“There he is!” Mr. Waterman exclaims. He clucks at the scene for a few moments and then turns to me. His merry eyes are a little less merry than usual. “It’s just wonderful, my dear. But how will he eat all that scrumptious food with his helmet on?”
I look back at my astronaut. It’d never occurred to me that he’d want to eat the food.
Everything’s a Risk
Carla’s smiling at me like she knows something I don’t know. She’s been doing it all day whenever she thinks I’m not looking. Also she’s been singing “Take a Chance on Me” by ABBA, her absolute favorite band of all time. She’s breathtakingly out of tune. I’ll have to ask Olly the probability that she could miss every single note. Shouldn’t she hit one just by random chance?
It’s 12:30 p.m. and I have a half hour for lunch before my history tutor comes online. I’m not hungry. I’m basically never hungry anymore. Apparently a body can exist on IM alone.
Carla’s not looking, so I tab over to my Gmail. Thirteen messages from Olly since last night. They’re all sent around 3 a.m. and, naturally, he doesn’t write a subject. I laugh a little and shake my head.
I want to read them, am dying to read them, but I have to be careful with Carla in the room. I glance over and find her staring back at me eyebrows raised. Does she know something?
“What’s so interesting on that laptop?” she asks. God. She definitely knows.
I draw my chair closer to the desk and place my sandwich on the laptop.
“Nothing.” I take a bite of the sandwich. It’s Turkey Tuesday.
“It’s not nothing. Something is making you laugh over there.” She inches closer, smiling at me. Her brown eyes crinkle at the corners and her smile reaches the edge of her face.
“Cat video,” I say through a mouthful of turkey. Ugh, wrong thing to say. Carla lives for cat videos. She thinks they’re the only thing the Internet is good for.
She comes around, stands behind me, and reaches for the laptop.
I drop my sandwich and hug the laptop close to my chest. I’m not a good liar, and I say the first thing that pops into my head. “You don’t want to see this one, Carla. It’s bad. The cat dies.”
We stare at each other in a kind of shocked standoff for a few seconds. I’m shocked because I’m an idiot and I can’t believe that I said that. Carla’s shocked because I’m an idiot and she can’t believe that I said that. Her mouth drops open comically, like a cartoon, and her big round eyes get even bigger and rounder. She bends over at the waist, slaps her knee, and laughs like I’ve never heard her laugh. Who actually slaps their knee while laughing?
“You mean to tell me the only thing you could think to say was that it was a dead cat?” She’s laughing again.
“So you know.”
“Well, if I didn’t know before I would surely know now.”
She laughs a little more, slaps her knee again. “Oh, you should’ve seen your face.”
“It’s not that funny,” I grumble, annoyed that I gave myself away.
“You forget I have one of you at home. I always know when Rosa is up to no good. Besides, you, Miss Thing, are not any good at hiding things. I see you checking your e-mail and looking for him out the window.”
I put my laptop back down on the desk. “So, you’re not mad at me?” I ask, relieved.
She hands me my sandwich. “It depends. Why were you hiding it from me?”
“I didn’t want you to worry about me getting sad again.”
She eyes me for a long second. “Do I need to worry?”
“Then I’m not worrying.” She brushes my hair back from my shoulders. “Eat,” she says.
Fifteen Minutes Later
“Maybe he could come over for a visit?”
I’ve surprised myself by asking, but Carla’s not surprised at all. She doesn’t even pause from wiping away nonexistent dust from my bookshelf.
“Teenagers are the same all over. Give them an inch and they’ll take a mile.”
“Is that a no?” I ask.
She laughs at me.
Two Hours Later
I try again. “It would only be for half an hour. He could get decontaminated like Mr. Waterman and then—”
“Are you crazy?”
Ten Minutes After That
She cuts me off. “And here I thought you were doing fine.”
“I am. I am doing fine. I just want to meet him—”
“We can’t always get what we want,” she says. From the flatness of her tone alone, I know it’s a phrase she uses on Rosa all the time. I can tell she regrets saying it to me, but still she doesn’t say anything else.