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Chapter 2 : In which obvious things are pointed out.
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Chapter image by .asperity @ TDA
So yes I know lying is a bad thing, and I’m not a bad person (just a little screwy). Plus what would you have done? Yes I know already know your answer, you’re thinking ‘well I definitely wouldn’t lie’ but I’m not you, I’m me and I do things differently.
This is why there is a book on me and not you. Because I am nuts.
“I’ve written a book,” I answered, technically this bit isn’t a lie, I have written a book it’s just on the word processer.
Really, what’s it called?
This is where my super power of lying comes in to save the day.
“Larry Rotter and The Sociable Pebble,” I answered, trying to keep a straight face.
Well…maybe not a super power.
“Strange I think I’ve heard of something like that,” answered Oliver. “Must be popular.”
“I wouldn’t be surprised if you had heard something like the title, people keep taking my title and twisting it for their stories. Some are actually popular.”
Like you’re doing right now?
Shut up inner voice.
“I’ll have to read it sometime then,” said Oliver, he looked at the cover of another book.
“Well, you probably won’t like it, it’s a sci-fi about this time traveling wizard-named Larry- who travels on a broomstick he calls a TARDIS and he travels around with a female companion named Amy who’s his best friend’s little sister, who’s a red-head.”
“Where does the sociable pebble come in?” Asked Oliver.
I ran out of ideas.
“You’ll have to read the book and find out,” I answered hoping I sounded cheerful and completely legit.
Oliver looked confused, and I remembered that I had said earlier that he would not like my book, cripes.
“Is it in the library?” Asked Oliver smoothly cutting across my rain of complete nonsense, he knows, he knows I’m lying.
“Er” (think Pen think) “no, but that’s because of you know” (no he doesn’t know Pen) “budget cuts” (nice and vague), “because our head librarian is spending money on non-library things” (back-track Pen, back-track), “like cable so he can watch game shows” (oh Merlin), “you know where the girls wear bikinis” (you’re hopeless) “and sometimes the cheerleaders at the football games” (I give up).
Sometimes my inner consciousness despairs of me.
“You know Clearwater,” said Oliver cutting across my stream of twaddle, (oh, twaddle, what a fun word!). “You haven’t changed a bit.”
“And what do you mean by that?” Is that a fond ‘you haven’t changed a bit, Pen’ or is it one of those, ‘You know, you really haven’t changed a bit and now you’re just getting annoying and old and no one including your dog really likes you’?
“Well, you know, you’re like the same Pen from school, always forgetting to take off her glasses, a giant sci-fi nerd-no offense meant-“ (yeah well you’re acting like an arse right now, no offense meant).
He continued. “Your bag is probably bursting at the seams with new books, and I’d bet my paycheck that you still have the same bag from school” (so sue me, it’s a nice bag), “you probably got married to someone, hence the ring, and I’ll bet another paycheck that it was Percy.”
Ok, so, sue me. I like to read. Books are nice, they don’t criticize you. They don’t pretend to be your friend so they can snog you. Instead, they take you to places much nicer and much more exciting than your own world (aka: The Hobbit). They don’t have expectations and you don’t have to worry about them paying the fifteen bucks that they’ve owed you since first grade.
Plus how can he think I’m engaged? What the hell was he thinking? I reek of desperation and singleness, hence the sky-high confidence.
“Wait, what ring?” I asked, now confused, he might have still been talking…but oh well.
Oliver indicated to my hand and I looked down…to see my purity ring. Idiot. Why didn’t I take it off before I talked to him?
“Actually it’s a ring from my boyfriend…well ex-boyfriend actually,” I said, holding the ring out in front of myself and pretending to admire it. “I broke up with him today, it’s quite nice though isn’t it? It also wasn’t from Percy, I’ve been in several relationships since I broke up with him. “
“It looks expensive.”
“It was, believe me,” I answered.
Yes I know. I’m an idiot, shut up inner voice.
You said it I didn’t.
“Also I am no nerd,” I continued.
“You work in a library,” said Oliver giving me a look.
“Actually, I don’t work here,” I continued, damn it my mouth seems to have taken control.
“So where do you work, a bookstore?”
HA! I wish. Then maybe I could get something out of working there, like an employee discount. There are no perks at the Library.
“I did but they weren’t hiring,” I said smirking (why am I smirking? I’m totally screwed, there is NO reason to smirk). “So I work at a club, it’s called the Three Ss.”
Stands for Stupid, Sadistic, and Suicidal, it’s an underground place for every computer genius in town, everyone does business there, it’s a pretty cool job, hence the reason why I could never get a job there. Athena works there though, she’s in charge of the music, which basically means she sits there with a pair of earphones and presses a button once in a while.
“I’m in charge of the music,” I continued. “I work the night shift.”
“Ah” said Oliver who now seemed to be eating humble crow’s feet pie. I wasn’t able to relish in my victory though, mainly because I was too worried he would figure everything out, my story wasn’t exactly foolproof. “Well then I take it back, you have changed.”
“Not too much,” I said shrugging. “I still wear my glasses all the time, you caught me on that.”
He chuckled, I wanted to make out with him. Then the awkward silence began.
“Nice shirt,” he commented, I looked down at my shirt, it had the University logo on it. I gave him a look.
“It’s the collage’s shirt, I don’t actually like it.”
Actually I love this shirt, but I’m already on a roll with the whole lying thing.
“So you go to Uni?”
“Yeah, I’m doing English and Journalism,” I said. “You go there?”
“No, I’m done with school thankfully,” said Oliver who was now the proud carrier of four books.
“So those books are for-?”
As far as I can remember, Oliver had never been that big of a reader. If he wasn’t going to school what was he doing with all these books? What if he’s going to use them to—
No. Pen. Stop thinking that. That is very inappropriate for the library.
“For my sister, she broke her leg, tried to fix it, failed, and now thinks the entire family is her personal servant, I just picked these up for her,” he answered. “Where did you say you worked again?”
Someone has a short term memory.
“The Three S’s,” I answered.
“You know I have a friend who goes there a lot maybe I’ll see you there tonight,” said Oliver. “You’ll be there tonight right?”
“Yeah,” I answered without thinking. “Yeah I’ll be there.”
“Cool then,” said Oliver leaving me standing there.
I am royally screwed.
“You are royally screwed,” said Athena when I told her of my predicament, she then felt my forehead. “What is wrong with you? Are you sick or something? Because you have never done something this bloody stupid, never, you know what? I’m calling you in sick-“
“I’m fine Athena,” I said, I may have snapped a bit. “Look I’m not sick.”
At this point I was back at my apartment Athena who is my flatmate was with me and listening to my problem (well can you call interrupting every two minutes listening?).
Athena and I became roommates because we both wanted to get out of our parents house (Athena wanted to have her boyfriend over and I wanted an internet connection that wasn’t incredibly slow) we were able to get this really cheap place by our collage, the only downside is that Percy is our upstairs neighbor and he wakes up really early in the morning and he really wails on the floor.
I’m not sure if he’s doing this unconsciously or if he’s just really upset that a lot of my classes are in the late afternoon/evening which means I get to have a lie in.
Anyway Athena and I only had enough money for the down payment on the apartment and we didn’t want to spend any more time being stuck at our parents’ house so our house is a jumble of things from garage sales and gifts from my parents.
Which explains the reason why until recently the couch was covered in plastic wrap.
We have all the normal pieces (them actually looking normal is another bit entirely), a brown couch which still has little pieces of plastic sticking out of it (Nana wrapped it up really tight), a wooden coffee table which leans to the right side (thank you whichever dog chewed it), a table (again with the leaning) and two chairs (still leaning).
We have learned to eat on the couch.
We also have three bookshelves which sit in front of the couch, unlike everything else in this house these bookshelves are in top state, they’re also filled to the brim with books (whether or not these books are in top order is your call).
Respect the bookshelves people.
But I digress.
“And what kind of title is Larry Rotter and the Sociable Pebble?” Athena continued.
“It’s part of a seven part series,” I murmured. “In the last book Larry will have to have Lord Dalekmort kill him because Larry contains the last bit of humanity that keeps Lord Dalekmort alive.”
“That’s weird,” said Athena bluntly. “It’s even weirder you put so much effort in a book that you are never going to write.”
That might not be true; I actually have several ideas for Larry, Larry Rotter and The Prisoner of The Time Worp, Larry Rotter and Amy’s Chamber, Larry Rotter and the Bottle of Time, Larry Rotter and the Deathly Cybermen etc, etc.
But now is not the time.
“Athena” I start to say, but of course I’m interrupted.
“Look,” oh, she’s starting to wave her finger, “don’t blame me for your problems.” To the right. “I’m not the one who spilled lie,” to the left, “after lie,” to the right,” to the left, “after lie,” to the right, “because a hot bloke—who can be a little arrogant at times—has resurfaced and called me a nerd.”
“So now what are you going to do?” Asked Athena.
“Well…er….I was wondering…” Athena eyed me coolly. “Spit it out Pen.”
“If I could borrow your job for the night,” I finally blurted out. “Just in case he…you know…shows up?”
I try to give her a winning smile.
“No,” said Athena. “You lied and that is bad…or some shit like that.”
“It’s not a lie if someone believes it.” Athena gave me her what-the-bloody-hell-are-you-thinking look?
“So,” said Athena. “In your twisted mind, if I were to tell you that the author that wrote The Stand was downstairs, talking to the author that wrote the series Odd Thomas and it wasn’t true—but you believed me and ran downstairs like lightning—that doesn’t make me a liar?”
“One, I wouldn’t believe you because one author is from Maine and the other is from California so what the hell would they be doing here? And two… I got nothing.”
“So, give me another stupid reason why I should let you take over my job.”
“I’ll walk Einstein for you,” I said quickly.
Einstein is Athena’s insane chocolate Labrador puppy (the one that’s probably in charge of all the chewed furniture) she’s supposed to be training him for the Seeing Eye Guide Dog Foundation but personally I think he’s a hopeless case.
Example: Right now he’s trying to jump high enough to reach a bag of chips I have on top of the kitchen cupboard.
Stupid dog. Is that a contradiction because he’s named Einstein? Probably.
“Fine,” said Athena.
Wait, did my winning smile actually work?
Athena noted my confusion and spoke again. “I’m not your dad Pen, all I see is a night off, my dog walked and you’re willing to work for nothing I take it?”
“Even better,” Athena added. “While I do think this whole-” she made circler motions with her hands “-lying thing is bad, I’m really tired, and sleep trumps morals.”
I’m pretty sure there are plenty of people out there who disagree with Athena.
I heard a knock at the door and rolled my eyes, Athena instantly lightened up (her boyfriend lives across from us with his roommate).
We have several unique (read: just flat out abnormal) neighbors, also known as creepers.
There’s the regulars, and then Percy (I’m pretty sure he’s stalking me. First he hangs around my job, then around my apartment complex. If he starts hanging around my shower I’m going to scream)—who lives above us—and Alexander and his roommate, Mike, (don’t get me started on that sexist jerk) live across us.
But the award for biggest freak in our apartment building (Athena and I gave ourselves the award for the ones with the best food) goes to Chester. Who is currently at the door right now.
“Hello Athena and Penelope.” Chester standing there, in his robe and pajama pants, talking to us as though we were his worst nightmare coming true.
Yeah, Chester, the feelings mutual.
“Hello Chester,” we chorused at the same time. I sighed in annoyance and Athena was wearing her I’m-going-to-kill-you look.
“Will you two keep it down?” He said. “My wife and I are trying to have a romantic dinner but you’re playing that dreadful music.”
Incidentally we weren’t playing any music. Unless the sounds of our angry discussions count as music.
“You don’t have a wife.” I resist the urge to throw my hands in the air and scream obscenities. “Or birds, or chinchillas, or cats for that matter.”
“I could have,” he said. “And you wouldn’t know.”
“Goodbye Chester.” I closed the door in his face.
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