We sat on the floor and laughed and ate Thai, and when her roommate came home I quickly urged her to join us. I was trying anything and everything to avoid the awkwardness from seeping between us again. It helped that Kelly and I got along so well and she was so sweet and funny. She grabbed a plate of food and sat between us on the floor as we popped in a movie.
Kelly and I giggled the whole movie as we made up jokes and Gwen chimed in with her additions. It was a happy, wonderful feeling and I was content to bask in it. However, as the movie ended and the night fell deeper and colder outside the window, I thought it best not to overstay my welcome.
“I’m gonna go,” I smiled, “thanks for the movie.”
“I love your hair,” Kelly praised for the umpteenth time. I wished Gwen could’ve been so forthcoming. “I – uh, have to pee. Okay, bye!” Kelly grinned and ran upstairs and I wanted to smack my forehead at the idiot girl who just put me in the most awkward situation. I saw Gwen wince out of the corner of my eye.
“Yep, so,” I quickly slipped on my shoes and grabbed for my keys and jacket. “Thanks for everything and have a good night!” The words were rushed and I couldn’t make eye contact, but I managed a grin.
“Tabs,” she started, and it was so soft but I could hear it half way down the driveway. I turned, slowly, hopefully. “Goodnight,” she sighed, and I tried to keep my face from falling.
“Goodnight,” I murmured and unlocked my car, heart sinking in my chest.
The next few weeks were full of Kelly, and I was so very glad she made herself available. I used her as a buffer between Gwen and myself constantly, but found out that we actually made pretty good friends.
“I just don’t get it,” she groaned over the breakfast table. Gwen was still asleep as we munched on cereal. I looked at her paper curiously and grinned. A Shakespeare sonnet! I could analyze those in my sleep!
“I can help,” I offered. “You love songs, so you just have to break it down, like lyrics.” I gently took her through each line, breaking down the text.
“What are you two up to?” Gwen asked as she rubbed sleep from her eyes. We looked up, heads bent together low over the table and chairs touching.
“Tabby is helping me with my English,” Kelly smiled up at her. I glanced up and waved a quick hello before tucking back in and taking Kelly through the last two lines.
I could see Gwen smiling at us from the kitchen island, but was resolved not to look directly at her. “Wow, that makes so much more sense!” Kelly exclaimed as she finished writing down her translation. “I wish he could have just written it in normal terms.”
I snorted with laughter and shook my head at her. “Sorry, Kelly, I’ll let him know.”
“I thought he was dead,” she looked me, puzzled.
“He is,” I shook my head at her and stood up to wash my bowl in the sink. “Maybe you should have me help you with your history homework,” I winked at her and she kindly took it with laughter.
“Probably,” she agreed. “I’d at least know what’s going on. Gotta get to class. Thanks for the help, Tabs!” she hugged me from behind as I stood at the sink, and Gwen raised an eyebrow at the scene.
“You were going to tell me all about Trey,” I reminded Kelly as she opened the front door – both to tease her and to answer Gwen’s silent question.
“Oh yeah!” she flushed. “Later. Okay, bye!” she slammed the door and ran out to her car, leaving me to smile and shake my head at her childish loveliness.
“You and Kelly seem to be getting along well,” Gwen commented between bites of cereal. I set my bowl to dry on the rack.
“She’s a sweet girl,” I turned to lean against the counter. “Strangely, we have a lot in common. I like her,” I crossed my arms defensively, but hoped it seemed nonchalant.
“Me too. She’s a cute kid,” Gwen’s tone was not outright condescending but somehow still degrading, and I felt a sting. Kelly was only a year younger than me, while Gwen was several years older than the two of us. If Kelly was a kid, what was I?
“Yeah, she is,” I murmured weakly, hurt.
“Not really too brainy, though,” she continued, not noticing my hurt feelings.
“Well she doesn’t really need it with that body, does she?” I couldn’t help but snap at her, and Gwen looked shocked. “It’s not a sin to say it,” I shrugged. “She’s gorgeous. Body, face, eyes like woah.”
“Yeah, right.” Gwen grumbled into her cereal bowl. “What are you doing here, anyway?” I clenched my jaw and and walked toward the front door.
“I don’t really know,” I glared at her. “See you later,” I forced out, and the front door slammed behind me. The walk home was quick and fierce – I was steaming from our conversation and all I wanted was a really good fight to get it all out, or a really good kiss to do the same. I had already unlocked my front door and flopped on the couch when my phone beeped.
Shit, I’m sorry. I forgot we were going to go to the movies today. Please don’t be pissed off.
I threw my phone back down onto the couch without a response, and for the first time I sat in my apartment and fervently wished we had cable to provide a distraction.
Tabs, I was really grumpy. Woke up on the wrong side of the bed or something she pleaded with me.
I sighed and picked up the shards of my broken heart once more, opened the front door and made the trek back to Gwen’s place.