I'm not sure if anyone has done a songfic about this song.
The song is called "Carry this Picture" by Dashboard Confessional.
The story was based on Hey Arnold! episode "Helga's Locket" in the scene where Arnold was trying to open the locket because he thought it was an anniversary gift from grandma to his grandpa. Please enjoy!
Carry this Picture
"Carry this picture for luck
Kept in a locket
Tucked in your collar
Close to your chest
Make it a secret
Shown to the closest friends…"
'Arnold , you are always in my heart. Love, Helga G. Pataki.'
"What…is… this?" Arnold mumbled to himself after reading the scripture inside the golden locket he just opened.
Meanwhile, Helga couldn't breathe inside the barrel… or at least she's not breathing at all. Now that Arnold found out about her deepest, darkest secret, the only thing she could think of was… "I'm dead."
"I have to get out of here." Get out of here meaning get out of town. When she thought everything was cleared outside, she made her escape from the Sunset Arms boarding house.
Arnold went up to his room, everything still seemed a blur to him. His grandpa Phil saw the far-off look in his eyes and decided to follow him, "Hey there, Shortman."
"Hey, grandpa." Arnold answered faintly.
"So, are you having another one of your conundrum-of-a-boy hood problem?" He finally saw the locket Arnold grasping in his hands.
"I see, you finally have it opened eh."
Arnold sat on his bed then showed grandpa the scripture written inside. To his surprise, grandpa doesn't seemed surprise at all.
"Helga Pataki, Big Bob's daughter?"
"You're little mean friend with blonde hair and unibrow?"
"I knew it!"
"What? What are you talking about?"
"Arnold, it's always been obvious. That girl is head-over-heels in love with you."
"That's crazy talk, grandpa." Arnold said, dismissing what grandpa said.
"Then how can you explain this?" grandpa asked while showing him the locket.
"A joke, what else could it be?"
"But why would she make such a joke?"
"You know Helga. She's always pulling pranks on people. That's probably just one of them."
"That doesn't make sense…"
"You're the one not making any sense at all, grandpa." Arnold said, practically shouting. "How can you say that she's always been in love with me? You know how she torments me, I tell you about it everyday."
"You see, Shortman, that's exactly my point."
"What?" Arnold was more confused than ever.
"Do you still remember the story I told you about the girl named Gerty?"
"Yes. You said she was your arch-nemesis when you were a little boy."
"Would you believe that Gerty was in fact… your grandma?"
"Seriously?" he asked, wide-eyed. "But how did that happen?"
Grandpa looked up the skylight and smiled to himself, reminiscing his childhood. "Like I told you, Gerty was my worst enemy during that time. Not a day goes by that I will come home from school not feeling miserable or embarrassed. She made my life a living hell." He said in a raging tone. "Then one day, I told myself 'enough is enough'…"
"I know what you did." Arnold cut him off. "You avenged yourself by pulling a prank on her too. You already told me about that."
"Would you shut up and listen to me first, this is a different story." Grandpa said, scolding Arnold.
"Like I said… 'enough is enough', so one afternoon, I decided to go over their house to confront her..."
"Is Gerty home?" young Phil asked when Gerty's mother opened the door.
"She's out back, feeding the chickens." She said politely.
Gerty just finished her chore when Phil came. She was sitting under a huge oak tree while looking up at the sky. She released a huge sigh and exclaimed dreamily "Phil".
"Yes?" asked someone from the back.
Gerty stumbled to her feet and when she turned around, Phil was there.
"What are you doing here?" she asked, her face was all red. She kept her composure and looked straight at him.
"I heard you called my name. So here I am."
"I didn't call your name!" she said angrily.
"Fine. I'm here to talk to you."
Phil walked over to her. As he drew closer, she could feel her heart pounding so hard.
"Why are you always like that?" he asked, out-of-the-blue.
"What are you talking about, fart-head?" she scowled.
He was trying his best to keep his cool so he could talk to her calmly but after what he heard, he snapped. He grabbed Gerty by the arms and started shaking her.
"What the hell is your problem?" He asked furiously. "Why are you so mean to me? C'mon, tell me!"
Then, the most unexpected thing happened. Instead of answering Phil's fury, Gerty leaned over and kissed him.
It only lasted for few seconds, but for Gerty, it felt forever.
Phil released her from his grasp, in that few seconds, his mind went blank and his body went numb. He never felt anything like that before.
He just looked at Gerty. His eyes full of confusion.
"I love you Phil." She confessed.
Phil's confusions grew bigger. He couldn't believe his ears.
"Are you kidding me?" he asked.
And Gerty went ballistic again. "See. This is one of the reasons why I don't wanna tell you the truth! You never believe me! You think that whatever I do or say is a big joke…"
"Can you blame me? I mean, you're always mean to people especially to me. You embarrass me all the time in front of all our friends. You pull pranks on me everyday…what else do you think would I believe?"
"I'm sorry." She said. A single teardrop fell on her right eye. "I'm… mean to you…" she was stumbling through her words, "…so that I can hide my true feelings." She finally found the courage to tell him. "I'm afraid that if you find out, you won't believe me. You might make fun of my feelings too. And the worst, you won't accept it." She looked at Phil. This time, countless tears were streaming down her face.
"I see." He went over to her and wiped her tears with his hands. "But you should have at least told me, I would understand."
Gerty finally smiled. Phil already knew that he will never forget that day.
"And the rest, they say, is history." Grandpa Phil ended.
Arnold mulled over on grandpa's story. "So, it could be true then?" he asked himself.
"Of course it's true, Shortman." Grandpa answered for him.
"Every awful thing she does is just an act so that I will never find out about her true feelings."
"Finally, you understand everything." Grandpa said gleefully, tapping Arnold's back. "Now, how do you feel about it?"
"Honestly, I don't know." He said. "I'm still a little confused. Well, not with Helga and all, but with myself. I don't understand how I'm feeling right now, everything are all mixed up. I guess I should hear it from Helga herself."
"Good idea." His grandpa agreed. "But don't confront her the way I did to your grandma." Phil warned. "Not every girl is the same. She might not take your confrontation lightly."
"What should I do then?" Arnold asked.
"I have an idea."
"Dear Mom and Dad,
I don't know how to explain to you but a terrible leap of fate has forced me to leave and decide not to comeback…"
Helga was writing her parents a letter regarding her reason for leaving town when she heard Miriam called her out. "Helga… you have a visitor."
"A visitor? Criminy, it must be Arnold!"She told herself in panic and decided to get out of the house through the window.
But it was too late. Next thing she knew, Arnold was standing to her door.
"Hi Helga." He greeted cheerfully.
"Ar-nold?" she asked in disbelief. "What are you doing here, football-head?" Of course she knew why he's there. 'He's here because of the locket.'
"I'm just wondering if you would like to hang-out this afternoon."
"Hang-out? With you? This afternoon?" she asked incredulously.
"Yes. I was thinking we could go to the boardwalk. What do you say?"
"I say…" she stuttered, "there's no way I'll ever hang-out with you, football-head!" she screamed with a customary scowl on her face.
"Please." Arnold pleaded. "I promise this is not a date. We'll just hang-out like friends do. We're friends right?" he asked. "Don't worry, you will not spend a single penny. Everything's on me."
Helga couldn't understand herself. Was it his waifish look? Or his good boy charm? She had no idea. All she knew was that it was just a ploy to get her confess about the locket, but there was some mysterious force that pushed her to accept his invitation.
"Meet me at quarter to seven
The sun will still shine then
At this time of year
We'll head to the inlet
And we'll share a bottle there…"
At the boardwalk, Arnold bought him and Helga each a double patty cheese burger and Yahoo sodas. He also bought a huge tray of French fries for them to share and sat on one of the tables outside the restaurant, overlooking the blue water. Helga was surprised of the loads of food that Arnold bought for them.
"We need to power up." He suddenly said. "It's gonna be a long day, I can tell." He smiled.
"Whatever." She just shrugged and started with her food. But deep down, Helga could not weigh in the amount of happiness she's feeling at that moment. Arnold said it wasn't a date, but for her, it was a memory that she will treasure for the rest of her life. That very thought brought a smile to her face, which Arnold unexpectedly saw.
"Color the coast with your smile
It's the most genuine thing that I've ever seen
I was so lost but now I believe."
After they ate, they went to see other attractions in the boardwalk. They ride on a ferries wheel and a roller coaster. They played every boardwalk games like target shooting. Arnold even won a huge stuffed caterpillar and gave it to Helga. And as if not satisfied with the amount of food they pigged out earlier, He bought ice creams and cotton candies for the two of them. Sometimes, they would just walk by the shore, barefooted, talking about all sorts of things. From their friends, teachers, their school, even things that happened at home. They even talked about their plans for the future.
"If I become a doctor, I will go to the most remote places in the world to help the people there, just like what my parents did." Arnold said while looking down his feet.
"That's ambitious." Helga said in a teasing voice. "Me, I'm gonna be the first female president of the United States of America."
"Okay." Arnold said, slightly snickering.
"But if it doesn't happen, I will try my luck on writing."
"Whatever you choose, I'm sure you'll be successful in it." Arnold said sincerely.
"You really think so?"
"Yeah. You're one of the smartest people I know. I'm sure nothing is impossible to you."
Once again, Helga's heart jumped for joy.
"Follow me south of the big docks
Where they tether the boat
The rich men revere as so important
They hire our fathers to steer…"
While walking down the shore, they saw Sheena's uncle Earl.
"Would you like to ride on a boat?" Arnold asked Helga.
Helga just nodded. To her surprise, Arnold took her by the hand and they ran towards uncle Earl.
"How much for a ride?" asked Arnold.
"Argh… two dollars each."
"Two dollars for the two of us." Helga negotiated.
Uncle Earl thought for a while then said, "Deal."
They positioned themselves on the boat. At first, they didn't speak to each other. They were both feeling the cool breeze brushing through their face.
"This is nice." Arnold broke the silence.
"Yeah." Helga agreed. "I never thought boat riding can be fun."
They were just sitting there, watching the calm water. The slow current was rocking the boat softly like a lullaby. Arnold and Helga thought they've never felt as peaceful as that moment in their lives.
"And down to the edge of the water
Where we'll spill our guts
And we'll name our fears
I'll give you this picture
Keep it and don't be scared…"
After the boat ride, they decided to settle down on the sand. The sun was beginning to set. Helga thought it was the most beautiful thing she has seen that day. For Arnold, it was time to spill out the purpose of that afternoon.
He took the locket from his pocket and gave it to Helga.
"I believe this is yours."
Helga was shocked. She was so overwhelmed by the events of that day that she totally forgot about the locket.
When Helga just stared at it, he opened the locket and put it on her hand.
"You don't have to worry or be scared." He assured her. "Whatever you are feeling right now, you can tell me." He said with a smile.
Helga looked up to him and smiled. With all the guts she acquired that day, and the assurance that Arnold gave her, she finally let out the words she's been dying to tell him. "I love you."
"And it's okay." She added, feeling liberated.
"Yes." He nodded.
"Thanks." She could feel the brink of tears on her eyes. She let them escape for she knew it was because of joy.
Arnold wiped her tears and promised, "We'll do this again next time."
Despite the tears, Helga's smile didn't fade away. And for Arnold, it was the most beautiful thing he has seen that day.
"Color the coast with your smile
It's the most genuine thing that I've ever seen
I was so lost but now I believe."
Thank you for reading. ",)