The Lonely Hearts Club
Page 9

 Elizabeth Eulberg

  • Background:
  • Text Font:
  • Text Size:
  • Line Height:
  • Line Break Height:
  • Frame:
"But I..."
"Come on, Pen. I wish I could go and hear her poor sad sob story. Oh, I'm so happy Ryan finally came to his senses. Hmmm, I wonder if I should put him on the list." Tracy looked thoughtful for a moment. "Nah, I've always thought he'd be better for you. Not that you're dating or anything."
I felt a migraine coming on.
My headache wasn't going to go away once got to my locker and saw Ryan. I was so preoccupied with Diane that I had forgotten that I'd have to deal with him, too. there was no way to avoid him.
Not only didn't I know what to say to him, but I didn't know how I was supposed to feel. Should I be mad at him? Should I be grateful to him for confirming once more that guys only use girls) Granted, I didn't know what had happened, but I felt it had to have been his fault.
"Hey there, Bloom," he said as I opened up my locker.
"Hey, what's new -- I mean, not what's new, um .,." I closed my eyes, hoping he'd just turn and walk away.
"Well, I see it only took twenty-four hours for the news to make its way around the school," he replied.
I looked over at him and didn't know what to say.
"Anyways," he went on, "I hear you and Diane are going out tonight."
I stared at him blankly. How did he know that"?
"Hey, it's okay. I'm glad you guys are hanging out. to tell you the truth, I'm a little worried about Diane. You know how catty some people can be."
I tried to not think of Tracy ... or myself.
"What up, Bauer?" Todd came from around the corner. I'd never been so happy to see him in my life ... at least until he walked over and put his arm around me. "I don't give a crap that you're single now -- you best stay away from my girl."
For the first time, Ryan seemed thrown off Todd, however, didn't pick up on this. He went on, "Now why don't you run along and start breaking some hearts while me partner en espanol and I head to class?" As he grabbed my arm and guided me toward class, he started shaking his head. "I'm telling you," he said with an overdone sigh, "having Bauer be single is going to be trouble."
Ryan was right about news traveling fast through the school -- it was all anybody could talk about. I tried to not get caught up in it, but as the lone member of the Lonely Hearts Club, I couldn't help but notice how unfair everybody was being. Nobody seemed to worry about Ryan. Of course, he would have a new girlfriend soon enough, but if he didn't, it wasn't a big deal. It was his choice. Guys rule.
But Diane was treated like damaged goods. the victim, A heartbroken, devastated shell of a person.
When people talked about Ryan, they were high-fiving, talking about his freedom.
With Diane, people were speaking to low voices, like she should've been ashamed to be single again.
So. Unfair.
I knew this. But it was still extremely awkward to be with Diane after school. I kept hearing a voice in my head that said, the only reason she didn't cancel on you is because she doesn't have a boyfriend.
On our way over to the diner, we talked about our families, and how Rita was doing at college, and how her mother was remodeling their kitchen . . again. When we got there, we talked about classes. then what we were going to order. then, when it seemed like the only thing left besides the breakups (ours, hers .. . pick one) was to discuss the weather, we simply stared at each other.
"So," Diane finally said as she picked at her salad. "How's Nate? Does he still spend the summer with you guys?"
My stomach tightened. "I don't want to talk about it."
"Oh." Diane looked down, realizing her question had backfired. She seemed so sad as she pushed her fork around her plate.
Finally, she looked up again. "Can I tell you something?"
I shrugged.
'I've always been a little bit jealous of you."
"Excuse me?" How could Miss Perfect, blond-hair, blue-eyes model Diane Monroe be jealous of me?
"Seriously, Penny --I mean, seriously! Look at you! Do you have any idea how hard I have to work to look like this? I mean, look at what I'm eating, for the love of carbs!" Diane motioned toward her garden salad with fat-free dressing and then looked over at my turkey sandwich with cheddar cheese and mayonnaise and potato chips.
"First off," she began, "you can eat anything and you have an awesome body."
"AND you have the coolest style. I choose what I'm going to wear based on what magazines tell me. I look the same as everybody else. But you have your own funky style that nobody else could pull off You always have."
In other words, I was a freak because I preferred All Stars over stilettos.
"And, you know, I'm not stupid. I know people like you a whole lot more than they will ever like me."
As Tracy would've said, what to the evs.
Diane shifted uncomfortably in her seat. "Well, I just wanted to tell you that."
"Oh . . . thanks." I tried to give her a smile.
She picked at her salad again. "Do you remember how when we were little we used to put on those concerts for your parents?"
I nodded, surprised that Diane remembered the Beatles shows we'd performed in our basement.
"What did your parents call your basement?"
I sighed. "the Cavern." (the Cavern was the club in Liverpool where the Beatles had gotten their start.)
"Right remember that you had to be John and I was Paul and we had stuffed animals be Ringo and George." She started to laugh, leaning in. "And then we did that little routine in the cafeteria that summer up at the lake."