“Would I like a—a what?”
Watching Rick is fascinating because he makes all the faces that Letty doesn’t. The old adage of eyes being the windows to one’s soul lends to the comparison of Letty’s windows being thrown wide open, as if to welcome anyone and everyone to have a look inside, saying here are my thoughts and feelings and you are welcome to them; Rick’s windows have the shades drawn half-down. His expressions are muted and guarded. He doesn’t gesticulate. Especially given that the twins share their body and clothes, the difference is quite striking.
“It’s called a binder,” says David, and leans toward the boy to show him the catalog pages. “I’ve already made arrangements to order you some of your own clothing now that I know your and Letty’s sizes. But you two are about hitting puberty, and.” He clears his throat. “It would be presumptuous to just buy you one without asking. But I at least wanted you to know that there are things like this, if you’re uncomfortable.”
Rick has his arms crossed over his chest, restless fingers running up and down his upper arms. It’s something he’s been doing a lot recently. David is pretty sure that he still has his sister’s bra on, but he’s old enough to know better than to ask confirmation for that.
And anyway, Rick has noticed David watching: He unfolds his arms, curls up his hands into fists, uncurls them, and lowers his hands to his sides. It’s obviously deliberate. It looks like it takes a lot of effort.
“I don’t understand you, Teacher,” Rick says. “I know you understand—why I’m here. I’ve told you enough about Letty’s and my family. You know that if Letty ever stops needing me, I’m just going to disappear. So why go to all the trouble?”
Rick looks like a miniature adult. David recognizes the exhaustion—he sees it enough in the mirror, and he thinks that this at least has nothing to do with the early symptoms of Nightmare Syndrome. He almost has to look away. He scratches his head instead.
“Maybe so,” says David at length. “But that’s no reason not to make you comfortable while you are here. I think that Letty might like that too.”
Rick scowls and crosses his arms again. One corner of his mouth pulls up and back, and then his lips tighten again. The dark streak in his hair shifts as he pulls in a breath. His face is reddening.
“The others are right,” Rick announces finally. “You’re the weirdest adult I’ve ever met.”
David laughs a little. “Really?”
“It’s a compliment,” Rick says. He’s smiling just a little now. “Let me take a closer look at this ‘binder’ thing so that I can decide.”