March 11, 2010
Evan zipped up his microfleece jacket. He glanced around the kitchen, the family room… alone. He opened the back door.
“Ev! Where’re you going?” Joe was all over him.
“I’ll go with you.”
“No, dude—you hate running.”
It was true, Joe hated running, but he convinced Evan to wait while he went to the garage. A minute later, he came out on a bike. They got as far as the street.
“I’ve changed my mind,” Evan said. “Fifty percent chance of rain.”
“You punk, that’s a fifty percent chance of dry. Where to?”
To the right, an easy trot to the park. To the left, a steep, winding climb to the water tower. “Doesn’t matter,” Evan said, but his body said left. They took off and rounded the bend, but here they stopped. A large tree had fallen across the street, blocking the lanes. Traffic was backed up in both directions.
“I don’t know about you,” Joe said, “but I believe in signs. I also believe in not riding up hills.” Joe turned the bike around and headed the other way.
“Wait—” Too late; Evan resigned himself and ran after Joe.
They set a good pace, slow enough for Evan to carry on a conversation, fast enough for Joe to keep the bike steady. Evan thought about the fallen tree; maybe the sign was an all-clear: Don’t torture yourself. Everything will be fine because Danni won’t come today… was that too much to put on a sign?
Evan saw her before Joe did. He halted his forward progress but kept his feet going… deciding… and did an about-face. He headed for the exit.
“Hey!” Joe yelled. “Dude, I’m getting a drink of water.” Joe rode into the park.
Danni was wheeling toward Evan now, waving, wearing a pretty yellow sweater. Evan checked that Joe wasn’t looking and waved back. An idea struck him; he ran quickly toward her but not in a familiar way. Joe was still trying to eke water out of the fountain.
Evan reached Danni and said in a hush, “Pretend you don’t know me!”
“Don’t say hello!”
“Hello, what’s your problem?”
“That’s your brother? I thought your brother was in Japan.”
“No, no—look, I’ll see you tomorrow.”
Evan actually thought he could get away, but Joe, having sipped enough water to swallow, stood smiling at him. Evan froze. Danni had rolled her wheelchair right behind.
“Ev, you have a groupie,“ Joe said.
Danni laughed. “Nobody’s ever called me a groupie. They call me Wheelie Girl and Lame-Legs, but never Groupie. Like you’re a friggin’ rock ‘n’ roll band.”
Evan wished he was a band—the Dead.
“Can I say hello now?” she asked, and extended her hand to Joe. “Buenos dias, Evan’s brother. He told me about you but I guess he didn’t tell you about me.”
“Oh, he certainly did not.”
“Can you guess why I’m wearing yellow?” He couldn’t. “I saw a goldfinch today. With a gorgeous, bright yellow breast.”
The Pullet brothers could not be faulted for looking immediately at her breast.
As they cruised around the park, Danni explained that wearing yellow after a goldfinch sighting was a sign of respect, a good sign which allowed good things to happen. As evidence, she pointed out that the sunshine-precipitation ratio had remained steady at 1 to 1.
They stayed and talked until sunset, when it started to rain.
©2010 Pam Wells