Burgers only tasted good while you were eating them. After you'd prodded all the crumbs from between your teeth with your tongue and cleared away the packaging, all that was left was the aftertaste. It tasted like dog food. At least, it tasted like what Benjamin would assume dog food tasted like. Heston brought it to school for lunch for about a week—that's how long it took the teachers to notice and notify his parents—in eighth grade, and it definitely smelled like that.
There wasn't much Benjamin could do while he waited besides kick his feet back and forth beneath the table and play a game on his phone, which was not as fun as it sounds. There was no internet. Spinkylinky was not as advanced as he'd imagined.
What's worse, the staff at the restaurant had started to stare at him. Benjamin was sweating through his three layers of clothing, because he knew they had to be suspecting him of drug dealer activity. Thijmen must have rubbed off on him somehow. Now that he was in his territory, he must be emanating some kind of smell or radio waves that only Spinkylinkyans could detect.
He was about to Google how to avoid going to jail when one of the waitresses came up to him and said, "Excuse me... Are you waiting for someone?"
"Yes," he replied. He didn't have to say any more. They could wait for his lawyer.
Did he even have a lawyer?
The girl nodded. "Okay. Do you know when he or she... will arrive?"
"Well, we, uh... close soon. Sorry."
"Oh," Benjamin uttered, glancing down at his phone. Almost an hour had passed since Thijmen called, but there were no new messages. From Thijmen, at least. There were plenty of other messages. "I think he'll be here soon."
"Okay," she said, before smiling and walking away again.
Benjamin swung his feet back and forth again, and again, three times, four times, seventeen times, until he finally heard the faint whoosh of a door being pushed open, and an elated, "Benjamin!"
He got up from his seat so fast he dropped his phone. He muttered poop under his breath and reached down to pick it up, but Thijmen had already enveloped him in a bone-crushing hug before he could check if the screen was not broken.
"Why are you like this?" Thijmen groaned.
Benjamin inhaled the sweet smell that came from him because it was at least a thousand times better than the dog food burgers. He had no answer to Thijmen's question, though. Benjamin had never asked himself such a question. It was easier to ask something like that about other people. Why was Thijmen the way he was? Was it because he grew up in Spinkylinky? Only he didn't.
"Where do you live?" Benjamin asked.
Thijmen pulled back and lowered his hands to the front of Benjamin's shirt, wiping off some dust with a faint smile. "The Hague."
"Oh, I've never heard of that."
"Yeah, well, Spinkylinky doesn't even exist," Thijmen sighed. "Listen, my mom is waiting outside in the car. Let's go home."
Benjamin bent down to pick up his phone, and of course, there was a crack in it. After everything that had happened today, this just had to be added to the list, didn't it? Maybe he could sue the dog food restaurant. He stroked the edge of the screen, finger running along the crack, and said, "Thijmen, you broke my phone."
"No, I didn't."
"You made me drop it."
"I di—Never mind. Your parents will get you a new one. Let's go."
Thijmen took Ben's hand in his and led him outside. The waitress that talked to him before waved, but he didn't have any free hands to wave back, so he did an awkward elbow wave. He found it equally effective.
Thijmen's mom had her car parked right outside the restaurant, on the edge of the street, and he knew it was illegal because there was a sign with a red line through it. He didn't have to know Dutch traffic signs to know what a big red line meant. Maybe she had taught Benjamin how to sell drugs. It all made sense now.
Thijmen opened the door to the back seat and pushed Benjamin on it.
"You can't park here," Ben said.
Thijmen's mom turned around to look at him and replied, "Hello."
It was the mom that didn't look much like Thijmen. The one Benjamin thought was his aunt. She was blonde and she had a sharp nose with a slightly red tip, and she was wearing some dark makeup around her brown eyes. It gave the same kind of vibe that Thijmen's buzz cut did, but her clothes were nicer than the ones Thijmen was wearing during their first meeting.
"She's not parked," Thijmen said as he sat down next to him and shut the door. "The sign says you can't park, but you're allowed to stop and drop someone off."
"Oh, okay. Hello, Thijmen's mom."
A/N: Alright, here's the tea. If you happened to miss my announcements because you don't follow me (why), I'll just tell you right now that Loli basically left me in a ditch lol. I won't get into the details for the sake of, uhhh... our privacy, I guess. The point is: we didn't get to finish the book because of this, and I'm sorry for that.
As you can tell, this chapter is unfinished, but I'm done.
I'M DONE, Y'ALL.
I saw that Loli wrote their own version, which is also unfinished, and it's arguably ten times better than mine, so I'll add an external link to this chapter so you can read that too, if you want.
Thank you for reading, everyone.
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None the WorseTeen Fiction
Benjamin has freckles. Thijmen has a knife. Their one thing in common? Having to live under the same roof. Every year, as part of a school program, a "troubled teen" is taken by a wealthy family in hopes to help him reform. This is what brought Thij...