Savage Delight

Page 26


“You don’t have to,” I say.
“It’s shady here,” He counters.
“Some butts are better off miles apart.”
With that clarifying sentence, we enjoy our ice creams in the relative peace shared only between two people who are complete opposites. Jack looks ridiculous in the sunlight. Ridiculous and handsome and puke-worthy.
“Can you go back to Abercrombie?”
“What?” Jack looks at me.
“Just, you know. Crawl back into the magazine you came from. So I can hide it under my bed between two National Geographic issues on recycling elephant waste and never read it again.”
“You’re insane.”
“You know how people talk about being beautiful on the inside and stuff,” I start.
“Yes. And?”
“I just realized people don’t have x-ray vision,” I whisper in awe. “They can’t see your insides.”
He rubs his forehead tiredly.
“My zodiac sign is Cancer,” I insist.
Jack licks his ice cream.
“One time, when I was seven, I cried so hard I rehydrated a raisin.”
My babbling doesn’t scare him off like the other 99% of the population with dangly bits between their legs. He just grunts.
“Do you know the alphabet backwards?” I ask.
“Can you make cinnamon sugar doughnuts?”
“I can make cinnamon rolls.”
“Can you jump rope?”
“A million times?”
“If you gave me cybernetic knees, there’s a slight possibility.”
I stare into his face. “You don’t have bright green eyes.”
“And you’re not left-handed.”
“And you probably can’t play an ocarina.”
“Unfortunately, no.”
I lean back and elegantly smash my ice cream into my mouth hole. “Good.”
“Those were awfully specific,” he says. He bites his cone down to the last and lies on the grass, hands behind his head.
“Requirements of my dream man. Sea slug. Whatever. Are you even supposed to leave the courtroom if you’re a witness?”
“I already gave my testimony don’t change the subject you have a dream man?” He says it all in one breath and has to gulp air. I laugh.
“Didn’t think Ice Princes ran out of breath.”
“Your dream man is impossible.”
“Bingo.” I point at him. He narrows his eyes.
“So that’s what you do when you get hurt? You construct a dream man who can’t possibly exist so no one will ever live up to your standards and you won’t have to look their way twice?”
“You don’t face the pain? You put up a wall between it and you and pretend it doesn’t exist?”
The sun filters through the leaves. A dull ache forms above my stomach.
“You’re torturing yourself.”
I know. “I’m fine, bro.”
He snorts. “You’re the farthest thing from fine, and you keep it that way.”
“What about you?” I snap. “What about Sophia?”
“What about her?”
“She’s dying, Jackass. She’s dying and you’re here with me, buying me ice cream and asking me about my dream man! She’s dying and you kissed me, more than once apparently! How f**king selfish are you? Are you just setting me up so you have someone to pity-fuck you when she dies?”
His eyes flash with an Arctic chill. “Shut up.”
“All we do is argue. Sure, respect or whatever, but respect isn’t enough. What’s enough is tenderness, and love, and you have that with Sophia,” I feel something hot prickling in the corners of my eyes. “So f**k you, actually. Fuck you. Don’t try to get close to me. Don’t try to f**king fix me. I’m not the princess, I’m the goddamn dragon, and you can’t seem to see that. So stop! Stop being nice to me! Stop being not-nice to me! Just stay out of my f**king life!”
She comes like a storm, and she leaves like one, heavy steps and hands clenched and hair whipping behind her in the bare spring breeze, amber eyes molten with fire and resentment.
Something in me grows heavy, and wilts.
I don’t go back into the courtroom. I wait in the park and listen to the chatter from across the street as people leave. Leo gets three years jail time for assault and battery and breaking and entering. Mrs. Blake waves to me. Isis ignores me and walks to her comically misshapen VW Beatle.
She ignores me. Completely. No sneers, no wicked little smiles, no flipping birds. Nothing. Just complete emptiness.
3 Years
26 Weeks
6 Days
Principal Evans is a nice guy. By Disney villain standards. By every other standard, he’s a more or less a horrible jerk. And I know this, but I’ve spent so much time with him now I barely see it anymore. It just is, like the stupid watercolor of the school’s main building on his wall, or the fluorescent light above his desk that flickers sometimes because, hello, public school funding. Summer is hot and I am hot and the sky is blue and Evans is just a straight-up jerk with a continual mid-life crisis he likes to take out on me.
I put my feet up on his desk anyway.
“What’s up, man?” I ask. I know exactly what’s up. But I’m gonna make him beg for it. Evans runs his hand over his balding head.
“I was concerned about my favorite student.”
“Oh, you’ve gotten so much better at lying!” I clap my hands. “You could just say you wanna know what was in Stanford’s envelope. You know, be a little more honest with your feelings. I’m sure it’d save you from buying that inevitable red convertible or a couple years of therapy in the long run.”
Evans frowns. “I have been trying to make up for my mistakes. How much longer are you going to treat me like the bad guy?”
“As long as you’re alive,” I say cheerily. “You just want me to tell you I got in early, so you can brag to your other bald principal friends.”
“You did? Congratulations.”
“Ah ah,” I wag my finger. “Don’t assume, and don’t try to get me to say it. I know how you work.”
“And how do I work, Isis? Please tell me.”
“Underhanded tactics and simpering lead-ons. You’d have done well in 1800’s France. Except everybody there got beheaded for that stuff.” I pause and stroke my chin thoughtfully, then smile. “Yup! You would’ve done well.”
Evans is quiet. His eyes are set and hard, for once, instead of soft and evasive.
“Let me guess,” I lean forward. “You want me to tell you I got in, so that you can feel better, feel redeemed, that you entered me in their applications process, like getting me into an Ivy will make up for the pictures and the bullshit.”
He doesn’t move, or blink. I lean back.
“Newsflash, Evans – it’s called bullshit because it’s shit. Because it’s already been pooped out, and nothing can be done about it. It can’t be cleaned up. It’ll always be there. The stink will linger. It’ll always be something you’ve done. So no, I’m not going to tell you.”