Chapter 4:

Culture Shock

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

I had raced down the three flights of stairs with my heart likely beating out of my chest like a cartoon character before it finally hit me.

"Wait... Which apartment is Al even in? It's one of the new additions right? That's still like, hundreds of doors to knock on! What if I can't find Al to even ask? What if som-"

I was so caught up in my worries that my foot caught on a slightly uneven part of the sidewalk. I could barely comprehend how rapidly my face was about to collide with the pavement when there was a rush of air at both of my sides and I could feel the faint wetness of suction cups latching onto my arms.


My nose was inches from the ground, and while I couldn't see who's tentacles were currently holding me safely above the ground, I just knew it was Al that had saved me. I got confirmation upon seeing the familiar purple hues of the tentacle monster's form as it helped me return upright but kept me lifted off the ground?

"Are you okay?" Al frantically signed at me with a spare tentacle. I could barely understand what it was trying to communicate to me though considering how it was tilting my body in every direction imaginable as if I was a piece of fine china and it was examing my body for cracks.

"Al, I'm okay! Just look at my hands Al and I'll- HEY! No tipping me upside down, I'm wearing a skirt!"

I knew Al couldn't hear me but the tension in my body as I tried to desperately hold my skirt in place must have been noticeable. I was quickly placed back on my own two feet, Al's entire body looking as though lilacs and azaleas were fighting to color its form. There was a wet sound as it unstuck its tentacles from my body, pulling them bashfully back.

"Wait, are you... Blushing?"

I stopped, remembering Al couldn't hear me to begin with and feeling a bit grateful it couldn't with how I felt my own face warming up at that moment.

"I never saw you get groceries, is everything alright?" Al was signing at me, presumedly to try and "break the silence" in the awkward moment between us.

"My friend surprised me and is getting them delivered."

"I see. Will you need help next week?" All of Al's tentacles drooped slightly as it signed at me. My inner anxiety demons were trying to rattle around every noisemaker they could inside my skull that there's no way Al would say yes to a date. But the way Al looked could have appeared in a science textbook next to paragraphs explaining the body language of a disappointed tentacle monster.

"Come on... Have some courage Annabelle..." I cleared my throat, despite my next words being coming from my trembling hands. "That actually means I have the whole afternoon free. If you're free, want to check out the farmer's market?"

Sammie was unsurprisingly a huge fan of cartoons, especially one that featured someone living in a pineapple under the sea. There was a famous gif from the show of a squid dancing that was used in memes all over the internet, and it was the only way I could describe how Al was moving right now. Well, what that looked like with a few hundred tentacles added anyways. My heart soared — there was no way that wasn’t a yes.

“Should we take a bus then? O should we walk, or I guess float? It’s close by.”

“We could walk and talk?” It was as if Al’s skin was the battleground for an epic war between pink and purple hues once more, perhaps the embarrassment over the display was excitement was catching up to it.

“I’ll lead the way then.” I started walking away from the apartment, Al following close by my side. I was just starting to realize that I had four years of not-dating rust to shake off and had absolutely no idea what to talk about. “It’s a bit cloudy today huh?”

Oh my God really? Small talk about the weather? Come on Annabelle you’re blowing it!

“It is quite curious, your skies are not sarcoline as they are in my realm.”

I had a feeling I would have to google whatever the color was that Al had signed out letter by letter when I got home. Even if I didn’t understand, I was hoping I could show some sympathy while learning a bit more about my date.“It must be hard finding things that remind you of home here.”

“There are lakes on Earth, like the ones my Aunt would sometimes take me to in the Far Realm. Though their inhabitants are vastly different.”

“Oh? Was your Aunt summoned here as well?”

“Yes, Aunt Kassogtha was transported here alongside her mate and brother Cthulhu.”

I couldn’t have been happier that Al had no way to hear my audible gulp. My date was a direct relative of Cthulhu?!? And wait, brother? Trying to ignore the obvious implications of incest for a moment, did that mean that tentacle monsters had genders like humans did?

“Wait, is it offensive when humans use it/its pronouns for your kind?”

“No, I use those terms to make things more relatable for humans. Our relationships and identities are far more complex. We actually use h’ to refer to one another. The translation is quite close to what humans use.”

I realized that a scientist would salivate at the knowledge that was just casually explained to me. Maybe I could find someone to email it to later, but for now, I was just happy that tentacles and hands were flying comfortably in conversation. 

Things were going so well until the sight of the farmer’s market stopped us both in our tracks once more. There we were, a woman standing close enough to the only tentacle monster in sight, obviously there together on a date. In a way, it was comforting knowing Al was just as nervous as I was. Even though no one had a right to judge us in any way, it was still hard to shake.

“So, is there anything that you’d to check out?”

Al’s tentacles stood still a while, somehow making it clear that it was lost in thought before signing, “Actually, I have an idea. Do you trust me?”

Kuromaru (クロまる)
Nika Zimt