Chapter 6:

Grape And Bean Pizzas

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

“Gosh Sammie, this pizza is so good! What are these toppings again?”

“Grapes and beans!”

“Ah yes, the perfect combination for a discerning palate.” I continued to “munch” on the homemade playdough pizza Sammie had so graciously made for me, trying to ignore the constant buzzing coming from my pocket.

“Annabelle, are you really not going to answer your phone?”

I groaned and flopped back on my chair in a manner so over-the-top that Sammie began to giggle. “Buuuuut Mooooooooooom! I’m eating pizza with Sammiiieeeeeee!”

“Oh goodness, I’m your mother now? So I suppose I can make you clean your room?”

I gasped, standing and running behind Sammie in his high chair, trying to “hide” behind him. “Sammie, use your pizza powers to save me!”

Every now and then, kids present excellent reminders about how enthusiastic and innocent they can be. This time, a hunk of flattened playdough thrown at Dinah’s face, landing on it with a solid plop, was that reminder.

“Annabelle you shouldn’t laugh so hard, you’ll encourage bad behavior.” Dinah couldn’t even hold back the laughter in her voice, how did she expect me not to be rolling around on the floor busting a gut?

“Alright fiiiiiine. Sammie, I know that was funny but we don’t throw things.”

“Okay, sowwy Dinah.” Sammie signed along with his words, causing Dinah and me to beam. We’d been working so hard to make sure he really learned his sign language, especially after I realized just how important it might be in this modern world. Well, and in my life in general, Sammie would have to meet Al proper someday, right?

“It’s quite alright Sammie. Now, can you convince your mother to answer the phone?”

My phone my buzzing in my pocket again and I needed to figure out how to explain it without alerting Sammie. “It’s just texts, nonstop actually, it’s quite annoying.”

“So why not answer them and just… Oh…”

Dinah’s powers of perception came in clutch once more. Kyle hadn’t found it worth sending a message to check on myself or his son since I left home over three years ago now.

“So, will you be eating that pizza later then?”

“Nah, I only eat Sammie’s tasty grape and bean pizza! Nasty pizza goes in the trash where it belongs.”

“Good, you make sure to only eat the pizza you want to. Speaking of which, you’ll still be having calamari pizza later this week?”

It took me a moment to decipher the pizza code words but I was able to manage. “You already know I said yes! I’ll just pay for grocery delivery this time. Honestly, you should have told me it was that cheap, I could have saved my body so many agonizing staircase workouts.”

“But then you wouldn’t get to enjoy calamari pizza.”

Mt face was betraying me, I could feel the warmth flooding into my cheeks. “Fine, you’re right. Now, why don’t you have some grape and bean pizza?”

“I just had some right on my face! Besides, I’m on a playdough diet. Sammie, could you just make me some grapes?”

“Yes Dinah!” Sammie got to work with the purple playdough and the two of us would have likely just watched him and chatted randomly if we didn’t hear the strange clattering outside.

“Annabelle, would you check on whatever that is out the window for me? My knee is acting up today.”

“Sure Dinah.” I stood and walked towards the window. There was Al, looking like every single one of its tentacles was holding something. I saw books and a shelf to go with them, a fish bowl, several pillows and blankets, and what appeared to be a cat tree.

“Dinah, does our apartment allow pets?”

“The rules say no, but not everyone follows them. Silly things anyways, people should be allowed to enjoy animals.”

“Well uh, I think Al has a pet cat? Or fish? Or… Wait, is that a didgeridoo?

“Dear, you’re intriguing me far too much. I just told you I didn’t want to stand back up.”

“But Al’s carrying what looks like a giant plastic nose towards what I have to assume is its apartment…” It was trying to work all of the things into apartment 406, I made a mental note to put that into my phone later in case I needed to drop in.

“Annabelle, didn’t you tell me that Al said he needed ‘human furniture’ before your date this week?”

I felt butterflies fighting to break their way out of my tummy. I had been the healthy kind of nervous to go out on another date with a potential suitor, especially a massive tentacle monster, but now I was extremely flattered. Even if it appeared that Al had very little idea what kinds of things it actually needed for me to be comfortable, the fact that it had gone out of its way to try so hard was incredibly flattering.

“Well, I hope Al doesn’t think I’m supposed to sit on that cat tree because I haven’t spotted a single chair in those tentacles yet…”

Boo-ba-doo-ba-doop! Boo-ba-doo-ba-doop! Ring ring ring ring ring ring ring, banana phone!

“Is that really still your ringtone?”

I ignored Dinah and looked down. I knew it would be Kyle, but seeing that number pop up still made my stomach sink. I ignored the call and muted his number entirely on my phone. I didn’t want to have bad memories weighing me down, not when I had what was bound to be another excitingly weird date ahead of me later in the week.