Tonight the Streets Are Ours / Page 72

Page 72


Arden looks over to the crowd gathered outside Jigsaw Manor: the people waiting in line to get in (still, even though it’s nearly two thirty in the morning), the winged fairies smoking a cigarette on the street. Peter is right. None of them seems to care that across the street, there’s a girl physically fighting her car as if they’re in a cage match. There’s something unsettling about the fact that nobody is noticing her scene, nobody is coming over to ask what’s wrong or if she needs help, but what’s also unsettling is that this doesn’t bother her, because it makes her feel like she can do whatever the hell she wants.

“What’s the plan for your car?” Peter asks.

“I don’t know. I just want to get out of here. I want to go somewhere.”

“Me, too,” Peter agrees. She sees him looking around, and she assumes he is keeping a watch out for Leo.

Now that her fury has passed, Arden feels drained. She sits down on the curb. Questions threaten the edges of her consciousness: How am I going to get home, if my car doesn’t work? How is Lindsey going to get home? When am I going to go home?

As if sensing, somehow, that Arden is plagued by pragmatic concerns, and knowing that “pragmatic concerns” might as well be his middle name, Chris chooses this moment to call.

She answers automatically, not even bothering to consider whether or not she actually wants to speak to him at this moment. She feels like she doesn’t have any fight left in her—she used it all up on Lindsey and the Heart of Gold, and now she’s empty. “What?” she says, her voice weary.

“Oh, wow, you’re still up! Okay, good. Well, I was just calling because, uh, Jaden wanted to know if we wanted to meet up for lunch at Piccino tomorrow. You in?”

This is weird, hearing Chris’s voice and Jaden’s name, these hallmarks of home, while she is sitting on a curb outside an enchanted forest party in Brooklyn, her skin covered in marker. She’d imagined that she’d entered into another dimension, but now it turns out that she hadn’t.

“I can’t do lunch. Sorry. Why are you still up?” she asks Chris distractedly. As soon as she answered the phone, Peter started wandering down the street. She’s keeping an eye on him, wondering where he’s going. It seems unlikely that he’s going to just ditch her here—but if for some reason he did, she has no idea what she would do. She doesn’t even know where she is.

“I was having trouble sleeping,” Chris says. He clears his throat. “I guess I was worried … that you’re still mad at me. Are you still mad at me?”

It feels like a million years have passed since her argument with Chris. It actually takes her a second to remember specifically what they were fighting about, and then it startles her to think of Chris, sitting in his bed alone and missing her, while she is hundreds of miles away, making giant soap bubbles in the air. The thought makes her feel powerful. Let him know what it’s like, for once. Let him know how it feels to be the one who gets left behind.

“You seem like you’re still mad,” Chris says after a moment of silence from Arden.

She was, it’s true, but now it seems absurd to be mad at him, when he is the reason she’s here at all, in New York, with Peter. It seems absurd to be mad at him because no amount of her anger or arguing would ever convince him that what he really wants to do, most in all the world, is be by her side. She doesn’t really know why she’d bother. She wants things between them to be right again. But being mad at him isn’t going to make that happen.

“I’m not mad,” she says. “I’m just disappointed.” Peter has vanished from view and she stands up to try to figure out where he’s gone.

“I’ll make it up to you,” Chris promises, and probably he could, and would, if her disappointment were only about him, and only about what happened today.

“How was the movie thing?” Arden asks. She is walking down the street slowly, away from the party and her car, scanning for Peter.

“It was great,” Chris replies. “Everyone there was super nice, and I really felt like they all treated me as an equal, you know? Not just some random high school student. This is going to be a great learning experience, I can already tell. The girl who’s playing Gretchen seemed pretty interested in American Fairy Tale. She said she might check out one of our rehearsals some time, if it’s okay with Mr. Lansdowne.”

“That’s good,” Arden says vaguely.

Chris sighs. “Babe, why are you being so out of it?”

This snaps her attention back to her phone. “It’s just really … late,” she explains. “I wasn’t expecting a call from you this late. But I’m glad you had a fun night.”

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