Fiction

The Ides of March

It was the best and worst day of my life.

Illustration by Ana

Illustration by Ana

Late already. And I even woke up early today. Blame something. Blame daylight savings.

Was going to do homework. Forgot. Watched too much YouTube. Just can’t get enough. Science will prove, I’m sure, that I learned more by surfing the web.

“Siwan! Are you going to school in that? At least brush your hair,” Mom says as I grab a banana, kind of mushy, from the fruit bowl.

“Can’t stop.
     Going to be late.
       Growing dreads.
         Quiz first period.
           Party at Mia’s tonight.
             Home late.
               Don’t wait up.
                 Bringing cell phone.
                   Batteries almost dead.”

I am out the door. Was going to run. Too beautiful. Sky too blue. Skipping shortcut. Taking long way. Slowing down. Smelling the roses.

Kapow!

WTF? Oh, that poor guy’s tire. Too hot. Too threadbare. Doesn’t he know better?

Oh, that poor guy is Carmine Dejena. That poor guy wouldn’t know better.

I slow down some more. I’m a looky-loo. I wanna see him get out of his car. He makes walking look like a rare art form. How does a body move like that? Why does he waste his time on the tennis team? He should be a dancer. Or a cat. Leg. Calves. Butt. Back. Head. Watching him is like taking sips of water in a desert.

I push the dirty thoughts out of my head and shake my face like a cartoon, all blur and eyeballs and tongue-wagging. I can’t even go there. Mia is in love with him. She invites him to all of her parties, even though he never shows up. She touches his locker whenever she passes it by. She knows his schedule by heart. She is an expert on Carmine Dejena.

I don’t think he has never noticed her. Not once. I’ve never admitted to her that sometimes I have woken up shaking with pleasure from a pervy dream about him. She would kill me.

I do not want to be killed. I just keep walking. Walk right past him. Like I don’t even notice him at all.

“Fuck!” he says. I hear him kick his car and yelp in pain.

Can’t help it. I turn to look over my shoulder and catch him just as he throws his baseball cap to the ground.

His body turns flawlessly. His eyes spy me.

“Hey…” he says. “You.”

He doesn’t know my name. Funny. Does he have a nickname for me? Like I do for him? Does he call me grease girl? Or freakazoid? Or banana-nose?

I’m not going to help him out.

“Hey, Carmine,” I say. I don’t stop. I keep walking. Shake my ass a little. Show him I’ve got a swing in my step even if I’m wearing yesterday’s underwear and my slept-in T-shirt. I hear his footsteps running up behind me. He puts his hand on my shoulder. Oh, touch. Touching is so nice. Like coming into a warm room after a snowstorm. Like getting goosebumps when someone says what you were just thinking. How can I help it? I turn around.

“Hey, you know cars, right?” Carmine says.

So it’s grease girl.

I look at him. I don’t say a word.

“Can you help me out? I don’t know how to change a tire.”

I look at my hands. Flex them out. I remember that time at Bonnie Henderson’s 11th birthday party when Carmine and I ended up in the closet together. He’d come to the party with Chloe Thibodeau and didn’t want to piss her off. He spent the whole seven minutes sweating and holding both my hands, like if he let go, he would fall over. I spent the whole time examining Bonnie’s mom’s shoe rack, which was hanging over the doorway and kind of poking me in the head. Right before the closet door opened, he kissed each one of my knuckles. To date, it is the hottest thing a boy has ever done to me. And I’ve gone all the way.

I roll my eyes at him, but he smiles kind of like I’ve made him go weak in the knees.

“Pop the trunk,” I say.

He does. I get the jack out, and the spare. I get to work.

Carmine stands there like a damsel in distress, his hands on his hips, his brow furrowed, like he’s trying to learn how to do it so he can change his own tire one day. But he won’t learn. He’s not that kind of boy. He’s the hottest, coolest, most attractive guy in school, but I wouldn’t trust him to carry anything. Wouldn’t ask him to build me anything. Wouldn’t even want him to kill a spider for me.

That’s what I like about him. He’s soft.

“You’ll have to buy a new tire,” I say, finishing up.

“How do I do that?” he asks.

“Go to the tire place,” I say.

“Where’s that?” he asks.

“Really?”

He nods. Kind of smiles. Waves his hands around. Makes a goofy face. Stumbles around like he’s drunk, or inept.

“Come on,” I say. “I’ll drive.” I’ve always wanted to drive a convertible. “And the top comes down.”

“Oh, but my hair,” he says.

“What?” I ask.

He points to his hair. My mom would be so happy with how great and groomed it looks.

“Top down,” I say. I slide into the bucket seat and make mirror adjustments. Carmine presses a button and the canvas top slides back. I check out his iPod. It’s all good. I hit shuffle and the music blasts, louder than I think it’s going to be. Carmine might be a louder person than I think he is.

And we’re off. Slow not fast. Fifteen miles an hour down Elm street. Nothing is a blur. The dummy tire slap, slap, slaps the road. Carmine starts giggling—tee-heeing, then laughing. Like, really laughing. From his belly. Like tears are going to come squirting out of his eyes.

And now I am laughing, too.

“I’m such a pussy!” Carmine says.

“You don’t even know my name,” I say.

“I do, too!”

“Prove it!”

“Siwan. Like a swan.”

I stop laughing. Not because I want to, but because we’re at the garage. Also because I feel suddenly uncomfortable. I thought I had been invisible to someone like Carmine, and now I feel like a bug under a microscope. Has he been noticing my little clique from across the lunchroom? I know we’re mocked. But studied? Remarked upon?

I must remember to tell Mia that he knows my name.

Wait. Maybe not. Maybe he doesn’t know her name. If he didn’t, then she’d be mad. I don’t want to make Mia mad.

We get out of the car, and Carmine takes care of business. I get myself a Gatorade, because it’s hot outside. Summer hot. It’s not even spring yet, and the sun is still winter-low. While Carmine pays the guy behind the glass divider, I am looking at him through the window, and I have a sudden feeling that instead of going to school today, I’m going to have an adventure.

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34 Comments

  • soviet_kitsch February 27th, 2013 11:12 PM

    OH MY GOD CECIL CASTELLUCCI!!! (*ノ´□`)ノ

    I WANT TO READ THIS EVERY DAY 10/10

  • InProgress February 27th, 2013 11:20 PM

    Wow. THIS is REALLY good. I can totally see this happening. Best thing I’ve read in a LONG time. Kudos

  • lydiamerida February 27th, 2013 11:31 PM

    Ahhhh this was so good

  • Cass February 27th, 2013 11:38 PM

    I WAS SO INTO THIS STORY A PART OF MY SOUL DIED WHEN IT ENDED. This was beautifully written and perfect.

  • marineo February 27th, 2013 11:38 PM

    this is so awesome :D

  • chloegrey February 27th, 2013 11:47 PM

    holy shiiiittttt this is so good and, like, painful, like that was three pages and I feel like I just went on an emotional roller-coaster and that sort of thing does not usually happen to me!
    *brief internet rummaging*
    WAIT SHE WROTE PLAIN JANES? I LOVE THAT BOOK! aaaah

    http://oboebonobo.tumblr.com/

  • gr-ass February 27th, 2013 11:55 PM

    loved this so much

  • thefilmrookie February 28th, 2013 12:04 AM

    OH MY GOD THIS IS SO GOOD! This is kind of how my life feels like right now, actually. There is this one boy who around his friends is a total robot and conformist, but when its just me and him he can be super sweet and funny and nice and DIFFERENT. I relate to this.

    http://www.pink-lantern.tumblr.com

  • Jessica W February 28th, 2013 12:49 AM

    This is flawless. This captures young love/crushes so well. I feel like everyone can relate to this. The teenage love, where everything is so intense, yet so easily dismissed…
    Thank you <333

    The Lovelorn

  • FlaG February 28th, 2013 12:52 AM

    “Leg. Calves. Butt. Back. Head. Watching him is like taking sips of water in a desert.”

    Oof, what a sentence <3

    • Abby February 28th, 2013 10:18 AM

      Totally know a guy like this… mmm!

    • raggedyanarchy March 1st, 2013 9:16 AM

      I know! I think we all know someone who can be described like that. My favorite sentence in the whole story.

  • unicornconnect February 28th, 2013 12:59 AM

    This is awesome. It kind of reminds me of pretty in pink, except for the fact that this story has way better names and she doesn’t get the boy.

    But man, it was awesome

  • Special_Snowflake February 28th, 2013 3:39 AM

    Wow, this was a really great read *____*

  • MabelEnchanted February 28th, 2013 4:52 AM

    I actually turned off Frasier because I was so engrossed in this. Love this story.

    http://mabelsmind.blogspot.co.uk/

  • flapperhatgirl February 28th, 2013 8:06 AM

    Wow, that was good. I want to print it out and read it over and over and over again.
    http://thepseudo-intellectual.blogspot.com/?m=1

  • limegreensunset February 28th, 2013 8:09 AM

    i love this.

    http://limegreensunset.blogspot.co.uk/

  • gnarlyelixir February 28th, 2013 10:50 AM

    LOVED IT!!! Having the same problem unfortunately /:

  • ♡ reba ♡ February 28th, 2013 1:12 PM

    love love love this!

  • LuneSirene February 28th, 2013 2:01 PM

    I love that the sexy school stud is not good with cars and is described as having a body that’d be fitting of a dancer. Everybody has to be a teenager, and based on all these ridiculous teen books these days, you’d think the only guys that teen girls ever find attractive lift weights, work on carburetors, and play football. Yay for a story that doesn’t stick to that! I always liked guys who were into math, science, time travel, and music. Also, this story is so descriptive that I can definitely imagine myself sitting right there in Siwan’s shoes, feeling nervous.

  • mollyw00d February 28th, 2013 2:02 PM

    wow. wow. wow. i really really dig this story.

  • Lauren Hartnett February 28th, 2013 4:14 PM

    Interesting writing style- it really did make me feel like I was in the mind of a slightly disturbed teenage mind.

  • fromanotherearth February 28th, 2013 5:03 PM

    This is AMAZING! I love the style and the way it’s written. I’ve always wanted to be cool enough to pull of this kind of prose and this was done perfectly! Sometimes short sentences seem forced but this was flawless, not to mention I appreciate the lack of a ‘happy’ ending.
    Definitely going to check this author out!

  • Sharon February 28th, 2013 10:07 PM

    ahhhhh amazing.

  • double-fantasy February 28th, 2013 10:32 PM

    soooooooo good *_*

  • emilycarolina February 28th, 2013 10:50 PM

    This is beautiful in an odd way. I love it!!

  • lizzyheinie March 1st, 2013 1:01 PM

    This is amazing. Thank you. You guys have the best taste and I’m so glad I got to read this. I literally laughed out loud once and by the end I was tearing up.

    I need to stop reading rookie in public because these things happen.

  • Lascelles March 2nd, 2013 10:22 AM

    Ana + Cecil = Awesome!

  • barbroxursox March 2nd, 2013 8:31 PM

    This is SO BEAUTIFUL. Oh my god, you need to post a sequel. :) This story is so badass, and I want more!

    http://lizard-onawindowpane.tumblr.com

  • maureen7 March 3rd, 2013 6:07 PM

    kinda in love with this.

  • Laryssa March 3rd, 2013 7:18 PM

    Wow! This was amazing ! While reading this I totally fell into the “teen movie” kinda vibe. She brought me back down from the cloud when she said “are my eyes still red from crying?” I relized this girl isn’t some super hero like I thought she was in the beginning of the story. But she is just a regular girl and this can happen to anymore. Great story .

  • Cactus Woman March 6th, 2013 9:30 PM

    Cecil is 100% awesome. I’ve met her in person a few times, and we clicked right away. She’s the ultimate nerdy artsy girl, in my opinion, and the perfect representative for nerdy artsy girls all over the world. :D

  • meels March 21st, 2013 4:38 AM

    Can you please make a book out of this!! This shit is amazing!!!!

  • Cutesycreator aka Monica June 15th, 2013 12:05 PM

    WOW THIS IS PERFECT AND AMAZING WOW WOW WOW I AM IN LOVE WITH THIS