They thought he was stupid, and he wasn’t. They thought he didn’t know what was going on. He wasn’t stupid. For awhile he thought they were talking about him, but that wasn’t it and he knew it now.
It’s not like he would be mad – it was her life. She could go on dates if she wanted to. She could make decisions on her own. He didn’t see what the big deal about dating was anyway, even if the guy was older than her.
His sister Chelsea was gifted. Izzy was probably smarter than him, even if nobody talked about it. And Matt was smart too. Charles was just normal. He got average grades, and he was okay at sports and he liked to draw sometimes.
But he wasn’t stupid, and he wished that they wouldn’t talk around him like he was five. She had been going over to Jake’s house for months now – everybody could see it. But he had to pretend that he didn’t know his sister was kissing some boy after school, as though it mattered to him what she did. And in the meantime they went out of their way to make sure he didn’t figure anything out.
“Charles!” Izzy called to him. “It was in my backpack!”
Oh good, they Found It. It was amazing how many things Izzy tended to Lose around him – things that he would have to Go Far Away and Look For. Just say they needed a private conversation. He had other friends to hang out with. It reminded him of spelling words around little babies so they wouldn’t understand what was going on.
He looked back at his friends and saw Izzy waving him back. He half-jogged back to their table, and stopped part way.
Jake was standing by the fence with his fingers pressed up in between the links. Charles waved to him, but Jake must not have seen him. He didn’t wave back. After a moment, he kept walking up the street. Charles turned around and ran back to sit down next to Chelsea and play dumb while he ate. By the time lunch was over he had put Jake out of his mind, and by the end of the school day he had forgotten that he had seen him at all. He had other things to think about anyway.