Author: Lioness Black PM
[Complete. Femslash.] On spring break vacation to Tijuana, Sunny and Stacey find themselves in a twisted relationship.Rated: Fiction M - English - Words: 7,142 - Reviews: 8 - Favs: 3 - Published: 08-30-05 - Status: Complete - id: 2558683
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Title: Tijuana (previously titled 99 Percent Single)
Author: Lioness Black
Rating: R (sexuality, language and some drug use)
Written for the bsclove ficathon on livejournal
Spoilers: Ties into California Diaries series
I knew it was that day when I woke up. I could feel it all the way deep in my bones. I craved that first day of spring. I jumped out of bed and threw open the curtains. "Spring!"
"Close the curtains," mumbled Dawn, rolling over in her bed.
So Dawn may have been my best friend since we were like eight, and we were roommates at UCLA, but she just was not a morning person. I wasn't usually, either, but it was that day.
I dressed in my favorite green tank top (okay, it was Dawn's green tank top) and floral print calf-length skirt (Dawn's too, come to think of it). I put on a pair of brown sandals and haphazardly put on some makeup. I grabbed my bag and my philosophy book and my homework and left the dorm.
It was just as nice outside as it was inside. I was dancing circles across the lawn around the signs that say "keep off the lawn" to the building with my first class. I walked into my class grinning like an idiot.
I sat down and pulled out the banana that I had put in my bag last night. Everyone always needs a little breakfast.
"Is it Sunny enough for you?"
"Har, har," I said, looking over my shoulder at Lee, this guy who seems to be in every single one of my classes. Corny jokes are his specialty. "So, Lee, are you planning on spending this beautiful day cooped up in classes?"
"Hell no! What about you?"
I sighed. "Sadly, yes. But it's worth it because it's Friday! And next week is Spring Break, and it's going to be such a blast."
"Are you going to Tijuana?" Lee asked.
"You betcha! A couple of Dawn's friends are coming to visit for the break, and we're heading for a glorious week in Mexico." I pronounced Mexico like "Meh-hee-co." I was in such a silly mood.
"Four girls in Mexico? This sounds like the beginning to a dirty movie."
"Oh, shut up, Lee," I said. I could be in a good mood, but four girls could spend a week in a hotel room without it being a big dirty orgy.
I turned back around in my seat and faced the front of the room. I didn't let him damper my good mood. It was going to take a lot more than that.
I went to classes all day. Fridays and Wednesdays are my busiest days, but Friday at least has the reward of being the last day of the week. I had all day Saturday to relax and lay around. I usually worked Sunday (Does selling pitas sound like fun? It's not!), but I have all this week off so I can go blow all my savings in Baja.
By the time I got back to the dorm, it was around seven-thirty that night. Dawn was there working on some homework. I wasn't going to worry about mine until we got back. I had a week to do it, and we'd be back next Saturday. I had all day Sunday. Dawn isn't like that, though.
"Stacey and Claud's flight is getting about ten-thirty," Dawn said, not looking up. "We should get there at nine-thirty, just in case."
"When is a plane early?"
"Hardly ever, I know, but I don't want them wandering around LAX."
I sighed. "They live in New York. LAX is going to be like Central Park." I'd only been to New York once for a few hours. And it wasn't even that much fun. But it sounded good.
"Sunny, we need to be there early!"
I knew there wasn't any fighting with Dawn. But the banter was nice. It was familiar.
Dawn looked up, and said, "Isn't that my skirt? And my top?"
"It was just one of those days," I said, shrugging. "I needed a good Dawn outfit. It was just a Dawn sort of day."
"Ask next time, okay?" she asked, sighing.
"Okay," I said, even though I knew I wouldn't.
We got to the airport at about quarter 'til ten, and Dawn was complaining the entire way about how late we were. Their flight didn't get in until eleven-oh-five. I'm a big enough person to not say I told you so.
I did give her a look that basically said that.
We didn't even find them until nearly eleven-thirty. They were wandering, we were wandering. When we finally found each other, we had to find all of their luggage. Stacey had two pieces of chic matching luggage that also matched her carryon. Claudia had this huge black boxcar thing and a big green classic looking suitcase. Her carryon, I discovered later, was packed full of extra clothes and belts.
There was lots of squealing and hugging and all of those sorts of things. We're such girls.
So we were driving down to Tijuana, which was going to take FOREVER, but Dawn figured that after spending five hours on a plane from New York, Stacey and Claudia wouldn't want to fly even further.
We jam packed everyone into our dorm.
"Okay, so we only have two beds," Dawn said. "I can sleep on the floor. Sunny can too."
I love it when she consults me about these things. I put my hands on my hips. "We're adults here, Dawn. We can share beds. Besides, I'm not sleeping on the floor. The only way I sleep on the ground is if it's in a tent."
"A tent?" Stacey repeated, like I was a crazy person.
"Camping," I supplied.
"All right, I guess..." Dawn said. "Sunny, you're with me-"
"I like my bed, thank you very much," I snapped. I love Dawn, I really do, but when she gets all bossy, it drives me up the wall. "Stacey and Claudia are out guests, why don't we let them choose?"
Well, I ended up with Dawn in my bed, and Stacey and Claudia had the other one. I got hardly any sleep because Dawn tosses and turns like crazy. Oh well. I'll sleep in the car.
I'm so glad that Dawn and I decided to take my car. Well, I decided that we take my car. Dawn thinks that my car (Dad bought me a minivan. How geeky is that?) Pollutes too much, but we're on a read trip here. We need some room. Dawn has an eco-friendly gas-electric car that's way overpriced and she can't really afford. It's tiny, and we'd all be crammed in like sardines.
We pulled the backseat out of my van so we'd have room for all of our stuff. Well, all of Claudia's stuff. Dawn had a huge 100 recycled waterproof backpack. I had an army-issued duffle bag. Dawn hates it because she's completely against the army and war and violent video games.
"Out of all the cars in the world - a minivan?" Claudia asked.
I picked up her boxcar -I mean suitcase! - and threw it into the van without throwing out my back. "Yeah. Dad said that if he was going to buy my car, he was going to pick what it was. So we picked this. He figured it was sensible and I couldn't go cruising or anything. However, she's great for road trips."
I hadn't seen Stacey and Claudia in years. Dawn met them in seventh grade after her parents got divorced. I met them sometime in the next year. It was cool. Then when Dawn moved back to California, she slowly lost contact with them. Then, two years back, Stacey and her boyfriend were in Seattle when Dawn was there with her boyfriend. They reunited, and Stacey, who is roommates with Claudia in their New York apartment, started writing and emailing back and forth and such. When Dawn invited them to come out for Spring Break in Tijuana, well... who can resist that?
Since then, both Stacey and Dawn have broken up with the respective boyfriends from that time. I never met Stacey's, but Dawn's, Peter, was some insane animal rights activist, the kind that throws red paint on people who are wearing even fake fur, and holds violent picket lines outside of cow farms and pet food plants. I've never understood violent protesting for animal peace, but whatever. He hated me, so didn't mind to see him go.
We started on our way to Mexico, with me driving (so much for sleeping in the car). They were gabbing up a storm, gossiping about the last time any of them were in Stoneybrook. I felt sort of left out, but I was enjoying listening.
"When was the last time you heard from Mary Anne?" Stacey asked.
"Oh, I don't know. A couple months ago?" Dawn shrugged. "She loves Paris and there she can pursue her dreams of being a grade A escort. She went on and on about her line of regular clients, Jean Claude, Jaques, Beau, Chancellor, Maurice, and those are just the ones she mentioned. She's living with some American guy. A real asshole from the sound of it."
"It's so weird," Claudia said. "That Mary Anne would grow up to be such a..."
"Whore?" Dawn supplied without any hint of pain. "I spending her high school years sexually repressed backfired on her. So. Anyone heard from Mallory?"
"Three kids. Overweight. Writes bad pornography for some website," Stacey said.
"Three kids?" I repeated. "Isn't she two years younger than us?"
"Yup. She had her first at sixteen, and she had twins a couple months ago. She didn't even graduate high school." Stacey sounded a little disgusted. "Jessi's doing okay, though. She got accepted into NYU. She called me the second she got the news."
"At least someone ended up normal," Dawn said. This time she sounded pretty bitter. I guess no one expected Mary Anne to end up like she did. Least of all Dawn. But there's more to the story than that.
So I drove and drove and drove some more. I'd go into details, but honestly? They were boring. Stacey complaining about guys, Claudia complaining about guys, Dawn complaining about the eco system and the effects that driving the minivan has on it and how I should get an electric powers scooter and stop eating white meat because chickens have souls too.
Finally, we switched spots and Dawn drove us into Mexico. We found our hotel and got inside.
"Oh man, look at this room!" I said, throwing myself onto one of the king sized beds. "I'll be this room has adverse effects on the eco system."
Stacey laughed. Dawn scowled at me and Claudia was busy pointing the bellhop where to put her boxcar so she wouldn't have to move it until we left.
"So splitting up the beds..." Dawn said.
"You are so obsessed with that. Let's just see who gets in first and how they get to pick their beds," I said. I grabbed the remote and turned on the TV. I got bored quickly since everything was in Spanish and I took French and retained none of it.
When it got closer to nightfall, I opened my bag and pulled out a shimmery minidress. "I'm in the shower."
Half an hour later, I was nearly ready to go. "Party, party, party," I said. I looked at Stacey who was carefully applying lip gloss. "Are you ready?"
"Almost. I need to check my blood sugar before we go," she replied.
Oh yeah. Stacey has diabetes. She has to watch what she eats and give herself injections and stuff. I wonder if we'll get busted leaving the country with drugs.
Stacey looked hot in her long black skirt with slits up the sides. She knew how to tease an audience by carefully letting calf, then knee, then thigh show slowly, as the watchers salivated, waiting for the next layer. She wore a low cut red top and let her curly blonde hair go loose. She looked wild.
"Dawnie Dawn, are you coming?" I asked. She hates being called "Dawnie" but I do it just to annoy her.
"Do you think this is too much?" Claudia asked. I turned around and tried not to laugh. Claudia was wearing a traditional Mexican outfit, complete with poncho and sombrero.
Stacey was holding back a smile too. "Claud, I think maybe party outfit? As opposed to... theme?"
Claudia eyed our outfits and nodded. "You're right."
Dawn came out of the bathroom in jeans and a white t-shirt. She had one her old brown boots that she's had for years. She hadn't changed.
"Are we going to the Animal Rights Ralley party?" I asked.
"I'm not going out. I was thinking of taking a swim since our hotel has a pool, and just relaxing tonight. I'll go out tomorrow."
"There's all week for that! This is the first party of spring break. Wear something sexy and come out!"
After about twenty minutes of Stacey and I convincing her, we got Dawn into clothes from varied suitcases (since she hadn't brought much for nights out) and Claudia was looking normal and not embarrassing and we left.
We had our choices of parties. Spring Break in Tijuana was a national event. Every beach, every pavilion, every hotel had a college student party happening. We picked an outdoor one with a DJ.
I stood next to Stacey for a few minutes. It was odd. I was obvious. Short, low cut dress, I gave it all away. But with Stacey, you had to work for it.
She grabbed my hand. "Let's dance."
I grinned. "Yes." Nothing gets the male attention faster than two girls dancing together. Well, maybe two girls having sex in the middle of the floor, but that seemed a bit extreme for what we were trying to achieve.
Sure enough, guys started milling around us. I put my arms around Stacey's waist. They were coming in closer. She rested a hand on my bare neck. They started dancing with us. I slid my hands lower so they were touching her ass. They started touching MY ass. Stacey leaned in closer to me... and she kissed me.
The place exploded.
Okay, not really. The guys went wild. They pulled us apart and I was dancing with two guys who thought dancing was rubbing their crotches against my thighs. I suddenly wasn't having any fun. I looked over my shoulder at Stacey who was laughing and having a good time.
I hung around for a couple of hours. I had to make face, you know. Especially to Dawn, since I told her that she had to come. But when saw her, she was having fun too.
I slipped out and went back to the room. I changed into a tank top and got into bed.
This was stupid. We were just doing it to get the attention of guys. I should get dressed and go back out there.
I drifted off to sleep which wasn't surprising since I hadn't gotten any last night. I woke up at the feeling of someone getting into my bed.
"It's just me," Stacey whispered. "Where did you go?"
"Back here. I hardly slept last night and after driving..." I didn't feel like saying anything else. I blinked into the darkness. "Are Dawn and Claudia here?"
"No, they're still at the party. It's only past midnight. But those shoes were killing my feet after all that dancing." She rolled over closer to me.
"You'll have to watch that," I replied. I gasped as Stacey slid so close that she was touching my back. Her hand landed on my hip.
"Is this okay?"
Of course it was okay. I didn't say anything, and most people would have taken that for a no, but not Stacey. She stayed that way all night. I know because I didn't sleep a wink after that.
Lazy days on the beach in my blue string bikini. That's what this was really about. Day two of spring break was spent lathered in tanning oil. I was rolled out on my old Snoopy towel that Mom bought me years ago that I will never outgrow showing off my goodies to the passing boys.
Dawn, who used to be such a tanner harped on about skin cancer and put on sunscreen. She tanned anyway. She bitched about women's rights and how we were simply doing what the men wanted us to do. She got her own share of stares and not from her compelling speeches.
Claudia was building a sand castle that was getting more attention that she was. Stacey was under an umbrella reading French poetry (she retained it, but she's been learning it since first grade) in a modest red bikini. Well, as modest as bikinis get.
"I wonder where the MTV Beachouse is," I said. "They're out of Tijuana this year, right?"
"MTV is such a chauvinist network. Did you know that they'll turn away women because they aren't the right weight for their precious network. No wonder the anorexia rate is so high," said Dawn.
I gritted my teeth and reminded myself that this was a vacation and fighting with Dawn would suck out all of the fun. But then again, Dawn being Dawn was sucking out all the fun. If by Wednesday she was still acting like this, I'd say something. Maybe by then she'd relax.
I rolled over onto my back and tried not to fall asleep. At some point, sleep would have to come, because this was insane.
"Hey, Dawn," Stacey said, "check out that stand over there. Frozen fruit pops, sugar free. I'll bet those aren't made with chicken grease, let's go check it out."
I snorted into the sand. Which, by the way, the beaches here are BEAUTIFUL. When I think Mexico, I think dirty and grungy, which has turned out to be a horrible stereotype, and I'm usually the last person to stereotype, so when I do, like this time, it lands me on my butt.
Stacey and Dawn got up to check out the icy pop stand, and I closed my eyes.
"So, how's your vacation gone so far?"
I opened my eyes and looked over. Claudia was sitting in the beach chair Stacey had been in minutes ago.
"Great," I said. "Did you guys have fun at the party? When did you and Dawn get in?"
"Late. It was after four AM. And we had a blast. I had all these guys dancing with me, and Dawn wouldn't come dance with us because feminists don't dance, so I grabbed her and made her dance with us, and she finally loosened up." Claudia smiled. "She sure has changed since eighth grade."
"Well, haven't we all? Some for the better. And some for... well, Dawn."
She laughed. "Yeah. I haven't spent a lot of time with her since she moved that last time. We were all sort of surprised that she actually lived in California all through high school."
"Me too," I said. "But she visited often enough, though, right?"
"Yeah. Those times were mostly spent with her family, though." Claudia sighed. "I missed her."
"Well, you have a whole week to catch up."
"Yeah. Especially with you and Stacey..."
I rolled back over onto my back and sat up. "Me and Stacey what?"
"What?" I pressed. We'd been together one day and nothing had happened. Except that Stacey kissed me. And spent the night in my bed when the other one was empty. But those things were just platonic coincidences. Right?
"Nothing," Claudia repeated. "It's just that... Stacey... if Stacey... when she likes someone, she's not subtle about it. And she doesn't have a lot of restrictions on who she likes."
"She goes both ways."
I felt like my stomach dropped out. I didn't know if this information made me relieved or made me worried. I certainly didn't 'go both ways.' I hadn't really thought about it, though. Maybe it was time to start thinking about it.
"One more thing, Sunny."
I looked at Claudia.
"Be careful." She stood up and went back to her sand castle.
Well, now that I was thoroughly confused, I could really enjoy my vacation.
We got home from the beach, and the first thing I did was take a shower. Tanning oil was great at the beach, but after, it was great to get it off.
When I took off my bathing suit, I was pleased to see that I was already browner. I dropped the suit in a pile on the floor knowing it would drive Dawn up the wall. I got in the shower and I got weak in the knees. The cool water felt so good on my warm skin. This really had to be Heaven. If I believed in Heaven.
There was a knock at the door. "I need my toothbrush!"
"Whatever," I said. I was used to Dawn walking in on me in the bathroom. Dawn and the forty hundred other girls in our dorm.
I could hear the sound of an electric toothbrush running as I turned off the water. I pulled back the curtain and I looked in the large mirror that ran opposite the shower. Staring back at me was Stacey.
This wasn't awkward.
Stacey spat in the sink and turned around and looked at me. The toothbrush was still running in her hand. "You tan well."
"You use sun block well." I wanted to melt into the shower and go down the drain right then.
Stacey laughed. "Thanks."
I stepped out of the tub and reached for a towel, but Stacey stopped my hand halfway. The touch of her hand on my skin sent chills through me. I suddenly wanted her to touch me forever.
She kissed me. This time it wasn't to impress anyone. It was just us. Stacey in her modest bikini and me not wearing anything. She pressed me against the bathroom wall. The electric toothbrush vibrated against my hip.
I had the weirdest sensation. Things were going too fast. They weren't going fast enough. I didn't know what I wanted. But I wanted Stacey to kiss me.
She started kissing my neck and the toothbrush was moving closer and closer my crotch. Closer until it was slid directly between my legs causing me to gasp involuntarily. Stacey was still kissing my neck.
I came and Stacey whispered in my ear, "Isn't it amazing what new batteries can do?"
That night when we were partying, I got a little drunk. I sort of felt like I earned it. Dawn kept giving me disapproving looks with each drink I had, but good god. We're only young once. I have no desire to spend my whole life being forty-five years old.
Oh fuck it. It's spring break.
I danced with boys, kissed them, and didn't look at Stacey all night. I'm pretty sure she was looking at me.
I was last one in the room that night. I slept on the floor.
It was time to go shopping. I bought a pair of handmade earrings for Carol. I bought a cute little rag doll for Gracie. I got Ducky a Tijuana shot glass. He'd appreciate it. I tried to find something for Dad, but he's hellish to shop for. Maybe one of those woven wallets? I don't know, does he need a new wallet?
I sat down at a cafe and got a salad. Before I left, Dad got me all paranoid about food service and what was in the water, even though I think a lot of that is outside of the cities. Or maybe it's just another stereotype, I don't know. Even so, I checked my salad for bugs and when I was satisfied, I ate it.
This was boring. I wanted to be hanging out with my friends. And I don't even know why I was so weirded out. Was it something in the way Claudia had said "be careful?" And what did that mean? Was Stacey... dangerous?
That seemed silly so I put the thought out of my mind. But couldn't stop thinking about Stacey and I in the bathroom the day before. There was something in the way she kissed me. I wanted her to keep kissing me, and I now I couldn't even look her in the eye.
I paid for my food and went back to the hotel. Claudia and Dawn were the only ones in the room. They were trading nail polishes and Dawn was asking if Claudia's brand did animal testing.
I looked at them, and Claudia replied, "Stacey's down at the pool. We were thinking of the four of us going out to dinner. Dawn and I found this ultra chic restaurant we wanted to try. You up for it, Sunny?"
"Sure," I said hurriedly as I left the room. I went down to the pool to see Stacey jump off the diving board.
I watched her swim under the water until she popped her head above the surface. Her curls were a matted mess. She didn't smile when she saw me, but she acknowledged me. "Hey, Sunny."
"Hey, Stacey. Did they tell you about going out tonight?"
"Yeah, yeah, they did. Sounds like fun." She made it sound like going to the guillotine would be more fun.
Why was this so weird? I've been dating guys since I was thirteen. I lost my virginity at fifteen. I've been with seven guys since then. Why was one girl making me feel so strange? What was it? I wasn't feeling some repressed homophobia. I had learned that everyone was equal, and who you loved made no difference on your being normal and being human. I could accept anyone. I knew homosexuals. I knew heterosexuals, asexuals, furries, transvestites, drag queens, transsexuals, bisexuals, drag kings. The list went on and on. I accepted them for who they were. Why was I struggling with this?
Maybe because I could accept anyone, but when it was me... that was different.
"Sunny," Stacey said, "did you like kissing me?"
"Yes," I said.
"Then what's the problem? We've still got five days here. Let's not make it uncomfortable. Do you want to keep doing it or not? Yes or no. It's as easy as that."
"Yes," I said before I could stop myself.
"Then it's settled." She smiled. "I'm going to hang out here, you want to join me?"
"Nah," I said. The first non-robotic thing I'd said the entire time. I went back up to the room.
"Get things settled?" Claudia asked.
She didn't look too happy.
Tonight I dressed classy. Claudia even loaned me pantyhose and helped me put them on. I'd never worn pantyhose before. But I looked classy in Dawn's black blouse, Claud's red silk skirt and black hose. I wore Stacey's shoes that were a little too small and pinched my feet.
Claudia, I swear, she had twenty outfits for every occasion. She dressed Dawn and herself and half of me with her closet -I mean suitcase. I didn't really notice what they were wearing, though.
Stacey was wearing a short, sleeveless red dress and matching red shoes. She looked amazing.
We went out to the nice restaurant that was called something in Spanish. The food was great, though. Even Dawn found a vegan dinner that she was satisfied with once she had asked if any of it was fried in lard or touched any meat.
It was strangely not awkward. We sat at a round table and I sat between Dawn and Stacey. Dawn and I told stories about high school and freshman year at college. Stacey and Claudia talked about their high school experience, New York, and their crazy super. I laughed until my sides hurt. It was just fun.
I woke up the next morning to the sound of retching. I noticed that Stacey wasn't in bed with me. Claudia was also gone. I deduced that they were somewhere together. The retching sound happened again. I got out of bed, ignoring the fact that I was only in my tank top and underwear.
"Dawn?" I walked into the bathroom. I never knocked, but this time the door was at least open.
Dawn had her head over the toilet. Her hair was pulled back in a haphazard pony tail. She looked up at me, her eyes were puffy and red.
"Oh, god, Dawn. What's wrong? Oh shit, are you pregnant? What's going on?"
"I think," she said, then paused. She heaved a sigh. "I think there was meat in my dinner."
I wanted to kill her. I was panicking. I thought she wanted to come to Mexico for a half-price abortion so her father wouldn't find out. I was freaking out. And she thinks there was MEAT in her DINNER?
"And this is cause to puke at seven in the morning?"
"It's ten-thirty, and yes. I found a strand of beef between my teeth. I had to get that meat out of my system as fast as possible."
"So going bulimic on vacation seemed like the best option?"
"I ate a cow."
"You ate a piece of a cow. You didn't eat the bones. You didn't eat its soul. Puking it up isn't going to bring it back to life. Now, if you aren't here for an abortion, I'm going back to bed."
"What? How could you..."
Dawn faded out as I went back to bed.
The alarm clock said it was five in the evening when I woke up again. I guess I finally caught up. I sat up in bed and Stacey was watching me.
"Were you watching me sleep?"
"Do you know what the best part about Mexico is?" she asked.
"Not watching me sleep?"
She held up a plastic bag half filled with weed. "This. It cost me about half the price I'd pay in New York. Less, actually, since shit costs so much in New York. Smoke with me?"
"I don't know," I said. "I've never... not really. I mean, Dawn has."
"The fucking hippie," Stacey said, grinning. She leaned over and kissed me. "It's not fun to smoke alone."
We got high and made out and she touched me through my underwear.
Claudia and Dawn came in and we were lying together on the bed and my hand was up Stacey's skirt, and they ignored us, but I knew they were watching.
I'd never been high before, and we got dressed and went to a party that was crazy and wild, but that might have been from the pot. It might have been boring for all I knew in the real world. I had some beers. I don't really like beer, but I drank them anyway.
"Things are so weird right now," I screamed over the music to Stacey. I don't think the music was really that loud, but I screamed anyway.
I woke up in a hotel room that wasn't the one I'd been staying in. Stacey was there, and three guys I didn't know.
"Stacey, we need to go," I said, shaking her awake.
She looked around. "Yeah, this isn't good."
We left and when we got back to our hotel, I realized that my favorite panties were still there. I decided that my Wonder Woman undies would have to stay lost forever.
"Stacey," I said as she walked back into the main part of the room after her shower, "what are we going to when this week is over?"
"What do you mean?" She adjusted the tie on her chic silk robe.
"Well, when I go back to UCLA, and you go back to New York. What happens then?"
She shrugged. "You go back to UCLA and I go back to New York. That's what happens."
I was quiet for a moment. "So this thing, this us thing that we're doing, it's just for now. Just until you can, what, get back with your New York girlfriend?"
"Did you think you were my girlfriend?" She seemed so patronizing.
"No, no, but... I thought it was something more. I mean, I've changed. You've made me rethink everything I thought I knew about myself. That has to be worth something."
"Of course it is, Sunny. But not for you and me. That's just for you."
Stacey smiled this strange, patient smile. "Did you change anything about yourself? Did you make a certain change? Or did you just let it happen, let what felt right happen?"
"I let it happen," I heard this weird hollow version of me reply.
"Then I did you a favor. We explored something different in you, something you didn't even know that was there. So you can go back to UCLA and be that new person, be the things you didn't know you were before." She held out two nail polish bottles. "Red Velvet or Summer Dusk?"
I couldn't stand it. I just couldn't take Stacey acting like this was something simple and easy.
I went to the hotel lobby. They had one of those tables of phones to outside lines. I didn't want talk in the room around Dawn and Stacey and Claudia. I wanted privacy and I had to go to the lobby.
I dialed the number and heard "Hello?"
I started to cry.
"Sunny? Sunny, is that you? What's wrong?"
"I'm so fucked up," I sobbed into the phone.
"No you're not. What's going on?"
"I'm screwed up, Ducky. I want to come home."
"Then come home," he said.
"I can't, I'm just, just, so... this whole trip, I'm so-"
"Breathe," Ducky said.
I did. Quite a few times. When I finally stopped sobbing, I gave Ducky a brief overview of what happened. Stacey, sleeping on the floor, Claudia's warnings, Dawn's morning sickness, the weed, the fight. Okay, not so brief. I left out the part with the electric toothbrush.
"How many days are left on your trip?" he asked.
"I don't know. The past couple of days have been a big blur. What day of the week is it?"
"Thursday?" Did I sleep for two days? I lost a day somewhere. We didn't spend a whole day at the strange hotel room, did we? I don't know. One day, I'll ask Dawn about it. But if I did it today, I'd get a lecture. That's what I didn't need. That's why I called Ducky instead of talking to Dawn.
"Thursday," he confirmed.
"Oh man. We're leaving Friday night." I paused. "That's tomorrow!"
"Yes, it is. Do you want to come home now?" Ducky asked.
"I guess not."
"And you're going to invite me on whatever you do this summer, right?"
I laughed. "Yes, Ducky."
"I love you, Sunny."
"I love you too, Ducky."
I hung up the phone and I felt a lot better. Talking to Ducky always makes me feel that way. I realized that I didn't even ask him how he was doing. He would have put the subject back on me if I had.
I went upstairs. Stacey wasn't there, but Claudia was.
"You were right," I said. "I'm sorry I ignored you about it."
Claudia smiled. "That's okay. No one has to listen to me. Most people don't. Maybe I should have made you a painting. People look at those."
"Will you make me one anyway?" I asked. "Of something happy?"
"Yeah," she replied. "I will. When I get back to New York, and I'll mail it to you."
"Thanks, Claudia. Do you want to go shopping or something? We haven't spent hardly any time together."
"Don't have to ask me twice!"
I spent my Thursday in Mexico shopping with Claudia and having fun. I wasn't thinking about what Stacey thought of me. That was relaxing.
That night I slept in my bed. I was asleep before Stacey got there and woke up after she left. I think that was best.
Friday morning I got up later than everyone else. I went to the beach alone. That night I was going to be squashed into the van with them. I wasn't driving home; Dawn was, so I could rest. But being so close to Stacey. I wasn't sure if I could handle that.
I got in the last of my tanning (knowing good and well that Dawn would lecture me for it).
I looked up at it was Stacey. "Hi." I rolled over onto my stomach and closed my eyes.
"Are you going to be pissed at me forever?"
"Maybe," I said. I was being immature and I knew it.
"Look, Sunny, it isn't practical for us to have a long distance relationship. It never is. I've done them in the past and I realized how unfulfilling they are. Maybe some people can do them, but I'm not one of them. I need that person there with me. Because I'm bad at it. And I wouldn't want to put you through that."
Stacey sounded convincing enough, but for some reason, I didn't believe it. I stood up and faced her.
"Me. You don't want to put me through that. I don't think this is about me. I think is about you, and you not wanting to commit to anything. So I'm sorry if I don't think your half ass apology is any good, but I think its bullshit. So why don't you just leave me alone and try sleeping on the floor." I grabbed my towel and diet Coke and left.
I thought about it and I didn't make any sense. At least, it wouldn't make any sense to her. Oh well, I've just spent too much time around Dawn. I went back to the hotel and changed into some regular clothes. I went out and bought my Dad one of those woven wallets and realized that I only had enough money left for gas and maybe a sandwich for the way home.
I watched TV in Spanish until it was time to leave.
We packed in silence. Dawn and Claudia chatted, but Stacey was as silent as I was.
The drive home wasn't awful. It was just long. We stopped at McDonald's for food and Dawn argued with the innocent guy on the drive thru speaker if he was sure the garden salad had absolutely no meat on it. I joked that nothing here had real meat on it. Dawn didn't appreciate my humor. She never really does.
Claudia drove because it was easier to drive while eating double cheeseburgers and fries than salads. It couldn't have been easy to drive while Dawn made comments about your food and rolled down the window all the way so she could breathe.
We got back to UCLA and the dorms were still empty. It was either early in the morning or late at night. I couldn't be sure. We slept until ten in the morning when we had to leave so Claudia and Stacey wouldn't miss their flight.
At the airport, I hugged Claudia and she thanked me for the good time. We exchanged email addresses and IM screen names. I knew that I would try to make a point to stay in contact with her.
Stacey and I didn't hug. We didn't exchange email. We just stood there.
"I'm sorry," she said.
"Thanks," I replied. I wouldn't accept her apology until later.
"Maybe you could come out to New York this summer. We could have a blast. More fun than this was. No strings attached, right?"
"Thanks, but I can't. I'm going camping with Ducky this summer. Maybe we'll go skiing. He's never been skiing."
"Oh, well, that's cool." She kissed me, full on the lips in front of everyone. I kissed her back. I knew that I would never see Stacey McGill again. But that wouldn't change anything. In fact it was probably better that way. However, I knew that something important happened between Stacey and me. I knew that something, part of me would always belong to her. Nothing of her belonged to me. She was too free for that. But no matter how many guys, or even girls, I would date in the future, and maybe marry, something inside of me would belong to Stacey. Only most of me would ever be single again. I was okay with that.
I was even more okay with that when their flight left and I wouldn't have to see her again.
Dawn and I went back to the dorm and I started on my homework.
"Did you have a good vacation?" Dawn asked.
I looked up and smiled. "Yeah, I think I did."