Marshmallows and Missed Friends
By: Lauren Chia
“... and yeah, now I have to go find those vegan marshmallows. Where did you used to get them?”
“What?” I blink in confusion, descending from my cloud of fantasy.
“For Malloween,” Elise draws out slowly, like she’s talking to a child. I stick my tongue out at her.
“From Lucy’s,” I say automatically. “Aisle four, on the left usually.”
“Could you text that to me so I don’t forget?”
I roll my eyes but grab my phone and begin to type. “Wait… you guys are doing Malloween?”
“Yeah.” She looks at my face, quickly adding, “But it was Kiara who insisted.”
“Oh.” Malloween is my thing. Not to be possessive and take all the credit, but it really is. And they were doing it without me.
Two years ago on May 19th I was bored and had just come back home from Lucy’s with a bag of vegan marshmallows. Three weeks earlier my dad decided that the whole family would go on a vegetarian diet for the next few weeks. I didn’t mind, but it was coming to the point where I needed comfort foods, so I scoured through the candy aisle. When I finally made it to my room after hours (really an hour and a half) of grocery shopping, I decided to dress up in order to properly taste test the marshmallows.
I opened my closet and went to the left half of the shelves. Despite having no real need for all of them, a good portion of my closet is filled with costumes, hence the name Costume Quarter. From Halloween, that one time I was in a school play and went all out with my villager #6 outfit, and impulsive online purchases, the costumes took up a good quarter of my whole closet.
Pulling on my concoction of an outfit of what I called “medieval pirate prince” I ripped open the fancy paper bag and inhaled (almost choking) on the sweet smell of marshmallow. I popped a marshmallow in my mouth and it actually tasted really good. Eating candy in a costume became an obvious reminder of the five months until Halloween. I began to wish that there would be a good excuse to run around in a costume on a random day in May, when I suddenly called Elise. We talked and decided to meet up at the park with all our other friends to enact the plan I had. I sent out a group text and told everyone to dress up in their costumes and bring candy.
Despite there being a ton more candy than just the vegan marshmallows, they were the true star. When we all arrived at the park, the first thing we did was sit in a circle and try them. From there, we played games, ate a lot of candy, and in the end just spent a lot of time together. We designated the day as Malloween, a day to dress up in costumes, eat candy and have fun….basically Halloween but in May, for just the six of us.
“Yeah, we’re just going to do something small though. It won’t be as big as when you hosted it,” Elise reassures. “We didn’t know if you would want to come, and Kiara said she’d host it and kind of sent the official invitation to us on the group chat.”
“What group chat?” I ask. She holds out her phone. “Flying Fish Fans” with a series of fish emojis. My jaw drops. Other than two extra fish emojis, the group chat has the exact same name as the original one I created. I voice this out loud. “Oh, and other than that the other difference is that I’m not on it.”
She winces, “I’m sorry.”
“No, it’s okay. I get it.” I really did, even though it hurt. After moving schools last year I had grown apart from the group. I only really spent time with Elise and texted Issac and Sasha once in a while.
“Did you want to come?”
“I mean yeah… but I don’t want to intrude or anything.”
“You wouldn’t be, we all really miss you.”
I miss everyone too. “Oh, but can you ask Kiara to invite me?”
“Yeah, of course….could you also bring the marshmallows?”
“Ha, sure.” I was going to see my friends again, it’s been a while.
“We’re going apricot picking this weekend. Wanna come?” asks Bea.
“Sorry I can’t, I have something this weekend,” I say apologetically. I already bought the marshmallows so there was no turning back, plus I wanted to go despite what the butterflies said in my stomach. Although, I really love apricots... It was a bit of a rocky start when I moved schools this year, but my new friends have been great, and I wish I could spend time with them.
“Aww,” she pouts as Marie sighs dramatically. Naveen traces a fake tear down his face.
“I know, I know. Bring some for me on Monday though?” I ask, giving my best attempt at puppy eyes.
“Ha, no way!” Marie snorts as Naveen says “Of course.”
“Ah, you’re here!” Sasha giggles as she races towards me in her fairy costume to give me a hug. I smile and wrap my arms around her.
Once she lets go, we walk over to the group where they’ve secured a picnic table in the shade. Evan, dressed up as a magician, is setting up hula hoops and Kiara is organizing the candy on the table. I see that she’s left a space in the centre, presumably for the marshmallows.
“Guess who!” I wave as I cover Issac’s eyes. There’s a flurry of excitement as everyone notices me.
“Woah, save that excitement for the real stars,” I laugh as I dramatically pull out the paper bag from my backpack. Everyone oohs and ahhs, playing along. I step around the table to set the marshmallows down.
“Thanks for coming, I had no clue how to do all of this.”
“Of course, this is basically my one great achievement. What’s your costume?”
Kiara did a little spin, showing off her tulle skirt. “Maybe a fairy without wings? I had to borrow stuff from my sister. What are you dressed up as?”
“Um, a goblin cobbler.” I never expected to be a main character in a fairy tale so here I was, dressed up as a shoe-making creature, in a park, in the middle of May.
As per ritual, we begin by sitting in a circle and eating the very precious vegan marshmallows. Elise, as always, is late, but comes right in time for the sweet treat. I feel a buzz from my phone and see that Bea has sent me a photo but I don’t open the message. Right now, I want to spend time with my friends...who are all talking about a new show I’ve never even heard of.
Half an hour passes and I still don’t know what the conversation is about. I’ve said maybe two sentences to Issac and played a few rounds of silent rock-paper-scissors with Elise, before I suggest playing a game like how we always used to do. No one hears me.
I sigh internally. It’s only been a year since I’ve moved schools. Has that much changed? I know they’ve had great adventures that I’ve missed out on (Instagram stories never lie), but really how long did it take for them to forget me? Not more than three months if I was being honest. Maybe it was my fault that we hadn’t kept in contact. But I did text them all for a while, I was the one who started all the conversations. I put my hand to my chest, rubbing away the lonely, achy, beating there.
My phone buzzes again, this time a message from Naveen. I put my phone away and try suggesting again that we play a game. They finally hear me and we all get up. After a halfhearted round of tag, we try having a hula hooping competition. Sasha is out immediately, followed by Evan. My hoop drops and soon so does Elises. Issac and Kiara keep going and Evan starts filming as we all cheer and laugh.
Issac is declared the winner and everyone has their phones out now. With such a beautiful day, pictures and selfies are a must. Sasha and Evan are the designated photographers while everyone takes turns posing for the cameras.
As they’re busy, I check my messages. I open the photo Bea has sent me. It’s the front sign to the apricot farm and in front posing are Marie and Naveen with empty baskets in their hands, grinning wide. I smile and open the message from Naveen. He’s taken a picture of his basket now full of juicy, orange apricots with a text that they miss me. My smile becomes sad and I look up.
I miss my friends.