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Strum: Chapter Eight
If you ever want to see something funny, then you should have seen the look on Chasity’s face when I told her about the recess she missed, about the kiss, and how Ben and I are now dating.
“You’ve got to be kidding me!” She said. “Ben? But … you should have let me be there!”
“No. Think about that Chas,” I said. “It would have been awkward.
“True.” She said. Then she looked up, as my cell phone went off. I answered it.
“Hello?” I asked, turning away from Chasity.
“Hey.” It was Ben. “Do you want to meet me at Dairy Queen?”
I smiled, even though he couldn’t see me. “Sure, I’ll probably be there in about a half an hour.”
“Okay, see you then, then.”
“Bye, love you.”
“I love you too, baby.” And he hung up. I smiled again.
“Was that Lover Boy?” She asked. That was the nickname she came up with. Original, huh?
“Yes. I have to go, Chasity. See you tomorrow?”
I left her sitting at our kitchen table, where we had been sitting. It wasn’t odd for her to be alone at my house. She was getting used to it. She was there every weekend.
I left the apartment, and hoped on a subway. After the ride, I climbed the stair out into the sunshine, and walked across the street to the Dairy Queen.
Ben was already there, sitting in a booth. His long hair as messy as ever, and a milkshake with two straws sat in the middle of the table. I slid onto the bench across from him. He reached for my hand, and gave me a light kiss.
“Hey, baby.” He said. He stroked my cheek. I pulled away. “What?” He asked.
“I don’t want to get so … intense.” I said. “Not yet.”
“Well, okay.” He leaned back, and stretched, showing off his muscles. I pretended not to notice.
“I need to ask you something.” I said, and leaned in to whisper. “What is up with this whole thing, you know, with Chasity, Spencer, and Jack?”
He sort of tensed up, and rubbed his eyes, then sighed. “Well, I thought you might have figured this out, but, Spencer likes Chasity, Chasity likes Jack, and Jack likes Tricia, obviously.”
“Well yeah, I figured that much, but …”
And then, they walked up. Jack, and Tricia, holding hands, so close they looked inseparable, and then Valerie, walking behind kind of dejected. But when she saw us, she looked up, and her shoulders slumped.
“Well, well.” Tricia sneered. “What do we have here?” Jack laughed.
“I think they’re on a date, Tricia, we should leave them alone.” Valerie said quietly.
“Come on, Val.” Tricia whined. “You can’t be still upset over breaking up with him.” Ben winced. “After all, it was his fault.”
“Wait, you two dated? I thought you just asked her to a dance and she said no!” I accused him from across the table.
“Well, we kind of did date, but it was nothing big and …”
“Nothing big?!” Shrieked Tricia. “You made out with her every chance you could! How is that not big? It lasted two months!”
I looked at Ben.
“But then,” Tricia continued. “You decided to breakup with her - ”
“I didn’t break up with her!” Ben yelled. We were drawing attention to the whole DQ now.
“Hon, stop.” I said gently, reaching across the table for his hand. He shook me away. “Ben!”
“Stay out of this, Nat.” And he stood up, inches from Tricia’s face. I watched on, helpless, not wanting to get involved.
“I didn’t.” He said, just loud enough that I could hear. “She broke up with me. I asked her to the Christmas dance, just to make sure we would be going as a couple, and then she ended everything, right there, said we weren’t meant for each other. She said she was going with Dylan.”
“But I didn’t want to!” Valerie cried. “Tricia made me!”
“And she made you go out with Dylan too? For three and a half months?” Ben accused, not moving a muscle.
“Well, no … but, I didn’t want to break up with you!” Valerie seemed close to tears.
I wanted out of this conversation. For some reason, it was making me nauseous. “Ben, I want to go, now.”
The milkshake was a total liquid on the table.
He backed off from Tricia, and reached for my hand. I grabbed his, and he pulled me off the seat. Together, we walked hand in hand out the door, a grimace still present on Ben’s face.