Friday, January 29, 2016

Lies, All Lies: Part Two

Lies, All Lies 
Part Two

The spoon clatters to the floor. Jesse looks at it, a small, silver thing, gleaming and mocking him. Brian sighs and bends over, and a part Jesse hopes that his friend will just take the spoon and let him have some breakfast.
Instead, Brian sticks the utensil back into the loop at the edge of the Velcro band that Jesse has strapped around his palm.
“Eat,” Brian commands.
“Let’s see you eat with your weaker hand." Bad luck? Jesse scoffs when people complain about bad luck. Bad luck is breaking your neck and spending months learning how to eat breakfast, then spraining your dominant left hand and wrist. So everyone can just shut up about the weather, okay?
Brian folds his arms, his typical fight stance. He was in the army a few years ago, and hasn’t shrugged off his military attitude or grown out his close-shaven hair. He thinks that he attracts chicks this way. Literally. He’s wearing an army jacket.
Contrarily, Jesse was never the boy who came home bloodied and muddied up – he was the boy who cleaned his glasses frequently and had panic attacks if his book got wet. Still, when he and Brian were kids, they would spend all summer tearing through the Sierra, rolling around, throwing punches at each other. Brian taught Jesse how to fight.
Now he’s teaching him how to use a spoon.
“Are you still mad about your arm?” Brian says. “Dude, I said I was sorry.” He pauses. “Sorry that you’re such a prude!”
Now, why can’t Brian teach him how to flip the bird? Jesse lowers his spoon into the bowl, wedging it into a clump of yogurty granola. Eating with his right hand was hard enough before he was paralysed, and now it’s sheer hell.
The spoon falls again and brownish goop lands on his starched button-up shirt. 
Jesse curses under his breath. The Sierra is docking at the port off of Portland in half an hour, and he’s scheduled to give a tour of the ship to group of boarding passengers. He hopes to do it quickly so he’ll have time to go into town with Ilana to do some shopping.
“Try again,” Brian insists. His sister Katie, sitting at the table with them, is busily slicing her French toast into mouse-bite-sized pieces while simultaneously monitoring Jesse’s progress.
So far, the score is:
Brian: (5) a coffee, two muffins, a poached egg and orange juice.
Katie: (1.12) chocolate milk, and two pieces out of many of French toast.
Jesse: (0) Nada. Unless you count the granola that’s slowly glopping its way toward his crotch, but that’s on him, not in him, so it doesn’t count.
He suddenly feels an angry rush flooding his face, and he can’t put his finger on why. Brian is only trying to help- that’s all be ever does, pushing Jesse to the max and reminding him how awesome life will be when he gets out of this damn wheelchair.
“Jesse, come on. Try harder. I’m pressed for time here.” Brian gives swimming lessons in the morning.
“I’m sorry,” Jesse says, as if it’s his fucking fault that his hand is bandaged up, sitting in his lap uselessly. “I’m hungry, and my hand-eye coordination is shot before I have a cup of coffee.”
“What hand-eye coordination?” Brian taps the spoon on the side of the table in time with his bouncing foot and dancing fingers. He must be on edge. “Seriously, dude, is it that you want me to feed you? Is that what you want?”
Jesse doesn’t answer. Katie saws at her French toast, humming quietly.
“Where’s Ilana?” Brian says. “All of a sudden she goes AWOL? Where is she?”
It isn’t all of a sudden, Jesse thinks. His PCA has been curiously absent all day on most days, and he’s always thought that she’s been giving him space as he becomes more independent. But now that he needs her, where is she?
“Ilana is scary,” Katie says conversationally, some unconscious part of her sensing tension. Her words are whistles because she’s missing her two front teeth.
“I thin she's sleeping. She’s hungover.” That's the most probable explanation. Jesse’s caretaker knows how to party hard. Ilana’s in her mid-forties and has never dated anyone for longer than a week, so parties are essential to her sex life.
“Hungover? Dude, if she’s got a drinking problem, you should speak to her.”
Jesse snorted. “You’re one to talk.”
“Bitch.” Brian checks his watch; a formality, since he’s itching to leave anyway. “You know what, I’ve got places to go.”
He leaves. The table is suddenly quiet, in contrast to the overall chaos of the Roman dining hall at eight-thirty in the morning. Jesse sees Lisa mopping up a spill in the corner, trying to step around two cranky toddlers with mini afros. She looks great as always- big eyes rimmed in black, black buzzcut, slender, multi-ringed fingers that grip the mop tightly.
He has to talk to her, if only to know where they stand. Jesse always been a perfectionist, and the not-knowing, hanging-in-the-balance kind of fuzziness is driving him crazy.
“Can I feed you?” Katie asks, mouth full. The poor child has to stuff her food into the back of her mouth, where her only teeth are located.
“I can eat myself, thanks.” Jesse paws at the spoon, scraping it toward himself.
“No you can’t.” Katie takes a sip of milk.
Ooh. Busted by the eight-year-old. Jesse tries to decide what’s worse: having Lisa see him being fed by a little kid, or waiting for Ilana to show up.
“Fine,” he says. “But be discreet.”
“Who’s that?”
“Never mind.”
Katie gives Jesse a spoonful, and he realizes how hungry he was. She’s tentative, like when you feed those alpacas at the petting zoo who bite off your hand if you don’t pull away fast enough.
Katie watches him chew with open adoration. The kid worships him, and he hopes this won’t change anything, since most little girls don’t have to feed their adult brother’s friends. Jesse feels that angry rush again.
She gives him another mouthful, and another, him reminding her to eat as well. Katie moves the spoon towards his mouth and Jesse leans forward, when she pauses midair. She looks at him, then at the granola, and giggles.
“What?” he says.
“It’s funny.” She says. “You’re a grownup, and I’m feeding you!”
Jesse slumps back. “It is not funny, Katie.” He says it quietly so it comes out sounding like a growl.
Startled by the severity on his face, her eyes widen.
“Hey, it’s okay,” Jesse says quickly. “Just…” 
What can he say so that she’ll understand? Nothing, because she shouldn’t have to understand. She should never have to understand. He grins at her disarmingly, and she smiles back. He opens him mouth, and she gives him another messy spoonful.
“Can I ask you a question?” Katie says when the bowl is almost empty.
“Of course,” Jesse says. I pee through a bag. No, I wasn’t born this way. I might never walk, but one day I’ll be able to use my arms better. Yes, I can feel some places.
“What do you do if you get itchy Down There?” Katie says, spoon poised.
“I pe- what?”
“Well,” Katie says, “one time I walked into Brian’s room and I saw him sticking his hand down his pants-”
“And I asked my mom what he was doing, and she said that sometimes big people get itchy Down There.”
There is a moment of weighted silence. Jesse sighs. “Oh, Katie, I did not need to hear that.”
“What did I say wrong?”
“Nothing. Just… be a bit more discreet. There’s no need to yell. And finish your toast.”
“I should be discreet? What is that?”
“Yes. It means to be quiet.”
“So,” Katie whispers. “What do you do when you get itchy?”
“I can’t. I don’t. Ask me something else.” Jesse doesn’t masturbate, because he can’t feel down there, and even if he could, he can’t bend his arms all the way.
“Okay,” Katie says. “Can you go sledding? Have you ever rolled over somebody’s foot? How do you fit in a car? Do you have to sit in the trunk?”
Someone clears their throat, and Jesse glances up. Lisa stands there, balancing a coffee and a bagel on a tray. “Can I sit with you guys? My shift’s over.”
Jesse nods. He tries to signal Katie with his eyes, but eight-year-olds aren’t big on subtle cues. She obliviously feeds him the last spoonful, cleaning off his lips and chin with her fingers , and then wiping them off on the side of his wheelchair.
Lisa slides into a chair across Jesse. “What are you two up to?”
“I’m feeding Jesse,” Katie says. “I’m being discreet.”
Lisa laughs. The sound tickles Jesse in all the best ways. “This is Katie. Brian’s little sister,” he says.
Lisa takes a bite of her bagel. “Have plans for today, Katie?”
“Yeah. Brian’s giving swimming lessons and he said I could play in the pool but only if I don’t splash.”
“You better go change then,” Lisa says. “Discretely.”
Katie nods and clambers off her chair, leaving her dirty dishes behind.
Lisa takes a deep breath, and Jesse tries to read her face.
“I’m sorry about last night,” she says, holding up her bagel as he begins to interrupt. “I know you hate apologies. It’s just that I shouldn’t have said what I did.”
“Don’t worry about it.” Jesse can’t look her in the eyes- he should be the one apologizing. “Listen, Lisa, I have to go.” He sees her tense up so he adds quickly, “let’s meet for lunch. One thirty?”
“Okay.” She takes a napkin and before he can say a word, deftly scoops the granola from his pants, and takes their dishes away.
The Portland harbour is crowded with rows of ferries and white sailboats, the monochromatic colour scheme interrupted every so often by a streak of red on a hull or dark, knotted ropes on a sail.  Beyond them, Portland rises up, old–fashioned buildings that have always reminded Jesse of doll houses, white-blue-red under a roiling, cloudy sky. When Jesse was younger, he’d go into town with Brian, and they’d run around and make trouble in the crowded, cobbled streets of the Old Port while Jesse’s nanny tried to keep up. Then they’d go out to eat, a new place every summer. Jesse misses Portland. He misses who he and Brian used to be, together, just two regular boys who couldn’t be tamed.
Looking across the deck, he waits for the right moment to roll up to his group of new passengers. From what he can see there are three groups: a young family and some couples, currently being whisked away by a prim female tour guide; a seniors retreat group, all sporting yellow necklace tags and pastel Polo shirts; and a boisterous, laughing group of guys. That last group is his. He watches the captain approach them for an informal welcoming.
Someone comes up to him from behind. “Hey, man!” Dustin lowers his hand for a fist bump, which Jesse responds to weakly. “You met my friends yet? It’s about time, but everyone’s finally aboard. We can get this bachelor part-tay started!”
Jesse looks up at him incredulously. “These guys are also here for the bachelor’s party? Jesus, how many friends does the groom have?”
“I’m a popular guy.” Dustin looks affronted at the suggestion that he’d invite less than thirty people.
“You’re getting married?” Jesse says incredulously. “You’re kidding. Congratulations.”
“Thanks.” Dustin looks distracted. “Listen, I have a question for you.”
I pee through a bag, Jesse thinks. I can feel most places. I may never-
“Where’s Portland?”
Jesse freezes in a moment of confusion. Then, he slowly points (well, aims his hand in the general direction of) the harbour.
“No, no,” Dustin dismisses that with a wave of his hand. “I mean, like, are we in the US?”
“Yeah,” Jesse says slowly. “In Maine.”
“So then, Canada.”
“Uh, no. Maine is in the US.”
“I thought we were in New England. So if this is Maine, where’s Portland? That’s where the brochure said we’re going.”
Jesse knows it’s rude to stare, oh, he knows- but he gapes at Dustin, stupefied.
Dustin shrugs. “I’m making an educational pamphlet about this place. Crazy, isn’t it, working during my own bachelor party.” He pats Jesse on the shoulder. “Tell me if you’re going into town. We can hang out or something.”
Jesse blinks, and manages to nod. He rolls over to his supervisor, a short, graying man with a large beer gut who’s leading the group of guys away.
“There you are,” his boss says. “Your group is there.” He points to the senior citizens and places a stack of papers in Jesse’s lap. “Don’t forget to show them the City Lights Steakhouse and the Phoenix casino- the one behind the theatre- and give them schedules. Oh, and that the hypnotist show is pushed off until nine tonight, instead of eight thirty.” He consults the chart he’s holding, and hurries off.
“Mr. Ramirez.” Jesse clears his throat, and his boss turns around. “Aren’t I supposed to be getting the younger group?”
“Oh, I switched the groups.” Mr. Ramirez doesn’t even look up from his chart. “I figured you’d be better off with folks who go at your pace.”
 Jesse swivels around. Half of the old people have canes or are being pushed in wheelchairs by attendants. Mr. Ramirez pats Jesse’s arm (everyone likes to touch the disabled guy) and gives him a smile.
“Here you go.” The woman behind the counter holds out Jesse’s lunch, consisting of a fish sandwich and rice.
“Do you mind putting it on the tray?” he says, motioning his head at the black tray poisoned over his lap.
“Oh. Sure.” Her pale, freckled cheeks darken to crimson, and she leans over the counter and lowers the plate. Jesse can handle the uncomfortable feeling that comes with asking others to do basic things for him, but it bothers him when others get embarrassed. It’s just an everyday reminder of how different he is.
He brings the food to the table, and Ilana feeds him, going through the motions silently and zombie-like.
“I think I’m goin’ to take a nap,” she says when they’re done. Jesse watches her go. He generally doesn’t get personal with his PCA, but Ilana stinks of vodka. And it’s only lunchtime. He looks up to see Lisa approaching him, so he pastes on a smile.
“What’s up?” She sets down two cups of coffee and a sandwich.
“Nothing,” he says. “I had a fun morning giving a bunch of over-eighties a tour of the Sierra. It was mostly a tour of all the restrooms.”
Lisa chuckles. “I took a steaming hot shower, one long enough to make any environmentalist shudder, including myself. I’ll be taking a week’s worth of guilt trip cold showers, I think.” She bites into her sandwich. She’s wearing a black tank top and giant loop earrings, and she smells good, like Dove soap. Jesse almost regrets what he said last night, but looking at her, he knows his decision was the right one. Someone like Lisa deserves a lot more than he can give her.
He watches as she takes one of the cups of coffee and places it on his food tray, removing the plastic lid and inserting one of those really thin straws made for hot drinks.
“I was thinking a lot about what happened last night,” she says, skipping to the chase. “I was just moody, I guess,” she says, positioning the straw right beneath his chin. “It’s part of my cycle.”
Jesse has a million responses, but he just echoes dumbly, “your cycle?”
“My monthly cycle. I get pretty neurotic after my period, and that lasts about a month until my next period. Then the cycle starts again.”
Jesse smiles. “What about during your period?”
“That’s when I get weepy.”
“I’m blaming my horniness on hormones. It’s a joke.”
She looks away, stirring her coffee with ardent concentration, and Jesse is hit with the stunningly clear realization that he doesn’t know her, not in the least, not the parts of her that really counts. You can learn someone’s phone password (3141)  and favourite colour (black),  you can find out what music they listen to (headache-enducing heavy metal) and what their favourite food is (icing, straight out of the container.)
You can know that they are moody and hilarious and witty, but it isn’t enough, it can never be enough. People are filled with hopes and dreams and little nuances that make them who they are, impossibly complex, like a puzzle in the dark.
And Jesse realizes that he knows nothing about the girl in front of him, nothing compared to all the intangible things there are to know, and that he wants to, more than anything. He wants to know what she’s thinking about. He wants to taste her lips. He wants to know why she almost cried in his arms, last night.
The part that hits him hardest is that she doesn’t want to tell him, doesn’t want him to know. He pushed her away. It’s too late, now.
“Thanks for the coffee,” he says. It’s strong, and dizzyingly sweet. “It tastes great. ”
“You like it?” Lisa looks elated. “I’m glad, because it was a sort of  test of character. People who drink lukewarm, tasteless coffee are wimps.”
“You’re screening me?” He cocks him head to the side. “Tell me that I get a rating at the end.”
She exhales and he grabs her hand. “Hey, I’m kidding.”
They both stare down. A bandaged monstrosity sits atop slender nails painted black. Lisa slithers her hand away.
She clears her throat. “As I was saying. Last night.”
“Lisa, we don’t have to talk about it if you don’t want to.”
“I have to say one thing.” She holds his gaze. “I’m not the type of girl who will chase you. I’m just not. It’s either because I’ve got a huge ego, or low self-esteem. I’m not sure.” She laughs nervously, rubbing the back of her head. “I’ve been in relationships where one person wanted it more than the other, and trust me, it sucks.” She empties her coffee. “But I still want to be friends.”
“Isn’t that my line?” Jesse says. Lisa chuckles, and he notices the deep shadows under her eyes.
“Lisa” he says quietly. “As your new best friend, I demand to know what’s wrong.”
“You aren’t my best friend. And I’m fine.”
“What can I do to fix it?” he says. “Is it your boss? I’ll beat the crap out of him. Is it a customer? I’ll beat them, too.”
“Thank you, Mr. Chauvinist. I’m good. I have the day off, so I think I’m gonna stay in my room and listen to deafening 90’s music.”
Jesse thinks for a moment. He can see Portland through the Roman’s large picture windows. “Do you like shopping?”
“Oh, yes," Lisa says enthusiastically. "I like to gossip, too, and I love drinking coffee at Starbucks with my girlfriends and instagramming photos of myself at the beach.”
“So… that’s a no?”
“God, Jesse. Do I look like a girl for whom shopping is a remedy? Look, you don’t have to cheer me up. Someone I know is sick, okay? That’s all.” She slumps over and busies herself tearing the crust off her sandwich.
Jesse breathes out slowly. Not how he imagined the big revelation playing out, but fine. “Here’s the thing. I’m going into Portland with Ilana to do some shopping- which, for the record, I hate, too. Ilana always drags it out forever.” He puts on a high-pitched voice. “Jesse, you look a’solutely hot in those jeans. We’re gonna buy you three pairs. And a sweater, to match.”
Lisa looks dubious, so he adds quickly, “if you’re there, maybe we can speed it up a bit, and then eat somewhere good. I know all the best places.”
She hesitates. “Fine,” she says. “I’ll meet you on the deck.”
“We can’t go,” Jesse says when Lisa meets him a half-hour later. She’s wearing clothes that are passably clean because she hates doing laundry more than once a week, and ugly sandals that she once received from Thailand as a present from her old teacher Carolyn. Meanwhile, Jesse is the king of prep. He looks sharp and tailored in a way that seems natural, which is a silly thought since he can’t dress himself. Still, Lisa lets herself admire his neatly combed hair, ironed black shirt and vintage sunglasses. All that’s missing is a leather briefcase.
What ensues is a short argument involving Ilana’s disappearance, Jesse’s refusal to have Lisa ‘take care of him,’ and Lisa’s promise to do nothing of the sort unless Jesse promises to take care of her.
“And how am I going to that, exactly?” he says, trying to extricate the sunglasses from his face. Lisa resists the urge to help him slide them off.
“By beating the shit out of anyone trying to ruin my overall happiness,” Lisa says with a smile. “Like you said you would, before. At the very least, you can run them over for me.”
Jesse looks at like he’s trying to remain serious, but he breaks out into a reluctant grin. “Deal.”
They disembark and take a taxi to a mall, and Jesse promises to take Lisa around the Arts District, downtown, as soon as they’re finished.
The sight of H&M, J Crew, and a bunch of other giant clothing chains make Lisa’s brain start to glaze over the way it did during a boring class in high school, or when the head waitress on the Sierra begins a monologue on her depressingly nonexistent love life. Lisa walks next to Jesse, who’s looking around like he knows where he’s going. It’s not that difficult, being that most malls in America are largely interchangeable.
“Does it bother you when people stare?” Lisa says, watching a pudgy little boy with an ice cream cone gape at them.
“What makes you think they’re staring at me? You're the one with the tag sticking out of your top.”
Lisa stuffs it in quickly. “Why didn’t you tell me?”
“I only noticed now.” He heads towards the elevator, and Lisa follows. “Sometimes it bothers me,” he says. “But I just wave. If you wave too, it’ll be even better. If it’s an adult staring, I’ll usually wink at them, or blow them a kiss.”
“What if it’s a guy?”
“Even better.” Jesse grins. He seems to be kidding, though, because he keeps his eyes trained ahead of him, besides for when he glance up at Lisa, every so often. She hasn’t realized it before, but Jesse is… shy, and awfully self-conscious, dipping his head in the elevator during the short ride up, and mumbling a thank-you to a woman who holds the doors open for him.
They enter one of the mega clothing stores, and Lisa finds herself noticing things she never had before- how narrow the space is between racks of clothing, and how many displays are high up, out of Jesse’s reach.
“…just a couple of shirts and jeans,” Jesse is saying, and she snaps back into focus. He swivels around her in a circle, craning his head at the ceiling to see where the menswear section is. Slowly, a realization begins to creep up on her.
She marches in front of him, blocking his path. “You enjoy this, don’t you?” she says, hands on her hips. “I can’t believe it. You lured me here, trying to ensnare me in this cult of… of…”
“Unnecessary and Excessive Consumerism?” Jesse suggests, and holds up his hands, attempting the ‘guilty’ posture. “I’m a product of this society,” he says. “So shoot me.”
“The Arts District better be so worth it,” Lisa says darkly, stepping over to a dress and pulling out a price tag. Three hundred dollars? She has a little under that in the temporary duct-tape wallet she brought along. Suddenly, the Target two floors down seems to be beckoning to her.
“Most of my family like to wear tailored clothes,” Jesse says. “I’ve always been more of a casual guy.”
“Right,” Lisa says. She ambles over to a rack of costumes.
“Let’s play a game,” she says suddenly. “I used to do this with an old… friend, whenever we went to buy clothes. We each have to pick out something for each other that that person would never wear. Then you have to buy it, or at least strongly consider buying it.”
“Isn’t that wasteful?” Jesse says dubiously, rolling forwards and backwards, like a nervous habit.
“So are shaving cream fights and leaving the tap running. People still do those things, right?”
“I guess.” Jesse cranes his head to look around her. “Where’s the lingerie?”
“Jesse!” Lisa laughs and gives him a soft whap on the head, just as a teenager wearing the store uniform approaches them. He has multiple piercings in both ears, his nose, lips, and under his eyebrows.
“I wonder if he’s able to keep himself afloat in water,” Jesse whispers as he nears them.
 “Mmm.” Lisa considers asking the guy if he knows of a good piercing  place in Portland- she’s considering getting one in her lip in addition to the three already existing in her ears.
The boy stops a foot away from them and looks directly at Lisa. “Hi. Did you know that we’re having a buy one, get-”
“Would you be able to help me out for a minute?” Jesse interrupts.
“O-oh, okay. I mean, yeah, sure.” He jams his hands in his pockets. Jesse wiggles his eyebrows at Lisa. “Meet back here in twenty, okay?”
“You’re on. And you get penalty points if you bring me back underwear.”
Lisa arrives at the meeting place first with a few articles draped over one arm and a black beanie in the crook of her elbow. She reclines against a wall and begins to check her phone, glancing up every few seconds for Jesse.
An old classmate has posted a picture of Carolyn on Facebook, with the caption We’re praying for you, Ms. Taylor! The photo is of Carolyn Before- a wide grin and big, curly hair that had earned her the nickname Ms. Frizzle, after the bouncy teacher from The Magic School Bus. Carolyn is wearing her oyster necklace in the picture, and holding up a book, her eyes animated mid-lecture. The picture has hundreds of likes so far.
Lisa clicks her phone off without touching the post. None of those people know Carolyn the way she does, and liking some picture that Carolyn will never even see isn’t going to help her live. Neither can anyone’s hoping and wishing, neither can chemotherapy, neither can banging the walls and screaming in frustration, because nothing, nothing is working and Carolyn is dying.
When Lisa was fourteen, she became furiously angry with the world. She looked with disgust at this planet that had produced the likes of Hitler and Torquemada and Genghis Khan, that had invented slavery and racism, that had millions of starving people on it while her fridge was stuffed with food. She wore a long black dress for most of that year, a kind of inverse Ku Klux Klan uniform to expressed her love, and consequently, hate for the people she coexisted with. She made friends with people who were angry like she was, even if they didn’t know why yet. She started to smoke more than she ate, set things on fire quite often, and considered dropping out of school to become a farmer in a third world country.
Carolyn was her history teacher in ninth grade, and she had been the only one to really talk to this world-weary girl of fourteen. 
“You have something special,” Carolyn would say. “You read about genocide, and you don’t see figures and statistics. You see a human, and a human, and on and on. Others see the forest. You see the trees.”
It took a while for Carolyn cut through Lisa’s walls. Lisa wasn’t interested in some adult who knew nothing about her. But Carolyn never gave up.
“You understand it,” Carolyn would say. “That’s why it hurts. Don’t lose that hurt, Lisa. Hold onto it. Do big things with it.”
“Lisa?” Jesse says, and she looks up, started. The salesperson is gone, and Jesse has a mountain of colourful things piled up on his lap that almost obscure his view.
“Wanna go first or should I?” he says, looking pleased with himself.
“Not so fast. You have to try on what I picked for you,” Lisa says. “Then you have to send a picture of yourself to one person in your contact list.”
“Are you making this up on the spot?”
“Maybe,” she says with a smile.
He looks at her, maybe working out what ‘try them on’ is going to mean for him. “This is what I didn’t want,” he says quietly.
“What’s the big deal?” Lisa says, shrugging. People move around them, most of them giving Jesse a quick, or not so quick, glance. Jesse’s eyes smolder, but he must not want to discuss it because he says nothing.
“Well?” Lisa asks, trying to not to sound impatient. She doesn’t get it. Does Jesse think he can dress himself? Why does he have to be so stubborn, when all she wants to do is make this fun?
Finally, impossibly, he agrees, and they walk/roll over to the changing rooms. The stalls are tall and narrow, arranged in a long row to their right. There is a wheelchair accessible changing room on the left.
“Six items each,” says the girl behind the counter, who looks younger than  Lisa. The store seems to be entirely staffed by teenagers.
“Oh, just go on in,” she tells them, raising an eyebrow at the mountain on Jesse’s lap and waving them towards the accessible stall. “Don’t tell anyone I said so.”
Lisa nods and follows Jesse. The changing room is pretty big, with a bar to lean on,  and a rickety chair, as well as numerous hooks and mirrors.
She meets his eye, and he isn’t smiling.
 The door clicks shut behind them, and they are suddenly surrounded by mirrors, copies and copies and copies of themselves from all different angles and directions. Lisa, the almost-bald girl dressed in black. Jesse, pressed and proper in his bulky wheelchair, looking absolutely petrified.
What are we doing?


  1. I love you Gemini. Thanks for not forgetting to post :)
    Love this story. I just wish the chapter would go on forever.

  2. Thank you for updating your great story. I can't wait to see what will happen in that changing room. It might be getting hot in there!?

  3. oh boy, i absolutely LOVE your story, please keep posting it regularly for a looooong time!! <3

  4. Aaaahhhh! I was so happy when I saw that you updated this! Jesse is such a great character, and I am completely in love with the story. Please write again soon!

  5. Brian better tell Jesse not to screw this up! Also, i adore Katie. Hope she makes more appearances! Thanks for writing.

  6. Brian better tell Jesse not to screw this up! Also, i adore Katie. Hope she makes more appearances! Thanks for writing.

  7. Thank you for the update!

  8. Love it. More, more, more!! (Please & thank you).

  9. Yay! I can't wait to see what they picked out for each other to wear!

  10. Marvelous! I'm really excited about this story. Well done, once again.

  11. Just getting time to read and I so love ur story. Love these characters. So funny. Great writing. Jesse and Lisa both just make me laugh and give me a pang too.