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Chapter 36

“What is wrong with you now? Why are guys going round and round, one after the other?” ranted Haruhi, taking a sip of orange juice from a bottle.

For the past twenty minutes, she had been meddling in the kitchen left and right to prevent the effect of hunger pangs. Throughout the entire thing, Quincy sat like a puppy who was forced to take a bath, dazed with a pout that seemed eternal. Just then came Fyre, skipping like a country girl on the way to the farmer’s market to sell fresh milk – to Haruhi’s disbelief as she gazed back and forth at the switched personalities

“Hey, Haruhi! Are you back already?” Fyre asked cheerfully as he reached for a chocolate bar from the refrigerator. He turned around, not expecting an answer but patted Quincy’s blank self on the head only to get him cowering against the counter while Fyre skipped out, whistling to a tune.

“What is wrong with you people? What the hell is happening?” asked Haruhi as she shook Quincy’s unresponsive shoulders.

“He..just told me..he had no problem with being no strings attached…” mumbled Quincy as he looked up for a moment and went back to his former position.

“I mean since you are fine with it, the whole thing has to work out, right? Why are being all sad and shit?” she asked, unable to comprehend.

“Haruhi!” he yelled, sitting up all of a sudden while scaring her as she staggered back. “Who does that? Like how does one do that actually?!”

“So, you were joking? Why are you guys behaving like drama queens all of a sudden?”

“No. Maybe if it was a girl, I wouldn’t have minded. Though I….” he trailed off in deep thought and returned back when Haruhi’s eyes were starting to burn through him. “It’s just this is not some random person whom I can dump and just go off. I don’t know how long I’m gonna be in Lessa and he’s my colleague. Truthfully, I thought my solution could bring everything to a halt.”

“So, now? Has your amazing brain thought anything better?”

“Don’t. Just don’t ask me now,” he mumbled as his face fell flat on the counter.

“Hey, guys!” chirped in Bastian with his arm slung across Fleur’s shoulder. “You’re back early, Haruhi and…what’s up with him?” He slowly nudged Quincy’s head. Unresponsive so he turned to Haruhi for an answer.

She sighed. “It seems that Fyre was fine with the no strings attached thingy and now Quincy is surprised because he didn’t think that guy would actually accept this amount of ridiculousness.”

“Oh. Okay,” he said as he turned towards Haruhi. “What about you and Erska - job done well?”

Quincy peeked as he parted his fingers from his view. “Wow. You don’t care much for me at all..”

“You do that every time, Quincy. I’m not worried about you,” said Bastian, still looking at Haruhi for a reply. “Well?”

“I slept through most of the thing but as far as I know we’ve only completed through half of her list. Overall the idea is that the manuscript seems a little too different from her previous one and no one’s ready to take the risk.”

“So..the rumours are true…?” Fleur exclaimed.

“What rumours?” asked Bastian, frowning.

Fleur thought for a moment, accumulating the bits and pieces. “I thought it was just a joke but there’s a buzz in the office that not everyone is ready to accept her manuscript because it didn’t feel like romance anymore. The style is totally different and it was even said that it was a pity she had left Bon Voyage because without them, she is a clueless sheep.”

“I didn’t know that it was this bad..” worried Haruhi.

“Has this hit the internet yet?” asked Bastian as he popped out his phone which Haruhi also did.

“Not yet is what I should say. If this goes like wildfire over the internet, Erska would be heartbroken,” said Haruhi.

“How is she doing though? Okay?” he asked.

“She’s okay. I don’t think she’s discouraged that much yet. She’s pretty confident. Nothing has affected her yet,” stated Haruhi. “If you think about it, she just needed the head start from Fyre and she completed the whole thing by herself. She didn’t need help. I think she’ll be fine,” concluded Haruhi.

“Where is she now? I didn’t see her so... I thought she might be depressed like you know..” said Bastian, pointing a finger at Quincy.

“On the way, she met with some of her friends. I’d rather come back than embarrass myself and sleep again.”

“Someone’s all busy-busy and got no time for any of us,” Alia exclaimed with her usual exaggerated hand movements.

“Man. We’re missing you so much, girl,” said Gina as she hugged a tired-looking Erska who fell passively on her shoulder.

“Miss Know-It-All has got new friends now. I’m sure after two days she’d be like Cheetah Clique who? I got my gang at Franklin’s Motel..” stated Ira being all sassy.

Erska had run into the three of them by chance at Leisure where she was to meet a publisher. It was no surprise, that was where they hung out most. They had interrupted her journey from pursuing any publisher further and dragged her to Teenage Dream. Frankly, Erska was also getting tired of being dejected and catching up would be a change for some time. After all, she had been totally involved with the book and the life-changing drama that placed her at the Franklin’s Motel. She had almost forgotten that there was a time she used to have a life in the neighbourhood of Knoxville.

“It’s not like that, guys…” Erska dragged as her finger almost crawled for the cool lemonade that she had ordered. Placing it against her cheek, her shoulders slumped to its chilly effect. “I got so into stuff that I had forgotten to call you but... I did call Alia the other day..”

The others looked at Alia who was looking away, trying not to make eye contact. “I mean. I might have forgotten to mention that..”

“Then you got no right to join us in the bickering, girl! Ya filthy liar!” pointed out Ira.

“Geez! Calm Down!” retreated Alia.

“Have you talked to your mom, girl?” asked Gina, releasing Erska from the embrace.

“I…actually met her yesterday..” she replied.

“What?” Ira said, almost screaming as she leaned forward. “She would have told us something!”

“It wasn’t exactly some happy thing or an occasion to celebrate. That’s why I think she wouldn’t have told you,” reasoned Erska.

“What did you guys talk about?” asked Gina.

“Umm.. it was mostly on a professional basis. I went to Bon Voyage and accidentally met her. Didn’t think she was going to be there early morning. Well, it was about my novel. I wanted to see if they could accept my manuscript for review but then my mom was like if you wanted to totally make it on your own, why don’t you try approaching other, here I am..”

“Wait…does that mean you have officially finished your book?” Ira asked in a surprised tone.

“Umm..yea...” replied Erska, her forehead frowning as she shrugged nonchalantly.

“That’s actually amazing! I wanted to tell you over the call but never got the time..” interjected Alia, suddenly realizing what she had done.

“You told her about it already, Erska?!” taunted Ira, her fists already clenched.

“Shut up, both of you,” began Gina, waving the other two. “You both are going off topic again!” Turning towards Erska, she continued, “Have you actually completed the book?”

“Yes…why are you guys acting all weird and shit now?” asked Erska, eyeing her friends.

“It’s obviously good news, girl! You did the whole thing on your own! Without mother’s help that too!” exclaimed Ira, leaning forward to pat Erska on the head.

“Truthfully, we were all doubtful if you’d be able to do it,” revealed Alia hesitantly to which all the others nodded in agreement.

“What? Are you all serious?” Erska said, taken aback by their lack of confidence.

“Yea..why on earth did you think we tried to stop you so bad?” questioned Ira.

“Because I was being a rebellious brat?”

“I mean, of course, that also. Let’s be real though. You are holed up in that house of yours. We keep pulling you out every time. Of course, we would be worried if you were going to be ‘I’m going to survive on your own.’ Like you were taking one of the most dumbest decisions…” reasoned Ira.

“Guys. I was young and I took stupid decisions but- I can’t believe you guys thought I wouldn’t be able to make it on my own,” said Erska, piqued by their audacity.

“Calm down, girl. After all, we always look out for each other, right? And we tried our best in..perhaps, in ways that we know. Though I’m sure the people at Franklin’s Motel might have actually helped you, we will always support you,” reassured Alia but her face looked drooped.

“That kind of hurts, I guess but our Erska has grown up, hasn’t she?” said Gina, pinching Erska’s cheeks. “After all, you can make it on your own. You don’t need anyone’s help.”

But the cheerfulness had died down despite their smiles because their eyes looked more sombre. Erska looked at them with a bewildered expression. Aww, you guys…

“Oh come one, you guys! My novel is something different from you. I mean, the novel is novel and you guys are you guys? What I’m trying to say is you are my friends and nothing can replace that!” Erska said in a merry tone, trying to cheer their spirits up.

“Okay. Okay. Calm down, missy. It’s starting to get weird…” said Alia, trying to sound serious only to end up giggling.

“We’re proud of you, Erska,” stated Ira. “You the best rebel ever. Goodness, I couldn’t do that..”

“Your dad would cut you out of the trust fund, Ira and that’s important to you, I believe,” reminded Gina before her friend’s life could end in possible jeopardy.

“You’re right. I need that. I ain’t doing shit,” mumbled Ira while shaking her head off the possible futures that could pop in her head in another reality.

“I think you are going to shake up Knoxville for all that I think!” added Alia. “I mean you were hot news for being a stupid rebel but if you come out with this book, it’ll be like spitting on their faces!”

“Oh yea like you proved them wrong, bitches!” continued Ira.

“Okay! Okay! That’s enough! I haven’t even finished it yet and guys are building castles in the air..the thing is I haven’t even found a publisher. They think it is too different from my previous one. I’m still looking through. I have already been rejected fourteen times today…” enclosed Erska, finally letting her heart out.

“So?” Gina asked.

“That means I’m not as successful as you think. There are still more processes till the end product comes out..” explained Erska in disbelief at their coolness.

“I kind of think you are hard on yourself. You should pat yourself on your back for completing a milestone in your life. This is monumental. Now, you are all in a hurry. Do you even remember how worried you were for your first one? You were so hard on yourself, forcing yourself to stare at the walls and your notes and laptop… though I don’t know how you might have been for this book but you look more carefree now. You are obviously bothered about the other processes but still, you did this, girl..” Gina said, rubbing Erska’s back.

“Wow, you might be right. I was heading so much towards it that I forgot to realize I wasn’t fretting at all,” understood Erska, nodding her head slowly.

Alia placed her hands on the table, all excited. “This basically calls for a celebration! I don’t care about your other processes. I know you will work on it as you have done your novel. So, let’s do this!”

“Good plan, Alia,” agreed Ira. “So, where shall we hold it?”

“Maybe we’ll book an estate? Whom should we call?” began Gina as she took out her phone to check the calendar.

“Guys! Wait! Hold on!” interrupted Erska, slightly scrunching her nose to other’s dismay. Then, she winked with a smile. “If we are going to party, we’ll go Cafakla style.”

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