The Best Gift
“Beck!” I looked to my left to see Amanda, Alexis’ little sister, and my favorite cousin.
“Mandy!” I yelled, picking her up, kissing all over her face. She giggled and tried to get out of my hold as I tickled her.
Amanda looked very much like my Aunt with her high cheekbones and light brown skin, sometimes; I wondered how someone so sweet could be related to Alexis. She was wearing a Christmas sweater that was red and green with glitter all over it and “Ho! Ho! Ho!” plastered all over the front. Along with that, she had on dark green pants and her favorite red shoes.
“Well, don’t you look like Santa’s little helper,” I said, smiling at her. Alexis rolled her eyes and sighed.
“Becca, don’t encourage her. I tried to tell her her outfit looked ridiculous but she wouldn’t listen to me” she mumbled, flipping open her cell phone.
I glared at her when Amanda started to pout. “Don’t listen to Alexis. I think you look adorable, Mandy” I said, putting her back on the ground. She smiled and said, “thank you Beck” before noticing Natalie.
“Oh, sorry. Natalie, this is my favorite cousin Amanda ‘Mandy’ Fellows” I introduced. Amanda did a little curtsy and Natalie laughed.
“It’s nice to meet you, Amanda,” she said, smiling at the six-year-old. Amanda giggled, pulling me over toward the couch where Brandon and Kylie were playing some game.
“Am I going to meet your girlfriend? Mommy told me you had a girlfriend and that I should be extra nice to her” she asked, hopping up and down giddily. Natalie looked over at me and squeezed my hand as I shook my head at Amanda.
“Sorry, Mandy. I broke up with her awhile ago” I replied. Amanda frowned but then quickly smiled at me. “Is Natalie your new girlfriend?” she asked, pointing at Natalie.
“Why does everyone assume that?” I asked to no one in particular. “No, Natalie is a good friend of mine” I added.
“Don’t worry, Amanda. I asked the same question and Becca refuses to tell the truth” Alexis spoke up, smirking over at me.
I glanced over at her as she walked toward us and sat on the ground next to her sister.
“Tell me the truth, Becca. You can trust me” she said softly. “I sincerely doubt that, Alexis and there’s nothing to tell. Natalie and I are just friends."
I saw Natalie fidget a bit and for a moment, I felt like I should have reworded that. I mean, I wasn’t lying but I wasn’t telling the full truth either.
Alexis covered Amanda’s ears, glancing over at Brandon and Kylie before saying, “Bull shit and you know it. I saw the way you were looking at her in that picture, Becca. You can’t fake that” she said, letting go of Amanda before telling her to go play with Brandon and Kylie.
My cheeks warmed as I glared at her. “Alexis, don’t start this” I growled. She glared back at me. “Start what, Becca? What am I doing exactly?” she asked, feigning innocence.
I tried hard not to get up and storm out the room but I felt Natalie’s hand fall into mine. The look on her face was a challenging one; an expression that I had only seen once with Melody.
I was starting to realize what each face Natalie made meant and this one was a force to be reckoned with.
“Ok, you win,” she said to Alexis before wrapping her arms around my neck, placing her lips on mine.
I didn’t know what was going on but I slowly got into the kiss. I heard Alexis gasp and almost felt Natalie smile against my lips before she bit my lower and pulled away.
I stared at her for a minute, completely confused as to what the hell was going on until Natalie spoke up.
“We’re together. We don’t want anyone to know yet. Beck just went through a tough break-up and the last thing we need is people to think the only reason she broke up with Melody was to be with me” she lied, interlacing our fingers and running her thumb over my knuckles.
I chuckled a bit when she emphasized my name but quickly shook it off when I saw the look of shock on Alexis’ face.
“Um…yeah. Yeah, that’s true! I don't want people talking bad about Natalie,” I said, coming up with my own lie to add to the story Natalie was telling.
“Oh snap! You two are together! Heck yeah, time to tell everyone” Brandon exclaimed, getting ready to run out the room before I tackled him to the floor.
He groaned as I rolled over him. “What part of ‘we don’t want anyone to know yet’ do you not understand?” I growled through clenched teeth. He crossed his arms over his chest and got off the floor with an “alright, I get it. Geez!”
Alexis frowned, crossing her arms over her chest. “Well Becca, I can’t say I’m not surprised. I mean, deep down, I always knew you liked girls” she said, smirking at me.
I got up from the floor and crawled over to her before sitting in front of her so that Natalie couldn’t see or hear what I was about to say.
“This isn’t about us, Alexis. Drop it!” I hissed in a whisper.
“I didn’t say it was. Why didn’t you tell me?”
“There was nothing to tell. You don’t need to know everything. You were the one that changed, not me.”
“We used to be close, Becca. We used to be able to tell each other everything.”
“That changed when you did. You wanted so badly to be accepted by everybody else. Did I tell you I saw Danielle’s brother at the beach? Do you ever wonder how crushed she is about you?”
“I don’t want to be like you. My parents wouldn’t accept it like yours do.”
“I used to think the same thing but that changed when I actually told them. You’d be surprised how well they took it.”
“Becca, don’t. I don’t want to talk about Charlie.”
“You never want to talk about Charlie! That’s the damn problem. When are you going to realize that this is who you are? You can’t change that.”
“Fuck you, Beck!” she yelled, before storming out the room and slamming the door.
Amanda jumped at the sound and I quickly picked her up in my arms. Tears trickled down her face as I wiped them away.
“Alexis scared me” she sobbed, grabbing on to my shirt. “I know, Mandy. I’m sorry. I should have talked to Alexis somewhere else” I whispered, rubbing my hand up and down her back to comfort her.
All eyes were on me in the room and Brandon was the first to speak up. “Why did our cousin just run out the room?” he asked. “She got a little upset. You should be used to it by now Brandon” I replied.
He nodded, telling Kylie that “everything was okay” before going back to their game. Natalie didn’t believe my justification because she was giving me the ‘we have to talk’ look.
I nodded and we walked in the back of the room. Amanda had fallen asleep in my arms and I smiled at her before looking over at Natalie.
“What was that about?” she asked.
“Let’s just say I’m not the only ‘gay’ in my family” I replied. “What?” Natalie shrieked, her eyes widening in shock.
Amanda fidgeted and I put my finger up to my lips. Natalie smiled sheepishly and I continued.
“About three years ago, Alexis and I went to Ocean City with our grandparents on my mom’s side. Back then, Alexis and I were really close. I could honestly say she was my best friend. Anyway, we met this other family while we were up there; the Charles."
“Their son was away at camp that summer and their daughter was left alone with just them, so my grandfather thought it would be nice if we all hung out together. Their daughter’s name was Danielle and she was my complete opposite. She was quiet, she didn’t like people, and she seemed kind of mysterious."
“Alexis made it her personal mission that summer to crack Danielle out of her shell but things don’t always go the way you planned. Over the next two months, they did everything together. I was kind of jealous; I felt like Danielle was stealing Alexis away from me.”
“On the last two weeks there, things changed. Danielle pretty much jumped out of her shell and admitted that she hated being called Danielle and that she would much rather be called ‘Charlie’. We agreed that would be her name since I didn’t like being called Becca."
“But Alexis, she didn’t know what was happening to her. She started having feelings for Charlie. Feelings that she believed you would normally have for a boy. She was so afraid to admit that she was falling for her that she avoided Charlie.”
“Charlie came to the house one day unexpectedly and Alexis answered the door. I was walking downstairs to get something to drink when I heard crying. Alexis kept saying, ‘it’s not true’ and, ‘I can’t feel this way about you’ over and over again. When I was walking back upstairs, I saw Charlie grab her and kiss her.”
“At first, I was shocking. I had never seen two girls kissing before and even though I knew I was gay by then, I never thought Alexis would be as well. She fell into the kiss and started to kiss her back but she spotted me on the steps and started flipping out.”
“She slapped Charlie and claimed that she never wanted to see her again. I tried to talk to her about it but each time I did she would yell, “Nothing happened, Becca” and that was when we grew apart.”
“She began to act differently; cold almost. She wouldn’t talk to me like she used to. She got new friends. She denied ever knowing someone named ‘Charlie’ or that there even was a ‘Danielle Charles’. She hasn’t called me ‘Beck’ in three years. I’m actually kind of surprised that she had a slip of the tongue back there”.
“The guy we met at the beach, remember Dylan? He’s her twin brother. I could tell as soon as I saw the guy. He never met Alexis and me, but I knew instantly who he was."
Natalie’s jaw dropped and she looked down at the ground. “How come you didn’t say anything?” she asked.
“It wasn’t my place. This was Alexis’ story but since she’s too stubborn to talk about it, I had to” I replied, sighing a bit.
“Sounds like Kendra and Alexis should meet and go hang out somewhere,” she said chuckling. I laughed a bit and then adjusted Amanda in my arms.
“So, nobody else knows this but me?” she asked. I nodded. “Like I said, it wasn’t my story to tell. I just wanted to share it with you because you’re my ’girlfriend” I replied, using air quotations around girlfriend.
She smiled and her eyes lit up. “Sorry about that. I hope I didn’t make things weird between us” she said, smiling at me.
“No. Of course not. Believe it or not but, I was kind of hoping you would kiss me” I said in a whisper.
“Why?” she asked, whispering back. I had to tell her. This was a perfect time. “Because I lo-“ Beck! Dinner is ready!” my mom yelled from the other room. I groaned and stared up at the ceiling.
Why God? Why now?
“Food! Come on Beck before I eat it all” Brandon exclaimed, running to the kitchen with Kylie laughing behind him.
“Beck, what were you going to say?” Natalie asked, still looking at me as if she didn’t hear my mom call.
I took her hand and smiled at her. “Natalie I lo-“Beck! I know you hear me!” my mom yelled again.
I growled before getting off the ground and putting Amanda on my shoulder. Natalie got up after me and I smiled at her.
“I’ll tell you after dinner,” I assured her, walking out the room.
The Guest Room
Alexis ran into the spare guest room before slamming the door closed behind her. Her mother had asked, 'what was wrong' but she closed the door on her and leaned against it, crying.
“How dare Beck bring her up! She doesn’t even know how I feel about her! She doesn’t know anything!” she thought, holding her legs against her chest, crying harder.
She flipped open her cell phone and quickly let her thumb move across the keypad in a familiar rhyme.
She clicked on her locked messages and scrolled down to "Charlie". Before clicking on the message and staring at the screen.
Date: August 3rd, 2007
I know you hate me. I know I messed things up with you but I will not, and I cannot get over you. I love you.
Alexis sobbed and went to her pictures, clicking on a familiar picture of Charlie and her on the beach, both of them smiling as Charlie’s arm wrapped around her waist. She threw the phone across the room, staring up at the ceiling. Tears rolled down her face, thinking of the all too familiar message that she was going to write back but never did.
Charlie, I love you too.
I patted my stomach as I collapsed on my bed, feeling delightfully full. I was wondering why Alexis didn’t come to dinner but a part of me already knew the answer to that question.
I heard the door open and knew it was Natalie just by the sound of her footfalls. I knew practically everything there was about this girl, just from the fact that I was crazy about her.
I felt the bed dip down as she laid on top of me. I laughed a bit and ran my hand across my bed, just to feel her running her fingers over my wrist and interlacing over fingers together.
“If my mom or dad walks in, we’re dead you know that? It’s bad enough you have to go back home tonight” I groaned, enjoying the feeling of her on top of me.
“I know. I wish I could stay the night again” she sighed against my ear. I bit down on my lip as I felt her other hand running through my hair.
“Although, the last time you were here was two months ago. It would be too risky having you in here again” I said, relaxing against her touch.
“Why?” she purred, kissing my neck. I groaned, trying to turn around to look at her but she pushed me back down.
“Because I wouldn’t be able to control myself” I replied, laughing when she giggled a bit.
“You’re being naughty, Beck,” she said seductively. “Says the one who’s kissing my neck and lying on top of me” I shot back, groaning when she bit down.
“What do you want for Christmas, Beck?” she asked, kissing around my shoulders. I didn’t even have to think about the answer. I already knew what I wanted. It’s the same present I’ve wanted since October 12th.
I flipped us over as she gasped when I was the one on top of her. "You” I whispered, before crashing her lips against mine.