The day after my awkward exit, Lexine grabbed herself a a seat at the juice bar. She spun around, her heart-shaped sunglasses encrusted with rhinestones remaining a fixture on her face amidst the indoor light.
“Waitress!” she called, slamming her palms on the bar. “Give me the usual!”
I bit my lower lip and poured her mango-orange juice. I checked the time. Thirty whole minutes before my shift was over.
“Eliza,” Lexine said more seriously, her eyes shifted downward towards her drink, “I’m sorry I acted like such a clingy freak the other day.”
“You mean yesterday?” I reminded her, softening a bit. “No, I’m just not used to that sort of thing.”
“I know, I totally thought about it all night and I felt so stupid. Your parents would never allow you to sleep over at someone’s house you barely met, right?” Lexine sipped at her drink, eyeing me expectantly. They wouldn’t notice
, I thought. Instead I said, “Right. You caught me,” and laughed it off.
“So, they just need to get to know me. Look, I’ll just come over to your house tonight and I will eat with your family and--”
“No,” I said, shaking my head. “You can’t. We, uh, don’t eat together usually. Someone always has to be here. It gets crazy some nights.”
“Yes, because juice bars are where all the crazy parties are at.” Lexine rolled her eyes. “Come on, it won’t be so bad. They can get to know me and love me and all that fun stuff.”
“Seriously, I mean it. We don’t eat together. Ever. My parents really don’t care where I am, as long as I am ready for work in the morning,” I said as matter-of-fact as I could, shifting my weight from foot to foot nervously. I had never said anything like that out loud. Lexine paused and tilted her head, her hand idly stirring her juice with a straw.
“Well, then. Problem solved.” She jumped off the stool and brushed down her orange-and-white skirt. “More freedom means more fun, anyway.”
“Not in this case,” I mumbled, brushing some dirt from the otherwise immaculate countertop.
“Especially in this case,” Lexine said, looking like she had a plan. “Come on.”
“I can’t. Thirty more minutes until my shift is over,” I said, sighing and cursing the clock. But Lexine had me by the hand now, and she directed me towards the door. I reached to flip over the OPEN sign to CLOSED as we left, hoping and praying my father wouldn’t notice for the short time I was going to be away.