Chapter 1 - part 1 page 1It was nearing the end of my shift; the time when my knees begin to creak as the dry Nevada air cools and I wonder how out of shape one guy can be. I had taken a job in a grocery store to keep my money coming in after deciding to get out of the construction trade - most people I know agree with that decision after someone dropped a nailgun onto my hardhat, piercing it and nearly my skull. Most, but not maybe the most important one: Allie, my fiancé. She had plenty to say about how easily I was going to give up on our "dream", which apparently consisted of me working hard while she stayed at home taking care of the kids she didn't have yet. I had a lot of money saved, but it just wasn't enough for her. She took Oliver the dog and my television off to Utah with some poor mormon who had no idea what he was getting into. I was too young to just stop working, though, so after lamenting the loss of my dog and TV long enough I took a position in produce. It was nice having a reason to get up in the morning again.
The front door swooshed open, signaling one of the last stragglers of the night popping in to shop. I peered at the person coming in - It was a very attractive girl. Not traditionally attractive, I suppose, but attractive to me: a short little thing with a mess of thick, straggly honey-brown hair running down to the top of her thighs; she had it bundled into a ponytail seemingly more just to keep it out of her face than trying to look nice.
And she was not trying to look nice: she wore no makeup, exposing bags under her eyes; her worn-looking hoodie was open and revealed a little belly peeking out under her dark gray tank top; her sweatpants hid her legs, but her behind fit them snugly.
"Hi there," I called. Greetings were protocol, but I would've been tempted to anyway by the obvious beauty behind her layer of gloom. Her head turned quickly to meet my gaze, wide-eyed like an invisible person surprised to be seen. She approached timidly.
"Where do you keep the ready meals?"
"Over there," I replied, surprising myself with my steady speech. The first time I talked to Allie I was 19 and could barely keep a word straight. I pointed to the freezers clustered across from produce and followed her with my eyes as she left, getting an eyefull of her long hair swaying in front of her big butt. I set the broom aside and followed quietly.
"Those macaroni ones are my favourite guilty pleasure," I commented to announce my presence again as she dug through the frosty shelves.
"They're all I can afford," she spat bitterly. She didn't look at me as she took three off the rack. She hesitated when a package of Ben & Jerry's caught her eye, but instead of grabbing it she scoffed.
"Six bucks for a ***in' ice cream?" she asked, not necessarily to me. "How do you get away with this?"
"I'm on your side there," I smiled. "They charge what they can because they can. But, y'know..."
She closed the freezer and looked at me with a hint of coldness in her gaze. "What do I know?"
I was going for it - anxiety was not on my agenda tonight. "I could cook something for you, if you're tight on cash. I get off in 20 minutes."
She cocked an eyebrow. "I'm not a charity case."
"You'd be paying me with your company."
"So then you're desperate."
"No!" I said almost as soon as she stopped talking.
"You'd have to be desperate to want a stupid fat cow." She turned to leave, but I caught her shoulder.
"Give me a chance. What's the worst that could happen, you get a free meal?"
"The worst that could happen is I wake up handcuffed to the bed with my car and savings gone because I gave some random guy my address."
"Has that happened before?"
"No, and I don't want to make a habit of it."
"D'you like spaghetti? I make great spaghetti."
She opened her mouth to retort, but nothing came out and she smiled suddenly.
"You know what? *** it, sure." I produced my notepad and pencil and she wrote down her info against the freezer door.
A bottle of spaghetti sauce, a pound of hamburger, a package of noodles, a loaf of garlic bread, and two Ben & Jerry's ice creams bumped in my passenger seat on my way to Nipton, California. I passed the little wagon sign and I started smiling hugely; this cute little plump girl fell right out of heaven just for me, it seemed. I pulled into the trailer park and stopped in the driveway of a pale blue trailer, as per her description: "the baby blue trailer in Nipton". It occurred to me that I still didn't know this girl's name... But I didn't give her mine either, so it was probably fine. I gathered my supplies and took a deep breath; I'd changed into a nice jacket and jeans before coming over but I hoped she was still in her cuddly comfort clothes. I knocked, and even though the trailer was small it took a minute before I saw the light in the peephole flick out, and saw the door open.
She wasn't still in her cuddly comfort clothes, unfortunately.
She'd put on some foundation, which made her much less pale but seemed to bring out the roundness in her face. Her hair was done up into nice bangs and was much less straggly, but still wily and untamed. She'd even changed into a form-fitting shirt and jeans, which gave me a much better impression of her plump body. Her midriff was her biggest part, with a belly threatening to start folding over and a soft bum, but her thighs weren't far behind. She was chubby all over, really; her upper arms and calves were thoroughly padded but her breasts were smaller than her hoodie made them look.
"You didn't need to dress up for me," I said. "You look good, I mean, but sweatpants have their own charm."
"If I'm dressed up then you're overdressed," she snarked, but smiled. "Come on in."
I filed in through her narrow door as she backed away to allow room. This teeny five-foot-nothing girl fit her trailer like a glove, but I had eleven inches and at least a hundred pounds on her and didn't quite fit inside so well. It was like a dollhouse. She smiled up at me nervously, gesturing around at her abode.
"Welcome to the Shire," she said bleakly. "My friends named it that. It's perfect for me but they all hate it - you'll never guess why."
"Ow." I bumped my head on a doorframe. She laughed.
"Stove's in here," she said. Make lots, okay? I'm starving. What took you so long?"
"I turned around on the road because I thought Nipton was in Nevada. I thought I went too far or something." I started a pan and a pot of water.
"You've never been to Nipton before?"
"No. There's never been anything here for me."
"Until now, you mean," she added quickly.
I peered at her as I dropped the beef into the pan. "Are you implying something?"
"Yep. You're coming back, right?"
"You haven't even tried my cooking yet."
"I don't care, you brought these!" She took a package of ice cream out of the bag and took the lid off, pulling a drawer out into me to get a spoon.
"I was hoping we'd share that for dessert," I said quietly. She looked at me, and put it back down.
"I'm sorry." I looked at her, but she avoided my eyes ashamedly.
"It's okay. I'm not mad," I said, and focused on frying the meat. It was silent for a while, save for the sound of the sizzling pan, but she broke it.
"You're either the most desperate guy in the world, or you're just doing this as a joke."
"I can already tell I could do a lot worse than you," I replied calmly as I focused on stirring the hamburger. "You're clever and pretty - I'd say you're the one just doing this for a laugh."
"I'm not clever or pretty..."
"And you're humble!" I replied with a smile. "Which is nice, but be careful not to take it too far. Could you measure some noodles for me?"
She pulled a cutting board out from under the microwave and opened the bag, measuring the amount in her fingers.
"Is this good?" She showed me.
"A little more, I think." In truth it was just about right for two people, but she wanted lots so she'd get it. She poked a few more into her bundle and showed me the width again.
"Is it good now?"
I looked at her sideways as she put more into it, and I nodded at her new measurement. I held out a hand to take them, but she tossed them into the pot instead.
"Woah, hold on - you're supposed to snap them in half!"
"I'm sorry!" she burst out automatically, then made a frustrated noise at herself. She backed away from the kitchen and slumped into the dining room mini-booth with her hands over her face. I poked the noodles down into the water with a spoon, then stooped over to put a hand on her shoulder.
"You didn't know. It's not -"
"I don't know anything!" She shuddered as her lungs wracked for breath. I opened my mouth to say her name softly... But I didn't know her name.
"What's your name?" I asked. She made a would-be scream through her teeth and she slumped fully onto the table, sobbing. I knelt down and put my arm over to her farther shoulder, but she shrugged me off as she wept. I didn't know what else to do, but the meat would burn if I didn't get back to it. I patted her on the back before returning to the stove; I poured the sauce into the pan with it and stirred it slowly, watching the poor girl cry.
"I think I will be coming back."
11 chapters, created 8 years , updated 6 years
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