“Arnie?” she called softly. He’d been spaced out since breakfast and she was starting to get a little worried. Sure, he’d been spaced out before—and he spaced out a lot—but never like this. And his face…she’d never seen him look so worried. “Arnie!” she yelled slightly. Arnie snapped up and looked around.
“I’m up. I’m up.” He looked at her carefully.
“What’s the matter, Lacie?” he asked. “Did I mess up again?” That was pretty likely…
“Nothing.” Lacie shook her head. “Just a little worried is all. You just seemed really spaced out. I mean more so than usual.” She bit her lower lip a little. “Are…are you…okay?” she didn’t really like asking that question. He’d always give the same answer anyway.
“Yeah, I’m fine.” He answered vaguely. There it is, she thought. Arnie looked up at the ceiling. “Just a little confused is all.” He muttered. Lacie’s ears pricked up. Was this it? Was he finally letting her in? They’d known each other for almost three years but she still felt like she didn’t really know him. Well sure, she wasn’t exactly Stacy Share-a-lot, but it would be nice if he confided in her every now and then.
“What are you confused about?” she asked cautiously. No way she was letting this chance slip by. Arnie ran a hand through his hair.
“Uh…just confused in general I guess. Thinking about things I don’t remember, worrying over things that never happened, memories that don’t exist and what not.” He pointed at his forehead. “It’s messy up here.”
“Hmm.” Lacie mused. Clearly she needed to get his mind off things for a while. “Why don’t we play a game?” she smiled.
“I like games,” Arnie grinned. Seemed like it was working. “Everyone does.” She grinned back.
“True, true.” Arnie nodded thoughtfully. “Games are fun.” They sat in silence for a while, with Arnie smiling pleasantly into space. No doubt flashing back to a few epic game moments.
“So,” Lacie said at last. “What game do we play?”
“Wait what?” Arnie chuckled a little. “I thought you had something in mind.”
“I thought you had something.” Lacie fired back. Arnie folded his arms.
“But you’re the one that brought it up.” He was right, but she had nothing. Oh well, she thought. Only one thing left to do. “Oh so this is my fault?” she scoffed. “You know what? I am sick and tired of you blaming me for every little problem we have in this relationship Arnie!”
There. Now she’d have time to think while he tried to figure out how she went from games to the whole relationship. Or so she thought.
And for once, she was wrong.
“Well I wouldn’t have to blame things on you if you’d come prepared for once, Lacie. I mean, would it really kill you to plan ahead every once in a while?”
“I’m sorry, what?” Oh, he’d done it now. “Well! If that’s how you feel…” she wandered into the bedroom and picked up a suitcase and filled it up with her clothes. She walked up to Arnie. “I’m going to stay with my friend Debbie for a while. Let me know when you’re ready to be rational.”
She already had the door open when he called her name. “What is it?” she whipped around and glared at him. Arnie shifted uncomfortably. “This uh, this is your apartment, remember? You keep doing this…”
“Oh…right.” She slowly set down her suitcase. “Well let’s move back into your place. I miss slamming the door.” She did, too. She wasn’t exactly sure why, it just felt…liberating. Something about hearing the door slam while Arnie was in the middle of a sentence just made her giddy.
“We can’t do that, because you went and had that little accident while making pancakes and ended up blowing a big chunk of the house off. So we’re here till they finish rebuilding.” Arnie reminded her dutifully. She had made so many excuses for that…
“Well it’s not my fault you kept distracting me.” Lacie said defensively. She could never get him to sit still when she was busy with stuff.
“I couldn’t have been that distracting.” Arnie muttered. He couldn’t help it if he had cool stuff to show her sometimes. She just happened to be focused on stuff a lot.
“You made me watch you juggle eggs, Arnold!!” Lacie cried. “That’s pretty distracting.”
“Hey. Egg juggling is not that distracting. It’s mildly amusing at best.” Arnie said defensively. “You’re just easily distracted.”
“It is that distracting.” Lacie looked up at the ceiling.
“Not enough to make you blow up my house!” Arnie cried. “I wasn’t even trying to give you a hickey or anything. It—”
“Pfft. Like I’d let you anywhere near me while I was cooking. This one’s all on you, buddy. Hickey me? Yeah, you wish.” Lacie scoffed.
“I’m not the one who blew up my freaking house!” Arnie yelled. Then he sighed. “Matter of fact, you know what? I don’t have to take this.”
“Excuse you?” Lacie smiled.
“Oh you heard me.” Arnie smiled back. “I’m rich, I can just stay in a hotel till my house is done.” He packed all…well, most of his stuff, and was at the door ten minutes later. “I am leaving.” He announced as he walked outside.
“Well fine then!” Lacie yelled after him. “Good riddance to bad rubbish.” She closed the door and plopped down in front of her tv. Some Criminal Minds would make her feel better; it always did. Her door suddenly swung wide open. Arnie was back.
“I’m sorry, what was that? Bad rubbish?” he laughed. “Bad rubbish?! Oh I’ll show you bad rubbish.” He walked back outside and Lacie got off her couch. What could he be doing this time? She wondered. He came back in a few seconds later with two trash bags. “This here,” he hefted the bags. “This is bad rubbish.” And with that he proceeded to dump the garbage pretty much all over the place.
“You insolent fool!!” Lacie screamed with terror. She’d just cleaned the place yesterday. Well...sure she blackmailed Arnie into doing most of the work, but still. It was clean. And now it looked like garbage central. “Merry fudging Christmas.” Arnie grinned foolishly. Oh, how she wanted to throw shoes at him…but she’d done that just the other day. It’d look cliché now.
“Clean this up!” she squealed. “Right now! Ooh I hate you so much!!”
“I hate you more Lacie-poo.” Arnie responded and shut the door again. Lacie-poo? Oh no he didn’t. Lacie stuck her head out the window. “That was the last straw, Arnie. You’re not welcome here anymore. You’re off the guest list.”
Arnie whipped around suddenly and Lacie smiled. She had him now. “That’s right!” she said. “I’m pulling out the big guns.” Arnie looked shocked for a second. He wasn’t expecting that at all. “Oh yeah?” he looked around uncertainly. “Well I wasn’t coming back anyway. And you’re banned from my house. See how you like that. Oh oh and no more strawberry pancakes for you.” That’ll teach her. Arnie smiled to himself. “And you know what else? I’m not taking you to that Shawn Mendes concert anymore.” Hat trick.
“Well I don’t want your strawberry pancakes!” Lacie fired back. “Never liked them anyway.” But she did, oh God how she loved those pancakes. They were always just the right size. Not too big, not too small, and Arnie always dropped a few strawberries in between the pancakes. She didn’t want to give that up.
But she couldn’t just let Arnie win, she had a reputation to uphold. “I’ll take myself to the concert. And your house isn’t all that either!” she pulled out her phone and opened her contact list. She was about to need a lot of ice cream.
Arnie scoffed. “I have a pool. And a trampoline room. My house is all that. Plus a bag of fedecini chips.” He turned toward the driveway and dumped his suitcase in his trunk. “Oh and you absolutely LOVE my strawberry pancakes. You ask for them all the time.”
“Pfft. People fake stuff all the time, Arnie.” She said flatly. She was losing steam. “Just like I faked liking your stupid pancakes. Also, my new boyfriend has that and more in his mansion. Now get going. I don’t want him getting the wrong ideas!”
“Oh. Oh is that so?” Arnie sounded a little hurt. “Your new boyfriend? You already replaced me? Who do you think you are? Beyoncé?”
“Yes Arnie, yes I am.” Lacie smiled. “Now shoo away before I call estate security. Goodbye, Arnie.” She hoped Arnie didn’t hear the crack in her voice. All because she wouldn’t take the blame for not coming up with a game for them to play. And it had been her idea in the first place.
“Goodbye, Lacie.” Arnie called back gruffly. He always talked like that when he was sad. Why do I keep doing this? Lacie wondered as Arnie drove off. Lacie went back into her apartment and hurriedly turned on the tv. Hopefully she’d get so into her show she wouldn’t notice she was crying.
No. she thought forcefully. Who said it had to end like that. She wasn’t about to let a guy like Arnie off the hook that easy. She pulled out her phone and dialed Arnie’s number. It had barely started ringing when she heard a click. Then his voice. It was still gruff. “Arnie where are you?” she asked urgently.
“Oh, uh you know.” He sighed. “Just sitting in front of Mrs. Grayfield’s lawn.” Mrs. Grayfield was Lacie’s next door neighbor. Nice old lady. Arnie always said she was secretly evil, because he believed all old people were secretly evil. The silly goose. Her silly goose. Hers. “Wh-what are you doing there?” Lacie asked.
Arnie sighed again. She hated when he did that. “Oh, just uh…gazing out at the petunias. Nothing creepy.” Lacie fought back a smile. Only Arnie could even think of doing something like that. And why just the petunias anyway? Mrs. Grayfield had some really pretty roses that…she was getting off track.
“Mind if I join you?” she asked.
“Not at all. Come on down and stuff.” He answered. She was at his car door a few seconds later. “So.” She said as she got into the car. “Petunias, huh?”
“I don’t even like petunias.” Arnie shook his head. “It’s just fun to say.”
“I thought you were going to the hotel.” Lacie said slowly.
“Yeah, but my dad always said never to go to a hotel or a casino with a fuzzy mind.” Arnie replied. “I’ll get around to it.”
“Fuzzy??” Lacie cried. “Why do you get to be fuzzy? You broke up with me. Shouldn’t you be…I don’t know, having a night out on the town or something?”
“What?” Arnie shot her a confused look. “I didn’t break up with you, I—”
“Yes you did, you packed all your stuff and said you were leaving. Sounds a lot like break-up talk if you ask me.”
“I said I was leaving. You know, for the hotel and stuff? And then you replaced me like I was a pair of shoes.”
“Pfft no I didn’t, my ‘boyfriend’ is the Shawn Mendes poster in my room. You know, the one I made you buy me last Tuesday?”
“…say what now?”
“Nothing!” Lacie covered her face with her hands. “I’m invisible.”
“You replaced me face with a poster? Seriously?”
“No no no.” Lacie shook her head frantically. “No its just…you were leaving…at least I thought you were leaving, I had to make you think I was over you already.”
“Ah.” Arnie nodded slowly. “Well you did a pretty good job of that.”
“I did? How could I possibly have gotten a new boyfriend that quickly?” Lacie asked quizzically. Arnie shifted uncomfortably. “Uh…I don’t know, tinder? Also have you seen yourself?”
“What’s that supposed to mean?” Lacie folded her arms.
“Well you’re beautiful and stuff. You could have guys lining up to date you wherever you go.”
Lacie sighed. She was never very good with compliments. “Yeah, I know. I guess I’m just cool like that. Now take me to some pizza.”
“What do you think this is, a dictatorship?” Arnie asked tersely. Lacie laughed and kissed him on the cheek. “Just shut up and drive, Arnie.”