Warning: This work has been rated 16+.
"Tell me, Henry, do I look like I know what a 12-Volt DC to AC 2200-Pure Sine Inverter is?"
"The answer is no. I don't. So then does it make sense for any sane person to send me to get it? The answer is still no."
He doesn't say anything, looking quite lost.
You feel bad for the boy. Dealing with your exasperation isn't easy. Add to this the fact you're hungry, you could rival in scariness Godzilla. From the size of his eyes and the way he stands almost shaking, you might as well be Godzilla. Being hungry does things to you.
"I-if you need assistance I can probably h-help you," he stutters nervously.
You take pity on him.
"Yes, I need help. Thank you."
This was all your stupid boyfriend's fault. He sucked. You were going to tell him he sucked. He most definitely deserved it.
Of course your car had to have something wrong with it today. Of course you had to drive it tomorrow to the staff meeting. And OF COURSE your boyfriend had to work today even though it was a Sunday and the last time he worked on a Sunday was maybe 2 years ago. Stupid Jeremy breaking his leg. Okay, you take that back. You feel bad for him. But you're more pissed about the fact he's why your boyfriend had to work today, to have his own meeting about a replacement. Which is why you were doing this yourself. So you weren't feeling too sympathetic for the guy.
That's right. You had to walk here to get this car thing that had too many numbers for your liking and what you were pretty sure was a math term in the name. You didn't know what it was, because the only experience you had with repairing anything was being extraordinarily good at using Duct Tape. Usually fixing something you yourself had broken. Either way, apparently it couldn't solve everything despite your experience. And you didn't want to walk here to get what couldn't be fixed with Duct Tape. Granted, the Home Depot was only maybe a 5 or 6 minute walk from your apartment, but you didn't care. Getting here wasn't the problem, however. It was finding the foreign object.
At first you thought it would be simple. Just find the hardware section, follow the name, and get out. You felt this way for maybe the first 10 minutes. You started to lose faith at 15. And you most definitely lost it entirely when at 25 minutes you hadn't even managed to locate the section it was in.
It's not that you were stupid. In fact, you considered yourself relatively smart. You graduated within the top 25 ranking of your class. You got good grades, the teachers all loved you, and you managed for the most part to keep up in intelligent conversation. So why was this so hard?
It could be that you have no sense of direction. At all. You've lived in the city for two years, one in this particular part, and you still know where nothing is besides your apartment. And work. Oh, and that coffee shop that makes the best mochas. That's about it.
You're so bad with direction that when you and your boyfriend once went to a corn maze and got separated, you were lost for three hours. It would have been longer if he hadn't called you from atop the high bridge at the center and directed you out that way. He was pissed it took so long for him to get through to you, as you had somehow managed to put your phone in an uncallable state. They really shouldn't make it so easy to accidentally turn on airplane mode.
Although the car ride home was sort of unpleasant because he nagged you the whole way about "what use is a phone if I can't even call you," it did give you the bonus of knowing how worried he was and by association, how much he cared. You also got a caramel apple from the stand outside the maze because you think he felt bad for you after you leapt into his arms practically in tears at being lost for so long.
Still, you don't talk about that day.
So, it could have been that, but you didn't think so. It may have contributed to your hopeless feeling, but it was more likely that this store was massive. As in absolutely gargantuan.
It didn't look this big on the outside. Maybe Home Depot works the same way your mom's purse does. Because she can store hand lotion, a wallet, that mug she got you for your birthday, and a spare jacket all while managing to find space for an umbrella. She even pulled out a normal sized Merriam Webster dictionary once. Why she needed it, you weren't sure. On the bright side, if you ever needed a place to live, you were pretty sure both you and your boyfriend could live in it. It's probably quite homey and spacious inside.
You passed drawers, toilets, lamps, an endless aisle of extension cords, and even something that looked suspiciously like a kid’s playground. You had to resist the temptation to play with it. Even more so when you passed a kitchen model and wanted that marble countertop. This was when you realized your childhood was starting to die because your mother spent years raving about a marble countertop when you were younger and you vowed never to sound so adult. So you went back and stared at the swings again. You would have gotten on them too if this judging old lady hadn't kept staring at you reprovingly. She probably doesn't have enough fun in her life.
WHERE WAS THIS STUPID THING?
This was even worse than the time you went to IKEA. At least that was more fun. And you didn't feel so helpless because even if you were lost in there forever they had a cafe. And you were really liking the look of those tiny rooms that had everything you needed in a house. Your boyfriend shot that idea down before you could even vocalize it. He's no fun either. Anyway, it wasn't like that here. The only food present here was a creepy hot dog food cart run by a man with a crusty mustache standing right outside the doors. And the only place to sleep was maybe on the pile of rakes to your left.
After another moment of frustration you had decided to look for someone to help you. This probably should have been your first thought, but you had been so confident at the beginning you brushed off the idea. You hated yourself. You couldn't find anyone. At the front they were all courteous and helpful. Now you were lost in the abyss of fertilizer and jolly garden gnomes that seemed to mock you.
You spent another frustrating 20 minutes or so searching for an employee. The store was too big to find anyone despite your growing panic. Lending to your growing panic.
You think the five stages of loss can apply to a lot of situations. It certainly happened to you. Denial had come when you thought you could find the item yourself. Anger when you couldn't, so you blamed your boyfriend. Bargaining came when after the twentieth aisle you went down you promised any higher power there was that you wouldn't write any sarcastic comments on social media if you could just find the dang thing. Depression came when you realized you were too lost as you walked by something that looked like an alien torture device. Something else was moving in the corner, so you left as quickly as possible. Then you were at acceptance, or really something in between depression and acceptance. You had given up. Only when you had wilted into a corner and had begun resting your face in a pile of wrenches, hoping they would accept you as one of their own, did life take pity on you. It helped you out by presenting you with the boy now guiding you, young and bright eyed. His name tag read Henry, and you were so overjoyed you almost ended up accidentally cheating on your boyfriend by kissing him out of relief. You held yourself in check, although you're pretty sure relieved tears may have started. He looked pretty surprised to find you in such a defeated state, so he was more than startled when you got over the shock and began to express your exasperation at being put in the situation.
"I bet people get lost in here a lot, huh?" you ask him, trying to show him that despite your rocky meeting due to the displays of love and then irritation, you’re not crazy. He still probably thinks you're crazy.
"Oh, yeah," he says, "don't feel bad about not knowing where this is. It's a pretty big store."
"Any secret wormholes I should know about?" you joke, but he just peers back at you.
He laughs nervously, like he didn't think it was funny but has to pretend out of courtesy. Your boyfriend would have thought that was funny. But you're mad at him so you're not going to think about it.
Henry winds down the aisles lithely, and you wonder if they go through some super-secret training like rats in a maze and are only fed once they can find their way out of the maze. Henry already thinks you're weird though so you don't mention this thought to him.
He finally stops in the correct place and begins scanning the rows for the item written down on your phone by your boyfriend.
"Here you go," he says, handing it to you as you thank him, "did you need anything else?"
You are tempted to ask him how to get back to the front in fear of getting lost again, but fortunately you can see the checkout line from here so you say no and thank him again as he heads off. You were so close the whole time. All your pain and suffering was for no reason. You think you might cry again. You take a deep breath, calm down, and start towards the register.
You have a nice conversation with the checker, something playful about penguins, although you don't know how you got there. It must have been on her badge or something. You're too dazed to remember. You pass creepy crusty mustache guy, avoiding his probing stare, and scurry out the front door. You hope he doesn't follow you. You decide to walk on the more populated side of the street just in case.
You don't go home right away, instead treating yourself by going to the library across the road. Wary eyes greet you as you slip in, but the reason for that is another story. As you scan the books on the shelves, you lose track of time. By the time you make it home it's starting to get dark. Your boyfriend should be home by now. Good. Now you could scold him for making you go through such trauma.
You think you're scarred for life with those extension cords. It doesn't help they all looked like they had faces. Creepy, creepy faces. You shudder as you walk up the stairs.
You stop at the apartment you two share and fish for the keys in your much smaller and less magical purse. You open the door to be greeted with the sight of your boyfriend lounging lazily on the couch, watching what appears to be the Fifth Element.
"Here's your stupid thing you should have gotten yourself. You suck." You hiss slightly.
You resist the urge to slam it on the table due to the fear it will break. You do not want to go through that horrifying experience again to get another one.
"Did you get the right one?" he asks lightly, looking over his shoulder.
You're not sure if he didn't hear you or if he's ignoring your tone.
"No I got the wrong one on purpose just to spite you," you bite back.
"Don't act like you wouldn't do that. Why are you so grumpy?"
"Because I am bad at this kind of stuff and you know it. Couldn't this have waited until you got home?"
"The store closed at 5 and I wasn't home until half an hour ago. So unless we didn’t want our car to work tomorrow morning I needed you to pick it up."
"So you say."
"What's the big deal? It's just a few minutes away. I don't complain when I have to ask the lady at the store about which kind of feminine thingamajig is the best. I still don't get the things with... wings?"
"You do too complain! The last time that happened you bemoaned the loss of your so called manliness for at least an hour."
He doesn't respond.
"I got really lost!" you whine, "I was stuck for a long time!"
He chokes back a laugh at your inability to navigate. This was not funny.
"Why are you laughing!" you exclaim, actually angry now, "I'm serious!"
He stops, but his smile is still present.
"Sorry," he says, quite unapologetically actually, "I know you are."
You just glare at him.
"Why didn't you ask someone to help you?"
"I did. That's how I found it at all."
He nods and turns his attention back to the TV, thinking the conversation was over. Fine, if he was going to be like that so were you.
"By the way, he was really hot," you slip in, trying to get some sort of rise out of him, "we made out and everything. Got hot and heavy, if you know what I mean."
"Uh huh. I'm sure."
He didn't even look up. Really?
"You don't believe me?"
"How would you know?"
"I just know."
Not that you really thought it would work, it still leaves you upset because you wanted something. Maybe a playful remark back.
"No, really," you say, "what makes you think I wouldn't make out with someone?"
"The same reason I wouldn't make out with someone."
"And what's that?"
"Because I have you, you have me, and that's all I really need," he answers gently, looking up at you with warmth in his eyes.
It's probably the corniest thing you've ever heard in your life, but he says it with such sincerity and heart you can't stop the rush of euphoria invading your ventricle and the blush creeping up on your cheeks.
He grins like a little boy, knowing what he just said made you happy whether you would admit it or not.
"Whatever," you scoff, turning away.
You storm past, heading towards the bedroom to change.
"Thank you, babe!" he calls out to your retreating figure.
You ignore him. For now.
You try to maintain that atmosphere of irritation as long as possible because you know you'll never hold out.
You kick the extension cord in the bedroom away from the bed, glaring at it for its brethren's earlier action of freaking you out. Then you take your time changing into pajamas. Try to draw out the time your boyfriend thinks you're mad.
Because as soon as you go back out there he's going to do something sickeningly sweet like nuzzle your cheek with his nose. And you know that right then is when you'll be unable to be mad at him. You hated that. Sort of. You hated that you couldn't control it, but secretly loved his actions. Ugh.
Sometimes you wonder if having a boyfriend is too much work. But only sometimes.
When you return, you try and fix a glower onto your face to show him that you in no way forgive him.
You even sit on the cushion furthest away from the boy in an attempt to shun him. He smiles gently at your antics before apparently deciding he wants to make you feel better. Or maybe just to get you to give up on trying to be mad.
He scoots over so he can situate his arms across your torso. You turn your head away, still feigning a grudge. His arms tighten around you and he buries his face into the place where your shoulder and neck meet. You hope he doesn't notice the way you lean back into him. But judging by the fact you can feel him smile, you're pretty sure he does. You curse inwardly.
"I'm sorry, babe," he murmurs against your skin softly, "please don't be angry with me."
Damn that soft, beautiful voice he has. It doesn't help your mission to stay strong now that he sounds like a lost puppy.
He knows you're not that angry, so he's making a rare concession by not just teasing you.
He takes your silence not as contemplation, but as more purposeful.
"You know if I had any other choice I wouldn't have asked you," he tries again, "you know I don't like to make you feel out of place."
You did know. That's one of the things you loved the most about him. And the truth was, he didn't really have a choice. He couldn't have gotten it himself and you did need the car tomorrow. You were going to lose the irritation act any second.
You're not so sure you want it now anyway. Your boyfriend is too much fun to be around for you to be angry at him for long.
He lifts his head off your skin and aims higher, placing a delicate kiss on the crown of your head. There it was. You knew it. The sweetness has come out.
"Okay!" you sigh, exasperated, "you're forgiven. Now stop hanging on me like I'm going to disappear any second."
He laughs lightly, disregarding your orders by further tightening his hold and intertwining one of the hands around you with your fingers.
"I think I'm just fine like this, babe," he replies contentedly.
For a moment you feel a flash of pride that you are the one who makes him feel that. You sigh, but less from exasperation and more from the relief to be home and wrapped up by someone who makes you feel safe.
Now that you are no longer (pretending) to be mad, you can relax into his arms and enjoy being home.
“By the way,” you chirp, “I didn’t make out with him because I made a wormhole joke and he didn’t think it was funny.”
“How is that possible?” he asks, totally serious, “wormhole jokes are the best.”
“That’s what I was thought when he didn’t get it.”
“Honestly, that’s a travesty. If you see him again, tell him he doesn’t have a sense of humor.”
You don't think, all things considered, that anger is really that productive anyway.
Later that evening, you and your boyfriend are curled up on the couch under a blanket put in place there for that purpose. You're watching some reruns of Friends, but you keep zoning in and out. You're more focused on the pleasant tingles you're getting as your boyfriend absentmindedly runs his fingers through your hair. It’s making you sleepy. Sometimes you fall asleep right on the couch and he has to carry you to bed.
He always makes fun of you for it, but never has he left you out in the living room. You bet he secretly thinks it's cute. You hope at least.
Still, you should probably go to bed to avoid that situation.
"Babe?" you ask sleepily as he gazes down at you, "I'm gonna go to bed now. Are you coming?"
You yawn and you can see he's trying to suppress a smile.
"I'll be there in a minute," he answers, "I have to check my schedule tomorrow and then I'll go too."
He gently untangles his fingers from your locks as you stand up, and you give him a small smile before padding to the bedroom.
"Babe," he calls you back before you round the corner, "you did well today. Just letting you know."
"You're just lucky I love you," you respond.
"You're right," he says, his eyes softening, "I'm very lucky."
You sometimes wonder if when whoever was making your boyfriend started, they accidentally knocked over too much sugar into the mix like Chemical X with the PowerPuff Girls. Not that you really minded. It made you feel warm and fuzzy like a cliché romance movie.
"If you were any sappier," you say dryly back to pretend it didn't make you want to swoon, "I'd think you were part tree."
"Don't pretend you don't love it," he replies slyly, "you know you do."
You roll your eyes playfully, but that's enough for him. He knows you do.
You wave him off.
"Yeah, yeah," you say around another yawn, "just know that there will be no complaining when I ask you to get some 'thingamajigs' again."
He snorts slightly, amused by your reference to his comment earlier.
"Whatever you say, babe. No complaining."
And so two weeks later when you need said objects, your boyfriend comes home with not only the necessary supplies, but with others as well. A small stuffed animal, a box of chocolates, a heating pad, and some pain relievers.
As he places the bag of "best boyfriend goodies ever" in your lap and heads to the kitchen to make you hot chocolate, you smile. Because he doesn't even make a peep.