The cycle of Strangers

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Chapter 10

“Who taught you that?” I gasp, putting the churro I was waiting to eat down from my hand, on top of the paper bag.

In his arrogant triumph- the right side of his faint pink lips turn upwards, forming a sinister smirk on his face. Instead of being pulled into his trance, I can’t help but feel infuriated by his cockiness. My eyes roll at his attempt.

“I watched a film with that word in.” He shrugs, although I don’t believe this boy would watch a Nollywood. Even myself- I can’t bare with persevering through the bad special effects.

“What’s the name?”

“Isoken.” He replies, shortly.

I can’t help but feel strange. I feel researched. I feel like he’s trying to prove me his greatness and knowledge. As much as it’s great, that he is cultural appreciative, I can’t help but wonder why he thinks it’s not awkward or weird to bring it up now. Especially with the fact that I’m not even Nigerian.

“Why are you so into interracial books and movies, let alone the fact that they’re romance?”

“I’m tired of reading books with the same white relationship- one girl, blonde hair; one boy, blue eyes. I was looking for a different story line.” He explains, looking me in the eyes the whole time.

“I understand, but why are those books the only ones you speak to me about. In this situation, I did ask you the question. However, at the store you bought not one, but two interracial- black woman, white man- books. I don’t know if you were trying to prove your ‘woke-ness’ or how knowledgeable you are when it comes to dating black women, or if you were trying to give me a hint, or-”

“I never meant it in that way, I’ve been doing research on interracial books-”

“Are you trying to be friends with me for ‘research’?” I tilt my head, waiting for his next words, making sure to give him eyes that say ‘pick your words wisely’.

“No, no! Of course not-” He waves his hands in the air whilst shaking his head, abruptly.

“So what are you-”

“Rosalina!” Gio interrupts me with a frustrated tone. Deep and low, his voice still manages to run shivers down my spine. It’s the kind of voice of which makes you think twice about whether or not your bones just vibrated. Oddly enough, it’s satisfying.

“Rosalina,” he says softer this time, ” I’m studying Film studies. My project task is to do research on lack of representation in the media. I chose to go for the lack of interracial couples shown where the woman is the minority. That’s why I read and watched those books and films. But that’s not all, I also read ‘To all the boys I loved’, ‘Love, hate and other filters’ and I still have more to read. Me doing this study has nothing to do with you. I was intrigued about your hatred towards romance, not because I wanted you for my research. You’ll be glad to hear, I don’t pick out my friends by race.”

“Oh.” My mouth shapes itself like an ‘o’, saying nothing further, knowing exactly where I already stand. I can’t even deny it, he really finished me. I’m afraid that if I say anything more, I’ll make myself sound dumb.

“I shut you up, didn’t I?” He hangs his head down, looking up with a cheeky smile spread over his face.

“No, I just got tired.” I pick up the churro again, taking a bite into it’s hard outer shell. Instead of chewing with my mouth closed, I smack my lips together, squeezing my face whilst I attempt to let the food run down my system.

“What’s wrong?” He scowls at my open mouth- edging back slightly, holding out a clean, white napkin.

“You made them cold.” I groan, slamming the churro back onto the table.

Gradually, he moves closer, quickly picking up one of my churros and dipping it into the Nutella. Unlike before, when someone would steal my food and I’d snatch it back, I actually wait. If he wants to choke on MY food, I don’t mind!

“Go ahead.” He squints his eyes, looking pre-cautiously. I giggle(something I’ll never do again), just to increase his fear even more. It does phase him. His eyes flick back to the chocolate dipped churro and then back at me. In a matter of seconds, the churro slowly enters his mouth.

“Did you do something?”

“Nope.” I smile, adding puppy eyes.

Funnily enough, he grabs a tissue and brings it to his mouth. Without giving any warning, he spits the remaining substance onto the napkin, wrapping it up and glancing up at me with pure hatred.

Nice.

“You did that to yourself.” I chuckle.

I guess that’s what you get for eating churros on a winters day. You don’t even get five minutes to eat them, gosh.

Anyway, aren’t I lucky I bought a lot. Slipping my hand into the carrier, I bring out the salmon baguette, placing it on top of the bag, so that it’s not directly on the table.

For majority of the time we sat in a silence eating. If I must say, I felt a bit uncomfortable, although he did not seem to mind. In between bites we’d make snide remarks towards one another. Surprisingly, he said more than I.

“So, which school do you go to?” I ask.

“House of Alynthis.” He replies, rubbing the back of his neck, eyes fixated on the table.

“Stop,” I burst out laughing, ” why are you being so humble? You go to one of the best schools around here. I’d be so tempted to brag or at least smile.”

“What do you mean?” He gasps, hand on his heart as if he’s offended.

“That’s the prestigious drama, film and literature school, isn’t it?” Just in case I got something wrong.

“That’s the one.” He confirms.

“Wow, so you want to be a...” I drag the last word, implying I want his answer.

“Scriptwriter.” He finishes my sentence.

“What made you think of that?”

Ever since I was in year six, my parents kept persisting on my career. Each year, they grew more persistent on finding out what I want to be. Until last year when I finally confirmed my ‘dream job’ and applied for my A levels. Economic, Maths, Further Maths and Business. All the subjects required for investment banking.

Although, sitting behind a desk all day, checking numbers don’t excite me. I’d rather be a scriptwriter. Not because he said it, but because it’s my dream to see my work on the screen. For years now, I’ve written books, not publishing one due to fear of rejection. However my dream will only live on in my head for longer if I don’t think of a strategy. My aim is to publish and get my book turned into a series on Netflix, before the day I die. If that doesn’t happen, I wasted my talent.

“I love the idea of turning words into action.” Gio shrugs.

“Ah.” I’m sure my voice came out disappointed, due to his mouth re-opening again.

“When you read, don’t you get a movie forming in your head?” His voice is calm.

“I suppose.” I yawn.

“Don’t you imagine the characters in your own way?” His voice is soothing.

“Yeah.” I let a breath out.

“Don’t you see the settings as if you were there?” His voice is like a meditation video.

“I do.” My mouth runs dry, pushing back the uprising thought.

“That’s what I want to make come to life.”

“That’s cool,” I smile at him. The mood turns so serious, I quickly can’t help but add in, “if you get there, of course.” I chuckle, eating away at my pick and mix sweets.

“And what do you want to be, miss ‘if you get there’?” He does the tongue thing. You know the thing people do when their tongue kind of presses against the side of their cheek, when they feel challenged. Yeah, he just did that.

God, if you’re watching me right now... please don’t read my thoughts. Amen!

“Investment banker.” I nod solemnly, not once looking up.

He slaps his hands together, clapping at his own stupid amusement from my job choice. That fool. How did I know he was going to react? He’s the type of person you can’t say anything to because you already know their reaction! Gosh!

“What are you clapping at?” I hiss.

“Nothing... nothing. That’s a cool job, to be fair. If you get there.” He chuckles, raising from his seat.

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