In Between Lives: Chapter Four

9th July, 1987.

“They say there are rattle snakes here.”

I look up from the book I’m reading—Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut—and squint up at a silhouette shading me from the scorching Texas sun. I’m lying on my back on the grass in Just Marjorie’s redundant backyard and sit up ungracefully when the intruder speaks.

I can see better now. It’s Kevin.

“Who’s they?” I ask.

He waves his hand around, gesturing vaguely, “You know, the people—“He pauses, “That’s not the point.”

“What is, then?”

“Waffles.”

“Waffles?”

“Waffles.”

Kevin grins at me. He looks good when he grins. Less squirrel and more Devil may care.

I stare back impassively.

“There’s a great place I know that serves phenomenal waffles. Betty’s. Ten minutes from here.” He raises his eyebrows in question.

“And you are telling me this why?” I know why, I just like watching him squirm.

He sighs and pushes his hands deep into the pockets of his leather jacket, which, by the way, is two sizes too small for him. He’s wearing a t-shirt that says Rock n Roll Lives On.

“Okay. Have earth shatteringly delicious breakfast with me, neighbor?” He asks; hope coating each word like sugar on donuts. Wow, Texas is getting to me.

I want to smile. I almost do, before I catch myself.

After a moment of thought, I get up.

“Alright, lead the way.” I decide I will have breakfast—just breakfast—with Kevin, solely because he warned me about rattle snakes. And because I like his t-shirts.

This is a onetime thing, I promise myself.

Promises are fifty percent hope and fifty percent lies.

As it turns out, the waffles were, in fact, phenomenal.

“So you’re from New York?” Kevin asks as he finishes his waffles, bacon and eggs.

I nod and nibble on my breakfast.

“What brought you to Texas?”

I shrug, “Just wanted to spend some time with my Aunt. She has been insisting I visit since I was fourteen and wearing braces.”

His face lights up, “I would really like to see a picture of that.”

“I’m sure you would.” I mumble.

Kevin proceeds to tell me that he, too, is turning eighteen and is considering NYU for college (along with UDub and UCLA, there’s no pattern there, I know). He loves to travel and ride horses and is a massive fan of The Pretenders. I tell him I think they’re only okay and he looks at me like I told him I eat babies for desert.

We have now been sitting at this diner for God knows how long and sometime from The Pretenders to now, I’ve started enjoying myself—laughing at Kevin’s jokes and whipping out witty retorts I didn’t know I had. It’s almost like the last few gloomy years of my life never happened. Almost.

I also started noticing how green Kevin’s eyes are behind his faux-stylish glasses and how his expression always settles back to vague amusement and something else as I talk.

We leave from the diner and listen to—no, not The Pretenders, thankfully—David Bowie on the car stereo.

We’re sitting in his car, parked outside Just Marjorie’s house now.

“This might seem forward,” Kevin begins, his green eyes happy, “but I think you may be the coolest person in this entire town. Granted, our population is only 2,900 people, but still.”

“I’m flattered you think I’m more interesting than 2,899 old Texans.” I say.

He grins, “I’m charming, that way.”

After a moment where both of us are quiet, as though waiting for something to happen, I figure it’s probably my vacancy of his car seat, so I get out.

Kevin calls out to me as I’m halfway to the porch. I turn around.

He’s wearing a mischievous grin on his face.

“You have grass in your hair. Did you know?”

I touch my hair reflexively and sure enough, come in contact with a clump of grass from Just Marjorie’s backyard.

Kevin drives off, his laughter trailing behind him, evaporating into the hot afternoon.

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