Chapter 24 The end of summer (1)

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Flora

After a sizzling summer between Sean and Leslie, when senior year began I heard those two broke up over something really absurd. Leslie was going to transfer to a music academy in Austria!

This really showed what a troubled young woman Leslie was. Obviously her biggest accomplishment in life would be to win a prize like Sean, and I couldn't believe she chose to throw it away so she could play violin. Like she couldn't play it here!

"Well, I once know of a beautiful couple who broke up over a physics test, so really, anything's possible." That was Sandra's reaction when I shared this piece of alarming information with her. She was really nasty.

We were sitting in the cafeteria and going over the many gossips of this summer, when Janet and Carmen joined us.

"What's new with you two?" I asked.

"I'm still dating Brian, and Carmen's still single, even though Alan has tried all summer," Janet said.

"Carmen, you really should give dating a chance. It's senior year and you're going to finish high school without a single boyfriend. My poor heart can't bear that kind of tragedy. Why don't you give Alan a chance? I think he's pretty serious about you." My eyes circled the cafeteria and rested on the basketball players' table, where Alan was sitting with a group of boys.

"Alan is just too..." Carmen fumbled for words.

"Too Alan?" Sandra supplied.

"Yes, probably."

I gave Alan a long, thorough look. He really was an okay guy, I decided, moderately good-looking with moderate abs. But Carmen could do better than that.

"How about Dylan? I heard he broke up with Sydney again over some surfer girl in LA," I said. "He's kind of hot when he strums his guitar and sings, and the whole crew-cut, tattoo with wife-beater look works on him, if you like Prison Break."

"For his sake I hope he doesn't get fat," Sandra said.

"The fact that they keep breaking up and making up is actually a sign that indicates they're more stable than a steady couple," Carmen said.

"How about Jake? There should be no dispute here that Jake is cute," Sandra said. The mere fact that Sandra was complimenting on some guy was saying a lot in itself. "Flora went out with him once."

"Yes, but Jake is just too happy for me," I said.

"Since when is happy considered a bad thing?" asked Janet.

"Well, you guys know me." I shrugged. "I like the look of serious, brooding guys. Not that they have to be suicidal on the inside, but a big constant grin is a turnoff for me. And Jake is so active, you know. If we're together we'd be bouncing all over the place like kangaroos. But Carmen, you have a Zen quality to you, which just might work."

"I don't think I have the power to tame him."

"Maybe you can! I can totally picture you brushing a strand of his blonde hair away from his eyes," I said, then seeing no reaction I shrugged and my eyes traveled to the next guy. "By the way Carmen, you can't date Sean. You can ask me again in a few months but not now. I mean, now that Leslie's had a dip of him, I really don't want him anymore, but he's still off-limits to everyone at this table."

"Thanks, Flora, I don't want to touch your most prized possession."

The rest of the team wasn't worth mentioning, so I started to search my memory bank. I suggested boy after boy, but Carmen killed them off quicker than the victims on The Walking Dead.

Not to worry, I was fully loaded with options. "How about Raymond Corbett? He's--"

Carmen exhaled suddenly to cut me off. "Okay, the thing is... I have a boyfriend."

"What?" we exclaimed in unison.

"You have a boyfriend and you never told us? I'm appalled," Sandra said, her voice stern. Not mentioning a boyfriend or even a crush was seriously offending the girl code.

"I didn't want to say anything because he is...older."

"Older is good." Sandra nodded. She was always supportive of older guys as they seemed more sophisticated. "Like how old? 22?"

"No. More like...42."

I gasped. "What is it about you girls and older guys? I always say date your own age. You should enjoy high school boys while you can because obviously you can't date them anymore once you graduate."

"42 is not older, Carmen," said Sandra. "It's old."

"Yes." Carmen nodded. "And he has a wife."

"Carmen!" I squealed. "I didn't know you had it in you! If anyone's going be a mistress, it should be Sandy. She's sneaky and has no morals."

Sandra glared at me. "I'd never have to stoop to being a mistress. Sorry Carmen. I don't mean you're stooping."

"It's okay. They're separated and going through a divorce, but we want to keep this on the down-low because it might hurt his career."

"Career? Is he like a politician?" Janet asked.

"I already said too much."

"Well, is this going strong or are you trying to get out of it?" I asked.

Carmen sighed. "I'm trying to get out of it but I think it's going stronger. I'm not happy with this. Any relationship that can't be Facebook official probably shouldn't be initiated."

"Oh, Carmen, I hate to see you in an agonizing relationship," I said.

"Yeah, and that's why I need to break up with him before I start going out with someone else," Carmen said. "In the meantime, I really don't want to talk about this again before it is resolved."

"Don't worry, we'll just refer to it as The Scandal," I said, and received a dirty look from Carmen. "Come on, I meant it as a compliment!"

"What is it that Oscar Wilde said about scandal?" Sandra asked.

Of course Carmen would know. "Scandal is gossip made tedious by morality."

Oscar who? The only Oscar I knew was Oscar de la Renta, who made my mom's wedding dress. How did my friends even know about these people?

I made a mental note to Google Oscar Wilde the first chance I got, and I chanted their names mentally all the way to history class. As scary as Carmen's confession was, what was even scarier was the fact that I was the only brainless person in our popular crowd.

Sandra was head cheerleader and she watched foreign films. Janet was a small local celebrity with her band. Carmen was the editor of the school paper and she could quote authors like lyrics to a Beatles song.

The only things I knew were spa treatments, skin care, and the differences between a Chanel Reissue 2.55 and a classic flap bag.

Did that make me a bimbo? Crap. I was a bimbo and I wasn't even a blonde!

***

Carmen's love life is just something I'm thinking of as a side project. It's not an important issue here, and nothing dark or kinky will happen in this story so don't worry. The age of sexual consent in the US can be set at 16, 17, or 18 and the most common age is 16, besides, having a boyfriend doesn't mean they did more than reading love poems to each other.

Also, don't believe everything my characters say ;)

Dedicated with love to @flipflops58 for entering my KITEP one shot contest x

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