I didn’t know what I was going to do with those notes. I didn’t really need them. I’d either ace the class or fail it miserably. I didn’t really care. Neither did my parents. I tucked them back into my pocket. I’d read the note at the top of the page he’d added. We have to enter the science fair. What do you want to do?
He was asking me to participate? He should know better. But I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Thinking about spending time out of school with the guy I’d been stalking for four years or more.
The last bell of the first day rang and I found myself wandering the halls looking for Max. I walked past the gym and found a bunch of people working on the home coming decorations for later this month. Nox was in there and I stood in the door to the gym watching him as the girls flocked around him all chittering and chatting about things.
He got down on his hands and knees over a large piece of paper and started drawing with a black marker. There was a hand on the small of my back and then I heard Max laugh I turned to see a bubbly blonde with a pink streaks through her hair. “He’s gonna be in so much trouble when he gets home. But he can’t say no to Mia.” Lucy Durante giggled and patted Max on the shoulder, her hand sliding away from my back, “See you tomorrow after school at the town library in the back – way back.” She said and then left me and Max standing staring into the gym.
“What was that about?” I asked.
Max shrugged. “She’s gonna help me and I’ll keep her secret.”
I chuckled and nodded my head so we’d leave. Or I’d stay there all day or worse yet go and try to help. “You mean that she can read, the one you already told me?”
He nodded, “I told you, but I know you won’t tell anyone.” Max rushed through the words I knew it was a nervous habit.
“I won’t tell anyone. Who’s gonna believe us anyway?”
Max shrugged, “What we doing tonight?”
“You want to come over?”
Max looked at me, “What’s for dinner?”
“I don’t know, you can come find out.”
Max didn’t need anymore invitation. We walked across town to my house to spend the rest of our evening there.
We walked into my house and I could hear my Dad playing the guitar on the back porch and Mom was busy making dinner in the kitchen. I yelled, “Max is staying for dinner.” And I stomped up to my room, but Max didn’t follow. He went straight for Mom.
I pushed open my door and flipped on the light and pulled the papers Nox had given me out of my back pocket and tossed it on the bed. I turned on my favorite playlist but not loud enough to drown out Dad’s singing in the back yard. I liked listening to him, but I couldn’t tell him that.
I kicked off my shoes and they flung into a corner behind the door and I flopped down on my bed and opened up the notes. I didn’t really care much about what the notes said, but I read each page just to see his hand writing.
I’d seen a lot of people’s notes over the years, and Nox’s were different, there were no doodles in the margins or words scribbled out. Sure he crossed things out but it was elegantly done with two crossed lines. His pen was fine point and he made each stroke deliberate. It was beautiful to look at. The drawings from the board made it to the page and they were just as neat and carefully drawn as each letter had been. Nox had starred some passages, and on the back of the notes he scribbled next to the star Likely to be on a test.
I wondered if those were the teachers words or if Nox had a way of knowing what was important and what was not. But I didn’t get a chance to wonder before Max plowed into my room. “It’s fried chicken,” he said. “With mashed potatoes and gravy and the yummy peach cobbler your mom makes.”
Max had two sodas and a plate of cookies in his hand. He handed me a soda and set the cookies on the corner of the bed after he flopped down next to me. “Your dad must be feeling nostalgic.”
“I think he’s planning on playing at open mic night this Friday down at the Rio.”
“You going to go watch?”
I shrugged. “I’m not a fan of country.”
“That place is as country as it gets, but it’s your dad.”
“Do you want to come?”
Max grinned widely, “I’d love to go.”
“Okay, then we’ll go.” I loved seeing that smile on Max’s face. It really was the little things that made him happy. I never had to impress Max. Max just accepted everything and went with it. Was probably why he was my best friend.
“Those the notes Nox gave you?” He nodded towards the papers lying next to me.
“I don’t know what I’m going to do with them.”
Max laughed and opened up the drawer where I hid all the things I’ve taken from Nox’s house over the years. How he knew where they were I don’t know but he laughed as he tossed them inside with the rest of it. “Ya know most people build a shrine, not hide their crushes inside drawers.”
“That is my shrine. I worship at it every night what the fuck you think I do with all that.” I rolled my eyes and Max laughed spreading crumbs all over my comforter. “Maaahx.” I whined.
He shoved the rest of the cookie in his mouth and got up to find the dust buster my mom kept in the closet. “Sorry, sorry.” He said as he cleaned up his mess. He sat down with the dustbuster in his lap and held it up under his chin while he ate, “This better.”
“Much.” I said as snapped a picture of my dork of a friend.
“You gonna call him?”
I shrugged. “Doubtful.”