stairs, maintaining my careless attitude. I stayed in my room for the rest of the day, avoiding my mother’s needling and Ashland’s pull on my eyes. I immersed myself in the newest simulation game until darkness fell and my stomach rumbled. I opened the door to the smell of tomatoes and basil and noticed a pink note taped to the door. I hadn’t even heard anyone come upstairs. I will be cleaning upstairs tomorrow. If you could let me know when it is convenient to clean your room, I would appreciate it. And I’m making spaghetti if you want some. Ash. I tore the note off of the door and stuffed it into my pocket. I would have to deal with her sometime and she was just one person, not a flock. I could do this. I traipsed downstairs; my nose leading the way. She sat in the same place at the countertop, swirling spaghetti around a fork and smiling at herself when it failed to wrap around it like she wanted. She turned when she heard me and started to get up again. “Don’t get up, please. You cooked?” I tried to change the subject, anything but talking about my awkwardness was a plus. “Yeah, I figured spaghetti was a safe bet.” I nodded, “It’s my favorite, thank you.” I made a plate and sat down beside her. She squirmed and readjusted herself in her seat. I made her uncomfortable, which was funny since that had been my initial intention. God, I was an idiot for thinking I could do this. I just sat down beside her and I turned her off completely. Holly used to tell me that it was my personality she loved since there wasn’t much on the outside. And I guessed she was right. I gathered my plate, thanked her for the meal, then went to my room, preventing myself from wigging out before she even got unpacked. I didn’t have a shot in hell—at least not like I wanted to.
The morning brought more insecurity and more questions. I brought my now stuck on spaghetti plate to the kitchen after making sure I didn’t have any boxers lying around. I left her a note, since that seemed to be her preferred method of communication, and told her I would be out of my room between ten a.m. and two p.m. I would occupy myself in the adjacent room where I was now working on a leather messenger bag. I had the main design drawn out but needed something for the middle. And that’s when it came to me; I would make it for her. I kinda owed her after being an ass. I worked on it furiously until late afternoon and went back to my room for a shower and a change of clothes. I gasped when I opened the room, I’d forgotten she was supposed to clean it that day in my work frenzy. But my gasp was brought on by the overwhelming smell of her in my space. It was everywhere. Even when I entered the bathroom, her smell permeated the small space. I shucked my clothes, careful now to put them in the hamper. I didn’t want to undo everything she’d worked so hard on. I’d noticed my shower was gleaming as I entered the warm spray. I’d have to try again. If Holly always claimed my personality was why she loved me, then certainly I could use it to be friends with Ashland. Friends certainly wasn’t the first word that came to mind when I thought about her, but I was suddenly desperate for her company, however I could get it. And she was living here against my will; I might as well make the most of it and try to push this state of mine to the limits. Maybe there was a chance I could break through. Dr. Mavis was on vacation this week so even if my whole plan went