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After Angela had explained how they met and answered the other questions she had been peppered with, Ari sat back and thought for a moment. “Okay, so, you like this guy?”

Angela blushed and shrugged. “Yeah, I guess. He’s pretty nice.”

Ari smirked. “Okay, then, looks like someone’s in looooveee!! When can I meet him?”

“Oh shut your face. And you’ll meet him soon enough, I promise.” She punched Ari in the arm.

“You didn’t deny it!!” Ari teased.

“Oh you just shut up and eat, I ain’t denying it, but I’m not gonna say it.” She laughed and called the waiter for the check. “I gotta get back to uni, I’ve got to sleep, and I gotta go for celebratory coffee with Adri tomorrow. I promised him a raincheck since we couldn’t do it tonight. So sorry to ditch ya, but I’m really tired. Have been looking at apartments all day, and dealing with a condescending agent, all that stuff adds up to total exhaustion.”

“Nah girl, it’s fine, I gotta go too, I’ve got to get back to my cats, you know how much they need me. Here, lemme give you a hug before we leave. We gotta catch up again soon sometime, you hear me?” She grabbed Ari and hugged her. “Alright, now you get back to university safe, okay?”

“Yep, will do. Thanks for dinner, and see you soon for sure!” And with that, Angela hurried out and caught the next bus home.

As she watched the buildings go by in the window, she started planning a second date. If he asked her to and planned the first date, she thought, it was her turn to plan the second.  She tried to think of something they hadn’t already done, coming up short of any interesting ideas. They’d already gone to the movies, ice-skating, out to dinner, picnics, pretty much everything really date-ish. The one place they hadn’t gone was the beach, but that was a pretty long drive away…

She grinned, and immediately pulled her phone out to look up the nearest beach. A day trip to the beach would be a great idea, the bus fare likely wouldn’t be too much, and a picnic would really add to the occasion. She thought about it for a moment, then messaged Ari.

[AngelaTheGreat]: Hey, could I use your car next weekend?

[AngelaTheGreat]: I wanna drive to the beach with Adri, and I don’t have a car.

[Definitely-not-Steve]: Yeah sure, just don’t break it or anything. Make sure it’s back by Monday night, I’ve got a party to go to then. <3

[Angela]: Thanks!! 🙂 YOU’RE THE BEST

She called Adri next.

“Heyy, what’s up?” He sounded more sleepy and confused than conscious, so she decided to hold off on asking him about a major weekend trip.

“Not much, just wanted to check in, and also…” she quickly scrambled for a good excuse to have called. “Uh, there was a creepy dude on the bus, so I had to look like I was talking to someone. I’m off the bus now, it’s fine, sorry to have woken you up! See you later!” She hung up and started setting up her tent, mentally kicking herself for calling him at such a late hour.

Chapter 9

Adri stared at the ceiling for a while, trying to ignore the thoughts milling around in his head. They’ll pass, he told himself. It’ll all pass soon, I’ll feel better in the morning.

What on earth makes you think she likes you? Why are you even moving in with her? She’s still just staying friends with you because she pities you. What reasons do you even have for existing right now? How do you justify the space you’re occupying in this universe? The resources you’re using up that would be better going to someone else?

He rolled over, switching it up and staring at the wall. Attempting to sleep, he decided, was a futile endeavor. Angela seemed like she’d still been pretty awake, so he decided to call her.

“Hey, what up?” He said, trying to sound chipper and more awake than he really was.

“Uh, not much, just scrolling the internet, can’t sleep. What are you doing awake, I thought you were asleep when I called you a while ago?” The click of computer keys stopped, and he heard the computer close. “Are you okay?”

He started pacing around the apartment. “Yeah, I’m fine, just can’t sleep cause the ol’ brain is being really negative and I need to distract myself like usual. What about you, why can’t you sleep?” He opened the fridge, finding nothing midnight snack worthy, and wandered back to the bed.

Angela switched the phone to her other shoulder and opened the computer again. “I’m just not tired. Also, how awake are you right now? I have a question for you, but if you’re really tired I don’t want to spring it on you now.”

“I’m pretty awake, considering I’m pretty much in ultimate insomnia right now. Fire it at me.” He fiddled with the edge of the blanket and leaned back against the wall, waiting for her reply.

“Okay, so I was thinking, since you asked me out on the first date, and planned it, kinda, I figured it was my turn to plan the 2nd date if you’re okay with it of course.” She paused, and Adri realized she was waiting for confirmation.

“Yeah, yeah, that’s fine, what were you thinking?”

She finished typing what he presumed was a paragraph, from the triumphant clack of the final key, then spoke. “Welllll, I was thinking about all the places we hadn’t gone yet, and there wasn’t really a lot, but then I remembered the beach like half a day’s drive away. So,  I guess what I’m suggesting is a camping/road trip over the weekend to the beach! Whadda’ya think?”

He smiled and nodded. “Yeah, that sounds great! How will we get there though? I don’t really fancy a half-day bus ride cramped in with a bunch of strangers.”

“My friend Ari said I could borrow her car! It’s not exactly the best car, but it ought to get us there. How’s next weekend sound to you?” She tapped at a few buttons on her computer and tried not to let her excitement seep through the phone too much.

He considered it for a minute. “Uh, yeah sure, sounds good, I don’t have anything planned then. Or any time, really, other than uni.” He laughed dryly. “Never really do have anything planned. Nice to have something to look forward to for a change.”

An awkward silence filled the air for a few moments before Angela cleared her throat. “Okay! Well, I got an email about when we can sign the contract!” She tried to sound as cheery as she could, hoping it would cut through whatever was pulling him down.

The contract. Now that’s a commitment. Do you REALLY want to lock yourself down now? Do you really want to be living with her for the next YEAR? His brain drilled him with doubt, picking and prodding at any little insecurity in his decision. What if she ends up not liking you, and then the whole thing becomes that nasty painful awkwardness? Ooh, ooh, you haven’t replied to her yet, don’t be rude! She hates you now and you know it, you should just end everything now. What’s the point anyway?! Just one little hop off a ledge, and you’ll have nothing to worry about ever again! Just one little jump and it’s all over, in the blink of an eye.

He pulled his focus back to Angela. “Uh, awesome! When is the appointment?”

“It’s at 2. You got any classes then?” She sounded worried, but he brushed that notion to the side.

Why would she, or anyone worry over you, insisted his brain. Shut up, he snapped at it. “No, I don’t have any classes then, that works great. Also, listen, sorry if this sounds weird, but if you can’t sleep, wanna meet at the park or something? My brains being a bit of a….” He hesitated. “Well, I’m not doing great, I really need to do something to get my mind on a different track.” She’ll think you’re weird and creepy, and that you just want to meet her so you can hurt her. What if you did? What if you asking to meet her caused her to run into some creep?

“Yeah, of course! That’s what friends are for! The Centre Park, right? The one with the bush that’s supposed to look like a heart, but definitely looks like a butt?” She giggled. “I’ll meet you there!”

The call ended, and Adri dragged himself out of bed, fighting his urge to just sit and do nothing, and stay forever in bed, uncaring to anything and everything in a cocoon of apathy.