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The Game of Trust
Cheerios are the only thing that ever stays consistent in my life.
Where ever I went, I could always count on the fact that I could find some good, old fashioned, reliable cheerios to eat in the morning for breakfast.
Y’see, my mom is Nanette Marie Laine, aspiring actress, and professional runner. No, she does not run, physically (which would definitely be a sight), just runs from problems. More like, runs from the guys she sleeps with to get work.
And I don’t really blame her from running from them. They’re creeps. Which is what I keep telling her every time she insists that, “It’ll be different, you’ll see,” Oh, but do I know better.
Because it all works out the same: We move to some big new city with busy streets and lots of opportunities. Nettie (as she prefers to be called, besides I refuse to call the woman who walks around the house with nothing but plastic curlers and a see-through rob, mom) looks around for work for, oh, about a day and a half, and when nothing comes along, she gives up hope, sleeps with a no-good guy that a mutt would be better than, who says they are “connected” (they never are, of course, these guys are sleazes, but she doesn’t seem to quite grasp that), and when they prove me to be right, and her to be wrong, we pick up…and move, again.
This whole cycle last approximately two months, five days. Approximately.
It’s pretty much just science, the whole thing. Nettie thrives off of new. She needs constant change all the time.
For example, within those two months and five days that we’ll live in the apartment we’ll rent, she’ll decorate the house at least seven times.
Her hair color changes at least two times a week.
We’ve owned about two-hundred-seventy-four different pets ranging from exotic animals like the iguana, to all different breads of the normal kinds of pets—cats, dogs, birds, etc. If you can name it, I pretty much guarantee we’ve had it.
And lastly, of course, the guys. Her relationships are quick, and messy. After she gets tired of them, she dumps them. And since these guys are not used to much less any female desiring them, they get all clingy and scary, then my mom will finally realize that the guy is a creep, and we’ll move.
Change, change, change.
Most people hate it. They like their consistency. For me? Change is my consistency. Funny how things work out like that, huh?
The current guy she had been seeing, Barry, was I’d say, one of her sleaziest. He was down right the most disgusting man I had ever met. He had this horribly fake taupe, was round and fat, and sweat almost constantly.
How Nettie could have stooped to a guy like that, is beyond me.
Which is why I have a “Never” list, as in, I’ll “Never” date a guy who is…taller than six feet,—I’m not that tall, and I just think it looks bad—a musician,—they break your hearts, they’re total players. Plus, do you really expect them to “honor your relationship” and not cheat on you when they go away for Tours and stuff? Common—blonde—just not my type—a sweet talker—you can usually tell by the fact that they smile a lot, and tease you—and a lot more. Those are just the main ones that you always run across.
Anyways, of course before Nettie had realized that Barry was completely disgusting, she had walked around on his arm like he was a God. She giggled when he talked to her, smiled when he came in the room, and even waved like a maniac when we’d see him in random places. It was revolting, really.
But of course, Barry’s true color’s revealed themselves—okay, more like, Nettie finally realized he was sleazy—when one night, when Nettie went out for a couple of drinks, he kept calling the house, and asking where she was.
And when Nettie drove up, he popped out of the bushes, and tackled her, and started trying to hit her.
So, you could say Nettie “fell out of love” pretty quickly with him. She pushed him off, ran into the house, and called the cops on him. It was pretty hilarious on my end seeing as how I had been warning her about Barry for the past couple weeks.
I am standing with Zack—my current, but soon to be ex, boyfriend—at the steps of the Museum in silence. I am used to what I’d have to do next; it was part of my System. You see, every relationship is based off of a five step system. I call it my “Steps of a Relationship” list.
The First step is the Meet. You meet, flirt, and they try to get your number, or just pretend not to be interested. There’s not really any actual conversation, just a lot of teasing.
The Second step is where you meet them again, and they usually ask you out on a date then, or the next time you see them.
The Third is the “Honey Moon Faze” where you are all cute with each other—which makes me want to barf.
The Fourth is the “Bickering Stage” as I like to call it. You can never seem to agree, and you fight a lot. Some can skip the fourth step, and just go straight to number five. I personally like to skip it, less hurt, and it’s easier for me personally.
Finally, step five is the break up, which is where we are now with Zack.
“What are you talking about, Reagan?” Zack asks me when I tell him that we should stop seeing each other because it was “time.” “Time for what? Did you set your watch for when you thought the appropriate time would be? You knew from the beginning, didn’t you? Orderly Reagan, always organized and planning every second of your life. Damn Reagan, haven’t you ever just went with the flow? Didn’t organize something?”
“Why would I do that?” I ask him in all seriousness. “I don’t like surprises. And this way, I can plan them all,”
“You can’t map out your life, Reagan,” he says.
I roll my eyes. It was a typical reaction. They never get easier for them, but they get easier each time for me. Its just routine, something I do. Its simpler that way.
After Zack storms off, I go back to the house to see Nettie bent over the kitchen sink dying her hair a new fresh shade of magenta. I role my eyes and try to convince her why she should just stop dyeing it.
“You’re gonna loose all your hair,” I say, placing my hands on my hips, and transferring my weight to my left foot, as if, somehow, this gives emphasis to what I’m saying.
“Oh, Reagan,” is all I get of a response. “Now, Dan is supposed to be here with the moving van in a few minuets, so make sure we got everything in a box, kay? Also, I got a call from my old friend Lola who said that her last tenet just moved out, so she has a spot open. Isn’t that good news?” Dan is the guy that drives the moving van while we take the airplane. The only other thing that is a consistent part of our lives.
Dan has known my mom since they were kids in the sandbox dreaming about being famous. They had a slight thing in their teen years, but broke it off because even then Nettie was the same. After high school a few years later, she said she wanted to go around to cities, searching for work, and Dan had asked to come with her—I don’t know why, though, who would voluntarily follow around Nettie? She, at first, said, and I quote, “Hell no,” because she really didn’t trust guys (and I don’t blame her. I don’t trust the little slimy perverts either). But when Dan confessed [falsely] to being gay, Nettie began trusting Dan with everything. And now, Dan is the only man she trusts, ever.
“Where to this time?” I ask.
She lifts her head—since she’s finally finished—and looks at me with her gorgeous green eyes—which is the trait I’m glad I got from her.
“Nevada!” she screeches with excitement. But I can’t see why. Nevada is hardly a big city type state. Hardly a place Nettie would pick.
“Nevada?!” I say, utterly stunned. “What’s in Nevada?”
“Opportunity, my dear. Opportunity,”
“Hardly, Nettie. Do you know the rate for stars that come out of Nevada? Practically zero. That’s right. Because Nevada is just space.” I don’t know any of this for sure, of course. But I really couldn’t catch on her train of why we were going to such a desolate state. California, New York, Washington…these are her types. But Nevada? Hardly.
She just glares at me.
“Ooo, how about LA? That’s filled with opportunity. We could go back there. It’s been over two years since Harry.”
No response. She just goes about looking around the cleaned up kitchen like she’s actually doing something.
“Common Nettie, there is nothing in Nevada!” I insist.
“Just keep your mind open, Reagan,” is all she says to me.
We get to the airport early the next morning—give Dan a bit of a head start. Nettie is at the front desk of the airport’s, “Information Station”. I know that she is busy complaining about something because the new short, blonde, fresh-out-of-college worker looks as if she is about ready to pee her pants. Hopefully not literally.
Nettie can be quite scary at times. Okay, well, that’s a bit of an understatement. She’s pretty much the most forward, pushy, and up-tight person I’ve ever met. And trust me, in my life, I’ve met quite a few people.
Let’s just say enough people to never want to meet another person again.
The new small blonde worker is pretty, and petite. If she wasn’t so scared of Nettie, she might have had one of those pretty shining smiles. You know, one of those ones where it practically lights up her whole face just when she smiles like one big light bulb. Her hair—quite obviously—was just freshly died, and not naturally blonde—I can just tell these things, I’ve got a lot of practice with Nettie.
“I’m sorry ma’am, I don’t know what we can do about that,” her voice shaking as she says this.
“I want you to fix it, okay?” Nettie taps her foot, wiping a magenta lock away from her eyes agitatedly. The blonde girl looks up at her with tears in her pretty blue eyes.
See, even though Nettie is sporting a new magenta hair color with bright makeup, and purple leggings with a white dress-top, she just forces you to take her seriously. It’s just her style of dealing with people.
It’s also probably the reason that she doesn’t have very many friends, and probably why she doesn’t get that many jobs, at least, you know, not without sleeping with someone, and we see how great that works out, huh?
But don’t get me wrong about Nettie. Even though she dresses crazily, and is quite scary, she’s gorgeous—and can be loveable when she wants to.
She has ruthless, but untouchable features, and soothing—at times—green eyes. She has broad check bones, a sharp chin, and voluptuous lips. Some traits I wish I inherited from her, but didn’t.
I have normal light brown hair (I just got some layers for something new and a side-bang), thin, but round face, and thin lips from my dad’s lame features—who ever he was.
Y’see, I have no clue who the guy was. And, sadly to say, neither does Nettie. She tells me that it is just one of the guys that she has slept with over the years. Just another. Just an accident that had its “rewards”—aka me.
All I told her, was, “Great. So because of your mistake, I get to follow you around the entire US because you can’t make up your mind about anything?”
As if you didn’t already guess, she just glared at me.
“I’m sorry, but—” the blonde girl says, but I interrupt. It was time for Wrangler Reagan to save the world from Nettie, again.
“Yes, Nettie? I think its time we get on the plane, you know, don’t want to miss our exciting trip to Nevada.” I pull her towards the gangway to get on the plane.
“But I wasn’t finished,” Nettie starts, but I just wave my hand in her face, “But Reagan,” she whines.
I hold up my hand, stopping her from whining some more, “If I’m going to sit next to you the whole damn trip, you are going to be silent. Understand?” Nettie nods like a little disappointed child. Like I just took away her favorite toy, and told her to shut up.
You would be this cruel and harsh if you had lived with Nettie for seventeen years. The truth of the matter is, is I’m just tired. Tired of moving. Tired of changing. Tired of meeting new people and then having to explain why exactly I was going so soon. And tired of the one-night stands that I’m forced to have because I can’t get close to anyone because I know I’ll leave.
I know, I know, I’m not too proud of how many one-night stands I’ve actually had.
My secret is, is that I’ve never had a relationship longer than two weeks and four days. For some reason, I just get bored. I guess it’s the one thing I can relate to with Nettie.
I mean, with guys, they’re unreliable and untrustworthy. You have to dump them before any of it gets messy.
Emotions are messy.
That’s why I’m so damned cruel with people. If I get attached, well, it’ll be that much harder to leave. A cold heart is the only way.
Which is why I’ve had a lot of one-night stands. No emotions. No feelings. No commitment. And certainly no relationships.
“Excuse me, miss?” the older Attendant lady who has had too much Botox, says. I was on the outside seat, next to the hallway. Even though I hate isle seats, Nettie always gets the window seat because it distracts her. “May I check your tickets?”
I nod, simply handing mine to her. It was just a routine check.
“I knew that there was some mistake,” she smiles at the young couple standing behind her. “This young lady is sitting in the wrong seat. A mistake, I’m sure,” She says, talking about me.
“Wrong seat?” I ask. What was she talking about? I think back to Nettie fighting with the office attendant at the front desk.
“Yes, if you follow me, I will show you where your real seat is,” I look at Nettie who is too busy pulling up and down the window shade to notice what was going on.
I shrug, and follow the Attendant lady. Nettie would be fine for a couple hours on her own.
“Alright, here we are,” she stops at the furthest seat back in the plane where it is practically empty except for a mom and her twin boys who are busy kicking the seat in front of them while she tries to settle them, and a boy with light brown—almost blonde, but not quite—hair with golden eyes who is sitting in the seat next to the one I’m supposed to be sitting in.
“Here?” I ask harshly. “You’ve got to be kidding me,” I mumble under my breath.
The boy looks up at me with his golden eyes like he had just heard me.
“Yes,” the Attendant lady smiles enthusiastically, “Have a nice flight!” and she walks off.
I roll my eyes, and sit down. Great. Probably the worst seat. I would have rather sat in front of The Thumper Twins the whole damn flight than Mr. Golden Boy. He already has two points on my “Never” list: blonde, and taller than six foot. Definite player as well, you could tell from the way he keeps smiling at me like he wants to melt my heart with it.
“Denis,” he puts out his hand. When I just stare at it, and say nothing, he adds, “And yours?” while putting his hand down.
“Reagan,” I say after a pause. What harm could a name do, right?
“Can I call you President Reagan instead?” he says, with edges of sarcasm on his lips—another “Never”: sarcasm and teasing are player material.
“Shut up,” I growl.
“Oh, down kitty, just messin’ with you,” he laughs at his own joke. If I wasn’t stuck next to him, I Never would have even talked to him. He already violated three of my Never’s, and my nerves. When I just stare at him with my cold gaze, he says, “Common. Don’t you have a funny bone in your body?”
“I don’t do funny. It’s not my thing. Besides. You’re just being childish and immature, two traits I absolutely cannot stand,”
“Wow, the kitty has claws, I see,” he grins even bigger as I glare at him with my green daggers—something I learned how to do from Nettie, of course. “Okay, Reagan, where you headed off to?”
“Nevada, dumbass. That’s where this plane lands. Oh, did you get the wrong flight? I’d be happy to escort your sorry ass out the window,” I snarl.
“Okay, geez. I just meant what city, but its okay, we’ll start with a more basic question. How old are you?”
“Seventeen,” I find myself saying.
“What’s your favorite color,” he asks, probably intrigued that I actually answered—I was a little surprised to, but it just came slipping out of my mouth.
“Emerald Green,” my mouth slipped again.
“Conroy,” My mother’s actual last name, she changed it to Laine to make it sound more, “actress-y” or whatever.
But I stop him before my mouth says anything more that I don’t want this random guy to know, “What are you doing?”
“Getting to know you, what else?” he flashes his grin that I already recognize as his way of getting what he wants. It was a gorgeous smile after all.
“Why?” I ask like it made no sense what-so-ever, which, it didn’t. I didn’t like getting to know anyone new.
“I don’t know, cause I can? Because we’re going to sit next to each other the whole flight like awkward strangers if I don’t?” he shrugs. “Now, back to my questions—”
“Nope,” I say firmly, “You’ve learned enough. My turn,”
“I’ve asked a grand total of four questions. I hardly think that’s enough, Reagan,” he gives me a puppy-dog look.
“Would you stop with the faces?” I feel my self resist. But he just looks me in the eyes with those golden beauties, “Oh, fine, you get six more to make it ten, then it’s my turn. What’s your next question?”
“Yum,” he laughs, “Here for business or pleasure?”
I think for a moment, then say, “Business,” Or so I hoped.
“Day or Night?”
We go on like this until he finishes. When its my turn I ask similar questions and learn that his name is Denis Williams, he’s also seventeen, his favorite color is orange—no doubt—he prefers night as well, he enjoys all types of foods, Smashing Pumpkins is his favorite band, he’d rather skydive then bungee jump, he gets C’s and B’s, he has two best friends which are all in band together named The Instra Mentals, and the longest relationship he’s ever had was almost four months.
“Alright, Reagan, I think I know you pretty well now, huh?” Denis smiles, “I’d say we’re on our way to becoming good friends,”
“I’m not friends with you,”
“Oh, sure you are,” he does his grin, “You’ve put up with me, which means some where deep inside you sort of like me. Maybe a little. Maybe a lot,” he says with the utmost confidence.
“You sure are cocky,”
“No, I just know people. Most ditch me after ten minutes,” he shrugs
“I can’t imagine why. And did you think it was oh, I don’t know, maybe it’s the fact that I’m forced to be sitting here?” I argue.
“Um, right, because there isn’t like ten other seats you could be taking right now, huh?” he counters.
“Oh, don’t be so full of yourself, I’m just following directions,” I say.
“Right, the Righteous Reagan always follows orders,” he says with a low, bold, mocking voice, “Thought I knew you. Had you pegged as an ‘I-don’t-care-WHAT-you-think’ type of girl. Thought you where bold and confident, actually liked that about you, but who knows? I can be wrong sometimes,”
Wow, did he have me pegged, though. And it didn’t even take him a week, which is what it usually takes people to peg me.
“Whatever,” I grumble. “Don’t hold your breath. I don’t like you that much,”
“And the Ruthless Reagan admits that she actually likes me! Point one for Denis!” he says, doing the arm movement that people do when they score something—you know, closed fist, arm out then pull it into you like you grabbed something from the air, like a pump which looks utterly ridiculous by the way. I never understood why people did that.
“Oh, be quiet. And I told you. I don’t like you that much,”
“But you admit, you DO like me. Just not a lot,” I roll my eyes at him, “Its okay. You’ll learn to love me,”
“I won’t learn anything. After this plane ride, we’ll go our separate ways and I’ll never see you again,” I say coldly.
“Wow. Okay. Way to be cynical. I was being optimistic, but you know.” He pauses, then looks at me, “Where are you headed off to anyways?”
“Some small town you’ve probably never heard of. Because NO one has ever heard of this dreadful town,” I groan. Just another town, just another place until we move again, I remind myself.
“What’s the name? I’ve probably heard of it. I LIVE in Nevada, you know,”
“Some town called Wallop,”
“Really?!” he asks excitedly.
“Yeah,” I say skeptically, “Why?”
“Cause that’s where I live,” he says the words I dreaded to hear. Great. So I WOULD have to deal with this crazy person. At least it was only two months, five days, I remind myself again.
“Oh, fabulous,” I say, the sarcasm very clear.
“It’s a good thing, Reagan, now we can really be friends,” Denis smiles very wildly at me, almost as if he just won the lottery right now.
No one has ever been that excited to get to know me.
“Why are you so excited?” I hear myself blurt.
“Cause, I like you Reagan,” Denis says firmly, almost factually. “You’re really cool. Besides, I told you, we’re gonna be good friends. I can tell,”
“You can’t tell anything,” I say snidely.
“Oh, but I can,” he says just as surely, “I can tell, Reagan. I can just…tell,”
We end up talking for the rest of the plane ride. For some reason, I ended up telling him about Nettie, my life and why exactly I didn’t understand why we were going to Nevada. He ended up telling me about his band—musicians, another on my Never list; he’s now up to four on the Never list—and how they are an only instrument band, no singing, his mom and little two year old half sister, Penny (he calls her Peanut), and about his forced trips that he has to take every other two months to go see his father, who lives in New York with his twenty-two year old wife, Candy (a court regulation, apparently).
After what seemed like just a few minuets, but was actually a couple hours, we land. Denis says he’ll catch me around, and I watch him walk over to broken down van, and drive off, waving to me.
Nettie came up beside me. “Nice boy. What’s his name?”
“He’s cute,” she teases me, knowing that it bugs me.
“Shut up,” I groan, feeling my cheeks grow hot.