One beautiful, sunny afternoon, Aubrey made her way to Central Park Myshuno to meet with her old friend, Keegan Faust. A few days prior, she called to arrange a meeting which he gladly accepted despite sounding confused and anxious. “It’s nothing bad, I promise,” she said. “I just think we should talk in person. And, we can catch up too!” She was so excited to see her sweet, old friend. High school was a weird time filled with so much drama, senseless fights, faux allegiances and frenemies. Keegan was one of the few genuinely good people she knew. He had no ulterior motives, always did what was right, and was so kind–one of the kindest. His life was just so tragic and sad, Aubrey tried to be a friend to him while keeping a respectful distance.
Finding each other in the park proved a bit more difficult than she had planned. She and Julio typically hung out in the same spot, and she forgot how big the park actually was. After a bit of texting terrible descriptions back and forth, they found each other. She greeted him with a hug, and they sat at a semi-secluded table to catch up.
“How in the world are you?” she asked a bit more excitedly than planned.
He looked great with his haircut and beard. More mature than the tall, gangly kid he used to be. She first saw him in simology class about midway through school. He had recently arrived from Windenburg and had a cute accent to prove it. He handed the teacher a note when he walked into the classroom. Aubrey thought his head was much too big for his body, and his hair was so stringy. And, he was so pale! But, his eyes…they were like big, sad, puppy eyes; she wanted to be his friend.
“I’m getting by.” It was cute the way his head bobbed long after he finished a sentence. Little quirks like that made people so interesting. Did she have any quirks like that? “How are you? Oh, and congrats!”
“Thank you! Thank you… It’s a challenge, but I’m loving it.” Though she appreciated his congratulations, she wasn’t quite ready to go down the restaurant road yet and backed the conversation up a bit. “So…how is your brother?”
“He is lazy.”
“Oh no! He’s not giving you trouble, is he?”
“He is a teenage lazy boy. Of course he gives trouble.”
They laughed together, but her mind wandered. When the laughter settled, and an appropriate amount of silence passed, she asked what she wanted to know. “I don’t think I ever asked you…I know you came here because your mom died, but how did you and your brother end up living on your own?”
“I’m sorry. That was too personal and probably rude. I’m so sorry.”
“No, not rude. It’s ok.”
She breathed a sigh of relief. “Ok. Only if you want to, of course.”
“My brother and I have different fathers. Both are from Windenburg, but both moved here after our births.”
She gasped. Even though many of her friends and cousins had lived without their fathers, she found it extra shocking to learn that Keegan and Branson’s fathers not only walked out on them but also moved to another continent entirely.
“My father stayed in touch somewhat and paid support, but my brother’s father did not. When our mother died, we had no more family in Windenburg. I could not afford to take care of our house even with my father’s support, and I did not want us to be separated in an orphanage. My father and I are not close, but it’s better to be closer to family than have none at all, right?”
“I wanted to move here, but I didn’t want to live with my father.”
He struggled to answer. “He does not want much to do with us.”
“He said that?”
“No, but I have two half-sisters and a half-brother, and he did not raise them either.”
“Oh. I see. Gosh, Keegan! So…you just came here?”
“I asked him to find us a place to live. I told him I would find work and take care of everything, but he said he’d still pay the support for me. I still got a job.”
“Wow! That’s so admirable. I would be so scared to be in high school alone with my baby brother. At least yours was a child at the time. You’ve done very well for yourself, Keegan. You should be proud.”
He nodded respectfully.
“Actually, that’s what I wanted to talk to you about.”
“Yeah. I wanted to… Do you…” None of the words seemed right. They sounded so uptight and stuffy in her head when she needed them to sound genuine.
“What is it?”
She took a deep breath. “Would you like a job at the restaurant? I’m going to need help soon, and you were the first person I thought of. I think you would be perfect!”
He smiled and looked interested. Oh, she hoped he was interested. She would understand if he said no but really wanted
an ally a friend someone she could trust.
“I could be interested. Tell me about this job.”
“It’s a server position, so it’s similar to what you do already except more physical labor. The starting salary is probably less than what you make now, but you’ll get more hours-steady hours. And tips! And opportunities for advancement.”
He nodded. “Yes. I would be honored to work for you. When can I start?”
She squealed. “Yay! I’m so excited! I can’t wait to tell Julio! Uhh, ok, sorry. You tell me when you can start. Don’t you need to give your job a notice?”
“Ha! They’ll notice when I do not show up tomorrow. That is my notice. I quit right now.”
She laughed. “Oh, that’s terrible, Keegan! Don’t do that to them.”
“I kid, I kid. I’ll give a proper notice. Do not worry.”
“Good.” She extended her hand to him. “Welcome aboard!”
He shook her hand. “Thank you for the opportunity.”
Author’s Note: Because I know some of you would be interested, Keegan’s father Paolo Rocca, and his brother’s father is Lucas Munch. Their mother was Ulrike Faust.