Chapter 8:

Kids are Cute (Just Kidding They Actually Stink)

With Oasis (Vol. 1)

—Lou… I’ll salvage this night for you!

Where did that come from?

Me and Lou were finally outside the school grounds, having just jumped the fence together. Well, I guess this is worth mentioning; Lou jumped the fence right after I did, except when her feet hit the ground she tripped and nearly fell over, and I had to pull her upright by the back of her shirt to keep her from tumbling. Jeez… what a clutz.

But now, we were together, having put some distance between us and the school fence, though it was still visible behind us. We were nearly shoulder to shoulder, holding hands, both of us within the realm of what could reasonably be considered “safety”... well, as safe as a realm can be when there’s a witness to your crime.

The pink-haired girl. She stood illuminated under the glow of a streetlight ahead of us.

That streetlight… isn’t it a tad askew? It was ever so slight, but I was still able to pick up on the fact that the streetlight stood not straight up, but rather slightly slanted. It was amidst this tilted light that the child stared back at us, wide-eyed.

Now that I was up close to her, I could make out her character design a lot more clearly. She was definitely a child, and seemingly of American Indian descent.

I now understood why I couldn’t make out her attire back when I was viewing her from Misted Point: she was wearing all black, just like us. Her primary article of clothing was a large, black, baggy hoodie, with sleeves long enough that they completely covered her hands, and ribbing so far down that it could reasonably function as a skirt for this girl, and not even a particularly short one. The hoodie was probably an older sibling’s, or even a parent's. She was probably wearing shorts. Probably. As for her shoes, she wore black slippers. The whole getup seemed to me like some youthful misconception of casual wear.

Her attire… I'm sure it's something most people would consider moe (though I haven’t been into moe since eighth grade). So perhaps it’s such that her clothes’ inability to fit her— fit her.

But what struck me most about her appearance upon closer inspection, even more than her hair color, was her scar. Pink, thin, and protruding slightly from the skin, it ran jaggedly across the length of her left cheek. It was brash, difficult to look away from, and in my eyes, pitiable. To have facial scarring at such a young age… I can’t imagine it’s easy.

At least all my various scars are where they can be covered up with clothing.

“You came,” the child said in a straightforward tone.

I pretty much knew the answer, but I checked anyway.

I turned towards Lou.

Yep, my hunch was correct.

Lou was in deadpan mode again. Nay, beyond that, her gaze was prickly. She looked, dare I say, menacing, with sharp eyes and a stoic demeanor.

The child left the glow of the streetlight… as she approached us. She walked towards us, her sweater-paws now shoved into her hoodie pockets. Her expression never grew menacing or threatening; if anything its childish innocence was more threatening than any angry expression she could conjure.

With every step she made towards us, my excitement grew tenfold.

To be frank, I’m still riding the crime high. Being in such a tight situation, having to wriggle our way out with nothing but a witty tongue, with such high stakes— it’s so fun!

But even more than that… I feel determined, too. For you see, I have a goal. Get us out of this situation, for Lou’s sake: that is my goal right now. If anything, this feels like an out of character moment, and I’m saying that myself. But… I don’t mind being out of character right now.

So with that in mind, I’m taking this child seriously as an adversary. Nay, a rival. The one standing between us and freedom. The one who, in essence, decides the very course of me and Lou’s future.

I wonder if this child even knows how much power she holds over us right now.

The first step in my current plan— bide my time and learn what this child is like. What type of personality does she have? What kind of moral code does she abide by? That sort of thing. I’ll learn about her personality… then use that against her to stop her from ratting us out.

The girl stopped right in front of the two of us, her hands still in her pockets, her expression still unwary and unthreatening. “You guys… graffitied that school there, right?” As she spoke, she took her right hand out of her pocket and pointed towards Stoneswan High with her drooping, oversized sleeve.

I figured there was no way I could convincingly lie here and say ‘no’, even considering the fact we were talking to a child. “Yes, we did,” I said. I felt Lou’s grip around my hand tighten, though it seemed like more of an instinctive reflex on her end than her trying to communicate something to me.

“You wrote 'hell' on the school?”


“You guys…” She pointed her sleeve towards us now. “You’re teen delinquents, then?”

“I guess you could say that. Well, I’m a lot more of one than her.” Arguably Lou’s more of one than me, but I want to spare her from punishment the best I can.

However, what the child did next surprised me.

She bowed her head and said “My name is Abey Hammonds. I’m ten years old, I’m writing a romance novel, and I’d like you to teach me how to be a better delinquent.”

It seems all that stuff about taking Abey seriously as an adversary was unnecessary.

Even Lou looked shocked.


As a child, I always wanted to climb on top of my Mom’s car. I say ‘wanted to’ because my Mom didn’t let me, since she didn’t want me falling off or damaging the car or anything. But nonetheless, I desperately wanted to be up there, even if I didn’t have the courage to sneak onto it against my Mom’s orders. It seemed so tall to my child self, yet also so cozy. Like sitting atop a car was the chillest, coolest, most calming thing imaginable.

Unfortunately, once I became a delinquent, and therein gained the courage to go against Mom’s orders, I no longer found it cool. In fact, it just kinda seemed bland. No chill vibes, just a chilled soul.

So perhaps it was those memories of my child self that drove me to staging the rest of me, Lou, and Abey’s conversation on top of my Mom’s (busted, rusted, but miraculously still functioning despite the dilapidation) car.

I sat in the middle, wedged between Lou on my left side and Abey on my right.

Lou— was still quite taciturn. In fact, she hadn’t said a single word since I started talking to Abey.

Abey, meanwhile, kept that innocent yet straightforward look on her face.

“So… uh, why do you want to be a delinquent?” I asked Abey.

“I already am a delinquent.”


“I want to be a better one. You see, I do delinquent stuff a lot nowadays. Stuff like going outside past my curfew, sleeping over at houses I’m not supposed to, stealing from the candy store, stealing money from my parents, stealing clothes from my parents, going to abandoned places, graffiting abandoned places… you know, stuff like that!” Abey looked me straight in the eyes, excitement filling her gaze. “I’m sure you can relate to all that, right?”

“Most of it,” I said. By the time I became a delinquent, I didn’t have any female friends to have illicit sleepovers with, and I’ve never stolen money from my Mom before, but other than that… yeah, I’ve done the rest of that stuff. Although once I entered high school I no longer had a curfew.

“But… my parents figured out I was stealing money from them, and so now I’m mega-grounded. I can’t go outside or talk to friends except at school. I snuck out tonight to get some fresh air, and then—” Abey’s mouth formed a tiny smile, which she proceeded to cover up with her sleeve. “I found you two graffiting that school. I watched for a bit, and then decided to yell at you guys.

“I want some advice on how to not get caught in the future, and maybe… I could even do crime with you two! We could be friends, and you two could teach me how to become a better delinquent.”

“Just to make sure,” I said, “you don’t plan on telling on us, right? You plan to keep the fact that we graffitied the school to yourself, right?”

The wind blew through Abey’s hair. With her hair blown away from her face, rippling with the wind, her scar was even more visible than before. “Yes. Of course. I only have the guts to graffiti abandoned places. I think it’s really cool that you’re good enough to take on a school. That’s why I want to learn from you guys!”

I turned towards Lou for a brief moment, just to get a quick view of her emotions. Her expression was definitely still deadpan… but her figure was gradually untensing. Her relief relieved me. Even if she still couldn’t speak as her usual self since there was a stranger here, at least she felt good enough to relax her body a little.

I wrapped my left arm around her.

I’m glad we’re safe.

I’m glad that Lou’s future is no longer in jeopardy.

I’m glad that Lou’s first crime didn’t have the bad ending.

But something about the way it all happened… creeped me out.

Abey’s cavalier attitude towards stealing money from her parents…

It was surely hypocrisy. I’ve stolen from the candy store before. The graffiti we just did to the school will surely cost something in property damage. It was definitely hypocritical…

But something about a child doing it all felt icky to me.

Abey doesn’t even seem like a bad kid for the most part. She’s straightforward and kind, at least to us. Something about her gave me the impression…

That she was in the process of being warped.

“Abey,” I started, “Just a quick question, but why are you a delinquent?”

“Because it’s fun,” she replied with a smile (which she yet again proceeded to hide with her sleeve). “I’m sure you get that. And also, because it makes you cool.”

“Did someone tell you it makes you cool?”

“Isn’t it common knowledge that it’s cool? Oh, but it was three of my friends who convinced me to give crime a shot. Mylan, Adrienne, and Bea. Before then, I thought crime was cool, but I also didn’t want to get in trouble. But then they came along and showed me the ropes! Oh, my friends are even badder than me, by the way. I’m sure you’d love to meet them. They smoke weed and drink alcohol and stuff. I want to smoke and drink too, but they won’t let me have any until I’m in middle school.”

“Say, how old are these friends of yours?”

“Mylan is twelve, Bea and Adrienne are thirteen.”

I think I get the basic picture now. At age ten, Abey is impressionable— which means that in the face of a bunch of older (though still quite young) kids, she altered her actions to match theirs. Under their influence, Abey assimilated with them.

She simply associated with the wrong crowd.

Which means. If I were to act on my hypocritical feelings, and stop Abey from committing crime… all I’d need to do is get her to assimilate with us instead.

“Well, Abey,” I said, “I’d be willing to tell you how to get away with crime. However, I think you have a rather narrow view of delinquency.”

“Huh? I don’t really understand what that means.”

“There isn’t just one type of delinquent, if that makes sense. There are many different types, and each one has their own moral code; their own idea of right and wrong.” I tried to be thorough in my explanation so that even a ten year old girl could understand. “So, for example, some delinquents are okay with stealing, while others aren’t okay with it. Some delinquents are okay with smoking, others aren’t.”

“Huh? But why would a delinquent not be okay with smoking?”

“Because in the end, smoking harms your own health. Meanwhile, stuff like graffiti won’t necessarily harm you.

“Anyway, the point is, different types of delinquents have different beliefs. It can even be such that two different types of delinquents hate each other.”

“Then…” Abey tilted her head inquisitively. “Do you not like me?”

“It’s not that. We’re fine with you as a person. We’re not the sort of people who hate delinquents who don’t follow our specific moral guidelines. However, we definitely disagree with your friends’ way of doing things. We don’t hate them, but we don’t agree with them.

“Me and Lou believe that delinquents should only mildly inconvenience people at most, or break rules that don’t really harm anyone if broken. So for instance, going to an abandoned area and graffiting it would be fine, since nobody’s harmed through that, and the risk of injuring yourself is rather low.” Unfortunately. “But for something like stealing from your Mom… we disagree with that.”

Abey didn’t flinch or get sad or angry or try to defend herself upon hearing that we disagreed with her. She merely said “Oh.” then turned her head away from me and up towards the night sky for a while.

It was an unexpected response.

Oh, and for the record: yeah, my explanation of why Abey shouldn’t steal is hypocritical. In the first place, the idea that misdeeds should stop at “mildly inconveniencing people” is arbitrary and stupid.

Abey kept on staring at the sky for a while before continuing. “Do you also disagree with smoking?”

“Until you’re older, yes.”

“Then…” Abey turned back towards me. “Do you think me and my friends are bad people?”

“No. Not at all. Doing something bad doesn’t automatically make you a bad person. In the end, everyone has their own idea of what’s right and wrong, and sometimes you simply get misguided when you’re trying to do the right thing. Other times, you’re just young.

“...Here, Abey. Let’s…” I tried to sound genuine and nice when I said this next part— “cut a deal.”

I held out my pinky towards her. “You don’t have to change anything about yourself, your friends, or your actions. In return, we’ll become crime buddies with you, and we’ll try to convince you that our way of doing things is right. You don’t have to agree with us in the end, you simply need to hear us out. Does that sound like a-”

I didn’t even finish my sentence.

Abey wrapped her tiny pinky ‘round mine, and said “I guess I have two new friends!”




Wait… friends??

The term— felt so unfamiliar to me.

I really wasn’t sure how I felt about it.

Me and Lou… we kinda skipped the whole ‘friends’ stage, although I guess we act a lot like friends.

But somehow, someway, for the first time in a long time—

I have an actual, honest to god, no strings attached, friend.

What a bizarre night it’s been.

"What're you two's names?" Abey asked.

"I'm Rocco, and this—" I motioned towards Lou— "is Lou."

A part of me was sad though, thinking about how this bizarre night’s gone so far.

It was so fun to overcome this challenge with Lou, of pulling off this crime and getting caught, but from this point forward… wouldn’t things just get boring again? Wouldn’t we just start talking about meaningless nothings again?

I guess we could always just go through another event like this-

Lou’s tearful face flashed through my mind. Her pain at the realization we had been caught. Her agony at being at a child’s mercy.


Lou likes crime like I do, but she does not like risk like I do. To even consider for a second putting Lou through something this traumatic again makes me a horrible person. Hell, if I had to guess—

This is the end of our graffiti adventures, at least for a while.

I’m sure I can still convince her to go to abandoned buildings with me, but graffiti… I think it’s ruined for her.

This is the last time we’ll do anything like this. The last time I have a chance to feel like this.

I pulled Lou just a little closer to me.

“Oh yeah,” I said to Abey. “I assume you know how to get back to your house from here, right?"

"Of course," Abey said, her sleeve obscuring her mouth. Well, that made it rather obvious what shape her mouth had taken.

"Could you tell us your address?"

“176 Nisio Avenue."

“Alright. Let's all get off the car and into the car. Me and Lou are gonna drive you home.”

"Uhm..." Abey dropped her sleeve from her face to reveal a dismayed expression. "So you also think going outside at night is bad..."

"Just until you're older." Is she upset that I want to bring her home?

"Actually, um..." Abey's tone became awkward. "Uhh... could... you walk me home instead?" Both her sleeves covered her face. "I wanna spend more time talking to you."

I could practically hear the echoes of a thousand otaku's voices in the distance exclaiming "MOE!".

Really, I'd be betraying my status as an ex-otaku by not walking her home.

I used my phone’s GPS to figure out where her house was, and then we started heading towards it on foot.

As we walked to Abey’s house, in one hand, I held Lou’s, and in the other hand, I held Abey’s, with half of that arm being gobbled up by the sleeve of her hoodie. You know, the way a married couple walks with their kid.

We walked on along the road next to the fence surrounding Stoneswan High for quite some time, watching as we put more and more distance between us and our graffiti.

Eventually, we couldn’t see the crime scene at all anymore.

It was around that point that we turned left onto a fairly brightly lit road. It was a bit of a detour, but I figured it was better to walk in well lit areas, considering I have a kid with me.

A few streetlights down the line, I started a new conversation. Normally I’m not one to start conversations, but this is definitely something Abey needed to hear. “Abey, you shouldn’t be walking around alone at night.”

“Why?” Abey asked.

“There’s a lot of really depressing billboards that will tell you why.”

“Oh, you don’t need to worry,” Abey said, flashing me a reassuring smile. “I’ll be fine. I don’t suffer from urinary incontinence.”

“Wrong billboard.”

There was a brief moment of silence, before Abey filled the dead air with a new topic. "So... you and... Lou, was her name?"


"Lou... so you two are boyfriend and girlfriend?"

"Uh huh."

"So…” Her tone was blushy and awkward. “How far along are you two… in your relationship?”

“What do you mean by that exactly?”

“L- Like…” Abey blushed even harder. “Have you hugged? Or cuddled??” She’s as bad as my Mom when it comes to this stuff.

“Yes, we’ve done both. The furthest we’ve gone so far is kissing.”

Abey’s jaw dropped. “Then…” she whipped her gaze towards Lou. “YOU’RE PREGNANT!?”

Likewise, Lou’s jaw dropped. Then— "Pff! Pff!". Lou, who had maintained silence and a mostly emotionless gaze ever since Abey entered the picture, now had her hand shoved hard against her mouth as she tried to restrain laughter. "Ahahahaha!" She failed at keeping her laughter at bay. Well, her laughs were a little toned down compared to what she usually lets out when us two are alone, but still, she failed at holding it in.

Abey was just as surprised by Lou's chuckles as hearing that we'd kissed. "You can talk!"

Lou caught her breath, and then... she returned her face to its deadpan state... but replied to Abey. "Yes, I can talk."

"Woah, I just assumed you were mute. Like Kaitlyn in the class across from us."

"She's quite talkative when you get to know her," I said.

"Still, to get someone pregnant during high school..." Abey blushed once again. "Of all things, I'm surprised you don't consider that off-limits..."

I'm sure Abey's twelve and thirteen year old friends know what sex is... In that case, did they decide not to tell her? Did they deliberately spare her that information? Maybe they were too embarrassed to tell her the truth...

Me and Lou exchanged glances.

Lou flashed me a look that plainly said ‘What a sweet summer child!

I responded with a look that said ‘We must maintain her innocence.

Lou replied with a look that said ‘On it!’ “We simply thought it was time for us to start a family.” Lou told Abey. 

Abey looked thoughtful for a moment. "I guess I can see that... Oh, but why doesn’t your stomach have a bump?”

“We only kissed a week ago,” I said. “It’ll take a while for a bump to appear.”

Abey looked towards Lou again. “Is it a boy or a girl??”

“How would she know?”

“My Mom said she could just intuitively tell that I was a girl when I was in her tummy.”

I get the feeling mothers like the idea of knowing their child’s sex before birth more so than they actually know it.

Lou glanced heavenwards, towards the sort of starry sky you only get in the countryside (although the view’s beauty was admittedly marred by the fact that we were near streetlights) before turning back to Abey and replying “A girl."


So does that mean Lou wants a girl when we're older?

“Have you decided on a name yet?” Abey asked

“Hmmm…” Lou thought for a while, before replying with “Vivi.”

“Hold up,” I said to Lou. “Isn’t that what you named your wisdom tooth?”

Lou responded with a sad look. “Sadly, Vivi the wisdom tooth will have to die because the dentist told me my pathetic stupid idiot dumb mouth doesn’t have enough room for such a wonderful adorable anime fang. So, I’m naming my future daughter Vivi to pay respects.”

“Still, naming your daughter after a wisdom tooth, of all things…”

“Fine, I’ll name her ‘Viviana’ instead!”

“I guess that works.”

“Now we can tell Viviana that coming up with her name was a team effort.”

“Hey guys.” Abey butted into our conversation. “My legs are tired. Could we take a break?”

It only took about a minute or two for the three of us to find a bench nearby.

To be precise, we walked into Mullburg’s town square. Well, it’s shaped more like a triangle than a square, and despite the images that the term ‘town square’ conjures in one’s mind— those of a bustling, busy area filled to the brim with commerce and conversation— Mullburg’s town triangle was devoid of activity and dead silent. ‘Twas the dead of night, after all.

To be the only three people in the town square to our knowledge seemed like it should’ve been eerie to me, but honestly I felt neutral about the whole thing. Though really, me being neutral on something isn’t much of a surprise.

The town square’s layout consisted of a road encircling- er, entriangling… surrounding an island of sand. This island, then, was cut into five sections by a network of interlacing sidewalks. I don’t understand why there were so many sidewalks, since why would anyone walk here? It’s just sand. There wasn’t a pavilion, or a monument, or anything of real intrigue. All the island contained that anyone would even remotely care about— was benches.

We all sat on a bench together, the old rickety type that’d collapse if even one more person sat down on it. Abey sat between me and Lou.

There was a while where nobody said anything. The silence wasn’t awkward, at least for me (maybe Abey found it so). There wasn’t any tension, at least for me (Lou might have felt some). We simply sat there for a bit. Well… Lou was certainly pensive. Her eyes were dim, her expression was hazy and impossible to read, and she was staring off deep into the distance.

I, oddly enough, was once again the one to break the silence.

“Hey Abey, let’s play a game.”

“A game?”

“Yes, a game.”


I took it out of my pocket, obscured it with my fist, then placed it behind Abey’s head. “Guess what’s behind your eeeeear!”

Abey looked unimpressed. "I'm a little old for this game, aren't I...?"

“That’s right,” I said, despite her not even guessing anything. I withdrew the object from behind her head, opened my fist, and declared with my best attempt at a smile “It’s a personal alarm for women!”

"For women?" Abey's unimpressed face all of a sudden looked all the more captivated. "You mean... this thing will up my femininity??”

“Something like that!”

Lou, meanwhile, had halted whatever monologue she was previously having, and was staring at me with a conflicted, weirded-out, almost concerned looking expression. “Um… Rocco? What are you doing?”

“Playing with her,” I said.


“Hey, Rocco.” Abey’s voice directed my gaze back to her. “Am I doing it right?” Apparently Abey’s ears were pierced. The personal alarm had a keychain on it, and Abey, through some miracle, had put the split ring through her piercing and was now wearing her personal alarm as an earring.

“Not quite,” I told her. “Here, I can show you exactly how to use it.”

Lou was staring exasperatedly at Abey’s new fashionable adornment. “What am I witnessing and why am I witnessing it?”

“1 in 4, Lou, 1 in 2.”

“You changed the statistic halfway through!” Lou exclaimed at me.

“Halfway through I reckoned the billboard was wrong.”

“How pessimistic can you get!?”

Abey gasped. “1 in 2 women have urinary incontinence!?”

“Something like that,” I replied.

It’s nothing like that!” Lou exclaimed.

“Oh, Abey,” I continued, “I have another gift for you.”

“Another gift?”

“Here.” I passed her a canister of mace, much to Lou’s continued shock.

Abey gasped again. “A bracelet??"

I explained to Abey how to use the “gifts” I gave her, while trying to hype her up about it and make her excited to use them. I also gave her a backup personal alarm and a backup mace canister and a backup backup personal alarm. Then I had to take back the backup backup personal alarm because she ran out of room in her pockets. It was after I took back the backup backup that Lou told me “I get where you’re coming from, but something about this feels wrong. Like, tonally, this is completely messed up” to which I responded with “It’s the world that’s messed up, Lou”. 

I'm only just now realizing how weird it feels for Lou to play the straight man for once (although I'm definitely not being stupid, I'm totally in the right here).

It was around 1:30 a.m. when me and Lou figured it was time to get our butts off the benches and continue our trek to Abey’s house, but when we told Abey it was time to go again, she said “Uhm, sorry, but my legs are still tired”.

And that’s how I ended up giving Abey a piggyback ride for the rest of our walk to her house. 

Abey seemed quite content with this development, though she kept on covering her mouth, which ended up placing her hoodie sleeve directly in my line of sight. So yeah, I wasn't nearly as content with this development.

Thus, we continued towards her house, taking the brighter roads whenever possible.

Me and Abey were talking back and forth, when Lou butted in. Well, I say butted in, but it wasn’t nearly as forceful or confident as the phrase implies. Instead, it was a stuttery, shy interjection. “A- Abey?”

“Huh? What is it?”



“...How’s school for you?” Lou’s voice was oddly quiet. She’s been so hard to read today…

“Pretty fun. Well, funner than being mega-grounded. I get to talk to my friends."

Lou’s expression darkened for a brief second, before returning to normal. “How many friends do you have?"

“Quite a few, I think. And well..." Abey rested her chin on top of my head. "One of the boys thinks I'm cute."

"Oh, I see," Lou said. Things were quiet for a moment, before Lou continued. “Does anyone bully you for your scar?”

“My scar...” Abey tilted her head such that her cheek was against my hair, almost like she was nuzzling me... Although judging from what she said next, I was sure 'nuzzling' was the last thing on Abey's mind. "I hate my scar. I really do. I wish I had a clean face. I wish I looked normal. I wish it wasn't the first thing people notice about me. I wish I hadn’t slipped on that rock. I wish Dad had caught me in time...”

Lou began to reach her hand out towards Abey.

“But-” Abey continued. Lou froze. “Everyone tells me it’s cool. Or cute. Or unique in a good sort of way. The boy who likes me thinks it's my 'moe trait', whatever that means." Damn, sounds like my child self. "I don't really get it, but... I guess it's better if people like my scar.”

Lou retracted her hand. She wore a conflicted expression for a while, before eventually smiling it all off and saying “Welp, your classmates sure have the right idea!”


Lou was silent for the rest of the walk to Abey's house. However, she seemed to be in a better mood than earlier. She didn't look deadpan so much as calm, even if her facial expression was relatively unaltered from the way it was before.

Then, we dropped off Abey at her house, and watched her slip inside without her parents ever knowing she was gone.


Right before Abey snuck inside... she gave us something.


Me and Lou began to head back to my Mom’s old not-very-reliable car— with a fresh new contact on both of our phones.

Abey Laurice Hammonds.

The pink-haired girl, with a jagged scar that ran across her cheek, and an out and out delinquent, save for her surprisingly chill personality. She was so mature, yet so immature, so calm, yet so quick to blush— an oddball mixture of different traits that made for the weirdest kid I've seen since myself.

That was the type of girl I’d apparently befriended.

We’d apparently befriended.

“It’s been a while since I’ve had someone call me their friend,” I said to Lou as we walked back to the car.

“Same here,” Lou said. "Us two— we totally skipped that step, didn’t we?”

“I thought that exact same thing earlier…”

There was a brief moment of silence, before Lou asked a question. “Rocco, do you want children when you’re older?”

The question blindsided me, admittedly. It took me a while to formulate a proper answer in my mind. “I’m sorta neutral on it, honestly. I think I could go either way. I guess it’ll depend on what my wife wants.”

“Then I guess you’re having kids.”

“...So you’re kinda like my Mom, then. You're the type that likes kids?"

"Not really. In fact, I'd say I outright dislike kids."


"But I love family." Lou's voice took on a pleasant-sounding tone. "I absolutely love family. So I don't think I could live my life without starting a family of my own."

"Huh, I guess you really are like my Mom… except, my Mom actually very much likes kids. Back when I still went to church, I saw her doting on all the little kids the other Moms brought with them. She’d bring snacks for them and stuff.”

Lou laughed. “That’s adorable! Your Mom’s oddly adorable, Rocco!”


We headed onto a particularly dark stretch of road, where the streetlights ended and the moon reigned as the brightest object illuminating our path.

I wonder, though… What kind of kids would me and Lou have? What kind of family would we start? I guess it’s pointless to think about right now, as a sixteen year old— it’s all just aimless speculation at my current age, but I think I’d want-



When did it happen?

When did I start thinking like this?

I used to think of our relationship as doomed. That me and Lou being together was a bad thing because our breakup was just around the corner.

When did it become that I could daydream about our future kids?

Hell, aren’t I implicitly daydreaming about a future where we’re married?

I couldn’t help but meet Lou’s eyes again. Her gaze right now— was celestial. Her darkened irises held reflections of all the stars, and imprinted them into my mind. So bright... So pretty

Some time ago, I asked myself why I feel so excited when I kiss Lou. I posited that it could be my libido, or something vapid like that.

I think I have a proper answer now.

I like Lou as a person. She’s cool. She’s nice. She’s bubbly and energetic. She’s stupid. She’s a clutz. Yet she’s also totally smart. She knows how to freaking code. She’s making a silly game about Axolotls with toupees or something like that! I like all that about her!

So when I kiss a person I well and truly think is cool, it makes me excited.

...Maybe I'm even in love with her at this point.

To be completely honest, most of the time when I talk to Lou, I’m still bored as hell, and it frustrates me to no end. In comparison to kissing… human conversation feels so roundabout and asinine to me. When I come up with witty retorts to use against Lou, it mostly comes from an unemotional, uninvolved place in my heart— a desire to keep up appearances.

A desire to look like I’m living.

Some times are less boring than others, but this crushing emptiness inside me, this startling silence… it doesn’t just up and disappear when Lou’s around.

My initial hope that she’d be some sort of magic cure for me was definitely wrong to have.

But… if the past few months have proven anything, it’s that this condition of mine is malleable. I’ve felt things recently I didn’t even know I could feel. I’ve gained new happy memories.

Because of Lou.

I’m not suddenly a different person. It’s not like I got a girlfriend and my life magically repaired itself. But really, I’m beginning to get optimistic.

Maybe this relationship isn’t a lost cause.

Maybe me and Lou have a future together.

And with that— this chapter of our story can come to a close. All the loose ends tied up, all the puzzle pieces in place, a satisfying, heartwarming-type ending that gives everyone the warm fuzzies…


“By the way, Lou…”


“This may be a bit of a personal question, and it may not be my place to ask, but when we were spray painting the school… What was all that about? Actually, what was, like, everything that happened tonight about?”