posted on 19-Jun-2002 12:28:57 PM
An A For the Underachiever

Author: wenhaver (heidi)
Email: heidi⊕delusional.com or wenhaver⊕yahoo.com
Category: Mostly CC
Rating: I swear like a sailor but can't write a decent nookie scene to save my soul.
Disclaimer: Nothing related to Roswell is mine. The setting was thought up during a really, really boring day at work.

Summary: Liz is smart. Too smart for her own good. Max spends most of his time being a pain in the ass. Grand adventures are had. There is a 85% chance of alien powers appearing. Tess/destiny is nothing to worry about, although she is still a major bitch.

The shooting never happened. It’s senior year at West Roswell High. Tess was around for a while, but moved with her parents.


twirl, twirl, twirl, twirl….clatter…. scrape…. twirl, twirl, twirl…. tap, tap, tap.

I wish homework were as interesting as twirling this pen. I resist the urge to let my body slump forward until my head hit the table. While the resulting “thump” may be satisfying, the subsequent pain in my head, and the disturbance it would cause others doesn’t justify it. Not that I really care about the others. They all think I’m a freak, a menace, a goody-goody, a kiss-up, or a nobody, anyway. It all depends on the perspective of the individual clique. I’m just not in the mood to be whispered about right now.
Since when does “Gifted and Talented” mean “Boring and Worthless”? The only Gift and Talent I’m getting out of this class is the ability to sleep with my eyes open. They told me I’d be more challenged in these classes. Not as bored. That I wouldn’t have to spend my days stuck in classrooms full of mouth-breathing idiots. My parents were proud, and happy that the school had come up with a solution for my “problem”. Well, “They” lied, and my problem hasn’t been solved. I’ve just moved on in my way of expressing it.

My school file is suprisingly thin, considering. My permanent record is remarkably unscathed. The only thing that could be considered a black mark is that note from my guidance counselor.

October 5
To: Principal Marks
From: Ms. Leon
Re: Parker, Liz
Ms. Parker’s test scores are exceptionally high. Would recommend advancing a grade level, however, her GPA remains low. Suggest Ms. Parker is under-challenged, and therefore undermotivated to perform at her full potential.


Yeah, yeah. “Full potential”, my ass. I’ve been stuck here in Roswell, New Mexico for so long that I don’t even think I could recognize my full potential if it bit me. At least my Dad is a close, old college buddy with the principal. Pretty much makes all the shit I pull get swept under the rug. That’s a good thing, because next year I’ll be heading off to college. Elsewhere. Anywhere but here. And you can’t get to Elsewhere with a 1.57 GPA and a 4-inch thick permanent file. It just won’t happen. So my doting parents and their friends have worked together for the past three years to make sure it will happen. Little Lizzy Parker will go to a good college and be successful. She will Do Good Things. She will make her hometown proud.

Oh, bother.

Part the second

The bell finally rings, and I scramble to my locker to shove my textbooks away where I won’t have to look at them again until tomorrow. Skillfully dodging and weaving through the crowded hallways, I make my way outside. The sun is bright overhead, as usual. I don’t have a car, but it’s not like the 5-minute walk home is going to kill me. Another second spent is school is about the only thing that could do that.

The bell above the door rings as I enter the Crashdown, my parent’s restaurant and the bane of my existence. Well, of them anyway. Roswell is the alien capital of the world, you know, so there’s all these junky tourist stops all up and down Main Street. My parents own one of them. Lucky me. My torture comes complete with 5 4-hour shifts a week, antennas, and a silver alien head apron. Today’s shift starts in about 45 minutes.

I spend my time lying on my bed, staring at the ceiling. Thinking about nothing. It’s amazingly easy to think about nothing. To just let your mind go where ever it wants. And most of the time, mine goes blank. Profound, aren’t I? I know my 45 minutes are up when I hear my Dad yell my name from downstairs. He must have been calling me for a while, because he has worked up from ‘Lizzy’ to ‘Liz’ and onto ‘Elizabeth’. If I don’t come soon, he’ll add my middle name as well. As I really hate my middle name, I scramble to change while yelling that I’ll be right there.

I spend the next 3 hours fuming over my parent’s choice of name and have just come to the conclusion that they had picked something horrible on purpose, just so that I would be forced to obey them before they exposed it to the whole world. Parents can be tricky like that, you know. The bell above the door jingles again, and I don’t even bother to look up. It’s not busy today but I don’t feel like mustering up the motivation to leave the back room where I’m filling ketchup bottles to take an order. Whoever it is will wait. They always do.

When I finally finish filling bottles, I load my arms up with and begin backing out the door. Just as I’m about to bump the swinging door open with my rear, it flies open and smacks me in the ass. I am a little off-balance anyway, and I ended up falling facedown on the floor. On top of a mountain of ketchup bottles. In a puddle of spilt ketchup. I do a quick limb check to make sure that everything is still in good working order, then whirl to face my attacker.

Max Evans stands in the doorway, eyes wide and a look mixed of amusement and embarrassment.

“Hi Liz”, he says.

Part the third

“What the hell are you doing here, Max?” I could barely restrain myself from hitting him. Who the hell does he think he is?

“Uhm, are you OK?”

“NO! I am drowning in ketchup here… and I repeat. What the hell are you doing here?” Alright, I really want to hit him now. I can tell he’s trying to not laugh. I’m red, sticky and dripping, and he wants to LAUGH.

“Well, I came to talk to you about that bio project…”

I give him one of my patented “Huh. You’re a complete psycho” looks.

“You know…. The gene thing… the thing with tracing our traits from our parents… the big bio assignment.”

I vaguely remember something about a bio assignment. However, I wasn’t really paying attention, because it’s not like I’m going to do it anyway. Max is supposed to be my lab partner, but I usually don’t do any of the work. He puts my name on the lab sheet anyway, which is why I’m actually getting an A in the class.

“Uhm, Max, I hate to break it to you, but I don’t “do” homework. Especially work that involves a partner. I’m sure you understand…”

“No, Liz. I’m afraid I don’t understand. It’s not like you’re stupid. You could easily be getting an A by yourself. I just don’t get you.”

“Well, I’m not asking you to. I’m not doing it. Sorry. Don’t bother putting my name on your paper… I really don’t care if I pass or not.” There. Now maybe he’ll leave, and I can go take a shower.

“I don’t accept that.”

“What?” Sometimes, I’m so witty I kill myself.

“I don’t accept that.”

Argh. What’s that supposed to mean?

“Argh,” I say. “What’s that supposed to mean?”

“It means that you are doing this project with me, like it or not.”

“Uhm, no.”

“Uhm, yes. I’m adopted. I can’t possibly trace my traits through my parents. So we both have to use yours. And for that I need you.”

“I don’t care.” I’m starting to get really pissed now. He’s in the back of my restaurant, telling me what to do, after causing the accident that has left me dripping and gross. I don’t THINK so, pal.

“It doesn’t matter if you care. You’re going to do it. I’m not having a screw-up like you blow my chances of getting into Columbia. I’ll be here tomorrow at 8. You’re off work by then, right?”

He’s actually more worked up than I am. I don’t think I’ve ever seen Max Evans express anything, much less anger. I’m so taken aback that I just nod stupidly.

“Fine. I’ll see you then. And you had better be ready to work on this.” He storms out, leaving the ‘or else’ silently behind him.

I can’t believe that just happened. I can’t believe I’m standing in a condiment puddle. I can’t believe that my father overheard the whole thing. There will be hell to pay if I don’t at least somewhat cooperate with Max tomorrow.

I’m not dreading school tomorrow nearly as much as I am the visit from my lab partner. Kill me now.



Part Four

Do you know how long it takes to get drying ketchup out of your hair? “Lather, Rise, Repeat” becomes more than a genius stroke of marketing… it becomes a necessity.

By the time I get out of the shower, the phone is ringing. Grabbing the phone, I throw myself down on the bed, wet hair flying out around me.

“You are not going to believe the day I’ve had!” See, I already know who it is. It’s Maria. No one calls me except Maria. Well, Alex calls sometimes, too, but either way, my statement is applicable.

“Well, hello to you too.” I was right. It’s Maria.

“No, seriously. I’ve had the day from hell.”

“Customers that bad, huh?”

“Well, no worse than usual. But Max Evans… ooh, I want to just kill him!”

“Max Evans? Max Evans, mystery man? Why would you want to kill him?” Maria has some weird idea that not only is Max Evans uber-hot, but that he has the hots for yours truly. Have I mentioned that my best friend is severely delusional? She should be in therapy.

“He made me drop a whole tray of ketchup bottles. The he PUSHED ME into them, so I had all this ketchup all over me. Then he YELLED at me, and called me a screw-up, and now he’s making me work on some stupid bio project with him!” There. That should lower Mr. Mystery a notch or two in Maria’s mind.

“He what?! I’m sure he didn’t push you, sweetie. At least, I don’t think he could have possibly meant to. He’s not that kind of guy.”

“How would you know? No one knows anything about him. And besides, after he pushed me, he yelled at me! Explain that!” Some best friend. I mean, I’m in serious pain and distress here, and she’s off defending him.

“Well, if he yelled at you, I’m sure it was provoked. You’re not the easiest person to get along with sometimes Lizzie. And what’s this bio project? It wouldn’t kill you to spend some time with him, you know. Find out more about him. You could write a FAQ and sell it to all the girls that follow him around all day, drooling.”

“Argh. I don’t want to do a stupid bio project. Especially with Max Evans, of all people. You of all people should understand why I don’t do homework!”

I can hear Maria sigh heavily into the phone.

“Liz, chica, you’re going to have to get over that some day. That all happened a long time ago. Don’t you think it’s time to move on?”

I’m pretending I don’t hear her.

“I better go. I’m dripping all over the bed.”

“All right. I’ll see you tomorrow morning.”

I hang up the phone and start my nightly ritual of staring off into space. Then I realize that I am actually dripping all over the bed. Yuck. Damn Max Evans and his stupid project!

******************************************************


I wasn’t always like this, you know. I used to be a straight ‘A’ student. I never had to even try for most of my classes. I loved science most of all. It was so clean, so organized, so thought provoking.

In seventh grade, things were great. I had Maria; I had a loving family. I had the admiration and respect of every teacher at Roswell Middle School. I had a ton of friends. By the end of the school year, that had all changed.

People would call me all the time; asking for help on homework, or wanting me to read over a paper to make sure they didn’t sound like a complete jackass. I didn’t mind doing it, for the most part. I would never do work for someone else, but I’d help them figure it out on their own. I had a strict no-cheating policy, and everyone knew it. No one even bothered trying to look at my paper during a test. No one bothered to ask me to cheat for them.

Until Tess Harding.

She called me up one night, in tears. She told me her mom was in the hospital… the doctors had found cancer, and it was at such an advanced stage that they couldn’t do anything about it. Her mom only had a few months to live.

I told her how sorry I was to hear about it. I mean, what do you say when you hear that someone’s mom is dying? Anyway, then she launches into the true purpose of her call. It seems that she wanted to spend as much time as she can with her mom, and just can’t find the time to do her English paper.

I told her no way. I mean, I felt bad and all that her mom had cancer, but I just wasn’t going to do her paper for her. Tess started crying again, and by the time she was finished, I had caved in and agreed to write her paper for her. Just this once I said. Don’t tell ANYONE I said.

Soon there was a science test she didn’t have time to study for, math homework she couldn't figure out – and could I just do it for her, so she could have that time to spend with her mom? I was doing everything for her, because I felt sorry for her. I mean, what would I do if my mom were dying?

Three months, I did all of her work for her on top of my own. Who knows how long that would have gone on if I hadn’t overheard her laughing with Pam Troy in the bathroom?

“Ha ha. I have Lizzie Parker doing all of my work for me. I’ll be sure to get straight ‘A’s this semester, and then my dad will have to send me to California for the summer.”

“How did you manage that? Liz Parker doesn’t cheat for anyone!”

“Oh, I told her my mom has cancer and is dying, like any day now. She totally bought it!”

“Oh, you are so mean! Heehee.”

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing! She had lied! Tess had made the entire thing up, just to get out of some lousy homework, and to get her dad to send her on some trip for the summer! I stepped out of the stall, ready to kill.

“Tess, you lying bitch! How could you?!”

“Oh, Liz. You heard me.” She didn’t even have the decency to look guilty.

“This stops now. I’m not doing anything for you anymore.”

“Oh, I think you will. See, if you don’t do exactly what I say, I’m going to tell everyone that you’ve been doing homework for me. I’ll tell your teachers and your parents. I tell them that you begged me to let you, because you wanted to be my friend. Everyone will know that you’re a cheater.”

I was flabbergasted. She couldn’t do that. She wouldn’t do that to me, would she? I mean, everyone would know that she was cheating too.

“Well, they’ll know that you were cheating, too. Don’t be stupid Tess.”

“I don’t care if they do. I won’t get in nearly as much trouble as you will. Little Lizzie Parker, teacher’s pet. No one will trust you anymore. No teacher will give you the time of day. Your parents will kill you, whereas mine will do nothing to me.”

I still refused, and the next day, a couple kids came up to me, asking me if I wanted to be their friend bad enough to do their homework for them. I knew then that she was serious. Tess Harding was blackmailing me, and there was nothing I could do about it.

For the rest of that year and the next, I did everything Tess wanted me to. Fairly soon, I was doing Pam and Courtney’s homework too. My grades started slipping. Some of my friends stopped talking me to because I didn’t have time to hang out with them anymore. And Tess laughed at me the whole time.

Finally, we were about to start high school. I vowed I would make it stop. We were going into a new school, with new teachers. I could make a fresh start. It turned out that Tess didn’t think the same way I did. The first day of 9th grade, she stopped by my locker, ready to dump off her homework the same way she had for the past two years. When I told her I wasn’t going to do it anymore, she just looked at me and dumped her books by my feet and walked away. I left them there and went home.

That night, I came up with a plan. I just wouldn’t do her work. And I wouldn’t do mine either, so she’d have nothing to copy off of. Let her try to tell on me. No one would believe her if I never turned anything in.

Needless to say, Tess was livid when she came by to pick up her homework. She vowed to get back at me. I didn’t care what she said anymore. I was tired of being used. By the time Tess’s family moved away later that year, I have decided to simply not bother with school at all anymore. I would never put myself in a position where I could be used like that again. Never.

Maria says I should just get over it. But she has no idea what it felt like. To be trapped because I thought I was helping someone out. It still hurts too much. And yes, I’m also still very bitter. Maybe college will be different. Who knows? All I know is that high school is not worth bothering with. People just can’t be trusted.

Oh, and Tess? Well, I heard last year that her mom really did get cancer. That’ll teach her to fuck with karma.

Anyway, I need to get to sleep. I have a study date with Max Evans tomorrow. God help us all.

Part 5

It’s amazing. The one day I want school to drag on, and it doesn’t. I mean, even Boring and Worthless is going quickly. How is this possible? Then again, that’s just the way my day seems to be going. I had a run-in with Mr. Mystery today during bio. It went something like this:

Max: So, are you ready to work on our project tonight?
Me: …
Max: Where do you want to work? We could meet at the library, or at the Crash, or at my place…
Me: …
Max: Liz, you are going to actually have to talk to me at some point, you realize.
Me: …
Max: (sigh) Fine. I will meet you at the Crashdown at the end of your shift. You will be ready to work, or I will pull you out of there by your hair and drag you behind my Jeep until you are ready… understood?
Me: (turning to make eye contact for the first time) Bite me.
Max: Good, we have that settled then.


OOOH. Can you believe the nerve of him? Pull me by my hair and drag me behind some shitty Jeep? Who does he think he is? And Maria says I’m difficult… that he’s not the sort of guy that would push me into a mountain of ketchup. I bet Max Evans is the type of guy who pulls the legs off spiders and drowns newborn kittens. In fact, I bet he’s a future serial killer. They say it’s always the quiet types, with a history of small animal mutilation.

I have no idea what the moronic girls in this school see in him. Always following him around, trying to get him to pay attention to them. Stupid sheep. I mean, sure, he’s got a decent build. And really pretty eyes. And nice, strong hands… I bet those girls would think twice about throwing themselves at him if they knew of his pushing-hair pulling-car dragging-spider leg pulling-kitten drowning-future serial killer ways!

What’s worse is that I really don’t know how to get out of working with him on this. My dad pulled my aside this morning, and really read me the riot act. Seems that if I don’t cooperate with Max on this assignment, I’ll be pulling double shifts at the Crash all summer. I won’t have access to the car (not like I really do now, anyway). They will take my phone away. They will wall up my balcony. And worst, the will publish my full name in the graduation announcements in the town paper. How unfair is that? All over some stupid assignment with stupid Max Evans.

And, get this. He’s going to check up on me. I’m sure he’s called the school already to find out the details of the project. And then he’s going to know that I can’t do it without interviewing him and mom. I am so stuck. I’m being blackmailed again, only this time it’s by my own parents. Isn’t there a law against that? If there isn’t, there should be. Cruel and unusual punishment, that’s what it is. I just don’t understand what’s so important about this one particular assignment that they feel the need to threaten me like this. I should call Child Services on them. That would teach them to blackmail me!

Looking at the clock on the wall above the door, I realize there’s only 5 minutes of school left. Add to that 4 hours of servicing the teaming masses in an alien head apron and antennas, and then god-knows-how-long with Mr. Max Evans. I slump down into my chair even farther, and let my skull hit the back of the headrest, groaning low in my throat the whole time. No one pays particular attention to this, as they are used to me slumping and groaning at this time of day. What they don’t realize is that this time, I really, really mean it. My life cannot get much worse.

******************************************************


“Hello, My name is Liz and I’ll be your waitress today. Can I get you something to drink, or are you ready to order?” That’s what I’m supposed to say each time I greet a new customer. Only, it comes out more like “llomynameislizillbeyourwaitressdaycanigetyousomethingtodrinkorreyoueadytaorder?” and I never make eye contact. That’s an important fact about being a waitress: no eye contact. The less eye contact you make, the less likely people are to ask you for something. Sure, the tips aren’t as good, but as long as I don’t have to run around for an extra glass of water or some condiment in a little cup on the side, I’m a happy girl. Well, relatively.

Where was I? Oh, yeah.

“Hello, My name is Liz and I’ll be your waitress today. Can I get you something to drink, or are you ready to order?”

“Hey Liz.” That voice sounds really familiar, and I break my cardinal rule by looking up from my order pad.

“Max! I’m not done with my shift yet.” See, so witty. Here’s my current moral enemy, and I’m here sounding like some silly breathy schoolgirl.

“I know. I thought I’d grab something to eat first. I’d like a Galaxy Sub and a Cherry Coke. Oh, and a bottle of Tabasco.”

“Sure. You want anything?” I was so irritated at Max that it took me a minute to realize that Michael Guerin was sitting across from him. That shouldn’t surprise me, considering that they always come in together.

“Saturn Rings and a Cherry Coke.” I should probably mention that Michael doesn’t actually speak like a normal person. He grunts. It’s taken me years to be able to understand exactly what he wants when he orders. I have no idea why Max hangs around him. Unless they’re in some kitten killing cult together, or something. That would make sense.

I turn to place their orders when the annoying bell above the door rings. I glance over to it, hoping Martha, the another waitress is coming in early so I can ditch out on waiting on Max. No such luck. In sweeps Isabel Evans, Max’s twin sister, looking every bit the supermodel. And every bit the raging bitch, but both are standard operating procedure for Isabel. As she marches over towards Max and Michael’s booth, I steal a glance over to Maria and Alex who have been talking about the set list for an upcoming gig their band has. Maria is now standing with her hands on her hips, scowling at Isabel. Alex, on the other hand, has a look of dazed wonder on his face and is practically drooling as Isabel walks by him.

Maria and I just don’t get the fascination Alex has with her. She’s nothing but mean, mean, mean, especially to Alex. Well, I guess she’s never actually said anything mean to him. Come to think of it, I don’t think she’s actually ever said anything to him at all. But she’s just mean and aloof to everyone. Before he developed this crush/obsession thing, Alex used to be the treasurer for the ‘We Hate Isabel’ club. This was before the ‘We Hate Tess’ club, of which is he also the treasurer. Needless to say, we just don’t understand this sick thing he has for her. It’s against all laws of God and man, I tell you!

Isabel is now talking to Max and Michael using quiet tones but expressive arm movements. Max starts to gesture wildly, and even Michael has a surprised look on his face instead of his usual scowl. I don’t think I’ve ever seen any of them that… animated before, and especially not all at once. The conversation comes to an abrupt halt as Max and Michael get up from the table. As they head to the door, Max calls over her shoulder to me.

“Hey Liz, cancel our order. Something’s come up. We’ll have to start on bio tomorrow.”

With that, the annoying bell rings again, the door slams shut, and I’m standing here slightly slackjawed.

I’ve just been stood up on my forced study date with Max Evans. I should be thrilled. So, why aren’t I?



Part 6

“What was he thinking, running out of here like that?” Maria and I are standing behind the front counter of the Crash, watching the clock until we get to punch out. The place is pretty dead, so there’s not much else to do.

“I know. Queen Bitch Isabel snaps her little fingers, and he just leaves.” Maria has joined me in my gripe-feast. Ha! She’s having second thoughts on what a great guy Max Evans is now.

“I just don’t see what was so important. I don’t get how that woman can make every man her willing slave!”

“I know. I thought Michael had more taste than that!”

“Michael? Who’s talking about him? I thought we were talking about Max.” I glance over at Maria and realize she’s starting to turn a bright shade of pink.

“Max! Of course. Why, did I say Michael? Uhm, I wasn’t thinking about him at all.”

“Methinks the lady doth protest too much. What’s up? Have you got a thing for Michael?” This is so much more fun than complaining about Max. Besides, that will keep. This Michael thing, on the other hand, needs to be exposed and examined immediately.

“No! I mean, not really.” Maria is starting to squirm, and she’s twirling her hair around her index finger – something she only does when she’s lying.

“Liar!” I point to her traitorous hand.

“Well, I mean, have you seen his art? It’s just so… I don’t know. There’s just something about it.”

“’Ria, honey, you realize the man speaks in grunts, right? I don’t think I’ve actually ever heard him enunciate anything.” I really don’t think I have. I wonder how he gets through life like that. Maybe they have developed telepathy in their kitten-killing cult, and Max and Michael can talk to each other with their minds. Ok, that sounds a little far-fetched, even to me.

“I know. Good thing I don’t want to talk to him, huh?” There goes the blush again…

“Oh, no. No talking. You have other things planned for that mouth, don’t you?” I duck as Maria throws a wet rag at my head. Laughing, I run through the kitchen door and into the back room. Just as I get to the timeclock, it makes it little “thunking” noise that lets me know it’s time to go. I slip my card into the little slot, wait for the little stamp to smack into it, and race upstairs calling “Call me!” to Maria.

Finally upstairs. I slam and lock the door to my room. Not that the little cheap lock would actually stop anyone, but at least it would serve as notice that I wished to be alone. Ick. I’m still in my uniform, and I smell like fries. Shower time!

Once again, I’m dripping wet and the phone is ringing. It’s gotta be Maria. Like I said, no one else besides Alex calls me.

“Ooohh, Michael…” I breathe seductively into the phone. I’ve never been one for a simple “hello”, anyway.

“Uhm, Liz?” Wait. Wait wait wait. This is not Maria.

“…”

“Hello. This is Max Evans. May I please speak to Liz Parker?”

“Uh, hi Max. I thought you were Maria…” I sound lame. I know I sound lame. Oh, god.

“Uhm, then why were you saying Michael?” Good question there, Maxie-boy. Damn! If I let this slip, Maria is going to kill me.

“Oh, it was just part of an inside joke from earlier in the shift. Tee-hee.” Could I sound more fake and stupid? I don’t think so, either.

“Uhm, ok. Whatever. Look. When do you get off work tomorrow?” Did he buy that? Yes! I think he did!

“Same time as always.”

“Fine. I’ll meet you at the Crash at 8 then.” My, my. He was sounding awfully smug for someone who stood me up for his sister earlier today. Wait. Does that make him really suck, or me really suck?

“Listen, Mr. Evans. You’re the one who stood me up. You’re going to have to try a lot harder than that. Remember you need me, not the other way around. I could care less if you flunked.” Ha! There. That’ll teach him to threaten me.

“I’m sorry about leaving like that. Something important just came up. I promise, tomorrow we get this thing done and we can both get back to our lives.”

“Yeah, I’m sure Isabel had something really important to drag you off to… like a sale.” Woo-hoo! I do believe that was actually witty! Score one for Parker! Wait. Max sounds really tired. I was expecting pissed, peeved, steamed, sarcastic, biting, downright mean… but I wasn’t expecting tired.

“Liz, you don’t know the first thing about Isabel, and you don’t know the first thing about me. So let it go, ok?”

“Uh, geez. Sorry. Didn’t mean to hit a nerve there, Maxie-boy.” Maria is right. Sometimes I just can’t let stuff go.

“((sigh)) I’ll see you tomorrow”

“Yeah. Whatever.”

“Oh, and Liz?”

“Yeah?”

“You were wrong. You do need me.”

All I hear is the gently buzzing of the dial tone. He hung up on me. And he left me bewildered again. What’s a girl to do?


******************************************************


Apparently, a girl is supposed to lair, cheat, steal, rape, pillage and plunder. Well, that’s what my dad thinks I’m capable of. He’s currently yelling at me for “refusing to help that nice Evans boy” and “being rude and insufferable” and a host of other uncomplimentary and untrue things. Well, most of them are untrue.

“Dad”

“And furthermore, Liz, I expect – “

“Dad!”

“Elizabeth, will you please stop interr-“

“DAD!!!”

“What is it, Liz?”

“Max Evans cancelled on me. He needed to help his sister, or something. I didn’t do anything, I swear.”

“Don’t lie to me, Elizabeth. I am not in the mood.”

“I’m not lying. Call Maria, she was there. Call Alex. Call Max freakin’ Evans! They will all tell you the same thing. He stood me up for our little study date!”
“You had better be telling me the truth, young lady.” I just love it when he calls me young lady.

“Sure thing, dad.” I turn and start to wander back to my room as he picks up the phone. I know he’s calling Max. He’d never believe anything Maria or Alex said, even if it was 100% the truth. I briefly fantasize about my dad running up to my room after me, begging me for forgiveness. I soon dismiss that as a lame fantasy and throw myself down on my bed.

‘You do need me.’ echoed through my head for the millionth time.

What the hell is that supposed to mean?

*



[ edited 1 time(s), last at 26-Jun-2002 1:13:01 PM ]
posted on 26-Jun-2002 1:12:35 PM
Part 7

Well, color me shocked. Surprised. Confused. I’m sitting here with Max Evans, filling out this stupid worksheet for bio. And I almost don’t mind. Almost. We’re sitting at the front counter of the Crash, in plain view of my father. Hopefully, he’s see how cooperative I’ve being, and get the hell off my back. I mean, he even gave me an hour off work so that I could take a shower and ‘gather my study materials’ before Max showed up. I don’t know what study materials he possibly expected me to gather for a half hour – I mean, how long does it take to find a pen? - so I think he’s trying to apologize for not believing me yesterday.

Back to Max. He showed up at 8 on the dot. I got us a couple sodas. When he thought I wasn’t looking, I saw him pour Tabasco sauce into his glass. Ewww. I have no idea what that’s all about, and I don’t really care enough to ask. Well, I am really curious about it, but I don’t want to ask. I don’t want him to know that I care in the least. That would lead to a whole cycle of him expecting me to care about other things, and we can’t have that.

You do need me.

Argh. Out of my head! Out! Out! Out!

So Max is asking me questions about myself. Fairly basic questions. Hair color, eye color, can I roll my tongue, ect. Because he’s adopted, we need to do me, my parents, and my grandparents. However, I only have 1 living grandparent, so we talked to our teacher (ok, Max talked to the teacher), and we’re supposed to make guesses to fill in the information we don’t have, and then justify them. But I refuse to think that far ahead. Because will all that extra work, and all if it dependant on me and my family, I’ll have to spend several hours, possibly spread over several days, with Max Evans. And every cell in my body screams that spending more time with Max Evans is a bad, bad idea.

I call for my mom, as we need her answers to these questions now. I mean, how am I supposed to know if the woman can roll her tongue? It’s never really come up in conversation. Then again, I rarely have what could be called a conversation with either of my parents.

Mom comes, mom gushes about how wonderful it is to see Max and I working together, mom answers silly genetics questions, mom leaves after several “go away now!” glares from me. On to dad.

Replay above, substituting “dad” for “mom”.

Actually, Max is really lucky he doesn’t have to do himself for this project. I mean, what would he put down for eye color? They’re not really brown. And not hazel, either. More amber than anything else. And I don’t think “amber” is a recognized eye color, like at the DMV or anything. I wonder what his driver’s license says. Wait. I’m thinking about Max Evans’ eyes?

You do need me.

Nonononononono! We need to get this project done. Now. Fast and quick-like. I decide to drop all my resolve to be resistant to this project. The more I help, the faster we will be done, and the quicker I won’t have to deal with Max.

I smile brightly at Max. “Ok, partner. What do we have to do now?”

“Uhm, well, I think we need to start filling in these squares on this sheet with all the traits we’ve collected today.” He’s looking at me strangely, like he’s afraid I’m about to bite him or something.

“Ok. Why don’t you take my parents, and I’ll do my parents and grandparents. Well, grandparent. Tomorrow, we can decide what we’re going to fill in for the missing grandparents, and split up the justifications. Then we’ll be done!” Another of my award-winning, brighter-than-the-heavens smiles.

“Uhm. Ok. You’re sure you’re ok with that?” Now he’s looking at me like I took away Christmas and ran over his dog. All confused and almost hurt. Like he knows I’m just doing this Suzie Schoolgirl act so that I won’t have to spend any more time with him.

“Of course! It was my idea, silly. Ok. Well, I’m going to go upstairs and get to work! I’ll see you tomorrow, same time, same place ok?” With that, I grab my pen and notebook, and dash upstairs. A quick glance over my shoulder, and I smile with unrestrained glee. Look who’s confused now…


******************************************************


Bio is in 10 minutes. I’m playing with my pen again, watching the clock. This time it’s not in utter dread, but in anticipation. I can’t wait to see the look on his face when I hand him my part of the assignment. It’s done. Totally done. I even went ahead, and did all the justifications for all the grandparent’s stuff.

See, I was bored last night, and more than a little anxious. The more I thought about it, the more I didn’t want to spend any more time with Max that I absolutely had to. Everyone has been on my back about this stupid assignment. You’d think my life depended on it, or something. First Max, then my parents, and now even Maria won’t back me up. She says it’s time I grow up and get over it. She even hung up on me last night when I called her to complain about how unfair my life was. “God, Liz. I’m so tired of this. You used to be fun. Now I can hardly stand to be around you. Grow up, get over it, move on. Ugh.” Then she hung up.

How unfair is that? My best friend in the whole world won’t even stand behind me in my time of need. Granted, I didn’t tell her about what Max said. And I didn’t tell her how being around him makes me want to break out into hives. She’s think it was some stupid mushy romantic thing, and I really can’t handle that kind of conversation right now. It has nothing to do with that. Nothing. I just can’t stand how irritating and smug he’s being about this whole thing.

At any rate, I spent the better part of last night getting as much of this project done as I possibly could. I even worked ahead. That’s why I’m looking forward to his reaction. I’m sure he’s expecting to have to force me to do my part. I bet he even has some choice threats already planned. By like I said, I’m taking the path of least resistance with this one. Anything to get me away from him.

Ring

There’s the bell. Time for bio. Yippee. No, really.

I walk through the door with my head up, for a change. Wow, I’m one of the first ones here. Mr. Perfect isn’t even here yet. I walk over to our table and dig out the assignment. I shuffle the paper a bit, and tap them into a neat stack. I was even going to type my part, but decided not to as I was a little sleepy last night. Besides, that would be overkill, I think. Wouldn’t want anyone getting the wrong impression, now would we?

I’m trying to decide if it would get a better reaction if I just set the papers in front of his workspace, or if I actually handed them to him when he walks in. He looks a little surprised that I’m already there, considering I’m almost always the last one in before the bell rings, if not a little after. I think this is the first time I’ve been early all year. Maybe for all of high school. I suppress a little smirk. This day is just going to be full of suprises for our Maxie-boy.

“Hey.” I’m being super-ultra cheerful. Always keep them guessing and all that.

“Hi.” He’s got that strange look on his face again. Kind of a cross between confusion and suspicion. Good.

“So. Here’s my part of the assignment.” I hand him the stack of carefully fill-in squares.

“Uhm, ok. Thanks. Why don’t you hang on to them until tonight. I wouldn’t want to lose them on you.”

“That’s ok. I made copies.” And I did, too. I’m not taking any chances here.

“Oh. Ok. Well, I guess I’ll see you tonight, and we can finish up.” He looks almost disappointed for some reason. I thought this is what he wanted. Boys are lame. They make no sense whatsoever.

“But, I worked ahead. Maybe we could skip tonight…” I know I sound a little desperate, but I don’t care. I don’t want to spend another night working with him.

“I don’t think so, Liz. I mean, I should really go over this with you, to make sure I understand it so I don’t screw up the write-up we have to do for it.”

“Well, I’ll do the write up. That way, you won’t have to worry about it! Why don’t you give me your part of the assignment, and I’ll compile it and do the write-up.” There. A perfect solution.

“No. That wouldn’t be fair to you. I mean, I don’t want you to have to do the whole project. Besides, I’m sure there will be questions about this on the final, so I think it’s important that I understand it all.”

Ooooh… I want to smack that smug grin off his face. It’s like he knows he has me cornered. Unless I want to offer to let him cheat off me for the final, which would not only be incredibly stupid considering I haven’t been paying attention all year, but it’s also against my “no one uses me again” policy. Not fair! He says me doing most of the project isn’t fair. What’s not fair is me having to spend another night with him! My entire life to this point has been unfair, and he’s worried about some dumbass assignment?! I want to scream. No, I need to scream.

I settle for a good “fuck off and die” glare. It just makes him smirk more.

“I can always call your dad…” Well, at least he’s showing his true colors again. Here come the threats, the second he doesn’t get his way. He’s no better than Tess. In fact, he’s worse. She was too stupid to know better.

“Fine. Tomorrow. 8 pm. You’re one second late, and I leave.” With that, I raise my hand and ask for the hall pass. I won’t sit in here with that jerk a moment longer than I need to.

You do need me. Yeah, I need you Max Evans – like I need a lobotomy.

*

Part 8a

Somehow, I’m not surprised that he was not a second late. In fact, just to be annoying, he was over a half hour early. Which means that I had to wait on him. Grrrr. He just needs to rub it in, doesn’t he? So now, my shift is over and I’m still in my uniform. I’ll be damned if I’m the one late because I took a shower. He’ll just have to deal with the glare off my apron and the fact that I smell like I’ve gone swimming in the fryer. Serves him right.

I’m going over my little square with him for the third time. It’s like he’s playing dumb, or something. C’mon, Maxie-boy, this ain’t rocket science. There’s my parents. Throw in some scientific rules, very basic math, add a dash of probability, shake, and then you have me. And we don’t even have to do the math. Like I said, not rocket science. I think he’s doing this just to irritate me. If he is, I should congratulate him because it’s working.

I look down at the Powerpuff Girls watch that Alex gave me for my birthday last yet. Blossom is pointing to both the 8 and the 6, which means I’ve been sitting here for over a half hour. That’s far longer than I ever thought I’d be sitting here tonight. I mean, I did all that work last night just to avoid this situation. I’m also starting to feel really self-conscious, as I know that I look really silly in this outfit and I smell bad. I also think my face is all shiny from sweat and grease. It serves him right, having to put up with a greasy lab partner. But when he leans over my shoulder to point something out to me, I can smell his nice clean Max-smell. And it makes me feel bad. Why does he get a Max-smell, and I only get fry-girl smell? It’s all horribly unfair.

I think I am going crazy. Maybe Maria’s not the only one who needs therapy. I need to stop this, quick.

“Look, Max. I don’t know what you’re doing, but I know that you know this. I’m tired. I need a shower. Can we just please drop the act and get on with it?”

“That’s the best suggestion I’ve ever heard from you.”

“Hrm?”

“Ah, nothing. Nevermind. Look, why don’t I take this, and start the write-up. I can give it to you after your shift tomorrow.”

No. No way. Not another night of this. No no no no.

“Uhm, actually, tomorrow is Friday night, and I don’t work Fridays. I usually have to take Saturdays, sometimes double shifts. So I rebelled and told my parents that a healthy teenage girl needs at least one weekend night a week off.” I might be babbling, but I’m not lying for once. I don’t work Fridays.

“Oh, that’s right. I forgot you don’t work Fridays. Well, why don’t we just meet here after school then?”

“Oh, sorry. I have plans with Maria. You know, girl’s night out kind of stuff.” There. That should stop that line of questioning.

“Oh. Well, how about Saturday?”

“Sorry. This Saturday I have a double shift. And I’m not usually capable of higher brain functions after those.” This guy doesn’t quit! I’ve never known someone who wanted to get an A this badly. Well, except Tess.

“Sunday then. I’ll buy you breakfast.”

“Max, I live above a restaurant. You don’t have to buy me breakfast.”

“Fine, but meet me here… say, 10? I’ll give you the write-up, you can look it over and make any changes you think are needed, and then I’ll type it up and hand it in.”

“Fine, fine. Sunday at 10.” I’m so tired at this point, I think I would have agreed to meet him on the moon if he would just shut up and leave.

“Ok. Great. Sunday at 10.” Max gathers his things and finally, finally leaves.

He’s not even fully out the door, and I’m on my way upstairs. I’m on my way to my room, my shower, and anywhere that’s not occupied by Max Evans.

******************************************************


I felt kind of bad about lying to Max about the girl’s night out thing, so I decided to call Maria and see if she was free. Who am I kidding… of course she was free. Since she’s been pining away for Michael Guerin (of all people) it’s not like she’s been on tons of dates. She keeps saying she’s too focused on the band she’s in with Alex, but I know better. No one is presenting quite the challenge that Michael is. And Maria does like a challenge.

Of course, we can’t have a girl’s night without Alex. That kind of makes the whole “girl’s night out” thing a misnomer, but who cares? It’s just the three of us, sitting out on my balcony, listening to music and watching the stars. I used to love nights like these. My two best people around me, with no worries and no pressures. I don’t know why, but somehow tonight I feel disquieted. The peacefulness that usually comes from hanging out like this is just out of my reach. It’s making me cranky.

“So. Maria. About Michael….” I begin, knowing that it’s going to piss her off. But hey, I’m already in a bad mood – why not spread it around…

“Liz, drop it. I so don’t want to even think about him tonight. If you insist on picking on someone, there’s always Alex and his Isabel fascination.”

Alex counters with a swat and a “Hey!” before turning a “don’t even go there” glare at me.

My fun spoiled, I go back to looking at the stars, tuning Maria and Alex out as they start talking about one of their new songs. I must zone out at some point, because the next thing I know Maria is talking about how much time I’ve been spending with Max Evans lately.

“So, Lizzie. What’s the scoop on Mr. Tall, Dark, and Handsome? No one knows a thing about him, other than that he’s smart, has a twin sister, and hangs out with Michael a lot.”
“Veto, Maria. I can’t ask about Michael, you can’t ask about Max.”

“Well, you can’t ask about Michael because I like him. So why is it that I can’t ask about Max? Unless…”

“Maria! Can it, already. I can’t stand him. He’s annoying and difficult and manipulative. I definitely do not like him in any way, least of all a romantic way. Got it?”

I think I hear her mutter “Now who’s protesting too much?” under her breath, but simply glare at her until she turns away. Sometimes even your best friends can get the wrong idea.


*


Part 8b

My alarm is ringing, and I can’t figure out why. It’s Sunday. I’m pretty sure it’s Sunday. So I don’t have to go to school today. I don’t have to work today because I pulled a double yesterday. So why is the damn thing insisting that it’s time for me to get up?

And then I remember. I have to meet with Him today. Great. What a way to start my day. I’m decided to start referring to him as Him. Him is so much more soothing than ‘Max’. ‘Max’ makes my blood boil every time I think of it. It makes me want to vomit. When I think of Him, I don’t get a mental picture of mocking amber eyes or that infuriating smirk he always gives me. I don’t see the glint in his eye when he threatens me, or the flash of perfect white teeth when he laughs at me. No, I don’t think of very much at all when I think of Him.

I roll out of bed and into the shower. Cold water. That should help wake me up. No matter how much it may suck, I need the fortification it will give me. 9:45 am. 15 minutes left. Why do I feel so much dread? I hate that He can turn my insides into knots. I hate Him for it, and I hate me for it. I’m kind of full of things to hate myself for, so just this once it’s easier to hate Him. I finish brushing my hair. 6 minutes left. Might as well head downstairs and have some coffee. Coffee is always fortifying, right?

I’m on my second cup already when the bell over the door jingles. I managed to scald my tongue nice and good on the first cup, so I sip at the second one, watching him cross the restaurant to meet me at the front counter. He stops at his favorite booth and sits down, eyes focused on me.

What the hell? Does he expect me to come over there? He does! That little ass wants me to come to him! I so do not need this. I stare back at him, then glance at the empty seats around me. No. Way. I am not moving. No siree.

He watches me glance at the empty places around me, and then gestures grandly to the spot in front of him in his booth. It seems were at an impasse, ladies and gentlemen. He and I are having a good old-fashioned standoff. A battle of wills… a contest of –

“Liz, I see your friend Max over there. Why don’t you go join him? I’ll bring you two some breakfast.” My dad, King of Bad Timing.

One look at his face, and I can see that he’s not about to argue with me about this. And really, what compelling points do I have to try to convince my father that going to that booth will be the end of life as I know it? ‘Gee, dad, he wants me to come over there, but I was here first, and I don’t want to move. Besides, it feels safer here at the counter’? No, somehow I don’t think that’s going to fly.

Scowling, I grab my bio folder and drag myself to His table. He knows that I’m not pleased with Him. He knows that I’m only over here because my father told me to. But he’s smiling like he’s won the grand prize, anyway. Do you know how badly my palm itches to slap that grin off his face? I’m not normally a violent person. Sure, I look mean, but I’ve only ever had the urge to smack someone once before this. Clam, Liz. Be calm. You are a calm and patient woman. You are a calm and patient woman. You are a calm and patient woman.

Remind me to tell Maria next time I see her that this mantra crap doesn’t work. I am feeling neither calm nor patient right now.

“G’morning, Liz.”

Oh shut it with the small talk, already.

“Hey. So. You got that report?” See, cut-to-the-chase. In 5 minutes, I’ll be back in my room safe and sound.

“Yeah, it’s right here. Why don’t you read over it while we eat?” Eat? Wait a minute. Eating takes time. Time I don’t plan on spending here, with Him. My father, however, has other ideas. He’s heading our way with a tray full of juice, toast, eggs and bacon. For the second time today, I resist the urge to beat down my fellow man. Or father, as the case my be.

“Fine.” When also else fails, resort to monosyllables.

“Just make any changes you think are necessary in the margins.” He hands me a red pen. He has a red marking pen, for crying out loud. I thought those were specially for use by teachers only.

I start to read the paper, and it’s actually pretty good. I haven’t even bothered to uncap the pen, because whatever else I might think of Him, He is a pretty smart cookie. I’m sure everything is fine. Wait. What the hell is this?

“What the hell is this?”

“What the hell is what?”

“This. This part about me being a genetic freak?!”

“Well, if you’ll read a little farther, I’m sure you’ll see the justification for that.”

“You think I’m a freak because of my eye color?”

“Well, both your parents have blue eyes. You have brown. Recessive genes can’t combine to form a dominant trait. It’s just not the way things work.”

“But you called me a FREAK. Take it out. NOW.”

“But, don’t you think it’s important to the paper…”

“No. It’s not important at all. God, where do you get off, calling me a freak?” I can’t believe him. He actually expects me to be OK with him turning in a paper that labels me some sort of genetic monster. Who cares what color eyes my parents have?

“What’s that supposed to mean? Are you implying that I’m some sort of freak?” Struck a nerve there, did I?

“You tell me. You’re the one always sitting so quietly in the corner of the classroom, pulling straight As and never saying a word. You’re the one who has been here for years, and no one knows a thing about. This is a small town, Max. Yet still, no one knows anything about you at all. That sounds pretty freakish to me.”

“Liz, you have know idea what you’re talking about!” Uh-oh, I think he’s losing his temper at me again.

“Oh, I think I do. What are you hiding, Max?” What you are seeing here is another survival tactic I’ve learned over the years. The key thing is to turn the tables on your opponent. Put them on the defensive. And He is falling for it, hook, line, and sinker.

There’s something like panic in his eyes. Mixed with something like rage. I have no idea what I said to upset him that much. I want to run back upstairs, but refuse to be that much of a coward. I won’t let him know he got to me. Although, the look is starting to kind of scare me.

“Take it out, and hand it in. There. Project finished.” I start to turn and walk away when I feel his hand reach out and spin me back around, pulling me closer. As I look up at him in panic, I can’t read the expression in his eyes. What ever it is, it’s dangerous. And that’s the last thought I have before his lips come crashing down on mine.

I stand here, completely immobile. I want to run, but it feels like my feet are rooted to the floor. His lips are crushing mine. This isn’t even a kiss – more a brutal invasion. Just as I start to feel as if I could pull away, the invasion turns to seduction as he lightens the pressure. Before I realize what I’m doing, I start to relax in his arms. And then I see stars.

*Flash*
Thousands and thousands of stars, swirling in blackness.
*Flash*
Max as a little boy, holding his sister’s hand, as he walks up the steps to his new home
*Flash*
Seeing Michael for the first time, and knowing he had found a friend.
*Flash*
Me in 6th grade, laughing in the hallway, my hand in my hair.
*Flash*
“You do need me.”

Suddenly, his mouth is gone and he stumbles a few steps back. Grabbing his books, he says, “Well, uhm, I’ll see you later.”

I think that’s what he said, anyway. I don’t really hear him. I don’t really see him leave. I slouch back into the booth, and let my head fall to the table. I don’t hear the “thunk”. I don’t feel the stinging ‘smack’ of impact. All I see is stars swirling in blackness. All I hear is a slight ringing in my ears. All I feel is his warmth leaving my lips, and the tears running down my cheeks.

*