Vignettes Regarding the Artwork of Brendon Kotes
Tori Kel didn’t happen all at once, these things never do. Robbie looked first, furtive glances, shy smiles, quiet conversations after classes that Brendon shared with him but Casey didn’t. So Brendon got to see Tori Kel bend down and hand a dropped pencil back to Robbie and say, “Like your Batman folder, man.”
And Brendon got to see Robbie huff and fumble over his words even though those words were only, “Thank you.”
Because Brendon shared that English class, he also got to see Robbie linger at his desk every day, puttering when he should have been packing up. Got to see Robbie smile and bravely say “Hi,” one morning and, “Did you do the homework?” another.
Got to see Robbie swallow, broken voice uneven as puberty had snuck up on them all, and lean forward like he wanted to go ask Tori Kel whether she wanted to go to the dance together on Friday. That was Monday. Tuesday, Robbie breached that ocean of distance and asked, but Brendon wasn’t there to see.
Casey’s response didn’t happen all at once either.
Denial made him cranky and at first, Brendon thought, there went that rubber band again, springing Casey away from Robbie through whatever argument they’d had.
He’d say things like, “She won’t last,” and “She’s not even pretty,” and “You don’t think she’s pretty, right, Bren?”
And Brendon would nod along, because he agreed, Tori Kel wasn’t the sort of person he thought about at night. Plus Casey liked that answer and would give an approving nod and sidle closer with conspiratorial murmurs, the smell of him overwhelming Brendon’s world for those few precious moments.
Next Chapter: XXXI