Olivia and Sebastian break up after two months. Sebastian gets a gig in Berlin; Olivia gets tired of having to cut her study group sessions short.
It's good, to be single for a little while, she tells herself. It's good to have a solid group of girlfriends to ride out the end of high school with. It’s good to study.
"Ugh, finally," Viola says, when she tells her. "You're way too hot for him, anyway."
Olivia nudges her with her shoulder, and goes back to reading about mitochondria.
She rushes freshman year (god, WHY, Viola groans at her over IM, and she knows, she knows what people say about sororities, about sorority girls, but Olivia finds it very rewarding.
(It's just a way to meet people, she scolds Viola. Like a club. Like soccer.
soccer is not a CLUB!!!, Viola writes back.)
She makes friends, she makes (mostly) A's, she makes out with: a kid from her history glass, a boy in a bar, a scruffy DU pledge at the rivalry tailgate. He grabs her ass, grabs her breast, grabs her hand, tries to lead her up the steps of his frat house.
She sends him on his way.
Her big, Deena, appears at her side. "Good call, that guy's the worst."
"Oh, you know him?"
"I know his type. His type is why I only made out with girls last year."
Olivia feels her face getting pink. "I'm sorry, what?"
"Last year I thought I might be bi so I stopped going to parties and just made out with all the girls on my floor. Turns out I am not bi but still. Kissing all my friends was still a much better time than kissing a bunch of gross dudes. What about you? Have you done the whole exploring your sexuality thing yet?"
"No?" Olivia answers. "I guess--I guess I never realized that was an option?"
"Oh, it's totally an option. Most kids here seem to be straight though. But, hmmm." Deena wrinkles her nose. "There's a lesbian in DG? I think? The pretty girl?"
Olivia says: "You say every girl's a pretty girl."
Olivia says: "Statistically, there has to be more than just one."
She thinks: the two rugby girls who walk across the quad every day at 4 pm with linked arms. The library coffee shop night shift barista. The girl with the dangly earrings who looks at her in chem lab.
Olivia tries to figure out which DG girl is gay but it's hard—Deena comes up blank when Olivia asks for additional descriptors. She scans faces in crowds. She frowns.
A week after she's given up looking, Olivia's spooning olives onto her tray at the dining hall salad bar and a girl with dark hair and a tattoo across her forearm slides up beside her.
"Come to a tie party with me," the girl says. She has green eyes and impeccable eyeliner and Olivia is transfixed.
"Um, sorry, what?" Olivia asks. Drops the plastic serving spoon, flustered.
"Party? Next Thursday? Want to be one of my dates?"
Olivia starts. "I'm sorry, one of your dates?"
The girl smiles. "Yeah, we get two, but my roommate wants to come because she's obsessed with lacrosse guys and basically the entire men's lacrosse team is gonna be there, so. Want to be my other?"
Olivia flushes without meaning to. "Do I have to like. Wear a tie?"
"Technically, but it doesn't have to be a tie-tie. Just loop it around your purse, if menswear isn't your thing."
Olivia nods, smiles. Says, okay.
Gets eaten out by the girl with the green eyes and amazing eyeliner (seriously, wingtips) that next Thursday night.
Her name is Alex and she's a Kappa, not a DG, so that means there's at least two. Three, if Olivia counts herself.
At Deena's end of semester ugly sweater party, Alex tucks her hand into Olivia's back pocket. Leans against her side. Olivia wraps her arm around her and pulls her into a loose easy kiss, at the end of the night. Tugs her into her dorm room.
Olivia realizes: she definintely counts herself.
She tells her mom, who bless her, takes the news in stride.
She does not tell Vi.
She and Alex hook up off and on throughout the rest of the year. Keep vaguely in touch throughout winter break. Are casually flirty over AIM, keep it lowkey girlfriendly at parties, have super amazing sex every other week. And it's great? It's great. Olivia is happy with their situation. She just wants more in a way she knows Alex decidedly does not, a year ahead of her, and already counting down the weeks till her junior year abroad.
Olvia wants: someone to talk to every day, someone to hold her hand. Someone to reliably know how to get her off. Someone she can wake up to, smiling.
Alex nods at the photos thumbtacked to her wall. "Is that your high school girlfriend?"
"Just friend. Well? Best friend? My ex's sister."
"Ah," Alex says, and leaves it at that.
Viola and Duke break up in January.
She calls Olivia every week with tales of hooking up with this guy or that. Olivia's stomach churns.
(She wants to be supportive, she does. But.)
Viola comes to visit over spring break. Sleeps in Olivia's bed with her for a week as Olivia goes to class and groans about their breaks not lining up. Olivia takes her around town in between cramming for midterms, the coffee place down the hill and the bar that takes fakes around the corner, Deena's house, across campus.
"Hey lady," Alex says, nodding at Olivia when they elbow their way to the drink table. Lets her gaze linger.
Viola's jaw drops, looks at Alex, then Olivia. Back at Alex.
"I didn't know this," Viola shouts, and squeezes Olivia's arm.
"I wish you had told me," Viola wails, five hours later, and vomits into the toilet.
Olivia sighs. Combs her fingers through Vi's hair.
"How's Alex?" Viola asks every time they talk for the next two weeks.
"She's fine? I mean. I think. I don't know. I haven't seen her lately."
"WHY? Was she mean to you? Do I need to come there and fight with her because I totally will."
"No, Olivia, it's fine. Tell me about the soccer keeper guy."
"You're adorable. The goalkeeper, and yes," and Viola's off and running on a ten minute tangent.
"What's it like, liking girls?”
Olivia shrugs. “What’s it like liking men?”
Summer comes; Olivia and Alex say goodbye with a college bar bathroom stall makeout and zero promises to keep in touch over the summer. Olivia stumbles back to her dorm room half-drunk on Everclear and touches herself; pictures Viola between her legs.
It’s just because Viola texted her about summer plans, Oliva tells herself. It’s just because Viola was fresh in her mind.
Oliva resolves to get over Alex for her summer project; she resolves to meet some new people. Viola volunteers herself to be her wingman, which is unnecessary, but appreciated. She texts Oliva reviews of a a gay bar she found on yelp, with lots of question marks. With the word: Saturday?
Oliva texts back: Yes please.
Saturday comes; Viola picks her up at eight. Shoots down every woman Olivia thinks she might talk to (too tall too skinny too boring too drunk). Olivia looks at Vi’s nervous hands, her too tight shoulders. Takes a sip of her drink, and shrugs. Says, “Maybe next week.”
Next week comes, and it’s more of the same: Vi making excuse after excuse over why a given girl isn’t good enough for Olivia. Vi standing closer and closer to her, resting her hand on Olivia’s arm or wrist or waist, possessive.
By the fourth week, Olivia asks: “Is there someone here you want to meet?” and Viola splutters excuses, and looks at the bar, at the bartender, at Olivia’s right ear. Viola's voice is very high, and her hands flutter in her lap.
Oliva steps closer. “Viola. Do you want to kiss me right now?”
Viola scrunches up her face, groans. “Ugh. Maybe? It’s not a specific right-at-this-moment desire. More like a lowlevel constant yearning.”
Oliva pauses, cocks her head. “How lowlevel?”
Viola slouches against the bar, groans. “I don’t know? Everyday? Or every week? Or however often you wear, like—" Viola gestures to Olivia’s outfit. Continues, “something perfect."
Oliva’s heart’s tripping over itself, and she knows this will likely end badly, she knows. She’s seen the stats about high school relationships never lasting in college, about never lasting after.
Oliva straightens her shoulders. Olivia tucks her hair behind her ears. Olivia says: “Kiss me” and is nearly knocked over with the force of it.
Oliva pulls Viola into her bed that night. Olivia thinks, Oh.