Wow! I can't believe that people still care about this story! Thanks so much, guys. Here's a short update, with a couple of choice words thrown in. I promise from here on out, the updates will be more frequent. Thanks!
Have you ever played that awkward game with someone where you make it a point not to look in their direction? I have. I could FEEL Vanessa trying not to look my way during the class period. She's never been so attentive during one of Mr. Neumann's lectures. I didn't mind much. It's best not to look Vanessa in the eye when she's mad at you. I knew that making eye contact with her would only heighten the target on my back. I also knew that trying to talk to her first would be a mistake.
"And that, class, ends our section on the Roaring Twenties," Mr. Neumann said, exiting out of his PowerPoint presentation. He flicked the lights on. "Remember, your timelines on this era are due on Monday. I don't want to hear any excuses, you've had plenty of time to complete this assignment," Mr. Neumann announced. He continued, "How many of you need class time to make final plans with your partner? We can use the final 30 minutes to work on your projects, or we can go over yesterday's test grades."
I gulped. Vanessa and I were partners, but we'd hardly worked on it at all. We always put things off until the last minute. We worked best under pressure, or at least that's what we told ourselves.
I closed my eyes and silently prayed that my classmates would keep their hands down. Ordinarily, I would have been the first one to put my hand in the air because everyone knows that partner time is gossip time, but today was not the day to be social. Apparently, my classmates didn't care what kind of social crisis I was having, because Vanessa and I were the only two who did not raise our hands.
"Alright, the rest of the hour is yours," Mr. Neumann said.
As my classmates began pushing desks together eagerly, I slowly craned my neck to face Vanessa. Just as I'd suspected, she was facing forward, stone-faced. If my stomach hadn't dropped into my butt, I probably would have found it to be comical. Maybe I could play dumb again.
"So," I started, "do we want to begin with Prohibition and end with the Great Depression, or do we want to just cover the fun stuff in between? The parties, the nightlife, the fabulous clothes?" I tried to sound carefree and peppy, but when your stomach is in your butt, it's hard to be positive.
"How about we begin with the fact that you've been screwing my brother and end with a fuck you," she snapped without looking at me.
I tried not to flinch. Ouch. I thought that she would at least give me the silent treatment for awhile, but she was obviously ready for a fight.
I sighed. "I'm not screwing Adam," I started, "I just-"
Vanessa cut me off. "You mean to tell me that you didn't spend the night with my brother last night and then have the audacity to text me and have me cover for you? And that you haven't been hanging out with me, just to be around Adam? I mean, I thought it was strange that you both ran out last night, but it's because you couldn't keep your hands to yourselves in my mom and dad's kitchen, isn't it?"
I didn't know how to answer her questions. She's so good at firing off a million questions at once. So good.
"Look," I began gently, "I didn't want to hurt you. I HAVE been seeing Adam for awhile, but that's not why I've been hanging out with you. You know that. You've been my best friend since I was 8, Nessa."
I thought I saw her soften a bit. She turned her head ever so slightly. I took that as my cue to continue.
"As for last night…he's been frustrated with not telling anyone that we're dating and I've been scared of how everyone would react. That's why we both stormed out."
"So, you mean to tell me," she started slowly, "that my brother wanted to tell everyone about your little relationship but you couldn't trust that information with your own best friend?"
I blinked. That's what she got out of that?
"It's not that I didn't trust you, Nessa. It's just that…."
Just then, the bell rang. Vanessa gathered her books and looked me in the eye for the first time.
"Like I said, Rebecca, fuck you."
And with that, she was gone.
I gathered my books and checked my phone. Another message from Adam. "I'm really glad you're doing this, babe. I have a good feeling about us."
Slowly, I typed my reply to him:
Honesty gets you nowhere.
The rest of the day was a lethargic blur. I don't remember what we did in any of my classes; none of it seemed to matter. Luckily, Vanessa and I only had one class together and our lunch hours were separated by grade. Each time I passed her in the halls, she pretended to look the other way. I wondered how long she was going to pretend that she hadn't given me a verbal lashing.
When the day was over, I retrieved my books from my locker and headed towards my car. I couldn't wait to get home and take a long nap. Maybe when I woke up, everything would be okay. As I neared my car, I saw Adam standing there waiting for me. I groaned inwardly. After I'd replied to his message, I'd gotten a million panicked messages in return. I'd eventually turned my phone off just before lunch.
"Hey, what a surprise!" I said, trying to fake a smile. My voice totally didn't give away the fact that my best friend had found out about my relationship with her brother. Or that she'd cursed me out.
"So, we're going to pretend that you haven't been ignoring me all day?"
"Ignoring is such a harsh word," I joked.
He didn't laugh. I cleared my throat. "…has Vanessa said anything to you?" I asked him.
"I sent her a text asking her if she needed a ride home, but apparently she's ignoring me too. I'm guessing you told her about us."
"Only because you told me to!"
"I know I did, Becky. Calm down, it was just a question. How did she react when you told her?"
"Well, first she gave me the silent treatment. Then she avoided eye contact. Then she told me to fuck off." My voice quivered as I told him the story of my day.
"Becky, I'm sorry," he said softly. He wrapped his arms around my waist and looked into my eyes. I shifted my gaze to the ground, trying not to count the colors in his. I was too annoyed.
"I told you we shouldn't have told her." I could feel tears welling up in my eyes. He grabbed my chin and tilted my head up so that I was looking back at him.
"Hey, she'll be mad for awhile and she'll get over it," he said, trying to reassure me.
"No, she won't Adam. You know her just as well as I do. She's going to let this fester and she's going to hold a grudge until she can break us up. This is why we didn't want to tell her." The tears were falling slowly now.
Adam ran his finger down my cheek and wiped a tear away.
"Shhh. She isn't going to break us up. She can try all she wants, but look at me, Becky." I looked up. The softness in his voice made me melt. "She isn't going to break us up," he said again.
"How can you be sure? You know her. You know how vicious she is. Remember what she did to David Thomas and Margo?"
"I know that, Becky. But I also know…." He trailed off.
I held my breath.
"I also know that I believe in us," he said softly. "She isn't going to change that. And you finally telling her the truth? That's all that I needed to be sure."
Adam pulled me into a hug, and I let a steady stream of tears fall onto his chest. In my head, I knew that Vanessa was somewhere, plotting the first move she would make in her inevitable quest to destroy my life. But in that moment, wrapped in Adam's arms in the parking lot of Stoneybrook High School, I'd never felt safer.
Maybe honesty does get you somewhere.