7. MARS AND JUPITER
It’s Sunday and I get ready for another shift at the cafe. I’m happy to be occupied with something since I have caught up on all the college work that had been assigned. It was easy to do since I only slept less than five hours every night. It’s not ideal but better than not being able to sleep.
At first, after the accident, I couldn’t sleep at all. Every time I closed my eyes, flashes of the scene would fill my head — I would wake up with hot flushes and screaming. My dad forced me to see a therapist, it didn’t help. The only thing I got out of it was sleeping pills and a huge bill on my dad’s already suffering wage.
I don’t like taking the pills, they make me feel groggy the morning after and out of control with my own mind. I need to be in control, so I learnt to adapt to the lack of sleep and now it almost seems normal. One could argue what normal meant for a girl whose life got turned upside down on one Christmas Eve but it’s the tragedy that I call my life.
I change into black leggings and a black t-shirt. Mia didn’t tell me what to wear to work but I noticed her casual black clothes so I thought that was the appropriate attire and she didn’t say anything about it.
“Hey!” Mia greets me and places the frozen strawberries in the blender, along with banana and cinnamon powder.
“Hey,” I say and watch her make the order. She pours the smoothie into a glass and slides it over to me, her pink fingernails scanning over the next order.
“Table eight,” she tells me nonchalantly and I realise I’m already on the clock. The thing about Mia is that you don’t know if she likes you or is just acting nice.
I grab the smoothie and make my way over to the booth. I notice the caramel locks and stop in my tracks, almost turning around.
Asher is sitting in booth number eight but before I could quickly make an escape route, his head snaps up. I don’t have a choice but to make my way over to his booth.
“I’m sorry about Friday night, I was drunk,” he says when I place the smoothie in front of him. “I was surprised to see you and uh...I don’t know why I said what I did,” he rambles and looks up at me apologetically. His familiar eyes sparkle and I fold my hands against my chest.
“How did you know I would be here?” I ask. I didn’t see him come here for the last week so this clearly isn’t his usual spot to grab some casual lunch. By himself.
“I didn’t,” he smiles guiltily and adds. “Nice surprise, isn’t it?”
“Sure,” I reply, rolling my eyes and turn on my heel.
I feel his fingers softly wrap around my wrist and I turn back to look at him, “I miss you,” Asher says. His words don’t spark anything inside me like I thought they might. Instead, I am annoyed that he is expecting me to say it back.
“Asher, I am working,” I say, tugging my hand away from him and walking away. I thought he wanted to be single for college — I guess now he regrets that decision. It’s not that I am being petty, but when your ex-boyfriend says he misses you after breaking up with you to be single for college, it makes you feel a certain way. Almost satisfied.
Mia gives me a look, “Is that your boyfriend?”
“Ex,” I reply and she arches an eyebrow.
I shrug, is it weird that I don’t care that Mia is attracted to him?
Brody rushes past us, he mutters a phrase underneath his breath about Mars doing something weird with Jupiter and struggles to get his arms through the brown jacket. It’s the first time I see him since the interview. I watch him quizzically. I’ve never seen someone more interesting than him, he is one big mystery.
“He is obsessed with horoscopes,” Mia says when she sees me watching Brody cross the road through the cafe window.
I quickly avert my eyes but Mia doesn’t seem to care that I was looking at him, the last thing I needed was for her to think I am checking her uncle out. “Horoscopes?” I ask.
“Yeah, anything superstitious really. He’s into all that voodoo stuff,” Mia says in a way that implies she’s not a great believer.
“And you’re not?” I ask.
She looks at me as if not expecting for me to ask her that, “I’m not sure. Before living with Brody I wasn’t into any of that stuff but now...I don’t know.”
I read my horoscope sometimes but I didn’t take it seriously. They are written in a way to fit everyone into their theory. Some important decisions are going to come your way. One person could say an important decision is what to have for dinner, while another person has to decide whether they should take their mother off life support. See the vagueness?
I walk into the house after I finish work and find board games sprawled across the living room floor. Liv and Zach are huddled together as a team, discussing something about the game. Theo and Josh are bickering, what a surprise and Ace is on his phone while Lexi tries to get his attention by sliding her hands over his bicep.
Looks like the normal I think to myself as I seem to recognise the way their group works.
No one realises I came inside except for Ace, his head snaps up and our eyes lock for a moment, sending a shiver up my arms before he drops his gaze back to his phone. So we weren’t talking again? I hadn’t seen him since Friday night and I am not sure why I thought it would be different after that incident. I mean I punched him and he took me to the hospital — why wouldn’t it be different after that?
I reach the fridge and take out a bottle of water to take upstairs with me.
“Hey,” Liv says when I go for the stairs. “Want to join us?”
“Yeah, you can be in my team, Theo is dragging me down,” Josh jokes and Theo shoves him playfully.
“Don’t start, you’re the one who rolled a two!” Theo interjects and I laugh. They seriously act like children when around each other.
I don’t want to go upstairs and spend the whole night alone until I finally fell asleep in the early hours of the morning. And it’s nice to be finally making new friends.
I see Theo scoot over and motion for me to come and sit next to him while Josh does the same. I roll my eyes and assess the situation. If I sit next to Theo, I would have to also sit next to Ace and the last thing I want to do is deal with his mood swings. I choose Josh and look apologetically at Theo, shrugging my shoulders as to say I am sorry. He gives me a small smile not knowing the real reason I declined his offer.
“Were you out last night?” I ask Liv even though I know they were out and didn’t get back till late last night. I remember feeling the emptiness of the house and weird feeling of... being left out? It’s not like they owe me anything, I just met them but I thought... What? What did I think? That they were going to invite me to everything?
“Yeah, we were at the club,” Liv says, I see Ace throw a warning look to Liv but she didn’t care.
“You can come next Saturday -,” Liv began.
Ace cut her off, “No, she can’t.”
My mouth almost gapes open. He is back to being his usual charming self and I can’t say I missed it.
I see Liv shoot him a frustrated look and an unusual feeling rushes through me. Why do I feel bothered that Ace doesn’t like me?
Zach sets up the classic game of monopoly so we didn’t have to play in groups, otherwise, someone would be left out.
“Come on, have a drink with us,” Josh begs. I am about to decline for the third time, he is very persistent but I don’t think I can do alcohol for the second time this weekend.
“She doesn’t want one,” Ace says and all eyes go on him. I notice that he isn’t drinking either. Lexi gives him a look that says, ‘why do you care’, he ignores her and just goes back to his phone. Lexi sighs in irritation, I don’t blame her.
“Actually Josh, I think I might have what you are,” I say and out of the corner of my eye, I see Ace look back up at me and his jaw tenses in annoyance.
I don’t understand him. Does he have a personality disorder?