#19: When Did This Happen?

"Did you get taller?"

"Probably," Whitley replies, not surprised by Alicia's one takeaway from the newspaper article making its rounds around Northshore this Monday morning. "To be honest, I don't know, I haven't measured lately and seeing as I'm definitely going to eat most of the half-gallon of eggs you've made, there's no reason to think I'm not still growing. I went with 7'1" and-a-half and I figure he just rounded up to make for a better story."

Alicia, wearing a white frilly apron over her jogging attire, arranges a mountain of soft-scrambled eggs into a large ring around the edge of a large serving platter. She scoops several spoonfuls of corned beef hash into the middle and sprinkles the plate with freshly chopped cilantro before placing it in front of an impatient and ravenous Whitley's, whose breakfast feasts had kicked into high gear with the introduction of morning jogging. While impressed by the presentation, she allows only a few moments of admiration before scooping a heaping spoonful of eggs into her mouth.

"Are you not curious at all if you've grown?"

"My clothes still mostly fit, so no," Whitley says with a full mouth.

"Do you have a disorder or something?" Alicia asks in a tone inappropriately chipper for the subject matter.

"I get checked for tumors yearly, and they haven't found anything yet." Whitley raps her knuckles on the wooden table. "I assume it's a hormone disorder or a poor roll of the genetic dice. Either that or I'm just a straight-up freak. What about you, muscle queen?"

"I'm just awesome," Alicia says, drawing a grinning cat face on her eggs with sriracha. She snaps a picture of the plated meal and posts it to Instagram before joining Whitley and Krysta at the table. Krysta, clad in only her purple bathrobe, eats a bagel with salmon and cream cheese and sips white tea as she quietly reads the newspaper. Whitley watches with fascination as one of Krysta's unwieldy breasts gradually liberates itself from its confines, nearly dropping onto the table before Krysta reaches down and stuffs it half-heartedly back into her top without looking up from the paper.

"Were you high during the interview?" Krysta asks.

Whitley snickers as she gulps down her orange juice. "Blazed damned near out of my mind."

"You must have been. You brought up the drug infraction."

"If I hadn't been high, I probably wouldn't have told him anything. I get the feeling I brought up the drug thing out of some spite towards Helen."


"Coach Richter," Whitley clarifies. "Shame they edited it out. Me using her first name would have pissed that bitch off to no end."

Krysta shakes her head at Whitley with both bewilderment and disbelief. "How can you be so constantly self-destructive?"

"I'm selective about it. I mean, give me some credit. I jogged this morning." Krysta looks at Alicia, who nods with giddy affirmation.

"Well, despite your valiant attempts at sabotage, it is a flattering article. You should be pleased." Krysta offers a wry smile, and Whitley rolls her eyes and re-focuses on her food, showing no signs of wanting to discuss the article any further. After waiting few moments to take in the almost uncomfortably primal sounds of Whitley wolfing her food, Krysta opts to give the conversation a kick.

"Perhaps you should post the photo I took of you the other day to your Instagram."

Both Whitley and Alicia drop their forks, and Krysta picks up her teacup just in time for Alicia to slap her palms down hard enough to lift the plates off the table and spill the remainder of Whitley's orange juice. "You have an Instagram!?!?" Alicia shouts, spraying a cloud of scrambled egg shrapnel onto the table. "When did this happen?"

"God damn you, Krysta," Whitley says, wincing hard enough to show a vein in her forehead.

"Are you following me yet?" Alicia continues, grabbing Whitley's arm with one hand and holding her phone with the other. "What's your handle?"

"Ugh. Alicia, I'm not on—"

"If you need help coming up with a username, I have this awesome idea for one that you may have to warm up to. Now, I don't think it's racist, but—"

"I'm gonna go ahead and stop you there," Whitley says, fighting her perverse curiosity at what was coming next. She glances up at Krysta who has returned to reading the paper, unable to hide the smile on her lips as she sips her white tea. Despite the interruption, Alicia has not stopped talking.

"I'll totally take pictures for you. You're going to want to post regularly at first if you want to get momentum. You'll want to have a schedule too. I mean, you can always post whenever, but your followers will appreciate consistency of—"

Whitley placed her fingers to her temples. "Alicia—"

"So are you planning to model at all or just, like, do selfies and stuff? If you want to model, you'll want to have a website, and I don't care what anyone says, you don't want to skimp on that. I bet Percy would be more than happy to help you. I'm going to see him today, so—"

Whitley scoops the last of her breakfast into her mouth and is still chewing as she abruptly stands up, snatching up her bag. "I'm leaving. I have volleyball practice this morning."

"We can finish planning when you get back!"

"If I ever come back," Whitley says, before turning to Krysta. "I hope you're happy."

"Your practice isn't for another three hours, is it not?" Krysta says, still grinning.

"Fuck you, Krysta."

"'Goodbye' to you too," Krysta says with a wave.

Whitley heads out, slamming the door behind her. Alicia rocks in her chair, still squealing with excitement.

"Oh my God, when were you going to tell me? This is so exciting!"

Krysta takes a long sip of her tea. "Shut up, Alicia."

The beeping mobile phone vibrates on the polished glass nightstand, creating a cacophony of noise that instantly rouses Kiana from a dead sleep. Grabbing the device, she squints at the screen in the darkness of her spacious Burbank apartment. While she typically silences her phone at night, she's allowed for certain notable exceptions. Having assigned the most obnoxious and annoying alert she could think of—an early-90s cell phone ringtone—to this particular notification, she already knows what to expect.

Google Alert "Whitley Valentine"

Surprised to see a link to a newspaper rather than a message board, Kiana taps on the article link. Despite it being 4:30 in the morning, she reads the article in its entirety twice, before switching to her note-taking app. She taps her to-do list and adds a new entry to the bottom of her already substantial list of tasks for the day.

Call your stupid fucking overgrown idiot sister

Kiana stares at the entry for a moment, and winces hard enough she can feel a vein pop up in her forehead. After several deep breaths, she drops her phone back on the nightstand, pulls up her comforter, and sets to the difficult task of somehow getting back to sleep.