Sometimes Sarah thinks that living down in Juniper Cult has permanently retarded Rhonda; she takes EVERYTHING with that mild gaze and that mild voice, and then turns around and steals shit or acts...just...
Like right now, Rhonda is supposed to be watching Nicki's boys, but instead she is staring at a movie -- Mad Hot Ballroom, which was no doubt rented by Sarah's mom, who loves heartwarming tales of student success -- and murmuring under her breath while she just stares at little black and hispanic kids doing ballroom dance in New York City.
"T-A-ngo," Rhonda's whispering along with the dance instructor, to her own weird rhythm, even though it's clearly a tango rhythm, too. And just as clearly, nothing else exists for her. "T-a-n-g-o. t-a-nG-o."
"Wayne is flushing crayons," Sarah interrupts her. "If he stops up a toilet, Nicki will have your butt in a sling."
Rhonda doesn't even answer, just smiles that vague, crazy-as-heck smile and takes Sarah in. "I told them they could do what they want if they left me alone to watch the coloreds dancing," she says. "They're so good. I suppose, because of their blood. But I could be that good, though."
"Oh, yeah?" Sarah asks, unable to keep the sarcasm out of her voice. "You actually might have to move your hips in a sexual way. And not be so stiff that someone might mistake you for a board."
Sarah really sucks at insults, but it's not like she's a big cusser -- if her parents weren't torturing her with the polygamy thing, she might even consider herself a goody-goody. But Rhonda's m-a-d, mad, and when she gets up, her cheeks are all bright red.
"You are a whited sepulcher, Sarah Henrickson," Rhonda says. "Just because I'm married to Roman Grant and you're not doesn't make you any less like me."
"I'm not like you!" Sarah protests, because Rhonda's not entirely wrong but enough that Sarah's pride responds. "You're a creepy little brainwashed child bride who pretends to love it but hates it so much you kiss my mother's ass all day so she won't send you back to your hus..."
Rhonda grabs Sarah and kisses her on the mouth stiffly, hand on the back of Sarah's neck and open mouthed against Sarah's closed one.
"That was weak. And homosexual," Sarah says viciously.
"I saw you kiss that other girl," Rhonda replies, her eyes hard and dart-like. "If you don't kiss me, I'll tell your mother and then who might end up shipped off to Juniper Creek?"
Sarah stares into Rhonda's eyes and sees crazy, sees fear, but what she doesn't see is a bluff. Rhonda will tell, and Rhonda will add in how Sarah tried to put devious homosexual wiles into play with poor, righteous Rhonda.
Her mother wouldn't send her to Juniper Creek; there's a reason creepy freaking Rhonda is still living with them. But it would gut her, to have a complete lesbian for a daughter, and Sarah doesn't want to do that. Not until she knows the words to make her mom understand.
"What if someone sees, dummy?" Sarah asks. "I can tattle on you as easy as you can on me."
"Nobody will see," Rhonda snarls, putting her hand on Sarah's breast. "You looked so happy when she kissed you. I can do that."
Sarah snorts, leans forward, and kisses Rhonda softly on the tip of her nose. "No, you can't," she says. "Because you just want to prove something. You don't actually want to kiss me."
"You don't know that," Rhonda says, her eyes sort of closing. "I want to be kissed over and over, and for to be able to dance like the little colored children in New York."
Sarah kisses Rhonda again, on the corner of her mouth, and suddenly Rhonda seems to get it, because Rhonda kisses back, a quick peck on Sarah's chin, and then on her cheek (Sarah fights back with a lick down Rhonda's cheek) and Rhonda's mouth bumps against Sarah's and this kiss is much more natural, even though Rhonda really wants to use her tongue and Sarah's not a tongue girl.
And then Rhonda's hips tilt forward, bumping up on Sarah's as she carefully pets Sarah's arm, giving Sarah the shivers.
"Is this all you and that girl do?" Rhonda asks curiously, carefully not pushing.
"No, but I'm not doing it out in the middle of Nicki's living room," Sarah replies.
"Where do you do it? I know a place the boys never go," Rhonda says, stroking Sarah's hip. "I kiss pretty good, you have to admit."
"You use too much tongue," Sarah says. "Just because that's how they do it on TV doesn't mean that's how everyone likes kissing."
Rhonda looks at Sarah and files the information away in her tweaky little brain and Sarah's thinking that making out with Rhonda in Nicki's bathroom or laundry room is a dumb, dumb, bad idea.
"You're going to show me how to be better," Rhonda finally says, resolute. "Or I will tell. And because you want to, anyway."
"No, I don't," Sarah says.
"Yes, you do," Rhonda replies.
"Why, because all homosexuals are sluts who want to bang virgin polygamists?" Sarah asks, still aware that other girls at school could have insulted Rhonda away, but she can't.
"No, because I want you to," Rhonda says. "I'm not a baby, you know. I know what sex is. And... well, Adaleen would kill me if she knew, but I know how to rub so that I have woman's pleasures. One of the other sister-wives showed me."
"Good for you," Sarah says sarcastically.
Rhonda gets into Sarah's personal space again, breathing hard. "In the mornings, I rub," she says. "And I think about you. And that's why you're going to come with me, because people like it when I like them."
"I think you're a freak," Sarah says, and that's true, but she can't break Rhonda's gaze, and it would be hot, hearing someone admit they were 'rubbing' over her, if they didn't talk like a Victorian textbook.
Rhonda puts her hand on Sarah's and pulls. "If you don't come with me, I'm going to do it right here," she threatens. "And you'll have to make sure the boys don't find me."
It's official: Rhonda is creepier and more annoying than all the Grants and Grandma Lois put together. Sarah rolls her eyes. "Okay, fine," she says.
Rhonda is pretty smart; there's a load of clothes in the washer, and she jumps up and sits on it, smiling and humming.
"I don't want you," Sarah said. "I'm only here so you don't traumatize the kids."
Rhonda shrugs and pulls her skirt up until Sarah can see she's only wearing a pair of normal underwear, not garments. White, cotton, plain, but there's a little damp spot, and Sarah swallows hard.
And then Rhonda puts her hand right atop that and starts rubbing. Sarah gapes, staring at Rhonda with her legs at weird angles, masturbating on top of a washing machine.
"It feels better when I do it here," Rhonda says, smiling at Sarah. "The vibrations go through me and afterward, I can get a clean pair and nobody knows."
Smart. Out of her mind, and Sarah's mouth is dry. Because Rhonda's rubbing and rubbing and her mouth keeps opening in weird ways, and she licks her lips over and over like she can't keep them moist.
"Freak, freak, FREAK," Sarah snarls, closing her eyes.
"I can be done in five minutes. Sometimes less," Rhonda says. "I could do this to you, you know. Nobody would have to know, and I want to. When you came home from school. It could be our secret. You could teach me kissing and I could teach you how to do this fast and good."
Then there is this SOUND and Sarah's eyes cheat and open up and sure enough, Rhonda's not good with rubbing -- her fingers are under her panties and her eyes are all half-closed and she keeps licking her lips, head tilting this way and that.
"Rhonda," Sarah says in a strangled voice.
"Do you think the reason my mouth gets dry is because it's so wet down there?" Rhonda asks, sounding as completely sincere as when Wayne and Teeny asked Sarah if it was true that seagulls ate all the crickets in Utah Valley and saved the Mormons from famine. "It feels nice -- all soft and hot -- even though it's so sticky afterward. Sometimes, afterward, I lick my fingers. Sometimes I like the taste."
Sarah will never, ever, EVER tease Ben about getting inadvertent wood again, because even though Rhonda is a scary, sort of pathetic freak who is masturbating on the washing machine, Sarah is turned on and it's gross and icky and crap, now Sarah wants to do...something.
Keep watching Rhonda's fingers disappear and bulge out her underwear, for one.
"I heard someone say that sometimes people kiss down there," Rhonda continues. "I won't do that. That's what makes you a real homosexual. Everything else isn't real. That's why it would be okay. Like when boys have those dreams -- this is how girls take care of--"
Her head tilts back, and her mouth goes open in a little O and Sarah whimpers along with Rhonda, because oh, it's kind of hot, thinking about Rhonda putting her hand where Sarah is starting to pulse.
And then she hears Rhonda say, "I'm all done now, so I'm going to wash my hands and make a snack."
Sarah stares at her. "Really?"
"You didn't help me, even when I was saying all those things," Rhonda says. "Why should I help you?"
"Because..." and Sarah doesn't really have a good response. She had just watched Rhonda get herself off without saying anything except her name. "Because I liked it?"
"Well, I knew that," Rhonda says. "But I'm done now, and I'm hungry. Maybe tomorrow if you help, I can show you how to do that, but I'm hungry now."
She jumps off the washer and leaves and Sarah stares after Rhonda, mouth dry and underwear wet, wondering if the washer trick works with the dryer. But mostly wondering about Rhonda and her promises of tomorrow and if Rhonda's setting Sarah up.
Because, really? Definitely brain damage, but of the 'crazy, not stupid' variety.