The Upside of Unrequited Page 8

“That’s horrifying,” says Mina.

Cassie tilts her head. “How so?”

“Um, having a bunch of dead people watching you all the time? Watching you pee and have sex and masturbate. And, like, discussing it with each other?”

“Eww. No.” Cassie shakes her head quickly. “They’re not creepers. They’re not watching that stuff. And anyway, they have like a million descendants to keep up with, so it’s not like they can watch anyone that closely. It’s more like flipping through the channels.”

“But, see, that’s not what you said,” Mina argues, poking the air with her spoon. And I like this. I like watching Cassie get challenged. I think Cassie likes it, too.

“Well, I’m still tweaking the theory,” Cassie says, smiling.

“Good. Make sure no dead people are watching me pee,” Mina says. Then she glances at me and groans, covering her face. “God. Molly, you must think I only talk about peeing and labia.”

“That is true,” I say.

She sticks her tongue out at me.

And in that moment, I realize I might actually be becoming friends with this girl. That’s two legit new friends today, and it’s not even four thirty. Mina of the Labia and Middle Earth Reid. A pretty good day’s work. I feel myself smiling.

Cassie nods. “Okay, so let’s say certain things are censored. They’re not allowed to watch you in the bathroom or having sex or anything like that.”

“But you can’t just decide that,” Mina says. “This isn’t a reality show pitch. It’s a metaphysical theory.”

“But it’s my metaphysical theory.” Cassie sniffs.

I roll the idea around in my head for a moment. It’s funny—I think I actually like it. I find it strangely comforting. I guess it’s nice to imagine a roomful of people caring about what happens to you. Rooting for your happiness. They’d be pissed off when someone was a jerk to you. They’d want your crush to like you back. They’d want all twenty-six of them to like you back.

You would matter. That’s the thing. I get into this weird place sometimes where I worry about that. I’ve never told anyone this—not my moms, not even Cassie—but that’s the thing I’m most afraid of. Not mattering. Existing in a world that doesn’t care who I am.

It’s this whole other level of aloneness.

And maybe it’s a twin thing. I have never truly been alone in the world. I think that’s why I fear it.

“They’re watching us right now,” Cassie says. She tilts her face to the ceiling. “Hey, ancestors. You guys should try fro yo. It’s the best.” She gives them a thumbs-up.

Mina buries her face in her arms and just laughs.



OF COURSE, MINA IS THE only thing Cassie wants to talk about for the rest of the week—anytime we’re alone together, anytime our moms aren’t around. She slides onto the couch beside me on Friday, just as I’m settling in to watch Teen Mom.

“Did you know Mina’s Korean?” she asks. “Korean American, actually.”

“Yup, you mentioned that.”

“So, like, her parents were born here, but she has relatives in South Korea, and she’s taking a trip there in August. I think she’s going to do a photography project.”

I mean, I’m not one of those people who can’t handle commentary during TV shows—but it should be commentary about the TV show. For example: I am completely cool with Nadine ranting about the rat-faced, why-are-they-so-virile, why-do-you-even-watch-this baby dads.

Cassie leans back, legs in a pretzel. “And she really likes penguins.”

Penguins. No respect for the baby dads.

“I’m glad she likes penguins.”

This actually reminds me of Abby, when she started dating her first real boyfriend. We were fifteen, and he was in her math class. And it was one of those things where every word out of Abby’s mouth was Darrell. Darrell hates applesauce. Darrell’s a really good dancer. Darrell went to Florida once. Like Abby got some kind of thrill from saying his name.

“Also,” Cassie says casually, “Mina’s pansexual.”

I pause the TiVo and sit up ramrod straight. “Wait. What?” I ask.

Cassie buries her face in a throw pillow.

“How do you know?”

“I asked her. And she told me.”

“Cassie!” I gasp into my hand. “Are you kidding me? This is so awesome!”

“Yeah, well. It doesn’t mean she likes me.”

I twist all the way around to look at her.

“Not that it matters,” she adds, smiling faintly. She hugs the pillow and sighs.


I don’t think I’ve ever seen her like this. Cassie flirts with girls all the time—and she’s usually charming and sometimes careless and sometimes focused, but never, ever vulnerable. I’ve never seen her look nervous.

“It matters,” I say softly.

“I mean, yes, she’s fucking adorable. Yes, I want to make out with her.” Cassie groans into her pillow.

“Oh my gosh. You have a crush. This is a real crush.”

“Whatever,” she says.

But her cheeks tell the story, and they’re basically radioactive.

It’s usually me who does this. I blush and swoon and am essentially the heroine of a romance novel. Except with 100 percent less kissing. But Cassie? Not so much.

Until now. And it’s fascinating.

“Why are you looking at me like that?” she asks.

My mouth twitches. “I’m not.”

“I hate you.”

She’s grinning, and I grin back at her. Cassie has kissed a fair number of girls—and believe me, I’ve heard about every molecule of saliva involved in these transactions—and yet.

Something’s different with Mina.

I wake up Saturday to a text from Abby.

Not that this is unusual, because Abby isn’t just my cousin. Other than Cassie, she’s my best friend. Even more than Olivia. It’s funny, because Cassie and Abby are the bold ones, and Olivia and I are the quiet ones, but when we pair off, it’s usually Cassie and me, Abby and Olivia. Or Abby and me, Cassie and Olivia. Friendship is like that. I guess it’s not always about common ground.

Anyway, Abby used to live two blocks away from us, but she moved to Georgia a year ago. It sucks, but we talk every week, and we text so much, it’s like a single ongoing conversation.

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