Day 92 of 100 Word Prompts: Warm
“Quit being such a baby,” Jessica said, shaking her head as Gabe took shelter from the sun under a tree just off the path. “It’s not even that bad out.”
“Not that bad? You said it was ‘warm’ out,” Gabe shot back using air quotes to emphasize his point, “It’s not warm out, it’s fucking hot out, not even counting the humidity!”
“It’s only like eighty-five out, maybe eighty-six,” Jessica replied, beckoning him to her with her arms out. “Come on. It’s a gorgeous day out. Don’t you want to hang out with me?”
“I always want to spend time with you, Jessica. You know that, which is why you called me to go for a walk with you-”
“But you’re not walking,” Jessica pointed out.
“That’s because I’ve been walking with you in full sun for more than two hours. I’m afraid I’m going to burst into flames if I don’t take a break,” Gabe said, beckoning her to him. “If you want the Gabe love, you’ll have to come to the dark side.”
Jessica paused for a moment to consider the offer, shrugged, then stepped into the grass into the shade of the tree. Gabe grabbed her around the waist, kissed her firmly, then pulled her to the ground with him. The grass was soft and cool against their skin while they lay there, watching pedestrians pass.
“What do you think she was thinking?” Jessica asked as a particularly harsh looking woman noticed them, grimaced, and walked away.
“Stupid Millenials, ruining our walking paths like they ruined our economy,” Gabe replied with his best impression of a shrill old lady. “Or something like that.”
“You’re probably right,” Jessica laughed, “Though we’re Gen Z technically.”
“She doesn’t know that. We look like we’re right there anyway,” Gabe said.
“What should we do now?” Jessica asked, turning on her side and propping herself up on her elbow.
“I can think of a lot of things,” Gabe said, a devious smile on spreading across his face.
“Don’t be a pervert,” Jessica replied, suddenly feeling exposed in front of him.
“What are you talking about?” Gabe said. “I was thinking of going down to the rich people’s docks and tossing open cans of tuna under the docks.”
“Oh,” Jessica replied, feeling a little foolish, “I just thought-”
“That I was talking about doing things that we’ve already discussed? No. I told you already. There is no pressure there. You’re not ready, so we’re not ready,” Gabe said. “Until then, I guess I’ll have to suffer your amazing company.”
Gabe rolled over, putting the back of his hand on his forehead as he plopped onto his back. Jessica shook her head at his joke. On the one hand, she thought he was mocking her, but on the other, she knew that he was serious. He would wait until she was ready.
“So, if we just open cans of tuna and toss them under the dock, won’t the animals just come and eat them?” Jessica asked, changing the subject.
“If we removed the entire top, yes, but we’re not doing that. We’re just poking a few holes in it so that it can rot and stink up the area,” Gabe said. “It’ll teach them to put up fences and try to restrict people from public lands.”
“You’re such a badass,” Jessica teased.
“What? It doesn’t bother you that the rich get to ignore the laws while the rest of us have to struggle through life as well as all the other bullshit?” he asked.
“Careful now. You’re starting to sound like a millennial,” Jessica teased again, getting to her feet. “Come on, have you cooled off enough yet?”
“I think so,” Gabe replied. “Though I still think we should turn around and go back to one of our houses. It’s still too hot out here for me.”
“I’ll make you a deal,” Jessica said, grabbing his hand and pulling him to his feet. “If you stick it out, we can go swimming at the end of the trail, and after I’ll buy you some ice cream.”
“You promise?” Gabe said, batting his eyes at her.
“I promise,” Jessica said, roughing up his hair and shaking her head. “Knucklehead.”
The pair walked down the path together, occasionally holding hands when Gabe wasn’t complaining about the heat, or the rich people, or the people on motorized scooters or bikes traveling the path, or the occasional homeless camp set up just inside the woods on the side of the hill.
“Why do they have to sleep there?” Gabe asked. “It’s such an eyesore. Why can’t they go someplace else?”
“That’s part of the problem,” Jessica said, pulling Gabe to a stop along the path. “People are always trying to push them out instead of trying to help them. Have you ever been homeless?”
“No,” Gabe replied, looking disgusted. “My parents were better with their money than that.”
“It’s not about that, Gabe. I was homeless when I was a teenager. My whole family was,” Jessica said, looking at the blankets hanging from the bushes. “It wasn’t like this but had we stayed on the streets longer. It may have been. We weren’t homeless because we couldn’t afford rent. We were homeless because we got evicted so the landlord could renovate the building.”
“That’s not a bad thing. Your parents should have just saved for a house and stopped renting,” Gabe said.
“It’s not that simple,” Jessica replied. “How do you save for a twenty percent down payment on a house while raising children and paying rent that is already too high for the area?”
“You work harder,” Gabe answered.
“You have a thing against rich people, but you’re starting to sound like one,” Jessica said. “Statistically, people that make lower wages work more hours in jobs that are harder on their bodies than even middle-class workers.”
“Then they should have stayed in school,” Gabe said.
“My father had his Masters in Software Engineering when we were homeless. Do you think that it’s that easy?” Jessica asked. “You really think that the system is set up so that the harder you work, the more likely you are to succeed?”
“That’s the American dream,” Gabe said, lifting his chin.
“It’s the American lie now,” Jessica shot back. “Our economy has been rigged against every younger person in the country. Our grandparents were able to go to college, paying for it while working a part-time job in the summer. Now, you couldn’t afford college with a full-time job that paid minimum wage. So instead, we go to college and spend fifty thousand dollars on a career path we aren’t even sure will be viable in four years, let alone one that we may still be as passionate about, and leave for jobs that require experience, but pay nothing. So we are stuck in this place of needing the job to pay our student loans, but can’t get the job even with the degree.”
“I don’t get it,” Gabe said.
“It’s just a modern spin on slavery,” Jessica said. “If the lower class has to borrow from the rich for everything they have, then pay it back with interest, the poor keep working and working for less and less owing more than one hundred percent of their income to someone who is already filthy rich. And it continues to roll uphill until it hits the super-rich.”
“I don’t know about that,” Gabe said.
“Who owns the apartment buildings?” Jessica asked.
“Locals?” Gabe guessed.
“Nope, rich people from out of state. How many people do you know can afford millions of dollars for waterfront condos or highly sought after business properties?” Jessica said. “It’s all just a game of monopoly that we came into late after everything was already bought, and everyone around the board keeps looking at us and asking why we aren’t doing better.”
“That’s a bit harsh,” Gabe said.
“It’s the truth,” Jessica said, tearing her eyes from the human nest in the bushes. “LEt’s go home. I don’t want to walk anymore.”
“But the ice cream,” Gabe pleaded.
“You go get it,” she said, shaking her head. “I’m all set.”