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A Bad Idea 113

The Present

“I’m going to send one more text,” Shade said, sitting at Bagels And.

“You’re going to lose all your cool cred,” Anne said in a sing-song-y voice.

“It’s a good idea,” Superfreak said. “What are you going to say?”

“Probably just ‘hey’, again.”

“Yeah,” Superfreak said, smiling as he leaned back, “Hey.”

It was a complicated sort of lean-back, cooler in the third grade than it was to other functioning adults: Superfreak pushed up with a foot, so that the chair only stood on two legs. This meant the whole chair was diagonal. He raised his fists in the air, stretching his whole body as taut as it would go.

Eyes closed, he leaned back to the point that his head hovered right above the table behind him. He opened his eyes and saw a concerned ninety-year-old lady. In her mouth was a half-eaten bagel; in her eyes there was nothing but terror.

“Sorry,” Superfreak said, slowly letting the chair back down onto four legs. “My bad.” He emphasized the word ‘bad’ in a way that he hoped would make him sound cool. You know, like how cool people sometimes emphasize random words and it makes them sound cool?

(For instance, “Hey, how you doin’? Wanna go to the park and have a hotdog with me?” Okay, I might have no idea what I’m talking about.)

Anyway, emphasizing random words did not make Superfreak sound cool. Nope. Didn’t help at all.

“Good idea,” Shade told Anne.

“What?” Superfreak asked.

“While you were bothering that old lady, Anne helped me write this text.” Shade handed the phone over to Superfreak.

“hey?” the text read.

“It lets Cat know that Shade’s worried about her,” Anne said, “because the question mark indicates doubt.”

“Yeah.” Superfreak, still blushing, nodded his head a bit. “Cool.”

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