Harley and Sven had missed the bus. If they walked fast enough they would make it in time for first period. There just wouldn’t be any time to chat with friends before class started and Harley really wanted to talk with her friend Molly about the most recent episode of their favorite TV show.
– You’ve got to walk faster.
Sven was lagging behind.
– I’m sorry. I am not this morning person. I would have liked some coffee but your mother says it will stunt the growth.
– You’ve had coffee?
Harley loved the smell but was told that she couldn’t have any until she was 16. (Her first cup would be terrible and she wouldn’t start drinking coffee in earnest until college when it was then just a means to an end.)
– Of course, we drink it every day back in Russia and I’m already one and three quarter meters.
– Is that a lot.
– Yes. I mean, I think so. I’m almost as tall as my father. And everyone drinks coffee in Russia and everyone is tall.
– I’m only 5 feet.
– You look to be a bit over a meter, like my mother. I am not sure though.
– What else is different there?
– In Russia?
– What do you mean by “duh”?
He dragged out the “u” for an extra second and it made sense eyes look like they were popping from his head.
– Why are you laughing?
– Duh means of course or something like that.
– So why you not say this?
– You have weird customs in this country. Your people preach freedom and openness but you cannot drink coffee until when?
– Why is this?
– My mother told you it’ll stunt your growth.
– But I told you this isn’t true.
– I don’t know.
– And you cannot have alcohol till when?
– I don’t understand this. We have vodka all the time from children age.
When he said vodka it sounded like “wodka”.
– But why?
– Why not? It keeps the belly warm in winter.
– I don’t know. People act badly when they drink alcohol.
– People act badly anyway.
They walked the rest of the way in silence. As usual speaking with Sven left more questions than answers. Was Sven right? What was wrong with her upbringing?
As they approached the school Sven had one last thing to add.
– You shouldn’t wrinkle your face with worry, it is not good for the skin and you look nicer when you don’t.
They walked into the school in time for the first bell to ring and they went their separate ways.