Saturday Shorts: A Plant and a Party

I couldn’t imagine for the life of me why it was taking Val so long inside the grocery store.

But then she showed up with a plant. 


“Owen, I have no idea what to name the cactus. Help me,” she demanded as she handed me the pot and slid into the driver’s seat of our dad’s beat-up minivan. You’d think that with him being the frontman of a ridiculously popular contemporary music group, he’d have the notion to get a better car, but no.

I looked down at the prickly thing and frowned. “I thought you went in there to get the stuff for Nat’s cake, what happened to that?”    

“One step ahead of you, lil’ bro,” Val smirked as she pulled out of the parking lot. “See, I was going to buy the cake stuff so we could make it ourselves, but then I realized one thing that is very important- Mom isn’t home, and neither you nor I can bake to save our lives.”

“That’s two things,” I muttered.

“And that is beside the point,” Val gave me a look, leading to me tightening my grip on the worn-down car seat. Not to say that Val was a bad driver or anything, but I generally felt a whole lot safer when her eyes were actually on the road.

“Anyways, I figured that the best option here is to have Sara make the cake,” Val continued, referring to her best friend (who was basically yet another older sister of mine, considering how much time she spent at our house). “She baked cookies this one time for her older brother when he was back home from college for the holidays and sweet baby Jesus, they were delicious-“

Spending lots of time with Val means growing accustomed to her tendency to nonsequentially ramble about unrelated topics.

So, while she went on about The World’s Greatest Chocolate Chip Cookies, and how absolutely, utterly evil the creator of oatmeal raisin cookies must have been (because, after all, why on earth would someone want to make something so disgusting look like something so delicious?!), I stared out the window. Extremely eventful, yes.

A lot of the times when I’m out of the house- especially on summer afternoons like this one- I’ll find myself subconsciously looking for people I recognize. It’s weird because it’s not like I actually want to see people that I know from school or something, that would just end up really awkward. Any unplanned interaction with school people outside of school is invariably awkward. But nevertheless, some part of me almost craves the excitement I get from catching sight of a familiar face in an unfamiliar crowd because it gives me something to focus on, something to occupy myself with.

I’m weird, I know. 

“… and hey, do you remember that one time that Dad took you and me and Nat bowling?” I was jolted out of my thoughts at the idle question.

“What? Oh, yeah, sure.”

Val glanced at me out of the corner of her eye, one eyebrow raised. “You were six.”

I blinked, searching for an answer. Preferably one filled to the brim with wit. Elephants have great memory…

“Can six year olds not be elephants?”

… not exactly the way I wanted to phrase it.

We were halted at a stoplight. Val fully turned her head to give me a long, quiet stare. I kept my eyes on the glaring red light.

“Six year olds as el-“

“It wasn’t supposed to come out like that, shut up,” I grumbled. I could almost feel the growing grin on Val’s face as she looked at me. My big sister took great pleasure in my discomfort. In the most loving way possible, of course. 

“Either way, I kicked Dad’s butt that day, it was fantastic,” Val pushed her wide-rimmed glasses up her nose, smirk growing bigger.

“He probably let you win, you were… what, twelve?” 

“Owen, you are just jealous of my incredible skills which you will nev-

“The light’s green, Val.”

My head slammed into my headrest as Val slammed her foot into the gas pedal. You’d think that a nerdy twenty-three year old would be a better driver, but no. 

“My point here is, Sara’s cousin’s friend wishes he was as good of a mini golfer as me,” Val concluded, flicking on the minivan’s right directional as she switched lanes (my hands were always rather sore from gripping the seat after Car Adventures With Val). 

“That’s great.” I was okay to not think about Val’s train of (nonexistent) logic too much.

It felt like the car jumped about a foot in the air as we pulled into the driveway of the house, but I couldn’t blame Val on this one. There’s always been this really large bump at the head of our driveway (I have no clue as to why any construction worker would have thought this was a good idea), and Dad hasn’t bothered to fix it after all this time. Val even named the bump Jerry.

“Okay, you can give me back Trent now,” my sister said as soon as she stopped the car, promptly unbuckling her seatbelt and turning to me expectantly.

I realized I was still holding the stupid plant, which she had evidently named without following up for any assistance from me (not that I cared). I handed her the stupid plant.

“Thank you very much. Now let’s go throw a party.” Val hopped down from the car and skipped inside, cradling Trent in both hands. 

This was just something I found from a little while back that sort of characterized these two nerds- I have somewhat of a story idea to write with them, but more on that some other time.


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