According to [[You]] We’re {Definable} by Amy Tuso - Read Online
According to [[You]] We’re {Definable}
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Zoe is honest, direct, strong and stubborn, but most of all she is real. She is comfortable in her own skin and doesn’t try to be what she isn’t. As a high school junior, this isn’t always an asset. She is surrounded by pom-pom waiving friends who are the “ideal” high school girls, and guys who value bodies more than brains. So, rather than being the one that makes sense, she often feels like the crazy one as she looks around and is in direct contrast to what’s expected.
Zoe prefers little drama and even less emotional upheaval in her life. Her girlfriends thrive on drama and create emotional upheaval whenever possible. Zoe finds herself in the middle of an irrational crush while trying to help her friend and sooth her own pride after a surprising break-up. Zoe’s normal, cool, calm demeanor is shaken as her emotions are brutalized; her take charge personality must be reigned in to save a friend from herself. Though good may always win, a battle is never without scars and some scars change who we are, forever.

Published: Amy Tuso on
ISBN: 9781466191136
List price: $2.99
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According to [[You]] We’re {Definable} - Amy Tuso

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Chapter 1

I love the first of anything, maybe because surprise is my favorite feeling or because it feels like getting a fresh start or a new chance. Whatever the reason I got up early [a huge accomplishment], dressed in new shorts, [peach ones ‘cause they look good with my tan] and a black tee [black keeps it plain and a tee keeps it causal]. I always want to look good, but I never want to look like I’ve tried. If I look like I’ve tried, then it would mean people matter and I care what they think, and I don’t. Therefore, I look good for me and plainly casual for them.

The house is quiet, either my mom’s still asleep or she’s at work. I’m sure she told me if she had to work, but I can’t ever keep it straight. After I peek into her room, I realize it must be work – her bed’s empty. Her room is across the hall from mine. Our house really is too big for the both of us and way too big for my room to be so close to hers, but we like it this way. We are close when we want to be and have the space to get away from each other.

It’s just my mom and I – my parents weren’t ever married and my dad was never interested in being a parent. I guess other kids would care about not having a dad. For me, this is how it’s always been so I don’t think about it too often. My grandma died when I was about three and left my mom a bunch of money – that’s how we were able to get this house. Since my family is so small, I have made family out of my friends.

I wonder what it would be like to have one of those mothering moms. You know the type: around when you need ‘em – they cook and clean and make sure you’ve done your homework. My mom was 20 when I was born. She hadn’t really planned to have kids. In my biased opinion, she hasn’t done too bad a job with me. She’s a blast. We can talk about anything and she is cool with my friends. She totally gets the angst part of being a teenager – sometimes she is more rebellious than I am. All that makes her fun; my friends love her and so do I, most of the time.

Shrugging I headed to the kitchen to get my keys and the messenger bag I got ready last night. I guess its best that my mom and I were put together. I tend to be over organized and really a bit on the anal side – so it works for both of us. I tend to run the house. She doesn’t have the need or desire to be in charge so I take the reins and parent the both of us. I notice a note taped to the back of the storm door as I head out. Have a great first day. Love ya, Ma I head to my car, smiling, to go get Becca.

Becca, my best friend, has to be a mess. She hates firsts. She has to be perfect. She cares what everyone thinks. I’ll most likely have to pull her away from her mirror. For god’s sake, she separates her eyelashes with a safety pin after she puts on her mascara. Who can possibly be close enough to truly appreciate that effort?

I had better get moving or she’ll have frizzed hair because she messed with it too much. Then she’ll not only be an anxious mess, she’ll be bitchy.

Where the hell have you been? Don’t you own a clock? I got here too late; Becca is bitchy.

Sorry Becs the coffee’s on me. I back out of her drive as she closes the door. I know any wasted time will only increase the volume and pace of Beccas nagging. You look great. Where did you get that skirt?

I look like crap. My hair is so flat; I put too much product in it. If you would have been on time I wouldn’t have kept messing with it, Becca had the visor down and was checking her make-up, again, just in case something changed in the thirty seconds since she last looked at herself.

Sorry Becs, I got caught in my head. You didn’t tell me where you got that skirt, I knew if I can get her to focus on that skirt she would relax. Until then, I was going be flambéed.

You wouldn’t know anything about flat hair with your curls, she sulked and flipped the mirror up with excessive force.

I decided not to comment on the mirror, since she had moved to the pouting portion of the show, I knew we were on shaky ground and I do not do tears. I also know better than pointing out that her blonde hair is just as thick as mine, and the envy of many. She might see flat hair, but everyone else will see a slick, smooth, cascade of gold. Self-deprecation is the best angle at this point, My hair looks like a perm gone very wrong, you know it’s not really curly, just exuberantly wavy.

Whatever. Just buy my coffee, okay? She knows my lateness has earned her a coffee. I figure its minimal payment when tears were on the bill. I can do tears when it is something worth crying about, like your dog got hit by a car or your favorite aunt died, but not because you have missed out on ten minutes of social interaction. Then the tears just annoy me and make me more callous than usual.

She sat in the car while I went in to get the coffee. She was looking in the mirror again. It’s no wonder some car dealers make you pay extra for that mirror. As if the driver should pay to ensure the passenger is happy with their appearance. Something I would never invest in and something Becca would think is as essential as a steering wheel.

My mom gave me her old car when I turned 16 – last year – since the car is only slightly younger than me it sounds a bit like a broke down lawn mower. It’s a brown Chevy four door with rusty quarter panels. All the mirrors came with it, no extra charge. I probably should be embarrassed by it; it is really ugly and very noisy, but I really don’t care. ‘Course I would love one of the new cars some of the kids in my class have, one got a frickin’ beamer for his birthday and another one got a rehabbed bug. Okay, so I covet the bug a bit, but I have a car and it runs.

I also have a parking spot on campus. Becca and I don’t have a far walk on the first day of our junior year. I had a spot last year too, for about half the year. Becca was dating a twin – she does that a lot (date) –he shared a car with his brother so he gave me his parking permit. I got busted. Who knew parking in someone else’s spot can bring the wrath of God; at least according to Principal Dickface. No, that’s not his real name; it would be fitting if it were. He is really Dr. Difact, but doctor makes him sound a whole lot smarter than he really is, so we just call him Principal. He told me I would face the wrath of God if I parked with someone else’s permit again. Apparently, there are not enough real problems in the world if God is getting involved in high school parking violations. I did stop myself from saying as much to Principal Dickface. I also stopped using his permit, just in case God didn’t have anything better to do. This year God can pursue other ventures as I am legally, and righteously, parking in a spot registered to me, with a permit in my name. Alleluia.

Becca had the car door opened before I even stopped in my blessed spot. She wants as much see-and-be-seen time before first period as possible. I am not so much into the social aspects of school. I guess it’s good she is or I might truly become the hermit of my dreams. She’s on a mission and I have to jog a bit to catch her. I don’t want to follow her – we have to walk in at the same time – I’m not a follower. Once in, Becca beelines for a group of girls at the back of the commons. I hold back, I can’t do girl drama this early in the morning. The girls are reserved for lunch when I am fortified with food and have had a chance to power on all my senses.

I find the vo-tech guys at their usual table in the commons. They are your total stereotype, especially when you only look at the surface, as most do. A good majority of them are on the weight extremes – too fat or too thin – bad skin and not real great hygiene. They all get clumped into the socially awkward, lower rungs of the social ladder. Matt, the one currently talking about some seniors rack, has grease under his nails, his love of auto mechanics reaches beyond the walls of the career center.

Seriously Matt, her rack is all wonder ‘cause it goes away with the bra, I tossed in as the guys ogle the passing prey. Laughing, one of the guys I don’t know mentions he would still like to get to know her secret. Get pun, I think sarcastically. Yeah, boys really are all the same, no matter what their social standing.

The guys have never noticed, at least they haven’t mentioned, that I am the only girl who sits with them. I have joined them every morning for the last two years. Sometimes I’m not sure they even realize I’m a girl. My neighbor, Joseph, is one of them, so he gives me the in. I endearing call this my bull shitting with the boys’ time.

Joseph sat next to me, smiled at a comment about ‘the chicks in this school’, and said, Well Zo, the beginning of the end for me. I bet your gonna miss this next year.

Naw, I’ll still have the pretty ones to look at and I won’t have to steel myself for your ugly mug so early in the morning. Plus, I won’t be here this early next year. I will only have third through sixth, ‘cause this brainiac took summer school. So, I bet, even the pretty ones here will miss me. I smile sardonically at him and he returns the look.

The warning bell sounds and we all move toward our respective classes like cows in a shoot. I have always thought it interesting how we are told, not to do what everyone else is doing, to be individuals, not succumb to peer pressure and then they have us follow the sound of a bell like a bunch of Pavlov’s dogs. In addition, in the height of our rebellious period, we just get up and move without a thought. Okay, so the couple I pass in the hall, the lip locked ones, apparently are more rebellious than I. Maybe not more rebellious, but definitely less concerned about the privacy of a physical relationship. I know that makes me sound like a prude, and maybe I am a bit of one. But yuck, really, I don’t want to see your tongue halfway down someone’s throat and I really don’t want you to see mine in a similar situation. It’s about boundaries and self-respect folks.

First period’s pretty lame. Trig with Mr. Twink, course we don’t call him that to his face. A few years back it's rumored that a guy walked in on him having physical relations with a Twinkie in the bathroom. No one really believed it, though we tell it like we do, and since then the name stuck. It’s mean and very immature, but well, it’s high school. He’s nice enough, and probably not a bad teacher. He just teaches a sucky class. I’m not too bad at math so I don’t find it too painful. Math makes sense to me. Once you learn the rules they never change; the pieces can change, but as long as you follow the rules, you get the right answer. If only life were really that simple.

Second period is English –literature specifically – I love to read [my nerd’s showing] so this should be an easy class. I tend to have an opinion about everything so that should make an A a given with little-to-no actual work. No one special is in this period with me either; it seems I am doomed to social isolation in my classes. Xander has class next door and I see him walk past.

So how pathetic is it that that just seeing him makes my mouth water? Again, I am Pavlov’s dog – you know the one whose mouth waters when the bell is rung cause he thinks he’s gonna get fed. Somehow, Xander has become as basic as food, and I have never even had a nibble. I’m not sure how I feel about that. I know that gives him a distinct advantage, so I have no plans to let him know he meets a basic, very fundamental need for me. Anyway, we’ve been friends for so long he doesn’t even see me like that. He and I are buds; you know the kind that rags you when you screw up and cheers you when you do something great. We hang out together with all of our friends and occasionally do stuff just him and me. I am a friend, forever.

Seems I have that effect on guys; they all tend to forget I’m a girl. Sure, they see me as a girl when they need advice about some chick they’re hard up over, but I’m just a friend, or the dreaded like a sister. Not that I want, or need, guys falling at my feet, but I would like Xander to look occasionally. He can see how I’d be just great for other guys, why not for him? I guess our romance will only be in my head. He is looking for more than I will give, so I guess, its best that he doesn’t see me.

At lunch, I found Becca and the girls at a table near the back of the cafeteria. Becca’s strategic location. This way everyone walking to and from the tables can see her. Becca’s talking about the guy she dated over the summer, more accurately, one of the guys she dated over the summer.

He played soccer, and was a starter, which is amazing since he is only a freshman. He’s a sophomore this year, but he was a starter as a frosh, She’s engrossed with her story and both of her audience members are interested. I was able to sit without either of her audience catching my laugh. They, of course, are assuming he is a college freshman, now sophomore, but I know he is still in high school. I do not intend to change their assumptions, Becca would be hurt and I would have gained nothing.

Sitting here listening to Becca go on and on about this totally hot goalie I can’t help but think how sad it is – we’re sitting with our two other best friends and we can’t be real. At least, not completely honest, the trust isn’t deep enough. I love all of the girls at the table, but some days, it is hard to like them.

Becca and I are the closest of the quartet, but that is another one of our secrets. Julie and I are pretty close as are Becca and Dahlia. That would be how outsiders would pair us off. Julie and me, Becca and Dahlia, really it is how our outside personalities fit best. Becca loves attention and works for it. Dahlia loves attention and will do whatever it takes to get it – indeed, whatever it takes –she is quite popular with the boys. They are the louder, more in your face, members of the quad.

Julie and I are the education portion of the show, as opposed to the social. Julie is the good one. I mean, with everything, good all the way through. She always makes the right choice, is usually happy, and is nice to everyone. She goes to church every Sunday and is active in their youth group. She is athletic and freaking smart. The bitch is even cute. So really, you would like to hate her, sometimes I even try, but you really can’t help but love her. We’re both brunette, well, I am naturally, and Becca and Dahlia are blonde. Figures, I know. I have suggested we bring in a redhead for balance, but they all think I have the rainbow covered so there isn’t a need. My hair is a bit like a mood ring, as my moods change so does the color. Anyway, in summary, Becca is energy; Dahlia is sex; Julie is perfect; and I’m change. Nothing at all alike, but somehow we fit together quite well.

Apparently I have been in my head all lunch, ‘cause it’s over and I didn’t catch more than the initial discussion about the hottie frosh soccer goalie Becca dated. The rest of the day is pretty uneventful. I have no classes with Dahlia, which is not surprising. We view school as having completely different objectives. For me the purpose is to get something out of it and move on to bigger [college] and better [the future] things. For her it’s an all-you-can-eat buffet of the total male faire. I guess she is lucky we go to one of the biggest high schools in the state. She takes cute classes; I take college prep. Really if she wasn’t friends with Becca and Julie, we wouldn’t be friends. Becca and I have gym together because we have both put off the requirement as long as possible. We took life sports for the requirement, that way, we get the challenges of badminton and bowling for the semester rather than running. It’s at least a fun way to spend the period and we don’t have to sweat much. Julie and I have AP Biology and French together – both of which we love and are in total nerd heaven.

After school, the three of them go to shake what their mama gave ‘em. Yes, as shameful as it is, my three best friends play with poms. Julie is a varsity football and basketball cheerleader, because somehow, it matters what sport you cheer for, and Becca is a junior varsity football cheerleader and a varsity-wrestling cheerleader. Yeah, I laughed too when she told me they actually cheer during wrestling. Dahlia is a dancing cheerleader, they are the Lionettes, and are a pompon squad, but they look like dancing cheerleaders to me. Again, I love them all, in spite of their dumb skirts and fluffy shakers.

Since I am rhythmically challenged and have no inclination to yell a goofy rhyme to a bunch of sweaty guys, after school I head to Joseph’s to watch him get greasy. Joseph goes to vo-tech for auto mechanics. Because he spends most of his day at the career center, we typically bond after school. He’s buried waist deep in a hood by the time I get to the curb, the typical spot on nice days. If it’s cold or rainy, I camp out on his bed while he’s getting dirty. As bad, as that may sound it’s a whole lot less exciting. His room is in the basement and the garage is under the house. So really, his bedroom and the garage are like one big studio apartment with a couple of short walls to separate the space.

Today it’s hot so I sit on the curb and lean back on my elbows. He’s shirtless, smudged in grease.

I can see why Becca made a pass at you. You’re looking pretty good there muscle boy.

Yeah well, I was too much man for her. She moved on about as fast as she came on. Seems to be her style, she chatted me up quite a bit today. I guess the pain of moving on has eased for her, Joseph didn’t come out from under the hood. Typically, we talk without looking at each other. He is usually too engrossed in whatever surgical procedure he is inflicting on whatever engine or transmission is in front of him.

I think it was your pain, I seem to recall some pouting. And like any guy, you’re happy as long as you get some attention, now you can date elsewhere and still get her attention.

True enough, kinda the cake and the eats. She’s not seeing anyone right now?

Not right this minute, but with Becca you never know. You can ask her out again I’m sure she’d go, she likes you. I lean back further and let my face warm in the sun. It is so relaxing to just be. There are so few people in my life I can just be with and not think or worry. This conversation has replayed so many times I don’t really even have to think about it. Joseph and Becca dated for a while last school year and then they just petered out. They have stayed friends, and even get googlie-eyed over each other and touchy-feely when they are both single, but neither of them seem to want the connection that’s there. So they dance around it and see other people.

Naw, I’m not looking for that. I heard Luke talking about her so I thought they were a thing.

Sitting-up, I laugh, "You know for a vo-tech grease monkey you sure know a lot about what goes on in the social strata. Becca has been looking Luke’s way; she’ll be interested to know he’s been looking back. How do you know so much when you are barely there and you are so not a part of all the drama?"

I just listen. Tell Becca to watch out for Luke, he’s not what he shows. Oh and Zo’ don’t tell her I said anything, she’ll just jump at him with her eyes closed to spite me. It’s not all about my jealousy that wants her to keep both eyes open.

I knew better than to ask what Luke was if it wasn’t the super cool, super-hot, super perfect soccer star. Joseph rarely says more about other people then he has to. I figured it was a big deal since he even mentioned it. I’ll let Becca know when the time is right and I’ll leave Joseph out of it - he’s right she would be all over Luke if she thought he didn’t approve.

Dahlia is single again; you can take a shot at her.

She is hot. Has a great body and knows how to show it off, but I only want my cars fast.

Yeah and those greasy fingers eliminate you. I can’t see her dating a vo-tech guy. Imagine, Princess Dahlia and the pauper. I laugh.

Different planets. He agrees. So you gonna miss me when I’m gone?

Where you going? Planning winter break already? School just started.

Forget winter break, I’m talking about next year. This is it for me. Thank freaking god, I don’t ever have to go to school again, never again in my whole life.

Today is the first day of your senior year; you’ve got a whole year left. I will be ready for you to go. Trust me.

Joseph considers himself the best kind of senior – the kind that is done with school forever. By the time he graduates he’ll be ASE certified [mechanic speak for qualified] so he’ll be able to get a full time job after graduation.

Yeah, you’re just jealous. Have you decided where you’re headed? He pulled his head out from under the hood and started wiping his hands.

"I can’t even figure out what part of the country I want to go to, let alone, what state. So, as far a finding a college, I have no idea. I hope to have a top ten by Christmas. I wish I was like you and just knew what I was. I want a passion, of course not something that gets me that dirty, but something I love. Standing I wipe the grass off my shorts. See you later, I gotta get some dinner and finish my math and bio. Who gives homework on the first day?"

Nerd. See you later. Waving he heads to the back of his house and I head across the street to mine.

My mom isn’t home. She left tater tot casserole in the fridge for me to heat up if I got hungry and reminded me to get in bed early since the first day of school is exhausting – all of this was left on a note under the Look What Zoe Did magnet we’ve had since I was in kindergarten. I figure she’s out with Mike, so she most likely won’t be home tonight. I heat up dinner to eat while I do my homework in bed. I start drifting off during the last part of my biology homework and I am asleep before I even thought about getting ready for bed.

The second day of school has no value. Especially when it’s a Thursday – who thinks starting school on Wednesday makes it any better? Like we are somehow tricked into enjoying the return. I hate Tuesdays and this Thursday has been turned into an imposter Tuesday. I’m automatically bitchy before I even roll out of bed. I’m running late, of course, so Becca’s bitchy too. This is pretty much our status quo for day two of our week. Fortunately, we have a rhythm now and both of us stay quiet and listen to music. Engrossed with these thoughts I didn’t notice Xander as he caught up with us on the way in from the lot.

Hey there hotties. How was the return to hell? He asks as he steps between Becca and me throwing his arms over our shoulders. I tried to catch up with you guys yesterday, but I got caught talking to some freshman about the band. Did you get enough sleep last night Zo?

I turn to look at him, unsure what he was talking about, uh, yeah, why?

I tried to call you three times last night. You didn’t answer your house or cell. I texted you and never got an answer. I figured if you were out with Captain Football you would have at least called back when you got home. He had called Trevor, my boyfriend, Captain Football since we had started dating. I know Xander doesn’t really like him, but I have never asked why. I figure some things are better not talked about.

Oh, no, Trev had practice. I was at Joseph’s for a while, then went home. I fell asleep at like eight. I was reading my bio chapter for today.

Becca went to the front doors to head toward the morning girl drama; Xander and I found a bench outside. It isn’t weird to be with Xander like this. We have been friends forever and my crush slash obsession has never interfered with it; I won’t let it. Xander was telling me his schedule when Jason came up and plopped down on my other side. Jason is Xander’s best friend and Julie’s boyfriend. Jason is also a good friend of mine. He is so funny and see’s the life’s contradictions like I do. We can entertain each other for hours and annoy those around us the entire time. We laugh at the rest of the world – most people just don’t get it. We’re not judgmental; we’re critical – we love you, even though we magnify, study and discuss all your strengths and faults. The great thing is that neither of us are exempt from the magnifying glass. We examine, dissect and criticize each other more than anyone else. It is because of the teasing and critical banter that I make sure Jason has no idea how I feel about Xander. Honestly, no one knows how I feel. I can’t even talk to Becca about it because my obsession with him makes me feel weak. It’s the lack of control I have of my feelings for him, more than the feelings themselves that make me feel so weak. I know the damage he can inflict on my heart if I were to give it to him and it would be unfixable. We stay friends and I keep my emotional space so that it’s not obvious.

As I journey out of my head and back to the conversation I hear Xander talking about some girl he went out with this last weekend. She’s from another school and isn’t putting out. Xander’s love for girls is a lot like Dahlia’s love of guys. He loves girls, all of them, everything about them, but unlike Dahlia he has a lot of respect and caring for them. Yet, much like Dahlia, he goes through them like most people go through gym socks. That’s catty huh, comparing Xander’s girls to gym socks.

Anyway, he’s telling Jason, his latest conquest has made it through the fourth weekend of dates and has managed to keep her clothes on. This, of course, is a strike against her in Xander’s book. He has this scoring process when it comes to dates and sex. If she puts out the first weekend, she’s done there. He isn’t interested in a girl who has nothing but her body to offer. If she waits until the second weekend, she is booty call material. He doesn’t want a girl who would use sex to try to get or keep a guy, but he’s willing to use her if she’s mutually using him. The third weekend can earn her causal dating status or as Jason and I term it, friends with benefits without any friendship. She’d be worth spending some time with, to have fun with, but he’d never make her a priority. A fourth weekend girl gets a real shot at being the girlfriend and if she hasn’t put out by the fifth weekend, she is replaced and the process begins again with a new girl. He doesn’t want a girl to change how she feels about sex for him and he’s worried if he stays with them too long they’d want to use sex to keep him around longer. I would consider this arrogant if it wasn’t sadly true. There are quite a few girls who will do anything, including compromise their values, just to get a gorgeous guy to stick around.

Xander is gorgeous, actually he’s hella hot, and he knows it. He’s just over six foot with dark hair and eyes that vary from golden brown to charcoal depending on the day. He is built solid but not weight lifter hard. He is athletic even though he doesn’t play any school sports. He says he likes sports too much to ruin them with competition. I think he just doesn’t want to do anything that takes real effort and that he might lose at. Can