“What’s up with your mom?” I asked Amaya, “she’s been looking at me weird ever since she came over.”
Amaya laughed, but I could see a flicker of something else in her eyes. “Are you sure it’s not because of your singing?”
I shoved her playfully, giggling. “Come on, Aya! No, it’s got to be about something else.”
Amaya glanced over to her mom, taking a deep breath. “Right. Well, this time it is about your mom. My parents are entrepreneurs and ardent capitalists… so if your mom’s policies pass, they’re going to move us to San Myshuno.”
“What?!” I screeched, and Emily’s reaction mirrored mine as her eyes shot open wide.
Amaya nodded sadly and I could tell she’d already expected these reactions. “Yeah, I know. They can’t run their business to the extent that they want to if your mom’s policies go through, Vali… so they’re just going to make us pack up and leave. They said I can still go to Coastal if I get up at like 4:30 every day so I can get over here, which is shit.”
“My brother’s moving to San Myshuno, too,” Emily said, “but not for that reason. He got a job working at the Casbah Gallery.”
Ugh. Politics is so stupid! I have no idea why my mom would even want to get involved in all that shit, but here we are.
“Amaya, can’t your parents wait to move until you graduate?” I asked her.
“I don’t know. I don’t really think they would. They’re already looking at nice apartments.”
I groaned, adjusting my headband. There had to be some way to keep Amaya from leaving. It wasn’t fair that all this stuff going on between the fucking adults should separate us. “Aya, why don’t you just move in with me? We have space.”
“Yeah… I already asked my parents if I could,” Amaya sighed in a way that meant they’d also already said no as she looked over to her mom and back to us. “They said they’re not going to send me to live with the socialists.” She rolled her eyes, running her hand against the pillow.
I raised my eyebrows in surprise. “They actually said that?”
Amaya nodded. “Yes, yes they did. They want me to run their business, remember?”
“What about my place?” Emily asked her, “there isn’t that much space, but we could make it work – and my parents aren’t open socialists.”
“Are they socialists, though?” Amaya asked out of curiosity.
Emily shrugged. “Uh, I don’t know. We don’t talk politics at my place.”
“Must be nice,” Amaya sighed, “and I suppose I could ask my parents about staying with you, but you already said there’s a lot going on and I don’t want to butt in.”
“Nah, it’d be nice to have you there. Once my brother moves out I’m going to be so lonely. I don’t know how you survive as an only child,” Emily replied. She often talked about her brother and he had played with us often as kids.
Amaya laughed, shaking her head. “I can’t imagine not being an only child.”
I groaned, thinking about my younger siblings. “Yeah, I have four siblings and they can all be absolute shit sometimes.”
“Vali!” Emily exclaimed.
“What?” I shrugged, “I don’t get the appeal of kids. Sera can be a bitch, but she mostly keeps to herself. My brothers are all pretty annoying and they’re still in elementary and middle school.”
“Me and my brother are pretty close,” Emily said, “he’s only about a year older.”
“So he’s seventeen?” Amaya asked.
Emi nodded. “Yep. Turning eighteen in September.”
“He’s young for a twelfth grader, he’s going to graduate at only seventeen,” I pointed out. I’d be eighteen when I graduated, just like Aya, Emi, and Jaden.
“Yeah. He’s going to San Myshuno for his summer job and coming back to Oasis for college,” Emily explained.
Amaya nodded, playing with her looped brown hair. “That’s cool. Damn, I wish my parents weren’t going to move me so far away. I’ll have no friends up there in Sakura Province.”
“At the least, you can always come back to Neoteric after graduation,” Emily sighed, as a young couple walked past us and into the bathroom together.
“That would be the most shit way to end high school, though,” Amaya groaned, looking over to where the couple had gone with her eyes raised and we all burst out laughing.
After our laughter died down, I sighed, looking at my friends. “I wish the adults didn’t bring us into their whole socialist/capitalist shit.”
“I know, right? I don’t think they’re intentionally doing it, but still,” Amaya sighed, “I see both sides – my parents raised me in a capitalist environment, but I can see your mom’s point too…”
She trailed off as we all saw her mom start to come out to get us. I was honestly surprised that she’d even let us stay out this late – it was 11:30, but it took three hours to get home! I mean, it was Friday, but there was no way in hell my moms would let me stay out until 3 am!
It’s just so dumb. Politics just makes everything more complicated! Why can’t people just agree on how the world should work? Yeah, I know, it’s like a billion times more complicated than that and wishing for everyone to just agree on that shit is really idealistic – but it would just make everyone’s lives easier! And it’s not even like she would just be moving to the next town over, she won’t even be in the Neoteric Province because our whole province will be socialist. She’ll be three fucking hours away in San Myshuno! I try to stay out of political stuff as much as I can because that shit is messy, but it doesn’t even matter!
One of my best friends is probably going to move away to another province because of my mom! But, it’s not like I can hate my mom since she’s just trying to do something good, and it would make me a shit person to hate her for trying to make the world better. Ugh. I’ve literally been forced into all this shit because my mom’s a politician. Why couldn’t she have just like waited another year to do all this? Then we would’ve all graduated and Amaya wouldn’t have to leave – she would be 18 and her parents couldn’t force her to go to San Myshuno.
I avoided my family the rest of the weekend, spending most of my time at Brindleton’s old Calico Club. Music always helps me calm down and when I wasn’t playing my own music, there was someone else performing.
It really was just my mom that I was trying to avoid. I literally do not know how to feel about her right now. Her policies might make Amaya end up three hours away which makes me want to scream at her to stop – but at the same time I know she is just doing what’s right. I’d be a really shitty person for hating my mom for just trying to do good things! Ugh. This whole thing is fucking shit. Why couldn’t my mom just not do controversial things that pull my friends away? She didn’t do anything that really affected me for most of my life, but now that her things with fixing climate change are pretty much set in place… she moves on to this. I was actually pretty happy when I got to school today after watching a particularly good performance by a semi-famous pianist last night on Sunday – until my phone pinged with an urgent text from Amaya. The first and only thing I could think of was that my mom’s policies went through and Amaya’s parents are packing up. I actually try to keep up on what’s happening with my mom’s stuff now that it affects me and my friends. Many sites said it would take a while for everything to get implemented, but that was still where my mind went until I eased open the door to the library’s back room where I saw Emily crying and Amaya waved me over. I clicked the door shut, rushing over to the two of them. “What happened? Does it have to do with her family?”
“She hasn’t said anything,” Amaya whispered, squeezing Emily’s hand.
“Emi?” I asked, and she looked up at the two of us sadly.
“My boyfriend…” she started, and Amaya instantly bit her lip.
“Oh, Watcher. Where is that asshole?” I punched my fist into my other hand, looking at Emi worriedly. She was such a hopeless romantic and Amaya & I had both been worried when she first started dating this guy because of that. She actually believed in relationships ending in the ‘happily ever after’ style fairytale. If he broke up with her, she could actually be really, really hurt. I will find him and destroy him for hurting her like that. He seemed like a nice person before when she introduced him to us, but I guess –
“No, Vali, you can’t do anything,” Emi sighed.
I twisted my hair around my hand, confused. “Why the fuck not?”
“I can’t hate him for breaking up with me because he can’t love me.”
Amaya furrowed her brows, staring at Emily. “Elaborate. You are worthy of being loved – ”
Emily shook her head. “No, it’s – it’s not like that. It’s not just me… he can’t love any girl. He’s gay.”
Amaya and I just sat there in shocked silence as Emi simply nodded slowly, tears still running down her cheeks.
“See?” Emi finally whispered softly, “I can’t hate him for breaking up with me.”
“Emily…” Aya started, trailing off. What could you say to that, really? He’s gay! Emi’s right, it’s not his fault he can’t love her. But she loved him. I can see it the way she talks about him, and it’s not surprising, considering Emily. She’s always been a bit unrealistic when it comes to her ideas of love.
“I really thought we could end up together,” Emily sighed, tugging at the fabric of her shirt.
“Emily!” I exclaimed, pressing my hand against my head, “I told you high school relationships almost never work out!”
She groaned. “Yeah, I know! I can’t help it that I fell in love – but he never felt the way I did about him. I mean, like, I’m happy he came out. That’s great for him, but – ugh – I still like him. It’s not fair!”
“Life isn’t fair,” I muttered, thinking of this whole shitshow with my mom’s policies along with all of our failed relationships. We’re all single girls now, when only about three months ago, we weren’t.
“I’m sorry, Emi,” Amaya sighed.
“Me too. Just cause I’m skeptical of love doesn’t mean you should be,” I added.
Emily slammed her hands down on the sofa and I involuntarily blinked at her sudden movement. “But, you’re right! If I didn’t fall for him so easily…”
“Emi, there’ll be other – not gay – dudes,” Amaya pointed out to her, even though we both knew she would need some time. She actually fell in love with this guy. Maybe, she does need to grow up a little, at least in the not thinking of everything as true love way, because that only gets you hurt. Of course… trying not to think about everything as true love doesn’t really work either – and I should know. I tried that and I still got hurt. Love can just be shit. Everything can just be shit, you know? Aya and I sent Emi constant messages throughout the day, making sure she was okay. I had to hand off that friend duty solely to Aya after school, though, because of theater starting. We’re getting pretty close to opening night by now – it’s only around a month away, which is insane. I’m really excited for it, though. The whole thing has been amazing and the others are pretty talented, too, unlike my middle school drama club. I swear half the people in that were only doing it then because their parents forced them to. All the people in theatre now genuinely enjoy it and I love being around other people as passionate as I am about it.
“Okay, we’re polishing up the first few scenes!” Mrs. Wesson announced. I tried to get used to calling her Leticia, but it was just too weird. Teachers would normally give me a glare if I used their first name – and I don’t even know half my teachers’ first names. I just could not get used to it, so Mrs. Wesson it is.
“Which scene are we starting with?” Brett inquired, flipping through the packet.
Mrs. Wesson simply smiled, motioning for him and I to go down and talk to her. I jumped down and he followed behind, lowering himself off the stage.
“Yes?” He asked her.
“Well, you see, it’s getting closer to the actual performance, so today, you and Valentina will be practicing the first kiss scene – complete with a kiss.”
My eyes widened and so did his. “Wait, you actually want us to kiss?” I exclaimed in surprise.
“Uh, yeah. It’s in the play and as this play is very big on romance, we need to get it right,” Mrs. Wesson laughed, enjoying our shocked expressions.
He blushed, nodding. “Alright.”
“Yeah, okay,” I replied.
He tapped me on the arm after Mrs. Wesson walked away to get the set pieces out. “Hey, you cool with that? Like, I don’t want to kiss you if you aren’t cool with it.”
I looked at him, surprised he’d even asked. “Yeah, I’m cool with it. It’s acting, after all.”
“Okay,” he nodded, pausing briefly, seemingly processing my answer, “Ok, cool.” What did he really expect me to say? No?
“Guys, come on!” Mrs. Wesson called to us as she walked by to her seat. I pulled myself back up to the stage, quickly reading over my lines again. Him and I gave each other a slight nod indicating we were ready to begin.
He slid the piece of paper that said his lines into his pocket before giving me a grin as he began to read his lines. “Have not saints lips, and holy palmers too?”
I’d read over the whole play many times and my lines came out easily. “Ay, pilgrim, lips that they must use in prayer.”
“O, then, dear saint, let lips do what hands do. They pray; grant thou, lest faith turn to despair.”
“Saints do not move, though grant for prayers’ sake.” I tried to give off the feeling that Juliet knew he was about to kiss her and yet, she would happily toy with him a bit more before letting it happen.
“Then move not, while my prayer’s effect I take.”
We looked at each other expectantly for a few seconds before I finally realized he wasn’t going to make the first move, so I did. I rested my hands on his shoulders, pressing my lips to his as he just stood there before like, waking up or something, and wrapping his arms around my waist.
“Not too bad, but we need quicker reactions,” Mrs. Wesson said, looking down at her sheet, “Okay, keep going! Today’s rehearsal is going to be cut short since I have a meeting at six.”
I nodded. “Starting at Act 1, Scene 6?”
“Yep,” she replied, “go on.”
We went through the entirety of Acts 1 and 2 before she told us to repeat the kissing scene at the beginning again. Most teachers would tell us to kiss each other on the cheek or something dumb like that, so thank Watcher that Mrs. Wesson isn’t like that. She understands that it’s part of the play. This time, he knew what he was doing, at least, surprising me with how easily he went for it this time.
When we pulled apart, my eyes shot open as I saw Kyle just standing there in the back. He looked just as surprised to see me.
“Okay, y’all are free!” Mrs. Wesson grinned, putting her papers in her bag.
I walked over to Kyle slowly, but it still felt like I was standing in front of him quicker than I should’ve been.
“What are you doing here?” I asked, shifting from side to side. I hadn’t talked to him since we broke up.
“Already moved on, huh?”
“It’s called acting. And you broke up with me, remember?”
He exhaled softly, pushing his hair behind his ear. “Yeah, I know.”
“We weren’t serious, either,” I went on. I was still kinda pissed at the way things ended between us and I didn’t feel bad at all for the slight digs I was throwing at him, or his obvious uncomfortableness with it all. Why was he even here, anyway? He isn’t in the play.
“I know. I kissed another girl when we were together – like only a week after we started ‘dating’ and weren’t like really serious at all,” he admitted, obviously still not sure if he should’ve even told me, “but I broke it off right after that.”
I shrugged. I wasn’t sure if he was trying to make a dig at me too, showing that he didn’t care too much about our relationship or what. And then he was like trying to save face by saying he broke it off? Whatever – it’s not like it matters anymore. “Um, yea, we weren’t exclusive. What are you doing here?”
“Just looking for my water bottle. The lost and found is in here… so…”
“Oh. Yeah, ok.” I started to walk out, looking back only to see him digging in the lost and found. It’s still weird to think of him with someone else – and I don’t just mean that random girl – I mean anyone. We dated for a year and now that we’re over…. Well, I dunno. I thought I was over him, but then why does it still feel weird to think of him in another relationship? It’s not even like we were really serious at all, anyway. Seeing him again just brings back that same feeling of rejection – the same feeling I felt when he left me in the closet after backing out of sex in January, and the feeling I got when he finally ended things. Romance has got to be the most fucking complicated thing on Earth. And, you know, it almost never works.