A/N- Its been awhile, lovelies. This is just a little something that caught my mind and I decided to share with all of you. Special thank yous to lipca and ltlerthqak who provided some cues for this. I will be randomly asking for cues to either continue this story or start something else. Inspire me if you dare! Enjoy!
There's something about waiting that makes me fidgety. Like the nerve endings in my body are actually connected to the second hand in my watch. Currently, my eye is twitching something very close to the beat of 'Slip sliding away'. Which wouldn't bother me too much if I wasn't trying to pass myself off as the picture of grace and sex appeal.
As the last though floats through my mind I actually laugh out loud. So loud that the seals a few habitats over start barking and the only thought on my mind is, 'Please Lord, let my laugh sound nothing like that noise'.
I glance down at my watch, scowling a moment at the second hand still exercixing its control over my left eye and sigh. 4:45 pm. He should be here any time. He'll walk around that corner, see me leaning against the edge of the penguin pool and instantly know that I am the one who should make him Easy Mac at the end of a long hard day of poop scooping. Easy Mac being the only thing I am confident I can cook.
My mouth gets a little dry as my eye twitching counts down the seconds, I hurry to gather my excuse. A tattered sketchbook and my favorite pencil. I have already decided the best position to see and be seen. I flip my hair over my shoulder and the pencil goes flying with it. Between that and the continual twitching to the 80s happening, I almost give up. I am clearly not suave enough to pull this off.
Not that I am trying to do anything masterful here. No bank heist or ponzi scheme is in the works. I am just hoping for a moment of eye contact. Something I have been unable to achieve in the last, oh, 17 visits?
My pencil rolls down a slight incline in the worn pavement and I grumble choice four letter words at it as I take my time retrieving it. Just as I am about to rescue it from inevitable contamination from a pile of duck droppings, a hand slips into my view and snatches it. The twitching actually stops from the shock of it all.
I straighten, still unsure if I will be gracing the pencil savior with a smile or a scowl, when my eyes trace the long fingers to an equally appealing arm and then to a worth mentioning torso. My mouth goes dry. I know this torso. All in one rogue fleeing pencil moment, my plans are all laid futile. My best smile fights its way to my mouth, but I am sure it comes off a little wonky.
"I think your pencil was trying to make a break for it." And its official. Even the man's voice is attractive. How has he not been snapped up to narrate the features of some new expensive car or the very least made a run at doing romance novels on tape? Somewhere amidst this train of thought I realize that the proper response is, some sort of response.
"It thinks it can start a pencil revolution," I answer. The words don't even sound right in my head, never a good sign. And yet he laughs, the kind of laugh where he throws back his head and it actually does sound a lot like the seals two habitats over and somehow I find even that endearing.
I am in trouble.
The grin that fits across my face isn't even voluntary, it's some kind of knee jerk reaction to the better than expected reaction he is having. I am more than happy to wait for the laughter to die down, my eyes eagerly follow as he presses a hand to his stomach almost bracing himself.
"Consider yourself lucky that I don't have it in me to break out into a Beatles song," he chuckles, a wide grin across his face. Again I am at a loss for words, wondering how that would ever be a bad thing. His singing can't be nearly as bad as his laughing...right? For just a moment I let myself take him in, in all his khaki uniformed glory and the goofy grin just grows.
I should say something in return, but I am a little worried about ruining my good luck streak and soon he rocks on his heels, his eyes drifting towards the Monkey House where I know he is headed. It's almost time for him to do their daily feeding. How and why I came across this information is something I have relegated to the 'don't ask, don't tell' pile.
One more glance and he's headed on his way and I am about to throw my pencil at the back of his head for another shot. I do mutter a 'thank you' to which he waves a hand as he goes on his way. The only way I could have screwed that last bit up more would have been to have thrown a 'How YOU Doin'' out there.
Scratch that, I think even that would have been an improvement. And we were off to such a good start. My signature sad music plays in my head as I make my way back to my bench, my big plans for wowing him with my sketches and obvious sophistication dashed for the day. There's no rush as I push all my things back into my work leather bag and trudge towards the refreshment stand. The least I can do after that is treat myself to a mango popsicle.
I almost elbow a bony 12 year old boy out of my way to get to my sugary solace. I hardly think that he deserves it more than I do. He looks like the worst thing that has even happened to him is someone beating the high score on this favorite video game. Hardly reason to warrant cutting in front of me.
I am able to bring forth my inner adult as I wait my turn and the first touch of my tongue to the popsicle is worth it. My eyes slide closed and I try to forget about the failed attempt at a meet-cute and start to make my way to the exit. There isn't even a futile attempt to go the opposite direction of the Monkey house. I am all about indulgences in this moment and I am pretty sure I can sneak a peek without him ever knowing.
The Monkey House is crowded, always a popular stop for zoo goers and I use the crowd as a giant human shield, weaving and ducking to make sure I am never quite visible. Not that it matters, he is out of site as I slip into a corner and peek around towards the glass.
A group of small children are banging on the glass like little hellions, yelling at the giant orangutan in the corner to pay them some attention. The giant monkey simply ignores them, its doe eyes fixed on where the food will appear. And in that moment I decide, I like her style. I throw her a air fist bump with no regard to the fact it makes several teenagers next to me scoff and laugh.
The hellions move on and a new group of people press their faces and hands to the glass, anxious for some kind of acknowledgement from the monkey. I skim the plaque on the walls beside me and discover her name 'Matilda'. My face screws up as I consider this. That is not nearly sassy enough for my newfound friend. Maybe its one of those appearances are deceiving things, I like the idea of this. Like she is pulling one over on everyone.
A small roar rushes over the crowd as she finally moves, making her way to the newly opened door and my pencil savior. Not that I can't call him by his name. One of my first missions was getting close enough to read his nametag without giving myself away. A much more successful mission than the one I was on today. Edward, another name that seems to lack the punch I want it to have. But again, it could just be a play on names.
I inch closer with the crowd, crouching a bit to stay out of site. Edward is putting on a little show like he always does, teasing Matilda with the fruits and veggies he's brought into her room. She plays it cool, seemingly unimpressed by the offerings but I can tell she is just biding her time.
The grin on his face is reason alone to have snuck in here. It was the first thing that really drew me to him, his smile. He seems undaunted by the stench that clings to the air here or the fact that I know part of his job has to involve shoveling some of the biggest turds of all time.
The thoughts draw me in and before I can sneak away OO7 style as planned, the crowd has thinned and I am alone in front of the glass, two sets of eyes on mine from the other side. The blood rushes to my face and if I didn't know better I would say it was one fire. My eyes dart to either side looking for an easy hiding place, but I am glued to the ground. My feet have decided at this moment to imitate cement blocks.
Edward shakes his head and lifts his eyes to show a little smile and I feel a little lighter, like I might be able to move a few steps if needed. I lift my hand to offer a wave, relieved that the glass prevents the need for actual words in this moment.
Just as I think my confidence might be rising, there is a resounding 'thwack' in the room. It takes several seconds for my eyes to see more than a brown smear. I blink more than a few times as the brown smear slides down the glass, leaving a unappealing film in its wake. My wide eyes meet Edward's laughing ones and my mind finally starts to register what happened.
Turns out, Matilida not only has attitude but a thing for my pencil rescuer. And apparently, was not happy with my attempt at through the glass seduction. I didn't know that an ape could look smug before this moment. Edward is still laughing too hard to really do more more than cue the seals, now three habitats away, to join in.
The cement has long since melted away from my feet as I resume my former trudge towards the exit. Bested by an orangutan. That has to be some kind of new low. Though if I were to be beat by anyone other than Matilda I would have felt worse. That lady obviously has some serious sass. And men like sass, or so I am told.
I toss my popsicle stick into the trash as I approach the gift shop and stroller return. I am about to make my way through the turnstile when a small stuffed orange monkey catches my eye. It will be my momento. Serve as a reminder of the day I lost out to the coolest monkey I ever met, and had an air fist pound with. We're practically sisters after that.
The cashier is more than happy to accept my $20 and doesn't try to spare my feelings by not laughing when I tell her the story of the poo-flinging Matilda. I even laughed a little with her, because how can I not? I tuck the stuffed monkey into my bag and take my time leaving the store.
The day is about to be pushed into the growing failed mission pile when a familiar pair of scuffed work boots interrupt my eyes staring contest with the pavement. At least the eye twitching to the 80s is not a part of this moment.
I take my time raising my eyes to meet his, hoping that maybe there is another pair of very familiar work boots who don't belong to Matilda's boyfriend, aka the pencil savior, aka Edward. Alas, he seems to have the market cornered on those boots.
"You didn't stay long enough for Matilada to apologize!" he says. I tilt my head to the side as I process his words. I guess I'm not the only one humanizing our sassy friend. The defeat seems to unblock my mouth and I actually feel words bubbling up.
"I was stepping on her turf. If it was socially acceptable, I think way more women would fling poo as a way of scaring other woman off," I answer. This train of thought at least made sense and when he laughs I actually question his sanity a little. No one has ever found me this funny.
"See? No one really understands that she seems to have a little crush on me. When anyone else tries to bring her food, they get the same result, without the glass," he laughs and I wince, really thankful for those few panes of protection at this moment. I don't imagine monkey poo is easy to get out of your hair.
"They call it 'hostile'. But she really is a sweetheart once you get to know her," He rambles on. I nod along with his words, like its the most normal thing in the world to be having this conversation about a monkey. And yet that annoying tendency of mine to think everything he does is dashing doesn't seem to be going anywhere. I am damn near ready to have both of them over for dinner.
"She's got a lot of personality and I respect that in a woman," I grin. He nods and rings his hands around the dingy work cap he is usually wearing and my eyes lift to see his hair in its full glory for the first time. I want to run my fingers through the unruly strands, but muster up enough self control to simply swoon a little inside.
"She does, but she knows better to do that to our guests. We've had a talk and she won't be getting any mangos for a week," he assures me and I feel a little bad. I mean no mangos for a week? That seems a little harsh for a little poo flinging. But who am I to decide. They seem to have a long history and I am not going to get in the way of that again.
"Well, I'll be sure to stop by again soon to let her apologize. I am not one to hold grudges. Especially against such a pretty lady," I say. My mouth twists, the last part of the statement sounding a little too odd even for this conversation. Edward laughs and I imagine the seals feel a little left out being too far away to hear it.
"I think we...she would really like that," Edward fumbles his words and for a moment I actually think he might be a little nervous. This thought has my mouth stretched so wide in a smile I am pretty sure he can see my wisdom teeth.
Someone behind us calls his name and his head whips towards them, giving me another chance to take in his hair. I really need to find a way to not ogle this man at every opportunity.
"Hey, I have to go. It's my turn to muck out the giraffe stalls and if I don't start now I won't be done for hours," he explains. I nod, my fingers reaching down to wrap around little Matilda in my bag. Of course, he's at work. I couldn't expect him to stand here and laugh at my awkward humor all night.
"I wouldn't want you to put off the giraffes on my account," I reply. He grins like I might have said exactly what he wanted me to. He starts to turn and then stops.
"You meant it, right? About stopping by again?" He asks and I grin again.
"Yeah, I kinda have a season pass so I come a lot. To sketch," I explain like it has nothing to do with him at all. Another grin and this might have recovered from failure into utter success. He reaches up and slips his hat back over his hair and I am a little disappointed. Goodbye gorgeous hair.
"Well, I'll see you soon then..." He leads off and I don't waste a beat.
"Bella, my name is bella," I offer, almost too quickly.
"See you around, Bella, survivor of Poo-gate '12" he laughs at himself as he goes, giving me another one of those one handed waves. I wave back, knowing he doesn't see it, given his back is to me.
If anyone asked I would completely deny the bounce in my step as I made my way to my car, besides, I was too busy planning my next trip to the zoo. I'm sure that I hadn't adequately sketched the elephants yet...
A/N- Hope you enjoyed! Let me know!