Phone Calls and Other Life-Altering Events
It's 7:42 on a Tuesday when the phone rings. I only notice the time because I'm watching Wheel of Fortune, which is so boring that I think I might be better entertained if I turned off the TV and stared at the blank screen. I wonder when Vanna White began looking like somebody's mom. I distinctly remember thinking she was hot when I was younger. My parents are out and I'm sunk into the living room sofa, but the phone is within my arm's reach. I grab the remote and hit the mute button.
"Is Sheffman Brandt in?"
It takes me a second to realize he's talking about my dad. Sheffman is his real first name, but no one calls him that. He usually goes by Robert or Rob or Bobby, for his middle name. Sheffman is his mother's maiden name. It must be a telemarketer or someone who got his name off a list.
"No, I'm sorry, he's not home. Can I take a message?"
There's silence on the other end. I think I hear the man say "Umm," like he's really thinking about whether or not to leave a message.
"Hello?" I say, mildly irritated.
"No. I'm sorry. No. Sorry. No, thank you." His voice sounds more certain that "No" is the right answer each time he says it. Then he hangs up, so I do, too. I'm asleep before my parents get home.
In the morning, the sound of my mother and Pilot coming back from their walk wakes me up. Pilot is our dog, but my parents act like he's my little brother.
My father is sitting in the living room at his computer. His desk is in the back of the room, behind the sofa, so that he can watch TV while he works.
"Morning, Nicky," he says, looking up from his cereal. Even though he's fifty years old, my dad has a big sweet tooth; he puts three or four spoonfuls of sugar into his Grape-Nuts every morning. Mom says he's going to get adult-onset diabetes. Dad works from home half the time, and he's sitting in his pajama bottoms with his cereal, so it doesn't look like he's going in today. Before I was born, he started a company called Fetch Capital, and my mother quit her job to help him run it.
"Hey, Dad." My hair is still wet from the shower, and my shirt is clinging to my chest because I was still wet when I put it on. But it's only September, school's only just started, and it's still hot out. It'll feel good once I get outside.
My mother and Pilot are on the couch, watching the five-day forecast, which is pretty much my mother's favorite show.
"Stevie coming over this morning?" she asks as I walk toward the kitchen.
I shake my head. "I'll meet him downstairs." Stevie and I have been walking to school together since we were ten.
"His parents were at the fund-raiser last night. They won the big prize in the silent auction."
"What they win?" I ask as I pour myself cereal.
"Some trip. They always bid on the trips, those two.
Stevie's parents love to travel. When we were little, Stevie slept over every time his parents left town.
"Bring a sweater to school with you, Nick," Mom says, kissing my head before she leaves the room. "I know you think it's still summer, but it's getting cold already and your hair is still wet." I roll my eyes at Dad but he says, "Sweater, Nicky," like he agrees with Mom that I'm not old enough to know whether I'm hot or cold.
Girls in School Uniforms
"Why the fuck is everyone in such a hurry to get into that building?" Stevie asks. We're standing on the corner across the street from school, leaning against the windows of the pizza place. Stevie hates school this year. His parents are making him see a tutor after school because colleges pay such close attention to junior year on your transcripts. It wouldn't be so bad if Stevie didn't already get straight As. They seem to think, since he never studies, that something must be wrong. But Stevie's just that smart. You'd hate him if he weren't so cool about it. Sometimes when we have two choices for an essay, he'll write both of them, choose the one he likes better, and give me the other one to hand in.
I'm pretty sure that Francis is the only coed high school in New York with school uniforms. Boys have to wear shirts and ties, and right now Stevie and I are sweating under our long sleeves. Whoever came up with this outfit was not thinking about the weather in Manhattan, which stays hot through September and gets hot again in May, so that the boys have to sweat out two months every year.
But not the girls. The girls wear gray kilts and button-downs, although they call them blouses, and they always roll their kilts at the waist to make them shorter. Sometimes they wear boxers underneath their kilts, and the skirts are rolled so short that you can see the boxers peeking out at the hems.
Eden Reiss is walking toward Stevie and me, and her kilt is just above her knees; she never rolls her skirt to make it shorter. Her button-down is loose enough that the buttons don't pull at her chest, but you can see the polka dots on her bra underneath her white shirt.
"Check out Eden's bra," Stevie whispers.
"Yeah, I see it." I don't exactly need it pointed out to me, and Stevie knows it. But I'm trying not to look because she'll see me staring. Eden Reiss has been at Francis since kindergarten, too, just like Stevie and me. Just her name is enough to make her cool, like her parents wanted something biblical, but rather than settle on Eve they went straight to the heart of the matter by naming her Eden.From the Hardcover edition.
Excerpted from The Lucky Kind by Alyssa B. Sheinmel. Copyright © 2011 by Alyssa Sheinmel. Excerpted by permission of Ember, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.