25: “You’re going to get hepatitis”

Oscar discovered quite quickly at High School Tim’s coming out party that he either needed to delete his Facebook profile or he needed to update it more often because most of the people there thought he was still in a relationship with Katy. Of course, there were the select group of people who had either heard about his and Katy’s break-up or were unnervingly adept at Facebook stalking and had discovered the truth for themselves. Either way it was terrible and he didn’t enjoy it. Most of the conversations he had throughout the party seemed to revolve around Katy. It was either questions about how they were doing and whether or not there were nuptials in their future, at which point he would have to explain that they had broken up a year ago and then pretend to be fine while they offered condolences and kind, but primarily empty words of comfort and sympathy. Alternatively, they knew he and Katy had broken up and would simply skip to the part where they pretended to care about him and his well-being. It was everything he didn’t want.

It wasn’t as though he was still pining after Katy. He was pretty over it now. He barely missed her and he was even sort of happy for her and Ezra’s blinding white teeth. He honestly felt he’d learned a lot from his relationship with Erin. He now understood, albeit on a much smaller scale, what Katy had felt like as she broke up with him and it was genuinely awful. But besides all that, he was happy in his current relationship with Priscilla. He clearly needed to broadcast that more over social media. He felt he would’ve gotten fewer horrible questions and more excited questions, which he still would’ve hated, but perhaps a little bit less.

In any case, it reached a point where it just felt like too much of a struggle for him to be vertical. He found a nice dark corner at the back of the club, far from the crowds, and lay down behind one of the vinyl couches by the coat check. The floor was stickier than he would’ve preferred, but at least he was being left alone. He would brave the stickiest floors if it meant he could stop answering questions about why his and Katy’s relationship didn’t work out. He wondered if it would’ve been better if there was a dramatic reason for the end of their relationship. It was hard to explain that Katy had broken up with him just because she wasn’t in love with him anymore. People didn’t know what to say to that. He figured people would have a much easier time responding to him if he told them that she had cheated on him with her horse trainer. Selfishly, Katy didn’t even own a horse.

He was only there for about half an hour before someone sat down on the couch in front of him. It was a backless couch, like an extended ottoman, the kind that people thought were trendy and cool. In reality, they were uncomfortable because there was nothing to lean against. Oscar didn’t look up at the person, not really interested, until they started poking him in the face. And then he opened his eyes to find Priscilla.

“Oh hi,” he greeted her somewhat dully.

“What’s up, weirdo?” She returned.

“So kind,” Oscar sighed.

“In my defense, you are a weirdo,” she replied. “Why are you lying on the floor? You’re going to get hepatitis.”

“I don’t think you actually know how people get hepatitis,” Oscar told her. “I’m not sharing hypodermic needles.”

“Ummm, excuse you. You can get hepatitis from beaches,” she retorted.

“Well, as you’ll notice, I am not on a beach,” Oscar returned, gesturing to the floor beside him. “I’m on the floor of a club.”

“Yeah,” Priscilla nodded. “And it’s gross and weird, you weirdo.”

Oscar sighed again, but let her have that one. It was weird. He was aware. She poked him in the face again.

“What’s wrong, little spud?” She asked.

“Spud?” Oscar repeated, opening his eyes again to look up at her. She looked ethereal from that angle with the flashing club lights illuminating her face.

“Spud,” she nodded curtly once. Oscar accepted it.

“People keep asking me about Katy,” he explained. He paused before continuing, thinking maybe he needed to clarify so that she wouldn’t get the wrong impression. “It’s not that I miss her or anything, I just don’t love talking about how she dumped me over and over again to people who are now veritable strangers.”

“Yeah, obviously. That’s fucking terrible,” Priscilla told him genuinely. Oscar blinked up at her. She poked him in the face again.

“You’re pretty great, you know,” he told her.

“Yeah,” she nodded. “I know.”

He laughed at that. They continued to look at each other for another moment before someone else joined Priscilla on the couch. It was Anya With The Braid. She didn’t even look over at Oscar, even though Priscilla was turned and looking down at him. It was perfectly obvious that he was there, but Anya With The Braid appeared generally uninterested in the fact that one of her former classmates was lying on the ground.

“Hi, Anya,” Priscilla greeted her after a long moment. Anya With The Braid didn’t respond. Priscilla glowered at her, but didn’t say anything else.

A while later, Helen joined Priscilla and Anya With The Braid on the couch, sitting down between them to complain about how she had drunkenly made-out with her ex-boyfriend Josh. Helen felt it had been a mistake. Oscar, who had been saddled with Josh as a lab partner in his grade eleven biology class, felt the same way. Oscar listened to Helen and Priscilla’s entire conversation, waiting until they lapsed into a lull before speaking.

“For what it’s worth, I think you can definitely do better than Josh,” he interjected from his spot on the floor behind the couch. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Helen jump in her seat, startled. Oscar supposed he should’ve announced his presence sooner.

“What the hell are you doing?” Helen demanded, hand to her chest, staring down at Oscar. She had taken a moment to compose her breathing and turned to face him. Priscilla had barely registered any of this, still watching Anya With The Braid through narrowed eyes.

“Just lying here,” Oscar answered, as if it was no big deal. Helen’s expression suggested otherwise. She turned to Priscilla, as if she might be able to give her a better answer.

“That was actually a surprisingly nice thing for him to say,” was what Priscilla said instead. “He’s not nearly as supportive as I am.”

Helen snorted skeptically at that.

“Is Josh the guy who used to eat curly fries every Friday at lunch?” Anya With The Braid asked without looking over, surprising all of them. No one answered for a moment, all quite stunned.

“Uh, yeah,” Helen replied eventually.

“I once saw his mom pick her nose in the carpool lane at the front of school,” Anya With The Braid said. There was another silence.

“Oh,” Helen replied. Anya With The Braid didn’t say anything else for a long time. Eventually, after an uncomfortable length of time, she got up and walked away.

“Such a weirdo,” Priscilla remarked empathetically. “So, so weird. So weird.”

Neither Oscar or Helen bothered to argue.

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