Kenton was sitting in his living room watching television and reflecting on what led up to him “losing his job”. His train of thought was derailed when he heard the doorbell. With a sigh, he turned off the television and walked down to the front door and was surprised to see his best friend standing on the other side.
“Hello…. Cameron.” Kenton bashfully said.
“Hey.” Cameron replied as he noticed Mia’s car taking off around the corner.
“What brings you here?” Kenton said as he stepped out fully and closed the door behind him.
“Honestly, Mia dragged me here. I’m sorry, I’ll be taking off now...” Cameron said as he prepared to take a long walk home.
“Wait… about what happened at the restaurant...”
Cameron held up a hand to stop whatever Kenton’s incoming speech.
“Don’t sweat it. I screwed up.”
“No, I was the one who screwed up. I… uh… well, lied about the customers complaining.”
Cameron stopped and turned around. Kenton was wondering if he was about to get a fist in the mouth for what he did.
“...Why would you do that?”
“You’re barely fifteen and you were coming in smelling like smoke! If people weren’t talking before, they would have eventually!”
“I only do it when I’m stressed!”
“That’s how it starts!”
Cameron didn’t have anything else to say to that.
“Okay, you hate me. I get it. Bye.”
“Cameron, wait! What I’m trying to say is that I’m… concerned about you. I was wrong to pressure you into working for the restaurant. I was wrong to lie, and I was wrong to make you quit. I’m a horrible person!”
“I pour myself into my work because it’s all that I have! Everything ends, and everyone goes away. And perhaps it’s my fault. Perhaps it’s always been my fault.”
Cameron sighed and walked over to his friend who was shaking from his little meltdown.
“Bro. Take a deep breath. I didn’t quit because of what you said. Well, it was a bit of a factor, I admit, but I’m still a kid. It’s like you said, I just turned fifteen and I’m starting high school. Barring any unforeseen circumstances, I just want to enjoy my life now and worry about getting a job in a year or so.”
“Well… I was supposed to offer you the job back...”
“And I would have told you where to stick it, again.” Cameron said as the two shared a small laugh.
“And don’t even think about offering it to me again when I turn sixteen. No offense, but I love having you as a friend and not as a boss.”
“You don’t have to worry about that, I got fired earlier today.”
Before Kenton could explain any further, Cameron’s phone chimed. Out of habit, he got it out and unlocked the screen before sighing and shaking his head.
“Mia being irritating again?”
“No, that was from my cousin. You know, the one from Hollywood. He got himself in a crapload of trouble, so now he’s in Oregon to cool off for a bit.”
“Well, that’s got to be nice, right?”
“Yeah, if having an irritating little twerp living with you is nice, then I guess it kinda is.”
“Speaking of Hollywood, are you still going on the trip?”
Cameron had forgotten about the trip, especially since it was the driving reason for him getting the job to begin with.
“Nah, that’s really far away. Just not my thing.”
“Yeah, I hear you. They wanted me to go, too. But I think that would be just a bit too awkward.”
The two sat there and continued talking until the sun started to set when Cameron decided to head home. He managed to avoid his cousin’s irritation for a small dinner break before heading up to his room.
Immediately, he walked to a drawer where he was hiding a small envelope full of large denominations of money. He looked at the writing that said, “Cameron’s L.A. Trip 2017” before grabbing a marker from his desk and scribbling out his name and writing “Mia’s”.
The next morning, Mia’s car pulled up into the parking area next to the restaurant.
“Wait, Mia. Before we go in, I want to give you this.”
Mia was a bit startled when Cameron reached into his pocket. She looked at the envelope and then back at him.
“What the hell is this?”
“It’s the money for the trip.”
“No, it’s your money for the trip. Why is your name crossed out?”
“It’s your money now. I’m not going on the trip. It’s not much, but you could get yourself something nice. Or invade an anime convention or something, I dunno.”
Mia sighed as having a little trip with the person she loved the most was what she was looking forward to. The two of them got out of the car and started towards the front door.
“It feels so weird coming here after what happened.” Cameron quietly said.
“Hey.” Kenton said as he sat the counter. It was awkward for him to be there as an ex-employee and the staff were eating it up.
“Hey… oh, no.” Cameron replied as he saw Charmaine walk out of the kitchen and stare him down.
“Hi, Mrs. Hayes...”
Cameron looked down at the floor, not being able to find the words to say. Charmaine walked around the counter and over to the boy. Cameron winced a bit, not expecting what was about to happen. Charmaine wrapped her arms around him in a quick hug.
“I’m not mad. Kenton told me what happened.”
“Thanks… and I’m sorry.”
Charmaine loosened up her hug and tightened her grip on Cameron’s shoulders.
“But, and I know I’m not your momma, but if I catch you smoking, I am not afraid to put my foot so far up your behind that your tonsils will be giving sports endorsements. Am I clear?”
Cameron nodded and Charmaine released her grip. She was barely behind the counter when the door to the restaurant opened and a party of four walked in. Kenton gulped a bit when the people standing before him were both so familiar and yet so strange.
“Wow, this place is so shiny and clean.” one of them, a young teenager, said to an older teenage boy.
“Well, the place is fairly new, Pup.”
Kenton couldn’t focus on that conversation as his ex-girlfriend had walked up to him.