cross my arms, waiting to hear the rest of Antonia’s story. I knew there was going to be more to her story. She always withholds information.
“She’s a little weird. Chatty. And I don’t want her to totally take over the date. I need someone to entertain her,” she says, looking up at me with pleading eyes.
The bell rings. I don’t want to be late for class.
“When’s the date?” I ask.
“End of next week,” Antonia says. “Plenty of time to think about it...”
“All right,” I say.
“All right?” She seems shocked I’ve already made up my mind.
“If it’s all about making your date feel accepted, then I guess that’s a good thing.”
“Exactly.” Antonia grabs my shoulder. “What could be wrong with that? I know of an all-ages place we can chill. Lots of people. Bands. Just hang out.”
I guess it’s also a good way to avoid Mason and the rest of my family for at least part of the weekend. Mika can’t be that bad. I’ll just have to make small talk.
“Yeah,” I say. “Sounds like a blast.”
n i n e (#u1995046c-ced6-510f-bc7e-f1466276fb70)
“A dysfunctional family is any family with more than one person in it.”