Part One, Helena, is HERE
Part Two, Gladys, is HERE
“We got a new girl today.” My blade presses through the taught, red skin. “She’s a bit tragic, I think.”
“And what makes you think that?” Rick asks, sipping his wine, eyes widening over the rim of the glass.
“Well, I’m not sure, really. She just seems so…independent.”
“And independent translates to tragic for you?” His eyes get even bigger.
“Okay, maybe she’s not tragic. Maybe her situation is tragic.”
“So, what’s her situation, exactly?”
Juice mists my fingers as the red pepper splits into halves and falls open on the cutting board.
“God, I don’t really know that either, I guess. Her mother didn’t tell us much.”
“Well, I think one of us is drunk, Steph cuz I don’t get it.” He grins and pours himself another.
Stephanie contemplates the thinning hair and mangle of bracelets, the easy blush and her eagerness to get the usually dreaded classroom antics out of the way.
“Honestly, there isn’t an issue to speak of. I just felt this, I dunno, gap between her and her mother. And Helena, well, she’s…ugh, okay I’m going back to my first thing – tragic.”
“But, is she hip?” Rick asks, swirling his wine.
I begin to answer before I realize he’s taking a stab, slipping in a joke about his once favorite band.
“Ha ha. You’re just hilarious.”
Rick circles the granite island and wraps his arms around her from behind.
“Steph, like you said, this Helena is…what was it? Independent? I’m pretty sure she’d want for you to enjoy your Friday night. Not to be thinking about her. I can guarantee she’s not thinking about you right now. Besides, your man here is gettin’ All Tore Up over the smell of that sauce.” He squeezes her a little tighter.
She pretends not to notice his second ‘Hip’ reference
Helena lies on the floor of her room, the pile of hair growing beside her, and wonders if Mrs. Statton will notice she’s added two new bracelets to her wrist.