It was my sister’s desire for chocolate that brought me there. Or rather, my brother’s abysmal stomach that led to the dearth of candy in the first place. Regardless of the reason, I still ended up in the candy aisle of the only decent discount store in my neighborhood, Deals & Discounts, which is colloquially known as D&D.

I was scavenging for a particular type of loser candy that I was craving at that time when I called my brother to ask if he needed anything. He told me two things–1) he was heading back to his school (the same middle school I went to back in the bad ol’ days) to pick up his report card.

And 2) he needed me to tag along.

“No,” was the adamant response I gave him. And I hung up.

My middle school was not a place I would fondly call home. Not just because of the stupid preteen drama nor the embarrassing and cringy memories that would immediately resurface after stepping one foot inside the building, but also because there was no one there to visit. Out of all of the teachers I had during the three years I was in that school, only a couple remain. I didn’t see any point in visiting the school that seemed so familiar on the outside, but so alien in the inside.

I stared at my phone for a while, wondering how much time would elapse until my sister found out about my refusal to accompany Samin and call me to blackmail me to go. But it turned out that I didn’t need to go back to my middle school. Middle school had found me first.

And she was staring right at me with her almond-shaped eyes.

“SHORMIE!!!!” she yelled. Her electric blue hair bounced up and down as she ran to give me a hug. I patted her back awkwardly as she squeezed me tight, just as she would back then.

After such a long time, Coney had found me.

We talked for a while about colleges (as every senior has been and will be doing), talked about Japan (she was planning on applying to schools there) and looked for my loser candy (we didn’t end up finding it). We spoke for such a long time that I’d forgotten my dilemma until my daddy called me and kindly asked me to drag Samin to his middle school.

We parted ways, and just we’ve done before, we promised to keep in touch.

It was at that point I remembered that middle school wasn’t as gross as I recalled. It wasn’t great. But it was fun, at least when spent with my friends. And although it changed a lot, the ambience was still the same. At least, I hoped it was.

And I promised myself that I would fulfil the promise I made with Coney (after Dec. 1, of course).

I found my brother moments before she left. Not even bothering to greet me first, he hurriedly asked if I was going to take him to his school and do all the talking.

I answered again with a “no,” but this time, I didn’t mean it.

(At least for the first part of his question.)