“There you are!” Renée exclaims, sounding out of breath.

“Dear Lord, somebody tell coach I’ve already done my laps for the day,” Baka groans.

“Oh, shut it,” Nomhle says. “I don’t even play sport and I did fine. You’re just being lazy.”

“We’re … coming …” shouts Robyn, with Enrico trailing behind.

Renée shakes her head. “We looked all over for you at lunch. Now you’re walking home alone. What’s this about?”

I look at her nervously. “Um…”

She glances over her shoulder. “Your father doesn’t have eyes everywhere. Anyway, you’re not just with me, you’re with everyone, he can’t complain about that.”

“That’s really–”

“Yes,” says Baka. “I’m not taking anything but a ‘yes’ from you. Nobody should be walking home alone. Besides, we’re not that bad, are we?”

Robyn and Enrico finally catch up. “That … was … not … fun,” Robyn pants.

“Exactly,” Enrico says. “Let’s not … do this … again.”

“Well,” Renée says, crossing her arms over her chest. “I’m waiting. Are we not good enough for you, or what?”

“Sorry, I–”

“Hey, maybe she’s just worried about Clinton,” Baka says. “He’s back at home. Want us to take you there?”

I nod, grateful for the interruption.

“Wait,” Renée says, slapping a hand against Baka’s chest. “I want to know what’s really going on. Because it isn’t just today. She’s always eating alone unless Clinton drags her over. Why do you do that?”

I blink.

“Dear Lord,” Baka groans. “We’ve broke her. Our Wiki has run out of facts.”

“I’ve got some facts,” Renée says. “One, human beings are social animals.”

I open my mouth; she cuts me off. “Don’t argue, I looked it up. I read articles online from Forbes, NBC news and Scientific American, so I know I’m not talking nonsense. People need other people.”

“Yes,” I say.

“So,” she says. “What you doing always leaving us alone? Is it because we’re not as smart as you?”


“Okay,” says Baka. “Is it because I scare you? What is it?”

“Its …”

Nomhle puts a hand on my arm. “You can tell us. We’re listening.”

“I’m embarrassed.”

“How so?” Renée says, raising an eyebrow.

I’ve always wanted to raise a single eyebrow, but I’ve always lacked–

Baka snaps his fingers in front of my face. “Hello, right here.”

“I’m just so weird,” I blurt. “I can’t stop telling people about stuff. Like right now, I was thinking about how some people can move their eyebrows really easily, and some people–”

“That’s it?” Renée says. “All this time, you’ve been avoiding your friends because you’re worried we think you’re weird? And here I was worried my sex stories were driving you crazy.”

“They drive me crazy,” Enrico grumbles.

“That’s because you’re still a virgin and jealous,” Renée snaps.

“Wiki’s probably a virgin, too,” Enrico whines.

Baka smacks him on the head. “Shut up. Unlike you, Wiki doesn’t complain about her sex life, or lack of one. You do. That’s the difference.”

Robyn and Nomhle nod, as Renée grins. “Thank you,” she says, then turns back to me. “Right, we’ve cleared the air. From now on, no more avoiding us.”

“Okay.” It comes out like a whisper.

Renée hooks her arm through mine. I do not like this touching. But I don’t say anything, because I worry she’ll be insulted and get mad at me all over again.

“Right,” she says. “Let’s get you over to Clinton’s before the man starts worrying we’ve done something to you. He’s got it bad, you know.”

I don’t know what she’s talking about, but it seems easier to let it go and just keep walking.


Tell us: What do you think about Winile’s and Clinton’s friends? Are they the type of people you’d hang out with?