Bubblegum {Short Story}

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Bubblegum

Wordcount: 996
Prompt: your character is working at an ice-cream parlour when their crush walks in. What happens?

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Bubblegum

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‘Sup, newbie?” Cal smiled nervously at the boy in front of him. Grey eyes sparkled mischievously.

Um, hi,” he replied.

I’m Scott,” the boy said, sticking his hand out. Chocolate sauce dripped from his fingers. “Oh, sorry.” Scott wiped his hand on a cloth.

Um, it’s ok.”

You say ‘um’ a lot, don’t you?” Scott asked.

Leave off him, Scott,” Penny, the ice-cream parlour owner, said. “Be nice.” She pushed Cal forward. “Scott’ll look after you…won’t you, Scott?” Scott smiled angelically and Cal immediately felt like he was in big trouble. “Well, I’ll leave you boys to it, then. Show him the ropes, alright?” Penny walked away; Cal wanted to scream after her, “Please don’t leave me!”

Scott threw an apron in his face. “Put that on,” he ordered. “I’ll show you what to do.”

~

Some time later, Cal was exhausted and wishing he could have a break. It seemed like every single person in the little village had decided that today would be the day they wanted ice-cream. To make matters worse, Scott was quick, clean and efficient; Cal dropped spoons and mixed up banana and vanilla. Which is practically impossible, anyway.

Eventually, the crowd ceased. Scott leaned against the counter and stared expectantly. “What?” Cal asked. Scott was always full of questions, as Cal had discovered, and he was wary at what his next one would be.

So, do you have a girlfriend?”

No,” Cal replied sourly.

Boyfriend?” Cal’s heart skipped. No one even assumed Cal liked guys, let alone knew.

Cal spluttered, “No! No, I don’t have a boyfriend. I’m single.” Scott raised his eyebrows and chewed on a toffee stick.

Sounds like you want one,” he commented, “protesting too much.” Cal glared. Scott ignored him and continued, “Anyone caught your eye?”

Look, can you just drop it?” Scott held up his hands in defence.

The tinkling sound of the bell interrupted his reply. “Yours,” Scott said, “I need a pee.” Cal rolled his eyes, turned to face his new customer and heard his heartbeat in his ears, pulse throbbing in his neck. “On second thoughts,” Scott muttered in Cal’s ear as he glanced at the new boy, “I might stay…”

Cal took a deep breath and plastered on a smile. In front of him stood his crush, Luke. Muscles, floppy hair, brown eyes, white (if a little wonky) teeth.

Fancying a guy who sat next to him in maths but barely acknowledged his existence had become the norm for Cal. He began to live with it; live with the fact he wouldn’t ever be with this guy.

Oh, hey Cal,” Luke smiled, “I didn’t know you worked here.” Cal felt his voice catch in his throat.

Scott, as if sensing his discomfort, intervened smoothly. “He didn’t until this morning.” Luke raised his eyebrows and smiled. “I’m Scott. What do you fancy?” He indicated the array of colours beneath the glass.

Deliberating, Liam popped his hip. “What would you recommend?” he toyed. Annoyance flooded Cal’s veins; Liam was flirting with Scott?! Whatever happened to being straight? he thought.

Bubblegum,” Cal interrupted, before Scott could open his mouth. Scott raised his eyebrows and smiled brotherly at him. Liam nodded.

Alright, I’ll have that please.”

Coming right up!” Inwardly groaning (it had to be that cheesy?!), Cal scooped out two lumps of bubblegum and plopped them in the cone. Scott chatted to Liam at the till, but Cal chose to ignore them; Liam flipping his hair at someone who wasn’t him wasn’t his idea of fun.

Sulkily, he rested the cone in the holder. “£1.50, please.” Liam handed over the cash without a word, still smiling at Scott.

So,” Liam said, resting his elbow on the table and taking a lick of the cone, “can I ask for your number?” Cal’s chest thumped – but no, Liam was talking to Scott. What does he have that I don’t? Cal asked himself, annoyed at the tears pricking his eyes.

Eyebrows raised, Scott laughed and threw a teatowel over his shoulder. “Sorry, I’m taken.” He winked at Liam, and clapped Cal on the back. “I’m sure this guy wouldn’t mind it, though.”

Cal made a promise to strangle Scott later.

Awkwardly, he laughed. Liam glanced at him, asked for a piece of paper. Scott almost threw it his way, the pen nearly taking out his eye. Liam scribbled down his number and passed it to Cal. “Um, thanks,” Cal said to Liam’s already retreating back.

You,” Cal hissed, rounding on Scott.

What?” Scott asked through a mouthful of fudge stick.

You forced him into that!”

Did not!”

Did.”

Didn’t.” Cal glared and Scott mocked him by staring back. Scott swallowed. “Well, you never would’ve got his number without me.”

Cal glanced down at the scrap. “How do I even know it’s his?” he mused.

It is,” Scott replied confidentially, even though Cal hadn’t wanted an answer.

How do you know? And why didn’t you tell me you had a boyfriend anyway?!” Scott shrugged.

I just think it is.” He wiped the tabletop. “And I just thought it’d be a bit of fun. So, you’re gonna text him?”

Naa. He’s not really interested.”

He is.”

Isn’t…he only gave it because you goaded him.”

‘Goaded’, who even says that? Goaded…”

Cal punched his arm. “Pay attention!” Scott rubbed the spot where Cal made his mark.

Just call him. He wouldn’t have given it to you if he didn’t want you to have it.”

Sighing, Cal went to the other side of the counter to start clearing the tables. “Maybe I will, maybe I won’t.”

Well, if you don’t, I will!” Cal’s head shot up protectively, and his eyes shot daggers.

You’re taken!”

Darling,” Scott smiled, sashaying his hips, “the thing is, I’m always wanted.” He winked. 

~

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