Monday, 13 July 2009
03:04:07 AM (GMT)
“Hi there!” The almond-haired girl greeted. “My name’s Anna.”
“And I’m Airin.” Her tag-along answered. It was as if the two were attached at
the hip by an invisible cord.
“Well, you both know my name already..” Autumn looked down at her meal.
The cafeteria was loud, full of chatchitting teenagers gossiping about their summers.
At this table, though, the minutes were passing by awkwardly. Autumn wasn’t eating,
Anna barely was, and Airin was already finished with his lunch, staring off into
Autumn’s clearing throat brought him back to a more immediate place. One that
wasn’t full of inventive ways to hurt Eric. All physical; there was no such thing
as patience when someone had hurt Anna.
“Erm… If you two don’t mind my asking. How come you’re sitting here, instead
of… you know. Not?” Autumn bit her lower lip. She wasn’t used to having people
attempt to befriend her. The last time it had happened—well.
“Well, I’m not exactly mainstream. I’d rather play the piano than listen to the
Top Hits on TV, and would rather spend the day in the park with friends than the
“And I’m the friend. I’d rather listen to Anna play the piano than the Top Hits
on TV, and would rather be forced to go to the park with Anna than spend the day
listening to my friends review the girls they’ve dated.”
“I’ve never had to force you to go to the park!” Anna pouted.
“Er, wow. Are you two dating or something?” Autumn asked, bewildered by the way
“Nah. But our moms might as well be married. They’re always sending us to each
other’s houses to hang out. But it hasn’t happened in the past fourteen years, so
I doubt they’ll be marrying each other anytime soon.” Anna shrugged.
“Thank goodness for that…” Airin whispered. “Wait,” he corrected himself,
“I meant that... Yeah, I don’t have a good explanation.”
“I’ll only let that slip because I have absolutely no idea where it came from.”
Anna frowned, confused.
Autumn’s face only vaguely resembled that of a person who had just had a lemon
squirted into their eye.
“Anna, I think we’re a bit too silly.”
“Oh, no, sorry.” Sterling eyes regained composure. “I just haven’t met two
people who got along so well. Ever.”
“I doubt I have a choice. Airin would probably beat up any new friends I made.”
Anna joked, looking over at Airin. He shrugged.
“I probably would. Not gonna lie.” He raised both hands in defense. “But I’d
be doing it out of love.”
“Remind me to feel bad for whoever you decide to date, Airin.. That’s a lot of
love.” Anna tusked at him.
“Guys? Enough sexual tension for one lunchtime…” The other girl’s turn for a
joke, this time.
“Right.” Airin nodded. Anna was the one who looked confused.
“So anyway… We figured we’d see if you were any different from the rest of the
kids here. Are we in luck?”
“Well, different is my middle name.”
“No, seriously, we want to know.”
“No, seriously? It’s in another language.”
“Hey, are you vegan?” Airin asked, noticing the lack of anything vaguely related
to an animal in front of Autumn.
“Not by choice, I guess. See, my mom was the one that chose my middle name. She
didn’t even get around to explaining what language
it was, or whether or not she made up a language of her own. When she died, the
balanced, pyramid-based diet left with her. Dad’s crazy about the vegan lifestyle.
Probably his way of ‘dealing’ with the loss.”
“You don’t like it?”
“No, I do. I’m just not in the mood to eat. Must be the first day jitters, or
“Oh… Do you mind my asking, what your way of getting over the loss was?”
“Yeah. I think I mind. Can we hold off on that question?” Autumn bit her lip
again. Maybe it was a nervous habit of hers.
“Whatever you say. But to make it fair, you’re not allowed to ask me to the
mall.” The almond-haired girl smiled at the obsidian-haired one from across the
“It’s a deal.” Autumn couldn’t help but smile; these two were really
endearing. This time around, making friends may not have to end so horribly.
“Listen to me, Jason. I highly suggest you quit your job while you’re ahead.
Maybe you only have to teach at a different high school.” A short (though quite
intimidating), stout man’s solemn face turned to face the health teacher. “I tell
you this as a friend, and not as a parole officer.”
“Horace, since when,” Craylin chuckled, “do you pretend to be my friend?”
“Just because you don’t enjoy company-“
“No, I think we both know I enjoy good company. You, on the other hand, are only
around to make sure I don’t slip.
I can assure you that the court won’t be hearing about me slipping up. I’m better
than that, and you know it. I got this job to prove it, and I’m not going to quit
just because the girl shows up again.” The man’s voice was wound like a clock;
“Fine. But remember. It’s my head if you do mess up.”
The door slammed.
“Just how are we cloud watching, Airin?!” Anna interrogated for the umpteenth
time that morning.
“Anna, shhh…” Airin’s entertained smile didn’t falter.
“But the sky is entirely gray!” Anna’s eyebrows were creased in confusion.
“How can we cloud watch, if it’s all just one big cloud!?”
“Anna, I think he’s right.” Autumn smiled up at the sky. “Just enjoy it.”
Autumn had become good friends with the two in the past two weeks. They all shared
one common theory. Being the odd one out wasn’t so bad when there were other people
to do it with.
It only made sense that with the tuning in, Autumn would know just what Airin was
planning. She found it every bit as hilarious as he did.
“Fine.” Anna gave a defeated sigh. The second she relaxed, it happened.
“It’s so much fun to watch rain fall from below it than beside it, don’t you
think, Autumn?” Airin chuckled the words over Anna’s shriek.
“It’s raining, you guys! It’s raining!” Her yelling went by ignored, save for
the silent chuckle or giggle.
“It’s definitely more fun, Airin.” The calmer teens closed their eyes, counting
to three in the silence.
“Jesus Christ!” Another yell. “You guys are going to stay there and let it rain
all over your clothes like that? In the mud?”
“Would you rather we be unclothed, instead?” Airin couldn’t help but laugh as a
frustrated best friend stomped through the lawn, and inside to the comfort of having
a roof over her head.
“Okay, I think we made her mad enough,” another friend rolled her eyes
“Do we have to?” He got a frown in response. “Alright, alright..”
“I can’t believe you guys did that.” Anna grumbled once more, grabbing a
fistful of popcorn.
“Hey. We’re making up for it with dinner and a movie, aren’t we?”
“I wouldn’t constitute popcorn as a dinner.”
“We’re teenagers, Anna. You don’t actually expect us to give you something
nutritious, do you?”
“Well, fine. But a musical doesn’t count as a movie, ei—“
“—Take it back.” Autumn’s hand froze on its way to deliver a piece of popcorn
to her mouth. “Right now, or I’m throwing you out on the lawn again.”
“What?” Anna looked from Autumn to Airin, who only shrugged, and looked back, in
“Anna, we’re watching the Phantom of the Opera.”
“Take it back, and admit that the Phantom of the Opera is every bit as entertaining
as any good movie. If not more.”
“Okay, okay! But only because you’re looking at me like I’m the devil,
reincarnated. Besides, I haven’t even watched it..”
Autumn calmed down, pressing the ‘Play’ button on the remote as Airin laughed
He regretted letting them sit through that movie.
“And in this labyrinth.. Where night is blind… The Phantom of the Opera—“
“Anna, I’m begging you. I understand that it was an amazing movie,” Airin
clasped her shoulder, “but I can’t hear myself think. Please stop singing?”
“…Airin?” Anna put on the most smitten face Airin had ever seen, and looked him
straight in the eyes. He almost couldn't concentrate.
“Think of me. Think of me fondly, when we’ve said goodbye!”
“Remember me once in a while. Please promise me you’ll try!”
“Promise me you’ll stop singing—“
“—When you find that once again, you long to take our heart back and be free. If
you ever find a moment, spare a thought for me…”
“Told you it was good.” Autumn smiled at the twirling Anna while speaking to
Airin. “Trigonometry now?”
“Let’s hope she doesn’t start up a ‘Masquerade’ encore while we’re
“Yeah, but I just think that the Phantom doesn’t look as horrible in the 2004
version. If it were me as Christine, and I were actually in love with two guys, that
Phantom would have a fighting chance..”
“Anna, you’re forgetting that the Phantom is a cold-blooded killer. Being in a
relationship with him would be impossible. He’d murder all of your male friends
–beginning with whoever is Raoul—and move on to your female friends, for fear
you’d end up bisexual.”
“Yeah…” Autumn’s face gathered (or scattered, rather) into a faraway look.
One that Anna was going to question. Unfortunately, Alex chose then to
“Hey, man, how’s it going?” He shook hands—or whatever that movement
“It’s fine, I guess.”
“May I ask who this is?” Alex turned his attention to Autumn. “Haven’t seen
“Alex, this is Autumn.” Anna nodded, and continued to walk, pulling Autumn along
“Why are we walking so fast?!” The girl whispered to her so-called ‘captor’.
“Here.” Anna dragged her sideways, into the girls’ bathroom.
“—Shh!” Anna brought a finger to her lips, then proceeded to bang her wrist
against each stall door.
Two girls stepped out moments later, looking confused.
“Out. Now.” Anna’s authoritative pose (that standard ‘hand-on-the-hip’
look) actually convinced them that they were late for class. Four hands washed and
dried, and the bathroom emptied.
“Okay, what’s going on?” Autumn was thoroughly confused.
“Alex is going on.” Anna brought a hand to her forehead. “No pun intended.”
“But I thought you said popularity didn’t get to his head. Why?”
“That doesn’t mean he doesn’t act the part.” The brunette groaned. “Okay.
Let’s get this straight now.”
“Get what straight?”
“No dating Alex.”
“Oh, okay. When did I say I would? Towel-snapper isn’t exactly my type. You know
“Yeah, towel-snapper isn’t. Autumn, do you want to know a school secret? One that
everyone knows, but won’t say out loud?” Anna didn’t wait for a nod. “Alex
has dated so many of the girls in this school it’s ridiculous.”
“I know Airin and I probably made him seem like a great friend… That’s because
he is. As a friend. Anyone who ventures into the world of ‘more’ gets her fifteen
minutes of fame. But then she’s lucky if anyone doesn’t ‘tsk’ at her anymore
an entire year after the relationship ends.”
“Why’re you acting like I’m already dating him?”
“Because I am.. I just don’t want you to end up like that, okay? Promise me you
won’t pay attention to any of the times he hits on you, or compliments you, or
makes you feel special.”
“Alright, alright. I get the point.” Autumn raised her hands in defense. “Alex
“What’s up with them?” Alex frowned, watching Anna and Autumn walk away.
“Oh, they’re probably going to argue over the movie they watched last night.”
Airin covered for them, fully aware of the conversation Anna was about to have.
“Phantom of the Opera.”
“Oh, God. That movie sucked. Some chick I went out with last year took me to see
it. The prize at the end of the torture was worth it.” Airin ended up with a nudge
to his ribs.
“So, think that Autumn would like me?”
As much as Airin wanted to yell, ‘For Christ’s sake, you just insulted her
favorite movie!’, he didn’t want a fight. Not that he had the religious faith.
“Well, she’s spoken for.” Airin said the only thing he could think of.
“Well…” Alex mistook Airin’s silence for an answer.
“Well, congrats, man! I may just have some competition around here.” Alex
chuckled as he walked away. “Well. Have fun, stay in school, no hope in dope and
“What did I just do…?” Airin thumped his own forehead.
“You did WHAT!?” Autumn took the collar of the boy currently standing in front of
her with a brute force he only knew of the common football players.
“Why are you getting so defensive?”
“He assumed it!”
“And you didn’t think to let him know he was wrong?!”
“C’mon, Autumn! It was the only thing he could come up with.”
“Don’t touch me!” Autumn shook Anna’s hand from her shoulder. “You guys
just don’t get it. You can’t. I can’t do this!”
“You don’t have to do anything, Autumn. People just to think we’re dating,
“That’s the problem!” An angry face made for the front door.
“I can’t decide whether to be really confused, or really insulted.” Airin