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Head Over Heels
an SAT/ACT vocabulary novel
  

March 17: St. Patrick’s Day

I couldn’t stand it anymore. No longer could I languish alone with my thoughts, my best friend hating me, too overcome by the inertia of self-hate to sleep, do homework or function socially. A decisive and valiant step had to be taken.

Such was the misguided logic in place when I hopped into my cute little Saturn and drove to Jitterz tonight, looking for Luke himself. I tried to time my entrance perfectly with the end of his set. The plan backfired though, because when I got there, the place was almost empty. I asked a waitress, who was sweeping up, if The Lords had played there.

“Finished up about a half hour ago. They all left. Except Luke, of course. He’s out back with Ol’ Buckethead.”

“Who?”

“Our dishwasher.”

“Oh. Can I see him? It’s kind of an emergency.”

“Well I’m not supposed to take customers through the back offices.”

“Pleeease,” I importuned.

“I guess it wouldn’t hurt anything. The owners aren’t around. Follow me . . .” She lifted up the counter and ushered me back. We walked past an office space, which couldn’t have been more immaculate.

“It’s right through that door,” she said. “And tell those guys that I’m leaving in another fifteen minutes, so it’s about time for them to leave.”

“Got it. Thanks.”

I opened the door and saw Luke and an elderly swarthy man with graying hair, sitting across from each other on milk crates, backs propped against opposing dumpsters. This guy was presumably “Buckethead,” though nothing about the shape of his head warranted such an epithet.

Luke glanced up and saw me, and I tried to judge his reaction but couldn’t really decipher anything from his poker face.

“Hi,” I said. “Um, Luke, I need to talk to you.”

“Go ahead. Shoot.”

“Could we maybe have a little privacy?”

Luke nodded. “If you’ll excuse me,” he said to the older guy. He pulled himself off the milk crate, slowly. “Where were you thinking of going?”

“I don’t care. Right over there, I guess.” I pointed to behind the dumpster.

“Okay.”

I walked around the dumpster until we were out of earshot, then turned to him.

“I just have to get this out, okay?”

“Okay,” he said, smiling in that condescending way of his. At least that made what I had to do easier.

“We can’t hang out, ever again,” I said.

Luke chuckled. “That’s what you came here to say?”

“My best friend hates me, and my boyfriend’s totally suspicious.”

“And this is my problem?”

The casual way that he said it enraged me. “I guess it’s not then. If you don’t care.”

“Did I say that? I’m just not sure why you have to jump every time someone in your life says the word.”

I drew in a deep breath. “Maybe you don’t understand what it means to have an actual commitment to someone,” I began, “but when people are counting on me, I take that seriously.”

Luke shrugged. “All right then, fine.”

“Fine?”

“Yeah, if we can’t see each other any more, so be it. What am I supposed to do?”

I stared back at him, feeling angrier by the second. “Nothing, I guess,” I said. “You’re good at that, right? Feeling nothing?”

I knew I wasn’t making any sense—he was agreeing to what I asked for, and I was furious at him for it. But couldn’t he show he cared, just a little?

“Hold on,” Luke said. “If you want to show up here and make a big production out of how we can’t talk anymore, go ahead. But you can stop with all the cuts, okay? What about you? You are the most self-absorbed, solipsistic human I’ve ever met. And I know you don’t know what that means, so you’ll just have to look it up when you get home . . .” (True.) “You think the world only exists in your head, from your perspective. But guess what? I’ve had some real problems lately, from my perspective, and I don’t have time to kowtow to you, and whatever overwrought issues you’ve fabricated in your little head.”

“Oh,” I said, tears springing to my eyes. “I see.”

“But it sure has been a pleasure knowing you.” Luke extended his hand for a final, sarcastic shake. I shook my head instead. “Have a nice life,” he added.

“Fine!” I yelled.

“Fine!” Luke parroted.

I stomped past the dumpster, wondering where a handy door to slam was when you needed it.

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