Valentine’s Day some random time ago…
Ida knew he wasn’t the coolest toy in the box, but that didn’t matter to him. He had good friends, a family that loved him, and a dream. He was going to be a programmer just like his dad. Naturally, he realized that his father did rather unscrupulous sorts of code work, but he recognized his father’s brilliance when it came to code. Fast, efficient code that executed the given task without waste. That sentence had become sort of Ida’s life motto. The problem was Pepper.
He’d known her since they were children and she had always been a mystery he couldn’t solve. She was a mixture of perfectly logical and nonsensical. When he asked her what her parents did for a living, she had answered: They’re Gods. What nonsense! If her parents were involved in less than legal activities, then she should know the proper response was the same he gave when asked about his parents: Independently Wealthy.
Pepper had changed since the last time he had seen her. Maybe the years in the jungle had distorted his memory of her, but he couldn’t help it. He recalled their time together as children and tried to instead put the creature he now knew in her place. It couldn’t be the same girl. This Pepper had soft curves and soft sighs. The Pepper from his childhood had knock knock jokes and the key to the science room.
Valentine’s Day had ended as well as could be expected. Ida wasn’t a singer nor a drinker, but he had enjoyed himself spending the evening with his best friend and sister.
It was 1:00am. His cell phone buzzed on the nightstand like his mother’s bee hive on a bad day. Ida fished around for his glasses and knocked them off the table. He frowned and instead grabbed the phone.
PEPPER: OPEN UP. IM OUTSIDE
Outside? His house? Ida got changed and went to the front door. Pepper stood outside waiting. Her hand on one hip. An air of bored impatience surrounded her.
Ida: “Pepper? What are you doing here?”
Pepper: “Aren’t you going to invite me in?”
Ida whispered, “Okay, you’re inside. What’s on your mind?”
Pepper gave a shrug and gestured to his bedroom.
They sat down and Pepper took a look around.
Pepper: “This place hasn’t changed since we were kids.”
Ida: “Incorrect. I got a double bed. My father said in case I wanted to have someone sleep over, then Mom threw a potholder at his head and said I wasn’t a pussy hound like he was. So at the end of the day, at least I got a better bed out it.”
Pepper: “Oh god, I forgot how much I love your parents.”
She lowered her lashes and looked at the hardwood floor.
Pepper: “So have you had anyone sleep over yet?”
Ida looked over at her and the realization of what she actually meant clicked into place.
Ida closed the gap between them and wrapped her arm around her. She looked at the wayward limb and shrugged out of his grip.
Pepper: “Ida, I didn’t come here just to be the first notch on the headboard.”
Ida: “Why would I carve- Oh right, it’s a metaphor for sexual conquests.”
Pepper chuckled and squeezed Ida’s hand.
Pepper: “I’m sorry Ida…”
Ida: “I still don’t understand why you came here tonight…”
Pepper: “I don’t know either. Maybe I was just disappointed from earlier. I don’t know.”
Ida: “Why? What could have been disappointing about earlier? I thought we had fun.”
Pepper: “We did… but maybe I was just hoping for something more.”
Ida: “I could have given you more. I can give you whatever it is you want. Just tell me.”
Pepper released her grasp of Ida’s hand and stood up. The look on her face was sad and thoughtful.
Pepper: “I better get home before my parents notice I’m gone. Wouldn’t want them to smite anyone.”
Ida let out a frustrated sigh.
Ida: “Goodnight Pepper.”
Pepper: “Goodnight Ida.”
Ida locked the door behind Pepper and returned to his room. His heart hurt. His brain hurt. He had no idea what was going on between him and Pepper. Why couldn’t she be as logical as binary was? On or off. Yes or no. Do you like me? Yes. Do I like you? Yes.
Ida laid down to sleep, but sleep wouldn’t come. The torment wracked his spirit and his body tossed and turned.