One Saturday in the middle of November, Aunt Camilla came to visit. She hugged everyone cheerfully, investigated her nieces about potential boyfriends like aunts do and teased the boys with uncalled-for advice about always using protection. Then she rushed to the dinning room and spent the rest of the afternoon there, chatting with her sisters over a cup of tea.
“This will be my last year in representation, I’m afraid. I feel like I can’t keep up with the new girls on our team – but I’m turning forty so it’s understandable.”
Carlie showed up, too, much to Tori’s delight.
T: “Carlie! Long time, no see, huh? How are you doin’? Are you still painting?”
C: “Oh, come on, Tori. Painting is for idiots that have no life.”
T: “Uhm, okay then. So what are you up to these days?”
C: “I’m glad you asked – that’s what I wanted to talk about! there’s this awesome party happening in Windenburg next week and I want you to come with me. My dad lives there, so we can stay at his place.”
T: “Sounds great! But I don’t know. I’m not old enough to attend a party like that and my parents…”
C: “Boohooo! Little baby is scared of her parents. Do they still change your diapers, too?”
T: “No, but…”
C: “Gee, what’s wrong with you? Don’t be such a stuck up moron. It’ll be the best night of your life. Dancing, boys, juice…everything. You’d be stupid not to come, seriously.”
T: “I didn’t say I’m not coming. I’ll go! Just calm down, please.”
Etta was on the way to her room, when she overheard the end of the conversation. She didn’t like it. But the worst part was just about to come. Because in that moment, Carlie opened the door and saw her standing there with a guilty face.
The heck? You were eavesdropping on us? How pathetic!”
“I guess I have to ask you to come, too. Lucky for you, I’m generous like that, so yeah… you can come with us to the party, Etta.”
“Thanks, Carlie, but I have work soon in the morning every day and I can’t skip it. And I have to study for my science project. me and my team are supposed to test different metal conductors to…”
“Who cares. This is the annual Summer Soltice Dance Party of Windernburg. It’s the party of the year, you bimbo.”
E: “I’m not really into that, I’m afraid.”
C: “Oh, whatever. I didn’t want you to come anyway. You’d just spoil all the fun.”
E: “Then why did you ask me in the first place?”
C: “Because I’m nice like that, obviously. I should have known better. Next time, I won’t bother with a lame nerd like you. See ya!”
Confused and upset, Etta retreated to the safety of the room and tried to comfort herself with a book.
It worked a bit, but just when she was getting to the really thrilling, suspenseful part, Amon walked in and sat beside her. Etta could tell he just returned home from a date with Brylee – he still smelled like her perfume.
A: “Hey, Etta! You busy?”
“Uhmm, kind of, yes. Do you need something?”
Etta was cautious. She didn’t know what this was about, but it was suspicious to say the least. She couldn’t remember last time Amon came into the girls’ room. If ever.
A: “I was wondering if you could help me with my homework.”
E: “I could. But I’m not… I probably don’t know much about the topics you study, since your two classes above me and everything. You should ask Seth.”
A: “Yeah, Seth! You know how nice and helpful he is – I bet he would strangle me in my sleep if he could figure out how to do it without becoming a prime suspect.”
E: “You’re too hard on him, he’s not that bad… But I see your point. So what do you need?”
A: “So, I’m supposed to write this essay about a certain book – The eyes were watching Watcher or something along that line – and…”
“You mean Their eyes were watching God? Oh, that’s a wonderful book, Amon! You’re lucky to be writing an essay about that one. I hope one day we’ll get the assignment, too!”
A: “Or! You could write it now, maybe? Just in case the curriculum changes in two years or something.”
E: “You mean like…write it for you?”
A: “Well, I didn’t say that. But it’s a good idea. So what do you say?”
E: “I don’t know. I think you should read it – it’ll do you no harm. Besides, it’s a wonderful book with powerful themes such as judgment, isolation and unconditional love…”
A: “It’s a book about a middle aged woman analyzing her marriages, Etta. It’s boring as plum and absolutely unreadable. Please.”
“Middle aged women are people, too, and it would really open your mind to see their point of view. Watcher knows you need that.”
E: “So. I’ll help you with the essay, but only after you read the book. I’ll answer any questions and discuss everything with you and…”
A: “Right. That’s what I thought – you’re just like Seth. Condescending and arrogant and convinced that you’re better than anyone else because youre so well-read and cultured.”
A: “Well, guess what. I’m not interested in your plum, so keep your lecturing for someone who cares.”
And with that, he left. Etta just sat there, stunned and perplexed.
‘What on earth has just happened?’
She couldn’t stop thinking about it for hours. It was still bothering her when Aleksey, her classmate, showed up to work on the physics project. She was so distressed that even Aleksey noticed it. He’s never seen her so unfocused.
A: “Hmm, Etta, are you okay?”
E: “Do you think I’m a bad person, Aleksey? We’re not friends, so you have nothing to lose. Just tell me.”
A: “What? NO! You’re a great person. You’re smart and kind and driven…
“…and just great! The greatest girl, I mean, classmate… yes, the greatest classmate I like. I mean have. The greatest classmate I have!”
E: “It’s just that… maybe I appear arrogant or pretentious to some people…”
A: “Don’t listen to those people. They’re just jealous because they wanna be like you and they can’t.”
A: “Because you’re one of a kind.”
Etta scanned the boy. She knew him from school, but not very well. Up to this point they only talked about homeworks. Suddenly, though, he felt like a friend to her. His expression was sincere and his smile warm. He looked like he meant it.
E: “Well, that’s…that’s nice of you to say. I mean, really nice. So, ehm… Thank you.”