Home > Everything Leads to You(4)

Everything Leads to You(4)
Author: Nina LaCour

Toby opens the door to the patio off the kitchen and the night air floods in. He pours us some iced tea he gets from an Ethiopian place around the corner. The people there know him and sell it to him in a plastic pitcher that he takes back and gets refilled every couple days. They don’t do it for anyone else, only Toby.

When we’re seated at the round kitchen table, he says, “So, you know how I put up that ad to sublet my place? Well, I got all these responses. People were willing to spend mad cash to live here for two months.”

“Sure,” I say. Because it’s obvious. His place is small but super adorable. It’s this happy mix of Mom and Dad’s old worn-in furniture and castoffs from sets I’ve worked on and things we picked up from Beverly Hills yard sales, where rich people sell their expensive stuff for cheap. It’s just a few blocks from Abbot Kinney, and a few blocks more from the beach.

“Yeah,” he says. “So it was seeming like it was gonna work. But then I had a better idea.”

He takes a sip of his tea. Ice clinks. Charlotte leans forward in her chair. But me, I sit back. I know my brother, the master of good ideas, is waiting for the right moment to reveal his latest plan.

Finally, he says, “I’m letting you guys have it.”

“Whaaaat?” I say. Charlotte and I turn to each other, as if to confirm that we both just heard the same thing. We shake our heads in wonder. And then I can’t help it, I think of the third time Morgan broke up with me, when her reason was that I was younger (only three years!) and lived with my parents. Would it make a difference to her whether I lived here instead? Or is this time really about the vastness or whatever?

Charlotte says, “Are you serious?”

And Toby grins and says, “Completely. It’s my graduation present to both of you. But there’s a condition.”

“Of course,” I say, but he ignores me.

“I want you to do something with the place. Something epic. And I don’t mean throw a party. I mean, something great has to take place here while I’m gone.”

“Like what?” I ask. I’m a little worried, but excited, too. Toby’s the kind of person whose greatness makes other people want to rise to any occasion. Everything he does is somehow larger than life, which is how he worked his way from a summer job as one of the parking staff to a full-time job as the location manager’s assistant. And then, last month, at the age of twenty-two, he became the youngest location scout in the studio’s recent history.

“That’s all I’m gonna say on the subject,” he says. “The rest is up to you.”

We try asking more questions but when we do he just sits back and smiles. So the conversation shifts to The Agency, the film he’s scouting for. I get to design a room for it, too, which will be my biggest job yet. It’s a huge-budget movie with a young ensemble cast—Charlie Hayden and Emma Perez and Justin Stark—all the really big young actors. It’s a spy adventure, but the room I’m designing is for one of the girls when she’s still supposed to be in high school, before they all become spies and start traveling around the world. It’s probably going to be a stupid movie, but I’m thrilled about it anyway. A few weeks ago, Toby and I got to go to a party with the director and the whole cast and crew. I hung out with these stars whose faces are on posters all across the world. That’s just one example of the kinds of things I get to do because of Toby.

Too soon, a knock comes on Toby’s door—what is now for two months my door—and the film studio driver sweeps his suitcases into the trunk and then sweeps up my brother, too. Toby dangles the keys out the window, then looks out at me and says, “Epic.”

The car pulls away and we wave and then it turns a corner and is gone. And Charlotte and I are left on the curb outside the apartment.

I sit down on the still-warm concrete.

“Epic,” I say.

“We’ll think of something,” Charlotte says, sitting next to me.

We sit in silence for a while, listening to the neighbors. They talk and laugh, and soon some music starts. I’m trying to push away the heavy feeling that’s descending now, that has been so often lately, but I’m having trouble. A few months ago it seemed like high school was going to last forever, like our college planning was for a distant and indistinct future. I could hang out with Charlotte without feeling a good-bye looming, take for granted every spur-of-the-moment plan with my brother, sneak out at night to drive up to Laurel Canyon with Morgan and lie under blankets in the back of her truck without worrying that it would be the last time. But now the University of Michigan is taking my best friend from me in just over two months, and my brother is off to Europe tonight and who knows where else after that. Morgan is free to kiss any girl she wants. I expected graduation to feel like freedom, but instead I’m finding myself a little bit lost.

My phone buzzes. Why didn’t you come to work? I hide Morgan’s name on the screen and ignore Charlotte’s questioning look.

“Hey, we should listen to that record you got,” I say, and Charlotte says, “Nice way to avoid the question,” and I say, “Patsy Cline sounds like a perfect way to end the evening,” which is a total lie. I don’t know why Charlotte likes that kind of music.

But I fake enthusiasm as she takes the record out of its sleeve and places it on Toby’s record player and lowers the needle. We lie on Toby’s fluffy white rug (I got it from a pristine Beverly Hills yard sale for Toby’s twenty-first birthday, along with some etched cocktail glasses) and listen to Patsy sing her heart out. Each song lasts approximately one minute so we just listen as song after song plays. Truthfully? I actually like it. I mean, the heartbreak! Patsy knew what she was singing about, that’s for sure. It’s like she knows I have a phone in my pocket with texts from a girl who I wish more than anything really loved me. Patsy is telling me that she understands how hard it is not to text Morgan back. She might even be saying Dignity is overrated. You know what trumps dignity? Kissing.

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