JJ follows Emily to the bedroom where there isn’t any politics coursework. Emotional insight may not be his thing, but it doesn’t even take intuition to know that Emily is making her rope shorter and shorter with knots that may never come undone. She protests that nothing is going on. Three times she says it, with increasing desperation: "Nothing. Nothing. NOTHING, OK?"
She says she just likes Mandy, and nothing has happened. JJ tells her good, because that would be bad, and Emily is halfway to tears again when she says, "You think I want to get into another relationship? Relationships suck. They really f–king suck."
We’ve never really talked about how Emily slept with JJ last year. I mean, you’ve talked about it and I’ve talked about it, but we’ve never really talked about it together. Let’s do that now; it’s important, especially since Mandy is the new JJ.
So, Naomi is just this … prism in Emily’s world, right? She holds it up to the sun and — splash! — color everywhere. From the first moment they spot each other across the gymnasium at Roundview until they hold hands and walk off together at the Love Ball, Naomi is Emily’s difference between monochrome and the rainbow. But do you even understand how a prism works? No, and neither does Emily. All she knows is it’s so complicated, the spectrum, the way you hold it, how you turn it. It’s fragile, like she said. It’s a cacophony of color, and it burns. It lights her on fire.
Last year she slept with Naomi, that day by the lake, but then Naomi bolted on her — again. And yes, they held hands that night, through the front door, but for reasons Emily didn’t understand, Naomi still didn’t want her. If color is complicated, the opposite must be black-and-white, and that’s where Emily goes, on purpose, when Naomi’s flame scorches her. That’s her literal reasoning: Complicated burns. I’ll do the opposite. Something simple.
She slept with JJ because he wanted it a lot, and because she liked him. She could be close to him without having to feel the flame (even if that meant see couldn’t see the color). And now here she is telling JJ that she likes Mandy and she doesn’t want to get into another relationship because relationships suck, but she doesn’t even mean relationships. She means Naomi, and the prism she doesn’t understand, and the flame she cannot control. Mandy is simple. The opposite of the flame.
Monochrome won’t make you feel alive. But it won’t kill you either.
JJ tells Emily his relationship doesn’t suck, and he’s right because so far his relationship has consisted of: one very awkward date, three solid days of shagging, and now a visit to The House of Fun. Emily tells him to get out before Lara "kicks the s–t out of him," and he says that Lara isn’t Naomi. And that right this second he is "75 percent trust" and Emily is "running on empty."
He tells her to remember who she can rely on, and then goes to check on the baby, to make sure Naomi’s not teaching it to shoot-up or anything.