Two more classes passed before it was finally lunch time; the big mile marker. I had (more or less) successfully made it half way through hell. I wondered idly if I would see Satan's feet sticking up out of the ground when it was over. Kaillen sat with me at lunch, not really saying much of anything for the first while, but I could tell she was still worried I was upset about her talking to my little brother behind my back. It was ridiculous, really. I didn't own him or control what he said. It was as much his business to divulge as it was mine.
"Where's Maria today?" Kaillen asked after a moment. I sighed, looking over toward the building.
"She has to go to some sort of meeting for that scholarship program she's in," I said, pulling a saran wrapped sandwich out of my bag. Kaillen opened her Hello Kitty lunchbox and took out some sort of pasta salad, two cans of juice, a homemade cookie, and a note with lots of hearts and "I love you"s from her mother. I might have been embarrassed for her in the past, but now I envied her that stupid note. My mother had stopped sending those to school with me about the time I left elementary school. And, of course, by the time she found out I was gay, she had stopped making my lunch all together. I could probably manage a decent lunch if I could be bothered in the morning, but I couldn't. It seemed like a waste of time.
"You want this?" she asked me, handing me one of her juices.
"Thanks," I said taking it. She grinned at me and started eating her salad.
"Maybe it's none of my business," Kaillen started. It was obvious where this was going.
"I don't really want to talk about it," I told her. Kaillen frowned, it wasn't really an unhappy frown, more of a concerned frown. Such a busy body.
"I just want you to know I'm here for you. I mean I get it, you know?" she said. I stared at her blankly.
"You get what?" I asked.
"What you're going through. My parents got divorced when I was twelve, so I understand what you're feeling," she said. I shook my head.
"I doubt it. It's different. My relationship with my parents is . . . different. It's like--"
"Like the whole world is crumbling down around you and your parents are too preoccupied with themselves to notice it?"
I stared at her for a long time. Then slowly nodded.
"Yeah," I said in a choked voice. I could feel tears burning in my eyes for no reason. It was stupid to cry over something that I couldn't control.
"Yeah. It won't get better, either," she said with a sad smile, "Not if you don't talk to your parents about it. When I was going through that I made some bad choices, you know, cutting class, shop lifting, stuff like that. I got suspended from school, in the end." She smiled self deprecatingly.
"I was eventually allowed back with mandatory counseling from the school," she continued as I looked down at my hands. It was hard to imagine that she had ever been in any trouble. The Kaillen that I knew was a sometimes irritating, but definitely good-hearted person.
"I was assigned to the new councilor, Eliza Cole. She was a recent college graduate, which might have been why she was so in touch with our problems as students. She helped me realize what the problem was and set up a meeting with my parents. I told them how I felt and it made a difference. My mom started crying and my dad hugged me and kissed my head like he did when I was little." Kaillen scratched behind her ear nervously. "So maybe you should talk to them, you know, because they probably don't realize how you feel."
"Oh," was all I could manage to choke out. I looked down at my lap, squeezing my eyes shut. They flew open though, when Kaillen pulled me to the side, wrapping her long arms around me. I bit my lip, trying not to cry.
"It's okay to cry," Kaillen said, rubbing my back and gently kissing my hair. And that was my undoing, damn her. I clutched the back of her shirt and cried. It felt like a long time before my sobs finally subsided.
"Do you wanna cut the rest of the day?" she asked, with a half smile. I looked at my watch then nodded.
"We have a chem. test, but I could get you out of it, I have a connection in student services," she said with a wink. I gave a short laugh, though it sounded more like a sob as I rubbed my eyes dry.
"Thank you," I said.
"No problem," she chuckled, throwing the rest of her lunch back in her lunchbox and picking up both our bags. "Let's go get ice cream," she said. I really laughed then.
"Ice cream? It's freezing outside!" I complained.
"Ice cream is always a good idea, besides, I didn't say we were going to eat it outside. We'll go into the shop. It'll be warm."
Finally I shrugged and followed her to her car. It was a sweet ride, a black 1966 Lincoln Continental with suicide-doors. I couldn't help thinking as I climbed into the passenger seat that this car was made to have sex in. Kaillen must have noticed me admiring the upholstery because she smiled and told me that it was real leather.
"I'm jealous," I said, wishing again that I had passed the damned driving test.
"Everyone's jealous of my baby," Kaillen laughed, proudly patting the dash. I buckled my seatbelt and pulled it tight across my lap. Kaillen did the same and put the car into gear, pulling out of the parking lot at break-neck speed.
"Showoff," I said, though I was grinning.