Her slowness annoyed him – she could tell by the set of his shoulders – and it only worsened as she accumulated a series of cuts across her bare hands and ankles, and paused to suck out dirt and pebbles from the places her mouth could reach.
“Our wounds seal, you know,” Javier said as he watched her licking the ball of her hand.
“I know,” Amy said. “But I don’t want anything to get stuck in there.” She spat out a tiny pine needle. It tasted a bit like Javier’s dried webbing: sort of salty and sugary and metallic, like licking the copper kettle her dad used for making popcorn on Friday nights. “I used to do this trick for my friends at school.”
He frowned. “What trick?”
“Hurting myself. And then showing them when the wounds closed up.”
His frown sharpened into a scowl of real disapproval, and Amy wondered if she’d said the wrong thing. He looked away. “Didn’t you have VN friends?”
Amy considered. She sucked her fingers. “Mom and Dad took me to this playgroup, a few times. All the parents got in a circle and talked about what it was like to raise Von Neumanns, and the kids were supposed to play together. And then we sang all these songs at the end, like about empathy and self-esteem and stuff.”
Javier pinched the bridge of his nose. “Gringos,” he said, shaking his head.