Day 16—Coffee Shop After School
They were all sitting inside Wyndow, calming sipping their drinks or eating the food they had brought or bought. Light streamed through the windows, giving the entire establishment a feel of hominess. Sadie sat in one of the many comfortable armchairs while Henna perched on the arm. Monty had claimed another armchair and Nikolas was sitting on the wood floor, his back supported by Monty’s chair. Leonard was leaning against a table and only Garrick had the sense to sit on a real chair. Gentle music played out of semi-hidden speakers.
Leonard sipped his drink. “What station is he playing?” he asked.
“It’s not a station, it’s Spotify,” Garrick answered.
Leonard frowned. “You know everything, don’t you?”
“I can’t say that,” Garrick told him. “No one can truly know everything. Not even trivia masters like me.”
“What song is playing now?”
“It’s not a song, it’s a piece,” a new voice corrected. “And it’s the Reprise from Spirited Away, composed by Joe Hisaishi.”
“Hi Adelaide,” Monty said.
“Hey.” An Asian girl joined their little group. “I needed a place to go, and I didn’t feel like spending four hours in the library, so I came here.”
“You spend four hours in the library? Why?”
“Because I don’t have a license, so I might as well ride the bus to the library and get a shitload of homework done so I can do other things. Like play violin.”
Garrick let out a cough that sounded suspiciously like “nerd” and “dorkestra”.
“I heard that!” Adelaide said indignantly. “You watch your name-calling Mr. Quiz-Bowl-nerd!”
“Orchestra isn’t as cool as Marching Band! Do you have moving instruments? I think not,” Sadie argued.
“You’re in marching band?” Leonard said skeptically.
“Yeah. I play flute, so you never get to see my case.”
“Or get to hear you,” Garrick muttered. “Unlike in real life.”
“What was that?”
“Nothing!” Garrick said, hastily taking a gulp of coffee. “Ow! That’s hot!” He attempted to spit his coffee back into the cup, missed, and ended up spilling all over his jeans. “Shit,” he swore, rubbing frantically at the liquid with a napkin. He set his coffee down.
Henna left her perch and asked the barista for a cup of water. She came back with the water and napkins. “Here,” she said helpfully, giving Garrick the water and the napkins. He took off the lid, wetted a napkin and rubbed furiously at the stain. “No, no, you’re doing it wrong.” She took the napkins and water away from Garrick and got down on her knees, sweeping her skirt, which was light green and covered in branching tendrils of leaves, out of the way. “You wet the napkin,” she instructed as she went about her ministrations, “then you put it over the stained area to work the stain out. In a few minutes, it’ll have mostly lifted and you can let it dry.”
“Oh.” He blushed. “Thank you.”
“No problem.” Henna smiled demurely at him.
“So,” Nikolas cleared his throat. “What are your plans for Homecoming this year?”
“Oh! I’m on the Dance Committee this year! D’you guys want to know the theme?” Sadie asked, excited.
“They’ve already decided?”
“Yeah! We’re just hiding it from the rest of the school until the next assembly!”
“The theme is ‘Secret Garden’.”
“Ooh, pretty!” Henna cooed.
“I just might go,” Nikolas said sarcastically.
“I’ll kill you if you don’t go!” Sadie threatened melodramatically.
“No!” Nikolas wailed semi-seriously, clutching Monty’s leg. “Monty, protect me from the Homecoming She-Devil!” Monty sipped his drink and patted Nikolas comfortingly on the head.
“Just go,” he told him. “It’ll be less painful for the both of us.”
“Wait, you mean like the book by Frances Hodgson Burnett?” Garrick asked excitedly.
“Oh I love that book!” Sadie exclaimed. “But sadly, no. We’ll probably team up with horticulture and make a magical garden.”
“We’re not the first person you’ve told, are we?” Henna asked perceptively.
“Well, no,” Sadie admitted. “I’ve told Sara and Rachel, too.”
“Hey! I know that girl!” Nikolas suddenly exclaimed, pointing at a mousy girl wearing corduroy overalls over a thick ivory sweater, saddle shoes and glasses that looked too big for her face. She was sitting at a table, writing furiously into a notebook, while her bagel lay untouched on a napkin next to her. Occasionally, she glanced up and around herself, as if she had a spasmodic twitch in her neck.
“Who is she?” Adelaide asked.
“Erm, her name’s Rebecca White. She lives next door to me.”
“Oh! That’s the Becky girl your little sister mentioned?” Leonard asked.
“Yeah. That one. She’s nice, I promise,” Nikolas hastily said to the doubtful faces of his friends. “I’ve talked to her once or twice…since she and her family moved here.”
“Yeah, that’s a great way to get to know someone,” Monty snorted. “Talk to them twice since they moved here, which, I might add, was six years ago.”
“Oh, shut up,” Nikolas said, swatting Monty’s leg. “You hypocrite, when was the last time you talked to your neighbors?”
“Um, last week?” Monty raised an eyebrow. “I was yelling at the Carters for letting their dog piss on my lawn again.” Nikolas knocked his head against Monty’s knee.
“I mean like a pleasant conversation,” Nikolas clarified.
“Oh. Um. I think it was when the Rogers’ threw their baby shower and my dad forced me to go.”
“You know what I think the orchestra should play?” Adelaide asked excitedly.
“No. What?” Sadie asked.
“We should team up with band and play this piece,” she said dreamily, swaying gently to the music that was playing from the semi-hidden speakers of the coffee shop. “Howl’s Moving Castle.” She grabbed Garrick’s hands and pulled him from his chair, guiding him into a loose waltz.
“Whoa!” their friends whistled. “Adelaide!”
Adelaide laughed and stopped. “I know. I’m mortified.” Garrick was beet-red.
“Actually, I think Garrick might just explode,” Monty commented.