“Oh come on Winter, let’s go. This is like a once in a lifetime opportunity. Rachel doesn’t invite us to her party every year. Can you even imagine how crazy it would be?”
“Yes I can clearly imagine drunk teenagers all around her stupid house. Isn’t it illegal to drink at 17? Why would you want to be a part of illegal activities? Why don’t we just stay at home and maybe watch a movie?”
“No not that again. Please let’s go. I promise you you can stay with me all the time, we will come home before two and I won’t force you to play any games or drink alcohol. How does that sound?”
“Bad. That sounds bad. Why are you so hell bent on going there? Oh, maybe a lot of pretty girls are coming. Anyways, just go alone.”
“Of Course a lot of pretty girls are coming.But Winter, it isn’t the same without you. Please come. If you come I will never ask you to accompany me anywhere else. Hmm?”
“Okay.... but you better keep your promise. You always say the same thing but never-”
“Yes I will. Thank you so much Winter, you’re the best. By the way the party is in ten days, don’t spend nine days in anxiety. Bye.”
Idiot. Liar. As if he even cares if I am at that party. I am pretty sure the only reason he is asking is because his mom won’t let him go without me. And his promises. The day after the party he will ask me to accompany him to a place with an uncomfortable amount of people. If someone else would have put me in similar situations I would’ve killed them. But Mark was different. He was my best friend since childhood or rather my only friend. Our mothers were best friends so I had no other option. I hated him for always hanging out with people, but I have to admit I was envious of his personality. Oh, how easier life would’ve been if I was like him. I wish I could approach people, blend in a crowd like him.
My anxiety kept me up all night. We had to give a presentation at school tomorrow. I got up from my bed and walked towards the window. The sky looked so beautiful, painted with thousands of stars. I wish I could look at them all my life. Nah, that would be a little boring. “The two superpowers USA and USSR…..” Why is it so easy to give a presentation when I am all by myself? What happens to me in front of everyone? And why are we still studying this world war shit? I sigh and slide into my blanket. The entire night went away in tossing and turning. It was as if someone had stolen the sleep from my eyes. God knows what will happen tomorrow.
“Oh no I am going to be late again. Should I just skip today? I’ll be safe from that damn presentation. Whatever.” I run downstairs stuffing a bread into my mouth and earning weird stares and scoldings from my parents. “Hey Winter, late as always. Let’s go.” Mark was standing outside the door. His black pants looked like they hadn’t been washed since a month and his grey shirt was full of wrinkles. His brunette hair looked like he didn’t own a comb. “Well you don’t say.”
“Fifth class, presentation. Scared?”
“Please stop reminding me. At least during lunch break. By the way, doesn't the food taste weird today?”
“The food always tastes weird. That is why I prefer bringing lunch from home.”
“And the United Nations Organisation was formed on 24th October, 1945..”
“It’s my turn next, it’s my turn next,” I thought while biting my nails.
“Amazing presentation Mark. Next is Winter.”
Why doesn’t she call according to our roll numbers? I got up and took small steps to get to the front of the class. Fidgeting my fingers I started to speak.
“So um, the Cuban-”
“A little louder please.”
I am already extremely tensed Mrs white.
“Sorry, I um, the Cuban Missile Crisis….”
Finally after fifteen minutes, like Mark told me,( I thought an hour had passed) the torture was over. And then after all the classes ended we headed back home.
“You were really good. Although you get really bad grades in exams,” I burst out laughing.
“Well you could have just left it at the compliment. You were good too.”
“Oh please. I bet everyone was laughing at me,” I said with a pout.
“Who cares about others. You should have confidence in yourself. Besides, I really liked your presentation.”
“Whatever,” I said softly while my lips curved into a smile.
“So coffee at five?” Mark suddenly asked.
“At your house?”
“No, the new cafe around the corner.”
“Why coffee suddenly? You don’t even ask me for water.”
“Well Winter don’t come if you don’t want to,” he said, turning back to leave.
“Okay I’m sorry,” I said, grabbing his hand. “I’ll come.”
He just smiled and left.
After completing some boring homework I looked at the clock. Four thirty already? I must have fallen asleep while writing. I just threw on a yellow t-shirt and denim shorts. After washing my face I tied my hair into a ponytail and applied some lip balm. I arrived at the cafe five minutes earlier. “Summer.” Is this a joke? Why is the cafe named summer? I rolled my eyes and opened the door and saw Mark sitting near the window. He saw me and waved his hands signalling me to come there. “I can see you, the cafe isn’t that big,” I mumbled. I sat across from him.
“So how do you like summer, Winter?” He pressed his lips together trying not to laugh.
“It’s not even that funny idiot. So why did you call me here?”
“Patience, Winter, patience. I’ll tell you soon”
“Anyways, did you complete your homework? It was so boring. I think I even fell asleep while doing it. And Kate’s new movie is coming out on Friday. Have you seen the trailer? We have to go watch it. So mom was baking a cake today and she totally burnt it. That is why I always say you should leave the baking to me. Also I couldn’t sleep yesterday—”
Why did Mark suddenly interrupt me. Whom did he call? I turned my head and to my horror I saw four people walking towards us. Oh no please. They came and sat with us. Great. Of course Mark would never call me to a cafe. There had to be a catch.
“Winter you know them right?
Of course the neighbourhood fools. “They live in our neighbourhood,” I said , faking a smile.
“Well I thought we should all hang out together. So Winter what were you talking about?”
“Nothing you all can continue.”
The five of them talked for about two hours. The fools were okay except that Jean. Her gaze towards Mark made me want to choke her. Why can’t he just spend time with me alone. Why does he always invite people. Well it’s not like I like him. Maybe I’m just a little possessive. All of them seemed so happy talking to him. Even as a kid everyone liked Mark because he would always answer everyone’s questions, while I would just stand there like a shy kid. I wish I was like him, then maybe people would like me.
I felt like I could finally breathe after his four friends left. I glared at Mark.
“What?” He replied timidly. As I turned to leave I realised my phone was missing. Such an unlucky day.
“Hey Mark, can you ring my phone?”
He did and then the phone rang under the table. Mark reached his hand out to grab the phone. Oh no. “Wait,” I shouted but it was too late.
“Serotonin,” he chuckled. “Why did you save me as serotonin?”
Right I forgot he is stupid. “Serotonin is a hormone that,” I started bravely, “um… makes a person sleepy!” I finished proudly.
“So I make you sleepy?” He asked with a sad smile.
“No, no I mean, isn’t adequate sleep important? I meant it in a good way.” I said mentally slapping myself.
“Okay. You are welcome for the coffee,” he said and left. You are an idiot, Winter. The fight, or whatever it was thankfully didn’t last long. Our fights have always ended with me going to his house with a cake that I baked. He could never say no to cake. I was so grateful for having a friend like him in my life. Other than the fact that he forced me to meet people, he was really sweet. He would listen to me blabber for hours, he never kept our fights going on for too long, he was always there when I needed to release all my frustrations and of course my parents adored him way more than they did me.
Unfortunately the day of the party came. “I hate my life,” I said and stomped my feet . I was picking my outfit when I heard a knock on the door. I opened the door and saw Mark wearing very casual clothes.
“Why didn’t you get ready yet? I asked as my eyebrows crashed in confusion.
“Well Rachel sucks. Turns out she was dating my friend and she dumped him yesterday for absolutely no reason.”
“Well there is someone. You don’t know him.”
He is right. He has thousands of friends and I barely know three or four. But I know he was lying this time.
“So I thought instead of going to that stupid party we can watch Kate’s new movie. I bought the DVD of the movie.” He raised his hands showing me the DVD.
“I really don’t understand what is happening.” I replied with a puzzled face.
“Winter I am not going to repeat things twice.” He said, hitting my arm playfully. “And it kind of slipped from my mind that day but isn’t serotonin a hormone that makes you happy?”
After a few seconds of silence I spoke, “You searched for that on the internet, didn’t you?”
We stared at each other and then burst out laughing.