She's Not Like Anyone Else
The arcade was a blast for the boys; the girls sort of hung around watching them. Sophie played a couple of games, though, bowling balls into holes labeled by 5s. Maria, however, stood beside Yakusoku, her bony fingers entwined in front of her.
He and Chester were completely gone on this motorcycling game. It was a simulation game like when you're driving in a racing game, and you take a seat and use the steering wheel as in real life. Only with this, you sit on a large motorcycle as the controller. Yakusoku played a whack-a-mole game with Maria and she won. It was almost a spectacle the way she managed to get them all even before the toy mole could really come out of the hole. Her reflexes were sick.
Later, though separated in their own way, the two pairs found themselves laughing and playing together at the tracks, having raced by two's, four's and timing one another for best run out of the group. They had been sort of switching it up in the arcade to have fun and the few times they were sort of forced to be around the blonde, Chester, and Sophie, spared some minor chit-chat to the odd girl.
But at the track, where sharing is the key, they didn't have much choice but to converse with her, lest they sit in awkward silence. Yakusoku had decided to pull back in the conversations in order to force his friend's hands over speaking to Maria.
The hot sun out-weighed the cool shade from the clouds, and soon they became too bogged down by heat to want to do anything outdoors any longer. Not even the slight breeze blowing against them while driving the go-karts could staunch the heat. And after three trips around the course, the group dragged themselves over to a bench covered by an awning.
"Man, who's up for ice cream now? My treat." Chester got up, walking out of the gate. He nabbed his bike and waited for the others to catch up.
"Sweeeetieee," The red head swooned.
Becoming cocky like a millionaire, Chester laughed at his girlfriend's behavior. "No big deal, I'll even buy yours, Maria." He informed her when Maria straightened up from unchaining the bike.
Lowering her head as if embarrassed, she nodded and said, "Thank you."
Chester shrugged off the formality.
The four rode the along the streets towards an ice cream parlor called Cherry on Top; Yakusoku couldn't help but notice they were receiving a lot of odd stares along the way. Namely, the looks seemed to be directed towards Maria. It was made him wonder, again, whether or not something truly was wrong with the girl.
But he didn't get a chance to stare at her long because she'd looked over her shoulder and smiled at him. He smiled back but refocused his attention once she turned around. Parking their bikes and chaining them up together around a tree- the shop didn't have a bike railing- they entered and looked for a table.
Taking Maria's hand, Sophie said, "Let's freshen up a bit first." She led the girl off to a bathroom.
"O- okay." She couldn't help but smile. This was the first time she's ever gotten to 'go to the bathroom' with another girls' insistence.
Taking his eyes from the frightening scene of his girlfriend trying to get along with someone she didn't like, Chester took notice Yakusoku's new habit of massaging his temples.
"Are you alright?" he asked.
"Yeah, I'm just relieved that the pressure on the back of my head stopped."
"More headaches? Dude..." He let it trail off knowing that Yakusoku knew what he meant to say. "You should be the poster child for Advil, I swear."
A waitress in a fluffy white apron and a bouncy pink uniform- the men were in peppermint green- came to the table and asked. "What can I get for you?"
In the bathroom...
Sophie was re-applying her candy lip balm, and, after washing the sweat and old make-up from her face, she restored her eyeliner, shadow, and foundation. After a moment, she smiled at the end result.
"Hhhhuuuuaaaaagh!" Came a sound from the third stall.
Disgusted, Sophie says to Maria as the girl exited one of the other stalls, and came up to the sink to wash her hands, "So gross that a girl feels the need to do something like that before she eats."
"Do what?" Asked Maria.
Blinking, Sophie shook her head in disbelief. "What are you deaf? Some poor image-bound girl is either throwing up ice cream or throwing up so that she can have it." She asked again. "Well? Doesn't that make you sick?"
Glancing over her shoulder, Maria shrugged. "Maybe her mother drove her to it. Or her perfect sister that everyone adores over her. It's not always about men." There was a hint of malice in the girl's tone.
Shaking her wet hands into the sink to remove the drips, she then grabbed a paper towel. Tossing it away with enough 'harrumph' to choke a horse, Maria left the bathroom unable to stand it in there with the 'Women's Rights' Irish girl any longer.
"Well," huffed Sophie, watching her go. 'Last time I ever stick up for that bitch.'
A thin, pretty-faced girl looking on the verge of faint walked out of the bathroom stall. Her thin brown hair clung in a mess to her sweaty cheeks, and her ponytail hung loosely from its band and making her appear even more skinny than she has unnaturally become. She smiled with a bit of embarrassment at Sophie as she strode up to the sink to rinse her mouth, and wash her hands.
Frowning, Sophie patted the girl's bony back and said softly to her, "Feel better," before walking out. Scanning the room for the boys, she heard her boyfriend call out.
"Sophie, over here!"
Smiling she walked over to the table and laid a kiss on her man. She was happy that Chester liked her just the way she was and wanted him to know that before she took a seat.
"Didn't know you loved ice cream that much," He mentioned to his girlfriend. "I should bring you here more often."
Shaking her head in amusement, Sophie looked down. "What's this?"
"I ordered for you, babe: chocolate mint. Your favorite."
"I ordered for you too, Maria. I didn't know what you liked," He pointed with his coffee ice cream with brownie chunks in it on a waffle cone, to Maria's tiny medium bowl of cookies-n-creme with cherries.
"Oh wow! I always get this combination- how did you know?" She beamed a smile Yakusoku's way.
Yakusoku licked his ice cream like a zombie in heat of a feeding frenzy, shrugging absently at her enthusiasm.
"So, Maria," started Chester before losing interest and going no further with whatever he had planned on saying.
Picking up the awkward slack, Sophie jumped in 30 seconds later with "So, where did you live before moving here?"
"Washington," Maria answered easily.
"I've always wanted to see Washington," Yakusoku said vacantly.
"Did you have many friends?"
Yakusoku kicked Sophie underneath the table.
"Ow!" She glared at the Asian American with contempt. "I meant to say, it's scary moving. You must really miss a lot of people."
"Not really," Maria's tone lowered. "I don't have an easy time with making friends."
"Surely you had one friend?" the rich princess wondered.
Maria thought it over, then said. "I'm close to my cousin, he lives in Washington as well. I live here now, with my aunt."
"Oh!" Sophie chided. "Is your cousin the one you live with?"
"I hate all my cousins." The girl went on in a very matter-of-fact kind of way. "They steal when they visit, break things, and they're all boys!"
"My cousin is a boy too, but he's different- you'd probably like him."
'Not if he's anything like you,' Sophie thought with a twitch of her high-brow nose.
Maria cast her a shifty eye. "I think I'll go now." She looked at her empty paper bowl. Standing, she walked the trash can and tossed it out. "Thanks for the ice cream." She snipped to Yakusoku before storming out.
"Whatever," replied Chester.
"Guess that means I gotta go too, bye guys." Yakusoku wolfed down what was left of his cone and followed Maria to the door.
"Bye dude," Chester replied waving a hand.
He and Maria left the ice cream shop and headed back to the Land home to drop off the bikes. He'd had enough for one day, and he could tell that Maria was exhausted of his friends as well.
Climbing back onto his bike, Yakusoku asked the girl, "Can you ride handlebars?"
"I'm gonna taking you back to your house, is that okay?"
Maria nodded, taking her place on the front of the bike. It seemed to weigh down a lot heavier than what her physical attributes portrayed. He could tell that she was blushing because she dipped her head.
"Um... I'm ready."
"Here we go."
He had to push himself down hard on the pedals to get the bike moving along but it was alright once they were down the driveway and on the sidewalk. The ride was pleasant, and Yakusoku spoke a little bit here and there about schoolwork, changing subjects occasionally. When he yawned, Maria asked if he was tired. He told her about how he'd been missing sleep lately, and it reminded her about when they were by the tree.
"I think you've begun to experience microsleeps."
"Microsleeps?" Yakusoku said it like he was hearing something in a foreign language. "What's that?"
"Well, we all need sleep no matter how hard we try to fight it. So eventually, if you can't get the desired amount, your brain just shuts you off."
"They might have more info at the library, I only know so much. We learned about it in school one year."
"Really? Hmm. Maybe I should look into it." He thought to himself for a moment.
"My house is right up here." She pointed.
The bike wheel turned slightly going up the driveway of a very nice little home. Maria lived a distance from his neighborhood and, secretly, he found that to be a good thing. Climbing from the bike, he walked the girl to the door.
"I had a wonderful time today. I think eventually your friends will warm up to me."
"Yeah," he lied.
They stood for a moment, but then Maria leaned forward, lips pursed and whispered to him, "Well, goodbye."
Backing away, he laughed nervously. "Wha- what are you doing?"
Sternly, brows knit together in frustration. "Maria, you do know that you and I are just friends... Right?"
"Friends?" The word sounded putrid the way she spat it out.
Ignoring the tone completely, he replied. "Yes. Just friends."
Maria looked as though she were going to set something on fire for just a second, then her face returned to passive, calm mask. "Alright. Thank you again, for today," she said pleasantly.
"You're welcome, and hey, thank you for understanding." He patted her arm. "I'm just not into the whole dating, and girl crushing thing yet, I'm a gamer and a sports boy." He played it off with a laugh and shrug, trying to return to casual.
Her face scrunched again. "Mm-hm. And remember this little conversation when you see Enid again!" With that, she stomped into her home slamming the door in his face.
Standing there, stupefied, he eventually turned away in a curious thought. "What's Enid got to do with anything?" Walking over to his parked bike, he looked over his shoulder at the house. 'Strange girl.'