"May I help you?"
I nearly jumped out of my skin when a passing woman called me out. It took me a moment to realize she was on this side, not the other, and had reacted to my touching her arm. It was a bad habit of mine to people who got too close. I needed to know what side they were on. What should I do? How do I speak to this new woman that I did not know?
"Tell her you apologize and introduce yourself, Al!" Dante said from behind me. I turned and looked at him before doing what he suggested. Dante was always right about everything, so he would be right about this.
"S-sorry, miss..." I said nervously, "I am Al Phonse..." Dante made a disappointing sound behind me, like I had done something wrong.
I almost feared he was right, as usual, until the nice lady smiled at me. No one did that except Flynn... Was this woman a new friend? "I am Mrs. (?) Ward, the new Headmaster here," she said, extending a hand in my direction, "Nice to meet you Al."
Being short, I already was smaller than everyone else, but this woman made me feel even smaller, while at the same time made me feel comfortable. I didn't understand this very well... But I took her hand and shook it. What else could I have done?
"I.. have to be going," I mumbled, then quickly walked away and towards the lunch room. Annie would be waiting in her usual spot, so I didn't need to keep her waiting. At least I could understand her.
"What was all that, Al?"
"I was nervous, Dante," I told my friend on the other side as I walked. Why did the lunch room have to be so far from my own room? I left Flynn to go talk to Mrs. Rachel, the lady who used to tend the grounds. She had died nearly ten years back, but that didn't stop her from making Al feel happy. Sadly, her storied took a long time, so Al was late.
"Nervous? Well, that woman - Miss Ward? - was a looker. I wonder if Mr. Ward is out of the picture and if she would be willing to die for me...?" Dante seemed to sense I was upset before I did and quickly patted me on the back, reassuring me that it was a joke. Of course, I did not feel his hand nor get upset. I was used to this.
I was not used to people, though.
I made it to the lunch room and found that I was not the only one who was there. Flynn, Lance, Eve, Johan, Annie, and Sir Matthews were all sitting in various areas. Of course, Flynn had to sit beside Annie while waiting for me, Eve seemed to make a point of avoiding the others, except for Sir Matthews since he was from the other side, and Lance was leaving. Johan was sitting on the ceiling as usual. He seemed to like his being a resident of the other side, which was odd to me. I couldn't understand it.
"Al!" Flynn called just as I finished getting my meal from the ladies in the kitchen. I wondered briefly if they realized a few extra cooks wandered around criticizing them before heading to sit between Annie and Flynn.
"Hello, Flynn," I said quietly. Though I was familiar with Flynn and could almost understand him, it was still an oddity for me to have a conversation with anyone.
"So, I've been trying to get that Eve girl to talk to me, but no luck," Flynn said, finishing off some eggs he had, "Does Dante have any advice?"
Unlike the others in the school, Flynn truly believed in Dante and Annie and my ability to interact with them. Of course, Annie had proven that my abilities were real to Flynn.
"Tell him to get her flowers, brother."
I nearly jumped. I had forgotten about Annie. She at beside me in her small white dress and looking up at me. I was small, but Annie was even smaller. Of course, I remembered a time when she was even smaller... frail... sickly...
"From that look, you are thinking something unpleasant," Dante said as he appeared at a seat across from me, "Anyway, your little sister is right. Flowers are a great conversation starter. Naomi always has some spare flowers."
I repeated their advice to Flynn, who had been patient with me, as usual. "That's true, flowers would make her like me more..." With that, Flynn said his goodbyes and was off to find Naomi. Well that was one less person....
"Brother, who is that girl?"
I looked to Annie and smiled. A brother should make his sister happy with a smile, right? "That's Eve, a new student here. I hope you like her."
Annie gave me a sassy look and started to stare at Eve. Well, this was not good... If Annie wanted to, she could move things and mess with people on this side. If she thought Eve was bad...
"Don't mess with her, ok Annie?"
Dante was nodding, "Yeah, your brother is right. She is a cutie and he could wind up with her if he played my cards right." Well, that certainly didn't help Annies mood. She was very possessive. But, I guess the problem was that I didn't understand her well enough...
If only I could understand people...