Mom hasn't talked to me since that afternoon, three days ago. As soon as dad got home from work, she confided in him the events of Alycia's visit, earning me a scowl and a look of disappointment.
I'm sitting at one of the tables in the ice cream parlor, waiting for Manny to come meet up with me. The sky outside is cloudy and when I was at the beach in the morning I could see lightning snaking its way down to the ocean. I tap my fingers on the wooden table, my impatient mind still reeling, days later, from my encounter with Alycia. After everything I'd said to her, I was hoping to feel a sense of relief or freedom but neither came with her departure, only guilt. I vaguely remember mom saying that I don't know what's going on and I bite my tongue, forcing down a frustrated cry.
"What can I get you, Dylan?" I look up from my hands at Laurita, the daughter of the parlor owner and a freshman at Marazul high. The store is nearly empty due to the impending thunder storm. All the tables are shiny and clean under the bright lights and on the walls there are pictures of family members, actors, and athletes. There are several pieces of sports memorabilia lining the wall behind the front counter, where a large glass case showcases the store's ice cream flavors. The walls are nearly all large windows overlooking the ocean and the part-timers are giggling and joking around behind the counter.
I glance down at the menu and order a caramel swirl milkshake. Laurita smiles after writing down my order. She goes back to the counter, making sure that her shoulder length dirty blond hair is swaying enough for my benefit.
The wind-chimes over the door jingle and I look up to see Angela. She smiles weakly at the people behind the counter and she smiles more genuinely when she sees me. I take note of how the part-timers glare at her when she can't see them.
"Hi," she says, surprise in her voice. "I wasn't expecting to see you here!"
Like hell she wasn't. I bet this is Manny's way of saying, "you gotta start somewhere," when it comes to fixing up the mess that I've created.
"How are you Dylan?" she asks, looking back and signalling to Laurita. "I haven't talked to you for days."
"I've been busy," I respond. Laurita comes over quickly and Angela orders her usual banana split without looking at the menu or Laurita. Has she always been this rude?
"I know," she says, looking at me with her puppy eyes. "I miss you."
Back when we first started dating, her blue eyes had fascinated me. Their questioning look and intrigue with everything they saw. But now I found them to be suspicious and vulnerable. Her long, black hair is in a big bun on her head, making her neck look longer than normal. Angela is a beautiful girl, I'm not going to lie. But I am getting tired of lying to myself, telling my heart that I want to be with her for the rest of my life. Who knows? Maybe this is what Manny wanted me to figure out, but whether it is or not, once this idea crosses my head I can't seem to lose it. Mentally, I try to shake it off, forcing myself to think that yes, this is the girl for me. But I would only be lying to myself.
"I think we should talk," I say and a large force of water starts hitting the windows as Laurita brings me my milkshake.
"Me too," Angela says, her tone changing. "I'm tired of being a toy that you drag around all the time."
Okay, this is unexpected. Where's the cute girl that I'd fallen for? The one that just seconds ago, told me she misses me?
"Look, I understand that there are some issues going on with you," she says, nipping off some of the whipped cream from the top of my shake. "But this is summer, a very important summer and I can't spend it worrying about a guy who is losing popularity points with each party he misses."
"You're kidding me right?" I ask, surprise in my voice.
She looks at me and narrows her eyes. "Of course not," she smiles in a way I'd never seen her smile, at least, not at me. "If you have some drama to deal with, deal with it without me."
Laurita brings Angela her banana split. Angela barely acknowledges her as she takes a spoonful of her vanilla ice cream. "Shame on you Dylan," she says to me, putting down her spoon. "Making me eat ice cream when you know how bad it is for me."
I ignore her comment and shake my head, smiling sarcastically. "So then, you're breaking up with me?"
Angela takes her napkin and passes it gently over her mouth. "Come on," she says in a low voice. "I know you were going to break up with me." I stare at her. "Dylan, us girls have to watch out for ourselves, especially when our boyfriends are pinning after another girl. Some loner who hasn't been around for years."
"How did you...?"
"Baby," she says, preparing an umbrella I didn't notice she had when she'd first come into the store, "I know everything in this town. Especially about Alycia and how she broke your heart. Now, I think she's no good for you, at least, not as good as me. But well, you'll just figure it out on your own." Angela smiles sympathetically at me. "I love you, but you're letting this affect us and your popularity."
I watch silently as she gets up and walks over to me. "Once you've fixed all of this," she says quietly in my ear, "then come back to me, but for now this is enough, I can't take anymore." She kisses my cheek before walking out of the store, the curves I once admired mocking me all the way to the door.