Chapter 26:

Donuts from Alente Bistro

New Leaf!

Right now, it was a few minutes after dinner. I insisted that I would prepare dinner and wash the dishes, and that was what I was currently doing. Camryn was currently doing something at the coffee table.Bookmark here

As I was doing the dishes, my eyes drifted and met with a nearby box with a transparent section on its lid. It was the box of donuts that I got for free from Alente Bistro. Oh yeah, those were here. But why did I forget about them? I do not usually forget about things, but I forgot I had these. Hm… Could the reason be related to what happened to Camryn? She ran away so I went to go look for her, and in doing so, I put the donuts down and I guess I forgot about them. Odd… I was not entirely panicked but I felt a little urgency in getting Camryn back. Hm…Bookmark here

Oh well. It was unusual but not dire. And besides, I shouldn’t think too much — I fear the places my mind will wander to.Bookmark here

When I finished washing, I quickly dried my hands, picked up the box, and walked to Camryn.Bookmark here

“S-So Camryn, what are you doing?”Bookmark here

I should start a conversation with her. I do not do it often, but I should start. Personally, it was a bit awkward to do so, but nothing too cumbersome.Bookmark here

“Oh… Schoolwork.”Bookmark here

What? Does she go to school? How? I looked at what was in front of her and it was a textbook and a notebook. So if her family started struggling six months ago, did she attend school before that? Hm…Bookmark here

“School?”Bookmark here

“That’s right. Um… I guess when I started living homeless, I brought textbooks, notebooks, and school supplies with me.”Bookmark here

I see… Well, education is important.Bookmark here

“I see.”Bookmark here

Camryn took one other textbook from her suitcase and closed the one she was currently reading from.Bookmark here

“To save space, I only have textbooks covering the most important areas. So that is science and math.”Bookmark here

“Oh, okay. Well, I guess math is one of the more important subjects, and learning science can be quite useful as well.”Bookmark here

I looked at the textbooks… Yeah, I think these are appropriate for the grade she is in — or since it is Summer, the grade she is finishing. But she used these when she was homeless? Then does that mean that she had no teacher and had to learn these topics by herself? Wow, that must have been tough. She does have the textbooks, but it would have been much easier if she had another human being she could ask for help.Bookmark here

“That must have been hard, right? I mean not having a teacher to help you.”Bookmark here

“Oh, that…”Bookmark here

Camryn turned to face me and gave a big reassuring smile.Bookmark here

“Don’t worry, it was no problem! Yeah, it would be frustrating if I couldn’t solve a problem, but I would eventually figure it out — because I’m smart! Besides...”Bookmark here

Camryn averted her eyes and stared down at her notebook.Bookmark here

“I had to solve a majority of these problems by myself… There’s something good about that, right? I mean, people learn quicker if they get through a problem by themself, right? O-Or, I guess having help can be just as good or even better…”Bookmark here

Camryn went back to writing in her notebook.Bookmark here

Do people learn quicker if they work by themselves or get help?... That is a good question. Hm… If there is a problem, the solver will find a method to get to the solution either way. If they work alone, if they work hard, they can find a way but at a slower pace. They can also come across things by themselves and find ways to overcome them. But if they get help from someone more experienced, it is undeniably easier and quicker. They can get things like hints for solving the question and advice on what to do differently. But, there is the risk that the helper can just flat-out provide the answer and nothing is learned. Hm… Overall, I think it depends on people’s individual preferences… But some things are better than others — objectively and not subjectively.Bookmark here

“Well Camryn, regardless, if you need help with a problem, do not hesitate to ask.”Bookmark here

“Of course. Thanks, Ren!”Bookmark here

Please ask me if you need help with anything. Besides… You are not like me… thankfully. Bookmark here

I sat on the couch next to the coffee table and placed the box of donuts on it. Bookmark here

“Camryn, here.”Bookmark here

I opened the box and inched it closer to her.Bookmark here

“Huh? W-What are these?”Bookmark here

She does not know?Bookmark here

“They are donuts. They were given to me yesterday.”Bookmark here

“Oh. Thanks…”Bookmark here

Camryn grabbed a blackish-brown donut with her whole hand and slowly moved it towards her sweater pocket.Bookmark here

I quickly raised my hand to stop her.Bookmark here

“Camryn, wait! It is food.”Bookmark here

“Oh, y-yeah. Silly me…”Bookmark here

She let out a small mocking smile and laughed.Bookmark here

She held it out in front of her and examined it. She sniffed it and spun it around, getting her hands dirty.Bookmark here

“Do not worry, it is sweet — it is a dessert.”Bookmark here

I quickly ran to the kitchen and grabbed a roll of paper towels.Bookmark here

“Your hands are also getting sticky.”Bookmark here

“Oh, right…”Bookmark here

After a couple of seconds of studying it, she took a small nibble of it. And when she did, her eyes widened.Bookmark here

“Oh my gosh!”Bookmark here

Oh, does she not like it?Bookmark here

She moved the donut away from her and took a big bite out of it.Bookmark here

Oh, I guess she likes it.Bookmark here

She kept taking large bites out of it.Bookmark here

She spoke to me with her mouth full.Bookmark here

“Oh, my goodnesh. It’s sho good!”Bookmark here

She kept on taking bites.Bookmark here

“Hey Camryn, I think you should sl-”Bookmark here

“Hey Wen, what ish this? It’s- ack! Gah-cah!”Bookmark here

She is choking! I sprinted to the fridge and got a water bottle from it. I tossed it to her and she took a large gulp from it. Bookmark here

“G-G-Gah… Ah, thanks, Ren. Sorry, I should probably slow down when eating…”Bookmark here

I nodded. People call the donuts from Alente good, so there is no question why she was quickly devouring it.Bookmark here

“Yeah, as I was saying, what is this? It’s delicious.”Bookmark here

“A chocolate donut for a place called Alente Bistro.”Bookmark here

“Alente… Bistro? Never heard of it. Oh, but chocolate!? I knew this tasted so familiar.”Bookmark here

She was speaking excitedly like a child would during their birthday party.Bookmark here

“Ever since that day when you gave me chocolate milk, I’ve been obsessed with chocolate flavours. You see, that was the first time I’ve ever had chocolate…”Bookmark here

“Is it?”Bookmark here

She nodded.Bookmark here

“I see… Then the next time I go shopping, I’ll make sure to purchase more chocolate milk.”Bookmark here

“Really? Thank you so much.”Bookmark here

She was smiling widely. I was not sure why, but this smile looked better than her other smiles. Since they are all from her I expect them to be similar, but why was this one different. Why was that?Bookmark here

I won’t think about this for long. Bookmark here

“Um, speaking of shopping, would you like to go after I finish with my work tomorrow?”Bookmark here

“Hm?”Bookmark here

She was reaching for another donut. All of them were different flavours, but I doubt she will dislike any of them since they all come from Alente.Bookmark here

I pointed to the open suitcase that was on the floor next to her.Bookmark here

“So, I noticed that some of your clothes, um, are not of the best quality.”Bookmark here

Among the torn male and female pants that were loose-fitting, the slightly tattered tee-shirts, and the pairs of underwear that were either a bit too big or small, the most prominent types of clothing in her wardrobe were hoodies. And all of her clothes seemed thin. She said she has been like this for six months, so she started in the winter seasons of December, January, February. If these are the things she wore, then she undoubtedly experienced moments where she almost froze — that was less of an exaggeration because this country was more northern so winters can be brutally cold. That is rough.Bookmark here

“Shopping…”Bookmark here

“Correct. You should undoubtedly improve your current wardrobe. You know, get higher quality clothes of matching colours and patterns…”Bookmark here

“Oh… N-No, that won’t be necessary. I mean, these clothes are still good. If I just wash them, they’ll be good to use! Ah ha ha…”Bookmark here

She gave off a small timid laugh. Hm…Bookmark here

“I insist. There is no way that you are comfortable with what you currently have.”Bookmark here

“Oh?... Then, o-okay.”Bookmark here

Camryn timidly looked down.Bookmark here

“B-But won't that be… um… expensive?”Bookmark here

I shook my head.Bookmark here

“Not to worry — my income is pretty good.”Bookmark here

Camryn looked at me in disbelief. What is it? Do you doubt that I have a high income? Or did I breach some social rule where a man like me cannot reveal their salary?Bookmark here

“I-Is that so? T-Than... thank you so much!”Bookmark here

With the donut in her hand, Camryn bowed her head.Bookmark here

“Please raise your head, bowing is not necessary.”Bookmark here

Okay, then it is decided — after work tomorrow, Camryn and I will go shopping for clothes. But where should we go? Hm… Probably a mall since there is a lot of variety. How about the Beattie’s Heart Shopping Centre?Bookmark here

Camryn took a bite out of the donut in her hand. The donut was a complete circle and did not have a hole in its centre as the other ones do.Bookmark here

When she bit, she pulled out when she noticed a red fluid coming out.Bookmark here

“Gah, what is this!?”Bookmark here

“Oh, all of the donuts are different flavours. I think you have one with a strawberry filling.”Bookmark here

Camryn gasped and retook that bite.Bookmark here

“Oh, I love strawberries!”Bookmark here

I turned to look at CamrynBookmark here

“Er, d-do not let these donuts distract you from your work.”Bookmark here

“Oh right! Okay, this is my last one for now — I swear!”Bookmark here

I turned my head away from Camryn…Bookmark here

I thought about this young girl before me. I have noticed that at times she can be really childish, but at others, she can be really mature. Constantly thinking about others...Bookmark here

You can resume reading from this paragraph.