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Beaks' relentless patter had not let up. It was like talking to a carnival barker.

There was almost hypnotic quality to it. The words came so fast and so constantly that it was very hard to pay attention to any of them, individually. It all became white noise.

Georgia Lee followed him over to the table, watching as he carried all of her supplies. He carried them gingerly, like he was afraid they'd wriggle out of his hands. Aiden was, she suspected, not too used to carrying books. She sat down at the kitchen table in front of where he'd set them out and opened what she thought to be the most pertinent textbook to what she thought to be the most pertinent page.

Already they'd wasted more time than she'd've liked. It set a bad tone, all this procrastinating: if they wasted time now, he'd get the impression that they could waste time later, and then where'd they be? Plus, any level of socializing just perpetuated the impression he seemed to have that she'd open for anything other than tutoring, which was certainly not the case.

Aiden asked if she'd done karaoke. Georgia Lee hadn't, though one of Carolina's friends had brought round an ancient version of singstar a couple of times, and Georgia Lee's mother had forced the older girls to give Georgia Lee a turn. Maria Day, presumably, had thought she was being nice, but the parental interference had brought Georgia Lee no end of strife later than night, after her parents were abed. Still, it had almost been worth it: in those few, magical minutes that Georgia Lee had belted out some pop song or other - she couldn't even remember what it was - she'd felt incredible. She hadn't been worrying about what her sister would do to her later, or about school, about grades, about anything. She'd just been... singing.

Georgia Lee had never done karaoke though, not proper karaoke, not in a bar. Still, she suspected that answering that would bring about calls to try it some time with Beaks, and that was the last thing she wanted, so instead Georgia simply gave him a curt nod.

"Yeah, I've tried karaoke. Are you ready to start?"

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What Are Little Boys Made Of? · The Neighborhood