Cordelia grimaces as her stomach loudly announces its empty state once again, then curses herself for missing lunch on account of a meeting with Miss Snow on potential colleges. The meeting had been simultaneously exciting and intimidating, as the adult world draws nearer.
It’s not that she doesn’t want to go to college. She guesses it’s sort of natural progression in her life, and she’s never going to be a teacher if she doesn’t get the right qualifications. Yet the speed of their upcoming graduation trembles her nerves. Already, early March approaches. The days fleet past without her permission, faster and faster, until she’s scared it’ll be their last day at school already.
It’s as though she’s lost afloat a raft on a long, bustling river; the view may be pretty, engrossing even, but she’s increasing in speed and there’s no banks near enough to clutch onto.
So yeah, the idea of leaving High school is just a little daunting.
But right now, it seems to pale in comparison as her hunger demands attention.
Beside her, Misty smirks behind her hand and regards her with squinted, mirth filled eyes. “Is that noise you?” she scoots in closer, desperate to grin even as Cordelia squirms with embarrassment.
“I haven’t eaten anything since breakfast.” She grumbles, any attempts to focus on the lecture thwarted by an uncomfortable twist in her stomach. All she can do is chug at her water bottle and hope it does something to satiate the emptiness.
“Since breakfast?” Misty reels, voice rising so much in surprise that she almost catches the attention of Miss Pembroke. When beady eyes briefly move their way, they both pretend to be taking notes in an instant, faces evolving into far more attentive expressions than what the class actually deserves. It does the job - she turns back to the board and Misty twists on the stool to face her again, still smiling and as pretty as ever. “Are ya serious?”
Cordelia nods pathetically, her smile half there. It only remains on her lips because Misty is by her side and that keeps her on the cusp of hangry rather than lost in its depths.
She jumps slightly when Misty leaps into action, knocking pens and books askew to reach for her weathered backpack in order to tug out a packet of Nutter butter bites with as much discreetness as she can. Which, for the record, is very little. She nudges them in the direction of Cordelia, waiting and watching with wide eyes.
“I can’t take your food off you Misty.” Cordelia begins to almost instant protests.
Misty rests her head on one hand and gives a small but firm shake of her head as the snacks are pushed back to her side of the desk. “I ain’t havin’ you go hungry.” The Cajun insists, lips cloaked in a delicate smile that makes Cordelia’s stomach hurt in a different kind of way.
Eyeing the packet, she sighs. “We’re not supposed to eat in class.”
But that attempt is met with a raised brow and a disbelieving scoff. “I do it all the time.”
And that is no lie. Most days in biology she sits listening to Misty happily chewing on some item of food, no matter the time of the day and with little care for the class’ rules on food. Cordelia finds herself leaning in just like Misty had, all too close with merely inches between them. “That’s ‘cause you’re a rebel.” She whispers mockingly, enjoying Misty's liberal eye roll and grin way more than she should.
“And you’re stubborn.” Misty counters, teeth poking out between her lips.
True to the name, she finds herself staring at Misty with some sort of unwavering determination that she won’t take food from her. Not really because of the eating in class rule. In all honesty, that’s the last thing on her mind. The real reason hangs on her tongue, bitter and reluctant and guilty. Because it’s not exactly a secret amongst her and her friends that Misty’s family don’t really have a lot of money, and there’s a strong voice in the back of her mind insisting that taking her food is wrong.
It’s kind of stupid, she knows, seeing as Misty is offering. Not exactly like she’s snatching it from unwilling hands, but that voice isn’t quiet. In fact, it rivals the noise that her stomach is currently trying to share with the entire class. She sighs, conflicted and under pressure, and feeling awfully silly for both of those things.
Especially when Misty moves them closer once again, seemingly oblivious to Cordelia’s inner turmoil (thankfully). “Just eat them.” Misty laughs lightly.
“Are you sure?” she eventually sighs.
Misty’s patience might be wearing thin, yet her smile prevails. “’Course I am.”
The delicate way the words are ushered are enough to bring any of Cordelia’s protests crumbling down and she reaches for the packet with a grateful smile. She is far more inconspicuous as Misty, wincing and eyes squeezing almost to a close every time to plastic rustles while she tries to open it. Not before long, she takes a handful and eats them with a ladylike manner rather than taking the whole bag and tipping it between her lips like she wants to.
So consumed with filling the pit in her stomach, she barely notices a set of blue eyes gazing intensely her way. She tries to stifle an embarrassing noise of appreciation at the sweet taste of the treats. Airy giggles inform her of Misty’s observation, bringing a burning to her cheeks.
She almost goes to apologize for her, but something about the way Misty regards her that lets her know it’s not needed. Instead, she smiles and places the almost empty wrapper down, then flickers eyes to the front of the class. “Which page where we up to?” she asks, pointing to the textbook in front of them.
“Oh.” Misty straightens, eyes widening slightly. “I. . . have no idea.”
Cordelia volleys between the textbook and the board at the front in an attempt to make a match, a satisfied smile jumping to her lips when she does. “There.”
Even so, she doesn’t pay attention. Not really. Or not to the teacher that is, because Misty is suddenly doodling next to her, with focused eyes and her left hand floating across the page easily. The new distraction is all too tempting, and she briefly wonders if she’s going to pass biology at this rate, but Misty’s actions just beckon her without words. The Cajun is aware that she’s watching, as for a moment she stiffens under the gaze, only for muscles to melt in its warmth. Her doodles today are of the floral variety, with marigolds and hyacinths in such vivid detail that Cordelia thinks she could reach out and feel tangible velvety petals if she tried to. One flower brings a halt to Cordelia’s admiration, or more smacks it straight out of the nearby window.
She recognizes it instantly; the same carnation that someone had anonymously given Misty on Valentine’s day. Try as she might, the jealously clings to the roof of her mouth like glue. When Misty glances up at her with a soft set smile, Cordelia’s own is far too strained. If Misty realizes, she keeps her thoughts to herself and remains silent.
Most of the class goes by as such and the bell rings out like a savior, triggering a rush of students all eager to go home. Cordelia is one of those, stuffing her books into her satchel in what can only be described as an organized mess. Beside her, Misty shoves her stuff in while barely looking, seeing as her eyes follow Cordelia while she walks around the desk.
“You still hungry?” she asks suddenly, pulling Cordelia from the fog of her thoughts.
Her tummy gurgles in response. “Guess so.”
Misty chuckles and cradles her drawing pad to her chest. With her spare hand, she tucks an unruly curl behind her ear and Cordelia could almost convince herself that the Cajun is nervous if she tried enough. “Wanna go to Wendy’s?” she asks, azure eyes locking onto Cordelia’s and refusing to relent.
The older blonde nods keenly, partly out of hunger, but mostly out of the thought of spending more time with Misty.
“You didn’t have to do this.” She speaks half-heartedly, peering over at the food on Misty’s lap that the Cajun had insisted on paying for (“It was my idea to come here, Delia.”). Even so, a smile tiptoes onto her lips; there’s something awfully wonderful about the idea of Misty’s good deed.
She slowly pulls into the parking lot on the overlook, relieved to see it empty other than her car. Misty smiles at that realization too and struggles to reach for the handle with all the bags weighing her arms down. “I wanted to.”
Cordelia moves around and opens the door for her, then reaches out to take a warm paper bag from her hand and relieve Misty’s struggle. Her smirk is visible despite the evening light. “Plus, you looked super hungry.”
Misty grins fondly and begins to slowly trek over to the edge where dry grass sprouts over rocky mounds. There is little hesitation on plonking herself down, legs dangling over, before she turns to Cordelia expectantly. The older blonde obeys those eyes and sits down too, even if the grass tickles the sensitive skin at the back of her legs.
For once, she matches Misty’s vigor when it comes to eating, chewing without abandon until her burger is happily sitting in her stomach. Misty, still faster, is already chomping on some fries and offers the tub over in her direction. “Thank you.” Cordelia says curtly, taking a couple and eating with more reservation now that the majority of her hunger is under control. “Why aren’t you having dinner at home tonight?”
Stopping mid bite, Misty gives a frown. “It’s stupid.” She mumbles.
Cordelia shuffles closer. “I’m sure it’s not.”
Her silence says otherwise as Misty peers outwards over the town in discontent. Her face twists this way and that, unable to decide what expression to go with. In the end, a scowl is the ultimate winner. “They’re havin’ Callie.”
A pause. “Callie?” Cordelia doesn’t speak the name the same way Misty had, with fondness and hurt and something close to heartbreak.
“One of our hogs.” Misty clarifies with a crack in her voice even as she tries to keep it together with fragile strength. When Cordelia struggles to reply, for a lack of the right thing to say, she gives a harsh laugh. “Told you it was stupid.”
“No, I – " She senses the way she’s losing Misty and reaches out hands, hoping a tactile approach will shake away the sorrow. “Misty, hey. That’s not stupid.”
“Sylivia said I was bein’ a brat ‘cause I don’t wanna eat her. But. . . she – she. . .” Misty winces. “I just can’t. We’ve had her since she was a baby.”
She nods sympathetically, hands squeezing Misty’s shoulders. “I think that’s actually really sweet of you.”
Her head snaps up. “So, you don’t think I’m bein’ dumb?”
“I'd never think that.”
Misty’s lips purse together, more to control the wobble in them, and she practically falls into Cordelia’s grasp, head meeting her shoulder. Cordelia’s insides jump at the contact, but even so she forces her outward exterior to remain calm and continue her comfort of Misty. “And,” she starts hopefully, “if you hadn’t asked me here, I’d be eating dinner alone tonight. So, I’m really thankful for that.”
“I’d eat with you every night.” Misty says aloud, so serious and out of place to Cordelia’s light words that she is dumbstruck for a moment.
Then a smile eases on her lips. “That’s just because you love food.”
Coyness usurps the last of the sadness littered on her lips and the pair seem to relax under the warm evening winds that blows grass blades in every direction. “I love spending time with you as well.” She admits, twisting her neck to stare upwards where Cordelia’s hair tangles with her own.
The older blonde, fighting a lump that’s trying its hardest to ascend her throat, smiles and breathes out before she explodes. “That means a lot to me, Misty.”
Her smile widens until pretty dimples poke at her flushed cheeks. “I mean it.” Her boring eyes let Cordelia know that her words seep with honesty and meaning; the very same that tugs at her insides until they’re tightened into a complicated knot. But Misty’s intensity dissipates away all too easy and she returns her gaze to the town. “And I love bein’ us here, too.”
“Yeah.” She agrees, surprised to find words when her lungs ache with a lack of air. “It’s peaceful.”
Misty sucks in a long breath and hums her accord. She gives a half smile, “wish it could be like this all the time.”
“I can’t believe how fast this year is going.” Cordelia laments much in the same way she had to Miss snow in her office not too many hours ago. She shivers in the realization that the two might have a finite number of moments like this, if they go to different colleges; she has half a mind to convince Misty to apply wherever she goes, or vice versa.
Before she can even begin to contemplate the idea of them being separated and the concurrent panic it stirs, Misty’s hand is in hers, as if she can read each new troubled line on Cordelia’s face. “Don’t think about that.” She says aloud, to herself as much as Cordelia.
Misty’s hand is warm in hers, rough and soft at the same time, with mismatched rings catching the sensitive skin of Cordelia’s palm. She sits in silence for a few moments, stunned by the simple action that fights her anxiety head on. It wins, all too easily. Without thinking, she fidgets with the nearest ring on Misty’s pale thumb, where three silver bands connect to make one piece of jewellery. “I like this one.” She peers down to the only one on her own hand, a pretty birthstone that she’d gotten from her grandmother for her sixteenth birthday.
The Cajun moves in toward it with a strangely delicate approach, fingertips barely grazing the stone. “This one is nicer.” Misty comments, tongue darting out of her mouth nervously. “What is it?”
“Sapphire.” Cordelia rolls the ring on her finger for a moment, more of an edgy tick than anything else. Like your eyes. She admires alongside a doting smile. Misty is so close, brimming with admiration; the sun is low in the sky, forcing both of them to peer at once another through squinted, barely there gazes. Maybe it is for the best because she’s sure the full sight of Misty bathed like an angel in sunlight might be enough to break her resolve one day. And then she’ll be tempted to kiss her. Even now, in their proximity, she glances to parted lips that seem to shimmer from some sort of lip gloss.
A grin springs onto her face pleasantly. “You don’t normally wear lip gloss.” She points out, cringing as Misty now knows that she was staring at her lips. Like she does an awful lot these days.
Misty blinks, a hand flying to her lips. “Oh yeah.” She pulls back slightly, head bowing and fingers slipping from Cordelia’s. The older blonde only chuckles and regards her with amusement over the fact that she seems to have forgotten she had it on. “My sister gave it to me.”
Cordelia hums and stares out at the view, impressed at her own ability to tug wanting eyes away from those lips.
But it isn’t so easy when Misty’s sweet southern cadence demands its return. “Don’t ya like it?”
“I -” She jerks slightly at the way words abruptly halt on her lips. Clearing her throat, she sighs and nods. “It’s nice.” Her brows suddenly knit together, mouth tugging downwards into a frown even if her next sentence is teasing (and a little accusing). “Are you wearing that to impress some guy?”
Misty tenses, hands curling in on themselves. “No.” Her body retreats from Cordelia where she crosses arms over her chest and glares out at the same view Cordelia had been admiring with something else glistening behind her eyes. “I ain’t tryna impress anyone.” Misty grunts.
“Oh.” It’s barely there, hidden behind rustling grass.
The Cajun doesn’t acknowledge it.
This means that she misses the way Cordelia winces and then slumps beside her, suddenly growing cold. “Guys wouldn’t notice, anyway.” She scoffs out. “I dated Hank for at least a year and he never noticed if I made an effort.” Dejection lathers each syllable of her speech. “Guys are idiots.”
When Misty continues her silence, she feels words bubbling over with the need to fill the space between them.
“They also burp all the time. And fart.” She wrinkles her nose in disgust. “And all they want to do is have sex with you, quite frankly.”
Misty raises a brow. “Thought you loved him?”
She exhales wistfully. “On reflection, I think I just like the idea of not being alone.”
“Yeah.” She sighs in understanding. “I get that.” Misty’s gaze grows darker, black filling her blue irises. “I’m real glad you dumped him. He didn’t deserve you.” Though she won’t look at Cordelia, the words carry over with ease and wrap fondly around her. Misty’s lips curl into a disapproving snarl. “I hated that guy.”
An undignified snort follows from Cordelia. “Really? You hid it so well.”
“He’s an ass.”
She’s pulling her face again, all annoyed and perturbed but somehow in the most endearing of ways. Cordelia is drawn back in time to when they’d come up here the night they’d egged Hank’s car, how Misty had a few choice words to say about him then as well. “Yeah. He is.” Still, he’d filled a void, no matter how badly.
Misty looks to her now, with a serious nature tainting her usually soft cadence. “Do you really think all guys are idiots?”
This pulls an airy laugh from her lungs, before Cordelia offers a half shrug. “I hope not. Maybe they’ll be different when we get into college. That’s where my parents met.” She mimics the way Misty is sitting, with knees tugged closely to her chest and arms wrapping around them, hunched forward in a closed manner. Neck lulling to one side, she follows the movement of vehicles below them, anything to keep her mind somewhat focused.
Resting her chin on her knees, Misty frowns in sympathy. “Do you remember much about your dad?”
At first, she struggles to register the words; ones that she certainly didn’t anticipate coming up now of all moments. She turns to Misty, the thickness in the air stealing her response from her, paralyzing every fibre of her muscles.
Her hollowed eyes must say it all, seeing as Misty’s forehead creases together sadly, lips on the cusp on a sympathetic wobble. “It’s shit, isn’t it?”
“What is?” she croaks out, wondering who’s replaced her voice with this measly thing.
Misty’s smile is strained and fits right at home in the suddenly gloomy air around them. “Losin’ a parent.”
She blinks and rubs at tears that she hadn’t realized were gathering, feeling rather silly and vulnerable and small under Misty’s intense smoulder.
“Yeah, it is.”
Cordelia doesn’t mean to sound so weak, especially about something that she hasn’t really even dwelled over for years; something that happened when she was merely a kid. Especially in front of Misty, with a death so fresh in her own past. But the Cajun shifts onto her side and eases nearer. “C’mere.” Long arms snake around her before she even has a chance to register her presence, tugging her closer and against the Cajun until her head rests in the crook of her neck.
It’s warm and suffocating in the best of ways, keeping her flush against Misty – so near that if she strained her hearing, she’s sure she could make out the pulse of her heart against that neck. She sighs then, casting out her heavy thoughts where they can’t bother her any more. Misty acts like a guardian, bathed in a mystifying white light that shines through gentle eyes and a sweet, caring smile.
She sniffles and then exhales once more, counting its length by the second in her head. “I don’t know why I’m crying.” Cordelia confesses in a barely there voice.
“Cryin’ is good.” Misty says. “It means you’re feelin’ something.”
And the way she says it, without a hint of humor behind her gaze, makes Cordelia wonder how many times Misty cries just to experience a swell of emotion. She tightens her grip on the Cajun until the whites of her knuckles make an appearance.
Those ringed fingers suddenly stroke through her straight hair, a light graze that leaves a tickling sensation in its wake. Cordelia all but melts in Misty’s embrace. “Do you?” She asks, not caring to wonder anymore and wanting to know instead.
Misty blinks. “Do I what?”
“Do you cry?” She begins, sadness seeping into her vacant expression. “About your mom?”
She doesn’t answer straight away, with face contorting a number of ways until it settles on desolate. “Sometimes.” Cordelia can feel vibrations of her words against her cheek and she closes her eyes to relish them even further. She also senses the way Misty takes in a sharp gulp. “Tommy says it don’t do anyone good dwellin’ on what’s happened though.”
Cordelia twists upwards, fingers finding Misty’s without much effort. “You guys don’t talk about it?” She isn’t sure why surprise grips at her words; how often does Fiona bring up her dad? She's sure that she could count the amount of times on one hand, yet her heart aches for Misty in a way it doesn’t pang for herself.
“Nah.” Misty doesn’t seem to share her concerns. “Not really.”
An offer springs freely from her lips, eager in its nature. “If you ever do want to talk. . . you know I’m here, right?”
Now, Misty manages a genuine smile. “Uh huh.”
“Any time. Night or day.” She continues. “Even if it’s four in the morning. I will be there to talk.”
“I’ll hold you to that.” Misty chuckles, “ya might regret offerin’.”
Cordelia joins her in mirth, just for the moment. “Never.” She unwinds herself from Misty’s torso, ignoring her body’s cry to be near to the Cajun once more and lost in the sweet smell of her perfume. That call resisted, she admires Misty through her suddenly red rimmed eyes and wipes away at the last of the wetness.
When she shivers with something other than the cold, Misty shrugs off her baggy sweater and sweeps it over Cordelia’s shoulders without a second thought. She gives a harsh laugh against the backdrop of blooming trees and fluffy clouds. “Only we could come here to eat our burgers and end up talking about our dead parents.”
The older blonde’s own chuckle is disbelieving, drawn out alongside weak sighs. What is it about Misty that wants to make her spill out her entire life story over a casual hangout? “You brought it up.” She attempts a smirk but it might get lost a little in translation.
Misty’s fingers linger on her shoulders that little bit longer. “I'm sorry.”
“Don’t be.” She insists, her own index finger grazing over Misty’s for the briefest of seconds. If she notices, she doesn’t make to move in any way. “It’s strangely cathartic, in a way.”
“Guess you’re right.” Misty offers a half smile, faint in nature.
Cordelia, growing braver, places her full palm over Misty’s loitering hand, an added weight to her shoulder. She tries to ignore the fact that her own is probably clammy and hot, though Misty appears far from deterred. “You can talk to me about anything.”
She grins happily, face scrunching up all too prettily. “I know that, Delia.”
“Just. . .” The weather may be cooling around them, but the heat of her growing anxiety burns inside her chest. Her fingers migrate on Misty’s, delicately and fearfully moving from the girl’s pale palm to where she has some black cotton ties covering her wrists. She always has something covering her wrists, Cordelia has noticed. Tips graze the material in a deliberate move for the briefest of seconds. Not for long, but enough for Misty to stare at it in bewilderment. “Anything.” She emphasises, voice thick with emotion even as she tries to keep it steady.
Wide and glistening blue eyes return the distress in Cordelia’s, and Misty catches the meaning of her words, at what Cordelia is insinuating; the times she’s sat and wondered and fretted over the idea that Misty could have possibly hurt herself on purpose.
The ache in her heart only deepens when her supposedly comforting words force the Cajun out of her touch, fingers slipping away like a wave slips from the sand’s grasp. Cordelia just hopes it will return at some point. Tightness embraces her as an old friend would, squeezing the air from her lungs while she watches Misty curl in on herself. Hands fuss and tighten the bands around her wrists; annoyed, perturbed, but also ashamed, with worry dancing on her wobbly lower lip and lines growing deep into her expression like cracks across ice.
“If I think of anythin’, I’ll let you know.” She mutters through tense teeth.
Any courage that Cordelia thinks she could have cowers within her, save for one tiny amount. It gives her just enough strength to whisper out Misty’s name.
Hard eyes fall on her, making her squirm on the spot. “What?” And her expression is steel, intimidating and daring her to utter the question that hangs plainly on her lips. Cordelia doesn’t, or maybe she can’t. Even if she’s sure that there is a pleading lost in the abyss of Misty’s guess.
She hangs her head and sighs. “Nothing.” Shame sticks to both syllables of the reply. Coward.
Cordelia isn’t sure how long they sit there like that
All she does know is that she hates every second of it.
Misty watches her the entire time, the ice in her gaze relenting with the lull of the minutes as though she doesn’t have it in her to stay mad at the older blonde. She eventually heaves in a long breath and so starts the tension of who will be the first to speak.
To her surprise, she’s the one to do it. “I didn’t mean to upset you.”
Her perceptive gaze catches Misty’s frown. The Cajun purses her lips and shakes her head lightly while her hand finds Cordelia’s shoulder to give it a squeeze. “You didn’t. Don’t worry about me.”
But I do.
She knows that her face must say it all without words, seeing as Misty plays that strong façade once more. “Honestly.” She laughs oh so quietly. “It’s all good.” Her smile widens until dimples poke at her cheeks. “I’m with you.”
Those three words are enough to calm and frenzy her heart at the same time.
“Okay.” She breathes.
Misty shakes off the heavy air around them, eager to rid it from their lives and moves to stand as Cordelia remains in the spot thoughtfully. “C’mon.” She nudges her side with her foot. “It’s gonna be dark soon.”
She rises to her feet too, wiping grass blades from her clothes and then following Misty in the direction of the car. Her hands move to hug herself in the chilly air, only to realize Misty’s jumper is still wrapped over her shoulders. Cordelia slows, smiling despite their terse interaction moments ago.
The Cajun doesn’t ask for it back, even as they climb into their seats. “Do you mind droppin' me off nearer to the cabin?" Misty asks after a few moments.
Cordelia balks. “You’re gonna walk there alone?”
“I do it all the time.” Misty chuckles, easing into a grin.
She grumbles her disagreements under her breath, earning an eye roll from her friend. “If you’re so worried, why don’t you escort me there?” Misty teases.
Head shooting to regard her in surprise, Misty’s eyelids flutter in a series of blinks. “Huh?”
“I will walk you there.” She states, as if she’s some authority on trekking through the swamps after dark, whereas they both know last time she’d been nothing short of a burden on Misty.
Misty bites back a laugh. “Good one.”
“I'm being serious!”
“And what you gonna do once you’ve got me there safely?”
The affectionate intonations in Misty’s voice sweep around her pleasantly and she can smile for real now. “I’m gonna hang out with you.” Cordelia insists, then points out. “You said I was welcome any time.”
After a long pause, Misty swallows her stun and sighs contently. “Yeah - I did.” Teeth tug on a smile that’s fit to burst through, then it does anyway, all cheeks and bright eyes. Cordelia warms at the idea that she’s the one who put it there.