Duplicity

 

The first time Justin betrayed Nadia’s trust, they both were children. At ten years of age, Nadia had matured at a much faster rate than her best friend and wanted to talk about her new interests—especially boys. 

“Don’t you think Layton Byte’s cute?” she confided to Justin one day, expecting him to understand  and approve of her crush. By the end of the day, however, the entire school knew about the secret she’d shared only with Justin and teased her mercilessly.

The two never spoke again until they were 15 and had to sit next to each other in an English class. Initially, Nadia ignored Justin. Then, walking into the classroom, she and her girlfriends would look and him, she’d say something to them, and they all laughed. Their secrets drove him crazy on the one hand and made him most insecure on the other.

One day, Justin summoned up his limited courage and spoke to Nadia asking, “Why are you and your friends so mean to me?”

“Don’t be absurd,” Nadia laughed.

“Well, then what sorts of things are you saying behind my back?”

“I’m not like you, Justin; I don’t betray secrets.” 

“That was years ago, Nadia—and I’m sorry,” Justin replied as Nadia walked away from him. Suddenly, she turned around and smiled.

            “You’re right, Justin—a lot of time’s passed between us; meet me and my friends for lunch tomorrow.”

The next day at lunch, Justin, Nadia, and her friends Carolyn, Brenda, and Itzel, sat around a table and talked like friends out of time. “Carolyn, don’t I know you from somewhere?” Justin asked, oblivious of Nadia’s dirty glance.

“Yes, as a matter of fact,” she replied.  “We were both in Ms. Freemoore’s second grade class back at Giggers Elementary in Santa Clara? Of course, I was a lot heavier back then.” 

“I remember Ms. Freemoore—and how she’d make us sprawl on the floor around her as she read us stories while sitting in a regular chair.”

“She’d wear the most beautiful nylons,” Carolyn continued.

“Yeah, I guess,” Justin added. She’d hold her legs sort of sideways as she read, and I noticed how the top of the socking got darker….”

"Boys always seemed to like watching others…. At Gigger’s, I remember how you guys used to hang around the jungle gym during recess to watch me and my friends climb a round bar, wrap one knee around, and twirl in circles.”

“You one of those girls?”

“Yep—the one who got teased the most because I couldn’t twirl and would hang upside down, showing off holes in my underwear.”

“OMG! I recall you in particular; I—”

“Drop it Jack!” Nadia ordered from the other side of the table, somewhat irritated by his sudden interest in Carolyn and their past.

Two weeks later, Nadia and Justin began to study together on weeknights. By Wednesday, however, they put down their history books and decided to do explore each other a bit. Patiently, Nadia taught Justin how to kiss softly and sensuously. “Let’s French kiss,” she suggested on Friday, figuring it was high time to take making out to the next level. Nonetheless, the puzzled look on Justin’s face told her everything she needed to know. “Just do what I do, Justin.”

When Nadia slipped her tongue in Justin’s mouth, he initially flinched, but then shoved his own tongue into her open lips. “How was I?” Justin immediately quipped.

“Well, soldier, you were in and out of my mouth so quickly, there’s little to remember.”

Justin blushed. “Sorry. Let me try again.”

“Slowly, Justin. Slowly. And be gentle and move your tongue around my mouth.” By the end of the evening, Nadia had thoroughly tutored him in the art of kissing, and he felt like a magician with a whole new bag of tricks. 

 

***

Over Spring Vacation, Nadia’s family went camping in Yosemite, so Justin took advantage of her absence to flirt with Carolyn, heed his raging hormones, and, hopefully, take his new-found sexuality to new heights. Beginning on Monday, the first day of vacation, Carolyn, two of their friends, and he all went to see Captain Marvel in 3D as a group. Then, when he walked her home, he asked her to go out with him on Tuesday.

“Won’t Nadia mind?”

“Why should she? We’re just old friends.”

“For real, Justin?”

“Why would I mislead you, Carolyn?”

“People talk….”

“Then we’ll keep the date between us for the time being—and enjoy ourselves.”

“Okay, Justin.”

Tuesday night’s date was innocent enough. They didn’t hold hands as they walked through the mall after bowling, but he did kiss her goodnight at her doorstep.

“I had fun, Justin. I’m glad we went out,” Carolyn said softly.

“Me too,” Justin added assured. "I’ve an idea, tomorrow night let’s go to a drive-in movie like our parents used to do.”

“Why not?” she replied, though better instincts conflicted with her decision.

Suffice it to say, the film turned into a chance for one long make-out session. Though Justin assumed he’d need to teach Carolyn how to French, she initiated such intimate kissing that he could scarcely keep up. Carolyn seemed more physical than Nadia, both in the way she touched his young, inexperienced body, and the permissiveness she conveyed—allowing him to play with her budding breasts through her clothes.   

Before the night ended, Justin had asked Carolyn to the Junior Prom.

“I thought you were going with Nadia—our mutual friend,” Carolyn stated curtly.

“No—like I said; we’re just free-spirited teens--friends.”

“But are you sure Nadia won’t mind? We’re besties. I won’t do anything to ruin that. ”

“After tonight, do you really care?”

“Of course.”

“Then take my word for it; Nadia could care less about who I see and what I do.”

“Tentatively, then, I accept your prom invitation.”

The Wednesday night date at the drive-in should have been locked away in a closet for fond memories, but Justin, being a typical teenage male, had to brag to his friends as soon as classes resumed after Spring vacation. In fact, on the first day back, he boasted that the best way to get the girl of one’s dream was to go through her best friend. In no time, the scuttlebutt was that Justin had used Nadia to get together with Carolyn,

Prior to classes the next day, Nadia pulled Carolyn into the women’s restroom. “Cat fight!” someone shouted before three dozen voices started to chant in unison: “Cat fight! Cat fight! Cat fight!” As males gathered outside the restroom, females went inside. After no more than five minutes, Carolyn and Nadia walked out of the restroom arm and arm, sternly approaching Justin who tried to back away from them.

“Who the hell do you think you are Justin?” asked Nadia.

“Er…just a guy who fell in love with your friend over Spring vacation—but I still have feeling for you too, Nadia.”

“Bullshit,” Nadia and Carolyn shouted at the same time.

“You fell in lust—with me,” Carolyn added.

“At the drive-in, you said you loved me,” he pleaded.

“That night, I was horny, and may have said many passionate yet meaningless things….What we did, I’ve done with many boys—and other girls for the matter." Carolyn faced Nadia and they both smiled.

“You don’t mean that,” Justin whined, praying she’d agree with him.

“I do—and did,” Carolyn continued. "By the way, I’ve decided to go to the Junior Prom with my best friend, Nadia.”

“But we’ve shared so much, Carolyn….”

“Newsflash, Justin!” Nadia interrupted. “Carolyn and I are even closer; she’s the person who taught me how to French kiss!”

 

© Sterling Warner

 

Bio:  Sterling Warner is a Washington-based author, educator, and pushcart nominee for poetry. His works have appeared in many literary magazines, journals, and anthologies such as  THE FLATBUSH REVIEW, STREET LIT: REPRESENTING THE URBAN LANDSCAPE THE ATHERTON REVIEW, and the SCARLETT LEAF REVIEW. Warner also has written several volumes of poetry, including RAGS & FEATHERS, WITHOUT WHEELS, EDGES, SHADOWCAT, and MEMENTO MORI. Currently, Warner spends his time writing, wood working, and salmon fishing.