By Kaeli Behr
Hanker Sore- Finding a person so attractive it actually kinda pisses you off.
Art by an unknown artist
“I hate you.”
Hadley looked up from her sandwich and frowned, “Okay? Rude?”
“No. I seriously hate you.”
“Sure you do.” Hadley rolled her eyes and turned her attention back to her phone, “I don’t know what’s gotten into you, but it’s gonna take a lot more than insincere insults if you want to get a reaction out of me.”
Cleo clicked her tongue in annoyance. She wasn’t trying to get a reaction out of her. She didn’t even know why she was so bothered. They met up like this all the time. Nothing was really any different than usual. Maybe she was just cranky because they had stayed up so late the night before, but something about the way Hadley’s hair fell around her shoulders just pissed her off, because Cleo had been with her this morning and she had woken up with her hair already looking that perfect. Ridiculous. And it should be illegal for eyes to look that warm. And her skin was so unfairly clear while Cleo had to use eighteen different products just to feel presentable. She picked up her lemonade and sipped it in bitter frustration. She hated pretty people.
A few minutes of brooding passed before Hadley sighed, seemingly fed up with Cleo’s stewing. She shut off her phone, pushed away her plate and folded her hands in front of her. Oh boy, they were about to have a discussion.
“Cleo, my dear, I know I’m nice to look at but frankly, I’m starting to find your staring concerning. Is there something bothering you?”
Cleo’s immediate instinct was to say no with no further explanation, but when physically faced with the question, she did find herself a bit troubled. But she couldn’t figure out why, and how was she supposed to put that into words?
Hadley was looking at her expectantly, patiently even. God of course she was patient. Of course she would wait for Cleo to get her thoughts together before pressuring her to talk. Cleo was sure she was nearly pouting at this point. She crossed her arms and looked at a bird pecking at an abandoned meal on the table next to theirs.
“I can literally hear you thinking. What is wrong with you? If you don’t give me an answer… Well,” She made a show of studying her nails, “I’m not above tickling you in public.”
“Wanna find out?” Hadley’s smile turned dangerous.
“No. Nono. I’ll talk. I swear.” She chuckled and threw her arms up in surrender.
Now that she thought about it, admitting she was upset because her best friend is annoyingly pretty was absolutely not an option. She desperately tried to think of an excuse.
“I’m just really worried about the math test on Friday.” She internally cringed. Hadley would see through that in a heartbeat. Wow she was totally screwed.
“Really?” She sounded completely unconvinced. Her raised eyebrow leaving no room for doubt.
Cleo swallowed hard, “Yup. This unit was really hard for me.” It sounded like a load of bull even to her own ears.
“Cleo,” she sounded suspicious at best, “You tutored me on this unit because I kept failing the homework.”
“Stroke of luck?” was Cleo’s astonishingly clever reply.
Hadley sighed and shook her head. Cleo rubbed her hands together and prayed to any god that would listen that Hadley would accept her lame excuse and let the whole thing go.
Someone must’ve been listening, and Cleo would forever be indebted to them, because Hadley looked at her with hard eyes for a few seconds before standing and reaching out to Cleo.
“Let’s get going then yeah? Gotta help you prepare for the test after all.” Something mischievous glimmered in her eyes. A detail that wasn’t lost on Cleo. She ignored it in favor of accepting the offered hand.
What she wasn’t expecting was for Hadley to yank her up and smack both hands on the sides of Cleo’s face. She bumped their foreheads together and patted Cleo’s cheek once. Cleo was completely lost for words, so she barely registered when Hadley reached down and linked their hands together.
They started walking towards Hadley’s car, Hadley nearly dragging Cleo and swung their joined hands between them as she babbled about some old lady she met on campus the day before.
They walked in comfortable silence for a few moments once Hadley got bored of talking- a rare occurrence really- and Cleo enjoyed the breeze. When Hadley spoke again, Cleo startled a bit.
“You’re pretty too, you know?”
Cleo sputtered and tripped over her feet. And if she squeezed Hadley’s hand a little tighter? No one but them had to know. “What are you talking about?” Her ears felt hot. “You can’t just say things like that!”
Hadley giggled and it was a bright little noise, “Please. I could see the gears in your head turning. You’re not as subtle as you might think.” Before Cleo could respond, Hadley dropped her hand and pressed a kiss to her cheek. She laughed at what Cleo could only assume was a look of absolute shock on her face and then skipped ahead to unlock her car.
Cleo stood in the middle of the sidewalk, dumbfoundedly watching Hadley moving away for a few moments. She reached up and pressed a hand to her cheek.