I looked up from my conversation with a group of Japanese businessmen who were interested in seeing my lab, to sigh annoyingly when I heard my sister's voice. I actually did miss her smart-ass comments in Japan, but she didn't need to bother me now.She could clearly see that I was in the midd-
I couldn't help it. A smile broke on my face. There standing next to Lilly was the only person who had been on my mind the whole time in Japan. I couldn't believe she was actually here. Was she alone? Where was her boyfriend? Did he know she was here? Why was her face all red? I fought the urge to pick her up and kiss her and walked across the stage telling myself to calm down and breathe properly.
"Um. Hi." She said back. A small smile broke across her face. It reminded me of the times when I used to make her laugh and she would look so beautiful. But that hurt. I needed to stop thinking of the past.
"Mia's here representing the Atom. She's doing a story on you Michael. Aren't you Mia?"
Mia slowly nodded in a slightly confused way. Why was she being so shy? Did she want to do the story, or did my maniac evil sister assign it to her? I know they aren't friends anymore, but even Lilly wouldn't do that. Say something. Say something.
"How are you doing?" Good Mike. Keep it friendly. Don't scare her off. It felt weird standing there and not wrapping my arms around her. It felt wrong.
"Why don't you ask Michael a question for your story, Mia?" Lilly said to her, poking her in the shoulder. Hard. Why did Lilly do that? Really, she needs to stop hurting people. Especially Mia.
"Ow!" Mia said. I'm not surprised. The number of scars I have from Lilly did not fade in the twenty one months I spent in Japan.
"Where's Lars," I asked with a laugh. I surly would have noticed his big frame when I was giving the speech, "You better watch out, Lil. She generally travels with an armed escort." I would know too. It was kind of hard to kiss her goodbye with some discreet under the neck action when her six foot gun-holding bodyguard with trained defensive moves was loudly clearing his throat. Still, Lars was a good guy. He and I had gotten along fairly well whenever Mia went to the bathroom or some other private place to write in her journal (did she still do that?). I guess I was kinda hoping that he would punch that stupid JP kid when he kissed her. Wistful thinking Mike.
"He's around here somewhere," she squeaked out with a small laugh. "And I'm fine, thanks for asking before. How are you doing, Michael?" she said. I have to admit, I felt total bliss when she said my name.
"I'm great." What else can I say? I'm also making millions of dollars and proving myself to the world so that I can finally have you? I wish. Unfortunately, that would not go over well.
Then my mom just had to come up then and say, "Honey, this man over her is with The New York Times. He wants to talk to you. Can you just…" and then she sees Mia. Great. "Oh. Mia." Why did she have to make those big eyes? Why? You can just tell that Mia was getting embarrassed. I don't blame her either. After her fight with Lilly, I mean seriously who would even dare to come over?
"Hi, Dr. Moscovitz," she said in an even squeakier, even smaller voice, "How are you?" Why was she acting so shy though? If she had a boyfriend, she would at least talk to me like a friend. I mean she had in the emails. But those were emails after all. For all I know, she could have sat in front of the computer for hours thinking up the right reply. Did that mean….Could she really…Was she still? No. She had a boyfriend and from what Boris and the pictures have been telling me, she's perfectly happy. She's probably over me. But she was so shy…I mean it's a possibility…..
"I'm fine sweetheart," mom said, snapping me out of my reverie, as she leaned over to kiss her cheek, "I haven't seen you in so long. It's lovely you were able to come."
"I'm covering the event for the school paper." She said a little too hurriedly. Was she trying to cover something? Maybe she came because she wanted to? But Lilly said….never mind. She was over me. Completely over me. "But I know he's busy. Michael, go talk to the Times…"
"No," I said. I was not giving her up this easy. "That's okay. There's plenty of time for that."
"Are you kidding me?" she said in her real voice. I would have liked it if she tried to push me towards the reporter dude, but then I remembered that wasn't allowed. "It's the Times!" she yelled. At least she was impressed now. It was always her appearing in the New York Times though she never liked it.
"Maybe you two could get together for coffee or something tomorrow," Lilly said. Thank you Lilly! I love you! Wait, why exactly was she doing this? I thought she hated Mia? "For like a private interview."
"Hey," I said in a way to cheery voice, "That's a good idea. What do you say, Mia? Are you around tomorrow? Want to meet me at Caffe Dante, say around one?" Please say yes. Please say yes. Pleas say yes. I was rich. I could finally afford to treat her to whatever she wants.
And then she nodded! "Yes, one tomorrow is fine. Okay, great, see you then." O thank you god. She said yes! I smiled and turned away. A thought came to my mind and I turned around.
"Oh, and bring that senior project of yours. I can't wait to read it!" I probably shouldn't have said that. She looked kinda sick now. But then again, she didn't email me her book on Genovian Olive Oil Presses (no offense but I seriously think she could do better than that. She seemed like she didn't want me to read it. I wonder if her boyfriend wanted to read it?). I turned back around and went into a deep discussion with the reporter. But Mia was always in my mind.
When we finally went home (mom wouldn't let me stay at my place. She said I needed some good food after all that squid and sushi), I asked Lilly what that was all about.
"Lilly, why did you assign Mia the report on me? You know she probably didn't want to."
Lilly got all mad and said, "I didn't! She didn't even show up for the meeting! I wanted to but she wasn't there so I gave it to Gretchen, Lana's little sister!"
"Wait. If you gave press passes to Gretchen, how did Mia get in?" I was confused. True, the security was pretty lax but still, you did need press passes to get in.
"She said she was filling in for Gretchen, but I'm not sure if she was lying or not….."
"Wait a second. You couldn't tell if your best friend was lying? Mia's a horrible liar. Plus you said her nostrils flare or whatever when she lies! Lilly, I need to know why she was there!"
"Jeez, calm down bro. I checked her nostrils but they didn't do anything. I think she got better at fibbing a lot now though. And why do you even care why she was there? It's not like you still… Oh my god! You do! You still love her!"
She was pointing at me in an accusing way. I groaned and flopped down on my old bed. It felt good. I looked up at my plastic stars and remembered Mia's first birthday gift to me. Moon rocks. Oh I loved her.
"Lilly, stop pointing at me! So what if I do? You know why I went to Japan. And even if she is going out with your ex boyfriend doesn't mean you still have to hate her. I thought you knew that when you said we should meet again in private!"
Her face got all sheepish and shy and she said, "I did. I'm sorry Mike. But I just wanted to see if you still had it for her. I think she does too."
I perked up at this and the little fire inside me grew bigger. "What do you mean? How do you know she still likes me?"
"I'm not saying she does for sure. But she doesn't act the same way with JP that she used to be with you. But I wouldn't know. We don't talk anymore."
"Why not Lilly? I know you were mad when she kissed that moron in the hallway but you have Kenny now. And it wasn't that big of deal. I thought you already broke up with him."
I said the wrong thing. Lilly got all red again and screamed, "You don't understand! Nobody understands! I thought Mia would, but nooo. She let that boy get to her!"
And then she stormed out of the room. Wow. I just realized how quiet life was in Japan because Lilly wasn't there. I let my mind drift to other things. Well okay. I let my mind drift to Mia. I remembered everything about her: What made her angry, what made her happy, how she hated princess lessons, those times when we used to go to school together. Our first Valentine's Day. The necklace I gave her for her birthday. Our breakup and how she stormed out of the hotel room and left the it lying all pitifully on the floor. I pulled out the necklace and stared at it. Yes, I kept it. But you can't blame me for hoping. I thought about Judith Gershner. I probably should have told her before too. . . . . . . .
"Hey you goof. Since you've declared your love for her, are you going to her birthday party?" Lilly stuck her head in again.
My brain was fuzzy and I wasn't paying attention. I was still staring at the snowflake necklace when I asked, "What d'you mean?"
Lilly rolled her eyes and said, "If only the reporters could see you now. How did you even build a robotic arm with a brain like that? I said are you going to Mia's birthday party?"
At the mention of her name, I buzzed with excitement. "But I didn't get an invitation."
"The rest of us got ours just now. You'll probably get yours tomorrow or something. Her grandmother probably sent it to your place. So, are you going?"
"Yah. Probably…" I let my mind drift off. I needed to get Mia the perfect present. But it couldn't be anything too big right? Because then her boyfriend might get jealous, although all I want with that guy is a fistfight. I didn't work out in Japan for nothing. Something small then.
All I could think was that I was back and that I came back for Mia. I wasn't going down without a fight. Plus, you can't deny it. Her shyness today hinted at something. Maybe, just maybe, Mia still loved me. Only she didn't know it yet. Then it was up to me to make her see it.