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Love Me Never

Page 14

   


I smack my hand against my head but there’s a can opener in it. As I rub away the bruises, I sigh.
“I’ve told him a million times, Ohio State, Oregon U, Idaho U, and that one Mormon college in Seattle with the creepy brochures.”
“Why are you applying if it looks creepy?”
“Because creepy is awesome? They’re like a cult. I’m all about that shit.”
Mom shoots me the Disapproving-Mom-Subtle-Lip-Frown.
“I’m all about that poop,” I correct delicately. She laughs, and it’s a good sign. Two good signs in one month. I quash my optimism for stark realism – it won’t last. I hope it does, but it won’t. That won’t stop me from enjoying it while I can, though. I assemble the tuna melts and slip the sandwiches in the oven to, well, melt. The doorbell rings, and I answer. Avery stands there, flaming hair lit from behind by the half-setting sun and a little scowl on her face.
“Awesome, thanks so much for coming!”
“I’m not staying,” Avery drawls. “Just give me the money so I can leave.”
“Uh, right! How much do I owe you?”
“Twenty bucks.”
“Okay, one sec, lemme go get my wallet.”
I take the stairs two at a time to my bedroom and rummage frantically in my wallet. I pull out two tens and hurtle downstairs. Avery passes me a brown paper bag, squished small, and I give her the money.
“Thanks for this.” I smile. “Means, uh, a lot.”
“Stay in school,” she mocks what I told her that night at the party.
“Haha,” I laugh awkwardly. “They aren’t for me. They’re for my high-anxiety…aunt’s…boyfriend’s…daughter…who is my cousin.”
“Sure,” Avery snorts. “Whatever.”
There’s a moment of quiet in which I think she’ll turn and walk away, our business done, but she stays.
“Can I give you a piece of advice?” She narrows her eyes at me.
“Sure.”
“Stay away from Jack’s past.”
I raise an eyebrow. “Any particular reason? And how did you know –”
“Wren and I talk. You asked Wren about Jack. And I’m telling you to stay out of Jack’s past. People don’t do well when they meddle in there.”
“Like, they’re struck by a terrible illness? Did he steal a crystal skull from a tomb? I told him that wasn’t the brightest idea –”
“He’s dangerous,” She cuts me off. “Okay? He’s f**king dangerous when you try to get close to him, and if you keep it up, he’s going to turn that danger on you and I won’t be able to stop him this time.”
“Oh, is that a friend, Isis?”
I immediately stash the paper bag down my shirt. It bulges awkwardly and I pray she doesn’t notice I’ve suddenly gone up an entire lumpy cup.
“Uh, yeah. Mom, this is Avery. Avery, this is Patricia Blake, my mom.”
Avery takes one look at my bathrobed, watery-eyed, slightly fragile looking mother and sneers.
“I gotta go.”
She’s gone in her green Saab before Mom has the chance to rope her into the living room. Smart girl. Also all kind of hells rude, but also smart.
“That girl – she looked familiar,” Mom starts.
“Yeah? You’ve seen her before?”
“I have. I just can’t for the life of me remember where.”
***
I manage to slip the paper bag past security at school by almost rear-ending the janitor’s car as he pulls in to the parking lot Monday morning. He gets out, face a beet-red pimple ready to pop, and as he’s lecturing me on safe driving and checking my fender to make sure not a speck of his red paint is on it, I slip the bag into the bed of the truck, under the tarp. At morning recess, I go behind the maintenance shed by the art room, where the janitor parks and dumps the bed of his truck out. A pile of rakes, brooms, bleach, sponges, and hammers crowd the ground, and the paper bag looks perfectly at home. I quickly pull the bag out from under a window washing pole and scamper off.
Lots of people in the movies break into lockers with elaborate ear-to-the-lock techniques, and when that fails, there’s always the good old bolt cutters. But what the movies don’t tell you is it’s tons easier to just go through the door. Federal school district funding ensures the metal is the lowest quality nickel-tin hybrid, and all high school lockers are essentially made with a two-bolt drop system, which means if you take a hairpin and a pair of tweezers and wedge the center bolt to the left, you can crack the door open enough to slip something inside - for instance, two dime bags of weed that definitely are Jack Hunter’s because they are in his locker, now. I go to the bathroom and call the school office; anonymously tipping them locker 522 has the smell of weed coming from it.
Campus security is all puffed up after catching that ‘criminal’ the other day. Knife-guy’s suspended for a week, and everyone sniggers openly about the fact it took three security officers to catch one naked guy, but that doesn’t matter to the officers. In their minds, it was a triumph of Adult Good over the General Evil of Teenagers, and that’s enough ego puffing enough to have them walking around like balloons with mustaches and bald spots. In ten minutes they’re at locker 522, the janitor cutting the lock and the officers rifling through Jack’s things. I watch from around the corner of the hall as they take out his books, his pencils, dumping them on the floor unceremoniously. When they find the dime bags they sniff the inside of them and assure each other it’s weed. I cackle softly on my way back to class.
Jack Hunter: 2. Isis Blake: 1. It’s a big difference, but I’ll make it up quick.
The rumor spreads like fire on an oil spill – Jack Hunter is suspended for two days pending drug charges with the local police. Life is sweet. I bite into my sandwich and hardly notice it’s the third day in a row I’m eating tuna – my taste buds can only perceive sweet, sweet victory.
“What are you doing?” Kayla asks, staring down at me with a tray of chili in her hands.
“Savoring my win,” I say.
“That was you, wasn’t it!” Kayla slams her tray down and hisses. “You were the one who planted weed in Jack’s locker!”
“Uh, no? He’s the stoner, not me. I wouldn’t even know where to buy weed.”
“Avery said she sold you two dime bags.”
“Oh. Well, in that case, yes. I do know where to buy weed.”
She makes a disgusted noise, but her face is the opposite of disgusting. It’s beautiful. It’s like watching a purebred show cat hack up a hairball.
“In my defense –” I throw up my hands. “Everybody knows the popular people have weed, okay? It’s like a universal law, up there with ‘the apple falls on Newton’s nerdy herd’ and ‘the sky is a distinct blueish color’.”
“I can’t believe you,” Kayla sighs. “I thought you were cool, and now look at you; planting drugs on some guy you don’t like?”
“Uh, it’s a little more than ‘don’t like’.”
“Newsflash – the rest of us do like him, okay? So can you just lay off?”