“Oh, I’m so glad that the labs don’t start till next week!” Susan exclaimed after chem class.
“Me too!” Jody replied with a big smile.
“Wanna go to the restaurant and then go shopping again?”
“Sure! Sounds like a nice plan.”
“I’ll see you tomorrow.” I waited for my chance to say goodbye.
“You’re not coming with us?” Jody was surprised.
“I’m quite tired because I didn’t sleep well last night. I think I’ll take a nap when I get home.”
“Did you stay up doing homework?”
“Yeah.” I didn’t want to mention that I actually ran out of allowance for the month already.
“You’re such a good student, Lori!” Susan exclaimed. “I haven’t even started on homework. That’s what the weekend is for, right?”
“Susan, aren’t you throwing a birthday party for you friend?” Jody reminded Susan.
“Oh, right. But there’s plenty of time before the first test…” Susan chuckled. “Hey Shane, you wanna join us?”
“Thank, but I was planning to go home too.” Shane smiled nervously. “Hey, Lori, you want to take the train together?”
“Eh?” I was just about to leave.
“It was nice riding the train with you the other day.” Shane added.
“You guys take the train home together?” Susan was shocked.
“Well, we happen to take the same train line.” Shane answered.
“Where do you live?” Susan was curious.
“That’s quite far isn’t it?”
“Not really. It’s less than 20 minutes away.”
“Really? I can’t imagine being on the train for more than 5 minutes.” Susan was genuinely surprised. I guess she doesn’t have to take the train since she rides the taxi all the time.
“Me too. I can’t stand the traffic during rush hour!” Jody added. “It costs so much more for a usual five-minute ride home.”
“Lori, where do you live?” Susan asked.
“Umm, Mitaka station.” I was almost ashamed to mention the name of the closest station to my place.
“Where is that exactly? It’s not Tokyo anymore is it?”
“Well, I think it’s still part of Tokyo actually.”
“Now I understand why you want to leave right after school.” Jody answered. “We won’t keep you then.”
“I’ll see you tomorrow.” I wanted to leave as fast as I could. Should I be ashamed for not being born in a rich family? And for not living in central Tokyo?
“Hey, wait up.” Shane followed me as I walked to the station. “We’re taking the same train, remember?”
“Yes, right.” I acted as if I didn’t remember, but I really didn’t want to talk to him anymore. I said everything I had to say the other day already.
“So where’s your family from? Did you grow up in Tokyo?”
“I grew up in Tokyo mostly.”
“Were you born here?”
“Well, it’s a little complicated.” I didn’t want to get into all the details about my family because those conversations never ended well.
“I’ll tell you about my family then. My father is Irish and my mother is English. They moved to Tokyo when I was 7 years old because of my father’s job. And when I first came, I didn’t speak a word of Japanese. The kids in my class made fun of me because of my hair colour. But then, in grade 3, we watched a movie where the hero had the same hair colour as me and all the kids started to treat me really well.”
“That’s an interesting story.” I chuckled.
“Yeah, then after that, I made friends with a few kids in my class and learned to speak Japanese very well.”
“Good for you.”
“After you.” Shane gestured for me to get on the train first, and showed me to the closest seat. “So what kind of food do you like?”
“Umm, Japanese, Chinese, Italian, and Indian, maybe.”
“Cool, I like Chinese food too!”
“Yeah, I like all kinds of food. Hey, how about we go to a Chinese restaurant sometimes? It’s on me.”
“It’s not good to make you pay.”
“It’s quite alright. I would like to treat you sometimes.” Shane smiled.
“Well…” It’s not that I don’t want to go, but it just felt kind of awkward, just him and me.
“It doesn’t have to be a Chinese restaurant, actually. Any restaurant would do. I just would like to talk to you more and get to know you better.”
“Me? How come?”
“Well, you’re different from all the other people I’ve met so far. Especially the other girls in our class.”
“Why don’t you ask Susan out for lunch sometimes?” I asked because I knew Susan liked him.
“Like I said, I think you’re more interesting than the rest of them.”
“Me, more interesting? What do you mean?”
“Well, you don’t seem to be into that really girly stuff, and spending a lot of money…”
“Haha, I guess I am different.” I was surprised that Shane noticed that I didn’t spend a lot of money. Is it really that obvious that I’m poor compared to the rest of the girls in my class?
“I don’t like spending a lot of money either. I mean, I’m not really into that kind of stuff either, so I thought maybe we could get along well.”
“Yeah, I think we do get along well.”
“Really? You think so?”
“Yeah. I think we get along fine.”
“Why don’t we go for lunch sometimes then? You can choose a place and I’ll pay. Just not too expensive if it’s ok with you.”
“I’m sorry Shane. I just don’t think it’s right…”
“You can pick an expensive place too, if you like. I’m sorry I didn’t mean to be cheap. You’re right, this is not something I should be cheap on.”
“That’s not what mean. I mean…”
“I’m sorry I even brought up the money thing. You know what? I’ll pick a place and you tell me if you like it. If you don’t like it, then I’ll pick another place and you can tell me if you like it.”
“That’s really not what I meant…”
“You don’t like that idea. How about you pick a place then and I’ll let you know if I also like it?”
“How do I put this? I really…”
“You don’t like that idea either. How about we each pick a place without telling the other person and then see if we like either of them? It’d be so romantic if we both picked the same place. Hahaha!”
“Shane, please. Can I just say something?”
“Sure, please. I’m all ears!”
“Well, your ideas are…hey, your station is next.”
“Oh, right! Well, I’ll think of something tonight and let you tomorrow.” Shane got off the train laughing to himself.
I thought about the things Shane said during the rest of my train ride home. Why did Shane want to go out to eat with me in particular? Am I really that different from the rest of the girls in my class? I see plenty of other guys talking to them. Maybe Shane and I do have some things in common. What about Susan, would she get upset if she saw me hanging out with Shane? Maybe we could all hang out together. That way, Shane could get to know Susan also.
“Hey sis, have you heard from Linda lately?” Ian knocked on my door as soon he came home.
“Not in the past week or so.” It was already past 5 pm. I must’ve sat at my desk for 3 hours straight.
“Are you still bestfriends?”
“I think so.”
“When was the last time you talked?”
“I don’t know, sometime last month.”
“Is it normal for bestfriends to not talk for so long.”
“I don’t know. You two seem different lately.”
“Do you want to talk about something?” I dropped my homework and sat down with Ian in the living room.
“It’s nothing serious. It’s just that you haven’t gotten any calls from Linda lately, and it feels kindda weird.”
“Why? Do you miss seeing her?”
“Come on, sis.” Ian had a serious look on his face.
“Well, you did have a crush on her at one point, didn’t you?”
“Yeah, but I’m not talking about that. I mean you two used to talk almost everyday… I’m seriously worried about you.”
“Thanks Ian. But I think we’re fine. She got a boyfriend sometime last month and since then, she’s been quite busy.” The truth is, I have been quite worried about Linda too. She’s so sweet that she can get taken advantage of easily by guys. But Ian is not the right person to talk about this kind of stuff. I’m not sure if he’s mature enough.
“I heard from her sister that Linda has been acting strange lately. And her family is concerned about her too.”
“Linda’s sister, you mean Shelley?”
“I’m glad to hear that you talk to Shelley. I thought you guys didn’t really know each other.”
“Of course we know each other. We’re in the same class.”
“Right, haha. How could I forget?”
“Sis, the only things you’ve been thinking about lately is school. You even forgot to come to my game yesterday.”
“You had a game yesterday? Did you tell me about it?”
“No, but you know that I have games on Wednesday evenings. You always used to come!”
“That’s true. I’m sorry I missed it last night. I’ll try to come next week. I promise. And if I can’t make it, I’ll let you know in advance.”
“So may not come next week?” Ian sounded disappointed.
“I’m sorry. You’re right, school has been quite tough on me lately that I haven’t had much time to think about other things. I’ll try my best to make time for you…”
“What do you think of Shelley, btw?” Ian blushed.
“Shelley? You mean Linda’s sister?” I was totally thrown off by Ian’s question.
“Hm.” Ian nodded, blushing.
“She’s a nice girl. A little temperamental at times, but all younger sisters are like that. She’s not nearly as annoying as Becky though, who always wants to wear Linda’s clothes.”
“But how is she as a person?”
“What do you mean? I don’t really know her that well…are you hiding something from me?” I noticed the smirk on Ian’s face.
“I’m not hiding anything. You’ve been too busy to notice.” Ian held out his wallet to show me a school photo of Shelley.
“Why do you have her picture in your wallet? Shouldn’t you have mine instead? I’m your sister.”
“Well, she’s my girlfriend!” Ian declared, finally.
“What? You guys are going out? Since when?”
“Around the same time Linda got her boyfriend.”
“That’s almost a month ago! And you didn’t tell me!” I threw a pillow at him playfully.
“We’re even now since you didn’t come to my game!” He blocked the pillow with one arm.
“At this rate, I’m not coming to anymore of your games!” I threw another pillow at him.
“Come on! I was only kidding!”
“Hahaha!” It feels like it’s been a long time since we talked and played like this. “Does mom know?”
“Of course not!”
“You want me to tell her for you?”
“Of course not!”
“Why not? She’ll find out sooner or later.”
“I’d rather her find out later than sooner. You know how she is with these things. I’ll be in serious trouble.”
“I’m glad you know that. Fine, I’ll keep it a secret for you.”
“Sis, you’re the best!” Ian hugged me like a monkey and kissed my face all over. He used to kiss me like that when we were kids when he was really happy.
“Ewww, get off me!”