Act 1: Chapter 6, Part 5

Posted on September 03, 2017

In Which Evan Keeps to Himself

Angie. First Day of School. Approaching Twilight.

Ryan and Angie walked back to The Grove in comfortable silence, holding hands as the day grew long and the sun approached the horizon. Their curfew wasn’t until the end of civil twilight, but civil twilight was still pretty late in the day this early in September, and it was a school night, after all, as Megan had said.

Hanging out with Megan had been easy, easier than Angie had thought it would be, as angry as she’d been over the years. They’d fallen into familiar patterns immediately, just as they had that morning, chatting about absolutely nothing for the next two hours, TV shows and movies, books, random internet bullshit. No focus, no pathos, just friends together like they’d never been apart. It was unfortunate Ryan had someone to encourage him regarding Flames of Love now, but Angie supposed she hadn’t really been surprised. Eventually they’d drifted down to the video games, and she and Megan had played Mario Bros (the crab flipping original, not Super Mario Bros) while Ryan conquered the local Beast Fighter machine.

Now it was time to check in with Evan, and maybe spend some time together down in Ryan’s quarters. Angie’s favorite part of the day. It had been a wonder to have Megan back, but it had been a lot to just absorb and process over the course of the day, so Angie was looking forward to alone time.

“Tadaima!” Ryan announced as they came in. Angie snickered.

“Sup?” Cali’s voice was muffled from the living room.

Inside, they found Cali munching on a grilled cheese sandwich in a desultory manner, watching an episode of “The Great Beast Hunt: Bavaria”. There was another plate filled with more grilled cheeses along with some bowls of tomato bisque.

“Hey,” Cali said, slumped down on the couch. “I thought you’d be home sooner.”

“You didn’t text or anything,” Ryan replied. He slide into the rocking chair he’d claimed his first ever visit to the Cadells’ house, back before they lived together. Angie flopped down on the couch next to Cali. “I sent you a text.”

“I didn’t see it,” she said, sullen. “And this is our normal routine.”

“Sorry,” Angie said, sincerely contrite. “I totally spaced texting. I should have too, maybe you’d have heard that one.”

“Hanging out with Megan?” Cali said, her tone moving from merely sullen to outright sour.

“Yeah. Evan tell you?” Angie replied with a sigh.

“Well, that you guys hung out with her and Chris Gramyre at lunch,” she replied, now sounding annoyed. “And then he disappeared into his room. He didn’t even answer when I yelled that I made food. I wanted to ask him about Chris.”

“That’s probably why he stayed in there,” Ryan said, a smirk in his voice if not on his face.

“Shut it,” Cali said without malice.

Angie popped up and went into the hall. She walked into the hallway and knocked on Evan’s door. “Hey Evs!” she called. “We’re home. You wanna come out?”

There was no response. Angie shrugged, walked back into the living room, flopped back down and picked up a grilled cheese sandwich and started munching.

“Hrm,” Ryan said. “I ate more ramen than I should have. I might reheat some later.”

“Do grilled cheese microwave well?” Cali asked. There weren’t usually any left on grilled cheese nights, Angie supposed.

“Anything microwaves well when you’ve got the touch,” Ryan said, grinning and waggling his fingers.

“Oh, yeah, good point,” Cali replied.

“Gots to feeds the flames, gots to feed the flames,” Angie sang after chewing for a few moments, reaching out and dunking her sandwich in a soup bowl. They settled into watching the show for a bit.

Megan. First Day of School. Dinner Time, Technically.

Megan, of course, had texted her parents about going out after school, and again to tell when she’d be home. She was running a little late by the time she actually got there, though. Mostly because she’d gone home in a happy daze and had got on the wrong trolley.

“Hiiii, I’m hoooome,” Megan called, the big dumb grin plastered all over her face showing in her tone, as she closed the front door behind her.

“I’m downstairs, honey,” Megan’s mother called from downstairs. Megan clip-clopped down the stairs and found her mother watching the news and eating a pre-prepared meal from the Trader Joe’s on one of the TV trays they almost never got out, her golden hair cut short into a curly mom halo around her head, gleaming in the lamplight.

Megan felt a little bad, but she couldn’t get the silly smile off her face even as she said, “Um, sorry I’m late for dinner. Is Dad working late again?”

“I’d think that should be obvious,” her mother replied, sounding more amused than annoyed. “Yes, something came up. And I was hungry, so I thought I’d just have one of these rather than try and prepare something more complicated for no one, so I’m afraid you’re on your own tonight, hon.”

“It’s okay, I ate some earlier, I’m not that hungry,” Megan said, trying to ignore what the news was saying. Something about someone having disappeared. Nothing Megan really wanted to think about.

“So,” Megan’s mother said, taking in Megan with one quick appraising glance in the way only she could. “Your first day seems to have gone well. I take it we can expect to see Lil Red and the boys around occasionally again?”

Megan felt herself blush. “You heard that this morning, huh?” she asked, looking down at her shoes.

“Oh sweetie,” Megan’s mother said, pausing the news, putting down her fork, and scootching the TV tray out of her way so that she could stand and walk over to Megan. She wrapped her arms around her daughter, and Megan nestled her head against her mother’s shoulder and smiled. Her mother continued, “Yes… I did, but I didn’t need to hear her shouting to know what your plans were for today. Something’s clearly been on your mind ever since we got home. If nothing else, you didn’t immediately starting going out and seeing Lauren and the girls, and it didn’t take a big leap of logic to figure out why that might be.”

Megan giggled, touched by her mother’s insight, as always. “Yeah. It… it didn’t go perfect. I think I really upset Evan. But I… oh, it’s been such a mad day, Mum. You wouldn’t believe.”

“Oh?” her mother said, stepping back and giving her a sympathetic look. “Do you want to tell me about it, dearling? Did Lauren react poorly?”

Megan glanced away. “Yeah. Pretty bad. Um.” She paused, and her mother pulled over over to sit down on the couch. “She was starting to really get into it, but, well, we didn’t really resolve anything,” Megan went on, warmth growing in her cheeks, “I got, um, we were interrupted by this boy.”

“Uh oh,” Megan’s mother said, smiling to convey that she was joking.

Without warning, Megan felt overwhelmed with uncertainty. She didn’t know whether she was actually ready to tell, to talk about this, to verbalize the things she was feeling. She didn’t know how her mother would react to this tale of this strange-eyed boy who took her mad ramblings about birthdays and the bizarre transfiguration of her bell charm--she’d put it away after lunch, she remembered, so that the bell’s jingle wouldn’t distract her classes too much, and after it had dropped out of her mind--as reason enough to hang out with her and her friends, this boy who didn’t even know about them, about their long estrangement, not really. He might have guessed, from what she’d said when it happened, but she didn’t know.

“Yeah,” Megan said, ducking her head and letting her hair fall across one eye, throwing in a shrug, “So I don’t know where I really stand with Lauren right now. I hope she won’t be too… I don’t know.” She shrugged again. “But… it went well with Angie and them.”

“Except you upset Evan?” her mother asked. “Did the boy who interrupted you and Lauren have anything to do with that?”

Fuck. She shouldn’t have mentioned Evan. “Um. Maybe. I’m not sure,” she said, shrugging one shoulder. “I think it was more likely Beth, though, because I didn’t really do a good job of telling her… um. Of telling her how hard it was to apologize, and she tried to talk to Evan after seeing me do so. He got angry after that.”

“Hmm,” her mother vocalized, tilting her head slightly to the left and studying Megan. Neither of her parents had ever really pushed her about what was going on when Angie and the boys had stopped coming around. “Well,” her mother now said. “It sounds like maybe Beth upset Evan; try not to blame yourself too much, dearling.” She reached out and gently touched Megan’s face, tilting it up until Megan was looking back at her. Her mother was smiling, gentle, yet… amused? “He’ll come around again, assuming this interrupting boy didn’t have anything to do with it too.” Her mother then winked at her. “You can tell me more about him when you feel up to it.”

Megan felt herself blushing, but at the same time her stomach was sinking. What if it was really Chris? What if everything was going to fall apart on her? Evan didn’t have a crush on her or something, surely, but he sure… she didn’t know. She was worried his bad reaction was to Chris. He hadn’t seem convinced of the magic in the same way Angie and Ryan had been.

What was she going to do if Evan didn’t come around?