“Hey, Locke, change the song, while you’re up?” We were sitting on the bare hardwood floor, in the narrow space between our two beds. Dashiell was banging on the locked door outside, yelling. I raised my voice, to make sure he knew I was ignoring him. “I’m feeling some piano.”
“Sure. How about Nora Jones?” I nodded. “I’ll just turn the volume up a bit…” I chewed on the tip of my pencil, thinking. Locke sat down on his bed with Tobie and began typing. “So. We need two very different topics. On World War Two. I’ll do socio-economic issues. I’ve already started, remember, last night when we were discussing it.”
“I’ll take the change in international relations, then,” I answered and began scribbling down some information from the book. I didn’t really need it, but we were always careful to have our wording in no way similar to any of the text, and our teacher needed our ‘research points’ from the sources written down on note cards. “Childish,” I muttered darkly. We were interrupted by a soft knocking, barely audible over the music. It wasn’t Dashiell; he had left off long ago, and was terrorizing Bertrand and Holden downstairs. “Yeah?”
“Let me in. I need Tobie.” I shot a glance at Locke. He rolled his eyes. Sighing deeply, I stood to open the door. It was Lyre, her tartan school skirt changed for a pair of baggy sweatpants and a t-shirt.
“We’re kind of using him. Nice pants” She scowled, unmoved. “You need it now?”
“Hey, Lyre,” I asked, faking curiosity. “Aren’t those the pants the Jethro can fit into?” She blushed faintly.
“They were tight on him,” she muttered darkly. “Don’t let my friends go through my stuff when I’m gone, anymore. And how long will it take you to write two papers, anyway?” I looked back at my twin. He shrugged. Lyre tapped her foot impatiently and twisted a lock of long, honey-colored hair around her finger.
“An hour, if we work together.” Her face broke into a wry smile.
“What do you mean if? You two always write your papers together. You know you won’t be able to do that in college.”
“Sure we will. We always pick two unrelated topics and talk them over together. It gives us two perspectives and we can integrate our topics into the larger whole. Mrs. Donnell likes that. And besides, It won’t be any different in college.” She shook her head, even as I spoke, and began to wind her hair tighter.
“And what happens when you get married?” I kept my eyes down, running my fingernail along a groove in the dark grain of the floor. It was long. And dirty. I needed to cut them.
“We-ell,” Locke drawled. “Hopefully we won’t still be writing papers then.” She chewed on her lip, and grabbed the alarm clock from the bedside table.
“I’m setting this for an hour from now.”
“Hey,” I protested. “What if we forget to set it back for the morning?”
“I’m sure you will know when the rest of us are getting up,” she replied drily. Locke stuck his tongue out at her. I followed suit, blowing a loud raspberry as she left the room.
We were finished in an hour, discussing in such muted tones against the soft piano music that the harsh blaring alarm startled us. Immediately, our sister appeared at the door, knocked once and came in to retrieve her laptop.
“She’s far too efficient about that, Hobbes.”
“And too quiet when she walks,” I agreed. “It’s unnerving.”
“I smell food. Mom must be home. Let’s go see what she’s cooking.”