Chapter 38:

The Monstrously Cute Couple's Major News

It’s My First Time Working Late Nights at a Convenience Store, and If I Keep Getting Demon Lords, Kappa and Other Oddballs as Customers, I’m Giving My Two-Weeks’ Notice

This is night number thirty-eight at the convenience store.Bookmark here

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Ding-a-ling-a-ling...Bookmark here

“Welcome, ira-... Uh...”Bookmark here

“...*sigh*...”Bookmark here

A man wearing round glasses staggers inside, sighing like he’s already lost at, well, life. Peeking out through the (not literal) black clouds that are weighing this guy down are two pointy horns.Bookmark here

It’s...oh, right. Oni-woni.Bookmark here

Wait, where’s his better half?Bookmark here

“...*siiiigh*...”Bookmark here

Seriously, though — what’s with all these heavy sighs? Why does he keep looking my way? Does he want to ask me something? What’s keeping him from it?Bookmark here

“...*siiiiiiiiIIIIIIiiiiiiiiiiigh*...”Bookmark here

Yeesh, could he be any louder? That last one made me jump.Bookmark here

I know that calling attention to him is just asking for trouble... But if I just ignore him, then I’ll get caught in this endless cycle of moping. Which might actually be worse.Bookmark here

“...Alright, what’s your deal?”Bookmark here

“Hm? Oh, it’s you. ...You’re not married, you wouldn’t get it.”Bookmark here

Well, excuse YOU! Geez! The nerve of this ogre! Ugh, I HATE it when people practically scream that they want attention — then play it off when you finally give in! And quit looking at me like you want me to try harder, buddy!Bookmark here

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“Then I don’t see what’s keeping you here.”Bookmark here

“Wow, that’s harsh. I’d have given you the reason if you’d asked a little more nicely. Look, I’ll give you one more chance. Go ahead, try again.”Bookmark here

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What, so brushing him off only made him bolder?Bookmark here

And what’s with his whole high-and-mighty attitude? Like that’s going to make me want to give him a second chance.  Bookmark here

“Fine, whatever. What’s troubling you, sir? ...Not that I really care.”Bookmark here

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“You could at least wait for the answer! Alright, I get it! I’ll come clean! It’s my wife, Pompom-om-nom!”Bookmark here

“Right, she’s not with you tonight. You guys didn’t get divorced, did you?”Bookmark here

“...*sigh*... No, it’s not like that. At least, not yet. I wouldn’t be surprised if we did. We were burning with passion at the start, but now the fire’s dwindled down to practically nothing. Ha ha...”Bookmark here

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Oni-woni laughs, but it’s a dark, hollow sound. His eyes have a kind of mad glint to them as he glances up towards the ceiling.Bookmark here

Yeah, that’s not the look of a man who’s doing okay.  Bookmark here

“So, what happened?”Bookmark here

“Well, that’s just it. I don’t know. She just started giving me the silent treatment completely out of the blue. When she’s not yelling at me, that is. Whenever I asked her if she liked the food I’d made, she’d always smile and say it was delicious. Now she looks like each bite is torture. I tell her that she doesn’t have to force herself, but she says it’d be a waste of food otherwise. To top it all off, she has these bouts of severe lethargy, too. I’m not sure what I did, but it must’ve been something.”Bookmark here

So, basically...Bookmark here

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The sudden silent treatment and/or bursts of anger = She’s fed up with his clinginess.Bookmark here

Not being able to stomach his cooking = She’s so pissed off that anything he touches is ruined.  Bookmark here

She’s tired all the time = The stress of dealing with this annoying loser has finally caught up to her.Bookmark here

“Yep, you’re screwed.”Bookmark here

“What am I supposed to do?! I can’t even figure out what’s setting her off!”Bookmark here

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“Look, the second you walked in here, you started shamelessly begging for attention. Maybe she finally got tired of your nonsense.”Bookmark here

“Come on, I know better than that. Lately, I’ve been doing ALL of the cooking and cleaning right after I get home from work, too. I run the bath and set out the futons and make her a mug of warm milk, too! She couldn’t be fed up with THAT, could she?!”Bookmark here

Okay, yeah, that sounds a pretty rough gig.Bookmark here

“...Wait, you mean your wife isn’t helping out with ANY of the chores?”Bookmark here

“Well, no. She hasn’t been feeling well enough to. When I asked what was wrong, she told me that she didn’t really know why, but just looking at my face made her sick.”Bookmark here

“...And you’re sure you didn’t screw up somehow?”  Bookmark here

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“Not that I can remember. At least, nothing comes to mind. And now I do so many of the chores that I could write a how-to book for henpecked husbands. I’d call it something like ‘The Life-Changing Magic of Suddenly Having to Clean up After Your Now-Demonic Wife’.”Bookmark here

“Dude. This really isn’t the time to be practicing your stand-up routine.”Bookmark here

“...No, you’re right.”Bookmark here

“For now, why don’t you just go home and apologize your ass off?”Bookmark here

I mean, as far as I can tell, he’s done something that’s touched a nerve.Bookmark here

And Oni-woni doesn’t strike me as the most perceptive of dudes. It’s entirely possible (probable?) that he’s done something to piss off Pompom-om-nom without even realizing it.Bookmark here

“I guess, but... I don’t even know what I should be apologizing FOR.”Bookmark here

Ding-a-ling-a-ling...Bookmark here

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“Whoops. Welcome, irasshai-...”Bookmark here

A young woman comes racing into the store, gasping for breath. She’s still dressed in her tiger-striped pajamas, with her black hair pulled back in a messy ponytail. The bits of hair popping up everywhere don’t do much to hide the traffic cone-esque striped horns on her head, though.Bookmark here

“Muffin...”Bookmark here

Oni-woni’s expression is one of pure terror, as Pompom-om-nom comes stomping up to him without a single word.Bookmark here

“Hey, um... No fighting inside the convenience store, okay?”Bookmark here

My warning falls on deaf ears as Pompom-om-nom suddenly breaks into a dash, charging at Oni-womi like a raging bull.Bookmark here

“Whoa! Babe? Baby? Bae? Can’t we talk this out?!”Bookmark here

His frantic plea doesn’t slow her down, so he flings his arms open wide.Bookmark here

“...Fine! Do your worst! Even if you hate me, even if you treat me like a servant in my own home, I still... Um?!”Bookmark here

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Pompom-om-nom pounces on him, bundling him up in a big hug, with an even bigger smile on her face.Bookmark here

“Darling, I’m expecting!”Bookmark here

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“...Huh?”Bookmark here

...For real? Oni-woni’s eyes (and mine too) widen at the shocking news, blinking in stunned surprise.Bookmark here

“...‘Expecting’? You don’t mean...?”Bookmark here

“Oni-woni, I’m carrying your child!”Bookmark here

“Wait, so then...?”Bookmark here

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“Our family’s about to get a little bit bigger! Because babies! OUR baby, honey!”  Bookmark here

“So, basically...?”Bookmark here

“Oni-woni, you’re gonna be a daddy!”Bookmark here

“A what...?”Bookmark here

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Dude, seriously. Knock it off. There’s only so many ways the poor woman can define “pregnant” without it getting weird. I mean, even I knew what she was getting at, so he’s got no excuse.Bookmark here

Still, I’m happy to hear that the reason for all this drama is something well worth celebrating.Bookmark here

“That’s wonderful news! Congratulations!”Bookmark here

“Aw, thank you! I couldn’t be happier!”Bookmark here

Grinning from ear to ear, Pompom-om-nom tightens her hold on her husband.Bookmark here

“But dearest... I thought you hated me.”Bookmark here

“Now, why would you think a silly thing like that? Oni-woni, I love you to hell and back.”Bookmark here

Uh, that doesn’t exactly sound all that romantic to me, but I guess that’s just ogre culture for you.Bookmark here

“I’m so sorry for everything I put you through. I knew I wasn’t feeling like myself — but it’s not exactly like I can pop into the nearest clinic for a quick checkup. So, I asked around and I managed to find a place that treats non-humans like us. I went in for an examination a little while ago, and they just called with the results.”Bookmark here

“...I can’t believe I got it all wrong. I was so sure you... Wait, how did you know this is where I would be?”Bookmark here

Pompom-om-nom steps back to take Oni-woni’s hands in her own.Bookmark here

“What kind of wife would I be if I didn’t know all my husband’s favorite hideouts? I ran here as fast as I could.”Bookmark here

“Oh, but what if you’d tripped? Snookums, you have to hold my hand the entire way home.”Bookmark here

“...I’m sorry for shoving all the housework on you, too. I just felt so exhausted. But apparently, that’s another common symptom.”Bookmark here

“Don’t you worry, sugar. All good things come in pairs. Just like the horns on our head, we’re better as a lovey-dovey duo. And I’ll have to work even harder, now that we’ve got a little one on the way.”Bookmark here

“Oh, sweetie. You’re such a devilishly devoted husband. And I do adore that all of your cooking is absolutely overflowing with love — even if all of my tastes have changed for the worse.”Bookmark here

“It’s fine, I... Pompom-om-nom, I love you so much. I’ll do whatever you need me to, so you can have all the time you need to relax. The cooking, the cleaning — you name it. You’ve made me the happiest ogre alive.”Bookmark here

“Me too, Oni-woni.”Bookmark here

Arm in arm, the happy couple head on home.Bookmark here

That’s good, I’m glad they managed to work things out.Bookmark here

I applaud them as they leave, holding back tears. It already feels too quiet without them here.Bookmark here

I wish them nothing but the best.Bookmark here

Sophie Schmerler
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