4: The Social Norm of Calling People with Pet Names is Beyond My Reach

“Have you gotten fat?” 

It was the first thing that Quentin said to me upon laying his eyes on me. My breathing halted, my gaze fearfully tore down to what was actually happening under the blanket. The big blob certainly didn’t have anything to do with my fluctuated weight, but the fact that there were two people under it.

Of course I would look big…and very probably also constipated to the boot. How could I not? Ryder Black was in an extremely close proximity to me. I could actually feel the contour of his shoulder,  and one of my feet was in between his while he curled his body into a fetal position. 

It was the closest I’d been to death, I swear. 

I widened my eyes as big as I could manage, hoping that Quentin would catch that there was something fishy going on. Alas, my brother was far from being observant, except when it concerned his visage, and he missed my signal entirely. 

Instead, my dear twin brother was showing me all of his teeth. “Hey, Ap, do I have anything on my teeth? I’m going to have a quick meet up with Kayla in about five.”

I examined his mouth and found that there was a tiny bit of green slipped in between his incisors, but since I was afraid that I’d start screaming if I talked, I just shook my head no. I was sure that Kayla, the pretty, if not a little slow cheerleader, wouldn’t mind the tiny green bit. I knew that she had been practically drooling whenever she was around my brother.

“Cool, so what’s up with you? It’s not even the first period and the nurse said you fainted?”

Ryder’s hand suddenly tightened around the hem of my shirt and I gasped in shock.

“I…” I contemplated saying the truth: that Ryder Black had came up to me to talk, but then my fear of Ryder Black had been so overflowing that I had started talking all Yoda to him. Furthermore, he had almost brought me to the Janitor’s closet. And then, since I wasn’t prepared to do anything inside that particular place, my self-defense mechanism had taken over and had shut down my brain temporarily. 

But then I also didn’t want to witness Ryder and my brother started another fight. It had happened two years ago, and it didn’t end up pretty. My brother wasn’t as strong of a fighter as Ryder, but he had the entire burly jocks behind him, and as Ryder was winning, they all went rampage on him.

I thought I had seen about three teeth scattered on the grounds after the teachers broken up the fight. Also something that suspiciously looked like a chunk of flesh.

(Later it was revealed that while it was flesh, it wasn’t human flesh, because turned out that one of the jocks vomited during the fight. It was actually just chicken.)

And thus I took the plunge and started to lie.

“Well, it was because… I was devastated…” I said, very slowly.

Quentin was nodding as slowly as the words slipped off my mouth. His brows were taut together in full concentration. “And why is that?”

“Because…” my brain whirled hard, and it didn’t help that under the blanket, Ryder was holding even tighter on my shirt. In fact, he was holding too tight that his knuckles brushed against my bare stomach for about 0.0002 milliseconds. Electrics flew violently, and it was a true miracle that my voice hadn’t left me. “Because today is Wheat Day but Mom gave my milk strawberry instead of granola.”

“Ouch,” Quentin gave me a sympathetic look. Aside from our parents, he was the only one who could understand my needs to have days in which I would only eat food with certain ingredients. Today was Wednesday so it was Wheat day. Thursday was C-lettered day. Friday was Fruit day. At Sunday, usually I’d go with either Strawberry days or Soup days, depending on my mood. “It’s okay, Ap. You can cheat on your crazy food schedule once in a while.”

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