Listen to Your Heart

Page 22


“I haven’t tried that one yet,” the caller replied. “I think I will.”
“Good luck,” Victoria said. When the caller hung up, Victoria gave me a little nod. I wasn’t sure if that meant she approved of my input or what, but it seemed encouraging.
Mallory put the next caller through.
“Caller, you’re on Not My Problem. How can we help?” Victoria asked.
“I’m a vegetarian,” the caller said.
“Is that the problem?” I asked.
“Well, it’s part of the problem. I get that people can’t make special accommodations for me all the time. But whenever my friends and I go out, they want to go to Burger Palace. You know, the place that only sells burgers?”
“They sell fries, too,” I said.
“I would know. That’s all I ever get. And I don’t mind tagging along with them week after week, but every once in a while, I’d love it if they wanted to go somewhere I want to go. Every time I suggest a new place, they turn their nose up at it and say that I can meet them at Burger Palace with my special food.”
“Tina?” Victoria asked. “Is that you?”
“I want to be anonymous,” the caller said.
“So you call my podcast?”
“It’s not yours. It’s Kat’s, too.”
“It’s actually our whole class’s—” I started to say but was cut off.
“Sometimes we go to your places,” Victoria said into the microphone, looking much more flustered than usual. “We don’t go to Burger Palace every time. But there’s five of us and one of you!”
I bit my knuckle to keep from laughing, took a deep breath, and said, “Come on, Victoria, you really should go someplace that offers more veggie options. Burger Palace?”
Victoria rolled her eyes. “I know. The guys always pick it. I’m sorry, Tina. I didn’t realize it was bothering you so much.”
“Are you really going to use my name on air?” Tina asked.
“Do you think people won’t know who you are? There are only like ten vegetarians at this school!” Victoria said.
Tina laughed. “I’m sure there’s more than ten. But, fine, hi, everyone! Can we lay off Burger Palace?”
“Yes, Tina. Your dissent has been noted,” Victoria said. Then she added, “My friends aren’t allowed to call in anymore.”
I laughed this time, the kind of laugh Victoria always gave, the ones I always thought she forced. Maybe they were real.
We were on a roll and three callers still waited, which meant another one had called in while we were talking.
Victoria answered the next one. “You’re on Not My Problem, we’re listening.”
“Hello?” the caller said. “Am I allowed to call again?”
My heart jumped to my throat. It was him. The guy who had called last time. The one I’d thought was Diego. He was still using a husky voice to hide his identity.
“Yes, of course,” Victoria said. “What can we help you with today? Did you talk to your parents about a schedule?”
“No, I’m still working on that. But I was thinking about something else you said.”
“Which part?” Victoria asked.
“The last part, about how something else might be making me more aware of my time constraints lately.”
The more he talked, the more I could hear his distinct inflections, the tone of his voice. It was Diego. It had to be. My tongue seemed tied to the roof of my mouth; I couldn’t speak. I was glad Victoria never seemed to get tongue-tied.
“So is it the girl? The one you mentioned last week?” she asked. My eyes shot to Alana. She was sitting next to Frank on the couch, taking her job of infiltrating enemy lines seriously. They shared a laptop and were distracted by something on the screen, obviously not listening to the voice that was being broadcasted on their end through the speakers.
The guy who sounded like Diego answered, “Maybe. Is that lame? I can’t let a girl make me resentful of my family.”
Finally, Alana seemed to register the voice she was hearing. She looked up and her eyes shot over to me. You think? she mouthed.
I nodded.
“Maybe the feelings of resentment were always there. This new situation is just making them more apparent,” Victoria suggested.
“That’s probably true,” he said.
“What do you like about this girl?” Victoria asked, shifting on her stool.
“She’s nice and funny and just easy to be with.”
I raised my eyebrows at Alana, who grinned.
“That’s so sweet,” Victoria said.
“It would be,” he said. “But I don’t think she feels the same way about me.”
Alana’s eyes went even wider with that statement.
“Why do you say that?” I was finally able to spit out.
“I don’t know. I just sense it, I guess. When we’re somewhere together, she doesn’t stick around for long. And,” he continued, “she seems altogether indifferent toward me.”
“Indifferent?” I echoed. Alana was not indifferent toward anyone.
“Well, she treats me the same as she treats everyone else.”
Oh, that made more sense. Alana did sort of treat everyone the same, with her fun and flirty ways.
“Ah,” Victoria said. “Maybe she’s trying to tell you something in a nice way without hurting your feelings. Maybe it’s best to move on.”
“No!” I let out in a loud burst. I cleared my throat. “I mean, no, I think maybe you’re reading into it too much. Maybe she’s just shy.”
Alana bugged her eyes out, and I nearly laughed. Shy was not a word anyone used to describe Alana.
“If she’s shy and you come on too strong, you might scare her away,” Victoria said.
“Yeah,” the caller said. “I guess my question is: How do I find out if she likes me without scaring her away? I enjoy hanging out with her. I don’t want to ruin that by pushing my feelings into it if it’s just going to make things weird between us.”
It was hard to get the advice for this one right. He was asking as an anonymous caller, and unlike Victoria with her friend, I wasn’t going to call him out. Plus, what if it really wasn’t Diego? What if he wasn’t talking about Alana at all? I knew I needed to treat this like I didn’t have insider information here. Especially because maybe I didn’t.
So I said, “Why is everyone in such a rush to jump into a relationship? What happened to good old-fashioned patience? If this girl is worth it, and like you said, you don’t want to ruin the friendship, can’t you just see how it naturally plays out?”
Alana crossed her arms over her chest and gave me a pout.
“I say just go in for the kiss,” Victoria said with a laugh. “The sooner the better to see if this is going to work out.”
Alana gave a thumbs-up to that advice.
“You have the opposite sides of the spectrum here,” I said. “I guess you’ll have to go with your gut. My gut is always wrong, so good luck with that.”
He gave a polite chuckle.
“Yeah, I didn’t think it was that funny, either,” I said.
“No, it’s not that. I’m just conflicted now.”
“You are the sweetest,” Victoria said. “Will you please call back next week and give us an update?”