99% Faking It (Dating Dilemma)(8)

By: Chris Cannon

She patted a spot on the couch beside her. “I know that I became a relationship counselor to help people, but listening to someone else’s issues all day can be a bummer.”

I sat and grabbed an Oreo. “I’m guessing the guidance counselors didn’t share that with you when you were picking a major.”

“No.” She tilted her head and looked at my face. “I like the new makeup. Any special reason?”

“Just expressing my individualism.”

“As long as you’re doing it for yourself.” She grabbed another Oreo and twisted the top off. “Or is there a guy in the picture?”

“There might be a new guy at school who is cute and artsy and maybe I’m trying to break out of my nerdy cocoon to become a slightly less nerdy butterfly.”

“You are already a beautiful, short, nerdy butterfly, just like your short nerdy mom and grandmother.”

No woman in our family made it past the five-foot-two mark. We were a short, bookish tribe. “Do we have plans for dinner?”

She pointed at the package of Oreos and feigned confusion. “This isn’t dinner?”

While my mom gave great relationship advice to other people, she sucked at nutrition. “That’s dessert.”

“It’s all a matter of opinion,” she said.

I went into the kitchen and opened the freezer. Did I want something fast or something good? It felt like a vegetable lasagna night. I set the lasagna on the counter and preheated the oven. Then I joined my mom in the living room and grabbed a red scarf I’d been working on from my yarn basket beside the couch.

“I love that color,” my mom said.

“Me, too.” I held the scarf up and checked to make sure the rows were even. “I might keep this one.”

Chapter Four


When I went to meet Lisa at her locker, the same way I did every morning, I did a double-take. Instead of her normal clothes, she wore some sort of green shirt and tight jeans tucked into her boots. The fact that she was a girl was way more obvious. And her lips sparkled and her eyes stood out, and wait a minute…she was looking right at me.

“Earth to Matt,” she said. “How do you like the new me?”

What the hell do I say to that? My knee-jerk response was to tell her she didn’t look like herself, but I had a sister and I knew that answer would land me on Lisa’s shit list. “You look good. A little much for school, but good.”

“Thanks,” she said. “I think.”

I wasn’t the only guy noticing that my short, book-loving friend suddenly seemed datable. Guys were checking her out. Soon she wouldn’t be available to hang out with, because someone was going to ask her on a date. Why does that thought annoy me?

“Did someone not have enough Cap’n Crunch this morning?” Lisa asked.

“No. I had my normal two bowls.”

“Then why are you out of it?”

I wanted to tell her she’d thrown what I thought of her out of whack. But before I’d friend-zoned her, she’d had a crush on me, and I wouldn’t want to make it sound like I was interested in her, because I wasn’t. “It’s Tuesday. We’re at school. You’re dressed like a pirate. Take your pick.”

“Do you see any ruffles on this shirt?” she asked.

“Is that a trick question?” ’Cause there were definitely some curves there but I didn’t think that was what she was talking about.

“Everyone knows pirates wear ruffled shirts. This shirt has no ruffles. Therefore I couldn’t possibly be a pirate.”

Who did Lisa remind me of? Jane. That was weird. Her pirate comment was just the type of thing Jane would say.

The bell rang so we headed for homeroom. Mine was next to hers so we walked together. And damn it if Trey didn’t come walking toward us. He spotted Lisa and said, “Hey, soul mate.”

She laughed and kept on walking.

Lisa ducked into her homeroom before I could ask what the hell that had been about.

Lisa and I didn’t have any classes together since she was Miss Overachiever and I didn’t see the point in working that hard. What had Trey meant with that soul mate line? Lisa had laughed. Must be an inside joke. When had they become so damn chummy?