“Girl, my dad is waiting for us. Leave that gay boy alone.” Janie was dragging Nia by the arm with one hand, suitcase in other.
“Stop calling him that. He’s bi.”
“Whatever. He was afraid to tell you though and pretended he was a virgin instead.”
“Like you’re not afraid of coming out sometimes…”
“Of course you would defend this boy…”
“He apologized. Show some sympathy.”
“Nope. My mom made mac and cheese and I want to eat it. Come on.”
Staying with Janie in Chicago for Fall Break was not originally Nia’s plan. Then again, she generally didn’t have plans. And since it was her last Fall Break, she figured she should do something fun. And Janie was fun enough.
Nia didn’t think that she’d be friends with Janie considering that they both ended up hooking up with the same girl their first year at different times. But they ended up realizing that 1. they were better off as friends rather than as rivals, and 2. they could do better than that girl anyway. At some point, Nia realized that Janie might have been the best friend she ever had. Whether that was a good or bad thing was still up for debate.
“Hi, Mr. Mitchell, it’s great to see you again.”
“Nia!” Mr. Mitchell pulled Nia into a bear hug while Janie rolled her eyes. “Have you been keeping Janie out of trouble?”
Nia chuckled while Janie put their suitcases in the van. “Dad, maybe I was keeping her out of trouble.”
“Of course.” Then Mr. Mitchell mouthed to Nia, “Hell no.”
Nia laughed and Janie went out front to hug her dad. “I know you were being shady.”
Nia appreciated the relationship Janie had with her dad. For all of her rebellious phases, Janie was still definitely a daddy’s girl. And as much as he made fun of her, Nia could tell that Mr. Mitchell truly loved his daughter, just from the way Janie would complain about him. She was slightly envious, although she would never admit that to anyone, least of all Janie. Her own dad was more concerned with his other family than with her. That showed Nia that people were able to put limits on who they loved and how they loved them, even their own family.
Nia shook her head in an attempt to focus on the present. She said, “Janie told me that Mrs. Mitchell made mac and cheese.”
Mr. Mitchell sighed and said “Yes.” He stared into space for a second.
“Dad, everything OK?”
“Yeah, just a lot of my mind. Let’s go home.”
All of the activity caused Nia to forget about Richard. Once she got in the car, she pulled out her phone.
“Girl, please don’t tell me you’ll be on that phone the whole time?”
“No, I won’t. Promise.”
“Since when did you start lecturing people on being present?” Mr. Mitchell asked?
“Since Nia decided to ask a boy…”
“Ah, romantic stuff. Well, the heart wants what the heart wants, right?”
“Dad, what does that even mean?”
Nia texted Richard:
I just want you to know that I don’t care that you’ve dated a guy. I’ve been with other girls. Does that bother you?
No. Not at all.
Good. Well, I’m finally in Chicago.
You should go to the Chicago Cultural Center.
Apparently they built it after the Chicago fire to prove that
Chicago was the best city in the country.
You like architecture?
I like things that make me feel something
See, now that was a fuckboi response.
lol. You can’t help yourself.
“Earth to Nia, we’re here. Get out the damn car.” Janie already had suitcases in her hand.
Nia got out the car and got her suitcase. Let the Fall Break begin.