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1.2 Parker

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Not only were we glutton for punishment, but we were also willing to withstand the cold for ice-cream. Anything for ice-cream. Inside the small Bruster's hut, the lights were crisp and bright. Inside, a few girls were working, mostly concealed by their menus and advertisements. Little bats hung from the red and white striped awning and squishy wall stickers of jack-o-lanterns clung to the glass. The smell of sweet milk made my mouth water.

The girl taking my order had a round face, splattered with freckles. She smiled and asked, "What can I get for you?"

Inside, they were just playing the radio and it cut to a commercial about Friendly Finds grocery store, where I worked because there was absolutely no escape. The girl had a splatter of freckles across her face and I took a deep breath, my anxiety spiking. She was cute and at that moment, I imagined us snuggling on the couch and watching through the catalog of only meager musicals inside my Netflix Queue. I imagined her kissing my neck. I wondered fondly if she came home smelling like ice-cream or sweet waffle cones.

"Um," I wondered aloud, losing my train of thought. Sweat trickled out of my armpits as a tremor of nerves made it hard for me to take my debit card out of my wallet. This girl was probably straight. No matter what, if I met a girl, I assumed she was straight. All girls were straight until proven gay and I was the lone bisexual in the world. Sometimes I glanced at Camille to see if she shared my appreciation. I wondered how other girls saw each other and if it was with the same chest-crushing feeling.

Doubt clouded my thoughts. It said, "You're not gay. You can just appreciate a good-looking person."

I wondered if what everyone told me was the truth, that it was a phase.

Camille shoved me a little. "Just get what you always do."

"Oh, right," I laughed nervously. "One scoop of Cotton Candy Explosion."

"You got it," the girl accepted the order, probably thanking the customer service Gods that she finally wrenched it out of me so she could be done with us and get back on her phone. I didn't blame her, and I wasn't even wearing my lucky socks, these calf-high things that were pink and purple with dozens of fuzzy little balls. I wore those socks to my first Broadway show with my mom. (It was Wicked, by the way). I wore those socks during my first kiss with Andrew Carter, who tasted like sour gummy worms, my favorite candy. I wore those socks when I asked Mrs. Jones if I could do all the costumes for Cinderella this year.

I walked towards the red picnic tables that faced the road and nabbed an empty one farthest away from the family of five. All around us were shopping centers, restaurants, and the odd dentist office or twenty-four-hour gym. It was a bustling night and I glanced at my phone, noticing a text from my dad, asking when I would be home. It was a part of our family group chat that usually consisted of memes found on Facebook. Quickly, Debbie added that they ordered Chinese food in and even got me an order of rangoons. I texted: 

PARKER: [I'll be back by curfew]

Hayden (Little Bro): [Sweet more 4 me]

Before I knew it, Lizzie was by my side and Camille sat across from us. Camille ate from a waffle cone. She chose a scoop of two different ice-creams, caramel swirl and strawberry cheesecake. Lizzie stabbed her cotton candy explosion with her spoon, digging for the little nuggets of pop rocks. My hand twitched. Suddenly, the urge to nab some of hers set my body on fire. It would taste so good because not only did sharing food drive her crazy, but I knew she would get all hot and bothered. I knew she would smack me and call me an asshole and it was the same thrilling sensation while watching my favorite TV.

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