39. Highlight“What are you doing?” It was the tone in his mother’s voice, Bobby thought, that she would have had if she had caught him starting a fire over some oily rags.

“I’m reading,” he said, honestly puzzled over what she thought he was doing.

“You’re writing in your book!”

“I’m highlighting stuff,” he said. It hadn’t occurred to him that the yellow florescent highlighter marks was what was causing her so much distress.

“You shouldn’t write in your books,” she said. “That’s for coloring books. You need to keep your books nice.”

He knew his mom had come from different circumstances. She had grown up poor, where Bobby was comfortable. It was something that she took pride in, but it caused an inevitable gap between them.

“It’s not disrespectful,” he said. “It’s my book. You could say I’m just personalizing it.”

She gave him a look that he recognized immediately. She didn’t agree, but was debating whether to make it an issue.

“Come over here,” he said. He handed her the highlighter, putting it in her hand when she didn’t immediately take it. Bobby pointed at a passage in the book. “Highlight that sentence,” he said. “It’s a good one.”

“I’m not…”

“Go ahead. Do it.”

She looked at him, doubtfully, and after a hesitation, slowly, carefully, highlighted the sentence, and not a bit more.

“Feels good, doesn’t it?”

She handed back the highlighter and walked off, shaking her head a little. But he had seen her smile.