The Upside of Unrequited Page 38

He laughs. “So, that was—”

Don’t be careful.

But then the door opens. Our hands spring apart.

It’s Cassie. And her eyebrows are raised to unprecedented heights. “What is this? A wet T-shirt contest?”

“Yes.” I grin. My heart’s still pounding.

“You both lose,” she says. But she looks at me quizzically.

And I can read her thoughts as clearly as if she said them out loud.



AND NOW I CAN’T STOP thinking about it. The rainstorm. All of it. My brain has turned the whole thing into a hazily lit movie reel, Valencia-filtered, to a soundtrack of Bon Iver. I keep remembering the way our hands looked, laced together. My arms, covered in goose bumps. Reid’s fingertips on my forehead, sliding my bangs aside.

This is crazy, but I almost think he might have kissed me. Or I could have kissed him, and he would have kissed me back.

So this is what it’s like not being careful.

I feel vaguely nauseated. Like a weirdly pleasant norovirus. Kind of the halfway point between vomiting and becoming a sentient heart-eye emoji.

Which means it’s probably time to officially declare it: crush number twenty-seven. Reid of the Sneakers. Reid of the Cookie Dough Obsession. Reid of the Year-Round Mini Egg Relevance. I mean, I don’t even know how to explain him.

It’s too soon. I’m too in the thick of it.

I want him to text me, even though I know he’s at work. He’s probably unpacking picture frames at this very moment. But I can’t stop checking my phone.

Nothing. Miles of nothing.

I try to lose myself in my garland, cutting slits into the ends of the fabric. The cool thing about cotton is that you don’t have to cut the entire strip. If you rip it in the right direction, it comes apart in a straight line. I need approximately fifty billion fabric strips for this garland. Which is good, because my hands need fifty billion distractions. If I’m ripping fabric, I’m not sending embarrassingly honest texts to Reid.

Reid, I don’t think your sneakers are a liability.

Reid, you should have kissed me in that rainstorm.

Maybe I should have kissed you.

The weirdest thing is this compulsion I feel to say it out loud. I want to yell it into the tunnels of the Metro and make it my Facebook status. I want to look Reid right in the face and say it. Reid, I just like you, okay?

I think he might like me, too.

Except maybe I’m misinterpreting. Or maybe he does like me—but what happens after that? We’d kiss. Okay. We’d have sex. I don’t know. Even if he likes me, I’m not sure he’d like me naked.

I hate that I’m even thinking that. I hate hating my body. Actually, I don’t even hate my body. I just worry everyone else might.

Because chubby girls don’t get boyfriends, and they definitely don’t have sex. Not in movies—not really—unless it’s supposed to be a joke. And I don’t want to be a joke.

I’m not scheduled for work on Wednesday, so I end up tagging along with Cassie to Mina’s house. And it’s slightly weird, because Mina’s parents are home. I don’t mean that her parents are weird. They’re actually really cool. Mina’s mom is a psychiatrist, and her dad’s a psychologist, but they’re the type who don’t want to be called “doctor.” Especially her dad, who almost seems like a hippie. Which I didn’t expect from a guy in Bethesda named Eugene.

We end up making small talk in the kitchen. Mina’s mom pokes at something on the stove, while her dad flips through a stack of mail on the counter.

“Hey, I hear you live in Takoma Park,” he says. “I did my post-doc right near there.”

“And now they’re in private practice together,” Mina says. “Isn’t that so sweet?” She rolls her eyes.

But Cassie nods eagerly. “It is!”

Oh my goodness. She is sucking up to the parents, and she’s sucking hard.

“Do you have a specialty?” Cassie asks.

“A little bit,” Mina’s mom says. “We get most of our referrals through insurance, so we end up seeing a nice variety, but we work a lot with anxiety.”

“Nice,” Cassie says, beaming at me, as if to say HEY, MOLLY, YOU HAVE THAT. What a cool, totally-not-awkward coincidence.

“So, the guys are already downstairs,” Mina’s mom says, “but can I get you anything to eat? I’ve got an egg and ramen almost done here.”

“We’re good,” Mina says quickly.

“Or do you need some drinks to bring down there?”

For a minute, I think Mina’s mom means booze. Maybe they really are hippies. But then she opens the kitchen fridge and hands Mina a few bottled waters.

“Really nice to meet you, Molly,” she says. “I’m just so glad Mina’s made some more girlfriends.”

Oh. Okay. So, I don’t think Mina’s mom was using the word girlfriend in the my-daughter-makes-out-with-this-person way. Unless she thinks Mina’s actually dating both of us. Now I wonder if they even know Cassie’s more than a friend. I mean, I assumed Mina was out, but now I’m not sure. And I feel strange asking.

“What was your mom making?” asks Cassie as we follow Mina downstairs.

“Egg and ramen? Have you never had that?”

“Uh, no, but it sounds amazing.”

“Oh, it is.” Mina pauses at the bottom step to smile up at her. “I’ll make it for you someday.”

In the basement, the boys are absorbed in an old-school Nintendo game. Will’s perched on the love seat, jabbing a controller.

“Is this Mario?” I ask.

“Yes.” Will’s eyes never leave the game.

Don’t be careful. And don’t think about Reid.

I sink into the cushions beside him.

“He’s scary good at this,” Mina tells me.

Onscreen, Will’s Mario eats some kind of leaf, which turns into a raccoon. You have to wonder, sometimes, what these old-timey video game inventors were smoking.

I let myself zone out, watching Mario leap over cliffs and sink into pipes. Zoning out feels good. I just need to step outside myself for a minute. I feel so crowded in my head. I can’t seem to shake this perpetual awareness of being Molly.

Sometimes I’m a confusing person to be.

My phone buzzes with a text. Abby.

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