The drive back to civilization was shorter than Teri remembered. Now that they were headed away from Dr. Fiedler and his creepy basement, the dark side roads were positively inviting. No one wanted to talk until they were back in town under the familiar glow of streetlights.
“Geez Teri, is that your stomach growling?” Morgan asked.
Teri felt her cheeks turning red. She hadn’t been paying attention. Now she saw Aiden watching her in the rearview mirror.
“I guess I am a little hungry.”
“Do you want to stop somewhere?” Aiden asked.
“Are you kidding? We need to watch what’s on this,” Max said, holding up the disc.
“We could all go back to my place and watch it,” Aiden said. “I’ve got plenty of leftovers.”
That sounded like a great idea to Teri, but Morgan beat her to the punch.
“That sounds like a plan,” she said. “If you’re sure it won’t be trouble.”
Morgan reached out and touched Aiden’s arm. Teri had been overwhelmed by nervous fear when they’d all piled into the car. She hadn’t thought of going for the front passenger side seat. Morgan had apparently planned ahead. She was good at that when it came to boys. It was tough being her friend sometimes. Teri considered rewinding time to ruin Morgan’s moment, but it didn’t seem right. Besides, she had to press both her hands into her stomach to keep it from growling again.
It was after seven o’clock and she hadn’t eaten her usual midafternoon snack. Her body was rebelling. Cursing her metabolism, though she knew she shouldn’t, Teri tried to keep stomach muffled. Aiden didn’t live too far from Morgan and Teri. Teri couldn’t remember if she’d seen him running around the neighborhood in the mists of her early childhood. Teri hadn’t had many friends before middle school, so it was hard to say if she didn’t remember seeing Aiden because he hadn’t been part of the neighborhood group of kids that’d usually excluded her or if she’d just never met him.
Teri tried to think about happier things. Her brain was always dead set on being negative when she was hungry. Aiden unlocked the door and everyone rushed to get out of the cold and into the dark, unlit house.
“Isn’t anyone home?” Morgan asked.
“Oh, my dad’s probably at his girlfriend’s,” he said. “At least we’ll have some privacy when we watch whatever’s on that DVD.”
“Let’s get right to it,” Max said, rubbing his hands together.
“Not so fast,” Aiden said. “We need to get Teri something to eat first. It looks like she’s ready to fall over.”
Aiden was right. “I guess I am a little weak,” Teri said. “Today took a lot out of me.”
“That’s a good point,” Max said. “Bending the space-time continuum can’t be easy.”
“If you say it like that, you’ll make my anxiety flare up even more,” Teri said.
“Just try not to think about it for now,” Aiden said. “Instead think of getting ready to lie about how good my dad’s casserole is.”
Aiden got a serving spoon and dumped a generous mound of said casserole onto four plates. It make a sound somewhere between a thunk and a splat. A minute in the microwave transformed the casserole from cold brick to steaming deliciousness. Maybe it was Teri’s hunger, but she didn’t have to lie about how good it was. She was still finishing the last of her second helping when they sat down to watch the DVD. Aiden and Max were a bit wide-eyed at all the food she’d made disappear, but Morgan was used to it at this point.