What Lies Beyond the Eyes

Chapter 11: The Arcade Part 2

Sandy pulled in and parked in the large mall parking lot, and the kids filed out one by one while Sandy bounced out of the drivers seat exclaiming, ”Alright! Now Im pumped to kick some ass! How out you Rom? ”

Rom clenched her fist and nodded her head with determination. Gia and Danny looked at each other in wonder but ended up walking to the entrance by themselves. I smiled knowingly as I purposefully got out of the white vehicle. In all honesty, Im about to get rolled at the arcade. Ive only been to the arcade twice in my life. Once was for my birthday when I was five, and the last time was with a group of ”friends ” when I was 15. When I did go, I wasn very good at the games either. Im usually a computer or Playstation guy.

But Im glad everyones feeling better now. Ill gladly sacrifice my self-esteem to make everyone happy because I know that it doesn matter.

The three of us eventually followed the lovebirds down the black asphalt among the parked cars. Sandy and Rom were in the lead discussing their ”battle strategy ” that they quite honestly didn need, which left me carrying up the rear like I usually am. It was nice in the car, being involved with everyone for once, but now Im back in my usual role. Which is comforting in its own way, its lonely but comfortable. Im used to it.

We walked through the front doors of the mall, and we were greeted to a wave of noise from the bustling people weaving in and out of outlets, hallways, and food courts. We entered in through the main good court in the mall. A large sitting area full of satisfied customers sat in the middle, and in the midst of all the food places lining the walls to the left and right, sitting in in the far-right corner, is an arcade. Thats where we are heading to as we make our way through the bustling tables and lines.

I looked down while we were walking, and I noticed the white and maroon tile floors. They reminded me of when I used to try to step in the middle of each square as a challenge to myself. I smiled bitterly at my innocence back then. ”Hey, Mark Cmon! You
e not having second thoughts about this are you? Ill go easy on you. ”

Ive in fact been having second thoughts about this, but Im not going to look lamer than I already am and back out now. Plus, we
e already here. I looked up from the floor to see Sandy staring a few inches away from me into my eyes. ”Jesus! ” I exclaimed. How did she get so close to me without making a noise? Ahh, I guess it is pretty loud in here.

I lurched back away from her because of her sudden proximity to me, and I ended up bumping into someone sitting down eating behind me. Embarrassed by the situation I put myself in, I managed to stammer out, ”S-sorry! It was an accident. ”

All I got in response was an evil glare from the person I stumbled into, and some mocking giggles from the two girls and a guy he was sitting with. I felt my cheeks grow flush with embarrassment as they mocked me, which I deserved to be fair. I narrowed my eyes as I calmed down and muttered, ”See ya. ”

I turned around as I said that and walked away towards the arcade again. Sandy came up beside me again and nudged me in my shoulder as she teased, ”Good job handling that. I thought Id have to come in and save you. ”

I looked slightly down at her, as I stood slightly taller than her, and I smirked as I told her, ”Im not helpless. I can do things myself. Besides Im good at brushing people off. ”

”You didn brush me off at the waterpark. ”

”T-that was um different. ”

That was the only response I could muster to give her. She smiled to herself as she picked up her step. ”And why was that? ” She asked in an airy tone.

I couldn tell her that the only reason I didn brush her off was because she had such a cute, earnest face. No one wouldve been able to say no when faced with that look. ”Wh-who knows? ” I told her before attempting to change the subject. ”A-anyway, did the kids go on ahead to the arcade? ”

”Ahh, changing the subject huh? ” She commented to herself. ”Yeah, they ran on ahead. They were excited, just like you should be, but you seem down. Ah! I know! Im sorry for scaring you earlier! Though you look really funny when you
e embarrassed hehe. Its cute! ”

She didn need to apologize; in fact, I was shocked that she thought that I was down because of that. Being lame in front of other people is the normal for me, so I didn think anything of it. But… the apology was nice, even though it was followed by a patronizing ”Its cute! ” That was obviously meant in the way you say a little kid is cute.

Damn, she really can see right through me. First it was when I forgot my phone and now this. At the waterpark she noticed I was really nervous at the slides and made sure I was okay and said I didn have to go again, and now she apologizes for nothing really. Im usually invisible to everyone. Why does she notice so many things about me? ”Im fine… Its fine, ” I reassured her. ”I was just thinking about college stuff. ”

She raced out in front of me and turned around to face me while simultaneously stopping me in my tracks. ”Stop. ” She commanded as she pushed her right hand on my shoulder affirming her words, ”College is next week. This is your last week as a kid so enjoy it! Worry about college when you
e actually in class. You already got everything worked out, and you have signed up for all your classes. Ya just need to finish a few more signatures for financial stuff and Boom! You
e done! No sense in worrying about tomorrow when you don even know what the present will bring! Now cmon, its time to get your ass whooped in the arcade! ”

I gave back a nervous smile to match her uplifting one and snapped a sarcastic response back at her, ”You seem pretty confident in your arcade skills for a person who didn even know the controls to a normal Playstation RPG. ”

”Thats COMPLETELY different, okay? ”

”Oh yeah? Prove me wrong. ”

”Well, how can I prove you wrong, if you take so long to get there? ” She sniped back at me as she quickened her pace towards the arcade, weaving in and out of tables as she went. I trailed methodically behind her until we finally reached the far-right corner of the mall. The kids were waiting for us at the entrance of the dark arcade that was lit up by only screens, flashing lights from games, and the neon lights on the ceiling. ”What took you guys so long? ” Gia complained to us when we arrived in a tired tone that struck a nerve.

I bowed down to Gias level and told her coldly as I bore my dark-brown eyes into her green ones, ”Well we weren running ahead flirting for one. That may have been a factor, and I thought you wanted to stay at the house? ”

”Id rather go ahead and to flirt and be early than fall behind to flirt and be late! And I thought you didn like places with a lot of people so why did you suggest to come here? ” She retorted right back at me.

”One we weren flirting you stupidly horny kid with ang— ” Before I could finish my sentence, Sandy interjected between us and gradually separated us saying, ”Calm down, we just got here. The fighting happens at the end of the trip. ”

I stood back up to my full height and ignored the look Gia gave me as I turned towards Danny. ”Heres twenty-five bucks. ” I told him as I handed him a two crisp bills, ”I realize you and Gia probably want to do your own thing, so you can go get you both some tokens with that. ”

I pulled him closer to me, ”Try to keep it PG! ” I whispered.

He yanked back away from me and gave me a look that every teenager has that said, ”Gah! Im not an idiot that needs constant supervision and orders! ”

He should be thankful I let Gia and him be alone after this afternoon, but I shrugged, Teenagers will be teenagers and he and Gia left with her grabbing his arm to pull him into the pit of lights saying in an excited voice, ”Cmon lets go! ”

A feeling of relief rushed over me as the whirlwind of teen angst left with Gia and Danny. ”They
e perfect for each other. ” I thought to myself.

”Wheres our cash, my ATM? Well go get the tokens! ” Sandy asked while leaning into me. Rom stared longingly at the inside of the light filled room. I raised my eyebrows at Sandy before say snarkily, ”The ATM is going to get us thirty-five dollars worth of tickets. Lets see if thats enough for you to beat me once. ”

Her mouth dropped open as she asked aghast, ”What you don trust us to handle your money and get the tokens ourselves? ”

”Nope. ” I said as I took the plunge into the sea of lights, ”I don trust you to get the tokens. Rom seems responsible enough though, lets go Rom! ”

Sandy rushed to my side. She puffed out her face in anger. Damn, her angry face is so cute! Its like a hamsters face with food in its mouth. ”But weve been texting a lot, haven we? Why don you trust me?! ”

Walking in and out of the different aisles of racing games, shooting games, and randomly assorted gotcha arcade games, I instructed myself, ”Keep it together! Keep it together! ”

I steadied myself with a calming breath when I reached the token machine, and told Sandy, ”True, thats why I suggested we come here together in the first place. I don do this with just anybody you know. ”

I would break if I looked at her cute expression, so I focused on the machine in front of me and putting the cash in. I felt Sandy do a theatrical bow to me as she stated mockingly, ”Well, its an honor to be in your presence my lord haha! ”

I smiled at the sarcasm, but its true though I don do this often or with anybody. Actually, I don do this with anyone at all except family nowadays. Ever since the series of incidents back then, I stayed to myself.

I put the thirty-five dollars into the token exchanger, and Rom watched in awe as the fifty tokens started to pour out of the machine into an empty cup being held by Rom. Sandy started to have her gaze wander into the games around her as she started to plan her attack on me. Her eyes were full of nostalgia, though. I let out a slight giggle as I told her, ”You look like a kid in a candy store haha! ”

As she was still looking around the building, she told me in a nostalgic tone, ”I am…Its been sooo long since Ive been in one of these places. I used to love these kinds of places as a kid. I used to come her all the time with my mom. ”

Her eyes saddened a bit when she mentioned her mom, and I realized that something had to have happened to her since her dad remarried. Whether they got a divorce or not, its still painful no matter the situation. I quickly tried to rectify the situation because the whole purpose of this trip was to help her out. I grabbed for the tokens in the cup, and I counted out twenty-five and put them in a separate cup. I gave one cup to Rom and one to Sandy.

”There! They
e all divided up evenly, and you both have twenty-five each! Sandy, you and I will share since we are the adults of the trip. ” I smiled to myself as I said adults, and Sandy commented, ”Youve always wanted to say that haven you? ”

”No! ” I said defensively, knowing damn well she was right.

”Umm…I don mind sharing with you guys. ” Rom interjected with her small voice.

I smiled, admiring her charitableness, as I bowed to her level and patted her head, ”Only if you want to. You
e the kid here, so this place is made for you. ”

She looked back at me with a fire in her normal calm blue eyes, ”I want to have fun with everyone. I don really want to go with Danny and Gia because being a third wheel is never fun, but I don want to be alone either. So, what do you guys want to do? ”

I smiled bitterly because I knew that exact feeling of just wanting to please everyone no matter the cost. ”Well, you heard her! ” Sandy exclaimed while hitting my back, jolting me back up to attention in pain, ”What you want to play first?! ”

”Ow ” I complained to Sandy. She gave a meek smile and muttered to me, ”Sorry, I got caught up in the moment. ”

”Well… ” I started to say while looking around the arcade while thinking aloud, ”We need to have a plan our route for going around the arcade. Do we want to start on the left corner with the normal arcade games, the right corner with the digital ones and make our way left, OR… ”

”Stop, stop, stop. ” Sandy interrupted me before I could finish my train of thought, ”You aren serious, are you? ”

”Serious about what? ” I objected defensively.

She looked at me critically and asked, ”Are you really trying to plan an itinerary for the arcade? ”

”What? It never hurts to have a plan or schedule, so you can do all the things you want to do. ”

She put her right hand on my shoulder and looked me directly in my eyes more seriously than Ive ever seen her before and stated, ”You overthink things too much. ”

Rom, not hearing anything that was going on, had her eyes drift to a shooter game that was off by itself. It had green guns and had jungle design on the sides of it. Noticing her averted attention, I steered away from the rapidly losing battle with Sandy and asked Rom, ”That the game you want to play? ”

Surprised at my question—I don think she thought I would notice her—she stammered out, ”I…Uhh…I don really care where we go first. ”

Sandy followed our attention over to the action game, and her eyes lit up at the sight of it and excitedly asked her, ”You wanna play that one first? ” When Rom hesitantly nodded her head in affirmation Sandy let out a ”Yes! ” before she started to drag me to the game with Rom matching her stride for stride.

”Relax! Its not going anywhere! ” I implored to get the both of them to slow down.

But Sandy and Rom just continued with me in tow with Sandy arguing back, ”We gotta get there before someone takes our spot! ”

I sighed at the childlike enthusiasm. I could be in bed right now…

”Alright! ” Sandy exclaimed as we began walking to the desired attraction. Her child-like smile was as bright as any light in the arcade.

…But maybe this isn so bad either.

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