Applaud for me, my friends. This time, I’m only three days late as opposed to a week like last time.
So if you read the title of this post and went ‘What? There’s a part 3? Wha- when did this happen?’ then here’s where you should head. If you didn’t react like that and merely missed the 2nd part for some reason, then this is for you. If you’ve been waiting for part 3 since the last week and want to gouge my eye out with a toothpick since I’m late every week, then keep that toothpick inside and obey the nice purple link.
I turn around and see a tall bespectacled girl with a brown ponytail smiling at me. “Rennie? Hi! How’re you here?” I say, leaning in for a hug with the second of my closest friends. Who am I kidding? Only friends.
“I’m good,” she says. “Mom’s gonna be late today so she told me to have take-out.”
“I see. You can go and pick up dinner but not make time for your best friend’s 50th victory celebration at the bar,” I say, frowning.
Rennie sighs. “Look, Ess, I told you I had to work late at the strategy centre today. It’s an important day and-” she drones on about the monotonous details of her job while I don’t even pretend to look interested. “I’m really sorry. Maybe some other time. I promise you I won’t miss your 75th victory celebration.”
“Yeah, sure, if I’m alive until then.”
“Hey! Don’t talk like that. Tell you what, dinner’s on me.”
“But you said you were gonna have take-out.”
“Well, not now. We can eat here.”
I give her one of those half-smiles of mine which means I’m pleased but don’t want to show it.
We take one of the tables and start talking after the waiter takes our order. “So how’s your girlfriend?” she says, smirking at me.
“It’s getting old now, Ren,” I say, annoyed.
“It still manages to irritate you,” she says with a grin. “Anyway, did you know they finally managed to collect enough for that little diamond-harvesting project on Uranus?”
“Really? I thought that was never gonna come through.” After a few more minutes of scientific conversation, our food arrives. “Yum,” I say, taking a sniff of my Meiwei extra-extra special.
Rennie shakes her head. “Just like you douchebag to order the most expensive item on the menu now that I’m paying. I bet you’d have had the standard Hakka noodles otherwise.”
“Hey! You hurt my feelings by not coming to my celebration. Feelings are priceless, you know,” I say, feigning being hurt. ‘Asshole,’ Rennie mouths and then digs into her chilli soybean.
Halfway through dinner and normal conversation, Rennie finally lets out what looks like something she’s been waiting to ask me since we met here. “Did they tell you the truth?”
“You know, the truth about,” she leans closer and whispers- “You being the protagonist and this world being a book.”
I slam my fork down on the table. “That’s it. I’m not taking any more of this crap from any of you now.” I push back my chair and stand up. “Thanks for dinner, Rennie.” For the second time that day, I storm my way out of a public place.
What the hell is wrong with everyone? First Al and Mogu, and now Rennie? Rennie, who’s supposed to be smart and rational? Rennie, who never believes anything or anyone blindly? I could imagine Al indulging in this childish prank but Rennie? Never. Then what was the matter with her today?
I go straight back home, away from crazy people telling me the world’s a book with me as the hero. After some time of listening to music while polishing up my DLRY, I finally calm down enough to know I over-reacted. Al and Rennie are the only friends I have, after all, and it was a harmless joke intended to catch me off guard. They were probably hoping to look at the expression on my face and then laugh their heads off after clicking my picture in their iris-cam. I spoilt the fun by being all angry. Yep, that’s me, the overly serious idiot without a sense of humour.
I switch on my laptop, intending to send both of them a proper e-mail saying I’m sorry, but turn it back off at the last minute. E-mails don’t carry the charm and honesty of sorry cards. But it’s really late now, and I’m tired, so resolving to complete the task the next day, I hit the bed.
Next day, after lunch, as I finally finish writing and sealing up the two cards after four hours of stalling, looking for a pen and some nice-looking paper, and endless thinking, I get a phone call from Al.
“Spruce? You there?”
“Yeah, Al, I just wanted to say-”
“No time for that, bro. You’ve gotta come here soon. Something terrible’s happened to Rennie.”