It was currently lunch, and I was sitting in the cafeteria. Bailey was free and decided to accompany me — or as she put it, she ‘graced me with her almighty company’.
Bailey’s fiery red hair contrasted with the grey outfit she was wearing.
“This isn’t a question or anything, but do you remember our old days at Laurent High School?”
Laurent High School is the old high school that Bailey, Connie, Valerie, and I attended. It is not located here in Tronito, but rather located in a separate city located about 2-3 hours away by car. The education system in this country works so that high school is split into four years, and we stayed there for all four years.
“Ah, good times, right?”
“Like the uniforms, right? They were a bit bland, but they were pretty stylish, don’t you think?”
“And our teachers, right? They were all nice… Especially Mrs Torrez!”
Bailey cast her eyes downwards. I do not think they were in sadness, but rather in frustration…
Bailey suddenly leaned forward and slapped me on the cheek. I saw this coming, so I quickly put my eating utensils down.
“Hmph! Sorry Ren, I just remembered something that happened and got pretty agitated by it… I know you told me to forget about it, but it’s still pretty frustrating when it comes to my mind every now and then!”
Oh, she’s talking about that, isn’t she…
“I see… Well, I’m sure it’ll disappear entirely from your mind eventually.”
Bailey leaned on her hand and flashed a small puzzled smile at me.
“You know, you’ve been pretty chatty recently.”
“Yeah… Meh, but it’s not like I care or anything…”
She crossed her arms and turned her head away.
About an hour after my conversation with Mr Li, we were all working. Alan and I were standing at the front desk, Elyssa was cleaning tables and the windows, Mr Li was preparing something in the kitchen, and Valerie was doing some paperwork in the staff room.
“...And Camryn, that is why I think, despite the Mineto T-Form being a weaker console compared to its competitors, will be the better console!”
I nodded in genuine interest as Alan finished his explanation. Over the days that I’ve gotten to know him, I learned that he has a big interest in technology — to the point where he wants to pursue computer science when he graduates. I think a contributor to his interest is the fact that he enjoys video games and the culture surrounding it.
Alan and my eyes sparkled with passion.
“I mean, it makes sense, right? On top of it being portable, the uniquely shaped T-Form controllers have accelerometers, gyroscopes, infrared cameras, and NFC sensors. With just a little creativity, I think games that go beyond just skillful button presses can be made, enhancing user experience!”
Even though I don’t have much experience with gaming consoles, with what he told me and the links he texts me to watch when I’m at home, I think I have gained enough knowledge to properly carry this conversation.
“But it’s targeted to the more casual audience, right? Because of that, the more serious audience won’t want to try it out, right?”
“This is more of a software thing, but many developers are dishing out games for this console. The console has a variety of games for many different types of gamers.”
“True, but wouldn’t the performance power of the console affect that? Many developers usually make their games available on multiple platforms, and since their performance powers are greater, wouldn’t consumers buy those versions instead?”
“Oh, ho, ho… The T-Form also has the advantage of being portable! The game is given an additional feature when on this console.”
“I see… So, high-performance games can be played on the go. Oh, and a laptop is also portable, but the console is more fit for it… Wait, but people who play these more intense games don’t usually play portably, right? Like, they usually play on bigger screens and such… Oh, and for story-based games, playing portably kinda hinders the experience…”
“Hm, good point… But-”
“Oi Alan, shut up with your nerd language!”
I also learned that Elyssa doesn’t like it when Alan talks extensively about tech. Elyssa has the decent amount of knowledge of tech that a girl her age needs, but it’s nowhere near Alan’s level. Elyssa’s knowledge of tech is the size of an orange, while Alan’s is a cantaloupe. And compared to both of theirs Mr Li’s knowledge is that of a grape. As for me… I think mine is a small cantaloupe on its stem that might grow to be the same size as Alan’s.
“Nah, shush, Alan! You’re soiling my poor Cammy with your nerd speak!”
N-Not really, this is actually pretty interesting.
Wait, ‘Cammy’? Is that supposed to be my name? Er… I never really understood it when Elyssa said that the name Lily makes her feel young, but now I do — I don’t even have a history with her name for me!
“And Lily, aren’t you supposed to be cleaning right now?
“What? Hell yeah I did! I rushed to tell you off!”
“Oh, uh, well… G-Good job I guess…”
Alan hesitantly raised his thumb. I think he purposely acts differently than what's expected with the mood to throw Lily off.
“A-Anyways, I think you should-”
“Hey, what’s up Alente Bistro!?”
Alan’s eyes widened.
He quickly ducked under the counter.
The voice that just rang out now was a familiar one. It was friendly, but personally, it was a bit much… This man was a little shorter than Ren and was wearing a rather casual getup with shorts and a colourful shirt… This man was Connie…
“Ah, Elyssa, how are you doing?”
“Oh, da- I-I mean…”
Elyssa forcibly smiled.
“H-Hello sir, welcome to Alente Bistro! If you’d like to order something, please order at the front desk…”
“Pretending not to know me? Oh, you’re so cold Elyssa.”
“Yeah, and there’s probably a reason behind it too…”
“Oh, I missed a spot while cleaning! Better get to it!”
Elyssa ran to the other side of the restaurant.
While showing off an amused look, Connie turned his head towards me. His look suddenly switched to a look of perplexion.
“Oh? Well, if it isn’t Camryn… I didn’t know you were working here! How are you!”
“Oh, I’m good, thank you! Welcome to Alente Bistro, how may I help you?”
After a while and experience dealing with customers here at Alente, I’m a bit more relaxed with talking with him.
“Oh, nothing much. I see Mr Li back there — hey Li!”
Connie waved and Mr Li waved back.
“Ah… Oh! Since it’s this group of people, is Alan here?”
I discreetly looked down and saw Alan aggressively shaking his head and mouthing no. Then I’ll say yes! Not… It would have been a harmless joke, but I don’t know the situation. Is Connie looking for Alan to extort money out of him or something? I doubt it — and I don’t know, but it feels illegal.
“No, not right now…”
“Ah, I see… Perhaps I should just wait here for him.”
I felt someone shaking my leg. Alan probably wanted to tell me something, but I think Connie would see if I looked down. So, should I lie?
“Oh, you don’t have to. Besides, he won’t be back until, um, a long time.”
“That so? Yeah, that’s fine. Besides, I can stay here for as long as I need to — after all, I do live here.”
He what? He lives here? But this is a restaurant… Oh wait, he probably means the apartment building above us, right? Okay… It’d be a different story if he meant the bistro.
“You live here?..”
“Correct! You see, I-”
From the side came a gasp and an excited voice. Did Valerie hear Connie’s voice from the staff room? Well, Connie’s voice does stand out, so of course, she’d hear it. And she’s also related to Connie, so of course, she’d recognize it.
Valerie ran towards Connie and… hugged him, what? Well, there aren’t many customers right now, so it’s fine. But that type of greeting is a bit much, right? Well, they’re cousins that were classmates, so of course, they’d be close.
“Welcome back, dear!”
They’re just really close…
“Ah, I’ve missed you so much!”
“Oh, honey… I love you!”
They’re just really really close.
Then, Valerie went on her tiptoes and started kissing Connie passionately while he wrapped his arms around her lower back.
Gah, wait, I’m pretty sure that’s illegal!
“Don’t worry about these two chewing on each other’s faces, Camryn…”
Beside me was Elyssa. She leaned onto the front desk and raised her voice.
“They’re just a couple of idiots that enjoy flaunting their love to everyone and causing despair!”
While still hugging each other, they turned so that Connie’s back was to us. Valerie smiled at Elyssa over Connie’s shoulder.
“Oh, calm down Elyssa — we can’t help it that we love each other so much. Besides, it's better than your virtual computer boyfriend.”
“Hey, he’s not virtual, it’s called communicating through the internet, boomer!”
I’m so confused right now… Valerie and Connie are having a make-out session in the middle of the restaurant, and Alan is hiding under the counter… They love each other so much, huh? But they’re cousins, aren’t they? Do they really love each other that much? Hm…
Oh wait, I’m an idiot.
“Um, Valerie? A-Are you and Connie…”
“Oh, you know Connie?”
“Oh, yeah. We met one day when Ren and I were shopping at Beattie’s Heart.”
“Oh, I see…”
Connie broke from Valerie and stood beside her, still with his arm wrapped around her.
“Camryn, I think I know what you’re about to ask. Yes, Valerie and I are married!”
I never officially confirmed what their relationship was, so I was always assuming that they were cousins. Married huh? Actually, I think that makes way more sense than what I guessed — I think Connie even mentioned that he was married. Why did it never come to my mind?
The two both happily raised their hands and showed the back of them to me. They were both wearing matching light grey-coloured rings.
“We’ve been married for three years already!”
Twenty-five minus three, so twenty-two? Did they get married at twenty-two? As Alan would say, it’s a marriage speedrun! But four years after high school? Weren't they, or more so Connie still in university? Were their parents rich? It was also when Alente Bistro was doing well, so maybe they got the money from there…
“We aren’t newlyweds, but thanks!”
Connie and Valerie turned to each other.
“So, my little bundle of loveliness, how have things been?”
“Just lovely dear! Oh, I hope you aren’t too tired from work.”
“What, oh, no, no. Just knowing that working supports you makes it all so worth it! But how about you babe? You run a business, so you’re obviously working twice as hard as me.”
“Like you said, knowing that working supports you makes it all worth it. But it can be tough sometimes — especially since you aren’t here.”
“Oh, I’m sorry… But I’ll come to relieve you any time.”
“Oh, same for you, dear… I-”
Ah, so much cringe! I can tell that they love each other and that it’s genuine, but still! Thankfully, Elyssa interrupted the chocolate and roses flying between them.
“Oh my gosh, please stop!”
Elyssa ran to them and started pushing them towards a door in the corner. I was told they were stairs to the apartment building.
“Yeah, yeah, we can see that you love each other very much and you’re getting excited for each other. Go upstairs before your feelings escalate or whatever…”
“Oh, are we making you uncomfortable, Elyssa?”
“Unbelievably! Now go and get out of here!”
The couple chuckled and spoke in unison.
“Oh my gosh, j-just leave!”
With a slam of the door from Elyssa, Valerie and Connie ascended the stairs. Elyssa angrily walked back to us with a ‘good grief’ look on her face.
I could hear a small chuckle coming from Mr Li in the back.
“Ack, they’re so annoying! They’re not really that clingy with each other, but they usually act that way when I’m around. Damn Connie… It’s because they both laugh at the fact that I met my boyfriend online!”
I mean, an online meeting is abnormal… Does it have something to do with the age difference? Well, it’s only eight years, so maybe not...
Alan rose from under the counter.
“Oh, is he gone?”
“Alan? Oi, what were you doing to Camryn down there!?”
“Calm down, I was only hiding…”
I turned to Alan.
“Hiding from Mr Capperman…”
I tilted my head.
“Mr Capperman is an authority figure at my school…”
“Not just that, he’s the principal.”
“I know… I want to keep our relationship at a distance suitable for a student and a principal, so I didn’t want to talk to him right now…”
Wow… I can’t believe that manchild has a high-ranking authoritative job. Principal, huh? He’s basically in charge of the school that Alan attends, right? I never would have guessed — again, my first impression of him was that he was a frivolous manchild…