Before I start: Kudos (teehee!!!) to Sam for the idea of Elliot. Although I did actually come up with the idea for a "children's" book like that. You'll get it, just read to the end.
It had actually been relativley painless in the end.
"Hello?" It sounded like him.
"Um...hi. This is Catie," I said, feeling like an idiot.
"So...why are you calling?"
"Melissa told me to." Oops. But it seemed to be the right thing to say, since he started laughing. "I mean, not that I didn't WANT to call you, but Melissa's, you know, artistic."
"I mean, she strongley beleives in that whole I'm-going-to-look-at-you-across-a-room-and-immediatley-become-engaged thing." He laughed again, just as Emmalee burst into my room.
"Hey Catie, do you have a--"
"Emmalee, get out!" I yelled, courteousley directing my voice away from the phone so I didn't permenantly impair Dan's hearing.
"Out!" I threw a pillow at her head and she closed the door with a "Whatever, freak."
I sighed. "Sorry about that."
"Such sisterley affection. Give me a minute, I think I'm going to be emotional."
"Shut up." Was it too early to tell him to shut up? "I mean...yeah. We don't exactly go around singing that song from 'White Christmas'."
"You know, 'Sisters, Sisters, there were never such devoted sisters...' it's from this really old movie called White Christmas."
"Oh. Sorry." I am completley bad at talking on the phone. When you're on the phone it's just the two people with no distractions at all. If we were walking and talking at the same time, I would have definatley fallen on my face by now.
"So hey...I have to go."
"Oh. Um. Okay. Sorry."
"I dunno, i just felt like i should say sorry." Because it's a DISASTER! I screamed inside my head. Because i'm a total idiot for even taking Melissa's advice in the first place!
"No, it's okay. But i don't know what's okay because you havent said anything that you were sorry about so..."
"God, listen to us. We're both so articulate today." It was easier to try to be funny when he sounded...well, when he sounded more like me. And then he finally laughed and we managed to hang up in a way that wasn't totally awkward. I flopped back onto my bead, all ready to break my rule and be emo and listen to some mopey rock. Then Erin came in and screamed at me for having no moisturizer. So at least they're good for something.
The only good thing about Melissa's moods: they wear off eventually. She came over later and told me that she was sorry and called herself a lot of names and invited me over to watch the notebook before we had to go and babysit people for the wedding.
The Notebook is seriously our favorite movie of all time. We've watched it around 50 times since it came out, and i swear to God Melissa can recite it. So this would normally be a good thing, right? Absolutley.
"This movie is messed up!!" Melissa yelled an hour later.
"I'm serious. Noah already has a girlfriend. Sort of. Well, he has a hooker, and that's like two thirds of it. But the hooker likes him! And the girl has a fiance! He's a butt and everything, but still..."
"What," I said, sprawling out on the floor, exhausted from her damn mood swings, "are you talking about?"
She was oddly quiet...for about a minute. Then she was back in full force. "Look at all those movies out there. The heroine-slash-hero falls in love with someone who's taken, and in the end, they ALWAYS get together. Always. They never feel bad about the fact that they're hurting so many people. They just...do it. They just leave."
Oh, great. I knew where this was going. "Well," I said, speaking carefully so I didnt get my eyes clawed out. "Yes. Because staying would be lying, and you see how obviously moral these people are."
She didn't even recognize the sarcasm. Something was up.
"What's wrong with you?" I said softly.
Melissa sighed and buried her head in her knees. "I met a guy."
She lifted her head. "I met a guy, okay? I didnt even really like him or anything...it was at the party."
"But you said...right."
"Yeah. That girl i was talking to didn't exist. I was sort of...he didn't tell me that he had a girlfriend, much less that he was there. He must have been pretty drunk, to do something that stupid...and now I just feel..responsible, i guess."
Looking at her sitting there, i could tell that she really was sad. She really did think that it was her fault.
"But you didn't know," I said, moving over to sit next to her. "It's not your fault. Not really."
"Yeah, I know." And i was just sitting there, thinking, Okay, crisis averted, when she looked up.
"She took my bear!"
I jumped about five feet in the air, spilling plastic beads everywhere. Noelle, Ellie's daughter who could understand english but not speak it (which, let me tell you, made it a huge party) stared up at me, frowning. She was quiet and neat and probably had been body-snatched by aliens as a baby.
"She took it!" repeated the little boy whose name i forgot.
I was at a total loss. When we were babysitting during weddings, i did the craft thing and hung out with the shy kids, while Melissa ran the hyper ones. It was a perfect arrangement, but this kid apparently hadn't gotten the memo.
"Bobby!" Melissa said, running up to him. "Hey. What do you need?"
He took off on a long and complicated explanation of how the girl with the Shirley Temple curls (who was playing in the sandbox in the pink flower girl dress that Melissa had spent days on) had grabbed his bear. It could have been said in two sentances, but instead he took two years, Melissa nodding patiently until he finished. "Bobby," she said, "what did we talk about? If she takes the bear, you say..."
"Ummm...wow, i love this dump truck...it's so much cooler than the bear?"
"That's my little used car salesman. Your mother will be proud."
"You really think that's going to work?" I asked her, stringing the beads back onto the yarn.
"Watch," she said, sitting down next to me. Sure enough, the bear was dropped, and (much to Melissa's total horror) the girl started dumping wet sand all over her lap.
I was about to laugh, but i never got there. There was someone across the street...someone who looked really familiar...but no. It couldn't be.
"Oh my God," Melissa said. "Is that--?"
"No," I said, turning around and dropping all my beads again. Noelle sighed like i was the biggest annoyance ever and began to pick up the mess. "No. It's not. Don't even mention it. It's someone else."
"Catie!" Oh God. That voice. It could break glass. Or wood, which is harder to break without a buzzsaw. Don't ask me how i know that.
Melissa was laughing silently. "He came to your town," she choked out.
"No. No he did not. I'm in denial."
And then someone was tapping me on the shoulder. I shut my eyes, gathering up every last ounce of niceness that I had.
"Hey, Elliot," I said, turning around.
"Catie! Did you not hear me yelling?" I wanted to die, pass out cold on the grass and never get up. Because Elliot was here. School was over. I was supposed to get away from Elliot for three blissful months during the summer. Elliot, who had been trying to worm his way into any aspect of my life since the second grade. Elliot, who was a total freak about everything. Elliot, who had to be the loudest person on earth.
Elliot, who was holding something that looked a lot like a manuscript.
"Um, what have you got there?" I asked without wanting to know.
No, the OTHER huge stack of paper that you're holding. "Yes."
"It's my new children's book." He looked very pleased with himself, and for a second i forgot to be nice.
"Okay, is this like the 'children's book' that you showed me last October, because seriously--"
"You remember when i showed it to you?" I wonder if your face can actually stick that way.
"Yes. Because I was scarred for life. And that was SO not a book that you could ever show to kids."
"But it had talking lions!"
"It wasn't the characters, it was what they were doing." Cluless.
"Look, that was a miscalculation on my part. But this one is better!"
I sighed. Polite. Must be polite, or it causes the mom to flip out and the sisters to gloat at you when you get thrown in the room after a phone call from the mother of Elliot. "Okay, okay. What's this one called?"
"When You Give a Mouse a Liquor License."
I stood there in total shock. He couldnt be seroius. No one was that stupid.
"See?" He showed me the cover page. "It's like a clever comeback to all those If You Give a Moose a Muffin and If You Give a Mouse a Cookie books."
I was silent for another couple of seconds. Then I turned around and started walking away.
"Catie? Catie! Come back here!"
"What color beads would you like, Noelle? Blue or red?"
"Look, I know it's a little out there--"
She pointed to the red bead. "Red? Wow, that's a GREAT color. Here, let me help."
"--but I'm sure that the kids will like it. Here, I'll show you."
I whirled around and pushed him a good four yards away. "Do not even--"
He flipped to the first page and started reading. "If you give a mouse a liquor license, he will open a bar under the name 'Chuck E. Cheese'. If you give a mouse a bar, he will invite you and your children. If you go there, he will ply you with alcloholic beverages in a maniacal attempt to get you drunk. If you--hey!"
The 'hey' was due to the fact that i had just snatched the papers out of his hand. "I'm assuming you have copies?" I said.
"On my computer and a disc," he said proudly. Great. "Why? Do you want to keep it?"
"No." With that, I ripped up the pages.
The look on his face was probably the most satisfying thing that had happened all day. "Well, fine!" he yelled after me as i started to walk away. "You can forget me coming here ever again, or showing you any of my manuscripts, or--"
"I think I'll live," I said, sitting back down at the little craft's table. "Blue or red?"