Adrian settled his black sneakers over a dandelion that had broken through the cracks between the cement tiles that made up the walk to Lillie Green’s front door. He ran his hand through his hair, straightened his jacket. The dance was tonight, but they weren’t going dancing. If he was honest with himself, he should have ran an article in the Chronicle castigating the school for holding one 375 days after Angela’s murder. Maybe people were waiting for him to object, but the last thing he wanted was to turn the paper was feeling was more and more like *his* paper into a pulpit. And he’d seen Footloose, nothing would keep a gym full of high school students from dancing, not even the first anniversary of the loss of one of their own.
He’d rather be sweating under the lights, with the dyspeptic Fall Valley kids, sipping that punch, recreating that hell in perfect detail than standing at the front door of Lillie Green’s house. Adrian couldn’t remember the last time he spent any time at the front of the house, he’d been here a hundred times or more, but always, the muscle memory walked up to the steps and had him hunch down below the glass window to creep around the spiky, overgrown juniper bush and to the chain-link gate where if he could just be sure to open it quietly, it was a clear shot back through the yard, into the woods.
But tonight was the night. He would be eighteen in a matter of hours. And they had an agenda to discuss.
Willy Green sat there with his chair against the peeling white paint on the front porch, an open beer bottle between his fingers. There were three empty ones dropped next to him. with his neck sort of craned about, said nothing to him. Trying to be casual, Adrian’s eyes met his, without a moment’s hesitation or challenge, he flinched and turned his eyes to the bank of trees to the west that formed the fence line. Adrian couldn’t catch his gaze again, so he took a step forward. Without turning a degree back to face him, his voice tremulous, as if he saw some sort of mountain lion striding across his thirsty patch of lawn, looking to pounce. “You just stay right over there, now. No need to come up bothering me. You just…STOP.”
Adrian stopped. “Hey there, Mr. Green.” Lillie pushed open the screen door and slipped out and in a few quick steps was halfway down the three rickety stairs onto the pavers. Lillie wrapped her arm around his waist and indicated rather than pulled him toward the car. “Come on. He doesn’t care, so..he doesn’t care.” So Lillie had drunk some of the gin without him; he could smell it on her lips. She shrugged, the quiet, plodding, exhausted quality to her . But he wasn’t upset.
Okay, so it’s awful, it’s awful, universe, I know, but i’ll fix it up before I share it and I wrote it and it’s written and it’s done.