My So-Called Bollywood Life(79)

By: Nisha Sharma


“Nope, no way. Thank you for all the work, but this isn’t helpful to Eric’s business. He’s not only closed for the night to let us set up, but he’s giving us the venue for free. We want to make sure that he’ll make money through concessions.”

Winnie’s mom motioned to the boxes. “Don’t worry—we spoke to him. He wanted some extra food for the cocktail party after your festival. These are half of the batch we made.”

 The sound of running footsteps echoed until Henry, Jessica, and Jai burst into the lobby. Henry had the most crazed look in his eyes.

“I smell samosas,” he said.

Winnie’s mother beamed as she started pulling the food from boxes. “Are you hungry? We have extra. Winnie, go get plates from the car. I have napkins and spoons, too. Let’s feed all these growing children.”

Winnie was quickly shoved aside as everyone crowded over the boxes. With a sigh, she admitted defeat and left to get the plates and cutlery from the car.

Winnie stepped up to the curb in front of the theater, pressed the unlock button, and heard the familiar beep. She found her parents’ sedan parked straight ahead on the same side of the street. She was a few feet away when she spotted the Beetle parked in front of it. A slender blonde got out from behind the wheel.

“Hi,” she said when Winnie reached her side.

“Hi.”

Her best friend looked sad. Bridget had her hair tied up in a high ponytail, and her face was void of any makeup. Behind her lime-green glasses, her eyes were puffy.

“I broke the BFFL code,” she said.

“You did.”

 “Twice.”

Winnie rolled her eyes. “Yup.”

A car honked at another driver as it roared down Nassau Street.

“I was thinking of you, though,” Bridget said when the sound faded.

“You should’ve told me, Bridget.”

“I know. I’ve been keeping up with Henry. He told me he was helping you, and at first I was mad, but when he explained what was going on, well…I wanted to talk to you. Winnie, I’m so sorry I kept it from you, but it wasn’t my secret. It was Dev’s to tell. I figured if he didn’t say something by your birthday, then I’d spill my guts.”

Winnie dug her hands into the pockets of her jacket. “We are supposed to have each other’s backs. How would you feel if I kept a secret about Henry? I feel like I can’t trust you to talk to me about things after this.”

“But you can!”

Winnie nodded. “I get that you were trying to help me, but I can screw things up and then fix them on my own.”

“Yeah,” she said. “Yeah, you can.”

“Hey!”

Bridget propped her fists on her hips. “You’re supposed to stand by Dev, Winnie. He made a mistake. So what? I make them, and you do, too.”

“I do, but you can’t interfere by keeping things to yourself because you think I’ll screw things up. That’s not fair to either of us.”

 “Fine, but—”

“Bridget. Please. Don’t interfere.”

“Okay. I’m sorry. Really. Even if it’s the worst news ever, I’ll tell you.”

“Ditto. And in case Henry didn’t tell you, I dropped out of the school festival. You were right, too. Dev is more important to me, more real to me, and I can help him without being festival chair with Raj. I don’t want to be a festival chair if the lineup doesn’t include Dev, anyway.”

“I’m glad. You’re still my BFFL?”

“I’ll always be your best freaking friend for life,” Winnie said with a laugh.

Bridget started crying, and as Winnie hugged her, the tightness in her chest eased.

“I missed you,” she whispered.

“I missed you, too,” Bridget whispered back.

They held each other, supporting one another like they had for years. When a truck drove by kicking up smoke, they pulled apart, coughing and laughing at the same time.

“So I heard you made this big long boring speech to Reece about your plan,” Bridget said, wiping an eye. “I wish I was there to see it.”

“It’s okay,” Winnie said, lifting the collar of her shirt to wipe her face. “It was sort of anticlimactic. No one slapped anyone. There wasn’t any strange music. Pretty lame, actually. Best of all, Reece offered to help.”