And we’re back! After needing a couple weeks to really get the start of Act 2 ready, I’m proud to present to you Act 2, Part 1 of Empowered. Have you been aching for a new post? I bet you have. It was goddamn selfish of me to deprive you all for so long, so let’s get this show on the road. Act 2 begins now!
Holy crap. Holy crap. Holy crap. Holy crap. Holy crap, Carl kept repeating in his head as he drove home from Spore’s house.
She actually kissed me. SHE kissed ME. El’s not gonna believe this. He’s never gonna let me hear the end of it, either.
Is that what a tongue in your mouth feels like? Why does it feel good? I never thought having someone’s tongue in my…
A sudden *hooooooonk* snapped Carl out of his daze as he nearly missed stopping at a four-way intersection.
“Oh, shit! Sorry!” he yelled, despite the fact the driver in the other vehicle was long gone at this point.
Putting the thought of nearly getting sideswiped by another car out of his mind as quickly as it had entered, Carl’s mind immediately flew back to what just happened. Holy crap. Holy crap. Holy crap. I need to call El.
Frantically parking the car in the driveway and slamming the door shut, he rushed in to the house, but before he could get very far, he was stopped by big sister Iris as she came out of the kitchen and in to the front hallway.
“How was your date, princess?” Iris asked as she held a plate of celery sticks with almond butter, the hallway being filled with a loud *crunch* noise as she bit in to them.
“It wasn’t a date. We were just studyin’,” Carl replied, clearly trying to break away from the conversation and make his way up the stairs.
Narrowing her eyes, a light green aura began to glow around them as she stared at Carl’s chest.
“Then why’s your heart beatin’ so fast?”
Turning around to see what she was doing, Carl noticed her eyes and yelled, “I told you to stop using x-ray vision on me! You’re gonna friggin’ give me cancer!”
“Fine,” she replied as the green aura turned crimson, indicating infrared vision. With a self-satisfied grin, she then commented, “Your body temperature is goin’ wild. What exactly went on at your little friend’s house?”
“None of your business, Ris! Ain’t you got your own shit to deal with that you don’t have to butt in to mine?” he moaned as he once again began hopping up the stairs.
There was another loud *crunch* as she bit in to a celery stick. “She’s gonna break your heart.”
“What?” he asked, stopping on the stairs once more.
“Just don’t be surprised,” she answered in a very matter-of-fact way as she wiped almond butter off her bottom lip.
“Wow, you’re bein’ kind of a bitch right now, aren’t you?”
“I’m bein’ the complete opposite. I wish someone woulda told me this when I was your age. First love or whatever, someone’s gettin’ their heart broke. And you ain’t no heartbreaker, baby brother, so…”
“ ‘First love’? What the hell are you even talkin’ about? All we did was study.”
*crunch* “Uh-huh. Just be careful. High school girls can be bitches. I know from experience.”
“Yeah, whatever, thanks for readin’ way too in to something that ain’t there,” Carl said with a slight hiss as he finished jogging up the staircase.
“Don’t say I didn’t warn you,” she muttered to herself as she walked back in to the kitchen.
“Thinks she sees so much,” Carl mumbled under his breath as he walked to his room. “Her and Mesmer always fuckin’ with me. They need to cut that shit out.”
Trying to forget the conversation he just had, Carl ripped his phone out his pocket and began furiously scrolled through his contacts for El’s number. He had the number within seconds, and he anxiously tapped his foot as the phone rang.
“Ye-oh! What’s up?” El asked enthusiastically from the other end of the phone.
“I kissed her,” Carl said immediately.
“You…really? Awesome! So awesome!” El gushed, his enthusiasm almost matching Carl’s.
“Yeah, well, I mean, she actually kissed me, but…”
“Still counts. You’re a pussy for not going for it first, but it still counts. You touch her tits?”
“What? No. I barely knew what to do with my mouth. You think I know what the fuck to do with a bra?”
“Yeah, I just rip it off. Saves me the hassle.”
“Yeah, well, in my case, no tits. We just made out for, like, a half hour.”
“Yeah, man. It was…it was awesome.”
“Happy for you, bud. Just don’t act all weird around her tomorrow now.”
“…huh,” Carl replied pensively. He hadn’t even considered what would happen when he saw her again.
Immediately, he was hit by a wave of self-doubt and uncertainty. El assured him it’d be fine a minute later before hanging up and heading off to bed. The words, however, rolled right off Carl as he dove in to an ocean of recurring questions that he had no idea how to answer:
What do I say to her? Do I say anything? Maybe I’ll wait until she says something to me. But would she say something? I don’t know. I don’t see why she wouldn’t. But maybe she’s asking herself why wouldn’t I say something to her. Shit, should I text her? Maybe if I text her, it’ll seem less weird when I do see her. No, don’t text her. Play it cool. She always gets to class after you, so just give her a head nod as she walks in. Yeah, that’ll wo—
“Hey, Carl!” Spore said to him as she walked in to class and past Carl, textbook close against her chest.
What the fuck? Carl thought, flummoxed. Everything had been a blur since the night before, and it was like his body had been on autopilot the entire day. He hadn’t even realized that he was already in Enviro.
“Hi, hey, yeah!” Carl called out to her after needing two seconds to process what had just happened.
Looking over to catch a quick glimpse of the girl, she smiled and offered him a soft, delicate wave before turning and talking with Decibel.
As Doc Drain croaked out that day’s lesson, he was sure to remind the students of the upcoming test. Carl, however, paid no mind to what the teacher was saying and instead was trying to formulate his plan of attack for talking to Spore after class.
When the bell finally rung, and on the advice of El and Octane, Carl waited for her just outside the doorway. As he saw her approach with Decibel, his chest immediately tightened with anxiety, but he forced himself to produce a slight wave and half smile as the two of them locked eyes.
“Oh, hey!” she exclaimed, surprised to see Carl outside the door. Turning to Decibel, she said, “Talk to you tomorrow, Dez!”
Now turning back towards Carl, she responded, “Hey. Sorry about that.”
“It’s cool.” He then paused for a moment as he looked in to her eyes. “I had a really nice time with you last night.”
“Me, too! I think with my help you might actually pass now.”
“Hey, you were a good study partner, but you weren’t that good,” he quipped, self-mockingly.
“I wasn’t?” she said, cocking her head a bit and giving Carl and devious look.
She laughed at his hesitance and responded, “Well, I thought you were very good at studying.”
“Thanks, I…study with my pillow in bed sometimes. It’s good practice.”
Spore giggled and replied, “Well, I’m jealous of your pillow.”
Carl laughed nervously, unsure of what to say.
“I hope we…um…could study again soon,” he responded.
“I’d like that a lot,” she said, smiling. “Maybe this weekend?”
“Yeah!” Carl exclaimed. Then trying to hide his excitement, he repeated in a much more reserved manner, “Yeah. That’d be cool.”
“Cool! I gotta head to the computer lab now,” she said, pointing in the opposite direction Carl was going. “So I’ll talk to you tomorrow?”
“No doubt. Have a good one.”
“You, too! Bye!”
“Later,” he replied in a pretend aloofness.
“Like a boss,” El said, coming out from behind the classroom door where he had been busy eavesdropping. “Date #2, huh?”
“Ha, yeah. Guess so.”
“Nice job, man. I just got one question for you.”
“What’d you name your pillow?”
“Ha, I was just kidding around with her,” Carl replied as he pushed open the exit door to the parking lot.
“Oh, I see what it is. You named it after me, didn’t you? It all makes so much sense now.”
“Ya got me. I’m in love with you, and dry humping my pillow at night is the only way I can express it.”
“We’ve graduated to dry humping now, have we? Goddamn, you’re a freak sometimes,” El joked as he unlocked his car. “Be sure to ease Spore in to that.”
“If I even end up hanging out with her again, anyway,” Carl responded, not wholly convinced a second date would happen. But as unbelievable as it seemed to him, Carl and Spore did end up seeing each other that weekend. And the weekend after. And the one after that as well.
Before either of them knew it, they had become a full-fledged couple. And by the time January came around, things had felt as if they were finally going Carl’s way. Much to his sister’s chagrin, he received his grandmother’s car for Christmas as promised; with Spore’s help, his grades improved; he got in to a decent college on early admission; and he even managed to not have any of his gym electives line up with Wing’s, successfully avoiding him for the first half of the year.
But what really made the past four months feel special was the girl he had fallen for. Spore was his first kiss, his first girlfriend…his first everything.
El had been sure to make the obvious ‘de-flower’ jokes.
And the ‘cross-pollination’ jokes.
And the ‘planting the seed’ jokes.
Carl dating a girl named ‘Spore’ really opened up a lot of doors for El.
But regardless of El’s comments, Spore made Carl happier than he ever thought possible. Thinking about her made his knees feel as if they were full of jelly; his heart would flutter when he felt his phone vibrate in his pocket and instinctively knew it was she. There were video chats that went late in to the night, text messages first thing in the morning, pet names that Carl prayed his friends would never find out about, and tender handholding as the two traveled together down the hallways together.
It was the stage of dating where each party thinks that there’s no possible way they’d ever fight. What could there ever be to fight about?
We’re perfect together, Carl would think.
She’s my soul mate.
She’s my destiny.
Indeed, Carl was soaring. But like the *swish* and *thunk* noises he knew all too well, what goes up, invariably, must come down.
TO BE CONTINUED
If you all haven’t figured out by now (and especially by reading Wood You Be Mine?), I’m a big fan of dramatic irony. The audience knowing something that the characters don’t…f’ing with the characters like that is enjoyable to me. I guess I’m a sadist.