“Ew, Angela!” Rayanne shrieks. She is wading through the natural disaster that is Angela’s closet, looking for something that could maybe pass for sexy. They’re trying to get into Let’s Bolt. Again.
“What?” asks Angela, distractedly. She and Ricky are applying make-up in front of the mirror. Ricky is doing a better job than she is, predictably. “I didn’t leave food in there again, did I? That orange got so gross.” She shudders vaguely into the eye shadow container.
“Not food,” says Rayanne, emerging from the closet. “THIS.”
Apparently, “this” is a rather tent-like wool sweater with a red turtleneck and some sort of gray and red fair-isle pattern on the torso.
“It looks like a knitting factory exploded! Please tell me someone had a gun to your head when you purchased this,” demands Rayanne.
Angela scoffs. “That’s not mine!” She turns back to the mirror.
“Well, whose is it then?” asks Rayanne, incredulously. She is clearly going to make, like, a big deal out of this sweater.
“Krakow’s, obviously. Who else do we know that would wear a sweater like that?”
“Why do you have Brian Krakow’s sweater in your room?” asks Ricky. He sounds confused. Or intrigued. Angela sighs. Yeah. This is definitely going to become a thing. She can feel the blood rushing to her cheeks. Why does this have to be a thing? It so doesn’t, like, mean anything.
“Because! He, like, lent it to me, okay?”
“Brian Krakow lent you his woolly dork sweater?” asks Rayanne. She has this open-mouthed grin on her face, like someone just gave her concert tickets, or told her a really juicy piece of gossip about Sharon Cherski.
Angela lets loose a frustrated sigh. “It was like, cold outside! And I happened to be hiding in his car because it was that night that my dad thought we were at the Grateful Dead concert.” Angela catches herself—Rayanne can’t still be mad about that, can she?
“Wait, wait. You hid in his car and he gave you his sweater?” She doesn’t sound mad. She sounds gleeful.
“Oh, don’t make it sound like that! You know it wasn’t like that! Come on, it’s just Krakow. I borrow his stuff all the time. It doesn’t, like, mean anything.” Angela resolutely returns to the mirror with her lipstick.
“Wait, so how much of Brian’s stuff do you, like, have in here?” Ricky pursues.
“Not that much.” Her voice is obstructed by the lipstick tube.
“Give me that lipstick,” says Ricky. Angela hands it to him. “Okay,” he continues. "Now go find everything in this room that belongs to Brian and, like, put it on the bed.”
“What? I am so not doing that,” says Angela. Now she’s really annoyed. And her face feels all hot. And they’re both looking at her.
“Why not?” asks Ricky. “Are you, like, keeping it for something?”
“Oh, honestly,” she sighs, and stomps over to the bookshelf. “An atlas of the world. Ummm… Notes From the Underground. God, that sucked. I only read, like, two pages. The narrator overanalyzes everything. It’s like being in Brian Krakow’s head.” She shudders briefly. “Ummm… Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep. I think I made it through a whole chapter of that. Oh, The Once and Future King. That one I actually read.” She flings the paperbacks onto the bed as she reads out the titles, and then moves to the bottom shelves, reserved for schoolwork. “These are, like, all his Geometry notes, from when he took it. He doesn’t need them anymore, obviously. I think this pen is his. Ummm…” Angela withdraws a large, hardcover book. “Diane Arbus. She photographs, like, weird people. It’s kind of cool, actually.”
That’s it for the bookshelf. In a stack next to the CD player are a few discs of blues and jazz music that Angela would never spend her own money on, but that she finds oddly calming. She supposes Brian’s interested because he plays the saxophone. Various drawers yield a fossil, a kaleidoscope, and a Polaroid camera. Angela doesn’t open her underwear drawer. That’s where she keeps that letter that was sort of from Jordan but really from Brian. Under the bed are two of Brian’s umbrellas, and a tape recorder he lent her for an oral history report. His fine tipped markers that she used to do her art project are on the windowsill. And the bottom of her disastrous closet yields a rain slicker, a pair of mittens, and a scarf, all of which are Brian’s.
“That is, like, a huge pile of stuff,” observes Rayanne.
“Gosh, Rayanne, nothing gets by you!” Angela retorts. She’s still kind of annoyed.
“Why don’t you ever give it back?” asks Ricky.
“I don’t know! I just forget.” Angela crosses her arms in front of her chest.
“So why don’t we, like, go bring it all back right now?” Rayanne suggests brightly.
Angela can’t even explain why this idea pisses her off so much. “Because!” she explodes.
“Because what?” Rayanne presses.
“Because that’s not, like, the system.”
“So what’s the system?” asks Ricky.
“The system,” Angela starts, “is that I borrow something, and then I don’t give it back, and then, like, months later, Brian realizes that I have it. So he comes over here, and we get in, like, a fight about it, and then he leaves all angry and without whatever it was he wanted back, so I just keep it until he actually, like, needs it.”
Rayanne and Ricky are looking at her like she’s crazy.
“Look. The system works for us.”
“I’m not even going to say anything,” says Ricky.
“Well, I’m going to say something.” Of course Rayanne is going to say something. “I’m going to say that either you are a kleptomaniac or you are secretly in love with Brian Krakow!”
“Say whatever you want,” says Angela, grabbing the wool turtleneck out of the pile on her bed. Rayanne can run screaming over to Krakow’s house right now and give him back his stupid copy of Notes From the Underground and his stupid tape recorder and his stupid umbrellas. But she is not giving up the dork sweater. The dork sweater is warm. And if she can just keep Brian from remembering about it for a few more months, he will totally outgrow it and then it will be hers, like, forever.