Falling for the Strange
He walks around the front of the store, picking up things from the shelves and narrowing his eyes at them. He's not going to buy anything. He never buys anything, it's like he comes in here to get on my nerves or something.
The guy, whose name is Wren, lets out this big sigh as he picks up a baby pig figurine. And then he proceeds to make it trot along the shelves as he walks, making faint oink noises. I mean why is he doing that? He's going to do it all along the shelves in the entire store, I know, and then he's not going to put it back.
The other day I found a bottle of milk sitting next to a Barbie doll, and God knows what scenario he came up with there, but how can he not know that's not where milk goes? And why did he take the milk out of the fridge if he wasn't going to buy it?
Why does he pick up anything if he's not going to buy it?
"Oh Tiffany," He sighs again.
Now he's trying to talk to me, he does this a lot. Usually I pretend to be really absorbed in the cash register or the computer. It would be wrong to encourage the behaviour of someone who is clearly heading down the road to insanity.
If he isn't already.
And besides, he calls me Tiffany. It might be the name on my name tag – and on my birth certificate, my license, my student card etc. - but it kind of sucks because who knows a Tiffany that isn't a total ditz? I really can't wipe the girl out of Daria from my mind.
"Tiffany, Tiffany, Tiffany," He exhales loudly and props his pig up on top of the shelf he's next to, pointing it so that it's looking at me and turning it's head around so it looks confused. "Why do you ignore me so?"
The pig is pointed down now, like it's sad.
I mean what the hell, who comes into the tiny little supermarket/gift/combination/whatever store in my tiny little town and plays with the pig figurines and annoys some girl he doesn't even know? I mean, sure, I know his name and he goes to my school and I'm pretty sure he lives in my tiny little town by the frequency of his visits –
But he doesn't know me, know me.
We've never hung out and he isn't even a friend of a friend, he's just a peer, some guy from my year level who's never paid any attention to me until a month or so ago when he got bored or something.
"Oh, no, don't look Mr Piggy," Wren covers the pigs eyes as he goes past the meat section, eyeing a pack of bacon strips in horror. His eyes then go to me. "You murdered his family."
I can't help but snort and his face is then transformed by a dazzling smile.
"Oh, made her laugh, win," He pumps both of his fists. "How long have you been holding that in anyway? I'm hilarious."
He stares at me expectantly, and I shrug.
"Oh no, she's gone quiet again," His hand goes to his forehead and he leans back in woe, the piggies arms positioned to flail. "What do I have to do, piggy, to get her attention?"
"Maybe buy something," I tap my fingers on the cash register. "This is a store, sir."
"Someone's testy, and sir?" Wren raises his eyebrows, pointing at himself. "Do I look like a sir to you? It's bad enough that when I got in line for the bus the other day a kid said 'let that man on first' but you are my age; shouldn't you know better?"
"I get called 'lady' all the time," I shrug.
"Maybe it's because you act too mature. I mean what are you, fifteen? Act your age," He shakes his head. "You should be texting your friends right now about the cute guy that's in the store, that has been in the store quite a lot and that the reason you're not talking is because I make you so nervous."
I just blink, kind of insulted. He thinks I look 15?
"I'm seventeen, I go to your school and I'm in your year level Wren," I choke.
Why are there people like that? I mean our school isn't that big, we've been in the same group of people for so long, so how can you not know? I still have some people asking for my name in class when we do group things and where have they been? Do they not listen to the roll or pay any attention to anyone?
God, it kind of pisses me off.
Wren just keeps on grinning. "So you do know who I am? I was wondering, I was kind of pissed off."
"Oh," I blink.
"Thought I'd forgotten you, huh?" He winks. "Seriously Tiffany, can't believe I thought you'd forgot all of this."
He gestures at himself.
I look at his pale blonde hair and his even paler white skin – which I'd seen at some points a very bright shade of red come summer, when he'd forgotten his sunscreen in PE – and his stick arms, legs and fingers.
"You kind of look like you should be albino," I observe, eyeing his big green eyes, made to look even bigger by the rest of him being so tiny.
"Oh no," He holds up his hands, laughing. "Not that there's anything wrong with that – but I'm totally straight."
I stare at him and he stares back, a nonplussed smile on his face.
"What are you into that or something? Slash fiction?" Wren winks at me. I open my mouth to protest but he looks down at his watch, waving me off. "Don't deny it, Tiff. Anyway I gots to be going, stuff to see and people to do, you know?"
He turns around to exit the store, throwing the pig aside.
"Still didn't buy anything," I murmur incredulously as the sliding doors close behind him, getting out from behind the counter to go and inspect what he's messed up.
Conversation actually might be a good idea; he seems to mess fewer things up. I run my hands over the shelves, pleased to find no milk in the Barbie section. But he did drop that pig just before he left, what section was he in again?
I walk back down the other end of the store and stop at the meat section, spotting the pig figurine sitting on a leg of ham, smiling it's little cartoon face off.
Ignorance truly is bliss.
I am so bored right now. My eyes twitch as I watch my teacher go on and on about how to behave in an exam situation. I already know how to behave in exam situation, miss. Why can't you just give me a quiz and some work to do and leave me alone? Do I really have to listen to you go on for an hour and a half?
After all, isn't talking the least effective way of teaching? How am I supposed to remember all that? I look around and see people writing things down. I guess I could do that. But not to be a jerk or anything, but she never tells me anything I don't know.
My eyes pause on a sleeping figure in the middle of the room. Wren.
He's bored too. So bored he fell asleep. His head is in his arms, his blonde hair sticking up. I think his friends have been messing with it, there's a bunch of colourful paper sticking out. There's writing, but he's too far away. I screw up my eyes. I can't read it.
"What are you doing?" Bridey tugs on my sleeve. "Why haven't you written anything? Why don't you ever write anything?"
I pull my sleeve away and give her a sympathetic look. Bridey's big brown eyes are fluttering and her lips press together, hand at her cheek. She worries for me. She does all her notes, all her work before they're due and always gets an 'A'. She doesn't really understand the concept of 'procrastination' or that sometimes…
"You're not meant to talk or sleep in exams, just in case you were wondering Wren," Her voice goes high at the end.
"Sometimes she talks shit, Bridey," I mutter as Wren jumps, looking around and sending scattered laughter around the room. "And sometimes she sort of sounds like a man, don't you think? I think her voice just cracked."
"How is that relevant?" Bridey goes red in the face and turns back to her notes.
I smile. She agrees with me, she always looks all red and embarrassed when she knows I'm right – but you know, still doesn't agree with saying anything about it or my course of action (not writing any notes, or listening at all, really) and kind of gets peeved when I have to keep asking her what our assignments are. "Maybe you should listen, then you wouldn't have to ask."
I guess we'll just have to agree to disagree.
Wren brings a hand through his hair and fumbles for the pieces of paper, looking all dazed and confused. He looks kind of…kind of – I jump when he turns and looks at me, his friends having elbowed him in the ribs. I guess they noticed me staring at him or something.
I mean I wasn't staring, not really. I just can identify with the feeling of wanting to sleep in this class. He kind of tilts his head and smiles at me, lifting a hand in greeting.
One of his friends, Dan, whispers something to him and he snorts.
I look away very quickly.
When is this class going to end? I look up at the clock and then check my phone in disbelief; it can't only be 10 o'clock. It seems like she's been going on for ages and she was late for class, too, which means she's going to keep us in so she can 'finish what she's saying' why does this have to happen to me?
A piece of paper lands on my desk and I blink.
Don't be shy, my friends don't know what we have.
I look up to Wren, whose friends have thankfully gone back to doodling in their books – or actually writing down notes, which is unlikely – and he mock pouts, batting his eyelashes.
Write me back? He mouths, resting down on his hands. I'm so bored.
Staring down at my English book, I sigh. Should I write him back, save myself from boredom and give some actual purpose to the empty binder book? It's kind of tempting, but it shouldn't be. I mean until just recently, no problems were had ignoring Wren Atkinson. He was totally ignorable if you tried really hard.
I'm about to write something back when I realise I no longer bring a pen or my pencil case to this class. I stare at the empty space.
"Oh, you want a pen?" Bridey asks enthusiastically.
"Oh, yeah," I nod and she goes shuffling through her pencil case excitedly, handing me a nice liquid black pen and going back to doing her notes, enthused.
Have a nice sleep?
I throw it over arm, aiming for his face. He catches my note midair.
Like you're any better. I see you over there, reading books and listening to your iPod.
You left your pig on a leg of ham.
Oh no, no – I didn't, did I? That's horrible.
It needs therapy.
Sorry, I'm broke. Could you cover for me this once? I'll be your friend.
So 'broke' is the reason you never buy anything in my store?
Have you considered that I don't go in there to buy something?
I stare at the note and bite my lip. It's like he's flirting with me or something. But that can't be it; he's got to be messing with me. He doesn't even know me, and I'm not pretty enough for him to be lusting over me and even if I were, do I really want that kind of attention from a guy that goes around playing with plastic pigs?
He's a total weirdo, and that can't be it.
So you go in there to annoy me, right?
Wren pauses after reading it, running a hand through his hair and looking contemplative. What is he even thinking about? I drop my head into my hands and watch his fingers sift through his hair, smothering the mess his friends created. His hair is kind of like sunshine under the light, which is kind of ironic…
Being you know, the kind of guy who doesn't deal well with the sun.
And there's a hell of a lot of it too. God, it makes his head look even tinier. He's so tiny and his hair is so out of proportion.
"Who are you looking at? And what are all of those notes on your desk?" Bridey hisses from beside me, sounding disapproving. "They're not study notes are they?"
"Of course not," I blink at her incredulously.
"Oh, of course not," Bridey says slowly. "Silly me, taking study notes at school. How dumb."
She never used to be sarcastic until she started sitting next to me in English earlier this year. I think I'm a bad influence on the girl. Her mother's going to kill me.
"Yeah, yeah," I pat her on the shoulder soothingly and wait for another note to land on my desk.
But it doesn't, and with a frown at the end of class as everyone, including him, gets up and starts rushing out the doors – I find myself sitting alone and kind of disappointed.
He walks into the store and I watch him, crossing my arms over my chest and kind of peeved. I mean he said he wanted to talk to me in class, so we talked and he just stopped. And I know it's kind of stupid for me to be mad, it's not like we're suddenly friends because of a few brief interactions.
But I was kind of…I was having fun talking to him. The paranoid part of me is like because he stopped, he wasn't having fun.
So now I kind of irrationally resent him for that, for making me stare at him for what was the entire leftover double period, just waiting for him to write me back. I even perked up when he picked up his pen, only to have him stick it down the back of his shirt to itch his shoulder.
God, what is wrong with me? He's a big, pig figurine playing with freak and I don't care.
"Hey there," Wren waves, giving me a toothy grin. "How boring was English today? Did you hear Mrs. Peterson's voice crack when she said my name?"
"That's what I said," I blink.
"Huh?" He blinks confusedly before being distracted by something on a lower shelf and ducking out of view. "Oh, cool, you have sea monkeys. I haven't seen those in ages. I killed all of mine off – felt really bad when I found out in a YouTube video that they're actual living creatures, mine always looked like specks."
"Mine too," I gasp.
I'd checked with the boss and ordered them from the website not too long ago, he didn't let me order in many but I hadn't seen them in so long and wondered whether age would make me a better sea monkey mother.
Wren likes them too?
"Might buy some," He muses.
"Excuse me?" I raise my eyebrows and he stands upright, looking curiously over the shelves. "You're actually going to buy something?"
"Oh, yeah," He grins, waving the box around. "Kind of breaking my tradition a bit aren't I?"
"Hell is freezing over," I nod.
"Oh crap and I like warm weather," Wren brings a hand to his lips; he glides through the aisles melodramatically before collapsing on the counter. I avert my gaze. "Will you keep me warm at night after the rapture when it's all Hell-On-Earth-like?"
"What if I go to heaven?"
"Huh," He muses, pushing the sea monkeys' across. "She'll convert rather than be in my arms."
"So is that all we'll be having today?"
"Am I that repulsive?"
"That's $10," I scan the sea monkeys, eyes fixed on the computer.
"Alrighty then," Wren shrugs. He grabs his wallet out and flips twenty dollars down. "So if I you buy you some sea monkeys will you go out with me?"
I look up and stare, taken aback.
"Just kidding," He laughs. "I don't even want the sea monkeys, bye."
Wren turns on his heel and semi-jogs out of the store, tripping over his feet. I watch, mouth agape, is it me or did he just ask me out?
"So he just bolted out of the store?" Bridey wants to know. "Is this the same guy you were writing love notes to at school?"
"They're not love notes," I blink, glaring at the phone.
"Well, okay," She sighs. "The guy you were writing notes to, then. He obviously likes you. Why else would he do that?"
"He doesn't like me," I disagree. "I mean he doesn't even know me, he's probably just one of those weird people who hits on everybody."
"Okay," She sounds frustrated now. "You obviously have it all figured out, so I'm going to get back to finishing my assignment, 'kay?"
"No, not 'kay, wait – 'beep, beep, beep'? Did you just…?" She hung up on me.
Throwing the phone to the end of my bed in disgust, I stare up at the ceiling. Assignment she says, what assignment? The only assignment I've heard of is the one that's two weeks away, it'd be just like her to start early. Why does she have to be so inconvenient? Who else am I supposed to talk to?
None of my other friends ever answer their phones. Always leaving them lying around their house and replying the next morning, when I could've just asked them at school. I could call Dierdre and Peppy on their home phones but their thirteen year old little siblings are going out with each other and the line's always busy.
I bring my hands to my hair and exhale loudly, frustrated.
To: Peppy, Dierdre
Answer your goddamned phone.
Oh I'm so bored. I grab my iPod from my bedside table and turn over, pressing my face into the pillow. Maybe I'll listen to some music and get some sleep, seeing as I got to bed late last night. Maybe Bridey will have finished her homework by then.
The 'Crush' cover by Glee comes on. People are all about originals and the original of this song is good, but I kinda like Lea Michele's version better.
I sink further into my pillow, wrapping my arms around it.
"IT'S JUUUST A LITTLE CRUUUSH, NOT LIKE I FAINT EVEEEERRRY TIME WE TOOOOOUUCH!"
I cover my ears, looking around the store. Music is blasting from everywhere.
"What the hell is going on?" I push open the latch and step out of the counter area, confused out of my mind. I squint at the walls, have they been painted? They're a different colour…they're many different colours. "What the?"
"IT'S JUST SOME LITTLE THING, IT'S NOT LIKE EVVEERYTHING I DOOO DEPENDS ON YOOUUUU!"
Who is singing that? What is that coming from?
I back up against the counter as Rachel Berry's head floats towards me, her mouth open comically wide as per usual as she belts out the lyrics. Her head swoops closer and closer, doing loop de loops in the air, which I'm not even sure is physically possible.
I know it's not physically possible.
"Oh my God, oh my God," I feel around for something to protect myself and grab the mouse, throwing it and sending her face into a million shimmering pieces.
The mouse crashes into the floor over the other side of the store; someone's there, bending down to pick it up. I tentatively lean forward, trying to get a better look – when they straighten, their big green eyes gleaming at me.
"My, Tiffany, is work frustrating you?"Wren grins. "I know some massage techniques, might stop you from feeling so…tense…"
"This is not normal," I squeak, slack-jawed and going to duck back inside the safety of the counter when all the walls in the store start closing in on me, closing in on us as he slowly walks towards me, a weird look on his face. "Are you seeing this Wren? Are you seeing this at all?"
"Oh a blind person could see our chemistry," He coos.
"You're hitting on me? The freaking walls are alive," I point hysterically either side of me. He doesn't care though; he's not looking at the walls. "Why are you looking at me like that? What's wrong with you?"
"The walls are alive, with the sound of Rachel Berry," Wren snaps his fingers and they come to a shuddering stop. "Is that better, princess? Can we talk about what really matters?"
"There are bits of Rachel Berry's head lying all over the floor," I reply weakly.
"It's really pretty, isn't it?" He looks around the room, smiling. I stare at him like he's nuts and he shrugs. "Guess it's not your cup of tea."
"My cup of tea?"
I stare around, mortified. Everything's condensed, and some things have disappeared completely. The shop's been turned into a hallway. Rachel Berry's eyes are sitting in front of me, and then one winks.
"Mmm,"I look up to see Wren holding her lips to his face, smacking them at me and giggling to himself. "Kiss him, kiss him now Tiffany."
He tosses them aside and bends over, clutching his stomach and guffawing loudly. A pack of rice crackers falls down as he collapses against what's left of a shelf. I would have to clean that up, but oh wait – the whole place has been squished.
He's smacking his hands against his knees, going wild with laughter, with tears even.
"Are you mental?" I want to know.
Wren straightens and the tears disappear.
"I like you," He informs me. "I want to know if you like me back."
He appears right in front of me.
I jump and slip onto the counter, into the wall that's now behind it, with nowhere to go. He starts leaning closer and closer to me, beginning to make me feel incredibly uneasy. I mean I don't even know what's been going on, he's going to spring this on me? What's with the disappear-reappear trick? Does he think this is Hogwarts?
"Do you like me back?" He whispers, his eyes inches away from mine.
He does have really nice, green eyes like Harry Potter.
I stare at him, unmoving, my heart really worrying me it's beating so fast. I don't know what to say. I don't know what to say. It's all been so weird and now, now he's looking at me like that? Like does he really have to look at me like that?
"Do you?" He insists.
"DO YOU HAVE TO HAVE YOUR MUSIC UP SO LOUD, THAT YOU'RE GOING TO DEAFEN YOURSELF?"
I jump and blink, staring around in a panic, what is going on now? My doona is tangled around my feet and my pillow is covered in drool. It's like I've been transported into my bedroom, oh no, is this going to turn into a weird sex thing?
"Where has Wren gone?" I mutter, bringing my hands to my temples. "And what was that annoying screeching voice?"
"Is that supposed to be some kind of a joke?" My mum raises her eyebrows at me, my iPod dangling midair by the ear buds. She tosses it towards me and I jump in my confusion, looking at her in horror. "Why are you looking at me like that? Tea's ready, which you would have heard if your volume weren't up so loud."
Mum rolls her eyes and walks out of the room. "Come quick, it'll get cold."
Falling back onto my bed and clutching my iPod in my bemusement, reality sets in. I just had a weird dream about a guy for the first time. I close my eyes and try to recall as much of what was going on as possible, his face popping up, voice echoing around in my head do you? Do you? Do you? Do you?
Answer my goddamn phone?
I look up and spot Penelope "Peppy" Waters and Deirdre Louellen walking towards me, laughing. So now they go and respond? Where were they in my hour of need? They're even mocking me for it; they should feel ashamed of themselves.
"I can't believe you two," I slam my hand down on the table. "What the hell were you doing that you couldn't check your phones?"
"Having some kind of emergency?" Peppy looks down. "Gees, it's not your sandwich's fault. Lay off, will you?"
"What?" Lifting up a hand, the previously pristine salad sandwich reveals itself; tomato guts spewing out the sides of the gladwrap, wilted lettuce, pink mayonnaise and flat cheese. "See this – this is a visual of my mental state right now, are you happy?"
"Your mental state looks tasty," Deirdre's eyes are big as she sits across me. "Are you going to eat that?"
"Fine take it, whatever," I shove it towards her, disgusted. "It's not been doing me any good lately anyway…"
I look away and gripping the edges of the table, everything slows down. Deirdre's hands flail towards the sandwich and Peppy yawns unattractively, more importantly – Wren walks in. White blonde hair bouncing, feet skipping, pink lips twisted into a giant smile, his friends' heads thrown back in laughter.
"Shit, he's amazing," I breathe.
"Man, you're such a dork," Dan shoves him towards the canteen line. "Get me a Big M."
"A Small Big M, or a Big Big M?" Wren inquires before raising an eyebrow. "That just sounds really stupid, what would you call that anyway? A 'Small M'? How can something be both small and big at the same time?"
I tilt my head as he exaggeratedly saunters up the line, winking at a girl working there. She looks like she's in year nine or something and she's giggling at him, rolling her eyes half-heartedly; well isn't he the charmer?
"Hey little sis," He waves.
My shoulders relax and I look away – why am I thinking oh thank God?
"Hey Tiffany," Wren calls out and I look up again, startled. He's holding up a container of pasta and shaking it at me. "Buy you some spaghetti, lots of cheese, you know, just how you like it huh?"
I stare at him, blinking, and then look to my friends – Deirdre's dropped her (my) sandwich and is eyeing me curiously, whereas Peppy's grinning.
"No way, that's what – who – you were staring at?" She whispers. "Are you two going out?"
"Shut up," I hiss at her. "No, we're not. He comes into the store sometimes; he's like this massive weirdo. He's – why are you looking at me like that?"
"You're bright red," She announces. "You're in love with him aren't you?"
"I am not, shut up," I reach over the table and pinch her arm, digging my nails in. She doesn't really react to the pain, just covers her mouth and begins to giggle gleefully at me – like she's enjoying how messed up this situation is making me. "Shut up, stop laughing, you're sadistic you know that?"
"If you're not going out, how does he know how you like your spaghetti?" Deirdre is eating again.
"Yeah, that's intimate," Peppy slams her hands down.
Staring at her and shaking my head, I have no words. I have no words because seriously, why is he buying me spaghetti? And why does he know how I like it?
I don't know. I don't know.
A long fingered pale hand lands in front of me, following it a large container of spaghetti, absolutely drowned in cheese, so much cheese that he must have had to pay at least fifty cents extra for it – and when the pasta only costs $1.50, that's a lot.
I narrow my eyes; thinking in a second he'll laugh and say he's kidding, that he actually bought it for himself…
Only he doesn't.
"Earth to Tiffany?" Wren sing-songs, waving his bony, pale, long-fingered, nail bitten, dirt ridden hand in my face – making my heart jump, making my heart jump. I look at him in horror and he looks at me with vague concern. "Come on, you're hungry, right? She's eating your sandwich."
"Why are you buying me pasta?" I mumble weakly.
"Because I like –" He pauses, looking at the pasta and biting his lip. "I like the sound of girls eating lunch in the afternoon."
The table is in silence, even Peppy looks confused.
Wren stands there, leaning over the table and me for ten, long seconds before straightening – walking right to his table, beginning to chatter with his friends like nothing even happened. I gawk; he taunts his friend with the big Big M, waving it his face and then sitting on it, laughing.
"I don't even," Peppy says, throwing up her hands. She then gives me a weird look. "I mean, seriously? Like what just happened?"
"Yeah," Deirdre mutters through mouthfuls of salad, holding up a finger. "If he's got something against me eating Finnie's mental state, he can say it to my face."
"I don't know what just happened," I shrug.
"Is this the kind of guy you normally go falling in love with?" She wants to know, jerking her head in his direction. "I like the sound of girls eating lunch in the afternoon?"
"I don't know, he says a lot of weird things," I shrug again, raising my eyebrows at her. "I was going to tell you about them except you didn't answer your phone."
"Shit, I'm never not answering my phone again," Peppy shakes her head, looking over at him and leaning back on the bench. "So like, you want to get inside his pants? I bet they'd be easy to get down, look at them; they're baggy as."
"Shut up," I glance at him and notice that yes, the pants he's wearing are creeping down his skinny hips. "I do not want to 'get inside his pants' stop being gross."
"Oh you really are in love," She swoons melodramatically.
"I want to get into his pants," Deirdre looks sadly away from the empty gladwrap to his table. "They look comfy."
I glance at them again, and lord they do look comfy. They're just sweat pants, kind of bedraggled looking ones, like he's worn them every single day since he's bought them. I've seen him walk into the store quite a few times with them on.
But what I'm thinking I kind of want is inside the sweatpants…
Okay that sounds pretty wrong.
What I mean to say is that I think – and I'm not sure – I think I might be getting the hots for Wren Atkinson.
Only that can't be true.
"Gees, cheese much?" A pile of books and study notes slide onto the table and I look up to see Bridey eyeing my spaghetti in disgust. It makes me feel a little protective of it to be honest. "Sorry I'm late, had a tutorial to go to. Have I missed anything?"
"Boy, have you," Peppy's eyes light up and I feel a wave of dread.
"Oh, just shut it Penelope –"
"Finnie's in love."
I moan and bring my hands to my face.
"So did that DVD shop girl end up getting with the guy she likes?" I want to know.
"Oh yeah, yeah," Lewis nods enthusiastically, slamming his hands down on the counter, wide-eyed. "They're totally in mutual love; it's so sweet it'd be sickening if I were a savoury kind of guy. How is your true love?"
"Nonexistent," I say slowly, raising an eyebrow.
"Oh, I wouldn't go that far," Lewis pouts. "I mean…just because he's skinny…"
I stare at him for a second before it registers.
"Shut up," I punch him in the shoulder, angrily wondering who told. "It was Peppy wasn't it? She's told everyone. I never said I liked him like that."
"Which is how we know you like him like that," Lewis points, rubbing his shoulder and tittering gleefully. "Have you ever heard the phrase 'the lady doth protest too much'? Because you're the epitome of it!"
"I haven't even denied liking him that much –"
"Oh my God, and now you're denying your denial," He stabs a finger in my direction, eyes wide and grin wider. "You are in seriously like with this guy aren't you?"
"Shut up, I'm not – I'm not–"
"Oh but you are," He laughs at me, wickedly. "Keeping his spaghetti in the freezer because you just couldn't bear to eat a token of his love? That's so cute, Finnie!"
"I didn't keep it for that reason," I choke, hiding behind my hands in embarrassment. "I just didn't want to wake up the next day and think I'd dreamt that insanity – who does things like that? He was clearly trying to poison me."
"Ooooh. Don't hide those fire engine colour cheeks from me," Lewis snatches my hand and points at my face, looking like a kid in a candy store. "Look at them, it's glorious…tomatos, beetroots, strawberries…they all cower in comparison."
"Shut up, it isn't like that–"
"Sure, sure…and speak of the devil – is that not him?"
Lewis looks over his shoulder and sticks his fingers in his mouth like a little girl, mock giggling as the shop door slides open.
Wren steps in and gives me a wave. "Oh hey, Lewis! Buddy!"
Or gives Lewis a wave. Whatever. Hey, wait...since when were they friends? I look to Lewis, who's waving enthusiastically back, in confusion.
"Tracked down where he lived and pretended to be a door-to-door salesman." He sticks his tongue out, whispering. "We got along great; we should all hang out when you two get together."
"You did not," I hiss, mortified.
"Got to go," Lewis taps his fingers on the counter, smirking. "But you two crazy kids have fun. If you need my help, his phone number, street address…etc."
He spins around and marches past Wren, giving him a nod. Wren grins bemusedly, giving him thumbs up before turning to me.
"Hey, like your spaghetti?"
I look over at him uncertainly, bringing a hand to my chest and frowning. My heart is picking up there's no denying it. And he even looks super adorable, like really truly – he's dressed up in something I think his nanna must have made for him and those stupid baggy pants – it's a bright yellow knitted jumper with a duck 'falling down' the sleeve.
How is that honestly attractive?
"Did you enjoy the sound of me eating it in the afternoon?" I counter.
"Didn't see or hear you eat it," He slumps against the sliding door, stumbling backwards when it inevitably 'slides' back open. "So did you?"
"Nice jumper," I divert.
"Did you enjoy the spaghetti?" Wren insists his green eyes nearly bugging out of his head and making me jump.
Is the spaghetti really that important? Gees, what's his problem?
"Yeah, okay?" I raise my eyebrows at him. "Great spaghetti. Fantastic spaghetti. Best spaghetti ever. Is that what you want to hear?"
He flinches, his whole body withdrawing.
The store door slides into him and he doesn't even blink, just looks at me, looking kind of – he looks like hurt, like I killed a puppy or something. He struggles, looking like he's going to say something, then slumps again.
"Whatever, Tiffany," He sighs and steps back, letting the door slide shut in front of him.
I hold up my hand in helpless confusion – no wait, come back please?
I snatch the spaghetti out of the fridge, incredibly confused. God, what was up with him at the store? Why was he looking at me? Like I was the worst person in the world? For not fully appreciating the spaghetti? Is that what it was about? God, maybe I shouldn't have been so sarcastic. Why did he run away? Why is he always running away?
Skipping over to the microwave, I shove it in there and set the time, pressing 'go' and then standing silently in the kitchen, waiting in anticipation. What was so special about it? I'm obviously missing something.
I bring my hands to my hair and pace, my heart speeding up, so frazzled.
Can't get the image of him shuffling away, head down, bright yellow sleeved hands shoved in his pockets; looking completely, and utterly, defeated – out of my head, it's just repeating and repeating and driving me completely insane because somehow…
Somehow it's my fault.
The microwave beeping nearly gives me a heart attack and I spin around, hand on my chest. Behind the glass is an ordinary container of spaghetti, or so I thought, so what's so damned special about it?
I skip over to it and swing open the door, snatching my fork up from the bench on the way.
So spaghetti, are you just the way I like you?
When I stick my fork into it and bring it to my mouth I discover, blinking…
There's nothing special about it.
I mean of course it's been reheated, so it probably isn't as good as when he got it off his sister at the canteen…but there's still, really, nothing special. I shove another mouthful in, trying to really feel it, the something special, but it's not there.
Sighing, I go over to the bin and lifting the lid, hurl the spaghetti down in frustration –
All of the spaghetti spills out of the container on the way down, scattering around the bin, bounding off of the edges, doing little dances before crash landing into a pile of sour milk. The container lands with a 'tap' on top and my heart leaps, because it wasn't the spaghetti that was special, what was special was written on the bottom…
Will you go out with me Tiffany?
So what's his address?
I thought you'd never ask.
"I've knocked on every house in this town nearly to get to yours, one lady shouted at me and some lecherous old guy tried to invite me in – but I'm finally here and we need to talk."
"To what do I owe the pleasure – or displeasure, as 'we need to talk' never really ends well."
Wren isn't even looking at me, he's so upset.
I mean I knew he wasn't going to be happy, knowing what he thought I did. Completely dismiss his feelings and not even answer a question he'd tried to ask me numerous times – okay, that not I'd realised till now – before and had backed out. Only to have it shoved in his face when he finally worked up the courage.
But I didn't mean to. I didn't even know because in this scenario, I'm the freak. I kept his spaghetti in the freezer.
"Really, no reaction to lecherous old guys hitting on me?"
"Why should I care? You're free to go," He shrugs, waving a hand. "Go make out with as many old dudes as you like. My next door neighbour might be up for it, give him a go."
"Don't be gross. I ran here to talk to you, normally it'd take twenty minutes walking but I ran here," I breathe in example, pointing at myself. "I'm sweaty all over."
"Good for you." He shrugs again.
"Are you even concerned about why?"
"Maybe you really like running. And then standing in front of people you don't like's doors with your major BO. And maybe you wanted to rub what I did in my face or act all sympathetic, and either way – just don't."
"I hate running," I interrupt. "I also didn't get to read the bottom of that container until a half hour ago…"
"I know it's dumb and pathetic to ask girls out with a spaghetti container. I know it's pathetic that I watched – past tense, got it – you enough to know how you liked said spaghetti and I know – wait, what?"
Wren's head whips around and he stares at me in disbelief, his yellow sleeves dangling from his skinny wrists, held up high in the air mid-sentence. What did you just say?
"I kind of kept the spaghetti in the freezer," I inform him somewhat hysterically. "I'd take it out sometimes and look at it. I mean I couldn't just eat it, then it would be gone and I'd have nothing, no evidence, of you even giving it to me. I didn't get to see what you wrote otherwise…otherwise I-I would have-I had dreams about you, you know?"
"Dreams?" He repeats, eyebrows raised way up.
"Yes, yes," I smack my hands to my face in embarrassment. He's going to think I'm crazy. I don't know why I'm giving him all these unnecessary details. "Rachel Berry's head was screaming at me that I had a crush and you were pressing me into the shop counter and you were just…so close…and you said the bits and pieces of her head lying around the floor were pretty, you were –"
"What the hell?" He brings a hand to his mouth, trying to smother his laughter. "What the hell kind of dreams do you have, Tiffany? And you kept my spaghetti in the freezer?"
My jaw drops, he's laughing at me? I'm confessing something completely shameful and weird and he's laughing at me? Shouldn't he be saying it's really not that weird, Tiffany? And instead he's laughing his blonde head right off his skinny neck?
Irritation growing, I bring the container out of my bag and throw it at his cute, eye-scrunched up laughing face.
Wren keeps on laughing, picking up the container and shaking it at me. "You-you put it in the freezer, that's so weird and cute."
"Shut it," I hiss crossly, pointing at it. "Shut your mouth and pay attention, look at what it says, you yellow duck jumper wearing moron."
He laughs a little more but it dies off when he finally does look, turning it around in his hand. I feel my cheeks growing even redder, getting more embarrassed, seeing what he sees – my hand writing all over the container, in red permanent marker, scribbling yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes on the lid, under the lid, on every surface available.
Wren looks up and I bite my lip, crossing my arms over my chest. He looks stunned for a moment, eyes wide in disbelief, before a gentle smile spreads across his lips. He holds the container to his chest.
And moments later, he's right in front of me – big green eyes staring right into mine.
"Well then, hey there girlfriend," He jokes.
I bring my hands to his unproportional hair and tug, tug him towards me and close my eyes. His hair brushes my forehead, his nose bumps with mine and then he tilts his head, bringing our lips together. I feel his arms wrap around me, my heart going so fast, and tighten my grip around his neck.
Wren lifts me up in his arms, spinning me around and walking me to his door.
"Want to come in?" He inquires. "See my parents are out of town and – ow."
"Very funny," I whisper.
He laughs, squeezing me.
"Aren't they cute?" I smile.
"Already they're mummy's boys and girls," Wren crosses his arms over his chest, shaking his head. "Look at the way they're floating over to your side of the tank, it's just hurtful is what it is. I gave them life, I gave them a home to sleep in and they choose you."
"So why'd you even come in the store and start annoying me to start with?" I ask, changing the subject. "I've been wondering."
"Well my dad owns the store, he asked me to check on you," He shrugs, poking the plastic. "You're lucky I didn't report your shitty customer service giving ass – hey, hey, kids your mum is hitting me."
I pinch his sides hard before wrapping my arms around his waist, resting my head on his shoulder. He lets out a sigh and slides his fingers into my hair, combing it back.
"They don't even care about their abusive mother, do they?"
THIS IS A STRANGE ONE SHOT YEAH? I put a bit of effort into writing this XD and I think it turned out alright. I couldn't write Bee. It's too emotional for me right now. But I might write some and torture myself anyway, who knows. I hope you enjoyed.