When her dad came back, they walked together to Valentino's. Everyone they saw along the way was about Cath's age. It was creepy.
"Why is everybody blond?" Cath asked. "And why are they all white?"
Her dad laughed. "You're just used to living in the least-white neighborhood in Nebraska."
Their house in South Omaha was in a Mexican neighborhood. Cath's was the only white family on the block.
"Oh, God," she said, "do you think this town has a taco truck?"
"I think I saw a Chipotle"
"Come on," he said, "you like Chipotle."
"Not the point."
When they got to Valentino's, it was packed with students. A few, like Cath, had come with their parents, but not many. "It's like a science fiction story," she said, "No little kids Nobody over thirty Where are all the old people?"
Her dad held up his slice of pizza. "Soylent Green."
"I'm not old, you know." He was tapping the table with the two middle fingers of his left hand. "Forty-one. The other guys my age at work are just starting to have kids."
"That was good thinking," Cath said, "getting us out of the way early. You can start bringing home chicks nowthe coast is clear."
"All my chicks ," he said, looking down at his plate. "You guys are the only chicks I'm worried about."
"Ugh. Dad. Weird."
"You know what I mean. What's up with you and your sister? You've never fought like this before. "
"We're not fighting now," Cath said, taking a bite of bacon-cheeseburger pizza. "Oh, geez." She spit it out.
"What's wrong, did you get an eyelid?"
"No. Pickle. It's okay. I just wasn't expecting it."
"You seem like you're fighting," he said.
Cath shrugged. She and Wren weren't even talking much, let alone fighting. "Wren just wants more independence."
"Sounds reasonable," he said.
Of course it does, Cath thought, that's Wren's specialty. But she let it drop. She didn't want her dad to worry about this right now. She could tell by the way he kept tapping the table that he was already wearing thin. Way too many normal-dad hours in a row.
"Tired?" she asked.
He smiled at her, apologetically, and put his hand in his lap. "Big day. Big, hard dayI mean, I knew it would be." He raised an eyebrow. "Both of you, same day. Whoosh. I still can't believe you're not coming home with me. "
"Don't get too comfortable. I'm not sure I can stick this out a whole semester." She was only slightly kidding, and he knew it.
"You'll be fine, Cath." He put his hand, his less twitchy hand, over hers and squeezed. "And so will I. You know?"
Cath let herself look in his eyes for a moment. He looked tiredand, yes, twitchybut he was holding it together.
"I still wish you'd get a dog," she said.
"I'd never remember to feed it."
"Maybe we could train it to feed you."
* * *
When Cath got back to her room, her roommateReaganwas still gone. Or maybe she was gone again; her boxes looked untouched. Cath finished putting her own clothes away, then opened the box of personal things she'd brought from home.
She took out a photo of herself and Wren, and pinned it to the corkboard behind her desk. It was from graduation. Both of them were wearing red robes and smiling. It was before Wren cut her hair.
Wren hadn't even told Cath she was going to do that. Just came home from work at the end of the summer with a pixie cut. It looked awesomewhich probably meant it would look awesome on Cath, too. But Cath could never get that haircut now, even if she could work up the courage to cut off fifteen inches. She couldn't single-white-female her own twin sister.
Copyright © 2013 by Rainbow Rowell
Blood at the Root
"A gripping, timely, and important examination of American racism."
- PW Starred Review
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