Fortune wakes up in the backseat of the van and really feels like picking his nose. He takes his pointer finger and sticks it into the air, leans his head a little to the right, and takes a deep breath as his fingernail brushes up against the inside of his nostril. The booger is somewhere way up there so Fortune really has to reach to pick at it. It feels like if he pushes his finger any deeper in he might poke his brain or push his eyeball out of its He feels the booger catch under his fingernail and he pulls it out quickly. It is green, huge and slimy. One of his biggest in a while. There isn’t a really good place in the van to wipe it though. He looks around and thinks about smearing it on his window. Then he thinks about rolling it into a ball and flicking it somewhere. He decides that he should just find a Kleenex or piece of paper to put it on.
Fortune leans forward and with his booger free hand, reaches into the pocket on the back of the seat in front of him. His hand moves around and around inside. He touches something that feels like a music tape. He touches a few pens and one pencil and that is when Fortune feels a sharp prick on his finger. It hurts a little but not enough to make him cry or scream. At first, he thinks that he just poked his finger against the tip of the pencil but then he feels the warm blood slowly rising out of his fingertip. Pencils don’t make you bleed unless they are really sharp and shoved into your skin really hard.
He feels two small objects that are cold like metal. They feel like jewelry. He takes them in his fist and pulls them out of the pocket. He sucks on his fingertip to stop the small bit of bleeding and opens his hand.
Inside his fist are two shiny earrings. Each of them has a dolphin hanging at the bottom. Earrings? Fortune thinks to himself. It has been a long time since any of the girls from school have carpooled in the van. Fortune stares at the pieces of metal. They don’t even look like the type of earrings that the girls at school wear. The girls at school wear earrings made out of clay or hemp. Hannah Leigh has clay earrings with painted flowers on them. These aren’t hers. The earrings in his hand look like the type of earrings that older woman put on when they are going out to a fancy dinner or a ballroom dance.
Fortune also knows that his mom doesn’t have her ears pierced and that she likes hamburgers and spaghetti and hates the TV show “Dancing With The Stars,” so they can’t be hers. He knows that she doesn’t wear earrings because last year for Christmas he picked out some and bought them for her with money he had saved from buying less candy.
When she opened the present and saw what it was, she looked up at him, and she looked like she was going to cry. But she didn’t. She just put her hand over her mouth like she had the hiccups and gave Fortune a big hug. She said, “It is a very sweet present honey. Thank you. But mom doesn’t wear earrings like other girls.” She told Fortune that she liked her ears just the way they came.
“Dad?” Fortune calls for his father. The earrings dangling in the air so he can see them.
Jeff clears his throat. “…Yes Fortune?”
“Whose are these?” He shakes the earrings and the dolphins make a ting sound when they hit together.
Jeff looks up into the rearview mirror and into the backseat at Fortune.
Fortune watches his fathers eyes get really big, the way people’s eyes get big in the movies when they see a ghost or meet a super villain face to face.
“Where did you find those Fortune?” Jeff asks. His voice a little louder and firmer than before.
“They were right here in this pocket. Do you think someone left them here? One of mom’s friends or something. Because mom doesn’t even have…”
“Yes. Fortune. Yes. Those belong to mom’s friend…Mrs. Bent..Bentley. She must have left them here the other night when she was with your mom. Here,” Jeff takes one hand off of the steering wheel and shoves it quickly into the backseat. His eyes still huge, focused on the dolphins in the mirror.