Exclusive Excerpt from Avalon’s Last Knight
by Jackson C. Garton
Arthur leans back in his chair and exhales like a balloon deflating.
It’s the first time I’ve admitted to myself just how I feel about him, about me, about the whole fucking situation. The look on his face is unreadable, and I’m not sure if I should say something or just let him be, so I decide to reach into my bag and pull out two oatmeal cream pies.
“I’m sorry,” Arthur says, his eyes still closed. “I don’t know why I waited all this time to say something.”
I throw one small plastic-wrapped cake at his chest. His eyes fly open and he looks down at his lap.
“It’s not like we’re in our eighties,” I say. I fumble with the package before ultimately tearing it open with my teeth. “Or on our deathbeds, or something.”
Arthur sighs. “Yes,” he says. “But I’m sure it hasn’t been easy seeing me with all of these girls and shit.” He’s angry now, and I’m not sure if it’s something I’ve said or done.
“Look,” I say. “I know I’m not the only one in love with you. You’ve had the whole school after you ever since you moved here. I’m not a dummy. I always thought you were straight, that you saw me as a friend only. Until that day when you let me kiss you.”
His eyes meet mine, his look now very readable.
Idiots. We’re both idiots. For the past few years we have been dancing alone because we were too afraid of stepping on each other’s toes, and all it would’ve taken was a five-minute discussion. I sigh again and open another pie. Eating my feelings seems like a good idea at the moment.
“I’m not here to give you a lecture on sleeping with half of Avalon, Arthur.”
“Two girls,” he corrects me. “I’ve only ever slept with two girls, and I haven’t been with anyone since last summer. Since my dad found us.”
Thankfully I don’t have to respond to this because Gwen and her co-worker burst out of the front door, the screen barely moving fast enough to allow their hasty departure.
“Jesus fucking Christ,” Gwen says. “I hate working in the evenings.” She stretches her arms and pops her neck. I cringe at the sound. Her co-worker bumps Gwen’s fist with their own, and they leave. I think their name is Jo, but I’m not sure, because I’ve seen them only once.
“Well,” she says, smiling at the both of us. “Did you like the cards? What did the reading say?”
Arthur laughs and picks one up. “I definitely did.” Then Gwen looks at me.
“And what about you?” she asks. “I mean, it looked like you had your hands full out here, so…”
I realize that I had been too caught up in my feelings to even look at the deck, so I wipe the cream off my hands and reach for the first card. I turn it over. On the card are the words TWO OF CUPS, and below the writing is a picture of two men giving each other sixty-nine. I place it down on the table and roll my eyes.
“Well?” Gwen asks. “Which card did you draw?”
Arthur reaches for it, and I cover his hand with mine before he can turn the card over. “Nuh-uh,” I say. “Bad luck to let someone see the cards you’ve drawn for yourself.”
Arthur slides his fingers into mine, and Gwen watches us with anticipation, like she’s critiquing a performance or something.
“Okay,” she says, finally. Even though she’s practically shouting. “What fuckin’ card was it?”
“Two of cups,” I say.
“Two of cups, eh?” Gwen shoots me a look and folds her arms. “It’s about fuckin’ time. That’s all I’ll say.”
I roll my eyes, ignoring her optimistic jab. “What about you, Arthur? What card did you draw?”
“Death,” he says. The words printed on the card are as plain as day. “What does that mean? Am I going to die?”