Kyle leaned back in his chair. He watched the steam rise from his coffee sup and swirl around in the air. His foot tapped against the floor as he waited. He had been sitting patiently in that spot for the past ten minutes, waiting for Francesca to show up with what he needed. His eyes shifted to the clock hanging above the café windows across the room and sighed. Where is she?
That’s when the bell on the door rang and a red-head popped around the corner. Her eyes wandered around the café, looking for him. He projected, “Hey!”
She turned her head to see him and walked casually over to his table, “Hey.” She repeated. Before Kyle had the chance to accuse her of being late, she handed him the black tube that contained what he needed.
He looked at her, then at the tube and reached out to grab it from her. As he did, she asked, “Was your father suspicious?”
Francesca’s father owned E.T.S, the building where the answers to the SAT were kept along with a lot of other educational crap. That’s the whole reason Kyle and his friend Matty reached out to her in the first place. If anybody could help them steal the answers to the test without being suspected, it was definitely Francesca Curtis.
She shook her head dismissively, “Oh, no.” She crossed her arms and smirked, “For him to be suspicious, he’d have to be interested.”
Kyle looked at her. He almost felt bad for her. But he got the point, “Uh… there’s one other thing.” She raised her eyebrows to show she was listening and he continued, “They supply the owner with a copy of the test in case of emergency, so–”
“Yeah, I can get them.” She nodded.
Kyle tilted his head slightly. There was an awkward silence before he spoke, “Ok.”
“Ok.” Francesca repeated and looked down.
“I will see you on Tuesday.” Kyle dismissed.
Francesca paused, and then she nodded. “Okay. I’ll see you Tuesday.” She waited for a moment, waiting for Kyle to say something else. But when he didn’t, she turned on her heel and walked to the door.
That’s when he decided to continue the conversation. “Francesca!” He called.
She turned around, still crossing her arms, “Yeah?”
“That bad, huh?” He asked.
She knew what he was referring to, but she still clarified, “My father?” He nodded. She brushed it off, “No, whatever. I mean you know… ‘poor little rich girl’ is a little played out. It’s like the oldest story in the world, isn’t it?”
Kyle considered it, but then he shook his head. “Not the true story.”
Francesca looked at him with admiration in her eyes. She even smiled slightly at him. “Alright,” she scratched her head, blushing, “See you on Tuesday.”
Kyle pursed his lips, realizing she wanted to leave. “I will see you Tuesday.” She nodded at him and then she turned to go again. As her hand settled on the door handle, Kyle decided that he wasn’t going to end their little meet-up so early. “Unless…” he called. He waited before he had her full attention before continuing, “Unless... you wanna sit down – have a cup of coffee…”
“I mean,” She approached the table a second time, and crossed her arms. “Poor little rich girl’s gotta get home – think my dad will be a little pissed if I don’t.”
Kyle leaned back, “Okay.” He nodded, “See you–”
“But…” she started, “For him to be pissed, he’d have to be interested. Which, obviously he isn’t, so… okay.” She agreed and pulled the chair out across from Kyle and plopped herself into it.
“Okay?” He clarified, wanting to make sure she was comfortable. She cleared her throat as she adjusted herself in the seat. Kyle looked down, then back at her, “Thank you.” He said.
She looked away, “Nah – don’t mention it.”
“Seriously, Francesca. Thank you.” He pushed.
She looked back at him, tilting her head. “You’re welcome. You know, I’ve got nothing else better to do besides that stupid blog so I might as well spend my free-time doing something, quote “productive”.”
Kyle wandered his eyes, “Was that a quote from–”
“Yeah; guess who.” She interrupted, answering his question before he had a chance to finish it.
“If he’s your father – why does he ignore you like that? I mean, you’re his only daughter. Why doesn’t he pay you any attention?” Kyle questioned.
Francesca raised her shoulders and pursed her lips, “He’s got plenty other women in his life right now. He doesn’t need some kid he helped make seventeen years ago distracting him.”
Kyle furrowed his brows, “Some kid?” He couldn’t believe, “Is that all you are to him?”
Francesca half-smiled and cocked her eyebrow, “Feels like it.”
“Wow…” He was surprised to hear that, although a small part of him could actually relate. But there was something she told him that caught his ear more than anything else she said, “Other women, huh?”
She exhaled, “Yeah. He’s had like a hundred different girlfriends since my mom.”
He rolled his eyes, “That’s an exaggeration, I’m sure.”
“Could be. They seem to get five years younger every time.” She remarked.
“Don’t you find that a little creepy?” He asked.
“Creepy? No. Well, you get used to it.” She answered half-heartedly.
“How do you deal with it?”
She lowered her eyes, “I wouldn’t call it ‘dealing’ with it – to deal with it I’d need to care enough to do something about it, which I don’t. ‘Avoiding’ it is probably a… better name for how I cope.”
“That seems brutal.” He wondered.
She exhaled, “It’s not so bad…” She looked at him and smirked, “It gives me better opportunities to do shit like this.”
He eyed her, “Steal the answers to the SAT?”
“Anything, really.” She agreed. “I could rob a bank and it would never cross his mind.”
“Really?” He said; yet again surprised. His voice softened, “That’s a… tough way to live.”
Her eyes met his – only now did she notice they were blue. She sighed, “It’s an ok way to get by though.”
Kyle felt warm. He had just met Francesca a few days ago and she was already opening up to him about her personal life. If he were being honest – he felt really, really bad for her. She had so much potential and so much for her father to be proud of her for, and it’s all been taken away from her by women probably ten years younger than him. Francesca was playing it cool, but he knew that she didn’t enjoy the feeling. He saw it in her eyes. And he knew that if she already felt comfortable enough to even tell him the slightest bit about her backstory, that they were pointed at the right direction. Maybe after this stunt with the SAT was finished – they could be friends.
Francesca interrupted the silence with questions of her own. “So what about you?” She asked. Kyle looked up as she continued, “What are your parents like?”
“Different.” He answered.
Francesca looked at him and pouted mockingly, “Aw… I bet.” Then she said firmly, “Now give me a real answer.”
He was at a loss for words; unsure of what to say. She wasn’t having it. “C’mon, dude!” She leaned forward and propped her elbows on the table. “I told you my backstory – it’s your turn.”
“I don’t know what there is to say about my family.” He lied.
“Okay? Got any siblings? Pets?” She asked then she grinned, “… Partners?”
Kyle ignored the last part of her question. “I mean, I have an older brother.”
“He graduated a few years ago. Now he’s decided to stay and live with my parents and I.” He elaborated.
Francesca raised her eyebrows, “Graduated high school, right?”
“Yeah,” Kyle rubbed the back of his neck; embarrassed, “He’s not the – brightest.”
“What about your parents?” She asked.
Kyle exhaled, trying to find the right words. “They’re ok.”
He gave her a look – she was hungry for the details and wasn’t going to stop pushing him. “They’re…” He started, “It’s complicated. They’re–”
“What? No… God, I hope not.”
“Then it doesn’t sound that complicated to me.”
Kyle tilted his head and looked at her. And you’d know, wouldn’t you? He thought. “They’re ok. That’s all I can say about them.”
“Were you the favorite?” She asked, “Or did they prefer your brother?”
“Brother.” Kyle rolled his eyes, “I mean, that’s an easy one.”
“What do you mean ‘why’?”
“Why did they favor your brother over you?”
“I…” Kyle started to answer, but realized soon enough that he couldn’t. He didn’t have an answer. That’s actually a really good question, he thought. “I’m not sure.”
“Is that why you want to steal the answers to the SAT? So you can get a perfect score and shove it in their faces and say “Hey – I was worth it!”?”
“Maybe.” He considered, “Or maybe… I’m doing it for me.”
“Maybe…” She pursed her lips. “Well, I should get going.” She stood up quickly to leave and spoke, “Thank you for listening while I poured my heart and soul into my answers to your questions, and you’re welcome for listening while you poured absolutely… nothing into your answers to mine. Let’s do it again sometime.” She grabbed her purse from the corner of her seat and pranced over to the door.
Shit, did I piss her off? Is she mad at me? He thought. “Francesca!” He called.
“By the way, I really don’t get why your parents chose your… ‘go-to-college-only-to-spend-the-rest-of-my-life-living-in-my-parents’-garage’ brother over you. You’re kinda cute.”
He was taken back. He smiled sheepishly, “Really?”
She nodded. “Kinda emotionless…” She explained, “But cute.”