Paul sat down at the dinner table with a heavy sigh.
"What's wrong Paul?" Artie asked. "Didn't you have a date with Cora today?" Paul flinched. He wished she hadn't brought that up.
"A date?" Their dad asked. "Paul – I hope there was no funny business."
"Of course not dad!" Paul snapped. "There was no funny business at all." There was nothing really, was there?
Their dad chewed his food for a second before nodding in agreement. "Right. It is you."
"What's that supposed to mean?" Paul asked. Did his dad have a problem with his love life now?
"You're a proper gentleman."His dad answered unconvincingly, and wouldn't meet Paul's eye. Artie laughed. Paul sighed again.
"Right. Of course." He said, and started to eat. Artie had made supper that night, because he had been out with Cora. She was a good cook – much better than their dad. Another reason Paul was glad to have her around.
"So Artie, how was your date?" Paul asked her, revenge for her question.
Artie just smiled and deflected Paul's malicious intent. "It wasn't really a date." She answered cheerily. "We're not like that."
"Artie." Their dad said sternly. "You're going out with young men? You be careful alright? He may not act interested, whoever he is, but boys your age are only interested in one thing; sex."
"Dad." Paul interrupted. He really didn't want to have to witness this talk at the dinner table. "Can you give her the horny teenage boy lecture later, preferably when I'm not around?"
Later that night Paul sat in his room playing video games, trying to forget about what had happened that day. Video games were good; when he was playing video games at least when he screwed up he could go back to the last time he saved.
Artie came in and sat beside him. When his dad came in without knocking it really ticked him off, but somehow, when it was Artie, he didn't really mind. The power of twins maybe.
After a minute she spoke up. "So what happened?" She asked.
Paul slumped, but kept playing his game. "It was pathetic." He said flatly. "It was so awkward; it was painful. I didn't know what to say, how to act. I came off as such an idiot."
"Everyone feels nervous on a first date." Artie said.
"Yeah, but... it was terrible."
Artie put her arm around Paul's shoulders and leaned her head against his. "Don't worry too much about it."
"How can I not?" He asked. "I've wanted to ask Cora out since I met her, and now I finally have, and we went on a date and I messed it all up. She probably thinks I'm such a tool now. How am I supposed to face her on Monday? What do you say to someone after a really awkward date?"
Artie shrugged. "Sorry, I can't help much with that. I don't have much experience in that area."
Paul nodded. "Don't worry about it. I don't expect you to solve all my problems for me. That's wouldn't be fair." He was silent for a minute, playing his game. Artie watched silently as well. "You could make cookies though." He said after a minute. "Cookies always make me feel better."
Artie laughed. "Okay. Tomorrow I'll make cookies when I get home. Mom's special feel better recipe."
"There's such a recipe? Awesome."
Artie sat up. "You know Paul... Maybe you don't have to say anything."
"What do you mean?"
"I mean... Maybe Cora feels the same way. Maybe she was nervous too. Either way, Cora's really nice. I'm sure she understands. I'm sure she doesn't think you're an idiot."
"Thanks Artie." Paul said. But Artie wasn't there. She didn't experience the extreme awkwardness firsthand. She probably couldn't understand.
"Don't you have any two player games?" Artie asked after a minute.
Paul turned to look at her and grinned. "Of course. Do you want to die, or do you want to be beaten on the racetrack?"
Artie grinned back at him. "I don't think I'll be the one dying. We didn't have much to do in Honeyvale – I spent a lot of time at the arcade with mom."
"Is that so?" Paul asked. "Well, we'll see."