Tom sat staring out the large front window of the McDonalds he worked at, his shift already long done and past, just idly look at the cars drive by on a lazy afternoon. His shift had been just until 4 pm, so he was randomly left with an open afternoon. This wasn't typical, he normally closed, doing dishes and usually helping another person out in their area. He was good at what he did and despite everyone else's complaints about the place and the crappy work, Tom was happy with it.
One big thing that he enjoyed was the socialization. He was a loner at school, not a mopey, sad, dark of the room one, Tom just never quite fit in anywhere. People would start talking about their crazy weekends getting drunk and high, and Tom wouldn't know how to relate, he didn't do that stuff and didn't want to. It didn't make much sense to him to incapacitate yourself to the point where you had no idea of what was going on, or couldn't react properly. In his little town of just a few thousand people though, that's all the teenagers seemed to think about around here.
Putting an elbow on the table, Tom propped his chin in his palm and looked towards his birthday in a week. It would be his 18th, and he had decided to throw a party at his house. Well kind of his house, his grandparents had converted his grandpa's old shop into a livable apartment, just one large room and a private bathroom, when he was 14. Tom had planned on inviting some select co-workers, his favorite manager Leena, and a couple of girls and guys he went to school with.
He hadn't put himself out there yet, but he was going too soon. His co-workers all liked him a lot, and sounded encouraging anytime he thought of a group activity for them to do, like see a movie or something, but they never seemed to happen at all. It was just the way of it for him, and that was fine, it was normal. Secretly he hoped and prayed at least one person would show up though, he didn't want to be the loser without friends for ever.
Getting up from the table, Tom walked out the door and to his truck, an old farm truck he had fallen in love with since it was given to him over 2 years ago now. It had been a random present from his grandpa just before his 16th birthday, so he could drive to school. His agreement with his grandpa was that he had to pay his own gas; Grandpa wouldn't pay that, but the insurance and everything else he would cover as long as he didn't wreck it.
Tom did his absolute best to take care of his truck, he loved it and it always took him wherever he needed to go, no matter how he wanted to get there. The truck itself was a red 80's model Ford f-150, with 4 wheel drive and a big block engine, along with some rust and faded paint to give it character.
He climbed into the driver side seat, fired it up, and began his short, but seemingly long drive home. Tom needed his birthday to get here sooner because that was all he looked forward too.
Tom continued his normal work schedule of closing for the rest of the week, working almost every day. Thursday was kind of special to him though because that's when he and his crush worked together next. That was important because it would be his only opportunity to invite her to come to his house for his party, which would be the following night. His birthday was Saturday, but Tom wanted to rein it in Friday going into Saturday, hopefully getting at least somewhere positive with this girl.
Getting to work early was nothing normal for Tom, 30 minutes or even 45 minutes were never unheard of for him, always prepared to clock on early for a few extra dollars. He sat at a back table and waited for the night manager to come in and hopefully they would put him and this girl together, so that he could ask her during work, instead of praying for a break with her.
Nina came thru the door in uniform, her tall but frail and slender frame carrying a load of school books with her from college. Being a manager she didn't have to do any of the dirty work really, especially because everyone loved her and worked hard for her, so she usually sat back in the office and did homework, occasionally covering breaks for her workers.
'This will be my chance!' Tom got excited. Nina loved Tom's work ethic and seemingly awesome ability to get anything done she asked, without much of a question. He planned on using this to his favor, by calling in a small favor of pitting him and his crush, Kelley, together.
"Here, let me help you," Tom said as Nina struggled past the counter with her books.
Passing most of them off to him, she complied, "Thank you," and hurried on back to the office.
He carried them past a few of the day crew, and to the office in the back of the store, and went through the door with her. Setting them on the desk, Tom took his chance. "Can I ask you a favor tonight Kelly?"
She looked up at him, her bright brown eyes looking him square in the face, "I'll try, what's up?"
Tom jumped right to, "Will you put me and Kelley together? I want to ask her to my birthday party personally, but seeing how we don't go to school together, I only see her here, and I may need a few hours to work up my courage and feel her out,"
Nina bent over her desk and looked down at the night schedule for the closing shift, "Hmmm, if you don't mind doing drive through orders, while she presents, sure. It's a slow night tonight, so you should have plenty of time."
Tom nearly jumped up in celebration, "YES!" escaped his mouth, "Thank you Nina, I owe you for this." He dashed out of the office, to excited to remember to invite her to his party as well.
Still 15 minutes before he clocked on, Tom went back outside into the lobby and found an interesting site. Kelly was sitting at the same table he had just been sitting at, exactly opposite his spot. Feeling rather well about himself, He went over and sat across from her in his old seat.
"Hey," She said.
"Hi, how is your day?" Tom responded, the nerve beginning to drain out of him as he looked at her.
They carried on some small talk for a few minutes; Tom just sat drinking in her beauty. She was a very petite girl, small chested, narrow hipped and tiny all over but she showed enough womanhood in her body for a man to know she was beyond puberty. She had milk colored skin with a few small circular moles on her arms, and long narrow fingers. Her fingers were long and graceful, decorated by various rings that changed from day to day. She always had colorful large plastic bracelets on her wrists, the tinkling of them catching his ears. He had never seen her in anything but work pants, or blue jeans, but he knew that she had a thin set of legs, lanky and almost a little long for her body. When she walked her hips swayed with the sexiness of a supermodel, her but small but prominent enough to fill the small black slacks they issued for work.
It was her face that everyone immediately fell in love with, like that of a supermodel. It was long and narrow, with a straight nose positioned perfectly between her almond shaped eyes, her lips full and red but small. Her well trimmed eyebrows arched like swan wings over her eyes, which where a grey color, almost silver as they always seemed to penetrate him. She had a wit in those windows of her soul that Tom hardly ever saw, but it was sharp and direct, firm in what she projected. Her eyelids wore 2 distinct colors today, half a light green, the other half a light brown color, setting off the flakes of green glitter around her cheeks. Her ears were small and narrow, barely pointed at the tops. A thick but straight crown of brunette hair fell from her head, framing her face in straight lines all the way to her shoulder blades. Tom couldn't help but think of how tiny but defiant and beautiful she was, wishing she would let him stare all day long, longing to touch her.
Once it was time to clock on they both got up and went to begin the night. Tom was excited but also nervous about the night's events. He had worked with Kelly enough times to be comfortable with his position next to her, but his fear of complete rejection and disgust really ate at his courage once he got up from his table. He just gritted his teeth and set his jaw, pitting his mind to the task. He was either going to come out victorious, or a failure, but he was going to try at least.
Spending the next few hours next to her in drive through while he took orders over the headset and she passed the food was easy going. Business steadily rolled in while the night wore on, but it never got crazy thankfully. Finally when it had slowed down enough, and Tom had enough courage, he made his leap, beginning the battle that he felt would set the course of his adulthood.
"Hey, uh, I know it's kind of short notice, but...." A customer rang in for an order, a loud BEEEP coming through the headset.
Tom took the order, and then after she had handed out the order, he tried to continue, "Would you like to come to my house tomorrow night and help me celebrate my 18th birthday? I've invited a few people from work, but that's all really." Wait, did he just come out and say that? Tom had spoken softly, but he was breathless, he didn't know what made him so nervous. She was just another person like he was, what difference did her opinion or attendance make? To Tom it made the whole world if she would even consider it, because he was just some nice guy who worked every moment he could because otherwise he wouldn't come out of his house, and she knew that.
She looked at her feet for a minute, her stare blank and unreadable.
BEEP, "Yeah, I need a giant dr pepper!" a guy demanded in his ear. His pride came crashing down around him as he realized she was going to reject him. Oh well, at least now he knew he didn't have a chance with her, he would just have to find a new product of his fantasies.
Once the order drove on with its drink, Tom went to find a broom so he could begin sweeping up, tossing himself into his work so that he didn't have to think about his denial, bathing in the self loathing at being a failure before he even had officially been tossed aside. Finding one he came back up to the front and started around his area. Kelley was looking at him, and he knew it, but didn't know what to say to her, or how to bring it up, so he left his question in the air, the silence being all the rejection he needed.
He did his best to not let his emotions come through, but everyone knew that if Tom was angry or sad, or emotional for any reason, he would throw himself into whatever he was doing.
Once, he came in to work furious at the entire world and no one had known why. He had thrown himself into his work so hard that he had took on all the closing tasks himself, sweeping, mopping, stocking, doing the dishes, wiping down all the surfaces to sanitize them, taking out all the trash among several other little things, in record time. He had flown past everyone while doing his assigned job of cooking that Nina thought of him as a hurricane bent on doing everything himself. The whole night he hadn't said more than a couple of words to anybody though, so for all of his coworkers it had been a bit disconcerting.
The drive through was dead silent for a long time, and he had gotten a lot of sweeping and cleaning done, as well as some serious straightening up of the various products, until BEEP again. This time he heard lots of people in the car, "We want like 4 big dr peppers and an ice tea."
With their total, they pulled forward and the automatic drink machine was making them, Kelly right there at her window. Acknowledging her again, his heart leapt into his throat, and he was glad there wasn't another order, or he would have choked on his tongue through it.
Once the drinks were out the window, Tom heard his name being called, "Tom," his heart froze because it was Kelly, likely with her official word of rejection, "I would love to come and hang out with you on your birthday, or at least at your party."
Replaying what her heard in his mind, his ears began to sing with jubilation. He couldn't believe that Kelly had agreed, to him it was a dream come true. "Awesome!" was all he could manage for her. His mind soared to cloud nine instantly. For the rest of the night, he couldn't focus on his work; he just kept thinking to himself how amazing it was going to be to have a beautiful girl at his house.
He tried several times to make small talk with her again after that, but always stumbled over his words, making them both laugh hysterically, until finally he began just making fun of himself several times, sending her into fits of laughter. To see her smile at his jokes and actually consider talking to him like a person was unbelievable to Tom, but he enjoyed it all.
Friday was his birthday party, and he had the night off, as well as the following day for his actual birthday. The day itself was wonderful, but uneventful, where he treated himself to his favorite Chinese restaurant, eating a little of everything on the buffet, then that afternoon he had some ice cream. He seen some people from school hanging out and invited them to his house, but Tom didn't expect them to come, and he truly didn't care. He was so focused on the fact Kelly was coming that the world could have ended and it wouldn't have made a difference as long as she came to his party that night.
He met up with two buddies from work, at his work and they followed him out to his house. They got to see his set up and how awesome it truly was.
Apart from his grandparents house, maybe 30 feet off to the left side, was what appeared to be on the outside just a normal, if large garage. It was a single car garage at one time, but where the doors obviously used to be, was siding and one large window covered by a blue curtain. On this side of it was a car port, chat gravel covering the entire half moon driveway and parking spots. With the vehicles parked, Tom took his friends in his room through a side door, which happened to be the only door.
Instead of hard gray concrete, his friend's feet were greeted with brightly colored hard wood flooring. To the right at about 1 o'clock, against one wall but in the middle of the room was Tom's bed, a full size covered with a black comforter bordered in white Celtic knot work and crowned with two equally black pillows.
At the end of the bed and a little more towards 12 o'clock sat a futon couch bed, folded up to the couch position and covered in a red sheet tucked tightly under the mattress, the wood of the frame darker than the flooring. It was facing squarely away from the bed towards a flat screen television, a 32 in cheap one from the local walmart, with a game system hooked up to it. The television was actually mounted to the wall and a black flat top entertainment center sat under it, decorated with a few games and DVDs, as well as the console system.
Immediately to the right of the doorway was a computer desk with a laptop sitting atop it, an internet router blinking away next to it with its white antenna sticking up in the air. Tom remembered how hard it was to talk his grandparents into getting internet and cable, under the guise of "schoolwork" purposes but now that they had it, they all loved it.
Across the bed and opposite the computer desk, was another doorway, it lead to the bathroom and shower, nondescript in its appearance. While down the wall immediately to their right was Tom's walk in closet where his clothes and dresser hid.
There were two large windows, in the garage room; one was to the right of the entertainment center, left of the door and on the other side of the entertainment center. Along the furthest wall exactly opposite the entrance was a custom built bookshelf, laden down with several volumes of fantasy and sci-fi books and to the right was a slightly smaller than the first, but still above average size window.
The walls had been painted a sky blue to allow the wood and dark furniture to stand out in taste. All in all, Tom felt good about his room, well off but not overdone considering how much stuff was hand built or pure gifts from loved ones. The bookshelf for instance was a hand crafted piece built in pieces at woodshop in school, each shelf a routed piece of pine, the lips curving downward for a slight grace, while the legs were square at each end but through the middle Tom had smoothed them into cylinders, giving it an Elizabethan feel, if over simplified. Bringing each piece of wood home he then had nailed and wood glued them together and once it all dried he set it in his room and began stacking his piles of books on it, Using old toys as random decoration on the open shelf space.
The bed too was also hand built, but only of simple two by fours, nothing fancy on it at all, with old caster wheels in case he wanted to move it around.
The entertainment center was a gift from a friend of his Grandpa's when they moved away, a left over from their moving trip when they left state. It was nice, if cheaply built, but sturdy enough for what he used it for. The computer desk came from the same friend at the same time as well, but had needed repainting, so now it was a dark blue to match the curtains that hung over the windows.
"This is a pretty sweet set up buddy," John said, the taller of the two buddies from work. He was looking around in slight amazement and pride shot through Tom.
"Yeah, I'll say so," Brian agreed. He was a little thicker, bigger than Tom, but despite Tom's lack of grace he couldn't match the clumsiness Brian had.
"This is my humble abode guys, feel free to look around, I'm going to grab dinner real quick, be right back." Tom went over to his grandparents house and told them he had friends over, and maybe another coming later. He didn't mention it was a girl, but being 18 now, he didn't figure it mattered anyway. His grandma wished him a fun time and handed him a homemade pizza, plain pepperoni and cheese. They had made the plan for pizza before when he asked to have the small get together and she had insisted on making it from scratch. After a little argument about not wanting her to hassle over it, Tom had relented and allowed her to make it, knowing it would be better than any pizza he had ever had before. Anything she touched in the kitchen always became better with her hands working on it.
Tom carried it back to the guys and walked inside to find them already taking over his TV and console games, racing each other for 1st place on a newly released car game. Setting the pizza down on the coffee table between the futon and the TV, another simple hand crafted piece of furniture, the guys paused and devoured a few pieces down.
When Tom took the last piece himself, enjoying his third one, he heard the squeal of brakes in the driveway. Within a second his heart began to race, his stomach moving into his throat. 'Is it really her?' he asked himself.
Practically leaping for the door, Tom threw it open to see Kelly's car in the driveway, parking directly in front of Tom's house, and not in a parking spot. Unsure of how he should act, he decided walking to her car and back to his door would be the appropriate thing to do, so he did.
Coming upon her getting out of her driver side door, Tom caught himself fantasizing about how she would greet him in a hundred different sexy ways, but instead she just shut the door and smiled, a simple "Hey, happy birthday," dancing off of her lips.
Tom was speechless while looking at her, an indefinable and slurred "Hehhhheee...hey," falling from his mouth as he tried working his jaw. He hadn't seen Kelly outside of work much and maybe it was his biased crush getting to him overly much, but the white denim jeans Kelly wore as well as the pink tank top and white chest length over shirt covering her shoulders looked absolutely stunning to him. Her grey eyes looked him square in the face with a question.