What's in a Name? by DoofusPrime

Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. This work was not created for profit. No copyright infringement is intended.


She tried to fight it, but the urge was too great. Helga had eaten her lunch quickly and was spending the rest of her break staring at Arnold while he talked with his friend Gerald at their table. Gazing so long at her secret love made Helga's emotions bubble up inside her like clockwork; but at least they weren't leaving the bitter taste they so often did when Arnold was flirting with Lila.

The bell would be ringing soon. It was about time to pour her heart out.

"Excuse me, Pheebs."

Helga stood up from their lunch table. After checking to make sure the coast was clear, she dashed to her usual hiding place behind the cart of dirty lunch trays. It was no closet shrine, but it did the job in the pinch. Phoebe watched her friend leave the table, by now accustomed to Helga's sudden lunchtime disappearances.

Helga pulled her gold locket from her shirt and stared reverently at Arnold's photograph. That cornflower hair... those sparkling, half-lidded eyes...

"Oh Arnold!" she cried to herself. "My forever distant love! My forbidden fruit! How I long to pluck you from the tree and bite into that juicy football head! Figuratively speaking, of course." She stroked the locket as her innermost yearning poured itself out. "You may not see it, Arnold, but I'm the apple of your eye! Girls like Lila are the snakes in your garden, tempting you with their false flirtations. You must resist them!"

Helga felt the Garden of Eden allusions running out of steam and decided to give up on that tack. Lunch time was not her most poetic time of day, but watching the irresistible way in which Arnold ate his sandwiches compelled her to give vent to her emotions somehow.

"Someday," she continued, "my darling Arnold, someday we'll be entwined as one, locked in love's warm embrace! No longer will I be a Pataki, but instead - er -" Helga frowned, her rhythm broken by the question.

"What the heck is your last name, my love?" she asked herself.


Helga looked up at the sound of her name and almost dropped the locket in surprise.


"Um, hi," said Arnold as he placed his empty tray on the pile. Helga got up and dusted herself off, about to make an excuse for why she was crouching behind the tray cart, when she noticed the rest of the fourth grade class staring at her from their lunch tables.

"What are you chumps looking at?"

Her classmates looked around nervously, most of them reluctant to draw Helga's wrath on themselves. Stinky, however, seemed to gain a brief burst of confidence.

"I reckon you were talkin' kinda loud down there, Helga," he said. "Normally we just respect your privacy and all, but you were gettin' mighty worked up this time."

Helga coughed. Had she been saying everything out loud? Sometimes she forgot to keep track of whether her monologues were internal or broadcast for all the world to hear. She cursed herself for the mistake.

"Well, what's it to ya?"

"Nothin'," mumbled Stinky. "Nothin' at all."

The lunch room returned to its previous level of chatter as Helga breathed a sigh of relief. Maybe her secret was not revealed. She glanced at the object of her affection as he began to walk back to his usual seat beside Gerald. Before leaving the tray cart, however, Arnold looked back with a barely perceptible smirk.

"By the way, Helga?"

"Yeah, football head?"

Arnold gave Helga a wink that made her heart skip a beat.

"It's Shortman."


Notes - That's it, just a little scene that came to mind. Maybe the title should have been "What's in a Wink" instead. :) I'm surprised by how many reviews this has gotten, as I only spent maybe half an hour at most writing it. If you are interested in some larger Hey Arnold stories, check out my profile for "Helga, the Artiste" and "Of Peasants and Patakis".