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Twelve: Twoo Wuv.

Do you know what probably the saddest thing in the world ever is? I mean, just totally the absolute SADDEST? Just make you cry all over sad?

Jealousy.

Which is really unfair, because not everybody can be awesome. It is a HARD FACT of LIFE.

Sometimes, Aria wished that maybe she wasn't as insanely crazy awesome as she was, because then maybe things would be better between her and her baby sister, Allegra. They used to be pretty good together. But, eh. Immature people. They are, like, not rational.

They are jealous.

You know how it is.


Aria and Allegra were a year apart, and their names were, you know, both A-words, and they looked alike anyway, so nobody could really tell them apart. Nobody. Until she was six, Aria thought her name was That One, and her sister's name was, No, You Fucking Dolts, THAT ONE, because that's what Dad called them. Which is really cool when you think about it, because all of her friends' parents NEVER swore in front of them. Or she was willing to bet they didn't, if she'd had any friends besides Allegra to ask about it. So really, it was completely obvious: Dad thought they were were pretty mature. Which would totally be typical, because Aria was way mature anyway. Especially a little after her 14th birthday.


Aria subscribed to Cosmopolitan. Not Cosmo Teen, which is for dumb little babies, but Cosmopolitan for real. It was a very excellent book for grown-up people, such as herself. When you are grown up and adult, clothes and make-up become very important, and it would be very embarrassing if she got it wrong. So she always put in a little extra effort, just to be sure. And with a little experimentation, she could make all the make-up come off in one big piece at night.


Mom must have figured out how grown-up Aria was getting, because pretty soon she got The Talk.

It was mostly lies.

Aria knew this, because it sounded COMPLETELY CRAZY. And she was maybe 90% sure Mom just didn't want her to have any fun, anyway. Her mom was very, very big on no one ever having any fun, because HER life was so lame. She was probably jealous, too. She probably just wished someone had told her about Diet Coke douches before she married Dad.

Old people. Psht. If the know so much, why are they so OLD?


Now that she was an adult, Aria was getting phone calls. Or, uh... she should of been. She wasn't. Which was just weird, because she wore all the right clothes. The phone was probably broken. Or maybe her dumb sister wasn't taking her messages, which would just be SO LIKE HER. Aria was sure she was really popular, though. They boys were always asking her out, sometimes five or six of them at a time. The Phys Ed storage room probably wasn't on the Glamour Magazine list of "Fifteen Fantastically Fabulous First Dates," though, so she usually said no.

Besides... she already had a boyfriend. And he was totally magical.


Kennedy Cox was a friend of the family. He knew Mom and Dad, but he didn't ever talk to Aria until she became very mature. She didn't know where he lived, but that was fine, she was all about giving him space. Some girls would want to know where their boyfriend were, and what they did with their free time, and why her little sister's panties kept disappearing from the hamper, but not Aria. She was not clingy.


Whenever he came over, Kenny would squeal and talk about how pretty she looked and how big she'd gotten. It all started very innocently, when he asked for her old training bras and made a little hat out of them. But it was obvious to her that their special relationship was meant for something more.


He loved the way she smiled and laughed and flunked Geometry. She loved the way he lapped at her eye sockets and gnawed off hanks of hair. It was destined to be.


Stolen kisses at the bus stop and shoulder rubs in the steamy, sacred privacy of the guest bathroom soon led to something more. It was incredible and special and the bleeding eventually ebbed to a trickle.

It was very mature and grown-up sex. There was shaving involved, and Kennedy promised that cocaine wouldn't show up in a blood test if you took it rectally, because there isn't any blood in your butt.

Well, maybe not his.

But the car battery and jumper cables had pretty much numbed Aria from the waist down hours before they started, so really, it hardly mattered. And it was for love.

As if the world could understand that.


They were totally persecuted, of course. Utterly and completely.

By her classmates, by her neighbors, by Kenny's parole officer. Everybody. It was so romantic. Kinda like in that movie, Romeo and Juliet. It just made it so obvious to Aria: What they had was REAL. REALLY real, like on that TV show with all the pretty, popular kids and all their problems. It was so sad and pitiful to think of all those poor people out there who would never know about real love, wouldn't know real love if it ran up and began masturbating into their armpits.

She loved it when Kenny did that.


It just seemed to make sense when she missed her period.

She told Kennedy late one evening, after a passionate tryst in the baby's crib. He could move in now, she said; he could take her to Junior Prom, like he always said he wanted to, and they could set up house in the little shed out back, where Dad kept the lawnmower. It would be just like a studio apartment! He could keep working as the Llarry the Llama mascot for tourists down at Llama Lland, because, y'know, it was his calling and everything. And after the baby came? Aria could quit school and sell her dirty panties on eBay to finance her magazine-reading career. She squealed and bounced and clutched at him like a lamprey. Like a straitjacket.

Like a coarse, tightening noose.


Kennedy was overwhelmed. Which was natural, of course. He gaped and stammered and made little sobbing noises, like a a cow going up a slaughterhouse run. Aria giggled.

He pulled free and excused himself to go out for a pack of cigarettes. That was surprising, since he never smoked. But Aria knew smoking was a vital element of Devil-may-care Bad Boy-ism, and figured Kenny was better off getting all of that out of his system months before the baby came.

She smiled. It was all coming together so perfectly.

Aria staggered off to the bathroom to bring up dinner.

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