When a college girl (dropout technically) runs into Heather Sinclair's little sister, there's definitely a problem. Especially when everyone at the party is the same age as Heather Jr.
"Aren't you Paige?" the little Sinclair looked at me in disgust.
I rolled my eyes. "I'm here with Marco, okay?"
She glanced over to the corner where Marco was kissing a guy. "Looks like you got ditched."
I gripped my plastic cup and turned around. "Whatever."
Her twin with braces looked at me apologetically. When you're me, being looked at apologetically is almost worse than being insulted. Normally, I would stand my ground, but I was starting to realize that Degrassi wasn't mine anymore. I started doing the thing you do when you're feeling awkward at a party. Cycling between the back yard, the kitchen, the living room, and the basement hoping that eventually I'd find someone work talking to or conspiring with.
The second time I walked outside, a girl motioned to me from the swing set. Her hair was pulled back in a sloppy ponytail and she looked a bit too...tired to be here.
"Uh, hi," I said.
"Thought you looked lonely," she said. "Your date ditch you too?"
"Cradle robber, much?" I asked. "Try gay best friend."
She laughed. "You're here with Marco then?"
"You know Marco?" I asked.
"Everyone knows Marco," she said.
Everyone used to know Paige. "So I spilled," I said. "Who are you here with."
"You didn't spill," she smiled coyly. "I guessed."
She patted the swing beside hers, motioning for me to sit. For the moment, I stayed standing. "Do I know you?"
I thought I remembered her. She was the large breasted girl who used to hang all over Sean. The girl who "stole" Jay from Alex. "Amy?"
Having dated Alex, my opinion of Amy was relatively low. "Don't look so disappointed," she said.
If I did look disappointed, it wasn't from who she was so much as the trail of plastic bracelets up her arms. "Uhm, eew," I said.
They were in every color imaginable. When she ran out of solid colors there were glow in the dark bracelets, glittery bracelets, striped ones, rainbow ones. I didn't want to guess what half of them were for.
"They're kind of a part of me by now," she said. "They're there whether I wear them or not."
She put a joint between her lips and lit the end. I shuddered, imagining where those lips had been, and wished the thought had never crossed my mind. "You wouldn't have another one of those, would you?"
"What are you going to give me for it?" she smiled. "I'm kidding," she punched me playfully as if we were friends. "I'm not that sleazy."
I looked at her skeptically. "Right."
Amy opened her purse and pulled out a fresh joint, tossing it to me. "Wouldn't have pegged Paige as a smoker," she said.
"Alex got me started," I faced her so she could light it. During my short stint at Banting, I probably did more weed than homework. I wasn't addicted, but I wasn't new to it either.
"Alex?" she asked. "Thought she cut the stuff."
"Actually, it was mine," I said. "She was the one who made me smoke it though."
"Alex," she said wistfully. "You know someday I'm going to call her. Apologize for all the dumb shit I did when we were together."
"Wait," my feet dragged on the ground. "What do you mean together?"
She shrugged. "We had a bit of a thing before she hooked up with Jay."
"How big of a thing?" I asked.
She looked at me skeptically. "Why?"
"I kind of thought I was...the only girl she had ever dated," I said.
"You dated?" she started to giggle.
"Why's that funny?" I asked.
"No, it's just...the idea of you going gay for anyone. It's just funny," she said.
I sighed defensively. "I didn't go gay for her. Alex is pretty much the only girl I ever liked."
"I've heard that one before," she said. "I've said that one before. I'm only gay for Alex. Other than that, I'm a total cock hungry man eater." She waved an arm in my face. "I've got all the proof I need."
"Hun," I sighed. "If you're actually gay why would you do that?"
"I'm not gay," she said. "More like bisexual leaning towards girls. Well...no. I mostly sleep with guys but guys are all the same to me, you know? I don't get too torn up about guys. But when it's a girl," she smiled. "I never liked anyone like Lexy."
"I think we're gearing into awkward territory now," I said.
She nodded. "Come on though. You've really never liked any girl but Alex?"
I remembered sleepovers with Hazel, seeing her change in front of me. Nothing. "Nope," I said.
"What about that goth chick, Ashley? She wasn't bad."
"So not my type," I said. And so not even goth anymore.
"I'm going to figure this out," she said. "I don't really know most of the girls from Degrassi but..." she smiled mischievously. "What about Emma's friend? Manny. We were in a play together I think."
My face felt hot, like it did when someone mentioned Manny. I thought back to the early dates of Spirit Squad, before her new slut look. Me telling her Dean was a rapist. Her not believing me. Calling me jealous. Every day after that, I had to hate her a little. No, a lot. Even while I was hating her, I always had to wonder. Wonder if he got to her. Wonder if he was the reason she gave up her innocence to chase after guys who didn't care about her. Wonder if I could have made a difference, kept her safe. Wonder if it would be worth it to say anything now.
"Manny..." I sighed. "There's no way I like Manny."
"You're blushing," she said.
The weed was starting to kick in. I was full on giggling. "Manny," I smiled. "You know Dylan used to see me with Manny and be like, 'you know you two totally need to fuck already.' Dylan's crazy though."
"Don't listen to people who tell you 'you need to fuck already.' That's what they kept saying about Jay and me. But look how well that turned out."
"I thought..." I said.
She laughed. "You think I told Lexy the truth?" she asked. "I was high, drunk, or stoned twenty-four seven back then. I didn't care about jack shit."
It wasn't like I had never thought about just fucking Manny already. During practice sometimes, I'd imagine myself dragging her into the locker room and having it out with her. Telling her she was driving me crazy. Telling her I hated her and worried about her and wanted her and liked her and somehow this crazy display of completely contradictory emotions would end in my hands under her top, her lips on mine. Perfect bad movie logic. It wasn't like I actually wanted to do things with Manny. I was just confused. So confused I made her wear the mascot costume once so I wouldn't have to look at her body.
Amy's breasts were bigger than Manny's. I wasn't sure if they looked good or not. They were a bit too big for my taste. Not that I had a taste for breasts, big or otherwise.
"Hey," she said. "I thought in the yearbook it said you were going to some big name place. So what are you doing here?"
"You read about me in the yearbook?" I asked.
"Lexy's kind of my Manny I guess," she said. "I sorta keep up with her and everything she does, even when I tell myself I'm not."
I wanted to tell her she was creepy, but I remembered a time in my bed when my arms were wrapped around Spinner's neck and all I wanted to do was ask him how Manny kissed.
God. Did I like Manny? As in...like Manny?
"You didn't answer my question," she said. "What happened to Banting?"
She even knew the name of the college I went to. She did have it bad. My buzz was starting to die, but the unrestrained honesty of weed must have still been there a little. "I hated every second of it, didn't make a single friend, got baked every night and then the coup de grace, I set my own dorm room on fire and turned in a paper I bought off the internet. Then, Alex told my mother. And after all that I still got back together with her for however long that lasted."
"Sucks man," she said. "So now what?"
I could have told her I was doing bitch work in the fashion industry, but even that wasn't true anymore. Even Marco's pep talk hadn't kept me strong enough to stay there.
"I'm kind of...looking around right now," I said.
"Makes sense," she said. "So you're here. She's here. Why don't you go for it?"
"Why don't you call Alex and tell her you're sorry?" I asked.
"Because I'm tired of all that," she said. "I miss her, but whatever weird thing we had, it's too late to get it back."
I nodded, knowingly. I suddenly felt on the verge of tears. "I should go now."
Amy stood up and brushed my hip, pulling the phone out of my pocket. I shuddered while she typed into it. "Here," she handed it back to me. "If you don't think I'm a total creep, you should call me sometime. You're cooler than you act."
"Thanks," I said awkwardly. "You too?"