posted on 10-Sep-2002 7:25:10 PM by Ashley
M/L. A/U. PG-13.

Let me know what you think.

Part 1

“Okay, just so we’re clear on this, you know this is fake, right?” I ask, staring at the screen.

“What?” He asks, tearing his eyes away from the staged fight playing out before him.

“Pro wrestling.” I reply, looking at him. “It’s all fake.”

His mouth opens a little, as if to dispute my words, but closes quickly. His eyes glance from the screen to me.

“Max, please tell me you didn’t think it was real.” I laugh, grabbing the remote and hitting the mute button.

“I knew it was fake.” He says, unconvincingly. “I mean, obviously it’s fake.”

A huge smile forms on my face and I scoot closer to him, forming a fist.

“You are such a loser. You thought it was real.” I say, turning my attention back to the television set.

“You’d have to be an idiot to think that it was real.” He says, but he knows I’m not buying any of it.

And as he looks down to hide his embarrassment, I punch him as hard as I can in the shoulder.

“Ow!” He yelps. “What was that for?”

“I’ll show you real wrestling.” I say, then leap onto him.

Five minutes later he has me pinned to the floor, tickling my sides even though he knows I hate it.

“Say it, Parker.” He says, in between tickles.

“Never!” I yell, gasping for air.

“Say it.” He taunts.

I hold my lips together, willing myself to stick it out. Every time we fight, he always gets me to say it.

“You won’t last.” He grins, knowing I’ll eventually cave.

“Alright, alright.” I say, giving up. “Max Evans is the greatest football player in the world. He’s a love machine that never stops. Thousands of girls want him and I, Elizabeth Jane Parker, would gladly make out with him any time.”

He lets go and I sit up quickly, getting in one last revenge kick before he can get away. He puts the pillows back on the couch, making sure they’re all in place. For as long as I’ve known him, Max has been a neat freak. I once caught him organizing my sock drawer according to thickness.

“Just for the record, I would never make out with you.” I say, searching for the remote.

“Oh yeah you would.” He replies, full of self-confidence. “No woman can resist my wily charms.”

“I’m sure belching the alphabet gets them every time.” I say, flopping down on the couch.

“Max!” Isabel’s voice calls out from the kitchen. “Phone!”

I roll my eyes, already knowing who it is: Sierra, Max’s ditzy girlfriend. Max obviously knows it’s her too because he jumps up suddenly, practically running towards the phone.

“Calm down! It’s not like I was going to hang it up if you didn’t get there in five seconds.” Isabel says, walking into the family room.

“Sierra?” I ask, just to confirm what I already know.

By the look of disgust on her face, my question is answered. Isabel despises Sierra just as much as I do. I don’t know what Max sees in her. She’s hyperactive and fake. Exactly the person you can’t picture Max with. Which is why the whole school nearly had a heart attack when they started dating two years ago.

“I know this sounds harsh, but I had a fifty dollar bet with Peter Stewart that they’d only last two weeks.” She says, sitting down in the recliner.

“Isabel! He’s your brother, not a horse.” I say, shaking my head.

“I’m sorry. Please don’t tell him.” She says, her eyes pleading.

“Okay, I won’t.” I start, leaning forward. “But only if you promise not to tell him that I made a hundred dollar bet with Michael Guerin that she’d dump him for Stan Williams.”

She laughs, taking a sip from her cup. I’ve known Isabel just as long as I’ve known Max, she’s the big sister I never had. She’s the one that talked to me about guys, my period, and what not to eat in the cafeteria at school.

“Okay, I’ll see you in a few minutes.” Max says, walking into the room and sitting next to me. “No, I love you. I love you more. You’re so sweet.”

I hate it when Max is around her. He goes from typical male asshole to Enrique Iglesias in three seconds flat.

“Bye. No you say it last.” He says, grinning from ear to ear. “No, you. You. Bye. Bye. Okay, one, two, three. Are you still there? You were supposed to hang up. Bye.”

I grab the phone from him.

“Max, you can chat about Sierra’s big ass later.” I say into the receiver, then hit the ‘Off’ button.

Max gets a look of horror on his face. He knows that I don’t care for Sierra, but he doesn’t realize how deeply I dislike her.

“Parker! Why the hell would you do that? You know how insecure she can get.” He says, angrily grabbing the phone out of my hands.

He dials her number, walking up the stairs to his room. Max and I never really fight. It’s usually petty stuff that we forget about five minutes later. In fact, the only time we ever really get into it is when he ditches me for Sierra. But me, being the loyal best friend, forgives him. After two years, I’m pretty used to it. I’m the stand-in, always on call when Sierra is too busy to go out with him.

“I should probably go. Once he calms her down, which could be hours, he’ll just come lecture me on my sarcasm and when and when not to use it.” I say, standing and grabbing my book bag.

“Good idea.” Isabel says, chipping off her nail polish. “Bail before all hell breaks loose and leave me to clean up the aftermath.”

“That’s basically all you’re good for.” I reply, stepping into my flip-flops and opening the front door.

“Screw you, Parker.” She calls after me.

[ edited 3 time(s), last at 15-Nov-2002 4:58:47 PM ]
posted on 25-Sep-2002 10:50:15 PM by Ashley
Sorry about the long delay, but I'm so busy that I can barely find the time to write.

Let me know what you think.

Part 2

“So I don’t get it.” I say, shoving my Government book into my locker. “Is this some type of homage to old ladies everywhere?”

I look over at Tess, who is standing beside me with a crocheted shawl draped around her shoulders.

“What?” She asks, shrugging. “I thought it was cute.”

“This coming from the same person who thought clogs were fashionable.” I reply, slamming the locker door closed.

She just rolls her eyes, adjusting her backpack strap. Tess has a style known throughout Roswell High as ‘What Garbage Can Did She Get That Out Of?’ I’m not saying that she actually went through people’s trash to find her clothes. Okay, she did that once...alright, twice. But it’s not like she just wears whatever she finds. Behind the grandma-sweaters and corduroy ankle-length skirts, there was some actual style.

“Shit, I forgot we had a vocabulary test today.” She says, putting her hand over her eyes.

“Sucks to be you.” I say as we walk towards Mrs. Turner’s English class.

“We can’t all get straight A’s without studying.” She comments, noting my A-streak.

I have never gotten anything below an A on my report card. How I manage this, I don’t know. I rarely study and all of my teachers hate me. I don’t know if I got it from my biological mother or father because I never knew them, so it’s always been a mystery to me.

“Parker!” Max yells from somewhere down the hall.

“Great, now I’m going to have to hear how insecure Sierra is about her ass.” I groan, turning around to search for him.

“Just ask him what 2+2 is. That’ll distract him for a while.” She replies, patting me on the back before walking into the classroom.

I can’t help but laugh at her snide remark. Tess and Max aren’t the best of friends, in fact they can’t stand each other. I don’t know what it is, but they can’t even be in the same room together. Literally. They take one look at each other and the sarcastic quips start flying.

“I need to get to English.” I say to him as soon as he walks up.

“I wanted to talk to you about Sierra.” He says, ignoring me.

Nothing new about that. When it comes to Sierra, I’m a one-woman advice column.

“Does this have anything to do with my ass comment?” I ask, tucking a piece of my hair behind my ear.

No use delaying the inevitable.

“What? No.” He says, shaking his head. “I wanted you to come with me to the mall after school. Her birthday is coming up and I wanted to get her something really special.”

I suppress an eye roll and paste a smile on my face.

“Sure, that’d be great.” I say, already dreading it.

“Okay, see you later.” He says, turning to walk to his class. “Oh, and Parker?”

“What?” I sigh, annoyed.

“We can talk about the ass comment later.” He smiles, knowing he’s got me back into a corner.

“I hate you.” I mutter, walking into the room just as the bell rings.

------------------

“Would you like an order of our Space Fries with that?” I ask, itching the back of my leg with my foot.

“Sure, that’d be great.” The woman says, still looking down at her menu.

“I’ll have that right out for you.” I say, preparing to walk away.

“No, wait. Are your Saturn Rings good?” She asks, flipping the menu over.

“Yeah, sure. They’re mouthwatering.” I reply, tapping my pen against the order pad.

“Hmm.” She bites her lip thoughtfully. “I just can’t decide. Fries sound really good, but...”

I’m about to tell her where she can shove her fries when the bell above the door rings. I turn around to see Maria DeLuca walk in and sit in the booth by the window, the same booth she always sits in. Maria has always been a bit of a mystery to me. She moved here last year with her dad and brother and never tried to make friends with anyone. The only time I ever talk to her is when I take her order.

“Ma’am?” The woman says, pulling me out of my thoughts.

“Oh, sorry. Yes?” I ask, shaking my head.

“I’ll take the fries.” She says, smiling and handing me the menu.

I walk over to the order window and put the receipt on the wheel, spinning it.

“Sub with fries.” I say to Doug, the cook.

“Nancy wants to talk to you when you get a chance.” He says, grabbing the paper as he does.

No matter how long I’ve lived with her, no matter how close I get to her, I can’t bring myself to call Nancy “mom.” But she’s never pressured me to do it, in fact I think she likes it more. She’s one of those women who can’t accept the fact that they’re old. She still tries to be eighteen. That’s why I think she adopted me: to live vicariously through me.

“Can you get the weird girl’s table?” This comes from Tanner Brown, an annoying junior from my school that my mom hired for some reason, unbeknownst to me.

“I think you’re the weird one, but whatever.” I reply, walking towards the booth where Maria is sitting.

Maria is reading a book, as usual, but as soon as I walk up to the table, she sets it down.

“Hi.” She says, quietly.

“Hello, what can I get for you today? The usual?” I ask, knowing she’ll want what she always wants.

“Yes, please.” She answers, her voice still low.

“It’ll be out in a few minutes.” I say, walking away.

Sometimes I think Maria only comes in here to talk to me, just to have someone to talk to. Even if it’s only a few sentences. I don’t know why she hasn’t made the effort to make friends. She’s not ugly or anything. She has that naturally bouncy blonde hair that you always see on celebrities, but you could never do to your own hair. And it’s not like she wears high water pants and Keds. She wears the same clothes as everyone else. It’s just that she’s always reading a book or making herself as unapproachable as possible.

“Hey Parker, are you ready for the big game?” Ethan Ryle, one of the members of the football team, asks from his place at the counter.

“Oh, you know me. I’ve got my spirit meter set on ‘high.’” I reply, rolling my eyes.

“I just can’t wait to see you in that sexy cheerleading skirt.” He says, winking at me.

I have to fight the urge to punch him.

“I’ll be cheering just for you.” I say dryly, walking towards the ‘Employees Only’ door.

Nancy, in an effort to get me to “schmooze” with the quote/unquote popular crowd, practically forced me to try out for the cheerleading squad. I almost told her I’d rather jump off the top roof of our building, but she seemed so excited, and she’d just broken up with Neal, a guy she’d been seeing for five months. Needless to say, I couldn’t bear causing her anymore pain, so I grudgingly went to the clinic, learned the routines, and astonishingly made the team. Ever since then I’ve been getting sexist quips from the team.

“Nancy?” I yell as I walk up the stairs.

“I’m in the den!” She yells back.

We recently bought a computer and Nancy has been teaching herself to use it for the past week. On Monday, she blew a fuse, causing the whole restaurant to black out. On Tuesday she broke the moniter after kicking it in a fit of frustration. On Thursday, after we got the machine back from the computer shop, she learned to play Solitaire. I figure by next Thursday the computer will have a thick layer of dust on it.

“What did you want?” I ask, leaning against the door frame.

“I wanted to know what you thought of this top?” She asks, standing up and modeling it for me.

“Gorgeous. Just like Cindy Crawford.” I reply, shaking my head.

“I’m serious, Parker. I have a very important date tonight.” She says, smoothing down her hair.

“I wouldn’t say that going out to the Sizzler with Roger, the photo guy, is very important.” I say, following her to the bathroom.

I stare at her reflection in the mirror as she puts on her makeup. I can’t help but notice the evident differences in our appearances. I have long, dark brown hair; she has short red hair. I have brown, almost black eyes; she has emerald green eyes. My skin is naturally dark and tan; she has fair skin. When I was younger I used to stare in the mirror for hours, wondering what my real mother looked like. If we had the same eyes, the same hair.

“Parker?” Nancy says, tapping my shoulder.

“What?” I say, quickly composing myself. “Sorry.”

“So, how do I look?” She asks, striking a pose.

“Perfect.” I reply, turning off the curling iron, which Nancy always leaves on.

She walks to the living room, putting her earrings in. I lean against the couch, waiting for one last ‘how do I look?.’

“Alright, are you sure I look okay?” She asks, putting her jacket on.

“Yes!” I groan.

“Fine, fine. I’m going.” She laughs, walking towards the stairs.

We walk down into the employee lounge that sits right next to the kitchen. Max is sitting on the teal couch, flipping through a magazine.

“Hello there, Max.” Nancy says, ruffling his hair as she walks by.

“Looking good, Nancy.” He replies, winking at her.

“Don’t indulge her.” I say, retying my apron.

“I’ll see you kids later.” She says as she walks out the alley door.

Max sets the magazine down and stands up, following me back out to the dining area. I ignore him, knowing he only wants one thing: free food. That’s all he ever comes here for. He even brings Sierra in, expecting me to give both of them food.

“You wouldn’t happen to have any extra fries lying around, would you?” He asks, with faux innocence.

“I will bring you something to eat, just stay out of my way.” I say, adjusting my antennae headband.

“Thank you.” He says, then walks over to sit by Ethan at the counter.

I head back over to Maria, making sure that Tanner brought her the food while I was upstairs. When I get there I’m surprised to see Will, Maria’s twin brother, sitting across from her. Maria and Will are fraternal twins: she has blonde hair, his is dark brown. But their personalities are exactly the same; both are so quiet you sometimes forget they’re in the room. I’ve only talked to Will once, when we ran into each other in the hallway. He kept apologizing, picking up my books. He seems nice enough, though.

“How are things going?” I ask, glancing from Maria to Will.

“Good.” Maria says quietly, smiling up at me.

“Can I get you something?” I ask Will, who is staring down at the table.

“No thank you.” He says, not looking up.

I walk away, awkwardly. Those two confuse me.

“Why were you talking to the DeLuca Dorks?” Max asks when I walk behind the counter.

“Shut up.” I say, smacking him on the head.

“They’re creepy. That guy is always looking at books.” Ethan adds, looking over his shoulder at Will.

“It’s called reading, dumbass. You should try it sometime.” I roll my eyes, pouring more Coke into his cup. “Besides, I happen to think he’s hot.”

Which wasn’t a lie. Will is gorgeous: dark brown hair with deep blue eyes. Almost every girl at Roswell has tried to hook up with him at some point, but he’s so quiet and keeps himself so isolated that no one can ever get too close.

“Oooo. Parker and Will, sitting in a tree.” Ethan sings, laughing at his own joke.

“Wow, that was really lame.” Max says, kicking Ethan’s leg.

I shake my head like I always do when either of them attempt humor.

“Maybe he’ll ask you to go to the Homecoming Party!” Max claps, excitedly.

“Or maybe he’ll ask you.” I reply, sarcastically.

Max is referring to our school’s version of a Homecoming Dance. The dance attendance was always so low that the school finally decided to cancel it. Nobody went because every year someone would throw a huge party with every kind of alcoholic beverage you could imagine. Needless to say that the Zimas beat out doing the Macerena.

“Oh, great.” Max says when the bell above the door rings.

I turn to see Tess walking in with Michael Guerin. Now, if absolutely necessary, Max can handle being within five feet of Tess, but he cannot, by any means, stand being anywhere near Michael. I think it has to do with the fact that they’re on almost opposite ends of the popularity spectrum. Max is at the top with the rest of the jocks. Michael is near the bottom with the potheads. Not exactly polar opposites, but close enough.

“He probably doesn’t even realize where he’s at.” Ethan is saying to Max when I tune back in.

“You guys are such assholes.” I say as Tess and Michael walk up to the counter.

“Ethan.” Tess says, nodding at him then turning to look at Max. “Miscreant.”

“Gee Tess, could you repeat that? I couldn’t hear you over the sound of your shirt.” Max retorts, referring to Tess’ pink and orange striped t-shirt.

“You two.” I warn.

“Whatever, lets go get a booth.” Tess says, pulling Michael away.

Michael just looks at me apologetically before turning to follow Tess.

“Druggies.” Ethan mumbles under his breath.

They weren’t completely wrong. Tess and Michael did their fair share of drugs, but it wasn’t like they were drug lords or anything. This is Roswell, after all. It’s not exactly a hotbed of narcotic activity.

“I’ll be right back with your checks.” I say, walking away.

“Hey! I thought it was free!” Max yells after me.


posted on 15-Nov-2002 4:57:20 PM by Ashley
Sorry that I haven't updated in such a long time. I've been so busy with stuff that I haven't had time to write. I'll try to get parts out quicker.

Let me know what you think.

Part 3

“The importance of symbolism is evident throughout the novel...” I say to myself, reading what I typed into my laptop.

I skim over the report, searching for any errors the computer could’ve missed. Tess always makes fun of me for being too anal about school work. It’s not that I sincerely care whether the work is any good, it’s just that there’s something in me that won’t let me turn in a half-ass paper. One time Michael was throwing a huge party and I was going to go, but I kept having to re-edit a paper for Government. The whole time I sat there re-typing the differences between internal and external efficacy, I was swearing at myself for not going to the party.

“Parker?” A voice says from outside my window, followed by three knocks.

Why Max feels the need to climb up the fire escape and come in through my window is beyond me. At first, I thought he did it just because he thought it was cool. This was back in 7th grade, when we first became friends. Ever since then, he climbs into my room whenever he feels like it. I remember one particular incident in which I had just gotten out of the shower and was walking to my dresser in my underwear and bra and he came barreling in, talking about something his dad has told him. I stood there, waiting for him to notice. He got about halfway through his story before he looked down. His face turned as bright red as the lipstick Sierra wears.

“I-I’m sorry.” He had stammered, turning around quickly. “I didn’t know. If I did, I wouldn’t have just walked in. I didn’t see anything.”

I rolled my eyes, grabbing my robe off my bed and putting it on.

“Okay, so I did see something, but it was quick.” He stuttered.

“Calm down, Max. It’s not like you’ve never seen me in a bathing suit before. It’s basically the same thing.” I replied, pulling my hair back into a ponytail.

For a week after that, he couldn’t look me in the eye. He would stare at something behind me whenever we talked or he would make an excuse and leave quickly. It wasn’t until I showed up at his house wearing a snowsuit, a heavy jacket, a scarf, a hat, and gloves that he eased up.

“Parker, why are you wearing all of that stuff? It’s almost 100 degrees outside.” He had said, pulling me quickly into his house and out of the heat.

“I figured that if I was covering as much skin as possible, we could have a decent conversation.” I answered, grinning under the scarf.

He had burst out laughing and pulled my hat over my face.

“Parker? Are you okay?” Max asks, waving his hand in front of my face, taking me out of my thoughts.

“What?” I ask, shaking my head. “Oh, sorry. I was just thinking of something.”

He flops down on my bed, fixing my alarm clock so that it lines up with one of my picture frames. This is something that, to the untrained eye, would go unrecognized. But after years of knowing Max, I’ve begun to see how compulsive he really is.

“What are you doing?” He asks, putting his hands behind his head.

“I’m writing a paper for English.” I reply, turning back to the screen.

“Ten dollars says that it’s not due for at least two weeks.” He says, laughing.

“Three.” I say, embarrassed that he knows I’m such a nerd about schoolwork.

For a few minutes the only sound in the room is the clicking of my keyboard. I stop, realizing that something must be going on with Max. Usually he can’t shut up. He doesn’t even need something important to talk about, he can build up a conversation based on some inane event. He once had a twenty minute conversation with me on the reasons why Sharon Hayes had dyed her hair blonde.

“What’s wrong?” I ask, shutting my laptop and spinning my chair around to face him.

He’s staring at a picture of the two of us that was taken at our 8th grade graduation. I was a few inches taller than him and he had a black eye from a few days before when I had punched him for asking me about my chest.

“I remember when Nancy took this picture.” He says, bringing it closer to her face. “I was still mad at you for giving me a shiner.”

“Yeah, but Nancy promised us both chocolate milkshakes if we acted happy.” I reply, going over and sitting next to him on the bed.

“You were stepping on my foot and I was pinching your side.” He laughs, remembering. “God, that seems like forever ago.”

Whenever Max starts to bring up past events, he is really trying to get his mind off something else. Something more important.

“Is Diane okay?” I ask, suspecting it has something to do with his mom, who has been feeling sick lately.

“No, she’s fine.” He answers, shaking his head.

“What is it then?” I ask, putting my hand on his shoulder.

He looks away, not wanting me to know that he’s upset. No matter what kind of front Max puts up when he’s around his other friends, I know that he’s really not the insensitive asshole he likes people to think he is.

“I think Sierra is cheating on me.” He blurts out, picking at my bedspread.

“What?” I say in disbelief.

I may despise Sierra with a passion, but I didn’t take her for the cheating type.

“Ben Gaines said that he saw her making out with some blonde guy at a party last weekend.” He traces the bedspread pattern with his finger.

“Ben Gaines? The same Ben Gaines who intentionally broke up Tina Bryson and Kurt Nell just so he could hook up with her?” I say, disgusted that Max would even consider believing anything that came out of Ben Gaines’ mouth.

“Well, when you put it that way, it sounds ridiculous.” He says, finally looking up at me.

“He’s probably jealous of what you and Sierra have.” I have to force this out without gagging.

“You think so?” He asks, with a hopeful look in his eyes.

“Uh, yeah.”

He hugs me, squeezing a little too tight. The only person I’ve ever seen Max affectionate with is Sierra, and when that happens, I direct my focus elsewhere. I shrug off his arms, leaning back.

“Alright, where did that come from?” I ask, giving him a look.

“Lets just act like it never happened, deal?” He says, embarrassed.

“What never happened?” Nancy asks, coming into the room.

We both look at her guiltily. She doesn’t notice and leans against the doorframe casually.

“The crash.” We both say quickly.

She looks at us, starting to get suspicious.

“It’s a government conspiracy. They want us to think that nothing happened, which will get us suspicious and make us think that something did happen and that they just covered it up. That way we fear their power.” I reply quickly.

“What?” She says, looking at Max.

“What she said.” He replies, pointing at me.

“Were you two making out in here?” She asks, squinting her eyes.

“What!” I yell, completely taken back.

“Because if you were--” She starts.

“How could you think we were making out? We’ve been best friends since 7th grade. I don’t see Parker as anymore than a friend. One of the guys.” Max says, patting me on the back.

I glare at him, getting ready to tell him that I think of him as one of the girls, when Nancy cuts in.

“What I was going to say was that if you were, you’re supposed to put a sock on the doorknob. I told you that as long as you take the necessary precautions, I don’t mind what you do. So long as you give me some warning so I don’t just walk in, like now.” Nancy says, reaffirming her role as Roswell’s only hip mom.

“I’ll remember that when I actually am making out with some guy.” I say, shaking my head.

“Which will never happen.” Max smiles, pinching my side.

“Yeah, you’d walk in here and see Max making out with a guy before you’d see me.” I reply, elbowing him.

“I don’t know about you two.” Nancy says, shaking her head as she walks out of the room.

---------------

“How does someone forget to pay the water bill?” Tess asks, turning the faucet on and off, but no water comes out.

“Hey, it was either the water bill or the cable bill.” Michael replies, opening his fridge and throwing a Snapple at her.

“Television over bathing.” I say, staring down at the water bill, which is actually printed on a red piece of paper. “I’m not gonna say that doesn’t scare me.”

“If I didn’t think I could bum hot water off your mom, I would’ve gone the other way.” He answers, sitting on the couch and turning the television on.

“She’s not my mom and you’d pick ESPN over fresh toilet water any day.” I say, sitting down next to him.

He shrugs in agreement. Tess walks over to her backpack and pulls out a small bag of weed. Next, she pulls out papers and starts rolling like a pro. I can’t even imagine the look that would be on Mrs. Harding’s face if she saw this side of Tess.

“You guys know that Maria girl, right? The one with the hot brother?” She asks, lighting the joint and taking a hit.

“Yeah, he’s got a nice ass.” Michael says, staring at the television.

We both stare at him. It takes a few seconds before he looks at us.

“What? I was kidding.” He laughs, taking the joint from Tess.

“Sure you were.” Tess says, rolling her eyes. “Anyway, I heard that her dad works for the FBI.”

“Seriously?” Michael says, releasing a puff of smoke.

“Yeah. I was helping my mom put out the Halloween fabrics and Mrs. Birtch, their neighbor, was shopping for some thread. Then her and my mom got to talking about the DeLuca family and Mrs. Birtch said that he’s never home, there’s army people at there house sometimes, and they’re always really secretive.”

“Tess, that could mean he works for the army. We do have the RAAF and whatnot.” I say, taking a hit and handing it back to Tess.

“But why would they be so secretive?” She asks, lowering her voice.

“Because they probably know how gossip spreads in this town and they don’t want their life story being discussed.” Michael replies, still staring at the tv.

I’m about to tell Tess that she needs to see someone about her paranoid tendencies when the phone rings. Michael became emancipated when he was 16 because he couldn’t live with his parents anymore; ever since then, he’s been living on his own. The only people he ever talks to are me and Tess and whoever he scores his drugs off of, so the only person that could be calling is perhaps a drug lord.

“Hello?” I say, into the receiver.

Michael and I have been friends since 9th grade, so I have no problem acting like his house is my house.

“Parker, what the hell? Did you forget that you promised you’d take Julie’s shift tonight?” Nancy’s voice booms into my ear.

Oh, shit.

“...you’ve reached Michael’s apartment. He can’t come to the phone right now. Leave a message after the beep. Beeeep.”

“I’m not falling for that again.” She replies. “Ten minutes”

I’m about to protest, but she hangs up. When I promised her that I’d cover that shift, I was thinking about the money. Now all I can think about is the annoying customers.

“That was Nancy.” I say, hanging up the phone. “Apparently I promised her I’d work tonight.”

Both Michael and Tess burst out laughing. I’m not sure if they actually find it funny or if it’s the weed.

“I’m gonna skadaddle.” I say, grabbing my jacket and standing up.

“She said ‘skadaddle.’” Tess says, giggling.

Why I’m friends with these people, I don’t know.

-------------

“Okay, so that’s two Galaxy Sub Combos, one Will Smith, and a side of Saturn rings. Can I get you guys anything else?” I ask, my gaze going from person to person.

“No, that’ll be it.” The woman on my right says.

“It’ll be out in just a few minutes.” I say, fake smiling then going over to put the order in.

Max and some other football players walk in, going over to sit in one of the booths. I prepare myself for the sexist comments before walking over there.

“...so then Coach said that if I didn’t raise it to at least a C, he would kick me off the team.” Warren Jones, one of the nicer ones, is saying.

“Can I help you guys?” I ask, pulling my order pad out of my apron.

“Parker, how long have we been coming in here?” Ryan Harper asks.

“Since we opened.” I say, not getting his point.

“And how long have you been working here?” He asks.

“Since we opened.” I raise an eyebrow.

“Shouldn’t you know what we always order?” Tom Sharp speaks up.

I give them all a look that says I think they’re fucked up in the head.

“Don’t you realize that I take about fifty different orders every night? How in the hell am I supposed to memorize every person’s order?” I say, even though, truth be told, I could probably tell you what every person in town orders.

“Are these guys hassling you?” Nancy asks, coming up next to me.

Oh, great. Watching Nancy attempt to flirt with my friends disturbs me.

“Why don’t you take their order?” I say, then walk away.

I walk over to the order window where Doug is making a Space Salad.

“This has to be the busiest night ever.” I say, leaning against the counter.

“I know. The orders keep coming in and I can barely keep up.” He says, setting the salad onto the counter then starts to make a sandwich.

“Phone.” I say suddenly.

“What?” He looks at me, confused.

Then the phone starts ringing. We both stare at it.

“How do you do that?” He asks, taken back.

“I told you before, I’m psychic.” I smile, then grab my order and leave.