"I just do not understand this the-buyer-puts-it-together thing," Siobhan said philosophically, narrowing his eyes in a way that emanated cheap Internet wisdom. "Can you not just do it for us? We are the customers, after all."
"I'm not supposed to debate with customers, sir," the IKEA worker said nervously. I peer at him from around Siobhan's protective shoulder- he's the skinniest, most pimpled-up IKEA worker I've ever seen, and his neck is unusually long and thin. He's a giraffe, I decide. "I'm- well, I'm just- you see, I just need to get paid, and-"
"Don't dispense your pathetic financial information onto me," sniffed Siobhan, remembering too late his loathing for contractions. "I mean- do not dispense your pathetic financial information onto me. Do not."
He surveyed him imperiously over the wire-rimmed circular frames of his false glasses. "Do not," he repeated.
"Siobhan," I said warningly. "Ask him, will you?"
"I am getting to that, my darling," he said snootily, not taking his eyes off of the IKEA worker- who, alarmingly, looked as if he was going to have a heart attack. His skinny chest- underneath his gigantic uniform- was heaving. "Do you realize that I could-"
"Siobhan, leave off," I interrupted, sensing his predatory cruelness arising and wanting to bat it down. "Please. Just ask."
Siobhan's narrow nose twitched in fury at my rebellion, and his eyes bulged from their sockets. The IKEA worker's panting slowed, now that Siobhan's anger was no longer directed towards him, and now I could read the bolded letters on his nametag- apparently, his name was Gerald. His name fit him well.
"My darling," Siobhan spat, through gritted teeth, "I told you I was getting to that."
"But-" Exasperatedly, I expelled an irritated puff of air. The tic in his forehead was reaching its danger point. "Siobhan, please. Just ask him."
Siobhan's lips compressed into a displeased line, but he turned magisterially over to Gerald, flaying him in two with his hawklike eyes. "I would like-" his pitch rose dangerously in the middle of the word- "you to show us where the florals are."
"And," he added, clamping a narrow, long-fingered hand onto Gerald's shoulder as he made to turn away, "I would like you to kindly keep your eyes off of my darling. I'm afraid she isn't interested in men like you." He bared his sparkling teeth at Gerald in a threatening smile.
"Siobhan," I whispered, seeing fear in Gerald's widened eyes. "Siobhan, he didn't mean anything by-by looking at me. Let him go, okay?"
Siobhan's knuckles contracted on Gerald's bony shoulder. I saw malice in his dark eyes. "That is exactly what the unfaithful wife would say."
"Siobhan! Stop it!"
People were staring- they had stopped pushing their carts, and they were whispering to one another and watching us from around shelves and behind racks. Siobhan continued to tighten his grip on Gerald's shoulder, still looking at him with that frozen grin. Gerald was gasping for breath- with a jolt of fear, I saw that Siobhan's hand was slowly inching towards Gerald's neck. Gerald's poor, long, skinny neck.
Panicked, I yanked at Siobhan's shoulder to no avail. He shoved me off, and, desperate, I snatched at his poorly-wound scarf instead- it came loose and drifted to the ground in a flurry of red and yellow stripes, revealing his sinewy, cocoa-colored neck, and the white scar slashed across it.
With a sudden startled intake of breath, Siobhan's head snapped around to face me- his fingers came loose from Gerald's shoulder and Gerald made a run for it. My neck prickled at the expression on his face. His entire head was twitching with the force of his rage.
Barely conscious of what I was doing, I took a step backwards. "Siobhan, don't," I heard myself say. His furious face seemed to be growing larger, and larger, until it was all I was able to see. He was taking over my mind again. It was happening again. It had been so long since any angry episodes, I could barely remember the last one. Just tears, blood, EMTs, and concerned faces.
"Siobhan, don't," came out of my mouth, again. He was getting furious again, and I'd have to stay at my sister's, and he'd tear up my clothing, and he'd-
And suddenly there was a utterly unexpected barreling into my cheekbone and I was on the ground, and my frantic thoughts had slowed to a sudden stop, and Siobhan was standing over me, and the veins in his neck were bulging and his fists were clenched and he was shouting something, and people were gasping, but my ears had decided to shut down and all I was aware of was the long, thin build-it-yourself box in my hand and the momentum behind it as I unsteadily shoved myself to my feet and swung.
My temporary deafness in time for me to hear the thud as the box collided clumsily with his jaw. He staggered, and grabbed at a rack of build-it-yourself chairs for support, but the box was up again and this time when it hit he crumpled.
My cheekbone was on fire, Siobhan was on the floor, people were staring, and security was carefully edging towards us, and I had broken a build-it-yourself chair, but everything else be damned, I was free. I was free and I had finally completed the saying- 'cry yourself a river, build yourself a bridge-' well, I had done it, and I was walking over the bridge and realizing how utterly undecorated it was, and then I was in the mood to buy some florals. I was walking across the bridge slowly, and I had time to make it look like a place from a greeting card. The Hallmark kind.
So, with this thought in mind, I dropped the box, and I cringed at the sound of something breaking, and then I eyed the security and I told them to cuff him, and then, while their jaws were still dangling at my audacity, I took an open-mouthed employee by the arm and demanded to know where the florals were. With Siobhan went my patience, and the majority of my problems. Now I just wanted flowers.
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~this is something, i guess~
Oh. My. Goodness. First things first--I didn't see any Major Grammar Fumbles. Rock on! OK, and now we move to the story. This absolute gem of a story. I felt for our nameless protagonist, wanting so badly to be free from Siobhan's wrath. Gerald was a way to demonstrate that wrath, as well as providing a weirdly enjoyable kind of sick comic relief. And I find it incredibly ironic that the name "Siobhan" means "God's grace" or 'God is gracious"--did you do that on purpose? This was an amazing read. Thank you for this one. :) P.S...
ah, semi-far. takes me back to the thousand-yard long list to get into a cheap pool with one twisty orange slide that peeled your skin off layer by layer. and no, i wouldn't ever do anything that elegant, but the praise is nice- and (in relation to the thank-yous) of course, man. anything for you, e.f.a.!
Well, thank you! I''m flattered. :) And happy writing!
Whoa. What a twist. I thought this was going to be one of those comedies that you read once, laugh, and then forget about within a minute. Instead I genuinely liked the main characters journey, however short it was, and I liked the detail about contractions. Sure fire sign that he's not to be trusted. Sorry this came late, but good job!
anyone who despises contractions is definitely untrustworthy- thanks for reading!
I really thought this was going to be a comedy... until it wasn’t. Just goes to show that an observer never knows what’s going on in a relationship. I like how short and sweet your stories are, like little Cadbury squares. Bite-sized morsels of fun to kick start the day 😉 Good stuff!
i actually managed to get across what i wanted to get across for once!! ~ achievement unlocked ~ no, but, really, your comments are the sweetest things i've ever seen. thanks for making my day!!
No worries! Sorry if I haven’t left any critiques yet, but give me the word and I’ll do my best 😙