Choose

Summary: Arthur and the gang face relationship issues when they struggle between specific choices. In Part One, Francine must choose to keep dating Arthur, her distant boyfriend of two years who would rather hang with the guys than see how she’s doing, or to dump him and see what else is out there.

Chapter Three

Francine finished getting her tray and walked with Muffy over to her usual table. As soon as she sat down, she felt someone walk closely behind her. She turned to see Arthur and Buster moving from a table they’d found to Francine’s table. This confused Francine because Arthur was from a different class that had a different lunch period.

Buster finished laughing at a joke as he sank into a seat, then he turned to Francine, “Hey, Arthur and I have class together today. He was just telling me about something that happened during the tournament. I can’t believe I had to miss it!” Buster exclaimed.

“You would’ve had a chance too. That kid practically gave me all of his cards. He didn’t even seem upset when he lost them all either. He just shrugged, said, ‘What will be will be,’ and left without another word!” Arthur said, cracking up.

Muffy glanced at Francine, “So this is what you have to put up with? No wonder you were a mess this morning,” she muttered, taking a bite of her salad as Kimberly and her best friend, Marsha, came to the table. Kimberly and Muffy had both heard Francine out that morning, and seeing Arthur at the table made them both grimace. Marsh grimaced for a different reason. Francine turned to see Buster mixing together all of his food and a stray dressing packet in the center of his tray.

Marsha shook her head, “No,” she said simply. Kimberly agreed, and the two moved across the cafeteria. Muffy and Francine both wanted to join them, but they decided to stay put. Muffy namely wanted to see if Arthur would actually talk to Francine, namely since they hadn’t really spoken in two full days.

Arthur did turn to Francine, but instead of asking how her night was, he asked, “So, when does your season in so you can join us?”

“I’m not sure,” Francine lied. She had each date memorized, including the tournament dates if they won in postseason. She just really didn’t want to participate.

“Well, when you find out, let us know. We can help you build your deck,” Buster said, shoving a bite of his concoction into his mouth. Muffy grimaced as she pushed her side salad away and tried to look elsewhere.

When Muffy looked away, her eye caught a particular person. She elbowed Francine and pointed, “Look, Raymond has our lunch,” she whispered.

Raymond took a seat with his new teammates as Arthur and Buster began discussing the upcoming episode for the card game’s corresponding series. Francine groaned and turned to Muffy, “Okay, you’re right. I need to try to redirect him, which I think would take incarceration at this point, and I need to tell him how I feel. This is ridiculous.”

Muffy nodded, “You need to do something. They aren’t even listening to us. It’s like they don’t even know we’re here.”

“And I hate feeling like I’m invisible,” Francine agreed, eying Raymond across the room, “He talked to me after practice the other day. I miss that kind of small talk with Arthur. He can’t even be bothered with texting me,” Francine whispered, eying Arthur as he laughed at another one of Buster’s jokes. Francine groaned, “I can’t believe I’m saying this, but let’s go sit with Kimberly’s other friends.”

Muffy and Francine took their trays across the room and got the last two seats at Kimberly’s table, where they were discussing a hot celebrity fashion trend. Francine drowned them out by scanning the room. She looked to her last table, where Buster’s concoction was gone and the two laughed heartily. Francine’s heart sank. They didn’t even know she was gone.

Her eyes moved across the room and just happened to find Raymond’s table. His eyes met hers, and he nodded in greeting but continued on in his conversation. He acknowledged her even when he was distracted. He would treat Francine the way she needed to be treated, and that scared Francine. She didn’t want to cheat on Arthur. She just wanted to be noticed.

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