Chapter 12, "Eating"
The days passed like water droplets through a very small hole. One that only allowed water droplets to pass through it at an extremely slow rate. My heart felt as though it were slowly freezing, little by little, into a cold stone of apathy. If I couldn't worry about Frig, I had to force myself not to care about Frig. And if I couldn't care about Frig, I was nothing. Nothing at all. A shell of a human.
But it turns out shells of humans still need to eat. And so that is what I did. When the mood struck, I would carry myself down the street to a local diner and eat there. Sometimes I ate fish sticks, other times I ate cheeseburgers. Always, I ate loneliness.
One day, however, perhaps two days after my last conversation with Frig, I recognized a group of girls gathered in the diner. We had gone to school together. Momentarily I paused. My instinct was to run, not even offer them the opportunity to tease or mock me about my misplaced love. But then I reconsidered. High school was over now, you know? I felt like a much different person than the Christopher that had walked the halls of Learning Land. Perhaps they felt different, too.
So I opened the doors and walked in, determined to set my life on a new path. Reconnect. Maybe even find a new group of people to hang out with, people who knew nothing of aliens, nothing of misery. Move forward.
I waved to them. "Hi Tabitha, Lexington, Jessica. How are you guys?" I tried to keep my tone light and casual, as if nothing was ripping my guts to shreds on the inside.
Tabitha screeched a little, but in a happy way, as if delighted to see me. "Christopher!" She said. "How have you been? Oh my gosh, it's been so long!" She jumped up to hug me. "I mean, there was that incident at the wedding, but we didn't really talk then."
I tried to ignore the comment. I didn't want to think about the wedding right now. That was part of my old life.
Tabitha released me, and Lexington remained seated. Jessica waved too, saying, "I didn't bother to go to the wedding. I had a pedicure that day."
Clearly some of us hadn't changed at all.
"Are you here by yourself?" Tabitha asked, looking concerned for me.
"Um, yeah. I've been coming here by myself a lot, lately, actually."
"Oh, well, you should sit with us!" She patted an empty chair next to her. I noticed an eye roll from Jessica, but surprisingly, Lexington appeared okay with the idea of me sharing eating space.
"So have you heard from Frig since the wedding?" Lexington asked.
This wasn't working at all. How was I supposed to move forward if they were going to ask me questions about Frig? I should have said I hadn't seen her. I should have said I hadn't talked to her. I should have said I hadn't even thought of her. Instead I said, "She's pregnant."
All three girls let out a unified gasp, even Jessica, who had been filing her fingernails. She followed up her gasp with a "Shut. Up."
"You're kidding!" Tabitha said. "She's so young! We're so young!"
"Dude, we're totally not supposed to be having babies," Lexington said.
"No shit," Jessica agreed.
"Is she okay?" Tabitha asked.
I really didn't know, so I said, "Um. I don't know."
"Oh my god, is it going to be part alien?" Lexington wondered, effectively bringing up aliens, the only thing other than Frig I was trying like crazy to avoid. I shrugged my shoulders.
"Well, we have to go visit her," Tabitha said, giving encouraging nods to the other two former name-tag wearers.
"No we don't," Jessica said. "People have babies all the time, we don't have to see all of them."
Tabitha rolled her eyes. "Jessica, she's our friend."
Jessica rolled her eyes right back, and mouthed the words "she's our friend" as if she found them to be further from the truth than claiming her butt was made of salamanders.
"Chris, isn't she living with your brother these days?" Lexington asked innocently. I knew her game. She was trying to go for him. I guessed that Hector could probably do with someone other than Frig in his life, but not Lexington. The girl had beat me at Scrabble consistently every week for the past four years of our lives, and gloated about it. She was truly not awesome enough for Hector. But I nodded anyway, because lying to her would be a lie.
Lexington grinned. "Well, I agree then! We should definitely pay Frig a visit and see how she's doing."
"Awesome! Let's go when we're done with our meal," Tabitha suggested. "Christopher, can you take us?"
I sighed. So much for moving on.
Even as I walked up to the door, everything in me screamed to run the other direction. Frig had asked me to leave. Frig had kicked me out. I wanted nothing whatsoever to do with this baby, and yet here I was, leading the Spatulas alien baby warming brigade. Not awesome.
Tabitha didn't seem to notice my deep and utterly penetrating chagrin. But I guess she's just not a registered chagrin noticer. She marched right up to the door and rang the bell.
Charlie answered, took in the gaggle of over-excited baby lovers, and said, "There are too many coats to take."
"We aren't wearing coats, Charlie," I said as I shoved past him. If I was doing this, I guess I was going to do it all out.
"Oh sorry miss it is my bad apologies for each of you," he rattled monotonously.
I figured the girls were following me, but I didn't bother to check. Lou and dad were in the living room, building a house of cards on the table.
"Is it always a chicken sandwich?" Lou asked.
"Mostly with bunnies," dad responded, artfully laying an ace of spades on the house.
Lou sighed. "That isn't my wildebeest." He seemed truly distraught. They both proved so engrossed in their project that they didn't notice us, and I didn't want to bother them, so I left them to it and made my way to Frig's room, where I assumed she and her goo-ridden husband would be.
Indeed, there was no one in the room aside from my brother, who seemed quite happy to see me.
"Sister! You have come home! Run program: Jubilate extensively!"
Lexington waved at him, but I shoved her hand aside. "Hector, where are Frig and Xlormp?"
"Ah," his robotic voice whirred. "They are in the kitchen making dinner."
"Really?" I said. "Frig can't cook, though."
"Oh, Frig isn't cooking, even though I love her. Xlormp is cooking!"
My brain tried to process this through Lexington's pained sigh. If Xlormp was cooking, that means that the meal would be the disgusting crap that the Zmeephish-Quains ate, like goat turds or something. Surely Hector meant that Xlormp was only making dinner for himself.
"Thank you, Hector. I'm going to find them."
"Hello, other lifeforms!" Hector waved at my, for lack of a better term, friends.
They waved back at him. "Hey, cutie," Lexington said, accompanied by a wink.
"Okay, well, I think we should go find Frig," I said, grabbing Lexington's hand and hurrying her out the door. I wasn't in the proper mood to stomach anyone flirting with my brother.
But it turns out I also wasn't in the mood to stomach what I found in the kitchen, for when we burst in, there was a very pregnant (and very alien) Frig, a forkful of something resembling animal innards hovering dangerously close to her face.
I haven't been to bed yet so it is still technically Friday. *headdesk*