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Part Two: Sign Up

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I yawned, letting my backpack slap the concrete school tile.

Last night, I stayed up until two am. Someone took a picture of Parker and me climbing out of Olivia's pool. Clearly, you can see my sports bra and my wet T-shirt clinging to my back and hugging all my back rolls. I might as well have been naked. There were no more secrets. Not when everyone could identify my dead body from the mole on my back in the shape of Teddy Roosevelt.

This made me too anxious to sleep, my mind circling the proverbial drain in a dirty rusty sink that matched my mood. I ended up on a weird side of Youtube, going from Vine compilations to Russian car crash footages and finally landing on pimple popping videos. I could taste my own exhaustion.

Our school, Riverview High, had long strings of green lockers and a speckled floor that might have once been white but aged a dingy yellow, complete with scuff marks and scratches. No high school would be complete without the cement walls. Every now and then you could spot especially white patches where a janitor painted over someone's artist rendition of genitals or their favorite curse word. It was wall-to-wall noise like I looked up a noise simulator for a bit of white noise during a study session and I usually kept my head down, making everyone faceless and me invisible.

"Whoa!" I slammed my locker shut, unveiling Parker, and my heart jumped up my throat. She wore an oversized pair of pink-rimmed glasses (without glass), a trench-coat-length cardigan and flowy striped pants. Her ginger hair was up in a messy bun. It was a casual look in comparison to her other costumes.

That was Parker, always putting on a show. She had to dress the part.

Meanwhile, I wore a sweater, my one pair of converses, and a braid. Like a regular person. Sometimes, I imagined Parker diving headfirst into her closet and emerging as the fashion creature from the over-priced thrift lagoon.

She leaned against the other locker, crossing her arms. She said, "Let's pretend we agree to do it."

"Huh?" I yawned again. "It's too early. Speak human."

"The bet." She whipped out her hands, waiting for my reaction. When I didn't, she rolled her eyes. "The thirty-day trial period."

To mock her, I rolled my eyes too. "Oh, that. What about it?" I started for my first period British Literature class. She controlled herself and her prime mantis legs to keep up with me at half her regular speed.

"We're talking in only hypotheticals," she said, but she used air-quotes. "Let's say we have a serious relationship, our first serious relationship for a thirty-day period. What would be the big deal?" She raised her hands in a shrug. "It'd only be thirty days."

Again. I considered it. We're the same, but so different. Parker has been on a lot of dates. She's been with multiple people. The tips and pointers she could give me could lead me to a real relationship. I might actually get to French a girl once in my life.

"Yeah." I nodded, unsure if I felt queasy from the bottle of Mountain Dew I drank this morning to go with my McDonald's hash brown or if it was from the bet itself. "It's just a month."

"Yeah, only a month. What harm could we possibly do in a measly little month?"

"Yeah." I eyed her.

"Yeah, we might even grow or something."


"Yeah." She eyed me. I stopped at my classroom and Parker awkwardly fidgeted. Nodding, she skulked away, leaving the conversation in the air. I watched her go for just a few seconds before she ducked into her classroom. Even then, I lingered. I wanted to talk to her more.

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