I stopped myself in the hallway. I wasn’t ready to hate Marcus, but I wasn’t ready to hear his explanation either. Hurting Alice was like hurting me, and I didn’t want to hear why he didn’t like her. I couldn’t even imagine any reasons. She was my best, my most great, my girl. Instead of walking over to Marcus’ I pulled out my cell phone and dialed Blanche. I wanted to get to the bottom of their relationship without directly asking Marcus.
“Hello.” she singsong.
“Yo girl, what’s up.” I tried not to be short.
“Just coming back from lunch, you? Are you with A?” Enough with the dumb nicknames, I thought to myself. A and B, great.
“No that’s what I want to talk to you about. About Alice.”
“Is everything ok?” she must have heard the serious tone of my voice.
“Well, yes and no. can you meet me somewhere?”
“Sure. Come to my dorm.”
As I approached the dorm ten minutes later, I saw Blanche perched on the steps, posing and smoking a cigarette. Her long pale legs stretched out in the sunlight, covered by knee socks and a pleated skirt.
“Hey, Blanche.” I greeted her with a nod.
“Hey, sweetie.” she got up to air kiss me, a habit with was growing on me a little.
“So here’s the thing. Marcus and Alice hooked up and then he stopped and told her he couldn’t, that he liked someone else.”
“Whoa.” she looked shocked.
“Does that sound like him? I mean, is he hung up on someone.” I hinted.
“Not that I know of. Certainly not me. We broke up ages ago, and he dumped me.” she admitted.
“I wasn’t the best girlfriend.”
“I gathered that.” I laughed.
“Oh, fuck you.” she laughed back. I realized this was he first time since I met her she seemed relaxed and natural. I liked it, and saw a little of what Alice saw in her now, an ease of confidence and friendliness that was attractive.
“So is she okay? I mean, should I call her?” she continued.
“I think maybe not. She’s pretty embarrassed. You can’t tell her I told you, okay?” Blanche looked uncomfortable when I said that.
“She’ll probably tell you anyways.” I offered.
“Probably.” she agreed. She stood up, tossing her cigarette into the grass and turned to me.
“Hey, want to go shopping? I’m heading into town to go to this vintage store, and I bet you’d love it. Lots of men’s vests for you!” she giggled.
“I would like that. If you’re nice, I’ll even try on a dress for you. That’s always a funny experience.”
“And we need to think of a good theme for a party at my place this weekend.”
“Oh, I will go nuts with that. How about medieval? We can have swordfights and mead wenches and…” I broke off as she started laughing.
“Or roaring twenties,” I continued. I knew she would have a field day with that costume.
“As much as I love flappers, I think medieval is more original.” she said seriously, as if this matter was of great importance. Which I guess it kind of was to her. Parties seemed to be a big thing with her friends, and the crazier the costumes the better.
“So where should we go shopping?” I was hesitant to spend time with her, lest Alice get all territorial, but Blanche was being so damn nice, how could I say no?
“Maybe we should go to Northampton? It’s where Smith is, so we can scope out some girls for you. Lots of lesbians in Noho.” my stomach thrilled at that thought. A regular smorgasbord of eligible dykies. Nice.
“So we take the bus?”
“Pioneer Valley Transpo at your service.” she said, flourishing her arm toward the general direction of the bus stop. As we started walking, I lit up a cigarette, trying to fill the silence. Blanche seemed comfortable just to walk without saying anything, a trait I attributed to her confidence. I often filled time with idle chatter, afraid of what the silence would mean, like I was uninteresting or bland. Blanche was aware of her power, her grace and so she didn’t need to crack little jokes to keep people entertained. She was so sure of herself. I saw a sliver of what Alice admired in her then, and how that confidence was held over you like a prize. Stick with me and all this could be yours, she seemed to say.
“So I started class today.” my voice sounded too loud after that silence.
“Yeah?” she turned to look at me, attentive.
“It Wasn’t what I thought. It was…just like high school.”
“Yes, therein lies the greatest secret of higher education. It is just like high school for a while, then you get the better classes. But at first, it’s like reverting to junior year, difficulty wise. You just have to do the work, and you’ll be golden. What class did you have?”
“Spanish 102, which I thought was more difficult than 101. I am now convinced 101 is for remedial students.”
“Hey I took Spanish 101.”
“It was like remedial Spanish.”
“See, I knew it. My teacher acted like she was teaching elementary school Spanish. She also had poufy 80s hair which I hate hate hate.”
“Not everyone can have such flowing locks as yours, Kate.” Blanche joked, tugging the end of one of my shit locks. I tossed my head around, jerking her hand with it, and made a horse noise. She giggled and let go.
“You’re kind of silly.” she remarked.
“Dude, I know. I can’t help it.”
“I like it!” she giggled again. I remembered Alice then, and wondered if she was ok, if I should call her or something. I decided to give her space. I was having too much fun, anyways.