Chapter 41: I Scream You Scream
The weather changed, and Amarea got sick again. It started with a cold, bronchitis, pneumonia, and a week in the intensive care unit. It was a month before she was able to have visitors. Her house had become a “germ free zone”. People were considered germs and kept away with a big sign on the front door.
Joey made it a habit of riding his bike to her house every afternoon. After a week of silence, he heard a song drift through his mind. He recognized the song. It was Amarea’s favorite song.
And I will always love yooouuuuu...she sang.
You happy, Mar? Joey called out.
I’m feeling better, she replied weakly.
Can I come and see you? He asked.
I look awful, she replied.
I’m sure you’re beautiful, he said.
Joey wasn’t expecting her to look so bad. She was pale, paler than he had ever seen her. Dark circles under her eyes hallowed her gaunt face.
“You’ve lost weight,” Joey said.
“Thirteen pounds,” she replied.
“Whoa!” Joey was so shocked. “You’re the perfect size for a runway model.”
Amarea laughed. It was so good to hear her laugh. Mrs. Dustin only let him stay for a few minutes.
Let me know if you need anything, Joey said as he was leaving.
Anything? Amarea asked.
Anything, Joey confirmed.
It’s been ten minutes, Amarea thought, where is he? She looked expectantly at her phone, but she didn’t have any messages. It had been two days since Joey had promised her anything. She began to hum the Jeopardy Theme Song. When her phone buzzed, she jumped.
“Ok,” Joey typed.
Ok? What exactly did that mean? What was ok? She had sent Joey three different messages. Were they all ok? Amarea fidgeted around the kitchen waiting for another message. Ten minutes went by and nothing. What the heck is he doing?
Picking you up, Joey replied.
Amarea jumped. Where are you?
In the front yard, Joey replied, come on, let’s go.
Go where? Amarea asked.
To get you some ice cream, Joey stated, matter-o-factly.
What? Amarea asked. You talked your sister into taking me to get ice cream.
Nope, Joey replied.
Huh? Amarea shook her head.
My brother-in-law, Joey said, so hurry up!
Why? Amarea asked.
You sent the messages, didn’t you? Joey grinned.
Yes, Amarea began, but I was just babbling. I didn’t know you’d take me seriously.
Amarea jumped as the car horn beeped.
I told him he didn’t need to do that, Joey said, but he did it anyway.
You didn’t have to add the last part; Amarea smiled, I already knew he honked the horn.
Right. Hurry up! Joey commanded.
I’m not even dressed, Amarea admitted.
Neither am I, Joey shot back.
Really? Amarea shook her head.
Yup, Joey grinned, I’m in my boxers and tube socks.
Shut up, she smiled.
Seriously, he said, who cares what you wear, just hurry up!
I’ll be right out, she replied.
Amarea jumped as the car horn beeped again.
Sorry! Joey said.
I’ll hurry. Amarea screamed when she opened the door, and Joey was standing there waiting for her. “You scared me,” she said.
“Jameson made me come to the door,” he said, “I told him you would be right out.” Joey put his arm around Amarea as he walked her to the car.
“Hello, Amarea,” Jameson said, “So nice of you to invite us to get ice cream.”
Amarea smiled at his sincerity. She liked Joey’s brother-in-law. They rode in silence to the ice cream shop as Jameson sang along to the radio.
He’s got a nice voice, Amarea said, sort of sounds like you, in the shower.
What! Joey exclaimed. When have you EVER heard me sing in the shower?
After gym class, Amarea blushed.
Oh, Joey blushed even more.
Jameson pulled into the parking lot and parked in the farthest parking spot. “Might as well get some exercise before we fill up,” he said as he strode across the parking lot.
He’s so great, Amarea said.
Yeah. He is, Joey replied.
Amarea was surprised to see a purple dinosaur waiting for her at the counter. How did he know?
That was one of your messages, Joey began, that you wanted a purple dinosaur and would do anything to get one.
You told him that? Amarea was instantly embarrassed.
Actually, he was using my phone when you texted me, Joey clarified, his was charging, and we couldn’t find the house phones.
He read my messages? Amarea was mortified.
Yup, Joey said cheerfully.
I’m so embarrassed, she said.
Don’t be, Joey said, it’s just Jameson. Say thank you.
“Thanks, Mr. Paul,” Amarea said, “They’re my favorite.”
“Call me Jameson,” he replied, “Joey said you liked purple dinosaurs. Great idea! I love a late night ice cream run.” Joey’s waffle cone with extra sprinkles came up next. Amarea giggled.
I hate sprinkles, Joey winced.
I really couldn’t tell with a million of them on that cone! Amarea grinned.
I used to like them when I was little, Joey began, but I ate a whole bottle of them once when I was at Miriam’s house and threw up. I’ve hated them ever since.
Why don’t you tell him you don’t like sprinkles? Amarea asked.
And when he asks why, Joey said, I’d have to admit I ate the whole bottle of sprinkles! Are you crazy? It was a super value sized two pound container. They got it as a wedding gift from the Sprinkles Family.
What does he think happened to it? Amarea had to stifle a laugh.
I blamed it on the neighbor’s dog, Joey said. I took the container and smeared raw bacon all over it. The dog chewed the container to shreds.
Oh, Amarea giggled.
Joey headed to the garbage can by the edge of the shop. He tried to covertly remove the sprinkles.
Jameson moved close to Amarea, “Joey hates sprinkles,” he whispered, laughing under his breath.
“Really?” Amarea asked, “Then why did you get him a cone with so many?”
“Punishment,” he replied with a wink.
Amarea laughed. Joey returned with what looked like a half-eaten cone. He pretended to have a massive amount of ice cream in his mouth. “Delicious,” he said. Amarea laughed again.
“What?” Joey asked.
“You’ve got some sprinkles on your nose,” she replied, brushing air off of his nose.
“Thanks,” he replied taking another spoonful of sprinkle free ice cream.