Hey, this is my first story on FF! Hope you enjoy.
Helga hated grocery shopping.
In fact, it wasn't until there was literally no food in her parents' house for four days straight that she finally conceded to going. But that didn't mean she had to like it.
The blond college kid rolled out of her old high school bed at the butt-crack of noon, pulled a grungy sweatshirt over her tank top, and stuck her feet into some old orange Vans, contemplating briefly how they clashed terribly with her bright pink pajama bottoms. After assessing her looks as only mildly embarrassing, she grabbed her purse and headed out the door.
The winter wind nipped at her like a rapid dog the moment she closed the door behind her. Crossing her arms and mumbling obscenities, Helga stiffly walked along the sidewalk to the grocery store, knowing it would be just her luck if it started snowing.
Helga was home for the "holidays," as it were. Too bad her parents were hardly ever around. Though Helga didn't exactly mind having the house mostly to herself, and was proud of her mother for getting out of the house long enough to obtain a job, it got a little boring. It being her junior year of college, she had forgiven her parents of most of their sins. And even Helga would grudgingly admit they were a lot better than they used to be. Of course Big Bob came around when her poems started getting published in renowned magazines as early as her junior year of high school.
The 22 year-old rounded the corner and walked into the local mart, before stopping in her tracks. What the heck was she going to buy? Sometimes she suspected she had inherited her mother's knack for grocery shopping. A small growl of annoyance escaped her lips, before deciding bread was a good starting place. Helga bit her lip while walking past the beef jerky and assorted crap that she'd love to buy instead. But after her dad's third heart attack this past year, she swore she wouldn't end up like him (in more ways than one), and gave up junk food (well, mostly) and tried to at least appear healthy, (by college standards of course).
Helga was peering at all the assorted bread types, bent over and contemplative, when she heard something that stopped her heart.
Helga froze… before shaking her head to get a grip. This wasn't the first time she had thought she heard or saw that… football head. Yutz. Boy. Man. God. She was especially susceptible to it when she was home. But he was several thousand miles away, the last time she checked. Flapping his wings back to San Lorenzo with his parents the moment high school let out… as if college wasn't important! (Okay, so he was going to a university down there – it still wasn't the best academic choice!)
"Pft," hissed Helga, resuming her shopping. "Stupid football head."
But there it was again, but closer this time.
"Thanks, Mrs. Vitello… it's good to see you too. Yeah, I'm back for a while now, I'll definitely stop by the shop-"
The panic in her was rising. That was his voice. She knew it. Or she was going insane. Which was perfectly possible. Probable even, given her history.
Slowly, cautiously, and agonizingly slowly, she tilted her head to get a look over her shoulder and down the aisle, where the voice was coming from…and there he was. In all his magnificent, tanned, just-back-from-South-America wonder. Helga choked, mentally scanned her current ensemble and overall lack of hygiene, and immediately bolted for cover behind the nearest display-case of cookies.
She hadn't seen him two and half years! And now she was behaving like a fugitive on the run. But she had to get out of there! Dummy! She mentally cursed herself. Slow down, don't cause a scene. Come on, you know how to do this. Helga gathered what was left of her poise, and carefully slinked her way to the end of the aisle, reassured by what she could hear of Arnold's continued conversation with the locals, walked determinedly, yet casually past the cashiers, and then all-out sprinted the rest of the way out of the store, pausing only to do a brief summersault through the doors, in order to stay low to the ground, as Arnold came around the corner of the aisle.
Outside, Helga finally caught her breath.
She checked out her reflection in the glass window of the next shop over. Thank God I got away with that, she thought, making a face at her disheveled mirror image. And then …Damn. I still got it!
Carefully, Helga peered back into the grocery store, through the window, now that she could take the time to study him closer. She swooned. He was even more heart-stoppingly gorgeous than he had been in high school. He had let his blond hair had grow out a bit, and it was obvious the degree to which he was helping build homes and hospitals with his parents for the natives. And of course, he still had that smile. The man was beautiful.
Helga sighed, and then quickly gathered herself up and headed directly home. She wouldn't go out looking like that again for quite a while.
Fresh out of a shower and into a clean set of flattering clothes, Helga was feeling much better. She started absentmindedly applying just a bit of makeup and making sure her hair looked good, but casual – didn't want the stupid cornflower-haired love god to know she was pulling out the stops for him. Speaking of which, how was she going to casually run into him? Maybe she should just go peek into the windows of the boarding house first and then-
Wait a minute, that didn't sound right. What am I, nine? We were FRIENDS in high school, for Pete's sake. I shouldn't have to stalk him anymore. I'll just give him a call and-
No, wait, that wasn't right either. She wasn't supposed to know that he was home. Which only made the inevitable thought dawn on Helga-
WHY HASN'T THAT LITTLE FOOTBALL HEADED BRAT CALLED ME AND TOLD ME HE'S HOME YET?
Moments later, as if hearing her mental anguish, Helga's phone went off – a new text message. She cautiously lifted up her cell to see a name on the screen she hadn't seen in nearly three years.
Taking a deep breath, Helga opened the little electronic envelope.
Hey Helga, I hope this is still your number. This is Arnold – I'm back in Hillwood! Do u have time to hang out? I'd really love to see you.
Helga's heart fluttered. So he did want to see her! She hastily typed what she hoped was an affirmative, friendly, but not overeager reply. He quickly responded.
Great! I'll stop by your house in 20 mins. Can't wait to catch up! :)
Helga smiled, and then couldn't help but smirk like the fourth grader she still was inside. Another near-fatal run-in revolving around the one and only love of her life, and she pulled it off again! And now she had the time to actually prepare, and look nice, after so many years apart! She couldn't wait to 'wow' him. Just as she was congratulating herself, she got another text.
Looking at her phone, she saw it was from Arnold again. What does my little prince want now? she dreamily thought to herself, as she opened her phone once again… only to drop it on the ground and let out a blood-curdling shriek of rage.
The cell phone lay on the ground, upturned and revealing the message that caused such a turnaround in Helga's mood:
P.S. Nice pajamas ;)
Update: Wow! I can't believe how much love I've gotten just for my one little one-shot! Thank you so much, everyone! 3 That was my tester story. I didn't plan on writing a sequel (but now you guys have got me thinking, so you never know) but I AM working on a longer Hey Arnold story. I want to get a little further on it, and then I'll start posting chapters. Look for it! It will be called Up in the Clouds. :)