Sprawled out on my double bed, I tried to keep my gaze on the TV screen. But I had watched Pretty Little Liars so many times with the girls that we all knew our favourite episodes off by heart. It wasn't like Amy or Alexa were watching properly either, Amy constantly slipping a hand into the bag of toffee popcorn (Alexa refused to have anything with added sugar) whilst chatting away about whichever boy or celebrity they were fixated upon now.
My own attention kept slipping to the otherwise unnoticed book on the shelf beneath the TV. Call me a nerd, but I was really getting into that book and would much rather be curled up with it on my own than hosting a slumber party.
"Earth to Lily!" A palm wafted in front of my face, flicking specks of crimson nail varnish onto my bedspread.
"Lex, Mum'll kill me if she finds nail varnish on this!" Getting up and grabbing the make-bag of nail varnishes, I took out the remover wipes and began dabbing them at the spots that were splattered on the monochrome paisley print.
"God, you worry about everything Lil'. It's fine, if it doesn't come out I'll just tell Stephanie it was an accident."
A frown involuntarily tugged at my lips at the fact that Mum wouldn't care if Alexa had stained the bedding, but would be absolutely furious at me, and the first name basis Alexa had with Mum: unlike any other friend or even me. But I forced myself to smile, relief replacing my annoyance as the varnish came out onto the wipes. (Albeit leaving a damp circle that smelt strongly of lemons.)
"Anyway," Amy said, eager to get back to gossiping, "Don't you think there's something a bit...'odd' about that Taylor guy?"
"Like what?" I said, and from Alexa's glance, I figured that had come out a little too defensive.
Before Amy could explain, Alexa continued for her, "You remember that thunder and lightning we had yesterday, third lesson? According to Jake, who's in Taylor's engineering class, he squealed like a girl when there was that massive thunder clap overhead."
"He's scared of thunder and lightning, so what? And why should it matter if he squealed, that not strictly for girls. Guys can express fear too. Plus that suggests that it's negative to have feminine traits.
"Jeez Lily, it's just an expression-forgot you went all feminist over summer after Dan dumped you."
My irritation flared, and it took far too much willpower not to snap back at her. Instead, I reached over to the desk where two glasses and a bottle of red wine were stood, and I refilled my glass.
"Do you think he might be fit though?"
Swirling the olive around her with the cocktail stick, Alexa glanced across at Amy. "You into weirdo loners now?"
"Ugh no! God, my standards are better some emo skater boy."
"In the month he's been here, the only person he's spoken to is you Lil, cause you have to babysit him most lessons. Oh, and that weirdo Doug. Is it really that surprising that Taylor got bullied? Being a total loner doesn't exactly make it difficult," Alexa said.
I didn't reply, taking a gulp of the wine to drown my guilt. I couldn't stand up for Taylor-I'd already said too much that didn't fit with the status quo of being popular.
"Well he does all that cycling," Amy continued breezily, "We've gotta try and get him to take off that huge jumper sometime."
"Good luck with that, I don't think he'll ever remove those ugly things from his body. You could hide another person inside those jumpers, they're that big," Scoffing, Alexa outstretched her bare legs and crossed them. "Anyway, he wouldn't be anywhere near as fit as Ashwin."
"Oh my god yeah," Amy sighed, tilting her head back to look up at me, "That snapchat of you two by the beach hut after going in the sea holds a special place in my memory Lil."
I quickly downed the remainder of my drink. "Yeah me too," I murmured, grabbing the bottle and topping up again.
'Don't think about it, don't think about it, don't-'
It was too late. At the mention of my ''summer romance', I was swept back to Thailand. The memory was still all too vivid: clear water lapping into silver white sand in the moonlight, beads of water on supple skin and her saltwater lips on mine. Ashwin had been a good friend that fortnight in Thailand: not telling on his sister, Mai, when she slipped out to meet me, and all too happy to pose for pictures with me.
As I took another gulp of wine in an attempt to push the thought from my mind, a scene out of the House episode that I'd watched with Dad the other day surfaced. Thirteen's comeback that bisexuality wasn't just sleeping with two people at once to Wilson's question about threesomes.
Not that I had the courage to ever say something like that.
'Not that I need to. I'm not...like that. Straight girls can kiss another girl, it's just another scene of my cliche teen movie life. Rachel kissed a girl in FRIENDS, after all.'
"I know Dan is your boyfriend again, but damn Ashwin was hot," Amy mused, between popping popcorn into her mouth. "Do you think he could do a long distance relationship? I mean, I know loads about Thai culture-like their papaya salad contains so many aphrodisiac foods that you get better sex and lose calories!"
I sighed, the voice in my head that wondered whether knowledge of sex-stimulating diets counted as cultural knowledge sounding rather like Taylor's.
"I think the question is if you could do a long distance relationship?" Crunching loudly, Amy glared across at Alexa, who sniggered into her drink. "Babe, remember last time you did long distance? The snap chat boob fiasco?"
"That was last summer! I'm way more mature now."
Another droll remark from Alexa and the pair descended into snarky comments and pouted whines. Since witnessing their first fight at pre-school following Amy giving Alexa a spa facial of wet sand and nibbled cucumber from the snack tray, I'd learnt that there was no point in intervening.
Instead, I turned up the volume of the TV before pulling out my phone. The usual show-off selfies, middle class complaints and party exploits filled each social media feed. No thought was required in tapping away to like or retweet. There was nothing interesting to engage in, nothing meaningful.
"-have to be such a bitch!" Amy's voice had ascended to new levels of high pitched squeals, her plump lips wavering.
"At least I don't sound like a stroppy five year old..."
"Seriously, cut it out!" Putting down my phone, I raised the rapidly emptying wine bottle, "Have something to drink."
"Sorry Lil. You know, your Mum is so cool, letting us stay up 'til whenever and having alcohol. My Mum's such a bitch, I can only have alcohol at parties." Amy said, sidling up to me. Her china doll eyes were blinking black tears. Not that I was swayed. Real tears don't leave your mascara perfect.
"No wonder you're such a lightweight then."
"Seriously, Lex, can you just stop with the put downs?"
Sighing, Alexa refilled her glass, but placed it back on the desk.
"Sorry, it's just Mia and my serious lack of guys in my life is really pissing me off right now," She sounded as though she had just admitted something awful had happened to her. Taylor's voice was in my head again, dryly remarking 'first world problems.' As she reached the top of the bed to recline next to me like Amy had, Alexa flashed a Cheshire Cat grin. "But we're friends, yeah?"
"Yeah, of course," I said quickly, flashing a smile back in return.
"Totes," Amy gave the most genuine smile out of all of us. "Oh by the way guys, I think I can hold this year's Halloween party. But I'll text you the details sometime next week."
The sound of dramatic music from the TV screen caught our attention.
"Oh I love this scene!" Amy said in a loud whisper.
I kept my gaze on the screen, but the proposal of a Halloween party only filled me with dread. Every other year I'd loved it, but almost getting hypothermia from wearing too little clothing on a late Autumn night followed by too much to drink didn't seem that appealing anymore.
YOU ARE READING
"If it walks like a duck, talks like a duck, then it is a duck." Taylor Adams and Lily Baker: complete opposites in almost every sense. Taylor Adams: completely themselves when appearing and acting as androgynously as their name suggests, even if i...