Hazy Days and Cloudy Nights

How It All Got Started 020: Lina
Free serial fiction from author and creator Matthew Wayne Selznick.

Wednesday, June 20, 1984

Lina Porter and Claire Glick lay propped up on their elbows on on the floor in Claire’s living room, their respective high school yearbooks open between them.

“What about this guy?” Lina followed Claire’s finger to a color picture of a senior (all the senior pictures were in color; everyone else rated only black and white.) He wore a suit on picture day, which Lina thought was a little presumptuous. His skin was pale beneath side-parted dark hair, brown eyes and bushy black eyebrows.

“You think he’s cute..?”

“Well… I don’t know.” Claire’s lips twisted. “He’s got nice eyes.”

“Nice suit, too,” Lina teased.

“Yeah… I know, right?” Claire conceded. “Your turn.”

“Okay.” Lina flipped through the yearbook. There were reasons she ended up with someone who hadn’t gone to O’Neil High; someone who had already graduated. These boys…

“Lemme see…”

Claire bumped Lina’s shoulder with her own. “Eric’s not in there, loser.”

Lina laughed. “Thanks, bitch. I totally didn’t know.” She wrinkled her nose and stuck her tongue out. “Fine.” She jabbed a picture with her finger. “What about him?”

Lina chose a kid whose wardrobe choice for picture day was a rumpled striped dress shirt with most of the buttons undone. His blonde hair was spiked and sloppy, he wore eyeliner, and his smile was completely confident.

Lina saw her friend’s eyes widen. “That is totally unfair.”


“Don’t you remember him from junior high? Fuck me sideways.” Lina smiled at her friend’s current favorite curse as Claire shook her head. “I bet he doesn’t drag that backpack full of ‘Dungeons and Dragons’ books around any more, does he?”

“Yeah, no, I don’t think so. I forgot about that. You think he’s cute?”

“Totally unfair. Totally unfair. Does he like you?”

Lina chuckled. “We don’t really hang out.”

“You’re kidding me! I mean, he’s right there..!”

“Your turn.” Lina yanked her yearbook out from under Claire’s nose. “You’re getting it all drooly.”

“Fine.” It didn’t take Claire long to find the next candidate. “This one’s totally unfair, too. Mega.”

Lina looked. Long straight dark hair that flowed past the shoulders of a light tee-shirt. Gentle eyes. Full lips hinting at an uncertain smile.

“You confuse me,” she said. “This is your next choice after mister suit?”

“That was just a warm up. This… this is the real deal.”

Still not really Lina’s thing, but she could see the appeal. This guy looked like he was actually really nice, and maybe a little bit like he needed someone to take care of him. “So… why’s it unfair? Does he have girlfriend?”

Claire sighed. “He never will. That’s what’s so wrong.”

“You mean..?”

Claire probably didn’t know she was making goo-goo eyes at the picture. She sighed again. “Totally, totally gay.”

Lina giggled. “Aw, honey…”

“Yeah. I’m a lost cause.”

“Well… at least he’ll never break your heart.”

“He’s alive, he’s gorgeous, and he will never, ever, ever go out with me,” Claire moaned with exaggerated drama. “He breaks my heart every minute of every day.” She dropped her forehead to the book and jerked her shoulders. “Waaaaah!”

“Lemme guess,” Lina drawled. “You guys met in drama class.”

Claire’s head popped up. “Well, duh.” She resumed flipping pages; performance over.

Lina stopped her. “Who’s that?”

“These are the freshmen, Lina. As if.”

“No, seriously… what’s up with that one?”

“You mean the way he looks? Some bone thing he was born with. Not, like, fatal or anything. He hangs out with my friend Mel; they’re nerdy to the max, but they’re cool.” Claire closed her yearbook firmly and sat up. “I don’t think we’re going to find you a new boyfriend this way.”

The tiny picture of the strange boy lingered in Lina’s mind. She focused.

“Wait. Is that what we’re doing? Besides, don’t I have a boyfriend?”

“Oh, do you?” Claire frowned. “He’s creepy, Lina; I swear to god. And you told your parents you broke up with him, anyway.”

“I only did that so I wouldn’t be grounded.”

Claire pointed a finger. “But he is creepy! You don’t deny it! Ha!”

“He’s not creepy.”

“He worships the devil.”

“He does not!”

“He tried to get you drunk so you would suck his cock.”

Lina couldn’t deny that, but the sight of Claire nodding her head and saying, “Yep. Yep. Uh huh! Yep!” was too irritating for life.

“I wanted to get drunk! Besides, he didn’t force me, or anything.”

“Ugh!” Claire made an “L” with index finger and thumb and put it over Lina’s forehead. “He’s a Lew-zer, Lina. You could totally do better.”

“Oh, like falling for someone who doesn’t even like girls?”

Claire’s eyes narrowed over her smile and she shook her head slowly. “Oh, you are so gonna pay for that, bitch.”

Lina closed her own yearbook and sat up. She sighed. “So how could I do better, miss advice columnist?”

Claire got serious. “First things first. Break up with Eric Finn for reals and for true.”

“Why do you want me to break up with him so bad?”

“Honey, everyone wants you to break up with him. Wake up! Why isn’t he going with someone his own age? Why’s he have to go with a high school girl? L – O – S – E – R!”

Lina was so tired of everyone picking on Eric. Doubt nagged. Was that why she went out with him in the first place; because he was kind of an underdog? Or just to piss everyone off?

Damn it, she knew he was a dick. But…

Claire did the nodding thing again. “You know I’m right.” She got up and walked over to the telephone. “Do it. Be strong, woman! Rarrr!”

“No way. I’m totally not breaking up with him over the phone. That’s shitty.”

“Ah ha! But you are breaking up with him!”

“I dunno…” Lina stood up and started to pace. “I should see him. Talk to him. I don’t want to be a bitch.”

“Aren’t you going to that party thing on Friday with Car? Who is, duh, the guy you totally should be with, by the way.”

“Car? We’re just friends.” Lina couldn’t help but think of the very brief time in eighth grade when that was not quite the whole story. She shook her head. “We’re good friends. That’s it. Are you going?”

“Nutzo,” Claire muttered, then said, “I can’t. I promised my sister I’d go see… gag… Pink Floyd with her. Whatever. See if devil-boy’s going to be at the party. You can tell him then.”

Whether or not she broke up with Eric, the party would be the perfect excuse to see him without her parents ever having to know about it. And if she did go through with it, she wouldn’t be alone with Eric when she did it.

The fact that she automatically considered that confused and frustrated her. She crossed the living room to Claire.

“Fine. Give me the phone.”


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