19. Memento Mori

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19. Memento Mori

“Okay, fine. One point for Eureka. But Cameron’s case isn’t exactly average, is it?”

“How about Steven’s, then?”

*

Senior Year, November


The next day—a Saturday—Cameron called our trailer’s land line.

“I need to tag someone,” she said. “And I want it to be Steven. But I need your help to smooth things over for me…the last time I talked to him, it didn’t end well.”

I was happy to have strengthened my friendship with her, but a little disappointed to learn it was probably only because of a fight with Steven. “Why didn’t it end well?”

“Me. He…really wants to be my boyfriend. I don’t see him that way. But he starts talking about how he saved me from Mr. Gimble, so on, like he’s gonna convince me I owe him. It’s stupid. But I still want him to play Eureka, he’s important to me. So I need you to break the ice.”

We discussed details for a few more minutes. When she hung up, I was excited about the plan, despite Steven’s resolve to quit Eureka. I had faith he’d come around and decide to play—his decision was based off a jealousy of David, not any sort of real logic. I needed to make sure he understood that.

The plan was simple: I would go inside, talk to Steven, and lure him outside. Then, Cameron—whose chief concern was the possibility of being left alone with Steven—would sneak up behind him and tag him, and we’d drive off.

Easy, right?

But when Cameron arrived at my trailer, she’d brought a friend.

“Hi,” I stammered. “Nice to see you.”

Emily barked a short laugh: “Don’t make this weird, please.”

“Me? Come on, you’re the one who’s weird.”

Emily rolled her eyes. I shook my head, flustered, and followed Cameron to my car.

I decided not to give Emily any more ammunition, and kept my mouth shut. I drove the three of us to the small house Steven rented on the other side of town. Nice enough. Sure, the lawn needed mowing and the car in front wasn’t exactly pristine, but it was a house.

I knocked. The door opened. “Nice to see you,” Steven said, smiling. I noticed that my friend spent some money on himself. Flat straw hair was now molded by copious amounts of gel into short spikes, whiter at their tips. The big coke bottle glasses were replaced with small, rectangular frames.

“Nice to see you too,” I said.

The place reeked of cigarette smoke and ashtrays littered every surface. Bare walls, save a clock; everything very utilitarian and tidy. One lamp in the corner provided all the light, so our shadows reenacted our motions in gross dimensions on the walls across from us, looking menacing.

He sat on a stool near his kitchen counter. A single fake plant provided color for the room.

“So, got any video games?” I asked, grinning.

“Like you wouldn’t believe. Looks like you won’t be holding a controller anytime soon, though. What happened?”

I looked at my hand, wrapped in white bandages from the night before. “Cooking accident,” I lied. “I bet I could still play a mean game.” It was tempting; much of my childhood was spent sprawled out on the floor of Steven’s trailer, controller in hand. “But not yet, let’s talk first. Tell me about how you’ve been.”

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