“You going to tell me why you were trying to blow us off at lunch, today?” Clinton says.
I keep my eyes on the pavement.
“Listen, if any of our friends have made you unhappy, say so, and I’ll sort it out.”
I shake my head.
“Come on, there has to be something going on. You haven’t been this quiet since … okay, I don’t know when last. All I know, was when you were, something was wrong.”
I sigh. “You don’t see me as normal.”
“Who wants to be normal?”
He stops, putting a hand on my shoulder. “Okay, tell me again. Maybe I’ll understand this time.”
I shrug off his hand, and he looks hurt. Which makes me feel bad. “It isn’t a big deal.”
I start walking, but he jogs in front of me and stops. “Are you angry with me?”
“No. It’s just weird, you know?”
“No, I don’t. That’s why I’m asking what’s wrong.”
“It’s not wrong, it’s just who I am and how people see me.”
He takes a deep breath, slowly blowing it out. “Right, right, I’m trying to hear you, but I’m not exactly following. Tell me more.”
I give him a long, hard look. “My point is, you and everybody else don’t see me like other girls at school.”
“That’s true. I don’t.”
Something inside of me hurts hearing that, but I’m not sure what it is, and I don’t think healthy food can fix it.
He runs a hand over his head. “Listen, I can only speak for myself. I don’t know what the others think, but they like you. Still, even if I don’t see you like the other girls, what’s so bad about that?”
“Because I am a girl!” I’m shouting now, and a dog across the street looks up, like he’s judging me.
“Right,” Clinton’s saying. “I know you’re a girl. Not saying you’re not. I was–”
“I’m not some party trick you take around to show your friends. Hey, look over here, this girl can’t stop spouting facts!”
“No, no way.” He looks up at the sky like he’s asking it for help. “Listen, that’s not how it is. That’s not how I see you.”
“Really?” I cross my arms over my chest. That’s what Renée does when she’s getting serious. “Then how is it? Because you go to parties and you never take me with you.”
“First of all, your father would kill me. I know, because he already said that to my face.”
I blink in surprise.
“Second of all, you don’t even like parties. There are too many people. You can’t stand crowds.”
“That’s not the point.”
He groans. “You’re losing me again. I don’t see how not taking you to parties that you won’t enjoy is a bad thing. Why would I invite you to something you don’t like doing?”
“You have me eat with your friends all the time.”
“Okay,” he nods. “That’s a bit different. You need to socialise. It isn’t healthy to always be alone. They’re nice people. They like you. Baka can be a bit much, I know. But he honestly enjoys your company, and not just because you make him laugh.”
“So, I’m like a pet.”
“You know, animals people have for companionship, like cats and dogs. They’re called pets and–”
“Hold on, I know what pets are. What I don’t understand is why you think your friends – and they are your friends, too – think of you as a pet.”
“You do too. Not just them.”
Tell us: What do you think of Clinton? And does Winile have a point?