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Turtles All the Way Down(10)
Author: John Green

“That’s a pretty good life motto,” he said.

I smiled. “Yeah, I don’t know. Okay, I should go.”

Right before I closed the door, he said, “It’s good to see you, Aza.”

“Yeah,” I said. “You too.”

FIVE

AS DAISY AND I DROVE toward her apartment in Harold’s warm embrace, she wouldn’t shut up about the crush she was certain I had. “Holmesy, you’re aglow. You’re luminous. You’re beaming.”

“I’m not.”

“You are.”

“I honestly can’t even tell if he’s cute.”

“He’s in that vast boy middle,” she said. “Like, good-looking enough that I’m willing to be won over. The whole problem with boys is that ninety-nine percent of them are, like, okay. If you could dress and hygiene them properly, and make them stand up straight and listen to you and not be dumbasses, they’d be totally acceptable.”

“I’m really not looking to date anyone.” I know people often say that when secretly looking for a romantic partner, but I meant it. I definitely felt attracted to some people, and I liked the idea of being with someone, but the actual mechanics of it didn’t much suit my talents. Like, parts of typical romantic relationships that made me anxious included 1. Kissing; 2. Having to say the right things to avoid hurt feelings; 3. Saying more wrong things while trying to apologize; 4. Being at a movie theater together and feeling obligated to hold hands even after your hands become sweaty and the sweat starts mixing together; and 5. The part where they say, “What are you thinking about?” And they want you to be, like, “I’m thinking about you, darling,” but you’re actually thinking about how cows literally could not survive if it weren’t for the bacteria in their guts, and how that sort of means that cows do not exist as independent life-forms, but that’s not really something you can say out loud, so you’re ultimately forced to choose between lying and seeming weird.

“Well, I want to date someone,” Daisy said. “I’d make a go at Little Orphan Billionaire myself, except he wouldn’t stop looking at you. Hey, speaking of which, here’s a fascinating piece of trivia: Guess who gets Pickett’s billions if he dies?”

“Um, Davis and Noah?”

“No,” Daisy said. “Guess again.”

“The zoologist?”

“No.”

“Just tell me.”

“Guess.”

“Fine. You.”

“Alas, no, which is so unjust. I’m such a billionaire without the billions, Holmesy. I have the soul of a private jet owner, and the life of a public transportation rider. It’s a real tragedy. But no, not me. Not Davis. Not the zoologist. The tuatara.”

“Wait, what?”

“The tua-fucking-tara, Holmesy. Malik told me it was a matter of public record and it totally is. Listen.” She held up her phone. “Indianapolis Star article from last year. ‘Russell Pickett, the billionaire chairman and founder of Pickett Engineering, shocked the black-tie audience at last night’s Indianapolis Prize by announcing that his entire estate would be left to his pet tuatara. Calling the creatures, which can live to more than one hundred and fifty years of age, “magical animals,” Pickett said that he had created a foundation to study his tuatara and provide the best possible care for it. “Through investigating Tua’s secrets,” he said, referring to his pet by name, “humans will learn the key to longevity and better understand the evolution of life on earth.” When asked by a Star reporter to confirm he planned to leave his entire estate to a trust benefitting a single animal, Pickett confirmed, “My wealth will benefit Tua and only Tua—until her death. After that, it will go to a trust to benefit all tuatara everywhere.” A representative of Pickett Engineering said that Pickett’s private affairs had no bearing on the direction of the company.’ Nothing says fuck you to your kids quite like leaving your fortune to a lizard.”

“Well, as you’ll recall, it isn’t a lizard,” I pointed out.

“Holmesy, someday you’re going to win the Nobel Prize for Being Incredibly Pedantic, and I’m going to be so proud of you.”

“Thanks,” I said. I pulled up outside of Daisy’s apartment complex and parked Harold. “So, if Davis’s dad died, he and his brother get nothing? Don’t you at least have to pay for your kids to go to college or something?”

“Dunno,” she said, “but it makes me think Davis really would turn his dad in if he knew where he was.”

“Yeah,” I said. “Someone has to know. He needed help, right? You can’t just disappear.”

“Right, but there’s so many possible accomplices. Pickett has, like, thousands of employees. And who knows how many people working on that property. I mean, they have a zoologist.”

“It would sort of suck, having all those people around your house all day. Like, people who aren’t in your family just, like, constantly in your space.”

“Indeed, Holmesy, however does one bear the pain of overenthusiastic servants?” I laughed, and Daisy clapped her hands and said, “Okay. My to-do list: Research wills. Get police report. Your to-do list: Fall for Davis, which you’ve already mostly done. Thanks for the ride; time to go pretend I love my sister.” She grabbed her backpack, climbed out of Harold, and slammed his precious, fragile door behind her.

When I got home, I watched TV with Mom, but I couldn’t stop thinking about Davis looking down at my finger, holding my hand in his.

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