Chapter 32:

(Sana) Haute Couture? Avant Garde?

Cafe Eris


I slammed my hand around my desk trying to find my phone. Ugh. I need to change my alarm. I shut it off and opened Binstagram to see a string of texts from Maisha:Bookmark here

3:17 AM - “Hey it’s pretty late and I don’t want to bother you but I don’t know if I want to go into statistics anymore :(“Bookmark here

3:17 AM - “Like maybe I should've done something else. Psychology sounded interesting, or maybe pre med like Akaash is doing. He keeps talking about the career opportunities”Bookmark here

3:18 AM - “I really don’t know anymore.”Bookmark here

Poor thing. This was the fifth time she was ranting about it this month. That day at the café must have really stuck. Bookmark here

3:22 AM - “I’m regretting my choices right now and ever since a month ago, like when Rahim showed up after u guys left and he got hired and everything idk. Like I'm happy for him but maybe I wasted highschool. What if I saved money and went to collage instead for something practical. But idk if i could even do that yk? Also my parents would be high key PISSED”Bookmark here

3:23 AM - “*collage”Bookmark here

3:23 AM - “*COLLEGE omg I can’t spell”Bookmark here

3:26 AM - “lol idk what i’m doing”Bookmark here

3:39 AM - “Also you’re probably asleep, sorry about this :(“Bookmark here

3:43 AM - “Wait, is this outfit cute?”Bookmark here

*photo attachment*Bookmark here

4:01 AM - “Sorry one more thing. Idk how I feel about Jess asking to come over and stuff. Ik you get what i mean since we both live in the same area but I don’t think i’m comfy with it. Also the whole thing with her and Akaash. Yea idk. He’s the densest person ik. I don't want her to get her feelings hurt again”Bookmark here

4:12 AM - “i just feel like it’s not”Bookmark here

And then it stops. She probably fell asleep.Bookmark here

Jessica also left me with messages from yesterday night.Bookmark here

11:43 PM - “Heyyy you see Akaash tomorrow right? 4 that sc meeting? Can u ask him if he’s free Thursday at lunch? Also do yk if he’s going to café Eris tmrw?”Bookmark here

12:08 AM - “wait am I being too clingy :/“Bookmark here

12:09 AM - “no, right?”Bookmark here

12:10 AM - “i don’t want him to think i’m annoying. Sorry. you go to sleep early. We’ll talk tomorrow. Byeeee”Bookmark here

I texted “no worries, we’ll talk today :)” to both and opened the group chat. Bookmark here

Jess <3: “Guyssss, let’s go to café Eris after school tmrw”Bookmark here

Maisha_Ali: “sure”Bookmark here

I texted backBookmark here

Sanaaaaaa!: “I’m cool with that :D”Bookmark here

I dragged myself out of bed to brush my teeth and shower. I quietly checked on my dad who was still sleeping after a long night shift. It was 7 in the morning, so I still had plenty of time before school started and the craziness of the day caught up to me. I made two servings of waffles, leaving some for my dad when he woke up. Even if dressing warmly is comfortable, winter time was a hassle. I didn’t want to catch a cold so I sat waiting for my hair to dry, and I saw that Akaash had texted me:Bookmark here

8:15 AM - “Hey, friendly reminder to bring the printed meeting notes for today. Also I heard from someone in another class that our art projects are being checked for progress today.”Bookmark here

I was pretty much done anyway. I texted back my word of thanks, grabbed my house keys, and headed out.Bookmark here

School went as usual. Everyday was more or less the same. I took notes in class, and attended whatever extracurricular meeting at lunch. Akaash said he might drop by the café as well, but he wasn’t sure. I met up with Jess and Maisha near the main entrance.Bookmark here

“Ooooo cute outfit!” exclaimed Jess.Bookmark here

“Aw, thank you,” I smiled halfheartedly.Bookmark here

Maisha nodded in agreement, “That’s the sweater you got from Top Bopit right? It looks good.” She pointed to the plastic bag in my hand, “What’s all that?”Bookmark here

I sighed, “Art materials.”Bookmark here

They both groaned knowingly.Bookmark here

“Dude, Ms. Garnier is really fun and all, but she lowkey scares me,” Jess said.Bookmark here

I nodded, “It’s due tomorrow and she doesn't even like my concept. Whatever.”Bookmark here

Jess rolled her eyes, “Oh please, she’s probably gonna be like ‘it's not haute couture enough’, whatever that means,” she waved her hand around, mimicking our teacher.Bookmark here

“Girl, that’s not even the right term. It’s avant garde... Wait, aren’t you French?” Maisha said, raising her eyebrow.Bookmark here

“Maybe like 5 generations ago. The only thing French about me is my last name.”Bookmark here

Maisha shrugged, “Fair enough.”Bookmark here

We caught the bus to the café and as soon as we walked in, an overjoyed Rahim rushed towards us with a plate of bread in the shape of a very fat frog.Bookmark here

“I don’t know if this is allowed, but here, have some free frog bread. Freshly baked.” he said, proudly presenting it to us.Bookmark here

Maisha gave him a tiny appreciative smile, “Thanks.”Bookmark here

“No problem. Do you guys want me to take your order? No rush.”Bookmark here

“Sure. I’ll have a hot chocolate,” I looked at Jess, “Two hot chocolates?”Bookmark here

She nodded in approval. Bookmark here

“Ok, two hot chocolates and-”Bookmark here

“A plate of butter tarts, we haven't tried them yet,” Maisha added.Bookmark here

Rahim’s face lit up and he skipped away.Bookmark here

We sat in the usual reading corner. Bookmark here

“Oh my god… this is actually really good…” said Jess with a mouthful of the bread. She scanned the café, probably looking for Genu. He was wearing nicer pajamas today, cozily tucked away in the far right corner. As always, his back was to the wall so you could never see his screen.Bookmark here

Jess got up, “I’ll be back in a few.” She walked over to Genu and they greeted each other. Bookmark here

It was an unexpected combo but Jess had a way of being friends with everyone. She was just charismatic like that. Bookmark here

I took out my ugly art project and started working on it. It was a janky - but still functioning - clock made from things people use throughout their lives. It had miscellaneous items like camera parts, zippers, buttons, and a toothbrush (new of course). I picked up the plastic fork beside me and glued it as the big hand. Bookmark here

I glanced at Maisha who was picking at the now deformed frog bread. “Hey, sorry I didn’t reply to your texts sooner.”Bookmark here

“Nono! Don’t apologize, it was literally 3 AM. Also, I vent to you like every two minutes.”Bookmark here

I laughed, “Don’t worry about it, we can talk if you want.”Bookmark here

“No it’s okay,” She stabbed a fork into the bread. Bookmark here

She chewed in silence for a bit. Then she spoke again.Bookmark here

“...Ok, actually, you already know I’ve been super stressed over what’s gonna happen next year, right? Like starting university and all. Jess figured it out by default since her whole family is in law anyways. You were smart to take a gap year to work, and…” The frog's limbs had been ripped off by this point.Bookmark here

I stopped working on my project.Bookmark here

“Hmm… I felt like it was the best option for me. I don’t really enjoy school, even though I might technically be good at it. Your grades are stellar though, like, you can pretty much excel at any program. Just try things out in the first year and you can figure it out from there. It’s normal to change plans throughout.”Bookmark here

Rahim walked up to us with the hot chocolate and tarts. Bookmark here

“You know, this is kind of morbid,” I said to him, pointing to the dismembered frog bread.Bookmark here

“I know, I didn’t really think of that when I made it. For some reason Scanta lets me keep it on the menu, and the kids especially love it.”Bookmark here

I gave him a concerned look. He glanced at my art project and gave me one back. Bookmark here

“Hey, where’s Jessica?”Bookmark here

Maisha pointed to the corner where Jess and Genu were talking up a storm about who knows what. Bookmark here

Rahim’s face contorted into confusion. He picked up the hot chocolate and carried it over.Bookmark here

Maisha bit into one of the butter tarts and made a face. Bookmark here

“Is it not good?” I asked.Bookmark here

She sighed disappointedly. “It’s amazing.” She slid the plate towards me.Bookmark here

I took a bite. They really were.Bookmark here

I shook the crumbs from my hands, “I guess this is a bittersweet experience for you.”Bookmark here

“I guess. I’m really happy for him. Genuinely. He dropped the courses he was struggling with and took easier ones so that he can actually finish school. But seeing that, I guess it feels like I wasted my highschool experience by just studying the whole time and stressing over what comes next.”Bookmark here

I completely understood what she meant. “Oh I get that. But you had fun right? I’m positive you’ll figure it out when the time comes.”Bookmark here

She smiled and handed me her small glass ring, “Here, it’s my contribution to your project.”Bookmark here

“Are you sure? This is really nice…”Bookmark here

She nodded.Bookmark here

The bald man I see around here all the time, I think he’s the owner, came over with a tin of blue glass shards. “Nice art project! It’s very expressive, unlike the weird paintings Tristan put up.” he wrinkled his nose but went back to smiling right away, “Here, you can use these in it.”Bookmark here

“Oh. Thank you so much,” I said, taking the tin.Bookmark here

But he didn’t stop there.Bookmark here

He clapped his hands, “Hey listen up everyone! If anyone has something they’d like to contribute to this student’s very special art project, please place it in the bin beside the front counter! Small items are preferred. Thank you!” Bookmark here

Maisha buried her face behind her hands out of embarrassment. Bookmark here

“Thanks,” I said, a little taken aback, but grateful nonetheless.Bookmark here

“No problem!” he pranced away to some room in the back of the café.Bookmark here

I watched as people slowly got up and dropped various items into the bin. It was kind of wholesome. A little heartwarming honestly. Genu added a computer chip, a lady in a trenchcoat and the man beside her contributed a fountain pen. The cashier with orange hair placed what looked like a bus ticket. Some little kid put in a bee carcass. Might have to pass on that last one.Bookmark here

Jess dropped a scrunchie and came over to our table. “I’m baaaack!”Bookmark here

She paused, her smile disappeared. “Maisha? What's wrong?”Bookmark here

I noticed the horrified look on her face.Bookmark here

“Hey... Are you okay??”Bookmark here

She shook her head. Her eyes were wide and they flit around the room nervously. Bookmark here

I turned to see what she was looking at.Bookmark here

There was a boy our age walking towards us. He looked normal, maybe even a little attractive.Bookmark here

“No freaking way,” she muttered under her breath. “No way Trevor Neat is here right now.”Bookmark here

You can resume reading from this paragraph.