“Yo Pipes, my cousin’s friend thinks you’re hot.”
Piper glanced up from her phone, her eyes glazed over. She was texting, but when Dupont didn’t go away, she slid her phone into the back pocket of her jeans and sighed. “What now?” Her eyes bounced off of him and to the crowd of students making their way out the front doors. The burden of having a popular sister… I rolled my eyes.
Dupont stepped in front of her, blocking her view so he could have her full attention.
“My cousin’s friend. He wants to know if you want to hang out at the mall sometime.”
I finished loading my books into my backpack and slammed my locker making them both jump. I gave Piper a look, and we started walking. It was three o’clock on a Friday, the bell had rung, and it wasn’t raining. We could make it home dry if we hurried.
“Why would I want to hang out with your cousin’s friend?”
Dupont shrugged like he didn’t really care, but I could tell that wasn’t the case. He was stuck to Piper’s side, hedging her like I’d seen him do on the court.
“Shouldn’t you be at practice?” I asked. He ignored me.
Chris Dupont was a hustler in a beanie. Piper felt comfortable giving him an attitude because she was higher on the food chain; if she didn’t laugh at his jokes, no one would. I, on the other hand, was afraid of him. He had a way of knowing your weakness and using it against you.
“Stop acting like you’re too good for people, Piper, damn! You want to hang out with him, trust me. He’s a senior. Not at this school…”
I rolled my eyes, anticipating how long this would take. I’d skipped lunch to finish my algebra homework, and I was hungry.
“Pipe, let’s go.” I nagged, tugging on her arm. Her phone buzzed in her back pocket, she took it out, frowning at the screen. For a moment her face looked so distraught I wanted to ask her what was wrong? My hand was still on her arm, she shrugged it off, annoyed. I felt stupid: she’d been like this with me: vague…distant.
“Who’s your cousin’s friend?” My sister looked pointedly at Dupont. “And how exactly does this creeper know me?”
Excerpt continues below cover reveal.
She started walking, long rose-gold waves bouncing against her back. I kept mine short and used gel to matte it down–which made my hair look darker than hers. We launched after her like minnows, darting through bodies to keep up. I looked over at Dupont resentfully, but he didn’t seem to notice.
“Come on, Piper, everyone knows you. At all the schools. Before you danced for Jesus, you danced for us!”
That earned him a scalding look. Piper quickened her pace, but he slid into step beside her, knocking me out of the way. I harrumphed but hung back while he finished his appeal.
“I didn’t know you were matchmaking now,” she smarted without looking at him. I was endlessly impressed by how cool she was without even trying. How did we share a womb?
We were fifteen feet away from the door and freedom. I could practically taste my sandwich…
“He’s on the Wildcats football team, but that is all I’m saying.”
That’s all he had to say. Piper was interested. I stepped over someone’s lunch, bologna and mayo ground into the concrete. She was barely fifteen, but she had a definite type. Lately, my formerly boy crazy sister’s type had been Jesus.
The school was behind us now; we walked with the flow of traffic, me holding the straps of my backpack as I trailed them.
“Why can’t he ask me himself?” Her voice was different—Dupont owned her in that moment. He seemed to know it too because he danced around, giving her the finger until she pinched him playfully on the arm. He had her full attention.
“Ouch! Okay! I’ll tell you!” he said, laughing. “His parents took his phone away, that’s all I know. He saw you at the game and asked about you.”
“What game?” I heard her ask, though she knew exactly which one. Piper liked that, the chase was her game.
“His last name is Crimball.”
Dupont had just dropped her crush’s name, and she looked bored. Piper had no reaction. I had to give it to her, girl was hardcore.
“Why would I want to meet him?”
Dupont started laughing. He bent over like one of those dancing sock puppets and slapped his knee twice before straightening up. “Because every bitch in that school would spread for Crimball.” Lifting his arms straight up, he twisted his torso left, then right, then left again. His back cracked, and I frowned. He was right, but Piper was a sophomore and Matt was a senior. My sister was beautiful, smart, and talented, but so were plenty of juniors and seniors.
“I have to give him an answer,” Dupont said. “Don’t shoot the messenger… How about Saturday?”
We stopped at a red light as Piper considered this. “Oh, all right then, I guess I can.” She looked back at me like I was her personal assistant. “We were going to the mall anyway, remember? I guess we could say hey or whatever…”
I nodded dutifully. There were spicy pickles in the fridge, I could use the leftover roast beef from dinner and—
“Awesome,” Dupont said. He smiled at Piper, shot an air gun at me, and shuffled off to go hustle someone else.
“We were going to see a movie,” I said as the light turned green. I’d been waiting to see that movie for weeks, and Piper promised she’d go with me.
“Not anymore,” Piper shot back. I recognized the look on her face and knew I was fucked.
“You take Sundays, now you want Saturdays as well?”
“It’s not my fault we go to church, Iris. I just leaned into what Gran made us do.” She was right but I didn’t care. We both used to complain about church all the time, then all of a sudden I was the only one complaining. It felt like a betrayal: for her to start liking something we’d hated together.
Later that night, when I was helping Gran make dinner, she asked if I was excited to see the movie. We were moving around each other to get to things, the kitchen a mere sliver of space. I heard the hiss of something in the frying pan, the tv playing in the living room. The commercial was about yogurt and everyone was dancing.
“We’re going to the mall instead.” I was dismissive as I stood over the sink, rinsing vegetables. Gran leaned over from the stove to stare at me. She was wearing a lavender sweater set underneath a lime green apron.
“You were born six minutes apart. Not six years, you know…you don’t have to go along with whatever she wants.”
“It’s fine, Gran.” I could hear the exasperation in my own voice. I dumped lettuce into a bowl with a handful of cherry tomatoes, and grabbed the Ranch from the fridge.
“Will there be boys?” She held up the spatula as she glared at me, meat popping in oil.
“You look like a neon demon,” I told her.
“Don’t let her out of your sight,” Gran said firmly. “I mean it. I’m not raising her babies.”
I couldn’t voice the irony even if I wanted to—that Gran was referring to the twin who actually went to church. Regardless, if Gran told me not to let her out of my sight, that’s exactly what I’d do.
“What about me, who watches me?”
She rolled her eyes. “You take care of yourself, it’s my favorite thing about you…”
I was so shocked by her words that I froze. What a thing to say, I thought, hands cradling the wooden salad bowl. Gran flipped the patties, oblivious.
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