Bubblegum Pink

He hated the way she popped her bubblegum. There was no greater evil than the insistent gum popping sounds that this petite girl was creating. The sound shouldn't have annoyed him as much as it did but it does. The simple action itself wasn't an uncommon one – he too would occasionally enjoy a session of gum popping – but the way she did it unnerved him to no end. For him this was the equivalent to nails on a chalkboard and through it all she was absolutely oblivious.

On more than one occasion he had to wonder, didn't her jaw ever get sore?

The gum popping seemed endless. It shouldn't bother him. He shouldn't even notice her silly antics, but the sound seemed to lessen every other noise in the room. Even the stupid up down motion of her jaw and teeth had started to crawl under his skin.

He silently thanked whatever being was out there for not having to deal with this annoyance any longer than an hour.

For the most part he didn't even see her during the school day, except for the sixty minute time period called lunch. Sure the cafeteria was large enough for him to accommodate elsewhere, but that would be troublesome. He enjoyed his almost secluded spot in the back corner of the room and he wasn't about to compromise his spot because of her.

It vaguely occurred to him that never had he seen someone sit down and eat with her but it wasn't like he had hundreds of people sitting with him. It was his own personal preference, he reasoned, and surely she wasn't sitting alone due to preference like him. There was something seriously wrong with that girl and he couldn't blame people for shunning away from her.

She was different…for lack of a better adjective.

Largely it was due to her eccentric wardrobe and makeup choices. He wouldn't classify her as a gothic or emo: for that she would have to dress strictly in black whereas she constantly dressed like a freaking rainbow. Today was no exception to that: from head to toe she wore nothing but pink. Looking at her was almost blinding considering the neon color she wore. At the least it was better than yesterday when she had chosen to wear lime green. Then there was the eye shadow and other gunk she used to outline her eyes, which in his opinion only served in giving her the appearance of a raccoon. Her short blond hair was usually let loose, falling around her shoulders, whilst her longer cut bangs were usually colored to match her assemble. And of course she was pale. It was one of the first things he noticed about her, granted it was mostly because he'd thought she was sick. The dark circles under her eyes only aided his natural assumption. But no she was just that pale. In retrospect he would have considered her a druggie except that she really didn't look the type. Though he had no real clue to what an actually druggie would look like. He doubted the stereotypical portrayal of one by Hollywood movie standards would apply here. Whatever stereotype she fit into didn't matter because she was the only one in it or at least that's the way it appeared.

After all who would willingly sit in this part of the cafeteria and with him no less. Not that he was bad looking, but he was no Casanova either. He was just…himself. Yes, he played basketball and football but he was no jock. His lip was pierced and so was his eyebrow but he was no punk-rocker. And sure he practically got straight A's but he was no bookworm or geek. If he had to classify himself, he would say he was the mysterious loner type.

Well. At least he was the loner until she came along.

Just out of the blue one day she came, sitting at the end of his table and popping her gum, like it was an everyday routine or something. Of course after that day it did become just that: a daily habit that with each passing second was driving him closer to the brink of insanity. There were at least three sits between them – and she was seated on the opposite bench – but he could hear the chomping as if she were doing it directing in his ear. Monday through Friday it was nearly impossible for him to escape this torture. It's not like he had much of a choice; as luck would have it she would always end up at the table first.

Damn it all, weren't girls supposed to be discrete or something to that degree?

Girls don't blow their nose, burp out loud, or make any other annoying/disgusting noises in public. Especially not in front of a male. Had she not gotten the memo about this? Judging from her appearance she didn't care much for public opinion. But still how could it be possible that she didn't know how horrid her actions were?! And she didn't even stop to eat. For the love of God, this was lunchtime after all! But no she didn't eat. Not one bite. Not even one tiny nibble. It was no wonder why she resembled the bride of frankenstein.

She was a mad woman; she was freaking obsessed with a capital O!

He'd heard of quirky obsessions and addictions before – he had a classmate in middle school addicted to eating paste – but this gum popping thing was beyond both classifications.

Oh lord, he really hated the way she popped her bubblegum. Especially if said bubblegum was pink like it was today. The color contrasted vivaciously against her dark cherry-colored lips. The gum between her lips would almost look enticing if it weren't so infuriating. Damn it. It turned him on like nothing else. Never before would he have considered himself to have a fetish much less one that consisted of pink bubblegum. The world was such a cruel place.

"Can I have my face back?"

It took him several seconds to realize that she had actually stopped chewing and was actually talking to him. Blinking back the mild embarrassment of being caught he shrugged his shoulders and looked away from her.

"What are-"

The sound of her metal chair moving back interrupted his train of thought. He shifted to look back towards her only to find her now standing right in front of him. She scoffed as she raised an eyebrow at the boy.

"Don't even try and deny it. You've been staring at me for the past twenty minutes. Just because I wasn't looking back at you doesn't mean I didn't notice you giving me the eye."

She stopped talking but her lips were still on the move as she continued with her gum popping. He ran his fingers through his untamed dark hair as he looked at the girl with a deep scowl on his face. This time the sound was so much worse. Because of the fact that she was closer to him the popping tripled on his annoyance scale and he felt something within him snap.

"Do you think you can stop doing that?!"

"Are you insane," her voice almost broke in a squeak at his outburst but she composed herself quickly. "I'm not doing anything." She popped her gum again.

"Are you stupid?" His fists slammed against the table, his face inching closer to hers while his eyes zero-ined on her lips. "You keeping popping that damn piece of gum!"

"Screw off! Last time I checked popping gum wasn't a crime!"

"The sound of your chomping is obnoxious!"

"No it isn't! You ar-" she abruptly stopped talking when his eyes moved from her lips to her own and then back again. Their closeness finally dawned on her and he noticed the new found flush on her cheeks. "I..I uh…" Her voice trailed off as her gaze darted back and forth between his lips and eyes.

He noticed her take a deep sigh and she closed her eyes for a brief second before opening them again. When she did, he noticed a slight gleam in her eye and a smirk tugging on her lips. Her face suddenly leaned in closer towards his, and before he could think twice about what to do, she popped her gum right in his face.

Pinkie - 1 || Lone Boy - 0

She won this round.

The bell rung and the students began to move out of the cafeteria. He moved back into his seat as she blinked back at him before finally moving to collect her things. They didn't say another word to each other and no one seemed to notice the exchange that had occurred between them. She moved through the crowd swiftly enough; it almost seemed she had a determination to get away from him. Before she could get too far away, he smirked, and whistled loudly down the hallway.

"Hey pinkie!" He noticed her shoulders tense but regardless she turned around at the sound of his shouting out to her with one hand on her hip and a bemused expression. "I really hate pink bubblegum."

"Good to know," she mumbled as she walked away with the slight smile of her face.

Watching her leave the cafeteria somehow, he thought, maybe he wouldn't hate the way she popped her gum anymore.

--

Author Notes: This was a response to a challenge for SKOW awards. The requirements for the challenge are listed below and hope you all enjoyed reading it.

Challenge Requirements:

1) Opening line must be: "He hated the way she popped her bubblegum."

2) MC must be male and the story must be told through a male point of view.

3) Setting must be in high school.

4) Use of clichéd high school stereotype for both characters, i.e. the rebel and the nerd, the druggie and the cheerleader etc. However, these stereotypes must be employed creatively and in a way so that the stereotypes are not the main focus of the story.

Optional:

1) Romance; the end result of the story does not have to be a couple.

2) A love-hate relationship.

Please be so kind as to leave me some feedback – thanks!