44 of 183

Day 44—The Question of Lenny’s Family

            Nikolas, Leonard, Adelaide and Sue were in Wyndow, sitting at a table that was next to a window that looked out on the street. Eric, Adelaide’s date-turned-boyfriend rushed in, sopping wet from the rain outside. He grabbed a chair and spun it around so that it faced their table, dropping his stuff.

            “Hi, Eric,” Adelaide said cheerfully, hands wrapped around her warm mug of hot chocolate. “You’re looking wet.”

            “I feel wet,” Eric grumbled, shrugging off his coat, revealing a thick blue sweater with an argyle pattern. “My socks are soaked. Converse design fail.”

            “That sweater is disgusting,” Sue commented, eyeing his sweater with some apprehension. She took a sip of her chai tea latte.

            “I know. But it’s warm,” Eric said miserably. “My feet feel disgusting.”

            “Rain boots and umbrellas are boss,” Adelaide said smugly, nudging him with her red and black polka-dotted umbrella. Indeed, she was wearing a pair of yellow rain boots. “They keep you nice and dry in this miserable Seattle weather.”

            “You know what I don’t get?” Leonard asked, adding a pack of sugar to his cup of strong black coffee. His carefully gelled hair had been reduced to flopping disconsolately on his forehead by the rain. “I’ve been all over the country, but this place is seriously the only place that calls itself ‘Seattle’ even if you don’t live anywhere near it.”

            “Oh. There’s an easy answer to that.” Adelaide took a sip of her hot chocolate. “Anywhere within a forty-five mile radius of Seattle is known as Seattle. It’s just easier that way.”

            “Hey, there’s Becky,” Nikolas murmured half to himself with his cup of black tea at his lips. “She’s following me. Definitely.” He dropped his gaze and sipped his tea. He swiped at his bangs, accidentally knocking his hairband out. Leonard caught it for him and inserted it back onto his head. “Thanks. You know what I’ve noticed?” he asked.

            “Other than the fact that Sue is the only freshmen among us seniors?” Eric asked.

            “I’m a junior,” Adelaide corrected.

            “Sorry. I forget that you won’t be graduating the same year as me,” Eric apologized.

            “I’m fine with being little,” Sue said complacently. “You guys get to tell me all about high school, anyway.”

            “And no, I’m not talking about that,” Nikolas said impatiently. “It’s more of a thing between me and Leonard, anyway.”

            Leonard’s attention was piqued. “Oh. Okay. What is it, then?”

            “I’ve never met your parents. Or any sort of authority figure, for that matter,” Nikolas stated simply.

            “That, my friend, is an easy question with an easy answer,” Leonard said blithely.

            “Technically, Nikki never asked a question,” Adelaide interjected.

            “Grammar Nazi,” Eric muttered underneath his breath, patting his hair dry with napkins.

            “Shut up,” Adelaide retorted, throwing another napkin at him.

            “My parents live in Spokane. Where it is, quite frankly, dry and yellow—“

            “Just like my grandmother!” Eric exclaimed. Adelaide snorted.

            “You’re going to lose your inheritance, Eric, if you ever say that to her face.”

            “—and not at all pretty like Western Washington. Plus, nothing happens there and there is no rain,” Leonard continued as if he hadn’t been interrupted. “Besides, my aunt and uncle live here, so, no big deal.”

            “Everyone is a little racist today,” Sue observed, swallowing the rest of her drink. “Hey, Eric,” she said as Eric made to get up because he wanted to get something to drink. “Will you throw this away for me?”

            “Sure.” He grabbed the empty cup Sue held out for him and turned around, accidentally walking smack into none other than Rebecca White, who ended up spilling her hot drink all over his sweater. “Oof!”

            “Oh my God!” the mousy girl exclaimed, hugging her notebook to her chest, “I’m so sorry! I didn’t mean to do that!”

            “It’s fine, I should have been watching where I was going,” Eric said, pulling his sweater over his head and examining the stain. He was wearing a button-down shirt underneath.

            “How many layers are you possibly wearing?” Adelaide asked in wonderment.

            “Five. The stain isn’t too bad. Besides, I never liked this sweater anyway,” he said absently. He tossed the sweater carelessly onto his chair. “I’ll pay you back or get you another one, how ‘bout it? It was my fault, anyway. What was that drink?”

            “Erm…it was a white chocolate mocha, no foam,” Becky said, rapidly blotching a bright red.

            “Oh. Okay. White chocolate mocha, no foam,” Eric repeated. He left to join the line at the counter, and Becky made to follow him, only to be stopped by Nikolas.

            “Wait, Becky.”

            “Yeah?” The girl stopped and cringed, as if expecting the worst.

            “Have you been stalking me?” Nikolas questioned bluntly.

            “‘Stalking’ is a rather strong word,” Adelaide mildly pointed out.

            “Uhm, well…” Becky trailed off nervously, clutching her notebook to her chest.

            “Do you write?” Sue asked, pointing at her notebook.

            “What? Oh, yeah, I do. Just a little. It’s not very good,” Becky answered, relief flooding her face at an easy question.

            “Can I see?” Sue asked.

            “Wh—no! You can’t!” Becky’s grip on the notebook grew noticeably tighter.

            “Oh, come on,” Sue reasoned guilelessly. “How can you expect to get feedback if no one is allowed to see what you write?”

            Becky hesitated. She thought about the pros and cons, her brow wrinkling. “Well,” she said reluctantly, loosening her grasp, “I guess…” she handed the notebook to Sue, who opened it up.

            Her eyebrows shot up when she read the first paragraph and Becky cringed.

           “What? What are you reading?” Adelaide asked impatiently, trying to read Becky’s writing from next to Sue. Sue flipped to a random page, where she began skimming the text, her eyebrows climbing higher and higher up her forehead.

            “Well,” she said when she flipped to a random page closer to the end and read until a blank page. “Well,” she repeated. “Nikolas, I think that, yeah. She’s definitely following you around.”

            Becky cringed again. “I’m sorry,” she said meekly when Nikolas turned stony-faced to look at her.

            “Really?” he said with a calm voice to Sue, never looking away from Becky. “How so?”

           “Well, apparently she’s recorded our entire Homecoming dress shopping trip verbatim, down to the dotted ‘I’ and swear word. And our shoe shopping trip. Then, there’s the past half an hour we’ve been sitting here at the very end, up to about half an hour ago,” Sue summarized. Adelaide took the notebook away from Sue, flipping through it herself.

            “Oh. And look, here’s our last trip to the record store. ‘Adelaide, Nikki, and Leonard browsed through the copious numbers of CDs, all organized in alphabetical order as Han and Ricky were flirting with each other behind the counter’. Jeez, you’ve got every detail down, don’t you?” she asked Becky, who cringed again. “Nikki could sue you for invasion of privacy. There are other ways of writing, you know?”

            Eric walked back, carrying two drinks, one of which he gave to Becky. “Hey, you look awful,” he told her. “What’s wrong?”

            “We’ve just caught our first stalker,” Nikolas said calmly. “Though I don’t understand what’s so fascinating about me. I’m rather normal, by high school standards, anyway.”

            “You’ve got a…an interesting thing about you,” Becky said quietly, merely blushing now that she understood that they weren’t mad at her. “It’s fascinating to watch and record.”

            Leonard frowned. “While I agree that Nikki likes silver piercings and black clothing and preppy swimmers and that he’s fairly full of weird contradictions, did you have to follow him around? Couldn’t you just have, I don’t know, talked to him?”

            “I resent that!” Nikolas protested.

            “I…didn’t think of that…” Becky faltered.

            “That’s…very unintelligent of you, then,” Eric said, sipping at his drink. “Nikki might not be the most sociable or approachable people in the world, but he’ll still talk to you.”

            “Why don’t you just get rid of that book, so that there’s no evidence of your intrusion of privacy, and we can forget that this ever happened?” Adelaide suggested, handing the book back to Becky. “Just ask the next time you want to write about one of us.”

            “Oh, all right, then,” Becky said, nodding furiously.

            “You’re writing is really good,” Sue said earnestly. “Why do you write only in the Young Adult genre? Go explore other things.”

            Becky nodded. “Thank you,” she said, relieve evident on her face. She held up her newly bought drink. “Thanks for the drink, too.” She hurried away from them.

            “Well,” Nikolas said finally. “That was awkward.” He downed the rest of his drink.

[Next Chapter ==>]

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