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Alice and I stand awkwardly as we wait for our food, our hands no longer intertwined. We keep looking at one another and looking away once the other notices. I don’t think I’ve ever been this uncomfortable around another person in the entirety of the last two weeks.
“So… that was…” Alice starts, buzzing her lips as she looks over the ceiling.
“Something?” I finish for her. Alice nods in agreement.
“Yeah. Definitely something.” She avoids my gaze as we finally pick up our food.
“How are you feeling?” I ask her as I stare. I don’t think I’ve ever asked that question within my lifetime.
Alice shrugs before she leads me out of the Panera with our food in hand. I’m holding the Panda Express food. “I guess I don’t really know. I mean… I can’t say I was expecting that.”
I snort out a laugh. “Understatement of the century, much?”
Alice laughs dryly in reply. “Definitely.”
No more is said between the two of us as we walk to Libitina, Dakota, and Brandi. The three of them are chatting it up as we head over, which makes my stomach spin a bit. Alice waves to them as we approach.
“Do you come with food?” Brandi asks. I can tell everyone is extremely hungry--I lost my appetite mere minutes ago.
“Yeah,” Alice says. I notice her cheeks growing slightly pink as she sits by Brandi and I sit next to her. We pass out the food to everyone, and unsurprisingly, I have double the food as everyone else.
“Why do you have so much food, Yana?” Libi asks. Brandi glances at all my food and raises her brows.
“Didn’t know you were so gluttonous, Fos,” she says. Dakota stifles a laugh as I glare.
Alice sighs at them like their idiots. “Yana has never had Panda or Panera before.” Everyone stares at me like I’m insane as I open up the Panda Express box.
“It’s just food, guys,” I say before I take a bit out of the orange chicken. I stop and close my eyes as I take in the glorious flavor. I feel Alice chuckle awkwardly next to me, along with everyone else.
“‘Just food,’ huh?” Dakota mocks.
“Shut up,” I mumble through my food. Alice laughs at me.
The rest of our lunch is spent with chatter between Brandi, Dakota, and Libi while Alice and I remain silent. The others don’t notice our awkward state at first, but after we’ve all finished eating, I catch everyone giving Alice and me worried glances. My stomach clenches at the feeling of their eyes boring into my head.
“Are you two alright?” Libi asks, glancing between me and Alice. I sigh.
“Yeah,” I answer immediately. “Everything’s just fine.” I try making my voice as nonchalant as possible. Libi scrunches one of her brows.
“There were just some weird people in the Panera today,” Alice replies. Butterflies float in my stomach at her voice--which is something I never thought I’d think.
Libi looks at us scrutinizingly, like she doesn’t believe us. “What kind of people?”
“A couple of guys who were high,” I answer. “They were just loitering around and acting weird.” Alice thanks me with her eyes once Libitina looks away, still suspicious. I smile in reply.
After a few more minutes of talking, Brandi, Libi, and Dakota decide to go. We all agree that since Alice and I went together we’ll leave together, as with Brandi and the others. As awkward as I know driving back to my house with Alice will be, I decide that it’s better than having to drive with Brandi’s big fat mouth and Dakota’s snotty behaviour.
Alice unlocks my door and opens it as I walk up to her, holding it for me. My ears and cheeks burn up at this one--which I pray to whatever dear, holy god is living up in the sky Alice didn’t notice. She gets into her side of the car and starts up the engine, resting her hands in her lap. We don’t move or speak for a long time.
“That girl was either an idiot or way to focused on our hands,” I say, breaking the dreadful silence. Alice snorts out a laugh in reply.
“I think that second one sounded way more inappropriate than intended,” she says. I scrunch up my eyebrows, for once in my life not understanding her intended meaning.
“What do you mean?” I cock my head at her and she frowns.
“Wait, haven’t your parents given you the talk?” she asks.
I shake my head in confusion. I hate not understanding. “What talk?”
“You know, the talk,” she says lowly, her eyes darting around like she’s telling a secret. “The sex talk?”
I blink. “No. Actually, I didn’t know that was a thing until this very instant. Parents actual talk about that with their children?”
Alice nods unfortunately, like she’s taking innocence from a child. “Yes, they do. Wait, do you know what even happens in it?”
I cock my head even further and bit my lip. “Not exactly. I mean, I’ve gone to health class and everything, but I never really paid attention…? I don’t know. I just never found it very important to me.”
Alice blinks, trying to comprehend my words. “Are you asexual or something?”
“What does that mean?”
“It means you don’t… like or have sex. Something like that.” She nods.