I went back to physical training on Monday, Kickback had other things to do and cooking lessons were cancelled. So after we were done, Kenzie waited for me in the changing room and we went upstairs, hand in hand. The Lounge was empty except for Chuan whose hair was still wet from the shower.
“You two are holding hands again.” Chuan said,
“That’s because we’re dating.” I said, the words were hard to say but I felt a bit of relief when they came out.
“Attagirls! When did that happen?”
“Friday so four days ago.”
“Well, we have to celebrate. Since Victoria is out making the rounds of all the sick kids who want the cuddly teddy bear experience, we can safely bring out the booze.”
“She can’t take alcohol?”
“Not at all, alcohol is poisonous to Victoria, along with garlic, onions, caffeine, chocolate and gluten. She drank twice and both times she was puking her guts out with just a little.”
“The doc says that her liver and short intestine are underdeveloped compared to humans, she’s more adapted to a diet primarily based on whole animals and supplemented with some plant matter such as fruits and roots.” Kenzie explained.
“Wait are we allowed to drink alcohol?”
“Technically no, but they don’t make too much of a fuss so long as it’s not a problem.” Chuan said.
“Like that time you got suspended?” Kenzie asked.
“I get smashed one time in my life and it’s the day the Rogues decided to rob a bank. That’s like having the worst karma in history. Have you ever drank or done anything, Paige?”
“A few times, sometimes when my parents celebrate something, they let me drink half a glass of wine, I didn’t really like it, but I drank it because it was the grown up thing to do and it made me feel cool. I never really got a buzz or anything though.”
“Yeah, I don’t like grape wine or beer either. Which is why I’ll introduce you to the wonderful universe of cocktails.”
Chuan went into the kitchen and mixed the cocktail together and made two for the both of us and then made one without the alcohol.
“Two regular pina colada and a virgin for you Kenzie.”
“You don’t drink?”
“No, I prefer not to for moral and cultural reasons. Plus I’m not supposed to consume alcohol with my pain medication. But you can drink, I don’t judge. Just you know, don’t get drunk.”
“Alright. Well, Cheers.”
I brought the iced mixture to my lips and took a few hesitant sip. The taste of alcohol was there but it was made pleasant by the mixture of coconut milk and pineapple juice. Which I didn't normally like, but mixed it was great.
“Ooh. That’s really good.” I said. “I could get used to it.”
“Congratulation, you’ve corrupted another one Chuan.”
“Well, little padawan, the first element of your education; moderation and responsibility.” He cleaned the counter and put back the bottle in the cabinet. “At our age and mass, one standard drink per hour is the max without going over the limit that would get you arrested should you drive.”
“Well, it was a nice experience. Do you drink often?”
“Relatively. My dad works at a bar and he’s never been shy about letting my try things for the last two years, he thinks it’s important that I develop a healthy relationship with these things with him rather than learn unsafe behavior from peers.”
“Sounds like a great guy.”
“He is. Which reminds me; I better get home, I’m going to miss dinner. G’night girls, have fun!”
We gave him our goodbyes and Chuan picked his coat and left us.
“My room?” Kenzie asked.
We went to her room and locked the door behind us.
“You know, I’m proud of you Paige.”
“You came out to Chuan and that took courage. Even if you knew he would be okay with it, exposing a part of yourself you’ve conditioned yourself to hide and be afraid of is hard, so that’s why I’m proud of you.”
She wrapped her arms around my hips and we made out right in the middle of her room.
“So, is there anything you want to do?”
“I admit it’s not the most social thing but I kind of had that urge to paint I sometimes get. We can just hang out and chat.”
“That sounds nice.” I said. I would have been okay with watching paint dry if she wanted it. “Can I borrow your laptop?”
“Sure, the password is Canvas with an uppercase C.”
I took her laptop and sat down on her bed as she prepared to paint, putting on a smock and preparing her palette and easel. Meanwhile I logged onto my email and favorite websites.
“What’s your favorite type of environment?”
“I dunno. I really like the sea.” I said with a shrug. “When I was little, I went onto a whale watching boat tour with my parents. We didn’t really see anything but it was still beautiful.”
“Alright.” That was apparently all she needed to start painting.
In my email I found out that someone had left comments praising a story I had written a few weeks on a fanfiction website but lamenting I had never finished it. Having someone like what I had made felt great, so I started writing again.
“What are you working on?”
“Just a story. Someone asked me if I could continue it.”
“You know, it’s not fair, you get to see me paint, but I never got to read the things you wrote.”
“Trust me you really don’t want to read my fics… They’re not that good… Plus it’s just fanfiction...”
“Fanfiction is cool, hell the whole of classical art is really just biblical fanfiction when you think about it. The reason people hate it so much is because it’s a domain mostly populated by girls but when men retell stories of Shakespeare, Lewis Carroll, Sherlock Holmes and other big names in big budget movies for profit they’re praised for their insight and creativity but when a girl does it for her own entertainment and for free then it’s the death of creativity. When girls are part of a fandom, write fanfic or cosplay, it’s a waste of time that she should spend on original works but when men do it in like say making up fantasy football league and painting their beer guts then it’s entirely acceptable and normal for some reason.” She continued painting as she spoke and slowly her canvas became the home of a seascape.
“I guess you’re right.” I said after considering what she had said.
“When you’re done, I want to read it. No excuse or avoiding it.” She said, pointing her brush at me.
“Alright... You know, you’re the first person to take an interest in my hobbies.”
“Your parents don’t encourage you?”
“My parents don't really care. Which I guess is for the best, I don’t want to have to explain why I write a bunch of stories about gayified girls… My dad supported me reading, I mean he really tried to get me into classic science fiction but it always made me uncomfortable.
I remember reading one of his books in which there was a story about people in a long lost generation ship and it said that girls on the ship didn’t receive names until they married which wasn’t even important or brought up again in the otherwise alright story, but it’s one of those things that just took me out and I focused more on how insane and thoughtless it was... But the more I read the more I felt like the people who wrote those stories about the bright and enlightened future weren’t either, they couldn’t fathom that women and girls were people.”
As we spoke, Kenzie continued working.
“It’s really great.” I said, looking at the painting; dark crashing waves against a rocky outcrop in the moonlight.
“Meh, I’m not satisfied.” She said with a shrug.
“Well, I think it’s beautiful.”
“You can have it then.”
“Sure, it’s going to end up in storage or painted over to save the canvas otherwise.”
“It needs to rest for about twenty-four hours to dry though. Alright, now it’s your turn to share.”
I saved the unfinished page as a draft on my cloud documents and opened the first chapter of my story, giving her the computer while I curled up in a ball, watching her eyes go from left to right and back left again for a few minutes.
“You know what? I have no earthly clue as to who those people are, but I’m already shipping them.”
“It’s a Hell’s Gate fanfiction.”
“I have no clue what that is.”
“It’s this YA book series about a teen girl with superpowers who has to defend the world from demons. I always liked the story but I thought that Angeline and Anita were attracted to each others, I mean they’re always together, clinging together and prioritizing each others. But instead the book try to put this awkward romance for Angeline with some awkward geek boy and I hate it. And when it’s brought up, the author denies the blatant subtext between the two… So I just wanted to write what I wanted to read; Angeline and Anita finally admitting their love for each others. I like to write stories about gay girls because I wish I could see people like me more often in media rather than just more stories about straight couples and being told that unlike my experience, straight love is universal and palatable to everyone because it’s not a story about straight people, it’s about ‘two people in love…’ I know it’s probably really bad, but my writing has always helped me deal with how I felt.”
“Paige, It’s really not bad.”
“I just think that what I write is clunky as hell, like it doesn’t flow well and is awkwardly written.” I said with a shrug.
“Look, the prose is not great, but fuck it; It doesn’t have to be in order to deliver an entertaining story. Clumsy prose is a technical issue and it can be fixed, you just need more practice. I’d be more worried if your characters were flat or there was no joy in the story, but it isn’t the case. It’s cute and fun even if it’s a little hard to read because the sentences just go on and on for paragraphs at a time.”
“I’m not sure if I should be happy or not about that…”
“You have the heart, all you need is just a little polish. I would be more worried if you had good prose but no soul to pour into your work. I’ll read the rest later and I expect you to keep delivering, because now you’ve got me hooked.”
She put the TV on but we didn’t really watch, we had better things to focus on.