Avatar of Fabricant451


Recent Statuses

2 mos ago
Current Jenny Nicholson's four hour takedown of the failed Star Wars hotel is the most entertaining thing Disney Star Wars has provided in seven years
2 mos ago
Train isn't a real band, it exists just to be played softly in clothing stores or the few malls that still exist in America. You can't convince me otherwise. RIP to the bassist though.
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2 mos ago
Discord really did ruin everything, now people can't even air their grievances publicly like the good lord intended
2 mos ago
Someone grab the lid before the worms escape the can.
2 mos ago
The real status bar drama are the friends we made along the way.


Look, I got lost on the way to getting some jajangmyeon and it'd be foolish to leave now.

Most Recent Posts

Putting LOST back on Netflix just reminds me that LOST is the greatest show ever
The First Descendant fucking sucks and that's before getting to the bullshit bad monetization the game has. It's like Warframe or Destiny 2 but for people who think paying 50 dollars to look at virtual ass is a peak gaming experience
TIMESTAMP: During the Game (halftime)
Andrew & Amy
@Hey Im Jordan & @Fabricant451
Small FT: Minnie @LovelyComplex



Andrew Green was finding it easier and easier to relax. First with the help of his brother before breakfast, and now with the help of his father, Andy was as high as a kite. Of course, he had to dismiss himself from the group of boys in the basement, but he didn’t even know it was possible to be this chilled out. Laid up on his bed, he scrolled through YouTube shorts on his phone… he was halfway through a particularly good one about how to make a fancy garlic bread grilled cheese, and grabbing the link to send it to the chef to see if he could get something like that for a snack, when he saw the notification icon in the corner of the screen.

Those were texts from Amy… The extremely attractive femme fatale who had cornered him in the music room that morning. Andy had been intimidated, scared, and felt an overwhelming attraction he’d never experienced in his entire life. Infatuation, it was called. Andy had genuinely liked that feeling, and he wanted to see her more, but…

He hadn’t opened the texts since he’d gotten them earlier that day. He’d first seen them pop up during their breakfast at the Sunshine Diner. And it made him so anxious! He hadn’t even opened it yet. He was scared to see what she said, and even more scared to leave her on read. But right then and there, in that moment? Maybe… no, no maybe. It was definitely the weed, but Andy found it in him to open the texts… and see what the devil had in store for him.

To: My Little Rockstar
I know you’ve been thinking about me. Ditch your orbiter of a brother and keep me company.

The second text was sent shortly after lunch, before the pep rally, and it hadn’t been sent with a knowing smirk and a licking of the lips like the first one had; this one was sent with the upward turned lips of someone who was annoyed and considering moving on to the next hapless victim.

To: My Little Rockstar
Don’t ever make me tell you again. Keep. Me. Company.

When Andy Green finally read the text messages, it felt like he was reading his own death sentence. It was so much later than when she’d sent them, if he replied now was she even going to message him back? Would anyone blame him if she didn’t? Andy was so new to this, he wasn’t sure what to do - truth be told, he wasn’t even sure how much Amy liked him. So, he sat up and locked in. Maybe honesty could help him out here.

To: Your Addiction
Uh, sorry. I know I’m late.
We went to breakfast and Ethan made me get high for the first time and I’ve just been zoning out in my bedroom

Everything with this kid was going to be a first, wasn’t it? From the other side of the screen, Andy could likely imagine the eyeroll that Amy Kwon was giving as she read his late response. As far as excuses went, ‘my brother made me get high’ was up there with the dog and the homework. Amy didn’t appreciate being ignored in favor of Ethan Green of all people; it was Ethan who interrupted them in the music room, it was Ethan who needed to mind his own business, and it was Ethan who still backed down and invited Amy to the party anyway. She could handle Ethan Green, but she didn’t want to bother. A guy like that would be his own undoing eventually - all fuckboys wound up in the garbage out back before long, but this was twice now he got in the way of Amy’s satisfaction.

There would not be a third.

To: My Little Rockstar
Don’t tell me you’re sorry. Show me. Prove it.

For most of his life, Andrew Green had never really had anyone talk back to him. His parents loved and spoiled him, his grandmother told him what to do, but he had never experienced someone denying an apology, let alone demanding his attention like this. Is this what it was like for Ethan? Were his girlfriends this demanding? Amy wasn’t even Andy’s girlfriend - he was pretty sure anyway - but she was still acting like he should be waiting on her every whim.

As Andy typed on the phone, he wondered if Amy was staring at the screen and watching as he started and stopped over again. He decided there was almost no way she was, as someone like Amy Kwon was probably texting several boys.

He thought about it.

Probably several girls too.

To: Your Addiction
Uh, okay. How?

That didn’t seem strong enough. He deleted it and tried again.

To: Your Addiction
How do you want me to do that?

He thought about it harder this time. This was better! But it made him feel like he was just going to end up being bossed around by Amy too. Did he want that? He deleted it again. Andy needed to be careful, this was the first time in a long time that he was being thrown into the deep end on his own, and it was his time to see if he could sink or swim.

To: Your Addiction
Is it going to be worth it?

Satisfied, he hit send.

There was only a brief moment between Andy sending the message and getting a response. Amy could have made him wait an agonizingly long time, but letting the food cook too long was a good way to have it burnt and inedible. She had seen the three dots appear and disappear and reappear three times before getting the response, which curled those devilish lips into a smirk; had she a spaded tail it would be coiled and swaying in giddy delight. How easy it was to have this little toy at her beck and call with just words typed on a screen. Amy wondered if she told him to buy her some flowers if he would go through with it. But she wasn’t interested in flowers. Flowers wilted and died around her and she was more like a cactus anyway: Prickly, but oh so sweet on the inside. The question is knowing what was inside the pricklethorns, would you take a bite?

To: My Little Rockstar
Nothing in your life is worth more than me. But my statement wasn’t something that demanded a question. I’m starting to think you’re not really sorry, Andrew. I’m starting to think my time would be better spent elsewhere. You wouldn’t want that, would you?

Send. Stay. Smirk.

Andy was out of his element. Why did Amy even want to talk to him so much? He hadn’t done anything interesting or notable throughout his entire high school career, other than have his last name. He wasn’t particularly handsome, at least not compared to some of the guys around school, and he certainly wasn’t very interesting. Did he deserve all the attention he was receiving from Amy? How had she even turned her gaze onto him? He stared at the phone, reading the response she’d sent over and over again. What did Amy want him to say?

To: Your Addiction
No, of course I wouldn’t.

Andy’s thumb hovered over the ‘send’ button before he ultimately held backspace instead. Amy probably didn’t want him to just say what she wanted to hear, whoever wanted that? People wanted you to say what you wanted to say, what you felt. Andy knew that from music.

To: Your Addiction
Would you?

He nodded to himself as he grinned at the response. Simple, and to the point. Flirting was easy. He tapped the send button.

The little Green was making this considerably less enjoyable. Had he never talked to a woman before? Amy’s smile promptly gave way to a scowl as the wait was about as worth it as a colonic irrigation. She hadn’t asked him a rhetorical question or something that warranted such an inquisitive response and for the grand crime of annoying her, Amy made Andy wait for her response. Seconds. Minutes. Let him stew. Let him learn from this.

To: My Little Rockstar
You are boring me, Little Green. I asked you a question.


Andy stared at the phone for a few seconds. He didn’t have a lot of experience flirting, and he immediately felt like he’d made the wrong move. What was he supposed to do? Just say whatever she wanted? What about what he wanted? The path of least resistance was clear though, and Andy had to decide if he wanted to get in Amy’s good graces, or if he wanted to keep throwing himself at this whole flirting thing.

To: Your Addiction
Can we meet at the game? I do better face-to-face.

That was pretty much, essentially, a boldfaced lie, but Andy wasn’t sure what else to do. Maybe if they were in person, she’d at least be in a better mood, or at least not ‘bored.’ Was there anything sadder to hear a girl say? Andy stared at his phone, and could actively feel whatever remnants of a high he had actively dissipating. If his father or brother could see this conversation, they’d both be massively disappointed in him.. he sighed as he realized he was disappointed with himself.

Even so, Andy pressed send.

Amy had no desire to watch a football game, especially not a homecoming game where all the alumni and old sorts who care way too much about high school sports but she had even less desire to simply spend the evening idle and bored out of her mind. Perhaps there was entertainment to be had tonight though if the text chain was any indication the only thing waiting for her at the game was disappointment. Though with a face-to-face meeting in a public setting it was likely that Ethan wouldn’t be around to interrupt, which meant Amy’s claws could sink further into Andy’s supple, malleable flesh. And that was certainly an enticing thought.

To: My Little Rockstar
Fine. You can buy me a funnel cake.

Andy was cooked.

Even before he’d gotten a driver to take him to the game (he was way too high to be driving himself around), Andy knew he was cooked. He’d realized it right around when he’d gotten another message from Amy. At first hesitant to open it (Andy wasn’t sure he enjoyed her attitude when she double texted), he only opened it when he was in the car and had realized it was an image.

And looking at it had just made him feel even more fucked! Who sent a boy a picture of their thighs!? It didn’t help that the stupid messages app had an indicator saying that he had in fact opened the message and tapped it. What was he even supposed to say? To do?! A picture of his thighs in return? He’d look like a moron, especially since he was still in the car.

To: Your Addiction
You’re way too hot for me

Andy sent the message, though he didn’t expect a response back from Amy. Absently, Andy tapped her contact information and changed the name.

Your Addiction → Amy

He couldn’t believe he’d left it that long! She’d added it into his phone herself earlier that day. He stared at the phone and thought about it for a little while. Did he like it? Did she like it? Did it even matter? This was way too hard, how did Ethan do this with so many girls!? He tapped the name again.

Amy → My Addiction (Amy)

He’d just have to make sure he had a cute name in her phone as well. He looked up, and realized the car had arrived at the game. He got out and when the driver asked how long he’d be, Andy shrugged. “It’s my first date? I don’t know how long these things take. Like, ever.”

When the driver nodded in recognition, Andy slipped out of the car and made his way over to the Snack Shack, purchased a funnel cake (with powdered sugar), and then triumphantly pulled out his phone. As far as he was concerned, this was going better than well!

To: My Addiction (Amy)
I just got your funnel cake from the snack shack. Where do you want to meet?

The thigh pic had one purpose: motivation. Amy wanted to remind Andy the kind of game he was playing now; this wasn’t chutes and ladders anymore and he wasn’t ordering from the kids menu. When Amy Kwon blessed your inbox with a picture of any kind, it meant you were at her beck and call. A thigh pic there, a collarbone pic here, sometimes an arm or, for the women, a pic of her jawline - her body was an arsenal and she knew how to use each weapon to the fullest potential. She didn’t need to send nudes or even full body bikini or risque photos; those were the tools of the amateur, the people who didn’t truly know how to handle their toys. If you just gave the tits for free, why would they bother working so hard for your benefit? When even the simplest picture of an arm got an unwanted dick pic in return, what was the point of going full on R rating?

Not that Andy had sent her something as crude as that. He was a good boy. At least until Amy was finished with him.

Amy was annoyed that she was at the football game of all places. As she looked at the cheerleaders on the sideline and the annoying pirate mascot currently dancing to raucous applause, Amy spit onto the grass. There was once a time where she was on the sidelines, smiling, doing a memorized routine, shouting cheesy rhymes while holding a pom pom; that was a lifetime ago, but the wound still felt fresh; still felt in danger of opening and drowning her in the loss of blood. She needed a distraction. She needed to be anywhere but here. She needed…the goddamn funnel cake. Bitter fingers tapped out a response to the series of messages sent to her as she turned her back on the game like she was avoiding the gaze from a gorgon.

To: My Little Rockstar
Behind the bleachers. Hurry up.

As Andy headed toward the bleachers with the funnel cake in hand, he wondered if he was going to get any of it. Was that something people did? Shared funnel cake? He thought about it as he walked, and by the time he was nearing the bleachers, he realized that Amy Kwon was not going to share anything. The chances of him getting a single bite of the sweet treat he’d purchased were basically slim to none… at least he got a thigh pic in his phone for his troubles. Was it okay to save it? He’d have to ask.

No, wait. He shouldn’t ask something like that, she’d probably laugh at him. He’d just have to leave it be and open their conversation if he wanted to look at it (or prove to his brother that it existed). He hadn’t thought about it, but as he approached their meeting spot, he realized that maybe it wasn’t the best idea to invite Amy here. She used to be a cheerleader, right?

Andy just kept that thought to himself, and instead approached the back turned Amy Kwon, and tapped her on the shoulder. “I didn’t know if you wanted strawberries or not… so I told them no.” Andy had no idea what he was doing.

Before the voice disarmed her, when the hand touched her shoulder, Amy coiled back like a snake ready to strike out at the threat walking past its territory. She was wound tight and if it hadn’t been Andy that spoke then it was possible she would have swung without consideration. It was this place. The fucking memories. Some of the bitches doing the routine still existed in her phone, in the group chats that she stubbornly refused to leave so they just moved to another one without her. She recognized some of her own moves in the routine. She saw herself in their place. Last homecoming she was there, smiling, screaming her lungs out, going for a post-game celebration and sleepover so they could collectively prepare for the dance. And here she was now, behind the bleachers, avoiding the dirt and crumbs falling through the cracks from stomped feet as attendees climbed up and down the steps.

But that resentment was shoved to the back of her mind, like a dirty room being shoved into a closet, when Andy revealed himself. The spotlight was on her and Amy couldn’t be the miserable ball of anger and hatred; she couldn’t let them see her sweat. And so Amy didn’t miss a beat in her devilish grin when she turned around, her fingers snaking along Andy’s arm in one swift motion, her lips stringing together the exact thing to get the desired reaction. “You should’ve said yes.” Her words gentle but laced with toxic whispers. Her breath hot as she leaned close to his ears, like she was speaking only for him and his funnel cake. “Strawberries are an aphrodisiac.” She could’ve made contact with him in that moment, could’ve sealed the deal with a bristling touch of skin on skin that would’ve made him wonder if he had just gotten kissed while also probably soiling his pants. But instead she just let him sit with her words and the way they slithered off her tongue, rolled through her lips, and tickled the centers of his brain that imagined what they could do with an aphrodisiac.

And then she pulled back. No longer whispering to his ear, but taking in the whole image of Andy like an artist observing their latest work. “This is the part where you feed me your…cake.”


Andy went through a rush of emotions, rapid firing through his brain faster than anyone should have ever been subject to. First? Fear. He was a little taken aback by the way it seemed like Amy might hit him (Andy had never been hit, and preferred to keep that streak going), and even recoiled slightly. He drew in breath without even noticing, but as Amy relaxed almost immediately to the sound of his voice, Andy felt the assault of the second emotion... Infatuation. Had it been his presence that had relaxed her so quickly? Maybe he helped her calm down, helped her relax and feel safe. The thought didn’t last long as Andy let out the breath he’d drawn in as Amy leaned into him.

The third emotion rushed through his mind as quickly as the blush rose in his face. The third emotion was lust, and it reverberated through him with every word she said. Her voice was so… velvety. Was velvety the right word? Jesus, he’d never had a woman this close to him before, and it made his breath hitch and his eyes go wide. He should have smoked more weed before coming here! He listened to her words carefully, and wondered if they could stay in that moment forever. It was good for both of them, wasn’t it? Deep down, Andy might have known that Amy was playing with her food. But at the surface? At the surface, he believed in that moment that he was special to her. He might have cried if he knew the truth.

When she pulled away, it almost pained him to watch her straighten up. In that moment, Andy very suddenly understood very clearly why his auntie and grandmother both loved strawberries so much. Amy wanted strawberries? Andy would grow them himself. When she was gazing at him, Andy was feeling more on display than he had in his entire life, and he’d performed in packed concert halls for his grandmother’s galas before.

“Can I kiss you?”

The final emotion, nervousness, poured over his body.

If Amy had any doubts about her effect on Andy, they were immediately dispelled from his question. It was cute how he asked, cute enough that Amy laughed. It wasn’t the demure laugh of a girl who heard something cute nor was it the painful laugh of a girl mocking someone for daring to speak to them; this was a laugh that, while sounding sweet, was actually quite sinister. Like the rattle of a snake in the grass. Perhaps if his brother were here, Andy would have proper defenses for such a laugh…but here behind the bleachers it was just the two of them. And a funnel cake. “One taste and you’ll want more, Little Green. Do you think you can handle that addiction.” Somehow, she didn’t phrase it like a question. It was a warning. A warning that no doubt fell on ears more inclined to listen for the word of approval and nothing else.

Amy traced a finger along Andy’s jaw, a gentle, deliberate touch that carved its path to his lips, where she pressed her finger against his lips like she was telling him to keep a secret before the finger traveled across the gap back in front of her own lips. Red. Her lips were red. The kind of lips that brought to mind the image of blood. Of a vampire just before their fangs broke skin. The kind of lips that were now pressed against Andy’s. A tight embrace. Warm. She was kissing him, that much was clear; she was in control of the force, the pressure, the fact that tongue was not involved. This was a heavy kiss but not a deep one; from his end it was an act of lust, on hers it was simply…economical. The kiss ended with Amy pushing Andy away in a playful shove while that damned, devilish grin lingered. There was a slight smearing of her lipstick on Andy’s upper lip and Amy drew the same finger that had touched both their lips around the corner of his mouth, wiping away the blemish of makeup. She wondered if that had been Andy’s first kiss.

She knew it wouldn’t be his last.

“Feed me.”

It was most certainly Andy’s first kiss, and his nerves were shot almost immediately as her lips pressed against his. Once she pulled away, Andy felt like he was shaking. Was it visible? Had he ever been this nervous? Even when he fell (jumped) into a tiger pit, he wasn’t this nervous. This girl was the exact kind of girl his mother had warned him about, but Alicia Green was nowhere to be found when he needed her most. Andy was almost willingly going to be Amy’s prey - he’d never had attention like this before, and he found himself liking it.

When she asked him to feed her, there was such a ringing in his ears that he almost had to ask her to repeat herself. Andy knew from experience with this woman though, that was a dangerous move to make. He knew what she wanted, he just needed a moment to breathe and remember what air tasted like. He didn’t know for sure yet, but he suspected the air tasted worse than Amy did. He looked at the funnel cake and at the woman who had asked — no, commanded. did she know it was rude? — him to feed her the funnel cake and he nodded. “Can we sit down somewhere?” He looked around. There was nowhere to sit. Was there a reason they were standing in what seemed to be… the bowels high school hell?

“I guess not. I wouldn’t ask you to sit on the dirt.” He was speaking aloud as he looked down at the funnel cake in his hands. “It doesn’t seem very romantic to feed you while we’re just standing here though…” Andy trailed off and found himself looking down at the plate of funnel cake. He’d never been on a date, and he hardly knew what to expect. But he did know that this? Wasn’t what he’d expected.

Why did boys always have to make things so complicated? She had given him the briefest taste of heaven and yet here he was so willing to cast himself out of the pearly gates all because of some silly idea about ‘romance’. Romance was nowhere on Amy’s mind; this wasn’t a date, this was seasoning up her meal before devouring it. “The cake is getting cold, Little Green.It was clear in the way she practically spat out the nickname: Amy’s thin patience was holding on by sinews.

Andy wasn’t sure about Amy. How could anyone be sure of someone who talked to them like that? One second, she was going out of her way to make sure that he felt good, and then the next she was speaking to him like he was trash. Like the self-respectless boy he was, Andy obediently cut some of the funnel cake with a fork and then held it up to her lips. Internally, his feelings debated. Was she really good for him? Was Ethan right? Andy had said he was prepared to figure out the answer to those questions on his own, but he was starting to think he might have accidentally dove into the deep end without learning how to swim.

He felt like a moron.

Things were so much easier when they did as they were told, when they were driven by their smaller head - the one they always claimed to be so much bigger than it was - and nowhere was this more proven than with how Amy’s grin turned into a put-upon smile as the piece of sugar-coated fried batter slid its way down her throat. “Well, that’s the second sweetest thing I’ve tasted all day.” The annoyance in her tone was gone. Amy sounded genuine, as sincere and sweet as the powdered sugar from the funnel cake; if the goal was to deceive Andy, to assuage his concerns, then she hoped she was doing an adequate job. But then, she was a little too good at slipping between states.

As if she wasn’t clear enough in her subtle flirtations, she tossed the kid a wink.

He may have felt like a moron, but it seemed she ultimately liked what he did. Andy wasn’t sure about this so far, this was a lot scarier than he thought it would be. Amy could hit him, yell at him, run away from him, kiss him, or take him then and there behind the bleachers seemingly at will. The only safe option to take was doing exactly what she said at any given moment. It was less than ideal, but there was something about the way she acted when he made her happy that made Andy keep coming back for more. When she winked at him, Andy felt confident he felt his heart skip a beat. He fed her another bite, but he was quiet, even for Andrew Green. Questions burned on the tip of his tongue, but he knew they were questions that would go unanswered, and questions that were likely to end the ‘good’ moment they were having.

He fed her another bite in silence, and then looked back out at the game, his ears drawn to the distant sound of music and cheers. This wasn’t the first time Andy had been present for a football game, but it was the first time he’d been present for one without Amy leading the cheer squad. Andrew thought about it, and then he decided to address the problem head on, even as a part of his brain screamed about the consequences.

“I liked watching you cheer. You’re good at it. Do you miss it?”

Andy carefully chose the words he used when he asked, and made sure he was holding a bite of funnel cake in front of Amy’s red lips to ease the pain. There were two scenarios he could think of: Amy could yell at him. Or, Amy could run away. Somehow, Andy knew already that he wouldn’t get an answer. And yet, that didn’t change the fact that he felt like he needed to know more about her. Anything more than ‘is hot’ and ‘can be mean.’ Andy wanted, so badly, to be able to defend Amy to everyone who told him she was evil, but if he was honest with himself… she wasn’t making it easy.

Leave it to a boy to ruin a perfectly good funnel cake feeding mood. Amy recoiled at the question, like she was offended to even hear the words leave his mouth, lip twisted upwards in disgust, eyebrows narrowed downwards as blinking eyes glared towards Andy. “Do I miss it?” The question repeated itself but from lips it sounded like the foulest sentence uttered by humans. Of course she didn’t miss it. What was there to miss? The long hours of practice, having to memorize routine after routine, going home with aches and pains and knowing that if a tumble went wrong then the next trip would be to the hospital? The way people treated her like a princess and showered her with praise and adoration just because she was a head cheerleader? How she could’ve won Prom Queen? How she thought she had friends, sisters and brothers bonded in the sorority of cheer? Laughing together? Sharing memories and comforting one another, gossiping about crushes and doing group projects together? Being able to walk down the halls and have waves and smiles and laughter instead of averted eyes, foul whispers, and hurried steps of avoidance? Going to bed early but staying up late because the group chat was so active and so full of laughter? Of course not. Cheerleading, popularity, it didn’t bring her anything but negativity. Fuck ‘em.

Fuck ‘em.

Fuck ‘em.



At least he was getting a handle on the way she reacted. Andy had been prepared for the glare and the tone. He was starting to get a handle on Amy, maybe even more than she knew. He couldn’t control her reactions, but he could control his own. And this time, Andy didn’t immediately shrink away from her when she turned the evil eye onto him. There was a small ember of pride burning in his chest as he stood his ground, even minutes ago he had frozen like a deer in the metaphorical headlights of Amy’s glare. He let her glare at him, but he seemed to be refusing to give her the satisfaction of fear. When she finally gave him a straight answer, Andy nodded. “I think I would.” He commented, though he wasn’t even sure if he cared. “I don’t think it’s fair. How everyone treats you, I mean.” He was playing with fire and he could feel it beginning to burn already. There was no way Amy would have a positive reaction to this conversation, Andy knew that. But Andy couldn’t help himself.

“I want to help you find out who did it. Is that okay?” Almost as a peace offering, Andy held out another bite of the funnel cake to Amy’s lips.

“What?” Amy snapped her question at Andy, as if the words he was saying were gibberish. This was a new thing for her, being caught off guard, on the backfoot; she had to take control back, had to steer the car back onto the road before this stupid naive boy stopped making it fun. Who cares who did it? She didn’t. She didn’t at all wonder who would do something or why and she definitely didn’t spend weeks after the nuke went off pouring through her message histories to see if she ever said something to someone that would warrant such a response. Of course, even if she had been a little rude or mean to someone, the response was like taking out an ant with plastic explosives. Amy Kwon certainly, definitely didn’t care about who fucked her life up. Someone doused the bridge with gas and Amy was playing with matches, what did it matter who gave her the fuel?

“Who gives a shit who did it? It’s done. You’re cuter when you’re not talking, Little Green.” Amy was trying to regain footing, to regain control, but her words lacked the edge that they had moments ago. Andy Green, loathe as she was to admit it, had gotten into her head.

“Well… I give a shit.” Andy said, as he realized Amy wasn’t going to eat the funnel cake he was holding out. He flipped the fork and bit the chunk off himself. He chewed thoughtfully, but at first didn’t reply. Andy could tell that the vibes were… different, he wasn’t sure if that was as bad of a thing as he originally thought. Maybe, if he kept it up, she’d be more willing to talk about it. Did she really want him to shut up? He couldn’t tell. “Sorry.” He apologized, it seemed like the right thing to do. Then, Andy kept talking. “I just think it’s messed up that happened to you. It’s weird more people aren’t on your side. I won’t try and look into it if you don’t want me to.” Andy offered her another bite of the funnel cake, hopeful the combination of the olive branch of telling her he wouldn’t try and figure it out (that was a lie) and the fried dessert would be enough to cool her jets before she barked at him again.

“You give a shit? Don’t make me laugh, Little Green, before this morning, you didn’t know anything about me. You still don’t.” Amy scoffed as she gave her rebuttal, words spilling out before she could think to catch them and contain them. Control was slipping out of her hands and the tempest that had been swirling inside, in the back of her mind, was close to spilling out. No one had given a shit. Why would they? The striking red of her lipstick might as well have been her own Scarlet Letter with the way people treated her. Innocent until proven guilty wasn’t a thing that existed in the social dystopia that was high school. If tomorrow someone whispered the right lie into the ears of best friends, they would start a civil war. It was only going to get worse and Amy…Amy was a victim that everyone blamed. For what? They didn’t even give her a chance to tell her side, to defend herself, as if they were waiting for any opportunity to cut her down because she dared to get too popular without having to tear others down to do it.

So why, then, should she care about them and their system? Them and their hierarchy? Why should she care what they think of her now when they were so easily able to toss her to the side so someone else could use her broken body as a stepping stool?

And why would anyone care to hear her side of the story now?

“Whatever. This…this was a mistake. Tell your fucker of a brother that I’ll stay away from you.” She needed an out. Andy Green was probing and that wasn’t what this was about. She was in control. She wasn’t broken. She didn’t need to be fixed. “Do whatever the fuck you want, Andy.”

“I’d be… willing to learn a few things about you?” Andy threw a final hail mary, but he felt like the damage was already done. Andy was trying, but Andy had already torpedoed whatever chances he’d had with Amy. Was his father going to be disappointed? Probably. Would Ethan be disappointed? Relieved was probably a more accurate word, but Andy hadn’t been able to help himself. He wanted to be helpful, and Amy’s fall had always felt… wrong to him, especially with how quickly everyone seemed to flip on her. If he had this courage back then, maybe he could have tried to stand up for her before it was too little and far too late.

It felt almost ironic to him that Amy was the one who gave him the courage. A pretty girl being interested did wonders for a boy’s confidence. Andy was rapidly realizing he’d made the interested pretty girl disinterested in him with the greatest of ease. The only good sign was that she hadn’t left yet, but Andy wasn’t sure how to take her telling him to do whatever he wanted. There were so many options, so many different things he could do at that moment. A thousand different scenarios rushed through his head, and they all shared a problem: he wasn’t used to Amy being this… not scary.

In a million years, Andy never would have predicted Amy backing down so… decisively. It was Andy’s turn to try and right the ship, to do something so drastically daring that he was almost sure he was going to get it. As he dropped the funnel cake to the ground, Andy’s mind was made up. He stepped forward, and found old nerves creeping up in the back of his mind. It was easier to squash them this time than it had ever been, as Andy leaned forward to press his lips against hers. Andy’s kiss ended faster than Amy’s had, but if the first had been an act of lust on his end, this one was an attempt to comfort her.

He pulled away and looked at her, a hand having found its way to her chin (Andy didn’t even notice that until he broke the kiss!), and spoke. “I’ve wanted to do that all night.”

The kiss ended before Amy could properly register what had happened, which worked out well for Andy as it saved him from being shoved and possibly slapped in retaliation for a rather bold approach. Instead Amy said nothing for an uncomfortably long time which, when following a kiss, could have been as long as three seconds. What Amy did do was take a step back, causing Andy’s hand to be holding only air. For a brief moment there was a different look in Amy’s eyes. A slight glimmer, a sparkle, a flash of the girl she used to be; it vanished with a blink as Amy’s awareness caught up with her and the lips that Andy had kissed for the second time that night descended into the scowling grin that was so familiar to Andy.

“Clearly your brother got all the talent when it comes to kissing, Little Green.” The snide remark, the venomous tone, the devilish sneer; whatever fragment of the past Amy that almost came bubbling to the surface had once again been drowned. “And look what you did to my cake.” There was now grass and dirt joining the ingredients of dough and sugar. Tuttut.” Amy clicked the roof of her mouth and shook her head, displeasure writ large in her eyes. “Get me another one and maybe I’ll give you one more chance to impress me.”

The star crossed lovers — if you can call them that — were soon interrupted by a loud squeal. “Who told you already?... wait, waitttttt. THERE’S A VIDEO?! SEVERAL!?????” Minnie in her cheer outfit with sparkly makeup on and her hair in a high ponytail walked to the side of the bleachers where both Amy and Andy could see her, unaware of her surroundings. “Of course it was Cael. I’mma need to spank that booty of his. How dare. I wanted to tell you myselfffff,” Minnie whined, turning as she talked only to freeze when she saw Amy. Growing silent for a moment that felt a little too long, the tiny dancer apologized to the person on the other line, “Sorry sissy, I got to go but I’ll video chat you tomorrow. Promise. See you. Love you. Byezzzzz.”

Hanging up, Minnie’s gaze focused on one person and one person only. Amy. While she was aware of Ethan’s brother, she was drilled since Freshman year to look at Amy. Amy taught her everything she knew. when it came to cheer and helped her relate it to dance, which was the main language she understood. Minnie took two steps closer but made sure she stayed out of their bubble, knowing this wasn’t a bubble she should pop. “I… I don’t get to see you anymore Amy and I don’t know when I’ll see you next but I wanted to tell you that I finally landed rewind reload to full up full down… over the summer actually! I wouldn’t have been able to master some of the harder stunts without you and I really really really wanted to tell you that one.”

There may not be much in Minnie’s head, and she might not understand the politics of the school, or why some of the cheermates exiled her cheer captain, but there was one thing for certain, Amy was someone she, to this day, still looked up to. She wasn’t completely oblivious. She knew Amy’s nudes and texts were leaked but that to Minnie didn’t speak on Amy’s character. It spoke on whodunnit. The contents didn’t really matter. That was nobody’s business. It wasn’t until Amy started hanging out with Toury and Helen that Minnie got scared to approach her. The Tantalizing Trio were intimidating and Minnie didn’t want to cry because they were mean to her.

Soft eyes, a genuine smile, and hope vibrating from her soul, Minnie looked at her former cheer captain with only respect before the sudden thought came to mind. “Oh, oh! I got my first boyfriend too. And I think you’d be proud of me! WHICH REMINDS ME.” Minnie swiftly turned on her heels toward the field, playfully glaring at her best friend.“CAELLLLLLL! You’re NO FUNNN! I wanted to tell sissy myself!” She protested, not really upset but still trying to act the part. With her squirrel brain, she looked back at Amy and eagerly suggested, “If you wanna’ catch up, I still have your number! I miss you… but it looks like I interrupted something.” Minnie scanned Andy up and down before giggling, “Candy approved. You’re wayyyyy better than your brother.” As fast as she came at him, just like a wrecking ball, she was running off to pounce on her friend and bite him. “Bye bye now!”

Of all the possible interruptions it had to be Minnie. If ever there was a way for Amy to return to the world of cheer - though at this point that was as likely as a flying pig - it would certainly have been through Minnie. Sure, they didn’t talk much, or at all, since Amy’s Icarus-like fall, but Amy could see it in Minnie’s eyes the day Amy was excised from cheer: a look of apology, like Minnie was sorry this was happening even if she didn’t exactly know why. It was so easy for Amy to assume that the cheer squad would fall apart without her guidance, without her rhythm and teaching methods, without her warming and welcoming personality and how she had a habit of getting angry and strict when it came to perfecting routines but she always made sure to take the squad for ice cream or shopping as a way of apology.

But they weren’t. They were doing fine without her. Better, even. Thriving. Minnie had perfected a move that Amy had been trying to help her with…and Minnie had a boyfriend. What had Amy ever done for Minnie, then? What had she done for any of them that they didn’t need her? No, that they didn’t want her? Maybe Helen and Toury were right, they were right about so many other things lately. But then why was Amy digging her nails into the palm of her hand and trying to hold back the tears as Minnie bounded away? Why did she want to tell Minnie to wait but couldn’t even open her mouth? Why the fuck did she even come to this stupid game? She could’ve, should’ve, had Andy pick anywhere else. Amy hadn’t been to a home game since the fall…she wasn’t ready after all. The wounds were too fresh.

“I’m leaving. Don’t.” Amy turned her head away from Andy. She refused to show him anything as vulnerable as how she felt in this moment.

As she walked away from him, Andy felt a chill wash over him in spite of the warm Los Angeles air. He was surprised by both the sudden urge he felt to reach out and grab her hand and the very fact that he possessed the will to stop himself from doing so. Every step she took away from him seemed to sting individually and Andy found himself wondering if it was even worth all of this to try and make Amy like him. By the time she was long gone from his sight, Andy was still standing there, frozen by pain he hadn’t known he shared with her. Was it his fault? Had he pushed too hard? Had Minnie’s appearance been too much?

Was Amy mad at him? He didn’t know, and he wanted to ask the question, but she was gone and the idea of texting her seemed… wrong. Andy needed guidance. He wasn’t used to navigating delicate situations like this, and as he walked back to the car he pulled out his phone. Looking down at his family’s names, he first considered calling his father, but wondered if Henry had ever dealt with an emotional woman before. Seconds past, and he decided to skip past both his brother and his father’s name, and tapped on the last one in the ‘Family’ contacts group.

It rang. He wondered what time it was in Japan. It rang a second time. He felt his heart drop for the umpteenth time that night, wondering if his own mother was going to ignore his call. Then, finally, she answered. Before she even had a chance to say hi to him, Andy was speaking — the familiar anxiety had washed back over him.

“Mom? I think I screwed up.”

I've gotten back into Starfield. That game is chill when just like trying to 100 percent a planet's scan. And now mod support is happening so it's a pretty good time.
After three episodes of The Acolyte I think it's pretty okay.

All My Friends
The morning of October 18th

Tristan Rogers hated Homecoming week.

It wasn’t the school pride angle that she hated - though having pride in one’s school was something she also didn't quite get considering it wasn’t the school that was worth celebrating but the teammates and friends made; while others went all out on dressing up (there was no way some of these people actually wore those pajamas to bed especially not all the makeup), Tristan was content to simply slap a pin onto her backpack and call it a day. What difference did it make if she showed up on cowboy day in normal clothes? Cowboys ate a lot of beans, farted, and hated Mexicans and Native Americans. Why were they so glorified just because some guys looked moderately attractive in denim and an open shirt? Tristan suffered her hatred of Homecoming week in silence, but the silence grew louder and louder every year and while it wasn’t likely to erupt like a volcano, she was beyond tired and fed up with the whole affair.

Tristan Rogers hated Homecoming week because it continued the bullshit preferential treatment to men’s sports over women’s. Why was the Homecoming game relegated to a single football game even though the girl’s volleyball season overlapped with football season? Volleyball started in August and goes through December but come that one week in October the only sport that mattered was football. At the pep rally, all hype and focus was given solely to the boys who had a future of concussion protocols ahead of them while other sports got a passing mention and pity applause. Why? Did anyone who cheered for the football team come out to support volleyball? Did anyone who cheered for the football team even know the record of the volleyball team or know that for the past three years the BHHS girl’s volleyball team won state? Of course not. How could they?

People just didn’t care about women’s sports.

The anger and annoyance with Homecoming week and all its excesses and expectations had one upside and that was that it allowed Tristan to focus her aggression in an outlet that was much, much healthier than bottling it up and stewing in unserious misery. To that end, the morning of the pep rally had a fist colliding with a punching bag in the home gym of the Rogers household. It was often difficult to get time with the bag, if her brother wasn’t using it then her father was but Tristan was up early, as she often was, and delivered punch after punch after blow after blow before the sun had even risen. It was eating into her yoga time, but if she hadn’t let it out now then she’d never be able to center, calm, and have the intended yoga experience. Punching the bag was a therapy she didn’t have to pay for, where she could say the tears in her eyes were just sweat and that it wasn’t pain she was feeling but rather motivation.

In truth, she hated that it came to this, having to wake up early to deal with something that tomorrow would no longer matter, but the more she worked the bag the more her thoughts cleared in time with the almost rhythmic punches. It wasn’t just about Homecoming. It was about why she’d never be taken as seriously as an athlete unless she was somehow the second coming of Venus or Serena. It was why people knew who Shohei Otani and Luka Doncic were but assumed Kim Yeon-koung was a K-Pop idol or something. It was why, whether he knew it or not, her brother would have a much easier path ahead of him despite Tristan putting in twice the effort. It was easy for their dad to tell them to ‘Be the best’ when he didn’t know what that meant for someone like Tristan. For a woman like Tristan.

By the time Tristan stopped hitting the bag and dropped to a heap on the floor, the tears wouldn’t pass as sweat.

When her eyes were clear and the anger pushed back down to the back of her mind, Tristan leaned her head against the heavy bag and wished that Chopper was allowed in the room. With all the equipment and weights, the home gym was the only room in the house that Chopper wasn’t allowed inside, but the only thing Tristan wanted to do after a workout was collapse into a pile with Chopper and watch cartoons with a bowl of cereal, an activity her parents said she’d grow out of twelve years ago but one she still did almost every Saturday. Her brothers might have had each other, boys bonded with boys after all, but Tristan had Chopper and honestly that was a much better deal. She could hear him trotting down the hall, aroused by the sounds of movement on the floorboards upstairs, a reminder to Tristan that her alone time was over and she rose to her feet to put on her face for the day as she made her way to the kitchen for a cup of yogurt.

In the kitchen, pinned to the refrigerator, was a drawing that could’ve been a cross between a portrait and a caricature, of a long haired girl in an armored uniform - not a full suit of armor, but a volleyball uniform that had armored shoulder pauldrons and instead of socks there were sabtons and sollerets and in her left hand, arced above her head as if she was about to spike a ball over the net, was a sword whose pommel was a volleyball. When Tristan pinned the picture on the fridge, her family assumed she got it done at the pier or at some carnival because there was no way she was that artistically talented. Tristan hadn’t told them where she got it, but as she stood in the kitchen, plastic spoon in her mouth as slightly bruised fingers tried to find the right grip to open the yogurt, her eyes were drawn, as they always were, to the picture, and her mind washed the annoyances of Homecoming week away in favor of a memory that made her smile.

Flashback: Senior Year, Earlier in the School Year

The second week of school was about the time students began falling back into the rhythms or, in the case of freshmen, only barely started remembering the best route to hit your locker in between classes without being late. Nothing exciting ever tended to happen the second week of school other than a few particularly cruel teachers deciding that was the best time for a quick, pop or otherwise, which only would cement them as no one’s favorite teacher. For students with a keen eye, the second week of school was a week too late to be first discovering the girl with plastic rings on her left hand.

Two freshmen boys, one who desperately needed a comb for the dead animal that crawled on top of his head and made a home out of it and the other who would probably lose the acne if he stopped downing cans of soda before, during, and after lunch, first noticed the girl with plastic rings on her left hand after school one day, two weeks into the school year. The pair of them took the wrong exit on the way out of school and wound up on the quad when they wanted to go to the school bus pick up lot. The unkempt mop head was the first one who saw the girl; his partner in crime was too busy playing a mobile game he was skilled at thanks to two hundred dollars from a birthday card. A quick jab in the elbow got his attention, though, and for minutes the two of them were transfixed.

The girl with plastic rings on her left hand had other identifiable features. her vibrant hair that was somewhere between a dull red and a bright brown that somehow brought to mind a chocolate colored orange, the splotches of paint on her red shirt, and the stickers on her face that caught the sun like a lens flare on every twirl. The girl, naturally, was spinning, arms angled downward at her side, mouth open in a smile that no one ever had two weeks into any school year, and only stopped so she could reverse direction in the twirl. If she had a reason for doing so, it resided solely in her head. The two boys watching couldn’t help but to laugh and snicker as a wicked plan was giggled between the two of them.

They came back the second day to find the girl wasn’t spinning but she was sitting on the grass, minding her own business, paint splotch still on her shirt though both shirt and splotch were different colors. Next to her were students engaged in a conversation and the paint-splotched girl seemed to be focusing on the conversation and nodding along with points as if she was trying to chime in but never spotted the right opportunity to do so. The third day, the boys returned to their observation but she wasn’t there, the fourth day they got closer than before, sitting next to her but far enough away to where it was clear to most that she wasn’t sitting with them. On the fifth day, they made their move.

Their conversation was a little louder than it should’ve been for two people in a place with little in the way of noise pollution but that had been the point. It only took a few minutes of them talking about science fiction in the form of a video game for the nodding girl to nod and a few more minutes beyond that for her to chime in. “Do you like space? I think space is great. It’s great. Space is great. My favorite planet is Saturn but my favorite galaxy is Bode’s Galaxy - it has a supermassive black hole..” She kept talking even when the acne boy interrupted and told her they weren’t talking about real life space. The girl just blinked until the same boy took a sip from his soda can. “Do you drink a lot of that? Is that why you have so much acne?”

That had apparently been the wrong thing to say, as what followed next was the bad hair boy raising his voice and standing up, his shadow casting large over the girl who only wanted to talk about space. Both boys started probing the girl with questions, though their tone of voice made it clear they were not looking for answers. Too many questions, too loud, all she could do was shake her head, mouth slightly open; she did something wrong but didn’t know what. But even if she did do something wrong, nothing she did warranted the question from the hair boy and the follow up from acne.

“What are you, like, retarded?”
“Yeah, you must be retarded.”
“I didn’t know they let retards go to this school.”
“Shouldn’t you be on the short bus, retard?”

The pejorative continued like the worst kind of echo chamber in her head, mixed with the mocking, piercing foul laughter from the gleeful boys who had waited a full school week just to belittle and demean someone. But with a loud, dull THLAP the voices of the boys were silenced as a white spherical ball bounced off one of their heads, spilling his cola onto the grass before he joined the sugar water in becoming one with the soil.

“I think you freshies are lost.” Tristan Rogers, still dressed in her practice shorts and black and red uniform shirt, placed her gym bag on the ground as the volleyball she spiked at the little assholes rolled back towards her. She rested a foot under the ball, ready to kick it up into her hand to spike at the boy who wasn’t clambering to his feet. A second THLAP as BHHS’ star setter served the volleyball to the other boy before he could even think of a proper comeback. Both boys were on the grass and desperately wishing they were anywhere else. “Get lost, or I’ll give you something that won’t go away until you graduate.” The boys didn’t have to be told twice as they scampered off, holding a palm to their face as they did.

“Are you alright?” Tristan looked at the girl, who looked back at Tristan.

“I’m Abby.” Abby answered the question. “Actually, I’m Ashley but I like Abby. You didn’t have to do that.”

“Abby, they were making fun of you.” Tristan had never known Abby to be a nickname for Ashley but it didn’t much matter to her what someone wanted to call themselves. Abby was shaking her head to Tristan’s words while she got to her feet and brushed grass from her knees.

“No they weren’t. They were calling me something I’m not. That’s not making fun. But they weren’t very nice so thank you. What’s your name?”


“That’s a cool name. It sounds like a knight or something. Like Tristan and Isolde. Have you seen that? It’s not good, I didn’t like it much. Do you want to be friends? Sorry. Thank you. Bye.” And just as quickly as it had started, the conversation ended and Abby spun on her heels and left a still processing Tristan wondering what the hell happened and who the hell Isolde was.

That wasn’t the last time Tristan encountered Abby. The Monday after their first encounter, Abby wasn’t at the quad after school like she normally was, though she did wander. When the bell rang, Abby didn’t go the familiar path to the art club or the equally as familiar path outside, she joined the likes of the freshmen and took to the halls, every step she took seemed as if she was skipping down them, the hem of her skirt sashaying as she glided along. Where she was going she only had the vaguest of ideas, but her instinct told her the gym was the place to be, which was mildly humorous considering during school hours the gym was her least favorite building in school.

In her head, she was whistling, it helped her not overhear the overlapping conversations and sounds of excitement at the end of a school day; the noise internally was loud enough to mute the external discussions of homework, work, in-jokes she’d never be part of, and heavily embellished tales of romance. In her sophomore year, Abby made the easy mistake of listening in on a passing group of upperclassmen talking about how one of them had spent the weekend having sex with Monica Lisewski. “Were you at the art camp workshop too? I don’t remember seeing you there, but Monica Lisewski was there, she had a really nice mosaic piece that took her the whole weekend. I don’t know when she would have had the time to have sex with you, but maybe it was after dark.” It was only after the guy who made the boastful brag stomped off to the sounds of his friends laughing at him that Abby realized she said something wrong. Since then she tried not to interject into conversations she wasn’t part of. It was, like many things, easier said than done.

Tuning out the world around her was helpful. It made things easier for Abby, who was so often accused of living in her own little world. She did, but her world wasn’t one she would wish others could experience but it was a world she was so excited to share with someone, anyone, who so much as poked their head in for a visit. That was why she was on her little journey towards the gym.

The gym, as it so often was, was a zone of disappointment. It was unoccupied other than the gym teachers hanging out by their offices, and if Abby didn’t want to go to the gym for class, she definitely didn’t want to talk to the gym teachers after school. The smile she had on every step didn’t fade, it didn’t even dim all that much, but she was at a loss. All she had was a name and a vague idea of what the owner of that name did, but other than that the circles and company they kept were like repelling sides of a magnet. So once again, Abby found her way outside, though not to the quad - to the parking lot.

Abby didn’t have a car which gave her little to no reason for being in the parking lot, but the exit closest to the gym was closer to the lot than the quad. If given the choice of walking back through the halls to go to the quad exit or take the outside route through the lot, Abby would pick the outside path every time. Inside was stifling, cold, narrow, with bodies packed through the halls like sardines and people constantly touching her shoulder as they sped past without so much as a word of apology. But outside? Outside was warm and beautiful and vast. Outside there were fluffy clouds and fuzzy, buzzy bumblebees, vibrant colors ripe for the palate. Outside was where Flapjack, her pet frog, came from and where he liked to hang out. Many times, Flapjack would rest on Abby’s shoulder or at her side while she was lounging in her back garden - and then he would hop into the pond made for him until he was ready to go back inside.

There was, however, something different about being outside in the parking lot in comparison to the quad; not just the faint smell of rubber and gas or the roar of engines purring to life. Through the din of automobiles there was something different..something that sounded like music and like a rat being led by the piper, Abby followed towards it. As she wandered through the metallic maze of paintjobs and daddy’s bank accounts, the sound got louder, clearer, and words were joining in the festivities. She closed her eyes and paused her steps a moment, her head slowly trailing from left to right as the sound grew louder the more she focused on it. And through the clearing, sitting in the back of a red car, was the source.

A girl with midnight black hair, a sleeveless white crop top that had a toothy-smiling cow with x’s in its eyes, and a pleated black skirt was strumming to an audio track playing from a small device next to her. “Destination unknown…Ruby Ruby Ruby Ruby Soho…” She sang along, her eyes closed, body still except for the effortless way her fingers hit the strings, the words from her lips, and the gentle sway of her combat boot clad feet. Abby stood transfixed, not on the person, but the sounds they were making. When the song ended, Abby clapped. Genuinely. Enthusiastically. And the bass player opened her eyes. Audiences were not always a common thing at the end of the day, but the presence of one warranted the bassist acknowledging Abby with a nod.

“Are you Ruby Soho? That’s a cool name, my name is Ashley Beswick but I go by Abby.”

The bass player smiled, and laughed a light laugh, the kind of laugh someone gave when they were trying to be polite but not rude, and then she shook her head while adjusting the tuning heads. “No, Ruby Soho is the name of the song. I didn’t write it either. I’m Eun-ji Walters, but I go by Ellie. Names are weird sometimes, aren’t they.” The way Ellie spoke was strangely calming. Her voice felt like the wind, a gentle breeze that soothed the soul and refreshed the body on a warm day. If singing didn’t work out for her, she could’ve made a killing reading audio books. Another laugh escaped from Ellie’s lips. “I’m not a singer, but thank you, I think.” Abby had said the audiobook part out loud without even realizing it, but Ellie didn’t seem bothered or upset by it. Not like others.

“Can you play another song?”

“Sure can, Abby.”

Ellie Walters, since the second half of sophomore year, had spent at least an hour after school sitting in the trunk of her car playing bass to an audience of passers-by and brief stoppers. It was as consistent a presence as gravity. After her little performances she would pack up and drive to EZ Park Convenience and buy one blue slushie; if they didn’t have blue for whatever reason she would click the back of her teeth with her tongue and debate if getting a purple one was acceptable or if she could mix two together to make blue. The actual flavors associated with the colors didn’t matter, it could’ve been blue raspberry, blueberry, or something called blue thunder, it didn’t matter. What mattered was that it was blue and blue was the best color of a slushie. She accepted no other substitutes. Life for Ellie Walters was pretty routine like that; the lack of a blue slushie was the closest life came to interrupting her routine.

Until Abby began listening to Ellie’s playing.

The first day, Abby left after hearing the second song (Spiderwebs by No Doubt) because she remembered something she was supposed to be doing. The second day, Abby stuck around a good half hour, and by the fourth day Abby was sitting next to Ellie in the back of the car. At first, Ellie didn’t know what to make of the audience member, but Abby was a surprisingly chill hang and interesting conversation partner in between songs.

“Is she a bad dancer?” Abby asked one day after Ellie had finished trying to match the bassline in Dua Lipa’s “Don’t Start Now”, prompting a gently raised eyebrow from Ellie. “She’s telling someone to walk away so they don’t see her dancing with somebody. She must be a bad dancer.”

“I think it’s more that she's moved on from an ex and she’s saying that if he doesn’t wanna feel jealous he should keep walking away.” It hadn’t been that long since Abby started hanging out with Ellie after school, but Ellie had already learned the best way to talk with Abby was to simply engage with her rather than dismissing it as wrong.

“Do you have an ex that you don’t want to dance with? I’ve never seen you with someone, though I don’t really see you other than sometimes in passing or after school.” Of course, there were some times where Abby’s topics delved towards the…unwanted, but Ellie, as always, just let it roll down her back.

“I have exes. I’m not with anyone right now. But what about you? The way you talk about that Tristan girl…someone’s got a crush, huh?” When Ellie asked the question, even in jest as she was, Abby began shaking her head like Abby had just heard something as harsh to the ears as nails down the chalkboard.

“Oh no no no, I don’t have those kind of feelings for Tristan, I just think what she did was really nice and cool and I still haven’t managed to find where the volleyball team practices. No one seems to know when I ask.”

“Have you tried asking Tristan?”

“I haven’t seen her since. Maybe she’s not even on the team, but I don’t know why else someone would walk around with volleyballs and have a uniform.” Ellie, at that point, nudged Abby in the side and pointed towards the blue Jeep Wrangler that Tristan was putting bags into the back of. The grin on Ellie’s lips remained as Abby rushed off to speak to Tristan while Ellie just continued her bass playing as normal.

A week and a half after Abby had been joining Ellie during bass practice, Ellie was back to a solo act. Abby didn’t stop hanging out, she simply stopped hanging out every day. Abby instead spent many of her days after school sitting on the side stands while the volleyball team practiced. She went unnoticed the first day and on the third day the team’s libero made a point to let the team know that “she’s here again”. It was weird; practices weren’t known for having guests, let alone for a sport that wasn’t football, but Abby kept quiet and didn’t bother anyone so what harm was there in letting her observe?

The rest of the team had no problem ignoring her, but Tristan kept noticing her. Abby wasn’t distracting with her presence, but it wasn't a coincidence that the day after she spoke to Abby and told her when the team did practices was the same day Abby showed up the first time. Every practice Abby did the same thing from the same seat. She periodically looked up at the court when Tristan was calling spots during scrim play and she would go back to her paper during warm ups or runs. Every so often during a reset, Tristan would look to where Abby was sitting, shake her head in confusion, and go back to focusing on practice.

And just as soon as the team started considering her an unofficial mascot, Abby stopped showing up. Tristan knew why, of course. After practice near the end of September, Abby waited for Tristan outside to hand her what she had been working on. “I didn’t know how to really thank you for what you did with those two boys but because your name is Tristan like the knight I thought you might like this. I’m pretty proud of it, I tried to make you look cool.” A drawing was placed in Tristan’s hands. A drawing of Tristan in knight armor in her spiking pose, holding a sword with a volleyball pommel.

“This is…me?” Tristan looked at the drawing and words struggled to come to mind. Her first piece of fan art and she hadn’t even gone pro. Did her brother have fan art? Fuck, she hoped not. “You made me look…badass.”

“I made you look how you are.”

There was a moment of silence as Tristan kept looking at the artwork while trying to keep herself from tearing up at it while Abby was simply smiling, as she always was, and hoping Tristan liked it. Abby couldn’t quite tell, but considering it wasn’t being ripped up she assumed it was liked just fine.

“There’s a little hang-out to-”
“Do you wanna get a slushie with Ellie Walters and me?”

The two girls spoke at the same time but only Abby continued on when she realized it. “A…slushie?”

“Yes. It’s like flavored ice with different colors. Ellie likes blue, I don’t know what specific flavor, she just says blue-.”

“I know what a slushie is. I was trying to invite you to a party tonight at a team member’s house. I wasn’t really looking forward to it, but I thought since the team already knows you…what’s the harm,”

“Oh. No thank you. I don’t really like parties. If you don’t want to go, why are you going? Just don’t. Get slushies and go bowling with Ellie and me instead.”

“Fuck it. Sure. Slushies and bowling.”

Tristan only went bowling with Ellie and Abby the one time, not because she disliked going, but because she lost the game and kicked the ball return station hard enough to leave a dent which got her banned for two months. But where before Ellie had one consistent audience member, now she had two - though Tristan only really came around to check up on Abby like a concerned parent or, more accurately, a protecting knight. She always stayed for at least one song.

October 18th, during the pep rally

The afternoon of the pep rally saw Ellie in the back of her car as usual, a blue slushie slowly melting its ice into a more palatable liquid form next to her, and on the other side of her was Abby, sitting cross legged, pressing her fists into her cheeks while drinking her red slushie through a straw. “I think I finally understand the lyrics of a song you listen to. I’m also bored and going blind. But that might be the sugar liquid. What’s funny?”

Ellie snickered at the statement as Longview by Green Day came to an end, with Ellie setting the bass to the side for a moment to turn her tongue blue. “He’s talking about masturbating, Abby. Doing it too much makes you go blind.”

“It does? But the health teacher last year said masturbation was healthy and fine.”

“It is. The blind thing was just superstition.”

“Do you masturbate, Ellie? I tried it once but I think I did it wrong.”

“I’m a single teenager, Abby, That’s my answer to that question. I wouldn’t worry about doing it wrong, if you didn’t like it, you didn’t like it. But you’ve got a point. It’s a bit boring. Wanna catch a movie or something?”

“Oh good, you’re here.” Tristan paced towards Ellie’s car with annoyance in every step. “I can’t handle another minute at that fucking pep rally. Rah rah bullshit for one team just because they’re boys. My stupid brother is doing shit with my idiot younger brother and stupid Mikey isn’t responding to my texts.”

“Who’s Mikey?”

“Her fuckbuddy.”

“My ex.”

“Do you want him to see you dancing with someone else?”


“She likes Dua Lipa. But what’s the deal with you and Mikey, are you back together?”

“Ew, no. But I don’t want to show up at Homecoming dateless and he’s my best option.”

“I’ll go with you.” Abby said it without thinking, which was how she said most things. Both Ellie and Tristan turned their heads towards Abby, who was still absent mindedly drinking down her slushie. “Like as friends. I don’t really like dances but you’re my friend so I’ll help you. But I need to get an outfit.”

“I didn’t agree to-”

“Aw come on, going with a friend is way more fun than going with some guy who only calls you when he wants to fuck.” Tristan was going to regret ever telling Ellie about her situation with Michael O’Connor, but she could admit that there was a point being made. Why work so hard for a guy she didn't even like?

“Alright. Ellie, could you-”

“Yeah, to the Mermaid. You riding shotgun, Tristan?”


Ellie put her guitar in its case while Abby crawled into the backseat from the trunk. The three rather unlikely friends piled into Ellie’s car which hummed to life with an engine as smooth as Ellie’s voice. “Hey, Tristan, do you masturbate?”

The only one laughing at the question as the car pulled out of the parking lot was Ellie.

I hate that we've reached a point where I could just wait three weeks for a movie to go from theaters to on demand. The theater experience sucks, but it's part of the experience, dammit
As Vazira followed the path of destruction, fallen log by fallen log, and drew closer to the city, her nose twitched like she was holding in a sneeze. The air around Marindor was foul with smoke, salt, and secrets, none of which made for an appealing aperitif. The young girl had heard stories of this place, but none of them ever mentioned the smell. From a distance, the sight of Marindor could inspire awe. In the center of the city stood a tall, spired building that towered above every other structure, even the lighthouse at the far northeastern tip. This building, from which the rest of the city spiraled outward like the shell of a nautilus, had its front facing the east, its windows overlooking the docks from which the city earned the majority of its coin. Even at this early hour, with the sun only barely breaking through the horizon, blue and white merchant sails could be seen in the docks and more were soon to be arriving. Curiously, the piers furthest away from the docks, towards the west, looked thrown together with twine and twigs and stood in stark contrast to the sturdy, immaculate piers closer in.

But Marindor was a city of contrasts. Behind the central spire were houses and buildings whose white stone construction shone with the morning sunlight and were built in ascending rows, spiraling towards the top of a hill where an impressively garish manor house stood as if overlooking the port city; the contrast came with the buildings elsewhere in the city, their dull greystones were ravaged by the sea air, several windows were broken, and the outwardly spiraled construction made for confusing alleys and densely packed footpaths that made unsuspecting or unprepared sorts easy pickings for salty-faced cutpurses.

Vazira was not so easily swayed by appearances. The city smelled of lies and blood, a faint redolence of sin lingered on the nostrils and pickled the lips more sour than any mug of swill that flowed from the ale houses populated by sailors and nebbish merchants both looking for a good pricking. But somewhere in this city was the man responsible for killing her betrothed, and so Vazira entered Marindor in search of the trail that had led her here.

Rare was the time when Vazira was glad for the uniqueness of her birth. Though it was not uncommon to see the short and stout figures of the mountain dwelling dwarves in a human settlement such as this, the only elves this far south were ones who abandoned their homelands and grew plump and complacent right alongside their human compatriots. But someone like Vazira was an anomaly all her own, for orcs were savage, uncivilized brutes and the child of an orc mother and a human father was akin to laying with a beast in the eyes of those who made the laws of the land. An offspring of an orc and human was an impossibility, and yet here she was.

While Vazira’s ears were more rounded like those of a human (albeit with a pointed lobe), her skin was a harder sell. Among orcs, her pale complexion earned her ridicule and ire; among the civilized, she would no doubt appear to be sallow and thus unnatural and so Vazira drew her hood taut over her head.

The sound of fishmongers shouting at passersby held her attention as she stepped through the docks, already finding herself lost from the entrance. Her eyes poured over a pinkish fish displayed on a tray of ice, the seller holding a larger fish with gray skin out in front of him as he joined in the chorus of voices broadcasting their stock and their affordable prices. She’d never seen such a colorful fish. She’d never seen any fish before it was burnt brown with a stick stabbed through it, which was about as appealing to the mouth as it was to the eyes.

“You’ve nae geld, d’ye?” a voice aroused Vazira from her piscine reverie. The voice was thick of brogue and husky of tone and Vazira didn’t know quite how to respond, mostly because she didn’t quite understand what was being asked of her. “Jus’ ye’ve been’ starin’ awful lot at tha’ fish, gel. Ye nae go’ geld’ta buy it, have ye?”

The voice clarified, though it took Vazira a moment to put together that geld meant gold and from there it was easy enough to parse. Her response found itself hanging in her throat as she turned to look at the speaker. Standing next to her but not looking at her was a tall figure with hair the color of burnt strawberry and tightened into a braided tail. They wore a shirt of gray linen and black trousers tucked into leather boots. Around the waist Vazira could see a coin purse and, more importantly, a flintlock of which she was certain its twin was attached to the other leg. The one eye the half-orc could see was an emerald green that lit up as the figure smiled and the lack of three teeth in the back of the mouth was as enticing an imperfection as Vazira had ever known.

A Shot in the Arm
During the Pep Rally

The letter arrived four days ago but Penny Amato still hadn’t opened it.

It was such a simple thing, opening a letter, Penny had done it so many times over the years, from birthdays and holidays to pay stubs and report cards, there was nothing to it. And yet the first day they got the letter, all Penny could do was put it on their desk and look at it from the safety of their bed. Periodically their eyes would drift from the show they were watching to the desk and at the damned letter, head swirling with the ringing belief that the contents inside the envelope were judging Penny in a silent chorus. More than once Penny worked up the courage to go a step beyond hovering their hand over it and actually held it in both hands - but every single time that happened, Penny looked at the sender’s address, looked at the logo in the corner, looked at their name smack in the center, and back to the desk it went. If it had been a college acceptance letter it would’ve been done and dusted, but college was whatever; inside this letter was Penny’s future.

Up until the letter arrived, Penny’s room was a place of comfort, a sanctuary where Penny could rest, recover, and revive. It was a shrine to Penny’s personal interests, posters for Game of Thrones were placed next to signed posters of the Lord of the Rings trilogy hung across from wall scrolls depicting anime robots which draped next to a cork board containing commissions of Penny’s various table top characters and on her desk, along with that damned letter, were notebook pages and notebooks proper, above which stood a shelf lined with miniatures and sets of dice. But the letter took the comfort away. Even when Penny put it inside a drawer or inside a book, its presence still loomed like that creepy feeling when you enter a house and just know someone died inside it. That feeling was one of the many reasons Penny never visited their mom at work at the hospital.

The longer Penny took to open the letter, the more it had a hold on their life; it hadn’t gotten to the point where it was keeping Penny awake at night but were they really about to let it get to that point? By the third day it almost became a comical routine. Penny would wake up, do their morning routine, and as they were putting on a shirt a size too big, the letter would flash in the periphery and Penny would pause, look towards the envelope, and for a brief moment it seemed like they were going to open it. But the moment passed, Penny sighed, and closed the door on the letter. Why was it so difficult? Penny already knew the contents, no letter that small and thin contained good news and of course they were prepared for that outcome but it was that preparation that made it such a difficult task. It wasn’t as if Penny had never faced rejection before, hell Penny had rejected people who thought that the best time to ask them out, in so many words, was when Penny was working at Plouf all because putting a heart in a latte sent people mixed signals.

Rejection was nothing new, but rejection via an impersonal, probably from a damn form letter, was painful.

But there was also the other possibility, that it wasn’t a rejection letter. That it was a letter of congratulations and that brought its own anxieties with it. It wasn’t even a complete work that Penny submitted but what if a full, finished sample was requested? No one even knew Penny was working on something so…well they hesitated to call it cliche but…uninspired? Even at school, Penny’s association with the literary magazine was more as an editor who read through submissions rather than someone whose work was featured. Penny was a theater kid, a stage performer, they didn’t write scripts. Could they even handle the responsibility if their sample was accepted? That was pressure that Penny didn’t need.

That damn letter was going to give them a panic attack.

On the Friday before Homecoming, Penny took the next best step to just opening the thing and getting it over with like a bandaid: they put it into their backpack and were determined to open it at lunch, because nothing soothed bad news quite like cafeteria tater tots. Lunch came and went and the letter remained unopened. And Penny didn’t even have tater tots. Friends could tell something was bothering Penny, but any time someone asked, Penny simply shook their head and said they were fine before changing the subject or finally contributing to the conversation.

What Penny needed was something to take their mind off the letter, or, better, someone to just open the damn thing instead. Or, as Penny spotted a familiar face as they deposited their garbage in a can and heard the sound of wheels on asphalt; the face in question quickly met the ground after she collided with another student, but by that point Penny was already formulating a plan.

While students were shuffling towards the pep rally, Penny told some people to save them a seat as they left the building, mentioning having forgotten something in their car. In the back of their mind Penny wondered if the resident skate punk would be at the pep rally thus making this entire endeavor even more pointless than it seemed, but those concerns were squashed as Penny crossed the parking lot desert towards the figure sitting on a bench, her skateboard leaning against the open spots on the bench next to her, fingers digging inside a small bag of chips.

“Bit on the nose, isn’t it?” Penny asked as they stood in front of the bench, backpack around their shoulder, hand rubbing their forehead and looking around as if what they were doing was some illegal act. To an outsider, Penny looked like someone who was worried that a cop would pop out of a bush and slap the cuffs on them, which they were willing to blame purely on the fucking letter. Why were they so nervous? Penny had bought weed before! They hadn’t been this nervous since the first time they went to a dispensary.

“What? My nose?” Everly Rigby looked up at the shadow standing in her sunlight, squinting until her eyes came into focus. Penny Amato. Not one of the regular customers, but with the way they were frantically looking around, Everly had to wonder if they’d even done this before. Which of course they had, Everly had been there. It was at a party after a school play - Everly wasn’t involved nor was she invited to the party but that hadn’t ever stopped her, and she distinctly remembered Penny hitting the bong like a real fiend.

“Oh. You’re eating baked chips. I thought, because you’re, you know…baked.” Penny shook her head. Was this what it felt like to cringe? How did people ever think they were cool? Everly looked at her bag of chips. Baked Lay’s, barbeque flavor, and gave Penny the world’s most obvious pity chuckle which only made Penny feel even more embarrassed. This was a stupid idea. It wasn’t too late to abort.

“Oh. Yeah. They taste better than the regular ones. And you get bigger chips.” Everly proved her work by pulling out a flat chip that resembled the shape of burnt cheese in a pan but in cracker form and took a crunch-filled bite. “You want one?” Everly held the bag to Penny, who held up a palm and shook her head.

“Can I ask you something, Everly?” The nod of agreement and the continued crunch of approval had Penny taking a deep breath. “Do…do you think you could…open a letter for me?” Just saying that out loud only deepened the skin crawling feeling of embarrassment that Penny was not used to feeling.

“Do your fingers not work, dude? You just lift the edge and pull, it’s real easy.” Everly began to mime the act of opening a letter and in the process spilled a chip onto the ground. “Shit.”

“No..I know how to…look, it’s a long story and I’m kinda embarrassed and you’re gonna laugh at me and I know it’s stupid but…I don’t have anyone else I can turn to, my friends would make fun of me, my mom would-”

“Your mom’s like James Bond, right?”

“What? Everly, what, what the fuck are you?”

“I got a bet going. No one really knows anything about your parents and my money is on them being, like, spies.”

“That…look, can you focus?”

“Can you?” Everly’s comment came from nowhere but it succeeded in getting Penny to pause and take a breath. Once again Everly offered Penny a chip, and once again it was turned down. Everly took the last chip in the bag and crunched down while crinkling the bag into a neat, compact square. “You’re bein’ really weird, dude, which is super weird cuz you’re, like, cool enough that I hear people say they’ve never seen you shaken up. I’m not a therapist or nothin’, but I think you need to step into my office.”

“You have an office?”

“Hell yeah, dude. It’s metal four ick hole.” Everly stood up and before Penny could piece together what the hell that meant, she was skating away at a pace meant for Penny to follow. It was only after a sigh that Penny did follow.

Vazira was getting distracted. She wasn’t here in Marindor to socialize or join in the chorus as mugs of ale were clinked together and spilled onto tables and fingers pinched at dress bottoms of a bonnie dwarven lass who, more than anything, wanted to bash the mugs over the heads of people whose hands wandered. And yet here she was, an untouched mug in front of her, hands balled into clumps in her lap while all around her the sounds of drunken revelry pricked her ears. Cooling on the plate in front of her was the salivating scent of crimfish, though her eyes weren’t drawn to the fish as they had been when she spied it in the market; no, the half-orc’s eyes were drawn to the emerald eyed woman at the head of the table. As they had been since the first honeyed words slithered into her ears.

Of one thing Vazira was certain. The men she was sharing a table with were pirates and they were captained by Kherington, the emerald eyed and strawberry haired, but the why of it all escaped her. Why was she here, amongst the rowdy crew, why had a pirate seen fit to buy a fish for her, and why was Vazira so…enraptured. Every second here was a second kept away from her goal and though Kherington’s words were true, truer still now that Vazira’s stomach rumbled as if a cannonball was fired upon an enemy vessel, that didn’t change the fact that if she didn’t excuse herself after the piscine dinner, the already lukewarm trail would grow frigid.

“Oi, Cap’n, s’with the cloaked weirdo?” A thumb with a red splotch akin to strawberry jelly in place of a thumb poked towards Vazira’s direction and the sickly stench emanating from the pus around the edges was enough to overpower and ruin the appetite.

“She’s a guest’o’mine.” Kherington snapped back, wiping frothed foam from her upper lip, a gesture so normal and ordinary that only Vazira watched it with a quiet intensity. Every action the pirate captain took was curious to the half-orc. “And she’s part’a’the plan.”

For the first time since being set at the table, Vazira appeared to blink and move. “I’m…I’m what?” Her voice was lost amidst the howl of the alehouse and even speaking up seemed to do nothing. “I’M WHAT?” She shouted. More, she roared. Silence filled the alehouse as one by one every head and eyeball in the establishment turned towards her. Vazira was still cloaked, but in that moment it felt as if everyone could see beneath the linen.

“Found yer voice, didja?” Kherington cackled, leering towards Vazira, an intensity in the singular eye that bespoke interest beyond simple curiosity. “Now where’d that come from, gel?” The heavy way in which the captain called Vazira ‘girl’ took a different connotation here. Back in the fish market it sounded playful, almost flirty; here it almost seemed threatening. Vazira began calculating her chances of getting out of here unscathed, even if she could set some of the ale-soaked beards on fire with a twist of the wrist, the door might as well have been kilometers away, and just escaping the alehouse didn’t mean safety. They would pursue her, especially if they decloaked her.

“Surely ye didnae think the fish was outta the goodness of m’heart?” Another cackle from Kherington which had the voices of her crew joining the chorus. “Silly gel. I got no heart at all.” The laughter roared louder and Vazira knew any chance of escape was a childish notion. The damning part was there was a side of her that didn’t want to escape. There was a part of her that wanted to follow Kherington to hell.

“So, let me see if I understand.” Everly took a drag from the blunt and held it out to Penny as she exhaled a pluff of smoke. The two were seated beneath a cottonwood tree on a small hill just barely within the BHHS grounds. From here they could see the parking lot, the quad, and the school building itself; it was a good place to hold an office, Everly explained on the way, because if anyone tried to interrupt then they’d be spotted well enough to hide any evidence of wrongdoing. Between the pair of them, music played from a phone - they couldn’t smoke without music - and Everly took her shoes off to enjoy the grass. “You submitted parts of a story to a publisher and you can’t handle the rejection? And that’s why you needed to relax? I didn’t even know you wrote stuff. What’s it about?”

“I don’t know.” Penny shook their head and began to puff the joint. “That’s part of the problem. Because there’s a small chance they liked it, but I don’t really have any idea of where to take the story. But…it’s meant to be like…a fantasy romance thing. Like an orc falls in love with this pirate captain while she’s on the trail of the man who killed her betrothed. It’s…it’s stupid.” Penny passed the blunt to a nodding Everly.

“Yeah, it sounds boring.”


“No, I mean, I don’t really care about shit like that. Fantasy and orcs and warriors and stuff. I got bored with Game of Thrones once Daenerys’ actress decided she was above getting railed by Jason Momoa.”

“Kind of a gross misunderstanding of the story but…sure.” The blunt continued to be passed between the two of them, and now that Penny had her mind occupied by a simple conversation, they didn’t realize how much they needed it. They weren’t even thinking about the letter right now even though it was still lingering in the recesses of the mind. “It’s just…I don’t know.”

“The view is nice here, isn’t it?” Everly seemed to change the topic but Penny turned her gaze towards where Everly was looking. As far as views went…it was probably fine. You could get a similar one from one of the windows on the third floor of the school, but from this vantage point the field of view was wider. Right now on the quad there were students ditching the pep rally and in the parking lot they could see Ellie Walters strumming her bass while sitting in her car’s open trunk with a melting blue slushie next to her. Behind them was a tree that had initials of couples of BHHS past carved into it.

“Sure? It’s…passable.”

“Yeah, it’s a nice view. You know, I wanted to bring Stella here but then I realized that taking her to basically look at the school we go to is a terrible idea.”

“Stella…Manning. That Stella?” If Penny had the blunt they would’ve coughed. “You’ve got it hot for Stella? Get in line, man, you and like every straight dude and bisexual person walking the halls.”

“Dude, what? No, I’ve got, like, a crush on her.”

“That’s…that’s what I…never mind. Stella…I mean, yeah, she’s nice.”


“Sure, beautiful.”

“A goddess among mortals.”

“Okay, reign it in, Ev.”


“Yeah, sure, can I finish?” Penny took a look at Everly, who was looking down at the quad, her expression weirdly wistful, which was not an expression she thought Everly, she of eternal good vibes, could make. “Yeah, Stella’s nice and I’ve never disliked sharing the stage with her, I mean I prefer Katie but don’t tell Stella that, but I don’t think she’s capable of, like…I mean..isn’t she dating Ethan Green or something?”

“Yeah, I think so. And, like, I get it. Henry Green is a Green and I’m a drug dealer. He can open a lot of doors for her, career wise, and all I can do is open actual doors for her. But like…our Freshman year I saw her do the fall play and she just…became the character. People always talk about her appearance but it’s not about that for me. I believe she could actually be famous and I want to support that, and she’s not just her physical beauty, you know?” Everly had the blunt in her hand but didn’t take a hit. She just held it while keeping her gaze forward. “I know we walk in different circles and I know that I have no shot with her, but if I let that take over my thoughts then I’d be..well…I’d be a wreck.”

Penny listened to Everly’s words and wrestled with the idea of putting a hand on Everly’s back. The way Everly spoke, it was like listening to someone talk about the one that got away but Penny believed they were seeing a side of the school’s resident skateboarding drug dealer that not many people ever saw. If they weren’t getting high and here under unique circumstances they’d be a bit flattered to be trusted enough to see such vulnerabilities. “I’m sorry, I didn’t know you were, like, into her into her. But…what does this have to do with, well, anything?”

“And people call me a dumbass.” Everly smirked and took her last hit from the blunt, handing it off to Penny, who was damn near offended by the implication. “If I asked you to, would you put in a good word about me to Stella?”

“I mean…yeah, but-”

“But it wouldn’t be the same as if I just talked to her.”

“Well…well yeah.”

“Your letter is like Stella Manning.”

“It’s a decent actress with nice tits?” Everly looked towards Penny like Penny had just kicked a puppy. “Sorry.” Their apology came with the punctuation mark of the final hit on the joint.

“I could open the letter for you. And I could read you the contents. But it wouldn’t be the same as doing it yourself. I know when I do tell Stella my feelings that she’s gonna reject me. But I don’t let that stop me from having those feelings. I’m not afraid of rejection, Penny. And you shouldn’t be either.” Everly stood on the spot and stretched her arms over her head. The school day was going to be over very soon and customers would be arriving. Everly would be there for them. She always was. The sad part was that she might always be even when everyone else was gone to bigger and better things.

“We’re kids, Penny. We don’t have to have it all figured out,”

“Everly..” Penny paused and Everly, who had grabbed her shoes and was starting the descent down the hill back to the quad, looked over her shoulder. “You’d make a pretty good cleric with that wisdom.”

“I don’t know what that means, dude.”

With a shared moment of laughter and a departing wave from Everly, Penny was left on her own again, with their backpack slumped against the tree. Penny waited until they saw Everly’s baseball cap wearing head reach the parking lot before grabbing their backpack and taking out the letter. There wasn’t any hesitation. No nervous, shaking fingers as she turned the envelope over and opened it with a tear. Inside was a folded letter and Penny’s fingers began to shake as they removed the letter and began the process of unfolding it.

As their eyes scanned the words and the truth she expected was confirmed, all they could do was smile.

Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes, while not as good as Dawn or War, is a totally fine start to a new trilogy and also the latest blockbuster movie to show Disney that if you're gonna use CGI for 90 percent of your movie, at least take the time to make it look fuckin good.
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