Chapter 8:

Not Even Honey Butter Chips

Corruptions Are Best Exposed In The Autumn!

“Get up, we have to go to work!”

A finger stabbed my forehead as I struggled to open my eyes.

“Ugh, that hurts!”

A wave of drowsiness overwhelmed me, and I turned to my side to sleep some more.

“I said…”

Man, did I wish I was in my own bed instead of a cheap sleeping bag.

“Get the fuck up for work!”


Lily jumped up and landed with her full bodyweight on me, stabbing my side with a shooting elbow. It’s as if she was trying to shatter my ribs. Raising her hand up to my squinting face, she then flicked my eyes as if trying to make me go blind.

“C’mon, just a few more minutes.”

Despite my complaining, I rubbed my eyes and sat up. The room light was already blasting into my vision, causing me to mumble some more.

“You should be lucky I’m even letting you stay here for two weeks!”

Ugh, that’s right…

Mrs. Tren really wasn’t joking that day:

“You are suspended from living on my property… for two weeks!”

She really meant it. What the fuck.

It had already been three days since my two-week sentence began; perhaps Lily felt bad about the way I was punished by my landlord, so she reluctantly offered to house me during the period of my suspension.

With the strength of a bull, Lily pulled off the sleeping bag from under me, exposing my feet to the cold air flowing in from the open window. I quivered and pulled myself into a ball.

“What time is-”

“It’s already 7 AM!”


I scratched my nape and glanced at Lily with my eye still half-open. “It’s so early still… why did you wake me up so-”

“Shut up!” Lily screamed into my ear, sending a jolt across my body. “What, did you live snobbishly when you were rich too?! You’ve got to wake up at a healthy time!”

“Well,” I stared at the clothing in my luggage, which I hadn’t even unpacked yet. “It would help if you could leave my room so I can change.”

Lily blushed and rushed out the door. “F-Fine, hurry up!”

Sighing while reaching for my black jeans, my phone suddenly buzzed loudly. Once I slotted my pants and shirt on, I picked up my device to check notifications. An instant glimmer engulfed my face: a message from my bank that I had been paid.

“Wait…” Checking my bank account on my phone, my smile turned into a beaming smirk. Thanks to the money I saved up, I could now afford a new laptop. I rushed out of the room to brush my teeth in Lily’s washroom - because of the extra time I had, an idea popped into my mind.

“Lily, I’m going to stop by the mall first. I’ll meet you at the café.”


She paced down the hall from the kitchen, where she was sitting with her parents. “Why are you going to the mall?”

“I can afford a laptop now!” I exclaimed while rinsing my mouth.

“Just go buy it after work!”

“But the store has early bird deals that are gone by noon! I’m sure Lora and Julian will let me put it somewhere in the back while we work.”

Lily pouted but gave in: “Fine. Just come for breakfast already.”

“O-Okay,” I murmured, following Lily down the hall. Dining with Lily’s parents wasn’t exactly the most exciting event in the world.

“Kai,” her father, who sat across from my seat at the table, was double the size of me and bore a muscular physique that rivaled Julian’s. He delivered the usual morning death stare; his presence was like a brawny bear ready to maul me into flesh and bones. “Fancy some coffee?”

“Yes, thank you Mr. Meyer.”

“Have some biscuits and bread rolls,” Her mother, albeit friendlier, spilled out an aura of terror if one were to hop on her bad side.

“Thank you again,” I gulped and sat down. “And sorry for the trouble.”

“No worries at all,” Mrs. Meyer produced a glimmering smile, which I knew never lasted long. The images of their faces upon seeing my arrival three days ago were still vividly in my brain:

“Kai… Darak?”

My legs felt glued to each other; I couldn’t have tightened my body any harder. I truly wanted to disappear. In front were Lily’s parents, Mr. and Mrs. Meyer, who opened the door of their small apartment to greet me.

“Yes,” I answered.

“Well, can you let us in?” Lily, who stood next to me in her usual smug demeanor, patted my shoulders. “We’ve got a stray dog needing some shelter for the next two weeks.”

Mrs. Meyer smiled, but her twitching eyebrows spoke otherwise; she was clearly hiding a scowl. “W-Why, welcome! We heard the story over the phone, so no need to explain yourself.”

“Hmph,” Mr. Meyer didn’t even bother hiding his frown. The rolled-up newspaper in his large, claw-like hands crunched up. Was I next?

“And give me this,” Lily took my small luggage and backpack. “We have a small guest room that’s usually used for storage, but you can stay there for the time being.”

Now that we w ere three days into the ordeal, I found my life completely shifting gears: a different sleep schedule, a yelling alarm clock (Lily), and constant menacing stares as if I was in a horror movie.

“Say, Kai, what are your plans for the near future?” Mr. Meyer placed his newspaper down on the table and closed his eyes while sipping his coffee.

“I…” Finishing my bite of the bread roll, I closed my hands and placed them on my lap out of politeness. “Plan to start from the ground up.”

Ones of Mr. Meyer’s eyes popped open, and the sipping of his mouth halted. “From the ground up?” He asked.

“Y-Yes,” my eyes met his; this time showing more determination. “I will not let this substantial debt of mine keep me down. I will do my best to build a life and network by myself without my father’s help.”

“I see, how interesting…” He placed his cup down, and without batting an eye at me again -

“Lily! I told you not to buy these fucking bread rolls, they’re too expensive!”

Mr. Meyer completely switched topics. A drop of sweat flowed down the side of my forehead, but more out of comical relief. I smiled and kept my hands against my lap. There was one thing I forgot to mention: Lily’s family wasn’t exactly swimming in dough. Having an extra storage room to house me in the first place was nothing short of a miracle.

“S-Shut up! The new job I got at Muller’s Blend pays decently!” Lily crossed her arms and looked away. A vein almost popped out of her fuming head.

“Yeah, but you could’ve just bought regular-ass bread! You’re still a student, so live cheaply!”

“Well sorry for buying some food that actually tastes good!”

“And what about these chips?!” Mr. Meyer reached into the cupboard of their kitchen counter, pulling out a yellow bag of chips the size of my own backpack. “What the fuck is ‘honey butter’ flavor anyway?!”


“Um,” My smile, ever ubiquitous whenever this father-daughter rumble occurred in the Meyer household, was still on my face. “I bought that for you guys to try, Mr. Meyer.”

But instead of gratitude, Mr. and Mrs. Meyer both gawked at me with their jaws dropping to the table. “Son, aren’t you in millions of debt?! Why are you bringing home luxury potato chips?! These are three times the price of regular-”

“Just eat it!” Lily screamed so loud that I swear my landlord could’ve heard that despite being miles away. “Kai bought it already, so just eat it for fucks sake!”

She then swiped the bag from her father’s hands, tore it open, and shoved a chip into her father’s mouth.

“Mmmm!” Mr. Meyer exclaimed. “These... are quite good!”

“My, let me try!” Mrs. Meyer reached her hand into the bag as well.

“Uhm, may I excuse myself?” I raised my hand, stopping the pig-ignorant commotion. Lily and her parents froze with their mouths stuffed with chips. “I’d like to head out early so I can check out the mall, if that’s okay.”

“Ah, yes, go ahead.”

“Great, thanks!”

“Ah wait-” Lily stood up, stopping me from leaving by grabbing my sleeve.

“Lily!” Ms. Meyer frowned. “Let him go. You still have to finish registering for your courses by noon today.”

“F-Fine,” Lily pouted and sat back down while letting me go.

Ah right, she’s still a student in college after all, unlike me.

After dashing back to my room to grab my coat, I opened the Maps application on my phone and searched for the location of my nearest electronics store. Picking up my wallet, I whistled a happy tune while putting on my pair of brown boots, which were the only casual shoes I had.

Peeking over one last time before heading out the front door, my eyes caught the most bizarre scene: Lily’s parents were feeding each other potato chips like pets, and Lily could barely keep her eyes open and head up while browsing her laptop.

The Meyer family may be quite strange, but…

They’re a caring, down-to-Earth bunch. I thought while opening the door.

The weather was as cloudy as usual, but the chilly winter winds weren’t friendly at all. I tightened the scarf around my neck and kept my hands inside my coat pockets while waiting for the bus at the stop. The streets were less crowded than usual due to the cold weather, but the roads were still trampled with cars and trucks.

By the time the bus arrived, all the seats were taken, and just like any other workday morning, I found myself hanging onto the last grab handle available near the front of the bus. It couldn’t have been better timing; the endless potholes covering our roads like parasites made it a bumpy ride, and I accidentally rammed into the person next to me. Man, were we riding down endless speed bumps or what?

“Sorry,” I said to the lady.

“Oh, it’s you, the… barista man.”

Who could’ve guessed the one who stood next to me in the middle of the aisle was none other than Rin.

“Oh!” I rapidly blinked, unable to come up with a better greeting. “H-Hi!”

Rin wore a large brown fur coat and was holding onto the grab-handle next to mine. Strapped around her shoulder was a cute black and white purse, and her black boots were quite visible below her blue jeans.

“Are you going to work?” she asked, continuing the conversation. I took a deep breath.

“Yes, but I’m going to make a brief stop,” I answered while portraying a wide grin. “I’m going to the electronics store to get myself a new laptop.”

“I see.”

A brief silence fell between us. I looked away awkwardly, unsure why there was a pause. Was my answer odd? Or was it just plain, and the conversation had ended? Another large bump rattled everyone in the bus and caused a few standing passengers to slam into me, but my mind was too distracted. Finally, just as I was about to ask her something back -

“I’m actually… going there as well.”

Rin broke the silence first. Her voice softened, and I couldn’t help but direct my gaze back. This was completely different from her loud personality back at the café a few weeks back.

Why did it take so long for her just to say that?

Perhaps she didn’t want me to join her shopping spree?

“Oh, awesome! What are you looking to buy?”


Rin darted her eyes around and brought her hand to her mouth, as if unsure what to say. I stared, perplexed as ever. Did she forget what she was going to buy?

“J-Just some new shin pads!”

My stare continued.

“The electronics store sells shin pads?”

“I-I mean earphones!” she corrected herself with a face rose red and her hands waving at me as if trying to wipe away my memory.

“Oh, I see then!” I played along, pretending as if her previous answer was just a fluke.

What on Earth is going on with her?

The bus, now finally out of concussions to give thanks to the smoother road, came to a halt at the station. Both of us departed and proceeded to the mall, but I found myself unable to look away from Rin. Her slim, pretty figure was visible even through her brown coat.

“Oh, by the way,” I gulped, having wanted to ask this for the entire bus ride. “Are you on good terms now with your boyfriend Elias?”

Rin, next to me and matching my pace, threw her hands in her coat pockets. Her warm puffs of breath looked like steam, and they were as visible as mine. “Actually, I broke up with him.”