Since moving to the group home Joe had gotten used to being woken up in the middle of the night. On Sunday Lacey had decided that 5 a.m. was the perfect time to make everyone breakfast, and Joe had taken his half of a dry, burnt pancake and gone immediately back to bed. On Wednesday his roommate had sat up and started screaming, and Joe had nudged him out of whatever dream he was having and gone immediately back to sleep. On Friday it had been him waking up screaming, he took a few deep breaths, tried in vain to remember what had been so terrifying, and gone slowly back to sleep.
He tried his best, then, not to be annoyed when Della texted him at three on Monday morning only to tell him “DUDE SHE CAN LIFT ME!!!!” For a moment the desire for sleep fought the desire to figure out what the hell she was going on about now.
He texted her back, “What”
“SONIA BRIDAL CARRIED ME! FUCK!” Joe mentally composed a few texts in return. “Weren’t you breaking up” or “Yea she’s a cheerleader its what she does” But he would see her in home room in a few hours, so he rolled over and immediately went back to sleep.
Joe was taking a nap in the back row of the empty classroom when Della charged in and dropped her backpack in the seat in front of him. He barely had a chance to raise his head before she started talking, “I have no idea what I’m going to do?”
“Does this have to do with you texting me about marriage at the ass crack of dawn?” He said with one eye open.
“She can pick me up, Joe,” She whispered, as much as Della ever whispered, “I was joking about not wanting to get my shoes dirty and she just picks me up and carries me around this puddle.”
Her hands grasped the metal bar that connected the seat to the desk, she was almost on tiptoe as she looked at him expectantly. Joe stretched out his arms, then winced at the pop in his back as he straightened up.
“So you can’t break up with her because she can pick you up?”
“Okay, it sounds stupid but…” Della sank down into her seat, squishing her backpack before jumping back up, laughing in a little squeak. “It’s like every time I think this is it. Today I’m going to break it off she literally sweeps me off my feet like some fucking fairytale and I really don’t want to.” She threw the backpack to the floor and took its place.
“Della, I don’t know what you should do, but you need to choose,”
“I know, I know. I have! I know I have to dump her, I just really don’t want to.”
“Do you have to? You say you can’t keep a secret, but you’ve been with her for a month.”
“And I’m about to explode! If I didn’t have you to talk to I would have…” Footsteps cut her off as another student entered the room, shuffling into a seat by the door.
“Anyway, that’s enough about my problems. Thanks for listening, I know I’ve been sounding like a broken record,” She shrugged.
“Hey, no problem. You’ve always been cool with me,” Joseph shrugged back, thinking about last week, when Della had spent nearly an hour sitting with him as he lay dizzy and weeping in the diner’s parking lot. Humming what might have been a spell and might have just been an old, soothing song.
(Note: I spent way too long thinking about how to make those texts realistically misspelled before I remembered that these two have smartphones. I think Della might always write in ALL CAPS.)