WANT: A DESIRE TO POSSESS OR DO SOMETHING. A WISH.
NEED: SOMETHING REQUIRED BECAUSE IT IS ESSENTIAL. SOMETHING VERY IMPORTANT THAT YOU CANNOT LIVE WITHOUT.
WHAT DO YOU NEED?
“SEE, KAYLEE. It’s fascinating, right?” Nate swivels in my desk chair and grins, showing off the braces he will finally get removed next week. He lobbied to get the braces off earlier, saying that no sixteen-year-old should have to face girls with metal in his mouth, but his father and the dentist both said no. Personally, I think they make Nate’s blond good looks less perfect, which is not a bad thing. He needs a flaw. Or twelve. Of course, I have enough flaws for both of us. The attention-seeking drama queen and the neglected, nonathletic brother. We’re so different and yet, at the core, we’re the same.
“I don’t understand,” I say, and I shift my attention over his shoulder to my Mac. “I thought you said this was the website where Jack got a new iPhone.”
Nate’s older brother asked for the newest iPhone for Christmas after breaking his third phone in almost as many months. He pleaded the need to check his email in case colleges sent acceptance letters. The first two times, his mother replaced the phone with a warning, saying she wouldn’t do it again, which no one believed, since Nate’s parents give Jack whatever he wants whenever he wants it. This last time, though, his father denied Jack’s request and held firm. Even Santa and the holiday spirit didn’t budge him. No new iPhone until after first-semester report cards came in and Jack could prove he was responsible in at least one nonsporting aspect of his life. As if that was going to happen. Jack is the king of all things popular because of his athletic ability, but just because his friends like him doesn’t make him smart.
“When Dad came home from work and saw Jack with the phone, he was seriously pissed. He figured Mom had gone behind his back, screamed that he was tired of her undermining his authority, and stormed out before she could persuade him she had nothing to do with it.”
“Maybe she did.” I take off my glasses and rub my eyes. I mean, it wouldn’t be the first time Nate’s mom had caved. In the Weakley house Jack can do no wrong. Must be nice. For Jack.
Nate shakes his head. “I thought it was my mom too, but later I heard Jack talking to one of his friends. He said he got the phone from this new social networking site. All he had to do was invite five qualified friends to join. As soon as they accepted the invitations, presto, the phone was his.”
“The world doesn’t work that way.” At least, my world doesn’t. “The site must ask for a credit card or something. No one gives out free cell phones for inviting five people to a new social network.”
“This one does.” Nate swings back to face the screen. “Trust me, my brother isn’t clever enough to make something like this up. And he’s not the only one who got stuff. Look at this.”
Nate clicks the mouse and shifts the laptop so I can see the screen from where I’m standing behind him. Normally, without glasses, I wouldn’t be able to read anything. In this case, I can make out the large red letters in the center of a black box.
“So . . .” Nate looks at me with a goofy smile. “What should I ask for? A new bike? A computer?”
“You don’t need either of those things.”
“What’s your point?” Nate shrugs. “Jack didn’t really need a phone, but he got one.”
“Yeah, but . . .” But what? I’m not exactly sure. There’s something about this whole setup that bugs me. Or maybe it’s just the question we’re asked—What do you need? Because I know what need is, and it’s not another phone.
Nate gives me an annoyed look and I feel a twinge of guilt. When Nate heard my mom and brother weren’t home, he dropped what he was doing to come over and keep me company. And knowing Nate, he probably had a zillion offers for something more entertaining to do with his night. At some point he’s going to realize that and start accepting those invitations. Then what will I do?
So I slide my glasses back on and say, “I guess I’m just surprised your brother sent you an invitation.”
“Yep.” Nate laughs. “Jack already violated the terms. He’s going to be displeased when he tries to get something else and the NEED fairy godmother gives him the finger. I can’t wait.”
“You’re assuming the people who operate the system know Jack told his friends,” I say. “The odds of that occurring have to be pretty low.”
“Yeah. What a bummer.” Nate lets out a dramatic sigh. “Still, there’s always a chance someone will learn about Jack breaking the rules, which is good. It gives me something to dream about when he’s being a jerk.”
“So, basically, you’ll be dreaming about it a lot.” I laugh.
“A guy has to have a hobby. We can’t all have brothers we actually like and get along with.” I see Nate’s eyes shift to the framed photograph on my desk of me, Mom, and DJ from this summer. DJ’s blond hair shines in the sunlight. His face is filled with delight. Mom and I look happy too, but our brown hair makes us look less bright. Or maybe it’s just that I know how much we both wish we were more like DJ.
“Have you heard anything?” Nate asks.
I bite my bottom lip, pull my phone out of my back pocket, and check to make sure I didn’t miss a message. Nothing. “Mom took DJ to the ER at All Saints Hospital, and her phone doesn’t always get the best reception there. I’m sure she’ll update me soon.” The tests won’t say he’s had a relapse. They just can’t. He deserves better than that. He deserves better than everything he’s gotten up to now. Karma owes him. I’d be there with him now if I’d been allowed to go. Instead, my mother insisted I stay here. Out of th...