Chapter 17, "Driving"
"Don't put your feet up on the dashboard," Jessica chastised me.
"Sorry." I scooted my feet back down to the floor. Her car was nice and pretty, blue, shiny, and kind of awesome. I thought about the spaceship I'd been flying around all summer. It was nice to be in the passenger's seat again, but I missed the roominess of my ship.
"Where are we going?" I asked.
"Nowhere, really. I just hate being around there all the time," Jessica said. She had the windows rolled down, so her hair was flipping all over the place. It reminded me of the way Frig's hair used to fly around in the wind when I took her on those walks, looking for The Place.
"Why are you even staying in our house, Jessica? You hate Frig."
Jessica shrugged. "It's better than my place. My parents are fighting all the time, my little brother thinks he's hot shit and always bringing his stupid friends home to play video games and try to get in my way. Plus, I have a bigger room here. Rent free."
I nodded. I had no idea Jessica had a little brother. "I guess everyone else is here because they're worried about Frig."
"Lexington's not. She's here because she has the hots for your brother. Which, by the way, when the hell did he turn into a freaking robot?"
Ten points to Jessica for her marvelous observation skills. I ignored the question, because I'm pretty sure I explained all that in our meeting. It didn't matter anyway, because she kept on talking.
"And anyway, I get free food here, too. And I don't have my mom on my back trying to get me to apply to junior college. And I can sleep as late as I want. And you have satellite TV."
I thought about telling her we actually used that satellite for a lot more than just TV, but I figured it wasn't worth it.
"Does it bother you that someone we went to high school with is pregnant and turning into an alien?" I asked.
She shrugged again. "Nah. Weirder shit than that's happened since we graduated."
"Are you serious?" I asked. "What could possibly be weirder than that?"
"Kelly Mason got a nose job. Have you seen it? It's hideous. I'd sue the doctor if it were me."
I had to marvel at anyone finding a crappy nose job being weirder than an alien pregnancy. The simplicity of Jessica's mind fascinated me. Or maybe it was her cheekbones. They were pretty nice, too.
Argh, stop it, I told myself. You do not need to throw yourself into another stupid, impossible crush.
"Hey, Christopher, can I ask you something?"
"Yeah, sure," I said.
"Are you a lesbian?"
The question stunned me a little. In all honesty, I'd never thought of the word in relation to myself. I knew that I had the tendency to find ladies a little more appealing than dudes, but having someone ask outright seemed so...solid. And weird. Almost like I had to make a decision right then and there and it would define something about me that I would have to be okay with for the rest of my life.
So I shrugged and said, "I don't know."
"Oh," Jessica said. "It's just that it seemed like you were all up in Frig's business all the time and like maybe you liked her or something."
Which is when a huge wave of sadness hit me out of nowhere, crippling me. Maybe I liked Frig or something. The girl who didn't exist anymore. I tried to hold back, because I didn't think that now was the time or that here was the place. But I couldn't contain it, and I let out a loud sob. I felt my throat choking up, and I wanted to tell Jessica to back off, that it was none of her business anyway, and what did she know about it, she hadn't even noticed that Hector was a robot, but I didn't say any of it, I just cried like a stupid freaking baby. Because I'd tried to hold onto a strand of hope that maybe when Frig had the baby, she'd come back, she'd be normal, and I could convince her that she wanted to stay human, stay here, stay with me. But that would never happen. Frig was really, really, truly gone forever and I had wasted the last two years of my life loving a girl who would never come back, and I wasn't even allowed to mourn her passing because everyone else was so dang happy for her. The tears poured out, I hiccuped and moaned and tried to apologize for turning into a sobbing lunatic.
"Dude, are you gonna be okay? I didn't mean anything, all right? Look, I'm getting us some ice cream." Jessica pulled into the parking lot of Delicious Treats and Snackery, the only place in Spatulas that served ice cream on a cone. "You wanna come in, or you want me to get you something?"
I sniffed hard and tried to pull it together. Ice cream actually sounded pretty awesome. "Mint chocolate chip, if they have it," I said, leaving my seat belt buckled. Jessica nodded and climbed out of the car, my bizarre savior, off to bring me back cold, minty salvation.
Jessica was really sweet to me after that. I guess she felt bad for calling me a lesbian and making me cry, even though that's not really what did it. She drove around Spatulas until I'd calmed down enough to speak clearly, and then waited until I was ready before driving us back home. In all of my efforts to find a place to be alone, I hadn't realized how much I just needed someone to talk to. I'd had a good cry over Frig, and it opened something up in me. A peace, almost. I could move forward now, I'd accepted Frig's fate and I wouldn't let it bother me again. My cry and the ice cream and the drive with Jessica put my priorities back in order. I would focus on my own life now, instead of Frig's.
I walked into the house with my newfound peace, and Charlie asking for my coat didn't irk me at all. In fact, I handed him the messy napkin from my ice cream cone and let him hang it up.
"Pleased to be of much service indeed it is my pleasure," Charlie clanked, and I'd never seen him so happy. His happiness made me feel even better. Everything was going to be okay.
Tabitha waved at me from the living room, a little tentatively, probably because she thought I may still be frustrated from the unsuccessful aliens-are-bad meeting. I waved back, giving her my best reassuring smile.
Jessica and I joined everyone, who were gathered in the living room watching Xlormp and Frig play patty-cake with Frig's slimy, baby-filled belly.
"Patty-cake, patty-cake, alien man, bake me a cake and fill it with mammal innards. Roll it, and scorch it, and mark it with a Q, and put it in my slime folds so it can be properly ingested for the baby and me!" Frig clapped happily. I looked at Xlormp for the first time in a while, really paying attention to him as someone other than the biggest jerkwad in the galaxy. He looked so happy, beaming with joy. For someone who was so distressed about having an unattractive wife not two weeks ago, he'd really made progress. Good for him.
"Sharks always dance with my parents," Lou whispered sweetly to Frig. Almost fatherly. I envied his unconditional love. It was as if he couldn't even tell Frig no longer resembled her old self.
I let the comfort of my surroundings overtake me. If this is where I was, I would stop fighting it, and I would be happy, like everyone else. It seemed to be working for them.
As if picking up on my contentment, Frig raised her head from her belly and smiled at me. I smiled back, looking forward to forming a new, maybe even healthy relationship with my alien friend.
And that's when the gushing stream of green and red goo erupted from Frig's ears, and she screamed.
An early chapter today! My gift to you! :)