Savage Delight

Page 19


3 Years
26 Weeks
3 Days
East Summit High could take a nuke and nothing about it would change. Except the P.E. field. And maybe a bit of architecture. But the food would survive the blast because I’m ninety-nine percent sure it’s cockroach flesh, and Mrs. Borsche would remain standing because let’s get serious, everyone knows she’s an undercover Cold War agent genetically engineered to survive minor things like rapid atomic decompression.
When I pull into the parking lot, Kayla is standing there on the curb, waiting for me. She dashes over whilst someone almost runs her over and we smash into each other hug.
“You’re alive!”
“Marginally,” I laugh. She smells like coconut and the tears of every boy who will never have a chance with her. It’s like coming home. Hugging her is the best feeling next to the feeling I got sleeping in my own bed last night. And then I see Wren walking towards us. And Kayla sees him too. She darts to his side and drags him over, his glasses nearly falling off but a small half-smile on his face.
“Isis!” He exclaims.
“Yes, it is I. Alive in the flesh. Temporarily. In roughly seventy years I gotta die again.”
Wren laughs, and one-arm hugs me in that awkward way boys sometimes do. “It’s good to have you back.”
“Things have been totally boring around here,” Kayla laments. “Avery’s been quiet and weird and Jack’s been quiet and weird, like even more quiet than his iceberg days. It’s so weird!”
“Global warming,” I offer.
“ – And no one’s tried to escape out the science lab window –”
“- and Principal Evans won’t shut up about Jack –”
“A crime worthy of execution!”
“ – and someone wrote ‘Isis Blake is a crazy fat bitch’ on the bathroom stall in F building -”
“Let us give them a standing ovation for originality.”
Wren laughs, and Kayla frowns, but it doesn’t take her long to start laughing, too. And unlike five months ago when I first started here, I walk under the brick arch that reads; East Summit High. But this time I’m not alone. This time, I walk under it with two people who are my friends. I have friends. I have friends. Do you hear that, past me? You have friends. Ones who care about you, who laugh with you. You get them, someday.
So don’t cry.
You have friends.
I bite my lip and walk faster so they can’t see the unsightly water oozing from my ducts.
“Hey! Isis! Slow down!” Wren calls.
“What’s the rush? It’s just Benson’s class! All he’s gonna talk about are plant vaginas!” Kayla shouts. I laugh and walk faster. A familiar shaved head passes me, and I back up and explode.
“Knife-kid! How’re you doing, old pal?”
“We’ve known each other five months,” He corrects. I sling an arm around his shoulder.
“Five months in dog years is like, ten years. We’re practically family.”
“Are you crying?”
I sniff. “What, this? Nah, just a piece of teen angst stuck in my eye. Nirvana would be proud.”
Knife-guy grunts. “It’s good. That you’re back.”
“Yeah. Jack was a pain without you to take him down a peg. Or nine.”
He grumpily stares at nothing. I ruffle his almost-forming mohawk.
“Stop touching me. People might think I’m normal.”
“God forbid that,” I laugh.
“And Jack will kill me.”
“Jack?” I buzz my lips. “Jack doesn’t give a jackshit about me. No, wait, I got that backwards. I don’t give a jackshit about Jack the Shit.”
Knife-guy ducks out of my arm. When I give him a quizzical ‘why spurn my beautiful friendship arm’ look, he nods behind me.
“I’m smart enough not to get between you two.”
I turn around, and there he is. Jack’s less than six feet away, scowling like he’s sucked an entire lemon farm. His ruffled, tawny hair and ice-blue eyes look different in the light of day versus the pale sickly light of the hospital.
“Ah! If it isn’t Jack. Jack the Ripper of female self-esteems everywhere. Jack Sparrow who flies around and shits on heads. Jackoff into everyone’s punchbowl and ruin their day.”
“The head injury’s certainly made you more creative. And fortunately, less coherent,” He drones, and looks at Knife-guy. “And who is this charming young man? An admirer?”
Jack waves a hand in front of his face.
“Is he blind? Or just stupid?”
Something in me draws taut and snaps in a split second. I can’t remember much of Jack, but I sure as hell remember Knife-guy, and the way he was nice to me. Small, disturbing ways, but ways nonetheless!
“Why do I have the sudden urge to perform violence on your face?” I c**k my head. I could be imagining it, but his chest swells slightly. Anger? Of course it’s anger.
“That would be your body remembering the time you socked me so hard I saw through time and space,” he says.
“Did you like what you saw? Goopy aliens? Supernovas? Mantorok, God of Corpses?”
“I saw an alternate universe without you. It was like paradise.”
Knife-kid suddenly chuckles. Jack sneers at him.
“Something funny?”
“You haven’t talked to anybody in school in two weeks, and now she’s back, and you’re –” Knife-kid shakes his head. “Whatever.”
I watch him leave. Jack’s quiet, his lips drawn. I take a deep breath and rock on the balls of my feet.
“You really hate me, huh?” I ask. Jack’s ice-blue eyes snap up to lock with mine.
“Like Knife-kid said. You don’t talk when I’m gone, and I come back and you’re slinging the insults. So you must really hate me to bother breaking your silence. I get it.”
I read the letter you sent Sophia. I know how much you despise me.
Knife-guy has no idea how much it means.
Isis slung her arm around his neck like it meant nothing. She’s only ever done that to Wren, and that’s because he’s less intimidating than a puppy. But Knife-guy is different. He’s intimidating, he’s angry-looking, he’s tall, and he has muscles beneath those Black Sabbath shirts. He’s not Wren. He’s a man. A month ago, my touch reduced her to panic and tears. It was a memory so painful she blocked it out, and now here she is, touching him like it’s easy for her.
My heart beats so hard I can feel it in my fingertips. I’m hot all over, a heat wave sweeping through me like wildfire. I should control it. I should turn on my heel and walk away. I buried my hope. I thought it was dead. But then she revived it that night in the hospital, like a skilled necromancer. Like I hadn’t buried it at all. And now I can’t possibly control myself. Not when she’s there, not when she’s touching –
I’m behind her. Knife-kid glances warily at me, and she turns. Her purple streaks are a little more faded. She’s not as pale as she was in the hospital – a rosy bloom on both cheeks. A little smile plays on her lips, and like the moron I am, I let that smile fuel the heat wave in me hotter and higher.