I never thought I'd believe in Tarot cards, but then, I never thought I'd kiss another girl, either.
Pandora and I stand facing each other in Miranda's loungeroom, then slowly move down to sit on the cushions on the floor. She fans the Tarot cards out, and offers them, face down, to me.
My hand wavers over the pack. Certain people have a tendency to pick certain cards. What card waits for me to choose it?
I wasn't discouraging her.
Gaby's story about her six-week fling with a girl back in uni... Miranda's story about Richie and Simon... are all of my friends turning gay or something? It seems to be all that's on people's minds.
She was flirting with me... but I wasn't discouraging her.
A kiss on the rooftop. Everything normal around us: the boys playing mini-golf, Will and Sam getting cosy in a corner, Evan offering me a three-way. Strange, but normal. And Pandora's kiss had fit right into all that.
We came down to check on Miranda, but Pandora remembered the cards, and...
'Come on Alex, you said you'd like a go.' Freckled face framed by blonde hair, looking a lot like Miranda, but too brown. She gestures at the cards invitingly, seeing my hesitation. 'Pick a card, any card.'
I reach out, choose a card, hand it to her, face down, without looking at it. Pandora flips it up, scanning it expertly.
'Ah....' She sounds as if she's seeing something she expected. 'This is a good card, Alex. But it's got some nasty elements as well.'
'Tell me about it,' I say.
'Ah... you're going to be a good friend to those who need it, but question your own judgement. You're going to find new love, but have trouble getting rid of an old one. And you're going to let me kiss you again.' She puts the card down, grinning. 'That's not a nasty element, by the way.'
'How do you get that level of precision?' I ask, returning the smile.
'Oh, that wasn't on the card. That was just a lucky guess.' She leans in and, her lips just brushing against mine, tells me, 'An educated one.'
I wonder, as I open my mouth to hers, if she'll consider me to be a good kisser.
She tastes like tequila, of course; those shots up on the roof guaranteed that. Tequila is something that makes everything you taste taste like it for a while. It's on both our tongues, in both our mouths. I'm enjoying this. I wonder why I bit Eric. Was it because he wasn't a girl? Is this what I prefer, and have never known?
The toilet flushes and we jump apart as Miranda shuffles out into the open, face drawn and pale. The look on her face tells me she has just thrown up.
'Hi.' Her eyes flicker over us. 'Not interrupting anything?'
'No, Miranda, you weren't.' Pandora gets up and puts an arm around her. 'Come on, let's get you into your room... you need to lie down. Were you sick?'
Seeing Pandora's calm capability makes me feel worse. Although I know I could do the same thing, capable hasn't been easy for me lately. Even with that little girl at the hospital, when Eric stuffed up, I was doing all the right things, but still... I felt like I could have done more. I should've been in there to stop him giving her the wrong dose.
'Yes.' Miranda blows her nose into a tissue. 'But I'll be all right. Never been partial to tequila, that's all.'
I follow them into her bedroom, hoping that somehow, there'll be something I can do to help.
Alex wasn't sure what effect Pandora would have on her life, what new direction she might make it take, or what I was going to say next time she saw me, after I watched them walk off together. She was wondering how this might change things. Wondering what might have happened if Miranda hadn't come out at that moment. But all this was something that had to remain unknown... for the time being. Alex had opened a Pandora's box of new feelings, and would have to learn how to deal with them one by one.