Chicken and egg situation

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"The thing is pretty straightforward", I say. "I need the bike to get the chicken job, I need the chicken job to get money, and I just need to save up a little now to get the bike."

I'm bragging here. There's no way I could feel confident about the kind of sorry spiral I'm in, but I was a traveler and a hobo for a while. I can fake the cool. I'm Jane Kerouac, I live on the road, eat frogs and suspicious berries. I sleep at the house of people I met five minutes ago. The world is my toaster. Yeah, right.

Me and Tig are just standing in the way. She's leaning on the frame of the metal gate that leads to her courtyard; I am tiptoeing on the edge of the narrow sidewalk. It's been a while since I have met her. I don't get out as much these days — girls' nights out do cost a bunch, even in a small city. Another plus for the chicken job.

From what I remember, she moved here two or maybe three years ago with Leon and two other roommates. It had been a great opportunity: an ancient brickhouse sandwiched between many others of the same style, a small garden in front with a sort of fake fountain made of cement (with real-life mosquitoes multiplying in the water), a round metal table to chill in the summer and feed the same mosquitoes, dirt cheap rent.

I passed by her today as she was weeding the flowers and the budding cherry tomatoes, and she had to ask about my situation. Do I still have "bum" written on my forehead, Tig dear? Or are you the same as usual, a saint and a mother, oozing concern and tender care? I'm thinking both. All the same, I can see she's not buying into my confidence bluff. Maybe it's time to push my luck?

"So... Do yo think you could lend me the hundred bucks, maybe? For the bike, I mean."

For a second there I try to flirt her up with that sentence, and it's wrong. No because conning a good friend is bad, wrong because I'm just that bad at being a flirt.

It looks easy, the smile. You see it everywhere: ads, movies, every child star grows up knowing how to look guilty and cute at the same time, forgive me for slightly screwing you over, they say. And you buy the damn toothpaste in hopes of shiny-white tomorrows even though the orthodontist did a botched job on you. I can't do the smile. I can't do flirty-cute.

I can do harmless creature, or humble pixie. I'm pretty short (short is cute!) with a fluffy bob of dark hair. I'm wearing my old-fashioned blue flowery dress with striped tights and second-hand safety boots; that, I can get away with. But when I try to be coy I just look like your weird uncle with one drink too many. I trained in front of a mirror, then I had urges to slap myself across the face for it. So. No flirt. I take it back, just tell me you didn't notice. Pretty please?

Tig gives me a surprised look, and cracks a mischievous smile. "Sure! But come on in, please, I think the weather's getting bad again", she says, and the dark hanging sky sort of crackles in response. The air has suddenly gotten chill and moist: it's gonna be stormy here in five minutes tops. She covers the plants with a whole collection of upside-down pots and buckets, "against the hail", then we rush inside as the rain starts hitting hard.

We sit in very comfy chairs. Against all odds and neighbours agreements, the wood stove starts easily and we bask in the radiating warmth. It's not a time for anything, apart from maybe sleep. We have a teapot full of goodness in the kitchen, and mugs and blankets. From time to time, Tegan adds a log, messes with the fire a bit, sits back, stretches her legs until the end of the socks reaches the underbelly of the stove's hearth. We don't talk.

The roomies are apparently busy with day jobs, which shouldn't surprise me given that it's thursday in the afternoon. And there I realise I have been so wrapped up in my stuff I didn't bother to as how Tig was doing. What is she doing those days?

"How come you're here, by the way?"

She smiles, yawns. "They gave me a day off", she mutters, is she sleepy or... unwilling to say? She gets up to grab something some leftover tea in the kitchen. In the wake of her absence the thrashing of the storm gets louder.

It's probably a mix of hail and rain now. Stuff clatters, roof tiles, maybe windows cracking, clouds trampling down the street, wrecking bodyworks and filling up gutters.

A distant scream parts the drumming of the rain for an instant. I freeze, a spark of anxiousness spreading from my stomach. Did that really happen? Was I just falling asleep? Should I go look?

"More tea for you?", asks Tegan, walking toward the chairs, teapot in hands. She looks at me with a strange sideways smile. "Um... Did you want something?"

"No, it's uh... Yeah, I want tea, sure... Mmm, warm."

"I switched to the mint one. Sugar?"

"Yeah, thanks."

"Right."

The storm doesn't seem to be letting up. Raindrops keeps on hitting the window panes in a monotonous rhythm. And I really need to find something to say, to chase the weird away. Tegan has gone back to mess with something in the kichen.

"Hey, Tig", I call, half-rising from my chair. "Tig? What time does Leon come back?"

Something crashes loudly, I hear a shriek, and something like toppled furniture.

"Tig?" Now I'm really getty scared.

I am a few steps away from the kitchen's door when Tegan slams it open. She is hunched over, one bloody hand gripping the broken teapot tightly, the other leaving red streaks on the door panel. Her eyes are wide open and very red. There is a tension that emanates from her body, like she could lunge at me or pass out at any moment.

"He left me", she says in a trembling voice. "He left me like everyone always does!"


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Hi everyone, this is my first story here and — I am pretty sure — my first 1k words chapter in english (hint: not my native language). Let me know what you think, if anything's grammatically weird or difficult to understand and... Thanks!

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