Publisher: Silver Publishing (March 23, 2013) (https://spsilverpublishing.com/blog/2013/03/16/just-a-little-unwell-by-iyana-jenna/)
Amazon Kindle: Just a Little Unwell
Patrick Trafford is pleased with the simple life he has, spending his time tending a tiny garden accompanied by his best friend, Chad, a cockroach. Nevertheless, he can't hide the excitement bubbling in him as a man suddenly appears in the garden.
Damien Abner politely welcomes, albeit somewhat at a loss, Patrick's warm offer to spend time with him. To have a coffee, watch some movie, and dance along with the characters in it.
They begin to date and Patrick has never been happier, though he barely knows who Damien is--not that it matters to him. For him, being clueless does mean bliss.
Patrick loves taking care of his garden, the white and yellow colors of honeysuckle and buttercups and some bushes of Deptford pink. He loves weeding and clearing off the garbage, and he loves doing it alone. The only company he wants or needs is his only friend, a cockroach named Chad. He's been doing it for months, or years--exactly how long he doesn't quite know for sure. He also doesn't know why no one else has ever come to the garden. He has several neighbors who live in two rows of small white houses just like his own. But he only sees them from afar, never talking with them or visiting each other's house. He's always alone, always in the garden the whole day, and he always goes home when the sky is dark with Chad tagging along, like he always does.
The same thing will repeat the next day--and the next day.
Until one day when it doesn't.
A person is standing near the fence at the corner of the garden. Patrick can't help but be wary, even though Chad is jumping around him as if he has no care in the world. No one's ever been with him here. No human, that is. The man's all-white uniform makes him even more nervous for some reason Patrick can't fathom. He sneaks behind a tall tree and peeks sideways around it. The man says nothing, but he doesn't seem to have trouble following Patrick with his eyes, as if the tree weren't even there. Patrick pulls himself in, back flat against the huge tree trunk, breath heaving. He stays there for quite some time, Chad chirping on his shoulder. When no other sound and no voice is forthcoming, Patrick's finally sure that the man is gone. He steps out of his hiding place.
The man is right there, waiting, smiling softly at Patrick.
"Patrick." The man nods at him.
Patrick freezes, his mind blank.
"Hi. My name's Abner, Damien Abner, your new..." The man pauses, as if he doesn't know exactly what he wants to say.
Recovering his senses, Patrick smiles back. He tries his best to have it be as soft as the man's--Damien's--but he ends up with more of an edge to his voice than he'd intended.
"Damien, would you like a coffee?"
Damien lifts an eyebrow. Patrick waves back at his house and up at the sky.
"It's not yet dark, so I can't invite you in for dinner. But I have coffee, if you'd like some."
Damien's face scrunches up for reasons beyond Patrick's comprehension, but finally it smoothes out. The smile is back.
Patrick beams. He leads Damien home, flicking Chad off his shoulder. Chad lands on the ground with a small squeak. Patrick shrugs. He'll live.
Once inside, Patrick grabs two cups off the counter, dividing the coffee between them and sliding one cup toward Damien. The man looks down at the cup. He seems confused. Suddenly Patrick remembers.
"Oh." He takes that one back. "I'm such a bad host. I thought you would like it black, like me. Cream and sugar?" He looks around. "I'm afraid I'm running out of cream, though."
"This is fine." Damien takes the cup back from Patrick and sips a little. "You make excellent coffee."
"I do?" Patrick beams. He points to the corner of the room. "You wanna watch a movie?"
"What have you got?"
Patrick drops his gaze. "Only an old Western flick. I love it because it has singing and dancing." He looks up to see if Damien approves. His heart lights up when Damien nods, smiling.
"I'd like to see it. I'm sure I'll adore it like you do."
"That's awesome." Patrick rushes to his TV and VCR set and plays Cat Ballou, his absolute favorite movie. He searches for his favorite part where they dance at the party in the barn then turns to Damien. "Can you dance? We should dance."
Damien shakes his head and hands, and he looks so panicked that Patrick laughs out loud.
"C'mon, Damien. It'll be fun."
"No, Patrick. You go ahead and dance."
Patrick ignores him and takes his hand. "It's not that hard."
Damien clearly looks uneasy, but he gets up and makes an attempt to haltingly follow Patrick's steps.
"Follow the music," Patrick says, laughing as Damien once more steps on his foot.
"I'm trying, I'm trying." Damien's laughing too.
Patrick stops abruptly, causing Damien to bump into his chest.
"What's wrong?" Damien asks.
Patrick opens his mouth to answer but immediately closes it again.
"Come on, Patrick. You can tell me anything."
"Really? But I don't know you."
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