Meat and gravy. Zack looked at the gravy boat in the center of the table, a line of gravy hardening down its side. The white linen table cloth brushed against the top of his pants. He could feel Gwen kicking her legs under the table nervously. Cam stared down at his plate of food, the fork useless in his hand.
"So, Zack, how was school?" his father said, sensing that something was wrong. He glanced at Cam with his sheep dog look of puzzlement, then he looked at Zack. Zack shrugged.
"Uh, okay, I guess," he said, and Gwen gave him a sharp look. He looked back at her in alarm. Did she want him to spill everything about Cam right here and now? Right in front of him?
"Gwen, it's nice to see you," his dad said, talking to Gwen but glancing at Cam. Cam was expressionless, staring at the food he wasn't eating.
"Thank you, Mr. Green," she said brightly, despite the worry over Cam that was gathering like storm clouds. It was something Zack admired but also distrusted about Gwen, her ability to pull it together and play the part despite the circumstances. He hadn't quite mastered that yet.
"Cam, aren't you hungry?" his dad said, and Cam didn't even look up.
"Cam?" Now there was more insistence in his tone, more of the adult, 'you will respond' steel. Zack's eyes widened. Cam lifted his eyes up to Zack's dad's face, heavily and with effort.
"Uh, no, Mr. Green. I'm just not hungry,"
"Have you eaten anything all day?" Zack suddenly blurted out, causing both Gwen and his dad to whip their heads around at his shrill tone. At least it got Cam to look at him.
"Yeah, I've eaten," Cam said, and Zack was relieved to hear anger and annoyance creeping into Cam's voice. He'd been way too zombie like for hours now.
"Oh, yeah? What?" Zack said, staring holes through Cam, but relishing the eye contact. He felt like he could almost reach him. But he looked down, the fight going out of him like sails deflating. He shrugged. Zack looked helplessly at Gwen and she gave him a look he couldn't quite interpret.
"Why were you so late?" his dad said, and Zack and Gwen both glanced over at Cam. He didn't look up.
"Well, Cam had to stay after school and we waited for him," Zack said, and watched his dad wipe gravy from the corner of his mouth. Gwen continued to swing her legs, kicking the chair leg. Cam dipped his fork into the mashed potatoes and took a small bite, grimacing like it was medicine.
"You could call, you know," his dad said, but he wasn't really mad. He didn't start to really worry until after supper. If he still hasn't appeared by then that's when the calls start.
"Yeah, I know," He wanted to spill it to his dad, that Cam was clinically depressed or something and how worried they were, but he couldn't say that right in front of him. So Zack suffered under the small talk, keeping one eye on Cam and his slow movements and downcast eyes.
After dinner, dishes drip drying in the plastic dish drain, the T.V. on and blaring away, his dad called him over.
"What's wrong with Cam?" he whispered, drying a dish with the printed dishtowel that was nearly see through.
"I don't know. He's been like this all day. He won't hardly talk to us, he was going to skip every class if I hadn't dragged him to algebra. I just don't know,"