Motion (Page 28)
“What’s going on?”
My eyes cut to Gabby’s. Held. I couldn’t believe she’d been quiet for so long. It must’ve been a full five minutes since she left her phone on the kitchen table and we climbed the stairs to Lisa’s room.
Gabby sat on the low bookshelf at one end of the room, her legs extended in front of her, her ankles crossed, her false fingernails tapping on the wood. I sat on the bed, my feet flat on the floor, my arms crossed over my stomach. I’d been slouching and staring at nothing since entering the room.
When I didn’t respond, because I was still debating what to say, she whispered, “Does he suspect?”
“Suspect what?” I whispered back.
Her lips formed a flat, frustrated line and she crossed to the bed, sitting next to me and leaning her head toward mine. She smelled like sweetness and flowers. “Does he suspect you’re you?”
“No. Of course not.”
“Well, that’s a relief. Because, man, he looked pissed when I got here.” She breathed out. Now she was slouching too. Her gaze turned assessing as it moved over me. “So, what’s going on then? What did I interrupt? And don’t say nothing, because I definitely interrupted something. Were you two fighting?”
I stared at her, wondering where I’d placed those prunes.
“Mona!” she whisper-hissed.
I stood, waving my hands around my face, feeling harassed. “I don’t want to talk about it.”
I didn’t even want to think about it. That person in the kitchen? That wasn’t me. I wasn’t her. She wasn’t rational. And I didn’t know how to be rational about it. Or rationalize it.
Gabby breathed out again, a huff this time. “You’re so frustrating.” She stood and shadowed me around the room. “Just tell me what happened. I will die of curiosity if you don’t. Do you want me to die? Don’t answer that!”
Upon reaching the corner of the room, I spun, my hand nearly knocking over the pile of CDs I’d yet to put away. “Gabby. I don’t want to talk about it.”
Her nose scrunched and her lips became impossibly small. “Fine.”
“Fine.” My arms were crossed again, but I didn’t remember crossing them. “Now, tell me—”
“If you tell me what’s going on between you guys, I’ll tell you what happened with Lisa and Abram last year.”
I laughed, it was a tired sound, and I shook my head at her. “You already promised to tell me about Lisa and Abram if I told you that stupid story about my TA.” Blarg! Rocks of emotion in my throat. Ignore! “And besides, Abram already told me what Lisa did.”
Gabby flinched and stepped back. “He did?”
“Yes, he did,” I said through clenched teeth, feeling angry all over again on Abram’s behalf. “How could Lisa do that? What the hell was she thinking?”
Gabby exhaled loudly a third time, closing her eyes. “Okay, well, first of all, she was drunk.”
“Not a good excuse.”
“And she was angry at Tyler.” Gabby paced away, her tone resigned. “And Abram—I mean, you would’ve had to be there—was just the most delicious thing, so hot. And during his set? Talent is such a turn-on, you know? And that voice . . .” her tone held a dreamy quality and she was staring at nothing, clearly thinking about my messy Adonis.
So, I snapped my fingers in front of her face. “Snap out of it!”
She flinched, coming out of her daze, and glared at me. “What was that for?”
“You’ve already expressed how happy he makes your hoo-hah. I don’t need to hear it again. Tell me what happened—from your perspective—with Lisa that night.” I fought to suppress an irrational flare of jealousy. Some primal part of myself wanted to claw her eyes out for thinking thoughts about Abram.
NO THINKING THOUGHTS ALLOWED!
Placing a hand on her hip and waving the other through the air, she continued. “Fine. After his set, I’m trying to get her upstairs, so she can sleep it off, and she gives me the slip. I freak out, because—you know, she’s shit-faced and somewhere—so I call Leo. He and I start searching the house, calling everyone, and then Abram calls Leo, says she’s with him.” Gabby paused here to wince and peek at me. “Naked.”
The flare of irrational jealousy was now more of a campfire, every word out of her mouth building it higher. “What happened next?”
“We race to his room and”—Gabby’s wince intensified—“he’d put a shirt on her, but she was all over him. And instead of laughing it off, or keeping her occupied—which is what would have made sense to me—he looks pissed and is pushing her away. I mean, he looked like he was about to lose his cool.” She stopped here to give me a look like, can you believe this guy?
I couldn’t believe her.
“Leo was all, like, apologizing. But I didn’t appreciate how Abram was kind of rough, you know? Pushing her away.”
That had me straightening my spine. “He was rough with her?”
Gabby’s eyes lost focus and moved to the wall behind me. “He wasn’t, like, rough physically. He wasn’t pushing her, he was pushing her hands away. But his words were totally disrespectful and he threatened to file charges.”
“File charges. Wow.” Good. “What did he say?”
“I don’t even remember. Something like, Don’t fucking touch me! And he kept telling her to get away from him.”
I was so confused. How was Abram telling Lisa to back off disrespectful?
“Did he call her names?”
“Well. No. Just like I said, Get out of here! That kind of thing. Like I told you before, he was a dick to her. She wasn’t herself. She was drunk, and he wasn’t cool. And threatening her with calling the police, also not cool.”
“Gabby.” I waited until I had her attention. I erased all emotion from my voice, because otherwise I was going to scream. “How would you have felt if you woke up and a strange guy was naked in your bed? And then he began touching you, groping you, and no matter what you said, he wouldn’t stop? Wouldn’t you want to file charges? And isn’t that what you said I should have done? Even though what happened to me, which was nothing, didn’t include—”
“It’s not at all the same thing! You can’t compare the two.” Her lips flattened and a frown pulled her eyebrows together. “Firstly, it’s not like she could’ve hurt him, Mona! Or made him do anything he didn’t want to. Abram is three times her size.”
I shook my head, wanting to scream, and instead closed my eyes. “I can’t believe you don’t think what Lisa did was wrong.”
“Of course it was wrong!” Gabby’s voice lowered, now laced with an edge of seriousness. “Lisa felt like an asshole the next day, okay? And she wanted to apologize, but he was already gone, not to mention it was so embarrassing, alright? She regretted it immediately. The two situations are completely different! You can’t treat all these kinds of things like they’re the same. That’s stupid. She made a mistake. And I hate to break it to you, Mary Sue: people—other than you, obviously—make mistakes.”
Leaning my shoulder against the wall, I rubbed the back of my neck and opened my eyes, a picture on the shelf snagging my attention, a moment in time forgotten until now. A shot of the three of us—of me, Gabby, and Lisa—from when we were eight leaned against a collection of dusty magazines. Gabby, in the middle, wore a dark brown wig to cover her red hair.
“I make mistakes,” I mumbled, studying the photo, feeling strangely lethargic and heavy as well as a powerful sense of loss.
Gabby didn’t respond at first, merely studied my profile. But then she came to stand next to me, presumably to peer at the shelf.
“Ha,” she said, the smile in her voice drawing my attention. “I remember that day. I wanted to look like you and Lisa, so Leo got me that wig as a joke.” She turned her face to mine. We were standing so close, I could make out the dark blue flecks in her moss green eyes. “I wore it every day for a year,” she added softly.
“I remember.” My lips curved into a small smile, some—most—of my anger dissolving as nostalgia took its place, and I remembered how she’d cried when Leo told her she couldn’t take the wig home. I’d hugged her then, comforting her, and telling her she would always be my second twin.
As I gazed at Gabby now, I tried to chase the anger, to hold a new grudge, to judge her for excusing Lisa’s shoddy treatment of Abram so easily. But I couldn’t.
What did I expect? This was Gabby. Gabby made mistakes. Gabby walked through life with blinders on either side of her face and a mirror in front. Gabby wouldn’t understand because she couldn’t. Did I expect anything differently? No. There was nothing to learn from Gabby other than how not to behave. That’s just how she is.
And yet, did nostalgia mean I’d made excuses for her because I’d known her all my life? Definitely. Behold the power of nostalgia.
What was it about nostalgia? I despised it even as I longed for it, often suspecting it was the most powerful emotion, eclipsing even grief and fear. Nostalgia seemed to make everything, no matter how large the offense, forgivable.