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You might (or might not) recall from Maria’s first appearance way back on page 8
, a little non sequitur where the scene opens just in time for the bewildering punchline, “No way, man. That’s NOT a duck.” I use that one a lot (my DeviantArt watchers can find it at least one more time in my gallery if they look carefully).
Long ago however - dating back to perhaps even my preteen years before I took writing remotely seriously - my strange punchline without a joke was always, “You don’t understand. The sushi is good!” Neither of these make a lick of sense, and your guess is as good as mine as to how it’s funny in context, but it does apparently make Maria out to be one hell of a good storyteller.
Concerning the 5th through 7th panels, it’s worth noting that aside from Rain and Rudy, probably no one was REALLY looking at Maria just then. Or rather, they weren’t actively eavesdropping. Or are they? Seemed like someone was ALWAYS watching back in high school. But that’s not the point. Regardless of whether anyone’s paying attention, Maria - “desperate for her smokescreen” as Rudy puts it - puts on a show to make absolute sure everyone sees they’re “together” again.
It’s pages like this that remind me that I don’t miss high school…
Rain, all characters and all other aspects of the story are copyright material belonging to me.