“You need to work on your investigation skills,” Janna started. Her tone was sharp and hard, but she didn’t sound too angry. Just frustrated. “I went to an event at the bookstore one time and they talked about being a good spy. You have to stay focused, alert, and interrogate the person so they give you as much information as you need. Ask questions. Keep pushing them and make sure you get everything. Every little bit of information counts.”
I snorted. Where had she gotten that? From one of those cheesy “how to be a spy” books? Mom and I visited the bookstore sometimes, usually so she could grab the latest romance novel or blockbuster spy book for Dad. Every time we went, there always seemed to be an endcap displayed prominently in the children’s section advertising “how to be a spy” books and kits. I remembered seeing a few “how to be a spy” classes advertised too, at least once a month. The books were brightly colored and filled with easy puzzles to crack and flimsy spy glasses that broke. Mostly they were filled with lame, crappy stuff. Things that kids would do to spy, like hide behind tables and decode their parent’s phone conversations and receipts. Nothing that anyone professional, like the CIA or secret agents in the FBI, did.
“Most of those books aren’t reliable,” I said. “Besides, none of the stuff in those books is anything professional spies do.”
“How are they not reliable?”
“It’s mostly lame stuff. Like hiding behind tables and decoding phone calls.” I rolled my eyes to punctuate the point. Janna stared at me. Her lower lip hung out in dismay, and from a distance she seemed much younger.
“Maybe,” she said. Her eyes crinkled, and she seemed about to cry. Oh god. All I was good at was making people cry. I leaned forward and wrapped my arm around her back.
“Come on. Let’s sit down.” I waved a hand towards the tree. The dirt seemed more inviting now. It looked cool and soft, certain to calm you. I plopped down in the dirt and gestured for Janna to sit next to me. She curled her face into a scowl, but finally sat down beside me with a loud thump.
“I don’t like it when you make fun of things I like,” Janna said.
We sat in silence. Janna leaned over and buried her head in my lap. My pants felt warm and comfortable as she rested her head in the crook of my legs. She sighed, content, and her eyes softened. It looked like she’d be asleep in no time.
Before she could fall asleep, I whispered into her hair, “I think we can be all done with the spying for now.”
Janna nodded, opening her mouth into a wide yawn. As her eyes closed and the yawns continued, she said, “Okay,” before falling into slumber.