You reach into your pocket for the bobby pin you keep for just this purpose, and in seconds the lock gives and you slide the glass to the side. You spend a minute picking out your favorite vodka and some cointreau you're not wholly opposed to, before setting about finding the requisite cranberry juice and lime. It's in the convenient mini-fridge between a six-pack of Tab that's been there since Tab was cool and a row of glasses frosted opaque by the cold. You mix the cocktail with practiced motions, dolling about half into your chilled martini glass, forgoing the garnish because fuck it who are you out to impress? No one, that's who. It's just past one PM as your pale, thin fingers grip the glass by the stem and bring the lilac concoction to your lips.
It's familiar, because as you settle into an armchair with your drink in one hand and your phone in the other, you think about Jane.
You think about Jane when you roll out of your bed and squint through the dalliance of sleep in your eyes at your disaster zone of a bedroom. You shudder to think what she'd say if she could see it- probably something like goodness gracious! or well I never! or what an utter pigsty!. You can't help but smile in any case. Flustered Jane is one of your favorite Janes.
You're thinking about Jane as you step into your attached bathroom, inspecting yourself at the mirror, still in yesterdays' bra and red lines from wrinkles in the sheets networking your pale skin. You scrutinize every aspect of your appearance- what if Jane thinks you're too skinny? What if she'd like you more if you had a bit more meat on your bones? Your lightning-fast metabolism forbids that idea altogether; you can barely keep nutrients in your system long enough to feel sated after a bowl of take-out, let alone getting any actual developing done! Not that you're some kind of auxologist; human development is not your gig, no way, no how. You prefer to wreak your mad-scientist antics on creatures who will stay cute no matter how many eyes and heads you give them.
You poke and prod at yourself, every single part of you either soft when it should be firm or bony when it should be smooth, and you rue the cruelty of being a fifteen-year-old girl and having every force in the universe stacked against you. Not like Jane- gentle features, warm smile, not a trace of the gawkiness that plagues you every time you glance in the mirror. And unlike you, she's got boobs to spare, and she's a billionaire. Where's the justice in this world?
You think about Jane while you're picking your outfit for the day. It's a holiday, so you have the day off of school, which could mean undies and a t-shirt all day. But today is a special day for your best friend, and you'd decided it would be a special day for you too. Big changes coming her way. Who says you don't deserve something too? And anyway, today of all days she'll be open-minded to new ideas. You layer your favorite pink-four-eyed-cat shirt over a black tank top and, realizing all your jeans are dirty, slide on some leggings and a miniskirt. You look the outfit up and down, decide to forgo putting on a belt to break up all the white until you actually go somewhere today- it is your day off after all. Yeah, Janey would like it. What would she say if she was here? Aren't you the bee's knees! or, no, more like Well don't you look like the cat's pajamas! or maybe if you were really lucky she'd just look at you and quietly tell you You look pretty.
You blush, there in your armchair in the parlor, a room your mom spent so much time and money designing to be fun for you and your friends that she didn't notice you never actually have any friends over. That or it's another of her passive-aggressiveness mind games. Well fuck it! You have tons of fun playing pool by yourself, and you set high scores in every single game on the 200-in-1 arcade cabinet and all three pinball tables. The fact the room has its own liquor cabinet speaks to how much she pays attention to your interests- in one way or another.
You quickly finish your second Cosmo and rinse out the martini shaker. You're already starting to tip a little with the ratio of Grey Goose to actual water in your person but you've only just begun. You're on your way back to the cabinet to begin your second concoction when your phone buzzes. It's a text from your mom. You parse her long, eloquent message- which reads more like a nineteenth-century manual on woodcrafting than any sort of interpersonal communication- for notes of sarcasm, passive-aggression, or her constant bating challenges.
She's finished terrorizing her chapter of the Upstate New York Literary Society by finding deeply disturbing allegories in every single book they ever read. All her contemporaries are either pregnant or new mothers so they've entered a mode of mostly books concerning child birth and rearing, which makes this task ludicrously easy. She has one appointment at the clinic before she'll be returning home. She offers to pick you up lunch, since she'll be in town. For the umpteenth time today, you say fuck it and tell her a hamburger would be great and just to really get her goat you sign it with a smiley.
Bitch hates smilies.
You attempt to slip your phone back into your pocket but miss, and it slides down your skirt and thumps onto the floor. You swear and pick it up, inspecting every side for any signs of damage, but mercifully there are none. You approach the liquor cabinet and start thinking about what you feel like drinking. Then you remember your rule- if don't already know what you want, you want a gin & tonic!
You're a G&T master by now, not even sixteen but you bet if you entered a competition you'd take the whole thing. Reaching for the Gordon's, you picture yourself in shirtsleeves and a waistcoat, garters at your elbows and your hair in shiny waves like a Twenties photograph, standing behind a sepia-tone bar and zesting a lime. You're serving a Jane in a gorgeous blue evening gown- even though everything else is shades of tan- and you wink as you hand her her glass. She brings it to her plump lips, not breaking eye contact with you the whole time. She tries to make a serious face as she takes a sip but fails completely, breaking out in uncontrollable giggles, which gets you giggling too, and she reaches over the bar and touches your hand and you take her fingers in yours and then you're kissing her and she's kissing you back and she tastes like gin and citrus and everything is perfect.
Your face is bright pink and your heart is racing as you stir your drink absently. Snapping back to reality you notice the ice is starting to melt and you swear again and add more gin to balance out the water. You take a pinch of mixed lemon and lime zest and squeeze a single drop of bitter juice from it, then another, and that's it. Then a splash of sweet grapefruit juice and a squirt of sour lime, and it's ready. Only you ended up with way too much of it, so after pouring your glass, you strain out the ice cubes with a slotted spoon and place the martini shaker in the fridge. You estimate there's another glasses' worth in there. Cool. It's only quarter to two as you take a gulp of your third drink; why pace yourself?
You think about how it's going to go when you tell Jane how you really feel about her. Of course it'll be online, who uses phones anymore, but what would be the right way to do it? An eCard? Fat fuckin' chance. Skype? Naw, you don't think she even has it and you don't want to have to code a patch to allow her stupid BCcorp skype-equivalent brainwashware to communicate with your macbook. Carefully retrieving your phone from the pocket of your short skirt, you decide text messaging it is. You load up the Bettybother app, on which she's your only listed friend. After all, you downloaded the app just to chat with her. That's a dollar ninety-nine tithed off to the batterwitch's cakey claws that you'll never get back.
You begin to draft a text, meticulously correcting errors and recorrecting autocorrect mistakes along the way.
okay jane I know today is your big special day but actually I have a special thing too to tell you today
You pause and stare at the screen, letters swimming before your fogged vision and suddenly you realize you're pretty damn drunk. You sound like a retard. You delete the unsent message and start over.
good morning jane I love you and also grats on your companys whole bullshit deal thing
What? No! No that's lame and she'd think you're joking. You actually scoff out loud at yourself, accidentally getting a bit of spit on the phone's screen. The picture yaws ninety degrees as you wipe if off with a chilly finger so you shake it until it rights itself. The spinning makes you a bit dizzy, so you take another sip.
Jane what? How the hell are you supposed to do this? Why hasn't anyone written a guide on how to confess your feelings to your lesbian teenage sweetheart whilst utterly sloshed? Actually, you think with a grin, someone probably already has. You consider searching Wikihow but change your mind when you decide that's a terrible idea for just so, so many reasons. You look back at your phone.
The lone word mocks you. Jane. Your best friend, your favorite person in the world. The kindest, the cutest, the nicest person you'll ever meet. Four letters shouldn't be enough to express anything about this wonderful girl, and yet they say everything. You need to write something that matches your feelings but you accidentally hit send and suddenly that was a thing that happened. Fuck.
Fuck! You're not ready yet! You don't have anything rehearsed, or planned, or anything! This wasn't supposed to be a conversation, it was supposed to be a, a, statement, a grand gesture! Goddammit. Now you're going to have to think on your feet. In this case, what you have to do is clear: Have another drink.
It's time for business, you can't be fucking around. You go right for the Jaeger and pour about two shots' worth into a whiskey glass and down the whole thing like pro, then before the alcohol kicks in and what's left of your coordination is shot, you pour yourself another G&T. Shakily rinsing out the shaker, you shuffle back to your armchair and flop down on it, draping your legs over the arm and resting your woozy head on the other. Fuck it, if it's a conversation she wants? It's a conversation she's gonna get.
You wake your phone up- holy shit it's already almost two thirty! You look at your conversation log.
Oh yeah, you haven't actually had one yet. Okay the first thing you need in a conversation is another person. That means Janey's gotta answer. Everyone knows the best way to make people answer their phones is by texting them nonstop until they drop what they're doing and pay attention to you.
TG: ansrew plz
You groan. It doesn't look like she's around. Probably left her computer on and she's taking a shower or something. Fuck, now you're thinking about Jane taking a shower. Fuck, now you're thinking about you and Jane taking a shower! You desperately need to be saved from this line of thought before-
GG: Overreact much? I kept you waiting for all of two seconds!
GG: Where have you been today?
Where have you been? The nerve! You slosh your drink as you glass at the cheery blue words on the screen. You've been waiting for Jane's slow West-Coast ass to catch up to your daylight since you dragged yourself up this morning.
TG: nowhere just chilling here
TG: when all of the sudden
When all of the sudden what? You can't just drop the bomb right now, with no preamble, just "sup Crocker wanna be in lesbians with me wait you are a lesbian by now right?". You have to be tactical, maybe start with something a bit more innocuous. Jake's birthday is coming up, you bet you could bullshit about that for a-
GG: "All of a sudden."
What? Oh goddamn her hand her cute fucking grammer nazi bullshit, it really gets you hot. Hot tempered, you mean, not like in a sexual way. Just so, so mad. You continue, your blush spreading across your pale cheeks as though you'd been out in the chilly November air and just now came back inside.
TG: when all of the sudden
TG: it hits me
TG: thaf we have somethig really fuckin important to talk about
And you easily slip into bullshit mode, typing endlessly about the least important bullshit on your mind. You don't bother fixing your typos anymore. You even slide in a couple of broad hints that maybe, just maybe you'd be willing to jump that poor dweeb Jake's bones. But when you read back the shit you typed, you realize it reads like a laundry list of the things you actually like about her instead.
TG: the delightful silly vernacular thats like
TG: weirdly and bewitchingly not self aware
TG: those adorbable teeth
TG: swoooooooooon 3
Swoon indeed. Even though you basically just said everything you wanted to say to her all along, you know she's not going to pick up on things that easily. But it's okay- socially awkward, fumbling Jane is one of your favorite Janes too. Always such an airhead. Heirhead! You give yourself a mental high five.
Your conversation continues at a normal clip after that. You banter about her Dad, your Mom, and of course the inimitable D.S., whom she proposes would make the perfect receptacle for your affections. Only problem with that is he's about as interested in women as you are in teetotaling. You can't believe how naive she is about him, and you're sure to let her know so.
You get so caught up in just enjoying chatting with your best friend you almost forgot the item of the day is permanently changing your BFF status. Enough chiding her about her creepy conspiracy-theory life or professing to cybercrimes far beyond your ability (to give a shit), You really need to put on your big girl pants and just fucking say it.
Just fucking say it, you tell yourself. God, your head is spinning with whatever drink you're on now- at some point you guess you made yourself a vodka martini? Judging by the olive in the glass, you've moved on from the sweet stuff a while ago. Jane's cheerful blue text bumbles around your backlit screen, centered in your tunnel vision, her verbose phrasing and fucking long words sending your brain reeling like punches, but you have to read every word, because they're her words, they're part of her, and they belong to you. They're gifts. They're precious.
Hang on what did she just say?
I would have said, "Shucks, buster, sign me up!"
Oh my God. She actually just said "shucks, buster". Like, seriously, not to be ironic or something. You smile, then grin, then chuckle. Your chest swells like you just saw a kitten hand flowers to a duckling with polio or some kinda Hallmark shit like that. Your heart takes a break from straining to keep your fingers from going numb to do an acrobatic fucking maneuver. This girl, you think. This fucking girl. She's gotta be mine.
Just fucking say it.
Just fucking say it.
She's gotta be mine. You can do this, girl. You can fuckin' do it.
TG: did u know
TG: that i am uttrely
SHE'S GOTTA BE-
TG: IN LOVE
Wait, what the fuck did you just type? You look at the pink words on your phone and drop the thing like a poisonous snake. Oh god, no, no, it's not right! This is not fucking right! Text messaging? Stupid, so stupid, you think. You clap your hands to your face, feeling the radiating warmth from the pounding blood just under the surface of your skin, and if you could feel anything but dismay you'd probably scream.
You pick up your phone. Thank god, she hasn't responded. How are you going to save this? How can you backpedal from something like this? You barely pay attention as you type in
TG: with the fact that
TG: i have a best friend
You take a second to wipe away a drop of your drink that fell on the screen, right between "best" and "friend", warping the edges of the words and magnifying the pixels. But another drop falls on it as soon as its gone and you realize your glass is sitting on the floor beside you and you can't feel your face but you might be crying.
Oh god you are. Your brain took a few seconds to catch up with your body, but sure enough, there are the racking sobs, and as the sensation shakes you so too does the pain. Your heart aches, your belly burns, your lip quivers and curls on itself.
i have a best friend
No you don't. All you have is this pain, manifesting itself so violently and so suddenly and maybe she has a best friend, dear lovely sweet Janey has you by her side forever, the perfect flawed friend to make her problems seem small by comparison. Because killers can take shots at her all morning but god forbid someone your age drinks. She's happy, goddammit, she's happy with you right where you are, her best friend. If you had completed your sentence, if you'd just found it in yourself to say "with you", that happiness would be gone forever. Like the snows of yesteryear, you remember your Mom saying once, gone from this Earth. You're crying freely now, howling, screaming. She doesn't love you! She has the emotional maturity of a fucking box turtle! She probably still calls whatever it is she feels for that boy a "crush" like a fucking twelve-year-old.
But through the tears, you continue your messaging as though nothing is wrong. You're not even sure what you're typing- she's screaming her head off about her mailbox for some reason- but is all comes out okay you guess because none of her cotton-candy-blue messages consist of "What? No! I never want to see you again". After a minute, she logs off with a "brb". You wipe your eyes and sniff your nose and look at those three innocent letters. Parts of her, like all these words that twinkle like jewels on your screen. Gifts. Presents from Jane.
You don't know if waiting for her will be worth the agony.