All this talk of screaming meat and veg had put Eugene right off his food and left him feeling very uncertain about which foods it was ethical for him to eat. He thought about all those insects valiantly sacrificing themselves so that Eugene could make fun explosions in potions class and hoped the screaming meat was just emitting one final battle cry before going to meet its maker but that only made his stomach feel queasy. He turned his head away from his companion and spat the remaining egg roll into his hand before chucking it right at the bonfire, and tried to distract himself from the swirl of thoughts in his head by focusing on his companion.
He didn’t like the way Norah was talking about family - like it was some unnecessary limb you could just chop off when it began to pain you. Eugene knew that you could sever ties with your family because people did it to him all the time but it was a really rotten thing to do. He hoped Norah wasn’t implying that Leo was going to stop acknowledging Eugene, and his initial thought was that this would never happen. Leo was the best kind of big brother, even if he had suddenly become a little reckless about disclosing his whereabouts, but then Eugene thought a little harder and realised Leo removing himself from Eugene’s life would make perfect sense.
All of the men in Eugene’s life dropped in and out whenever it pleased them, and that was why Jeb was his favourite, because unlike Eugene’s biological dad he had never gone anywhere. Yes, it had been a little disappointing for Eugene when Jeb had refused to adopt him, but Jeb had explained that adoption involved paperwork, and that stuff was the sort of boring that made you want to poke your eyes out so Eugene could see his point.
“You don’t,” Eugene admitted, with some reluctance,”like Leo’s dad doesn’t acknowledge him and my mom doesn’t acknowledge her parents but I don’t think that makes any of them any happier. I don’t think you need to be doing that anyway.” It was true Norah’s summer sounded like it had been pretty wild but Eugene wasn’t convinced that it had been devastating as his own. For a start it didn’t sound like Norah really understood how marriage worked which was odd. Eugene didn’t know a whole lot about marriage (no one in his immediate family seemed very interested in the practice) but even he knew the basics. “I think your parents are just playing a prank on you,” Eugene said reassuringly. Sure, it wasn’t a very funny prank, but if Eugene had learned anything from Elisa it was that pranks didn’t have to be funny - mostly they just had to steal someone’s time or humility. “Everyone knows that you can’t get engaged unless the other person gets on their knees and begs you - here I’ll show you.”
With great effort Eugene uncurled himself and rose to his knees extending his hand, and in his most solemn voice, proposed, “Norah Nilssen, would you do me the honour of making me the happiest fourteen year old to ever exist without dinosaurs, and become my wife?” Eugene’s stomach did a little dance and he felt certain that he’d just given the greatest proposal in RMI history, but had it been too great?
“But don’t worry,” he said a little panicked, “I don’t think it’s legally binding without the ring so we don’t have to get hitched or anything.”