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“GET UP!!!!” yelled Joe at 6 in the morning.
It had been 2 days since Ariel had first came to the apartment and she had yet to do anything productive; she had barricaded herself in Mike’s room almost throughout the day and whenever Joe came back from work, the door would always be locked and the apartment was silent. So instead of allowing her to leech off his food and his electricity bills, Joe decided to get her off the bed and force her to work.
“What time is it?” said a lifeless Ariel.
“Its 6 am, we’re going to work!” he said taking off her bed sheet.
“W-work!? I don’t have to work…”
“By the way you’re using up MY time and energy, you must be outta your mind if you’re thinking of staying a second longer without paying for it!” he scolded.
“But I already paid my half of the rent!” she whined.
Folding the sheets he began, “Paying for rent does one thing and one thing only, it guarantees you the right to stay here and annoy the crap outta me. It does not pay for food, electricity, water, gas…”
“YOU MEAN THAT THAT STUFF’S NOT INCLUDED!!!!” she said annoyed of his nagging.
“NO princess…” he gritted. “If you had ever rented an apartment, you would know that these utilities are separate!”
“UGH!” she said falling back to sleep.
“GET UP and take a shower for crying out loud! No wonder your boyfriend left you…”
“HEY!” she said immediately getting up and facing him with a finger straight at his nose. “Didn’t your mother ever tell you to respect women?!”
“Yes, yes she did,” he answered calmly. “She also taught me to wash my hair from time to time. Has yours?”
“You…” he started angrily.
“I…” he said calmly. “…am going to get ready for work. I suggest you do the same.”
“But where am I working? I don’t even have a job.”
“You’re going to work for me,” he said rolling his eyes.
“YOU!?” she asked in her high pitched voice.
“You said you can’t have your parent’s know about your little boyfriend trouble right? And that if you pay outta their account, they’ll be suspicious? So how are you going to get a job and cover up all the money you’ll make once they land in their account?” he asked.
“So…” she asked trying to make sense of what he was saying. “By working for you, I won’t…get paid? You’re not going to pay me for labor? I might as well shoot myself on the foot now and call it a day.”
“By working for me, you idiot, I don’t have to pay you but I can reimburse you with living expenses!”
“OOOHHH!” she said finally getting his idea. “You make a fine point!”
“I’m glad you can get the idea through your head, at least one of us should be able to understand the other,” he joked.
“Hey…” she said wagging her finger at his face again. “I don’t make fun of you, so don’t make fun of me.”
“By living with you, God is making fun of me. This is evening the score…” he said leaving her room. “GET MOVING LADY!”
“But it’s so early…” she continue to whine with sleep still her eyes. “Taking a shower is only going to make me sleep…
“Don’t make me get in there with you!” he warned as he poked his head through the door.
“I’m going!” she quickly added as she dashed to the bathroom.
As the make their way outside the door, Joe began making his way to the sidewalk as Ariel stood on the porch, confused.
“HEY!” he yelled back at her. “What are you doing?”
“Where’s your car?” she asked dumbfounded.
“Yeah, the mechanical device that transports people from one place to another,” she explained.
“OH! That would be your shoes, my dear,” He said sarcastically as he continued to walk. “I hope you wore a comfy pair.”
“Wait! You guys don’t own a car!? How do you guys go from place to place then?” she asked trying to keep up with him.
“We either take the bus or walk. Besides, Mike’s restaurant is only a few blocks from here.”
Ariel remained silent as they walked to the restaurant. Joe was so annoying whenever she tried to talk to him; he would either tease her or belittle her in some way. Nothing seemed too serious or too personal for his banter to stop. Suddenly as they turned the corner, Ariel see’s a whole line of restaurants and small markets connected together. At the very edge of the street would be Mike’s restaurant. Not waiting for her, Joe had already walked way past her.
“HEY! Wait up!” she yelled at him.
Turning around, Joe see’s Ariel a couple meters away. “Why are you so slow? You’re always so quick at the mouth, but your feet are a different story.”
“What did I say before!?” she scolded at him. “Stop making fun of me, or you’re going to get it right on the lip, mister!” she warned with a fist.
“I should say the same to you about threats!” he retorted.
“Why, are you afraid that this little princess can bite?” she asked sarcastically.
“Oh I’m sorry, I didn’t know that the princess could defend herself without a prince,” he said sarcastically.
“Maybe perhaps this princess doesn’t need a prince,” she said with a smile. “Perhaps this princess is in need of medication…but I don’t think getting rid of constant headaches from an annoying roommate can be prescribed.”
“Maybe all you need is some Pamprin (PMS pills).”
“Maybe all I need is a sledge hammer and a deserted island to bury a certain body,” she continued to argue.
“Maybe all I need…” Joe began but something interrupted him.
“JOE!!!!” screamed an old lady by the nearby market. “You came, you came,” she added with a gentle hug.
“Oh hi Mrs. Lee,” he said back to her with a gentler tone.
“How has the job hunt been going?” she asked.
“Well, actually it looks like I’ll be working for Mike a little longer now. He’s in Japan trying to expand the business.”
“Aw, what an angel he is…and all for his mother I hear,” she said prying for more information.
“Yes,” Joe said with a smile and a nod.
“Oh, and who is this young lady?” she asked peering at Ariel.
“Uh…she’s…” he began, trying to find the right words.
“A friend,” Ariel interrupted him. She bowed to Mrs. Lee and gave a small smile.
“Oh! Like boyfriend, girlfriend?”
“NO!!” they both answered.
“Uh, n-no we’re not like that,” Joe answered, embarrassed.
“Oh well why not, she’s very pretty Joe,” she continued.
“Uh, well…” Joe stuttered.
“What’s your name, dear?” Mrs. Lee interrupted him.
“It’s Ariel. Ariel Lin,” she said nervously smiling back.
“Well Ariel, would you consider Joe?” she asked frankly.
“Consider?” Ariel asked suspiciously.
“Would you consider him to be a close friend?” she asked again.
“I actually met him through a friend of a friend, so not really,” Ariel said humbly.
“GREAT! That means you guys won’t have anything to lose…”
“Whoa, whoa, whoa…” Joe said, trying to break any thoughts Mrs. Lee had before she thought about Joe and Ariel ever getting together in that way. “She’s just my new employee. That’s all.”
“Uh-huh…” she said rolling her eyes. “Then why did Ariel here say that you are friends?”
“Uh…” Joe said figuring out a reason.
“Exactly. Now first hold hands.”
“WHAT!” they both screamed.
“Hold hands,” she continued to say in her gentle manner.
Slowly she takes both of their hands, and with her soft wrinkly hands, Mrs. Lee places Ariel’s hand in Joe’s and gives a light tap on top of them, cupping them together.
“Now this is young love,” she said happily with a smile the size of Niagra Falls.
“Oh crap,” they both thought.
“So…” she began again with a finger pointed at them. “Every time the both of you come past my market, you must hold hands.”
“WHAT!” they asked again.
“Just like a prince, you must protect the princess…” she added.
“Good Lord…” Joe said defeated.
“…and the princess must do the same,” she said to Ariel. “Just because you’re a lady, Ariel, doesn’t mean you always have to be the one in distress. You must become fierce, on the offensive and brave!”
“But Mrs. Lee, I have to pass your market everyday just to get to my side of the street,” Joe tried to reason.
“That gives you more time to bond,” she reasoned back. “Now promise me you’ll do this for me, Joe.”
“Joe. You know how much I care for both you and Mike. Can’t you do this for an old maid like myself?” she asked sweetly.
“Mrs. Lee have I wronged you in a past life or something?” he asked sarcastically.
“That’s a good boy,” completely ignoring his rant. “Now go ahead and walk hand in hand with you’re new beau.”
Dragging Ariel along, Joe makes his way through the market. The further they went, the more the people around the marketplace would tease him. Suddenly Ariel stops dead in her tracks just as Joe tries to enter the restaurant.
“YOU DO HAVE A CAR!!” she screamed.
“Noooo,” he tried to reason. “That would be the catering TRUCK. It is only used for catering and nothing else.”
“But why don’t you guys just use it to drive home, I mean it is YOUR truck…”
“Your mouth needs to stop opening so much. My mind’s been conditioned to think of horrible monstrous things whenever your lips start smacking away,” he interrupted.
“HEY!!!” she said yanking him backwards. “What have I said before??”
“What you can’t handle it?” he teased.
Unable to stand his arrogance, Ariel slaps him right across the face.
“That’s right. I can’t handle it. So stop.”
Completely caught off guard, Joe just stands in front of her holding onto his swollen cheek.
“If we’re going to be working and living together…you can’t keep this up,” she said nervously. “You have to respect me.”
Calming himself down, Joe closes into Ariel’s face and stares at her for a while with piercing eyes.
“Under one condition…” he said firmly.
“What?” she asked anxiously.
“You can’t slap me anymore,” he joked with a serious tone.
Smiling a little, Ariel sticks out her hand.
“Deal?” she asked.
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