Wednesday, March 19, 2008
The Big Picture Preview II
It's me again.
Just sunning myself on the beach of Oahu. A cabana boy is fanning me and I'm sipping ice tea and reading The Wall Street Journal.
Okay, as I write this I'm still at home, I leave in eighteen hours, and I have not packed a thing. And I keep eating my snacks for the plane. And more than likely by this time on Wednesday, I'm a nice shade of pink, I have a collection of bugs stuck in my sunscreen, and I'm reading a copy of People.
I seriously have packing anxiety. I dread it! I HATE it! Why isn't this a service someone provides? Like you can pay people to clean your house, pick up your dry cleaning, wash your car, babysit your dog. WHY ARE THERE NOT PERSONAL PACKERS???? I don't CARE if it would mean strangers are handling my undies. As long as I don't have to think about portion control, jacket/no jacket, and coordinating shoes to outfits, I'm fine!
Anyway, here is the second half of chapter one of The Big Picture, coming soon to a movie theater near you. Just kidding. It's not. And if it was, it would be in the movies that cost $3.00 to get into. Or the straight to video kind like Jessica Simpson's. Me and Jess just don't get no respect.
This is the second part, so don't read it before you read the first half, which was posted on Monday (wink, wink). Again, sorry for the messed up format. Blame blogger. I know I do.
The Big Picture
Chapter Uno (Part Dos)
“Charlie, I think we should talk.” I look behind us and make sure Frances and Nash aren’t listening in. “I was wondering if you and I—”
The trill of my phone cuts off my big moment.
I hold up a finger, silently telling Charlie to wait. I’m not through with you.
I check the number as I flip the phone open. “Hi, Millie.”
“Hi, sweetie. Are you having a good time?”
Oh, yeah, sure. I was just about to break out into a Céline Dion song and declare my undying devotion to Charlie. Great timing.
“Hon, I know you’ve looked forward to tonight all week, but I’m going to need you to have Charlie bring you home.” My foster mother pauses. “Now.”
The heart I was about to hand over to Charlie triples in speed. “Are you okay? What’s wrong?” My foster mom has been doing intense chemo treatments in the last month for breast cancer. It kinda freaks me out.
“Nothing’s wrong. No emergency. James and I just need you to come home. We’ll explain when you get here.”
I end the call and relay the message to my friends.
“Hop in the truck.” Charlie’s hand rubs my upper arm. “I’ll take you home. I’ll come back for Nash and Frances later.”
He opens my door as my best friend and her date set up their chairs on the ground. I wave good-bye and promise to call Frances later. Charlie pulls his Ford out of the drive-in lot and we head toward home.
“Sorry you’re having to miss the movie.” I tap my fingers on my knees. “You can just drop me off.”
Charlie pins me with an intense look. “Katie, I’m staying with you. I want to make sure everything’s all right.”
“Oh . . . um.” Now is so not a good time for this, but I blurt it out anyway. “Charlie, what are we?”
He frowns. “What do you mean?”
“I mean . . . are we friends?”
“Of course we’re friends. You’re a good friend.”
“No.” Boys are dumb. Boys are stupid. “I mean is that all we are? I don’t
know how to read you lately. Are we going out?” I feel my face flame.
He stares straight ahead at the road. Speechless. I feel my stomach sink to the floorboard.
“I think we’re probably heading in that direction,” he finally says. “What’s the problem?”
“The problem is at school you’ve been pretty distant lately. But then we’ll spend two hours on the phone and hang out on the weekends. Are you embarrassed by me at school?” It’s not like I wear blue eye shadow.
“No. Of course not.” His face clouds. “I like hanging out with you.”
And here’s where he sticks in the big but.
“But I just don’t want anybody hurt.”
“Who’s going to get hurt?”
He turns on his blinker and navigates a turn. “I don’t want to lose this—us.
But you probably need to know something.”
For the second time tonight, my body floods with panic. “Oh, my gosh, do you wear women’s underwear?”
“You like boys too?”
“You secretly listen to Clay Aiken and make up your own dance moves?”
“Katie, I’ve started spending time with Chelsea again.”
Like Voldemort to Harry Potter, I suck in my breath at the mere mention of this name. Chelsea Blake—his ex-girlfriend. A girl born with a silver spoon in her mouth and pompoms between her ears.
He reaches for my hand, but I move toward the door. “Why?”
“She’s going through some pretty tough times lately.”
“Who hasn’t?” Plus all she has to do is shop her troubles away. I feel blue! Come to me, oh, MasterCard and Visa! “Why does Chelsea need you?”
“I’m practically all she’s got. She doesn’t really have many friends.”
“Because she eats them for dinner,” I hiss.
“That’s not fair.”
“Need I remind you I was with you the day you saw Chelsea lip-locked with Trevor Jackson last month? She cheated on you. You don’t owe her anything. Let Trevor help her.”
“They were over before they started. She’s just so alone. You don’t know all the dysfunction she’s got going on.”
“Oh, what, did Mommy buy her a Dooney and Bourke instead of a Coach?”
“There’s more to Chelsea than that.”
Yeah, a couple hundred dollars worth of highlights. “What does she have to do with us anyway?”
“I need you to be okay with me hanging out with her. It’s the right thing to do.”
I study his face, honing in on his nose and consider tweaking it off his pretty face. “So we are just friends then. Because what you’re not saying is that you’re not sure your feelings for her are totally dead, am I right?”
I count the fence posts we pass until he answers.
“I’m not dating Chelsea.”
“But you’re also not dating me?”
“I do want to see where you and I—”
“You can’t have both of us. What’s wrong with Chelsea that she needs you so much?”
“I can’t tell you.”
I nod and process this. “Fine.”
“You know I can’t turn my back on Chelsea. That’s not the God thing to do.”
“And dating me is—while you sort out which one of us you like?”
“I said this wasn’t about liking Chelsea.”
The truck pulls into my driveway.
“And I don’t believe you.” I grab my purse.
He hops out to open my door, but I beat him to it, slamming it shut and stomping toward the front porch.
“Go home, Charlie. I’ll talk to you later.”
I hear him running to catch up with me. “I’ll walk you to the door.”
Yes, because that would be the polite thing to do after stomping on my heart. I speed up my pace, staying two steps ahead of him and race up the sidewalk.
“Katie, wait. Please, I want to talk to you.”
“Now is obviously not a good time. Go check on Chelsea and—” I halt in my tracks and Charlie smacks into the back of me, grabbing my waist with both arms to avoid a fall.
The front doors swings open and Millie files out. Followed by James. And the dog.
And one more person, who shoves past them all and holds her arms out wide.
Bobbie Ann Parker.
“I’ve come to take you home.”
Copied from The Big Picture, by Jenny B. Jones, copyright 2008, by permission of NavPress, www.navpress.com. All rights reserved.