Logan's House, Part 6

“What the hell?” said Ashley.

“My thoughts exactly,” said Hisa.

I have been given every kind of sympathy known to man in my many years on this planet, including all the kinds of sympathy affection—from sympathy hugs to sympathy fucks—but this was the only time I’d ever turned it down. And I’ve never done it since. The look that girl gave me—the looks both girls gave me—those clenched eyebrows and drooping lower lips are what I see whenever I have the audacity to consider declining some kindness that’s been offered to me. The looks, and what came next.

“No,” said Ashley, turning on Hisa, “I was asking you ‘what the hell?’, not him.”

Hisa tilted her head and put her hands on her hips. “Are you kidding me? You’re turning on me now, too?”

“Was he in on it?” Ashley asked Hisa. Then, she turned to me. “Were you in on it?”

“I wasn’t in on anything,” I said.

“Do you know what that can do to a person?” Ashley asked Hisa. “A person like him or me?”

Hisa waved a dismissive hand. “You’re not like him anymore, in case you forgot.”

It was then that Ashley smacked Hisa so hard that the girl fell to her knees on the pavement.

“Inside,” said Ashley, “inside, I will always be like him.”

Then she took my hand and we went back inside.

When she was dressed, Ashley asked me to drive her home, and I obliged. We were halfway back to Chelmsford when she finally said another word.

“Do you hate sympathy as much as I do?” she said.

“Sympathy?” I repeated, a little confused.

“It’s the worst part of being fat, isn’t it? The sympathy? That knowledge that people aren’t doing anything for you because they like you; they’re doing it because they feel bad.”

“You think I’m fat?” I said, turning to her and giving her a smirk and a laugh.

She punched me in the arm. “I was fatter than you are,” she said.

“So,” I said, “what did Hisa tell you?”

“That you had a crush on me even back when I was heavy,” she said. “And that you were still a virgin, and that you wouldn’t mind if I did something about that.”

“And would you have?” I asked, “If I hadn’t fucked it up?”

She put her hand on my leg and gave my thigh a squeeze. “You didn’t fuck anything up,” she said. “The offer still stands, if ever you should want to take me up on it.”

When we finally pulled down her driveway and I parked in the darkened spot next her brother’s infamous Ford Tempo, that junker that all of us rode in at one point or another back then, she unbuckled her seat belt and turned toward me. She leaned across the seat and turned my face gently toward hers.

“I’d say I’m sorry,” she said. “But I’m done with regrets. And so,” she began to say, but then stopped, letting her lips finish the sentence.

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