Naomi splashed her face with water and padded into the dark kitchen. The house was filled with weak early morning sun and the floor was cold through her socks. She filled the teakettle with water and turned on the stove, leaning against the counter as she waited for it to boil. The door to her parent’s room gaped open and empty. They had left early in the morning to catch a 5 am flight to South Carolina for her great grandmother’s funeral. Naomi hadn’t been allowed to go because she had soccer practice Sunday. If she missed one more practice, her coach said, she’d be kicked off the team.
The water boiled and she took her tea back to her room where she sat down cross legged on her bed. Now that her parents were actually gone, Naomi had no idea what she was going to do, let alone should do. She could do homework, but that was so boring and normal. She could watch TV, but that made her feel like a slob. The only plan set in stone for the day was dinner with her friend’s family.
She finished her tea and started her homework. This way she’d be able to do something fun tonight after the dinner. Like go to a party and stay out until 2 am, right?
Naomi rang the doorbell and shifted from foot to foot. Her breath came out in little white clouds. Sophie’s mother answered the door.
“Hi sweetheart, come in.” Inside was warm and smelled like split pea soup. Sophie’s family had thick oriental carpets on the floor and dark wood paneling on the walls. Naomi loved it; each time she came over she felt like the house was giving her a warm hug.
“Naomi!” Sophie called from upstairs. “I’m in my room.”
Sophie’s room was small, and seemed even smaller because of the piles and piles of books and magazines that were precariously placed upon every flat surface. Naomi had once asked her why she didn’t ever take out books from the library and Sophie had stared at her like she was crazy.
“But then they’re not yours. Then they’re library books. They’re not my books. Like I could throw my book into a pond, or rip out all the pages, or draw over the cover with pen, but I couldn’t do that with a library book, could I?”
“Why would you do that with your own book?” Naomi had asked.
“You wouldn’t understand,” Sophie replied. “You’re never going to understand.”
And she was right, Naomi didn’t love books. She wished she did. She felt like she should. But she didn’t. They didn’t speak to her. They didn’t make her smile. They just made her feel like she was walking through molasses and with each step she sank in deeper until she could hardly breath. She used sparknotes to do her english homework, but reasoned that she made up for it by being good at math. Naomi was logical.
If a=b then b=a.
“My brother’s coming over tonight. With his wife. It’s so weird, I can’t believe he’s married.” Sophie was saying.
“Didn’t he just graduate?” Naomi asked, picking up and examining a small porcelain dog that was perched on one of the piles.
“Yeah, college sweethearts or whatever you call that. She’s still in college. How silly is that?”
“If they love each other why wait?”
“Yeah, but,” Sophie turned to the mirror on her closet door and began braiding her hair. “But I don’t know, can you really know so early?”
“You’re the one who reads all of those paranormal romances. Oh we’re nineteen and so in love but we can’t be together. Oh wait, we can! Now we’re together for eternity. The end.” Naomi sat down on Sophie’s bed, watching her friend’s face in the mirror.
“My brother isn’t a vampire.”
“I never said he was,” Naomi smiled. “Hurry up, you’re so slow at braiding hair.”
“Do it for me,” Sophie said giving up. “My arms are tired.”
If a=b and b=c then a=c
After dinner Naomi helped Sophie scrape the plates and put them in the dishwasher. The doorbell rang and Sophie jumped, hurrying to open the door.
“Tristan!” Naomi heard Sophie squeal. “I haven’t seen you in so long!”
“It’s only been a month since the wedding,” Tristan answered. Naomi finished putting the last plate in the dishwasher and took out her phone, checking to see if her parents had texted her. They hadn’t.
“I have your number,” she heard someone say behind her.
“What?” It was Tristan.
“I still have your number from when I used to pick you and Sophie up from school. I found it in my phone the other day.” He reached over and gave her a hug. “It’s been a while, how are you?”
“I’m good,” Naomi stuttered. She hadn’t seen him in over a year and he seemed even taller now with a five o’clock shadow and untidy hair. “How’ve you been?”
“Good,” he smiled. “That’s Louise over there talking to Sophie.” He pointed and the thin gold band encircling his finger glinted in the kitchen light.
“Cool,” she said, feeling nervous. The kitchen was small and he was so big.
“Come meet her,” Tristan said, and grabbed her hand.
Louise had curly dark hair and straight teeth. She shook Naomi’s hand and smelled faintly of cabbage. Tristan smelled like cinammon.
If a=b and c=d; and a+c=e and b+d=f then e=f
Naomi and Sophie went downstairs to the family room to watch a movie on the couch. Sophie’s cat, Sarah Belle curled herself up between them. Twenty minutes into The House Bunny, Tristan and Louise joined them. They sat behind the sofa in chairs, holding plates of food on their lap.
After the movie ended, Naomi yawned and said she was going to go home.
“Why?” Sophie switched off the television. “You’re going to be all alone, why don’t you stay over?”
Naomi thought about the piles of books and porcalien dogs and beaded boxes and shook her head. She didn’t have the energy tonight.
“I’m tired, but thanks.”
“Do you still live only a couple blocks away?” Tristan asked. She turned around and looked at him, Louise was gone.
“Yeah, I do.”
“I can walk you home,” he said.
“Where’s Louise?” Sophie asked.
“She went home,” Tristan said. “She was tired.”
“Tired of you so soon? It’s only been a month!” Sophie rolled off the couch. “I’m tired too,” she announced, lying on her back. “I could fall asleep here.”
“Bye Soph, thanks for having me. Thank your parents.” Naomi got up.
“Want me to walk you home?” Sophie asked.
“No, I’ll be ok. I’ll let myself out. See you tomorrow at soccer.”
“Love you Nomi!” Sophie called after her as Naomi walked up the stairs.
If a=b and c=d; and a-c=e and b-d=f then e=f
Naomi was half way down the block when she heard someone call her name. It was Tristan, and she stopped and waited for him to catch up to her.
“I’m heading home too,” he said, zipping his jacket. “I have the interior decorator coming tomorrow morning.”
“When did you come back to Brooklyn?” Naomi asked.
“A week ago,” he said. “I’m renting a small apartment in a building a couple blocks that way. Louise came from college for the weekend but she’s going back tomorrow.”
Naomi nodded, sticking her hands into her pockets. The air was making her ears sting and she wished she had brought a hat.
“Sophie said you’re all alone at home. Where are your parents?” Tristan asked.
“At my great grandmother’s funeral.”
“Why didn’t you go?”
“I can’t miss soccer tomorrow. I’d get kicked off the team.”
“Wouldn’t want that to happen,” Tristan said, taking her by the shoulder to prevent her from crossing the street. “Watch out, there’s a car coming.”
When they got to her house, Tristan stood watching her as she got her keys out.
“Thanks for walking with me,” she said and suddenly felt nervous again.
“I’ll probably see you more now that I’m back home,” he said and hugged her before walking away down the block.
She went inside and got into her pajamas. It wasn’t even that late. Shouldn’t she do something now? Her parents weren’t home and all she was going to do was go to sleep?
If a=b and c=d; and a·c=e and b·d=f then e=f
In the middle of the night Naomi’s phone beeped and she woke up with a start. She unlocked it and rubbed her eyes trying to adjust them to the brightness of the screen.
I wanted to tell you tonight
I haven’t been able to get you out of my mind
She frowned and read it again. Her heart started hammering in her chest and she quickly turned the light on, peering around her room to make sure she was alone. Who was it from?
sorry, new phone who is this?
She lay back down, her mind racing. Who would send her a text like that? There was Daniel, the boy in her grade who liked her in 7th grade. But that was three years ago. And anyways, she had his number.
Suddenly it dawned on her. What if it was a stalker? What if it was some creepy guy who’d been following her around and who hacked onto her facebook and got her number or, oh my god, what if it was a serial killer? A serial killer who flattered his victims before killing them?
Naomi got out of bed and went downstairs to the front door to make sure it was locked. When she got back to her room there was another text message.
Your eyes shine like the stars in the night
You’re everything I’ve been trying to find
Naomi was now in a full on panic. Should she call her parents? Should she call the police? She flipped back and forth between the two text messages. Her phone beeped again.
I know there are obstacles in our path
I know this is coming as a surprise
No really it was coming as a surprise, she thought dryly, I don’t know who you are.
this isnt funny who r u?
Her chest started to hurt and she realized that she’d been holding her breath. This had never happened to her before. Never ever.
But during the movie when I heard your laugh
I couldn’t deny that my heart to yours is tied
It was Tristan.
She flung her phone across the room where it landed softly on her beanbag.
It had to be. “During the movie” Tristan was there during the movie. It all made sense. Tonight, the movie, he was there through it all. He had her number. He, he…knew where she lived?
He knew where she lived! Naomi took the stairs three at a time. The front door was still locked.
Should she call Sophie? No, she quickly shook her head. No, she wouldn’t call Sophie. What would Sophie say? What would Sophie do?
Would Sophie still want to be friends with her? What would she do without her? Yes Sophie was weird, with her magazines and pungent candles and oriental rugs, but she was Sophie, she was Naomi’s best friend.
She went back upstairs and retrieved her phone from the beanbag.
Please give me a chance
Let me come over and we can talk
She paused. Should she let him come over? No. No. No. That would be absolutely stupid. It would be what her mom called a “bad descision.” But what was that saying, “good stories come from bad choices?” Letting him come over would be something new. Something she’d never done before. And she’d wanted to do something that wasn’t normal. Something that wasn’t doing homework. Something that wasn’t If a=b and c=d; and a/c=e and b/d=f then e=f.
Letting Tristan come over to talk wasn’t math. It wasn’t a logical. It wasn’t rational. It was something totally alien. It didn’t make sense and it wouldn’t have an answer she could find.
i know who u r. come over
She hit send. And felt sick. What had she done? What if he came over and raped her? What if he was a serial killer and he was going to kill her?
But if he was going to do either of those things wouldn’t he have done them when he walked her home? Why wait until four in the morning when he couldn’t even be sure if she would be woken up by her cellphone?
With out you my heart may cease to dance
So open your doors, your arms, your heart to me unlock
She sat cross legged on her bed. Waiting. Would he say something else? Or would he just walk over? He said he lived nearby. She should go downstairs, she thought. That way she’d be able to hear him if he knocked. She grabbed a sweater and her phone.
Naomi turned the light on in the entryway, and sat on the ledge by the door. Her phone didn’t beep again and she kept checking it to make sure it hadn’t lost battery or frozen.
After what felt like hours the doorbell rang. Her heart began beating a frenzied rythmn in her chest and the reality of what she had done set in. She was tired, she was delusional. Yes, she wanted something different but she didn’t want this! He was married. He was old. He was her best friend’s brother. What would she say to him? She didn’t like him. She wasn’t attracted to him. Not at all!
Or was she? On some subconscious level?
Screw it, she thought. Screw it all, if I die tonight at least I’ll have died in a more creative way than getting hit by a car, or drowning. Naomi took a deep breath and opened the door, closing her eyes and bracing herself.
“I…” she started.
“Yes,” said a voice. “I know.”
But the voice wasn’t Tristan’s. It was higher, more girlish. Naomi snapped her eyes open.
It was Louise.
Age 15, Grade 10
Saint Ann’s School