Thursday afternoon, Lester arrived home from school with Susie Jones in tow. They had a science project to work on before Lester had to be at work at 6:00.
“Hi, honey,” India said from the couch. “How was your day?”
He was still mad at her because of the incident. “Fine. You know Susie. She’s here to work on a school project. You’re currently occupying half the seating in this room…”
India narrowed her eyes at him.
“Susie,” he said, “may I get you something to drink?”
“I’m fine, thank you,” Susie said.
India didn’t appreciate the way he spoke to her, but she didn’t want to make trouble for him while he was in the presence of a pretty girl. She knew how much trouble he had with girls and how badly he wanted a girlfriend. Besides, she needed to get ready for work anyway and left them alone.
Susie let out a loud sigh. “It’s nice to be in a quiet house.”
“Uhhh, somehow I never imagined the Jones house to be a loud place…no offense.”
“None taken. My mom had her baby two days ago, so…”
“DUDE! Your mom had a baby?! But, isn’t she, like, old like my mom?”
“I know, right?”
“Ewww. That’s just…ewwww!”
“Well, you know…it’s always quiet here…so…whatever…”
Lester felt a bit awkward and quickly asked his next question as he sat. “So, you have a little what?”
“Oh. Uhhh, that’s nice…I guess.”
“It’s not fair! That’s what it is! I’m gonna have to share a room with her in a day or two!”
Lester took a moment to relish in the fact that he had no siblings.
Susie didn’t want to talk about her problems anymore and changed the subject. “Lester? Why are you so rude to your mom?”
“Because she! I saw…uhhhh…she always…ugggghh…” His face contorted with every new beginning of his explanation. He looked insane and sounded like a scrambled radio signal.
But, he looked at Susie who was patiently awaiting an answer. He was glad she didn’t think he was crazy. He took a deep breath and a moment to sort out his feelings.
“I dunno. I guess…I feel like she doesn’t really care about me.”
“Why do you think that?”
“Well, it’s not that I think she doesn’t care cuz I guess she does. But I feel like she cares about herself more. Like, all she wants to do is go dance with those Partihaus douches. I mean, who wants to spend hours and hours dancing? That’s like the dumbest hobby ever! It’s dark…and probably really hot! All those strangers bumping into you. And then! You’re like shaking yourself all night! That sounds like a lot of work! And sweat! EWWW!”
Susie laughed. “So you don’t like dancing. Noted.”
“And then, she’s been dating this OLD guy! And like, not her age old. Like, REALLY old! Like GRANDPA old! And I’m like, really mom? Really?!”
Although Lester was quite serious, Susie couldn’t help but laugh at how enthusiastically he told stories.
“I mean,” he continued, “I think my mom is nice looking, I guess. If she can’t find someone decent to be with, then where does that leave me?”
Susie stopped laughing. She thought it was sad that he didn’t think very highly of himself.
“I mean, take you for example. You’re a cheerleader, and you come from a nice family, and you dress nice and stuff. You don’t have any problems.
“Me, oh I’m full of problems. Nobody wants to deal with a guy with problems!”
“Lester…if all your ‘problems’ have to do with how you look and how people perceive you, that’s easily fixable. Trust me. I know allllllllllllll about perception.”
“Heh, what are you? A miracle worker? You think that highly of yourself?”
“No. But, I think you underestimate yourself,” she said.
He gave her an incredulous look.
“I think you have a…a ummm…a good face. With a trip to the salon and some new clothes, you’d be well on your way to changing people’s minds about you.”
“Hmmm…good face, huh? Tell me about this alleged good face,” he said.
She was a little bit embarrassed that she said anything. “Well…you have intriguing eyes, but you cover them with those huge glasses. No one can see your good features.”
He pondered on her words for a moment. No one ever appreciated his face before. No one except his mother, of course. He began to feel a strange sensation growing in his chest: a feeling he had never felt before. However, he didn’t have the time to explore what it was or what it meant, and got up to go to his room.
“Did I say something wrong?” she asked.
“Oh. No. We’d better get started on this project before it gets too late.”