An Old Friend and a New One

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Bible Black

“Right before my senior year? Really?”

Krista watched as her daughter seemed to try to bore through her father with the rage in her eyes. Krista should have foreseen her daughter’s angry reaction, but she had been blind to the emotional side of things. Her husband’s new job would set them financially and sunny Southern California would be a huge improvement in comfort, just six or so hours south of where Krista grew up. He started to respond but their daughter resumed yelling first, turning to Krista and shouting, “And you tell me three days after my eighteenth birthday?”

“W- we wanted you to enjoy your party,” Krista said meekly.

“This job will pay for your college and beyond, Bailey.”

Krista didn’t think Bailey’s anger could get any hotter, but she saw the change as her father justified the decision. “Don’t even start. I don’t want to hear anything more from you. I’ll be in my room,” Bailey pointed at her father, “don’t even try coming in.”

After Bailey stormed off, Krista’s husband said, “Well that went even worse than we expected.”

Krista agreed. “I don’t get it.”

“Maybe you should go talk to her.”

“She said not to try coming in.”

“She pointed at me, and she trusts you. You’re a lot closer than you think you are.”

“Fine.” Krista stood up and walked toward the stairs, feeling like she was walking to her own doom.

Fortunately, when Krista announced “It’s Mom,” Bailey grumbled “Come in.” Bailey lay in the center of her bed, looking up at the ceiling. Krista took a deep breath and improvised, “We didn’t mean to blindside you, but it’s only a year before you’re off to college.”

“Yeah. My last year of childhood. My last year with my friends. You threw me a big old birthday party and I had no idea it was the last time I’d see most of them.”

“We just wanted you to have a nice birthday.”

“So you didn’t even involve me in the biggest decision of the last three years? You could have at least pretended to care what I think.”

“We care what you think, but we also know this will be so much better for you.”

“Because of money? Since when do you think money’s everything? God, you’re turning into Dad.”

“You’ve always wanted to live in California.”

“Not out of nowhere. Not around a bunch of high school girls that are only going to see me as some dummy from Ohio.”

“They won’t, and you’ll make friends fast.”

“No, I won’t.”

“Yes you will. Like your new friend Maia, you haven’t known her three months and you’re thick as thieves.”

“Mom, I’ve known Maia since kindergarten. She hated me in elementary school, so I avoided her when we moved back, and we just discovered that we actually have a lot in common. So two and a half years to make friends, not fast.”

Krista sighed. “Well I disagree, but you’ll still have your friends here.”

Bailey made an exaggerated sigh. Krista knew she had said the wrong thing, but luckily her daughter didn’t argue that point. When Bailey spoke, she said, “You know, I expect Dad to do whatever the fuck he wants, but I would have thought you’d at least warn me.”

“Bailey, I am going to ignore your language, but do not disrespect your father like that.”

Bailey sat up. “Oh you know it’s true. Dad does what he wants. You go along because, I don’t know, love or indifference or maybe you actually think he’s always right. But I always thought you had some allegiance to me, but clearly that’s wrong.”

“You’re my daughter, you’re my number one allegiance.”

“Well if you really think you’re doing this for me, you don’t know me at all. I think I need to call Maia now.”

Krista silently, sadly, turned and left her daughter’s room. Her husband was in the kitchen prepping ribs for the barbecue. “How’d it go?” he asked, but with a tone like he was asking like a trip to the grocery store.

“Well she’s not threatening to try to use her age to stay.”

“See, she’ll see it’s for the best.”

“I just don’t get how people get so tied up in friendships. I mean, I would sort of get it if she had a boyfriend, but even then it’s like, what’s the big deal?”

“She’s a teenage girl, weren’t you like that?”

“No. Do you remember what I said when you announced your move to Ohio?”

“Not really, honestly.”

“‘Do you want me to go with you?'”

“Oh yeah, and I said ‘Of course,’ right?”

“Actually, you said, ‘You’re my girlfriend, of course you want to, right?’ And I just thought to myself, ‘OK, sure, if that’s what girlfriends do.'”

They both knew Krista’s recounting wasn’t pretty, her now-husband’s presumptuousness and Krista’s passive reaction. But they also knew she was right. The words felt familiar to her husband, and Krista remembered that moment very keenly, as if knowing there was some significance to that ancient exchange. But she couldn’t put her finger on why the details of the conversation were so significant.

After the pause, Krista continued, “She’s calling Maia right now. When I move, I just call people out of obligation.”

“Maia, that’s the cute new friend, right?”

Krista rolled her eyes. “You shouldn’t mersin escort talk about a teenager like that.” Her husband seemed unmoved by the comment, so she said, “Yes, the new friend. I just don’t get how they could be so close so quickly.”

* * *

Bailey was cool toward her father for the next few weeks before the move. They were never close, but Krista could see the difference between her husband and daughter, even if Bailey was spending more time than ever out with friends. After the move, Bailey became more withdrawn, spending almost all her time in her new bedroom and saying little except about how Rancho Santa Margarita was a horribly boring city in the middle of nowhere with a horribly long name. Krista couldn’t honestly disagree, but the city was the only place where they could afford a home anything like what they had in Ohio. The open concept downstairs was much more comfortable than the cramped houses with better locations. Krista wanted a new job, but the only things she could find close by were retail, and she didn’t want a long commute for a job she didn’t really need.

Krista was right about one thing: Bailey made a new friend fast. Krista got to “meet” the new friend on the third day after school started when Bailey walked past the living room where Krista was reading and said, “Mom, I brought a friend. We’re going up to my room.”

Krista stood to greet them but she was too taken aback. “I’m Caroline,” the friend said with a wave that showed off long, black fingernails. Caroline was pretty but wore all black, had jet black hair that must have been dyed, and lined her eyes with more black than a coal mine. Not only that, what clothes she wore were too skimpy. Her black spaghetti strap tank top showed ample cleavage, and while she had some sort of jacket, the jacket was completely lace and apparently had no way to close in the front. Her skirt seemed not to come past her butt, and being as short as she was, Krista assumed the skirt had to be homemade or from a very young juniors section. Her patterned tights seemed not to cover anything, and Caroline’s alabaster skin seemed to shine through them. What California girl was so white? Only the thick biker boots seemed modest.

Krista could only stammer, “I’m Krista” before the girls were speeding upstairs.

“Nice to meet you,” Caroline shouted as she followed Bailey away.

Krista heard nothing more from the girls until around six when they came downstairs and made for the door. “We’ll have to talk more next time,” Caroline said as they walked past Krista in the kitchen.

“W- would you like to stay for dinner?” Krista managed to get out despite being caught off guard.

“Sorry, can’t tonight,” Caroline shouted from the front door.

Krista stepped over to see her daughter hug this apparently friendly and beautiful yet disturbingly dressed girl. As Bailey returned to her room, Krista stopped her and said, “See, you did make a friend.”

“I got lucky, Caroline’s really easy to talk to.”

Bailey motioned to go upstairs again but Krista said, “Hold on, I want to talk for a minute. How is everything going at school?”

“Fine.”

“OK, now Caroline seems nice…”

“Oh my God, Mom.”

“… but I just want to make sure you’re not getting in with a bad crowd.”

“What, because she like black?”

“I mean, that style of clothing…”

“She just likes the edgier look. She’s really like the most normal person I’ve met.”

“OK. But you haven’t told me anything else yet, so how is school going?”

“Well my English teacher seems to like me.”

“That’s great! What have you guys talked about?”

“Well I mentioned that I like tennis, and now she’s trying to get me to go out for the team. She’s the JV coach.”

“You should! That will be a great way to meet more friends.”

“Mom, I just play for fun, I’m terrible.”

“And did you tell your teacher that?”

“She said that I might have to play JV with her but the JV team is more fun.”

“See, she wants you on her team. Everyone likes you.”

“That’s just what teachers and coaches do. But you know what’s weird?”

“Hmm.”

“I think she’s from your home town.”

“Sacramento?”

“No, your actual one. What’s it called again?”

“Colfax.”

“That’s it! That’s what she said!”

“Wow, that’s a crazy coincidence. You should definitely go out for her team.”

“If I say I’ll think about it, can I go up to my room?”

“Alright, I’ll see you at dinner.”

* * *

The next day, Krista logged into the parents’ portal and checked for the name of Bailey’s English teacher. She tried to resist being nosy, but the question burned in her head for sixteen hours. Colfax wasn’t a huge city, and Krista had been on the tennis team, so she must have crossed paths with this teacher at least once. In fact, not only did she know the teacher from Colfax, but she had been one of her closest friends in high school. She never understood why they drifted apart when they left for college, but such was life – there were a dozen other such friends in high school.

Except Emily Thomas wasn’t mersin escort bayan just another friend. They had spent almost all their time together senior year and by their last summer before college they were bona fide peas in a pod. They would walk arm-in-arm to the pool on hot days, and on hotter days snuggle on the couch in Emily’s air conditioned basement. Seeing Emily’s name on the screen, Krista thought back to the conversation after Bailey learned of the move to California. Maybe Krista would have cared if she couldn’t have seen Emily over the summer. But when Krista went to school at Chico State and Emily went to NYU, there were no tears. They knew they were going to move apart. Krista never got a good explanation as to why Emily didn’t ever come back, but each seemed to move on.

But now Krista wanted to see her friend again. Email seemed too stiff. A phone call seemed too casual, plus she was pretty sure teachers never answered their phones. Going down to the school would seem desperate and how would she find her anyway? But then the lightbulb came on – this school, despite its size, had a back to school night. And in the six intervening days, maybe she and Bailey could break out their tennis rackets.

Tennis didn’t happen: on Saturday because Bailey was hanging out with Caroline and on Sunday because she said she had too much homework. At dinner Sunday night, though, Bailey announced that she was, in fact, going to go out for tennis, in part because she liked her English class so much. Most of her homework, she said, wasn’t completely necessary but rather her trying to do a top quality job because she liked the stories they were reading so much. Krista snickered to herself – Emily had a way of casting a spell on people. In four days of school, Bailey had gone from hating the move to loving her English teacher so much that she was willing to play JV tennis as a senior.

On Monday, three days before back to school night, the boredom of Krista’s new life became apparent. She needed to find a job, or a tennis club, or even a gym. Bailey’s tennis tryouts started that afternoon, even though tennis was a no-cut sport at her school. So Krista was alone with nothing to do until past five o’clock.

Then Bailey came home and again Caroline was with her. Somehow, when Krista saw the small girl in black come through the door, all the boredom vanished and was replaced by a warmth from her toes up through her chest. “Hey, Mom!” Bailey shouted across the main floor to the kitchen.

“Hey, Mrs. C!” Caroline called.

“H- hi girls,” Krista mumbled. Mrs. C? She’d introduced herself as Krista. Whatever.

Krista carefully watched the girls walk through the dining area, entranced by the contrast between Bailey’s short, white tennis skirt and Caroline’s longer lacy skirt. Bailey seemed to tower over her friend even though she couldn’t have been more than four inches taller. Perhaps the difference came from the clothes, or from the fact that Caroline, while thin, had womanly curves and Bailey was still skinny as a rail. To emphasize that difference, Bailey’s breasts barely showed under her sports bra and tennis shirt, while Caroline’s seemed to strain to break out of the buttons of her blouse. The girls stopped at the opening to the kitchen and Bailey asked, “Can Caroline stay for dinner tonight?”

Krista snapped out of her stare and answered, “Yes, of course.” She looked between the girls. Despite wearing all black except for her silver eye shadow, there was something intoxicating about Caroline. But there was one thing that Krista couldn’t not compliment. “You pull off that black lipstick immaculately, Caroline,” Krista blurted out.

Caroline slowly smiled and said, “Thank you. It took me so long to perfect it. I need a high dark collar and my hair down.”

Krista admired the jet black hair held by a black headband. But she caught herself and answered, “Well you succeeded. I really never thought I’d see black lipstick look so good.”

“We get it, Mom,” Bailey interjected. “We need to do homework, do you know when dinner’s gonna be ready?”

“When your dad’s home. Why don’t you text him?”

Bailey scoffed and turned toward the stairs. Caroline smiled and gave a little wave that Krista failed to respond to except with flutters in her heart. What about this girl excited her so much? Most likely just the excitement of a new and different person. She hadn’t gotten to know her new neighbors, and in any case everybody she knew was basically the same. Caroline was so different and what’s more, seemed completely sweet despite the stereotypes of someone who wears all black with black lipstick.

Krista’s bashfulness continued through dinner. She managed to ask a few questions – her husband was useless for making conversation with teenagers – but she was too enraptured to fully engage. As Bailey told how tennis tryouts were fun even though she was objectively terrible, Krista could only steal glances at how Caroline managed to eat without messing up her perfect black lipstick. When Caroline interjected that she had watched the whole practice and Bailey seemed just escort mersin fine, Krista used that time to examine the detailed movements of the blackest lips she had ever seen.

* * *

Krista refocused herself for the rest of the evening, even though with every dish she rinsed, the housewife life appealed less and less. The following morning, she decided to go for a run, saying to herself, “I won’t get rid of this stomach fat in two days, but might as well try since Emily is probably in great shape.”

After a half mile, Krista was huffing and puffing. She was more out of shape than she had expected. “Keep going for Caroline,” she grumbled to herself. She quickly caught the mistake and silently corrected the name to Emily. But why should she be running for anyone but herself? She was married and her husband didn’t care, Emily was an old friend whom she didn’t need to impress, and Caroline was just going to see her as an old mom. No, Caroline was just her daughter’s friend, she didn’t matter as anything other than that role. Had Caroline cast some goth spell? She was a fascinating girl, but Krista huffed to herself not to pay too much attention, she’d meet plenty of interesting people once she established her new life.

Nonetheless, on the third and final mile, the only way Krista could put one foot in front of the other was to say things to herself about Caroline. Caroline doesn’t care about some old mom. Caroline would only care about a hot, cool mom. Be hot for Caroline. Caroline doesn’t want to see stomach fat. Build those ass muscles for Caroline. The thoughts were almost involuntary, but they also seemed to be the only thing preventing Krista from giving up.

That evening, Caroline came over again but this time after dinner. Krista stayed in the shadows and resisted an encounter with the girl in black. Bailey went to Caroline’s on Wednesday, and Thursday was the night Krista had been waiting for, the night when she met with Bailey’s English teacher and her old friend. Maybe, too, she would get to meet Caroline’s parents.

Only about half the parents went, though, so Krista was fairly certain after checking nametags and listening to questions that Caroline’s parents weren’t there. Her own family was also surprised at the sudden interest – Krista and her husband hadn’t gone to a back to school night in years. But the search for Caroline’s parents distracted Krista from the main event of the night, which was an encounter with Emily at fifth period. As Emily’s classroom came into sight, she realized that again she was obsessing over Caroline, surprised that she wasn’t nervous or noticeably excited about her reunion with Emily.

But when she stepped into the classroom and made contact with those familiar green eyes, excitement surged through her chest. Emily was as beautiful as ever, not in perfect shape as Krista had suspected but the little weight gain just accentuated the great body that Emily had had in high school. Adrenaline pulsed through Krista’s fingertips as she listened to Emily’s spiel and other parents’ questions. She made sure she was last to ask a one-on-one question; fortunately by fifth period there weren’t many parents with energy to get solo airtime with a teacher. She managed to say the line she had come up with while waiting without a stutter: “I just had to see the teacher from Colfax myself.”

“I thought it was you!” Emily exclaimed, clapping her hands.

“I looked at Bailey’s class list and made sure it was you,” Krista admitted.

“OK, so Bailey is your kid. Man, I used to say I would recognize your blue eyes anywhere, but they’re the same as Baileys, so wrong there.”

Krista smiled and said, “It’s OK, it’s the only way we look alike.”

“Your hair is so blonde. Mine kept getting darker.”

“Well coloring it light helps.”

“I’m sorry, I’m just so shocked to see you. Are you doing anything this weekend?”

“No, we should catch up.”

“Yeah,” Emily said, turning to scribble on a scratch paper. “I have to get ready for my next class or whatever this is, but text me and we’ll meet up.”

Krista agreed and they hugged goodbye. The encounter was short but got Krista bubbling with anticipation. She didn’t even wait for back to school night to end before texting Emily, and Emily had responded by the time Krista got home. On Krista’s Friday morning run, she again involuntarily motivated herself by trying to look good for someone, but this time for Emily. By the end of the run, each exhale was a whisper of a syllable of Emily’s name. Weird, she thought to herself as she cooled down, but at least thinking about Emily was appropriate and made sense.

Saturday was Krista’s lunch date with Emily, which worked out well because her husband had taken up golf on Saturdays and Bailey didn’t care (her husband probably cared less, truthfully). She secretly spent most of Friday and all of Saturday morning thinking about what to wear, and initially put on a black and white checkered dress that she had never worn. Usually the problem was that the dress was short and tight, but today her concern was that no shoes would go with the dress on such a hot day. Boots seemed weird, a strappy heel seemed to be too much, and flats did the sexy dress injustice. So she changed to a white dress with red flowers that reached just to her knee, which would go with nude strappy heels.

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