in a world made of circles
you’re the cube
so when conversation starts
they exclude you
Kayden didn’t make me run after him this time, he waited for me to reach the spot where he stood then put an arm around my shoulders.
I looked at him, not willing to be distracted. When I reached for the groceries, he pulled them away. He carried all four bags in one hand. I envied that sort of strength.
“Yes?” he raised an eyebrow.
“I’m here, so give me my stuff,” I told him, overly aware of our close proximity. He didn’t look any different from how he waa this morning except his hair was up in a top knot but now I saw that his dark hair was darker at the roots and the blue in his eyes had hints of green in them.
“You see this building,” he turned us around.
I looked at the music store and nodded. “That’s where you’re working now?”
“Yup,” he steered me to the stone bench beside the store’s front door and sat me down.
“But what has that got to do with me?”
“While I was waiting for you, I explored a bit and wandered in there out of boredom. They actually let people test out instruments so I decided to entertain myself a bit then the owner walked in on me playing and bam, I’m suddenly being hired to play in front of the store to attract new customers.”
“So that’s where the guitar came from,” I pointed at the instrument even though I was sure I didn’t need to. I just didn’t know what to do with my hands. “But it still has nothing to do with me.”
“Sure it does,” Kayden sighed dramatically and set the groceries down to pluck a string. “You could say that the owner only hired me so that he could avoid someone who would fight for higher pay. You could also say that he’s trying to give people the impression that his horrible music classes can turn them into the next Jimi Hendrix. But you can’t say that anyone would hire a smelly hobo, so thank you for letting me shower and sleep in a warm room, Benefactor.”
“You aren’t a hobo. . . And you weren’t smelly,” I thought back to the bedsheets I had sealed and hidden in my room, and felt embarrassed. If he ever found out, what would he think?
“Just accept it, I am forever indebted to you. I really needed a job and without you abandoning me,” he placed a hand on his chest and pretended to swoon, “I wouldn’t have gotten one.”
“Sorry, Kayden. I really didn’t—”
“Jeez, I was kidding,” he laughed. “Stop apologizing all the time. You’re making me feel bad.”
I watched him adjust the tuning keys of the guitar then pluck a string. It was the fourth time he had done that while we had been talking. “Kayden, can you even play the guitar?”
“Not for my life, Princess,” he answered with a small laugh. “I really don’t know anything about music.”
“Then how did you get the owner to hire you?”
He smiled and positioned his fingers along the fingerboard of the guitar. The tune of a song I had heard on Arleen phone erupted from the guitar as he played, surprising me.
“I have no idea. I just did it,” he shrugged.
“That’s amazing,” I told him honestly, remembering how long it had taken me to learn how to play anything on the piano. In the end, learning the instrument had been a chore. It wasn’t something I loved to do, so I quit.
“Stubbornness might be my only talent,” Kayden admitted but I didn’t believe him. “I spent my entire childhood secretly learning how to play songs with my uncle’s guitar. No one taught me anything so it was all trial and error. I guess the effort was worth it though. Now if I hear a song, I can play it.”
“I used to play the piano,” I told him, expecting him to ask why I stopped. Everyone always did, wondering why I would give up the opportunity when I had been so good at it.
“I can’t believe it,” he said instead. “Even you know more music theory than I do.”
“Why do you call me princess?” I asked, deciding to use the moment to ask him all the questions I had wanted to since the moment he smiled and walked out of my room. The image of him picture up the pictute frame flashed before my eyes. “I know that you don’t think I’m a girl, so why that nickname?”
“Well,” he leaned towards me, “you haven’t told me your name yet.”
“Oh,” I resisted the urge to shift back. “It’s Olly.”
“Olly.” He grinned and looked down at his guitar. “That’s a nice name. Short for anything?”
I wanted to say no. The word was right there at the top of my tongue. I wanted to say that I was just Olly but would he be able to tell that I was lying? Would that lie end the conversation?
The first people I told my full name didn’t understand. I thought they would with names like Rainbow and Sky and China but they didn’t. For some reason they didn’t understand that names were given to you, you couldn’t choose them. If they seemed ridiculous, you just had to deal with it. Apparently, names like Rainbow, Sky and China were unique and Olive was just strange.
Till now, I haven’t told Arleen my full name and Dad stopped calling me Olive when I told him that I preferred being addressed as Olly. Now that I knew that he spent most of his time grieving my sister, I guess he must have been relieved to not have to say her name anymore.
Only Mother called me Olive. I think she was the only one that like the name.
“It’s a secret,” I answered at last. That way future-me could still tell him later. . . Maybe.
“Interesting.” His smile grew at my attempt at being mysterious. “I’ll still call you Princess though.”
“Because that gown was from Disney’s Princess collection and you looked really cute in it,” Kayden replied. “So the nickname is not because of the fact that you dressed up to look like a girl or the fact that you might look like a princess, it is because I think a princess gown is the gown you look best in.”
“You just made that up!” I couldn’t help the laughter that rolled out my chest. Even slapping my hands over my mouth couldn’t hide it.
Nobody looked my way. I put my hands down. “Who thinks like that?”
“I do,” Kayden said with a wide, knowing grin. “Any boy with at least one older sister who loves him has been dressed as a girl before. Just ask around.”
“Were you?” I asked, a little curious to see a little version of Kayden in a pink dress.
“Of course.” For some reason there was pride in his voice. “I have three older sisters. It was inevitable.”
“So I can call you Princess too?”
“Sure,” Kayden shrugged, indirectly revealing that he had been dressed in a ‘princess gown’ as well. “But. . . I’d also have to call you Baby Princess afterwards because I’m older.”
The very thought of that made me flinch. Already, I knew that he had won this. Whatever it was. “Fine,” I relented. “You can call me whatever you want, just not that.”
Kayden laughed and slapped the body of the guitar softly. “As you wish.”