Please don’t say it. Please. I beg the gods and Jesus and Buddha and the spirits of voodooo. I will go to bat for any religion right now, as long as the dieties are merciful enough to spare me this pain.
But no. I see it on his face. He is going to ask. His eyes are wet and sparkling. He has a Joker grin and his head is tilted so that he is looking “up” at me with a smile.
“Layla, can you help me with my homework?”
I fold my copy of Fitzgerald’s short stories into the layers of the couch. The world of decadence and glamor and girls in love fade into this Levittown home and my fifteen-year old brother.
I sit up and plan my next words. One wrong move, and I would be doing the entire assignment for him. That’s just how it went.
“I have to write an essay on why the Roman Empire fell.” He handed me a piece of paper. “We started it in class.”
My eyes met half of a paragraph written in light pencil. Tim liked to write finely so he could erase his work and reuse the paper. His theory was that teachers and paper companies worked together, and that was why school made you waste so much paper, and he wasn’t going to participate in that.
I sighed. I knew how this went. Every year, Tim’s teachers passed him on to the next grade level. If he didn’t pass, they fudged the numbers. If he didn’t get it, they said he didn’t have to. Instead of a foreign language, Simon took an extra gym class. He still couldn’t do long division and thought England was a man.
the “roman empire” colapsed because the people in the government “were” taking money called bribes and i think that maybe it is like today with everyone saying the “government” is taking our money with taxes it is like a bribe and maybe it will be different because when obama was elected everyone was happy except for the “arrest in africa” because there had to be a reason why
I held my breath. Oh, Fitzgerald, oh my lovely ladies, and the diamond as big as the Ritz! Wait for me, I want to bob my hair and join you, and I swear I’ll only be a minute…
Who was I kidding. This would take hours.
“So, you started out all right, but you seemed to get…distracted.”
“She said we would get extra credit if we compared the Roman Empire to modern times.”
“First, let’s start with punctuation. Commas, periods, you know, capitalizing things. And why the random quotation marks?”
“The what? Oh, you mean the high-up commas? The teacher said we had to use them.”
There is no god.