Bette On It: Weird Adolescence. 8th Grade. An Excerpt...

Midnight came and went and Ozzy and Vanessa didn't even kiss when the ball dropped. Vanessa offered to give her a ride, but she didn't want one, she wanted to walk again. Tylor had already crashed, and Greyson grazed on popcorn and consulted a Magic 8 Ball with various questions. Ozzy saw Bette to the door.

"Thank you for having me over tonight. I needed it. I didn't realize how much I needed it." She put on her coat, hat, scarf, and pulled her mittens out of her pockets.

"I'm glad you came over. It made the night more interesting."

"If by interesting, you mean I wrecked your new years with Vanessa, then yes, I did that."

"You didn't do that. I did."

"I didn't help the situation."

"You did, you kept everyone out of our hair and not weird about it."

"Damn it, Ozzy, can you let me feel shitty for a moment!" She closed her eyes, took a breath, and gulped before looking back at him. "I'm sorry. That wasn't fair to you."

He stuck his hands in his pockets and looked side to side. "I don't think anything has been fair for you for the last week. I can take it."

He gave her a hug and she was finally able to give and receive a hug without crying after talking about it. It felt like real progress.

"Thanks again. "I'll see you Monday." She headed out the door and started walking.

The cool air felt good. Their neighborhood was quiet and she liked the stillness of it. There were lots of streetlights, porch lights, and old trees. She didn't feel unsafe walking home after midnight, and her parents weren't worried about it either. She got to the end of the block when she heard the sound: a clacking-stomping sound from behind her. It was Ozzy, in his hat, coat, and gloves jogging to catch up with her. She stopped and took a few steps back. "I couldn't have forgotten anything, I didn't bring anything."

"No. You didn't, I did. It's late. I should walk you home."

"Oz." He was sweet. She didn't think she needed the escort. "Alright."

They started the slow walk down the sidewalk.

"2000. We're living in the future," said Ozzy.

"Yeah it's weird. You know how it always takes you a day or two at the beginning of the month to date things correctly on homework and stuff? I wonder how long it's going to take me to remember writing 2000 on everything instead of 1999."

"Nothing exploded. So much for Y2k."

"I didn't think an ything was going to happen with that. Jenna's dad bought a bunch of gallon jugs of water. I thought it was silly."

"Did you ever imagine being this old? Like when you were a kid?"

"Being 14? Living in 2000? No. I imagined what it might be like to have my own car or be an adult, but not to be our age? No."

"Like, being with Vanessa is weird. It's great, don't get me wrong. I feel old and not old enough at the same time, does that make sense?"

Bette's eyes got really wide and she spoke intensely, "Yes! Like everything tells you to go but you're scared shitless because you've never been on this ride before. Do you actually want to stop? You control the ride, right? But going feels so good. And once you get going you don't know where you wanna stop. And once it does stop all you can do is think about going again, all the time. All the damn time!" And she grunted.

Bette looked up at Ozzy's stunned face. "I was more talking about choices and responsibilities."

"What does that have to do with Vanessa?"

"Sometimes I think I might make different choices if she weren't my girlfriend. Nothing big. I pick a different brand of aftershave that I know she likes the smell of better. Or wear a shirt that has more blue in it to go with what she wears."

"What's right or wrong about that?"

"If I'm not making decisions for myself first, what's the point of getting older if I'm not being responsible for myself?"

"From what I can tell, you're extremely responsible for yourself. You've never seen Jenna and her sister's bathroom, it's a war zone. Your bathroom is immaculate. And the stuff with what you might pick for her. Do you like it? The aftershave? The clothes?"

"Yeah."

"Is it maybe better than wearing one shade of black all the time? And not smelling like Axe Body Spray, which is worn at way too high of a volume in our school?"

"There is more than one shade of black," he joked. "But I see your point."

"I had forgotten that I gave you Vanessa's number, but I did remember something. I told her Ozzy's his own person who makes his own choices. And as long as you don't lie to her like you don't lie to me, there shouldn't be any issues."

"It makes sense."

"It's what you told Mark. He doesn't lie to me. I don't lie to him."

"And somehow you two are on some kind of roller coaster."

"It's like nothing else I've ever experienced," She almost sang it.

"Yeah, I know what you mean." He got his own dreamy look in his eye.

A short time later they were at Bette's side door. "Thanks again for having me over tonight. And for walking me home. It helped a lot. It was better than staying home."

"My door always swings open. You know that."

"I need a reminder sometimes."

They gave each other another hug. "Happy New Year! MUAH!" He kissed the top of the knit cap.

She laughed and let go of him. She climbed two steps of her porch and waved him over. She grabbed him around his head and he leaned into her, "Happy New Year! MUAH!" She kissed the top of his knit cap. "Remember, the door locks in both directions too."

He made a zipper over his mouth mime. They high-fived and made goofy faces to each other and she went inside to her waiting parents.

But here's how it went from Ozzy's perspective.

***Warning: Depicts teen masturbation***

January 1, 2000

Ozzy shut the door behind Bette and walked down to the basement. Tylor was face down on the floor asleep and Greyson was on the side of the couch that faced the stairs with the Magic 8-ball. "A more interesting night?" Greyson asked with more than a little sarcasm in his voice.

Ozzy gave him a soft glare, pointed, and silently mouthed, "Not in front of Tylor."

"He's out cold. Watch. Tylor, 'Wild Things' is on TV, premium cable. Better yet, 'Showgirls.'" Tylor didn't move. "See."

Ozzy didn't sit. "I think I'm going crazy. Vanessa and I have a good thing going, at least we did until tonight."

"Uh-huh. And?"

"But all I wanted to do was make Bee feel better." He huffed a breath and ran his hands over his face. When he opened his eyes again, Greyson was holding out the Magic 8-ball.

"I don't know what to tell you. The last thing I need is two powerful ladies turned against me. Ask the ball."

Ozzy stepped behind the couch and took the ball out of Greyson's hand. Ozzy looked at it and thought Is Vanessa going to break up with me over tonight? He turned the ball over, it read: My sources say no. He thought of another question: Does Bette want me? He shook it and turned it over, it read: Reply hazy. He thought of one more question. Does she need me now? He shook it and turned it over, it read: It is decidedly so. Ozzy got a half smile on his face. "You mind if I go do something? I should be back soon."

Ozzy tossed the Magic 8-ball back to Greyson. Greyson smiled but shook his head a little which was more than a little conflicting, "Go get her, Oz. But don't be stupid."

Ozzy rushed up the stairs, grabbed his coat and started putting on his hat and gloves while he ran down the block. He saw she was still so close by. He knew the sidewalks were clear of ice, she must not have thought so. But then again, her legs were so much shorter than his, the solo walk to her house was always quicker than when they walked to his together.

He caught up to her and suggested he walk her home. He knew the neighborhood was safe and that look on her face; the 8-ball was wrong, she didn't need him. Ozzy held back his surprise when she accepted. She still walked slow; maybe it was her being cautious of the sidewalk, maybe she couldn't fully stride because of the length of her coat, maybe the ball was right and she did need him in that moment, but he was grateful she accepted his company while they walked.

Think of something easy: 2000! They talked about Y2k. and growing older.

He slipped out his concerns about Vanessa. She doesn't want to hear about that!

Bette spoke intensely about a ride and it was a metaphor for hormones. Holy shit. Girls get this horny too? Is that even possible? Maybe talking about Vanessa would be better.

Bette reminded him of the things he liked about Vanessa. Vanessa did make little things about him better. He liked the clothes, the way he smelled, and talking to someone who understood the issues with his mom. Bette would ever understand that. Vanessa listened and cared, and she's so pretty. He warmed all over at the thought of her. "Yeah, I know what you mean."

Bette thanked him for walking her home. He reminded her that he can trust her whenever she needs. They hugged and normally he would just rest his cheek on the top of her head, but something felt different this time. You've never kissed a girl on New Year's. Make it funny and it won't be weird. Neither of you will be cheating. It's okay. He loudly and playfully kissed the top of her hat. That counts, to me this counts. He felt her laugh against him. The smile on her face was what he wanted to see given the week she had. She climbed the two of the stairs and waved him over. What's she doing?! She grabbed him on either side of his head and kissed the top of his hat in the same way. That counts. A girl kissed me on New Years, to me this counts. And she doesn't want me to tell. He used the goofy faces he made at her to hide the happy one underneath.

Ozzy smiled on the walk home. He didn't feel the cold around him. It had been a year since they had kissed at Cassandra's Christmas party, and if it only happened once a year, it would be worth it. He still didn't feel like they did anything wrong. It was two friends having a moment in jest. The first time it was a dare. Both were moments done in friendship and trust. If that's all he ever had with Bette, he knew he could live with that. It was probably all she would ever see him for, and that was clear to him now. She liked Mark. She really liked Mark, and Ozzy was nothing like him.

He thought of Vanessa. He would call her in the afternoon and apologize again. It had been a couple months since they had been together. It was a mistake not telling her about the stuff under the bathroom sink. It was a misunderstanding. He cared for her a lot. She was pretty, sweet, outgoing, dressed trendy, she would sit on his lap when they made out, and she didn't get grossed out by his boner. Vanessa was the best first girlfriend he could dream of.

He got back home and took off his coat. Greyson was in the kitchen looking through the fridge. "How'd it go?" He pulled a carton of ice cream from the freezer.

"I think it went the way it was supposed to go," Ozzy said with an easy smile.

"Meaning?" Greyson stuck his spoon directly into the carton and ate.

"We kissed each other. Right here." Ozzy pointed to the top of his head.

Greyson took another bite of ice cream. "I'm going to ignore the physical impossibility of how she did that and move on to the question: you sure that was a good idea? You sure that wasn't stupid?"

"Nah. It was all in good fun. And she's not gonna tell. And neither will you."

"Right." Greyson said it flatly like he always did, but it also distinctly sounded like Dr. Evil.

"I'm going to bed. You need anything else from me?"

"Nope." Greyson said, popping his 'p' and setting the spoon in the dishwasher and putting the ice cream back in the freezer.

Ozzy went in his room, took off his jeans and his button up shirt and brushed his teeth. He closed his bedroom door, locked it, and got in bed. He looked around in the dark and got comfortable. He closed his eyes and started touching himself. Vanessa, she's such a good kisser. That thing she does with her tongue. The way her butt feels in her jeans in my hands. He moaned softly. Even when she was mad tonight, I could see her nips poke out. Bette's got big tits. No! Van!

He grunted. She touched my thigh when we made out the other day, I wonder if she'd touch it. She'd be like 'Oh Ozzy it's so big.' No, she wouldn't! Or is it like Bette said, 'It's a ride.' Yeah. A roller coaster ride. You wanna ride the roller coaster? He heard her voice, 'Yeah.' Ozzy started to stroke himself faster and rubbed the front of his hip and thigh with his other hand, imagining it was her touch. 'You like the way I touch you Ozzy?' "Yeah," he whispered to himself. 'I like the way you touch me Ozzy. The way you look at me. The way you kissed me. When you have your arms around me.' He moaned, feeling the pleasure build. 'I always have. I want you to-' "Bette," he whispered as he finished with a groan. He took a couple of breaths with wide open eyes.

He got up, washed his hands, and changed his shorts. He got back in bed and faced the wall. Definitely not telling anyone about that.