New Kid In Town

“I’ll just take a muffin, thanks.”

“Great! That’ll be five dollars!” The woman cheers, giving off too much excitement. “Oh! Are you a student at the university? If you show me your ID, you’ll get a 50 percent discount on any and all purchases!”

“Oh, no, I’m not a student.” I mumble, rummaging into my jeans pocket for the pack of wild dollars.   

“Oh, that’s okay, five dollars then!” She shrieks, giving me another overbearing smile. I start to get nervous from the interaction and drop the crumpled dollars on the counter and leave with my muffin. “Thank you! Come again!” She practically screams. I made sure not to look back. I make my way to the nearest table and take my seat.

The café is desolate, with only one or two people occupying tables. This environment is just what I need right now. Having just moved into this town, I feel like I’m going to explode from confusion any second. I don’t even remember what this place is called. All I know is this place is heavily dependent on some school. What school? I don’t know or actually care. I’m only here because my parents wanted me to keep an eye on my aunt, making sure that she’s actually using the money we send her for rent and not drugged fruit snacks. I don’t know why my parents waste so much time on her, but at the very least, she’s fun to be around. But I don’t know how long I’m going to last hear with everyone being so expressive. Back at home, people were so relaxed, but here, everyone acts like an alien trying to convince others that they’re real humans. It’s just so… weird here.

“Excuse me! Are you okay? You’ve been staring at that muffin for a while. Is there something wrong with it? Do you need a new one?” The woman behind the counter shatters my train thought.

“Oh no! Everything is fine, thank you.” I say, as I awkwardly make my way to the tables outside. I exit the café and feel the warmth of the golden setting sun. The breeze was setting the mood for me better than I had imagined it would. Again, I walk over to the table nearest to me and take my seat. I take a deep breath and take a bite of my muffin… Without any sort of warning, I feel disgusted. My mouth cramps up and I force myself to swallow the piece of the muffin I had bit off.

“Uck! It’s blueberry!? Of course… Why wouldn’t it be blueberry.” And just like that, the good vibes vanished. In a town, I know nothing about with no friends… With a flavor of muffin that I’ve hated since kindergarten. I need to be backing back to the apartment anyway, I have to make sure that aunt Tursa is ready for her first day at her new job tomorrow. Hopefully she won’t lose this one on the first day, like the last four times. Cutting my losses, I get up to start walking back to the apartment. “I’ll make sure to take this walk slow…” I whisper to myself, still acknowledging the great weather.

“And this is The Mintea, it’s a little way off campus but it’s worth the walk for their coffee. They get every aspect of it right ALL of the time and their staff are too eager to please! If you ever catch yourself in CraterLake, then you HAVE to stop by here!” Suddenly, I hear the voice of a girl. Her enthusiastic voice was booming through the air, so much so that I could physically feel it. Even though it was hard to ignore, I kept my head down and kept walking… “home”. “Unfortunately, there aren’t a lot of students here right now to vouge for me but, I SWARE, this place is always the best!” Why is it that I’m walking away but her voice is getting louder? Man… I really want to go back home, I’m not gonna last a minute here with people like her walking around. “I mean… I could as my friend here but she doesn’t get out much. It’ll be like asking a baby how to walk!”

“What!?” I hear the voice of another girl who sounds extremely irritated. Out of reflex, I turn my head back to see who they were.

“I’m sorry, but it’s true! It is… Oh, look! I can just ask him!” The second our eyes made contact; my heart sank. Her eyes lit up and she points towards me with puppy dog eyes. I wanted to act like I didn’t notice but I looked right at her when she did it… I’m still looking at her too… “Excuse me!” She starts to jog over and I force myself to stop walking. It’d be better just to talk instead of running away. Her friend walks over patiently, visibly annoyed. “Hi! You come here often don’t you!? Isn’t the coffee here amazing or what!?”

“…” I respond with a blank stare. I don’t understand what’s happening. She has her phone shoved into my face and I can’t think of a proper response. She reeks of rose-scented perfume and her hair is long and is bright blue. I don’t know why her hair is even relevant but I can feel my brain not knowing what to react to. The longer I waited, the wider her eyes became, revealing her yellow pupils. What does she want from me!? I don’t know anything about this café!

“Uh… hello? Can you hear me? Or are you high? Is it legal to broadcast someone who’s high? I mean, you seem high but I guess there’s no way to prove that… But what if you’re deaf! Oh my god! I’m so sorry—wait you can’t even hear me! Uh! How many fingers am I holding up!?” The girl begins to spiral and shoves her hand into my face along with her phone.

“I don’t know! Twelve!?” I spout out, out of sheer social panic.

“Nana, what are you doing!?” Her friend interrupts, saving both of us from our social malfunction. “You don’t just walk up to strangers and broadcast them on your goofy little live stream.”

“What!? It’s harmless! I was just trying to get insight from a fellow student of ours.” Nana says, giving a childish scoff.

“No, what you were doing was invading someone’s personal space, I have to apologize for her, she lives in her world of her own. My name is Leslie. Nice to meet you.” She says, offering a soft smile.

“My name is Startin,” I reply, returning to normal social parameters. Leslie looked and acted much calmer than Nana which was enough to put me at ease. She also wasn’t wearing a perfume that burnt my nose hairs… So, I guess that’s helping me out.

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen you around on campus, are you new here?” Leslie asks, with genuine curiosity in her voice.

“Yeah… I don’t even remember the name of this town. It’s something about a lake, right?”

“This isn’t some town! It’s CraterLake city. It really isn’t that hard to remember.” Nana comes at me, chock full of attitude.

“Give him a break! All he needs is time to adjust. So, what time do you have classes today?”

“Classes…?”

“Oh! You don’t even go to Stormstrahl!? Well, I guess it was my fault for assuming. It’s just that people our age usually come here to go Stormstrahl to learn about Magi-technology. It’s one of the best schools out there for it.”

“Uh… okay…” My confusion was leaking onto my face more and more by the second.

“You have no idea what I’m talking about do you?”

“Nope. I’m not here to learn. I’m here to make sure that a relative of mine gets her life back on track. She’s lucky to be getting this much support from us.”

“Well good luck with that!” Nana shrieks, forcing herself into the conversation. “Leslie and I have more girl things to do so… bye!”

“No, we don’t! All you’ve been doing is dragging me around and blogging everything! I can’t believe I let you talk me into this… You better give those crackers you promised, or I’m going to make this worth my while at your expense.”

“I’ll give you your crackers, whatever. I was only trying to get you outside of your room, you know, being a nice person. Things like that…”

“You’re doing this so you can tell me I owe you later.”

“Just like I said, I’m being nice!”

“Hey Startin, do you mind walking around with us so you can take a look around the city?” Leslie asks, with an unfitting smug look on her face.

“That’s a shock! Aren’t you one of those introvert types? Hating people or whatever it is you do?”

“Yeah, but I hate the thought of dealing with you alone any longer so, I might as well ask him,” Leslie says, giving a cold shrug to Nana.

“Ugh… whatever.”

“Sure, but I won’t be able to stay long, I really gotta get back home soon.”

“Don’t worry Startin, we’ll get you back home in one piece!” Leslie says, in a motivating tone.

“Wow, thanks… I really appreciate it.” I say, feeling a new sense of hope bubble in my chest.

“Just don’t be too weird. This is Leslie’s first time talking to a real boy, so try not to overwhelm her.”

“I dare you to say that again!” Leslie screams. Immediately Nana turns and runs full speed as Leslie sprints after her. CraterLake is full of very interesting people, they even have a whole school based around the stuff. But I have my own weird magic that I’ve got to worry about… I should stop thinking to myself and catch up with them… they’re unreasonably fast.

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