Lily sat close to Robbie on the couch. Her skull earring dangled. “I hate school,” she said. The setting sun in back etched a halo around her. “You gotta come to class, you gotta pretend to learn stupid things, you gotta write a stupid paper. It has to have a bibliography and one-inch margins. Pretending it’s important.”
Jeff, in his clean khakis, leaned in the doorway to the kitchen. “School’s not really about learning things. It’s about bullshit rules and regulations--come on time, bring a pen, walk on the right side of the hall.”
Robbie reached for Lily’s hand. “I’d rather walk on the wild side.” He laughed as if he’d made a joke.
“Yeah, baby.” Lily lifted Robbie’s hand to her lips, kissing each of his fingers.
Jeff, watching them, jerked his head as if he had walked into a cobweb. “When we’re done here, we should go to the school and throw rocks through the windows.”
Lily stopped kissing Robbie’s fingers and stared at Jeff. “That’s a stupid idea.”
Jeff raised his chin. “I think it’s a perfect idea.”
“Perfectly stupid,” Lily muttered. “The cops would catch us.”
Jeff made a bright face. “Cops are criminals with guns and badges.”
The late afternoon light slanted across the couch where Robbie and Lily sat, shoulders touching. Jeff waved his hands into the light, as if to be part of it too. “We could offer them some weed.”
Lily said, “We don’t have it yet.”
Robbie sat forward. “You’re crazy.”
Jeff flapped his hand. “I was just kidding.”
“Not very funny,” Lily said. “Kind of annoying.”
“Not much fun watching you two making out.”
“We weren’t making out,” Robbie said.
“She was sucking on your fingers. What do you call that?” He rubbed his eyes with a fist.
“Dude, get a grip.”
“You sound like my stepfather.” Jeff glared at Robbie. “Always telling me what to do, the right way to study, the right way to get good grades. The man has a whole book of regulations. But he’s a loser. He married my loser mother, and they have a loser daughter, not to mention his loser stepson.”
“You’re not a loser,” Lily said. “You’re smart.”
“If I’m so smart, what am I doing hanging around you, when you’re hooking up with him?” Jeff jabbed a finger toward Robbie. “How smart is that? Or are you going to give him up? Any chance of that?” Jeff stared at her face. “I didn’t think so.”
Robbie smiled and clapped, slow and mocking.
Lily stood up and walked to the window. “Is that the neighbors? Did their car just drive in?” She rose on her toes. “I wish I could see.”
“I can go out and check,” Jeff said.
“Let’s wait.” Lily said. “We don’t want them to know we’re here.”
“Yeah, we’re good at pretending,” Jeff said. The evening light smeared across his face as he stretched his arms inside the door frame.
published 7 August 2013