The Invitation

by Amy Laprade

“You seem like you could use a friend.” His eyes stroked her pale freckled thighs that’d spilled below the frayed hems of her denim shorts. “You know, you could hang here … you know, if you like to party … you could cut school and uh, I got cold beer and uh, I could turn you on to some reefer.”

She’d just turned thirteen, and it was a year for busting out. Her clothes from last summer no longer fit. Neither did her attitude at home. How to belong to the in-crowd at school was a mystery to her, but she wasn’t sure that she cared enough to try. Busting out. Boys. Freedom. Cutting school, eh? Needing a friend, eh?

His eyes, the color of rain, had turned sleet and were slick and hard like two panes of glass. He held his gaze from the cracked, concrete stoop. His Harley was parked under the willow that’d shielded the pink, paint-peeled house from the baking heat. The half moons on the window shutters made her think of lidded eyes.

She folded her arms, nervously cupped her elbows, and wondered where his girl Maxine was. She’d never not seen Maxine around. The two were inseparable. Their leather. Their boots. His long hair and the delicate strands of pewter that laced through his beard. Her fabulous fashion sense. Inseparable.

Except Maxine was gone, along with that ear for listening patiently to her adolescent woes whenever Mother wouldn’t, and here he was and far too old.

“Umm, thanks, but I have homework.” She mounted her bike, feeling his eyes on her back as she pedaled away.

""Amy Laprade is the author of the novel So Nice to Finally Meet You…. Her work has appeared in Canyon Voices, Plum Literary Journal and Meat for Tea, the Valley Review. Her second novel, Behind the Magic 8 Ball, is forthcoming through Human Error Press.

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