She looks up from where she was smiling at her phone, and nods, once. There is a corner store near where we live, it’s called The Flipping Pan. We laugh at the innuendo now, after I came out as queer to her. It’s one of the oldest shops here, all others come and go within a couple of months due to the obscene rent and low business.
We push open the door and are not surprised to see how crowded it is. We wrote our last exam of the year barely two hours ago, and this more or less the first (and last) escape for everyone before we start spinning along the same crushing monotony again.
I sigh as a voice from a nearby table calls out her name and beckon to us.
ii. “Riya, hey!” greets Mia.
“Thought you said you weren’t going to hang out today?”
“Yeah, plans changed.”
“Okay, then. How was the paper, Dea?”
“Fine,” I reply. “Yours?”
“Pretty nice. I studied hard for it—parents promised a new smartphone if I get above 95.”
“Oh really? Which brand?”
“A Black Magic 7. Not as good as a Samsung, but I’ll take it.”
“Good for you. I still have a button phone.”
iii. Mia wanted to go to a nearby eyeglasses store to click pictures for her Instagram feed, and Riya asked if she could tag along. The store, a recently opened Gangar Eyenation, was more popularly called Funky Sight for obvious reasons: the ridiculous frame designs.
The store was all gleaming white tiles, perfectly painted walls, and obsequious staff, the combination of which made spots swim before my eyes. Mia took just a couple of hurried selfies before we left, as the store owner was not too eager to please three teenage girls lacking a chaperone.
We made fun of him the whole way as we walked Riya to her apartment complex.
iv. We were about to catch a rickshaw to head home, but Mia said her mother was on the way from an early day at work and would be able to pick us up.
“She’s just turning away from the Jhansi Highway.”
“Okay. I don’t mind waiting, though.”
Mia smiled at me. “Bet you think Riya’s not as bad as you previously believed her to be.”
“Eh, you know. She was alright.”
“If you say so.”
“What do you mean, ‘What’?” she said laughing. “I saw how you were looking at her. Besides, you’re blushing.”
“I am not.”
“Oh, shut up.”
v. “So Dea, what’re your plans for the summer?”
“Nothing much, Aunty. My parents are taking a few days’ leave from work, we’re going to Andaman and Nicobar for a week and a half.”
“That sounds fun. Bookings done?”
“Yeah, we’re staying at the Watershell Resort. It’s right on the beach. Where are you going?”
Mia takes the baton from her mother. “Visiting relatives in Hyderabad. I told you about it, I think.”
“Yeah, right,” I say. “I remember.”
vi. At around 7, I call Mia.
“Not really. You?”
“I’m talking to you, aren’t I? Anyway, there’s this new constellation—”
“Yeah, I heard about it. Regina malefica. I’m not sure what it’s supposed to look like.”
“It’s supposed to look like a crown, though why they named it ‘evil queen’ I don’t understand. Do you want to go look for it in a couple of hours?”
“I’d love that. There’s something I want to show you, I’ll bring it along.”
“Fine. See you in the garden.”
vii. The first question I ask her when I see her walking towards me is just a little absurd.
“If you had a pet polar bear, what would you name it?”
She looked startled. “A pet polar bear?”
“Yes. You’re probably the wrong person to ask this, though. Your dogs are called Candy and Caramel.”
“Those are perfectly acceptable dog names! And it’s not like I value your opinion on this, you hate animals.”
“I don’t hate animals—it’s just that those with pointy teeth terrify me. Back to the polar bear question?”
“I don’t know. Fluffy? Or Snowy?”
I laugh at her. “Case in point.”
She scowls at me. “Well, what do you suppose?”
“I like the name Tiger for some reason.”
“Come on, be fair. That’s just as bad!”
viii. After we’ve laid side-by-side on the grass for half an hour and relinquished the search for the aforementioned constellation, Mia removes something from the sling bag she brings everywhere.
“I was bored of those same three-four nail polish shades, so I decided to mix a couple of them to make this new one.”
The polish was in a small transparent plastic container, it reached till maybe half its height.
“I just emptied the violet and white colours into a bowl and stirred it with a toothpick till I got this.” She waved the container around. “Added a bit of glitter to it later.”
“Nice. What’s it called?”
“Well, I wanted to ask you, but seeing a prime example of your name-bestowing prowess earlier, I might have to reconsider.”
I rolled my eyes. “Drama queen.”
“Oh wait, really, that’s brilliant! I like that. ‘Drama Queen’ for a nail polish— a little bit unoriginal, but it works just fine.”
ix. The next day, we were going through an article which highlighted the discovery of a new butterfly species by a nineteen-year-old girl who liked collecting insects for fun.
“What’s it called?” Mia had asked.
“Ugh, who cares. It’s always some overly complicated name nobody can seem to pronounce properly.”
“You’d be surprised. Besides, you can always call it by its common name instead of its scientific one.”
“Okay, then. What’s it?”
“Lady in Red. Because, you know, it’s—”
“Red. Gee, who would have guessed.”
She ignored me. “Its scientific name is Doamna in rosu, which is what it’s called in Romanian.”
“Nice. Wanna hear a dad joke?”
“No, but does that even matter,” she said, grimacing.
I grinned. “You know it doesn’t.”
Don't like this a whole lot, but I wanted to write something after seeing the prompt.