small town girls




The Truth Of The Matter
by Michelle K.

"...and the truth is..."

The sentence hangs in the air like a question to herself. What is the truth?

'I like Clark.'

'Clark seems safe and comfortable, and I know he cares about me.'

'Clark's a good friend.'

'Chloe's a good friend.'

'I dream about Chloe.'

'I think I'm in love with Chloe.'

'Chloe's brave, and I'm a coward who can't say what I really feel.'

She clears her throat. All of those things are true, but some of them could hurt Whitney. They're the same ones that she can't quite deal with herself.

"...the truth is, I feel we've grown apart. I can't ignore it anymore. I think it's best for us - both of us - to move on." She pauses. "I'm sorry. You'll always..." Her eyes begin to water; she's not sure if it's because of the finality of breaking apart from her first love or not being able to tell him what's really gnawing at the back of her brain. "'ll always be in my heart. I'm sorry."

She shuts off the camera and wonders when, if ever, she'll tell someone the truth.


Perpetual heat has given way to perpetual rain. It's been three straight days of wind and water; of trying to deflect Clark's soulful looks of adoration; of trying not to seem too delighted when talking to Chloe.

The last one is the hardest.

"Hey, Lana."

She turns around to see Clark. "Hey."

"Did you send that tape off to Whitney yet?"

"Yeah. You know, it was hard, but it's probably for the best in the long run."

"What..." Clark looks down at his feet for a moment, apparently embarrassed by his looming question. "If you don't mind me asking, what did you say?"

She's sure Clark wants her to tell him that he was the reason she broke up with Whitney. But, in this instance, she can tell the truth. In a way, at least. "I just said that we'd grown apart. That it would be best for us to move on. That I'd always care about him." She sees the disappointment on Clark's face. Part of her wishes she could love him. He's so good, so solid and dependable.

But he's not Chloe.

"The truth," she adds. "I told him the truth."

"That's good. Real good."

"Hey guys," Chloe says as she comes up behind Clark. Her eyes move back and forth between the both of them. "Wait. I'm not interrupting something, am I?"

"No," Lana says quickly. "We were just talking about..." She thinks her tone sounds too casual for discussing the decimation of her first relationship, so she looks away and speaks lower. "Whitney and I broke up."

"I'm sorry," Chloe says. When Lana looks back at her, she is struck by how genuine her eyes seem. They really are friends, Lana thinks.

"It's for the best," Lana says. "We've been growing apart for a long time."

"All the same, it can't be easy saying goodbye to your first love."

"It's not simple," Lana returns. She wonders if Clark really is Chloe's first love, if they'll always be part of a pseudo-triangle that keeps things from being the way Lana wants them.

She wonders if she could be Chloe's first real love, the one to break her out of the Clark infatuation.

She wonders if Chloe thinks there's something strange about the way she's looking at her.

"It's not simple, but it's really for the best," she repeats, hoping her inner ramblings aren't coloring her words with a bad shade.

"Then I'm happy for you. I know what I mean," Chloe says.

"I know," Lana answers. She remembers Clark is there and looks over to him. There's affection in his eyes, but it doesn't feel like enough. She looks at Chloe's eyes, which are warm but not infatuated, and it feels like everything she wants.


"When should you be reopening the Talon?" Chloe asks conversationally as she pushes a few strands of damp hair behind her ear.

"A couple of days," Lana answers.

Chloe's sitting on a stool while Lana leans against the counter. It's like a replay of a few days ago, except this time Lana feels freer. This time, she's not going to make opaque mentions of Clark to get her point across.

"That's good." She sighs. "Do you have any clue when this rain's going to stop? I get soaked after a few seconds."

"It's supposed to clear up tomorrow, but who really knows? The weatherman is known to lie and torment," Lana adds with a smile.

"So true," Chloe agrees with mock horror. "One of the worst charlatans in the country. He must be overthrown."

Lana laughs. "I'll help you."

"I always knew you had a bit of the rebel in you, Lana," she smiles. "I should get going," Chloe says as she stands. "I've still got some work to get done at the Torch, so..."

Lana knows this is her moment. The moment that she stops Chloe with a kiss or a revelation. Or both. But all she says is, "See you later."

Chloe walks away, and Lana shakes her head at her own foolishness. She babbles on about honesty, and yet she can't say a few simple words. She's no better than Clark is. Hell, she's *worse* than Clark. At least Clark's obvious with his emotions. But Lana's doing everything to hide what she wants.

The door closes, and Lana's brought back to the present. She still has a chance.

"Wait, Chloe," Lana says as she runs out into the storm.

Chloe turns back with a perplexed look on her face. "What is it?"

Chloe wasn't kidding about the rain; she hasn't even been out here a minute, and she's already drenched. "I need to talk to you."

"Well, let's go back inside or in my car, or something."

"I'll lose my nerve."

Chloe's confusion increases. "What? What do you mean?" She takes a few steps towards Lana just as Lana takes a few steps towards her.

"What I mean is..." Lana trails off, looks up and down the street. No one's around - for a moment, she praises the rain and her small town's relative lack of a nightlife. "I always talk about honesty, and telling people how you feel."

Chloe waits for a minute. "Yeah?" she says slowly, eyebrow raised.

"I always talk about these things, but I'm never honest. I told Whitney that we grew apart, which is true in a way. But the bigger truth is that...I l--" She almost says 'love' but her brain rejects the excessive amount of verity. Chloe might be less scared if it's just a simple attraction; something they can both explain away if this gets messy. "I'm interested in someone else."

"Look, I know you like Clark, okay? It's not a big secret," Chloe snaps. "I don't need to be out--"

"It's you," Lana interjects. "I'm interested in you."

Chloe's train of thought derails and her eyes go wide. "I...Lana, I don't know what to say about that."

'I want you too. Desperately,' is Lana's immediate thought. But, from Chloe's expression, that comment isn't in the top ten list of possibilities.

"You don't have to say anything," Lana says with a shake of her head. "You don't...I just needed to say it. Just...forget it, okay? I'll see you later."

She walks into the Talon without looking back. A chance was taken, but it didn't end the way she would've hoped. With the burden of her feelings lifted, another burden of fractured friendship has settled heavily on her shoulders.


She tries to avoid Chloe for the next few days; it works well enough, since Chloe seems to be avoiding her.

On the grand reopening of the Talon, Lex makes an appearance. There's also Clark, Pete, and the various regulars that have compromised her patronage.

But Chloe's nowhere to be found.

It doesn't surprise her - but it doesn't make her happy, either.

Near to closing, the place is empty. She considers taking time to perfect her use of the espresso machine, but that plan is squashed as the door opens and Lana turns around.

"Oh, Chloe, hey," Lana stutters.

"Hi," Chloe says with a tiny wave. "Good to see your place is up and running again."

"Um, thanks," Lana replies. "Would you like to sit down?"

"Sure," she says, sliding onto a stool.

Lana considers moving to the other side of the counter, but she decides distance might be best. "Would you like something? I have this brand new--"

"No, I'm fine," Chloe responds. "I just think we need to talk about this."

"Yeah, of course. I'm sorry."

Chloe blinks. "Don't be sorry. I mean it was out of left field, but you were honest. You did the right thing."

Lana wills her lips to curl into a tiny, pseudo-carefree smile. "But you're not interested. It's fine, Chloe. We don't have to stop being friends, do we?"

She shakes her head. "No, no, of course not." She pauses for a moment. "But the thing is, I'm not sure that I'm not interested."

Lana adds up the double negative, and it makes her excited and uneasy all at the same time. "Oh."

"See, the thing is, I've thought about...girls. Not really specifically, just sort of a general...curiosity. And, maybe it's what...maybe I should explore that." Chloe sighs. "Jeez, listen to me ramble on like this is something I've analyzed. Well, I have analyzed it, but it shouldn't sound that way, should it?"

"It's better than not thinking about it at all," Lana points out.

Chloe smiles. "I guess. Maybe we should do something. Like coffee."

Lana smiles back. "How about now?"

"Sounds good."

She brushes her fingers against Chloe's, a touch Chloe doesn't shy away from. On Lana's end, it feels natural, comfortable.

Most importantly, it feels like a beginning.