For a few weeks, Diesel meandered in and out of my room. Steve didn’t seem to care. He spent most of his days at the library or he wore headphones and studied at his desk. Sometimes I wanted to ask him questions about how he was adjusting or whom he missed back home, but his perpetual frown stopped me. I went on about my business, doing homework, and looking through my geology and mineralogy books. One night, Diesel brought me an old photo of her sisters.
“This is Leona and Avery. I’m the one in the ivory sundress. I think I was twelve.”
I could barely look at them. All crazy shiny hair, pouty lips, and cowboy boots, the photo worn out and now and sepia-colored.
“What?” she said.
“Nothing,” But then I decided to give her a smidgen of truth, “Just a lot of girls.”
That made her laugh.
I thought she might tease me except that she leaned forward, clutching the photo to her chest, and pecked my cheek.
“Whoa,” I said, feeling the smear of lip-gloss on my skin.
“Len,” she squealed. “You’re such a dud.”
Yet once she’d left, I felt cooler, more hip, like I had grown some swag, like Diesel had sent me a helicopter from the other side of the canyon.
Another night, she asked me to help her with physics. I tried to tell her about velocity and momentum. I sat at my table with her bending over behind me. Again her citrusy scent bloomed, making me nauseous. As I pointed to a definition at the bottom of a page, Diesel leaned forward, topaz hair spilling on my notebook and book, the side of her face touching mine.
“I wish you’d relax,” she said.