“What’re you doing? Don’t you have to be at school today?”
“Why would I go to school on a Saturday, Plumm? Why’re you always so weird?”
“Because Leslie, you keep talking about how you’re failing all of your classes, but you never put any effort into improving your grades. Saturday school starts in two hours. You can still make it if you head out now.”
“Cool, but why would I go to school when I could easily not do it instead?”
“Leslie, as your neighbor and your classmate, I’ll make sure you understand the essentials of getting your grades up, even if you aren’t going to use any of the information in school in real life!”
“Please go home. It’s two minutes away.”
“No! You can’t rant to me hours on end about your problems, and then do nothing to solve them. If you think that I’m going to subject myself to that every day and do nothing to help you, you’ve got another thing coming!”
“No! Let me in your house!”
I’m not giving in to any of Leslie’s hogwash excuses this time. That monotone look in her eye is all a part of her façade. She can be saved, and I’m going to do everything in my power to drag her from the depths of failing grades.
“Come to school or else!”
“Or else what?”
“I’ll… I’ll take the school to you!”
“Okay,” Leslie shrugs. “Bring it to me.”
Leslie crosses her arms and gives me that look again. Her piercing gaze knows how to puncture my spirit too well. It’s like she’s spitting on my determination with her thoughts. Those dark brown pupils, bolded with her headstrong attitude. Stare at me all you want. You’ll never break my spirit!
“You didn’t even bring any books with you? How’re gonna bring school to me? You think you’re smart enough to remember everything without notes?” Leslie mocks, with a stupid smile crawling on her face.
“I don’t need notes to remember the basics. Do you know why? Because the basics aren’t that hard! You’d know that if you ever bothered to try in class.”
“What’s four plus four?”
“Eight. Why’re you asking?”
“Two plus two?”
“Seven plus six?”
“Thirteen. Leslie, why—”
“Ten times twenty-four?”
“Plumm, why did you answer all of those questions?”
“Because you asked me them?”
“And that’s exactly the problem. I could’ve been using you to figure out nuclear launch codes and you didn’t even try to stop me. I could’ve been the end of the world. You need to stop being so hive-minded.”
“What!? A bunch of basic math questions isn’t going to decide the fate of the world!”
“And how would you know that?” Leslie taunts, putting her finger in my face. “You’re too busy going to school, learning how to be as boring as everyone else,” She says, the smile on her face reaching its peak.
“Boring? Well, if I’m boring, then that makes you lame with your boring bone earrings! Those should be in your head, not on your ears… freak!”
“What?” Leslie asks, with a disgusted look on her face. “What’re you talking about?”
“Your earrings. T—Their skulls. You know, the top part of a skeleton?”
“Were you trying to insult me?”
“Yeah. Aren’t you offended?”
“No? No!? What do you mean no? That was the best line that I’ve ever had.”
“That’s the problem. Leave the bullying to me please.”
“I’ll show you bullying!” Without thinking, I ran into Leslie, trying to force my way past her door. Leslie immediately starts pushing back with a surprising amount of strength.
“What’re you doing!? Get off!”
“Let me in! I’m just trying to help you!”
Leslie’s grip on her door frame caves in and we both tumble inside of her house. Her will is strong, but her overall resolve is a façade and It’ll never break my spirit.
“Plumm, get the hell off of me!” With the strength of an ogre, Leslie’s hand grabs my face, and she squeezes as hard as she can.
“Ow! You’re hurting me! Your nails are digging in, stop!”
She tosses me aside and I scamper away, making sure that she didn’t take the skin off of my face.
“What’s wrong with you!? It’s none of your business if I go to school or not.”
“That’s what happens when you think you can keep messing with me. I don’t need a comeback to get you to shut up.”
“You attacked me because you couldn’t think of a good comeback?” Leslie asks while I stammer onto my feet. Once we get on our feet, I look her in the eyes as she stands with an unnerved posture. That bold look has been replaced by a shocked and confused expression. That’s all I wanted from her, to see that look on her face.
“Yes.” I spit out, dusting myself off.
“Plumm. You’re something else. I have to give you props this time.” Leslie’s shocked look melts away and turns into a smile of admiration. “Not a lot of people have the courage to tackle someone head-on for no reason, but that’s especially surprising coming from you.”
“Well, I try.”
“Make no mistake, if you did that anywhere else, you’d be hit with an assault charge and arrested on the spot. Probably tazed too.”
“Tazed? That seems a little excessive. I’m too skinny for electricity to be traveling through my body. I’d explode.”
“You think they’d care?”
“Hopefully,” I say, letting out an awkward laugh.
“Bold, along with a positive attitude. Are you showing off for me today?”
“No. I’m just tired of your complaining and I’m trying to get you to do your schoolwork.”
“Complaining? What do I ever complain about?”
“Mr. Dan’s algebra class? You were whining about your grade over the phone.”
“What’s wrong with my grade?”
“Leslie. You only take tests and you never do homework, and you have the audacity to whine about almost failing the class.”
“Homework is how they keep your hive mind strong.”
“You’re right, I’m trying too hard, but since you’re here, how have things been going with you?”
“I was planning to go to Saturday school today, but I stopped by to make sure that you were coming. I know you hate the tedium of school, but I don’t want you to get left behind. It’ll be harder for us to hang out that way.”
“In all seriousness, I get your concern, but I am passing. Barely, but I’m passing. If you want to go to school today, then go. I don’t want to be the one holding you back.”
“It’s whatever now. I don’t even feel like going anymore. Attacking you was exhausting.”
“In that case, wanna have breakfast?”
“I guess.” I accept, not having anything better to do. I head into her kitchen that’s only five steps away from her front door. It’s being bathed by the morning sunlight, making me feel immediately relaxed. “I’ll never get over how heavenly your kitchen looks, Leslie. The lighting is always perfect in here. It’s almost like a movie set.”
“Yeah, I guess. My mom is always buying new blinds and drapes. It took her forever to get this one for the kitchen. It’s the white that makes the sunlight look brighter. It’s kind of… annoying when I really look at it.”
“Oh, it’s not that bad. It gives the kitchen a nice feel.”
“As long as someone likes it, then that’s all that matters. So, what do you want?” She asks while rummaging through cupboards.
“What do you have?”
“Let’s see… We got cereal, we got crackers, we’ve got chocolate chip cookies…”
“Did you actually cook anything?”
“My mom did, but then she ate the food. I hate it when she does that.”
“Why don’t you cook for yourself? You don’t know how to make eggs?”
“I do. They just taste better when I don’t make them.”
“You’re so pathetic, Leslie. Honestly.”
“Do you want a cookie or not?” She asks, shoving an entire cookie into her mouth.
“I think I’m good. You’re making food look kinda disgusting right now.”
“Wh—What?” Leslie coughs, scarfing down her cookie. “After what you just did, you’re gonna need some sugar in your body.”
“I don’t want to eat cookies in the morning.”
“You don’t have a choice in this house.”
With no warning, Leslie slowly starts to bring a chocolate cookie to my face. “Take a bite,” She beckons. I try to shoo it away, but that only makes her bring it closer.
“Leslie, what are you doing?”
“Because I don’t wanna eat it.”
“Eat it.” She demands, pressing the cookie to my chin.
“Can you please stop?”
“I’ll stop when you eat. No guest of mine will go hungry during their stay.” Leslie keeps the cookie pushed onto my lip while offering me the most awkward glint from her eyes. “Eat, you need your strength.”
“No!” Without thinking, I backhand the cookie out of my face, sending it flying to my side.
“Plumm… did you close the door?”
“I don’t think so, why—Oh my god, we’re getting robbed!” All of a sudden, a massive man appears in the kitchen, standing in a menacing pose. I dig into the cupboards and grab a frying pan. “Die, intruder!” I smash it into his rib cage as hard as I can, but all he does is flinch slightly. The frying pan is dented beyond belief.
“We’re dead,” Leslie says plainly, ready to accept her fate.
This guy is shirtless, all he has on is a pair of shorts and he barely moved when I hit him. Who the hell is he?
“Who are you!?”
The man doesn’t respond to me, but he keeps his eyes on me, not fazed by my words. “Answer me! Who are you!?” My adrenaline starts kicking in and I bash the man in his face, only for him to stagger back, like a child slapped hit him. Once he regains his footing, he sets his eyes into mine, zapping me of my courage.
Just when I thought he was going to rip my brain out of my skull, the man starts smiling at me. He takes the frying pan out of my hand and starts observing it, with a baby’s glow in his eyes. My adrenaline vanishes, replaced by a disturbing confusion.
This man doesn’t look normal at all, he has antennas coming out of his head and has weird tubes wrapped around his arm and neck. The same goes for his hands. And there’s weird green juice glowing inside of him. What… is he?
I glance over at Leslie, remembering that she isn’t dead yet, and I see her staring at the man with her eyes agape. She doesn’t even look scared, she’s just… mesmerized.
I start hearing loud clanking and I look back over at the dude. He’s… he’s gnawing on the frying pan.
I look over back at Leslie and she looks at me. She looks about ready to cry but is holding back her tears. Not knowing what else to do, I open my mouth, hoping for sensible words to come out of them.
“Hello.” He responds gleefully, quickly returning to his gnawing.
“Might I ask you what you’re doing here?”
“I don’t know, the door was open.”
“Yeah, but just because a door is open doesn’t mean you walk inside of it, you’ll scare people like that.”
“Oh, sorry. Did I scare you?”
“Yeah, you did. Like, a lot.”
“Oh, sorry.” He mutters, dropping the frying pan to the ground.
“So with that being said, can you please leave? If my friend’s parents come back home and see you, it isn’t going to end well.”
The man doesn’t respond, he stares me down until he offers me a gentle smile and sees himself out.
“How did you do that, Plumm? You made him walk out like he was nothing.”
“I don’t know. I just spoke to see what would happen. It’s not like fighting him was an option.”
“Did you see how big he was? He at that frying pan figuratively and literally. Plumm, you really outdid yourself today.”
“Well, yeah. I—I try.” I say, trying to stop my skin from melting off my body.”
“Now close the door before I throw you outside with him.”