''Hey, why are you sitting here all alone?"
Maxim's head turned around so fast that he might have gotten a whiplash right at that moment. The familiar voice sounded like the slightest trinkets of windchimes to his ears and the familiar face made his eyes widen.
He hadn't seen Diana for the past 3 weeks ever since school reopened and they were promoted to 8th grade.
The rich heiress who befriended him a year ago never once missed classes, never took holidays and she was always there, hovering around him in free time throughout the year, constantly reminding him about how he should consider their friendship seriously.
But coincidentally, she was absent around this time the past year too. He remembered it very well because the seat beside his seat was empty for some days after school reopened till she showed up the first time and grabbed the duster aimed at his face.
The reminder of that made him smile.
''And you seemed to be sulking,'' Diana walked towards him, placing both her hands on her waist as she eyed him suspiciously, ''But now, you are suddenly smiling. What's the matter, Warner?"
''You were absent for 19 days,'' Maxim looked up at her, making no moves to stand up from the swing.
Diana joined him on the other swing in their school playground, ''And you are bunking the first class,'' her eyes widened, ''Did you get involved in bad company? Is someone teaching you bad things? Tell me, I will beat them up,'' she massaged her wrist before striking a superman pose.
Maxim sighed, smiled, then sighed once again, ''Why were you absent?" he asked.
''I was with my family,'' Diana shrugged.
When she left for Beijing, she expected a lot of fun. A family picnic. Quality time with her sister. Family dinners. And maybe... maybe if her parents were lenient enough then an amusement park trip.
But things did not go as she had imagined them. No family picnic. She barely saw all her family members together. Her sister wasn't allowed to come back to the mansion. Since she was one year older than her, her mother had arranged for extra etiquette classes for her elder sister. No family dinners. She mostly ate inside her princess-styled room. The amusement park was a far-fetched dream because whatever time she spent there, she was on medications because of her mother's last outburst against her.
''Our results...'' Maxim spoke up, only to be interrupted by Diana.
''Were your parents upset?" Maxim asked her after a long time. He might not have known many things about rich people's life but from his past year experience in Elite school, one thing that he knew was that most of these people were fond of perfect image and hence, they put that burden onto their children's shoulders as well.
It might not be the case for everyone but it happened to many of his classmates. He had seen them being reprimanded and warned by their parents in the Parents Teacher's meeting.
He could be considered lucky because his mother never cared about his marks.
There was this one time when he asked her why she never asked him about his marks or rank and her reply was: 'Kids are like flowers. All are different and they possess different properties. If you excel in your studies, that's good but if you don't then that means there must be something else that you will definitely be the best at. Most importantly, I just want you to be a better human. A better man, honey!'
While that was how his mother saw it but he was not sure about Diana's family, ''Did they scold you?" he asked again when she did not answer.
''Scold?" Diana blinked innocently, ''I didn't score that bad, did I?"
''No, just 17.5 marks less than me in overall,'' Maxim said.
Diana giggled, ''If I didn't know what kind of person you are, I would have assumed that you are flaunting your near-perfect scores.''
Maxim's eyes widened, ''No, I... I was just saying that you did well.''
Diana stood up from the swing.
Maxim grabbed her fingers before she could walk away, ''What's wrong here?" he asked.
She followed his gaze and glanced at her elbow joint which had faint black marks, ''I fell,'' she pouted.
''Did it hurt?" Maxim finally pushed himself to his feet.
''It did. It hurt a lot. Do you consider me as your best friend out of pity now?"
Maxim blinked as he looked at her pitiful face. He blinked again before he examined the marks closely, ''You fell or bumped it somewhere?" Such marks weren't caused by falling.
''Isn't it the same?"
''How is it the same? Silly,'' Maxim sighed.
''Are you worried about me?" Diana looked at him with animated green eyes, ''Are you finally considering me as a friend after observing me for a year? Do you not doubt my motives towards you anymore?"
Maxim blushed, ''Maybe,'' he whispered.
Diana ruffled his dark hair happily.
He laughed, ''That's enough.''
''But I am so so so happy! I promise I will be the nicest friend to you.''
The morning incident remained fresh as a flower in Diana's head even though it was past noon right now and she was strolling through the home center for necessities like blankets and extra pillows, sheets, mosquito net etc.
''How do you feel though?" she glanced at the baby in her arms who was sucking her fingers.
The baby peeked at her with round wide eyes, blinked twice, and then continued looking around.
''I will take that as an 'I feel nice shopping with a stunning lady like you','' Diana nuzzled her nose in the baby's cheeks as she pushed the cart forward and the baby made some quiet low-pitched contented sounds, ''Atleast, someone is in a good mood unlike me who feels like crap right now," she continued speaking.
After coming downstairs, Diana locked herself inside her room and wrote in her diary for who knows how long before she dozed off.
The next thing she knew she woke up to the sound of the baby bawling on the top of her lungs.
And by the time she was done feeding the baby, bathing her, and dressing her up, it was past 10 am.
She sneakily came out of her room to see if Maxim was around but she couldn't feel his presence. Crazy instincts.
And based on her instincts, she did look up but the glass door was locked from the outside which proved her crazy instincts right.
She sat in her room and played with the baby while trying to come up with a story plot only to end up with crumpled pages.
When the baby dozed off after some time, she took the opportunity to take a shower, and now, finally, here they were, wandering around in the shop with her rotten tomato mood.