Monday, June 20, 2011


He leaned onto his elbow, pencil jutting into the cream carpet. His lips barely made contact with my neck.

“What are you doing?” I snapped, whispering. “My mom’s in the next room!”

He smiled smugly, all lips and no teeth. “I just wanted to see what you smelled like.”

I giggled through my nose, gripping my pencil more strongly. “You’re so weird.” His glasses reflected the setting sun against his brown eyes. The black frames rested on his caramel cheeks and dove behind his small, finely crafted ears. “What problem are you on?”

“Number three.”

“Three?! I’m on ten! What have you been doing this whole time?” I frowned, turning from the coffee table to face him.

He leaned on the shin of the couch, lips pursed in jest. “Adoring you.”

“Ha,” I said. “That’s not gonna help you on your test, so you should probably get back to work.”

I turned away, as if I’d been chiding myself instead of him. My fingers pressed into my temples as my elbow rested nervously on the coffee table. I pushed my glasses up on my nose.

He set his textbook down, leaving the pages open to where he should have been working. “Okay,” he said. “I need a break.”

I peered at him over the rims of my frames.

“Okay.” I tossed my pencil down and stood, smoothing my shorts down.

We left the den and walked through the living room, through the kitchen, through the garage, until we reached fresh air. I picked up my brother’s basketball, which lay in the grass next to the driveway.

“I don’t know how you want a break this early,” I said, dribbling, bobbing, and weaving.

“School wears me out faster than you,” he replied, nearly mirroring my moves. “It’s like prison for me.”

“Really? Not me.” I spun around him and shot. Nothing but net.

He rebounded the ball and smiled at me. “That’s because you’re smart,” he dribbled.

I held up my hands to, unsuccessfully, block his shot. “Well, not really.” He passed me the ball and I passed it back. “It’s more of a way out to me.”

He easily shot it over my head and rebounded it again. “I guess.” His voice had lowered, sad. I hadn’t heard him speak that way before.

“If anything, I mean, why not, you know? You don’t have anything better to do.”

“Yeah, I do,” he said, dribbling.

I stopped and placed my hands on my hips. “Like what? Play video games?”

He rushed up to me, stopping just short of touching me. He tapped my mouth with his finger, wiping away my smirk. “Maybe,” he smiled.

I shook my head and rolled my eyes, unable to hold back a smile of my own. I clapped my hands once, and he tossed me the ball. A couple of quick moves and another shot.

“Have you thought about trying out for the school team? You’re pretty good.” He nodded.

I shrugged. “Nah. My mom wouldn’t let me play in middle school since she said ‘those big girls’ would hurt me. I’ve just been too busy in high school.”

“But it’s almost over.”

“For you.” I threw a chest pass and pointed my fingers at him.

He switched his lips to the side momentarily and grunted.

“Have you thought about what you’re going to do afterwards? College or something?”


“Why not?”

He shrugged.

He bounced the ball once, then held it under his hairy armpit. “Laura Stevens is having a party Saturday. Do you want to go? I’ll drive.”

I looked down. “No, I don’t think I will,” I said to a crack in the cement.

He held the ball in his open palm, dropped it, then caught it. “Why not?”

I dug my sneaker into the ground. “I just…don’t want to.” I felt his eyes on my cheeks. I looked up at him. “There’s going to be drinking and stuff.”


“I just don’t want to.”

He dribbled. “No one’s going to force you to do anything, you know.”

“I know.” I ran up and smacked the ball away. He lagged as I ran and laid the ball up. I rebounded and dribbled, bouncing myself up to him.

With his toothless smirk, he grabbed the ball and me, and kissed me, right there in my driveway.

I pulled away. “My mom!”

He giggled.

I licked my lip, swallowing a grin. “Come on.” I tilted my head toward the house.

He set the ball back in the grass. We walked back inside, back to math, til the sun went down.

“You hungry?” I asked, closing my textbook.

“Kinda,” Jayson said.

I stretched my neck, looking toward the kitchen. “I don’t think my mom is cooking tonight.”

“We can go get burgers.”

I furrowed my eyebrows. “You’ll have to ask my mother.”

“Mrs. Covet!”

My eyes widened, not believing that he was actually going to ask her.

“May I take Ilyn to get a burger and bring her right back?”

“Sure,” Mom called from the kitchen, where she sorted bills rather than cooked.

He stuck his tongue out at me. “Didn’t think I’d do it, huh?” He picked up his backpack and keys.

I smoothed my shorts down again as I stood, smiling. We walked through the den and living room. “We’ll be back, mom!” I called over my shoulder before slamming the front door shut.

In his Camaro, we rolled up to the gate near my house. When he turned to look right, I kissed him quickly. He smiled and peeled out onto the country road. He didn’t turn on the radio. I lowered the window. My palms rested on my bare knees, which were sweating a little before the wind hit them.

After a few lefts and rights and stretches of country, a dilapidated sign that read “That’s a Burger!” grew larger as we approached. I raised an eyebrow as Jayson pulled into the lot. The building must have been at least a hundred years old, with peeling paint crumbling off its splintery rear. A window darkened by soot and time sat in the middle of the wall.

I looked left and right, at woods and wheat field.

“Uhhhh, this place doesn’t sell burgers,” I managed to get out eventually.

“Yeah, it does.” He turned the car around and drove to the front of the building, which was slightly less unappealing to the eye and showed definite signs of life. “Drive-up style.”

Like magic, a woman with feathered blond hair and burnt orange skin appeared with a notebook beside the car. She clicked her pen and smiled with bright pink lips. “What can I getcha, sweethearts?”

“Two cheeseburgers,” Jayson said, “one with everything, one with just ketchup.”

I smiled, glad he’d remembered how I like my burgers.

The waitress turned away fluidly and seemed to glide away. My eyes followed her til they caught sight of the rollerskates wound tightly around her feet. Impressed, I stuck out my lip and nodded.

“Looks like the gang’s here.”

“What gang?” I asked.

Jayson peered into the rearview mirror. I turned to look through the back windshield.

“Laura Stevens, Corey Evans…”

“The gang” sat on their cars, or inside them with the legs dangling from the open doors. The one I assumed was Corey Evans sat at the wheel of a black Mustang, top down, while Laura Stevens, I guessed, sat on the hood, gaffawing at one of the other boys. At least three other carfuls accompanied them.

“So the cool kids hang out behind a burger shack?” I turned to Jayson, who nodded and smiled. I blinked. “You’re not going to college, are you?”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

I stared out the front windshield, waiting for my food.

He sighed roughly, nearly grunting. “I’ll be back.”

He snapped the door open and hopped out. Through his side mirror, I watched him limp up to them, slap the boys’ hands and attempt to pinch their nipples through their jerseys.

I rolled my eyes. How long could it take to make a burger?

“The gang” burst into laughter, loud enough for me to hear them from a good distance with the window just cracked. I tapped my fingertips on the armrest.

Jayson bounded back into the car. “Laura said she really wants you to come to the party. Come talk to them.”

“No,” I said gently, looking up at him.

“Please come to the party? Just this once?”

He poked out his bottom lip and peered at me over the rims of his specs.

“But I won’t know anyone there. It’ll be all Chamberlain kids.”

“You’ll know me.” He poked his lip out farther.

I sighed but held my breath instead of exhaling. I closed my eyes behind my glasses and hoped he didn’t notice. “Okay,” I squeezed out.

Grinning, he caught me in a gentle headlock and kissed me deeply before releasing me. “It’ll be fun. I promise.”

I inhaled to sigh again, but let the breath out quickly so he wouldn’t hear. Our burgers arrived.

“I think my mom’s gonna expect me back,” I said, closing the bag as I folded a French fry into my mouth.

He nodded. He turned the car on and called out, “Peace!” to “the gang.” He ripped out of the lot.

Through the window, I looked back at them, biting the inside of my lip.


Wednesday, January 26, 2011


They sat in a dim coffee shop. She stared at the floor, caressing a mug of tea.

"What's on your mind?" Sheila asked.

She looked up and smiled. "Nothing out of the ordinary."

"Weight of the world, then?" Sheila smiled and sipped her martini.

She chuckled so light it came out as just a breath. "You could say that." She stared out at the other patrons milling about the shop, or sitting typing at tables, or sipping bowls of milky coffee with members of the opposite sex. "I just want to write. I need to slow down. It's all just going so fast. There's always something standing in the way. I feel like I'm in a moment, then something always stands in the way."

Sheila nodded slowly. "Life comes at you fast. But you can't let it pass you by."

"I just keep getting hit with everything."

"I know." Sheila leaned in and whispered, "Try to catch some of them."

She smiled the slanted smirk she saved for flirting, when the guy said something unwittingly clever. "I have so much peace when I write," she said. "I miss it. I remember loving it. But it's gotten all this... in meetings, in studying, in budgets--"

"In worrying? In lack of control?"

Her eyes snapped up. For a moment, Sheila looked just like her mother, though she'd always reminded her of her mother: so strong and wise, with eyes that speak of her life's joys and sorrows before her mouth opens to tell you about them.

"Stop worrying."

She knew Sheila was thinking more. But she was holding back. Like her mother would.

"It's easier said than done, though," Sheila continued. She perched her elbow on the table and rested her chin on her fist.

She nodded. "I'm just scared I'll lose my craft."

"Have you ever?"

"...No. But that's not to say it can't happen."

"That's true, too," Sheila said without actually believing it. "Then make time. You prioritize your work; prioritize life so as not to make you insane."

She nodded and looked into her tea.

"Look at me."

She rose her eyes."You are who you are. Sure, life happens and you adapt, but nothing is going to change who you are. This is who you are," she tapped her sternum, nowhere near her heart, but she got the picture. "Don't lose sight of who that is."

She nodded in agreement. "I won't," she declared to herself.

"Good," she said. She drank the rest of her martini like a shot and collected her bags. "My work here is done. I'll see you next week. Call me if you need anything."

She stood and left the table, nearly bumping into a man as she turned. He glowed, it seemed, showing white teeth in a debonair smile before drawing away. Sheila threw her a wink and a smile over shoulder.

She giggled and watched Sheila walk out the door. She picked up her book, removed the mark, and, gently biting her lip, resumed where she'd left off.


Friday, March 12, 2010

Her Italy

"John and Susan got in the car. They sat in silence. John didn't start the ignition. Susan stared out the windshield, avoiding John's eyes; avoiding every part of him. John did the same, staring down at the keys laying slack in his hand. He sighed. 'You know,' he started, 'You can't go forever without speaking to me.' Try me, Susan thought. She blinked and her dark curls shifted across the fur of her coat as she turned her neck, looking out the window. 'Okay, maybe you can,' John said. He sighed and finally inserted the key. He revved the engine over his thoughts."

I don't think this is going anywhere, Jordanna typed.

What are you talking about? Charlie replied.

This story, my story. What am I doing? Charlie, do you like your job?

I do. The people are cool and the work is really easy.

That's nice. I'm bored as hell.

The boss could be better, but what can you expect

As always

And they give a Christmas bonus

oh shut up, I'm not getting one

Oh. Sorry.

"Now that the car was moving, Susan's eyes drifted about the cityscape, which slowly melted into country on either side of the highway, reminding her of train rides through Tuscany with John. But that was when he was an artist. It was Their Italy."

You could always talk about Italy.

That's what I was doing, Charles.


"You know, he started suddenly."


"You know, he started suddenly, exasperated."

Emotion. Good.

"It was Their Italy, with food that made her tongue glisten."

Hey, can your tongue glisten?

Sounds dangerous. And kinda kinky.

I'll take that as a no.

"She thought of Their Italy: the food that melted on her tongue"

Already used 'melted'.

"She thought of Their Italy: the food that sang ballads to her senses and the men that did the same, before she met John, of course. Like Vittorio. At least she thought his name was Vittorio. At least she thought he was Italian. He was an actor. She didn't trust actors, but he kissed like a prince. He was probably an American named Kyle, but she still fell into his kisses like an autumn leaf."



What I just wrote.

What did you just write?

I can't tell you.

So what was the point of you telling me it was something you just wrote?

I don't know. Thought you mighta wanted to know.

"They met on the Spanish Steps. Susan had spent the day shopping and sightseeing. She plopped down on a step, letting her bags flail on either side of her in her desperation to get off her feet. She closed her eyes and lifted her face to the sky, where the sun was setting behind Via Condotti. She exhaled, smiling. When she opened them, he stood before her."

"She exhaled, smiling. When she opened her eyes, she caught a glimpse of the young man sitting a few steps below her. His body was turned away, but his face, toward her. Sunglasses perched on his dark-coiffed head, leather jacket; so Roman. She smiled again, bold and purposeful, like many a smile she'd given before. He smiled back, lips smooth across his face and the fading sunlight catching his"

"He smiled back, lips smooth across his face and his brown eyes catching the fading sunlight. She watched as he stood and ascended to her. He invited himself to sit next to her, though she would have done so if her Italian were a little more than 'tourist.'"

Jordanna blinked at her computer screen. She tilted her head, hoping it would shift something in her brain.

What happened next in the story escaped her, perhaps willingly. In that instance, her own memories of Italia slipped from her memory.

Or did she leave them, knowing they would never happen again?

She clicked the X at the corner of the screen of the document.

Well, I should get back to work now...on something.

Okay, ttyl.




Wednesday, January 21, 2009

We'll Always Remember What's to Come

The television blared as I rocked in my chair. I ran my hands along the wood arms, resting on the knobs that were clinched like fists. I still remember when I got it. My son gave it to me 30 years ago, for my 52nd birthday.

"A Georgetown rocker for my Hoya mom," he'd said grinning, himself a Hoya.

I smiled, tilting my head back on a small pillow. My eyes closed as they so often do on their own now. Even after years, your body never gets used to the effects of certain medicines. It always gives in, leaving me to sleep, at least, if not rest, at ease.

When they opened, my eyes rested on my husband, who sat in his arm chair next to me, but too far to reach. He sat up, fixated on the television.

"Look," he said. His voice had grown huskier as he aged, and only more debonair. "They're showing the ceremony." He pointed at the screen.

A young Black woman stood on the Presidential platform in front of the Capitol. Her husband, a tall, brown-skinned man with an easygoing smile, held President Lincoln's Bible, as she held up her right hand. Millions of people packed the National Mall. The crowd was veiled through red, as hundreds of thousands of American flags fluttered in the wind.

"I never thought I would see this," I confessed.

"Yeah, lawd," my husband said, smiling so wide I could see all of his dentures.

"Then again, that's not true," I continued. "I figured it would happen... Remember the first Black president? I mean, the very first one?"

He nodded. "How could I forget?" His eyes shined as they met mine.

"I remember the inauguration," I said, my eyes nostalgically drifting to the ceiling. "I wasn't going to go, since none of my friends wanted to come with me and stand out in the cold."

"Man, it was cold!"

"Wasn't it?" I shook my head, remembering the wind that cut across my nose and cheeks. "But it was January in Washington, DC. What a day. I was all the way back at the Washington Monument, by myself."

"But you weren't alone," he interjected. "You had two million of your closest friends there with you!"

I laughed. "I guess."

"I was there."

"No, you weren't."

"Yes, I was. And how would you know anyway? It's not like you could have seen me. Shoots. I had tickets. I was sitting right next to Beyonce."

"You lyin'!"

He chuckled. "I was there, though. Up the Mall, nowhere near the Capitol, though."

I sighed. "I couldn't believe he'd won. I should never have doubted."

He leaned forward in his chair. "You did vote for him right?"

I blinked at him.

"Okay, okay." He sat back. "I did, too. I didn't tell anybody, though. I was president of the Young Republicans at the time, so I couldn't go around telling all willynilly."

"What was the name of that woman?" I asked.

"What woman?"

"That woman. The Republican."


"No, that wasn't it."


"No... Oh, well."

We shrugged.

"I always remembered that day, though," I resumed, settling comfortably into the rocker. "No matter how much time goes by, I'll always remember walking a mile in the cold down to the Mall, hugging strangers after he said the oath. The weatherman said it would be cloudy, but the sun shined anyway. I remember that."

"We changed after that," my husband said. "I changed after that."

"We all did. That's when we got our fathers and our husbands back. That's when we killed fear and doubt. That's when we finally started believing that all things are possible."

"It was a call to do better, because we knew we were better."

I nodded, my eyes watering. I set my head back on the pillow as, onscreen, our new President shook hands with the old. She hugged her husband and children, before shaking other important hands.

I smiled, feeling the medicine course through my tired body. I closed my eyes, drifting to sleep.

"But it was just the beginning," I whispered.


Tuesday, June 10, 2008


Eryn held the pencil loosely between three fingers. The lead pressed the paper, indenting a small black hole in the blue line. She stared into the blank spaces on the page. She tapped the pencil on the sheet until a constellation of dots made a circle at the top of the page.

She sighed and set the pencil down. She cleared her throat and reached for the glass of water on the edge of the table. She swallowed and looked up at the kitchen light, inspecting it for bugs and the like until her retinas shrieked for mercy. She closed her eyes and lowered her head, afraid to open them to a blank page.

She belched and sighed again, finally opening her eyes. She set the glass down, smacked her idle hands together, and licked her lips. Page still blank.

Eryn slid out from the table, given the lack of space between it and the wall behind her. She made careful notes about the motion of her body as she walked a few steps, from the curl of her bare toes on the floor, to the tensing of her leg muscles, to the length her arm extended toward her computer on the opposite side of the table. Under her finger, her mouse screen was slick but tract. She rubbed the edges of the little square, still fresh after four years, unlike the middle that had worn smooth from oil and sweat from her fingers. Her joints popped quietly as she clicked the music player icon and selected a song.

She walked to the downbeat of the song, back to her side of the table, and retook her place in front of the paper. She picked up the pencil and tilted the page, ready, in case a musical note struck her the right way and words began to fall involuntarily from her hands. She struck the side of the pencil, ticking the lead inside to the beat of the high-hat drum in the music. She closed her eyes again, hoping to see the music dance as her ears swallowed it.

The scene behind her lids was fuzzy, like that of a snow globe with too much snow.

In the fog, she could make out the forms of a man, a woman, and a dance floor. The male and female shadows danced together in the dust. Gradually, silhouettes of other people appeared, lingering around the edges of the floor, their faces blotted out like on a crime show.

A shimmer of red flashed across Eryn’s vision. As the song ended, her imagination faded to black before she could question it.

Her eyes opened to the page where, now, one word sat, perched innocuously on a blue line.


She peered at the word as if it’d appeared by magic. She inhaled. Underneath it, she added, “solitude.”

She tossed down the pencil and her shoulders relaxed, as if the pencil had weighed 10 pounds. Her eyes wandered about her kitchen as she thought.

She closed her eyes again suddenly, trying to strike the same match twice. But she still couldn’t make out the figures.

She stood up quickly, slamming the chair against the wall. She marched to the fridge and yanked the door open. She snatched up a bottle of American ale and popped off the top with the can opener. Down the hall, in the living room, she fell into the soft pillows of the couch, reached for the remote, and turned on the TV.


Thursday, June 05, 2008

What I Talk About When I Talk About Love

"Can you not do that?"

"Do what?"

"Flip channels like that. It makes me dizzy."

"I have to see what's on."

"Hello, it's called the TV Guide Channel."

"Yeah, but that just gives you the titles. I want to get the essence of the show."

"Oh brother. Hey, stop there! CSI!"

"This one time, I was on my way to work--"


"--Minding my own business, walking down the street, when I turn the corner, and BAM. Cops, laying out the white sheet."

"No way."


"You saw a dead body laying on the sidewalk on your way to work?"

"That's what I said."

"Did you CSI it?"

"I don't think the cops needed my help."

"Yeah. I don't like CSI Miami. I'm more a New York kind of girl. You can change it."

"I thought you didn't like it when I flipped channels."

"Eh, can't have everything. Oh wait -- What Not to Wear!"


"Sex and the City!"

"Hell no....Yankees game!"

"Ugh, men. Although, is that Derek Jeter?... Wait, I was watching that!"

"I'll find something else. Movies, movies. Casino Royale?"

"Fine by me."

"'I'm Bond, James Bond.'"

"You wish."

"Are you going to talk the whole movie?"

"You're the one talking now!"

"Nuh-uh, you are!"

"Be quiet, you're going to miss the good part--when he falls in love."


"Yes. You love us."


"What's that supposed to mean?"

"Here we go again..."

"Oh, leave me alone."

"Can you stop sighing like that?"

"I'm not sighing, I just can't breathe over your cologne."

"You're funny."

"Yeah, yeah, yeah. What are you doing?"

"it's your turn to be remote commando."

"Awww, thanks. You're gonna love this episode of Sex and the City."




Charlie whistled softly to the music streaming from his iPod. The cart of books squeaked as he pushed it along the waxed floor. He turned down an aisle and shelved a book back in its proper place. He glanced back at the cart; only three rows left. He grimaced and pushed the cart onward.

A shadow turned around a shelf and met Charlie face to face.

"Oh, excuse me."

"I'm sorry," Charlie said.

The shadow, now in full form, smiled shyly. Her dark brown hair fell around her plump face as she looked down for a moment. She raked it back and peered up into Charlie's face.

"You work here, right?" She asked.

Charlie noticed her blue eyes next. Blue the ocean or the sky or something like that. "Yeah," he finally said.

"Um, this is a little random but--"

Charlie's breath stopped two inches short of his lungs. He cracked his mouth ope to let air in, but closed it quickly.

The girl giggled a little. "There's a woman...praying in the reading room. She's being kinda loud and we're all trying to study...

His lips set into a line. He sighed inside. "Okay. I'll see what I can do."

He followed her swift stride to the reading room. Students, eyebrows furrowed and lips curled, sat at tables scattered around the room. Books and papers lay strewn in front of them, but their attention lay in the back corner. Charlie walked slowly to the kneeling woman. He ducted at times, dodging her rapidfire Arabic.

"Um, excuse'am?"

She continued her prayer, ignoring Charlie, or just unable to hear him.

Charlie looked around. The cute girl's eyes nudged him. He took a deep breath.

"I'm sorry but--" He yelled, just as the woman stopped. She sat up and rolled up her mat. She tucked it into her totebag by her table. She sat down at her open notes and resumed reading where she'd apparently left off.

Charlie looked around the room again. Everyone resumed reading. The cute girl shrugged and returned to her table, where both her notes and her boyfriend sat.

Charlie just blinked and left.


Friday, January 11, 2008

Reading Eve

Rain slid down the windows. We sat in dim light, with lamps shining down on our open books. I sat on the floor, watching Eve, reading her as if she were my history notes.

She lay on my bed, chin propped on her fist. She scribbled in notebook once in a while. Her black hair glowed in the lamp that shined on her like a spotlight. She kicked her feet back and forth slowly. She wore shorts, despite the cold outside. Her legs were long, with wispy hairs just along her shins. Her silhouette fell on the wall, curving more at her nose and lips.

"My dad died in Vietnam," I said, hoping she would turn to face me.

Eve didn't move. "Liar."

I shrugged and smiled. "I felt like talking."

"You should be feeling like studying," she replied, eyes still focused on her textbook.

"I'm just a little distracted, is all."

The eyelashes of her shadow blinked. "Do you want some tea?"

I shrugged again, then nodded. She set her pen down and climbed off my bed. As she stepped over me to my makeshift cupboard, her perfume found its way to my nose.

I sat up and leaned against my roommate's bed. "Is that Chanel?"

"Yeah," she answered, picking two tea bags from the box. "How'd you know?"

"My sister has it." Smells better on you, though, I thought.

She smiled. "How old is she?"

"A year younger, nineteen."

"She doesn't go here," Eve both asked and declared.

"Yeah, no, she goes to Spelman."

"Hm." She poured hot water into blue and black mugs and plunked the tea bags up and down. She left them in, the string dangling off the side. She handed me the blue mug. "You know, you shouldn't tell lies like that. About your dad."

I shrugged, taking a sip of the tea. I swallowed, and the hot water stung my throat. "I just wanted to get your attention," I confessed.

She sat back on my bed. She stared intently into her tea, jostling the bag. "You sure shrug alot," she said. "Tell me more about your sister."

I told Eve what she would want to know, that Courtney had graduated third in her high school class, and was accepted to Georgetown, Harvard, and NYU, but chose Spelman over all of them for "the experience that would most enrich her whole person." And I told her how she played soccer, tennis, and violin, and how I nearly gouged out a classmate's eyeballs for oogling her when she was in seventh grade.

"What does she look like?" Eve asked.

"Me, just shorter and with longer hair. And a girl."

"I think I would have to see her," she said. "My sister and I look nothing alike. We both took after our fathers."

"You don't have the same dad?"

She cut her eyes to mine, precise as a ruler's edge. "No."

Thunder hummed outside. Wind raked through the trees, sending rain splattering onto the window.

We sat in silence for a long moment, both of us drinking tea and me thinking about Eve.

"I bet I can read your mind," she said, setting her tea down on the floor by the bed.

"Really?" I smiled. "How?"

"I just can."

"Do it, then."


We stared at each other.

"You have to think about something first, duh."

I chuckled. I looked into her eyes, a brown made honey by the lamp.

"I believe you love me," she declared without a lull in her voice or a smile on her lips. "And you're not sure I feel the same way."

I blinked. I covered up my mind like a stranger had intruded on me showering. I gulped. "Do you?"

She shrugged this time, and lay back on my bed. "So that means you really do love me."

My ears grew hot in an instant. "I didn't say that."

She inhaled and exhaled visibly. "Were you going to tell me more about your sister?"

I sighed. "She's cool. You'd like her. She studies psychology. She's dating this kid from Morehouse."

"You're not gonna gouge out his eyeballs." She smiled.

"Maybe," I said. My head lightened when I saw her smile.

"I wonder if they've been...involved." She stared at the ceiling.

I'd rather not think about that, I meant to say. I could hardly think of Courtney kissing anyone, much less doing more. I wondered how many guys Eve had kissed. Or more.

"Two," she said, sitting up again.


"Two. I've only ever kissed two guys."

I shrunk my eyes at her.

"I told you I could read your mind," she said.

"What makes you so sure?"

"I don't know. I just can. I can read you like a book I wrote myself."

She smiled wide, letting the words escape more easily from her lips. Her lips, which I could have lunged for at that very moment.

But she must have known that.

She shrank away, back onto my bed with her tea. "We should get back to studying," she said.

I pulled my textbook close to me. Reading history would always be easier than reading Eve.