It’s me, and Rocky, sometimes, and Willa. Still no Coral, still no Wen. Rocky would leave if Coral came back, probably, not that he’s said that explicitly. Willa’s young, or was young. Rocky made her. She approached him, wooed him, pitched herself as a candidate. She practically opened her own veins and pulled him by the hair to drink.
She’s fine. I don’t mind Willa. Terrible taste in music, but who gives a shit. She drags us to clubs and goes after blondes, always blondes: Rocky is her sugar daddy and they’re looking for a three-way. It’s a strong play, and usually pays off for them. I do what I’ve always done.
We have a house, this time, bought with pooled money as a fixer-upper. It’s comfortable now, though by design still non-descript. Rocky’s converted the basement into a bachelor pad and Willa’s room is a pink-and-white daydream festooned with LED string lights. Late mornings, I check on both of them, the way Coral used to.
Rocky is still asleep, and alone. Willa is up, earbuds in, dancing around in her skivvies, folding laundry. There’s a girl in her bed. “She going to be a problem?” I am channeling Coral, who was probably channeling her own maker, whoever that had been.
Willa pulls one earbud, squints, asks, “Huh?”
“The girl. Problem?”
“Nope. No problem. She’s for me.”
“Sure, but…” I pull the door shut behind me, take a step in. Willa nonchalantly stays between me and the bed. “Are you… is she alive?
Willa grins. I know this grin from other situations. It’s puckish. “She’s Schrodinger’s co-ed.”
“She’s a college student?”
“I told you. She’s mine.” She takes out the other earbud, crosses her arms. “I’m sick of just having two old dudes to talk to. I like her. She’s staying.”
Meaning Willa has made her. Meaning she’s turning, even now, lying in the bed. “I wish you’d consulted—”
“Did Rocky ask you for permission before turning me?”
“No, and that was a problem, just like this is.”
“I am not a problem.”
“That’s not what I meant.”
“O.K., dad.” Behind her, a momentary stirring: a weak groan, a form contracting into a fetal position, a heavy sigh.
“Does she have a name?” Do you know her name? How much consideration did you give this?
“You realize she’s your responsibility.”
An eyeroll. “Yeah.”
“You have to teach her. You have to… you barely know what you’re doing yourself.”
“Rocky will help.”
Speaking of Rocky; he’s behind me. “Hey, somebody’s at the front door.”
Willa glances out the window, sees a beat-up Toyota at the curb. “Oh, that’s her boyfriend.”
Willa grabs a pair of pants. “I’ll get rid of him.”
Emma sits up with a start. “What… ” We all turn to look at her. “What’s going on? Will?”
Willa starts to answer, but realizes my hand is around her throat.
“Listen up, everybody.” I never understood Coral. Not really. “Here’s some new rules.”