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It Doesn't Mean Anything

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School plays have never been something Beth was even remotely interested in. They're boring and always ridiculously dramatized. So when her twin sister asks her to go see the next school play- something with blood in the title- Beth immediately turns her down.

“Why do you even want to go see the play? You don’t even like drama!” Sarah shrugs, looking a little embarrassed. Beth sighs exasperatedly. She still doesn't understand how Sarah does it. She's interested in a new boy every other week and she always drags Beth off to whatever these boys are interested in. When Sarah doesn’t answer, Beth speaks up again.

“If this is about another boy, you can just go alone. I thought you said you wouldn’t drag me along anymore after the carnival disaster.” Beth reminds her sister off the boy they’d met up with at the carnival and who’d tried to kiss Beth while thinking he was kissing Sarah. After that Sarah and Beth decided that Sarah should try taking someone else, preferably someone that didn’t have the exact same face as her.

“Come on, Beth. I promise this one won’t try to kiss you. He’s a lot smarter than Vic.” Sarah says, wrinkling her nose at the name of her ex-boyfriend, if you could even call it that. Three dates and a couple of make-out sessions didn’t sound like a boyfriend to Beth. But then again, that would mean that Sarah had never had an actual boyfriend. Beth groans, falling back on the bed they 're both seated on. They usually hang out in Beth’s room, considering that it's a lot cleaner than Sarah’s.

“Who is it, then?” Beth inquires and she can hear Sarah’s smile as she talks.

“Cal Morrison.” Beth looks up at that. Cal Morrison, the genius who's at the same time incredibly handsome and friendly to everyone? The guy that at least 70% of the girls and probably about 40% of the boys want to be with? She has to admit, Cal Morrison was not at all what she’d expected. Not like she doesn't think her sister can get someone as handsome and nice as Cal to like her, just that he's not really her type. Sarah usually falls for what their parents would call ‘bad boys’. Well, if they knew about it Beth figured they would call them that. 

“Since when are you into boys without a criminal record?” Beth asks, a slightly teasing tone to her voice. Sarah punches her in the shoulder even though she has a small smile playing around her lips.

“Not all of my ex-boyfriends had criminal records.” Sarah grunts, “And besides, Cal is a really nice guy. I really like him.” Sarah says. Beth raises her eyebrows. She never talksabout any of the boys she was with like this. Beth sighs again, looking up at her ceiling. She spots the little dents in it from when they’d tried to play baseball in her room and ended up both hitting their head against the wall while trying to run around the room as fast as they could. Her eyes sweep over the glue residue from when they'd tried to glue their furniture to the ceiling as to fool their parents into thinking the room was upside down and they'd ended up having to go the hospital because Beth's desk had fallen on top of her when they tried to lift it up. 

“So you’ll come to the play with me? I told Cal I would come watch.” Sarah asks again, trying to make her voice as pleasant as possible. Beth woke from her thoughts, looking back at Sarah.

“I didn’t know Cal was even in the play.” Beth comments. She can't really imagine Cal as an actor, hopping around in tights singing songs about whatever this stupid musical is about.

“He’s not.” Sarah says, before adding, “Well, he’s in the band. And he helped make the decors and stuff. Just please come with me, Beth.” Sarah sticks her lip out a bit and looks at Beth with what is definitely the worst puppy-dog eyes Beth has ever seen in her life. She rolls her eyes and nods again.

“Fine. I’ll be there. But I’m driving. And no leaving me alone while you go make out with your boyfriend all night.” Beth says, trying not to think back to the many times that has happened already. She sighs. The things she does for her sister.

 ***

“When is the play starting?” Beth whispers to her sister who is almost bouncing in her seat while waving towards the front of the theatre. When Sarah doesn’t reply after a few tries, Beth just gives up and sinks deeper in her completely uncomfortable chair. After a few minutes the lights go off and the pleasant hum of conversation dies down. Beth rolls her eyes at the palpable anticipation in the room. People make too big a deal out of this whole musical-thing. Although, Beth has to admit, the decors do look pretty damn awesome.

“I hate it already.” Beth whispers to Sarah who snorts slightly and bumps her shoulder against Beth’s. Beth smirks back and just as she’s about to say something else, the musical starts. And someone comes up the stage and Beth wonders, just for a second, why she hasn’t been going to more musicals.

“Who’s that?” Beth whispers to Sarah, signalling at the brown-haired girl on stage. She's so wrapped up in watching the way she moves and the way her mouth forms around the songs that she doesn't even notice Sarah’s small smirk. But obviously the immediate interest in this girl doesn’t mean anything.

“Alison. Alison Hendrix. She’s like the biggest drama geek in school.” Sarah says with only a little bit of disdain in her voice. Beth doesn't even notice it. She just watches the musical. And she loves every single second of it.

After the play, Sarah immediately disappears to god knows where with Cal and Beth sighs as she waits for the room to clear. She wanders towards the stage in the hopes of seeing the girl- Alison Hendrix- again. Most people already left so no one stops her from walking up the stage and stepping behind the curtains. She sneaks around the few people that are still there, setting course for the dressing rooms. When she gets to the two doors with little stickmen on them, signifying which one was for who- cis-sexist much?- she hesitates. She hasn't really had time to plan anything and now that she's standing here she's not so about sure what she's supposed to do. Eventually, she just decides to wait for the girl to come out of her dressing room. She's even sure why she wants to see the girl again this bad. She doesn't even know her. Just as Beth mulls this over she can hear a voice coming her way. She panicks, looking around frantically for something to hide behind. When the voices come so close that it's almost as if she is standing right next to them she quickly opens the door to the girls dressing room and slams it behind her, sliding down with her back to the door. She has her eyes closed, trying to calm her heart.

“What are you doing here?” A voice comes from about a meter in front of her. Beth opens her eyes and looks directly into the eyes of the girl she was looking for. Alison is still dressed in her costume, even though the show ended over 40 minutes ago and her make-up is still on, although it's a bit smudged around her eyes, like she's been trying to wipe it off, but didn't succeed. Beth looks around and notices that all of the other girls already left.

“I um—I don’t know?” Beth stutters, trying not to sound like a complete idiot. And failing miserably at that.

“You don’t know why you barged into the girls dressing room? You’re not supposed to be here!” The girl’s–Alison’s- voice booms through the room. She sounds distraught, but to be honest it's kind of cute. Beth scrambles to get up from the floor and holds her hands in front of her defensively.

“Look, I’m sorry. I know I’m not supposed to be here, but I wasn’t planning on getting three weeks of detention so I decided to just hide in here for a few seconds. I didn’t know you’d still be here.” Beth says, getting back some of her usual swagger. Alison seems to relax slightly, although Beth can still clearly see how her shoulders tense up when she takes a step in Alison's direction. So Beth moves away again and is already reaching for the door-handle.

“But I’ll get out of your hair. I’m Beth, by the way. I’ll see you around.” Beth says with a wink. Alison seems surprised by how quickly Beth turned the situation around, but she nods anyway.

“I’m Alison.” Alison says and Beth nods, a broad smirk playing around her lips.

“I know. You’re a star, Alison. People know your name.” Beth says before turning around, letting the door slam behind her just as she hears Alison giggle softly.

***

It's two weeks later when Beth sees Alison again. It's strange, since they're in the same year and it's practically impossible that they don't have a single class together, but Beth has been scanning every single person in every single class she has and none of them were Alison. So when Beth sees Alison again it's not in one of her classes. It's in the hallway. And she doesn't so much see her as much as Beth just bumps into Alison with a lot of force, knocking everything that Alison was holding to the floor in about the most over-used tv trope. The halls are almost empty, considering Beth is late to class, which is also the reason she was running so carelessly and co-incidentally another movie cliché.

“Holy shit. Fuck, I’m sorry. Let me help-“ Beth starts, bending down to pick up some of the papers that had fallen to the ground.

“Don’t swear.” Alison says, making Beth look up at her with a questioning look. Beth immediately stands back up when she realizes it's Alison that she bumped into.

“Alison, hey. How are you?” Beth says while raking through her hair with one hand. Alison smiles a bit uncertainly.

“Well, you just bumped into me and then decided to swear like a sailor, which you have not yet apologized for, and I’m late to class. So not that good, actually.” Alison says, not sounding at all annoyed.

“Good point. Sorry, Ali. I promise I won’t do it again.” Beth says, teasing. A smirk plays around her lips while she bends down again and picks up Alison’s things from the floor. She hands the pile of books and papers back to her with a quick, “Here you go.”.

“Ali?” Alison asks, her voice sounding a little strange. Beth looks up with a questioning look in her eyes again.

“Yeah, is it okay if I call you that?” Beth asks, smiling softly.

 

“Yes, of course.” Alison says, smiling back at Beth a little brighter than before. They're both quiet for a little while, just looking at each other. After a few minutes, Alison clears her throat.

“Anyway, I should probably get to my class.”

“Yeah, me too.” Beth says, shooting one last smile at Alison before walking towards her classroom. She’s 15 minutes late and her teacher definitely won’t be happy about it, but weirdly enough, Beth just can’t bring herself to give a sh- to care. She just can’t bring herself to care.

***

“Come on, Sarah. I went with you!” Beth pleads with her sister. After that meeting in the halls, it all happens pretty quickly. Alison waves her over in the cafeteria and they study for a test together and three weeks later Beth is proud to be able to tell people that Alison is her friend. And now Beth is in the exact same position as Sarah was a month earlier. Well, not the exact same position. That would be weird. Alison is just Beth’s friend. Obviously. And the fact that Beth’s stomach feels funny when she smiles or that Alison’s voice makes Beth’s heart beat a bit faster doesn’t mean anything.

“Forget it, Beth. I’m not going to another stupid play just because your girlfriend is in it.” Sarah says with a sense of finality in her voice. Beth completely ignores this, of course.

“Why not?! What’s so b-Hey! She’s not my girlfriend!” Yes, okay, so maybe it takes Beth a few minutes before realizing she should protest against her sister calling her friend her girlfriend and maybe she shouldn’t feel a little pang of sadness in her gut when she has to say that Alison and she are just friends, but that still doesn’t mean anything. Sarah rolls her eyes at Beth before speaking again.

“Look, I couldn’t even come. Cal and I are going to the movies. And I’m sure you have a bigger chance to get into her panties when you go by yourself anyway.” Sarah and Cal have been dating for the past 4 weeks, which was approximately 3 weeks longer than any other boy Sarah ever dated. At first she was scared the guy might have gotten Sarah pregnant, but by now she's realized that Sarah really likes Cal. And Cal really likes Sarah and the whole of it is just disgustingly adorable.

“I’m not trying to get into her panties, Sarah.” Beth says to her, beginning to get irritated with her 16-minute-younger sister. Somehow she still felt like the older sister, even though most people seem to forget that twins are not born at the exact same moment.

“Oh, right. You’re too much of a gentleman for that, huh?” Sarah says, laughing at her own comments. Beth just rolls her eyes for what seems like the millionth time that night and sighs.

“Whatever. I’ll go by myself if you want to keep being the terrible sister you're being right now.” Beth says with her usual guilt-tripping voice. And, as usual, it doesn’t work.

“It’s what I’m best at.” Sarah retorts, blowing a kiss towards Beth.

***

“Our school has too many musicals.” Beth mutters to herself while sitting down in a chair too close to the stage for her liking. But Alison had asked her to sit somewhere not too far away so she could look at Beth when she felt nervous and Beth hadn’t even tried to refuse. It was no surprise that Alison had, again, gotten the lead role in this new play. She was amazing and the amount of effort she put in these stupid little school plays would never fail to amaze Beth. When the lights turn off and the spotlights on Beth can feel herself getting excited. Beth is actually, legitimately feeling excited about seeing a musical simply because Alison Hendrix is in it. That still doesn't mean anything, though. And the fact that her heart is trying to beat out of her chest when Alison comes onto the stage and her eyes immediately flick over the audience, settling on Beth with a soft smile before slipping into character, doesn't mean anything either. Alison goes through the motions on stage as if it's a second home to her. As if she was born to do this. Beth might not like musicals, but she likes Alison and she likes the way Alison likes musicals, so Beth claps until her hands hurt every chance she gets. And every time Alison looks her way she smiles and gives her a thumbs up and if the way that Alison smiles back makes Beth’s head swim a little bit, that still doesn’t mean anything, right?

After the play is over Beth stands up, walking towards the stage a lot more confidently this time. She pushes the curtain out of the way and immediately catches sight of Alison. Her face splits into a large grin while Alison runs towards her as quickly as possible on the high heels she’s wearing. Beth opens her arms and allows Alison to throw herself into them.

“You were amazing!” Beth says while hugging Alison tightly. Alison wraps her arms around Beth’s shoulders and buries her head in Beth’s neck.

“You really think so?” She asks in a small voice and Beth pulls away slightly to look Alison in the eyes.

“Of course I thought so. You’re the best actress I’ve ever seen.” Beth says. Okay, so maybe the smile that Alison gives her because of that makes Beth’s hands a little sweaty and maybe the way Alison nuzzles her neck kind of makes Beth's stomach twist in the most pleasant way possible, but still. That doesn’t necessarily have to mean anything. 

“I’m just going to get changed real quick. See you in a few minutes?” Alison asks, while pulling away. Beth nods while Alison turns around and then tells her she’ll wait in the hall, even though she already knows it’s going to be more than just a few minutes. And indeed, after 20 minutes Beth is still sitting alone in the hallway playing games on her phone. But the fact that it doesn’t bother her at all that’s she’s been waiting for 35 minutes as soon as she sees Alison still does. not. mean. anything.

“You want to go grab some dinner?” Beth asks while holding the door to the parking lot open for Alison. Friends can go out to dinner, too. It doesn’t mean anything. Shut up.

“I broke up with Donnie.” It’s the first thing Alison says after they sit down at the little burger joint that Alison loves, but says she hates. Beth orders for the both of them, which totally doesn’t mean anything, obviously. It takes a few minutes before Beth really registers what Alison said.

“You broke up with Donnie? Why?” Beth asks. To be honest, Beth never really got why Alison and Donnie were together in the first place. Donnie isn't a bad guy, it's just that he's kind of an idiot. He's really gullible and tactless and Alison deserves better than him. Alison doesn’t answer at first, picking at the food that was just placed in front of them. Beth steals a fry from Alison to cheer her up and she swears she can see a little smile tugging at the corners of her lips.

“I don’t know. We just weren’t working out, I suppose.” Alison says, picking up her burger and taking a careful bite. Beth just nods and goes back to complimenting Alison on the play, sensing that Alison already said everything she feels like saying on the matter. Alison smiles in that shy way that tells Beth she actually doesn't believe Beth, but she likes the way Beth talks about her. Friends communicate with each other through smiles like that, right? It’s totally normal, Beth is sure of it. They fall back into their usual banter, which basically means Beth making sarcastic and slightly flirty—In a totally friend-like way- comments while Alison just smiles and scolds Beth for swearing every once in a while. And Beth is happy. And it totally and completely doesn't mean anything.

***

“Sarah?” Beth whispers, knowing that her sister is awake even if she can’t see her. They’ve always had a special bond. They’ve never actually needed many words to communicate how they felt. They just knew. And when the other was in some kind of emotional distress they would just drag their pillow to the other’s room and crash down on the bed with them. Their parents had tried to stop it at first, especially when they were still little and they would stay up til 2AM on a school night, but eventually they’d stopped trying since it never worked anyway. So when Sarah had come into Beth’s room at 9PM Beth had just moved aside a little bit so Sarah could lie down. Sarah never pushed Beth to tell her what was going on. Talking didn’t come easy to the both of them. But Beth knew that Sarah wasn’t asleep and waiting for Beth to talk if she needed to, even though it was already ten to twelve and the last three hours had been spent in silence.

“Yeah?” Sarah responds, waiting for Beth to continue talking.

“I think I like Alison.” Beth says after a few minutes. Sarah snorts quietly and Beth punches her in the shoulder and it feels good. It feels familiar. It feels like home.

“Wow, really? I didn’t know.” Sarah says, every word laced with sarcasm. Beth just scoffs under her breath.

“That obvious?” Beth asks nervously.

“No. I just know you.” Sarah says, and Beth nods.

“What should I do?” Beth asks, even though she already knows what Sarah’s going to say.

“Tell her.” Sarah says indeed and Beth just nods again. She’s not going to whine about it being impossible or about not wanting to lose Alison as a friend. Sarah knows this. Sarah knows how scared she is and that’s she’s probably not going to do it until a long time later. So Beth doesn’t tell her, because she doesn’t have to. Sarah just opens her arms and Beth curls up within them, sighing deeply.

“Girls suck.” She mutters into Sarah’s shirt. Sarah snickers and nods.

“Yeah.” She says even though she knows Beth doesn’t mean it. She’s never meant it.

***

“How the hell does our school have three musicals in 4 months?” Sarah asks, looking at Beth who is looking intently at herself in the mirror.

“Are you sure I look okay?” Beth asks for about the hundredth time, ignoring Sarah’s question.

“You look fine. Now go on and get your girl.” Sarah says, slapping Beth on the back. Beth just scoffs and rolls her eyes. She looks down at her jean-clad legs and sweater again and sighs. It’s not like she’s going to look much better than this anyway.

 

Sarah was right, what school has this many musicals? Beth still doesn’t like them, but she does still like the way Alison looks on stage. Alive and happy and perfect. Beth shakes her head, getting rid of all thoughts Alison. This works for approximately 5 seconds, in which she just thinks about puppies which immediately brings her back to Alison. Beth finds a seat in the third row from the front, making sure to text Alison exactly where she’s sitting. She waits until the lights go off and the curtains are lifted and Alison comes onto the stage. Beth makes sure to sit up as straight as possible while waving slightly at Alison. Alison beams back at her. Beth just sighs when Alison looks away. She is so fucked.

“You. Were. Amazing.” Beth just says when she comes into Alison’s locker room. She knows Alison has the entire room to herself, considering there were only three actors in the entire musical and two of them were men. Alison turns around and looks proud as ever, allowing Beth to wrap her up in a warm hug. Beth can feel her heart speeding up and her throat going dry and she feels like she needs to get away from here or she’ll do something stupid like kiss Alison. So she pulls away instantly and goes for the door, her head feeling light and not at all being helpful.

“Beth? What’s wrong?” Comes Alison’s worried voice. Beth just shakes her head, trying to be logical.

“Nothing. I’m just going to get some air. Outside.” Beth says, reaching for the door. Alison jumps in front of her, blocking her way.

“Not until you tell me what’s going on. Are you ill?” Alison says, raising her hand to Beth’s forehead. Beth just lets it happen and sighs deeply. Sarah’s words reverberate in her skull. Tell her.

“I like you.” Beth just says. It’s simple and easy and it comes out like she doesn’t even really care, but she says it and she doesn’t know how it always seems so dramatic when they do it in movies. Well, until the next few minutes anyway.

“What?” Alison asks breathlessly and it sets Beth off somehow and she just starts rambling.

“I like you. I think I’ve liked you since I first saw you and every time you smiled at me or laughed or just talked to me I felt this weird feeling in my stomach or my heart speeding up or any of those other cheesy, stupid things and I kept telling myself that it didn’t mean anything. That it didn’t have to mean anything. But it does mean something. It means a lot of things. It means that you’re amazing a-and it means that I really really-“ Beth’s words get cut off by Alison’s lips and the first thing Beth thinks about is how utterly cliché it is. But she can’t really find herself to care, so she kisses Alison back with full force and she just hopes Alison won’t whisper the words ‘shut up’ when they pull away so Beth can at least pretend like her love life isn’t a cheesy rom-com.

“I know.” Alison says instead. Which only fits better into the ‘directed-by-John-Hughes’ vibe. But Beth just laughs out loud and kisses Alison again and if it makes her life seem like a stupid movie then she’ll just have to live with that. Because this time, it definitely means something. This time, it actually means everything.