What’s Left of the Memory of an Old Conversation

Tony, a boy in my class, compares me to an angel one night.  I’m under the covers in bed, wearing sweatpants and a waffle shirt, drinking the milk my dad just dropped off. 

"Stop gritting your teeth," my dad says before closing the door.

"I’m not," I kind of whine. 

I wait until I can hear his footsteps on the wood floor upstairs, crossing through the living room, past the kitchen, and into the den.  I pull the portable phone out from under my pillow. 

"Hey, sorry," I say.  "My dad is so annoying.” 

Tony laughs. 

My room is dark except for a streetlamp out my window that has been serving as a nightlight for the past ten years.  It’s why I don’t need to keep the bathroom light on. 

Tony compares me to an angel and says “Girl you’re like an angel.” 

I laugh.  “No, I’m not.”  And then - “How?”

"Please, you just are," he says.  "You know you are."

"Oh," I say. 

"Where do you live again?" he asks me. 

"Carroll Gardens." 

"Is that Park Slope?"

"No, it’s Carroll Gardens."

"Your family rich?" 

"Yeah right, I wish," I say.

"You should take the bus with me to my house tomorrow," Tony tells me.  

I don’t want to go to Tony’s house.  I imagine religious figurines in the form of magnets and lots of blessings everywhere. 

"Hm, maybe.  I think I have plans with Leigh tomorrow."

"What’re you ladies doing?"

"Oh I don’t know.  Do you have AOL?  We go on AOL and like screw with people.  It’s so funny."

Tony laughs.  “You’re no angel, you’re a little vixen.”  I don’t know what vixen means but I laugh along with him.

Someone picks up the phone.  They start speaking Spanish really, really fast.  Tony is nice and polite to them.

"I should go," he says.  "My uncle needs to make a call."

"Aw, okay," I say.  "Good night…"

"I wish I could give you a big hug and kiss right now baby," Tony whispers.

"You can do it in the hall tomorrow," I say. 

We hang up.  I think about chocolate donuts and 90210.  I think about who Leigh and I will pretend to be in the chat rooms tomorrow.  I think about pants and how I want new ones. 

"Sylvie?" my younger brother calls out from the next room.


"Are you sleeping?"


"Who were you talking to?"

"No one."

"You shouldn’t call dad annoying," he says.

"I didn’t," I say.  "Shut up, go to sleep."