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Chapter 10 – Family dinner

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2016

We walk past an empty living room, past the stairs leading upwards, to a large, homey kitchen. I absolutely lovetheir kitchen. There’s a large counter right in the centre of the kitchen, with barstools on one side. There’s an opening on our right, in which I can see the dining room. I think their kitchen, combined with the dining room, is nearly the surface of our entire house. But the huge dining table isn’t a surprise if you think about the fact there’s nine family members to sit down with.

‘Hey dipshit,’ Calo slaps a guy on his back pretty hard and I cringe at the contact. The guy just turns around as if it’s nothing and he causes my jaw to drop.

They are like two drops of water; almost identical. They have the same facial futures; mouth, nose, eyes, the smirk on Seino’s face recognizable from whenever Calo smirks, only slightly more real.

So, Calo does force those smirks and grins onto his face a lot.

‘This is Neo.’ Calo gestures towards me and now the guy who is sitting with Seino behind two laptops and tons of books and papers, turns around too. Both look at me with a smile, while I’m standing still in the door opening.

‘Hey, nice to meet you!’ Seino turned around a bit, holding out his hand. But since I’m not standing in the door opening for nothing, I refuse to walk up and shake his hand; which then drops back down to his leg. ‘I don’t bite...’

Calo’s eyes follow mine as I stare down to the tiled floor. They’re simply too small to walk on. I’d evidently step on a line.

Calo’s eyes widened in realization. ‘Let’s meet in the living room.’ Calo walks back out, pulling me along towards the living room. He obviously isn’t mimicking my irky habits at home, as he simply walks into the living room, while I stop to see if there’s need to jump. But the floor is plain, the door opening isn’t really a door anyway and there’s no objects that force me to jump, so I hesitantly follow him inside the living room.

Now I remember why I never minded the fact I had no friend to visit. New houses are exhausting to discover.

‘So, you’re Neo, huh?’ Seino and the foreign looking guy walk in behind us, me stepping a bit away as Seino again offers me his hand to shake.

‘Neo doesn’t shake hands,’ Calo casually tells them. ‘That ugly version of me is Seino, and his friend is Prayaav.’

‘Hi... I’m Neo...’

‘Favre.’ Seino chuckles in the exact same way Calo always does. ‘You’re Favre. You’re the reason Calo started using that to indicate cool things.’

‘You do that at home too?’

‘What can I say, favre is favre.’

Seino and Prayaav laugh because of him and Calo smirks with a shrug. ‘Where’s the rest?’

‘Mom went out for shopping and Tomás and Tiago are both at practise.’

‘Oh, right.’ Calo shrugs.

‘And Harper and Yas are currently turning the first floor into a warzone, so make wise decisions about where you’re going.’

‘Let’s just go to my room and play videogames, you can meet them at dinner.’

‘Dinner?’ I bite my lip. ‘I don’t know about dinner... Cay.’ I really don’t want to sit at a table with eight strangers and Calo, while they can shamelessly stare at my weird as habits for dinner. Besides, Mrs. Delgado doesn’t know how to hand me my food.

‘I’m sure you do. Mom makes the best... oh.’ He cuts his sentence short. ‘You probably don’t like eating spareribs, do you?’

‘No, but it’s fine, I can have dinner at home...’

‘But then you’d have to leave in an our or so.’ Calo seems disappointed at the thought of m leaving that early. And since he’s my only friend, I don’t want to upset him, or cause a fight. I can’t lose him.

‘Maybe I could stay...’ I whisper, while Seino flops down on the couch while Prayaav already lay down with his shoes on top of the other couch. I stare towards his feet while addressing Calo. ‘But... I don’t want to be a bother... I’m not eating spare ribs and...’

‘I’ll call mom and ask for something more hygienic.’ Calo shrugs, retrieving his phone from his pocket, in the same time following my gaze and pushing Prayaav’s feet of the couch. It earns him a scowl and a questioning look, until he notices me staring.

Now I remember why I hate meeting new people again. They stare at me as if I’m an alien, just like Calo did the first day we met.

But Calo quickly adapted, and Prayaav helped him to get the game ready, so maybe he’ll stop staring at me with curious eyes before the day is over.

Let’s hope, or I will freak out soon.

I’m watching Calo set up the Xbox, while calling mom to tell her I will be having dinner with the Delgado’s.

‘Honey, are you sure?’ Mom isn’t instantly agreeing to it, knowing it’ll mean Calo’s mom has to do everything the same way she’s been doing for years. It’s like a second nature to her by now, but Calo’s mom might not be too happy with my requests.

According to Calo, she won’t mind.

‘Calo says it’s fine,’ I answer insecurely. It’s just a change in food and the subsequent placing of stuff, right?′

‘And the dishes,’ mom starts her next round of protest. ‘She has to keep the sink clean for you to wash your hands. Do they have paper towels? What about sitting in the right spot?’

‘Mom, they have a dishwasher and there’s nine of them. She’s not doing the sishes by hand.’

‘Oh...’ she takes in a deep breath. ‘But the paper towels... the seatings...’

‘I’m sure we can figure that out...’ I notice Calo looking at meand I send hin a roll of the eye, causing him to chuckle.

‘What’s the objection?’ He asks.

‘Mom is worried because you don’t have the paper towels I need to dry my hands. And she’s worried I can’t sit in the spot I want...’

‘Did you tell them you are allergic to peanuts?’

‘I told them about my allergy, mom.’

‘I don’t know about this, Neo. You are always so tired after visiting a new place and you have school tomorrow. I would feel better if you go over another time, on Friday or during the weekend.’

‘But mom!’ I call out in annoyance. ‘I want to play games with Calo and if I have to eat at home I have to leave too soon.’

‘Let me call Mrs. Delgado to talk about it and then I’ll decide if I’ll allow it, okay?’

‘Mom... I’m not a toddler.’

‘But you’ve had some rough days and tomorrow you’ll have the replacing assignment... I’m calling Mrs. Delgado and see what she’s willing to do. Text me the number.’

I groan in annoyance, but I guess this is just another of these things she wants to forbit. And she won’t back down. It’s a miracle on its own that she’s willing to call with Mrs. Delgado about this.

I do as she asks, letting Calo text her the number while I sit down on the two-seater couch in his huge bedroom. Luckily, there’s floorboards all over the first floor and I don’t mind stepping on the lines in between those. And then there’s carpet on his bedroom floor, making things even more easy. I do notice the imprints of his desk on a wall beside the door, bit it has been moved and is now under his window. According to Calo, he couldn’t decide on how to design his bedroom and he just moved it back and forth. But since they only moved in three weeks, I have a feeling he moved it when I was in the bedroom. Even though it does seem impossible to move the entire desk, the computer, and the power outlets in the short time I took to pee and wash my hands. The tiles in the bathroom were large and easy to walk on.

So, I’m not exactly sure if he did move it on purpose.

Halfway during the second match of Fifa soccer, mom texted to let me know she had come to an agreement with Mrs. Delgado and I was allowed to stay over for dinner. Thank god.

I’m a bit nervous once we sit at the table. Seino, Prayaav, Tomás and Tiago all in our company, long with a girl named Ginger, who is Tomás girlfriend, Effie, who is Lorenzo’s girlfriend and Mr. Delgado, seated at the head of the table. I’m directly in his left, in the same spot I always sit at home, right corner of the long side that is facing the windows, back towards the entrance Calo and I used to avoid the kitchen’s floor tiles.

‘I hope you feel welcome. Calo told us so much about you.’ Mr. Delgado - or doctor Delgado to me - smiles proudly towards Calo. ‘I hope Calo doesn’t talk the ears off your head like he does at home.’

Calo rolls his eyes and I chuckle awkwardly, shaking my head to tell him I don’t think Calo is tiring me out. The thing is, I feel awkward to sit at the same dining table with doctor Delgado, even though he pretends he never met me before.

‘Hey!’ A girl appears in the opening from the kitchen to the dining room. ‘Calo, that’s my seat!’

‘Tonight, Neo sits here,’ Mr. Delgado gestures towards an empty seat on the other side of the table.

‘I’m not sitting next to Yasmine,’ she grumbles in annoyance. ‘I always sit next to Cal.’

‘And tonight, you’re not. I have a friend over, Harper.’ Calo gestures to me. ‘This is Neo.’

‘Oh!’ She perks up a bit. ‘You’re the guy we did the floor is lava for, huh?’ She grins, and I nod with a small smile. She walks over, wanting the give me a hand.

‘Neo doesn’t shake hands.’ Calo slaps her hand away. ‘Ne, this is my sister Harper. The devil, Yasmine, will be down any second, because Harper is still wearing her dress.’

Harper and Calo share a smirk, before Harper chuckles.

‘It looks better on me anyway.’

You can definitely tell that Tomás, Tiago and Harper are part of a quadruplet. They all look the same, though Harper is slightly smaller.

Lastly, Lorenzo and who I assume is Yasmine, walk inside. The latter sends Harper an angry look, sitting down next to her.

‘If you spill on it, you’re going to pay for it.’ She hisses. All the guys sigh, roll their eyes and seem fed-up with their fight, that has been going on ever since Calo and I arrived here.

I sit and listen to them talking animatedly about their day, Mr. Delgado mot once telling something about his work, Calo telling him about the discussion he had with Luke and Jimmy. Then Mrs. Delgado walks in with food, Lorenzo following her to help.

‘Hey! We were going to eat spareribs!’ Yasmine calls out as soon as she notices the chicken.

Lorenzo, Tomás and Mrs. Delgado set the table, before she comes back in with a set up plate and a glace of water, me knowing that is my food.

She smiles a lovely smile, placing the plate first, and the glass second. ‘I hope you like my cooking as much as your mom’s.’

’Thanks, Mrs. Delgado, I mutter, feeling a bit out of place because a lot of them are staring at me, probably wondering why the hell their mother made my plate and hands it to me like this. Both Calo and Mr. Delgado ignoring it while leaning in to put food onto their own plates.

‘Why no spareribs?’

‘Because I decided on chicken.’ Mrs. Delgado simply answers Yasmine. ‘Stop whining, or I will never cook spareribs again.’

‘You act like a spoiled brat.’ Harper huffs. ‘You always act like a spoiled brat whenever there’s a handsome guy visiting.’

I choke on my foot as all eyes go from Harper and Yasmine towards me.

Hot guy? Me?

‘You are totally Yasmine’s type.’ Harper smirks, getting an elbow between her ribs from Yasmine, who’s face flushed too.

‘Stop, Harper.’ Mrs. Delgado tells her, audibly disapproving with her daughter’s behaviour. ‘Neo is our guest and I don’t want him to feel uncomfortable.’

Thankfully, the rest of dinner, everybody is too consumed in their conversations to pay attention to me. Calo and Mr. Delgado both obviously noticed the fact I tap my fingers trice between switching eating and drinking, but both are polite enough not to pay attention to it.

After dinner and dessert, Calo showed me the downstairs bathroom to let me wash my hands, showing me paper towels his mom bought when she went to get different food. I suspect mom having to do something with it, but I’m thankful nonetheless.

Mrs. Delgado, and actually her husband too, made me feel welcome and they acted as if my habits and compulsions aren’t a bother at all. As if they’re normal.

I would’ve never thought I would ever feel welcome in a household that isn’t part of my own family.

Though I feel exhausted once I’m home and in bed. But, I felt happier then I did in a long time. Meeting Calo is the best thing that ever happened to me.

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