When he got out to his car, Aidan was sitting inside, singing along to some alternative rock station that Angel knew he didn’t have programmed on his radio. Before he climbed behind the wheel, he pulled out his phone, and texted his mom that he was leaving work, and taking Aidan to the raffle, and to please remember to eat something.
When he got in the car, Aidan was bouncing in his seat with excitement. All Angel could feel was dread, though. “I know I’m gonna get it this year, Angel,” Aidan said breathlessly as they pulled out of the parking lot. “And then, after I graduate from middle school, I’m gonna go to high school, and when I’m finally done with San Myshuno Prep, I’m gonna go to Harvard, and become an astrophysicist like Neil deGrasse Tyson.”
“An astro-what?” Angel asked, waiting until they stopped at a red light to punch in the address to San Myshuno Preparatory Academy into his phone. “That sounds like a shit ton of college, kid. Who’s gonna pay for all that college?”
“I-I dunno,” Aidan stammered, looking crestfallen.
Immediately, Angel felt like a jackass, and reached over to rub his hand through his brother’s hair. “You just gotta be the smartest kid in that fancy ass school, and then you’ll get scholarships, alright? Or we’ll both get two, three jobs, or do one of those crowdsource things, or something, okay?” Aidan nodded, and grinned up at Angel. “We’ll figure it out. We always do, right, little dude?”
“Right,” Aidan replied stoically, then pressed his hands to the window. It amazed Angel how little he still was. He still had cute little kid hands. “I wish Dad was here. Remember last year, he made fun of that snobby talking headmistress? I’m so nervous. I really, really, really wanna go. I hate Lincoln Middle. Everything there but Mrs. Langston sucks.”
Angel didn’t know what to tell him. “You just gotta pray. If it’s God’s will, you’ll go to that school,” Angel told him. “Otherwise, we’ll figure it out. You know what they say, right? God won’t never give you more than you can handle. So, we can handle whatever happens today, together, alright?”
If Aidan heard Angel, he gave no sign of it, staring out the window at the world passing by. The houses got bigger, and bigger, and farther and farther apart. The medians became wide expanses of perfectly manicured lawn, studded with palm trees and flowers. Even the street signs were different in this part of town. No longer were they metal stakes in the ground, with battered green signs attached, but instead black enamel, with matching signs with flowing, white text. “Wow,” Aidan murmured with a wistful sigh as they passed yet another grand estate. “This is amazing. What do you think it’s like to live in a house like that?”
“I dunno, dude,” Angel muttered, starting at the sound of the cool, female-voiced GPS directing him left down White Magnolia Lane—the street San Myshuno Prep was on. “It must take a looong ass time to clean it, though.”