Tuesday morning on the highest floor of Stephenson Hall, there was a knock on the door to Mike’s suite. More than a knock. Maybe it was a knock five minutes ago. Now it was more like someone was hammering on the door with his or her fist.
Mike groggily reached for his Weave device. 6:56. He had an hour before his first class still. Who could possibly want to wake him up before seven? He vaguely wondered if he should put on a shirt and cracked the door open.
Somehow it wasn’t a surprise.
I made truffles once. They were sticky and misshapen and actually melted in my locker before I got them to the French class they were for but they did taste really really good.
“When’s your roommate’s birthday?”
Eri was lying on Az’s bed, reading manga on her Weave device and stuffing her face with snacks. It was that kind of afternoon for her, a laze around, feeling mopey kind of afternoon. She looked up at Az’s question confused.
“Isn’t it August 24th like it says on her papers?” Master hacker here should have known that from day one.
“Um Samantha?” Az waved his hand in front of Kei’s face. The girl stopped staring out of the window and snapped to attention.
“You okay?” They were doing homework in the common room. Kei hadn’t touched her problem set in ten minutes.
The beginning of February was a flutter of activity. End-semester evaluation examinations (not really E-SEE at all) followed by Lunar New Year’s would have been enough for the shortest month of the year, but it was followed quickly with well…
“Time for Valentine’s Day!”
It didn’t seem right.
The boy at his computer frowned. If you were some kind of elite gymnast that could leap from the nearby fire escape onto the narrow ledge of the window into this room, you would be struck by how typical this cluttered scene looked. Or perhaps you wouldn’t be struck, because it was extremely typical.
There was a knock on her door frame.
“Merry Christmas, Es.”
Az stood in Esp’s doorway, wrapped in a scarf and a sweater. He held a slight package wrapped in festive colors in his hand.
Esp pretended to check her wrist for a watch, “You seem to be quite a few days off.” More than a week and a half actually. She turned her chair around to face Az and tilted her head, “Leaving for the break then?”
“Not me. I assumed you’d be heading back to New York or New Jersey or something.”
“New Hampshire actually, and no, I’m staying here. To keep you company, I guess.”
Esp turned back to her desk, “Sure thing, Az.” There was the very familiar feeling of the elephant settling into the room. “You actually caught me in the middle of present wrapping.”
Small things first.
The smell of her shampoo, the calluses on her palms, that single dimple when she smiled, the way she whistled while doing problem sets…
Eri hummed a little song as she walked in front of Esp, her path as aimless as her tune. Exams were over for now, and they’d just walked out of some action flick that Eri wanted to check out. It was in Cantonese without subtitles, so neither of them could figure out what was going on or why the big burly hero was wearing a bikini in a gunfight. Half way through without being able to pick up any resemblance of a plot, they gave up and left. Now they wandered the city until the movie that the others were watching finished.
Eri swung around a lamp post and jumped onto a bench. She balanced herself on her hands on an armrest and flopped backwards, pulling her shirt out from where it had been tucked for warmth, reminding Esp of a slinky.
Abs, the dip behind her collarbone, fingertips, the transition point between black and dyed hair…
This took too goddamn long to get done. orz
“So what are these singing muffins that you keep talking about?”
“Eh? Singing Muffins? You mean Flaming Muffin Cult?”
“Potentially. They’re a band?”
“Yep, well, technically. They’re all individual artists that sometimes get together to collaborate. And they tour together.”
“Oh, that’s kind of cool. How did the five of them get together in the first place?”
“Internet. Kind of funny how that works, huh. They did an online collaboration one holiday season. Instantly went viral. And they had so much fun that they met in person and started recording things together in person. After about a year together, they were picked up by an indie record label, and now they’re touring and stuff.”
“Oh? Have I heard of any of them?”