(part two of Circus Freaks)
"Caralee?" It was a deep but somehow effeminate voice that came from behind her. "Caralee, what are you doing up here?" The owner of the voice walked quickly around the bench and peered over her. It was a boy named Mark. Caralee knew him through various friends, but the two had never really interacted for more than a few minutes. His features looked strange and unfamiliar through the haze of tears and night, but she could see the dull beauty in them.
"Hey, Mark," She coughed, smiling up at him as she blotted the tears with her shirt sleeve. It was some last-ditch effort to retain her dignity. "I'm just catching a breath." It seemed stupid to pretend that she wasn't sitting there, crying her heart out, but she felt like it would be even more ridiculous to say that she was. "Are you just getting here?" His expression of confusion and worry shifted a bit towards being at ease.
"Yeah," he replied, "I had to drop off Sherry."
"Oh yeah? I guess I figured you'd be here with, uhm..." Caralee stumbled, trying to remember the name of Mark's girlfriend. She could see her face in her head, but couldn't grasp a name.
"Cate?" Mark asked, finishing her sentence in a brief moment of telepathy. Caralee pointed at Mark and chuckled, nodding. "Yeah, she left." He mumbled, unsure how to say what Caralee understood from the word 'yeah.'
"Shit, I'm sorry..." she trailed off, unsure what to say. She felt sorry for Mark but at the same time she was painfully aware that she was trying to comfort him while tears were tumbling down her cheeks. "I"m sorry, you probably don't want to talk about this."
"That's okay." Mark replied reflexively, but found himself without anything to say afterwards. Caralee couldn't really see Mark's eyes because of his glasses but she could still gauge his emotions relatively well. The silence wasn't too long or uncomfortable, but Caralee felt obligated to give him an out.
"You can head down if you want, I'm actually not as bad as I look..." She said, pointing to her face.
"Do you want me to go?" He replied, leaning back a bit from the bench.
"No, no. You can stay if you don't mind me blubbering like an idiot." She laughed, sliding over a bit on the bench. "I just can't really guarantee any high-quality conversation..."
"Well, I can't just abandon a..." he hesitated for a second then finished, "friend. Especially not when they're crying." Mark laughed good-naturedly, but it still made Caralee feel a bit foolish. Realizing this, Mark apologized and sat down. "Sorry, you probably don't want to talk to me about it." Caralee smiled sadly at him.
"Thanks." She nodded and parted her lips in a widened smile. Her white teeth stood out prominently against her dark red lips. It was a smile she wore when she didn't know how else to look. It was half-way between a smirk and flirtatious but at the same time completely unassuming. They sat quietly, both of them briefly regretting Mark's choice to stay, but neither could see any way to leave without someone's feelings being hurt.
At first the tension and discomfort was all Caralee could think about but gradually her mind wandered. She watched the boughs of the trees above her, rain was still dripping off the leaves even though it had stopped raining hours ago. Every now and then she'd feel one fall on her hair or on the exposed skin where her shirt had been ripped and mended and ripped again. The fabric around the edges was frayed to the point of transparency and Caralee felt slutty when she wore it. Caralee didn't lie to herself though, she knew she liked it specifically for that reason. It seemed pathetic when she thought about it, but she liked the idea that people thought she was kind of slutty. There was something comforting about the idea of people believing she was attractive enough to be easy.