Putting on a production worthy of the stage, Ryan and Luke are fake boyfriends acting in a very weird show for dubious personal gain. And they’re actually really bad at acting, but since I’m tying this into the theater it sounded better to say they were stage worthy. No, it still works. A comedy of errors is a thing, so that’s what they are.
It only now occurs to me that I don’t actually have to reference the theater because this story takes place after the characters see a play, but it is, you know, after that. So fake boyfriends Ryan and Luke are at an after party where Luke thinks thoughts.
While I wouldn’t say Luke was straight until Ryan came into his life, I would say he had no idea liking guys was an option for him until, well, not this part. He still doesn’t know that, but it’s helpful information to know to avoid being as confused as him.
So Luke is at a party and nothing makes sense, which is par for the course of his life lately. This scene is sort of in the book One Little Word, but this is a different version.
I expected Zach to watch the spectacle of me and Ryan like it was quality entertainment. I wasn’t even surprised when he brought microwave popcorn to lunch one day, the perfect snack while he watched the show. He was around laughing at my expense, but I secretly appreciated that.
Zach and Joey knew this wasn’t real, hell half the school probably believed the true rumor Alicia and Lydia started, but they didn’t know for sure. It helped that Zach did, that there was someone who knew it wasn’t like that and treated me just the same, like I was there to amuse him.
So while him being a total jerk comforted me in one sense, I also appreciated a break from Zach at the play. The theater wasn’t what he considered quality entertainment. Ryan and I hadn’t really gone together, but Lydia didn’t respond to my texts, so the two of us technically went together.
I had to figure out a way to get Lydia while pretending to be with Ryan. I was meeting with the scholarship guys, I would get on their radar, and hopefully things would go from there. They wouldn’t have to know I was dating Lydia; I was getting good at hiding things.
No, that was being unfair. To myself. Maybe I was having a conscience. I had no time for anything pesky like that. My family wasn’t rich, so I needed scholarships as much as anyone. And I was an ally, I was part of that whole LGBT+ thing, right? So, I counted. I knew this should be wrong. Why didn’t I feel that guilty about it?
This was the perfect time to make something happen with Lydia, but I ended up babysitting Ryan.
Maybe that wasn’t fair. He was normally pretty entertaining, but he was hilarious when drunk. I’d get distracted and turn back to Lydia, but Alicia was keeping her company, so I’d make sure Ryan didn’t accidentally kill himself somehow. He broke his leg totally sober, so it could happen.
Lydia and Alicia were giggling about something on one side of me, and Ryan’s head fell on my shoulder. We were supposed to be dating, so I let it happen, but the moment felt weirdly intimate as a slower song started to play.
Well, it felt weirdly intimate for a second or two, until a third wheel stood in front of us.
“Zach!” Ryan yelled right in my ear, the full force of that dopey drunk grin now turned on my best friend.
What was he doing here? “You didn’t even come to the show,” I pointed out.
“Gross,” he said. Then he nodded to Alicia. “No offense.”
“I had to sit through a baseball game for these two.” She gestured to me and Ryan. “I totally get it.”
“That’s like a party foul,” I insisted.
“I brought booze,” Zach added, holding up a dark-colored bottle of something he purchased with his fake I.D. It wasn’t like he could steal liquor from his house. Oh yeah.
He really should know this, but in case he didn’t, I informed him, “Muslims aren’t supposed to drink.”
He sent me an incredulous look. “No one here is supposed to drink. We’re all minors.”
So as I understood it, “That makes you, like, double wrong.”
“Ignore him,” Lydia said to my best friend while keeping her eyes on the alcohol. “You’re totally welcome.”