Ernie goes back to his Daily Angel. “Why do you rub elbows with those leotard pixies?”
“They’re my friends,” Eva replies.
“I never see you hanging out with them.”
“They live in Wisconsin.”
“SuperMegaNet makes that moot,” Mini points out.
Instead of frowning at him, Eva frowns at me. “I never see you hanging with any of your friends.”
Mini answers on my behalf: “See Jan’s comment above. When’s the party going down?”
“You mean tomorrow,” Ernie snorts.
“Yeah. Tomorrow’s Saturday.”
“Why did you wait until the day before to tell us?”
“I wasn’t planning on telling you at all,” Eva says. “It’s going to be lame. But with you three there it’ll be, well, you know. Not as lame.” She folds her arms. “Are you coming or not?”
I nod. I’m the complete opposite of a party animal. However, it’s off-campus time with Eva, which is always a bonus. And anyway, it’s nice to be included—even if I’m only going to be there to make an unbearable situation slightly less unbearable.
“I’ll need a pass,” Jan says. “I’ve got stuff to do this weekend. Besides, social distancing and all.”
Eva’s face and body briefly morph from indifferent jockette into disappointed anime girl, complete with Lakitu-like miniature rain cloud hovering over one shoulder. “That’s okay.” Tiny thunder rumbles—
“I’ll make it up to you, though.”
—and Lakitu is gone, normalcy restored.
“Personally, I’m looking forward to the festivities,” Mini says. “It’s nice to know one of us is finally having a proper birthday. It feels like we’ve all been preteens for years.”
Resisting the sudden urge to deadpan a camera that isn’t there, I grab my spray bottle, mist my arms, glance over at Ernie and his Daily Angel. “Why do you read those ridiculous tabloids?”
“Today’s fiction is tomorrow’s fact,” he replies, and, keeping his eyes glued to whatever article he’s reading, feels around his workbench for a cookie.
“Maybe science fiction,” Eva says, picking at her food, “but not the stuff in the Daily Angel.”
“That’s hardly the kind of talk I’d expect from a girl who lives with a life-sized Jack Skellington doll in her bedroom.”
“You’re just jealous because you can’t eat him.”
I glance back at Ernie, waiting for his usual retort.
Instead, he gasps and grips his Daily Angel with both hands. “Shut up, Bug Eyes, and listen to this!”
It makes her bug eyes look even bigger.