“Step back again. I can’t get you in focus.” Lisa waved at Ben while keeping the video camera clued to her face.
Ben did it, and didn’t even grumble, though he couldn’t figure out why she couldn’t make the camera focus on him no matter where he stood. So he hunched over against the cold and let himself look … what was that word she used? Desolate. That was it.
If she could get the camera to work, it ought to be a great picture. The lonely boy huddled against the cold in his pea coat, a vacant parking lot behind him. If they were lucky, it might start snowing. The skies were gray enough for it.
“This isn’t working.” Lisa huffed, letting the camera drop to her side. “I’m just not feeling it.”
“What? You think I’m not lonely enough?”
“I don’t know. Maybe it would be better to do this with the band.”
Stung, Ben snapped. “Isn’t it too soon to be making a promotional video? I mean, they don’t even have one song ready. They don’t even have a name. Seems to me like you’re jumping the gun again.”
“Again? What’s that supposed to mean?”
“Nothing.” Ben bit the word out, feeling resentful.
For over a month now he’d been feeling like she didn’t really understand him. He took her to meet Mrs. Audrey so she’d get it, but instead she tried to take over his life, doing the same things he did, and it made him mad.
Lisa tipped her head down and looked at him like she didn’t believe him for a minute.
“I’m just saying you like to jump into things without thinking about it. Like writing a book. You don’t even know what you want to write about, do you?”
“Wait a minute. I’m not the one who…”
“You don’t even want to write at all, do you? I mean, you’re always talking about it, but I never see you doing it. When I ask if I can read something, you say you haven’t written anything down yet, or that it isn’t any good or something.”
She looked stunned. Maybe that was because he was pretty mean about it. He was mad, had been mad a long time, and let it all out.
“You should just quit!”
“But the whole reason I starting writing is because I thought you wanted me to.” She looked like she was getting mad, too, but then big, fat tears started to ran down her face. She was crying, and it was his fault. She couldn’t make him hurt any worse by punching him in the gut than she did by crying.
“Don’t… don’t cry.” He lifted his hands, put them down, did it all again a couple more times before he realized what he needed to do with them was hold her. He stepped in and pulled her close. “I’m sorry. I didn’t know.”
“How could you not know?” She moved her shoulders and shoved at him, but it didn’t look to him like she really wanted to get away.
“It’s all your fault! I tried it last summer because you were always talking about it and I wanted to know what it was like. And I didn’t like it. And I wasn’t ever going to do it again, but you made me go see Mrs. Audrey, and you both acted like I was supposed to want to.”
“I just… I just wanted to share it with you. I didn’t mean for you to take it over.”
“I didn’t!” She was crying in earnest now. “I didn’t take anything away from you!”
”But you go to see Mrs. Audrey even when I don’t come along with you.” As he said it he realized he was just jealous, which was really stupid. But knowing it was stupid didn’t make the feeling go away.
“So… so you don’t need to do it anymore. You don’t need to see her, and you don’t need to write. I don’t mind if you quit. Right?” He waited for her to agree.
But she didn’t. She just looked at him like he’d hurt her too much for her to cry anymore. He got the feeling he’d made a really bad mistake.
“Forget it. Just forget it.” She walked away from him.
He got the feeling it wasn’t the writing she wanted him to just forget.
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