Chapter 3:

The Earring Dilemma

Help! I'm a Single Mom Falling for a Tentacle Monster

"Dinah! Have you seen my special earrings?"

"Darling, our apartment is too small for us to be yelling at each other across it." She was already standing at the foot of my bedroom door with a grin smug enough to make me feel suspicious.

"I don't have time for shenanigans right now, have you seen them? The ones that look like cute mason jars of pearl boba tea with the little black straws poking out?"

"No dear, I haven't seen them."

"UGH!" I had already tossed clothes out of my dresser onto the floor in my frantic search and I was running out of places to look.

"Darling, does this have something to do with that trip to the thrift shop for the cute new outfit with the short shorts you're wearing?"

"Dinah, I wouldn't have donated my favorite earrings, I spent money to have them custom made and they always get me compliments." I got onto my knees to try searching under the bed again.

No dear, that's not what I'm saying. Perhaps it is about the reason you needed me to babysit so you could visit the salon two weeks before your usual appointment?"

"Dinah, I don't have time for this. I'm already extremely late. At this rate I won't even get home in time."

"Annabelle, why don't you just simply ask Al to go grocery shopping with you?"

If I'd had my favorite earrings on I swear the "tea" in them would have been boiling with how flushed my face became at her suggestion. It had been a week, I should have been way more calm over the simple favor the tentacle monster next door had offered me. But here I was feeling like I was a teenager being asked to prom all over again.

"D-Dinah, what are you talking about? You're the one who s-said it wasn't a real date!"

"Yet, here you are acting like you wish it was, running late just because you want the earrings you think you look best in, getting a new outfit for the occasion, and even making sure your hair is layered to perfection."

Dinah must have seen how hard the gears were grinding in my brain all week, unable to actually decide if I wanted to take the risk of opening up my heart again, especially to a member of another species entirely.

"Al seems nice, but what if things don't work out and Sammie gets hurt? Heck, how would Sammie even react if I brought a tentacle monster home? Besides, my life is so boring. All I do is watch Sammie, write up dumb listicles online, and go out for groceries now and then."

Dang it, I hadn't meant to cry. I had worked so hard to get my eyeliner right and now I could only pray that its claims of being "cry-proof" were actually founded as tears slid down my cheeks. Most other people would have been affraid of Al for bigoted reasons, something about the possibility of being overpowered by numerous tentacles slowly blocking out the sun as one drew you towards whatever mouth it had to swallow you whole. Here I was fearing rejection.

Dinah crouched down beside me, wrapping an arm around my shoulder. "Annabelle, I paid to have groceries delivered to the house this week."

"W-Wait, what?"

"You don't have to get the groceries this week. You can simply walk downstairs, see if Al is hanging around, and maybe check out that nice farmers market you keep saying you want to visit near here."

Somehow, my jaw nearly hitting the floor was enough to stop the crying. I was just too stunned at how she somehow read my mind, knew my fears about asking out Al, and had even tried to plan a date for me since I'd be too rattled to do so myself. "How did you know I'd end up running late? Wait, did you hide my earrings?"

"Actually no, I have no idea where your earrings went. I had planned to simply suggest this to you before you left and risk the possibility of being spoiling Sammie rotten with extra food for a week."

I wanted to chide her over the idea, but a somber mood was settling in over me once again. "Dinah, what if Al says no?"

"Momma! Teddy is so pretty!"

The two of us turned to look toward the door, Sammie standing there with his favorite teddy bear's ears adorned with a certain pair of earrings. I wanted to be grumpy that Sammie had somehow snuck into my room and stolen them, but even on Teddy they looked really good. I know why I wanted them for my confidence now.

"Sammie, you can't just steal your Momma's earrings!" Dinah put on a playfully angry voice, the kind where she hoped to teach a lesson and wasn't really mad. "Now, why don't you give those back to your Momma and you can ask me nicely if you could borrow some of mine."

"Sowwy Momma..." Sammie carefully pulled the earrings out of the plushie, toddling over to place them in my hand.

"It's alright Sammie, but Dinah is right. You have to ask to get things you want okay?"

"I think you answered your question just now." Dinah winked at me, and I couldn't help but wonder if she had somehow orchestrated all of this despite how impossible it would have been. "Now come on Sammie, I'm sure I have some earrings that would make Teddy look gorgeous. I might even have a tiara that would fit if you're lucky."

"YES!!!" Sammie scampered out of the doom, Dinah rising from the floor to follow him.

"Good luck Annabelle, though you won't need it. And there will always be the tub of chocolate ice cream waiting for you in the fridge if things don't work out."

"Thanks Dinah..." I slid the earrings in, standing to give myself a quick check in the mirror. I'd have to leave that eyeliner a good review online, there wasn't a streak in sight.

"Okay Annabelle, it's time to ask a tentacle monster out on a proper date."

I strode towards the door, trying to make my body reflect a kind of confidence I wasn't currently feeling inside.

Taylor Victoria
Nika Zimt