Arizona Skies
Author: Isabella Darcy

Chapter 38
Hints

We walk home through the dusty orange red, laughing with the sky bleeding ultraviolet blue above us. He won't let me see the drawing.

"Come on, why not?" I plead, giving him my best puppy dog look. He shakes his head, cracking a smile.

"So," he tries to distract me, "I guess I can't stay over today, since Emma's coming...right?"

And, of course, I'm distracted. "How did you hear about that?"

"Just because I'm not in your line of vision doesn't mean I'm not there," he says, grinning at me. "Hilarious watching you two try to ignore the festivities down the table. And Leanne..." he shook his head wordlessly, vainly trying to repress his merriment. "You get one hell of a laugh with that girl."

I can't help smiling; it's true. "Wow, Aubrey, who would of thought you'd become my personal stalker? Can't keep away from me for an hour, can you?" I tease.

He shrugs it off, winking at me. "I happened to be passing by, that's all. And when I overheard what was going on...well, maybe I lingered a bit near the trashcan."

"Mmhmm." By now we've reached the porch, the slight, hot breeze rustling the windchimes so they tinkle in the wind, their shards of glass reflecting rainbows. Aubrey stops at the steps, unwilling to be gone. He digs his hands into the pockets of his faded jeans, frowning up through the sun at me.

"Well, I guess I'll see you later, then."

"Like when?" I call pitifully as he starts to walk away. It's sad to admit it, but I know I'll be on edge till I know he's coming back soon. He spins back around from the truck's door with a lazy grin, shading his eyes.

"Who knows," he calls, half-laughing, "Maybe I'll be there when you wake up."

With a flash of red, the truck skids off into the dusty horizon and I smile to myself, watching it go. Then, my hand hanging onto the creaky latch of the screen door, I step into the cool dark beyond.

 

 

 

Emma is on time; I've barely opened the chem textbook when the doorbell rings, shrill. Nice to know she's not walking in like last time.

We attempt to do the chem, but the goal is just not realistic. She's barely dropped her bag on the floor and plopped down when she turns to me, her eyes wide and curious, evidently itching to discuss what happened today at lunch.

"So," she says, flipping through the textbook, "Interesting day."

"Mmhmm."

Unsatisfied with my unwillingness to initiate the conversation she's so desperate to have, Emma finally finds her page, looks up at me with a deep breath, and says,

"Frank and Leanne. Wow."

I nod, unsure of what she's expecting me to say. I can't shake off the feeling of paranoia I have, like she's prodding me for information on my feelings about Frank. So I just repeat the same noncommital 'mmm' I've become so good at recently.

"Did you see when he pushed her hand? I was definitely not expecting that. Frank, of all people!"

"Well, she was being ridiculous," I'm goaded into saying. "It was pretty embarrassing. I mean, I'd be embarrassed if I were him."

Now that I've caught the bait she keeps reeling me in. "I know! I guess it sort of pushed him over the edge. Frank's been pretty nervous lately, you know," she says, dropping her eyes and opening her binder, shuffling to a clean paper and releasing it with a loud click. "I don't know what's up with him. He's all tense, like he's waiting for something. It's really weird."

I open my notebook and pick up my pencil, scribbling my name in the upper right hand corner, forcing myself to focus on it instead of Emma's gossip. To no avail.

"You know, I really think this Leanne thing is just temporary," she says, catching my attention. Emma nods at me seriously, grateful for the interest I'm finally displaying. "I mean, I feel like it's just a show- a blind. Like he's doing it just to-"

"Just to what?" I ask as she breaks off, slapping a hand to her mouth in a gesture of surprise- whether feinged or real I can't even tell. She shrugs, the words coming slowly and reluctantly.

"Well, to get back at you. You know, since you're with Aubrey." She clarifies, as if unsure if I comprehend. "I think he's jealous, and it seems..." another shrug, "it seems like its working."

"What?" I drop my pencil, abandoning all attempts at the chem. "It is not."

She raises a doubtful eyebrow. "Really?"

"Yes, really," I say, feeling the heat creep up into my cheeks. "Emma, I am not jealous of Frank and Leanne!"
She tosses a curl over her shoulder with a 'don't-kill-the-messenger' face. "Hey, you're the one all worked up about it, not me."

I stare openmouthed at her for a couple seconds, stunned, as she diligently numbers her paper. Then, finally, I rediscover the power of speech.

"Emma!"

She looks up at me with innocent clear eyes.

"I am not worked up," I stress, forcing my tone to decrease a few decibels. "Why are you trying to tell me I am?"

"All I'm saying is, maybe subconsciously, you've always felt sort of protective over Frank, and cared for him-" She holds up a hand to stop me as I begin to interrupt, "and now that Leanne is on the scene, all of your hidden feelings for him are manifesting themselves in this aggressively defensive behavior."

I goggle at her. "Since when did you become a psychoanalyst?"

Emma shrugs with a sweet smile. "Shall we get started? I think number one is A."

 

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