Chapter 5 – January 4A

The third Wednesday

“Hey.” Among the sound salad of the Bark Bay High School hallway (locker doors schu-shing opening and klack-klunk closing, wait up basketball Saturday no no NO shit!, a laughing scream, underneath the sound of clumping shoes on the tiled floor), The Bird was able to detect (perhaps because she seemed to recognize the voice) that one word uttered from behind was intended just for her.

She turned, a taller student brushing past her in annoyance. Approaching her was the round body of Butch, the tow-headed boy she knew from fencing. It occurred to her that she respond, but she did not know how she should respond, because she had never been called out in the hall like now, and did not care for this new experience. But not only had it happened, she had acknowledged it, and now that she stopped and turned and faced this boy Butch she had to say something. But she could only think of one thing to say.

Hey.

Butch stopped, smiled, took in a deep breath. He seemed winded. “Talked — to my parents last night. They said — ” another deep breath — “I can go to the play tomorrow.”

That’s great, The Bird replied.

“But — they can’t take me. I need a ride.” He looked at her plaintively.

The Bird blinked. Well, she said, Mr. Jacobs said everybody who was going should meet in the parking lot after school.

“Oh! Coach Dan, right?” The Bird nodded. “So he’s going to drive us up?”

Some of us, she replied. He doesn’t have enough room in his car for everybody.

“Oh! So some of us can’t go?”

No. I think somebody else is driving too.

“Oh! Probably Double-J. You driving with him?”

No, I’m — ”

“Coach Dan? You’re going in his car?” The Bird shook her head. “You’re not going?”

No. I mean, yes. I’m going up with my mother.

“Oh! So she’s going to watch the play with us?”

The Bird blinked. No, she’s in the play. She’s Gertrude.

“Oh! I didn’t know you’re mother’s name was Gertrude.”

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