Nadine was crying into Jocelyn’s arm. They normally gathered at Nadine’s house because her room was bigger and better. Plus, Jocelyn’s parents were more strict and checked on the girls every minute.
“I just don’t get it, he had to have known that I liked him,” whimpered Nadine.
Jocelyn had honestly never seen Nadine cry. Sure, she had teared up during movies and maybe once or twice she had cried over an injury, or something of that sort. But this was different. Nadine was bawling.
And it was all thanks to an incident which had taken place five hours earlier.
Mr. Minch was a PE teacher, but he still had a classroom to himself. Or an office, I guess you could call it. It was attached to the boys’ locker room, and he was known to be sitting in his swivel chair during lunch everyday, and sometimes Nadine would come to see him, and ask silly questions about Spanish, and contribute to small talk.
She flashed the smile that everyone loved, and he smiled back. He liked her. Everyone knew it. She was his favorite student. But he didn’t “like - like” her. He did in the most common used sense of the word, but not in the gushy way.
I guess that everyone just kind of assumed that she Nadine knew that he was gay. It was obvious.
But anyways, Nadine wandered into his office and because it had become such a habit to visit him for the last few minutes of lunch everyday, she didn’t bother to knock. Which is what caused the tears.
“Mr. Minch,” she said as she opened the door, “Can you help me study for a Spanish test that I have...” but she stopped.
Her eyes didn’t move from his face. At that time he would be unable to answer her question because, well, I guess you could say that he was preoccupied.
He unlocked lips with the man whom he had just been kissing, and said, “Oh, Miss Hart.”
Nadine didn’t say anything. She broke her focus for one moment when she looked from Mr. Minch’s face to his partner’s.
“You. You are...” she couldn’t bring herself to say it. Never in her wildest dreams had she ever even suspected that he could be gay. He just wasn’t. ‘Maybe it was custom to kiss a family member on the lips’, she thought. But she realized that she was wrong, and drew her gaze to his Italian loafers.
“I am...?” Mr. Minch asked what she had meant to say.
“You. Are. Gay!” Nadine stated, in a most surprised manner.
“I am,” he said. And his partner started to chuckle.
“Mark, I don’t think that she knew that you are gay,” said his partner.
Nadine broke down in tears right in front of Mark Minch and his partner.
She fled to the bathroom without another word, where she found Jocelyn, and through tears and an odd shaking, explained everything.
Jocelyn tried to keep herself from laughing, but failed.
Nadine looked at her, “What’s so funny? Do I have mascara all over my face?” she asked before wiping her cheek with the back of her hand.
“Well, Nad. Don’t get angry, but you didn’t know that Mr. Minch was gay?”
“No!” Nadine replied, as if she had thought that Jocelyn had thought that he was gay as well.
A few hours later on that warm Friday in March, the girls were eating popcorn and watching Titanic... a complete surprise!
Nadine was not in a good mood due to her prior embarrassment with Mr. Minch. She was normally sweeter than whipped cream when she was with Jocelyn, but today she was more harsh, and in a way, cynical.
So Nadine asked about something that she would normally just ignored.
Right after Jack was being yelled at by ship police for being on top of Rose, Nadine asked, “What were you writing to me today?”
Jocelyn took another handful of popcorn, and did not answer.
“Common Joss, just tell me. You know that you can tell me anything,” she paused and then said, “I just don’t know why you are keeping this from me. You’re never like this.”
Jocelyn nodded, knowing that she was in the wrong. But still left the only voice to be heard Rose’s explaining how Jack had saved her life.
Still only the movie.
When there was still no answer, Nadine was fed up.
“Jocelyn!” Nadine pleaded.
Now there was pure silence. Nadine grabbed the remote and paused the movie. “You are going to tell me, and now. I don’t want to fight, I just want an answer.”
When the only thing to be heard was Nadine’s breathing and the air vent, Jocelyn opened her lips and wanted to tell her...
...she wanted to so badly. But the words just wouldn’t come out. You might not understand this, but I do. There are so many things that I wish I would have said, before the accident. But just couldn’t. Didn’t.
But unlike myself, Jocelyn did get the words out. And said through the tears that were now coming to her eyes and smearing her brown mascara, “I - I didn’t want you to go. Nad, I love you more than anything, and don’t know what I would have done without you. I wanted you to get the audition, but I didn’t.”
Nadine said nothing.
And now it was Nadine who was silent, tears came to her eyes.
“Nad, I’m so, so sorry.”
And Nadine spoke in her pure and beautiful voice, “You didn’t have to say that,” and she stopped for a second, “I was thinking the same thing.”
Nadine smiled at Jocelyn and Jocelyn’s eyes sparkled through the tears and held the reflection of Rose Dewitt Buckater.
No one needed to click play on the remote to resume the movie, because within minutes, both of the beautiful girls were sleeping angelically with tears streaming down their cheeks.
The room was quiet now. The white sheets of Nadine’s bed were holding the girls and the flower patterned pillows messy under their hair.
The walls were home to pictures from Nadine’s childhood which of course meant that Jocelyn was in all of them. There were the years with the braces, the dolls, and the cell phones.
I remember when the girls first got flip phones, you know - those old phones that flipped open and everyone had them. They were obsessed. The girls bought each other one for the holidays. And they were now not only connected at the hip, but also through wireless.
The floor of Nadine’s room was wood, because it was easier to clean than carpet, and Nadine was a neat freak.
The sun was now coming up. And through the double-paned window, you could see on the horizon the school that they went to. And in the school were the classrooms which were loathed by the teenagers who spent their four years in the school.
Nadine hated the school even more than Jocelyn. It was bigger and scarier than middle school. More teachers, more kids, more jerks, and more gay teachers...
Jocelyn was excited to meet all of the new people. She had thought that maybe Jocelyn and herself would meet a new friend, and of course she would always be closer to Nadine, but it would be fun to hear someone else’s problems besides their own for once.
Jocelyn opened her eyes.
Nadine turned over on her pillow and nearly fell off of the bed. “What?” she asked.
“I never called my mom to tell her that I was sleeping here! I’m so dead!”
Nadine smiled, “I texted her before we even started watching Titanic.”
Jocelyn too smiled, and stretched her arms far in front of her before getting up and sitting in Nadine’s desk chair. “Aah, I’m so tired. What time did we get to sleep at?”
Nadine sat up, “Probably around one, but I could be wrong.”
“Gosh, I’m so tired. Only like five hours of sleep. And I have to work on that project this weekend.”
“Ugh, me too,” Nadine said.
Jocelyn picked up her phone from Nadine’s desk. She set it back down and checked her email. Nothing.
“You wanna finish the movie?” Nadine asked.
“Yeah, I guess so.”
Nadine turned on the TV and it automatically turned on the morning news. She was about to switch it when she heard the announcer’s voice say, “...the teenager was said to have gone to Stevenson High School, and was coming from school before her suicide...”
“Nad? You better get over here.”
Just a girl...