We turn, spotting Baka across the street. “You’re going to be late if you keep standing there.”
Clinton waves him off. “I’ll get to soccer when I get there.”
Baka shrugs, and heads off towards the sport fields.
“You should go,” I say. “I can get myself home. I’m not a child.”
“No, Winile, let’s sort this out.”
“No,” he says. “It isn’t fine. You are accusing me of thinking things I’ve never thought. You, of all people, who likes facts, shouldn’t be making assumptions like that. You don’t know how I feel.”
“You’re right,” I nod. “I am making assumptions. But look at this.” I motion between us.
Clinton stares into the empty space. “Look at what?”
“This,” I say. “You walking me, like people do with their dogs at night.”
Clinton runs his hand down his face. “We don’t walk with the rest of the group because you keep ignoring them. Baka, for one, would happily join us every damn day. But he’s worried he scares you.”
“And Renée said your father told her she’s a bad influence and she doesn’t want to get you into trouble, so that’s why she’s always back with the others. But she likes you, so that’s why she wants to hang out at lunch, at least. In fact, they all like hanging out with you.”
“Why are you my friend?”
Something in Clinton’s face softens. It moves down, easing the tension in his shoulders. “Oh Winile, you are the smartest person I know when it comes to academics, but when it comes to people, you can be so wrong.”
I open my mouth to argue, but shut it, realising he is right. I don’t understand people well. I have a hard time knowing if they’re smiling because …
“I don’t walk you home because you’re my pet. I walk you home because I, one, enjoy spending time with you. Two, because I care about you, I want to make sure you get home safety. People do that for people they care about.”
“But I’m weird.”
Clinton tosses an arm across my shoulders and we start walking. “Everybody’s weird, Winile. We’ve all got things about us that make us different; just some people’s differences are more interesting than others.”
“I don’t see what’s so interesting about random facts,” I grumble, trying to ignore his arm around me. “Isn’t like I’m the only one who can read stuff on the internet.”
He gives my shoulder a squeeze. “See, I think you use the internet like people originally intended. But these days it is all about selfies and cat pictures.”
I glance over at his hand on my shoulder, as I consider a response. I don’t normally like so much touching. Although from Clinton, it’s nice. Maybe too nice. “I don’t understand the point of selfies.”
He chuckles. “No, I never imagined they were your thing.”
“The internet wasn’t created by one person, either. Although Nikola Tesla was thinking about a concept much like the internet far back in the early 1900s.”
“Right,” he says. “So, when did we get what we think of as the internet?”
“The World Wide Web is credited to Tim Berner-Lee, but people had begun to put together various networks of networks back in 1983. Look up ARPANET; it is very interesting.”
“I may do that,” he says.
I breathe out a sigh of relief. This is how we normally are, me weird, him humouring my weird. But not quite. I’m still missing something. But I’m not sure what it is that I’m missing.
Tell us: What do you think Winile is missing?