“I mean, you figured out that I was gay.” Milo spoke quietly and kept his eyes down, so I knew it was still something that was uncomfortable for him to talk about.
“When did you know?” I pulled my plate back over to me, but I just pushed the food around. I was too full to eat, but when I felt awkward, I wanted to keep my hands busy with something, and this was better than biting my nails.
“I don’t know.” He sighed a little, and I wondered if I should change the subject, but then he went on. “I suspected for… ever, I guess. I mean, as soon as I learned what gay was, I thought, ‘maybe.’ But really, it was when I met Jack.” He blushed deeply, keeping his eyes fixed on the floor. “I’d just never been so attracted to anyone like that before.”
“Yeah, Jack does that.” I had meant to comfort him with that statement, but I ended up sounding exasperated.
“But you’re not attracted to him.” Milo looked up at me, looking both confused and disbelieving. “How is that even possible?”
“I’m attracted to him, definitely,” I explained the best I could. “I just don’t want to have sex with him.” Then I remembered what he looked like last night, sliding shirtless into the hot tub.
“But…” Milo shifted uncomfortably, and he sounded unsure of himself. “I don’t mean to sound gross, but that was all I could think about.”
“That’s not gross,” I replied quickly, but then recanted. “Okay. It’s a little gross, but only cause you’re my little brother. Not cause of the whole gay thing.”
“Even Jane went crazy about him, and she’s never crazy about anyone, except for herself.” He was waiting for an explanation, but I didn’t have one.
“I don’t get it either,” I told him finally. “I don’t see what you guys see in him, even. I mean, he’s attractive and funny and everything…” I trailed off, realizing that maybe I did feel the way they did about Jack, then suddenly, I remembered Peter. “I met his brother last night.”
“And?” Milo leaned in closer to me, his eyes shining brightly.
“And nothing. He’s gorgeous, like unbelievably so, but he hates me.” I shrugged, trying to make it look like it didn’t bother me as much as it did, and went back to picking at my plate of food.
“He hates you? Why?” At least he was incredulous at the idea of anyone hating me. Maybe I was more likable than I gave myself credit for.
“I honestly couldn’t tell you.” It physically hurt just thinking about the way that Peter had glared at me when I was by the hot tub. I would gladly throw myself under a bus than endure another look like that. “I don’t think I even spoke to him.”
“Then how do you know he hates you?”
“If you had seen the way he looked at me…” I shuddered at the thought of it and decided that that was enough of talking about Peter and Jack. I stood up and started to clear off the table.
“I don’t get you, Alice,” Milo muttered when I took his plate.
“There’s nothing to get,” I replied glibly.
Since he had cooked, that usually meant that I would do the dishes, but he helped me out tonight. He had just started doing his homework when I decided that a nice long, hot shower was in order. But when I went into the bathroom, the hamper was overflowing, and we were completely out of clean towels.
Milo had tons of homework, and he actually planned to do it, so I offered to go to the laundromat. I loaded up as much clothes as I could into three massive laundry bags, and then made the excruciating trek the block and a half down to the laundromat. The superintendent kept promising he’d put one in the basement of the building, but he’d yet to follow through.
I filled four washers with clothes (the maximum amount allotted to one person), then settled back in the hard plastic chairs to watch clothes spin around for an hour. I had just started doing a quiz in Cosmo (“Are You Pleasing Your Man in Bed?” – the perfect quiz for a single virgin) when my pocket started to ring.
What are you doing? Jack text messaged me.
Wanna do something? Jack replied.
I wore a pair of drawstring sweats, a faded Darkwing Duck tee shirt with an unzipped navy blue hoodie, my makeup had completely worn off, and my hair was pulled back in a pony tail. Of course he’d want to see me when I looked like that.
I’m already doing something. Laundry at the laundromat. And I will be until the end of time. I text messaged him back.
Luckily for you, I have that long. Care if I join you?
Sure, why not? As I’d fervently pointed out to Milo, I wasn’t sexually attracted to Jack, so what did I care if he saw me looking like this?
Cool. I’ll be there in a few.
Do you even know where it’s at? I waited ten minutes for him to reply to that, but then I realized that he was already on his way.
Somehow, he’d know where I was at, just like he knew my apartment number without me telling him. He just knew everything, and it was flipping’ irritating.
The bell chimed above the laundromat door a few minutes later, and I didn’t even have to look up to know it was Jack. There was an Indian girl a few seats down from me, and she gasped when he came in.
“Hey, there.” Jack plopped on the seat next to me, wearing a Space Invaders hoodie and a pair of Dickies shorts. His sandy hair looked crazier than normal, and he smiled brightly at me.
“How did you know where I was at?” My tone had long since stopped being accusatory. When I asked him things, I was just curious and mildly amused, and always expecting no answer.
“You told me where you were.” He looked at me like I was an idiot, which was somehow flattering.
“No, I didn’t. I said I was at a laundromat. There’s like a million in this city,” I explained.
“This one is the closest to your house, and you don’t drive.” His response surprised me because it actually made sense. There was nothing odd or vaguely psychic about it. He turned to watch the washing machines and crossed his legs underneath him, apparently settling in for the long haul. “You know we have washers and dryers at my house.”
“I’m not at your house,” I said, instead of commenting on his plural use of washer and dryer. Knowing them, they probably had one for every room, like the bathrooms and fireplaces and balconies.
“You could’ve asked to come over and do laundry,” Jack said. “Mae was really taken with you.”