Status: updates when inspiration and free time collide.

Sotto Voce


“Shit,” Zack swore softly when he realized he’d opened the wrong side of the parmesan cheese, resulting in a powdery white mountain atop his plate of spaghetti. “Hey, do you want some cheese?”

“Sure,” I chuckled, pushing my plate towards his so he could spoon some of the cheese onto my spaghetti. We played a game of twenty questions before we started eating. Well, Zack asked all the questions… The questions he asked me were kind of weird. They weren’t your typical questions – they were very… probing, and deep, and more than a few of them made me uncomfortable, but Zack didn’t seem to care.

After lunch, we relocated to the living room. Zack sat down on the loveseat, but James hopped up and sat beside him, so I sat down on the couch. We put on a movie to pass the time, because Zack promised not to leave me home alone. “Why are you so nice?” I asked as the intro credits played. “What… what is it you want from me?”

“I want your honesty,” Zack said plainly. “You… You’re the only one I refuse to take lies from, Brett.”

“I haven’t been lying to you,” I promised, and it was true. I hadn’t lied to him about anything… I’d withheld some information, and that was different from lying. Right?

“Yeah, well, I want you to be brutally honest with me, then,” Zack sighed, petting James absentmindedly. “Everyone at school is so full of bullshit, and you’re one of the few exceptions. You’re full of… I don’t know yet, but I wanna know.”

“…Really?” I asked with an arched eyebrow, confused as to why someone like Zack would take so much interest in me.

Zack stared at the TV screen, chewing on his cheek. It was wildly attractive because of his fucking perfect jaw line. “Yes, really. I–I… I’m sorry, I don’t usually talk like this,” Zack laughed softly, avoiding eye contact with me now.

“No,no, it’s… I like it,” I told him quietly. James was pushing Zack out of the loveseat, so he sat down on the couch with me. I moved so I could curl up on about two thirds of the couch with my head resting on his lap. “Do you mind if I take a nap?”

“Not at all,” Zack said quietly, and just as I was dozing off, I felt Zack running his fingers through my hair.


“…so sorry about this, I’m Zack Merrick.”

“Oh, no, no, no! It’s fine. Don’t move a muscle, young man, you’re going to wake her up,” my mom chuckled.

I sighed and rubbed my face into my pillow… which was actually Zack’s leg. “Oh, sorry,” I said when I finally came to my senses and sat up. “Was I sleeping long?”

“Your parents are back,” nodding towards the kitchen. He got to his feet, stretching a bit. It was already a quarter to six, but the end credits of the movie were still playing. “I should… I should probably go,” Zack murmured, straightening his rumpled shirt and unhooking his keys off his belt.

“No, no, no! Stay for dinner, young man,” said dad from the kitchen.

Zack looked at the kitchen, me, and the foyer indecisively. “I’d really hate to impose, Mr. and Mrs. Hadley…”

“It’s no imposition,” my dad said loudly. They were unpacking groceries and stuff in the kitchen.

“Yeah, stay for dinner,” I repeated my dad when Zack’s eyes were on me again. He exhaled slowly before clapping his hands together and asking how he could help. I grinned and motioned for him to follow me into the kitchen.

“What do you like to eat, Zack?” mom asked, shutting the fridge. Zack blinked like an owl at her.

“Um… I’ll eat pretty much anything and everything,” Zack admitted, trying not to stare at her.

“Yes, that’s my mom,” I whispered to him as we washed our hands in the kitchen sink. He was taken aback by the contrast between the pitch of her voice and her physical appearance. “Now do you understand why I punched that little whore?”

“How does burgers sound, you guys?” Dad asked, starting to season the meat.

To our surprise, Zack and I said “That sounds great” in unison. He laughed softly, handing me some paper towels. Zack and I started cutting up the lettuce and tomatoes while my dad started the fire on the grill outside and my mom worked on dessert. We made enough for us, though, because my aunt and uncle were having dinner somewhere else tonight. Mom and dad loved doing this kind of simple, home-y stuff. They were always working, so they rarely got to be so domestic.

“So, who exactly are you, Zack?” Mom asked as she washed up all sorts of berries. “Brett’s never brought home friends before… Well, we haven’t really be home before,” she murmured, and I bet Zack heard that. “And she hasn’t really had many friends before,” mom added, making me facepalm.

“Ok, mom,” I said with a loud sigh in that “shut up now, please” tone of voice, which made Zack laugh.

“We go to school together,” Zack piped up before I could. “Brett’s not like most girls at school, and I like that.”

“Ah,” was all that my mother said, but she had that scary knowing look in her eyes that told me I was in for one hell of a conversation later.

“Uh,” Zack choked out, thinking about what he said now. “I-I mean…”

“So you go to the same school? Well, I’m glad to see that Brett’s made such a wonderful friend,” my mom cut him off, and he turned the color of the tomatoes in his hand.

Mom made small talk with Zack, making faces and mouthing phrases at me when his back was turned to me. She thought he was adorable, he was so sweet, he was well mannered and polite…and that we’d been dating since the start of school, because why else would I bring him home at the same, rare time that my parents were home? No, mom. Just, no.

Dinner was nice. Oh, boy, could Zack eat, but dad liked to see that his cooking was appreciated. My parents didn’t grill him, but Zack was very open with everything. I was surprised Zack was so comfortable with them. There was never an awkward silence, and laughter abounded at the table tonight. It was nice. I learned a lot of things about Zack, too.

Zack liked to skateboard. He was interested in photography. Like me, English was his best subject. He could play guitar and bass guitar, but he played bass guitar in his band. He swam competitively for the school team. He also played soccer. He had an older sister named Samantha. He had a part time job at TCBY. He planned on attending the University of Maryland, if the band didn’t work out, to major in photography.

Mom made this amazing berry cobbler, and she put scoops of vanilla ice cream on top. I was kind of glad Zack was so well mannered. My parents wouldn’t mind if he wasn’t very well mannered. They kind of expected boys, and public school kids in general, to lack manners… but they liked Zack a lot, I could tell, which was a huge relief for me, in case we did, you know, end up being together or anything like that which we probably wouldn’t because of reasons, but still.

“It was very nice to meet you, Zack,” my mom said as she began to work on the dishes and dad took care of all the trash. “You’ll take good care of Brett, won’t you? We’re leaving tomorrow, after all…”

“Of course,” Zack laughed softly, rubbing the back of his neck as he stood about the kitchen awkwardly.

“Come on, Zack, I’ll, uh, walk you out,” I said hurriedly, trying to get him out before my mom said anything else to embarrass me. “Sorry about that,” I laughed once we were out on the porch.

“No, no, I like your parents,” Zack told me as he unhooked his keys from his belt. “They’re wonderful.”

I licked my lips before I cleared my throat. “My mom got breast cancer when I was really young, and again when I was in, like, middle school. She had to get both breasts removed. That’s why she’s so flat and looks so much like a guy,” I finally explained to him.

Zack nodded in understanding. “Thanks for today, Brett… and, I meant what I said, you know. To your mom. I’ll… I’ll take care of you,” Zack murmured, standing a little closer to me than he usually did. He leaned down to kiss me… but he didn’t quite make it, especially since I took a step back. “I-I’m sorry, that was – that wasn’t – I’ll just go now,” Zack laughed humorlessly, walking to his car rather dejectedly before speeding away.

…Shit, why did I have to do that?!
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thanks for reading; hope you liked it!
thank you, everyone who commented last chapter! :D
the new mibba doesn't date your comments or my updates
so i can't quite figure out if a comment was meant
for a certain chapter or not... just know that you have my thanks,
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