Chapter 8 Page 28
Posted June 9, 2023 at 11:09 pm

Thanks for waiting and for reading! Happy Pride and also Father's Day Month.



        Weaving through the one-story ranch house took a few moments at best, which was hardly enough time to prognosticate and then prevent a truly unpredictable calamity. Dimitri enjoyed but a second or three of uneasy peace before his life became a trainwreck once again.

        Suzy came out swinging as she threw the front door wide. “You’re only supposed to speed date when you’re SINGLE,” she barked in a huff. Suzy had begun to form the first syllable of her very sassiest “DAD!” before a blast of utter shock squeezed all the air out from her lungs

        “Huh?” Isabel blinked, rattled by the unexpected onslaught. “Um, yeah. Of course, yeah.” She leaned back to check the house number and caught a glimpse of Dimitri standing just a few feet past the threshold, frozen like a deer in a monster truck’s headlights. “Oh,” she said. “Oh. S-sorry, am I interrupting something...?”

        Suzy’s eyes were wide as sewer grates, and concealing just as foul a flood within her churning mind. “HUH?!” she shrieked, clinging to the doorframe like a creature. “YES!! WHAT?! WHAT?!”

        “Ah,” stuttered Isabel, raising an apologetic hand. Her gaze darted to Dimitri and back. “Um, Dimitri didn’t invite me, so...” She gave Suzy a thumbs up. “Not a speed dating situation. We’re just friends.”

        “YOU’RE WHAT?!?!”

        Dimitri watched two years of careful lying by omission crumble in an instant. Suzy had no idea that he’d ever been aligned with her worst enemies, just as Isabel had no clue about Suzy’s unrequited beef with the Activity Club. Their mutual cluelessness had been a boon he took for granted since middle school began, but now it had betrayed him at long last.

        “I-Isabel...” he stammered. Suzy whirled to glare at him, shocked to see her name escape his lips. Dimitri winced but soldiered on. “What... what are you doing here?”

        “Sorry! I’m sorry! My dad dropped me off—well, he’s still here, I’m not planning to stay

        Isabel made a quick, embarrassed gesture towards the driveway, prompting Ángel Guerra to honk his little clown car hybrid’s horn and wave from the window. Suzy squeaked out the strangled remainder of a wail when Dimitri waved politely back on speechless, wide-eyed reflex.

        Isabel’s cheeks had begun to match the spectral energy pouring off of her like steam. “I—I just wanted to give you a heads up about some club business.”

        “WHICH CLUB?!” Suzy screamed, prompting Dimitri’s sister to shush her from the other side of the room.

        “H-hi, Dana! I, um, hope you’re...” Isabel grimaced when she saw the stacks of books surrounding her. “Sorry! Er, no, I don’t hope you're sorry, what the heck. I hope you’re well, and, um, I’m sorry for disturbing—”

        “SHE KNOWS YOUR FAMILY??” cried Suzy.

        Dimitri’s face fell into his hands.

        “...You’re popular,” Dana grumbled grumpily, leering at her brother through thick glasses.

        “Dana, please shut up—”

        Isabel took a step back from the door. “This was a bad idea. I can... I can text you. I just thought—gosh, I really didn’t mean to step on you and Suzy’s thing—”


        “What do you mean? You’re in my gym class! You sit a seat away in social studies. And our lockers are in the same hallway—”


        “Huh? Is that weird?”

        “IT’S WEIRD!!”

        “H-huh? Is it...? Why?”

        “I—I DON’T KNOW. WHAT?”

        “Didn’t you know that stuff, too?”


        “Oh. Okay. Then wait... what’s weird?”


        Dimitri stood in disbelieving silence; somehow he’d become the third wheel in the car crash that was unfolding around him.

        “Oh my stars!” said Mr. Starchman. “So many of my students in one place!”

        As was natural when fuel is poured upon an escalating wildfire, everybody’s eyes swung to its source. There was their teacher, standing on Dimitri’s lawn, dressed in his finest suit and tie and with a gorgeous woman on his arm.

        Suzy made a sound like wet bagpipes being sucked into a black hole.

        “Sorry we’re so early, Suzy dear,” said Mrs. Starchman. “The film we saw was quite succinct—four seconds of romance in grand Paris! I do so j’adore the fleeting trysts of French New Wave.” She exchanged a loving look with her husband, clearly having shared a fleeting tryst with him for many years

        “Mon dieu, daughter mine!” beeped Mr. Starchman, glancing from Suzy’s beet-red face to Isabel’s. “Ho ho, I hope we haven’t interrupted one of yours!”

        Suzy briefly perished before the electric birth of lifelong synapses, forever enshrining this moment of impossible embarrassment, revived her with the sheer spark of their static.

        Isabel, however, had missed her English teacher’s intimation for the much less subtle gossip that preceded it. “Wait, Mr. Starchman is your dad?” she asked, stating Suzy’s greatest, most humiliating secret—the one she’d lied and bribed and schemed and suffered under Lisa’s thumb to hide—with all too mild surprise. Besides the School Store’s blackmailing proprietress, no one but the Journalism Club, for whom Starchman was advisor in name only, knew that Suzy was related to the world’s most mortifying jester of a man. But now... now... “You’re Suzy Starchman? Huh! I guess there was something I didn’t know about you.”

        Suzy’s banshee shriek echoed out across both Mayview hills and up into a rosy twilight sky.