Lilith stood outside the Cohen’s garage. She fiddled with the strap on her cello case awkwardly. Inside she could hear Nicki and Symon making indistinguishable noises. She wasn’t sure if they were shouting at each other, or making out. Either way, she didn’t really need to be a part of the conversation. She walked over to the front door and knocked.
Alex opened the door.
“Don’t you just go right into the garage?” he asked perplexed.
“The polite thing to say is ‘Hello Lilith, please come in.’”
“Hello Lilith, please come inside. Don’t you usually just go right into the garage?”
“Yep,” she said walking in.
She made her way to the kitchen, and sat down at the center island on a barstool. Alex pulled two sodas out of the fridge, and handed one to Lilith. She was pleased to see that it was root beer, not ginger ale.
“Sorry we don’t have anything caffeinated. My parents are convinced it’s bad for you.”
“No worries. As long as it isn’t organic.”
He cleared his throat. “So… why are you not making my house shake with indie rock?”
She took a sip of her delicious sugary carbonated goodness. “I have reason to believe that my bandmates are either breaking up, or something completely different. I don’t know which I’d like less.”
Alex shuddered. “I definitely don’t want to interrupt them either…”
He took a swig of his root beer. “So how are you Lilith Mei Sun?”
She wrinkled her nose. “Not the full name Alexander.”
“Why not? It is just a name…”
“I’m just not fond of my middle name. That’s all.”
“Ooh. I do love reading to deeply into things.” He rubbed his hands together and arched an eyebrow. “Tell me more.”
“Come on Lilith! What’s so bad about Mei? It’s not even two syllables.”
“I don’t think the meaning fits. That’s all.”
“I don’t speak Chinese. Tell me.”
“I don’t speak Chinese either…”
“But you know what Mei means. You admitted it yourself.”
“I have to tell you now, don’t I?”
“Yep.” He smiled smugly.
She sighed. “It means beautiful.”
“Are you telling me that Lilith Mei Sun-“ she glared at him. “Fine. Lilith Sun doesn’t think she’s beautiful?”
“Sounds about right.”
“This is a tragedy!” he pounded his fist against the counter island emphatically. “You are stunning. And I mean that in the least creepy friend of older sister’s way as possible.” She laughed.
“Thanks Alex. You can’t change the way I see myself though. Only I can do that.”
He smiled almost sadly. “That had better happen soon.”
Lilith shrugged. “I expect I’ll learn self respect when I leave the torments of high school.”
“I’ve often wondered why you aren’t homeschooled like Valerie,” he said. It wasn’t a question, so much as an invitation. She realized that he’d probably phrased it like that on purpose, so she wouldn’t feel obligated to answer. He really was a sweet guy.
“I don’t know. I honestly don’t know. School is boring, but I like the people. Well, a small fraction of them that is mostly made up of teachers.”
He burst out laughing. “I feel exactly the same way.” He grinned at her. “Let’s stay within the same factions.”
“Sounds good to me.”
“So now I’m curious about the rest of your name, and Valerie’s too.”
“Really?” Lilith sighed. “When I came to band practice today, I wasn’t exactly thinking, ‘I’m going to sit down and have a long conversation about my parents’ naming choices with Alex!’”
“Life is full of unexpected surprises. Make yourself some lemonade.”
“That isn’t how that goes…”
He shrugged his shoulders. “You have a punk band and black hair, I have badly combined idioms and a red shirt.”
She snorted. “Are you telling me you’re expendable?”
“No, I’m the captain. We can be in The Next Generation. But that’s besides the point. You’re parents are weird. I’m sure there’s reasons and meanings to your names.”
She stuck her tongue out at him. He grinned. “I knew I was right.”
Lilith made a growling hissing noise like a feral dog. Or a giant spider. “Fine. But I want you to know that I hate you.”
“So you know that Valerie and I both have Chinese middle names, because, well, heritage!” She waved her arms in the air with sarcastic eyes. “And you know that Mei means beautiful. Or plum. So let’s finish my name first.”
He gave a thumbs up. “Lilith is a really fun name. It’s Hebrew in case you care about that sort of thing, It has two meanings and a Jewish folklore reference. Lilith in Jewish folklore was a demon who was Adam’s first wife. So, yay? Then is the meaning ‘storm goddess,’ which is fun I guess. But my favorite is ‘night monster.’”
“I’ll have to start calling you that. It suits you.”
“Shut up.” She have a small cough. “Anyway, Valerie’s name is way less interesting than your friendly neighborhood Beautiful Night Monster. Although, it does mean the same goody two shoes ‘brave,’ in like, three languages. And Lian means Daughter of the Sun.”
“That’s kind of hilarious,” he said.
“What? That her name is Brave Daughter of the Sun Sun?”
“No. Well yes, but I was thinking more that you’re the Night Monster, and Valerie’s the Daughter of the Sun. It’s pretty cool.”
“Eh. I guess so. Valerie isn’t exactly sunshine and rainbows though.”
“No, I guess not. Well, I mean sometimes. But really I think she’s more complicated.”
“I think we all are more complex than the shiny little boxes people stuff us into.”
“Yeah.” He took another sip of his root beer. Lilith looked at him. She tried to see what was shoved inside the shiny little box labelled “Sensitive Nerd,” but Alex would have to open the lid for her first.