I’m an idiot.
Why was lying about my name the first thing that I thought of? Like, am I braindead? What the actual heck is going on here. Also, how exactly did TREVOR NEAT find me? This is so HUMILIAAATIIIIIIIIING.
I’m going to kill mys-
“Maisha, Sana and I are going to the washroom for a few minutes”
NO WAY. Are you serious right now? I gave Sana a look but she got snatched away. I’m cutting everyone off today. Fake friends.
Trevor watched as Jess dragged Sana away by the arm, and then (unfortunately) focused his attention back to me.
“So…. it’s uh… it’s been a while.”
Yea? Well it should've been a little while longer. Ugh this is so awkward. Shoot, what if he thinks I haven’t changed since the third gradeÉ
“I see you’re still not really into public speaking.”
I scowled, “Ha ha very funny.”
He gave me a stupid smirk, “It totally was.”
“Ugh, maybe for you. Hands down one of the most embarrassing moments in my entire life,” I fiddled with my phone case.
AAAAAA I broke it. Damnit.
“Why? We were 8,” he said.
Ok? And? I guess the silence got to him because he felt the need to say;
“Pfft, you haven't changed at all.”
Excuse me? What the heck? Is that really what he thinks of me? Oh no, is that what everyone thinks of me?
He took the case out of my hand and reassembled it. “No… you’re still pretty much the unapproachable smart kid.”
Ugh I hated everything about this conversation. Also, am I really that unapproachable?
“Oh, shut up. I’ll have you know you actually did approach me. Also, how exactly do you know I’m smart? I could be failing my classes right now, don’t make assumptions.”
He pointed to the papers scattered on the table again, “Those are calculus worksheets marked with perfect scores.”
Dammit. I’m so dumb, I should’ve moved those.
“Also that speech from back then was actually really well written.”
HUHHH. He read it? Well that’s even more embarrassing. Not only did I fail to obliterate my assignment, the victim of my actions (no no, he wasn’t a victim) actually read it.
He pulled out a wrinkled piece of paper. No way. That can’t be what I think it is.
“No, you didn’t.”
“Oh… I did.”
Ew, what the heck. That’s kinda creepy.
“It was too well written for me to just throw out, I kinda felt bad,” he turned the paper towards me. “The world’s water crisis, a pretty mature topic for an 8 year old.”
I shuddered, “Ew, put that thing away. Burn it. Throw it out. I really don’t care.”
He laughed, “Maybe I’ll just eat it.”
I did not laugh.
Ok. Maybe I did give the tiniest smile. That one was a little funny.
He folded the paper and set it beside Sana art assignment. “It’s my contribution to the art project.”
I glared at the paper, “What was your speech about?”
Wait, did I just initiate conversation? This is terrible. Why do I even bother speaking? How did we get here? What am I doing with my life?
He looked to the side, embarrassed, “...10 reasons why soccer is the best sport in the world…”
I rolled my eyes and was about to respond until Akaash’svoice suddenly said, “Heyyy Maisha!” I spun around to see him standing beside our table. I swear this kid has the lightest footsteps, I can never hear him approaching.
“Where’s Sana and Jess? I thought you three came together?” He turned to Trevor. “Oh hi! Nice to meet you, I’m Akaash Roy. I go to the same school as Maisha.” He gave him a firm handshake.
“Hey, I’m Trevor Neat.” He nodded towards me, “We went to the same elementary school.”
Akaash’s eyes lit up “Wow really? What was she like-”
Oh hell no.
“WHO’S THAT?” I interrupted, pointing to the tall, very angry looking child beside him. She glared at me and the massacred heap of bread that once could have been identified as a frog.
“Oh, this is Mishti, my younger sister.”
Mishti…. I don’t know if that name really suited her.
I recognized her, “Ohhh, you’re ‘Masuke Ruchiha’, Maruto’s friend-“
“Maruto is MY friend.”
“Isn’t that the-“
I didn’t press the issue any further.
Trevor looked super confused, “...so he’s like a... bootleg naru-”
I put my hand up, “Don’t even. It’s a touchy subject around here.” I turned to Akaash, “Want to contribute something to the art project?”
“Hmm… I don’t have much on me, but here,” he handed me a blue paperclip from his pocket.
Sana and Jess walked towards us. I guess their trip to the “washroom” was over since Akaash showed up.
“Oh my gosh! Hi Kash! I thought you weren’t gonna show up today, super happy that you did though. We haven’t all chatted together for a while. Wow. It's super nice here, perfect for hanging out, right?” She noticed Mishti beside him, “Awwww who’s this?”
“My name’s Mishti Roy. Can you stop talking? your voice is annoying,” she grumbled.
Jess just smiled, “Aww, I love kids, they’re so funny,” She pulled out one of the chairs, “You should sit and chat with us if you’re not busy.”
“Oh sure,” he said, taking a seat beside Trevor.
Mishti snatched her hand away and ran to sit at the frog table and play games on Akaash’s phone.
Scanta noticed our group and came over with a plate of cookies for us to share. Rahim took his work break to join us. It wasn’t nearly as awkward as I thought it would be. It was even kind of nice.
Rahim and Trevor seemed to get along, Jess kept pestering Akaash while he remained obliviously friendly, and I talked to Sana as she finished her art project. We all sat laughing over how Scanta looked like a bald eagle, quietly of course. Trevor asked everyone about where we were headed after graduation. It was nice that I wasn’t the only one who didn’t know what was going on in their life.
Later, Ms. Park and Coco entered the café. Kai, who was at the counter, put his hoodie up and darted out of the vicinity with his stuff, and Scanta took over the counter for him.
Coco glanced our way. As soon as he saw us, his face turned gloomy. I gestured for him to come sit with us. He was our age, and even if we weren't close at all, it felt wrong to exclude him.
He reluctantly left his mother’s side and walked over.
“Oh my gosh! Is that Coco-chan?” Trevor exclaimed.
I gave him a look.
His face turned tomato red. “What?” he whispered, “Everyone knows him. What’s he doing at a café like this?”
I sighed, “He’s a regular here. Don’t be weird, treat him like a normal person.”
Coco took a seat beside me and awkwardly said hi to everyone.
“We’re talking about our plans for next year! What’s yours?” Jess inquired.
“Oh… uh. I’m thinking of dropping an album, maybe…” he paused, “Sorry. You guys are probably asking about things like school and stuff. I’m homeschooled so…”
“Nono! It’s all good. It’s so cool that you're an artist at 18,” Rahim gave him a friendly smile and gestured for him to take a cookie.
Coco’s personality was unexpectedly stiff. He was nothing like the countless interviews, talk shows, and dramas I’d seen him in. He seemed like just another regular boy at the moment.
He timidly took a bite of the cookie, looking to see if his mother was watching him. She was busy yelling… Or maybe she was just talking to Scanta. I guess that was her idea of an indoor voice.
“Speaking of art,” he pointed to Sana’s clock, “Is this like an interactive thing?”
“I guess now it is. Everyone from the café gave something to add to it. Oh, but it’s alright if you don’t! It’s voluntary.”
He took off his very real and expensive looking diamond earring and handed it to her, “Is this ok?”
We all stared at the shiny rock in her palm.
“...uh, yeah…Thank you very much,” she smiled.
His mother trudged over to us, “COCO! WHAT ARE YOU EATING!?”
She slapped the cookie out of his hand. Her eyes did a full circle around the table, examining each one of us, “OH SO I SEE YOU MADE SOME NEW FRIENDS,” her eyes narrowed. He looked a little terrified, the colour drained from his face.
Her eyes locked on the art project.
There was a dramatic pause.
“THAT IS INCREDIBLE!”
Huh? I think we all were expecting a different reaction. Everyone looked at each other with mixed expressions of confusion and relief.
“ABSOLUTELY BEAUTIFUL. WHOSE PIECE IS THIS?” she demanded.
Sana tentatively raised her hand.
“STUNNING, MARVELOUS, BRILLIANT, REMARKABLE, SENSATIONAL. WHAT’S THE TITLE?”
Sana paused to think for a second, “A Second Chance. Because all these items got a seco-“
“IT REALLY DOES SPEAK TO THE SOUL,” Ms. Park put her hand on her heart, “HOW MUCH?”
“Sorry?” Sana looked a little freaked out. I mean, so did the rest of us probably.
“WHAT’S THE PRICE?”
Sana shook her head, “Oh, uh it’s not for sale. It’s just a school project…”
Coco sneakily took another bite of his chocolate chip cookie while Ms. Park was distracted trying to convince Sana to sell the clock to her.
“OH PLEASE, EVERYTHING CAN BE BOUGHT. IF I CAN’T HAVE IT IN MY PERSONAL COLLECTION, I INSIST ON DONATING IT AS AN INSTALLATION FOR THE CAFÉ.”
Scanta had noticed the ruckus and came over to see what the commotion was about. Ms Park turned and glared at him, “THIS PIECE MUST BE HUNG UP.”
He grinned, “Of course, I absolutely agree.”
Everyone turned to look at Sana. Although, at this point, I don’t think she had much of a choice.
“SPLENDID! ARE YOU CERTAIN YOU DON’T WANT TO SELL IT?”
She shrugged, “I don’t mind donating it to the café.”
Ms. Park wasn’t about to take that as an answer. “NONSENSE.” She handed her not one, but two crisp 500$ bills. We all gaped.
“HERE, THIS IS COMPENSATION. ARTISTS MUST BE PAID. DO NOT RETURN IT.”
She turned towards Scanta and gave him a crumpled 20. I had to stifle my laugh.
“I SUPPOSE THIS IS YOUR CUT, I ALREADY DONATE ENOUGH TO THE ESTABLISHMENT.”
Scanta looked ecstatic over the money, and shook her hand, “Pleasure doing business with you! Now, where should we put it?”
She pointed to the middle of the orange dot painting, “THERE.”
He looked delighted, “Excellent choice.”
“I think Sana should do the honours,” Trevor chimed in.
Everyone nodded in agreement.
Scanta happily (a little too happily) drove a nail through the painting and we all watched as she hung the clock. Everyone clapped instinctively, even the people scattered throughout the café.
Sana turned back to our group. “If you guys are free, let’s go for dinner at that Korean BBQ place across the street. My treat,” she waved the two bills, beaming.
Coco took a step back and looked up at his mother.
“You have to come too,” Sana said to him.
Ms. Park raised her eyebrow. “WELL, GO ON THEN.”
“Wait, really?” Coco looked shocked.
“YES, BEFORE I CHANGE MY MIND.”
Rahim looked at Scanta who gave him a thumbs up.
We all grabbed our stuff and ran out of the café.
Today wasn’t so bad after all. Maybe I should give social interaction a second chance.