Chapter 4:

Monkey Wrench

Don't Miss The Target♥

The nights of summer retreats between teenagers is usually the most memorable part of the trip. Of course, I’m not saying the fun played under the sun was not worth remembering, but the happenings when the moon is out usually leaves the most impression as we sit down, reflect upon the day, and talk about ourselves and whatever else comes to mind. That feeling of bonding with people gives a better high in my opinion. That does not happen under the sun as we’d be too busy with the activities to really try and connect.Bookmark here

At least, if you get to remember the night.Bookmark here

As magical as I made it sound, if you take a view in from the outside, it’s just a bunch of rowdy kids getting drunk behind their parents’ backs and being loud for the sake of it. Since alcohol were involved, there was bound to be a kid or two who would be drinking more than they could just so the others don’t think of them as a late bloomer or some other reason. Consequently, those kids would only remember the hangover the next morning.Bookmark here

Luckily, that was not the case for this trip. Or rather, it was prevented from it happening by one certain childhood friend of mine.Bookmark here

I knew Charlie and Arty drank, so I thought I could bring some beer for us to drink at the night of the trip. I was not sure about Eric since I have not seen him drink before, but we could always pressure him into it.Bookmark here

But, the girls were model students, so alcohol was taboo for them while still underage. Even Beth, who has a playful personality so you would think she has already taken her first drink, was not interested.Bookmark here

Of course, since Tabitha and I lived close by, we decided to go together to the meeting place for the trip. But before leaving, she told me she was going to inspect my bags first.Bookmark here

I knew what was up. She suspected I was about to smuggle some beer and she was going to tell me to leave them once she finds the contraband in my bag. It was 4:30 in the morning and I did not want an argument that early, so I willingly left the alcohol behind without a fight. Not like I could hide it anyway as it would have been very difficult to conceal even one six-pack.Bookmark here

In any case though, it did not seem we needed the buzz from drinking alcohol during the night of our trip. Instead, we were getting a high out of questioning Eric and Fran.Bookmark here

The topic of romance was bound to pop up as a conversational topic in nights like these, so of course, Eric and Fran had the spotlight after what happened earlier in the day. The two seemed like they wanted to run away from us when we caught them holding hands, but they were able to avoid some interrogation once someone pointed out we could do it in our lodgings as they could not escape from us there. Besides, there were still a few things we needed to do like going grocery shopping for dinner, and preparing for it. But once that was done with, sure enough, in the large room where we were going to sleep for the night, the rest of us had them encircled with their backs to the wall opposite to the only door out.Bookmark here

The first question for the pair was “Are you two going out now?”, which everybody probably already knew the answer to, but we wanted confirmation straight from the source.Bookmark here

The two shyly responded in affirmation.Bookmark here

For a bit of fun, I poured a glass with cola, pretended it was alcohol, handed it to Eric, and exclaimed “Let’s drink to that!”Bookmark here

He stared at the glass full of cola at first, seemingly not knowing what to do with it, but he accepted it without a word and downed it like a champion.Bookmark here

Everybody cheered.Bookmark here

Now, the interrogation that came next were mostly about the build up to their relationship, so instead of telling it to you in question and answer format, which is a pain to relay because the questions were in no good order, let me just tell you the story based on what they have said.Bookmark here

Apparently, the two have already met before. Bookmark here

When the school year started and Fran had just transferred in, she liked to hang out at the school’s library and do some light reading. It was not because she was being bullied or ostracized by her new classmates though. In fact, she got along with them fine as the three other girls would attest. But, since she was the new kid on the block, she still sometimes felt out of place due to all the conversations and the inside jokes she could not relate to. The library sort of became a refuge for her because the books did not let her feel out of place, or so she says.Bookmark here

Eric enjoyed reading, so he would sometimes drop by the library to read and maybe borrow some books. Simply enough, it was during one of these trips that he met her.Bookmark here

As cliche as it may sound, their first encounter was that they bumped into each other while browsing through the same section of books. Don’t worry as the cliche ends there because they were not looking for the same book which got them talking. It was also not an instance of love at first sight for either. Actually, the only talk they had were “Sorry” and “Excuse me” in that first encounter, and both went on with their day.Bookmark here

Funnily enough, it was not books that even got them started talking. Bookmark here

The same week of their first encounter which was not exactly the day after (they forgot which exact day), the students in charge of the library were having a bit of an emergency. But, they could not leave their posts unattended. So what they did was call two people who just happened to be there, Eric and Fran, to cover for them while they attended to their emergency. They were shown what they were needed to do, then they were left alone.Bookmark here

Neither knew each other back then, however, so since they were also explicitly told they were free to do whatever as long as they did not leave the counter, the two of them just read their own books. That did not last long when another student went up to them to check out a book. Bookmark here

Eric, after being so engrossed in his book, forgot what the process was so he asked Fran for help. She did not mind taking over the task while showing him how the work was done. That short interaction was what broke the ice between the two.Bookmark here

From then on, they started talking about books they have read. They were critiquing, reviewing, and even giving recommendations to each other based on their favorite authors.Bookmark here

By the way, at this point in the interrogation, I offered up another glass of cola to Eric as I told him that act was worth a drink. He again downed it in one go to everyone’s cheers.Bookmark here

Anyway, their interactions in the library went on for two weeks until Fran’s visits became rarer. As time went by, she became more comfortable being around her classmates, so she no longer had a need to escape towards books. Plus whenever she does visit, she now had a classmate in tow which made Eric scared to approach her for one reason or another.Bookmark here

Also, during those two weeks, Eric was already becoming interested in Fran. He had thought he had enough time to spend with her to build a relationship, but unfortunately for him, their friendship ended as soon as it started.Bookmark here

Even worse, he did not know her name. So whenever he sees her alone in the hallways, he could not call to her easily.Bookmark here

“Wait, you spent two weeks together and you didn’t even know her name?” I interrupted during that part in the interrogation.Bookmark here

“Yeah, I know it’s embarrassing”, Eric laughingly admitted. “When she introduced herself, I was more concerned about the book I was reading so I kind of just blocked it out. When we had gotten a bit friendlier, it became awkward to ask.”Bookmark here

The explanation was understandable. I also have met a few people, forgot they existed, then have gotten friendly through one way or another but it was hard to ask their names again because I was supposed to know the person already.Bookmark here

Still, you should try remembering someone’s name if you have met them, especially if it’s your crush.Bookmark here

With his answer, I poured another glass of cola and handed it to Eric.Bookmark here

“What’s the criteria for a drink?” he asked, probably already suspicious of what I was doing.Bookmark here

“An achievement, a fault, and everything in between you’ve made during your story”, I replied.Bookmark here

Maybe it was the festive atmosphere, but I was not sure what possessed him to accept my answer as even I will admit it was unreasonable. Yet, he still took the glass of cola and downed it all the same.Bookmark here

Anyway, back to the story. Bookmark here

When Charlie, Arty and I invited him for this trip, he had not realized that one of the girls we were going with was Fran. Even when they were having some small chats over the Lime group chat, he had no idea who he was talking to. So he was surprised when he saw her the other day at my home for the movie marathon. Bookmark here

I recalled he stood at the living room’s entrance staring at the girls. That was probably the reason for it.Bookmark here

I also recalled him enthusiastically talking about one of the movies, so I again thought that was the explanation behind his behavior.Bookmark here

That very same day, he had decided he would redeem himself by taking their friendship back to where they were for those two weeks, and maybe go beyond, which is why he asked me for some advice.Bookmark here

Well, I did not really advise him much. All he did was ask what was the best way to confess, and I only told him to keep it simple. It took multiple tries though, since he was not willing to accept that simple was best so he kept sending me cheesy lines in Lime for review. At some point, I explained to him that he will forget his lines due to nerves, so he should really just keep it simple, which is what made him accept my advice.Bookmark here

Now, for Fran’s side of the story, it was a bit different. As a start, she remembered Eric’s name when they first met.Bookmark here

I poured another glass for Eric when I heard that. I told him it was “For the shame of you being the only one who forgot each other’s names.”Bookmark here

He hesitated, but downed it like he did the first three times. He was starting to have lots of loud burps from all the carbonated drink he has had.Bookmark here

It was no surprise as he had already consumed a whole 1.5 liter bottle.Bookmark here

Anyway, during those two sweet weeks Fran and Eric spent at the library, she thought she had found a friend. But because Eric was the type who was hard to read, she did not know if he thought the same. It did not help when he was not greeting her when they happen to pass each other by in the school hallways, so their relationship had cooled ever since.Bookmark here

When she was told who the boys coming along with them to the trip were, she recognized Eric’s name, but did not identify herself to him because she thought he did not remember her. It did not help that his responses in the chat tended to be short and impersonal, so it was hard to start a conversation with him in there. Though to be fair that was how he talked to the rest of us over Lime.Bookmark here

Still, she thought it would be nice to reconnect with him during the trip. This was also why she fought her dad to let her come when she was about to be forbidden to go.Bookmark here

Her story felt incomplete for me though. I have met her dad once, and that one time was enough to give me an impression he was strict, overprotective, and scarily overbearing. I thought there was no way she would try defying him just for the sake of rekindling a simple friendship, so I tried asking for the real reason.Bookmark here

Fran just turned red and clammed up, which was all the answer I needed.Bookmark here

I opened up a bottle of orange soda this time, poured a glass, again pretended it was alcohol, and gave it to Eric.Bookmark here

Eric seemed annoyed and asked “What is it this time? Fran hasn’t said anything yet.”Bookmark here

“And that silence contained the answer, you dense Romeo.”Bookmark here

Once I have said that, I spotted the two other guys, Charlie and Arty, going “Oh, I see”. Bookmark here

They did not seem to have gotten where I was going with my question. I could not blame them, they have not met Fran’s dad yet.Bookmark here

The other girls had no reaction so I assumed they were privy to Fran’s feelings.Bookmark here

So now, their story has reached its climax. It was now the day of the trip. Although, this part was skipped since we already knew that they were spending so much quality time together, so the questions went straight to the confession.Bookmark here

Excitedly, the girls asked “Who confessed?”Bookmark here

Both shyly tried avoiding to answer at first, but they gave in eventually. Bookmark here

It was actually Fran who confessed.Bookmark here

Basically, I was bullying Eric to drink an unhealthy amount of carbonated soda even though he was not the one who has put my little brother at risk of being mutilated.Bookmark here

Despite that realization though, my grudge could not be reasoned with. I still poured him another glass, which he wordlessly downed this time.Bookmark here

The story did not end there though. The other girls still wanted the entire picture of the confession so there were still probably some small stuff in there. But for us guys, that was the end of the interrogation as we were not interested in those parts, so I could not relay those minute details even if I wanted to.Bookmark here

Besides, Eric unsurprisingly had an urgent need to excuse himself to the bathroom, so the person we wanted to tease during the questioning was gone for the moment. When he left, we took that as an opportunity to take a look at our junk food situation. While the girls were getting the last drops of information from Fran, us guys were discussing that we needed to make a store run and resupply.Bookmark here

The girls seemed to have went through the chips we have brought quickly, so we had to replenish them. I observed them during the interrogation and it looked like they were snacking through Fran and Eric’s story as if they were viewing a thriller. Bookmark here

Well, it was not just them, actually. Arty was busy snacking, too, and probably consumed about as much as all the girls did combined.Bookmark here

I did not know he was a glutton for potato chips until then.Bookmark here

The drinks, of course, were also in need of replenishment. I had served Eric more than two liters of soda alone, so including the amount that the rest of us had consumed, we needed to get some more.Bookmark here

We decided to wait for Eric before going out, but once he had returned, he said his stomach was hurting so he did not want to go out. All those bubbles in his stomach taking its toll, I thought. Nothing some stomach medicine could cure though.Bookmark here

The three of us announced our intentions to the girls. They all gladly sent us on our way.Bookmark here

Well, except for one. Tabitha grabbed my hand to hold me back, smiling, and told me “Not you”.Bookmark here

It caught me off guard, so I was not able to ask her why immediately.Bookmark here

She turned to Arty and Charlie, and said “Remember guys, no alcohol”.Bookmark here

The two replied “Okay” then left me behind.Bookmark here

That was when I realized why. Bookmark here

She did not trust me to not sneak buying some beer.Bookmark here

I actually had no intentions of buying some. In fact, I was already running low on cash so I could not buy one bottle if I wanted to. But if I knew myself well, I guess I would not trust me either.Bookmark here

Being left behind, I decided to announce something to the girls plus Eric. “I guess, while the two are out, this is a good opportunity to tell you guys something I was wanting to say.”Bookmark here

“Is this going to be the big reveal?” Tabitha, acting all excited, teased. While playfully looking at Tabitha, she continued “Are you going to finally announce you’re official with a certain someone?”Bookmark here

Tabitha retaliated by poking Beth’s side for a tickle.Bookmark here

I just ignored Beth, poised to make my statement.Bookmark here

She got everyone to pay attention to me though, so I probably should be thankful to her for that.Bookmark here

I knelt in front of my audience. Although, I probably should have given my placing more thought because I was facing Tabitha directly. The girls likely misunderstood my intentions and started cheering. Tabitha seemed flustered by my action, too, as I was looking straight at her, but that was more because she was in my direct line of sight than anything.Bookmark here

I then prostrated myself and shouted “Please don’t tell Fran’s parents about Eric!”Bookmark here

“Huh?” everyone sounded in unison. Their reactions were a mix of surprise, confusion and disappointment.Bookmark here

Awkward silence filled the air for a moment until Fran chimed in to ask “What do you mean by not telling my parents?”Bookmark here

I told them of my interaction with her dad the other day. I was not asking them to keep the new lovers a secret forever, only the fact that they got together during the trip. Also, I was asking them to maybe just keep it on the down low for a week or two. Ideally, they keep it safe until the summer break is over, but I was willing to negotiate.Bookmark here

Dana, who seemed to be the most confused out of everyone, asked me “I get Fran and Eric, but why are you asking us, too?”Bookmark here

I explained that I knew the girls hung out at Fran’s from time to time, so it would not be impossible that Fran’s parents could overhear something when they were also at home. Even worse, Fran’s dad might be upfront and just ask them!Bookmark here

“Don’t worry”, Fran tried assuring me. “I know he can be a bit scary, but he’s not like that”.Bookmark here

“Yeah, he was probably only trying to scare you”, Tabitha added.Bookmark here

“Well, it worked!” I pleaded. “And I haven’t even touched Fran!”Bookmark here

“Though you did get an eyeful of her”, Beth teased, pertaining to my behavior earlier that day.Bookmark here

Fran recoiled, letting out a cute shriek.Bookmark here

I was speechless. Cold sweat started covering my body. I was guilty as hell of that. Under pressure, I wound up snapping and loudly apologized. “I’M SORRY I’LL ERASE IT FROM MY MEMORY I PROMISE!”Bookmark here

There was awkward silence again.Bookmark here

Sounding a little guilty with her comment, Beth was the first to speak to tell me “Alright, I’ll keep it a secret for you. I wouldn’t want to be the reason why your future children with Tabitha doesn’t exist.”Bookmark here

Of course, Beth being herself, she had to put that last comment in.Bookmark here

Tabitha poked Beth again as a protest, but did not comment. Instead, she turned to me with her ears a bit red and said she’ll keep Fran and Eric’s relationship a secret, too.Bookmark here

“For your future kids, right?” Beth was resilient.Bookmark here

Tabitha tried poking Beth again, but this time it was parried. This just irritated Tabitha, so she began an attack of swift pokes to Beth’s sides to tickle her. I was actually enjoying the view in front of me, but Beth ran away out of the room and Tabitha chased after her.Bookmark here

Those of us who remained in the room was quiet as we listened to the fading noise the two were making until Dana spoke up to say “I promise I won’t say a thing, too”.Bookmark here

It was not long until Fran promised she would also not tell her parents for a while.Bookmark here

I then looked at Eric and said “You, too”.Bookmark here

“Why me too?” he asked.Bookmark here

“I’m just asking you to hold on for a bit before inviting yourself to hang out at her house.”Bookmark here

“Why?”Bookmark here

“Just until the break’s over?”Bookmark here

“Why?”Bookmark here

“Okay, two weeks?”Bookmark here

“Why?”Bookmark here

“One week?”Bookmark here

“...”Bookmark here

“...”Bookmark here

Like when I was begging him to delay his confession, he was not budging. Luckily, I had an ace up my sleeve this time. Bookmark here

I turned to Fran and asked her “A month is too soon to be bringing him into your house anyway, right?”Bookmark here

“Wait, what?” He was caught by surprise by my sudden switch in tactics.Bookmark here

But before he could begin to protest, Fran agreed. “Yeah, it does sound too soon.”Bookmark here

To reinforce my stance, I turned to Dana and asked her “How long did it take until you introduced Charlie to your parents?”Bookmark here

“Us?”, she sounded surprised. She looked like she was not expecting the question. “Around six or seven weeks of dating, I think.”Bookmark here

“See?” I looked triumphantly at Eric who wore a face like he had been hustled at a game of poker. His mouth was wordlessly opening and closing as if he had something he want to say but could not get the right words out.Bookmark here

Luckily, the guy is both unsociable and completely inexperienced when it comes to relationships, so he did not know the real answer depends on a per couple basis. The two girls we were with just happened to share the same attitude and opinions.
Bookmark here

In the end, he begrudgingly agreed to my terms.Bookmark here

That was one less monkey off my back. Thankfully, a crisis with Fran’s dad could be avoided by telling everyone to just not snitch. He was still human after all. If no one told him what was up, he would not know.Bookmark here

Now, if only I could make progress with Arty and Tabitha. That one I could not simply sweep under the rug because something more than human was watching over the developments.Bookmark here

After I was done with getting people to promise to not leak Fran’s newly established relationship to her dad, I went outside for some fresh air to mull over how I could proceed with achieving my objectives for the trip.Bookmark here

The first day of the trip was squandered away for varying reasons. Worse, I was not sure by how much, but Arty’s stock has certainly fallen for his blunder during their errand. I initially thought that if the two at least got to talk even for a bit during the day, then I could set them up for the night to even deepen their relationship. Well, they got to talk for a bit, but the feel that I got from the afternoon was that leaving the two alone for the night might do more harm than good.Bookmark here

I looked around the surroundings if there was something I could use as an excuse to invite just Arty and Tabitha. Unfortunately, since we were not staying at a resort, I found nothing. I was only standing in the humble yard of Dana’s relatives’ house.Bookmark here

I was not saying that to be ungrateful though, no. Each one of us were thankful from the bottom of our hearts to Dana’s relatives who lent us a house to stay for our trip. For one, because it was free of charge. Second was because we had it all to ourselves.Bookmark here

The house was actually where Dana’s grandparents had lived for decades and raised their kids, namely her dad and his siblings. But since the grandparents have grown so old, Dana’s aunt, who only lived a couple blocks away, had taken them to her home so they could be easily taken care of. Basically, the house was unoccupied.Bookmark here

It was unoccupied, but the house was not abandoned. Their extended family continued to maintain it and used it as a guest house for when relatives are over for reunions and gatherings and needed a place to stay. The grandchildren, Dana included, has also been using it to invite friends over for occasions like our summer trip.Bookmark here

Well, it was still being maintained, but only half the house was livable. The first floor where we were staying was the one used for guests. The room we were staying in was the former living room that was repurposed as a shared bedroom for multiple people to sleep in. The second floor was off limits because it was being used for storage so it would be dangerous to go up as heavy things might fall on us. Bookmark here

In any case, it was not fancy, but there was nothing to complain about. The only downside was it was a ten-minute drive from the beach, but that was no concern as long as we enjoy the night with each other.Bookmark here

There was nothing to complain, but facts were facts. There was not much to do within the gates of the house.Bookmark here

I decided to go out to the street to explore a bit. Coincidentally, Arty and Charlie has just arrived from their trip to the store carrying their spoils, and I told them of my intentions as I headed out of the gate.Bookmark here

First, I walked around the familiar part of the street. I say “familiar” because this was the part we drove through when arriving at our lodgings. I found nothing of interest, just normal houses in a normal town, so I started walking back.Bookmark here

I slowed my pace in front of the gate of the house we were staying at to see if anyone was outside, but I saw no one, so I started going the other direction at my regular walking speed. Bookmark here

It did not take me long to find something of note on this side of the street as I found a small playground three houses from where we were staying. Surprisingly, I spotted Tabitha and Beth there both lying on the ground.Bookmark here

I approached them and asked “What’s up with you two?”Bookmark here

It was here that I noticed that both were gasping for breath. Tabitha even more so, so I turned to Beth for answers.Bookmark here

She laughed first. “You know how Tabby chased after me for teasing her right?”Bookmark here

“Uh-huh.”Bookmark here

“Well, this is the result.”Bookmark here

“You mean you two played tag until both of you dropped?”Bookmark here

“Sorta like that.”Bookmark here

Beth had her playful side, so I could see her doing something like this, but I was surprised Tabitha still had a bit of childishness in her. She would kill me if I mentioned that observation out loud though, so I kept it to myself.Bookmark here

“I’m surprised you didn’t bother the neighbors.”Bookmark here

“Well, we’re good like that.”Bookmark here

“Anyway, I can’t leave you two like this, but I forgot to bring my phone, so let me just take a quick trip back to get someone help me carry both of you.”Bookmark here

“No need”, Beth said. Raising her arm, she continued “Just help me up, I can walk.”Bookmark here

So I grabbed her extended arm and pulled her up. Sure enough, she did not seem like she was too tired to walk.Bookmark here

Tabitha, however... Bookmark here

“Five minutes”, she said in between gasps. “Just give me five minutes and I’ll be able to walk.”Bookmark here

Beth had other ideas though. She pointed down to Tabitha and told me “This one you can carry”.Bookmark here

“Wait, no!” Tabitha pleaded.Bookmark here

I ignored her pleas. Bookmark here

I was actually already crouching down to pick her up, but before I could, she quickly sat up in a panic saying “I get it already! I’m up! I’m up!”Bookmark here

It seemed like she really did not want to be carried.Bookmark here

“Aww, I thought that was going to be the second time I see a bridal carry up close”, Beth teased.Bookmark here

“Geez, Beth, quit it!” Tabitha said as I helped her up to stand. “I keep telling you we’re not like that.”Bookmark here

“Maybe not now, but what about in the future?”Bookmark here

The conversation was giving me a sense of deja vu.Bookmark here

“I don’t know about the future. Maybe, but that’s in the future”, Tabitha answered.Bookmark here

Beth fell silent for a moment, seemingly taken aback by the response as she held her head with her right hand. “Even your answers are similar. Just get married already, you two!”Bookmark here

Neither Tabitha nor I responded since we were surprised that her tone sounded more exasperated rather than the usual playful one.Bookmark here

But before we could ask her what was wrong, Beth returned to her usual way of speaking and said “Let’s head back”.Bookmark here

I escorted the two back to the house just in case one of them was too tired to make the short trip back. Well, mostly because Tabitha was complaining about how much her legs have been overworked in just one day.Bookmark here

I saw the two to the gates. Looking back at me, Tabitha unenergetically asked “Are you not coming in?”Bookmark here

“I’ll just take a look around for now”, I replied.Bookmark here

“You sure you’re not just going to sneak to the store?”Bookmark here

She really did not trust me, huh?Bookmark here

“I don’t even have my wallet on me” I said, turning the pockets of my shorts inside out. They were not exactly empty. I had the love laser pointer with me and a couple of receipts which I have shown her, but not even a single coin.Bookmark here

“Back pocket?”Bookmark here

“Don’t have one”. I turned around to show her.Bookmark here

“Butt crack?”Bookmark here

“Oi, even I have a little bit of self-respect!” I protested. No way I would hide money up in my ass!Bookmark here

She stared at me with suspicion for a bit before letting me go. “Alright, just don’t stray too far.”Bookmark here

“Shame, I would’ve liked to see it”, Beth teased.Bookmark here

“Spare me”, I begged her.Bookmark here

The two went in and I resumed my walk. Bookmark here

Apart from the small playground, there was nothing else of note. The street was just a bunch of normal houses with varying designs and ages. There was an empty lot though, but it was blocked off by a padlocked fence, probably the only remains of the house that once stood there.Bookmark here

I walked until I reached the end of the street which intersected with a creek. On the other side of that were rice paddies, reminding me that we were in a somewhat rural part of the country. Still, that was the end of the line so I made my way back. I could explore the other intersecting streets, but it was an unfamiliar town and I was afraid I might get lost so I decided against it and just kept walking straight.Bookmark here

Not really wanting to go back to the house just yet, I stopped by the playground. There, I thought about what activity I could rope Arty and Tabitha into doing. But unfortunately, I was blanking. Not only were the playground equipment already too small for any of us, I was not even sure if I could even interest them into playing. Not to mention, Tabitha seemed to be already too tired for further physical activities.Bookmark here

I gave up thinking. I took the laser pointer out of my pocket and started fiddling with it out of boredom. This was supposed to be a magical tool that makes people fall in love, but it has got so much constraints that I was not able to use it yet. If it could make two people fall in love by simply shooting at their chests, my job would have been easier, I thought. Bookmark here

It then dawned on me that I have not used it since I was testing it out when I first got it a few months back. I was hoping this trip was the time I will be able to finally use it, which is why I brought it, but the prospects of that happening was quite low with the current situation. That much I knew even without some device to gauge people’s feelings. But, I figured that I should at least see if it was still working so I pointed it at one of the walls separating the playground to one of the houses beside it.Bookmark here

It was still working, I could see the bright dot it made on the wall. The laser pointer was in good working order, but I still shot a few at the walls just for the heck of it.Bookmark here

I had not noticed, but Beth was sneaking up behind me.Bookmark here

“What have you got here?” she asked as she swiftly grabbed the laser pointer off me. “A laser pointer? Were you playing with a cat? Where is it?”Bookmark here

She sounded unsure how she would use the item to tease me.Bookmark here

“No, there’s no cat” I said, trying to stay calm. It was not like I was explicitly forbidden to show the thing to anyone, but it was still worrying that the device was in another person’s hands. There were still a few unknowns with it, especially when you point the thing at two lovers. I would not want her shooting lasers at some random couple who just happened to be passing by, so I tried nicely asking for it to be returned. “Can you give it back to me please?”Bookmark here

“Why?”Bookmark here

“Why, you ask... Well, it’s mine for starters.”Bookmark here

“Come take it from me then”, she coyly stated and ran towards the street, exiting the playground.Bookmark here

She was just lying on this very playground a while ago dead tired, yet she was back to running again. I wondered how much energy this girl had.Bookmark here

When she noticed I was not chasing her, she stopped just outside of the playground’s entrance to taunt me. “Hey, don’t you want this back? Who knows what will happen if you don’t chase me.”Bookmark here

But defying her expectations, I just walked towards her without any rush. “Come on, even I don’t have as much energy as you do.”Bookmark here

“Aww, you’re no fun”, she commented. She then dangled the laser pointer in front of me. “Alright, you can have it back.”Bookmark here

I tried reaching for it, but she quickly pulled her hand back. Her face had a really wide grin as if she was saying playtime was not over yet.Bookmark here

“I’m sorry, I’m giving it back to you for real”, she said, still grinning, as she held out the device again.Bookmark here

For the second time, I tried reaching for it, but the result was the same. Beth had pulled her hand back again. That went on for a bit until I finally managed to grab the thing off her.Bookmark here

“You finally got it!” she commented as she laughed. Bookmark here

“Yeah, well, let’s just head back” I said, a bit out of breath. I wanted to lay down after the ordeal.Bookmark here

As we were walking back, Beth spotted Charlie and Dana to the distance walking away towards the opposite end.Bookmark here

“Where?” I asked. I saw two pairs of people ahead of us in the street, but I did not recognize each of them due to how dark it was.Bookmark here

Beth, for some reason, had the idea that, instead of simply telling me which of the pairs were them, she would use my laser pointer. She quickly grabbed it off my pocket and before I could stop her, she had shot the laser.Bookmark here

“There’s Dana” with her first shot straight to the chest. A second shot quickly followed, also to the same area of the body “And there’s Charlie”.Bookmark here

Well, technically it was only one shot as with lasers you can move that single ray of light and point at multiple things. But, you get the idea.Bookmark here

Regardless, Beth had great aim despite not seeing the light. I mean, from a distance, the light becomes bigger, but even then you would still need to see the dot to aim properly. She got her target perfectly without relying on that first erroneous shot.Bookmark here

“Huh? Is this broken or something?” she tried asking me. I was the only one who could see the light coming from the pointer after all. But before she could investigate further, I took the device away from her.Bookmark here

“I already see them”, I told her, so she did not seem to mind me grabbing the laser pointer.Bookmark here

I walked faster to catch up with Charlie and Dana to see if that had any effect on them. At first, they seemed fine as they were walking hand in hand and quietly flirting. It seemed like a lovey-dovey scene so I was thinking that the magical laser pointer had no effect.Bookmark here

But then they started raising their voices. They were starting to have an argument. They were so loud that some of the neighborhood dogs started barking for the disturbance.Bookmark here

Beth and I looked at each other and rushed at the two to calm them down. Thankfully, the two quieted down as soon as they saw us.Bookmark here

Beth was asking the two what went on between them, but they refused to talk and acknowledge whatever problem had occurred just now.Bookmark here

I had an idea what happened though. Cold sweat start to trickle down my entire body. Beth was lucky she was oblivious, I thought. Bookmark here

You can resume reading from this paragraph.