"You'd never believe that silly Marmaduke," she'd say as she tsked.
Then, Wyatt would tend the bushes while Myrtle puttered around the house cleaning. They also loved talking about Ethel. It helped both of them grieve to lean on each other. Sometimes Wyatt caught himself wondering how his life would have turned out had he met Myrtle first. But, as soon as the thought popped into his head, he immediately felt traitorous. He knew how fickle life could be. It was better not to get caught up in the "should-a, would-a, could-a, didn't."
One day, Alvin brought home his study partner. Now Wyatt understood why the boy was always so anxious to go meet her. He remarked to Myrtle one morning that they should probably have a talk with Alvin about the birds and the bees. Myrtle had been horrified and quite adamant that it was way too early to discuss that with him.
"Look Sonja. Algebra is easy! You take the x on the left side and subtract it from the right side..." Alvin said excitedly.
Sonja just moaned and said, "Alllllvin, I'm never going to understand this. Would you mind showing me the next problem?"
"Sure! In this problem you take the y and divide it by the 3y..."
Sonja glanced around and lowered her voice, "Would you mind just writing the answer down?"
Alvin frowned. "But, then how are you going to understand how to do the problems?"
Sonja just flipped her hair over her shoulder and smiled, "Oh Alvin. Don't be silly. I'll be able to look back and make sure that I got the right answer when I do it."
That made sense to Alvin! "Sure Sonja. I don't mind doing that. Give me a second and I'll do that for all the problems!"
Sonja smiled up at Alvin. "Oh Alvin, that would be wonderful," she cooed.
Alvin felt like a hero.
As Alvin stood to walk her out, Sonja turned back and squeezed Alvin tight. "You've been a life-saver!" she whispered in his ear.
Alvin cleared his throat and tried to speak, but all that came out was a squeak. He tried again and was able to stammer, "No... no... problem Sonja. Anytime." He could feel his cheeks burning. Sonja just giggled and ran out of the house and down the front walk.
Wow, Alvin thought, this tutoring is fun!
Alvin just shrugged. "I think they said they were going into town to pick up a few things. Auntie Myrtle said they'd probably be back in late."
Sonja's eyes lit up. "Oh!" she said excitedly, grabbing his hands. "Let's throw a party. We can invite over a few people."
Alvin was unconvinced. "I don't know, Sonja. I generally ask first."
Sonja's face fell. "Oh come Alvin! It'll be fun!" She ran over to the phone and handed it to him.
Hesitantly, he punched in the number for Jansen. "Hey Jansen... what are you up to this afternoon?"
"Oh come on Alvin. It'll make it a lot more fun!"
Michelle had frowned. "Yeah. And illegal."
Sonja had crossed her arms and glared, "You guys are way uncool. Alvin. I'll see you tomorrow after school. See ya!" Alvin watched her huff off.
Michelle rolled her eyes. "What are you doing hanging around her anyways? She's bad news, you know."
Alvin had defended his friend. "No she's not Michelle! She's nice!"
"Oh yeah? Let me guess. She comes over and you write down the answers to her homework," Michelle said knowingly.
Michelle's face fell and she touched his shoulder. "I'm sorry Alvin. I didn't mean to make you feel bad. It's just that... she used to do that to my friend Mark. Mark thought she liked him up until he stopped doing her homework. She's a user, Alvin."
Alvin just shook Michelle's hand off his shoulder. "Just drop it. I don't want to talk about it."
Michelle stood next to him, feeling awkward. "I'm sorry, Alvin." she pressed.
"Just drop it, Michelle."
Wyatt exchanged a glance with Myrtle over the top of her newspaper and shrugged. "Welcome to the teenage years," he said softly enough for her to hear.
Alvin just nodded and then looked away, uncomfortable seeing the tears in Wyatt's eyes. Wyatt was supposed to be his rock.