Living a double life is not as stressful as I thought it would be. Well, at first it wasn’t. Being suspended from school wasn’t so bad, besides my parents nagging me and trying to homeschool me. That lasted all of two hours before they gave up and let me do it on my own.
It is slightly satisfying when you realize you are smarter than your parents. They are basically cave-monkeys when it comes to math and physics. They had no clue what was what. I ended up teaching them more than they taught me.
Josie basically texts me 24/7, which isn’t that big of a difference from how much she used to bug and text me before. The main difference is that our text went from here talking about school drama and stupid people, to her mainly just flirting with me and trying to get a rise out of me. She’s also upped her selfie game. Usually, she’d send me selfies of herself doing something like cooking or watching tv, now she sends me flirty selfies too.
I’m sure to send her selfies of me just being bored at home.
Carson text me too, not nearly as much as Josie text me though. He’s kind of awkward with texting. He’s more of an in-person chat kind of guy. He always makes sure to come over after school and take me for a walk around the neighborhood just so he can chat about his day.
It was the third day of my suspension when he asked me to go to his house and officially meet his parents. I’ve had my fair share of run-ins with his parents, after all, I had to ask them how I could write letters to Carson in Juvi. But I’ve never actually sat down and had a full-blown conversation with them.
He invited me over for dinner.
So I said yes.
It was then that my double life became a bit more complicated.
I texted Josie that I was going over to Carson’s and that I would talk to her later, but instead of leaving me alone, she started texting me even more. Asking me what we were doing? If I was alone with him. Asking what his house was like. Just really stupid and obviously jealous text. I ignored her.
Carson’s parents are thankfully nothing like my parents. They are much more down-to-earth and normal. His dad is overweight and reminds me of some old has-been comedian. He’s always cracking lame dad jokes and poking fun at Carson. He wears cargo shorts and silly dad shirts with a ball cap on his head. He has chin stubble and wears sandals. He’s a truck driver but is home for a week or two.
His mom is one of those sweet overprotective moms. The kind of mom that cuts her son's lunch into star shapes and writes inspiring sticky notes. The kind of mom who folds her son’s laundry and cleans his room for him. She looks older than she is and has a part-time job at the local washeteria.
“Carson, your dating this pretty girl?” His dad said in disbelief.
“Dad,” Carson’s face turned bright pink.
“You’re the girl who wrote him letters.” His mom noted.
“My name is Kathleen, but you can call me Kat.” I smile.
“My boy is growing into a man,” His dad pat him roughly on the back.
“Come join us for dinner, hope you like Sloppy Joes.” His mom said.
“Sure, who doesn’t?” I shrug.
“I like her already,” his dad said.
“Ugh…” Carson facepalmed.
I giggled and grabbed his hand, interlocking our fingers.
He smiled appreciatively at me.
My phone started buzzing for the third time since I started talking to his parents.
“Need to get that?” His dad asked as we sat down at the table.
“It’s fine.” I forced a smile.
I grabbed my phone and turned it on silent.
I texted Josie,
'Stop texting me. I’m talking to his parents.'
Then I locked my phone and gave Carson my full undivided attention.
He looked at me questionably.
“Just Josie having a hair crisis,” I rolled my eyes.
“I saw that she cut her hair.”
“Soon that girl will have no hair to cut.”
We laughed together.
“Who’s Josie?” His mom set a plate in front of me.
“Just my friend.”
“Her best friend. You should have seen them at the pride protest. They are legends at the school now.” Carson says.
I force a burst of nervous laughter.
“They kissed in front of the principal just to make a statement. I’d never seen anything so brave considering how they treat gay people at our school.” Carson goes on.
“Oh?” His mom looked at me.
“We wanted to make a statement. Get their attention. At least now a conversation has been started.” I quickly say.
“I’ll say, more people than ever are talking about it.” Carson adds.
“That’s good, kids getting involved in politics. Love it. It's good to take a stand against the man, back in my day you’d be a hero.” His dad says.
I sigh in relief.
“Here we go again, back in your day,” his wife pokes fun at him.
“I’m just saying,” he takes a large bite of his sandwich.
I quickly start eating my food.
“I’m just saying I couldn’t do what you did Kat. I think you’re so cool for that.” Carson says.
“Hey, you’re way cooler than me. The way you stood up for yourself against that bully. Amazing. And coming with me to that pride protest and being cool with everything. I mean could I ask for a better boyfriend?”
He turns bright pink.
“Awe, young love.” His dad teases.
Carson facepalms again.
I giggle and peck him on the cheek.
His mom smiles at us.
The rest of dinner is pleasant and uneventful. After dinner I go with Carson to his room and take it all in. It looks very much how I thought it would. He has lots of video games, superhero action figures, and lots of comic books and manga. It's all clean and neat.
“So…” he says awkwardly.
“So.” I look at him expectantly.
“Uh… is this the part where I kiss you? I’ve never had a girlfriend before.” He says nervously.
“Well, first off, your parents are just down the hall. That’s strike one. Second, we just ate sloppy Joes, strike two. I always say more than one strike means no.”
“What else do you want to do?” I ask.
“Well, I’m sure you don’t want to play video games.”
“Says who? If you like video games we can play video games.”
“Yeah, if you like it I should learn to like it too. How hard can it be?”
“Does this mean I have to learn about make-up?” he looks worriedly at me.
“Oh my god,” I laugh. “No, but now I’m imagining doing your make-up.”
He laughs too.
“Hey if it gets you to laugh, I’ll do it.”
“You’re such a trooper. Be careful what you wish for.” I tease him.
He gets up and puts on some video game where he spends the better part of an hour teaching me how to play. By the time I get the hang of it I have to get home.
“Okay, for sure I’ll be ready next time,” I say as he turns it off.
“If you win I’ll do whatever you want,” he says.
“Cocky huh? Watch out, don’t make bets with me. I usually win.”
“We’ll see.” He flirts.
I grab his hand and he walks me home.
When we get to my door, he looks into my eyes.
“I was so scared.” He admits.
“I just, I really like you. I have for a long time. I don’t want to mess this up. I think you’re pretty cool Kat.”
Ouch. Now I feel like shit.
“Don’t overthink it. You’re doing fine. I think you’re pretty cool too.” I peck him on the lips.
He leans in for a better kiss and I force myself to pucker up and give it to him. It doesn’t feel like what it feels like when I kiss Josie. In fact, I don’t really feel anything at all. Which makes me feel worse because I want to feel something. I want to make him happy.
When he pulls back, he’s all red in the face.
“See you tomorrow?”
“Count on it,” I peck him on the cheek.
“Goodnight then,” he lets go of my hand and slowly backs up.
“Night.” I smile before going inside.
When I go inside I see I have 50 unread messages from Josie.
I text her back, hey.
She responds immediately.
Hey, how did it go?
It went well, you okay? What’s with all the text?
Just wanted to talk to you.
You said you wouldn’t get jealous, that you could take it.
I’m not jealous.
Just, lay off the text okay. Take it down a couple of notches.
So what are you doing?
About to brush my teeth. Never kiss after eating sloppy joe's, yuck!
She sends back a laughing emoji.
I send her the green-faced emoji.
She sends the falling laughing emoji.
I smile at my phone and put it down before going to wash up before bed.
Today was certainly a close call, but it all worked out in the end.