She sighs, and rakes a hand through curly red hair. She looks frustrated, and a little put out. Her nose wrinkles; a sigh as I touch the back of her neck, gently. A boy looks on, sympathetic; he's had the same experience, but in reverse.
"You know, I keep hoping that I'll go away and come back, and she'll have figured it out, and it keeps not happening. But maybe this time."
"I dunno," I say, playing with one of her curls, amused. "What is she, 23? - if it hasn't happened by now, it's probably not going to."
"Yeah... by the time I figured it out I was eleven." She drops down onto the wooden chest in front of the fireplace, stretching out strong legs, arching bare feet sore from dancing.
"I was thirteen. Sixteen before I admitted it though."
"Fourteen. My mother knew before I did."
"Mine too. I was like 'oh, Cris is just my friend, being in this close committed relationship with a girl for three years doesn't make me gay!' Yeeeah, apparently it does. Imagine that."
Her laugh startles out of her. I love making people laugh, girls especially. Cute girls even more, and she is cute with her red curls and freckles, broad face and brown eyes, dancer's body always in motion. Tina stretches up, and then bends easily at the waist, her chest lying against her thighs. As I talk, she starts to put her shoes back on, buckling them with half an ear on me.
"My mom kept being all 'Grace, if you have anything to talk to me about...' while I was mostly all caught up in, like, fantasy novels and ponies. She was right, but... eh. Anyway. That girl you're trying for is straight as anything, she had me fooled because of the rainbows, but the vibe is all - hang on, you know Heather Grant!"
She sits bolt upright, forgetting her shoes, and the look on her face is indescribable because I have come out of nowhere with this and she very clearly knows exactly who I'm talking about. For me it's not a non-sequitor; mentioning Cristina always calls up Heather for me, given how tied together the two of them were and are in my head. And when I friended Tina on facebook, it informed me that one of the ten friends we had in common was Ms. Grant. I didn't think much of it at the time, but my mind both turns things over in the back of it and makes narrative leaps with startling ease - thus my outburst.
Getting over her speechlessness, the girl counters with a minor outburst of her own. "Wait, how do YOU know Heather?!"
By this point we are drawing a crowd.
"I've known her for... hm, eight years? Yeah. Facebook told me you were friends with her - "
"Yeah but how
? I mean, I worked with her at Ferry Beach for a summer or two - "
Dodging the question for the moment, I brighten. "Then you must known Sean too. Sean Fletcher."
Something that looks like a cross between amusement and panic crosses her face. "I dated Sean Fletcher."
Sudden comprehension. "Oh, you're that
"Oh nooooo." She hides her face and attempts to slide off of the chest and onto the floor and away from me. I grab her in a bear hug - people always forget how strong I am - and keep her sitting there. "I bet you heard that I'm the crazy one. I totally was crazy when I was dating him. Well. Not the whole time. But then he started smoking and aaaaarrrrggghhhh, you hypocrite boy, and then I went a little crazy."
"I don't know anything
, I just recognized your name." This much is true; I do vaguely remember Sean mentioning a Tina, degree of madness not specified. She looks at me through her fingers, and I have to laugh. I ruffle her hair again, and say, "You probably know Cristina Stanwood too."
A nod. "Of course. She worked at Ferry Beach too. They were all friends."
I lean in close, like we're telling secrets. "That Cris I mentioned earlier? That's her
. That's how I know Heather. And Sean. Through her."
"Nope. I even went to visit them up at Ferry Beach - course, that was after things ended with Cris, so it was really just Sean I was visiting, and Heather too - that was the summer she shaved her head."
on. I shaved my head that summer too. We did it together - "
We pause for a moment, both of us, to stare at each other with narrowed eyes. Hers widen first.
you looked familiar on Monday! I knew
!" Monday was when we met at contra. "I've been trying to figure it out for days! I met you! I met you when you came to visit! Four years ago! This is impossible."
"If you can believe it," I say, putting an arm around her waist and grinning up at her, "this happens to me all the time."
A work in progress. I left out a LOT. Like the fact that she's seen my prom photos. We're friends now.