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The Arcade – Part 1

Darren had never been to an arcade, but they’d always seemed like fun when he saw them on TV. So, when his best friend proposed that they check out the new one that had just opened across town, Darren had initially been excited by the idea.

“So you’ll come with me this Saturday?” Jake asked, grinning over the homework that only Darren was bothering to do.

Darren slumped, feeling defeated. “I can’t, you know how my mom is. I never get to do anything fun. She’s only letting me hang out with you because she thinks I’m tutoring you.”

“You could tutor me just as effectively at the arcade,” Jake argued, leaning back in his chair and twirling his pen between his fingers. Darren rolled his eyes.

“You mean because I’m completely ineffective as a tutor?” Darren said, glaring at Jake’s unfinished, unstarted, math homework.

“Nah, you’re a great tutor, dude,” Jake said. “I totally understand this stuff thanks to you, and if I actually cared, you’d have gotten my grade up to an A ages ago.”

Darren snorted, turning back to his own homework with a shake of his head. Jake’s math grade was a lost cause, and everyone knew it.

“So! Arcade?” Jake asked, leaning forward again and slamming the front legs of his chair down. The librarian shot them a dirty look, and Darren gave her an apologetic smile.

“Jake, I’d love to, but my mom’s never gonna say yes,” Darren said, shaking his head in dismay. “Sorry man.”

“So don’t ask!” Jake said, as if it were the most obvious thing in the world. “Just say you’re going to the library or something.”

“And what if someone sees me at the arcade? If it gets back to her that I lied, she’d never let me out again,” Darren said. “It’s too risky.”

“So then we’ll disguise you!” Jake said. “Look, tell your mom you want to spend the day studying, then I’ll meet you here with a killer disguise that no PTA mom would ever see through, and then we can sneak over to the arcade and actually have fun and be normal teenagers for once! Then we sneak back to the library, you change back into your boring regular clothes, and your mom is none the wiser! It’s genius.”

“It’s certainly something,” Darren said, giving his friend an eyeroll.

“But is it something that you’ll agree to?” Jake asked, looking at his friend imploringly. Darren knew that if he said no, Jake would respect his wishes and drop it. Jake was a good friend like that, always encouraging Darren to have fun without ever really pushing him out of his comfort zone. If he wanted to, Darren could end this conversation. But I don’t want to.

“Alright, I’ll meet you here on Saturday and if your disguise for me is convincing enough, we can go to the arcade,” Darren said. “But only if it really is convincing!”

Jake grinned, “Whoo!”

“Shhh!” the librarian practically hissed, and Jake at least had the decency to look ashamed.

“Sorry, Ma’am,” he said, “I’ll be quiet.” The librarian didn’t seem very convinced, but she left them be.

“Alright, well I’m gonna go get started on your disguise,” Jake said, shoveling his things into his backpack. All of his papers were going to be crushed, but Darren did his best not to be worried by that fact. It wasn’t like Jake was going to turn any of them in. “I’ll see you Saturday morning at nine, okay?”

“Okay,” Darren said, putting his own homework away, though much more carefully than his friend had. Saturday was three days away, and Darren couldn’t wait.