Astrid had just finished breakfast the next morning when there was a knock at the door. Opening it, she found Austin on her step, his helmet still on his head. His hoverbike was parked neatly just off the sidewalk.
“Good morning,” said Astrid. “You’re up awfully early this morning.”
“I hardly got any sleep last night. I can’t believe we actually get to see a rocket launch today!”
“I’m pretty excited myself.” she said. “I’ve only seen one before and that was when I was only six. My dad took me to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.”
“That must have been awesome.”
“Come on in, Austin.” She opened the door wide and the boy stepped inside. “The presentation doesn’t start for another couple of hours and the launch won’t be until after that. We can hang out here for a while.”
Austin followed Astrid through the dining room and breakfast room into the family room. There they found Océane, who was watching Bugs Bunny cartoons.
“Bonjour,” said Austin.
“Bonjour,” said Océane.
“Guess what, Océane. I’m taking French this year.”
“I thought you took Spanish last year,” said Astrid.
“I did, but I decided to change to French.”
“Was that because of Océane?” asked Astrid slyly.
Austin blushed. “No. You know we had to register for classes before the end of last year.”
“So it was for Valerie?”
“Ixnay on the irlsgay,” said Austin. He sat down next to Océane on the couch. “This is one of my favorite cartoons. Yosemite Sam gets shot in the face 27 times in this one. Do you have Bugs Bunny in France? Oh, I’ll bet you just have Pepe Le Pew.”
“Who is this Pepe Le Pew?” wondered Océane.
“He’s this French skunk who always falls in love with these cats, see? He falls in love with them but they don’t like him because he smells. He smells because he’s a skunk, not because he’s French, um… do you know what a skunk is?” He looked at Astrid. “What’s the French word for skunk?”
“Skunk,” said Astrid.
“The French word for skunk is skunk,” said Astrid.
“I’m going to put my helmet on my hoverbike,” said Austin, hurrying from the room.
“He is so funny!” laughed Océane.
“Yup, he’s a riot,” agreed Astrid.
Austin returned, having taken far longer than was necessary just to put away his helmet. Astrid assumed he was trying to get over his embarrassment at having implied that French people like Océane might be smelly. Then again, Austin often paid even less attention to what he said than others did. He sat back down without a word.
“So, you’re taking French?” said Astrid.
Austin gave her a withering look.
“I was just wondering what else you’re taking. Maybe we have a class together.”
The boy sighed and counted off with his fingers. “French, Orchestra, Art, Algebra II, English II, American Lit and Outdoor Survival.”
“Hey, we’ll have the last two classes together,” she observed. “I’ve got American Lit and Outdoor Survival too. That’s pretty cool.”
“Yeah, that’s pretty cool. I just wish you were in my Geometry class. I’ll probably need some help with it.”
“I can still help you,” said Astrid. “I remember it pretty well, even though I took it back in fourth grade.”