Norman: "It's just me and my mom."
Girl: "Got a girlfriend?"
Norman: "What did I just say?"
Another one rolls up in a brand-new car and they squeal. He smiles, content to let them leave with her. There's a lot to look at. But they can't let him go or leave him behind. There's something about him. Like a little toy. Like a man you could keep as a pet, safe behind the locks. She ushers him into the back of the convertible and climbs onto him: Four girls, three seats, one Norman. We don't even know we're doing it, half the time.
She takes his phone and snaps a practiced selfie for her contact info: "Bradley Martin. You have any questions at school, you call me. Okay?" He can tell she means it. She means what she says. Does she have a boyfriend? Yes, more than likely. Does that rule her out? Not really, but she's not offering. A dumber, a shittier, a more obsolete boy would call it the Friend Zone, but he wasn't raised here in the tortured concrete world. He knows the score.
Dylan: "Thanks for letting me know you moved, Mom."
Norma: "Pretty sure the last time we spoke, you told me to Drop dead, bitch. Sorry I took it personally."
Dylan: "So your own son doesn't get to know? What if I was hurt? What if I was in the hospital? What if I needed you?"
Norma: "Are you those things?"
Dylan: "No, I just need money."
Norma: "Later. Click."
He looks at Bradley all through class: This girl who navigates the concrete world like she was born to it, like it doesn't hurt her at all. Norma wouldn't like her. Would like even less Miss Watson, with her fire-bright hair and lipstick talking about poetry and time.
Miss Watson: "I want you to just think about poetry tonight. What does it mean? Why is it timeless? Why is there power in words arranged in cadences and structures?"
Rules for the concrete world, words. The way they tell you what to do, how to be, what a man is and a woman. Poetry takes this and twists it, bends it, breaks it and puts it back in the shape of something else. Brings it into the house on the hill, and when it comes back out again it sounds like a dream. There's a fluorescent light up there in the attic; you never know when it's going to flicker into light and show you what you've made. What you can show the world of torture, what you made in the world beneath those waves. The fire you stole.