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#1: The Loner, Past and Present

Liz (20) and Josh (21) walked out of the Ernest Winger Library with books in their arms. They were walking pass the changing room when a group of pretty girls walked pass them without noticing the couple.
Josh murmured, “That’s weird.”
Liz turned to Josh and asked, “What’s weird?”
Josh smirked and asked, “The girls used to wave at me.”
She chuckled, “Oh, okay.” They were walking along the corridor. A group of guys were standing at their lockers and turned to them as they were walking. Josh noticed them.
“Now the guys turned to me,” Josh whispered.
Liz frowned. When they were making a turn to the lobby, Liz asked, “Why do you always have to bother if people turn to look at you or not?” Josh was speechless. She continued, “I mean, who cares if they turn to us or not, right? It’s not like they’re giving us a deal or anything.”
Josh asked, “Do you ever thought of making friends?”
“I have friends,” Liz intercepted.
He said, “More friends...you know, sometimes you have to start having a college life. You’re a bit of a loner, you know that?”
Liz rolled her eyes, “I am not.”
Josh chuckled, “Yes, you are. If you’re not a loner, why do you always have to hang out with me, and only me?”
Liz glared at him and walked away from him. She joined Trina and Ashley, who were walking towards the lecture hall.
Josh was disbelieved. Liz, Trina and Ashley walked into the lecture hall for an E-Commerce seminar. They looked around for empty seats and walked towards the second row. The lecturers and professors occupied the first row.
Prof. Wesley, a visiting professor from a well-known university in the United States entered the lecture hall and took a seat in front of Liz. Trina asked, “Liz, have you received anything from Princeton, Yale and Harvard?”
Liz murmured, “No.”
Ashley asked curiously, “Why did you enrol into the Ivy League colleges. Everyone knows it’s really hard to get in there.”
Liz said whispered, “I just want to give it a shot and...”
Ashley interrupted, “This is like the third time you applied to go there.”
Liz corrected, “It’s second.”
Trina realized that it was not going to be a good conversation and she began, “Hey, is that guy your boyfriend?”
Liz was confused, “Who?”
Trina replied, “The one who was with you before you joined us.”
Liz remembered, “Oh, that was my brother.”
Trina covered her mouth shockingly, “That’s your brother?!”
Ashley said, “I seldom seen him around. He was usually absent, wasn’t he?”
Trina patted on Ashley excitedly, “Shut up, Ash.” She asked Liz, “So he’s not your boyfriend?”
Liz shook her head but she was obviously uncomfortable when girls go gaga over her stepbrother, who apparently, was a good-looking fellow.
Ashley said, “Josh is his name, right?”
Liz raised her eyebrows.
Ashley turned to Trina and said, “He’s from my Communication class but whenever there’s a presentation, he’s always absent. Does he have a phobia or something?”
Liz answered, “No, he’s a confident guy but he’s kinda busy lately.”
Ashley asked, “He works?”
Liz replied, “No, he had to meet my parents in Melbourne.”
Trina nodded.
The lecturer turned on the microphone. Josh entered the lecture hall and sat at the last row. Liz sat alone at the cafeteria in the afternoon. Josh approached with a tray of foods and walked towards her table and asked politely, “May I?” She nodded. He sat down and transferred the foods and drinks from the tray and pushed Liz a glass of Coke and a plate of fries.
Liz ignored him and sipped her vanilla shake.
Josh apologized, “I’m sorry for being such a...”
She interrupted, “You’re right, I’m a big loner.”
Josh looked at her concernedly.
Liz explained, “Honestly, I really don’t know what I did wrong...”
She noticed Roi, her ex-boyfriend at the food counter. Ashley walked towards him and greeted him but he ignored her. He turned over his shoulder to look at Liz. Liz turned away quickly. When Ashley grabbed his arm, he pushed her away and left immediately.
Liz turned to Josh and whispered, “I think Ashley’s dating Roi?”
Josh shook his head and lifted the plate of fries and positioned it towards Liz. She took one and ate it. Sharon and Liz were jogging at the park when Sharon’s cell phone rang. She stopped jogging to take the call. Liz turned around and jogged towards Sharon who was engaged in a telephone conversation.
Liz walked to Sharon but Sharon started to walk away. Liz started jumping and stretching a few metres from Sharon.
When Sharon hung up, Liz’s cell phone rang. She takes off her sling bag and pulls out her cell phone. The phone stopped ringing but there was a SMS in her inbox. She read the message.
Sharon asked, “Who’s that?”
Liz deleted off the message and said, “Chen asked if we are free tonight coz he was working until six and asked if we wanted to go to Remin.”
Sharon replied, “Sure.”
Liz suggested, “Did you hear about this new bistro? Something Hot Chocolate.”
Sharon asked suspiciously, “Wannabarrie Hot Chocolate?”
Liz chuckled, “Yeah, yeah, that’s the one. Want to go there tonight?”
Sharon insisted, “Remin’s better.”

Liz, Josh, Sharon and Chen were hanging out at Remin Café. Josh handed Liz a flier. She looked at it. It was a party invitation organized by Jake, Roi and Freddie.
Liz looked at Josh and said, “No.”
Josh convinced, “Hearsay hundreds of people are going. He’s never gonna notice you.” Liz looked unconvinced. Josh said, “Be my date.”
Liz snapped, “Touchwood!”
Sharon and Chen looked stunned.
Josh chuckled, “I’m not dateable?”
“We’re siblings,” Liz explained.
Josh said, “Stepsiblings.”
Liz took a deep breath and justified, “Look, when you’re here, you’re my stepbrother and my friend but at college, you’re my biological brother.”
Josh couldn’t believe it. He asked, “Wh-Why?”
Liz patted on Josh’s shoulder and said, “Let’s just say that it can avoid many inconveniences.”
Chen shook his head. Sharon pretended to be innocent, “What inconveniences?”
Liz whispered something into Sharon’s ear. Sharon nodded.
Josh asked curiously, “What? Shay, what did she say?”
Sharon giggled.
Josh asked seriously, “What did she say?” He turned to Liz and asked, “What did you say to her?”
Sharon calmed herself down and cleared her throat. She began, “Okay, erm, who wants drink coz I need one.”
Chen replied, “Sprite.”
Sharon said, “Alrighty, go get me an orange juice.”
Chen chuckled, “Oh-ho-kay, good trick, too bad I’m not getting up.”
Sharon smirked, “You’re sick.”
Chen and Josh laughed hysterically.
Josh said, “We should go somewhere that’s not self-service.”
Liz suggested, “Wannabarrie Hot Chocolate.”
The guys agreed. Sharon and Liz were staring at Liz’s wardrobe. There were plenty of clothes that she had never worn.
“What am I suppose to wear?” Liz asked herself.
Sharon asked, “If you don’t wear these, why did you buy them? They’re a bit outdated already, don’t you think?”
Liz explained, “I didn’t buy them. My dad didn’t know what I wanted or how I looked like so he asked his assistant to buy me stuffs that probably didn’t look good on me.”
Sharon raised her eyebrows, “He’s pretty ignorant, isn’t he?”
Liz sat on her bed and sighed, “Sometimes it feels kinda weird…I mean, he’s my dad, right? But I hadn’t seen him for five years.”
Sharon asked, “Why didn’t you visit him?”
Liz chuckled nervously, “Visit him? I really don’t want to burden him. His wife and I weren’t talking and they have a daughter and I really don’t want to suddenly walk into their life.”
Sharon understood and said, “Why don’t we go shopping?”

Liz and Josh were standing behind the pillar outside the club. Roi, Jake, Freddie and a few bouncers are at the door.
She was sweating and fanning herself. Josh asked, “Are you ready?”
Liz swallowed and said softly, “He’s at the door.”
Josh asked, “Why are you afraid of him?”
Liz fanned herself for the last time. She grabbed Josh’s forearm and pulled him. They walked towards the door. Roi recognized them but acted indifferently. The bouncer grabbed stickers and handed one to Josh and paste the second sticker on Liz’s upper arm.
Liz thanked him and walked into the ballroom.
The party had already started. The music band was performing a song. Liz and Josh walked towards an empty table.
Liz said, “I think he didn’t care about me anymore.”
Josh grinned, “Yeah, good.”
Liz was still uncomfortable. She kept looking towards the main entrance, hoping that she’ll see Roi. One hour into the party, Liz walked into the unisex washroom. Roi was washing his hands and they see each other in the mirror.
Liz walked into the cubicle. The water stopped flowing a few seconds later. About five minutes later, she walked out of the cubicle and found Roi leaning against the wall near the door.
A man walked out of the washroom and he locked the door. Liz was frightened.
Roi asked, “How are you?”
Liz replied, “I’m…I’m…okay.”
Roi chuckled, “Right. Of course you’re okay…you’re with that sob, right?”
She shook her head.
He asked, “I haven’t seen anyone since we broke up…I still love you.” He unlocked the door and left.
Liz glared and said softly, “Liar…jerk.”

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