High School Soap Opera
Candace came back to Jack’s house with us, and she insisted the guys wait downstairs while we get ready upstairs. She helps me shower and wash my hair since I still can’t move my right arm very much without my shoulder hurting. Once I’m dressed, which I also can’t do on my own, she does my makeup. I warn her that I don’t want something crazy, and when I see the results, I have to smile. I look natural, just better. She fixes my hair in a way that covers the bald spot and stitches, which I’m also grateful for.
“Shouldn’t you be with Monet?” I ask. “Why are you still helping me?”
“She doesn’t have injuries stopping her from getting ready on her own,” she says. “Plus she’s started seeing this guy from school again. Kaitlin stole her boyfriend, but he came crying back to Monet the other night, and she’s actually taking him back, if only to stick it to Kaitlin.” I laugh. “And anyway,” she says seriously, “it may be Olivia’s birthday, but you’re going to be the star of the night… Done! Let’s go.”
We get to the stairs, and I grab Candace’s arm. If I’m in a soap opera and I’m going to a party with a makeover, you can be damn sure I’m going to have my dramatic entrance. “Go down there and announce me,” I say.
“What?” she asks, smiling. “Like in She’s All That?” I nod. “Fine, ‘Lainie,'” she says, referring to the girl in the movie, “just don’t trip on the bottom stair.”
“I don’t have to get used to contacts and heels, I’ll be fine.”
So she goes down and tells the guys to stand up. She announces me, and I start walking down the stairs slowly. When I get down to the bottom, I look at Jack. He is giving me that dramatically stunned look I was hoping for, and I try not to laugh. “Wow,” Jack says.
“Come on, Beautiful,” Nick says, offering me his arm. He offers the other to Candace. “I have my car, but it’s ladies’ choice who gets to sit in the front with me.”
“I’ll sit with Jack,” I say.
On the ride to Amelia’s Jack is back to normal. We talk like usual, and he makes silly jokes that make me laugh. He’s wearing a nice shirt and tie, and I feel like we’re being driven to the prom, except that instead of corsage, Jack has a small gift for Olivia.
When we get to the diner, Jack escorts me inside. Olivia rushes over. Jack hands her the gift and she thanks him, but she puts it down on a nearby table and hugs me tightly. “Jenna, I am so sorry for what John did to you.”
“I am sorry for what he did to Ambrosia,” I say. “And to you. I couldn’t let him get away with it. It really sucks that you have to spend your first birthday without her so soon after she was killed.”
“He seemed like such a good guy,” she says. “I don’t know how I didn’t see what a monster he really is.”
“Sometimes,” I say, moving aside so Nick can say hello, “you just can’t see the truth about someone who is right in front of you.”
“I’m sorry I didn’t believe you,” she says.
“Happy birthday, Liv.” He bends down and gives her a tentative kiss. She starts to fall, as if her knees went weak, but his arm is behind her and he holds tight so she doesn’t go down. “Are you okay?”
Olivia blinks a few times, then looks into Nick’s eyes. She rises on her tip toes and kisses him back, the kind of long, strong kiss that you only share when you’re very much in love. Everyone in the room has noticed, and they are all staring. It starts to feel uncomfortable, like we’re intruding on a private moment, but then the kiss ends.
“Liv?” Nick whispers.
“I remember,” she whispers, and I think everyone else in the room gasps at the same time. “Oh my god, I remember everything!” They kiss again, and I know there will be a lot more of that before the night is over. She pulls away from him and says, “I love you.”
“If I knew all it would take to make you remember me was a kiss, I would have been making out with you while you were still in a coma,” he says, and everyone in the room laughs. Nick and Olivia look around them, realizing they’re not alone.
“Let’s go outside and talk for a little bit,” Olivia says. She turns back to her party guests. “We’ll be right back.”
“Take your time!” Otis calls with a wink. Nick laughs, and Olivia blushes.
“We have all the time in the world,” Nick says. “We don’t need to go outside yet.” He looks at Olivia. “At least let me give you your present first.” She looks, but he doesn’t have a gift with him. Instead he drops to one knee. “Olivia,” he begins, but she doesn’t let him go any further.
“Yes,” she says. “Yes, I will marry you, and if that’s not what you were going to say, just pretend it is.” She sits on his knee and throws her arm around him. They kiss again, and Otis starts clapping. We all join in, and then Nick and Olivia do go outside to talk. Everyone inside goes back to their own conversations. Candace takes my hand and gives it a little squeeze. We grin at each other, and then she goes off, probably to find Monet.
I look at Jack, and his smile is as big as mine. “How do we top that?” he asks.
“I’m not going to propose or anything,” I say, “but how about I tell you where I came from?” I know that’s something he’s been wondering about since I got here almost a week ago. I almost told him Sunday, but then I chickened out and told him Candace told me about Olivia and Ambrosia’s childhood together. This time, I’m not going to let fear stop me. Nick may have been confused, but he believed me. Now it’s time to give Jack the truth and hope he reacts similarly.
“Yeah, where did you come from? California? New York?” I take his arm and lead him to a quiet booth in the back.
“I’m not from your world,” I say.
“What, like, an alien thing?” he asks. “Are you from a distant planet? Because I don’t care, you make one hell of a human being.”
“No, I’m not an alien.” Why is this so hard? I already told Nick, this should be easier the second time. But Nick isn’t my boyfriend. If I go back home, it won’t change his life. He’ll still have Olivia. “Okay, I know this is going to sound insane. But Spruce Ridge is a soap opera. I’ve been watching it for a few years, and then somehow Friday I went from watching it to living it.” His jaw drops. “That’s how I know so much about everybody. I’ve seen everything. Like, I know that Serenity paid off Dolf to set fire to her shop because Adaire loaned her the money to open the shop, and she was paying him back like she should, and then he kept raising the interest until she couldn’t pay it anymore. She figured she could take everything she was supposed to deposit and give it to Adaire, and then the insurance on the pastry shop would give her enough to rebuild and, if she scaled back on the renovations, pay him the rest of his money.”
“Jenna, that’s a serious accusation,” he says. “You can’t just go making up stories like that about people like Adaire. He’s one of the richest guys in town.”
“Ask Serenity why she had the shop burned down. Ask if it had anything to do with Adaire.” I don’t think he’s going to do it, but he calls the police station and asks if Serenity can accept a call. “It’s Jack,” he says into the phone. He looks in my eyes and doesn’t look away. “I need to ask you something. Did you give Dolf money to set the shop on fire because Adaire was raising the interest on your loan?” He listens to her answer, then says, “Okay, don’t say anything else. Alexis will be back tomorrow. Tell her everything, and we’ll see if she can get the charges dropped and turn this around on him… No, I can’t tell you how I knew that.” He hangs up.
“I told you so,” I say, but it’s not teasing. I’m very matter-of-fact. I have nothing to lose. I can feel my storyline tying up all the little loose ends. It’s like I’m preparing to go home. Maybe this is it.
“So you’ve really been watching us on TV?” he asks. “That’s… weird. How much have you seen of me?”
“That’s the weird thing. I have never seen you before. You weren’t a character like everyone else. I mean, I knew Adaire and Candace, and Nick, Olivia, Ambrosia, Monet, Otis and Amelia, Serenity… but you and the rest of the staff at the bar were all new characters.”
“Was everything a lie?” he asks. “Were you just inventing a character, or are you really you?”
“Everything about me is real, except…” He looks up. “I had to lie about my age. I appeared here in a bar, I couldn’t admit that I’m underage without getting in trouble. So I just went with it.”
“How… under? How old are you, really?”
“I’m seventeen,” I say. “But age is nothing to me. I don’t care that your that much older than me, it’s not important.”
“How do you get home?” he asks quietly. “And when are you going?”
“I don’t know, I think soon. Somehow, I have a feeling it’ll be very soon.” He gets up and comes to my side of the table and sits next to me.
“Don’t go,” he whispers. “I don’t care about the age difference either.” He kisses me, and I never want to leave. But I know that I can’t stay here.
“I have to,” I say. “I don’t belong here.”
And suddenly I’m back in my room, in my pajamas. On the television, Candace and Adaire are together in the bar. So everything that happened to me in Spruce Ridge actually happened in the blink of an eye? How is that possible? But I know I won’t get an answer. I watch the TV, wondering if my imagination was anything like what the writers had planned.
“I own a company,” Adaire says slyly. “It’s very boring, I assure you. I’d rather hear about your job. You must be a model, right? Pretty girl like you…”
“You’re such a skeeze,” a girl says loudly. I’m shocked to see a girl that looks a lot like me walk up to the table.
“What did you just call me?” Adaire asks. “Did you just call me a… a skeeze?” he asks, like he can’t believe someone just had the balls to call him that. Or maybe he’s just never heard that word before.
“Yeah, I called you a skeeze,” she says, then looks at Candace. “What are you doing with this guy? You can definitely get someone younger. I’m going to the bar to get one of those college guys to buy me a drink. You in?”
Candace stands up. “I’m Candace,” she says, leaving Adaire alone in bewilderment. “What’s your name?”
“Jenna.” No way. No. Fucking. Way. They go to the bar, a little way down from the college guys, and wait for them to come over. If Jack is the bartender, I will faint with shock. It’s not long before one of the guys walks over to them.
“What are two pretty ladies like yourselves doing here alone on a Friday afternoon?” he asks.
“We were waiting to see how long it would take for you and your friends to notice us. I thought your buddy there with the black shirt was gonna come over first, but my friend Candace here knew that it would be you.” The guy smiles and, taking the bait, waves over bartender. He comes over to take their order, and it’s a guy I’ve seen in the background before.
Part of me is glad that it’s not Jack, because it would be too hard to see him and not be able to be with him. But then, I realize that I’m disappointed. Now I’ll never see him again, and that’s even worse than the potential to see him with another girl. Especially this new ‘me’ character. The bartender gets two beers for the girls, and then the scene changes.
Boyd and Serenity are having dinner at home. He toasts to her health, and they sip their wine. “I’ll go get dessert,” she says. “I made a cherry pie.” While she is gone, Boyd takes a flask out the inside pocket of his jacket and takes a long drink. He puts it back in his pocket just as she’s coming back in the room with the pie and a knife.
“It smells delicious!” Boyd says. “Do you have vanilla ice cream for the side?”
She puts down the pie, then turns back to the kitchen. “I think so, let me check.” He drinks from the flask again. This is not looking good for Serenity. Was I right? Is he going to get drunk and crash into her car later? It can’t be, how would I know that?
The scene changes again. Ambrosia is getting dressed, and John is waking up, and groggy. He looks around, like he blacked out and is just coming to. Ambrosia looks at him and smiles. “You know, Olivia was right. It’s not all about size in your relationship. But it’s big enough to do the job.”
“What the hell did you do to me?” John asks. I have no sympathy for him.
“I didn’t do anything,” she says going to the bookcase, “except for recording that little scene.” She picks up the camera and turns it off. “And if you don’t want Olivia to see it, then you will sign over your shares in Adaire’s company to me.”
“That’s blackmail,” he says, and she laughs.
“You figured that out, huh?” she asks. “Then you should be able to figure out that your best move is to accept my deal. Sign over your shares, and this video goes away. Refuse, and I email it to Olivia. It’s your choice.”
“Fine, I’ll do it. Now delete the video.”
“Uh uh uh! I’m not stupid. The video gets deleted after I have the stocks in my hand, in my name.”
I’ve decided to post my NaNoWriMo novel on my blog this year, chapter by chapter. I hope you enjoy it! And remember, this is all about having fun and writing a whole lot in a short period of time, so please don’t give me “corrections.” I’m not planning on going for publication anyway. Start at the beginning: Chapter One