fractal trees

first dibs:
Dragons live the Parking Lot.

"Shit, Dragon Lady. Hide."

Welcome to 7:54 AM, the Parking Lot.

I forgot to mention Dragon Lady in the dramatis personae.

I assume that she does, in fact, have a name, but like so many others at this school, she really doesn't deserve it. Dragon Lady wears lime green mittens (in spite of the distinctly summery feel of the wonderful August morning we're having) and wanders around the parking lot, tapping on windshields and forcing students out of their cars and into the school building. In spite of the fact that the first bell won't ring for at least ten more minutes, and we'll still have another five or ten before we've actually got to be in class.

Oh, no. She'll kick you out. And she does it so annoyingly, too. It's not like she just tells you to get out of your car, she taps incessantly on the window and keeps going on about it like we didn't hear her or we won't listen.

Which, okay, we wouldn't, if we didn't think she'd throw our asses in detention.

But I digress. It's morning, pre-school hours, hanging out in the car. Since Brandon has the best car and the best sound system among all of us (I drive the aforementioned Caddy unless I can swipe Mom's freaking amazing Mustang, which I usually can't, and Jamie has this awful car that I think they made three of in the entire world and is currently held together by duct tape and superglue. I'm not kidding), we're piled up in his car, fighting over control of the CD player.

Yeah, yeah, say what you will. I refuse to buy into Apple's world domination.

Might also have something to do with the terrible lack of funds in my world right now, and the day Jamie gets an iPod will be the day Apollo climbs out of the sky and proclaims his undying love for me.

(Get an iPod, Jamie.)

At any rate, we're hanging out in Brandon's not-really-big-enough-for-this-kind-of-thing car (think "two-door"). We being me, Jamie, Brandon, Jamie's little sister Katherine, Brandon's cousin Christian, and Eddie. We tried to kick Eddie out, but he refused to go. Annoying little snot.

For the record, just so you're ready for it, Eddie is a running joke. Nothing in particular about him is funny, and he has the sense of humor of your average Wal-Mart shopping cart, so in order to tolerate his insufferable and omnipresent... presence, we've turned him into a source of unending amusement. He is the butt of all our jokes and the last one picked for groups when we end up having to choose groups, though that doesn't happen often, considering he's younger and all.

I swear, one day, he's going to go crazy and kill us all, and we will deserve every last bit of it.

I also didn't mention Christian or Katherine in the dramatis personae. Perhaps I should have. They are pretty important players in my world. I mean, you've got Christian, whom everyone loves in spite of the fact that he's really a total asshole. Myself included in that "everyone." I don't know. There's something about how he's an asshole that makes it less offensive. And then Katherine, whom everyone thinks is mute, but is really a super genius with an affinity for video games. I would envy her if I thought she would ever get a date.

That was mean.

Dragon Lady wanders past us and heads for Redneck Row. You know what I'm talking about. Every school has one.

I shift a little, uncomfortably aware of the way Eddie's shoe is digging into my thigh. Jamie, next to me, tries to manouver around Eddie's knees, my face, and all the trash in Brandon's car to reach her frantically vibrating phone (it's right next to my foot but I'll be damned if I'll get shoed in the face to get it). She glares and turns her phone off the instant it touches her fingers.

"You aren't going to check that?"

Christan. Oh, Christian. Words really cannot describe you. Think David Spade.

...With better hair.

"No, I'm not. It's my mother complaining about how I didn't clean the cat box, and I don't care. What time is it?"

"You tell me. You're the one with your phone in hand."

"It's off."

"So turn it back on."

"Will you two shut up?" Brandon, in the driver's seat, is leaning as far in his seat as he can, furtively checking the mirrors. "Dragon Lady is heading this way. Eddie, why did you have to sit in my car?"

"How is this my fault?"

"Because," Christian drawls, "Your entire backside is plastered against the window and you have to lean your head uncomfortably close to mine in order to fit it in the car. I think you stand out a little more than the rest of us."

"Out, Eddie," I say as firmly as I can while twisted at a terrible angle to catch a glimpse of flourescent green mittens before Eddie's shoe disembowels me.


"Oh, for the love of God," Katherine hisses, "We're about to have to get out anyway. What's the problem?"

"...I don't think I can. I mean, I'm wedged against this window pretty tight."

"Eddie," Christian says slowly, matter-of-factly. "I am going to kill you."

7:58 AM on the first day of school, and detention is looking like a distinct possibility.

"Please explain why there were four people in the backseat of a two-door car fighting with each other."

"To be honest," I pipe up, "Only two people were fighting. Jamie and I were simply caught in the crossfire."

"That isn't what it looked like to me."

"All you saw was Eddie's back and my face. It's not like there was a whole lot to see." ...And that was one step too far. Time for damage control. "What I mean is, it wasn't a fight at all. It was just, we haven't seen each other all summer and we were getting back to the way we've always been. Christian and Eddie love each other, really." I surreptitiously reach behind me and pinch an arm which I hope is Christian's, but it ends up being Jamie, and I get kicked in the back of the leg.

Christian, for the record, pulls off a tight-lipped smile. "Of course we do, D- Professor."

All of us wince. Dragon Lady tilts her head. "What was that?"

On the spot, Christian finally pulls out his best kick-ass grin. "I was about to say Doctor, actually, but I don't think you have a Ph.D. And I can't very well be informal with such an upstanding member of our school's faculty, now can I?"

It would sound trite and agonizingly horrible coming out of anyone else's mouth, but somehow, Christian almost makes it work. Emphasis on the "almost." Dragon Lady smiles (I half-expect her to flick her tongue at me) and then shakes her head. "As flattering as that is, Mr. Thespian, I cannot let this slip by -"

And the bell rings. She lets out a huge sigh and gives up. "Oh, just go to class. Don't let it happen again."

"'Course it won't!" Christian says while we gather our crap out of Brandon's car, "Eddie and I are the best of friends."

There's a moment of silence while I fight the daily war with my phone to convince it that it does, in fact, have to be on silent when I tell it to. I swear, my phone got into a bad case of LSD somewhere along the line, and has been on a really bad trip ever since. It's like it's been possessed by demons.

You know, the sort who like to play with electronics and make them do funky things. Yeah, they exist.


"Whew!" Eddie says, oblivious to the fact that we're clearly trying to leave him behind (Katherine tried to catch his shirt in the door, but he caught her), "That was a close one!"

"Eddie, shut up." Christian snaps. "I've never had detention a day in my life and if you're the reason I get one, now that I'm finally a senior, I will string you up by your entrails and rip your tiny little balls into thin shreds. Understand?"

All of us stop and stare at him.

"What?" He replies, and so we move again.

"Anal much, Chrissy?" I begin, but he turns that glare on me and I shut up quick. I enjoy my head being attached to my shoulders, thanks. Eddie doesn't say much the rest of the way and sulks off to his homeroom. Thank God for small blessings. In fact, this is so wonderful that I can almost forget about -

"Anna! Oh, it's been forever!"

Kill me now.