A Friendly Reminder

Butterflies on the way to sixth period math. An exam today, true, but Steven's anxiety was born of a different stimulus, a recurring one—a positive one. Evelyn. Evelyn Decker. God, right down to her name. It wasn't merely that she was hot and funny and smart, that she read difficult books, that she didn’t have a Twitter, that her voice sounded, and her hips looked, like Scarlett Johansson's, that she didn't play, because she was above, the popularity game, that her "flaws,” she was e.g. pigeon-gaited, took the form of assets, that she was seemingly devoid of any capacity for selfconsciousness—it was that no one else appeared to take note of these things. She simply existed on a higher plane, or so it seemed, or so Steven liked to pretend. In a frightfully bad poem he'd written and had not yet destroyed, Steven described her, without a trace of irony, with utmost earnestness, as an angel visible only to his eyes. This was no laughing matter.

"Hiya," Evelyn said casually, taking the desk to Steven's right. She dropped her bag to the floor and started fishing for a pencil. Her curly brown hair was pulled back and tied up. She had her glasses on.

"Hey," masking the excitement induced by her presence, her scent. "What's up?"

"Had a dentist's appointment this morning. My mouth is still kinda numb. It feels so weird."


"Three of them," she laughed. "I can't stand that crunching sound when they drill them," and she pretended to shudder.

"I wouldn't know." Steven noted that her lips were chapped. Would it be weird to offer her lip balm? He didn't have any anyway.

Evelyn contrived a playful frown. "You've never had a cavity?"

"Nope. But I haven't gone to the dentist in like a year, so maybe I have one now."

"Oh my God, " she exclaimed, "did you study for this exam? I waited until, like, twelve last night and now I'm panicking."

"Not much," Steven lied, nobody liking a scrupulous student. "I don't think it'll be too hard though. You just punch the equations into your calculator and look at the graphs."

"I know. You're right. I'm just being neurotic." She sighed and leaned back and tightened her ponytail, pushing out her chest. Steven pulled his eyes away. "I still might have to peek at your test," she grinned.

"I'll leave my paper uncovered,” and he winked at her, instantly and immensely regretting it.




Michael Howard

Michael Howard's essays and short stories have appeared in a wide variety of print and digital publications. His website is michaelwilliamhoward.com. He recommends B'Tselem.


Edited for Unlikely by Jonathan Penton, Editor-in-Chief
Last revised on Thursday, June 18, 2020 - 20:50