“…and that’s why I don’t wear seat-belts.” Charlotte says. She takes a bit of her chow mein, swirling the noodles around her black plastic fork before gulping it down. “I’m not telling you what to do, I’m just saying, I don’t want to get split in half.”
“That so?” I nod politely, take a bit of my chili-dog and look around the food court for Mom. Even a dour conversation with her would be preferable to this; listening to a ditzy girl pass terrible advice like a con man passes bad a check. Only the con man knows better. “I’ll consider your advice carefully.”
“You do that.” Charlotte smiles, satisfied with herself. She has the same ear for sarcasm as she has for public service announcements. I might as well be speaking French.
“I will.” I don’t try to hide my boredom. June Bug and I planned to spend this Saturday at the Bridge, but Mom called for a girls day at the mall with Morgan and me. This is our first one since we left Dad alone to pass a kidney stone a few years ago. By some strange turn Charlotte, Morgan’s Mormon friend from MCCC, joined us. I didn’t dare ask if June could come. The bridge will have to wait.
“Mmm…I think I’ll keep wearing mine, thank you.” Morgan says. She slurps down the last of her Dr. Pepper and rattles the ice cubs at the bottom of the white Styrofoam cup. “Have you called Bones yet?”
“No, I’m still not talking to him.” Charlotte yawns as if Bones whomever were already last week’s news. “It’s been two years and I’m still not sure where we’re going. What about you and Brandon? I saw you with Mark Duncan the other night.”
Morgan smiles and checks out a boy inline at Chick-fil-A, smacking her lips at his firm butt and swollen arms. “Brandon and I’ve agreed to have an uncommitted relationship. Everything’s cool.”
Uncommitted relationship? I cringe. It’s an oxymoron right up there with the living dead or devout atheist. I turn to see what Charlotte, supposedly a dedicated Mormon, thinks of this. But she only nods her acceptance, more concerned with her noodles than ideas of monogamy.
The conversation quickly changes back to Bones and a list of his failings (no job, poor kissing skills, no sense of humor) and I try to ignore them, not wanting to hear their crap anymore. It isn’t hard. I faded into chameleon mode around nine-o’clock this morning, becoming as relevant to their conversations as the chipped floor tiles or plastic ferns bordering the restroom entrances. Mom’s been more interested in trying on high heels and pant’s suits than listening to the secret life of good Christian girls.
After what seems like forever Charlotte’s phone (wrapped in a hard case screaming dedication to BYU) buzzes a text. “It’s Bishop Savage, you know the guy with the glass eye.” Giggling, she covers her left eye with her hand, “He wants to know if we can chaperon the Fall Dance at the Stake next Friday. He says you did a good job last time. All the boys wanted to dance with you.”
“The Chinese kid couldn’t keep his hands off my butt.” Morgan mutters, shifting in her seat.
“Yeah, he does that, but Yuan’s harmless. So ok? I don’t want to do it alone.”
“Ok.” Morgan’s irritated huff seals the deal.
“So Quite Mable,” Charlotte slides the phone into her back pocket and turns to me, “you have a boyfriend yet?”
“What about Mr. Pensacola?” Morgan asks, giving me a wink. She seems to have forgotten how unhelpful she was with my letter to him. “Ever find out if he’s cute.”
“June says he looks like Harry Potter. He’s not that cute. I’m just writing him for youth group.”
“Mmm, I like Harry Potter.” Charlotte smiles, licking her lips for effect. “My little sister, Hanna, has a poster of him on her wall, Daniel Radcliffe.”
I’m beginning to wonder about Mormons. Is Charlotte an aberration or are they all as empty headed as she is? I doubt it, more would be killed in car crashes, it’d probably be epidemic.
“He’s not cute.” I say, my tone as flat as an ironing board.
“Well, ok then.” Charlotte roles her eyes.
They carry on the conversation without me, moving from Daniel Radcliffe to Joe Jonas to Johnny Depp where they hover for a moment, ecstasy in their faces, his name enough to do what June call’s the wet work. I look around again, hoping to spot Mom’s red wool jacket. I’m beginning to fear having to walk home. Once, when I was five, she left me at Toys-R-Us by accident. The manager had to call Dad at work to get him to come pick me up.
“There’s Melissa.” Charlotte motions over Morgan’s shoulder.
Morgan and I turn and watch a fat, mop-headed blonde leaving the movie theater. Her heavy arms are wrapped around a slim tattooed boy with a chain tethered wallet and an Iron Maiden t-shirt.
“Who’s she with?” Morgan whisperers.
“Not Chris.” Charlotte giggles. “Remember a few weeks ago when he was past out on the hood of Terry’s car!”
“Shut up! Mable’s listening!” Morgan’s lips curl in amusement.
I hate my curiosity.
“Well, Mable,” Charlotte turns to me, her voice low as if I were her partner in crime, “we were at Malarkey’s house one night and this guy, Chris, was passed-out on the hood of a car, a Toyota or something. Melissa, who he hates, walks up to him, unzips his pants, pulls out his Uh-huh and begins sucking on it.”
“God, I don’t want to here this!” And I don’t, I really don’t. I’ve been to those parties too, where the music eats into your ear drums like cancer and you spend half the night fighting off fast hands. June saved me from that world. Thank God for that fat Mexican atheist.
“Don’t worry. Morgan and I rescued him.” Charlotte laughs. “Hello, we’re the good girls! We just pushed her away and tucked his thing back in there and stood guard the rest of the night. No one really remembers anyways. We were all so s***faced!”
For a moment, the food court is filled with Morgan and Charlotte’s laughter. Every eye falls on us, and I lower my head and take another huge bit of my chili dog. I’ve given up on Mom.