We Are ☆ Star Club!
As we entered the café Maria had mentioned, I almost died of its cuteness. A figurative cloud of pink glitter wafted in my face, and once I could see clear again, I saw a thoughtful arrangement of pink and white seats at small round tables, barely big enough for the giant desserts the waitresses were carrying. One of them turned towards us and smiled.
"Ah, welcome to our small café! Please, take a seat."
I nodded, still overwhelmed. Arisu instead seemed to feel right at home, watching everything with big, bright eyes.
"This is awesome! Sara, you should decorate your room like this."
While this was nice, I highly doubted I could make my room smell like strawberries and waffles. And I really couldn't afford to have this much glitter stuck to me at all times.
"Isn't it more special because it's not something we usually see?"
Maria sat down at one of the tables.
"Here, look at the menu."
Even the menu had glitter all over it, the desserts illustrated by cute characters. I swallowed hard. This was expensive... no wonder they put gold foil on the prices.
"You know what? I'll invite you both. Thanks to you, we saved our club!," Maria said, still a big smile on her face.
"Are you sure? I mean, this was a group effort..."
"Awesome! Thanks, Maria!"
I wasn't going to say no to a free dessert, but in this price range... But if Maria really wanted to do this, why not? Even the cheaper items on the menu looked wonderful. I just hoped that I could repay her in the future - hopefully, a future where I had this money to spend.
"Do you girls already know what you want to order?"
I turned my head, seeing one of the waitresses standing behind me, a warm smile on her lips and a cat-shaped notepad in her hand. My heart raced. Apparently, the waitresses here not only had some sort of super-human strength to carry the desserts, but also could walk around without making a sound.
"Ah, yes! We'd like three strawberry cream croissants and one kitty cone parfait deluxe, please."
"Sure thing! Anything else?"
"I think that's it for now," she said, handing the menu to the waitress.
The woman took our menus and then twirled around, her cute pinafore dress with a pastel cupcake print spinning. Maria turned her attention back to us.
"So, Arisu, can you show us that thing again?"
She pointed at the tin creature in its comically small UFO, resting on Arisu's shoulder.
"Oh, you mean PURIRIN?"
Arisu wiggled her fingers, and at once, the little creature came to life. It looked sleepy, as if it actually had taken a nap. Somehow, it reminded me of a pet simulating toy I had when I was a kid.
"Yes! It's so cute. Is it alive?"
"Yes, and no?"
"I don't really get it, either. I personally believe it has its own personality."
"Can it die?"
The more Arisu talked about it, the more it reminded me of my lost, egg-shaped pet friend.
She looked shocked. Okay, maybe this isn't something I should ask her. That was incredibly thoughtless.
"I'm sorry, Arisu! I didn't mean it like that! It just reminded me of..."
I started to explain it to her, helplessly. Arisu slowly nodded.
"Well, I don't have to feed PURIRIN, or anything like that. But it keeps me company. It's funny. And it just has so many functions I need in my daily life."
I nodded, slowly.
"You said you could access the internet through it."
"One of its many functions, yes. It's supposed to keep me alive no matter the situation, so..."
"I guess knowing about the internet is vital on this planet."
"Absolutely." Maria poked PURIRIN, making it tumble slowly through the air. "Oh, it even changes colors!"
"I think it's feeling sick," Arisu explained.
The duck-like creature made a protesting beep in return.
"But, yeah. It can probably do more than I even know. At home, we all have one. It helps me keep track of my schedule, I can keep in touch with my family through it..." She made a weird face as she said that. "Oh, and it helps me blend in with you humans. If you don't know how I really look like, you can't even see my hair."
As if to prove it, her hair formed to arm-like appendages again, flailing wildly through the air. I gasped, looking around. But the people around us didn't notice. Not even the waitress, arriving with our food made a comment about it. I guess Arisu is right. Still, what a way to prove her point!
"Here you go. Enjoy!"
With that, she placed a plate with a cute croissant in front of each of us, and a giant parfait dessert glass in the middle of our small table. It looked better than anything I had ever eaten: swirls of different fruit sauces and ice cream, topped with whipped cream and sprinkles, with three long spoons stuck in it. Thankfully, we could share it. I doubted that I would be able to eat something like this on my own. Though my appetite wanted to say something different...
"Well then, bon appétit!"
With that, Maria bit into her croissant, wiping away a bit of cream at the corner of her mouth. Her hair cascaded over her shoulder when she did it, and as always, her lips curved into a soft smile. She really knew how to look pretty. I wish I could do that, too. So nice and cute...
My heart pounded, as I whipped my head around to look at Arisu, who was experiencing some kind of shock. It took me a second to figure out that the ice cream had to be the source of it, as Arisu apparently had taken a big bite right out of it.
"Cowld..." Arisu mumbled, her hair thrashing about.
"Oh, no! Here, here."
Maria started to smooth her hair down, and after a moment, I helped her. At least it didn't seem like she needed medical attention. Maybe the cold was really bad for her?
"Are you okay?"
Arisu nodded slowly, her hair laying around her.
"You shouldn't eat it like that, here, take a spoon..."
Her eyes sparkled, and before we could stop her, she took another bite right out of it.
Just like before, her hair was going in all directions. But even like that, she had a big grin on her face. I exchanged a helpless look with Maria before we helped her calm down again.
"Arisu, please, just take the spoon and eat it like this. See?"
Maria took one of the spoons and ate a little bit, but Arisu seemed disinterested.
"That's not fun."
"Well, getting brain freeze isn't fun either, is it?"
"Brain freeze?" She tilted her head. "What a funny word for that."
"It describes it quite well, don't you think? Here..."
Maria slid one of the spoons towards her.
Arisu looked at it, as if really considering it. Then, she shook her head.
"I'm okay with freezing my brain. It's worth it."
And she bit down again.
Again, I exchanged a look with Maria. This time, she only smiled, before shrugging.
"I think we should eat it too, before it melts down. Arisu's made her choice."
Still, it was probably the weirdest way to eat ice cream that I had ever seen. Arisu only stopped doing it once we had eaten enough that she couldn't easily reach it with her face. She picked up the spoon, but it was clear that it wasn't nearly as enjoyable for her as before. Still, after we had eaten everything, she had a big grin on her face.
"That was the best! Thanks, Maria!"
"Ahaha. No need to thank me. I'm just glad you liked it."
"How could I not like it? I just wish it wasn't served in such an unpractical way," Arisu huffed.
That made me laugh.
"Hm? What is it?"
"You're a bit weird," I explained myself, "But I think that goes for all of us, too."
Outside, it was getting dark already.
"Hey, when can we do this again?"
Arisu looked back inside the café, watching the customers getting served with a hungry look in her eyes.
"As soon as we have something else to celebrate," I said.
But maybe she was right. Maybe every day was worth celebrating.