She always knew, she supposed. It was always there, even when they were young. There just wasn't a word attached to it quite yet.
But during that one evening during the winter they were fourteen, the snow falling softly outside, the space heater blowing the spread of Algebra papers scattered over the bed, the lush melodies of Spring Awakening ( the MUSICAL) floating through the speakers of Herbert's CD player, he had confided it to her as if it was some heavy, deep, deep secret.
"I'm gay, Lucky."
She had blinked.
"I know. What did you get for question seventeen?"
Herbert had been confused. He took a moment. Drew a breath. "You're not going to say anything about it? That I told you my biggest secret?"
"It doesn't seem like much of a secret, Herbert," Lucky had said, shrugging. "You won't stop talking about that one guy from Spanish class who sits one seat up in the row next to you."
"You can't say anything about it, though!" He had said, pleadingly. "My father will kill me!"
Herbert's father would kill him. Most likely literally kill him. "I won't," she promised.
But she wasn't expecting her promise on that February to go anything beyond not telling anyone that Herbert played for the other team.
It seemed rather simple at first. Just keep your mouth shut.
How was she to keep her mouth shut when her mother would ask who Herbert wanted to take for Homecoming sophomore year.
Big event, Sophomore homecoming. The first Grown Up, High School Dance.
What her mother was implying was you're going to look pathetic if you don't have a date.
That was when simple Lying By Omission turned into Straight-Up Flat-Out Lying. "Me."
And that was how the two were roped into playing the straight game and participating in the Night of the mini-mini-mini-mini dresses, matching baby's breath-ed corsages and boutonnieres, and crying in the bathroom. Not to mention grind-chains. Lots of grind-chains.
Homecoming was overrated, anyway. At the end of the night, they both agreed that they'd rather have spent that Saturday night in their sweatpants, curled up with a bowl of popcorn, watching a movie.
But now that Lucky and Herbert were a "thing", their parents thought it'd be fun to play it up. For the press. For their family appeal. Two households, both alike in dignity, uniting.
And that is how she is stuck with some promise-made-in-freshman-year glue to Herbert.
How she and Herbert appear on the front page of newspapers and on the screens of TVs everywhere in the county at five o'clock under the perfect, pretty posing of their parents, looking like young politicians themselves - Herbert in a suit, Lucky in a ironed white blouse, neat black skirt, hair pulled up.
How they sit next to each other at country club dinners.
How at press conferences they plaster on fake smiles, fake goo-goo eyes, fake hand-holds. For the press. For the public to ooggle. For the people of Kingston to admire.
And during those conferences, she gets even more wrapped up in this monster web of a lie this has become. She weaves more and more of it every day, tries to make it sturdy as the rain of election time is rolling around. It's good for image. She is Charlotte, sacrificing herself, writing good things so her friend will be saved from the slaughter. Some Boyfriend! Terrific! Perfect! Wonderful!
As she describes a recent date with Herbert, a movie, dinner, traditional stuff she only tells half-truths. She did go on a date with Herbert. Picked him up in her BMW. They did go to a movie. They did go out to dinner.
But as soon as Herbert secured his seatbelt, they didn't drive straight to the 6:30 showing at the nice movie theatre in the big, expensive Rich-People Mall' where perchance that some tennis or Bridge, or whatever friend of her mother might find them while swiping away her husband's money on a new Gucci bag or one of their daughters saw them while peering through Juicy Couture racks. The mall is crawling with prying, nosey, gossipy girls hat grow into prying, nosey, gossipy women.
They went to Lance Cockburn's place.
And he joined them to the old mall, the nearly going out of business place, to the crappy theatre with stained carpets from thirty years of soda spills and busted in seat. They saw a movie- or rather, Lucky saw a movie. Lance and Herbert flirted and fondled and giggled and kissed like the couple onscreen in the back of the darkened, abandoned theatre. The dark kept their secrets.
Dinner? Burgers at a cheap place next door where the waitress forgot about them in their corner booth and the menus were sticky and they've never heard of aioli.
Despite all of this, Lucky always has a good time. They make her laugh. They make her smile. They're cute and yeah, she really could be going out and kissing a boy of her own, but whatever.
She made a promise. And she plans to keep it.