Priority


Not the first, but the best thing I ever heard Missy Fallon say was what she said to my half-friend Mickey. But he probably deserved it.
“Go screw yourself.” And she had this kinda nutty smile on her face and she looked dead-ass serious. Like he was gonna have to physically figure out how to shove his own head back up his ass or she’d help him at it. Would not put it past her.
In case that was no indicator, Mickey was seven times less than a gentleman. Sometimes he really deserved to be smacked. One time I did it for a girl. He for some odd reason was compelled to notify Miss Fallon of a swing in her backyard- her hips swung when she walked. I mean, logically, child, why would you want to jeopardize that never occurring ever again?
Dipshit.
“And leave my swing outta this. You’re just jealous ‘cuz your slide don’t work.” She chuckled to herself, this little high chime. She had a real pretty laugh. I glanced up from my arms to see Mickey turn as red as I’d ever seen him. She just walked away, that swing in better shape if anything just to spite him, smiling all self-accomplished. He was just jealous that she didn’t put out and it still worked. Good Lord, it did. I glanced up over to her, and she winked right at me. I think I blushed. Didn’t take much. Missy had on these red shorts redder than her hair, and black hooker hose and Converse. Girl had some nice legs. Not that I’d spent too much time thinking about it…..
I hoped she’d caught other guys besides me with those…….maybe I’d feel better about being so damn helpless.
Mickey sat back down next to me and I couldn’t even say anything. I could never bring myself to be an ass like him. It’s just not how my dad told me to be. I’d never seen him anything but a gentleman around a skirt (even one I poured coffee for when I woke up in the morning), and I only learned from what I saw.
I’d said maybe a dozen words to Missy Fallon since the beginning of the year. And we were both seniors. I didn’t work fast. Ten minutes after the fact I couldn’t recall the words. She seemed so elite, untouchable.
I wasn’t the only one with the same sentiments. As aforementioned.
I think we’d all agree she wasn’t cheerleader-pretty. Just not her. But she just kinda stuck on all of us. Red hair and the greenest eyes I’ve ever seen. Like a flashlight with green cellophane taped over it. Alight. She was maybe five feet tall, and I was five-eight. Oops. Missy was pale without any freckles to support it, and she’d come back after every summer paler if anything. I didn’t have that problem. I had no white man in me.
It was just her smile, I guess. Maybe. She’d just kinda run up and hug her friends and make you laugh or tell you to shut the hell up, and you’d do it because it was incredibly hard to frown at her. I’d caught onto her game, every guy really had around freshman year, but we still went with it. And it wasn’t even a game she played, it was just what took place. She had this guy Spencer always following her around, but she was never dating him, acting like an attention-starved new puppy. He made her laugh all the time. I turned as green as her eyes when I saw them and I just laid back on my desk and hid. He was lucky. He got to say he made her smile.
I was too common and commoners weren’t supposed to speak to the queen, or if they were now the rules had changed awfully quickly. Hallelujah.
Mickey came back over to me.
“Just can it, man.” I said, almost straight disgusted. I picked my head up at him just to glare for effect, shaking my head like, “Really?” Sometimes I really wondered why I responded still when he talked to me. He seemed attention-starved himself. I was just really tolerant. I guess I was the only one who didn’t have a problem with him, but I never had a problem with anyone. If I was anything it was pacified. I was easy. It’s nice to feel appreciated.
I swear I heard him say, “My slide is fine, you smug bitch.” I couldn’t help smiling to myself.
I think I tried to ask her out one time after holiday break. I don’t think the words made it out of my mouth, though. I kinda met her eyes for a moment and my brain turned to goo. I had it bad, can’t you tell?
You know what? I’ll give it a real shot. I needed a prom date anyway, and I didn’t need another guy asking me out. Why were all the guys hitting on m in high school? Was I really that adorable?
Sweat beaded on the back of my neck all of a sudden. It was hard to swallow.
I waited until the bell rang and kinda cornered her. Real smooth, Dally. I came up behind her and called her name weakly, and she turned back immediately and smiled. But she smiled at everyone. Was I any different?
“Hey, Dally.” She smiled, her voice raspy. “What’s up, buttercup?” She was from Florida, she called everybody honey, baby, sweetheart, darling, et cetera. Just part of the inadvertent game. Just don’t resist and you’ll get away with most of your pride. I kinda was speechless for a sec. Train of thought, where’d it go? Into her tunnel eyes. I lost it.
“Can I be totally honest with you?” I said frankly. She just kinda smiled, like ‘okay….’
“Can I get your number?” I kinda laughed halfheartedly. “I-I didn’t know how else to put that, sorry. I-I should go now.” I said awkwardly. She kinda giggled that shrill giggle, leaning against the wall.
“Holy shit, you’re so cute.” I felt my cheeks get hot, which isn’t supposed to happen when you’re this dark, damnit! “Ohmygod, I’m sorry. My bad. Y-yeah. Of course,” She said disbelievingly, and I smiled to myself. I gave her my phone, and she put it in kinda smiling to herself giddily. She gave it back smiling, her cheeks red, and her hand kinda lingered in mine for just a second.
“Call me,” She breathed, that man-eater smile kinda nervous. I was kinda frozen. My mouth was half-open like a complete retard. Um……..
She leaned in and stretched on her toes and kissed me on the cheek, smiling again. “Soon.” I stuttered in response, smiling halfheartedly back. She turned and walked away, acting all nervous and she was giggling with Spencer (who happened to just be watching my shining moment), and I was still standing there way after the bell rang.
Easier than I thought it’d be. Hmmm…….

I wasn’t a social kid. No. I hadn’t ever been. I just didn’t need to talk. I didn’t need friends. Which sounds cold and you probably think I’m bullshitting this, but teenagers are STUPID! They’re dumb little shits. I didn’t have any interest in going out of my way to speak to them. There’s a difference between being lonely and being a loner, and sorry for being the latter. I just didn’t need to talk. No one said I was rude, I’d speak when spoken to and loan you a pencil and shit, but beyond that I did not find you necessary. And I wasn’t a nerd. I was smart, I was high in my classes, but I was on my iPod most of the time and doodling anime characters. I wanted to be a comic book illustrator but people kept ‘expecting more out of someone so bright’ and bullshit. I wasn’t getting a desk job. I was getting a bed job. Well, if I wanted that I could just be a prostitute. I bet I’d make money, seriously. I worked out religiously.
When I got home after a couple hours at the gym my dad was making out with his girlfriend on the couch. Not necessary.
“Did you buy me Oreos like I ordered??” I said loudly, putting my backpack on the kitchen table. He looked up and they fumbled back into place, and Ellie buttoned the top of her shirt hurriedly. Cute girl, actually. She was a couple years younger than my dad, but she was cute.
“Sorry, kid. Thought you were gonna be out.” He said embarrassedly. My dad always got super embarrassed about that stuff. Honestly, I’d kinda wanted to get it on with half the chicks he brought home, don’t ever quote me on that. But I couldn’t blame him.
“I just have to sit on that couch, you know?” I whined, getting the Oreos. I was a chocolate freak. I only liked the cookie part of the Oreo. I left a bowl of the creams and my dad ate them. He likes the whites- in more ways than one if you know what I mean.
“You could knock,” Ellie suggested, giggling. She was a redhead, too. We had the same taste, I guess. Well, I happened, so something obviously worked out with one girl………
“I could say something but I’m not going to….” I smirked.
“’Preciate it,” She nodded, smoothing her hair back nonchalantly. She’d been living with us for only two weeks. She was the only girl my dad had ever had move in. He’d brought plenty of girls in one time only, but I didn’t mind. They were nice. Talked to me fine. I hadn’t been made into jailbait yet, hard as it was to resist all this…
“I got digits,” I mentioned, waving my phone.
“Name?” My dad asked casually. I’d never said anything about girls ever to him, but he took it totally cool.
“Missy Fallon,”
“What’s she look like?” He asked, his way of keeping tabs on me.
“Kinda like Ellie,” I shrugged, nodding at her.
“Good taste,” He grinned, grabbing a Dr. Pepper out of the fridge.
“That indeed,” I grinned, winking at Ellie, and she grinned. She liked me. Don’t care what she said.
“Got your MO planned out?” He grinned, startlingly white. My dad was just one of those people that just looked like a really good guy. Everybody said so.
“Thought we’d go see a movie. Hitch a ride to Vegas. Get married. Then she’ll kill me and take my wallet. You know, the usual.” I shrugged, and they both giggled. “No, I haven’t even called her yet.”
“Well, what are you talking to us for?” Ellie said, pretending to throttle me. “We’re not gonna get you anywhere; go, mate, live long, and prosper.” They chased me out of the kitchen and I went into my room, kinda nervous. I decided I’d just text her. Less stuttering. I smiled to myself.
You stole my move, I typed in, swallowing hard. I got a response maybe ten seconds later. And that’s where we started.
You didn’t have any. I got bored. Winky face.
I smiled to myself, sorry for the ambush. Didn’t know what else to say.
You were adorable, Dally. My full name was Dallas Quinn, but no one had ever called me that. It was my mom’s brother’s name. My dad told me he died when my mom was real little. He said she idolized the real Dallas.
My mom died giving birth to me. I guess things went wrong fast. I don’t know much about it. My dad could never even say a word about her without tearing up, and we didn’t have any other family to ask. I had a picture of her when she was pregnant, and I think that was the only one that existed. I knew absolutely nothing about her.
>blush<
So was there a point to your show in the hall or you just like making me laugh?
I smiled to myself. Calling me on it. I wanted to ask you out but I didn’t get that far. Words didn’t make it to my mouth, you know. I chuckled to myself nervously. I mean, I was nervous. This was the first girl I’d ever asked out. I just didn’t like girls in high school. They were cute, I was totally straight, but it just didn’t work out. I was asked out, and I went and was a gentleman and everything, but I made it pretty clear that I wasn’t interested.
Now you stole my move. Doing anything tomorrow?
All clear.
You know the art museum on 7th?
Yeah.
I’m working a gallery. You can be my trophy date. I laughed hysterically.
“You alright in there?” My dad called suspiciously. I looked up, annoyed.
“Perfectly fine,” I assured him. You have a gallery there? I asked in surprise. Yeah, I’d seen her draw. She was good. I saw a painting she did in the art room one time. Roses. I woulda taken it home with me.
Be there at eight? There’s food, we only have to stay for half an hour.
Wouldn’t miss it. I grinned to myself, giddy. Like, fangirl-giddy. I just kept smiling. I think we talked for the rest of the day. Like, ‘til I fell asleep.
The next day I was a totally weirdo. I mean, weirdo. I saw her in the hall and she’d smile at me and I was stand-still terrified. I thought I was gonna die. We texted during third period and she totally called me on it.
Nervous much? Smiley face.
I get nervous around really pretty girls. I kinda turned red in my seat.
Then I have absolutely no idea what your problem is.
Bullshit. That took me two seconds. Total bullshit. It was her turn to blush. She saw me again after the last bell rang and I was walking to my car. She stopped and waved, smiling like usual. I waved back nervously; I couldn’t move much else.
“See you later?” She called, walking to her parking spot in the other lane.
“Of course,” I answered, staying on my side of the road. This was killing me. Seriously. She kinda blushed, and I grinned even wider. “Wouldn’t miss it, remember?” I said teasingly, a lot smoother than I thought it would come out.
“I’ll see ya, Dally.” She giggled, climbing into her Sonata. My throat itched I wanted to laugh so badly.
“Yeah, see ya,” I said to myself.

I searched for an hour for the one nice shirt I owned for my date. It was in my dad’s closet underneath some old shoeboxes. A laughing Ellie ironed it out for me.
I walked into the glass-walled art gallery anxiously, casually smelling myself again. There were more people there than I’d ever seen, all dressed better than me in my grey shirt and one pair of clean jeans. I’d turbo-washed my Converse for an hour getting the grass stains out. I wasn’t a dressy person. Had no reason.
It took me a minute to find Missy in the crowd. The music was stupid and overplayed, of course that’s the one thing that occurred to me…
She found me, hidden in the crowd in front of her wall, crazy acrylics of girls in the locker room or a bride and groom with their eyes crossed out…….or one I swore on my life was me, sitting in my chair in AP Bio.
“Hey,” She said, smiling, totally at ease. I just grinned at her, and she just grinned back.
“Wow,” I said over the din, “You look beautiful. Like, more than usual.” I said totally casually. I wasn’t even saying it to impress her. I really meant it. Her hair shone under the lights, her eyes maddening. Missy’s lips were a dark red, her stark white smile alluring, matching her pale skin perfectly.
I’d never seen anyone like her.
She blushed really bad and took my hand wordlessly. “Come on, I wanna show you something.”
“You don’t care about your gallery?” There were people looking at her expectantly, like, ‘I wanna buy your shit, aren’t you going to worship the ground I walk on?’
“They can walk off with it, I don’t give a shit.” She shook her head, guiding me by the hand. Her palm was warm, her long nails black. She was wearing a black dress tied behind her neck, the curves of her hips making my eyes wander. She was one of those chicks if she was too skinny she’d look weird. Missy was straight sexy.
“Strange sentiments,”
“They’re only there because my dad wants the money. He doesn’t know I hide most of it from him, though.” She giggled secretively.
“That’s one way of going about it.” I reconsidered.
“Lots you don’t know about me, Dally.” We stood alone in a stainless steel elevator.
“Lots I’m waiting to find out.” I said without thinking; I probably wouldn’t have if I had thought about it. She just looked up at me, considering me. There was a funny expression on her face, her lips pursed to one side. I grinned for the cameras.
At last she said, “I can’t wait.” The doors opened on the roof and she led me out.
It was this incredible garden; not a garden. A pavilion. You could see the rest of the city lights all bright in the background, but it only seemed a paper backdrop for the immediate scenery. Beautiful. Bright blue-and purple flowers and this winding white walkway, this big mock Trevi fountain in the middle of it all.
I couldn’t have thought of anything better for a first date.
“Wow.” I said.
“Not open to everyone downstairs yet. I work here, so you know,” She shrugged. “Just to let you know, if you hadn’t asked me out, I probably would’ve molested you in the boys’ bathroom one day very soon.” Missy said matter-of-factly, and my eyes kinda widened, but I took it like a man.
“Well put,” I said finally, and she smiled really wide. All she seemed to do that night was smile. We sat down on a bench in front of the fountain, and we just kinda sat there waiting for each other for a while, and she leaned her head on my shoulder and held my hand out in front of her. I looked down at her questioningly.
How did I get here in a day?
We talked all night. At some point music from downstairs floated up to the top, and we danced together for a while, her small figure in my gangly arms. I told her everything I knew about myself, from my mom to how I only liked the cookie part of the Oreo. She only ate the middles.
Missy told me she only lived with her dad- her mom left when she was three, lived in California somewhere. Wrote sometimes. Missy cooked. Missy cleaned. Missy made sure boys didn’t spend the night in her room. Seemed like a bummer, the way she told it. But she didn’t seem bummed. She seemed used to it. We danced some more. I twirled her and caught her and was mesmerized for what could’ve really been forever, and we just stood there holding onto each other and forgot to say anything.
“It is what it is.” She shrugged, batting her long lashes and smiling still. I wondered if it ever hurt to smile so much.
“How are you so you all the time?” I asked frankly, shaking my head. She gave me this look like, “What?”
“No, like you’re always smiling at everyone, and laughing, and being you and adorable, and now you’re tell me all this and…….They just seem like two completely different people. Not, like, to offend you.” I added quickly. She laughed out loud. “But don’t you get tired of it?”
“It’s just easier, believe it or not. I’m so used to completely bullshitting it that I don’t care anymore. Like with Spencer? He was watching you the other day because he knows all about me. And he’s the only one besides you now. He’s just protective because the only real people in my life are all men- and that is kind of sad, actually.” She considered for a moment, her lips pursed and her eyebrows furrowed. I just laughed a little madly.
“Okay, I don’t feel so bad about having a stalker.” I grinned.
“Actually, he’s been half in love with me since he met me. He tried to tell me one time and it didn’t work out so well, so he’s been in Labrador mode ever since. But he won’t bite.” I realized we were holding hands again, our fingers intertwined. I looked down at her black shiny fingernails, and looked up and she was grinning again.
“How do you smile all the time?”
“I’m happy.” She said quietly. “A lot.”
“Good. Me, too.” I nudged her knee with mine. “Pretty happy.” I nodded. Before I knew what was going on, she leaned over and kissed me on the cheek again. Looking up at me, Missy’s eyes sparkled, unsure.
She leaned back and I caught her chin with my thumb and kissed her on the lips, leaning my forehead against hers. Her smile was brilliant.
“Yeah, I’m good, too.” Missy whispered. I was a little more than terrified at this point, and I think she could see it. I just smiled back weakly, and she scooted closer to me. I kissed her again softly, pulling her close.
I bet I could start smiling all the time, too.

I texted Missy the next morning- so how’d I do?
Hehe, you pass, alright. I grinned to myself, pouring coffee for myself and my father’s significant other. My dad slept like the dead on Saturday mornings. Ellie just got up ‘cuz she taught these swimming classes at the rec center. It’s those redheads in bathing suits, man…..
Yay!
Yay is right.
I had fun last night.
Yeah, me, too. You looked hot.
Well, I try. *blush* I really did blush.
“What’s with you, kid?” Ellie asked.
“Hangover,” I muttered, drinking my coffee.
“More like punch-drunk,” She muttered not-so-under-her-breath. I glared at her halfheartedly. “You got a picture of the lucky lady?” She said tiredly, blinking sleep out of her eyes. I flipped through my phone and brought it up- she was smiling in front of the fountain. Ellie’s eyes widened.
“Okay, I’m awake!” She blinked at me, like ‘really?’
“Yeah, really.” I said, nodding. My phone beeped, and I lunged over the table for it.
What are you wearing? I grinned to myself.
What’s it to you?
Helps with the fantasies.
There are fantasies now, are there?
There have been for a while, dipshit. I grinned, and Ellie looked dubiously at me.
Basketball shorts and a t-shirt. All for you, Missy.
I’m honored.
Sorry it took so long. Nervous around pretty girls, remember?
Worth the wait.

Unlimited texting is a good thing, or I would’ve gotten in serious shit. I also talked to her for, like, seven hours collectively that weekend. Okay, so I had it bad. And Dad and Ellie made me well aware of it.
Monday we were public about it. She ran up to me in the parking lot and kissed me good morning, and we held hands walking into the building. And it all happened just like that. I was stuck.
So those hugs she gave everyone else? Those were mine now. A lot of ‘em. And I’d been missing out. She was so loving, I’d never met anyone like her. When I walked her to class she’d hug me before she went in, and I’d almost be late I held on so long. She was shameless about it, but she wasn’t clingy. She kept me mostly out of that other part of her life, the one with her and her dad and being alone- she said it wasn’t necessary. It wasn’t her, she said. I begged to differ. I held her hand by her slender fingertips; Fridays she’d grab my ass as she was walking away. She had that swing and it was nice too, alright.
Spencer cornered me a week later at lunch.
“Hey.” He sat down with me at lunch. I sat in one booth. Sometimes people sat down with me and tried to talk. Sometimes I talked. Sometimes I made ‘em laugh. I had a pretty good sense of humor when I wanted to. I didn’t mind. I didn’t bite, people saw that. One kid needed help in calc and I gave him a hand, no hard feelings. I really didn’t bite. Just when staff came to talk to me was when I got nervous. It wasn’t like I came in dressed like the Unabomber, ‘kay? ‘Lemme ‘lone!
“Hey,” I raised an eyebrow at him. This was the lunch I didn’t have with Missy. I took my earbuds out, not to be rude. Raised not to be rude.
“You know Missy doesn’t shut up about you, right?” He said frankly. He was a freckled kid with fat lips. Like, if he wasn’t so pale he’d be black.
“Really?” I kinda grinned, chuckling. He nodded.
“Just be…….careful with her, you know? She’s really precious cargo.” He said.
I looked at him head-on. “Spencer. Think about it. It’s Missy.” I put it delicately. “Do you really think any guy could stand being an ass to her? I mean, to her? ‘Cuz I know you know her better than anyone.”
He seemed to totally relax. “Glad you get it. Because I know she told you about my little failed escapade……” He drifted off, nodding. “Yeah. I-I don’t care about that. I just really want her to be happy. I’ve never seen her this happy, and she deserves it if anyone ever did, so don’t you dare fuck it up.”
“You have my word, I’ll try my best not to.” He just got up and walked away. I never knew if he believed me or not. I just went back to eating. School food was gross.

After a while I couldn’t keep her from my dad and Ellie. Just couldn’t avoid it. This was actually weeks later. Graduation was coming up. College acceptances were coming in the mail. Prom was in two weeks. Missy and I were going. We knew it long before I asked her. It was just something that was gonna happen. I had my tux ordered and everything. My dad’s friend was letting me borrow his El Camino- it was sitting in our garage.
I had taken her home one afternoon, we were working on homework at the bar and she was messing with my iPod and I was not busy not caring about AP calculus. A serious game of footsie was going on underneath us. I was winning- my legs were longer. I looked up when the door opened, and my dad looked fairly surprised. Ellie was carrying shopping bags.
“Ooh, she does exist. I thought he got that picture off the internet.” Ellie broke the moment of silence, and Missy giggled. “Hey, sweetie, I’m Ellie.”
“Andy Quinn. I’m Dad. She’s no one important.” He said teasingly. “How do you do.” He added politely.
“Nice to meet you. Missy Fallon.” She nodded, smiling. I looked over at her, a little mesmerized again.
“Oh, we know.” I glared at Ellie, and she winked at me.
“Whatcha kids doing?” My dad asked.
“Each other, clearly.” Ellie added quietly. My dad put a hand over her mouth wordlessly and faced us.
“Calculus,” Missy said. “Really exciting.” She nodded emphatically, and I laughed to myself. My dad grinned.
“I like this girl.” He nodded at Missy.
“What a coincidence! Me, too!” I grinned wickedly at Missy, and she blushed like a cherry.
“Well, she tries.” Missy added meekly, and I nudged her foot under the counter. She kicked me back.
“Feel like staying for dinner?” My dad offered immediately.
“You mean I don’t have to cook dinner? I would seriously love you forever.” She said completely seriously. All my dad did was laugh. She didn’t get it.
Missy completely dressed up whoever she was to my dad. To him her father worked constantly and she was really devoted to getting into school, ‘cuz it was her ticket outta here. Loved art but I already knew that. She was applying to schools all over the country- I didn’t know anything about that. Kinda made me think about who she really was.
My dad volunteered a little about me, which prompted more from me. I was applying to arts schools because nobody could fucking stop me- my exact words. My dad gave me a little glare but didn’t say anything. I was a lifeguard at the pool at the rec center during the summer (sexiest lifeguard EVER!). Missy just laughed. Well, I was right.
So, that was Meet the Parents. Yay. After the dishes were done Missy and I were sitting on the couch, making out. Dad and Ellie had long been asleep. She was sitting in my lap, her head next to mine. I couldn’t get over her smile.
“God, you’re beautiful.” I said softly, and she just took it. Again. She had to be used to it by now. She just was.
“Uh-huh, you’re just horny,”
“That, and I’m right.” I kissed her back, brushing her mass of red hair behind her ear, and she smiled addictingly. I wondered fleetingly if she’d stay the night. “You’re pretty amazing, Missy Fallon. Beautiful is just part of it.” I whispered, nose-to-nose with her. She smiled, her eyes alight, and kissed me again.
“Takes one to know one.” She whispered back, her voice deep and sexy. Every part of her sexy. It was what she always was. “You’re pretty great yourself, Dally.”
“Agree to disagree,” I argued, a little breathlessly.
And before I knew it I was in love with Missy Fallon. And she was in love with me, too. I thought of the Romeo and Juliet line- “Call me but love and I’ll be new baptized.”
“So what was that stuff with my dad tonight?” I asked.
“What stuff?” She asked, looking a little miffed at having to pause to speak. She still had her arms around me. She leaned her forehead against mine, and I couldn’t help beaming for all I was worth.
“Like with your dad and college and all that. The story just seems to change every time I hear it.” I said a little disappointedly, fiddling with the ends of her hair. She grabbed my hand and held it to her cheek, and I rubbed my finger against her skin until she smiled.
“Habit,” She shrugged, “Parts of it were true. I am trying to get out of here. The crap about my dad was total shit, sorry about that, but I really haven’t told you everything about my dad, Dally. Just let me get away with it again, alright?” She smiled weakly. Her fat lower lip pouted out a little bit, and I nudged it with my finger. She grinned and kissed my hand.
“Are you……okay?” I asked nervously. She didn’t answer. She leaned her head on my shoulder, and I just pulled my arms behind her back and held her. All I could do.
“Just tell me if there’s anything I can do,” I whispered against her ear, my hand running through her hair. She smiled against my shoulder.
“I love you, Dally.”
“I love you, too.” I kissed her on the forehead. Told you she loved me.
What was a bummer was it went downhill really fast.
She’d been weird the whole time we were dating about me going to her house. I knew straight-up she didn’t want me meeting her dad. And I really tried to be cool with it, but it kinda ticked me off after a while, especially after she said she loved me. Like, you love me but you’re ashamed of me?
“Is there a reason you don’t ever want me to see your dad?” I asked one day after school. She was gonna drive her car to my place like she did every day. I mean, every damn day. She just looked up and over at me, her hand in mine.
“You just wanna know what my bed looks like, don’t even lie.” She said matter-of-factly, and I kissed her on the cheek, laughing. I followed her to her apartment building this time. Turns out the reason she always went straight to my place was she lived on the other side of damn town! And I did not know these things!
“You did not tell me you live on the other side of town.” I said slowly, in her face. She giggled and kissed me again. Missy said her dad was home early. She seemed nervous about it. I squeezed her hand, but it didn’t seem to do anything. I wrapped my arm over her shoulder.
“Have faith in me.” I growled jokingly, her skin stark against mine.
“It’s not you, it’s him.” She muttered. The door opened and she led me down the hall, opening a door at the very end. It was hardly furnished and covered in her paintings.
Her dad, I suppose, short like her, walked out a few minutes later, smoking a cigarette in a dirty t-shirt and ripped, stained jeans. Fucking redneck, I’m sorry.
Missy turned redder than red. She looked ready to cry, really. I squeezed her hand, alarmed. I didn’t know, honestly, what she was so freaked out about. It was starting to freak me the fuck out.
“O-o-o-oh,” He chuckled, missing teeth. I could tell off the bat he’d been drinking. It was just the smell off his breath. I knew immediately what Missy had meant. Or I thought I did. I could tell drunks a mile away.
“Hello sir,” I said mildly, smiling halfheartedly. I knew whatever I said wouldn’t register tomorrow, so it was pointless.
“So, that’s it now, Missy? That’s what you’ve done to me? You gone and got yerself a nigger boy?” I just stopped right there. Nope. Not-not happening. Sorry. I just turned around and walked out.
“Dally!” Missy yelled after me. I didn’t even turn around. I took the elevator down alone. I got to my car and my phone was ringing.
“Yeah?” I said.
“Let me explain, Dally! You can’t just run out like that!” Missy was in tears.
“Don’t cry on me. It’s not worth it. Why-“
I started again, staring at the ground as I walked to my car. I knew without turning around she was somewhere behind me.
“Why’d you start this game in the first place? What, you thought it’d be fun? You thought you’d hide me, you’d see what happened, then as soon as you got bored this was how you’d get rid of me? Taking your drunk, racist father out on my ass? I really thought more of you, Missy, I did!” I shouldn’t have said anything about her father. I shouldn’t have. Even if it was true. But she deserved it.
She was seriously in tears. “That’s why I didn’t want you coming here! I didn’t want you to see him! I’m not him, Dally! I’m not! I’m nothing, I’ve never been anything like him, just listen to me, please!” She sobbed. “Please, Dally.”
“I’m sorry, I’m just not doing this. I can’t, can’t do it.” I said coldly. “Missy, I’m not stupid enough to ask you to pick between me and your dad, I’m just telling you-“
I swallowed hard, “I’m just not waiting around for you to not pick me.” I hung up. First and last time I ever hung up on a girl. Tears ran down my cheeks. I couldn’t help it.
Any other way, really. Any other way.

Kinda blew up in our faces. The next morning we had our first class together. I never spoke, so nobody cared, but she spoke to everyone, so the world was ending.
“I’m fine.” She said coldly, without a look at me. I smirked, my head in my arms. I turned up my headphones until I couldn’t hear anyone anymore. I could be fine, too. Mickey asked me what my problem was and I told him to go to hell. That guy seriously needed to take the hint.
Missy’s friends kept giving me shit. She was taking it hard. Well, sucks to be her. She should’ve told me. Now I was being blacklisted. Or whitelisted, I guess……
Spencer tried to go all tough-guy on me maybe a week later. When people constantly question your sexuality, and you greatly resemble a Labrador, this look is incredibly hard to pull off.
“You know she came over to my house last night in tears, right?”
“Nothin’ I did, don’t look at me. Ask her.” I shook my head, trying to get my stuff so I could leave.
“I did ask her- she won’t leave me alone about it. I’ve never seen her this upset, man.”
“Don’t ‘man’ me, you little shit, we’ve never spoken before. I did not do anything. I don’t do race. Not my scene. She did all this, she can pick up all the damn pieces, now do I have to shove that farther down your throat for you all to stop bothering me?” I growled. I think he whimpered a little bit.
“You said you wouldn’t hurt her. You said it yourself. All I’m saying.” He said stonily.
“Yeah, well, looks like every single one of us lied, doesn’t it?” I slammed my locker shut, blinking hard and walking to my car. It was really hard not to see Missy out of the corner of my eye.
I did everything I could to avoid her. Everything. It didn’t work for shit. Every time I tried to not look for her I ended up picking her out; every time I tried to block it out I picked out her name; it was madness and I was getting obsessed. I wasn’t supposed to be this weak. I had never thought of Missy Fallon, the girl I was starkly, for all time in love with, more than the two weeks I tried to completely forget her. I was a step short of seeking electro-shock therapy, and my dad was a step short of helping me. Something about me was bringing up some serious PTSD with him, I didn’t know what was going on.
I finally learned who my mom was.
That one picture? No. Put that to shame. There was a whole box. Her name was Julia. She left her whole family to be with my dad, which was why I never knew any of her family. They blamed him for her death. Apparently it was just a mishap- the doctor said it wasn’t anyone’s fault.
“And I’m so sorry this is all happening to you, son, I really am. I wish to all hell your mom was here to tell you things were gonna be fine. Odds are you’d believe her much more than you’d believe me. I just- I know you’d love her, Dally. She loved you so much. She died loving you, Dally. She died thinking of you.” He rubbed the top of my head, staring at the pictures. There were videos they were gonna show me and pictures and all sorts of shit my dad hadn’t dragged out until now. I almost hated him for a moment for hiding her from me.
I didn’t even know her name, you know? Julia. Pretty. Yeah, my mom coulda been Julia. She was, as a matter of fact. At least I had a name to the face.
I hugged him. It’s all I could do. I was at a loss for words. Honestly, I was livid at him. How dare he? He had no goddamn right. That was my mom, and I had no idea who she was, and just now he decided I’d be blessed with the knowledge? I was livid. I couldn’t stand him. I took my tapes and went into my room, watched them in my pj’s and cried until I passed out.
Next day was hell. I was shaken up and it was the day before prom and the people were straight sickening. I wanted to die a little bit inside.
I didn’t see Missy until lunch. She wore this black-and-white striped dress and I remember thinking, is she looking for me, too?
She looked right at me. Dead-ass right at me. Calmly. Expressionless. I was stand-still terrified, but what else was new with her? Her green eyes drilled right into mine- sorry, she mouthed.
I know, I mouthed. I looked down and finished my lunch, grimacing. Twenty minutes later I was running up the steps to Bio and I almost knocked her flat. She gasped and I caught her not a second too late. I stood her back up, and I guess I forgot to drop my arm.
“Sorry.” I whispered breathlessly. I forgot she came down this way and I was supposed to avoid her. Or maybe I meant not to. Oops.
“It’s cool.” I meant about everything. She knew I meant about everything. I still didn’t let go.
“Can I tell you something?” I asked really frankly, really, really confused. My head was a mess on steroids.
“Do it.”
“I miss the hell out of you. It doesn’t change anything, I just do. Sorry about that.” I grimaced.
“Yeah. Sucks to be us.” She shrugged. She was still holding onto my arm, her eyes holding mine still in space.
“Us?”
“Yeah.” She brought her hand up and brushed the back of it against my cheek curiously, and a chill went right down my back. I felt like I was in a straightjacket. And I deserved it, too.
“Can I ask you something now?” I held her tighter without thinking about it. She nodded wordlessly, holding my neck.
“Do it.” She gulped.
“Can I kiss you again? ‘Cuz I’ve wanted to for a while now.” I asked pleadingly, bending down to her face, and she looked right up at me ‘till we were nose-to-nose.
“I don’t know. Find out.” She didn’t need to ask twice. I met her mouth hesitantly, curious, but it turned hungry fast. I pressed into her desperately, itching. I lifted her off the stairs and backed her against the wall, wrapping my arms around her. She jumped up and wrapped her legs around me, and I held her up against the wall, practically down her throat.
God, I didn’t care. That wasn’t her. Man, did I overreact or what?
“Shit…..” I said breathlessly, putting her down, “I am so sorry, Missy.” I brushed her hair with my hand gently, and she smiled with wet eyes.
“I’m sorry. I should’ve told you. So you’d understand. You didn’t understand, I get it. I couldn’t believe me, either. I expected more out of me, too.” She rubbed her thumb against my neck and I grinned against her lips. “I love you so much, I’m so sorry.”
“I love you too, I’m sorry I didn’t listen, I love you, too.” I kissed her again and again and again. Long after the bell rang and the hall was deserted we stood there. I kissed her forehead gently. “I missed you so much, you have no idea.” I whispered.
“You’d be surprised.” She whispered.
“You doing anything for prom still?” I grinned down at her, and she beamed. She shook her head. “Do you still wanna go to prom with me? I still have the tickets.” I whispered, tipping her chin up to look at me.
“I wouldn’t ever go with anyone else.” She whispered hoarsely, and I kissed her again, and we sat down in the corner there and held each other there, holding time. Time was a squirming, faceless thing.
Okay, so I picked her up at Spencer’s. Close enough, right? He still seemed super leery of me, like totally big brother, but I guess I deserved it, if she was really as upset as he said. We were all licking our wounds still.
Tuxes are stupid. We all look like monkeys, I didn’t see the appeal. But Missy looked thrilled, and that’s all the reason I needed.
Jesus Christ, I’d never seen anyone like her. No one like her. She wore a white dress like Marilyn Monroe, with black gloves to her elbows and dark eyes and her lips red and inviting. All of her inviting. As always. What else was new? Black feathers hung from her hair in netting, and only she could wear Converse to prom and totally get away with it. Only her.
All I could do was smile. I slid her the corsage I picked up with Ellie that morning meekly- a white rose with black feathers- and put it on her wrist. Her matching white smile was weakening.
Spencer just smiled. “Call if there’s any trouble, drop her off here afterward.” I guess he wasn’t going. I nodded at him and smiled.
“Thanks,” I said. “I mean it.”
“Anything for my girl.” He smiled back. I led Missy to my borrowed car and she giggled getting in.
Prom was our first date with more people. So a little bit worse than our first date. But tolerable. Missy was there. She looked like that. And she was with me. We danced for hours and hours on end; people said hi to her but she blew them off completely for me. She was better than Cinderella because I didn’t have to dread midnight. And now that I’d found her again I wouldn’t lose her this time, damnit. Not happening on my watch. I didn’t think she’d feel so good in my arms like that. We danced and kissed and whispered stupid bullshit to each other for hours- and I’d repeat every minute of it a hundredfold.
“Ellie and Dad weren’t gonna be home tonight in case you wanted to stay over tonight.” I whispered, the night getting late. The crowd was thinning. We were in the last half-hour of the match.
“Sounds great,” She whispered, grinning against my lips. “Let’s go.” She gripped my hand tight, weaving through the remainder of the crowd.
I remember shutting the door to my bedroom behind us and thinking, please, Lord, forgive me for I have sinned……..
She kissed me softer than ever, teasingly, her lips barely touching mine. Her breath felt hot and heavy.
“Spencer’s gonna be so mad I didn’t get you home,” I remarked.
“Screw Spencer.” She whispered, reaching for me again. I wrapped my arms all the way around her, her tongue brushing mine. God, she tasted good. God. Everywhere she touched me I felt on fire. She nearly ripped my jacket off of me and tossed it on the floor, unbuttoned my shirt blindly and nearly tore my t-shirt off.
“Hold up! Before we kill ourselves here.” I kissed her warmly and sat her on my bed, turned on my bedside table and turned off the overhead. She watched me with a curious look, like she wasn’t totally sure one of us was awake.
“Yeah, you can’t believe all of this is real, can you?” I pursed my lips at her, and she laughed. “Yeah, I see you, checking me out all the time. I know, don’t lie, hon.” I sat at her feet and untied her shoes idly, smiling to myself.
“I love you, you know that?”
“Starting to believe it.” I smiled and looked up. Her face was incredible. I’d never seen anything so beautiful.
“Good. You’re gonna be believing it for a while.” She told me, smiling. I finished untying her shoes and threw them near the door. She sat up and I unzipped the back of her dress and she slipped out of it without a word. She laid back on her back and pulled me to her unsteadily, and I leaned forward unsurely.
“Hold up.” She said suddenly. Her hands were at my chest, pushing me away. I obeyed immediately. I realized my hands had brushed her breasts, and I pulled them away embarrassedly. “Hold up,” She said again, sitting up. I got off her completely.
“I’m sorry, Missy. I-if you don’t want to, we really don’t have to take it that far ton-“
She was crying. Softly. Tears rolled down her cheeks, her eyes glinting in the window light. Something about the romance gone awry of the scene made it so raw- it was just one of those moments I knew I should pay attention. And somehow I knew instinctively it wasn’t something I did. It was just something I was confident in.
“Hey,” I whispered, brushing tears from her cheeks. I turned her by the arms towards me, cradling her against my chest. “It’s okay. I didn’t mean it. We don’t have to do anything, I didn’t mean it. I didn’t mean to hurt you, Missy, I’m sorry.” Her hand brushed up and down my arm, grasping my hand curiously, flitting up to my cheek. She reached up and kissed me softly.
“It’s not you.” She whispered. “It’s not you.” She shifted, and I caught her arm.
“Come on,” I pleaded, “Don’t go. Tell me. Or don’t. Anything. Just don’t go.” She met my eyes again, then settled back against the other side of my bed.
“I told you things were rough with my dad, right?” Her eyes flashed up at me, almost frightened.
“Yeah. You didn’t say much after that.” I said softly. “Missy, are you okay?”
“Yes and no.” She shrugged. “It’s a confusing story. They’re like…….passes. Like, he makes passes at me. But I’m his daughter. I can’t ever really full-out say he grabbed my boobs or smacked my ass but they’re damned borderline, you know?” I just brushed her hair back again silently. I didn’t know how to convey the horror I felt.
“I mean, I get boobs when I’m eleven and suddenly I’m up for grabs by every guy that I’ve ever met. I mean, really? From my father, of all friggin’ people. It’s just ridiculous. And then he’s dressing me like a whore, and I was wearing sweats in the house one time and he asked, ‘now who bought you those?’ and I got it. I’m supposed to be my mom. Because my mom took off. I’m always supposed to looks my best, and keep the house clean, and be available, and cook every meal, because that’s what wives do.” She said sadly, her eyes cold. “It’s just- doesn’t work like that, Dad. He doesn’t even deserve to be called that. He doesn’t. He’s not my dad.” I just kissed her on the forehead.
“I’m so sorry, Missy. I’m so sorry. I had no idea. I f I had known I wouldn’t have done anything, I swear, I’m so sorry.” She stopped me.
“That’s it, Dally. I want you. I want you; you have no idea.” She whispered, barely a breath. “I want you to have me, to take me, and I didn’t want that to have anything to do with it. I wanted to always be with you and just be able to forget about him but for some reason it just didn’t work out like that, you know?” She huffed against my chest, and I just held her still.
I brushed her hair with my hand again, whispering, “Thank you. Thank you, Missy. Thank you so much. I will take whatever you want to give me. I just want to be part of you. Please.” I begged, rocking her against me. She picked her head up.
“Take it then, Dally.” She whispered, sounding almost scared. I kissed her softly, finding her lips again in the semi-darkness and smiling, and suddenly she was undoing my clothes.
Almost pure need building in my chest, I struggled getting her bra off, and she pulled my pants and my boxers down finally and soon enough there we were. We were together. And no one stopped us.
And no one was going to this time.
The next morning we woke up tangled in each other, Missy lying on my chest. The covers were pulled around us. I knew my dad and Ellie weren’t home.
“Dally?” She said to me.
“Yeah?” I rubbed her hair absently with my hand, glancing down at her. God, I loved her.
“We have to leave.” She whispered against my chest, sounding afraid of the words.
“I know, love.”
“You love me still, don’t you?” Missy sounded hopeful.
“Look at me.” She brought her head up to look me dead in the eye. “Every time I say I love you I will always mean it. And I will always be saying it. Okay? So yeah, we do have to leave. I have to be with you, Missy. I don’t have a choice. We’ll go today. Right now. You wanna drop by your house and get your stuff?”
“Yeah. My dad won’t be home.”
“You should leave him a note so he doesn’t call the cops.” I mentioned.
She sniggered. “What?”
“Nothing. It’s mean.” She waved it off, buried in my chest.
“’Ran away with the nigger’?” I suggested. She looked up at me.
“Sorry,” She admitted.
“Don’t be, it’s a lil’ funny,” I conceded. “You and me, Missy. How ‘bout it?”
“You and me, Dally.” She kissed me. “You and me.”
My dad would forgive me.
I mean, he did it.

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