Joseph Blair

May 22, 2021, 1:51 p.m.

Jury's out on the solution, though

“Oy, stop grabbin’, ya tess,” Joey grumbled under his breath, pulling his biro out from the chubby baby fingers of his homework. Her name wasn’t actually Tess; they’d settled on Jade ‘cause it was a mix of Joey and Sadie, kind of, and he was all about taking the easiest path outta that classroom. (He could respect their mates having more inspo with it, but damn, some of the names he’d overheard had him wondering if any of ‘em deserved to ever have kids.) Combining names wasn’t creative, but least he wasn’t stuck in Jarrett’s shoes: Huburt had taken over and now their baby was called Ronald Something-in-Korean that he insisted Jarrett say in full every time and then corrected his pronunciation. Joey had to reassure his roomie that was just a Huburt thing and Not All Half-Asians. He had a second name too, but only his grandparents ever used it, and he wasn’t about to raise his fake baby in Thai when he couldn’t speak it himself.

Anyways, tess came from TS, which came from that techno sprog. Sometimes it was too easy to forget the biracial baby in his lap was 100% some kinda magitech and its face was as fake as the scene out his dorm window, so he’d taken to calling her for what it was, just to make sure he remembered. Either they’d gotten lucky or Sadie was as good with babies as she’d claimed - theirs was pretty quiet most of the time, and he could admit it was kinda cute too, though not nearly as much as Sadie (and yeah nope that was a thought he wasn’t gonna deal with right now). But it still screamed at him in the night and shit up a storm and had ripped pages out of his notebook when he wasn’t watching.

Long story short: Auntie Stell had made her point a week in. Babies plus school was a mess. Joey really didn’t think they needed to drag it out to midterm, but here they were.

Leaning back in his chair so his dangling pen was out of the sprog’s reach, Joey tapped the edge of the baby carrier with his toes, rocking it on the floor in hopes she’d just nod off. He kept on absently rocking it with his bare toes (‘course he was barefoot; he stayed in sandals as long as he could justify it, and had kicked ‘em off soon as he sat down here) and frowned at the half-written essay draft between his hands. Scratching out a few words, Joey’d started on a new line when something moved in his periphs and he glanced over to see Norah flop in a chair. She didn’t seem to notice him so he put his head down and kept on working - though got distracted again when she spoke up, and looked back over to see her now crushing some paper on her head.

Oh right. He suddenly clued in to what must be goin’ on. Gene’d told him they were dating last year, before they broke up - well obviously that was before they broke up - anyways, that had been a while back. Far as he could tell Gene was normal again, or Gene-levels of normal which were good as one could ask for, but he guessed Norah must’ve taken things harder to be going all drama in the library over it. Fair enough. He’d never dated anyone before so who was he to know how it felt?

Despite his absolute lack of experience Joey was right confident in how to respond. “Yeah nah, they suck,” he agreed generically, prepared to offer Norah grin if she looked his way but not expecting it given the whole vibes coming off her. “Sorry you got dropped. I heard about the card; Gene’s a good egg, but it’s his first too, can’t really blame him for going woop on it. I dunno how I’d drop someone. Probably better to just enjoy and not tie strings on, ya know?” OK right, so he couldn’t 100% say that was better, having never tried the opposite, but he could at least say that macking up with your neighbour on her balcony on-and-off all through term break without any expectations was prime as and somethin’ he wished he’d tried sooner.

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A Truth Universally Acknowledged - Norah Nilssen || May 22
Jury's out on the solution, though - Joseph Blair || May 22