Honey startled at the shadow from the low flying airplane outside, a scar across the sun on the quad, the loud engine rattling the windows of the hundred year-old classroom hard enough to shatter. Michael paused his chalk on the board and his bass-voiced analysis of the Second Amendment, the seven kids around the seminar table stilled their doodling pens on notebook pages.
“We’re under attack!” Steven M. said, and laughed.
“Raise our constitutionally protected weapons!” Stephanie said, sloe-eyed and cynical, the plane already passed.
Honey groaned silently, and sure enough, Michael was off on that unproductively boring tangent, despite his promise for silent essay writing time, now tick ticking away. Steve P. slid his bum lower in the chair next to her, and propped his head on the back. Only Martin Lawlor scribbled notes and nodded emphatically at Michael. Junior lawyer or some goddam thing. He even carried a briefcase. Everyone said he was destined but Honey wondered how well a guy with such bad acne scars would actually fare in this world.
The only thing not to regret about taking Capitalism was how easily the bullshit went down for an easy A. Even though each and every one of these prepsters were all clueless about the ultimate wisdom of Anarchy.
Her mother had argued she was wasting her time, and she was right.
Honey thought of her mother, last night her wet face in the dark bedroom and the tense standoff between her parents, and tears flooded her, an overwhelming ache in her throat. She coughed and raised her notebook to her face and still could not quash the fear and sadness as powerful as if her mother had died, the loss stunning.
“Hey, you alright?” Steve said, and his worry made it worse. Honey rose and scrambled her textbook and paper, bookbag and purse, water bottle and sweatshirt, to her chest, then tripped past Michael leaning against his desk, shaking her head her bangs onto her face, mumbling sorry sorry.
She found her way to the wooded path somehow, the one where Evan had kissed her in secret, and stopped finally, at their tree, the bulbous trunk. “Oh, man,” she said, “I love you.” The wind burst through the trees and loosened a bolus of leaves, the sun too weak to warm. She dropped her armload to struggle her sweatshirt over her head. If she were smart, she’d use this time to finish her stupid Latin homework for next block. If she could think for one second. She crouched to stuff her loose belongings into the book bag and a small movement, a flash of light, turned her head to the right, to the deeper part of the woods. Someone was there. A faint laugh, a girl, then a boy.
“Crap,” Honey whispered, the interloper. But she could not turn away. A white shirt, an arm maybe, flapped in the breeze. She shifted to the left and they came into view, picking through the trees toward her, and her heart leapt, Evan, oh, him, Evan, his grin and his imperfect white teeth, now turning his head back, lifting an evergreen branch for the other person, not a girl, no, for Scott, the drummer in his band, that kid who skipped all those grades, even younger than her.
She stood, she straightened, she waited, hugging her book bag, shivering. “Hey,” she whispered, practicing, “can’t wait for your concert tonight.”
He saw her then, and froze, then squinted, leaning his upper body forward, and smiled, Evan smiled when he saw that it was her. “Honey,” he said, stepping gingerly through the leaves and forest floor detritus. “Honey,” he said, veering toward her.
“Aren’t you cold?” she said, his cheeks red, his breath misting. Behind him, the drummer giggled.
“Come here,” Evan said, still yards into the forest. “Shh.” His finger to his lips.
Of course she went.
Navigating the fallen decayed logs and wet leaves was harder than she anticipated, but when she reached them, Evan pulled her body against him, and slipped his bare arm under her sweatshirt and around her back, murmuring freezing, freezing. He was gathering the kid too, the three of them together, and the thrill of him, the thrill of being wanted, raised her arms around their shoulders, their faces merging in the middle, breath misting, quiet laughing, delighted.
“Wanna smoke a doobie with us?” The kid said, and Evan’s mouth was on hers, the kid’s breath on their cheeks.