Izzy watched Charles and Matt walk home and pulled her coat tighter around herself. Not every night was as cold as this one. She had misjudged and worn a coat that was too light. The skies in the west were just now separating into bands of pink and orange, dotted with tall clouds.
She wiped her hair from her eyes and took maybe one or two more looks behind her to make sure that her friends hadn’t turned around. She got to the corner, took Wake Street and went down the hill to the little wall by the school. She hopped up and leaned back; the rock was frigid and damp. She dangled her feet over and looked down into the yards of the houses below her. She checked her phone, noticed the time, and diligently sent a text to her mom to tell her that she’d be late. Then she texted Chelsea.
Mar 18, 2013 6:56 pm:
Where are you?
She got no response. She flicked a rock from the top of the wall and rubbed her head. She hadn’t had dinner yet. Message two.
Mar 18, 2013 6:59 pm:
I’m at the wall. We need to talk, come on.
No they didn’t. They didn’t need to talk.
“Dammit,” Izzy said. She sighed.
She typed out another message: Matt and Charles were asking about you, but I didn’t tell them anything. She deleted the text without sending it. I’m going to tell Matt and Charles everything. Delete delete. She put her phone away. What was wrong with her?
She should, though. It was important, and Chelsea didn’t know what she was talking about anyway. She should tell somebody. It wasn’t fair to hide it. Izzy didn’t know what Chelsea’s plan was – it’s not like they wouldn’t find out.
When she swallowed, she found it hard. Maybe she was getting sick. She tried a few times, and it went away.
Her phone buzzed, knocking her out of her thoughts. It was her mom.
Mar 18, 2013 7:05 pm:
Did you check in with grandpa? I’m at work.
No, she hadn’t. She rubbed her eyes. There were a few reasons not to stick around. Homework and dinner and grandpa, and it was cold and getting darker and Chelsea wasn’t going to show up anyway. She was off and out of reach. With Jake. Probably listening to that song he liked to play so much. The one that was always playing on his stereo, whatever it was called.
On her way home Izzy cut through the corn field. She kicked a stalk down and whipped the others with it. She and her friends used to do that. She and Chelsea and Charles and Matt. Wait. No, that wasn’t right. Matt wasn’t born yet. That was – wow. That was more than seven years ago that they had started playing in the field. Izzy felt old. Almost thirteen was getting up there in years, she reasoned. She was Matt’s age when they had gone out there. It had been Chelsea’s idea, because of course it was. It was – was it November? She remembered cold, and the stalks of corn were dead and crackly – they snapped when you slashed at them.
They had been playing Star Wars. That was it. Jedi Knights fighting the droid army. The trailer for the last episode had been released, and it was the greatest thing in the world. Charles and Chelsea were Anakin and Obi-Wan, and she had been … somebody. There was a time when she could remember the duel at the end move for move. She had practiced. Oh, she had been Shaak-Ti.
What a shit movie, though. She grinned at the memory. Even her mom had thought so, and her mom had an Episode IV poster hanging in the living room, signed by … Drew Strutzman? Struzan? The illustrator. Her grandpa knew him. He and her mom had been there when Struzan or whoever won a Saturn award back around the time Izzy was born.
Her mother had told her the proper way to hold a lightsaber to keep the grip right. Apparently her hands had been too close together, and that could hurt her wrist, especially because the blade part was so light that she could twist too much accidentally. And it was so sharp that it didn’t take much force to cut, so it was more important to be stable than to be strong. Izzy didn’t have it in her to tell her mom that the sword was made of plastic.
When Izzy had been really little she had wanted to be a police officer like her mom. She had dressed up as one for Halloween the year Matt was born. Chelsea had gone as a statue and Charles had gone as a dragon. Her mom’s advice for pretending to be a cop was as accurate and careful as her advice on imaginary swordfighting.
Izzy made her way home. She hadn’t forgotten about Chelsea, but other things were on her mind. And her phone didn’t buzz for the rest of the night, either way.