Bette On It: Weird Adolescence Sophomore Year 2001-2002 An Excerpt...

July 4, 2002

The phone rang. A minute later, John spoke up the stairs, "Bette for Two, phone for you!"

She looked at the clock. It was 8:30 PM, she knew it was Keith; her father didn't need to say. "It'll only be a sec. Sorry." Ozzy shrugged it off and watched the movie with the subtitles, muted, and said the lines. She picked up the phone. "Hello?"

"Hi Bette. I think we still needed to talk about earlier." It was Keith.

"Now's not a good time. Wait." She waited for her father to hang up the phone downstairs. The phone clicked. "Keith. I can't talk right now. I can call you after work tomorrow."

"Why not?" Ozzy laughed loudly at the movie. "Who are you with?" Keith asked suspiciously.

"I'm with a friend. I suggest you do the same. I'll talk to you tomorrow."

"I love you, Bette."

"I love you too. Bye." She hung up the phone. She took a moment to center herself. "Sorry about that."

"If you needed to talk to him, we can do this some other time," Ozzy offered.

Bette plopped herself back on the futon. "Absolutely not. He had his chance today and he ruined it. Who knows when our schedules are going to line up again?"

"I'm glad you called. I wasn't going to do anything today. I've been working 60 plus hour weeks since we got out of school. It felt good to rest, but it felt better to eat ice cream and get my back cracked. And get this sweet belt buckle." He tapped the pocket he had put it in.

She grinned thinking of their game of keep away from earlier. "I can't tell you how happy I am to have my power back. I never would have thought of that."

"Ya gotta recharge the batteries." He sat up and rested his arms on his knees.

"True." She leaned forward. "You know the secret: the power is transferable without me losing it?"

"Yeah, yeah." He waved off her claim.

"I'm serious." She said brightly. "Skye and I figured it out."

He stared her down. "You're not totally lying."

She moved to the floor near him and sat cross-legged. "No, I'm not. It's like Vanessa said originally. Powerful ladies are everywhere. We charge each other up."

"You really believe that," he conceded to her belief.

"I do. We just have to unite." She offered her hand out for a high-five. He gave her a weak high-five. "No. You have to mean it, and then slap your chest after. That's how we do it." She had him do it again and after the high-five and chest slap, she reached for his sides, "Power transfer commence!" And tickled him, 'jumper cable-style'. Ozzy mashed his mouth closed and his eyes became saucers. He tried hard not to squeal laughing. He was easily tickled by his size. He grabbed her around her upper arms and plucked her off him breathing heavy. He trapped her easily under his strength. She laughed, "You got me." She made claws with her hands. "You got the tiny t-rex. Rawr!"

"Don't do that again." He held her firm and said it fairly seriously.

She nodded. "I will lock that door." She attempted to salute.

"You tell no one I'm that ticklish," he was genuinely horrified.

"I have no idea what their talking about." She made a key mime over her mouth.

"Okay." He let her go.

She saw how bothered he was. "I'm sorry. I thought it would be funny." She sat back up on the futon.

"It's fine. Don't worry about it." He reached over for the remote and un-muted the movie. He laid down on his side facing the TV, propping his head up on his hand. They finished watching the movie and decided to call it a night.

...

...

Over the course of that afternoon, Ozzy saw Bette in her swimsuit. He made her laugh and sing. She gave him a gift from her trip then playfully tried to wrestle it from him. She changed clothes behind his back. They spent more quality time together than they had in months. One day in the future, Ozzy told Bette, "I'm not the kind of guy to kiss someone else's girlfriend." What if he did kiss her the night of July 4th, 2002?

"You really believe that," Ozzy conceded to Bette's belief.

"I do. We just have to unite." Bette offered her hand out for a high-five. Ozzy gave her a weak high-five. "No. You have to mean it, and then slap your chest after. That's how we do it." She had him do it again and after the high-five and chest slap, she reached for his sides, "Power transfer commence!" And tickled him, 'jumper cable-style'. Ozzy mashed his mouth closed and his eyes became saucers. He tried hard not to squeal laughing. He was easily tickled by his size. He grabbed her around her upper arms and plucked her off him breathing heavy. He trapped her easily under his strength. She laughed, "You got me."

"Do I?" Ozzy asked while catching his breath.

"Yeah..." She said slowly. She stopped laughing, looking down at his hands on her upper arms. She looked Ozzy in the face again, and realized how close they were. Ozzy had a look on her face she had never seen before, a seriousness, almost scared, but the way he held her around her arms was different.

He put a little pressure on the back of her arms with his hands, he leaned slightly in and couldn't believe it when Bette leaned in too. His lips gently met hers. Oh God! Oh God! It's happening! I'm kissing Bette! He slowly separated them, it could have been a second or an hour they kissed, he couldn't tell. He opened his eyes wide looking at her, looking just as surprised. "I thought-after-a-and-," Ozzy let go of her and moved back slightly from her.

"We shouldn't have-"

"You have a boyfriend," he said with a pointed, gritted expression. Am I mad at her or me?

She grabbed the remote and unmuted the movie so the volume covered up their talking. "I didn't think-"

"I wasn't thinking either. That was stupid. I'm sorry."

"That's not what I meant," she snapped. "I didn't think you...saw me...like that," she said awkwardly.

Ozzy's face softened and he raised his eyebrows in surprise. "Um...Today. You called me. You...changed clothes a-and, the belt buckle you got me, and then trying to get it back from me. The way you were mad about Keith; you said he ruined his chance. Then how you tried to tickle me. I- I- think I misunderstood."

Bette sat stunned for a second, "What was I doing today? I was all over you! I didn't even realize it." She buried her red face in her hands. "And I told you I was mad at Keith and he ruined his chance. What else were you supposed to think? Ugh!" She started to cry as she spoke.

Ozzy carefully moved towards Bette again and placed a hand on her back, "I'm sorry, Bee. This was not how I wanted this to go. I didn't want either of us to feel bad after the day we had."

She wiped her tears and tried to look at him, he saw her hesitation. "I guess," she sniffled. "It wasn't all bad."

"I know, I know. I shouldn't have kicked your butt so bad in bocce ball," he joked.

She let out a laugh. "Maybe I shouldn't be saying this, but you're a better kisser than I remember."

"Yeah. You can't really feel much through a knit hat on the top of your head when it's 20 degrees out," he joked and smiled.

She laughed again. "I'm serious!"

"Maybe certain performances are better without an audience of friends watching and counting?"

"And maybe, we don't tell anyone this performance happened?" Bette asked with a cringed expression.

"The door swings and locks both ways," he said warmly.

Bette sighed and leaned into Ozzy to hug him. He wrapped his arms around her back and gave her a squeeze. We'll be fine. But this was not the time. You don't kiss other guy's girlfriends.

He put his hands on her upper arms and separated them.

Bette laughed, "You got me," she laughed. "You got the tiny t-rex. Rawr!"

Ozzy put his imagination to rest.

"Don't do that again." He held her firm and said it fairly seriously. Don't kiss her.

She nodded. "I will lock that door." She attempted to salute.

"You tell no one I'm that ticklish," he was genuinely horrified. This isn't the moment, as much as you want it to be.

"I have no idea what their talking about." She made a key mime over her mouth.

"Okay." He let her go. You'll have your chance.

She saw how bothered he was. "I'm sorry. I thought it would be funny." She sat back up on the futon.

"It's fine. Don't worry about it." If Keith ruined the Fourth of July, he won't be long for her. You can wait.

He reached over for the remote and un-muted the movie. He laid down on his side facing the TV, propping his head up on his hand. They finished watching the movie and decided to call it a night.

When Ozzy walked home that night, he pulled the belt buckle out of his pocket and looked at it while he walked. It was still light enough that he could see it clearly: Sargent Pepper's Lonely Heart's Club Band. She could have done anything. She could have bought nothing. She bought me this. She got me something referenced "With a Little Help From My Friends" by The Beatles.

It was the same night they two of them had their first kiss on a dare. Maybe that's what she remembered when she bought it. She called me when she needed someone today; when she was mad at Keith. Bette always did give me hope.

Friendship and hope. As long as I have that, I can wait.