Chapter Twelve

For about an hour and a half, Dusk had been discussing neutral topics while her brain and heart raced. She was feeling very artificial. A lot of times, when she didn't know what to do, she turned all plastic and charming, and hated herself every minute of it.

"So you wouldn't mind being able to live privately, unfamously, for a month or two?"

"No, that would be pretty nice, I think..." Taylor answered. "If we could go back to the way things are now as soon as we wanted to!"

"Well, would you ever keep a, hypothetical, girlfriend secret?"

Oh shit. I actually asked them that? I have to get out of here. I'm going to loose all faith in myself.

She pulled her index finger across her throat, indicating for the cameramen to cut.

"Sorry. I know that wasn't very interesting. Listen..." She rubbed the back of her neck distractedly. "Can we go on later? I don't seem to be quite up to this right now."

"Okay. Should we leave, or...?" Zac asked.

"Only if you want to. I'm... I'm sorry. Good thing we're taping over a period of time..." She smiled.

"How 'bout we show you 'round?" Zac said. "This area is pretty dull anyway, so you don't need to use your brain or anything."

"Why don't we do that later," Taylor said. Dusk smiled at him.

"Okay", Zac replied. "Well... what, then?"

"Hm. I dunno. I'm getting kinda hungry, actually. Come on."

She got up, and headed for the kitchen. They followed her.

"Any requests? I feel like pasta." She didn't pause when Zac opened his mouth. "Well, pasta it is then. Would anyone feel like trying to find a pot?"

She opened a cupboard and got out a packet of spaghetti, and turned on a tap to fill the pot Zac handed her.

"You do have ketchup, right?" he said, as she placed it on the top of the stove and turned the gas on.

"Oh! No! Geez, we forgot... We brought some necessities, in case we didn't get time to go shopping, but I guess we forgot some life-or-death stuff."

She slapped her forehead, turning theatrical.

"Zac and I can go get some at our place. Ike can help you cook. 'Two of us suck at that anyhow," Taylor said.

She nodded.

"Okay... Check our fridge for anything unhealthy to finish off with. If there isn't anything there, bring some."

Zac and Taylor left, bounding out the door with a promise of "buckets and buckets of kaaaaatchupp!"

Isaac sat down at the short end of the table, and Dusk leaned against the marble window sill, looking at him.

He cleared his throat.

"So... Um... How do you like Tulsa?"

"It's nice... What I've seen so far. Nice sun."

Brilliant. Pulitzer Prize-winning stuff.

"Yeah, I guess..."

A very long minute passed, after which Dusk exclaimed;

"This is where the script would say 'uncomfortable silence'..."

He laughed, and the air in the kitchen suddenly seemed a lot less tense.

"Yeah, you're right. What would resolve it? Fade out?"

"Depends... If you were Schwarzenegger, a silence would inevitably mean somebody was storming the back door. But now... I guess we'll have to try and figure it out for ourselves."


They looked at each other.

"Listen, I..." "I don't..."

She laughed.

"You go first..."

"I don't know what happened last night. And I... I don't know what to do now. I don't even know what I think now!"

"Yeah. I know exactly what you mean... Why don't... why don't we just try and see what happens? If we get along, we'll just... well, see what happens."

"You're right. The water's boiling."

She got up and lifted the pot up to calm the water down, then put it back down and broke the seal around the strands of spaghetti.

"How much should I put, d'ya think?"

"I'd say the whole pack. We eat like pigs."

"Ah. Well, that's the way it's supposed to be."

She fanned them out, and pushed them further into the pot as they softened.

"Think fast!" Zac yelled, pretending to fling the bottle at her. She ducked, and looked sheepish as he laughed and put it down.

"That was fast."

"We ran," Taylor said, dropping into a chair.

Dusk stood on tiptoe to pull down four large bowls. She clanged through a drawer, and then looked up.

"How do you eat spaghetti?"

"This punchline better be good..." Taylor said. "I give up. How do you eat spaghetti?"

She sighed. "I meant, how do you eat spaghetti? Spin a fork, a spoon, cut it into little pieces...?"

Taylor grabbed his throat.

"Agh! Cutting is cheating. We spin a fork. Well..."

"We try," Zac interrupted. "Only Isaac seems to have mastered it, though Taylor's catching up."

Taylor crossed his eyes at him.

"Well, I'll just set a standard plate."

She put a fork and knife next to each bowl, lifted the lid off the pot, and proclaimed the spaghetti to be ready.

"Oh, right. Has anyone seen a sieve or anything?"

Nobody managed to find one, so she shrugged, and drained the past by pouring the water out through a crack between the pot and the lid.

"Well, that's it, I guess. Come and get it."

The boys heaped generous piles onto their plates and sat down, taking turns at smothering their food with ketchup.

Dusk sat down, plate on lap, and twirled her fork a little in the spaghetti.

"Did you bring any dessert?" she said, making Zac swallow very fast.

"No, we didn't. Aren't you big enough to eat properly withut a treat afterwards?"

She stuck her tongue out, and shoved a big forkload into her mouth.

"Y'know, sometimes in McDonald's, mom and dad'd have to get Happy Meals too so that everyone could get the toy they wanted. The girls always swiped all the cars and stuff."

Dusk laughed.

"Yeah, I remember driving my brother crazy because I kept insisting on playing with his railway set and all his remote-controlled stuff. Sometimes I played Dungeons and Dragons with him and his friends, which everybody 'cept him thought was really cool. You know, kid sister tagging along..."

"We used to play that, didn't we?" Zac said, and Isaac nodded.

"We always did really weird stuff in our family. Our kind of crowd has the weirdest trends... The past year or something, we've been having this Mah Jong phase", Dusk continued. "You should hear us sometimes, going on and on about winds and dragons and bamboo. One teacher thought we were talking about drugs!"

"Hm... I think dad showed me that sometime way back. It's with all these little ivory blocks, right?" Isaac said, trying to remember.

"Yeah. I brought my set with me, 'cause the crew's hooked as well. We can go over to your house later and I can show you. This place doesn't really set the mood."

"Okay. Let's eat.", Zac said, tilting his head back and letting a strand drop into his mouth.

Chapter Eleven