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Meet Asali Divan
The second time I saw her, Abhikalpana Divan (a. k. a. Abby for short, thank god) and I had an inter-school project we had to work on, so I went to the Stevenson house to do it. They live in an a neighborhood not too far from her school, and after my Mom and I curse MapQuest for its inaccuracies and go to three gas stations to get directions, we finally reached a their address: 5151.
I walked up to the door and was about to ring the doorbell when she opens it for me. That’s something that, looking back, was pretty weird, because all of the windows on this side of the house have shudders over them. At the time, I figured she just heard our car come up, but the neighbors were hosting a pretty rambunctious birthday party in their backyard, and isn’t a P. T. Cruiser pretty quiet...? Anyway, I ignoring that...
Being an Indian-Asian, her skin was a “dark-but-not-too-dark” brown, sort of like a shade darker than a typical autumn leaf. Her hair was a dark, glossy black, and her eyes were brown. She was wearing a red hoodie and blue jeans. She’s not fat, but slightly pudgy. And she was wearing that strange mood ring again, the one that’s... I think broken, because it changes inappropriately and suddenly. Right now, it was green.
She didn’t say anything at first; she just stared at me with her wide, examining eyes, and just like last time, I had a strange uneasiness go through me. And her mood ring, for some reason, turned yellow, and she looked slightly uncomfortable. But then she just made a smile (did it appear fake?) and waved, gesturing for me to enter the house.
Eventually, we came to her room after a few “hello’s” from her hosts (she’s a foreign exchange student, so not parents) and her pseudo-siblings. The walls were painted in colored stripes, and she had a poster on each said stripe: a serious, Victorian print of a frowning mask on the black one; another print on the blue one, this time a summer image of a boy resting under a tree, straw hat pulled over his eyes; a picture of Switzerland on the green one; and so on. What thought was very interesting was a Twilight poster of Edward and Bella on the purple area.
And books were everywhere; any wall space that was not occupied by a poster or her bed had a book shelf on it. I looked closer, and most of them were written by Freud, Jung, or had titles based on emotions: “A Hundred Little Things to Make You Happy,” “The Blue Day Book,” “How to Keep the Spark Alive (Through the 50’s Edition)...” Stuff like that. And in the middle of the room, she had a desk, all covered in notes, drawings, even more books. Before I could examine it closer, she said, “Don’t look at that!”
She rushed across the room and shoved it all into a nearby chest, closing it with a thud. And again, her mood ring changed color: this time, a brown.
“Um... Okay... Sorry about that.”
She stood up and composed herself. “It’s nothing to worry about. We should get to the project.” Just like last time, her voice sounded unusually high pitched, and she didn’t have an accent.
The rest of the time, I listed ideas for it, talking about what would be most efficient, most interesting, most informational... But all she did was nod or shake her head, rarely saying anything. As we started to get to work, every once in a while, when my mind would wander a tad, she’d start staring at me intently, astutely, like we were having some kind of conversation, and her mood ring would change to reflect my thoughts: blue while I pondered the Thanksgiving Vacation coming up, purple for our class trip to Cedar Point, etc. Every time I caught her, I’d get weirded out and she wouldn’t notice at first, but eventually, she’d lose interest in me while her mood ring turned rusty.
After about an hour, we were done. “So, well, that’s that!”
She barely nodded her head in agreement.
“I’m...just wondering. How did you get all of these books?” As I said this, her mood ring grew opal.
“From home. The ones on the desk were from the library, but the rest...”
“And they let you bring all of them with you?”
“Well, if you don’t mind me asking, who decided to make your room look like the inside of a unicorn?”
She shrugged. “Painted it myself.”
“And the Stevensons were okay with that?”
Again, she nodded.
“You...don’t talk much, do you?” I said, humorously.
She smiled, and her mood ring grew light teal.
As we walked down the stairs, I asked her, “So, how do you like Michigan?”
“Well...you certainly have excellent libraries. I love spending time there; they just teach about...well, anything!” That was about the most emotion she exposed in that entire encounter.
I gathered my stuff. “My mom’ll be here soon; I better be heading out. Adios!”
She waved good-bye, and I left.