His Friend the Roommate

He and she had begun collecting boxes for their impending move. Majority of the things that filled the shelves of his apartment were sealed up in boxes at hers, in order to start the consolidation process. She was more than happy to move in with him, especially after all they had been through with roommates, breakups, and separate places. He had called her after class, asking her to reconsider whether or not his friend should live with them. At first she reacted negatively. She had built up living with him in her mind for so long that the idea of someone else moving in disappointed her. He was having an internal battle himself. His friend would soon be paying for a studio space he would be using to start their collaborative business. From that expense, his friend would have to sleep on a couch at the studio, since he couldn’t afford his own rent.

He and she sat down writing out a pros, cons, and neutral list. They thought the neutral list may help them have a better understanding of what they could deal with in a roommate. She still wasn’t really excited about the thought of living with his friend. The three of them had a beer and talked the night before the big decision. He and she went back and forth although he put the weight of the decision in her hands.

The next morning, they all three ran errands together, buying raspberry and blueberry bushes for their world-renowned artist professor. The day was sunny and warm, placing her a positive mindset, one that said she could do this for one year. When they were crammed into his car, she broke to his friend the news that he would be moving in with them come May 1st. “You guys are adopting me?!” His friend cried out excitedly. His friend’s fiancé who lived states away, was relieved to hear his man would’t be living on a couch in a studio. He and she knew it would be difficult, but they also knew it would be an experience that they would grow from. It was only for a year.

 

Showing His Apartment

He and she had signed their lease months prior. The problem they faced was how to get him out of his lease three months early for their May move-in. The property management company that owned his complex explained that he would have to pay $250 to be able to list his apartment early. They told him that he would be in charge of showing the place. Once someone agreed to take it, they would sign a brand new lease and cancel his early. He didn’t want to pay rent on both apartments when the leases overlapped.

“Babe, this place is a disaster. We have two showings today, one tomorrow and one Sunday. So, we need to clean the place,” he informed her. It was spring break, and they hadn’t done much besides work. Her boss gave her the day off, which was nice since it was the Friday leading into the end of the break. Instead of taking the day to relax, they rose early, cleaning the entire day. The first showing was set for 3:15 and the second for 7:30.

It took hours for them to finally see the carpet again. She had previous experience as a cleaning lady one summer. Her mother had also instilled the cleaning gene in her, though she stuck with only throroughly cleaning when need be. They scrubbed, vacuumed, washed dishes, and tidied until the place was neat and spotless. With only 15 minutes left to spare, he received a text that the person wouldn’t be coming.

“Of course!” She stated laughing at the irony. “At least we have the other one tonight, and the place is already clean.” He nodded in agreement as they both simultaneously fell back on the couch with a sigh of relief. The pain of cleaning was over. It amazed them at how long it took to clean a mere 560 square feet. While they sat relaxing, they heard the sound of his phone chirping across the living room. He let out another sigh, as he thrust himself up and over to his phone.

The moment he brought his phone into view, he let out a sarcastic chuckle. “What?” She asked, as he turned around to explain.

“The 7:30 texted to cancel as well.” They both made eye contact, thinking that they cleaned for nothing. “Hey, I’m fine with it. After I get back from work at 7, we can just relax now.” With that she smiled, and they shared a big high-5.

Hairy Details

They always found ways to make his art a mutual activity. Whether he drew her as she took a bath (very Titanic of him), or had her assist him in his endeavor, they attempted to find ways to be together. This time, he needed her help assembling pieces of his art project that was due in one of his classes the next day. His stress level was through the roof. He wondered if he was even going to make the deadline.

He cuts his own hair. This is something about him that needs to be known for this story to make any sense. The past two times, he kept the hair trimmings, putting them in small plastic sandwich bags. He figured that one day he could use them for an art project. This thought is what led to what they were about to do.

The face mold he made was filled and hardened with plaster so that he could form bottle caps over the features to make what looked like a 3D mask. He wanted to give it that extra flare that set him apart from other students, and thought back to the two bags of hair trimmings sitting at his apartment. She wasn’t thrilled that she would have to fondle his hair and put them in tiny bunches. 

His friend, the one that had gone to New York with them, came in and rescued them for a while. They decided to go to lunch at a Japanese buffet. She was thrilled to eat a ton of sushi. His plate was stacked in a makeshift mountain. The night before the three had gone to a bar near his apartment and briefly talked about people who made bowls out of cucumbers in order to put more food on one plate. They revisited the topic, laughing at it again like a new inside joke.

When they got back to the studio, the daylight had been drained from the day. His anxiety rose, knowing he still had a lot more to complete before class the next afternoon. She went home to work out. It was something she started doing five or six days a week to stay fit for the coming summer months. As soon as she was done, she headed back to help assist in completing his project. He was no where near that point. At around 11pm, he finished enough of the face to begin getting the hair together. He wanted small bunches tied up with fishing line. The bunches would be made into a scalp that would go on the head. They worked together diligently for hours. He held the hair while she tied the fishing line around the chunks. When it reached almost 1 in the morning, he decided they were done for the night and would finish in the early morning.

The studio was nearly empty when he arrived the next morning at dawn. She wanted to workout and do some of her own assignments before she went back in to help. When she got there, he explained to her that the work that they did the night before wouldn’t be used. He had chosen a new and easier way to complete the task. He had aluminum tape and a large bottle of super glue waiting for her. The task was to attach the hair to the tape in a row, cover the ends that were stuck to the tape with super glue, and then fold the other half of the tape over  it to make a clean strip. While he finished up the head, she sat gluing his hair to large pieces of tape. Around 1pm, she finished doing her part and had to leave for work, happy to have helped.

His class thought the project was interesting and slightly gross due to the fact that his real hair was topping off the sculpture. He was glad to have her support and understanding.

Another Fish Tank

He had seen another fish tank on Craigslist. It was curved around the edges and looked much sleeker than the one he already had sitting in his living room. At this point, the only fish that remained in the tank was an albino bristle nose (what she called a sucker fish, since it fed off the algae in the tank). “Babe we have to get this!” He exclaimed, essentially giving her no choice in the matter. The seller lived in his hometown, which meant there was an inevitable hour and a half long drive ahead of them. He helped coerce her by promising to take her out to dinner to a nice hibachi restaurant. 

The drive seemed shorter than usual, even without music. Some delinquent in the night had broken off his truck’s antenna a month or so back, leaving them nothing but static buzzing on the radio. She sat next to him with her face buried in the screen of her laptop, typing a written assignment that was due that night for her novel-writing class. His mom called him, asking when they would be in town and if they would stop at their local bar and have a drink with her and his stepdad. He was reluctant at first but decided a free beer or two sounded nice.

When they got there, they moseyed in through the thick crowd that blocked most of the entrance. He clasped her hand in his and guided her to where his parents usually sat. He could tell his mom already had a few drinks before they had gotten there. He ordered a Guinness, not getting it until she had already taken several fizzy gulps of her Blue Moon. His older brother showed up with one of his friends, throwing back several drinks in the time it took for her to drink the one beer. She was seated next to his mom who leaned in to converse with he and she. “I don’t understand why you two just don’t get married.” He and she smiled, sharing a quick glance.

“Ma, we aren’t ready for that yet.” The look of disappointment melted over a once optimistic expression. His mom was really pushing for their union along with “gran-babies”. “Mom, we are way to young for that. I want to at least get out of grad school and find a job before any of that.” She put a hand on his knee, nodding her head in agreement. His mom eventually pulled herself away from the subject, realizing they were firm on their stance at this point in time.

He finished his first beer and half of his second before she could even take a sip of her second. His mother was worried about him driving after two beers; however, with his weight and the span of time in which it took them to finish, he pressed that he was still under the limit and perfectly okay to drive. When the time came for them to pick up the fish tank, he and she said a quick goodbye and headed out into the cold toward his truck. They conversed about the topics his mother had brought up, circling back to the same conclusion. Twenty-two was not the time for them to get married and start a family.

They waited patiently in the driveway of the man with the fish tank. The sun was beginning to bow its head for the day, sinking into the horizon. Several minutes after six o’clock, they agreed that each of them had to pee. They didn’t want to go at this strange man’s house, so they held it the entire 40 minutes it took to load it into his truck bed and secure it down.

They pulled down the street to the nearest gas station, learning from the cashier that they needed a key to get in. A man had both sets in the back while he cleaned them for the day. He walked right in while she recognized that someone occupied the woman’s. When the woman finally did emerge, she was on her hot pink cell phone, with a sickening stench that followed behind her, gabbing away like the repulsive scent had no effect on her. She wondered what conversation was happening there but digressed. She had to hold her breath the entire time, noticing remnants of what this woman had done in the toilet. She hurried out the door and back to the cashier where he stood buying gum, hoping to regain some fresh air. He said he even noticed the smell when he walked out. The man standing at the register was the same man who thought he had completed cleaning out the bathrooms.

“That lady that was in the bathroom before her took a huge dump.”

He explained to the man, who with an exasperated expression replied, “That figures, doesn’t it?”

As they walked out, she asked why he would tell the man.  He responded bluntly, “I didn’t want him to think it was you.” She stared at him blankly for a moment, then burst into laughter. They walked to the car, his arm sweeping around her waist as they readied themselves for the dinner ahead.

There was a large crowd inside that had begun to swell outside. She wondered if they would get the chance to eat there. Hibachi was one of her favorite kinds of restaurants, loving to see the meal cooked on a flattop grill in front of them along with the delicious flavors. She had gone to a restaurant like this one on several birthdays back in her hometown. They were optimistic about getting in.

The hostess told them it would be about a 45 minute wait, so they decided to get a beer. She sat on a stool in a tucked away corner where he leaned against her. She nuzzled her face into the crook of his neck, occasionally breaking away to take a sip of beer. He looked around, listening in on other people’s conversations. It fascinated him to  dive into someone else’s life for a single moment. They, at times, liked to build context around conversations they heard. The wait felt like no time at all as they followed the waitress and several other people that would also be sitting at the same grill.

They ordered sushi, shrimp, steak, and salmon; all of which were delicious. On the hour and a half long drive home, they rehashed the contents of the day. The aroma of hibachi leftovers swirled through the air promising lunch the next day.

Trusting Art

He and she had been so busy that they sometimes struggled to find time to spend together. On the weekends, they would hang out in his studio. He worked on his art projects, while she sat at a desk in the cramped space working on her research. This particular Saturday was a bit different. While they were in the computer lab printing things for their projects, a girl was lying naked in his studio.

“She’s doing a body cast.” He explained. The thought of this instantly made her sick to her stomach. Once they finished in the computer lab, they headed to his studio. The pit in her stomach grew as they closed in. He rammed a balled fist against the door calling over to the older woman who was placing white wet strips on the girls naked body.

“We are almost done sweetie, but she’s all covered up. You can come in.” She let him take the lead, more than likely to see if he tried to peek, but he didn’t.

“You can look, it’s just like body armor.” The girl called out to him. This ignited a fire inside of her. This naked girl essentially just asked him to look at her naked. She was able to catch a glance while he left to grab supplies elsewhere. The girl’s nipples were visible along with a mound where her lady parts were.

He was fine about the occurrence. Not looking and covering his face anytime he needed to walk past. She was happy that he was being so respectful, but it still sent her uncomfortability level through the roof. He and she left for an hour or so to get some lunch, hoping that when they returned, the girl would be clothed and/or gone.

He thought that she was overreacting. “I won’t understand where you are coming from. She is doing art and that is it. It’s not that big of a deal.” He had expressed to her while they ate lunch, away from the mess lying in his studio. She tried to use reversal on him, though he denied that in swapped positions he would care. “What breaks my heart, is that you think I care about that girl. I love you and it’s like you don’t believe me.” 

It took an entire extra hour for the girl to get done after they returned. He and she paid no mind and worked on his project. He had instructed her to pack clay around his face, so that when she poured alginate (which is a powder form of seaweed that, when mixed with water, quickly molds over anything its set on and captures tiny details down to veins that pop out and tiny hairs) into the box where his face lie, so it wouldn’t seep out all over the desk he was currently sprawled out on. He insisted that he wear a garbage bag as a shirt, which revealed his muscles. She wasn’t too happy that there was a naked girl and her half naked boyfriend all in the same room, at the same time.

When the girl was done, his face was covered by a box. “I’m getting dressed behind you. Just thought I’d warn you so you didn’t freak out if you turned around and saw me naked.” The girl stated. She felt there was nothing else the girl could say that would make her anymore irritated than she was at the current moment. It was like the girl was trying to get a rise out of him, as though the girl intentionally set this up to see if he was interested in viewing her goods. Then again, she tried hard to quiet her inner-monologue, since he was her man and no one else’s.

Finally, she had finished boxing in his face, beginning to quickly pour water into the alginate, stirring furiously. The girl came over to his side to first look at his face and then help her by holding the bucket in place as she continued to mix. She poured the alginate over his face as he began breathing though a straw. The only worry she had at that point was whether or not he could breathe. He had to trust her a great deal to let her pour something over his face like that.

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The older woman assisted her in spreading the goo over his nose until a few minutes later when it set. It was a lavender color and felt moist to the touch. He leaned up, holding the box on his face, attempting to detach it from his skin. He wasn’t able to set up plaster to hold the mold in place, so it ended up morphing and looking nothing like him. He enjoyed this aspect though, claiming it was artistic, expressing that people have a morphed view of themselves.

When he attempted to sturdy the mold, he came back with hot melted wax to take a wax mold from the alginate. He had forgotten to close the hole where the straw had been, while the wax poured out the sides of the box on to the table and then the floor quicker than they could catch. Later, he and she had to spend an extra 40 minutes doing clean-up by scraping the dried wax from where it had landed.

The girl had stayed in the studio the rest of the day, talking non-stop about her naked body cast that sat awkwardly in the room with them. She really had to keep calm, as the girl constantly crossed boundaries that made her want to scream. He breezed through the rest of the day, working hard on several projects at once, displeased with how she had been behaving all day. He couldn’t understand the insecurity, since he felt he expressed how much he loved and wanted her and only her.

The real theme that spun its web throughout the day was trust. Trust in love, trust in art, and also trust that something is solely being done for art and no ulterior motives.  She needed to trust the nature of their relationship, its strength and that it grows stronger each day due to resilience in times that push their boundaries.

Late Valentine’s

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She had been busy working the week of Valentine’s Day. The cookie place was in full swing, piling in customer after customer. Friday, the actual holiday, she was moving around non-stop, tending to those who waited until the last moment to purchase a gift for their loved ones. She knew that she was one of those people as well, since she wasn’t going to assemble his gift until she left.

He was stranded at his studio while his truck was in the shop. The brakes had begun to peter out, which they figured would happen eventually due to the fact that the truck was old and had been only $700. He grew a bit stir crazy, not being able to go to one of his classes without the transportation, along with having endured a long few mile walk from the auto body shop back to his studio.

They were going to have her favorite meal that night. She had been stoked all week, since it was once in a long while that he made it for them. Chicken Tikka Masala. It took hours to make and created a massive surplus of dishes (No dishwasher included).

Luckily, she had gotten off work earlier than she had thought and was able to tidy up his apartment. She had made him a six stack of peanut butter cookies and topped it off with a frosted red heart sugar cookie decorated with a white zig-zag across it that was meant to represent a heart beat. For the final touch, she tied a lovely red ribbon into a bow around the top to seal it.

He was waiting at work for her to come pick him up. He figured in the time she had been done with work she had done the grocery shopping for the meal. When she showed up outside the building, she expressed that she didn’t know what they needed. They stopped at the local store to pick-up a few items and headed back to his apartment. “You better not have gotten me something.” He said sternly, no humor in his tone.

“I didn’t!” She exclaimed, poorly hiding that there were cookies wrapped and waiting for him on the stove along with a love letter that she had hand-written. From then on, he seemed dissatisfied until they arrived home. He enjoyed the gifts though was still unhappy she did something.

“Babe, all I wanted for Valentine’s Day is for you to make this dinner.” She explained due to the fact that he hadn’t gotten her anything. They had agreed not to exchange gifts, but she had gotten the cookies for free, so she didn’t think it counted.

It was already getting pretty late, as he began dinner and popped open a bottle of wine. They had a few moments of bickering from being tired and hungry. When the Tikka was placed in front of her, all bad feelings washed away. They consumed the meal rapidly, enjoying every bite. It was close to mid-night at this point as she thanked him for dinner.

“Happy Valentine’s Day baby,” he replied.

Busy, Busy, Busy

He and she hadn’t really planned on the new semester being so jam-packed. Though they had gone through some exciting instances of progress, such as signing a lease on a new place that would be theirs, things seemed to have calmed down. Instead they kept their daily lives at a steady pace, and weeks began to meld together in a cycle. She had begun doing research with her professor as an assistant along with strategic communication for her university’s video services, on top of working at the cookie place. He was attempting to clock as many hours as possible in his studio, working on an art project that no one had yet attempted to do. They both worked in the same space on occasion, but majority of their time was spent apart, even on weekends.

Though it may seem like all the time apart was harming them, it was actually quite the opposite. They began to cherish the times in which they had a free moment to relax in each other’s company. Without selfishly asking the other person to sacrifice time for their work, they encouraged each other to do things. She is set to audition for a band, in hopes to re-invite music into her life along with keeping up on her daily exercise. He is more focused on art than ever before, doing several projects at once with endless creative ideas he has stored in his head. They both know the harder he works on his art, the better chance he has at getting into a museum.At the end of both of their long days, they discuss what they seek to do. Most of the time, their plans and ideas change drastically.

The only real way to know what’s next for he and she, is to just keep going.

Spaying Peyton

He and she had been collaboratively saving money to spay their seven month old bengal kitten, Peyton. It was Friday that the little cat went into heat for the first time. They had called the vet to inquire about their appointment that was scheduled the very next Friday to spay Peyton. Instead of postponing it, like they thought, the vet suggested they bring the cat in on the upcoming Monday.

If you have never had the chance to experience a cat in heat, they basically howl all day and night and insist on being pet at the price of getting their backside rubbed against you in an uncomfortable manner. Kitty, their soon-to-be three-year old bengal cat, grew tired of Peyton’s constant attacks, biting the kitten to let her know she needed to be in heat elsewhere. Though Peyton was more affectionate, they stood by their decision to spay her. It was the responsible cat owner thing to do.

Monday came, it was easy to get Peyton into the carrier, since she had no idea what was coming next. It was early morning, brisk and cold. The sound of Peyton’s cries travelled across his neighborhood, alerting her concern to those who would listen, as they loaded her into the car. The drive felt long. She had the carrier sitting on her lap as they drove, silent and tired.

This was a different vet than the one they usually brought their cats to, since the spay was cheaper. The long stretch of highway brought them to a rundown area. She saw a building covered in red painted letters stating, “Beef Jerky,” though the white paint surrounding it had chipped in many places, exposing the flesh of the wood.

“Please tell me that that is not the clinic.” She stated, only half kidding.

“It is.” He replied, though by the way in which he laughed it, she knew he was messing with her. The vet was, however, right across the street in a small white building with a matching white statue of what looked like a pope, mounted next to the doors. The first thing she noticed was lettering on the glass that read, “No drugs or cash are to be left on the premises.”

“Uh… What?” She laughed, reading the sign aloud. They had a moment where they sat joking back and forth until Peyton began to cry louder than they could speak. Peyton didn’t stop crying either, continuously meowing at full volume until they dropped her off and walked out, the door blocking them from the noise.

“I hope she’s okay.” He expressed with concern, though he got a call a few hours later confirming that she was.

Kitty cried all night, missing her only friend deeply. They thought that for once the sound of cat calls and crying would cease for a day while Peyton was away, but Kitty stepped up to the plate. He and she were excited the next morning to pick up their kitten. She was internalizing all the possible things that could go wrong once they brought Peyton home.

The vet described that they used staples, stressing that the kitten should refrain from any jumping or playing. They would have to bring her back in seven to ten days to get them removed. He was ready to look at the wound though she covered her face, not wanting to see the gore. Blood, needles, and wounds always freaked her out. Her mother, and even he, asked on several occasions how she would handle being a parent one day.

When the vet’s assistant went into the back to retrieve Peyton, he and she recognized her cries before they even saw her. The small kitten lay in the center of her carrier on top of her bunched up blue throw. The small mews followed them out the door and all the way home. Peyton was back alright, and she was just fine.

The following few days had been rough. Kitty wasn’t happy to see Peyton or the cone on her head that Kitty had worn when she got fixed. Every time the small kitten would approach, Kitty would hiss and growl. They were concerned at first, but decided to see what happened once the cone could finally be removed. He and she called it, “The Cone of Silence.”  Peyton’s energy was difficult to contain. How do you explain to a seven month old bengal that she can’t jump or play? It was what she thought parenting a toddler who just learned to walk would be like. They both concluded that it was going to be a very long seven to ten days, but they had each other to get through it.

Finding an Apartment

He and she had been wanting to move in together for a while. They share majority of their time together anyways, so getting new place to share together just felt right. For weeks they had been looking online for possible places, but none were available when they needed. Each property management company told them to wait until the New Year to call again. Upon her arrival after winter break, it was finally time to start making more calls. The day after his mother had spent the day with them, they decided to go apartment hunting. It was his birthday, though he wasn’t making as big of a deal out of it as she had on hers. Then again, she loved birthdays.

They finally made it to a place that had a deal going on. It was half off the deposit and first month’s rent. Going into the rental office, they asked if there was availability in May and inquired about a showing. The woman was very kind, offering a showing the next day of two different apartments. Once they left, they felt like this place may have serious moving potential. “Ah! I am so excited to live with you.” She expressed many times, unable to contain it.

“Me too sweetie.” He replied smiling as they drove back to his place in his beat up truck.

The next day, she woke up and went to work at the cookie place. Knowing they would see a place together that day was exhilarating. She couldn’t leave work fast enough. He was ready and waiting for her inside as they left immediately, hopping into his truck. When they pulled into the parking lot of the first set of complexes, they admired the tranquility of the area and how it was a comfortable distance from civilization. The woman pulled up next to them in her small silver car, smiling. They exchanged a bit of small talk while they walked inside.

The place she showed them was unoccupied. It looked huge and very clean. There was a large kitchen, a spacious living room, and two bedrooms. One would be his designated studio space, although she was hoping for a corner where she could put a desk. She always wanted one. With her phone, she took a quick video tour through the space, sending it to both of their moms. He and she both adored the space, though it was a tad more than they wanted to pay. They decided they could swing it, especially with the half off deal they were running.

The next place was a short drive away from the place they had just seen. It was much closer to the property management office that the other had been. As they stepped inside, they recognized that it was currently rented out to someone who wasn’t all that concerned about tidying the place. It was noticeably smaller than the first apartment and had a fireplace that messed up the overall layout. They would have to put the couch in one spot and never move it, since it wouldn’t fit anywhere else. She automatically hated it, while he later agreed. “I loved the first one babe.” She told him on the way back to his place.

“Me too. I think that may be the one.” They smiled at each other in agreement. She had prematurely filled out the applications, though it came in handy since they turned them in along with their fees later that day. They were quickly approved, which excited them. They went in the next week once they got money to pay the deposit. Sitting in the small space of the rental office, he and she read over the rental agreement, signing in tandem. As they passed the thoroughly signed packet, they were handed a folder with their new address. On the drive home, they discussed how amazing the new place would be, wishing that it was May already.

His Birthday Dinner

His mom had planned for over  week to come see he and she for the occasion of his birthday. It wouldn’t be his birthday until Monday but Sunday worked best for everyone’s schedule. His younger brother accompanied his mom, wanting to see him as well. She thought it was cute how much his little brother looked up to him. The duo arrived at his apartment around noon bearing gifts for he and she. She was given several by his mom for a late Christmas surprise. It took almost 40 minutes to open them all, which was something she wasn’t used to. Ordinarily the gifts she asked for from her parents were electronics or tires for her car, meaning not much to open. She appreciated each gift she got from his mom and her own family.

When she had finished opening all of her gifts, his mom allowed him to finally open his. “Christmas comes before your birthday, so she gets to open hers first.” His mother had explained. The one gift he received was in a small cardboard box that he was quickly able to rip open. His excitement made him nearly miss the card on top. Once he read it carefully, he set it aside to pull the tiny familiar box from inside the packaging. It was an Apple IPhone 5c. She was more excited about it that he seemed to be. He currently carried a slide phone by Samsung that she had bought him that summer used on Ebay. Technology wasn’t something he cared much about, fine without the extra monthly fee that a smart phone would entail. He was more excited about a painting he had on hold at an antique shop that his mom had promised to help him pay for. His brother hadn’t been too excited about the thought of hitting a bunch of thrift shops all day long, but still had hopes to later eat at a popular steak house chain in town.

After getting his painting, he was in a great mood. His mom was able to talk him into going to US Cellular to set up his new phone. The line didn’t seem too long when they walked in, however, it took over an hour to get everything up and running. She was excited to teach him how to use his IPhone, since she herself carried the 4S her mother had given her, since her mom had gotten the 5S for Christmas.

They collaboratively decided to go to the mall to browse around. His mom had a knack for finding great deals and turning them around for a profit on Ebay. He and she made a pit stop at Kay Jewelers to see if her bracelet was back yet, since it had broken randomly a few weeks prior. To her dismay, it was still being repaired. After a few more stores, they made their way to Teavana. He and she were intrigued by the delightful flavors of the samples they offered, trying all of them. The reason they really wanted to stop in was due to the brightly colored sign out front indicating that there was a 75% off sale going on for select teas. His mom bought herself a tin along with a large tea infuser pitcher that was marked 75% off. He and she picked out an on-sale flavor, buying seven ounces, a tin, and a large pitcher as well. His mom was nice enough to pay for the tin and tea leaving them to pay solely for the pitcher. They had to have spent close to an hour in the store, in an attempt to get the most for their money, while the sale was going on.

Hunger overcame the group as they made their way back to his mom’s car. The steak joint was right down the street, which even then didn’t seem close enough. Shopping had worked up a large appetite for everyone. He ordered a large Porterhouse, excited to get a good cut of steak that wasn’t on his dime. His conscience made him wish his mother had taken them somewhere cheaper. He and she played around together on his phone, trying to get a good picture together but the lighting wouldn’t allow it.

The table was filled with more food than they all could consume, as the waitress returned with several take home boxes. His mom took a small bite of her youngest son’s steak. “Oh…That seasoning tastes like crap.” His mom’s face twisted in disgust, indicating that it tasted nothing like the chain by them did. From her own curiosity, she asked the waitress if they had changed the recipe recently. The woman took this as a complaint, which was clear when she came back over to them with the manager. The man apologized many times, asking how to make it right and get them to someday return. “I wasn’t asking to complain. I was just curious since it doesn’t taste like the one back in my hometown does.” His mom expressed kindly to the manager. He still ended up offering them free appetizer and dessert coupons, while also comping one of the two Porterhouse steaks that were ordered.

After dinner, they headed back to his apartment to drop he and she off and to also say their goodbyes. Once his mom and brother left, she began to try on pajamas and clothes his mom had bought her. She carefully cut the tags off, making sure to dispose of them all. Apparently, some still had gotten away from her. “Babe, what’s wrong with Peyton?” He asked, his tone becoming frantic. Peyton looked as though she was gagging on something but not yet choking. He tried opening her mouth and looked inside but saw nothing. On the second attempt, he thought he saw a plastic tag caught in her throat. “Why would you leave something like that on the floor? I told you that something like this could happen!” He exclaimed, sounding even more upset. She began to panic, calling the emergency vet and asking if they could assist. Their only option was to bring her in and since it was after hours, they doubled the normal cost of $44 to $88.

In the car, tension was high. They tried to stay calm for Peyton’s sake, since she was trembling in her lap, occasionally crying. The vet felt 100 miles away as they had a couple heated conversations about money and who was at fault. When they finally arrived at the vet, they were told to wait, even though she had called 20 minutes prior to let them know she would be there. Tension was still rising as they sat in the tiny, musty room with Peyton roaming around on the linoleum floor, making odd flicking motions with her tongue in an attempt to free whatever was stuck in her mouth.

The male vet came in, examining her and finding nothing. “I know my cat, and I know she doesn’t do that with her tongue ever.” He expressed. When the vet finally noticed what he was talking about, the nurse came in to accompany him in holding Peyton down, to extract whatever was stuck in her mouth. She remained in the chair, on the brink of crying, feeling the whole situation was her fault.

“Oh! Here it is!” The vet explained, pulling a small, clear plastic disc from underneath Peyton’s tongue. Relief drenched he and she, though she still felt shaken up. They would have been devastated to lose one of their babies. It would have crushed them from the inside out. On the way home, she was silent, worried by his reaction to the whole situation.

“Babe, I am really sorry about how I acted. It wasn’t your fault.” She nodded silently as he apologized several more times on the way back to his apartment.

When they got home, she thoroughly vacuumed the floor. After everything was 100% clean, they shared a bottle of wine, relived to have helped Peyton and possibly saved her from choking. The money was worth it to know that she would be safe. It wasn’t exactly the day they had planned, but it still ended in the way it always did and always should; stronger in love than the day before.