Scret Baby

By: Mia Carson

Mel



“I’m on my way!” I exclaimed as I climbed into my car.



“I can’t believe you haven’t left yet,” Nikki grumbled through the cell, which was pressed to my ear.



“I know, I know, but I’ll only be five minutes late. You won’t even have time to order drinks,” I answered as I pulled out of my driveway. “But if you do, order me whatever you’re having!”



Nikki laughed and replied, “I’ll order you a shot for every minute you’re late.”



“Um, no,” I answered, giggling. “And aren’t we going to Hibachi? Do they even have shots?”



“Sake, maybe. I don’t know. I’ve never ordered drinks there,” Nikki reasoned. “Regardless, we’ll have something. Now move your ass!”



“Stop being so bossy, birthday girl. I’m ten minutes away.”



“See you soon!”



After she hung up, I tossed my phone on top of my bag in the passenger seat. I smiled as I drove, so happy that it was a Saturday. The football game had been more than an hour’s drive away, so I didn’t get home until almost 1:30 the night before. Thankfully, my dance team rode with the band, which meant I didn’t have to drive. After unloading, my girls had wished me a good night, and I had trudged to my car and driven the fifteen minutes home with almost closed eyes.



But after sleeping late, I was refreshed and ready to party with my teacher pal, Nikki. I pulled into the parking lot of Hibachi a few minutes later and parked in a space so far away from the front door that I worried my shoes might wear out. Worth it, I told myself as I walked to the front. I had choreographed the dance for the pep rally earlier in the week, so I had sat on my couch all day and watched several recorded programs on my DVR rather than working out like I normally do.



I walked inside, and a hostess greeted me immediately. “Hello, miss. Will there be only one today?”



“No, I’m with some friends. They should already be here,” I informed her. I straightened the straps of my blouse as she glanced at her list. My skinny jeans fit perfectly on my long legs, which was why I’d chosen them, and the bright red blouse with giant, white flowers was just right for this kind of evening. Warm fall night, drinks, and good food. And I hoped, after dinner, a little bar-hopping to end the night.



“Ah, you must be with Nikki and her party?” the hostess asked, her eyebrows raised questioningly.



“Yes,” I replied, smiling.



“Follow me, please. I’ll take you right back,” she told me as she turned and hurried in the other direction.



I heard my friends before I saw them, and giggled. I tapped the hostess on the shoulder. “I can find them.” She smiled at me and nodded, handing me my napkin-wrapped silverware before leaving me.



The restaurant, one I rarely went to because of the high prices, was beautifully decorated in red and black glass. Tasteful wooden centerpieces surrounded by black placemats bedecked the tables. I glanced around the main dining area as I headed for the more private, secluded tables in the back. I saw no one I recognized and felt relieved. It drove me crazy when I ran into students at restaurants. Or anywhere in public, really, which is why I didn’t live in the same town as where I taught.



I stepped into the enclave where Nikki had reserved a table for eight. I raised my arms over my head and yelled, “Dear Lord, what is all this racket?” Everybody at the table turned and laughed, and hugs were exchanged all around. I plopped down in the seat next to Nikki and handed her the gift I’d brought.



“I told you no gifts! Ooooh, it’s heavy!” Nikki laughed as she opened the bag and tossed out paper. I smiled when she pulled out a blue elephant figurine for her collection. She shrieked, “Mel, it’s perfect! Thank you so much!” She threw her arms around my neck, nearly giving me a concussion with the heavy figure.



“I saw it and knew you’d love it. You have an empty spot on your windowsill at school,” I told her as I placed my napkin in my lap.



“Ugh,” she replied, rolling her eyes dramatically before looking at me. “Mrs. Smith told me I have too many figurines. She said they’re a fire hazard because they block the window.”

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