Status: updates when inspiration and free time collide.

Sotto Voce


“I’ll have a hot chocolate.”

“Make that two,” I told the barista, making sure to pay for the both of us before Brett had a chance to pull out her wallet.

“Zack, come on.”

“It’s the way I was raised,” I told her with a shrug, refusing to take her money. Brett was a girl - a lovely girl. And I knew how to treat a girl right.

We sat down at the counter to wait. “So, tell me, Brett – what have you heard about me?”

Brett tugged on the sleeves of her sweater. That’s all she ever wore – shapeless sweaters, skinny jeans, classic Vans. I couldn’t tell if her body was hot, but her face was easy on the eyes. Speaking of eyes, Brett’s clear eyes were gorgeous, if you could ever see them through that curtain of red hair. Her body language screamed “uncomfortable” right now for some reason.

“You can tell me. Don’t spare my feelings,” I added, prepared to hear some bullshit.

“Jude says you’re, like, the school manwhore. Kelly says you’re a cheater. Lots of girls claimed to have slept with you. And apparently your nudes are circulating around the internet,” Brett laughed weakly.

I sighed deeply, snapping the wooden coffee stirrer in my hand before I knew it. “The only thing that’s true is the last thing that you said.” Brett’s ice blue eyes flicked up to my face for a moment before dropping back down to her feet. A few moments passed…nothing. Not another word from her. The barista called our order, and I went up to get the drinks. “Thanks, Brett,” I sighed as I put her drink down in front of her before taking my seat again.

“For what?”

“For not asking whether the other things in your list of rumors are true,” I sighed softly, unable to help smiling at her. I think I got rid of said smile before Brett noticed it, though. Brett was more than a little prude. But I kind of liked that about her. She hasn’t been around people long enough for her to feel bitter at the world. My only problem with Brett is her lack of expression. I could never tell what she was thinking or feeling. Another thing I noticed about her – people would take advantage of her because she seemed so naive, but it was more innocence than naïveté on her part. I haven’t seen that in a person for quite some time now.

Which is probably why they wanted to corrupt her so badly.

“Do…Do, uh, people say stuff about me?” Brett asked curiously after a sip of hot chocolate. “Or… do they just not know I exist…?”

Brett was so cute when she was nervous because he was genuinely nervous; She wasn’t playing the tease.“ I hear that you’re mentally ill, that you’re a virgin, that you carry a boxcutter in your purse, and that you were homeschooled.”

“The only thing that isn’t true is the first one…I’d like to say,” Brett laughed, spinning a little bit on the bar stool.

“You were homeschooled?”

“Since fifth grade,” Brett admitted with a soft laugh. I wonder when I would hear her laugh genuinely, instead of from nervousness. “I’ve been in small private schools before then…This is my first and last year in public school, and I already want it to be over,” Brett huffed, taking the lid off her hot chocolate. “The boxcutter – I work at a drugstore,” Brett continued. “I use the boxcutter to open boxes and stuff all the time. And as for my virginity… Why does it matter? I don’t think people need to know about that,” Brett muttered, crossing her legs at the knees, obviously uncomfortable with the subject.

“Hey, it’s cool if you’re a virgin. Don’t be ashamed of it or whatever. Being a virgin at Towson is like…like being a rare, exotic bird.” Brett laughed, and it was lovely – the way it sounded, the way her face lit up, the way she couldn’t control her smile. “Seriously, though, Brett – don’t let them bother you about that. You could become just like all those other girls easily. They will never be like you again.”

Brett pensively stirred her hot chocolate, so I spoke some more. “As for me…Jude is a liar, and Kelly’s the cheat. The girls claiming they’ve slept with me are just using the rumors circulated by Jude and Kelly to cover for them. Kelly and I used to date. I broke up with her because…well, because she kept pressuring me to have sex with her and I wouldn’t put out… Wow, I sound like such a girl,” I scoffed, angry with myself for being so truthful with Brett. Why was it so much easier to bare my soul to a stranger than to my best friend? “She posted my nudes online as revenge, I guess. She started talking shit about me at school, too. So, that’s why I’m known as the resident manwhore of Towson High.”

Brett drank some more of her hot chocolate in silence. “Why do you put up with it, Zack?” I was about to answer her, but her phone rang. "Hello, Aunt, I'm studying with a friend," Brett lied smoothly. "Is it so surprising to hear that I have friends?” Brett asked in frustration, making me smile. She’d been homeschooled for the best years of her youth. I can’t imagine how she would have been able to make friends, being at home all the time and stifled by her parents like that… I know I would have lost my mind. But at least she’s got me now. “Yes. Yes, of course. Yes. Bye.” Brett hung up with a sigh. “I’m sorry, where were we?”

“I put up with it because…well, I’m almost done with it, you know? Soon enough, I’ll never have to see or deal with any of these people again. Soon enough, I’ll be gone and I’ll forget all about this pointless bullshit we call high school…”
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thanks for reading; hope you enjoyed it!
thanks for the editing help, roll_your_eyes_at_me!
you guys, i got asked to prom. which is like, a dream come true for me. but.
i never even planned on going to prom in the first place and it's this weekend...
i always promised myself i would never go to prom unless i was asked...karma...
LE SIGH. but anyways. feedback would be lovely and greatly appreciated!!!