Page 29

She blushed some more and I loved it. “Anyway, so each day, I get a new word.”

“Let me see that.” She handed me her phone. I scrolled through it and started typing.

“What are you doing?”

“Adding my number so you’ll text me the new word if it’s something brilliant, but we aren’t together. And now I’m memorizing your number so I can text you all of my brilliant thoughts and knowledge on the world as a whole.”

“Oh, I look forward to a complete in-depth explanation as to why the chicken crossed the road.” Before I could reply to her sarcastic remark, Simon came walking up to the table like a zombie and plopped down.

“You okay, Simon?” I asked. Aria gave him the same worrisome expression I was delivering.

“I missed first hour,” he muttered.

Aria’s hand landed over her heart. “Oh no!”

A chuckle passed through me as I took a bite of something that was slimy and kind of gray; the lunch ladies were trying to pass it off as turkey and gravy, but they weren’t fooling me. It was pig slop. “So? I’ve missed whole days. Aria has missed weeks.”

“I had the flu!” she argued. I gave her a half smile. Her lips turned up.

“No…you don’t understand. I missed first hour,” Simon said, pounding his head against the palms of his hands.

“Simon has never, ever, ever missed a day of school. Not even a class. He has a perfect record,” Aria explained.

“Had,” he corrected. “Had. Had. Had!”

His face was turning red with irritation and even though I should’ve known it wasn’t the right time to ask him, I really needed to know exactly why he was late. “Did you oversleep or something?”

“What? No. Never. I set four different alarm clocks. But, when I was in the kitchen this morning, I had a twitch in my hand while pouring my orange juice and the whole container dropped, spilling everywhere.”

“Oh no!” Aria said, her hand flying over her mouth. I didn’t understand. They were acting as if Simon was announcing he’d murdered someone in cold blood.

“Yup.” Simon nodded, his eyes shifting away from any form of eye contact. “It went everywhere. My dad already left for work, and Mom was off to a doctor’s appointment.”

“You should’ve called me,” Aria scolded her best friend. For…spilling orange juice…?

“I couldn’t. I was scrubbing away.”

“It’s not really that big of a deal. Don’t let it get to ya,” I said, chugging my chocolate milk.

“Not a big deal?” he argued, raising his voice an octave. “Not a big deal?! I had a perfect record! It was perfect! And now…” His head fell to the table, and he groaned some more. “Now I’m just imperfect.”

I was having a hard time telling if Simon was being serious or not. I couldn’t imagine ever having a complete meltdown over missing one class period. Heck, I would’ve actually been ecstatic to miss first hour calculus.

While I continued to eat my mystery lunch and Aria comforted her distressed friend, I looked up to see the same girl I’d seen the day before at the hospital. Her face was paler than it had been, but she was moving as quick as ever with her tray in her hand.

“Hey, y’all? Who’s that girl?” I asked, nodding in her direction.

“You mean Awkward Abigail?” Simon said.

I arched an eyebrow. “Huh?”

“Awkward Abigail. She’s the weirdest girl in this school,” he said, tapping his fingers against the table. “A total freak.”

I wondered if he knew how odd it was for him to be calling her a freak when half of the school called him the same thing. I held my hand up in Abigail’s direction and waved her over. “Hey, Abigail.”

“Holy crap, Levi! What are you doing?!” Simon hissed. “You can’t call her over here! That’s social suicide and my social status is already in jeopardy.”

“She seems like a nice girl,” I said, waving her over.

When she approached us with her tray in hands, she tapped her high heels rapidly against the floor. “What is it? Were you calling me? I thought you were calling me over.”

“I was,” I said. “I’m Levi. I just wanted to see if you wanted to eat lunch with me and my friends.”

Her eyes darted back and forth between Aria and Simon. “You want me to eat with you? They’ve never wanted me to eat with them before and I’ve known them since sixth grade.”

She was very forward, and I kind of liked that about her. “Yeah, but I’m pretty sure they changed their minds today, right, guys?” Aria and Simon remained silent. I nudged my foot against Aria’s under the table. “Right, guys?”

Aria raised an eyebrow at me, but nodded. “Right. Yeah, sit down, Awk—Abigail.”

Abigail’s eyes moved to the large clock in the cafeteria and then to her watch. “I only have three minutes to join you.”

“Three minutes sounds great,” I said. She placed her tray down beside me and the four of us sat in weird silence, just staring back and forth at one another.

“Did you Google it, Aria?” Abigail asked.

“Google what?” Aria replied.

“Marcus Aurelius. Remember? Remember I told you to Google him?”

“Oh…right…I haven’t found the time yet.”

“During the Renaissance, people were learning different languages, instruments, painting, building skills, and also fighting off deadly plagues. The fact that our generation now can hardly look up quotes is quite disheartening because we aren’t really doing much with our lives.” The three of us sat quietly, watching Abigail go on and on. She glanced at her watch. “I only have one minute left to sit with you guys.”