Home > Turtles All the Way Down(12)

Turtles All the Way Down(12)
Author: John Green

The journey around Indianapolis cost about seven dollars in gas, and I knew it was wasteful, but I felt so much better after circling the city.

When I parked in the driveway to open up the garage door, I saw I had a series of texts from Daisy:

I just drew the short straw so I have to get inside the fricking Chuckie costume.

See you later if I survive.

If I die weep at my grave every day until a seedling appears in the dirt, then cry on it to make it grow until it becomes a beautiful tree whose roots surround my body.

They’re making me go now they’re taking away my phone REMEMBER ME HOLMESY.

Update: I survived. Getting a ride to Applebee’s after work. See you.

In the living room, Mom was grading quizzes with her feet up on the coffee table. I sat down next to her, and without looking up, she said, “A Lyle from the Pickett estate brought over our canoe today, repaired. Said you and Daisy were paddling down the White River and hit a rock.”

“Yeah,” I said.

“You and Daisy,” she said. “Paddling on the White River.”

“Yeah,” I said.

She looked up at last. “Seems like something you would only do if, say, you wanted to run into Davis Pickett.”

I shrugged.

“Did it work?” she asked.

I shrugged again, but she kept looking at me until I gave in and spoke. “I was just thinking about him. Wanted an excuse to check on him, I guess.”

“How is he doing, without his father?”

“I think he’s okay,” I said. “Most people don’t seem to like their dads much.”

She leaned into me, her shoulder against mine. I knew we were both thinking about my dad, but we had never been good at talking about him. “I wonder if you would have clashed with your father.”

I didn’t say anything.

“He would’ve understood you, that’s for sure. He got your whys in a way I never could. But he was such a worrier, and you might have found that exhausting. I know I did, sometimes.”

“You worry, too,” I said.

“I suppose. Mostly about you.”

“I don’t mind worriers,” I said. “Worrying is the correct worldview. Life is worrisome.”

“You sound just like him.” She smiled a little. “I still can’t believe he left us.” She said it like it was a decision, like he’d been mowing the lawn that day and thought, I think I’ll fall down dead now.

I cooked dinner that night, a macaroni scramble with canned vegetables, boxed macaroni, and some proper cheddar cheese, and then we ate while watching a reality show about regular people trying to survive in the wild. My phone finally buzzed while Mom and I were doing the dishes—Daisy telling me she’d arrived at Applebee’s—so I told Mom I’d be back by midnight and reunited with Harold, who was, as always, a pure delight.

Applebee’s is a chain of mid-quality restaurants serving “American food,” which essentially means that Everything Features Cheese. Last year, some kid had showed up on our doorstep and talked my mom into buying a huge coupon book to support his Boy Scout troop or something, and the book turned out to include sixty Applebee’s coupons offering “Two burgers for $11.” Daisy and I had been working our way through them ever since.

She was waiting for me at a booth, changed out of her work shirt and into a scoop-neck turquoise top, staring into the depths of her phone. Daisy didn’t have a computer, so she did everything on her phone, from texting to writing fan fiction. She could type on it faster than I could on a regular keyboard.

“Have you ever gotten a dick pic?” she asked in lieu of saying hello.

“Um, I’ve seen one,” I said, scooting into the bench across from her.

“Well, of course you’ve see one, Holmesy. Christ, I’m not asking if you’re a seventeenth-century nun. I mean have you ever received an unsolicited, no-context dick pic. Like, a dick pic as a form of introduction.”

“Not really,” I said.

“Look at this,” she said, and handed me her phone.

“Yeah, that’s a penis,” I said, squinting and turning it slightly counterclockwise.

“Right, but can we talk about it for a minute?”

“Can we please not?” I dropped the phone as Holly, our server, appeared at the table. Holly was our server quite regularly, and she wasn’t exactly a card-carrying member of the Daisy and Holmesy fan club, possibly on account of our coupon-driven Applebee’s strategy and limited resources for tipping.

Daisy spoke up, as she always did. “Holly, have you ever received—”

“Nope,” I said. “No no no.” I looked up at Holly. “I’d just like a water with no food please, but around nine forty-five I’ll take a veggie burger, no mayonnaise no condiments at all, just a veggie burger and bun in a to-go box please. With fries.”

“And you’ll have the Blazin’ Texan burger?” Holly asked Daisy.

“With a glass of red wine, please.”

Holly just stared at her.

“Fine. Water.”

“I assume y’all have a coupon?” Holly asked.

“As it happens, we do,” I said, and slid it across the table to her.

Holly had hardly turned away when Daisy started back up. “I mean, how am I supposed to react to a semi-erect penis as fan mail? Am I supposed to feel intrigued?”

“He probably thinks it’ll end in marriage. You’ll meet IRL and fall in love and someday tell your kids that it all started with a picture of a disembodied penis.”

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