Author's Note: I'm hugely proud of this story in particular, and here's why: I'm getting a puppy on the 7th and so I had to do some heavy duty cleaning on my room. Being the packrat that I am, I found boxes with the millions of school papers, class photos, et cetera, that I can't part with. In one of these boxes, I found a black notebook that read "ThChicken a.k.a tOeSoX2006 Fanfic Files". In case no one knows, or remembers, my name on Nickdotcom was tOeSoX2006, which is where I started writing fan fiction. I had to have been around 13 or 14, because everything is dated between 2001 and 2002. Either way, I was reading all the old fanfic ideas that I had (and never finished), and laughing at myself. Then I came upon one, and read it the whole way through. I was…to be honest, a little amazed. It wasn't bad. In fact, it was just as good (if not better) than some of the stuff I write now, which is huge, because that was almost 7-8 years ago! The fact that I wrote this (what you're about to read) in the eighth grade definitely feels good. Everything is virtually the same, except I've changed a few words around. But, for the most part, it's exactly as it was written.
So I'm absolutely crazy about this, and I hope you like it too.
Trying Too Hard
Disclaimer: I don't own Hey Arnold. Doi.
"What exactly was that supposed to mean?!" Helga asked herself for the greater part of the morning. Ever since her urban alarm clock (in reality a semi-truck coming up the road) abruptly woke her from the unusually frightening dream, she struggled to put the pieces together. At least, with what she could remember from the dream.
When she arrived to school, Phoebe could tell beyond a shadow of a doubt that something was wrong and addressed Helga. "What's wrong?" she asked.
Her sympathetic tone soothed Helga's nerves, but only a little. "It's a long story, Pheebs…", Helga began. The whole thing was still confusing, even to Helga. She patiently explained the dream to Phoebe and waited for a response.
"That certainly does sound like a strange dream." Phoebe said, as the two stood apart from their schoolmates on the patch of grass outside the school. "How exactly did you feel during the dream?"
"How am I supposed to know how I felt during a dream?!" Helga said, shouting, and garnishing more attention than she wanted. Sensing Phoebe's patience in waiting for her to calm down, Helga ran a hand down her face and sighed. "Sorry Pheebs. This is going to take a while." Helga wasn't one to get in touch with her feelings easily, and was definitely wary about telling them to anyone.
"Okay, here goes." Helga said, closing her eyes and taking a deep breath. She attempted to take herself back to the dream.
She was sitting by a window. A window she'd never seen before. It was at least a story high, she surmised, as she was looking down on everything except the sky that had faded from a light, soft blue to a bright orange, almost in the blink of an eye.
Looking down on the sidewalk below, she saw Lila and Arnold.
As she heard so many times, Lila fed Arnold that all to familiar line: "I don't like you like you, I just like you." She watched Lila walk away from a sullen Arnold, who bowed his head and started off in the opposite direction.
At any other moment, on any other occasion, Helga couldn't have been happier. But that time it was different; she felt trapped. Trapped in the spiteful, cruel, uncaring person she'd become. Her mask of insecurities had penetrated the innermost depths of her person. As she looked on, the sky went dark as if turning to midnight and back to the familiar blue of midday. Soon, the orange in the sky returned, and scene below her repeated, only faster. The cycle was played over and over, faster with each day, and with each passing evening, Helga felt worse and worse.
Helga felt that her feeble attempts at breaking up Arnold's feeble attempts at getting Lila to see him as more than a weird headed optimist were, well…feeble.
"I felt…I don't really know." she confessed sadly as the school bell rang.
In the classroom, Phoebe diagnosed Helga's dream as best as she could from the details she was offered.
"Well, after analyzing the minutiae of your reality-based reverie, I'd have to confer that you feel that your ill-conceived plots to win Arnold's otherwise disoriented affections are depleting your inner strength."
Phoebe's detailed explanation had to, of course, be translated.
"So what you're saying is, my conscious desires to get close to Arnold, has only caused my personal relationships, including those with my self to suffer…?
"I can't do this forever, Pheebs." Helga sighed, placing her head in her hands and attempting to focus her attention on anything else. Looking around the classroom, she watched Curly making little doodles of Rhonda on the inside of his math notebook, much like the ones she made of Arnold.
'There I go again.' Helga said to herself. 'I've gotta get this…thing outta my head.' she thought laying her head on the desktop.
At recess, Helga sat idly on the swings, staring at the asphalt and contemplating her otherwise endless future of low self-esteem and obsession.
The only voice that asked that question all day was Phoebe, which is why upon hearing this voice, Helga neglected to look up, knowing right away who it was.
"It's just gotten to be too much. I mean, for a while, I was okay. I could get through a day without feeling like I was…incomplete. Ya know what I mean, Pheebs?"
Looking over, Helga practically fell off of her swing, realizing that her momentary breakdown was not addressed to Phoebe, but Arnold.
"Please don't do that anymore, Arnold." Helga said, masking only have of the fear that she held inside. She sighed out loud, readjusted herself on the swing, and looked back down at the fading blacktop.
"You realize you just said the word 'please', right? And 'Arnold'?" he joked.
"I'm just having a bad day."
"As opposed to all the other days you have?" Arnold asked, bravely. He expected to be met with a biting retort, or maybe even a fist. But Helga remained stagnate on her swing, not moving at all.
"Are you okay?" Arnold asked genuinely, sitting on the swing next to her and leaning to get a glimpse of Helga's face. He certainly didn't mean to make Helga cry, but in the back of his mind, he knew better than to surmise that she was really crying over something he said.
"It's like…have you ever liked someone, and you use every opportunity to get them to like you, but at the end of the day, you just feel…"
"Incomplete." Arnold said, finishing her sentence. "Yeah. I can relate."
Helga took a brief flashback to her dream, Lila's line echoing through her head. Helga's moment of reflection made Arnold think along the same lines as Helga.
"Maybe I'm trying too hard."
Helga sat up straight, wondering if she was hearing things, or if she really said that out loud.
"Did you say something?" she asked, looking at Arnold, sitting on the swing next to her, like that statue she'd seen once. The Thinker. Was he thinking the same thing as she was?
"I was just going to ask if you said something."
"No, nothing." he replied, quickly.
The bell rang then, and the children on the blacktop began to file into the school building.
Standing up, Helga offered a small, sincere smile and turned to Arnold, who remained seated. "Thanks." she said. "I feel a little better. Not completely better, because that would be near impossible, but better." She then disappeared into the building, followed by Phoebe, who lingered just far enough away not to hear, but close enough to remind Helga not to be late again.
Needless to say, it was difficult to get through one of Mr. Simmons "special" and "thrilling" geography lessons, even when something wasn't weighing heavily upon the mind, let alone when something was. Arnold and Helga discovered this, and were less than thrilled with the results. When the last bell of the day sounded, the children rushed to the door and outside to their bus.
On the bus, Helga and Phoebe sat second to the front, while Arnold and Gerald sat closer to the back. As the bus wheeled forward, Gerald captured Arnold's attention, admitting that he noticed his friend's spaced out look from recess, and cornered him about it.
"So what was so distracting during recess that you were practically late for class?", Gerald asked.
"I know you're not gonna believe this, but Helga made me think about something today." Arnold admitted, a little shocked from the expression himself.
"Think about what? What color you want your casket?" Gerald asked, jokingly.
"No. That maybe I'm trying too hard to get Lila to like me like me." Arnold said.
"Man, I could have told you that!" Gerald said, laughing. "Actually, I think I did. On several occasions. Before the Cheese Festival, when Arnie came to visit, when Timberly loved you…ugh, that still gives me nightmares…"
"Thank you, Gerald." Arnold interrupted. "From now on, I'm just going to let nature take it's course."
"Hey man! I'm not done yet! When Rhonda had that Masquerade party, when you dreamed that you visited Arnie…"
"It was Arnold?!" Phoebe shrieked, before Helga shushed her.
"At least I didn't freak out this time." Helga sighed, grateful for that much. "From now on, I'm just going to let nature take it's course without any help from me. If he likes Lila, then so be it. If he doesn't, even better!"
"I'm happy for you Helga." Phoebe replied, sitting back in her seat.
After a long pause, Helga smiled and replied. "Now, as for your unrequited love…"
"Wha-What on earth are you talking about, Helga?" Phoebe asked, nervously.
"As if I haven't noticed you turning around every five seconds." Helga said, crossing her arms.
"It's strictly platonic, Helga." Phoebe said, trying to convince herself as well as Helga.
"Sure, Phoebe, sure." Helga said. She noticed a moment later that she missed her stop, and pulled on the worn out cord above Phoebe's head. When the bus halted, she said her goodbyes to Phoebe and filed off of the bus behind two other strangers. Walking silently in the direction of her house, she barely noticed the footsteps behind her until they fell in step with her own rhythmically. To her left, she found none other than Arnold, smiling as usual.
"Umm...any particular reason why you've snuck up on me again, after I've asked you not to, Arnold?" she asked, letting a little of the old, sarcastic Helga out. She may have been on the road to recovery from her Arnold-obsession, but she surmised that old habits die hard.
"That'll take some getting used to." he said, laughing.
"You, using my name. Well, I just wanted to say thanks for talking to me today. You helped me out, too." he said, simply.
"Well, you're welcome…Arnold." she said, stressing the name again.
He continued to walk next to her silently until they arrived at her house. Once on her street, Helga's shoulders slumped and she sighed out loud at the sight of her house in the distance.
"What's wrong now?" he asked, noticing Helga's change in demeanor.
Instead of replying, she began walking towards a neighbor's backyard, going around her house to the fenced-in backyard.
"Aren't you going to go home?" he asked, slightly confused.
"Yeah, just not through the front door." she answered.
"May I ask why not?"
Walking back towards Arnold, Helga replied calmly. "You see that tacky, blue convertible with the flowers all over it. That's Olga's car. Which means Olga is home. And to be honest, the last thing I need is to be attacked at my own front door." she said, still keeping her jovial tone.
"Good luck, Helga. And thanks again." Arnold replied, smiling and turning away.
Helga couldn't help but smile and contently, walked around to the back of her house and entered. She stealthily entered her room and shut the door behind her.
Once inside her room, Helga didn't feel much like talking to her Arnold shrine, or writing another sonnet in her book. It wasn't a day for those things. It was a day where her head was so full of thoughts that all she wanted to do was lay face up on her bed, hoping that all of her problems would spill out of her ears and onto her sheets, relieving her of all fears and anxieties. With this on her mind, Helga sighed and forced a smile. Her day wasn't horrible. It turned out better than she thought, and for that she had to be grateful.
'Maybe this is a sign of things to come. Maybe, from this day on, my entire life will take a turn for the better…' Helga thought, a flash of optimism in her mind.
A syrupy, sweet voice resonated up the stairs and into her room, breaking Helga's brief moment of contentment.
Sitting up in her bed, Helga's eyes rolled. "Or maybe not."
See? That wasn't horrible for 13/14 years old!! In fact, I'm quite proud of myself. Yes, indeed. The reason why some parts seem short (like the part with Phoebe and helga in class) is becasue when I wrote this (seven or so years ago...man, I feel old) I was on the official site, and my "postings" were very short for each part.
Unfortunately, this will not be continued. Sorry if I offered any false sense of hope or anything. No, I've got bigger (and a little better) things in store for the future. Good stuff, y'all. Good stuff.
As for Compromise, I was going to go with one idea, but then I switched to another, thinking I was moving too fast, but then I hated the second idea, so I'm going to go with the first one. It'll be up…soon. And I get my puppy tomorrow! His name is Timothy James, and I may put pics up on my profile. Because he's adorable. And all miney miney mine mine.
Okay, so review if you want, or don't if you don't. Hope you enjoyed.