Kobold in a Candy Store

You can’t break up with her today. Not only is it Valentine’s, but tomorrow is also her birthday as well. Had you the courage you’d have done it weeks ago when the thought first hit you and the timing wasn’t so bad. Although there’s hardly ever a good time to tear apart someone else’s heart into tiny little pieces. By now it’s been too long since you’ve felt any magic.

Maybe next month, you decide, all alone in your car, I’ll leave her with some good memories before we split up…she deserves that much. In actuality she deserves much more. Upon realizing that you glue yourself even deeper into the front seat, postponing the moment when you have to meet with her.

 Suddenly your phone rings, making you nearly jump out into the parking lot right then and there. You look to see that she’s calling again.

 “Hey babe.” You fake a smile, just to be sure.

 “Where are you!” she whines, “I’m getting lonely!”

“I’ll be there soon, I promise. But didn’t we agree to meet up at noon?”

“Yeah, we did,” there’s silence on the other end for a few seconds, “I’ve been here since ten though, in case you came early.”

That’s your own fault, you keep to yourself. Instead you say, “Give me a few more minutes, babe, I’ll be there soon.” You smack your lips to give her an audible kiss.

“Okay,” she returns with her own kiss, sounding only a little sad.

After hanging up you let out a long sigh. What a handful. Perhaps clingy girls really aren’t to your taste. Their appeal is definitely understandable, yet then again the many nights of staying up late in order to text her were beginning to take their toll.

“Don’t sleep,” she would say as you got into bed. Or, “Wake up. Wake up. Wake up. Wake up.” she’d spam at two in the morning, turning your notifications into an alarm clock. Heavens forbid you fail to respond fast enough, or worse don’t respond at all, and she’d either cry or ignore you for a few days. With the latter you’d at least be allowed some time to breathe.

Eventually you do manage to force yourself outside, as arduous of a task as it is. The city’s central plaza was not your preferred pick on where to spend the date. All those annoying couples always horde around its shops, even during regular days, to show off how they sucked face; but you had been content with letting her make such a choice. Besides, it was obvious why she’d decided on this place.

She was waiting outside the entrance to a candy store, sitting on a bench and evidently impatient. Her ears shot straight up the second she saw you. A wide smile spread across her lips joined by loud barkings of, “Master! Master! Master!” as she rushed forward to hug you. You hesitate to embrace her while her head’s buried in your chest, while noting the fast wagging her tail.

I really can’t break up with her today. You hear her indulging herself in your scent as you reluctantly wrap your arms around her.

 “Are you nervous?” she asks, staring up at you with her big puppy dog eyes.

 “No. Maybe a little tired, I guess.” You aren’t completely dishonest.

She seems dissatisfied with your answer but doesn’t prod any further nonetheless. “Let’s hurry up and get inside!”

The tanuki at the front counter was chatting with another customer—an eager looking ushi who held at least a dozen heart shaped boxes in her beefy arms—but acknowledged your entering of her establishment nonetheless with a quick gesture. “We’re having a sale today on all brands of chocolate!” she tells you.

Normally I’d take advantage of that but…Your girlfriend, being a kobold, naturally can’t have chocolate lest she get sick and bedridden for potentially weeks.

“We’ll be sure to get a whole truckload, then!” although it seems like she’s forgotten all about that, “C’mon, you heard her, let’s buy us some chocolates!”

She rushes on ahead as you’re reminding her of why that’s a bad idea. However something catches her eye, or rather her nose, and instead of going for the chocolates, which were already within sight, she vanishes into a completely different aisle whilst sniffing frantically at the air. You suppose that you ought to follow her.

This candy store was actually a lot bigger on the inside than it seemed to be on the outside, you come to observe. High shelves brimmed with a multitude of sweets, as sours were sprinkled here and there alongside anything spicy which were meant for those with a taste for them. It was a big tooth-decaying maze. Various items made from alraune nectar took up their own separate section, with jars of raw honey joined by dwarven rock candies that were infused with it to give it a liquidy center. There were also tubes of slime which boasted to be flavored au naturale, listing off the willing donors next to their nutritional facts. Plain old saké was available as well, and as you search for your girlfriend you pass by a red and blue oni on a double date, with the two men they brought inspecting the drinks as excitedly as they were.

You finally find your girlfriend speaking to a salamander who seems to be recommending to her an intimidatingly red gumball. Despite being a couple feet away from them you can already feel it singeing your eyebrows. Oh no, you already know how this is going to end. After they finish talking the salamander hands over an entire plastic bag of these “devil balls” with your girlfriend returning to you clearly thankful to have been given them.

“She called me cute!” she squeals happily, reliving the moment in her head.

If nothing else, you almost say aloud. “Are you really planning on eating those?” It’s a lost cause for you to even ask, “Even though you-”

“I must test the limits of my strength!” she declares triumphantly while making a fist, her voice echoing off the store’s walls.

“If you say so,” you decide it’s best not to argue. She was the type to throw tantrums whenever anybody else challenged them or threatened their wants. Another pain. “Although let’s find some holastaur milk first. They’re sure to have them in stock here.”

“This ain’t a farmer’s market,” she laughs at her own joke, which to you doesn’t resonate at all, “But they do sell ice-cream at the back of the store.”

“So I guess you’ve been here before?”                                          

“Once, but I didn’t get anything,” she starts to wave the bag of devil balls around like she’d won them, “Until now. And hey, eat these with me.”

“No, I’m even worse with spicy foods than you are!”

“C’mon, please,” she begs, “That girl before said these aren’t even that hot.”

“She was literally on fire,” you sigh, “But fine, so long as we take them one at a time.”

“Of course!” she instantly brightens up before grabbing hold of your hand, “Let’s go and get us some ice-cream!”

Sure enough, at the place’s very rear you both find a young yuki-onna wearing an uncharacteristically warm smile as she mans a wide display of frozen treats. “What can I get you two?” she asks.

All together the different flavors form a chilling rainbow which absolutely mesmerizes your girlfriend. She presses her face up against the glass, seemingly making a move to lick each one to get a taste. Her tail is wagging so fast you’re afraid it might knock your hand off were you to try and touch it.

“I’ll take a…or no maybe the…hmm…actually…uhh…” After being so overwhelmed with her choices she can’t help but stutter.

You’re amused at the sight of her. Sure, her indecisiveness can prove to be quite an annoyance at times, such as when it does something like hold up a long line of some very impatient people at a fast food joint; but watching her drool over sweets like a kid is admittedly adorable.

“Anything but chocolate,” you tell the yuki-onna.

By the time you’ve both exited from the candy store the ice-creams—a green mint for you and a strawberry swirl for her—had melted into milkshakes. Luckily they were both in cups. The reason for that being that the tanuki was very reluctant to just allow you two to leave without having bought, in her words, ‘enough of my goods’. She’d been adamant in offering coupons, and even showed what she had hidden in the back. None of it interested you, especially since any money spent today would be out of your wallet, but your girlfriend who’d been more attentive to the tanuki’s haggling gave the time to humor her.

The sky was faintly orange as you sat down on a bench some ways across from a large fountain. “Was this all you wanted to do today?”

“Yup,” your girlfriend nods, situating herself directly beside you, “The candies and ice-cream we got are certainly great, but I mostly just wanted to spend the day with you.” Her voice was a touch softer.

There was a single hard beat from your heart for just a moment, strong enough for you to notice it. “I’m glad we spent the day together too. And I guess we haven’t gone on a real date in a while as well, huh?”

She gives you a pout, but is definitely not seriously angry, “You hardly seem to talk to me anymore, and you’ve been so busy lately. As punishment,” she brings out the plastic bag of devil balls, “take the first one.”

“Don’t be surprised if I dive into that fountain over there.” The tips of your fingers burn as you ease the hellish ball into your mouth. For a few seconds you roll it around with your tongue, getting a vaguely sweet taste at first before it finally catches fire. You’re choking back tears as the pain worsens, until you bite into the ball itself and realize it’s not gum at all, but more like a jawbreaker.

As you start to panic you see that your girlfriend has taken out her phone and is gleefully recording your suffering. Thinking fast you spit out the devil ball and pull her into a deep kiss. When was the last time we did this? Once again your heart starts to beat hard on your chest, a good deal more than it did just a few minutes ago.

When you pull back you see that she’s crying, and is fanning her mouth with her hands, just as you’d intended. “Idiot! Idiot! Idiot!” she barks, “I hate you! I hate you! I hate you!” She reaches for her ice-cream, twists off the cap and immediately chugs its contents, forgetting all about the provided plastic spoon. You do the same with your own, but it hardly does any good.

Soon enough the stinging does dissipate, around the same time for both of you, and you look at her to find her panting for breath whilst a few stray drops of tears and perspiration make their way down her flushed face. When she sees you though, she lets loose a pained giggle.

“What’s so funny?” you gasp out.

“You’re such a wimp.”

While physically exhausted, you both still manage to have a laughing fit. This is nice. As soon as the sun starts to truly set, the two of you have relaxed quite a bit, with the ice-cream all but gone and neither of you daring to have another devil ball.

She lays her head down on your lap. “So, same time next week?”

“What do you mean?”

“Y’know, since next week is our anniversary, we should come back here again some time. And don’t worry, it’ll be on me, and we’ll get real candies instead of these war crimes.”

“Oh, right.” Wow, I really really can’t break up with her today.

“You don’t remember, do you?” She’s pouting again, but this time she really could be ticked off.

Instead of outright denying it or admitting it you give her a wooden grin to feign your forgetfulness, but she sees right through you effortlessly. To try and make up for it you reach a hand over to pet her head—she’s always loved your pettings and it’s been forever since you last did it to her—but she intercepts it and takes to nibbling at its pinky finger. It doesn’t hurt.

“I’m really sorry that I forgot, but yeah, we should do this again next week.” You move to pet her with your other hand, which she allows to get past her defenses. Her hair was warm water brushing between the gaps of your fingers.

“Idiot. I hate you.”

Suddenly you recall that it was moments like these that made you first fall for your girlfriend. She was always so energetic and wild, running around all hyped up. While it was fun watching her go back when you were just friends, seeing her so vulnerable and calm and quiet was so much better. You could caress her and talk to her heart to heart; it was a kind of tenderness that was lacking in all of your exes.

Thinking back on them, they were all generally bad people. Rude, inconsiderate, greedy, and while they had their good points like anyone else, this innocently sweet if clingy girl at your lap didn’t seem like she fit in beside any of them. I’m not sure if I want to break up with her anymore…

“Hey,” your girlfriend speaks, “You’re not going to leave me, are you?”

 “Of course not.” You’d hesitated for only a second.

“Do you mean it?” she needed to hear it again, “Will you really never leave me?”

“I’m never going to leave you.” It might not be a lie.

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