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Eating Ice Cream (novel excerpt)
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(this is Honey, the 14 yo. She’s a day student at a private boarding school, Laura is a teacher.)

“You liked it,” Scott said, hiking his backpack over his shoulder. He was shorter than Honey, on the top of his head a leaf threaded in his too-curly hair.

“Thanks?” she said, watching the leaf. She giggled. He was like a little brother.

He grabbed her hand. “You’re so stoned. We should hitch downtown and get Brighams, yeah?” He was leading her through the woods towards the path.

“How’d you, how’d you learn how to go down on a girl?” She said to his back. She bit her lip but couldn’t hold in the laugh.

Her shit day had turned spectacular.

“Porn, where else?” He said, turning his face to her. His cheeks red and flawless. “We all have our obsessions, yeah?”

“Should we get Evan to drive us?” Honey said.

“Nah,” he said, eyes narrowing, dropping her hand. They’d reached the path, the bulbous tree where Evan had kissed her, and it seemed like a minute ago and ages ago; everything had changed. Scott was yanking a green fleece from his backpack. “Fuck it’s cold.”

She watched his awkward struggle, a tangle of twisted wrong-side-out sleeves, and put her hand on his shoulder, righting the wrong, and then closed the half-zipper to his chin.

His two front teeth stuck out and his lip caught and released when he talked. All she’d felt was that tongue. “You know he’s like, engaged to Claire, right?” Scott whispered.

“Who?” she said, defiant. And then laughed. “How old are you anyway?” Evan was an anarchist. Marriage was a capitalist construct. Claire? Claire. Perfect name for that anorectic girlfriend. Besides, Evan-with-a-girlfriend couldn’t stop kissing Honey, and he said she was ‘wow.’

Scott rolled his eyes. “Come on.”

He knew a back way past the Art building and around the Barn Dorm so they wouldn’t get caught, his Dorm parents had a newborn, he said, they were obsessed, and again Honey wished she could board, again she resolved to get her overdue work in so her mother would relent for next year. She ducked low behind Scott at the rear entrance onto Weston Street, waiting for the school maintenance truck to go past, thinking of her appeal to Laura, she had an extra credit idea to create a database of Latin vocab, so they didn’t have to waste so much paper and Honey knew the lists cold, the homework worksheets didn’t help her anyway—

“Ok?” Scott said. They stood on the shoulder of the road. He grabbed her arm and stuck it out toward the oncoming vehicle. “Focus.”

“You focus.” So annoying.

“Evan’s mom!” Scott said, excited. “Hey, hey!” He waved his arms like a little kid and the Volvo slowed and then stopped. Honey froze. They were caught. They’d call her fucking parents. They’d yank her out and put her in public school. Fucking fuck fuck fuck Scott.

Scott was opening the back door, chattering, rolling his eyes at Honey, and she was forcing her legs to follow instead of running through the woods to Latin class like a scared rabbit.

“Nice to meet you, I’m Ellen,” the mother was saying, pulling onto the road. “Excited about tonight?”

Honey was nodding, yes, smiling into the woman’s eyes in the rearview, skin numb, pot high waning, her brain terror pausing in confusion. A mother who must know they were skipping class picked them up hitching asking them about her son’s concert for Students for Anarchy.

Scott was drumming a complicated sequence on the back of the passenger seat. Ellen and he laughed. “I teach music,” she said to Honey in the rearview. “I hooked up Scott for Evan’s band.” They were parking in front of Brigham’s. They were getting out of the car. Ellen was waving goodbye, crossing the street.

“Honey,” Scott said, holding the Brigham’s glass door open.

“This is the weirdest day of my life,” she said to him, and then the smell hit her and she thought she would literally bomb the place to get a butter crunch ice cream in a sugar cone.

“Someone’s hit up the whole downtown, yeah?” Scott said, smiling. They sat at a sticky marble topped table in the front window. Her tongue could not could not stop licking the best ice cream she’d ever tasted. He pointed at the faux historical light pole on the sidewalk and then raised his fist.

The posters Honey and her Dad had hung this morning before school, a million years ago. The ink drawing of the fist, Students For Anarchy Benefit Concert Tonight! The ones her die-hard Capitalist lecture-prone Dad had not objected to, not one word.

The butter crunch turned to an ice block on her tongue.

“I think my parents are getting divorced,” Honey said, and the morning’s sadness burst in her chest.


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