The next few days came and went like a blur. My time was divided between college stuff and taking Danny to his baseball practices. I still texted Sandy on and off, but we could never get our schedules to fit to hang out with the kids for a while.
Man, my head is hurting like hell today. I couldn sleep last night because I ran out of my sleeping pills, and on top of the college scholarships and financial aid I had to do today, I also had to take my brother to his baseball practice this morning. I took my anxiety medicine like usual this morning, but because of my lack of sleep, I barely felt its effect.
I shake my head in vain to try and get rid of the pounding headache. Laying my head in my hands on the kitchen table, I took a small break from peering into my laptop. The silence in the house is deafening. The grey color of the walls reflecting my gloomy mood enclosed in on me as I worked. The solace of the kitchen table where I was sitting in the dim morning sunlight combined with the smell of the leather couches sitting parallel to the silent TV directly to my left, made for a nauseating experience for me.
I turned all the lights in the house off to help, leaving only the sunlight beaming through the blinded windows, but it still brought no relief. Whenever I get like this, it seems like the smallest most mundane things affect me in a massive way. I wish I could just go back to bed and sleep the day away, but I have to go pick up Danny from practice pretty soon, and I really need to finish my college financial aid stuff. Ahhhhh… My mental is gone.
My ears perked up at the sudden sound engulfing the once silent house. I jolted my head from my hands and turned to see the front door that was just outside the living room to my left. I made out a figure standing in the doorway from the diluted window resting in the middle of the door.
I was going to ignore the ringing doorbell at first. Its probably just some door-to-door salesman anyway, but the ringing persisted. I let out an exhausted sigh as I tore myself off my seat in the kitchen and trudged my way to the door. I am not in the mood to deal with this today.
I unlocked the door and was met with a whirlwind of sound. Gia stormed into the door hastily saying, ”Sup Mark! ”
Rom followed close behind her saying in her meek voice, ”hello… Hey! Gia wait for me! ”
I whirred around, following them throughout their journey through the living room back to Dannys room, ”Why are you? How did you? ”
I turned back around to see a nervously smiling Sandy standing in front of the door with an oversized aqua shirt and Nike shorts with her black hair in a loose braid laying on her right shoulder. She was carrying her phone and a Chick fil A bag in front of her.
”Uhh…Hey? ” I said with a shocked look on my face. Why are they here?
”Ummm you weren answering your phone, and Gia wanted to come over to see Danny after his baseball practice was over. Then I had the GENIUS idea to get Rom and we could all hang at your place for the day. We haven hung out since last Saturday, so I thought this would be a good opportunity. We aren bothering you, are we? We can leave if thats the case… ”
”No! ” I said a little too energetically, ”Ahem I mean its fine. Ive just been slaving away trying to complete financial aid. Sorry if I seem a bit out of it, I didn get a lot of sleep last night. ”
e fine! ” She reassured me before coming through the door and tugging my shirt back to the table, ”Cmon! I got some lunch for all of us including you! I remember you texting me saying that you rarely ever ate, so I got you some chicken nuggets. Im sure youll feel better after you eat I promise! ”
Feeling embarrassed and ashamed that I made her worry about my poor eating habits, I tried to tell her when we reached the table, ”You really didn have to do that! Now I feel bad! I swear my appetite is fine. I just don naturally eat that much! ”
”Did you eat anything this morning? She asked me skeptically.
”W-well… No… But thats— ”
”See? Cmon its no big deal. Girlsss! Lets eat before it gets cold! ” She called throughout the small house.
Rom silently made her way through the living room to the table, but the only response Sandy got from Gia was a faint, ”I told you that Im going to wait for Danny to get here! ”
Sandy pretended that the comment didn affect her as she pulled out a chair for Rom to sit in on the opposite side of where my laptop sat, but I could see in her eyes that it did. I quickly tried to move the subject to something else, and I reached for my wallet.
”What are you doing? ” Sandy asked me.
I pulled out a ten-dollar bill and stretched it out to her, ”Paying you back for the meal. ” I said.
She then physically revolted back from me and exclaimed, ”Oh no you don ! I will not accept! ”
”Cmon pleaseeee… I don want to feel like I owe you anything. ” I implored.
Sandy went and sat down in the chair next my laptop and casually went, ”Well I guess if you put it that way… ”
She reached for my hand, and I felt a little relieved as I expected her to accept the money. However, instead of her taking the bill from my hand, she held onto my fingers and forcibly wrapped them around the money again.
”Mark, ” Sandy told me warmly. ”You can pay me back by sitting down and eating with me. Really! I promise its fine and thats the end of it. ”
I anxiously sat down beside her and moved my laptop to the countertop behind me. I never know how to accept gifts. It never really happens with me, so I don have the practice with it.
Sandy started getting the food out of the bag for everyone, and I reached for my pockets in the meantime to check my phone. Why didn I hear Sandys text message? I felt nothing in both of my pockets. The cold realization hit me that I left my phone in my car when I dropped Danny off.
”Yo Mark! Can I play on your PS5? ” Gia suddenly said.
Flustered from the embarrassing realization I hurriedly said, ”Y-yeah sure whatever! ”
I stumbled out of my seat to go out and get my phone. I look so uncool right now!
”Ohhh you have a PS5 no way! And you
e not ditching the food are you? ” Sandy exclaimed in awe before switching to a motherly tone with me.
I turned back at the door, ”Oh, uh yeah! I got it to play the Final Fantasy games and Elden Ring. And Ill be right back, I forgot something in my car. ”
I could feel my pounding head become a little lighter now that I got some adrenaline pumping from the sudden action in the once quiet house. Now that I think about it, I think being able to talk with people Im comfortable with helps take my mind off of it. I opened the car door and sure enough, there was my phone sitting on the drivers seat.
My phone suddenly beeped with another notification. I picked the phone up and looked at the lit screen. Four messages from Sandy greeted me when I gazed upon it.
Sandy: Yoo whats up? Do you mind if we come over today? Gia is being really annoying about coming over 10:01 AM
Sandy: Heyy we
e coming over, umm is it alright if we bring Rom too? Gia said shes done it before. Im sorry for being so spontaneous, this is honestly the most Gia has ever interacted with me lmao. You can just tell us to leave when we get there, Ill understand if you
e doing something important. We
e picking up some lunch from Chick fil A tho.
Do you want anything? 10:34 AM
e pulling up now. Have you been getting my texts? I got you some chicken nuggets the same as me since you didn say anything lol. 11:06 AM
Sandy: You left your phone in your car huh? 11:10 AM
I looked up to the front door behind me, and I saw Sandy standing in the doorway with a wry smile, waving her phone by her head. I couldn help but laugh it off, but I could feel my cheeks already getting red from embarrassment. I took the walk of shame back to her, and when I got to her, I asked, ”You knew huh? ”
”I figured it out when you said you forgot something in your car and your face went white. It was hilarious, but I wanted to see how far youd go before you realized I knew. Come on, the chicken is getting cold. ”
I walk back into the small three-bedroom house to see Rom and Gia playing the Final Fantasy 7 Remake on the PS5 in the living room. They were engrossed in the game, so they were quiet, to my relief. Sandy and I sat down at the paper-filled table to eat. ”Sorry for the mess by the way. I was deep into filling out forms before you guys showed up. ”
”Oh no! Its totally fine. You didn know we were coming, so I don blame you. I usually just wing everything when it comes to setting stuff up for college and whatever happens, happens haha. ” Sandy said as she sat back down in her seat beside me.
”Do you usually eat alone? ” She asked me when I sat back down.
That question came out of nowhere, but I guess since I never eat, I do give off that vibe. ”I guess the few times I do eat, its usually alone. I don have anyone else to eat with and even if I did, I don know if I would have the courage to ask them to accompany me. Im not exactly the best hang. Besides, there is a certain peacefulness to being alone. ” I retorted to her, ”It does get lonely sometimes, I guess. Im used to it though. Hows things with Gia going? ”
”Haha, I guess there is a peacefulness in a way, and its uhh going I guess. ”
Sandy looked down as she continued eating and told me glumly, ”Its just kind of frustrating you know? I try to do fun stuff with her and talk to her, but she completely shuts me off. Shes so outgoing with other people, but with me shes just silent. And when shes not silent its when shes angry with me. ”
I studied her expression as she vented to me from across the table. She usually seems to try to be really upbeat and positive, but she always seems to be so sullen when talking about Gia… I wish that would change, but I don really know how to do that. All I really know is to just listen to her. Though, a part of me does feel happy that she is comfortable with me enough to show me this side of her, even though I try and try to keep an emotional distance from her.
I just can help it. And when I feel like this is something she doesn show everyone given her outgoing personality, it makes me feel a little glad. Even though we just started talking last week, I feel like Ive gotten to know a lot about her through text and developed a sort of comradery with her because of dealing with her sister.
She seemed to be really down by the fact that she can connect with Gia. I guess when you are as big of an extrovert as she is, it can really get to you when someone doesn want to try and talk to you no matter what.
Laughter came beaming out of the living room from Gia and Rom. I looked over there and smiled to myself reminiscing about the time I was a freshman in high school when a memory came to me.
”I think itll get better. ” I told Sandy.
”How do you know? ”
”Shes a teenager. ” I told her flatly, ”Teenagers are hormonal assholes. I know from experience. And on top of that Gia went her whole life as the only child and only living with her mom. Then all of a sudden, another girl comes into her life to be her sister. Of course, she is going to be wary of it at first but give it time. Im sure shell open up to you when she feels comfortable with you and that will just take time. ”
I looked back to Sandy to see her staring at me wide eyed. ”What? I asked warily.
Then she started to laugh too. Her laugh combined with the two girls in the living room created a jubilant atmosphere in the once barren small home. ”Wait, whats so funny? ” I asked confused by the situation.
”Hahaha, nothing. I just love how you keep saying that teenagers are hormonal assholes, but aren you technically still a teenager too? Hahaha. ”
”Hey, I think I just said some real shit. I was pretty proud of myself for coming up with that. And you
e technically still a teenager too then so don act all high and mighty. ” I responded sarcastically.
Sandy got up from her seat across from me, and she walked towards me. I looked where her food was, and the small box was barren. ”It was pretty cool! ” She told me as she playfully punched my arm.
Sandy walked into the living to join Gia and Rom playing on the PS5 leaving me alone once again in the kitchen with my thoughts. ”If it was cool, she wouldn have laughed. ” My chastised to myself. Damn, I hate social situations. This happens every time. I always say something weird that throws everything off.
I continued to eat my chicken nuggets. Sandys all gas no brakes even in eating I see. She blitzed her way through her chicken nuggets while I just made it to my second chicken strip.
My phone came alive with another alert popping up on it. Its Danny. His practice is over, right when I was just getting into eating too. I begrudgingly grabbed my wallet and keys sitting behind me on the marble kitchen counter and headed to the front door.
”You finished fast. I thought you were going to be there all day when I left you. ” Sandy commented when she saw me travelling through the living room.
”I wish I couldve eaten that fast. Danny text me and told me to come and get him. ”
”Finally!! ” Gia exclaimed in an exasperated voice to which I rolled my eyes as I had my hand on the front door.
Sandy jumped up from the couch and ran into the kitchen then back to me. ”Here! ” She told me as she held out the small box of nuggets to me, ”Eat these on your way there. Im not letting you get off that easy! ”
”Weren you complaining about me being a mom at the waterpark? Look whos talking now. ” I commented to her as I took the small box out of her hands.
”Shut up! ” She pointedly told me with a punch to the shoulder, ”And that was Danny and Gia not me. And acting like a mother isn a bad thing! It just means you care! ”
I smirked. Leave it to Sandy to come up with a positive out of a would-be insult.
”Can I come with? ” I looked back to see Rom staring back at me with her sky-blue eyes.
”Uh…Sure, I guess? Its not really an exciting trip though. ”
”Yes, yes, I know. ” She said as she pushed me out the door leaving Sandy in a confused daze as Gia was engrossed in the game again.
Outside, Rom continued to push me towards my car as she closed the door behind her. ”Whats going on? ”
She stopped pushing me when I got to the car door, and she took upon her meek personality again. She looked down as she said in a soft voice, ”I just thought those two needed some alone time. Every time I hang with Gia its soooo awkward with her and Sandy. Its really uncomfortable. ”
I smiled to myself because of her maturity, ”Alright, get in the car. It shouldn be a long drive. ”
”Thanks! ” She responded in a relieved tone.
I shook my head in disbelief of her as I sat in the drivers seat and cranked the grey 2018 accord up. Rom put her seatbelt on in the shotgun seat and off we went.
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