The Good, The Bad and the Molly – Chapter 10

Molly and I didn’t say much more to each other that night. The next day, I think both of us wanted to talk to each other, yet we both somehow knew we shouldn’t have. Both of us felt this invisible barrier between us, begging us to not talk to each other. And so, the full day went by without either of us ever even being in the same room, let alone striking up a conversation. The day after, the barrier was gone and it became clear that one of us had to start a conversation with the other person, and of course that one was going to be me.

It was late, after classes, at a point when both of us were home. I waited about an hour or so – I don’t know what for, it just felt like waiting was somehow tasteful. When I decided it was the right time, I marched up to her room and knocked tenderly on the door.

I heard some shuffling and then heard Molly clear her throat. “Come in.” she called out articulately.

I opened the door and walked in. At her desk sat Molly, head slightly lowered, looking off towards the floor.

“Hey.” I started awkwardly. “I think we should probably talk about what happened two nights ago.”

Molly sighed and closed her eyes. “Yeah.” she replied. “Can we do it later?”

“I think we should do it now.” I replied, still unsure of how much I needed to let Molly have her way these days. To my relief, she sighed and nodded, gesturing towards the bed. I took the hint and sat down.

“So… we need to talk about what happened.” I started uneasily.

“What do we even need to say?” Molly replied, a little sarcastic and a little confused.

I furrowed my brow at her weird lack of taking this seriously. “Molly, with our history, what happened shouldn’t have happened.”

“It’s been a year.” she defended herself, noticeably getting less articulate.

“You’re not the type to turn on a dime like that. Just because you had a bad breakup, that shouldn’t mean… like, no offense, but all this happened way too quickly.” Molly didn’t respond, and just let her head hang. Something clicked with me. “Are you drunk?

“No!” Molly replied violently.

I stared into her eyes. They weren’t open all the way, and she had difficulty keeping her head still. I leaned in closer and sniffed. “Molly.” I said disapprovingly.

“Fuck off.” she replied defensively. “I get to run my life however I want.”

I opened my mouth to say something, something in rebuttal, then realized that it would get me nowhere. Hell, it would have gotten me nowhere with Sober Molly, let alone Drunk Molly. “Okay, you’re right. I’m sorry.”

Molly didn’t say anything, but just leaned back in her chair.

I had to process what was happening. Okay. So Molly wasn’t just drinking at parties, she was also just getting drunk at home. Clearly not for the first time, that would be too convenient. Which meant… “Were you drunk two days ago when we had sex too?” I would have thought I’d noticed, but me being me, there was the possibility I’d missed it.

“Nah, just tipsy.” Molly replied. “I try not to get drunk in front of other people.”

“I see.” I nodded. “Is that why…?”

I hoped that by trailing off Molly would have finished my sentence for me, but she just stared at me. I sighed. “Was that why we had sex? Because you were tipsy?”

Molly gave me a smile that revealed she was more drunk than she was letting on. “Someday I’ll talk about it.” she told me. “But not now. I just needed that… I needed intimacy. Life wasn’t… life isn’t going so well, and you were there, and I knew you wanted me. You were… is it offensive to say you were ‘easy to access’?”

I laughed at how bold this Molly was. “Probably, but I can take it. You’ve earned the right anyway.” I paused. “So this was spur of the moment?”

Molly grinned with her drunk style again. “Aaron, you’re making me give away all of my tricks.” she replied playfully. “No, I’ve been thinking about it for a while. Carson and I were clearly gonna end sooner or later, and I needed… something. I just couldn’t bring it up with you in case you took advantage of me before I was sure.”

Instead of you taking advantage of me and my feelings, which is what happened, I thought to myself bitterly, but the thought vanished in a flash. “Well, was it what you wanted?”

“Yesssss.” Molly nodded, the smile still there on her face.

Idiotically, I pressed on. “And do you want to continue?”

Molly shrugged, her head ragdolling to face the floor. “I mean, yeah, if you do. Not right now though.”

“I would not want to right now anyways.” I honestly told her. “This is a lot to take in.”

Molly didn’t respond coherently, she just chuckled to herself. “I think it’s hitting me harder now.” she eventually mumbled. “I think I should be alone. Are you good?”

“Yeah, I’m good.” I replied, the situation honestly scaring me a little. I got up from the bed and walked over to the door. “Goodnight.” I replied, waiting a little too long for a reply before shutting the door behind me.

As soon as the door was shut, I violently threw my head against the wall and kept it there. Normally I’d overthink about shit like this, but I just thought… nothing. The only mind that came to my mind was “fuck.” Every so often, I’d picture Molly, alone in her room, with something I knew was bad for her, but to think about intervening was going against what she asked, and thinking about how bad this could be for her would have been hypocritical anyways. For now, I just had to take life as it came, and be there for her, on her terms. It wasn’t right, and it wasn’t fair to me either, but after everything that happened, it’s what had to happen.

 

***

 

I was nervous to have dinner with the Sharptons again. After reconnecting with Molly, I knew it was going to happen at one time or another, but they’d ask about why I’d been away for a year. I knew the truth wouldn’t come out, but another thing that worried me was Molly’s eagerness to lie and make things seem more okay than they were. A lie that causes a smile is better than a truth that causes a tear, I suppose.

“He’s just been too busy with schoolwork and stuff.” she had said with a simple shrug, then an equally simple smile at me.

That was the first time Daisy looked up at me. She knew the whole thing was a lie, but I guess she wasn’t expecting it to come from Molly’s mouth.

“I had to practically beg him to come over as it was.” she continued with a small laugh. At this, Daisy lowered an eyebrow at me.

At this point, I decided to risk everything. Praying that Molly’s parents couldn’t see us or at the very least couldn’t read lips, I mouthed something to Daisy. She knows.

Daisy seemed to understand, raising both eyebrows and being slightly taken aback at my admission. She mouthed back in turn, Basement, after supper. I simply nodded, and the meal went on like it was nothing.

“Too busy for us?” Mr. Sharpton playfully asked. “Too busy to even give us a visit?”

“Hey, if I could have changed things, I would’ve.” I replied with a small fake laugh, trying my best to ignore any looks from either Daisy or Molly given the dramatic irony of such a comment.

It was actually pretty nice to reconnect with her parents. Because things were… weird, to say the least, with Molly and I now, I didn’t feel the burning guilt I expected to feel around them. After all, Aaron did those things to her, but was I that Aaron? Should I have carried this shame all my life for what I did even if I knew I would never do it again? I was going to feel guilty for what I had done, absolutely, but should I have felt like I could never look her in the eyes? If I could at some point, then when? When she said it was okay to? If she never did, could I ever?

Overthinking. My strong suit. I was trying to practice mindfulness, and realized that no matter what I felt, this situation wasn’t hard for me. I was the one that did the bad thing. This situation was hard for Molly. She had a bad thing happen to her. Even though we had sex a couple more times before I saw her parents, it was clear that occasionally she’d remember the feeling of violation and freeze or ask me to stop or something. I complied, but I knew that I still caused it. I’d have to deal with that for as long as it would happen, and accommodate her well. It was the least I could do. It made things weird for me, but weird was better than…

Than, ‘traumatized.’

I shook my head, trying not to make it too obvious, then continued on with the meal. Afterwards, I was all too happy to help with the dishes when I saw Daisy gunning it for the basement out of the corner of my eye.

“Some things never change.” I lightly joked to Molly, who gave a half-smile.

“Yeah.” she softly replied, looking down towards the basement. “I wish she’d act a little more mature though. She’s thirteen, aren’t kids supposed to grow out of habits like that?” She took a dish I handed to her and put it away.

I shrugged. “Maybe it’s me.”

“How so?” Molly asked me.

“She hasn’t seen me in a year or so, maybe she got shy around me an-” I cut myself off as I realized the implications of what I was saying.

Molly was the first to speak after a long pause. “Yeah, she did seem really angry at you last time. I forgot all about that.”

“Yup.” I replied. “And she told you to stay away from me. Maybe she’s smarter than we thought.”

Molly gave me a sarcastic smile. At this point, we had moved on to the slightly awkward stage of joking about that part of our past from time to time, as long as the mood was light enough. “She told me to stay away from who you used to be.” Molly replied softly.

“It isn’t a necessary part of healing to forgive your abusers, you know.” I replied meaningfully. “I wouldn’t blame you if you never talked to me again.”

“Oh, shut up.” Molly replied half-playfully. “I’m going to forgive anyone for anything anyways. If you want to feel like a bad guy, go ahead, but I’m just glad that… I’m just…” She sighed and placed the dish she was working on down so she could look at me. “This stuff is behind us. Okay? I’m willing to take another chance on you being a good person. It’s probably dumb, but I’m a big stupid anyways.”

“You’re not a big stupid.” I replied, picking up the dish she was working on.

“Yes I am.” she told me, taking the dish back. “You want to talk to Daisy? Maybe forgiveness runs in the family.”

“Daisy doesn’t even know what I did to you.” I pointed out.

“Then don’t tell her. And quit bringing it up so much around me while you’re at it, you’re only making things worse for yourself. You’re not exactly telling me anything new when you remind me, it just brings up bad memories. Let’s just… be.” She smiled.

I smiled back, then gazed over to the basement. “Fine. Don’t expect me to be there for long though.”

“You never are, it’s fine.” Molly replied, putting a dish away. I said nothing more to her as I descended down the steps, preparing myself for a possibly more heated but definitely more awkward encounter with daisy than usual. As soon as I got downstairs, I was greeted with Daisy, leaning against the wall, arms folded, looking at me seriously.

“So.” she began.

“So.” I echoed, freezing in place.

“You told her.”

“Yeah, everything.” I replied. I remembered what Molly told me at the party and realized I had to continue. “A housemate caught me in the act. He made me tell her.”

“And she just forgave you?” She snapped her fingers in derision. “Just like that?”

“Yeah, and that’s why I’ve been coming over every two weeks for the past year.” I replied, finding the strength again to finish walking down the stairs. “No, she didn’t fucking forgive me. Things were bad between us. I had to learn a lot of hard lessons.”

“And how can I be sure you’ve learned them?” Daisy asked me, getting up from the wall.

“You can’t.” I chuckled, looking into her eyes. “I don’t even get how or why Molly forgave me some days, but she did.”

Daisy nodded, never breaking eye contact. Never even blinking. In every way other than appearance, she was anything but the seemingly dainty, almost fragile thirteen-year-old she was. “And if I went upstairs, spoke to Molly… let’s say I tell her you told me everything. She’d corroborate your story?”

“Every detail.” I confirmed.

“That must have been tough.”

“What was?”

“The year after. Just because she caught you raping her doesn’t mean you fell out of love with her.”

“Oh.” I replied, sitting down on the sofa. “Yeah, it was tough.”

Daisy raised one eyebrow. “So, you’re not challenging me anymore? You’re not claiming she totally wanted it?”

I looked down at the floor. “No, I’m not.” I weakly admitted.

“That’s a good first step.” she observed.

I looked back up at her. “It’s not a first step. At least, when it was, you weren’t there.” I replied. “You’re not running things at this point. You stepped down from your position.”

“I had excellent cause to do so.” Daisy countered.

“Yeah, sure, you did. I ain’t arguing that.” I conceded, hands moving all over the place in my flustered state. “But Molly and I are fine now. I don’t need your blessing or nothing, this is about Molly, not you.”

Daisy stared at me for a bit. “I suppose.” she replied, her eyes narrowing. “How is she doing?”

“Doesn’t she tell you?” I asked.

“She tells me everything is fine. I know much more is going on below the surface.”

“Well, if she doesn’t want to tell you the details of her private life, why should I?” I asked her. “It’s not like I’m asking you how to be your big brother again.”

“You still want to.” Daisy pointed out, unmoving.

“Yeah, I do, but once again, it’s about her, not me. I’m not going to try anything again. If she asks, I’ll jump at the opportunity, but until then, never again. She’s allowed me to still be her friend. I’m grateful as hell for that, and I really don’t care what you think or say, what matters to me is her and her well-being.”

Daisy sat down on the loveseat. “You’ve gotten a lot better at using your charisma to smooth over situations since we last met.”

“Or I’ve genuinely become a better person.”

“Or you’ve genuinely become a better person.” she acknowledged. “But I really have no way of proving that. You can’t blame me for being skeptical.”

“If anything, it’s probably for the best.” I admitted. “If you instantly forgave me, I could see that empowering scumbaggish behavior.” I switched to lying down on the couch. It looked like Daisy was my psychiatrist.

“And you can’t expect me to change my mind anytime soon.” Daisy added.

I smiled. “Molly gave me a year but still gave me a chance. The least I can do is accept that other people will have views on me I won’t want for a while.” I sighed. “How’s grade eight?”

“Oh, so we’re talking about me now, are we?” Daisy replied with one eyebrow raised. I gave her a look and she rolled her eyes and took her own position laying down on the loveseat. “Poorly. I seem to have miscalculated how to act in my school’s environment and now I’m in some kind of special needs program.”

“Your inner bookworm must love that level of dramatic irony.” I laughed.

“Not when it’s happening to me.” she huffed. “My options are kind of limited now. I don’t think I played my cards right.” She took a position where her head was touching the floor and her legs were draped over the top of the couch. “If you want some poetry, think about this: me trying to avoid making things complicated made them complicated.”

“Tell me about it.” I replied. “If I had just told Molly how I felt at the time, I could have avoided all of this. Maybe I’d be a better person for that too. But still, I’d have moved on from her by now too. That’d be nice. I almost wish I never felt anything for her in the first place.”

Daisy was silent for a while. “Did you do anything with her since you told her?”

“Anything in her sleep? Hell no.” There was no way in hell I was going to let Daisy know Molly was now coming on to me. That would have made things… disastrous. “I broke things off with everyone else I was sleeping with too.”

She sat up again on the couch. “And I can’t imagine you and Molly being close again was something that happened before the last month or so.”

“Yeah, that’s just about correct.” I nodded.

“Sounds like things are still volatile to some extent, and she’s still vulnerable.” she observed. “Remember that.”

“Yeah, thanks.” I replied annoyedly. “I already know, thank you. You really like to direct the lives of others, don’t you?”

With no trace of a smile on her face, she replied with, “Look what happens when I don’t.”

“Hey now.” I recoiled, sitting up myself. “Uncalled for.”

“It’s at least good that the last year you’ve made amends.” she continued, as if we didn’t just have that moment. “Even with Molly being Molly, if she forgives you… maybe.”

“Maybe?” I asked her.

“Maybe.” she replied, not needing to elaborate further on what she meant. “But that’s on her.”

“Would you let that happen?” I asked her sincerely.

“I wouldn’t like it. But, men are scum.”

I scrunched up my face in confusion. “You make a good point.” I replied sarcastically.

She rolled her eyes again. “Molly is vulnerable by nature. Any guy she lets in is probably going to abuse her or treat her badly in one way or another. Maybe, if she wants you in the future, it’s better she’s with a guy who’s learned to be better than a guy that… hasn’t.”

“Or… y’know, maybe she should get with someone who has never and will never abuse her in the first place.” I replied as if it were obvious.

Daisy smiled a challenging smile, the first smile I’d seen from her since I arrived. “Yup. I’m going to hold out she gets with that guy before she ever gets with you.” She gestured to me. “See why I’m biased against you?”

“What’s with you?” I asked her, going back to sitting. “Why can’t you presume I have learned my lesson without you being the one to teach it to me? I already knew everything you told me bef-” I cut myself off at the sound of someone coming down the stairs. Three guesses who. Both of us turned towards the stairs in time to see Molly coming down the stairs.

“Hey, guys.” she began awkwardly. “How are things?”

“Did you hear?” I asked without thinking, realizing only after that even saying that sentence meant something of substance.

“Hear what?” Molly asked. I wasn’t really prepared for that, and turned to Daisy.

Somehow, Daisy was always prepared, with a surprise to boot. “It’s nice to see him back.” she replied with a smile. She turned to me and maintained the smile. I shivered.

Molly broke into a big smile. “Hey, that’s great.” she replied warmly. “Get used to it. He’s probably going to be showing up just as often as before now that classes aren’t kicking his butt.”

I chuckled. “Did you come down here to announce my triumphant return?” I wasn’t exactly done talking to Daisy, and I was really looking forward to giving her a piece of my mind. She didn’t need to forgive me, but it wasn’t Daisy I needed to show that I was a changed man, so I didn’t have to deal with her shit. I couldn’t exactly do that with Molly there.

Molly chuckled in return. “Um, no, I actually wanted to talk to you.” She pointed to Daisy.

“Me?” Daisy asked in her innocent thirteen-year-old voice.

“Yup. Your butt, upstairs. Dad saw I was doing the dishes and wants you to do them for a change.”

“But Molly.” Daisy whined. “I do them all the time when you’re not here. And dad never does them.”

“Take it up with him.” Molly shrugged, not losing her smile. “His orders. You gotta go upstairs.”

“Ugh.” Daisy grumbled, removing herself from the couch and trudging up the stairs. Molly’s eyes followed her as she went up the stairs, then she turned to me and smiled. Wordlessly, she joined me on the couch.

“She’s a lot to handle sometimes, isn’t she?” she asked me.

I shrugged. “The more things change, the more they stay the same, I guess.”

“What did she say, anything I should know?”

Yes. “Not really. We were just talking about grade eight and how she’s in some kinda special needs program now.”

Molly nodded. “Yeah, that’s gotta be rough on her. Even though she may need that kind of education, it still doesn’t help to have that kind of stigma put on you.”

“Oh, you don’t even know the half of it.” I cut in. “Daisy’s actually a super-genius and has been hiding it from your family for years. She can breeze through her classes and only tried acting dumb in the first place because of expectations. She’s helped proofread some of my papers too.”

Molly laughed. “Yeah. Anyways, is she okay?”

“Oh yeah, she’s fine. We’re fine.” I shrugged mellowly.

“Good.” Molly beamed at me. “It’s nice to have you back here. I think my parents missed seeing you.”

“What did you tell them? Like, the entire time I was away.” I glanced up towards the ceiling. “Clearly not the truth.”

It was Molly’s turn to shrug. “I didn’t really say anything.”

“Did they ask?”

“Yeah, they did.” Molly got quiet, then so did I. We eventually turned to face each other and half-smiled.

I sighed. “Quit bringing it up, yeah?”

Molly’s smile got bigger. “Yeah.” she murmured. “Not like they’d understand anyway.”

“I barely understand it myself.” I quipped.

Molly shrugged, turning away but giving me a sideways sly smile. “Yeah, but as long as we’re having fun with it.”

I chuckled. “We’re certainly making the best of our situation, yeah.”

“Stop being such a downer.” Molly said with a laugh, leaning into me. “Aren’t you enjoying this?”

“Of course I am.” I replied without hesitation.

Molly’s smile turned devilish. “Aren’t you enjoying this?” she repeated, grabbing my hands and placing them on her chest.

I immediately retracted my hands. “I mean…” I awkwardly began. “Yes, but not here.”

“Why not?” Molly challenged me. “You know my parents don’t come in here after supper. And if I know Daisy, she won’t be done the dishes for a while now.”

“And you think there’s a zero percent chance she’ll come back downstairs in the meantime?” I challenged her, looking around. “Maybe she left a book downstairs or something…”

“Don’t be ridiculous.” Molly dismissed me, bringing my hands back to her chest. “Daisy doesn’t read books unless her teachers force her to.”

I didn’t say anything but I let my hands remain there, unmoving, even after Molly’s hands left her chest. She slowly smiled at me. “Touch me.” she practically commanded.

I scoffed, shaking my head, letting a smile creep onto my face. In some corner of my brain, this kind of Molly was what I wanted. And she was not only consenting to it, but literally asking for it. Who could say no to that? “You’re incorrigible.” I accused as I leaned in and teasingly bit her neck.

“Ah.” she instinctually winced and then quickly smiled, the smile vanishing as quickly as it came. “We probably don’t have time to do too much.”

“We probably don’t have time to do anything.” I replied, nervously looking at the stairs.

“Will you relax?” she soothed me. “I’ll tell you what. It looks like I’m wanting this a bit more than you right now. What do you say to you eating me out now, then a blowjob for you later?”

I chuckled. “What, are you bargaining with me right now?”

She shrugged. “Maybe.” she replied with a grin. “So what do you say?”

On one hand, I still wasn’t sure about this. On another, even just being around Molly made me feel downright giddy knowing she wanted this too. Even just her scent enticed me, made me want more. Top off that scent with her smile, supplemented with an almost invisible level of lust, and even at my most serious moments I would cave.

I slowly broke into a smile. “Okay.” I replied, kissing her on the cheek. “Let’s fucking do this.”

Molly’s grin didn’t fade. “I thought so.” she replied as she looked behind her, then began to take off her pants. Luckily, she had her back to the stairs so even if someone did come down, they’d only see her sitting on the sofa as long as I reacted quickly enough and sat next to her or something.

We didn’t need to communicate out loud, we instinctively knew how this was going to go down. Molly finished removing her underwear, lightly inspected herself, then sat down on the edge of the couch, spreading her legs for me. “Show me what you’ve got.” she purred in a slightly smug voice.

So proud of herself. At least she was coming out of her shell. Smiling upwards at her, I began by slowly lapping up her slit, testing the waters. At first contact, Molly let out a breath she had seemingly been keeping in and snak down into the couch, clearly already enjoying herself.

I pulled my tongue back. “Getting comfy?” I asked her humorously.

“Keep going.” she replied with no humor in her voice, eyes closed, her face in that sorrowful expression girls get when you begin the foreplay. Internally chuckling, I resumed, bringing my hands to her thighs and lightly caressing them as my tongue danced over her slit until I decided to turn up the heat.

Taking one hand off her thigh, I started to lightly rub my middle finger along the bottom of her slit up to the top as my tongue travelled upwards, finding her clitoris. As I made slow, simple lines on her clit to tease her, my finger rubbed along her increasingly wet opening until eventually I felt her soft flesh give way and my finger easily slid in.

Molly rewarded my efforts with a soft, delicate “Mmm” and a slight push of her hips. Her left hand slowly travelled downwards until it found the back of my head. She didn’t grab it violently, she didn’t shove my face into her, she just caressed and played with my hair. If I wasn’t busy, I would have looked her in the eyes and smiled.

As the minutes went by, I increased my efforts, my tongue becoming more dexterous and my finger turning into two as my hand and tongue worked in tandem to give Molly exactly what she wanted. She tried to be quiet to make sure we weren’t being too obvious, but nothing could stop her heavy, satisfied breaths from coming out. I grew to love the sound of those heavy satisfied sighs. They were like a symphony to me, and the band was playing just for me.

I lightly kissed her clitoris between licks, with each lick becoming more precise and ever-so-slightly more powerful. Her sighs occasionally let a slight “Aah” through, signalling that Molly was close to giving me those sex-laughs, which meant she was really getting into it now. I liked to save using three fingers for those moments, almost as if it was something celebratory or special. As soon as the third finger entered her, a single “Ha!” escaped her lips, the first audible (or dare I say, loud) thing either of us said since we began.

I took my tongue off of her very aroused clit long enough to tell her to “sssh” before diving right back in, using every trick in the book I knew to help Molly reach her climax. It was clear that Molly had spent the day pent up by the way she was approaching her orgasm – she was starting to become worryingly loud, her once-gentle hand was now gripping me for dear life, and her hips were moving as if they had a mind of their own. Curling my fingers to find her g-spot, I caressed her clitoris with my tongue, occasionally letting my teeth just barely graze it before resuming with my regular technize which I heard her breathing rapidly quicken.

The crescendo. I remained at a solid pace, letting Molly’s orgasm rise, and then it hit. As clear as a firework going off, Molly let the sexual energy course through her entire body and flow through her like a tide of pleasure, going through several waves as she held my head in place before her grip eventually softened. My fingers retracted out of her but my tongue remained at work, gently lapping at her slit again to help her ride her way back out of her orgasm.

Eventually, she lazily opened her eyes and smiled a practically intoxicated smile at me. “Wow.” she breathlessly said, her face covered in a sheen of perspiration. “Well done.”

“Do I pass?” I asked her, my face retracting from between her legs. She responded by sticking her tongue out at me as I tossed her her underwear. Swiftly, she got dressed again as I sat down beside her on the couch.

“I’m gonna give you the best blowjob of your life later for that.”she replied, still barely out of breath. I nervously looked behind me to see if Daisy was there (I wouldn’t exactly have called her a voyeur, but I still knew I wouldn’t hear the end of it if she knew) then turned back around and settled into the couch.

“No pressure.” I said casually as I breathed an internal sigh of relief that Molly’s increased sex drive and sexual curiosity hadn’t made for some awkward situations… yet.

I could feel Molly smile beside me as she leaned in to me, putting her head on my shoulder. It felt nice but… not, at the same time. This was what I wanted, and yet I knew that it meant nothing. Her head on my shoulder meant nothing. Romantically, I meant nothing to her.

“Don’t overthink.” Molly cut in.

I breathed. She was right. “You’re getting good at that.” I mumbled, nudging my shoulder to get her head off of it.

She smiled at me, readjusting herself. “I’m just being a friend.”

 

***

 

Now that things were okay with us, in a weird way, we were back to having lunch together. It turned out that in the new year, we both had ample time between classes on Tuesdays to have lunch together. It was odd… sex took us away from each other, and things never really healed until sex brought us back together. It seemed like things were as good, or dare I say, better, between us, after we began having sex. In the back of my mind that rang some alarm bells, but I pushed them to the side as best as I could.

“…and then he just ends the movie by saying, ‘I am Iron Man.’” Molly concluded as we found our seat.

“Sounds stupid.” I replied annoyedly. “That whole synopsis just sounds stupid.”

Molly shrugged then chuckled. “No argument from me. The second one is apparently even worse.”

“Have you seen it?”

Molly rolled her eyes at me. “Yes, Aaron. And that’s why I said the word ‘apparently,’ Aaron. If you want, I can buy you a dictionary, Aa-ron.”

“Hey, I dunno. I’m… I’m sleepy. Fuck off.”

Molly smiled in victory. “Carson and I were supposed to watch it together, but…”

In response, I mimicked a plane crashing with my hand.

“Yuuuup.” Molly acknowledged, taking a bite of her food.

“Do you still keep in contact with the guy?”

“Not really.” she answered, her mouth full. “Like on Facebook we’ll occasionally say something to each other, but mostly I think he’s just glad to have me out of his life.”

“Complete fuckin’ idiot.” I grumbled.

Molly shrugged. “It is what it is. I’ve moved on.”

“That’s because you’re too forgiving of people, Molly. Maybe you should block him or something.”

“I don’t think that would actually solve anythi-”

“Aaron!!”

The two of us turned in our seats in response to a shout from what sounded like the other end of the cafeteria. I was surprised to see Holly, dressed in clothing starkly different than that of what I remember her wearing, marching towards me.

“Oh boy.” I mumbled in a barely audible tone. Holly had fire in her eyes, the likes of which I had never seen.

“You are – you can – I just wanted to tell you to go fuck yourself.” she began in a flustered tone. I glanced over to Molly just long enough to see she’d gone back into hunched-up mode.

I wanted to reply with smugness, or sarcasm, or any kind of confidence, but my whole body was still in some kind of cold shock. “Holly… I…”

“No, you shut up.” Holly replied fiercely, earning us the looks of some people near our table. She turned to Molly. “Stay the fuck away from this guy. He just takes what he wants from people and manipulates girls into giving him sex, even if they’re unsure of it.”

I sputtered out loud. What I did to Molly was absolutely condemnable, but with Holly we definitely clarified what consent was. I was white-hot with anger now, the kind where you can’t even form words to retort what’s being said.

“You used me for sex, you used me to help you, you used me for her!” She pointed at Molly, in front of the whole room, and now the whole room was looking at her.

I suddenly felt my body get renewed with power, as if someone pushed a reset button on me. “Don’t do this to her in public like this.” I replied with enough volume in my voice so that only us three could hear. “I’ve already told her the full story. She knows. We’ve moved past it. I’ve tried to become a better pe-”

“A better person?! Ha!” Holly spat at me. She turned back to Molly. “He fucking assaulted you and you just forgave him?” She turned back to me. “Or did you just manipulate her like you manipulated me, manipulated me for sex? I bet you two are having sex now, aren’t you? Who fucking instigated that?” She was practically foaming at the mouth.

This was so wrong. This was so upsetting. A million thoughts were swirling in my head and now I could feel the doubt setting in, after all the progress I made, after all the progress we made. I could feel tears come to my eyes as I glanced over at Molly.

I had never seen Molly attempt to overcome her anxiety attacks. Every time she got one, she’d just turtle up and remain there, wishing the problem away, looking in every direction but that of the problem, speaking only if spoken to. Much like Holly, Molly had fire in her eyes, although Molly clearly also was tearing up as she tried to stare down Holly. I could see Molly trying to form lips as her body visibly shook, but she just couldn’t do it.

Which meant I needed to. “Leave us alone.” I said as evenly as I could. “Please.”

Holly turned to me and scoffed. “You’re a fucking joke, Aaron. You’re ugly and bad at sex so you try to play with other people’s lives and emotions for your own benefit. You make me fucking sick. Glad to know I was just another one of your playthings. If this bitch knows that and doesn’t want to change, I guess I can’t help either of you. See you in hell. Delete my number.” She tried to form other words unsuccessfully, before uttering a loud “Ugh!!” and storming away.

Which just left us two. Molly and I turned and looked at each other at the exact same time and wordlessly picked up anything we could salvage from our lunch trays, understanding without communicating that the first thing we needed to do was to get the fuck out of the cafeteria, away from the prying eyes.

We held ourselves together decently well while we moved. Eventually we found a section of the university hallway that wasn’t occupied by other students, and collapsed onto a bench. As soon as we did, Molly started quietly sobbing, and I let out a somber “Fuck.”

A few seconds passed and I was crying too, like an absolute wimp. Everything in that moment just came crashing down. Everything. It was like sex made a weird safety barrier around us that prevented the weirdness or even the reality of our situation from setting in, and Holly just destroyed it. It was like we were living in denial, sure, but we were happy, and we’d only recently attained that happiness, and fuck Holly for destroying it. Fuck her.

“Fuck her.” I mumbled. “You know that there’s more than just her side to this story, right?”

Molly sniffled. She stared at me for a long time before her eyebrows shifted and she gave me a particularly sad expression. “I wanted to say something. I just couldn’t. I-I just couldn’t.”

“Molly, it’s okay.” I comforted her, pulling her in for a hug, which she hesitantly accepted. “I’m just sorry she said all that shit. It’s… not true. Like, you already know what’s true. I asked her for consent, she was just…”

“She was Holly ,wasn’t she?” Molly asked me in a quivering voice.

I nodded. “Yup, that was Holly. Surprisingly… less stable than when I saw her last.”

“She helped you get to me.”

I sighed. “Yup. I was an idiot, and so was she.”

“It seems like she really regrets it.”

“Huh?” I broke the hug.

“She really regrets doing what she did. Maybe just being with you in general.”

“So what, she made me out to be the bad guy because she can’t handle what she did?”

“Didn’t you tell me you did the same thing with her?” Molly asked me, her voice calming down.

I thought about it for a second then smiled in realization. “Yeah, guess I did.” I mumbled.

Molly sniffled again and rolled her shoulders. “Don’t worry, Aaron. I don’t think I should let anyone alter how I think of you except you.”

“Yeah?” I instinctively challenged her. “And what if I did all of those things Holly said I did? What if I still am this master manipulator?”

“Then you would have told me.” Molly replied in a now-even tone.

“What?”

“I think past you might have lied, but current you is who I trust.” Molly replied, giving me a half-smile.

I looked her in the eyes for a few seconds and felt my eyes mist up again. “Molly… I…” I started slowly.

Uncharacteristically, Molly leaned forwards and kissed me. Slowly, gently, but with full intent, she kissed me. I felt electricity crackle throughout my entire body. Without realizing it I let out a breath in response. Molly just looked at me as I pressed my lips together, reliving the moment. “You know how I feel about kisses on the lips, Molly.” I told her uneasily.

She nodded solemnly. “I just want to let you know I trust you.” she replied.

“God, I fucking love you.” I said instinctively before realizing the weight of what I had said. Molly, in response, raised her eyebrows then eyed the floor.

“Yeah.” she eventually murmured softly.

I was never going to let it show, but that moment probably hurt more than anything Holly could ever do.

 

***

 

The Caine Mutiny was such a boring movie that I couldn’t even pretend to watch it with the rest of the household. As they had their fun, I hung out in the kitchen, headphones in, working on my laptop and ignoring the outside world.

I wasn’t sure how much time had passed before Chris tapped me on the shoulder. I looked up immediately to see his expectant face, then removed my headphones. “What’s up?”

“Hey.” he softly said, his voice half-flamboyant. That was the most normal his voice got around me at this point. “How’re you doin’ these days?”

“Enh.” I shrugged, noting the darkness outside the window. “Is the movie over?”

“Has been for about an hour now.” Chris replied. “Everyone else has gone to bed.”

“Then it just leaves us two.” I replied, as if we were sharing a joke.

“Yup.” Chris replied, understanding my levity but not sharing it.

We didn’t speak for a long time. “Well, what do you wanna do, talk about it?” I asked bluntly.

Chris just sighed. “I don’t know how to go about this.”

“It’s been a year, Chris. Just get o-”

“No, not like that.” Chris huffed. There was a beat of silence as he grabbed a chair, sat down, folded his arms and pouted. “I haven’t spoken to Molly in a long while.” he confessed. “Like, days. Outside of communal things like movie night.”

I didn’t understand what was going on. “…Why?” I eventually asked, shutting my laptop to let him know he had my full attention.

“I, uh…” Chris began, scratching the back of his neck. “We kind of had a bit of a falling out around November. I had my own shit, Molly had her own shit, Molly expected me to clean up her shit… I said no. For the first time I said no.”

“What, and she got angry with you over that?” I was kind of surprised.

Chris shrugged. “Yyyyup. Happens all the time. I help people with their problems on the regular, so when I say no, people get upset. If people take me for granted, me not offering to help seems like I’m being mean or whatever.”

“Sounds immature.”

Chris softly laughed. “Molly’s a great person, Aaron, but maturity isn’t her strongest suit.” he pointed out. I wasn’t sure if I agreed. “So now she isn’t talking to me, and I see her getting closer with you…”

“And you get worried.” I finished.

“Can you blame me?” Chris asked, almost desperately. “You know what you did. And I can’t know for a fact you won’t pull that shit again.”

No, I certainly couldn’t blame him. Not only because I was aware of what I did, but because I was in his position before. And I was sure as hell to say I had learned my lesson, and learned it well. At the heart of all of this, I had let my delusions cloud my vision, and I had failed to communicate. So communicate I did – for the next half hour I told Chris basically anything I knew that didn’t violate Molly’s own privacy (I omitted telling him about her drinking, just in case) and concluded by sitting back and telling him I was sorry for everything I did and how it affected him as well as Molly.

“That’s a lot, Aaron.” he told me, speaking for the first time since I began.

“Yeah, no shit.” I replied coolly. “Is it nice to know about her life from someone else now that she’s cut you out?”

Chris smiled sheepishly. “I just want to know she’s safe.”

I pointed to myself. “Hey – been there.”

“Completely different situation.” Chris fired back, his voice temporarily losing its flamboyance.

“Yeah, point taken.” I conceded. “So that’s the whole story. How do you feel about it?”

Chris was silent for a bit, then looked behind him and leaned forwards. “It’s not the whole story.” he admitted. “She’s been… I think she’s been drinking too.”

I sighed in relief. Someone else knew. “Yeah, I know.” I replied, almost breathlessly.

We both smiled at each other in relief. “It’s a problem.” he began.

“It’s a big problem.”

“We need to do something.”

“I agree.”

“But what?”

I chewed on my lip in thought. “Intervention?” I meekly suggested. “Just like in the movies?”

“I dunno how to do one of those. Effectively at least.”

“Neither do I, but we’re gonna have to learn.”

Chris smiled at me. “I never thought I’d be working with you to help Molly’s case.” he nodded slightly. “Good on you.”

“So you think I’ve become a better person?” I asked.

“I dunno.” he replied simply. “I just dunno. I’ve never been the type to ever forgive someone who did that kind of thing. But it sounds like you won’t do it again. It’s not me who needs to do the forgiving anyways.” He glanced down at Molly’s room.

“So what does that mean?” I asked.

He looked back up at me. “It means I’m resigning myself from the situation. I’ll stop breathing down your neck. I don’t trust you, but I’ll start trusting your judgment from here on out. Best I can do.” He held out a hand.

I chuckled as I shook it. “Cool.” That was all I could think to say. I knew the situation with Molly and myself was far from resolved, but it was nice to know that putting a genuine effort into resolving things and respecting boundaries, along with a healthy dose of time and an admittedly unhealthy amount of forgiveness from Molly, was making everything better.

“So what do we do about Molly?” Chris asked, eyeing her room down the stairs again.

“I should probably do it.” I admitted. “If you and she aren’t the tightest right now, and she and I are getting better, it’s basically my responsibility.”

“Careful honey, you’re starting to sound like me.” Chris advised, a sly smile forming on his lips.

I smiled back. I couldn’t remember the last time he called me honey. It was actually really nice.

He continued. “Sounds like a plan. She might still be awake. If not, talk to her tomorrow. Let me know what she says. Try to… y’know. Be firm. Don’t let her get out of this. If she needs a ride to a counsellor or a meeting or whatever, I can supply a ride.”

Right, Chris got a new car. That was a valuable asset to the cause. Maybe we could actually solve this problem of hers. “Alright, cool.” I replied. “Thanks for… having this conversation with me. It’s helped a bunch.”

“You and me both.” Chris replied, with the both of us standing up. “Hug?”

“Sure.” I replied, and the two of us shared a hug. “Thanks.” I mumbled awkwardly, going down the stairs before I had a chance to think twice about the situation. Behind me, I saw the kitchen light go off. I guess I’d get my laptop back in the morning or whatever.

Steeling my nerves and seeing the light underneath the door, I knocked. I had no fucking clue what I was going to open with. Probably your usual, “We need to talk.” We’d at least gotten accustomed to those.

No answer. I knocked again, louder this time. Again, no answer. I stood there for a bit, wondering what the correct course of action was, before realizing that sooner or later I was just going to decide to go in anyways. I could make up an excuse if she was angry, I just needed to… well, as Chris and I both knew, I just needed to make sure she was okay.

Gingerly, I opened the door, slowly at first for all the good that would do. I looked to the desk and saw no one, at first wondering if perhaps she left for a walk. Then I turned to the bed, and saw her, fully clothed, on top of the bed, no doubt drunk her ass off, sleeping soundly.

I sighed in disappointment and slunk into the room, coming up beside her and gently shaking her shoulder. “Molly.” I called out. Nothing. Glancing around the room, I found a half-empty bottle of vodka as well as one or two other empty bottles. I saw one or two wet spots on the bed, possibly indicating she got so drunk that she missed her lips once or twice with the bottle or put it down on the bed and let it spill or something. Again I sighed. I was amazed it was only then that the smell hit me – the smell of alcohol. The smell of an alcoholic.

I guess the talk would come tomorrow. I got a cup from beside her bed and moved to the washroom, filling it up with water. “She’s gonna need this,” I found myself muttering out loud. After putting the water back beside her bed, I removed her shoes then decided not to remove anything else (given my situation in particular it was not my place to undress her) then pulled the covers over her. As I started to leave, I paused in the doorway, one hand on the lightswitch. I looked over her sleeping face and sighed yet again. It wasn’t going to be as easy as I wanted it to be. This situation was far from over.

“Goodnight, Molly. Here’s to better days.” I croaked aloud as I flicked off the light and headed back to my own room.

_________________________

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