The Time We Have
My fry was dry. I had dipped it into Annette’s Sriracha-Mayo, and obviously, it shouldn’t be dry. But it was.
“What.” I said. Statement, not a question.
I turned to my left, where Annette sits, to tell her about her magic mayo, but I saw that she wasn’t there. Right. I remembered now; Annette had the Schnades (the sickness girls living in the residential building called Schneider Hall, a moldy humid mess, frequently got) and she was in quarantine.
“She’s in quarantine, Rene,” said Shreya.
“I know that,” I responded. “I already knew that.” I was still feeling pissy about my DRY FRY.
Sonia quickly swallowed a bite of hamburger that was too big to be quickly swallowed.
“We should visit her!” she suggested.
“Yeah!” responded Frank Waaaaaang.
I hated to be the bringer of bad news, but somebody had to tell the poor kids.
“Guys, nobody’s allowed to visit quarantine,” I said.
“Yeah.” said Frank Waaaaaang with a tone that expressed a mix of disappointment and admission. It was amazing how expressive he could be with his ‘Yeah’s.
“Then we sneak…?” said Shreya sarcastically. Right. Duh. I’m about to tell her I was kidding or something equally unbelievable, but Frank Waaaaaang cuts in with an extra enthusiastic “Yeah!” and all the snap in my melts away. Sonia quickly swallows another massive bite of food and I worry about her esophagus. How does it handle the stress? As everybody gets up, ready to put their plates in the washing chute when I have an idea.
“Guys, we have to bring her something.”
“Like what?” asks Sonia.
Shreya nods. “She’s probably only had noodle-less ramen and SKL for the past 3 days,” she says, naming CTY’s favorite drink, Strawberry-Kiwi Lemonade, a disgusting neon pink beverage that could only be bought at Turkey Hill, a chain of gas stations with a nearby location. Thank god it was only confined to one chain. Sonia looked around the main dining hall for something to bring Annette.
“Cookies?” she suggested. I nodded, grabbed the entire plate of 30-something cookies and stuck them in the microwave. “The whole thing?” asked Shreya doubtfully. I nodded, grinning. I stood there, still riding the wave of my idea of bringing Annette 30 cookies as i waited for the microwave. Every time I microwaved them, they came out Not Hot Enough. By the third time, I gave up.
“Yeah, whatever,” I said as I took the massive plate out of the microwave and started walked out the doors of the dining hall, with Frank Waaaaaang, Shreya, and Sonia in tow. As soon as we opened the doors, the July Summer air hit us like a wall of bricks. A really hot, humid wall of bricks. With gnats in it, too.
“Let’s go!” shouted Sonia as she took off running towards the main building. Shreya and Frank Waaaaaang followed suit, and I…tried. I had a lot of cookies. It’s not easy running with cookies. When we reached the building, we were out of breath, and panting. Oh my god, AIR CONDITIONING! We were about 10 seconds into being in the building, and our plan of stealth seemed to be disintegrating. We were loudly panting and fanning ourselves, and saying things like “Oh my god” and “So hot” and “Yeah” (Frank). The cookies were still with us, though. That was good.
“Okay,” I said. “Let’s go.” We walked through the hallway leading to the infirmary, where Annette was being held. I creaked open the door, and saw a room with like, 10 other doors. Right, there’s no monopoly on being sick. Multiple rooms are probably useful. I tiptoe in and open the door to my right, as Frank Waaaaaang opens another across the room. My room contains a really bothered guy, but when Shreya asks Frank if he has Annette, he says “Yeah”.
We all tiptoe inside, trying not to wake her up. In retrospect, that makes literally no sense. She opened her eyes, and asked in a creaky voice that sounded like a door opening.
“Yeah,” Frank Waaaaaang whispered back.
We spent the next 20 minutes catching Annette up on what was happening at CTY and feeding her cookies one by one. When we got caught, we left her in her bed, and said goodbye.
3 months later, I learned that Annette’s father had dies, and that she wouldn’t be going to CTY this year. I’m glad we spent the time we had together, because it can be lost in a second.
The Time We Have