July 5th, 1998
There were no more strange and wonderful people wanting to get to know her, regardless of any determining factors. No more loud, nearly frightening music. No more girls, boys, colors, smells. No more endless possibilities. Only her bedroom. Just the chilly morning air and her Sonic Youth poster. Still Lily, sixteen, not having really lived before last night.
She couldn't believe she'd made it back inside. Maybe her lack of sneaking out had granted her a freebie. Something like that.
She got up, going downstairs and into thekitchenfor a glass of water. The smoke from the night before was gone from her hair, but her throat still scratched whenever she tried to swallow, and her ears were still ringing slightly. The life of her downtown Seattlehome seemedoddly calm, compared to the world she'd discovered nearly fifteen hours before. The atmosphere, the people, it was all so new and exciting, no matter how tired it had left her.
"Hey, open up!"
She looked up from the sink, running over to the hall and opening the window to reveal a determined-looking boy standing in the small yard between her house and the neighbors' place. He was thin, with blonde hair messily dyed red and blue, spiked up in the center of his head. She couldn't tell if he was wearing a shirt under his denim vest or not, and his shorts ended just above his knees, a pink Sex Pistols pin stuck in the seam. She raised her eyebrows, waiting. Too early for conversation.
"I was going to head over to Nicole's, and see if we can work anything out." He frowned.
"It's no use. You know her parents are weird. You're just bored, come on." She grudgingly pushed open the window, climbing out of it until she was standing in the grass by her friend.
"I am. Doesn't mean I don't want to see our friend, though." He smiled, sitting against the neighbor's house and fishinginto his pocket, pulling out a cigarette. "Do you have any matches?"
"That's gross." Lily wrinkled her nose. He let out a triumphant "Yes!" as he pulled a flimsy straymatchof his pocket, striking it against a rock, lighting the end of thecigarette. He shrugged. "Like you said, I'm bored."
July 4th , 1998
"I made it!" Michael pushed Lily's bedroom door open, holding a paper cup of lemonade in one hand.
"You're a million hours late." Nicole gave him a perfected blank stare, before breaking into a grin. Lily stood up, taking the cup from him, and taking a drink. "I had to get past my parents first, then your relatives downstairs-"
Lily tried not to laugh. "Oh god…"
"-And your cousin kept hitting on me-"
"The one who's thirteen?"
"Yeah." He sighed, sitting down in a chair Lily had by the window sill. It was a hot day, for Seattle, and various noises of cars and fourth-of-July parties drifted in through the open window, along with the heat.
"People at school keep talking about parties. Tonight, I mean." Nicole spoke up. Lily felt her cheeks flush in embarrassment. Her friends were stuck in her bedroom, doing nothing, obviously wishing they were someplace else.
"Yeah?" Lily tried to act un-interested. Play it cool. Sitting with a few friends in your stuffy room was perfectly acceptable. She didn't need to go out. "It'll probably be dumb." She offered, tearing up her empty cup. To both her surprise and relief, Nicole agreed with her.
"Yeah, probably. There's another one, though. Some show, at this kid's house." She knitted her eyebrows together. "That Sam guy, yanno? With the long hair?"
Michael raised an eyebrow. "I heard he does acid." He shuddered.
"That's the one." Nicole sighed. "I think the show's in the basement or something..."
"We should go." Michael was trying to hide a smile.
Lily rolled her eyes. "How? Right, Mom, Dad, I'm just taking some friends to a party hosted by a creepy guy that I don't know in his basement." She faked a smile. She actuallywantedto go, really. The idea of actually getting out and doing something like that for once was more than appealing. She'd been hearing about local music shows in the area for ages, but had never been to one.
She suddenly fell over, as Nicole shoved her playfully. "You didn't think we were going to tell them, did you?"
Nicole didn't answer.
July 4th, 1998
Nicole pulled a couple of articles of clothing out of her duffel bag, tossing them at Lily as she bent over the dusty vanity mirror, applying more make-up than Lily had ever worn at one time.
Lily looked down at the two shirts that had fallen into her hands. "This." She threw the baggy magenta top at her friend, disdainfully dropping something skimpy and sequined. She stepped into her closet, finding her darker jeans that weren't ripped.
"You're wearing that?" Nicole turned around.
"Huh?" Lily looked up. "What's wrong with these jeans?"
"Not the pants, the shirt." She glanced down at her plain ribbed tank top, pulling it off with a roll of her eyes at her friend. "Here." She caught a t-shirt her friend threw at her, one she normally wore to bed. The front read '92 , and the neck was cut out, from Nicole's last year at her old school.
"It'll fit better on you." She nodded towards Lily's smaller frame. Tugging it over her head, she saw that it did, one of the sides threatening to fall off of her left shoulder. She pulled the scrunchie out of her wavy blonde hair, letting it fall past her shoulders. She grabbed her Converse from the corner, showing a couple of dollars into her pocket as she followed Nicole down the stairs. Her parents and the remainder of the guests had moved to the back yard, so leaving through the front door wouldn't be a problem.
They ran the few blocks to the gas station, going on pure adrenaline and fear of what they were doing. Lily spotted Michael sitting on the sidewalk, waiting for them. He jumped up, tossing the half-smoked cigarette onto the street. "Took you long enough." He smirked. "Idon't have to pretty myself to go out."
Nicole snorted. "Says the one with rainbow hair."
"It's not rainbow." Michael frowned. "Just two colors." He touched his fauxhawk. Nicole started walking, in what they all assumed was the direction of the house. Personal fireworks were going off all around the neighborhood, and Lily was about to question Nicole if she even knew where she was going, when Lily clearly heard loud music pouring out of an open window further up the block.
They approached a house that looked like all of the others in the area; a regular two-story, altogether safe and normal-looking from the outside. But tonight, it was set apart. Kids were scattered around the lawn, some of them talking and smoking, others light off fire-crackers in the grass. A group of teenagers were sitting around a large stereo, that was loudly conflicting with the music coming from inside. Someone lazily yelled at them to turn it off. The white screen door constantly banged open and shut, as people moved in and out of the house. Lily ran to catch up with her friends at the door, as she had been lost taking it all in. They slipped inside, as a tall guy with hair down to his shoulders pushed past them. A few people glanced over when they entered, but most took no notice. Lily only recognized a few people from her school, but they weren't ones she normally talked to, anyway. They got pulled into the crowd, Michael getting winked at by a guy with a buzz cut and dyed purple eyebrows. Nicole giggled, raising an eyebrow at him. He shoved her, rolling his eyes.
Plastic cups were shoved into their hands. Lily glanced at it, before discarding it onto the floor. Drinking seemed like a bad idea. Nicole sipped at hers, looking around. Lily grimaced as it was knocked over, soaking someone's bare feet. She suddenly noticed that Mikey was gone. Lily panicked for a second, before seeing him happily chatting with some girls-or guys, she couldn't really tell, with un-washed hair, and flannel shirts covering their leggings and shorts that probably belonged to their older brothers. She turned back to Nicole, feeling slightly more comfortable, and started to dance, laughing as Nicole made faces at some of the kids.
"Hey!" A girl with a mess of brown hair, tiny braids placed around the curls, bounced over to them, her eyes bright. "You guys came with Mike, right?" Lily and Nicole raised their eyebrows, nodding. No one called Michael that. She smiled. "You gotta meet these guys!!" She motioned for them to follow, as they pushed their way through the crowd, all sorts of body parts being shoved at them. They came out at the corner where Lily had seen Michael earlier. A hit she recognized from when she was younger, I Love Rock n' Roll, started playing, and Mikey ran up to them, smiling. "This is Lily!" He shouted over the guitar riffs. Nicole was already settling in with the crowd, sitting on the knee of a guy in a Mudhoney shirt.
"I heard Joan Jett's gay!" Someone shouted. "She likes chicks, like me!"
"Nah, she's just got more balls than than you!" Another guy laughed, shoving the offender to the side. Lily felt a tap on her shoulder, spinning around.
"Your friend's cool."
She started to ask which one they were talking about, but he jerked his thumb towards Michael, who was perched on the arm of a chair, talking to a girl with electric blue eyeshadow.
"Oh." She smiled. "Yeah, he's-"
"You're cool too." She felt herself being pulled along, not quite into the mass of people, but away from her friends.
"SAW HIM STANDIN' THERE BY THE RECORD MACHINE…"
She loosened up a bit-maybe it was the music, the people-the pot smoke in the air, or this admittedly attractive guy dancing with her, but she smiled and took his hands. They were small and soft, she noticed. He was wearing a baggy top with some sort of block logo in the front, and a leather vest. His jeans disappeared into a pair of boots.
"Lily!" She introduced herself over the rock anthem.
"I know!" He smiled, but didn't share his own name. The song ended, with Lily laughing, as the guy clung to her arm.
"Where do you go to school?"
Lily blinked, frowning. "I can't hear anything in here!" She headed for the front door, the guy following. She sat down in the grass, getting greeted by the other strangers outside. "Garfield. I'll be seventeen soon. You?"
"Ballard. I'm sixteen, too." He smiled, removing his vest as he sat down…wait.
Oh, god. Fuck. Lily stared at the grass, feeling her face burn. How could she have been sostupid?
" Sorry." He-no. She. She sighed, biting her lip. "I thought it'd be obvious."
"Are you…?" Lily couldn't get it out. A tranny? A lesbo? Or what?
"I'm a girl, yeah." She laughed. "I'm always a girl, I just don't always dress like one." She pushed her short, messy brown hair out of her eyes. "I forget it can be misleading, sometimes. I guess I figured you…"
"So you're gay?" Lily avoided the suggestion about her own identity. ‘Like Joan Jett,'she thought. Except for real.
"M-hm. I'm sorry if…y'know, you're creeped out, or-"
Lily hardly thought about what she was doing, but grabbed her hand, deciding she could use some adventure. "It's cool." She tried to smile. "I don't really mind."
July 4th, 1998
Michael was used to hearing things. Little things, at school. In the hallways. He knew perfectly well what a lot of the guys thought of him. Only he, however, knew that they were right. So when he heard the call of, "Hey! Kid with the hair!" He braced himself. Not tonight, he hoped. He ducked his head down, hoping to steer clear of the obnoxious insults for once. But then there was a hand on his shoulder, stopping him.
"I was talking to you, dude." Michael turned around, seeing a guy around his age, maybe slightly older. A mess of black hair that touched the bottom of his neck in back, a mouth smiling in amusement, the lips colored in a dull reddish-purple lipstick. Michael opened his mouth, about to tell the kid to get out, but he decided against it.
How could a guy wearing lipstick make fun of him?
"I wasn't gonna tease you." He said quietly, smiling. "I'm Jamie."
"Michael." He swallowed nervously, heart pounding in relief. "Come on." He followed the guy into the next room, still wary. What if he was still going to beat him up? Drug him? Worse?
He sat on a beanbag chair in the corner, Jamie landing on the coffee-table across from him.
"Am I that obvious?" Michael picked at a loose thread, dreading the answer.
"Nah..." The boy smiled. "I just have really great gay-dar. You could say I guessed?"
Michael blushed. "You're a bit obvious, yourself."
"I'm bi." Jamie got up, landing on the beanbag next to him. "People pretty much ignore it, though. I mean, I already wear makeup. They've gotten used to it." He shrugged. "Do they make fun of you?"
Michael nodded. "I'm the designated fag. Nothing’s ever said to my face, though.”
"It's fine." He sighed, "I'm used to it."
"Doesn't make it okay, though." Jamie squeezed his shoulder. "Hey, I play bass in that band that's going on in a bit, so I gotta go. You should come watch us. Talk to you after?" Before Michael had time to reply, the other boy was gripping his hands, pulling him into a standing position.
"See ya later." He winked, leaving the room.
Michael wandered back through the party, a new sense of hope and excitement in his chest.
July 4th, 1998
Since when did she even THINK of such things? What was WRONG with her? This new atmosphere must have been doing things to her mind.
"You, too?" The girls' face lit up. Lily shook her head.
"I really have no idea." She admitted, feeling embarrassed and stupid. "What's your name?"
"Kate." She tossed a handful of grass at a guy ogling them. Some of it landed in his cup, and they laughed.
"Kate…" Lily tested out the name. "Could I just get to know you, then?" She continued to stare at the ground. ‘Lily, God. That's a girls' name!' She thought, swallowing nervously. It was really sinking in.
"Sure." Kate smiled. "At least now you know my gender." They both laughed nervously.
"My parents don't even know I'm here." Lily admitted, still gazing around in awe.
"Ha. Rebellious." Kate smiled. "Mine don't care what I do."
"They don't?" Lily looked at her in surprise.
"Nah." She shrugged.
"Sorry." Lily squeezed her hand. It seemed like something to say "sorry" about.
"We should head back in, I think the band's going on soon." Before Lily could protest: She didn't know if she would like the music, she wanted to stay out in the grass longer; Kate was pulling her up, and back inside the house. They re-entered the throngs of people, Lily searching the crowd for her friends. People were starting to move forward, towards a door that Lily assumed led to the basement. She gripped Kate's hand, not wanting to get lost. They reached the stairs, descending into a typical suburban lounge. A few couches lined the brick walls, and a pool table had been shoved to the side, and upturned to lean against the wall, making more room. A space had been cleared at one end, but was quickly filling with electrical cords and amplifiers that were being set up by a group of teenage guys. Some kids had taken the initiative to sit down on the rug in front of them while others continued to talk amongst themselves. Someone shut off the lights, and screams of surprise and excitement erupted throughout the crowd. A pole lamp was switched on, illuminating only the makeshift performance area.
A mic was plugged in, and the boy in front stared at everyone, smiling. "Hey." He waved, surveying the mass of teens and young-adults watching him.
"JOHNNY!" Someone shouted.
"Hey." He cleared his throat, acknowledging the audience member. "Anyway…we're Virus. Happy fourth of July!"
There were a few clicks of drumsticks, and they started. Lily was immediately taken aback at the noise. She resisted covering her ears, for fear of being rude. The actual band wasn't bad-she assumed, at least. They played well together, and she could easily make out the tune of everything. But it was fast and loud, she couldn't keep up. The crowd all seemed to know the song, the only lyrics Lily could pick out were the repeated;
"Rise above, we're gonna rise above!"
Of what? She vaguely wondered, trying to keep her balance as everyone moved against one another. Kate was keeping a hand on her shoulder, distractedly fist-pumping the air above their heads. Lily smiled, starting to relax. It might have been a new thing for her, but it was exciting nonetheless. She felt as if every annoyance or problem she'd ever had was transported, and spat back at her in this odd music.
Suddenly the song was over, the only noise left the screams of the crowd.
"Black Flag sucks!" Someone yelled. A raised middle finger was the creative reply.
That song had been a cover? Lily stared in awe. It had sounded great. The first song had barely ended, when they launched into the next one. She smiled as halfway through, there was a pause, and a seemingly improvised solo started. Lily grinned, definitely enjoying herself by now. She stood on her toes, trying to find Nicole and Mikey in the crowd.
"They're fine!" Kate smiled from beside her. "Relax." Lily froze, suddenly realizing how close she'd gotten. How did she do that?
"How do you know?" She was suddenly nervous again.
"Trust me." The girl smiled, giving Lily's shoulders a friendly squeeze.
The set sped by, most of the songs fast and bleeding into one another. Lily had never felt as at-ease.
"Thanks guys…there's some tapes over to my right." The singer left the mic stand, blending back in with the crowd. The room started to empty, and someone upstairs switched the stereo back on. She spotted Michael by the front, talking excitedly to the bassist of the band.
"Finally!" She grinned, hugging him from the side.
"Dude…Lily!" He smiled. "Wasn't that just…like…"
"Yeah." Lily smiled, patting him on the shoulder.
"I met someone!" He grinned.
"Yeah? Me too." Lily winked at her friend, dragging him along to search for Nicole. The room had emptied out a bit, so it didn't take long to locate their friend.
Suddenly Kate had re-appeared, dragging her away.
"Do you do this often?" Lily smiled in amusement.
"What?" She blinked back.
"Make people question themselves."
Kate was quiet. "Not usually, really." She admitted. "I, uh. I just wanted to say, don't worry too much about this, alright? Like. Don't question your morals too much. About this."
"I can only do my best."
"Don't let suburban values get in the way of that, then." Kate grinned, pushing her hair out of her eyes.
Lily smiled, wanting to hold onto this forever. Not necessarily this girl she barely knew, but everything that night. The feelings of hope for the future, combined with the rush of living in the moment. An entire other world had been opened up for her, and she'd fallen in love. With the lifestyle, that is. Her home, her parents had no importance to her right then. She was standing in the corner of a living room of a Senior she had never spoken to, experiencing the most frightening of "romantic feelings". She was scared of simple feelings, but at the same time, felt defiant towards them. Why should they make her feel ashamed? Maybe her thoughts and feelings should let her feel them without worry. The fact that she had chores to do later, that her shirt was borrowed from a friend-none of it seemed to matter. The fact that she'd snuck out of her house, just to be here tonight.
"Thanks." She waved quickly before following the yell of "MOVE YOUR ASS!"-surely Nicole, back outside.
July 5th, 1998
The sidewalk was littered with remnants of streamers and cheap explosives from the night before. Michael and Lily had headed into the downtown area, desperately needing to get away, Nicole with them, or not.
"It's too hot out." Michael dramatically fell onto a nearby park bench.
"I'm also gay."
Lily didn't ask for confirmation. That had been a long time coming.
"We had our suspicions." She cracked a smile. "Nikki and I."
"Am I that obvious?" He groaned, frowning slightly.
"Not really obvious, but…" She chose her words carefully. "There was just something there, you know?"
"I guess." He kicked at a pebble. "It was a guy I met last night. The bassist for that band?"
"With the lipstick?" Lily grinned. "Nice."
Michael shoved her. "Yeah."
"Nice to get that off your chest, huh?" Inside, however, she felt a pang of guilt. There was no way she could tell him about Kate, not yet. At this point, it was easy to push it aside. It was still bothering her, though.
"You think I'll see him again?" Michael brought Lily back from her thoughts.
"Maybe, if you stalk him at the shows." She teased. "Come on." She pulled him up from the bench, starting on about the party, yet again. She told him how the people were like pretty aliens in her eyes, the music far too aggressive for her usual liking, but how she loved it all. It was getting dark by the time they were on the bus back home, Michael sighing and restlessly staring out the window. Lily alternated between looking around at the people, and her hands in her lap.
"I met a girl last night." Lily muttered quietly, half hoping her friend would hear, but also praying he wouldn't.
No response. She breathed a sigh of relief.
It was around 11 pm when the downstairs phone rang. Lily was in her room, a Dinosaur Jr. tape on, decorating a corner of her wall with pens and Sharpies. She's scribbled "Rise Above" in one spot, with little flowers and stars and shapes around it. A memento of the night before. She was only vaguely worried about her parents' opinion of her personal graffiti. Stepping back, she smiled. She liked it. The phone rang again, so she ran downstairs, hoping to catch it before anyone woke up.
"Yeah?" she whispered. It could only be a friend of hers, that late at night.
"Lily!" It was Nicole. Her voice was choked, as if she'd been crying. "They…I'm kicked out ‘till September." She drew a shaky breath. "Supposedly I've gotten into too much trouble. They said, if I think I can do whatever I want…" She trailed off.
Lily stood frozen in the kitchen, not even knowing what to think.
"You're kidding." She managed, stretching the twisted cord as she sat on the counter.
"Why the HELL would I joke about something like that?!"
Lily flinched. "Okay, jeez, I'm sorry." She signed, feeling herself tear up. "I'll ask if you can stay here, or-or something."
"I have until Thursday." She glanced at the calendar on the wall, frowning. It was Monday. "Maybe she'll change her mind before then." Lily offered, even knowing as she said it that it wasn't likely.
Nicole scoffed on the other end of the line. "Believe me, she won't."
July 5th, 1998
"Jamie! It’s your mom." He felt a foot nudge his shoulder as he stared out the window of Johnny's apartment. He was eighteen, and had moved away from his family the first chance he'd gotten. Jamie preferred his friend's tiny place to his ownhome. It was a fine escape, a hideout that felt more like where he should have regularly lived. It only had two and a half rooms, the bathroom hardly counting for anything. They were currently in Johnny's "bedroom", the one closest to the open street. His friend slept on a futon that was usually in its upright couch position against the wall, Jamie crashing on the blue beanbag chair most nights. The wood floors creaked by the window and the doorframe. A pile of records, tapes, and clothes occupied the other corner.
"Tell her to fuck off." He mumbled, scratching the back of his neck where his black hair was the longest, continuing to scribble ineligible things on a pad of notebook paper.
"I can't do that!" Johnny was covering the mouth-piece, standing over his friend and looking annoyed. Jamie shrugged, sitting upright. He snatched the phone away, slamming it back onto the receiver.
"All done." He pursed his lips. "I'm not going back there tonight."
"You never do." He could sense the eye-roll with Johnny's words, even in the dim lamplight.
"So?! If I have to go in there and look at their perfectly-vacuumed carpet one more time, I'll puke on it." He ignored his friend's quiet "Please. You hate being sick.", and continued. "You never hear kids complaining about having nice, fancy-ass houses and rich parents, huh?" He laughed sarcastically. "I swear to god. I'd rather be here, on stage-hell, on the street!-Than at their dinner table, listening to George try to engage me in college-talk and politics! I'm seventeen, for fucks' sake. I don't want to think about any of that. Not now." He punched the floor absentmindedly, instantly wincing and clutching his hand.
"So, no, I'm not going there, or taking her calls." He looked up at his friend in confirmation that he had made his point. "Come on." He jumped up suddenly, grabbing his leather jacket off of the floor.
"where the hell're you going?! It's almost midnight!"
Jamie sighed at his friend's protests. "Out. Some places will be open. C'mon!" He repeated, leaning in the doorframe, waiting impatiently as Johnny struggled with his sneakers. "You are such a friggin' diva sometimes." He grumbled, dodging Jamie's shove as he grabbed the keys from him, escaping into the city night.
"What about Robert Smith?"
"Huh?" Johnny gave him a look.
He stopped at the window of a music shop, jabbing a finger at the poster. "Him."
"I think he's a creep. And I'm straight, remember?"
"Doesn't mean you can't-"
"Yes, Jamie. It does."
They walked along until they got to the main strip of Capitol Hill, the night life seeming to come out of nowhere. Club signs were lit up, people moving in and out, standing outside smoking and talking on payphones. "Here." Jamie smiled. "Like, out here? Better than home any day." He shoved his hands in his pockets, following Johnny indoors to the 16+ club they frequented. It wasn't as crowded as most nights, but Jamie recognized a few people hanging out. There was a bar along the right-side wall, and a wooden floor, with a few booths taking up the rest of the place. A radio with a tape player, and an ancient turn-table that no one liked to use sat in the corner. They sold a few things, like coffee mugs and hand-decorated buttons and stickers promoting local bands and artists. Jamie recognized a few things they had made. They played here often-it was a good start.
"Johnny!" Jamie looked up, seeing a kid from school. His name was Daniel, a friend of Johnny's, but not his. Jamie didn't really get why he tolerated the guy. With his habit of smelling like weed and his rude, but sometimes funnily unintelligent remarks towards anyone he had decided not to like, he wasn't one of Jamie's favorites. And that might have been an understatement.
Johnny lifted a hand I acknowledgement. "Hey, Dan." He signed, seeming annoyed. Good.
"How are ya? See you brought your pansy friend." He gave a nod in Jamie's direction.
Bastard. He opened his mouth, but Johnny cut him off. "Excuse me?"
Daniel laughed. "What? I'm just messing around. He wears fuckin' lipstick, man!" He chuckled to himself.
"So?! At least I'm not a complete dick to everyone." Jamie rolled his eyes. "I know chicks that are boyish, everyone's in-between these days." He shrugged.
"'S messed up, is what it is." Daniel snorted, fishing out a cigarette from his battered denim shirt pocket, and lighting it.
"Oh?" Jamie laughed. "I bet I'm prettier than any girl you could get." He winked, leaving him and going over to the bar, ordering a Coke as Johnny snickered.
"Dude! You're great, oh my god. He's probably into you or something."
"Ew." Jamie wrinkled his nose. "Why do you like him, anyway?" He sat down, flipping through the collection of cassettes.
"I don't anymore, not really. He still talks to me because we used to be friends, but his attitude's gotten annoying." Jamie nodded in agreement, pulling out a Joy Division tape and sticking it in. "Eric!" He called over to the bartender, messing with the stereo. "Do we get to play anytime soon?" He looked up hopefully at the twenty-four year old.
"Actually…" Eric smiled. "You've heard of Folklife, right?"
"That hippie-fest every year?" Jamie had heard it was a bunch of old people and acoustic guitars.
"Mhm. Turns out they want to start supporting another side of the local music scene…they're pairing up with that record store down the street, setting up small shows around the state with some local bands. Six shows until September. You and the other guys aren't eighteen yet, so you'd have to clear it with your folks, but-"
Jamie had ran across the room, hugging the young man over the top of the counter. "Seriously?" Johnny raised his eyebrows, smiling. "Wow…" He laughed, as Jamie let go of Eric. "Thanks, man…really." Johnny clapped a hang onto his shoulder.
Eric shrugged. "You guys deserve it."
"Just a week." Lily flinched as she delivered the news.
"Ugh." Nicole flicked her cigarette onto the ground, angrily stomping on it. "Where the hell am I supposed to go to for the other-fuck, how many weeks are left?"
"Too many." Lily sighed in defeat. She felt horrible. Her mom had agreed to Nicole staying with them, but only for the first week. Apparently, she felt like she couldn't interfere with Nicole's parent's ultimatum too much. "I mean-you've got family around, right?"
"Yeah, but I hate them. My aunt has too many little dogs. Not to mention that getting her involved in all of this would suck. And my grandparents are…old."
"We'll figure something out." Lily tried not to laugh.
"Easy for you to say!" Nicole rolled her eyes, standing up and suddenly heading out of the park and back towards the street.
"Nikki! Would you stop?!" Lily caught her, stopping her on the sidewalk by the park entrance.
"Look. I know this whole situation is crazy. But it's just until August, right? I'll personally make sure you have somewhere to go." She pulled her friend into a hug. Even if she had no idea how, she would help.
"Come on." She steered Nicole back towards the sidewalk, her arm still around her shoulders. "Maybe something good will come out of this, hm?"
"Right. I've spent so much time trying to get away and be independent, but now that I am…"
"You can learn some things." Lily offered, trying to give her friend a smile in encouragement. They continued along the street into the main strip of town, Nicole seeming to gradually calm down. Lily ushered her through the door of a popular underage music club, relieved that she'd ignored, or not noticed the dreadlock'ed guy temptingly trying to sell them pills outside the front door- something Nicole was prone to give in to. Lily felt it as her duty to look after Nicole more often than not. She was afraid that if she didn't, her friend would end up caught in a lifestyle more harmful than the one she currently lead- with no regrets or conscience to stop her. She was often grateful for Nicole's high emotional range, however. The times that her feelings caught up with her, slowed her down, were a blessing.
Lily ordered them coffees, despite the time. She figured they needed it. A Sex Pistols song was ending on the radio-Lily recognized it, knowing it was older, but remembering people telling her about the chaos it had, and still did cause, among certain crowds.
"How the FUCK does she know where I am?!"
They both turned around, finding the source of the outburst by the phone in the back of the room. Lily immediately recognized the tousled dirty-blonde and brown hair of the lead singer from the other night, consoling a kid whose black hair was almost growing into a mullet, but not as abrupt or long in the length difference at the back.
"I dunno, Jamie…" The singer shook his head, looking lost as the kid turned around, kicking harmlessly at the phone that now hung from it's cord from the wall mount.
"Hey! I'm sorry your parents are being assholes, but no need to abuse my phone!" The bartender called, a friendly tone still in his voice.
"Screw you!" The guy bit his painted lower lip, sitting down. Lily blinked. That was the guy Michael had met at the show.
"Nicole!" She nudged her friend, who had also been watching. "Mikey wants to get with that guy." She smiled, only too late realizing what had slipped out. She embarrassedly muttered an "oops" at the same time Nicole went "I knew it!"
"He wanted to tell you too, you know…" Lily explained. "He came out to me, when you were still grounded."
"Oh man." Nicole laughed.
Jamie recognized the girls at the other end of the room from the 4th of July party-especially the smaller blonde one. Probably because she'd been talking with Michael after the show. He smiled a little at the memory. That kid he'd talked to, with the dyed hair. He definitely wanted to see him again. His shyness and lack of experience with other guys, combined with the excitability he'd shown in the front row made Jamie begin to feel admiration. A sharp kick to his shin brought his attention back. "Ow! Johnny!" He looked up, seeing the blonde girl smiling shyly at him.
"Hey. Uh, you were at that guy's house Friday, right?"
Jamie nodded. She sat down in the chair next to his, sipping her coffee. "I know we aren't in Kindergarten anymore, but Mikey's into you." She shrugged, laughing. "Just a heads up."
Jamie felt his face redden. "Cool, thanks. Tell him, uh…tell him I'd like to take him out sometime." He smiled, ignoring Johnny's insults from beside him.
"Alright." The girl beside him chuckled. "I'm Lily, by the way."
"Jamie." He nodded. "Sorry about that little disruption of the peace earlier…" He smiled. "My parents are annoying."
" ‘S fine. I get it, Nicole just got kicked out." She called across the room to her friend, who pushed her long mess of brown hair out of her eyes, leaving her coffee, and joining then at the back. "Shitty parents…shitty parents." She motioned between him and her friend. Jamie gave a short laugh, and Nicole raised her hand in acknowledgement. There were circles under her eyes, Jamie was unsure of whether from makeup stains or a lack ofsleep. Maybe both. He raised his coke, finishing it.
"We should get going." Johnny spoke up. "I have work tomorrow, and Jamie has unfinished family business he needs to take care of."
"Shut up." Jamie mumbled. He was not ready to gohome. Not yet. "I have a compromise." Jamie stood up, grabbing his things. "I invite these two back to your apartment, and you say yes." He grinned, walking back towards the front of the club.
July 5th, 1998
"I'm with Nicole, yeah-" Lily cradled Johnny's phone against her shoulder, smiling to herself as he tested out new lyrics, Nicole looking happier than she had all day. Jamie sat in his corner, his bass un-plugged and laying across his lap, seeming to have fallen asleep.
"We went to friends’ house!" Lily sighed. "Nicole's been having a shitty day, you know that..." She almost surprised herself with her boldness towards her mother. "Yes, we're being safe..."
The two across the room suddenly erupted in laughter, Lily noticing Nicole had picked up the old acoustic guitar Johnny kept in the corner. "No, put your other finger there..."
"We'll be back by eleven, okay?" Lily sighed, hardly paying attention to her mother's vague answer. She hung up the phone, going back to her friend. "I told my mom we'd be back by eleven..." She grumbled, sitting down. "Believe me, I'd like to stay all night, but..."
She breathed out through her nose, glancing out the window at the street lights on their block. If she squinted, it almost looked like the view from her old bedroom. Until she was thirteen, she had lived with her mom in a suburb of Renton. Her parents had divorced once, her dad moving out, when she was ten. Their explanation had been that they simply "wanted different things from life." Incidentally, they had gotten re-married, by the time she was going into the 8th grade, and Seattle had been her home ever since.
Lily personally thought the situation was ridiculous. Her parents fought more re-married than they had before, but tried to cover it up with promises of "It's better this way" and "We're a family now." She tried not to get too terribly attached to either of them, knowing how unstable they were. She felt as if she kept her distance, led a relatively boring and safe life, maybe at least she could be a family member that turned out alright. A few years back, Kevin had been in her life. The now twenty-four year old was the son of a woman her dad had dated for a short time, and had been like a brother to her. Introducing her to alternative rock music, bands like Dinosaur Jr., Joy Divison, and Sonic Youth, music that had given her a comfort with not much else had.
Not long after she had gotten to know him, however, he was gone. With only a phone call, she had learned he'd met a girl in Oregon, and had pursued their relationship. And that was that. He called on her birthday almost a year ago, but she hadn't seen him since she was fourteen. The way she kept such a protective watch over Nicole might have had something to do with it.
Johnny took them back in his car. They scrambled out almost the instant he stopped on Lily's block, afraid of her parents spying.
"Thanks!" Nicole was still smiling as Lily unlocked the door.
"Was it nice to get away?" Lily dropped her backpack off in the living room, turning on a few lights. Nicole nodded, sitting down.
"Maybe I could stay with him after the week is up."
"That'd be nice. We gotta get Mikey back over there, to see Jamie." Lily smiled.
"They got a tour, yanno." Nicole's eyes brightened. "Until the end of summer."
"Really?" Lily raised her eyebrows, wandering into the kitchen. Her parents were no longer up, but there was a note on the kitchen table, addressed to her.
'Lily- Michael came by earlier, I forgot to tell you. He mentioned something about a roadie job? That doesn't seem like him! See you in the morning! Xx'
Lily blinked. He couldn't have been talking about the same shows Nicole had mentioned, could he? But it made sense, in a way. The only roadie-ing job he could have gotten would have had to be with a small, local thing.
"Check it out!" She folded the note, tossing it to Nicole. She raised her eyebrows.
"Woah. Is he serious?"
"If he told my mom, probably." Lily shrugged, heading upstairs. "He's lucky. I'd like to get out of here." She sat down on her bed.
"Says the one with a stablehome."
"Sorry." Lily frowned, pulling her friend down to sit next to her. Sometimes, she was reminded of when they were thirteen still, hanging out in her room. It had been a wonderful year, despite the move.
The slightly bossy, yet caring young teen was standing in Lily's not-yet-unpacked room, saying how "your bedroom is so much cooler than mine!", making Lily feel proud.
Lily introducing herself shyly to her 8th grade History class, Nicole jumping in with, "She's friggin' rad, so don't try anything!" (to which Lily had blushed, sitting back down.)
The horror of Lily getting a date before Nicole, buying her cotton candy at the Seattle Center because she'd felt bad at getting to that life point first.
Nicole, walking the ten-plus blocks to Lily's house, after Lily had gotten caught trying to leave a note and escape to Nicole's house too late at night, when her parents had been fighting.
The promises of an undetermined future-always including both of them, the miracles of being able to giggle moments after crying had kept them going. Places like Lily's room (Because it had a lock on the door,) far-off corners of the Seattle Center parks, and the safe parts in their heads had become their havens over the years.
Sophomore year, there was Michael. A kid that usually hung back in the corner, a look of contempt often on his face during school hours, had turned out to be one of the kindest, yet most extravagant people Lily knew, once they had started talking to him. Suddenly appearing at lunch one day with his hair dyed and spiked, sleeping with his head on top of a battered leather jacket, Nicole had approached him first, of course. Having not really bonded with anyone but his cassettes, he had been more than happy for the company. When Lily and Nicole couldn't be there for each other, there was Mikey, despite the fact that the girls were a lot closer.
Lily blinked in confusion, only barely awake. Nicole had ended up on the mattress on the floor. Lily was curled up, still in her clothes, face inches from the wall. She could barely make out the sharpie-d 'Rise Above' in her wall in the light of the streetlamps outside, before falling back into a deepersleep.
July 6th, 1998
"...I hate you."
There was laughter. A pause.
"I've told you now, haven't I?!"
"Close the damn shades," Was all Lily could get out at first. She opened her eyes, no longer offended by the mid-Julysunlight. Two figures now sat on Nicole's mattress: her, plus a familiar small-boned boy. She blinked, sitting up. She made a mental note that sleeping in clothes was not a comfortable thing to do.
"Mikey's gay-ness is now official. He's told me." Nicole smirked. "Here." She shoved a mug of coffee onto Lily's night stand.
She took it, smiling in amusement at them both. "Some friend you are, letting guys into my room while I'm still sleeping." She teased.
Mikey rolled his eyes. "Yeah, because I'm so interested in you." He turned to Lily's full-length mirror, fixing his hair. He wasn't terribly feminine, but there was definitely something there. "Hurry up, we're going out and getting waffles. Other people are meeting us there." He smiled knowingly to himself.
Lily grabbed an old Bowie shirt off of her floor, denim cutoffs, and her Converse, locking herself into the adjoining bathroom. She showered quickly, hearing Mikey and Nicole argue over some New York Dolls record he swore by. She got dressed, pulling the top half of her hair back, rubbing a black eyeliner pencil under eyes.
When she came back out, Michael had finished off her coffee, and they were waiting for her. Lily grabbed her bag from the living room downstairs, stopping for a moment. Her mother was on the kitchen phone, talking quietly to her dad, who would have been at work.
"...She's defiant. Haven't you noticed? ...Yeah, well. Nicole's kicked out. I'm not sure how I feel about her hanging around with kids like that."
Lily held her breath, her jaw clenching. She almost didn't believe what she was hearing. Instead of barging in-sure to create more problems-, She turned the other way, mumbling a 'come on' to her friends, and leaving the house.
"Where the hell are you going?!"
Jamie stopped in his hallway, passing his mother in the front TV room.
"Out. Coffee an' brunch?" He tried to seem casual. "With friends."
"You look like a homeless pansy."
Jamie frowned as she made a face, taking in his lipstick, leather jacket, and frayed Damned shirt.
"I shouldn't even let you leave my house like that. Do people in the neighborhood know we're related?! You're probably mistaken for a criminal, a prostitute, a-"
Her rant was cut off as he shut the right half of the double doors, running down the steps. A few blocks from their street, he barely caught a bus that was heading to the downtown district he needed to get to. It was a weekday morning, and the bus was crowded. He found a seat by a teenage girl with bright fuscia lipstick, who not-so-subtly scooted away.
The sun was out, even though it wasn't quite warm yet, and the bus was fairly crowded. A couple of guys in cargo shorts and obscure skateboarding t-shirts mumbled to each other at the back of the bus. Many were sleeping, staring out the window- generally avoiding making eye contact with anyone else. God forbid anyone be friendly, all of them stuck in the same vehicle for however long it took them to get wherever they needed to go. The bus stopped on Broadway st. on Capitol Hill, a few blocks from the diner Jamie was headed to. Him and Michael had exchanged numbers-or, he'd found Michael in the phone book the other day, and they had set up this thing. Not a date, exactly-He refused to call it that, yet. He'd invited Johnny and Kate along, and Mikey had promised to tell the other girls. Still, it was something.
He arrived at the café around eleven thirty. He dropped his bag off at a booth in the corner, going up to the counter and ordering a coffee.
"Er, make that two." He mumbled, as an afterthought. Might as well treat Michael, even if Jamie was the first there. The young woman behind the counter smiled at him.
"You're Linda's kid, right?"
He nodded quickly. His mom worked for the city council, and a lot of people had their opinions about her.
"Ouch." She smirked, obviously not ashamed to voice her opinion. "Must suck."
"Yeah, I guess." Jamie shrugged. He hated situations like this. Even though the barista was just making conversation, he hated the general association. From people like this girl (Sharla)- Pity. Poor rebel kid, with such an uptight mother. Others, disgust. How could she raise such a child?
She handed him the two coffees and he paid. "Waiting for someone?" She winked.
"Kinda." He smiled. "Yeah."
"He." Jamie corrected her nervously, blinking too fast.
"Ah. Cool." She nodded, running a hand absentmindedly through her short, spiky hair. "My boyfriend's buddy's got a guy, too. It's a little more accepted, these days."
He nodded in agreement, going back over to his bag at the table.
Tuesday, July 6th, 1998 11:50 AM
Lily followed Michael and Nicole into the café, noticing how jumpy Mikey seemed. She smiled at him as he scanned the room, heading over to a table in the back. She recognized Jamie and Johnny, plus another familiar face, framed my light brown hair an inch below her ears. Suddenly, she didn't feel quite as comfortable or relaxed. Not panicked- just un-easy. Surprised. Hoping to god that her face wasn't red, she greeted everyone-smiling and waving to Kate, also. Nicole didn't seem to notice anything. She took the last available seat, in-between Johnny and Kate. Michael was smiling, as Jamie handed him an already-paid-for coffee. She got a smoothie, watching Nicole excitedly tell Johnny about some guy she had hooked up with before she'd gotten grounded. It wasn't a ploy for jealousy- Lily had long since been able to recognize when Nikki was interested in a guy, and this was not one of those times.
She felt an elbow knock against hers, and looked up. Kate had yanked the napkin out from underneath Jamie's coffee cup, and was scribbling on it with a Sharpie she'd found in the pocket of her denim vest.
‘How are you?'
Lily laughed, raising her eyebrows in amusement. "Why don't we just ta-"
Kate furiously shook her head, smiling.
She shook her head, playing along and stealing the pen from her cold fingers.
Lily rolled her eyes, sighing. ‘In more ways than just about your lesbo games.'
‘I'm not just messing with your head.'
‘I gotta get used to it. Be nice.'
‘If you insist.'
Suddenly, her right hand was grasped below table-level, making her drop the Sharpie with her left hand in surprise. She swallowed, nervous again. Fingers squeezed hers in reassurance. Jamie had his hands in Michael's colored hair, making it stand up in odd ways. Both of them were laughing, caught in their respective worlds.
Nicole suddenly coughed loudly, making Lily lock eyes with her. Nicole frowned, only just enough for Lily to notice, her eyes moving between Lily's right arm and Kate's left.
"what?" She mouthed silently.
Nicole shook her head, sighing. Lily felt her stomach sink, her insides curling. The silent rejection from her best friend hurt-she has been planning on telling her at some point, just not quite yet. She had figured the hand-holding would go unnoticed, but it obviously hadn't.
The radio in the café was turned up, and a song she recognized was just starting. It was repetitive, the guitar low and fuzzy. The band was Nirvana, coming from the same area they lived in. She had only heard some of their music, despite the popularity, but had enjoyed it. She clearly remembered and felt the devastation of everyone when the singer had committed suicide the previous year.
Johnny was tapping his foot along, the barista smiling in approval.
"These guys'll never get old." He said. "I think I have some of their earlier stuff somewhere, from few years back?" He turned back to the table, his attention back on the others.
"So. Mikey's touring with us, yeah? Roadie?" Michael nodded.
"You don't really have to do shit." Jamie leaned over, whispering to him loudly, before being kicked in the shin by his friend.
"Anyway. You guys wanna come along?" He looked expectantly at Lily, Kate, and Nicole, who was still sulking.
"Um. Well, I don't exactly have anywhere to go, anyway-"
Lily blinked. There was absolutely no way on earth her mom would let her go off-
"Say yes!" Kate smiled into her ear.
"Sure." She mumbled. "Yeah, sure."
"My parents pretty much ignore me, so uh, I'm in." Kate nodded. "My sister moved out the minute she turned eighteen, so they don't care where I go."
"All the better for you, then!" Johnny smiled. "It's just ‘till the fall, anyway."
"Wait a sec." Lily stopped her friend at the front of the café. "We're talking about this now. Not later." She sat down at one of the outdoor tables, motioning for Nicole to follow. The rest were down at the sidewalk, already waiting. Nicole kept standing, gnawing on her lip, refusing to make eye contact.
"When exactly were you planning on telling me you were a raging dyke? By the time you hit on me?!"
"Would you shut up?!" Lily frowned. "It's not exactly that easy for me to deal with, you know? I didn't even realize any sort of that…thing until that party. Okay?" She finished more quietly. The sun was in her eyes- she was embarrassed, annoyed- confused. "Why should you care? You, of all people! You're so damn carefree and all, getting kicked out, but oh no, your best friend MIGHT have feelings for another girl, and that's the scariest thing ever for you!" Lily kept her eyes down as she spoke, Bowie staring solemnly up at her from her thin T-shirt.
"I'm sorry, okay? I'm sorry, I'm close-minded sometimes. It's just really weird for me. I've known you for years, and to suddenly see you holding hands with some chick you've met once, I- What am I supposed to do? You've spent half your life checking out guys with me-" She smiled a little. "-Although, I guess they were never that, uh, manly…"
Lily shook her head. "I'm just sick of being held back. I know that sounds cliché, but my parents can't pull themselves together to stop fighting; I've stayed out of everything mywhole life. Why should I keep acting like the quiet, boring, responsible one? I like a girl. I'm gonna pursue this."
Nicole smiled at her in amusement. "Alright, then. Whatever."
Lily nodded, still slightly offended. That fourth of July party was what had really started it all. Not getting flirted with by Kate, but Johnny's show. That stupid song they'd covered, the atmosphere-it was the most welcomed and whole she'd felt in a long time. Ever, actually. She wanted more of that music. Sure, Sonic Youth and the Smashing Pumpkins and all of that were wonderful, but there was a variety that she was now aware of. The type of fast-paced, emotion-filled music that hurt your hears and made you feel things in a new way. She enjoyed that. The type of music that made her excited about life, and less afraid to voice her opinions.
The situation at hand being at least momentarily solved, Lily headed back to the sidewalk, Nicole giving her shoulder a squeeze in Kate's hand slipped back into hers, as they headed back down the street. Only a few passersby seemed to notice them. Jamie and Michael, however, with the combination of their colored hair and uncharacteristically feminine use of lipstick, got a few more stares. They brushed it off, of course.
She learned a lot of things about Kate as they walked. What her favorite band was. She wanted to design posters when she got older, or t-shirts. She asked Lily questions, like what she thought of the kids at school, how many friends she had, (ha!), and her parents. Kate was fun-loving. Curious. Smiling, yet serious and strong-minded when she needed to be. She loved reading, and live music that left her ears ringing and bruises on her shins. She liked flowers, and thought roller-skaters were cute. She hated the ‘80s pop that had been around when she was a pre-teen, and claimed that Bowie and Jett could rule the world- "I love your shirt!" She had exclaimed earlier.
"I wanna stay with those guys forever." She stated. They had momentarily lost the others, but all somehow ended up near Johnny's apartment.
"You won't be saying that once you're stuck in a van with us and our instruments." Johnny un-locked his car.
"Yes, I will." Kate laughed, "Trust me."
Tuesday, July 6th, 1998 2:00 PM
Lily was carefully trying to explain things to Kate as they sat outside the apartment complex. She had no idea how she felt. About anything, really. She'd only so recently met these people, but felt so comfortable around them. It was weird, struck her as something that should have been crossing some sort of friend-boundary, but she didn't mind.
"Hey! You guys wanna see my place?" Jamie was looking at them in amusement. "We've got enough yuppie material crap for everyone." He said sarcastically, clambering into the passenger seat.
"What would your parents say if we invaded?" Nicole smiled.
"Nothing…not to you guys, at least." He shrugged. As the Seattle neighborhoods sped by on their way back from the coffee place, Lily learned that Kate knew Jamie and Johnny purely from the shows that they had played-especially the earlier ones. She'd gotten a playful shove from Jamie when she brought up his "asshole skater phase" a few years back.