Chapter Nineteen: “Llamas are really cool”

Melly had called Iggy to babysit for her. It was the first time both Melly and David were leaving the baby. They were having date night, which sounded both ominous and horrible over the phone when Melly had called Iggy to ask if she was available. Melly had then gone a long rant about how it was a reality that Iggy would have to face one day when she was married with children of her own. Although, Melly had used the phrases “finally married” and “actually with children” so it was significantly less nice. Iggy had refrained from taking the bait, though largely because she was hungover and too tired to care. She’d gone out for drinks at a pub with Sybil and her work friend Chris the night before. It was supposed to have been casual drinks, but Iggy maintained that Chris was a menace. Even Sybil had been legitimately drunk.

Iggy had graciously agreed to babysit, though mostly because it meant that she would be out of her own apartment. Her roommates, Mona and Karl, were holding a seance and she didn’t want to be a part of that in any way. Karl’s weird and incredibly depressing friend Howie was coming over to lead the damn thing. Howie had a neck tattoo of a raven and he always wore black eyeliner, like he was an emo kid in the early 2000s and hadn’t gotten the memo about My Chemical Romance’s break-up. Iggy was looking forward to an evening at David and Melly’s townhouse. They had cable. She figured she would put Madison to bed, stare at her sleeping in her crib for a bit, just to make her feel at ease, and then watch hours and hours of HGTV.

But then Iggy turned up to Melly’s house and realized that her night wasn’t going to be nearly as great as she’d been planning. Miles was there. It was yet another forced set-up. Iggy really should’ve known. Melly never missed an opportunity. Besides, in retrospect, it seemed unlikely that Melly would’ve trusted her with her one and only baby. Iggy wasn’t exactly the most responsible of all their friends. That having been said, Iggy figured she was a far safer cry than Jemima. She was also certain that she was a better option than Miles. He looked incredibly ill at ease just being in the general vicinity of babies.

“I thought you said you couldn’t get literally anybody else to look after your child,” Miles said to David when Iggy turned up to the house. “But lo and behold, Meredith is here.”

“Not my name,” Iggy said flatly without even looking at him.

“Iggy’s still a stupid name for a grown, human woman,” Miles returned immediately. Iggy kind of wanted to hit him. If they got into a fight, Melly probably wouldn’t want them to care for her child anyway. It was a win-win.

“You guys will have a great time,” David assured them, giving them each a big grin. He was always grinning. Iggy didn’t think she’d ever seen him look anything but immensely pleased. It amazed her that that didn’t annoy Melly. Iggy definitely would’ve punched him in the face by now. And she wasn’t the only one. She’d had a conversation about the constant smiling with Priscilla once and she’d said the same thing. On the other hand, Priscilla did enjoy the smack of violence.

“You know, one of these days your plans to get me and Miles together might end up working out,” Iggy told Melly in the kitchen as Melly was grabbing a glass of water before leaving.

“Good,” Melly said, putting her empty glass down on the counter.

“It might even be tonight,” Iggy continued.

“Good,” Melly repeated.

“You’ll probably think it’s less good if we have sex on your couch,” Iggy pointed out shrewdly and Melly choked on her own spit. Iggy took a great deal of satisfaction in that.

Despite Iggy and Miles’ many complaints, Melly and David went on their date night anyway. They fed Madison before they left, which meant that Iggy and Miles only had to change her diaper once and put her to bed about an hour later. She was a very easygoing baby. Iggy assumed her amenable personality had been given to her to make up for her hair and the fact that she looked like a North Korean dictator, regardless of how many tiny bowed hair clips Melly used on her hair.

“How does she even look Korean?” Iggy asked, standing in front of the crib with Miles to check if she was still alright. “David is, like, the whitest dude I’ve ever met and Melly is half-Hawaiian.”

“Well, where did she get all this hair from?” Miles returned. “David is balding rapidly. His bald spots are merging to form one enormous bald spot. His hair follicles are staging a coup and he isn’t going to have any hair at all very shortly. He’s a young man. It’s quite sad.”

Iggy looked over at Miles, who had very lovely hair. It was, in her opinion, his only redeeming quality. His hair was dark and longish and silky-looking, not unlike Scott Baio’s had been in the 70s.

“Well, we can’t all have Joanie Loves Chachi hair can we?” Iggy returned and then left, smiling at the spluttering indignant sound Miles made from behind her.

“What the hell is that supposed to mean?” He hissed at her, trailing behind.

“What do you think it means?” She retorted, continuing down the stairs unperturbed. She was still smiling. It was like grade ten all over again and she’d just announced to class that he had a crush on their hairy librarian. Priscilla used to call her the libr-hair-ian.

“I do not have hair like Chachi from Happy Days,” Miles told her defiantly. Iggy was half-tempted to turn around to see if he had his hands on his hips. It sounded like he did. Instead, she wandered into the living room and sat down in the middle of the couch, grabbing the remote along the way. She was going to watch HGTV even if Miles was there as well. He could just suck it as far as she was concerned.

“You do,” she countered calmly. He sat down beside her, but she hadn’t left much room, slightly hoping he’d take it as a cue to sit somewhere else, like one of the armchairs or a different room entirely. Miles stared at the side of her face for a bit, quietly fuming as he presumably worked out what to say next. Iggy ignored him entirely, turning on the TV and searching for House Hunters: International.

“Well, whatever, Scott Baio’s an alright-looking dude,” Miles said eventually. Iggy snorted at him. It had taken him a surprisingly long time to come up with something so half-assed. If she had known all it would take to piss him off so much were some Happy Days comparisons, she would’ve brought it up a lot sooner.

“Alright-looking,” she repeated derisively, mostly under her breath.

“At least I’m not named after someone’s childhood pet,” he snapped.

“I think you’re underestimating how popular a name Miles is for golden retrievers,” Iggy returned, finally turning to look at him. He seemed suddenly so much closer to her than he’d been before, possibly in their entire lives. He had freckles across his nose. Iggy had somehow managed to avoid knowing that for the better part of a decade.

“I’d rather be named for a golden retriever than a small lizard,” was Miles’ retort.

“You’re a dick,” Iggy told him matter-of-factly, only narrowing her eyes slightly.

“Yeah,” Miles breathed out in response. They sat there glaring at each other for a little bit longer. In the background, the couple on the TV show was trying to find a beach house in Argentina for a laughably low price. The woman was complaining about llamas. Iggy was about to point out how stupid it was then for her to want to live in Argentina, but she couldn’t seem to find the words. Miles was still staring at her, but he’d stopped glaring. He was looking at her like he’d never seen her before in his life. It was possible that he was noticing things about her face that he’d managed not to know for a long time, like how she hadn’t known he had freckles.

“Llamas are really cool,” Miles said after a minute, breaking the tension in what Iggy assumed was one of the weirdest ways possible.

“What?” She asked. She was whispering, which seemed odd as well. She thought about why she was whispering and couldn’t come up with an answer. It seemed better than just talking normally though, like the volume might somehow break the tenuous truce they’d arrived at without her knowledge. She still had so many Happy Days jokes to make.

“This lady doesn’t like llamas,” he explained, also talking lowly. “But llamas are really cool. She’s missing out.”

“She also shouldn’t move to Argentina,” Iggy replied.

“Or a lot of places in South America really,” Miles agreed. There was another brief silence wherein they stared at each other. Miles seemed even closer than before. Iggy could pretty much taste his cologne.

“What exactly is happening right now?” Iggy asked just to get over it and move on. She was still talking lowly, though.

“I don’t know,” Miles answered. “But I’m suddenly very sorry I ever put pudding in your hair.”

“Oh,” Iggy said. “Good.”

“Yeah,” Miles replied. “I’m also pretty sure I’m going to kiss you now.”

“Oh,” Iggy repeated, losing the ability to think in words for what felt like an outrageously long time. In reality, it was probably only about thirty seconds and then she didn’t really have a chance to form actual sentences anyway because, true to his word, Miles was kissing her. It was weirdly pleasant and all Iggy could think about was how she had been taunting Melly earlier. She and Miles weren’t having sex on Melly and David’s couch, but they were making out and Iggy didn’t hate it. She wanted to, but she didn’t. The woman on the show was still complaining about the sheer number of llamas in Argentina in the background. She had a hand in Miles’ Scott Baio hair. She hated that it was as soft as it looked, but at the same time, she didn’t hate it at all. It was the most complicated kiss she’d ever experienced.

By the time Melly and David came home from their date night, looking cold from the winter air, but happy, Iggy and Miles had watched another three episodes of House Hunters: International. The first couple hadn’t ended up moving to Argentina at all, likely due to all the llamas. She and Miles, meanwhile, hadn’t spoken a word to each other following the kissing incident. They continued to not say anything to each other the entire time he drove her back to her apartment.

“Well, thanks for the ride,” she said as she reached for the door handle to make a desperate bid for freedom into the night. It seemed the only option at this point; running and never looking back. Miles grabbed her arm before she could fully leave the car though, stopping her while she had one foot on the curb outside. She looked back at him to ask what the hell he thought he was doing, but she didn’t get a chance before he was kissing her again.

“Huh,” he said after he finally let go. Iggy just stared back at him in shock.

“What?” She asked quietly, but he only smiled at her.

“Good night, Iggy,” he said as she stepped fully outside the car. She shut the car door and he began pulling away from the curb before she had a chance to realize that he’d called her by her actual name.

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