Tonight the Streets Are Ours / Page 33

Page 33


“Yeah, duh,” Roman said. “In like twenty minutes.”

This was the first Arden had heard of it. “Can’t Dad take you?”

“He was supposed to.” Roman looked down at the floor and scuffed his shoe. “Uh, he left a note. He already went into the office. So…”

“It’s Sunday,” Arden said. When she was little, Sunday mornings meant eating their mother’s homemade pancakes in her pajamas and watching cartoons on TV. Her mother made silver dollar pancakes and laid them out on her plate like they were lily pads, with the syrup forming a river that flowed between them. Arden would take little plastic toys and place them on the pancakes like they were forest creatures who lived on these lily pads, and she would send them rafting down the syrup river. She would play like this until her pancakes were absolutely grubby, and then her mother would make her another batch, and those she would actually eat.

Arden should have woken up even earlier and made pancakes for her family today. She’d never tried to make them herself, but it couldn’t be that hard. She’d figured out how to do some cooking in the past two months. Some cooking, and a lot of ordering takeout. Her father turned out to be clueless about every aspect of the kitchen except for how to make hummus and spaghetti. (Not together, thank God.) Arden had started to seriously wonder how her father had ever survived on his own before her parents got married. How had he not starved to death?

“I’m calling him.” Arden reached for her phone. “He can’t just forget you have a basketball game today, Roman. That’s not right.”

“Yeah, whatever, but can you call him from the car? I’m going to be late, and then Coach won’t put me in the game. It’s the rule.”

There was a solid chance that Roman’s coach wouldn’t put him in the game anyway, since Roman was about half a foot shorter than any of the other sixth and seventh grade boys on his team, and also he was desperately nearsighted and refused to wear contacts when he played sports because he was scared of touching his eyeballs.

But Arden did not say this. She just threw on the jeans and sweatshirt closest to her bed and headed downstairs.

Roman had already gone down to the kitchen and was eating brown sugar straight out of the bag. Arden took it away from him. “One, that’s disgusting. Two, are you an animal? Three, it’s like eight in the morning.” She stuck the bag on the uppermost shelf in the cabinet, which Roman would not be able to reach unless he climbed onto the counter, which he definitely would later.

“I need fuel,” Roman explained. “For my game. Coach says it’s important to eat an energizing breakfast before playing.”

They stepped outside, and Roman ran down the driveway to Arden’s car. March was still going through its “in like a lion” phase, and he was only wearing shorts. She should have made him put on a coat. Why did it never occur to children to dress for the weather?

“It’s locked,” he hollered at her.

She patted her pocket for her car key, then realized that she must have left it in her school locker. This was not the first time she’d forgotten her key—which was why she had Lindsey hold on to an extra copy for her.

“Wait here for a sec,” she told Roman.

“I’m gonna be late!” Roman protested, hopping in place to warm himself against the cold.

Arden ignored him and jogged through the woods between her house and Lindsey’s. The woods seemed smaller these days than they had when she first discovered Lindsey there. They were much smaller than they were described in the Arden books. No one from the Just Like Me Dolls Company had actually shown up in person to scope out the size of the woods where the drama went down. They just wrote the story.

Arden knocked on Lindsey’s back door. Knocking was a stupid rule that Mr. and Mrs. Matson enforced, even though Arden and Lindsey had been constantly in and out of each other’s houses for half of their lives. All things being equal, Arden’s parents had way more reason to be suspicious of Lindsey than Lindsey’s parents had to be suspicious of Arden. Short of that one supposed pot-ownership incident, Arden was a rule-abiding, hand-raising, crosswalk-obeying, absolute golden child, and Lindsey was … well, Lindsey.

Arden’s father thought Lindsey was a troublemaker, which was true from an adult perspective, but irrelevant to how good a friend or person she was. He thought she was unambitious, which was decidedly not true; it’s just that her ambitions were not the sort that Arden’s father cared about. And though he would never come out and say this, and would deny it to the death if Arden had asked him point-blank, he didn’t like that Lindsey was gay. Whenever he was around and Lindsey was over, he would watch her like a hawk, as if concerned that she was going to suddenly try to stick her tongue in his daughter’s mouth.

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