John and Emily were sitting at a table in the food court, a lot of their classmates were also enjoying hanging out before people started splitting off for college. But none of the tables near John and Emily were filled with classmates, in fact, only one table near them had a family sitting at it. Two children in high chairs, one crying and one happily munching, and the two middle aged adults, rapid Japanese firing back and forth between them.
John stared at his pizza, appetite quickly fading as both early memories of Skylar's stay and stupid gossip flooded his mind.
"I heard Skylar conned Emily and John out of all their college savings."
Skylar really liked pizza.
"I heard they were staking out this mall, the school, and other possible targets for Al Qaeda."
Skylar didn't understand why our mouths were so wet. Their confusion was amusing.
"Well I heard Skylar had escaped a mental health facility. Their sudden disappearance means they are back to wearing their cozy straight jacket.”
It was nice to see the world through fresh eyes.
“And I heard Skylar is a fugitive, on the Most Wanted List for murder. The Marshalls finally got her.”
Skylar came with one goal in mind.
The whispers surrounded John and Emily though the speakers were far away. Each rumor more horrible than the last, each one making his stomach twist.
Hannah and Ashley were walking by and John was sure a rumor was passing between their lips. He stood, slamming his hands on the plastic table.
“Stop talking bad about Skylar!” His chest heaved, the two girls stopping dead in their tracks to look at him. “Skylar was not a bad person! They were curious, maybe a little ignorant, naive, but also sweet and curious. And you two know it. Skylar was always willing to help, or go to matches to cheer you are. They didn’t judge your habits, or your looks. So why do you judge them?”
John met Hannah’s gaze. His ex blinked at him. For a couple moments the whispers were gone, and the family next to them was quiet. As Hannah looked past him, John could see the muscles tense in Hannah’s jaw. Ashley side stepped, putting herself between John and Hannah, but an elbow from Hannah made her shut her mouth.
The two girls brushed by John without another word and he sat down with a huff. It wasn’t long before the food court was filled with the noises of eating and talking once more.
“Nice try.” Emily reached out, fingers dancing over the table until she found John’s arm which she tapped twice. “I think Skylar would have appreciated your harangue.”
“Thanks I guess.” John looked down. “You ate my pizza.”
“Well you clearly weren’t going to eat it.” John rolled his eyes and drank the rest of his milkshake.
Word count: 478