It was a warm September. Downtown Boulder bustled with people trying to enjoy the last bit of sun before winter hit. The mountains stood at the edge of the town, the grass brown from a hot, dry summer.
Mikayla and Jade sat outside at a small cafe. Jade had her sweetened hibiscus tea, sipping it and smiling. Mikayla barely touched her candy flavored frappuccino.
Jade took a pause from sipping her tea. “Is everything alright?” Jade asked gently. Mikayla groaned and rested her head on the table. Jade sighed. “I’m guessing no.”
“I think Heinrich’s still mad at me.” Mikayla responded, lifting her head. “I don’t blame him. I pushed him away when I needed him the most.”
After having been apart for more than a year, Mikayla and Heinrich had finally gotten back together. However, things weren’t the way they were before. They were awkward together, and Heinrich was short with Mikayla.
Jade nodded. “Yeah…” she replied sadly. “I guess you’ll have to give him time.”
“Ughhhh why did I even break up with him in the first place?” Mikayla whined. “I hate myself for that!”
Jade didn’t know how to respond. She knew how much their breakup hurt Heinrich. Jade couldn’t blame him for being so upset; she just hoped things would work themselves out soon.
Jade stood up from her seat, pushing the chair in. “Let’s go for a walk to get your mind off things.” Jade suggested, finishing the last of her hibiscus tea and tossing the cup in the recycle. Mikayla reluctantly stood up, her shoulders slumping forward. She grabbed her Frappuccino and took a tiny sip, the sweetness of the drink battling her tart emotions.
The two girls left the cafe, walking down the sidewalk of the outside mall. Jade wasn’t much of a talker, but she said all the positive things that came to her mind to try to cheer up Mikayla. The depressed girl only responded with small grunts, not saying a word.
They passed by a small candy shop, and Jade chuckled. “I remember how excited you were when you found out about this candy shop!” Jade laughed. “Would you like to go inside and take a look around?”
There was no response.
Jade stopped and glanced back at Mikayla, whose eyes were fixed on something. A small smile crossed Mikayla’s face.
“Hey, it’s Kveta Medved!” Mikayla gestured to a young woman sitting at a table with three other people. “She was in my vocal pedagogy class!”
“Vocal peda-what?” Jade asked, confused.
“Kveta!” Mikayla called out. The girl’s head shot over in the direction of Mikayla’s voice, and she gave a saddened wave as Mikayla and Jade approached her.
“What’s up, girl?” Mikayla queried, stopping at their table. Jade twiddled her thumbs awkwardly, seeing Kveta’s saddened expression.
“Oh, we’re ju-“ Kveta started, but Mikayla’s hazel eyes traveled to the other three at the table.
“Who are your friends?” Mikayla interrupted. Jade sighed; Mikayla was too energetic and hyper to keep her train of thought. Jade knew Mikayla didn’t mean to be rude, however.
Before Kveta could answer, Mikayla wrapped an arm around Jade. “This is my best friend Jade! She doesn’t go to this college. She’s studying photography!” Mikayla beamed. “Jade, this is Kveta! She’s from Slovakia!”
“Oh,” Jade said, her eyes lighting up. “How interesting. I honestly don’t know much about Slovakia.”
Talk about her home country seemed to bring Kveta’s spirits up a bit. “It’s a beautiful country,” Kveta smiled. “We’re from right outside the city of Košice.” She got to her feet, looking over the other three she was with. “These are my siblings!”
Her three siblings stood up, and Kveta began to introduce them. “This is my oldest brother, Miloslav!” Kveta gave the tallest of the group a tight hug. “A man of few words, but excellent at the accordion!”
Miloslav waved his hand, dipping his head in greeting. Mikayla waved back happily, and Kveta clung on to the other man.
“This is Radim! He’s the second middle child- and an ornery one!” Kveta teased, poking his cheek with her finger. Radim groaned, rolling his eyes, and Kveta laughed. “He plays the double bass!”
Kveta then grabbed the hand of the other woman, who had piercing orange eyes and a warm smile. “This is Dusanka! She’s my older sister. She’s the lead vocalist!” Kveta explained. Dusanka blushed and ran her fingers through her short brown hair.
“It’s very nice to meet you two,” Dusanka said.
“Likewise!” Mikayla beamed.
“And you know me, Kveta! I play the violin!” Kveta grinned. “We just need a pianist and then our little group will be all set!”
Mikayla poked Jade in the ribs. “Don’t you play piano?” Mikayla asked. Jade turned red, balling her fists at Mikayla putting her on the spot.
“P-poorly!” Jade protested. Mikayla responded with a giggle.
Kveta let out a hearty laugh. “Don’t worry about it, Jade! We have someone we think may be able to play.” Upon saying those words, Kveta’s face twisted in a frown, and she fell back into her chair. “Except…”
“What is it?” Mikayla asked, inching forward, concerned. “Is something wrong?”
“Yeah, actually.” Kveta replied, resting her elbow on the table in defeat. Radim glowered at his younger sister.
“Kveta, don’t trouble her with our problems!” Radim scolded. Kveta opened her mouth, ready to object, but Mikayla slammed her hands down on the table.
“Tell me what’s wrong! I wanna help!” Mikayla shouted. Dusanka frowned.
“I’m afraid it’s beyond your control, darling,” Dusanka told her. Mikayla kept pressing, getting in their faces.
“Please!” Mikayla begged. “I wanna help you guys feel better!”
Jade tapped Mikayla’s arm, trying to get her to draw back. She knew Mikayla loved to help out, and she also knew Mikayla didn’t know when to stop, but what if the problem was personal? Jade wasn’t so sure Mikayla should get involved.
Much to Radim’s dismay, Kveta decided to tell them the problem they were having. “Well, our dad is marrying someone, and her son wants nothing to do with us!” Kveta whined.
Mikayla grimaced. “What happened to your mom?” She asked softly.
Sadness flashed in Radim’s eyes. “She passed long ago.” He told Mikayla.
“I am so, so sorry,” Jade murmured. There was a silence for a moment; the only noise was the ambience of other people at the outdoor mall.
Kveta waved her hands, desperate to change the subject to something less negative. “B-but enough of that depressing stuff!” She stammered. “We just want the boy to like us!”
Mikayla nodded, understanding. Maybe, if she could get the boy to bond with the Medved siblings, that would fix their problem. Multiple ideas on how to get them to bond flashed through her mind, and she grabbed Kveta’s hand. “I’d love to help out!” Mikayla yelled.
Jade shook her head and tugged on Mikayla’s crop top. “M-Mikayla? Can I talk to you? A-alone?” Jade’s voice trembled with anxiety, hoping she wasn’t offending the Slovakian siblings. Mikayla peered over her shoulder back at her best friend.
“Sure, Jadey-Wadey!” Mikayla said. Giving Kveta a wink, she followed Jade until the four siblings were out of earshot. Mikayla rocked back and forth on her feet. “What’s up?”
“Are you sure you’re qualified to talk to them?” Jade asked. Mikayla furrowed her eyebrows in confusion.
“What do you mean?” Mikayla questioned.
“When was the last time you talked to your dad?” Jade asked her.
Mikayla tapped her chin with her finger, thinking hard. “Umm…”
“You mean you don’t remember? Mikayla, he’s your father!” Jade whined. Mikayla narrowed her eyes, growing defensive.
“So?” Mikayla retorted.
“So you should be at least talking to him! I bet he misses you!” Jade insisted.
“But he’s the reason all this happened! If he hadn’t divorced my mom…” Mikayla’s voice trailed off and she stared at her feet.
Jade exhaled deeply, noting the sorrow lacing Mikayla’s tone. Mikayla was right- if her father hadn’t divorced her mother and he hadn’t married another woman, Mikayla wouldn’t have broken up with Heinrich and cut off contact with their friend group for over a year. Things wouldn’t be as uncomfortable as they were now. Everything would’ve stayed the way it always had been.
But things weren’t the same. Things had changed. Jade knew this, and Mikayla knew it as well. Jade needed Mikayla to come in terms with the fact, despite how much it hurt.
Mikayla stomped her foot angrily, crossing her arms over her chest. “Anyway, I’m going to help them out, and you can either like it, or you can leave!” She growled. Jade sighed, hanging her head in defeat.
“Alright, alright.” Jade whimpered. “Go do what you gotta do.”
Mikayla grinned, the happy demeanor Jade was so used to returning to her. Mikayla whipped around and raced back to the siblings, slamming her hands down on the table, startling them. Jade shook her head. Even if Jade finally had the confidence to tell her friends what she was really thinking, there was no use. When Mikayla was set on something, there was no stopping her.
“Okie dokie!” Mikayla shouted. “I’m here to help!”
“Great!” Kveta clapped her hands together joyfully. “Come on, we’ll take you to their house.”
The four siblings got up, tucking their chairs in and heading in the direction of the house. Mikayla hopped along after them, chatting their ears off about random things that came to her mind. Jade followed reluctantly.