Bette on It: Weird Adolescence. 7th Grade. An Excerpt...

Saturday December 26, 1998

"That wasn't cool what he did," of all the people who could have been nice to her in that moment, Tylor was not the person she expected.

Tylor was shorter than her and a little chubby with big cheeks and lips. He had braces on his teeth and copper-brown hair with dyed blond highlights. He looked more like he was cousins with Ozzy than Greyson. Greyson looked like he could have been related to Bette. Greyson was as pale as her with black hair too. He was taller than her and skinnier with a thin-skinned face. Puberty had slapped him to with zits and a bizarrely deep voice. The cousins couldn't look more different.

"I didn't help the situation much. If I'd just leaned into the story instead of throwing one back, it wouldn't have ended like that."

"I wasn't talking about Norm." He grabbed his coat from the pile. He whispered, "Ozzy and I hang out most weekends and every day at lunch. I know you two are better friends than you let people know. If someone did to me what Norm did to you, he would have laid them out flat. The only reason he didn't is that he is blinded by Cassandra. He doesn't see anyone but her right now. But I can tell you this, Cass is a flash in the pan." He put on his coat. "He'll come back around to us."

"Thank you for that." She put her coat on and felt in her pockets.

He stood in the doorway looked behind him and back at her, "Maybe while he's preoccupied, maybe I'll be worth a look." He gave her a little smile, tapped the door frame and walked away. She looked at herself in the mirror of the room, she wasn't sure if was everything that had happened, the coat, or Tylor's words, but she was red in her face again. She walked out of the house and saw Tylor was waiting for his ride.

"It's cold. Why aren't you waiting inside?" Bette asked.

"It felt weird in there," Tylor scrunched his face.

"Thank God, it wasn't just me. That house has such a weird feeling."

"Yeah. It's like a super nice house but it feels..."

"...malicious?" She said it in a slow high-pitched voice.

"Yes!"

"I swear that house is about to sprout a poltergeist at any time."

"So how are you and Cassandra so close?"

She answered him pointedly, "Ah! We live close." She turned and pointed, "I'm half a block that way. We've known each other forever."

He gave her a laugh. "You're funny. You don't get enough credit for that."

"I can't believe you did that thing with the fireworks."

"That's just the tip of the iceberg. I've got so many more."

"Okay then."

"'Okay then' what?"

She pulled a pen from her pocket, pulled up her sleeve, and handed him the pen. "I'll call you and you can tell me more."

His face lit up. "Cool." He wrote his phone number on her wrist. "Or can I call you?" he asked excitedly.

"Yeah." She wrote her phone number on his wrist. "Tomorrow?"

The pair said their good nights and Bette walked home.

Bette and Tylor grew to be better friends and even went on a date to a movie together; by the time it was over they both realized dating was a terrible idea.

Bette & Tylor's date. What went terrible?

Sunday December 27, 1998

The day after the party Bette called Tylor and they talked for over an hour on the phone about pranks and jokes he and Greyson had pulled over the years. Some of the pranks were on Greyson's older brother Andrew, some were on unwitting victims, but the fourth of July fireworks were, by far, their biggest, scariest prank.

"We were so scared when it happened. We were huddle in some reeds near the lake. It was dark, we lit the fuse, and gave it a big push, and hid. It was so freaking loud and bright. We were so sure we were caught. Greyson cried. We stayed in the reeds so long...let's just say the lake wasn't the only thing watering the reeds," Tylor snickered as he said it.

"Ew, oh!" Bette laughed.

"Oh, maybe I shouldn't have said that," he had a cringe to his voice.

"If it had gone the same way with Jenna and me, I probably would have had to do the same thing. Jenna and I? No. Jenna and me. I was right the first time." She laughed a little more. "Your pranks are actually fun. They're never too mean. The fireworks were a little destructive. But they usually make people laugh."

Tylor was quiet for a second. "What do you mean by that?"

Bette's laughs bumped to a stop, "by what?"

"Pranks being actually fun? Not too mean? Pranks are always fun," he said it lightly, but confused.

"You're kidding? You've got to be kidding me. Were you not at the same party as me yesterday? Norman and I telling those awful stories about each other? And then when you and Greyson were telling the fireworks story, after you passed the orange to me, she said something mean to me. Pranks are rarely fun for me." While Bette spoke, her voice went from light to somber.

"That's because those aren't pranks. Norman was being an asshole. He knew you were in the bathroom and embarrassed you on purpose. He thought it would be funny to make you cry. And I don't know what Stella said to you, but didn't you notice the only people she was nice to at the party was Cassandra and Norman? She was only nice to Grey and me when we paid attention to her."

Grey and I. No, Grey and me, he was right. "Huh. Frickin' Norman. I mean, I can believe Stella, but...I mean...I feel so dumb, like I pranked myself, and for months."

"About what? And how can you prank yourself?"

Bette felt herself turn red and was grateful they were on the phone and he couldn't see her face or awkward posture. "It's so stupid now, especially after yesterday. Jenna knows, and Ozzy does too. I guess I wouldn't be too surprised if you already did." She sighed. "After Norm saw my boobs, and he got a boner seeing 'em at camp, and no one else talked to us the last few days...I liked him in that time. I guess I thought he liked me too and was just shy about it because of what happened. Nope. I'm just weird. Big boobed and weird and pale and hangs out with Cassandra." She took a few gulps of her water. "I guess I was hoping those days were behind me," she said sadly.

"Oh. Um. That really sucks. I guess, If it helps at all, I didn't know any of that before yesterday, or now."

Bette took another sip of water. "It does help."

"Can I ask you about something else you said?"

"What?'

"What did you mean when you said you thought those days were behind you?"

Bette got a shocked look on her face. "Is this a prank?"

His voice had a chuckle to them, "What? No. I really don't understand."

Bette's jaw dropped. "In elementary school, and the last couple years, I thought I was such a lepper. I thought I was, and I hate to put it like this. I thought I was such an Albert or a Eugena."

Albert was a boy who kept his mullet two years longer than all the other boys. His clothes were always too big or too small for him. He was frequently caught picking his nose in elementary school and ended up with bloody noses because of it. His lisp didn't do him any favors either. Eugena was really into farming and cows, like unnaturally interested in cows. The way other kids might go through a phase where they are interested in horses or dinosaurs, Eugena liked cows, and her obsession went on for years. It didn't help that she was a little overweight for her age and would literally 'moo' at kids who bothered her. She often had roast beef sandwiches in her cold lunch so other kids called her a cannibal. Both were bullied terribly and got talked about behind their backs. Bette was no exception to participating the laughter, but she was bullied too, though not as badly as them. Cassandra and Jenna were social shields that helped a lot. To be an 'Albert' or a 'Eugena' had a clear meaning to the other kids in their grade.

"You were not an Albert. And Eugena, she lives out in the country, that's her life."

"I got paired with Albert in gym for a dance unit in 4th grade because no one else wanted to partner with either of us. I knew I wasn't quite the same as everyone else, but I didn't think I was as weird as Albert. I still got teased because my Halloween costumes were homemade and not store bought, or I never had Lunchables or packaged fruit snacks in my lunch, or someone would recognize their own clothes on me because my mom bought them at a church rummage sale. That last thing happened in second grade. You wouldn't believe the screaming fight I had with my parents. I came home from school crying. I thought I was such a monster freak."

"I hear Albert goes to Private West now. I wonder how things are for him now." Tylor seemed to ignore her embarrassing stories and her own, personal name calling.

"Yeah," Bette said sadly knowing she had been both predator and prey. "You know, things got pretty bad for me. I was so fed up, by 5th grade, I almost went to Private West."

Tylor chuckled, "Yeah, right."

"I'm serious. Honestly, tell me. What did you think of me back at Pebble Lake Elementary?"

"Um..."

She was trying not to be that pathetic, little girl anymore, and Tylor had been kind in the last day when Norman and Stella had been cruel. She answered sharp, but understanding. "There's my answer. But that's not fair of me to ask you. I shouldn't have-"

"No. Shoot! It's not-It's just-um...I don't know..." He spoke rapidly.

"Don't worry about it. I'm not mad at you. I shouldn't be."

"I don't think I stopped believing in cooties until I was 11. Greyson's terrible about talking about girls. Norman is...I'm pretty sure Norman is a big fat liar about everything when it comes to girls. He talks about everything he likes on girls and hasn't experienced any of it, pretty sure. And Ozzy...he-he seems to know about girls, but not know anything at the same time, if that makes sense."

Bette got a little smile on her face. "I remember you playing 500-football at lunch with boys like Stewart, Travis, Roman, the Michaelson twins and others. Or throwing tennis balls against the brick wall of the school. You could get your throws on top of the building. That's what I remember about you at Pebble Lake."

Tylor laughed. "The strategy was to show you could throw a ball on top of the school, but not actually do it. Because if you did, you didn't have a ball to throw anymore."

"You were short, but you always had an arm on you."

"Were? Still am. At least you're still smart. I seem to remember you being the best in the 3rd grade class in the Number Muncher's tournament."

"I might have been the best in our class, but I lost in our grade. Those multiples of 12 wrecked me. And you'll get taller eventually. If you and Greyson share any genes, you'll get there. And besides, there's nothing wrong with being short. My parents are almost the same height. If my mom wears heels, like any heels, she's taller than him," Bette said cheerfully.

"And that doesn't bother your dad?"

"Dad says no man looks bad with a tall, beautiful woman. And no woman looks bad with a man that makes her happy."

"Huh. That's a good line. I'll have to remember that, at least until I get taller," he said.

"Betty! Supper's ready," Lorna called from downstairs.

Bette covered the receiver slightly, "I'll be right down Mom." She sighed. "I gotta go."

"I'm sure it isn't Lunchables and fruit snacks, right?" He laughed at his own joke.

She laughed. He was listening. He was just being considerate before. "No." She took a deep sniff, "Turkey tetrazzini, Christmas leftovers."

"It beats eight days of turkey sandwiches."

"I'll let you know. It's a new recipe...I can tell you about it tomorrow when they're at work."

"Sure!" He said with a spark in his voice. "Talk to you then."

"Bye."

"Bye." Bette hung up the phone and went down to supper with her parents.

Monday December 28, 1998

Bette called Jenna late in the morning and told her about what happened after she left the party; the things Tylor said and did.

"He might like you, Bee." Jenna offered.

"I don't think so. I think he was just being nice. Guys don't tend to like me like that."

"What about that one torn piece of notebook paper you found in your desk in 5th grade? That anonymous person asking you to the dance?"

"I still don't believe that. When we went to the dance, no one looked at me differently. No one asked me to dance. Tylor wasn't in our three-class block back then. It certainly wasn't him. I'm still convinced it was Janice or Jason Kaye playing a prank on me. I never found out who left the note. It doesn't matter now." Bette sighed.

"We're older now. Has Tylor turned 13 yet? Think about it. Let's be real, boys are dumb. But maybe he's not as dumb as all the rest of them."

It was a similar thing Ozzy had said to her privately after their kiss dare at the party. But Tylor was a thoughtful friend to Ozzy. He was like a brother to Greyson despite how different they were. He was sensitive to the fact Ozzy was paying less attention to him and noticed Bette was Ozzy's close friends too, and both of them received less of Ozzy's attention with his crush on Cassandra. Maybe Tylor was worth a look. Maybe Tylor did like her. After Bette and Jenna talked for a while longer, she had some leftover tetrazzini for lunch and called Tylor again.

"Hello?" Tylor answered.

After yesterday, she knew his voice on the phone. "Hi, Tylor? It's Bette."

"Hey! How's it going, Bette?"

"Pretty good. Kinda bored, you know? Mom and Dad are at work and nothing good on TV."

"Yeah, um, I guess I do...know that is. I've been playing N64. Trying to beat my time trial scores on Mario Kart. When I get tired of that, I switch to Mortal Kombat."

"That's a 180 turn if I ever heard one," she had a bit of a laugh to her words.

"Is, um, is that a bad thing?"

"No. I've played both games at Jenna's house. I so don't get how to play Mortal Kombat. It's just mashing buttons until something happens. Jenna usually wins."

"Um, what games do you like?"

"I've played more PC games. My mom never wanted a Nintendo in the house, which is fine with me. So, there was this one series, called Commander Keen, for the PC. My dad and I played that one a lot. Turns out it was invented as a knock off to Mario. There are six in the series. I think five was my favorite."

"Cool. Uh-Ozzy says you go to Puzzle Club a lot. You're good at those games. That true?"

Bette let out a little laugh, "Yeah. Puzzle Club is great," Bette heard the muffled sounds over the phone and how distracted he sounded. She realized Tylor wasn't alone. "Did I call at a bad time?"

"No!" He protested. "Everything's fine. It-it's the cat. The cat's bugging me."

Bette took a moment to listen. She heard what could have either been the TV or possibly other voices whispering, "Tylor. You know what we talk about in Puzzle Club?"

"What?"

"Deduction. Logical reasoning. Occam's razor."

"What's that last one?" He sounded less distracted.

"It means the simplest answer is probably the correct one. You sound distracted. I can hear something going on. I deduce you're not alone. It's probably Greyson or Ozzy or both. Ozzy would tell you to ask me about Puzzle Club."

"Um."

She spoke loudly, "Hi guys!" She returned her volume to normal. "You know what else logic would tell me?"

"What?"

"You wanted help talking to me. Is that true?"

"Um, maybe? Is there a right or wrong answer on this?"

Bette let out a little laugh, "It's okay if you did. But you can just ask me. We did just fine yesterday, right?"

"Yeah."

"So give me a call when you don't have coaches around. Have fun with them. We can talk later."

"Okay. Cool! That sounds great, Bette." She could hear the smile in his voice.

"Later Ty."

"Bye."

Bette hung up the phone and saw her reflection in her dresser mirror. Her face was red and she felt her heart race a bit. She gave herself a weird smirk. Maybe Jenna was right, because after that phone call, hearing Tylor's nervousness and continued excitement. it sure felt like it: I think a boy might like me for the first time.

Tylor and Bette didn't speak again until Wednesday the 30th; he called her and she picked up. "Hello?"

"Hi, is Bette there," Tylor asked nervously.

"This is Bette. Tylor?"

"Yeah. Hi. Um. How's it going?"

"Pretty good. Just watching a movie. You?"

"Oh, um good. Do you want me to let you get back to it?" He still spoke warily.

"No, not at all. It's 'Young Frankenstein.' I've watched it a hundred times. It's one of my favorites. You ever seen it?"

Tylor snickered. "Yeah. So, my mom usually drives a black Voyager and my dad drives a blue Taurus. If we go somewhere I ask what vehicle we're taking and if he says the Taurus, I'll say, 'we're taking the blue car!' And then we'll all whinny like horses."

Bette laughed. "That's great! There are so many times I want to quote things from movies and TV shows, and I felt like I had to stop because no one got what I was talking about. My dad showed me lots of old movies and shows. When we visited relatives, I was always the young one, but I preferred the company of adults, I knew what they were talking about when it came to that kind of thing. But everyone around here seems so sheltered outside of Disney, Nickelodeon, and MTV. Does that make sense?"

"I think so. I've been watching Saturday Night Live since I was nine. Since before I got all the jokes. But Molly Shannon falls on a pile of chairs, you laugh. I don't know about Catholic school, but it's still funny."

"Oh man! And the Chris Farley one! He hosted this fall and then he just died, not even two weeks ago. How sad is that?"

"So sad. But a total legend," Tylor said softly.

Tylor and Bette went back and forth for quite a while reciting bits and lines from the show. They debated favorite characters and episodes they liked and didn't like. Bette had tears rolling down her cheeks and her stomach hurt from laughing so hard.

When Tylor started to collect his laughter he spoke calmly, "Um, what-um-what are you doing tomorrow?"

Bette's eyebrows rose so hard she thought they would hit the ceiling. "For New Years?" Her voice went up an unnatural, confused octave as she said it.

Tylor spoke carefully. "Not exactly, during the day. My mom doesn't work and she said I could bring a friend to the movies, and -and I wanted to see if you were available, if you want."

Bette felt her heart start to pound. Is he asking me out?! "I think so. I'd like to. I'm sure my parents will be fine with it." She held the cordless phone to her ear and began to walk through the house. "What-um-what did you have in mind?"

"Well," he cleared his throat. "She wants to see 'Stepmom' but I thought we could see...something else."

Bette grabbed the section of the newspaper that had the movie listings, flipped the pages loudly and laughed nervously. She looked at the listings. Of the two major theaters in town, only one was showing 'Stepmom.' She scrolled through the listings of the other movies: 'You've Got Mail,' 'Prince of Egypt,' 'Mighty Joe Young,' 'The Faculty,' 'Star Trek: Insurrection,' 'A Bug's Life,' and 'Shakespeare in Love.' Even Bette recognized the pre-Oscar and the family friendly December strategies of the movie studios. "What time of a showing were you thinking?" More like what time is your mom taking us? Is it this weird for everyone?

"She wants to catch the 1:10 PM showing. 'The Faculty' starts at 1:15. We wouldn't have to wait too long for her afterwards, I think."

She was glad he couldn't see the cringy face she made, she wasn't a big fan of horror movies, but it was better than seeing any of the other movies; she wasn't too interested in seeing any of them at all. She could have waited for video for any of them. "Yeah. That should work. Stella has been going on and on about having been at the same acting seminar with Josh Hartnett a couple years ago. The more she talks about it, the closer they become, the bigger the story gets, you know? I can let you know for sure this evening. Does that work for you?"

"Yeah!" He said excitedly. "It gruz! Date!"

He clearly meant to say 'it does, great,' but it came out inverted. They were both aware of the mistake and what it sounded like. There was an awkward silence for a moment. They both fumbled over their words trying to fix the situation.

"I didn't mean to-," spat Tylor.

"It happens-," Bette said.

"I didn't want to assume-," Tylor still sounded flustered.

"I wasn't sure if I should ask!" She exclaimed.

"Did-did y-you want to...?" He held the 'o' sound for more than a second.

Bette had no one around her, no sounding board of Jenna or Cassandra or anyone, and as far as she could tell, Tylor didn't either. She'd never been on a date before, and from what it seemed like, Tylor hadn't either. "We can call it that, if-if you want." Bette closed her eyes tight and mimed slapping her forehead. What is happening?!

"Really? You'd like that?"

"Um, can I tell you a secret?" she said awkwardly, plopping down on one of the dining room chairs.

"Yeah."

"And it answers your question too. I guess I can't know whether or not I'd like something I haven't done before, you know?" She felt both bright red from being nervous and sickly green from awkwardness.

"Yeah," he drew it out as he said it, just like Greyson did as when he spoke. "Me too."

Bette spoke slowly, "So, no pressure then? How can there be, w-without any expectations, right?"

"Yeah." He drew out the word, but with a much lighter tone. "Yeah. And you said you still have to ask your parents, so it might not even happen."

She sighed a laugh. "Makes the movie the scariest thing, right?"

"I guess so," He chuckled as he said it.

When Bette's parents got home that evening from work, she asked them if she could go to the movie tomorrow and they said yes. She called Tylor briefly and let him know she could go. He let her know they would be by around 12:30 to pick her up. She talked to her mom before bed telling her that this might be a date. Bette reminded her mom that Tylor was the one who was nice to her at the end of the party on the past Saturday when Norman and Stella had teased and bullied her. How he made her laugh and he was more considerate than most people probably gave him credit for. Lorna told Bette to have fun but don't invest too much in it: it's just a movie and he's just a boy; and 13-year-old boys are dumb. Bette laughed at her mom's advice before going to bed.

Thursday December 31, 1998

A little after noon that day, Bette scarfed down the last of the leftover turkey on a sandwich. She enjoyed the magically bland combination of roasted turkey and Hellmann's mayonnaise on white bread. When she and Tylor agreed that this was going to be a date, but with no pressure, she still stressed about it. The bland lunch helped a lot to settle her stomach. The talk of no pressure didn't stop the fresh patch of blackheads on her nose and forehead, despite the scrubbing she tried to do to get rid of them and was unsuccessful. She waited in the living room and looked out the window with her coat in hand. She got a little grin on her face when she saw the blue Taurus pull up in front of the house and horses whinnied in her head. She bounded off the couch to the side door and out of the house, she was a little surprised to see Tylor walking up the sidewalk to greet her.

"I was going to knock and let you know I was here," he said.

"Oh," She felt like she already ruined the day or date as it were. "I was watching for the car, the blue car." Tylor whinnied and she joined in. "Should I walk this way?" Bette hunched over and briefly began to walk with a pretend tiny cane. "This way!" She stood up straight and they both laughed as they walked down to his family's car.

There was the usual awkward but pleasant conversation about weather, school, and the holidays on the drive to the theater between the three of them. Tylor's mom tried talking them out of seeing an R-rated horror movie and convince them to see Mighty Joe Young or a Bug's Life instead. Tylor insisted it was what they wanted to see and they wouldn't have to wait as long after for her movie to be done.

Bette bought her own ticket into the theater but Tylor's mom, Sherry, was nice enough to buy them popcorn and Coke. Bette preferred the taste of Diet Coke, but didn't say anything. Sherry went into her theater and Bette and Tylor went into theirs. "Should we sit in the back?" Tylor asked.

Normally Bette would have preferred the front, but not for a horror movie. "Lead the way." She followed behind Tylor as he went all the way up the stairs to the back row and under the projector. He was grinning. They sat next to each other and the theater only filled in with another eight people who didn't sit withing six rows of them. Bette took off her coat and it sat around her shoulders like a warm cave. The large paper cup of Coke sat in a cup holder by their feet between them and Tylor held the popcorn. "I thought you couldn't have popcorn because of your braces," she asked.

Tylor got a slightly awkward look on his face, "I'll have to floss when I get home. It's caramel corn, or corn on the cob I can't have. I kinda miss laffy taffy. I didn't love them until they said I couldn't have them." The more he spoke about it, the more downtrodden he became.

"I like peanut butter M&Ms. They had those out there. If I got a box, would you want some of those?" She offered.

Tylor's face lit up. "That'd be great!"

Bette smiled and got up. She made her way down the stairs and out to the concession stand. She stood in line and dug out her cash from her pocket. She eyed the candy case in front of her and considered buying a soft pretzel too. Don't want to make my hands greasy. She moved a spot forward in line when she got a tap on the shoulder, it was Tara. Bette, Tylor and Tara were all in the same math class together, they weren't friends, but acquainted well enough to be friendly. "Hey Bette, how's it going?"

Bette gave Tara a big smile and tried not to look too awkward. "Hi. I'm good. You?"

"Great. I'm here with my Dad." She tried to dismiss the awkwardness. She pointed back to him with her head and her eyes. "He wanted to see 'A Bug's Life.' I guess he said one of his childhood neighbors was on the animation team or something." Tara nearly scoffed. "I was in the mood for movie theater popcorn," she laughed. "What are you seeing?"

"The Faculty." They got to the front of the line. "Peanut butter M&Ms." Bette paid and got her candy.

Tara had a shocked look on her face when Bette finally looked at her. "Esh! I'm guessing you're not here with your parents."

Bette curled in her lips and bit them for a moment before speaking. "No. I'm not."

"Oh, Jenna or Cassandra?"

Bette gulped. "No."

Tara tilted her head slightly. "Who then?"

"Um." She felt herself turn red. "It's kind of a long story...Tylor."

"From math class?" Tara asked brightly.

"Yeah." Bette said it, drawing it out, poking a hole in the M&M box with her finger.

"Bette!" She turned their backs to her dad and spoke a low but bright whisper. "He's cute! And so funny. You're lucky. I should be mad or jealous, but I can't stand horror movies. Tell me all about it at school on Monday."

Bette was taken aback, "Sure." Tara joined her dad. Bette walked back to her theater confused. She was used to girls being petty. Tara was honest, sweet, and encouraging, it wasn't a normal reaction, not from another 7th grade girl. Even Jenna and Bette had their own occasional spats; they could be petty and bratty to each other. Hormones and puberty had made people jealous and mean; Tara wasn't and Bette was shaken by this.

She sat down in the theater seat and snuggled inside her coat, unaware of the odd look on her face. Tylor noticed, "Something wrong?"

"I-I don't think so," Bette poured some of the candy into her hand and offered him some. Tylor smiled as the lights went down and the screen brightened. She noticed the light bounce of his blond highlights and the metal of his braces. The volume of the speakers increased as the previews began. They finished the box of peanut butter M&Ms before the previews were over.

She munched on the popcorn but hardly touched the Coke, she could barely tolerate the taste. Bette was intrigued by the movie. She still found the gory parts hard to watch and looked away when she anticipated them. She looked towards Tylor and he would have an odd grin on his face; a mix of entertainment, disgust, and humor. He would look to her and tell her when it was okay to look again. Once he told her it was okay to look when there was still a dead body on the screen and she wasn't happy with him about it. He laughed and she gave him an angry poke in the arm. Shortly after, Tylor finished the Coke and went to the bathroom.

He came back quickly and whispered in Bette's ear, "Did I miss anything?"

"No," She whispered back. She barely had to lean over to say it, she had claimed the armrest while he was gone.

Tylor stuck his elbow on the armrest behind hers and she moved her arm slightly to make room for his arm. Another scene with a jump-scare startled Bette and she turned toward Tylor and shielded her face from the screen with her hands.

"It's okay to look again." He said softly, with a slight squeak to his voice.

Bette put her hand down back on the armrest and it landed on his hand. Tylor gripped her fingers. Did he do that on purpose? She felt her face grow into a little smile. She glanced over to Tylor and he had a little smirking-smile on his face too. She let her hand settle into his. He did. They held hands until their hands got sweaty. They adjusted and she wrapped her hand around his forearm; it was slightly uncomfortable because she was taller than him and the armrest put pressure on her in an odd spot and made her hand fall asleep. I wonder if his hand is asleep.

When the movie ended, they went to wait on a bench outside the theater where 'Stepmom' was playing to wait for Tylor's mom.

"What did'ja think of the movie? Did'ja like it?" Tylor asked brightly.

Bette tried to be positive, "I'm not usually one for horror movies, but that was pretty good, I guess."

"The whole alien thing: taking over bodies. It's messed up. I'm glad they got her in the end."

Bette looked at Tylor a little sideways. "Really? She was a last survivor of her planet. She cured illness in the nurse. She took away pain and judgement. The aliens may have gone into the bodies in an icky way, but once they were there, it didn't seem so bad."

"You would want to be the alien's victim?"

"It didn't seem like a victim. More like a...partnership," Bette said optimistically. "I know there were times I could have used that level of acceptance."

"Yeah. But you'd have that weird thing inside you. Would it be worth it?"

She didn't want to argue. They weren't going to agree. "I almost forgot to tell you," she said with a smile. "I ran into Tara from Math class when I was buying the M&Ms."

"Really?" He asked with some intrigue.

She furrowed her brow a little to his reaction. "Yeah," she drew out the word for him like she did for Tara. "She was seeing 'A Bugs Life' with her dad. It kinda came up that I was here...with you. I hope that's okay. She said she wanted to hear about it on Monday."

"Oh man," Tylor awkwardly giggled and started to turn pink in the face.

"I'm not close with her. I didn't want to tell her anything you didn't want shared. She was really nice considering..." She looked at the floor, the other movie posters, and the arcade games briefly. "She said she would have been jealous if we weren't seeing a horror movie." Bette started to laugh a little, "She said she was just in the mood for popco-"

"What do you mean 'jealous if?'" Tylor interrupted.

She gulped and spoke awkwardly. "Um...She said she thought you were cute and funny, but doesn't like horror movies. She said I was lucky."

"Oh," Tylor got pinker in the face. "Um. Do you think you're lucky?"

Bette found it hard to look at him, she gulped again, wishing for a drink of water. "Do you?"

"You played 'pass the orange' with me and winked at me at the party. I made you laugh. You asked for my number. I thought I was."

I took the orange because I was standing there. I winked at him because he helped Ozzy. Tylor can make anyone laugh. I asked for his number because he was nice to me. "I think I was lucky you chose to be nice to me at Cassandra's party." She sniffed hard and gulped again. "I think I was the alien and you were a really nice human."

"I think you're being too hard on yourself."

"I think Tara's a tall, pretty girl and she likes you. And I think we both know that's a better idea than you and me." She cracked a smile and looked at him, she gave him a gentle prod to the shoulder.

Tylor's little smile grew and it showed his braces, "Are we going to be okay?"

"I'm pretty sure we always were. We just didn't know this," she pointed to the two of them, "would be a terrible idea."

Tylor's smile grew, "Hey! 'Terrible' would have been going to the same movie as my mom. How weird would that have been?"

She looked at him sideways again and spoke with some joking in her tone, "Weirder than seeing 'A Bug's Life' with Tara and her dad?"

"Weirder than Ozzy and Cassandra as a couple?" Tylor offered.

"Did that happen?!"

"Yeah. Yesterday. He said he did cartwheels in the yard after he got off the phone with her."

"Good for them." She said. I wonder why Ozzy didn't tell me.