Installment One: Angela
I could not kiss him. It had never been a problem before. And his face was, like, illuminated by this reflection of sunlight off his car mirror. And it was the first day of summer vacation. And it was a beautiful day. And I wanted to kiss him. I think. But maybe I didn't. Maybe the very thought of it repulsed me. I couldn't tell. That kind of scared me.
"Um, so, my sixteenth birthday is on Saturday. Me and Rickie and some other people are going to Vertigo to see a show. So, you know, you could come along if you wanted."
And then he tucked this piece of hair behind his ear. And he didn't respond for the longest time. And I waited for him – like I always did. As if he was tutoring me in patience.
"I don't really know." He moved his eyes away from mine and reached for the ignition. This had always been my cue. My cue to get out.
"Yeah, so I guess it depends on what you're doing Saturday? I mean, like, what else is going on."
He clenched his eyelids shut. I used to think that was irresistible.
"Who's playing anyway?"
"At Vertigo? Just this one band Rickie likes from Pittsburgh. They're, like, acoustic. And, uh, Xanadu."
"Yeah, I guess. I'll pick you up at eight on Saturday." He said it, like, really slowly. Like he was reluctant to spit it out. And then, he did this thing. This thing that he sometimes does that I can tell he doesn't even knows he's doing. He reached towards me and tucked a strand of my hair behind my ear. That was his cue. His cue to kiss me.
I smiled and unbuckled my seatbelt. "Yeah, it should be a time," I said, "Oh, and you don't have to worry about picking me up, 'cause Corey is actually taking all of us over to Vertigo."
I got out of the car and before I shut the door, I stated, clearly and eloquently, "So I'll see you there, Jordan?"
When I say his name out loud, he knows that means I want him to say my name, too.
"Yeah. Maybe," he said, noncommittally. And a few seconds later I noticed he had already driven away.
So, everyone agrees that Rickie and Corey are like, the cutest couple. They touch a lot, but their touches aren't the kind of touches that claim ownership on the other person. Their touches are like, genuine and true.
"Angela, you look so good!" Rickie said as I climbed into the back seat, "Watching you walk down that driveway, MMM. You're a knockout!"
"Rickie, you exaggerate!" As I buckled, I gave the driver a kiss on the cheek. Corey has these eyes, that like, are so bright blue that you sometimes have to blink when you see them because it's hard not to.
"Angela, are you ready for the best night of your life?" Rickie yelled from the front seat.
I laughed. "Well, that all depends, Rickie."
"Will Jordan be there?" I could see Rickie's face glowing in the rearview mirror.
"I don't know of Jordan's plans." I paused and smiled. "Jordan doesn't make plans. Will Rayanne be there?"
Rickie was silent.
"Rickie!" I squealed.
"I mean, she likes the bands that're playing," Rickie said sheepishly.
"Who, Rayanne? God, Rickie, it's not like we hate each other!"
Rayanne and I weren't speaking. We weren't mad, really. It just seemed, like, natural.
"No, I know Angela. It's just, well Rayanne…"
Rickie and Rayanne were still best friends.
Corey interjected with: "May I interject?"
Looking at him, I thought, 'what a sweet, sweet boy.'
"It doesn't even matter. Rayanne isn't coming," Corey continued.
"What? She loves Xanadu." Rickie pointed his scrunched eyebrows at Corey.
"I'm surprised you don't know, Enrique, but Rayanne has a gig tonight."
"Rayanne's in a band?" I was a little concerned that this was first I'd heard of it.
"Mmm. A punk band. She can really wail," Corey replied.
"Did you know about this, Rickie?"
Rickie slowly turned his head towards the back seat. "Well, they've only officially been a band for a few days. I didn't know they were already getting gigs."
I crossed my arms and kicked the back of Rickie's seat. "Rickie! Why didn't you tell me?!"
"I wasn't so sure it would last. I mean, you know Rayanne. She's always starting things she has no intention of finishing."
I left it at that, although I was hurt that no one had thought to tell me. Maybe they thought they were, like, protecting me. Rickie was being so wonderful through it all – somehow juggling two separate best friends. It's kind of funny the way things turn out. Like how me and Sharon were the best of friends and then grew apart. Rayanne and me didn't grow apart, really. Something happened. Sometimes, something can happen and it can change everything. Take my parents. My mom's in the middle of divorcing my dad. It's a big, long process and it's taking a toll on everyone involved. And it only took one thing happening to ignite this, like mile-long wick that will eventually light the bomb.
My dad betrayed my mom just like Rayanne Graff betrayed me. Forgiveness is not a foreseeable thing in Patty and Graham's future.
I wasn't going to forgive Rayanne or Jordan Catalano – I was going to feed equally on my hatred for both of them. But I have this problem. I love to look at Jordan Catalano so much. The need for his face in my sight like, increases when he mumbles apologies at me or when he feels bad or ashamed because of me. He's always looking down like he's nervous when any idiot can see the pure confidence in his eyes. And I can't resist him. It's like, impossible. So, two nights after I found out he'd lied about the letter he'd given me and I'd seen the hurt in Brian Krakow's eyes, I called Jordan and asked him if he'd meet me in the boiler room the next day. Sometimes I think I'm too impulsive.
Rickie told me that Rayanne was really hurt that I chose to forgive Jordan Catalano and not her. Rayanne even left a note in my locker pointing out that she and Jordan were equally at fault. Rayanne doesn't realize that it isn't a choice for me. After it happened, it was painful to look at her, and I felt such a rush when I looked at Jordan. It's not about love. Like, I'm helplessly in love with Jordan, but I loved Rayanne, too. I asked my mom what the difference between the two relationships was and she said, "Sex." I see what she means. It's not like I'm ready to have sex with Jordan Catalano, but there is something inside of me that wants it so bad. And now my brain is like a scratched record that's stuck on one line: "Rayanne had sex with Jordan Catalano."
"This song goes out to Angela Chase. It's Angela's birthday today! Be sure to wish her a happy one before you leave here tonight!" I couldn't help the blush that rose to my cheeks when Tino announced my birthday to the hip, over-18 crowd at Vertigo. Tino and I weren't even great friends, really. I looked over at Rickie accusingly.
He shrugged. "Sorry, Ang! I thought it would be fun!"
I felt like everyone was looking at me – which was ridiculous because the kids at Vertigo didn't know or care about an Angela Chase. Except, there was this one boy. He had dark, greasy hair and he was wearing sunglasses in the dark. He looked, like, way older than me. When I noticed him coming up to me, I balanced on one leg and looked off into space, pretending I didn't see him.
"Hey, you Angela?" his smile could have, like passed as genuine, but I wasn't buying it.
"What? Oh, no. Angela? No. I think I know who you're talking about, though." I began searching the room for Jordan. If I could just locate Jordan, I figured, my night would get better. That Xanadu set, which I had heard like, one hundred times before, was starting to give me a headache. The boy with the greasy hair and glasses was so close to me that every part of his body was touching mine. He started dancing, like, on me. Rickie threw me a concerned glance.
"Rickie!" I yelled above the music, "Rickie, can we please get out of here?!"
Rickie gave me a thumbs up and then left to go find Corey. I pried the boy, who probably wouldn't remember anything tomorrow, from my body and tore out of the building. As I was leaving, Jordan Catalano spotted me. "Angela?" he said it too quietly to be heard, but I saw his lips form the shape of my name. I noticed his eyebrows scrunched in a confused manner before I shut Vertigo's door and was outside in the fresh air. He's always doing that – always showing up to places right before I leave.
The birthday party didn't end there, though. Rickie, Corey, and I went to the playground by the graveyard so we could swing – it was my idea. Immediately after sitting down on the swings, Corey rolled a joint. See, Corey is a huge pothead. He passed it to me, and I laughed. Rickie smiled. He didn't smoke pot, either. Rickie began pumping his legs and announced that it was a race. Whoever could get the highest first won – no pun intended. I pushed off the ground, and was higher than Rickie in no time.
And then, all of the sudden, Rayanne was there.
As she grabbed the joint from Corey and sat down on the nearest swing, she said, "So are you gonna like, ask me how my gig went, Enrique?"
I abruptly stopped the swing, and just sat there staring at her. It was like she was a ghost – I didn't believe in her.
"Why are you here?" I asked, still gaping, "I mean, how did you find us?"
"Don't worry, Angelica, I didn't, like, look for you. I smelled you. Or, you know, Corey. Besides, I come here a lot after shows."
"Rayanne, what shows? This was, like, your first show," Rickie said, in disbelief as well.
"I, like, know that, Rickie."
I wanted to scream. This was my birthday party! She could just, like, never let me have Rickie to myself! I put my hands on my head and grabbed handfuls of my hair.
Rayanne looked down at the ground and passed the joint back to Corey. "Can I talk to Angela alone for a second, guys?"
I shook my head fiercely and laughed, "Oh no. No, Rickie. We have nothing to say to each other."
"Please, Rickie?" she frowned and gave him these puppy eyes. He got up and grabbed Corey's hand.
"I'm really sorry, Angela," Rickie said, and he walked back to the car with his boyfriend.
I wanted to follow them so bad. I really did. But my body wouldn't move – it was like, too heavy, or whatever. I wanted to look at the ground, but all I could look at was her face. Her eyes were just so, like guiltless.
"Happy birthday, Angela," she whispered after a long while.
I wanted to laugh, but I hated her so much that I couldn't even do that.
"I really mean it, Angela. You deserve it. You deserve the time of your life. Tonight and every night."
"Rayanne, this is not how I wanted my sixteenth birthday to be. This has been a horrible night so far." She really didn't see that she was part of the problem. Possibly even the problem.
She was silent after that for awhile. The wind whistled while pushing the empty swings, and I wondered what Corey and Rickie were doing in the car.
"Angela, if you're not gonna forgive me, then at least ditch Catalano. He's terrible in the sack anyway."
I looked closer at her. Her eyes were, like, sparkling. I laughed. "Really?"
She smiled and nodded. For a second I thought, 'You know, Rayanne is going to be okay. Even without me. Even without you.' And then I saw the tears rolling down her cheeks.
I heard Corey Helfrick's voice calling in the distance. He had thought of something really fun to do, and he wanted tonight to end with a bang! I stood up. Wherever it was that we were going, I didn't want Rayanne to come.
"I gotta go. I guess I'll see you around, maybe?" I said, unsure of what I was saying at all.
"Yeah. Yeah, for sure. Later."
Rayanne in her skimpy black top and cut-off pants. She was going to get cold if she was staying out here all night, and that sounded exactly like something Rayanne would do. I took off my flannel and tossed it to her.
"You're going to get cold if you're gonna stay out here all night," I explained.
I decided not to like, linger any longer. And I left her there on the swings, not willing to give out any more of my pity.
a/n: I don't own anything associated with My So-called Life. And the title of this comes from the Violent Femmes song "Good Feeling." Review, please