Thursday morning the police arrested Amy Brown’s brother for dealing drugs and driving with a suspended license. They just stomped into Alan’s honors history class all Dick Tracy and hauled him away. After the word spread, everyone, even strangers, came up to Amy to hug her and pat her long hair into place. They all went,” Wow, Amy, I can’t believe your brother is a drug dealer.”
After school, Amy went to the river with her boyfriend, Brad. At the river they could drink and smoke and mess around in peace, but Brad drank about five hard lemonades to Amy’s one, and he kept flicking his hair around and that got on her nerves. Still, she went ahead and had sex with him because she wanted to; she wanted to even though she couldn’t stand Brad’s breath or the itchy horse blanket that he kept in his car trunk for the river afternoons.
Whenever Brad drank too much—and he drank too much a lot—he’d take forever to come. Amy looked over his shoulder at the patterns made by the tree limbs, the sudden swirl of white birds flying over the river, and she kissed the hairless part of his chest because she didn’t want to kiss him on the mouth anymore, ever again. She listened to the river and thought about the time her brother won a gigantic stuffed Panda Bear by making foul shots at the May Day Fair downtown. He gave the bear to Amy because he didn’t have a girlfriend at the time, but Amy had accidentally Krazy-glued a pink plastic handbag over the bear’s nose.
She still had that bear in her room and that made her smile until she realized that she was having sex with Brad and thinking about her brother at the fair, so she blotted everything out of her mind, and whispered to Brad, ‘You’re so good, fill me up,’ and he went, ‘I hunger for your touch.’
Amy pushed Brad off of her with two hands.
“I want to go home, Brad,’ she said. “I’m sad about Alan,” which was true, she was. They put their clothes back on under a sweet gum tree, and Brad tried to hold her but she pulled away from him, and then she felt terrible for doing that but it was too late to take it back.
She picked a few pine needles off her red sweater and kissed Brad on the cheek. He acted like a big baby on the drive back to her house. He didn’t talk at all.
Amy’s mother wasn’t home. A pack of hot dogs was thawing in the sink, but Amy wasn’t hungry. She went upstairs to her room and watched a bunch of music videos until it got dark. Her panda bear sat in the foldout beach chair beside her desk. There were a couple of pictures of Alan in her room, but she didn’t want to look at his face right now.
On the edge of her bed, she rolled a small joint—tiny bombers, Alan called them—and went out to the backyard to smoke beside the pool. It was the middle of April and most of the neighbors had the sprinklers running. They sounded like a thousand basketballs deflating at the same time, and Amy felt something whir inside her. She stretched out on the lounge chair by the diving board. She looked at the stars in the spaces between the clouds and waited for her mother to come back home.