Sunday, April 14, 2019
"So," I jumped and let out an involuntary squeak when, as soon as the break room door closed, Laurel threw my apron at me. "You're cutting it pretty close, sis." She teased tiredly from where she sat at the long foldable table in the center of the room. "Did you get her number?"
"Shut up, Junny, or I'll return you." I tossed my bag haphazardly onto the table next to her with a dramatic flourish, clocking into the tablet suspended on the wall. She snorted and rolled her eyes at the moniker.
"Didn't answer my question." Her lips, which had been pursed into a thin line, twitched upwards a little, but it was by no means her usual smile; she got stressed at work.
"Yeah, I got her number." I pulled my bottom lip between my teeth and rolled it there, trying to physically mitigate my grin. "She's an Elf." Laurel visibly perked up and lifted her gaze to meet mine directly, and while her body looked tense, her expression was as curious as ever, her head tilted just a bit to one side intently.
"Really? She's young, isn't she? I've never met one our age." Her brows furrowed confusedly when I laughed.
"She looks it, doesn't she. She's like two-thirty-something." My sister's jaw hung a little and her eyebrows came even closer together in surprise. "Said she knew the Rose on the Titanic."
"Wow, yeah, you know how to pick 'em." The younger girl whistled between her teeth. "And she actually let you flirt with her?"
"Well," I sighed, feeling some of my earlier worry return, replacing some of my excitement, and I think subconsciously I meant to mess up my combination lock, to stall before I'd have to face her. To keep her from making eye contact, and probably seeing the doubt I was sure would show in my expression, I went about unbuttoning the back of my shirt and replacing it with my designated work shirt. (I could have just thrown a quick glamour over my current clothes, as I did to hide my wings and ears, but I hated how the smell of coffee clung to my clothes after a shift.)
"I'm like ninety percent sure she knew I was flirting with her, and like she made some hints about it like maybe she was flirting back?" I glanced back at Laurel to find her watching me with her brow furrowed just a bit, and I quickly shrugged my shoulders and tried to act nonchalant about the encounter. Honestly, the entire thing was affecting me more than I wanted her to know, easily more than I would have expected, even if she was a rare find; it left me with a nagging buzz all along my spine, going so far as jolting into my stomach if there were a particularly acute reminder of the whole debacle (like remembering her accent, because god, that still had me a little dizzy).
Shrugging on and zipping up the spine of my work shirt, I cleared my throat awkwardly before adding, "but, uh, I got her number, and we might meet up tomorrow?" It came out sounding far more like a question than I had planned. "And she may, uh, she may like help teach me some... you know." I felt my face heat up dangerously, sure she could see the flush of color, and I smiled guiltily.
"Unbelievable. I've been trying to make you learn more for years, literal years, and one girl shows up and you're suddenly a scholar." She shook her head chidingly and eyed me with amusement, tucked playfully under a front of exasperation.
"She said she couldn't tell me about her job in English." Once again, I found myself sucking on my lip to withhold more of my excitement. Honestly, I was absolutely aching to gossip with her; I tended to have the wilder imagination of the two of us, while she generally would suggest a more realistic answer.
"I could go ask her." Laurel nodded briefly to the break room door, and the electric sensation that had been settling crackled again with renewed strength; it felt a little like I'd imagine a bag of popcorn would feel when you stuck it in the microwave and all the kernels started exploding.
"Or, uh, maybe not?" I put on my most saccharine smile to hide that I had no idea why I was so immediately opposed to the suggestion. "I, uh, maybe wanted to use that to like, uh, talk to her again?" I busied my hands with the tie of my apron and tried to quell the little white sparks of magic crackling off my fingers that for some damn reason I couldn't seem to contain today.
"Wait," Laurel stood (lunged at me, really,) and grabbed my wrists. I cringed a little as she locked eyes with me, her stare intense and critical, and most of all worried. "You usually have better control than this. Seriously, what's wrong with you right now?" I took my hands back and wrung them uncomfortably.
"Honest, Laur, no clue. It was happening when I was talking with Lydia too. I mean, like I couldn't stop it. She even like, she mentioned it once or twice." I sighed deeply, stressed because I knew that I was usually able to control my magic at least decently well, so Laurel and I both knew it wasn't normal for me.
"I mean, last time you had a problem like that," her voice trailed off, and she smiled crookedly, more uncomfortable than anything else. It was the very specific sort of awkwardness that I immediately recognized and cringed too, already uncomfortable with whatever she was about to say.
"No. Nope. I know that look," my face, I'm sure, was getting even redder. "My shift is starting, I absolutely need to be not here." I bolted before Laurel could say anything else, grabbing some latex gloves from the break room counter to hide as much of the sparking as I could. The fact that I did not hear Laurel laughing at my embarrassment from behind me only made me more glad to have escaped.
When I took up my post at the register, the Elf was still in her booth, earbuds plugged into her phone as she typed away on her laptop, and I was so glad I'd picked up the gloves because I could feel the popcorn thing happening again just below my skin.
Her face was all pinched up in concentration; she looked absolutely absorbed in her work and it had the unfortunate side effect of making me itch to distract her. While I worked, I'd catch myself staring at the Elven woman whenever I had the chance to, replaying our conversation in my head; tracing over the gentle curves and intonations of her voice, and the way her accent came on so suddenly, so powerfully, when she spoke her birth tongue. (And if maybe repeating the Elf's accent in my head made me a little hot, that wasn't anyone else's business.) I swore sometimes while I was caught up in watching her, she'd pause right between tapping out a word on her computer and put on that stupidly attractive smirk like she knew she had my full attention. I reminded myself again that I needed to read up more on what exactly she could've meant when she said Elves were empaths; hopefully, her little smiles were purely coincidental and she couldn't tell how completely enraptured I was. (But I think I also kind of knew she was onto me.)
. . .
Monday, April 15, 2019
"I swear if you don't stop clicking your stupid wings, I'll glue them." Laurel finally cracked after my pacing around the living room, letting my wings tap against each other a little noisily, for a measly three minutes.
Without fail, when Laurel actually wanted to read or get work done, she'd barricade herself into her room because she knew I had a particular talent for annoying her and making unwanted noise, so she was fooling absolutely no one when she spontaneously decided she would do some reading in the living room; she was here to butt in, and help calm me down if I had any say about it.
"Are we sure this is even a date? What if it's not a date? Because, like, she's really cute and if this isn't a date I'm going to make such a fool of myself."
"Well, what'd she say about it?" My sister hummed exasperatedly; to anyone else, it would have been convincing too, but I knew she wouldn't have asked if she didn't want to hear my whole song and dance of an answer.
"She was like, hey, do you wanna meet up at the coffee place, and I'm like ha, no, all good on going to places I work when I'm not working, so she was like then why don't we meet somewhere else or at your place and I'm obviously like oh god no not here, I want her as far away from the 'rents as possible, so she suggested this bookshop I've never heard of, but I'm like that's fine, but I don't know if it's like a date date or not."
"Say like one more time," with an exaggerated sigh, Laurel closed her book and faced me with an expression of faux boredom. "Why would she ask you out the day after you meet if she wasn't interested in you?"
"That's the thing, Laur, most people wait to ask out people! What if she's not worried about asking so soon because she doesn't want it to be a date?" Laurel rolled her eyes with another deep sigh and languidly opened her book again, looking for her page.
"Did you ever figure out what was going on with your magic yesterday?" She gestured vaguely with one hand as she spoke, but didn't bother looking up from her book.
"Really bad PMS?" I smiled sheepishly and pulled my hair back distractedly.
"You're on birth control." Laurel leveled me with her best look of bored exasperation.
"I'm like pretty sure you can still get PMS on birth control?"
"Whatever; I got adopted long before puberty and, sis, you've never had bad PMS." She went back to staring at her book. I don't think she was bothering to read it since she wasn't making any move to turn the pages, but she kept up the look anyway.
"I don't know what else it could be! I've never had storm sickness, no allergies, never had any problems with control," I paused right as Laurel threw me another really look. "Everyone has problems during puberty, Laur, this has nothing to do with that!" I definitely felt every note of the near octave my voice rose, squeezing the inside of my throat.
"It's not like I want to talk about it any more than you do, I'm just saying, it looks a little similar. You know, cute girl and you not being able to control your magic and all."
"Okay, yes, I can see why it would maybe look like the same problem, but this problem- ugh, Laur, it feels different." She scowled and nodded for me to continue, and let some of her curiosity show in her face. "Like, before, it just felt like when I lost focus, magic would like escape, but this is like, it's actively trying to get out like, I dunno, microwave popcorn." I made an explosion sound and gestured something blowing up; of course, I knew Laurel could see the uncertainty I buried under the theatrics.
"Which is new?" Laurel set her book down onto the couch and propped her head up on her fist, pressing the knuckle of her index finger between her lips in thought. I nodded tiredly. "You know you should ask mom and dad about it, right?" I nodded again, this time with some kind of tug to my lips like a grimace and a smile.
"If it keeps happening, maybe, but, like, I don't know, it's never happened before and I don't know if it was a one-time thing 'cause I had no problems after work." I pulled my hair up and sighed deeply, rubbing my hands over my face when I let go. "Whatever, yeah? I'll ask if it keeps happening?" Laurel hummed, her eyebrows furrowing and her eyes glazed over just a bit, and I knew she'd stopped really listening to what I was saying. "Laur, what's the face for?"
She shook her head a little and looked me over carefully.
"I dunno. I mean... I'll look it up. D'you think it has anything to do with the Elf?" She refocused but looked at me a little weirdly.
"I guess like I considered it? Like, it definitely got worse around her, but that might've just been because she's an Elf. Like, she's cute, and she's an Elf. Like, the intersection of I'm gay and I'm a Fairy." I moved my hands around a little manically, like maybe it would distract from my face.
"Hm. You think she'd be able to augment an underlying issue like that? Can Elves do that?" She pulled her phone out and mumbled more to herself, and I could see the gears in her head turning as she went about looking something up. I shrugged and went to get myself an apple while she poked around the internet. She'd be there for a while if I knew anything about her.