"Where do you think you're going?" Judith asked firmly while trying to be patient with the ten year old's sudden barging out of his room and pushing past her towards the stairs.
"To a friend's house..." He replied with an impatient turn of the head, before noticing the frustrated look on his mother's face.
"You mean the Fontanas?"
"No, I'm going to Christopher's."
"My new friend."
Michael darted downstairs and Judith followed in the hope of getting more facts out of him.
"Michael, stop right there now!"
He stopped at the foot of the stairs and stared up at her with a level of annoyance commonly seen in restless teenagers, rather than a shy elementary school students.
"I've never heard of this boy before. You need to tell me his family's address and number, in case there's some emergency..."
Michael hurriedly grabbed a pen and scribbled contact information down for her to see. He then headed straight for the garage without looking back.
"Should I collect you before dinner?"
She heard a door slam and reflected on her son's recent volatile behavior with a dismayed shake of the head.
"If only I knew what was troubling him. His grades are fine and he isn't the worst at sports, so that leaves-"
The phone rang and she had to halt her train of thought while answering the call. It turned out to be from the local nursing home as a colleague asked her to fill in for a sick staff member.
The sight of a clear blue sky lifted Michael's mood as he wheeled his bicycle into the street and hopped on it to ride to Christopher's place.
Ever since Julie Fontana had appeared in those laundry commercials, her younger brothers had enjoyed their newfound popularity at school and as such, no longer wished to spend time with a quiet boy like him.
"Well, at least Christopher's sort of cool. Don't know what he sees in me though..."
He arrived at a prettier house than the one he lived in after around twenty minutes of riding. Christopher came out to greet him and as they went back indoors together, he couldn't help but admire how stylishly furnished each room was.
"I guess your parents make a lot of money..."
"Yeah..." Christopher replied while coming to a stop in the dining room and inviting Michael to sit down. "Dad's a real estate agent and Mom...goes to parties."
"Oh. Mine looks after old people."
Christopher grabbed some lemonade from the fridge that they could enjoy and thought of another interesting relative whom he could talk about.
"I have a cousin named Barbara. She's at law school right now."
"Well, I have a sister called Sharon. She fights with my Mom sometimes and her favorite subject is metalwork."
"What?" Christopher remarked, turning to stare at Michael in surprise.
"I have a sister."
"I know that. What did you say after?"
"She likes metalwork."
"Wow, does she look like a man?"
"I don't know. I see her everyday."
"Then I should come over one day and find out for real. Does your Mom like other kids?"
Christopher smiled and passed one glass of lemonade over. They downed their drinks together before he suggested something rather daring.
"My Dad reads Playboy and Sports Illustrated. Wanna see his magazines?"
"Yeah, it's the best thing ever! I'll show you!"
He grabbed Michael by the hand despite the latter's misgivings and lead him upstairs towards a bedroom that could only belong to a fullgrown man.
"They're under the bed..."
Michael watched speechlessly as the other boy pulled out an apparent recent edition and held it up in pride. A tanned blonde in a pink bikini smiled from the front cover and Michael's discomfort began to grow.
"We...we shouldn't be doing this."
"So, you don't like Cheryl Tiegs?"
"No, it's just wrong!"
Christopher's mood sank as he lowered the magazine. He averted his eyes and turned to stare to the side.
"Funny, I thought it would work.. "