Ross would have you believe me guilty of making out with his sister, Grace, in their family’s Aerostar van in the parking lot of a Taco Jerry’s, while listening to the copy of “Dark Side of the Moon” that I’d stolen from him the previous week. I maintain that Grace made the first move. She made it by picking me up wearing a Pink Floyd t-shirt, which is grounds for arousal, and then as soon as I’d put the album in she pulled off the road. She straddled me, then bit my face in appreciation. Her shirt covered only one of her shoulders, and not even all of it. I said we shouldn’t and Grace said shut up, and that was pretty much the end of any discussion.
But then Ross turned up at the passenger window, having recognized the van, and he found Grace in my lap, our half-eaten tacos forgotten on the dashboard, tiny bits of ground beef rolling over the edge and dropping onto the floor. Screaming through the glass, he called me morally bankrupt, and threatened to find a best friend who had a better sense of boundaries. Grace hit the button to unlock the electric doors, and this concession seemed to calm Ross, just to know that we weren’t going to try to keep him on the outside. He walked around the van and sat down in the driver’s seat, then regarded us. I offered him the rest of my taco and he ate it, chewing deliberately. When he finished, Grace handed him the remaining half of hers.
Finally, just to say something, I told Ross that best friends were going to have to be assholes to each other once in a while. Saying the word asshole made me think of my father: a prime example of a generally good guy who could also be the absolute worst once in a while. I tried to channel Dad for the speech I was surprised to discover I was building towards. I thought of all those times when my father had punished me, or did something I didn’t understand, or something I hated him slightly for. So I told Ross that I loved him, making sure not to make eye contact with his sister. Ross was so quiet now—his silence all the more effective for coming just after he’d been so loud. Grace seemed bored. She was putting her long black hair up into a ponytail, then taking it out and letting it stream back over her shoulders, coffee down the drain. Then she’d gather it up all over again.
I told Ross this was for his own good. And then I put “Dark Side of the Moon” back on, since we’d killed the sound when we’d been interrupted. Syd sang “Money” at a million decibels, and Grace grabbed my head by both ears, as if holding an anxious animal still long enough to check it for fleas or give it some medicine it didn’t want, and she licked my nose. Ross saw it, but just closed his eyes and stared straight ahead at whatever was on the inside of his lids, smiling as if he was remembering something funny from forever ago—from before the whole world. Then Grace went wild.
About the author:
Eric Thompson lives in Roanoke, VA, where he is currently an MFA candidate and Teaching Fellow at Hollins University. He is a fiction writer, on a good day.