Young Kaiden Pruett had a decidedly stressful day and disappeared into the basement as soon as he got home. His mother was there mixing new recipes before her shift as she often did.
“Hey, Mr. Sweet Face! Did you–good heavens! What’s wrong?”
He tried to wave her away. “Nothing.”
“Ohhh, I see. I know what you need,” she sang and began mixing a new drink.
What he needed was for her to leave it alone. If he wanted to talk, he would tell her. But, she was his mother, and there were certain things she simply could not do. She was, however, pretty good at making them feel better in her own ways.
“Here ya go!” She placed a root beer float in front of him and began making another.
“Who’s that for?”
“Isn’t your girlfriend gonna be here soon?” she said with a bit of sarcasm.
He rolled his eyes. “Kori D. is coming.”
Her entire demeanor changed. “Oh! Well, that’s wonderful. I love Kori D. Tell her she should come by more often.”
“What? You should be glad I approve of your friends.”
“Ok, well, you need a minute before your lovely friend arrives. I’ll just make myself scarce.”
She smiled so hard. It was embarrassing. Too bad she didn’t get out before Kori came and embarrassed him even more.
“Oh, hi, Kori,” she said in the most annoying, way-too-excited voice.
Kaiden wanted to die.
“Kaiden was just telling me you were on your way, so I made you a root beer float!”
She ushered her over to the bar. Kori looked a bit surprised. “Oh…thanks, Miss Pruett.”
Kaiden shot his mother a death glare.
“Well, I’ve got to get ready for work. You kids have a great time. Good night, Mr. Sweet Face!”
She blew him a kiss as she ran up the stairs. Why did she have to be so freakin weird and embarrassing??
“Your mom is so nice.”
“Hmph. She’s something all right.”
She giggled. “Leave her alone. She just loves you.”
“There’s no such thing. Geez, Kaiden. What’s wrong with you?”
He didn’t quite know how to explain it, but if there was anyone he could dump on without judgment, it was Kori Dandridge. They too had been friends since childhood. She never had any ulterior motives, and he appreciated how he could be 100% himself around her.
Kori let out a huge sigh and stood next to him. “Spill.”
“She’s smothering me! I can’t do anything or go anywhere without her!”
Kori snickered. “She’s your girlfriend, Kaiden.”
“That’s the thing though! I know this doesn’t make any sense, and you’re gonna think I’m crazy, but I don’t remember asking her to be my girlfriend.”
Kori’s eyes narrowed. “What?”
“Why are you with her then?”
“I don’t know!!”
If the basement were a long hallway, his voice would have echoed for a long time. He never yelled. That’s how they knew he was seriously frustrated.
“I just remember one day we were friends, and the next day I had all these feelings I never had before. She said we were in love.”
Kori slipped back onto her hip. “She said? Seriously, Kaiden?”
He felt like a lost puppy.
“Ugh! Can’t you see? She’s up to something! That Breanne is always up to something when it comes to you.”
“GUH! You’re soo annoying. You’re so clueless all the time!”
“Just tell her how you feel, Kaiden!”
“I don’t know what I feel!”
She sighed and stood there with her eyes closed for a moment. “Ok. And, that’s fine. When you finally figure it out, you need to tell her…and be firm.”
“Yeah. Do you mind if I run for a bit?”
He hopped on the treadmill while she parked in front of the television. Jogging seemed to clear his mind a lot, but it got harder and harder to do. What if Kori was right? What if Breanne had something to do with his weird feelings? That was absolutely bananas though! What in the world could she have done? Keep slipping flirty potion into his water when he’s not looking? It wasn’t beyond the realm of possibility though extreme and unsustainable. How much of that stuff did she have? How did get into the house, and how did she get the potion to only affect him? Was she a witch? It seemed impossible and stressed him out even more. Jogging didn’t help, but it did release some endorphins and he felt slightly better.
“Hey, are you going to drink that?” he asked.
“Nah. I don’t like root beer.”
“Cool.” He grabbed it off the bar and joined her on the sofa. She kept looking at him as he chugged the drink. “What?”
“If you keep working out like that, you’re gonna look like Llama Man.”
He snorted. “So? You girls love Llama Man.”
She laughed. “Girls? Do you have a death wish? Your girlfriend is insane. Literally insane.”
“Nah, I wouldn’t go that far.”
She shook her head at him. “You poor thing. You’re a Pruett, and you’re easy. You need to wise up!”