"What was that for?!" Karl yowled with pain.
Evalyn shrugged, "You annoy me."
A reddish handprint was beginning to swell on his cheek. He looked at her with half-hearted contempt. This wasn't the first time she'd hit him.
Evalyn sank into the black suede couch nearby, her body slouched down and her legs spread outward. Evalyn wasn't a girl in the eyes of those who knew her. She dressed like any girl, with tight fitting flared blue jeans and ribbed tank tops, but her attitude was regarded as masculine.
She slid a hand, deftly, through her silky, red streaked, waves of naturally black hair. Her cool gray-blue eyes scanned over Karl with a sharp intensity.
"Face it idiot, you're a sap. I've never met another twenty-year-old guy that cried when he watched The Notebook, or when he read it."
"Well, Evie, I am what I am, and I'm content with that."
"Oh, go write your essay and leave me alone," she turned towards the TV.
"Evie, don't start something you can't finish. It's just annoying." Karl knew she was ignoring him. He stood up and wandered over to his desk. A thin stack of paper entitled, "Karl Marx and Karl Martin: Similar Thinkers by Karl Martin" sat amongst a heap of notes and open textbooks. A smirk crept onto his lips.
"Besides, I already finished my essay."
"An F? How can she give me an F?"
"Let me see that," said Evalyn as she forcibly took the essay from Karl's hands, "'Communism undermines human nature...this essay was meant to be in rhetoric not self-narration...Oh my God!"
"You're a freaking communist!!!"
"No! Professor Dillan said to be creative!"
"'Every night my mother would read to me from The Communist Manifesto...at fifteen I desired to lead a small pro-communist march through my hometown,'" Evalyn glowered at him, "Karl, you moron!"
"Ok, maybe I got a little carried away-I was just being sarcastic. It isn't like its true or anything."
"Carried away? Karl, that teacher is never going to give you decent grades again. She'll flunk you!"
"It's only one class," Karl shrugged it off like it was nothing, his sky-blue eyes avoiding her unforgiving gaze.
"One class worth two thousand freaking dollars!"
"Evie, please don't start this again…"
"Next thing you know you'll be writing an essay about how Hitler was perfect!"
"This is a matter of beliefs, Evie. I'm not a Nazi. I wouldn't stoop that low."
"I know that," she grumbled to herself, ripping the essay in half and letting its mangled pieces flutter through the air.
"Hey! That was the best piece of satire I ever wrote!" Evalyn wandered, coolly, over to the couch seeking out and running from further confrontation. Karl was fuming as he knelt to pick up the pieces of his precious essay. His anger cooled almost instantaneously; Karl wasn't one to be prone to anger. He sighed helplessly and returned to his desk to brood over the loss of his piece of writing.
Karl slumped into Professor Dillan's class the following morning with a bruised shoulder and a bruised ego. Evalyn had knocked the sense into him, literally. Ok, maybe not knocked, more like punched, yeah, punched.
He made a point of paying attention, mostly out of fear of Evalyn's wrath, but no matter what the motivation it was an improvement over his recent study habits.
The class focused around the major political documents written during the American Revolution, mainly The Declaration of Independence. It was pretty general stuff, the same thing every American student learns almost every year from grade one onward. Karl's eyelids were drooping hopelessly as the professor droned on about freedom of speech and religion.
The bell signaling the end of U.S. History I snapped him back into real time.
The other students began filing into the corridor, most of them heading for Journalism class. Karl dragged his feet on his way to Professor Dillan's desk, where she sat, leaning over a paper, at the head of the classroom. His expression seethed with pseudo-innocence.
"Yes, Mr. Martin?" the aging woman's gaze was icy.
"Professor, I'd like to apologize for my essay. I'm not really a communist. I just have a lot going on and couldn't remember last week's lesson; I thought you might appreciate a…well…a pleasant sense of sarcasm? I really am sorry." It must have been his puppy-dog eyes because the cold, hard stare softened a little and a smile crept onto the Professor's face. His magical pearly whites had saved the day.
"I appreciate your honesty, however strange it is, Mr. Martin. If you would like to submit a new essay I can give you half credit. You will have to get the lesson notes from a member of your class. But, please don't pull another one of these stunts."
"I promise I won't," he cringed while his imagination wisped up ideas of Evalyn might do if he didn't keep this promise.
"Good boy, I'm glad you smoothed things over with your teacher," Evalyn patted Karl on the head, ruffling his chin length, unkempt, blonde hair.
"I'm not a dog, Evie," Karl said quietly.
"If you didn't call me 'Evie' I wouldn't treat you like one," she said with big, innocent eyes.
"Is that why you bug me about my grades? Am I your little boy? Am I your dog, Evie?"
Evalyn rolled her eyes in a typical fashion. "No, no. You're the college man," she said sardonically.
"I pay attention to my grades like I should. I—I take care of myself! But, since you moved in, I feel like I need to take care of both of us…"
"School work comes first. I agreed to your offer to move in—"
"But, you don't even have a job, Evie! I have to work nights at the supermarket to pay rent. I come home falling asleep on my feet and I still have to miraculously finish my homework and get up for school to repeat the cycle!"
"I've spent two weeks looking for a job, Karl. I don't just sit on my ass and watch TV all day!"
"Well? Where's the job!?" his sant his metaphorical teeth into her with his potent stare. He sighed and the look faded, "Evie…"
"I am completely self-sufficient," she said emphatically. Karl remained silent, frustration biting at his insides.
"If you failed a class you would be wasting a truck load of money. Back at home we live hand in mouth. Having enough money to go to college is a big deal, wasting it is stupid."
"Is that all?"
"Yeah." She answered too quickly, too sharply. Karl could almost taste her lie.
He sighed. She was too stubborn to give up the truth and he didn't want to force it out of her.
Evalyn gave him a sharp look before meandering over to the plush couch. She sank into it like she always did, seemingly without a care in the world, but her thoughts were running through her head in a fog of confusion.
"Evie? Evie, wake up. My parents are here," Karl's voice penetrated her confusing dreams. Evalyn groaned and rolled away, pulling the covers up over her head.
"Evie! Get up!"
"I hate you," was her slurred and tired response.
"Get dressed. Mom made breakfast, well, brunch especially for you."
"Oh, lucky me."
Karl glared at the unmoving mass beneath the fluffy white comforter. With a sigh and a shake of his head he reached out and firmly grasped the edge of it. A sharp pull dragged it off of Evalyn and onto the floor. A string of angry swears followed.
"It's eleven. We've been waiting for you for two hours. Please, get dressed," the patience in Karl's voice had been extinguished. She peered up from the comforting warmth of flannel sheets and stuck her tongue out at him. Yeah, her maturity took a vacation this morning.
Karl threw a pillow at her head.
"Fine!" she slid out from under the sheets sluggishly, "You're such a meanie." She sat up, blinking painfully against the bright mid-morning sunlight.
"I don't see you getting up…" Karl waited, his face peering down at the bed.
"Karl, your parents are always here! It's not like I'm missing anything!"
"Look, just get dressed and come to breakfast, okay?" Evalyn gave him the middle finger. He raised both his hands up, palms towards her.
"I surrender, Evie." Karl turned around, shaking his head, and walked back in the direction of the kitchen.
Later That Morning
"Hello Evalyn! It's such a lovely morning isn't it?"
"Yes, Pauline, it's quite lovely," bitter sarcasm dripped from her words. Karl's mother was completely oblivious. She had a tendency to be an airhead and Evalyn detested her for it. Stupidity, even fake stupidity, was not something the twenty-year-old could tolerate.
"Mom?" asked Karl ever so politely.
"Yes, honey cakes?"
"We've got a surprise for you." He wrapped his arm around Evalyn. Pauline's eyes grew wide.
"Charles," she looked at her husband with a twinkle of tears in her eyes, "It's finally happened!" Karl and Evalyn exchanged confused looks.
"She's pregnant!" Pauline squirmed with delight, "We're going to be grandparents!" Karl's father grew pale. Karl and Evalyn's jaws dropped open.
"Oh, I can see him now; Karl's hair, Evalyn's looks!" She sighed euphorically, "I know their not married, but we are getting so old, there's so little time left!"
"Pregnant?! You think I'm pregnant?!"
"No, Karl!" Evalyn glared at her mother-in-law, a fury shining in her eyes, "You mindless twat! How could you possibly think I was pregnant?"
"I—," Pauline started,
"No!" she took a deep breath, "Well, you know what? I hate you. Your bleached hair makes you look like trash!" Evalyn turned around on her heel and stomped off to the bedroom; the floor shook it the slam of a door.
Pauline began to sob; it was the kind of sob filled with hiccups and self-pity. Charles merely shook his head in his hands.
"Mom…Mother…I—I'm so sorry," Karl locked his eyes on the floor. His fingers wound themselves up in the hem of his t-shirt.
"I think we'll be going now," said Karl's father.
Karl woke with his face pressed into the leather of the couch. He rolled to face upwards and braced an arm over his eyes to shield them from the brilliance of the sun. The memory of the previous day hit him like a sack of bricks. Tears clung to his eyelashes as the angry yells of Saturday night replayed in his head.
"Why did you say those things?!"
"What was I supposed to do? Sit back and take it?!"
"No! You politely correct the assumption! You don't scream insults at them until they run home crying!"
"And what kind of assumption is that?!"
He slid his legs out from under the thin, green quilt and touched his bare feet onto the cool, hard wood surface. The touch of the here and now forced the screams to trail off and leave his mind empty, void.
"Nice t-shirt." Evalyn's tired voice startled him. Karl swung around to find her sitting at the kitchen counter, a mug of steaming coffee in her hand.
"Don't be cynical, Evie. Not after yesterday."
"I won't say I'm sorry."
"You know that my parents don't understand our living situation."
"What does that mean?"
"My mother thinks that we're well…"
"A couple," Karl fiddled with the buttons on his plaid shirt. Evalyn made a noise somewhere between a choke and a gag.
"Why didn't you tell her we weren't?"
"My mum, well, she's just so anxious to see me settle down," his hand now played with the hair just above his neck.
"At twenty-two?" Evalyn asked incredulously.
"What's her issue?" She was obviously now intrigued.
"She thinks that she's getting old. I mean, you heard her."
"At, what, fifty-ish?" Karl shrugged. "I've never heard anything so stupid in my life, Karl. Just tell her the truth. If you had done that in the first place we wouldn't have had this little problem, would we?"
"No," he said softly, his heart pounding like a jack-hammer against his ribcage.
"Tell her for me, okay?" She looked at him with a rare softness in her eyes, sympathy.