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Leah on the Offbeat

Leah on the Offbeat

Page 16

Bram bites his lip. “Do you think I could borrow that drum kit?”

11

THE TRICKY PART IS THE timing. Getting Simon to school by 8:15 is easy. Getting him there at exactly 8:15 takes a little more finesse. Thank God Nora talked me into spending the night, because who knew Simon Spier was so aggressively punctual in the mornings. It’s taking all our combined efforts to stall him.

“You guys,” Simon bellows up the stairs at 7:44. “Come on, let’s go!”

“Just a minute!” Nora yells back.

“What are you guys even doing up there?”

Nora pokes her head out into the hallway. “Dude. Cool your jets.”

“Is he always this excited about school?” I mutter.

Nora rolls her eyes. “Yeah. He likes to do homework in the mornings with Bram.”

“Homework,” I say, with air quotes.

“Exactly.”

Simon clambers up the stairs and hovers in Nora’s doorway. “Guys. We’re going to be late.”

“No we’re not.” Nora calmly latches her guitar case. “You just want to get there early to see your boyfriend.”

Simon huffs. “I have homework. Come on. We’re leaving.” He grabs Nora’s backpack.

“Wait,” Nora says. Simon looks exasperated, but Nora just shrugs. “I think I’m wearing two left socks.”

“No. No you’re not. That’s not a thing,” says Simon. “Let’s go.”

Then he hoists the backpack onto his shoulder, already tugging his keys out of his pocket. I swear to God, that clueless little peanut. It’s like he’s determined to ruin his own promposal.

Nora and I exchange wry glances as soon as he leaves the room. “It’s fine. We can stall him in the parking lot.” She grabs her guitar case.

The Spiers live five minutes from school—I think they can technically walk there. Simon pulls into the senior lot and checks his phone as soon as the car’s off. I check the clock on the dashboard: 7:57.

“Actually, I need advice,” I blurt.

It’s a foolproof question—Simon loves being needed. And sure enough, his whole face lights up. “Yeah. Okay, yeah, sure. Let me just text Bram . . . okay. What’s up?” He turns all the way around to face me.

“It’s about Garrett,” I say, leaning forward between the seats.

Ten minutes later, Simon’s talking in circles. “So, you just no-showed?” he asks.

I shrug sheepishly. “Yeah.”

“But Garrett thinks you went to the game.”

I nod.

“Leah!”

“Am I the worst person?”

“Well, no,” says Simon. “That would be Voldemort.”

“But I’m close, right? Like, Voldemort is here.” I level my hand up, almost to the roof of the car. “And I’m here.” I drop my hand a few inches. “And then the next worst guy is down here. Like, the dentist who killed that lion. He’s right here.”

Nora laughs. “Wow.”

“You have to tell him,” says Simon.

My stomach drops. “You think?”

“Yeah.” He nods. “You should be honest. Just explain what happened, you know? Garrett’s a really nice guy. He’ll totally understand.” Simon rubs his cheek, pondering this. “Or . . . you could say you got sick. Okay, that actually sounds more plausible. You could just be like, ‘Hey, I was about to leave, but then I got really, really sick, and I couldn’t even check my phone.’”

The corners of my mouth tug upward. “So I should be honest . . . but also lie.”

“Yes,” Simon says.

“Simon.”

“I could tell him for you. I could hint that you had really bad diarrhea and were too embarrassed to mention it. Garrett, of all people, would definitely understand that.” Simon snickers.

“I’m not telling Garrett I had diarrhea!”

“Right, I’ll tell him.”

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