Home > Fat Chance, Charlie Vega

Fat Chance, Charlie Vega
Author: Crystal Maldonado

 

Chapter One


I imagine being kissed about a hundred times a day.

The tense moment just before the kiss, when they look right at me like there’s no one else in the room. The way they caress my cheek, maybe put their hand on the small of my back. To be so close to someone I care about, someone I like or maybe even love, feeling the warmth of their skin near mine, would be magic. They smell good, and I can almost feel their lips on mine, even before they’re there. And then they are—soft, gentle. And I forget who I am, just for a second. I forget everything else.

I forget that I don’t always have the right thing to say. I forget about comparing myself to my best friend. I forget about the issues with my mom. I forget how badly I wish I were a size two.

I forget it all.

Except for that kiss.

And it’s not so much the who. It’s more about the what. The kiss. A kiss. To be kissed.

It’s the stuff my dreams are made of.

But it hasn’t happened yet, and I’m beginning to think it never will.

At least, not like this—not the way my best friend, Amelia, and her boyfriend, Sid, are kissing up against my car.

I should be mad at them, and normally, I would be. But for right now, I’m kind of okay with the show.

That’s how pathetic I am.

Like, it should set me on fire that Amelia and Sid are kissing as if I don’t even exist. And yeah, that part is kind of annoying. But also, it just sends me spiraling off into my own thoughts about kissing and boys and I’m feeling wistful and alone and find myself missing something I never even had.

I honk the horn.

Amelia finally pulls away from Sid, shooting me an apologetic glance but smiling and giggling. She and Sid whisper to each other, then kiss once more, and Amelia finally starts to get into the car.

“Sorry, sorry,” she says as she slides into the passenger seat. “I’m a total jerk. I know.”

“You’re not a total jerk,” I say, pulling onto the road and heading toward my house. “But you think you could say goodbye before I pick you up? It’s kind of weird to have to watch.”

I leave out the part where their kissing basically makes me have an existential crisis.

“Next time, I promise.”

“Sid always leans right up against my car like it’s his,” I say. “I know my car is a piece of shit, but it’s my piece of shit.”

I’ll admit that I get easily annoyed at Sid. He’s a senior at another school, and I think he’s a little too vain, too aloof. Amelia is kind and giving and warm, and Sid is just sort of there. He’s nice enough to me, which is good, but he’s just…underwhelming. Like, in a slacker-who-smokes-pot-all-day kind of way that doesn’t seem to align well with Amelia’s popular-and-pretty-with-a-million-extracurriculars vibe.

He is hot, though. Super hot. All muscles and a beard a teenager probably shouldn’t be able to grow. I’ll give him that. Amelia says he treats her well and that it’s nice to have a boyfriend at another school because she doesn’t feel suffocated and it gives her a break from everything, so fine. I deal.

“I’m sorry, Charlie, for real. I’m just lucky to have a friend who’ll put up with that and still give me a ride home.” She smiles and bats her long eyelashes at me. I grin. “So, how was work?” she asks.

“I spent the afternoon putting together a hundred marketing packets for some trade show next week,” I say. I work part-time as an office assistant at a small, family-run business that sells medical products, mostly to hospitals. “So, totally riveting, as you can imagine. How was Sid’s?”

“If I were lighter-skinned, you’d be able to tell that I’m blushing just thinking about it.”

I wrinkle my nose. “Ugh. Let’s leave it at that, all right?”

“Sorry. I didn’t mean to make you feel weird or anything. Lots of people have never been kissed.” She shoots me a sympathetic glance, and now it’s me who’s blushing. Acknowledging my virginal lips out loud makes it so much worse. I’ve mentioned this to her before, and yet…

“Yep.”

We’re quiet for a sec, but I relax a little when she pulls out her phone, eager for a subject change. “Did you look at the video I sent you earlier?”

“Which one?” I ask. Truthfully, Amelia and I send each other about a hundred things a day—some of it’s just us talking back and forth, but a lot of it is trashy or hilarious things we find online. “Oh, wait! The one of the sleepy puppy who falls off the couch?”

“Yes!” She squeals and the sound of the little puppy snoring fills the empty space in the car. “It’s sooo cute. I’ve watched it ten times already, I swear. Look, look—he’s about to do it!”

At a perfectly timed red light, I lean over and watch as the dozy puppy droops right off the couch, and we both erupt into giggles.

“God, we should totally get a dog,” I say.

“Right? We could share him—”

“Or her,” I interrupt.

Amelia corrects herself, though I know she’s probably playfully rolled her eyes at me from the passenger seat. “Or her. Some days that cutie could be with me, other days with you. It would be the most well-loved pup ever.”

As we pull up to my house, a single-story white ranch with my dad’s beloved Puerto Rican flag dangling from the porch, I point to my mom’s Audi in the driveway. Then I sigh. “Puppy would have to live with her, too, though.”

I had been not-so-secretly hoping that my mom’s job as branch manager at the local credit union might keep her late so that she wouldn’t be home yet, but now that I work, too, that’s not always the case.

“We could go to my house instead, if you want.”

“We’re already here.” I pull the keys out of the ignition. “Plus, she’ll be pleased to see her favorite daughter.”

I mean Amelia and she knows it, so she gives me the finger.

We head inside. I’m immediately hit with the sweet scents of apple and cinnamon, and without stepping into the kitchen, I know a candle is burning on the windowsill. It’s Mom’s favorite to light because it “goes with the theme,” meaning the red accent wall and carefully placed apple knickknacks on most of the oak surfaces.

“Mom, I’m home!”

“Charlotte, I’m right here. There’s no need for yelling!” my mom calls from the other room. She’s yelling, too, though.

“Amelia is here,” I say, tossing my keys onto the side table next to the door.

The tone of Mom’s voice changes immediately. “Oh! Amelia!” she says, and she’s suddenly in the living room to greet us. Her hair is pulled back into a sleek ponytail, and she’s wearing yoga pants, a fitted athletic top, and sneakers, signaling she’s likely on the way to the gym. She kisses my cheek, then Amelia’s. To Amelia, she says, “So good to see you. Don’t you look beautiful! Special day at school?”

I glance at Amelia, but I don’t really need to to know that yes, she does. She always looks beautiful. She has flawless dark skin that never blemishes and curly black hair that never seems out of place. She’s tall and thin and everything looks good on her and it’s completely unfair but also, like, if anyone deserves to be that flawless, it’s Amelia.

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