and I know your feelings are probably right, but just this once tonight as you lie in your bed, place a little on this bet, my favorite regret. (-the gigolo aunts)There is a guy who plays guitar almost every day at the coffee shop that Anna likes to go to in Pittsburgh. His name is Jordan, and she only knows that because she asked the barista the first time she went in and he wasn't there. He has chin-length brown hair that's always kind of greasy. He wears worn-out jeans and plaid flannel shirts, even in the summertime. He always plays the same beat-up acoustic guitar. Every day he plays the same songs he played that day the week before. There's one song he plays every day -- and he always prefaces it by saying, "This is either a song about my car or a song about my ex-girlfriend, depending who you talk to or whatever."
Jordan's voice is kind of nasal and sometimes he goes out of tune and his guitar skills aren't quite up to par. He closes his eyes when he sings. When she leaves Pittsburgh with her parents, she knows she's going to miss Jordan more than almost anything else. There was something kind of pathetically comforting about knowing that every day he was going to say, "I call her red," and wince like it hurts him to say it.
Anna knows the moment she meets Seth that he's the kind of guy who would really like Jordan's music. She almost knows from the moment she meets Seth that he's the kind of guy who could end up like Jordan -- and she likes him anyway. Maybe she likes him a little more because of it.
When she leaves Seth to go back to Pittsburgh and live with her aunt and uncle, it's almost relieving to see Jordan again. She walks into the coffee shop slowly after classes are over -- three-thirty pm; she's right on time, if he's going to be there. He is, at the right table, all the way in the back next to the stage. His guitar is propped on the wall next to him. His coffee is dark, black -- with three sugars, or maybe four; she's watched him make it, but still doesn't know exactly. Cigarette behind his ear, pained look in his green eyes, like seeing the world hurts him too much, plaid shirt, Chucks. All check. The prototype for the sad emo boy.
Anna wonders if Jordan listens to Sunny Day Real Estate, or Dashboard Confessional, or Ryan Adams; he looks like a guy who'd be into Half Acre Gunroom or another one of those twangy, Johnny Cash-homage bands.
At four o'clock exactly, Jordan sits down on the stage and puts his coffee down to his right and strums his guitar experimentally. He clears his throat and leans forward into the mic, and says, "Some old faces here today," and nods at Anna, whose eyes get wide.
She doesn't nod back and he doesn't smile, but he sings his Wednesday songs -- but it's Tuesday, and she feels kind of frantic, like what kind of acknowledgement is this?
When his set is over -- twenty-two minutes, ten seconds exactly, with a fifteen second break in the middle for a sip of coffee right before "This is either a song about my car or a song about my ex-girlfriend, depending who you talk to or whatever," and then "Red" -- he puts his guitar back against the wall and sits down at Anna's table.
"Hey," he says easily. She's totally frozen. He smiles a little. "I'm Jordan."
She shakes his hand automatically. "Anna Stern," she replies and is surprised that her voice is so calmly polite. She clears her throat. "You played your Wednesday songs."
"My New Year's resolution was to get out of, like, stifling routines," he says to her. His speaking voice sounds different when it's not coming through a mic -- softer.
"I thought it was -- comforting," she says, and puts both hands around her cup of coffee. Her fingertips are so cold all of a sudden.
"Maybe," says Jordan, and leans back in the chair, tilts it a bit off the ground. "I'm not hitting on you or whatever -- don't be so scared. It's just that... you used to, like, come in here all the time, or whatever, and then you didn't and now you're back, so I thought I'd say hi."
"I didn't think you were hitting on me," says Anna, and thinks of Seth's really seductive "You can't read comic books -- you're a girl!" line.
But that might not be exactly what he said -- she can't remember anymore, and kind of doesn't want to, and how lame is that? She fought another girl for the right to date Seth, or whatever, and then she dumped him and left, and is really more relieved than anything else.
"It's like you're, like, not even in there or something," says Jordan, but he's smiling, and Anna closes her eyes, breathes in, and opens them again.
"Sorry," she says, and leans forward. "Have you heard of Halfacre Gunroom?"
In April, the barista quits to go home and tells Anna, "I didn't graduate from Carnegie Mellon so I could pour coffee all summer," and Anna bites back a mean comment about going to Carnegie Mellon to become some old white man's secretary.
After all, Anna doesn't know what's in store for that girl's life -- maybe she'll decrypt the symbols on an ancient tomb and open a gateway through the stars. Maybe she'll remove the sword from the stone and suck the world into hell. Maybe she'll join the FBI and be abducted by aliens and impregnated.
Anna applies for the job. She doesn't need it, but if she has a job, her aunt and uncle won't try to send her back to California when school ends. They respect the work ethic in a way her parents never did.
She's seen her parents twice since she left Newport; they're thrilled to be living there, happy to be together -- she wonders if they even notice she's gone half the time.
Jordan comes in every day at three -- she didn't know that; she'd never arrived before three-thirty, thanks to school -- and settles in at his table. He settles in before he orders anything; she learns to have his first cup of coffee ready for him when he walks in. Regular coffee with steamed milk and four squirts of chocolate. He drinks it really fast, and then orders a plain black coffee and puts four sugars into it.
She can watch him because it's, like, her job now.
She knows she's picking up his speech patterns, but he's, like, the only person she ever, like, talks to now -- six months gone and she already has nothing in common with people she's known since childhood. None of them seem to understand that living in California for six months didn't change her -- she just grew up a little and since they weren't there to see it happen, it seems to them like she's different. She's still the same Anna who flosses after meals and doesn't smoke. They don't care, none of them care -- she lives in a different part of Pittsburgh now, and doesn't play softball, and doesn't watch reruns of Everwood and One Tree Hill. She never did watch as much television as everyone else.
Jordan's speech patterns make her, like, cringe, or, like, whatever. They also make her laugh; she teases him about being stuck in 1995, back when Kristy Swanson was Buffy and Donald Sutherland was her Watcher.
"He was kind of hot," says Anna, and Jordan raises his eyebrows at her.
"He was totally, like... old," says Jordan.
Anna laughs and pushes his coffee across the counter and he leaves her a dollar tip, which she's learned not to argue with him about. Jilly, the manager says he's always left every barista a dollar tip, every day for the past four years, ever since he's started coming in and playing his guitar.
Anna wants to know what made him start coming around, but Jilly doesn't know -- she only knows that the space they're in used to be a gourmet restaurant, but the owners all got divorced or something, and then someone else bought the space and turned it into a coffee shop, and then this kid Jordan started coming in with his acoustic guitar and playing one set every afternoon. He never asked if he could and no one ever told him not to.
It sounds pretty fucking cool to Anna -- but then, Jordan seems like a pretty fucking cool guy. He doesn't talk about what he does when he's not in the coffee shop -- he doesn't talk about anything except music and other media, but not in the annoying, obsessed-with-television way -- but she gets the feeling that it's not anything exciting. Once there was some dark grease under his fingernails -- maybe he's a mechanic. Maybe he works someplace where there's a merry-go-round. Maybe he works out at Kennywood. She can see him as the type to work with his hands.
Maybe he reminds her a little more of Ryan than of Seth; she doesn't think any of them, Jordan included, would take it as a compliment.
Summer calls Anna on a summer afternoon and says, "I'm at PIA. Come get me."
Anna says, "What?"
Summer says, "Come. And. Get. Me. It smells here and I'm bored."
Anna methodically goes through the phone tree and finally finds another girl to cover for her, and leaves before Jordan even comes in. Summer is standing outside in the heat, with no hat on to protect her head and skin from the sun, and no bottle of water. She's tapping her foot.
Anna flashes on Summer dressed as Wonder Woman and wonders where Seth is.
Summer shoves her two suitcases into the backseat, and climbs into Anna's car with a scowl on her face.
"Nice to see you, too," says Anna. Summer leans over and leaves a glossy lip-print on Anna's cheek.
Then she leans against the door and yawns. "Let's take a car ride," she says.
Anna says, "Don't you want a shower. Or a nap?" but Summer wants a long car ride and a double mocha latte. Anna thinks about swinging the car around and taking Summer to the coffee shop, but it's almost time for Jordan to go on, and she doesn't know if she can stand to hear Summer make fun of Jordan's clothes or music without crying. And there is no way Anna can cry in front of Summer.
So she takes Summer to the Beehive, and then out to Indiana. As they drive, Anna talks about the kids who go to the Indiana University at Pennsylvania, about their legendary parties and how they have more reported date rape cases than anywhere else in the country.
She doesn't mean to go on, but Summer doesn't stop her, and they're already at the Indiana Wal Mart when Summer says, "So Ryan? Totally got his old girlfriend Theresa pregnant and then I told Seth we couldn't have sex anymore, because me with a baby? Ew. And then Ryan left to go live with Theresa, the slutty ex-girlfriend, except not, you know? Because it was like Ryan and Theresa were just living and it was us who were wrong, you know? And then Seth ran away."
Anna crosses two lanes of traffic without turning on her turn signal and parks in the Wal Mart parking lot. She switches off the radio and turns off the car and sits sideways in her seat to face Summer.
"And?" she says. Summer is staring out the window -- has she ever seen mountains before, Anna wonders.
"And," says Summer, "Seth went to Portland."
"What's in Portland?" says Anna. What the hell is Summer looking at? There's a dog running around in the parking lot, barking. It's a Pomeranian but it's been shaved. Poor dog.
Summer looks over at her, surprised. "I don't live in Newport anymore," says Anna, and is annoyed.
"Luke's dad is totally gay," says Summer. "He and his boyfriend took Luke and moved to Portland. Or whatever. Something. Who cares? The point here is that my boyfriend ran away and went to another man and didn't even leave me a note!"
"Has he come back yet?" says Anna. "Why did he run away? I'm confused, I think."
"This is not hard." Summer turns back to the window. "Ryan left because of Theresa and then Seth, like, ran away. He told Mrs. Cohen that he couldn't live in Newport without Ryan. Ryan made it all better."
"Ryan, huh?" says Anna. "Did you know that he was the one I was supposed to go to Cotillion with?"
"Who cares?." Summer picks up her coffee and takes a sip, then cradles it against her chest.
"Nevermind." Anna shakes her head, reaches out her hand to Summer's shoulder. "I -- "
"So last week? Ryan came back because Theresa had a miscarriage. And he went to Portland and got Seth. Who learned to play the guitar or whatever and wrote a bunch of songs about how much he missed Ryan." Summer turns her head toward Anna. "He wrote that he missed Ryan the way that New York City missed the Twin Towers."
Anna grimaces. "That sounds like Seth. Was the second verse about Batman and Robin?"
"How did you know? Oh my god, you bitch, did you know about Seth and Ryan and you just didn't tell me? That's -- "
Anna frowns at her. "Everyone knows about Seth and Ryan. Seth never talked about anything else, Summer -- Seth and Ryan, Batman and Robin, partners, a duet, an egg with two yolks -- "
"That doesn't make any sense," says Summer.
"It's Seth," replies Anna, and then they're both laughing, and Anna starts the car again. "Ready?" she asks.
"Sure," says Summer. Anna pulls away from Wal Mart, decides to stop at Eat N Park so they could have grilled cheese, and almost hits a tree when Summer says, "It's real, though. I saw Seth and Ryan kissing."
"Don't do that," says Anna. "Just -- be quiet for a minute."
Summer laughs and turns back to the window and Anna parks carefully, and rests her head on the steering wheel. Seth. Ryan. Mouths. Bodies pressed together. Seth's rangy body and Ryan's muscled one. Slick skin sliding over itself. She lets out a moan.
"Oh, stop," says Summer waspishly. "It was horrible. They were groaning. They were touching each other. Those are things Seth is supposed to do with me, not with another stupid boy." She opens her door and stomps away. Anna is still stricken by the images -- light against dark, delicate against strong.
When she catches up with Summer, Summer is already seated -- in the smoking section, amidst truckers and boys with farmer tans and girls who are smoking cigarettes, drinking coffee, and chewing gum, all at the same time.
"Is it really so bad?" asks Anna. She sits down and looks up at the waitress. "Water?"
"So bad?" Summer rolls her eyes. "I wasn't going to take him back anyway, but -- "
"So what do you care?"
Summer rolls her eyes like Anna never understands anything -- and maybe she doesn't. Anna takes a napkin from the dispenser on the table and begins to rip it into strips. She wants grilled cheese and fries and a coke, maybe, and a cookie or something. When the waitress comes back with her water, she orders, and Summer nods and says "Me, too. And bacon," and Anna opens her mouth.
"Don't say it," says Summer. "I don't want to know about the baby pigs or whatever."
"Fine," says Anna.
"Bitch, please," says Summer and Anna starts to laugh and can't stop.
There is a guy who comes into the coffee shop every day to talk to Summer. Summer is really good for business, Anna notices. She sits in the window seat with her feet up so everyone can see how short her skirt is and how smooth her legs are. She wears shoes with impossible heels, because she never walks anywhere.
When her plane landed that first day, Anna didn't notice that Summer wasn't wearing makeup -- but thinking back, she couldn't have been, because now she is and Anna notices every day. Her lips are glossy and look sticky, and her eyeliner is too heavy for Pittsburgh in August.
Her tank tops cling to her body and show off all her curves, even the little pouch of her belly that she used to be so self-conscious of. Anna watches her, and it's hard, because Anna can choose between watching Summer lure people in with her Italian Vogue and the ring of lip gloss on her coffee cup and watching Jordan study his coffee and write in a battered notebook.
Mostly Anna just watches the coffee machine.
"What's her deal anyway?" asks Jordan. "She's been here with you every afternoon for two weeks. Is she, like, stalking you, or whatever?"
"Or whatever," says Anna. "She was my best friend in California. We dated the same boy."
Jordan nods slowly like that's something he knows really well. "Yeah, I get it," he says. Anna thinks about what would happen if she introduced Summer to Jordan. If she introduced Summer to all of her Pittsburgh friends, the one who disappeared so quickly when Anna went to California. That would be funny. Summer would take one look at their thrift store chic and sneakers and sniff haughtily and they would make fun of her when her back was turned.
At least Summer would make fun of them to their faces.
She'd probably like Jordan, if she gave him a chance -- she'd probably think he was a lot like Seth.
"What are you writing?" asks Anna, and slides the coffee across the counter.
"More songs." Jordan rips open three packets of Sugar in the Raw and pours them all in. "I keep thinking about, like, doing a cover? You know? Like, shake things up or whatever."
He stirs with a wooden swizzle stick.
"When I was little," says Anna, "I thought swizzle sticks would sizzle or something. Have some kind of special powers, you know?"
"Huh?" Jordan looks up at her, and licks off the stick. "What?"
"You're the guitar guy," says Summer and leans against the counter. Anna hadn't even seen her walk up. She twists around, elbows on the counter, shoving her tits out. Anna wants to smack her nose and say, "Behave yourself!" but doesn't think that will go over well.
"Guitar guy." Jordan shakes her hand.
"Summer," she says, and Anna scowls.
Jordan winks at her. Summer tosses her hair.
The bell dings and Anna has to turn to take an order, and when she turns back, Summer is sitting with Jordan, leaning over the table, crossing and uncrossing her legs, and smoothing her hair.
Summer thinks Jordan is hot for an older guy and tells Anna so over and over again. Summer calls Theresa every night to check on her and talk to her about The Valley, and she calls Ryan and Mrs. Cohen to make sure everything is okay there, but she won't talk to Seth and she never calls her father. Summer doesn't read comic books or anything except magazines and doesn't call Marissa and doesn't talk about Newport ever.
And Anna is kind of waiting for her to go back there. Especially since she likes to go out and do things that Anna isn't really into, like bowling. Summer has never been bowling and she wants Anna to take her. This is after Anna takes her ice skating at the indoor rink and teaches her to sew little blocks of color together in a pattern and shows her how to knit and helps her plant a small pot of rosemary.
Anna's aunt and uncle think Summer's domesticity is cute, but it makes Anna nervous. She dreams about Summer planting rosemary in Seth's mouth to kill him by choking him to death. She also dreams about Seth and Ryan making out in the pool house -- sometimes Jordan is there. It's not that she thinks Jordan is hot -- not exactly. There's just something about him that she is really into. He's, like, captivating. Or whatever.
So she takes Summer bowling. She doesn't think Summer's becoming domestic as much as she's becoming countrified or provincial. The idea that her life is provincial is kind of weird, but it's true -- Anna doesn't really talk to anyone and doesn't really watch television and doesn't really read magazines and isn't really plugged into pop culture. When Jordan's not playing his guitar, the music playing in the coffee shop is picked by Jilly, who likes Fleetwood Mac and the Mamas and the Papas and John Denver, although Jilly does usually leave early, so Anna gets to put on the Dismemberment Plan and Eisley and Ryan Adams.
The bowling alley is full of smoke, and Summer hadn't realized she'd have to wear someone else's shoes, but they order fries and Summer slathers them with ketchup and orders a diet Coke but keeps sipping Anna's regular. There's a band playing in the front room, so they're in the back room, near the bar, and the radio is turned up to the hip hop station.
Summer knows all the words and sings along to all these songs Anna's never heard. But she's a shitty bowler and Anna's on her fifth strike, so it all evens out.
"I have to pee," says Anna.
"Okay," says Summer. She's focusing hard on the lane, holding the ball to her chest. Her fingernails have to be at least an inch long -- that can't make it easy to bowl.
"Don't forget to follow through," says Anna as she walks past the bar to the bathroom. It's clean, at least, and doesn't smell like pee. There's only one that guys and girls have to share, which wouldn't be a problem except there's a line that she has to wait in. She studies the other people in the line and makes up stories about them while they wait for the girl in there to stop puking and get the hell out so everyone can pee.
Like, the guy in front of her, with dark skin, is wearing eyeliner. He watches reruns of 21 Jump Street on TBS at 3:05 AM and skateboards. The girl in front of him has dyed red hair, almost Tori Amos color. She sits at home and writes poetry about cutting. They're both older, like Jordan's age maybe, and they're together because they keep turning to each other to talk and then not saying anything. The girl in front of them is facing the other direction -- she has shells and beads in her hair and is wearing a lot of plaid flannel. It's like attack of 1995 -- which is a year Anna barely remembers, but she does remember fighting with her parents for her right to wear plaid flannel to school.
1995 was also the year of her first kiss -- she was eight, or maybe nine, and Brendon Phillips cornered her during recess and kissed her mouth and then punched her in the stomach and ran away. Oh, and maybe that was also the year when she stopped eating pork because she met someone's pet pig.
The girl who had been barfing comes out of the bathroom and doesn't look at anyone as she rushes away, and the girl with shells in her hair goes in.
"God," says the girl with red hair to the boy in eyeliner. "You'd think we were, like, killing her or something."
"Come on, Angela. Give Rayanne a break," says the boy. The girl with red hair does not look like an Angela. Anna decides that it's her stage name -- or just a name she's called but not her real one, like the way everyone in Newport calls Anna's mother Bunny even though her name is Jessica.
"No way, Rickie," says Angela, and tucks her hair behind her ear. A-ha -- it's dyed.
"Listen, you know this is hard for her. You went off to college and had a great time while we were stuck here, and -- "
"So hard that she slept with my boyfriend?" says Angela loudly, and Rickie shushes her.
He whispers furiously, "She did not. Who said she did?"
"Nobody had to say," replies Angela. "I could just, like, tell."
"Like you could tell last time? Whatever, Angela." Rickie turns away from her and catches Anna's eye. Anna smiles a little, and then looks away. She's kind of embarrassed for them; she can't say anything but she can't not say anything -- she can't stay there, not really, but she can't leave either, because she really has to pee.
And then the other girl -- Rayanne -- is coming out and Angela is going in.
"She thinks you're sleeping with Jordan," says Rickie the instant the door is closed behind Angela.
Now there's a face for the boyfriend; Anna's only ever met one guy named Jordan in her life, and that's Jordan-the-guitar player. Obviously he's not the one they're talking about but his face pops into Anna's head. He fits, too, because he wears a lot of plaid flannel, just like them.
"Yeah? That fucking bitch. Did you tell her?" Rayanne snaps her gum and leans against the wall. She's wearing a bunch of scarves around her body -- neck, arms, waist -- and looks like a fashion model. Except she could never be.
"Rickie, you have to tell her!"
"Jordan has to tell her," says Rickie. "It's not -- I can't -- it's not, like, my secret." He looks like he's going to cry and then the door opens and out comes Angela.
Rickie gives Rayanne one last pained look and then goes inside.
"Don't be mean to him," says Angela, and crosses her arms over her chest.
"Fuck off and die," says Rayanne, and spins around, and walks away.
Anna's breath catches in her chest. Angela looks at her and shrugs. "Life sucks," says Angela.
"Yeah, what are you gonna do?" replies Anna, because she doesn't know what else to say. She's picturing everyone in turn with Jordan-the-guitar player and it's kind of funny, because he fits right in, with all the plaid and everything, or whatever.
"Later," says Angela, and walks away, and she's already in the other room when Rickie comes out of the bathroom.
"Your eyeliner is smudged," says Anna. She has to say something to him, and that's all she's got. Because it is; he's been crying.
"Thanks," he says, and sniffs in, and squares his shoulders, and walks away.
Anna stares at herself in the bathroom mirror and wonders if that's what she and Summer and Seth and Ryan and Marissa would have turned into if she'd stayed around. She'd have always, like, wondered. If Seth and Summer -- and she'd have always wondered about Ryan too, probably, and whether if he'd taken her to Cotillion...
Or whatever. Not like it really matters, since Seth and Ryan are in Newport and Summer is in Pittsburgh with Anna, and who knows where Marissa is? From some of the things Summer's said, Anna thinks probably rehab -- or maybe not.
Anna pees and splashes water on her face and takes a deep breath before she goes back to Summer.
"Sorry you had to wait so long," she says to Summer, and takes a long sip of Coke. "There was a line."
"You are never going to believe it," Summer says to her around a mouthful of French fries. "Guess who's here!"
"Who?" says Anna, still kind of stuck on Angela and Rayanne and Rickie and their weird love square. She picks up her ball and bowls another strike without even thinking about it, and Summer sticks out her tongue.
"Jordan," says Summer. Gutter ball. "You know, that guitar player from your coffee shop." Summer says "coffee shop" the way she says "Chino"; she doesn't understand why Anna works, but it doesn't seem to actually matter to her.
"Jordan is here?" says Anna. Summer bowls another gutter ball, then turns around with her hands on her hips.
"Isn't that what I just said?" Summer rolls her eyes.
"Yeah, sorry," says Anna. "Did you see who he was with?"
"Yeah, some girls and a guy in eyeliner. Totally gay. Can I finish your Coke?" Summer comes and sits down next to Anna, who gets up.
"Sure," says Anna absently, and bowls her first spare of the night. It is her Jordan that they were talking about. Not -- not her Jordan, or something, but.
"Anna! Hello, could you please pay attention!" says Summer, and points at the glass windows separating the two rooms. There's Jordan, staring at nothing off to the side, Angela on his arm, a cigarette in his mouth. Maybe he's not staring at nothing -- maybe he's staring at Rickie.
"So weird," says Anna, and tells Summer about the conversation she overhead at the bathroom.
"Are you telling me that every single guy I have ever found the slightest bit attractive is secretly gay?" says Summer. She doesn't sound upset, though, and Anna shrugs.
"I dunno," says Anna. "Do you really think Jordan is hot?"
"Um, of course!"
"He's just kind of... old." Anna picks up Summer's diet Coke and drinks it. Gross, but wet.
"Who cares?" says Summer. "This means that my gaydar is even better than Liza Minelli's."
"I don't know," says Anna. "I just -- " She stops, because she gets it -- red. Red. The song, the hair, the girl. Not his ex-girlfriend anymore, apparently.
It's none of her business, though.
"Whatever," says Summer and rolls her eyes. "Is it my turn?"
Anna is kind of impressed by the way Summer keeps the secret about seeing Rickie and Angela and Rayanne at the bowling alley -- she flirts with Jordan more and more, but in that Summer way, the way she flirts with everyone, and Jordan doesn't seem to know how to handle it. His stammering cracks Anna up, but Summer doesn't seem to notice all the extra instances of "like" and "um" and "whatever" in Jordan's conversations.
Anna teaches her how to crochet hats and Google-search peoples' names on the internet and patch jeans and string beads to make necklaces, and Summer drags Anna to a two-day belly dancing workshop and buys Anna a hip-scarf with clinking coins dangling from it.
Summer goes home when Seth calls her and apologizes. Anna is kind of disappointed in her, but whatever, it's Summer's life and it's not like Summer was going to stay in Pittsburgh and go to school with Anna or something. The minute the temperature dipped below seventy, Summer would have been gone like a shot.
Jordan asks about her, and Anna rolls her eyes. "She's capricious," she says. "She follows her heart. And I guess her heart told her it was time to go home and forgive everyone for all wrongs, real or imagined."
"If everyone did what was in their hearts..." Jordan stops and shakes his head, but then looks back up at Anna.
"If everyone did what was in their hearts," she prompts.
"The world would grind to a halt," he says. "Or whatever."
She can't help but think about the bitchy girl with the red hair when she looks at him. Angela. And the hurt best friend, falsely accused. And the crying boy with the eyeliner. It's too dramatic in her head -- love hidden! Like Romeo and Juliet but totally gay! She's pretty sure that whatever is happening in Jordan's real life, it's prosaic -- like when she left Newport and wrote Seth that letter and everything. Simple and easy except hard because it involves people.
"I don't think so," she says, "but it's not like I'd know." Except she does since she does what's in her heart every time, all the time.
"I've decided what to cover," says Jordan. "Getting out of this, like, rut? Or whatever? Do you know what I mean?"
"Yeah," she says. "What are you covering?"
"I don't think you'd know it. It's called 'My Favorite Regret' -- "
"Gigolo Aunts," she says, and he looks up from his coffee and licks the swizzle stick and nods.
"Yeah, nice." She nods at him and he goes back to his table, and she turns as someone else comes into the shop. If this was The Valley, she thinks, that would be Rickie or Angela.
But it's not -- it's just a girl with dark hair and dark eyes and pale skin who wants a latte with extra foam and a squirt of hazelnut flavor, and then another girl, this one wearing a plaid dress and knee-high leather boots, who wants an iced mocha with whipped cream and a brownie, and then another and another, and by the time Anna's done filling orders, Jordan is on stage.
"Sometimes things, like, happen," he says into the mic. "And then sometimes they don't."
Anna's not sure what that's supposed to mean, but his cover of "My Favorite Regret" is really pretty because it was, like, written for a voice like his, with that nasal twang and the slightly off-key guitar.
He doesn't sing "Red" though. There is no, "This is either a song about my car or a song about my ex-girlfriend, depending who you talk to or whatever." Anna doesn't ask him why. He nods at her on his way out of the shop; she's too busy filling orders to talk to him. She goes home that night and eats supper with her aunt and uncle and cries in the shower for no good reason. She calls Summer but gets her voicemail, so she leaves a message asking Summer to call her back, and flops down onto her bed.
Anna stares at the ceiling and hums the first few bars of "Red" and thinks about the Summer-Seth-Ryan-Marissa square that she's sure is forming back in Newport, and wonders if she could trade Jordan and Pittsburgh for the sun and sand and snobbery.
She could, but then there'd be drama, probably. Maybe. Definitely. She remembers what Jordan said to her -- if everyone did what was in their hearts, the world would fall apart. Or something like that. Clever but maybe not true. But maybe true.
Before she falls asleep, Anna decides that she has to figure out what's in her heart before she can do it.
She's rudely awakened by her trilling phone -- it's Summer. Anna looks at it for a moment, then turns over and lets the voicemail pick up the call, and goes back to sleep.