Not Funny

Apr 25th, 2019
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  1. Autumn drifts over Iron City, bringing the cool breeze of the Badlands along with a deeper, cloud-dappled sunlight. You’ve been sent on an afternoon errand to pick up some parts for a project which Alita is working on. Though you’ve been burning to ask her about it, she’s entirely refused to give even a hint of what it might be. Not that it truly matters though; there’s always interesting things to pick through on the cluttered streets of the city, and as long as she's happy, you are too. Today the trip is unusually quick, and on the walk back you spot a tiny new stand at the very edge of the market square. A little girl, no older than ten sits on an old drum, watching the crowd pass by her scuffed sign which proudly displays the cost of a container of lemonade. Your heart melts as you kneel down to meet her eye level, and you inquire with a mock seriousness of the quality of her goods. An enthusiastic exchange later and you rise with two containers of lemonade, balanced carefully with the rest of the parts for Alita. Just as you turn to walk an idea catches you, and you ask the girl for one of the lemons which she has on display. After attempting to haggle with her, and receiving determined push-back, you flip her a credit for the price she asked. You quickly head back to the apartment, your secret hidden in the depths of your bag.
  3. You arrive to the sound of faint music through the apartment door. Pausing for a moment, you smile as you recognise Alita’s singing. The notes are beautiful and clear; you ever so carefully inch the door open so as not to disturb her. You sneak your way in to the living room doorway and are rewarded for your efforts with the sight of her spinning across the floorboards, her sky-blue sundress fluttering as she joyfully performs the last line of her favourite song.
  5. “… I can reach any star, I can do anything!”
  7. You feel adoring warmth rising through your heart as she finishes her twirl and strikes a pose, hands on her hips and hair a floofy mess. She catches sight of you, and her smile becomes an abashed grin with her face quickly turning bright red. Your heart aches at the love you feel, and after gently dropping your things you wrap her in a tight hug. She buries her head in your chest and you kiss her lily-scented hair. Your voice is full of affection as you speak.
  9. “I love your singing, Ali.”
  11. The muffled mumble you receive in return has a bashful feel to it.
  13. “I’m not very good…”
  15. You stoop down to meet her eyes and give her a quick kiss before responding.
  17. “You’re not very good. You’re the best.”
  19. She beams at you and after another kiss skips over to the bag of your acquisitions on the living room floor. She hums softly as she looks over the parts, nodding in approval after her examinations are complete. She tucks a strand of hair back behind her hair, and suddenly notices something at the bottom of the bag. You step over to the bag she pulls out the two containers of lemonade. Her confused frown is mixed with excitement as she inquires about them.
  21. “Hey, what are these?”
  23. You take one of the containers and pull off the plas-seal. A cool citrus smell rises from the yellow liquid, and Alita’s face brightens.
  25. “It’s like orange juice, but different. Try it!”
  27. She pulls off the seal on her own drink, and with a dull clink of containers touching in cheers, the two of you drink. The liquid is sweet and tart; it seems the little girl was right about the quality of her stuff. Alita’s shoulders hunch forwards and you hear her mumble a sound which you’ve come to know as approval. In a flash she’s finished her lemonade, and as she wipes the last remnants off her lips you join her in downing your own.
  29. “I love it! But orange juice is still my favourite.” Her voice is light, and her eyes shine in the afternoon sun. You pause, appreciating the sight for a moment before responding.
  31. “It’s always good to try new things.”
  33. She nods in agreement, and then with a quick hug goes to move the parts to her desk. You help carry the mechanical bits and pieces over and watch as she settles in to poke at them with her toolkit. Her tongue pokes out slightly as she measures and screws, and you know that you could sit her for hours watching her expressions as she tinkers. Still, you have your own projects, so you leave her to the world she’s lost in.
  35. Your work is surprisingly uncompelling, and after a few fruitless attempts at regaining focus you give up, walking in to the kitchen for a break from the crash-drives. You’re intending to rummage through the cupboards for anything interesting when you spot the lemon sitting on the table. Suddenly the idea you had before crystallises in you, and with a smile to yourself you peel and split the lemon in to wedges. The pale, yellow fruit fits in to a small bowl, and after grabbing a chocolate egg as back-up you head over to Alita’s desk. She’s hunched over it; staring intently at a coupling under high magnification. She grunts in acknowledgement as you enter.
  37. “Hey Ali, I got a lemon for you to try if you’re hungry.” You manage to keep the giggles in your voice from escaping and she hums in response, her eyes still on the part in front of her. You place the bowl next to her, and step back with enough of a vantage point to see her face as she distractedly pops a lemon wedge in to her mouth. The reaction is immediate as she bites down on the sour fruit. Her beautiful face twists in to a puckered grimace, and she spits the fruit back in to the bowl. Her eyes water slightly, and she looks at you with betrayal clear on her features. Your laughter mixes with sympathy as she speaks, accusation underpinning her words.
  39. “That was mean!”
  41. “My dad once did that to me too. It’s a good joke.”
  43. Even though you know it’s not serious, the look of hurt is too much for you, and you quickly produce the chocolate egg in recompense.
  45. “Here, this should help.”
  47. She looks at the egg suspiciously, before grabbing it from your hands and unwrapping it. Her face perks up as she quickly eats the brown chocolate, and you step over to give her a hug around the chair. She leans in to the hug, and sighs contentedly when you softly massage her scalp. The edge of betrayal only just touches her words now.
  49. “I’m not forgetting that.”
  51. You laugh briefly, bright and genuine now.
  53. “I guess I’ll have to be vigilant.”
  55. She looks up at you and as her eyes open you see the mischief playing in them.
  57. “I guess you will.”
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