“Happy Halloween!” Holly squealed excitedly from her end of the bench.
Aaron rolled his eyes and took a long sip of his Snapple before he replied.
“Happy Halloween, Holly,” he responded. “Thank you for refraining from wearing a costume for our weekly get together. I know you well enough to be certain you desperately wanted to do so, but had to fight the urge because you knew it would upset me.”
Holly sipped her coffee and nodded.
“It’s bad enough people look at us funny whenever they pass us on the running path,” he continued. “I don’t need them judging us even more because you look amazing in your Halloween costume, and I’m the stick in the mud who refuses to wear one.”
Holly took a moment to digest all of that. It was not the response she had expected when he innocently wished him a Happy Halloween.
“When does anyone ever look at us funny?” she demanded clarification.
“Any time we’re together,” he answered without hesitation. “You don’t notice because you live in that bubble where you know everyone looks at you and smiles because you’re so easy on the eyes. What you don’t see are the looks I get that basically say What the hell is someone so beautiful doing with a dork like him???”
Holly almost spit out her coffee, but she’d had years of experience drinking while listening to Aaron speak, so she was able to keep everything in her mouth.
“First off, thank you for the compliment on my looks,” she said with an embarrassed smile. “Secondly, no one thinks you’re a dork. Well, aside from me, that is, but I have a right to think that because I’m your best friend and know you better than anyone else. No one else better think that about you, though, and if they do, they need to come talk to me about it so I can give them an attitude adjustment that will help them see things more clearly.”
Aaron smiled. “I do love angry, overprotective Holly. Let’s see more of her please. However, I implore you not to go so far as to adjust anyone’s attitude on my behalf. Let them think what they want. The stew of anger that I subsequently simmer in after such encounters only inspires me to be a more unique version of me.”
Holly gave him a look. The kind that said Even though I know you better than anyone, you still confuse the hell out of me quite often.
“Why are you complaining about the looks the give you then, if you enjoy simmering in the stew of anger? Lovely image, by the way. I’m never eating stew again!”
Aaron chuckled and took another sip of his Snapple.
“I guess I worry that you see the looks, and they might negatively affect the way you think of me,” he confessed.
Holly reached across the bench to give him a reassuring pat on the shoulder.
“That’s never going to happen,” she promised. “I can assure you that the only person you can negatively affect the way I think of you is you.”
He flipped her the bird.
“That right there makes me think of you in a negative light,” she quipped as she giggled.
She sipped her coffee, but he could still see the smile on her pretty face.
“So are you dressing up?” she asked.
“This year for Halloween, I’m going as the guy who sits on the couch watching football as he eats the candy he’s supposed to be passing out to trick or treaters.”
“Save me a couple of Mounds bars,” she requested with a wink.
“I can’t promise anything,” he warned. “My best friend has been giving me attitude all morning, so I might have to cope by stress eating the entire bag.”
“You’re both a trick and a treat. You know that, right?” she asked.
“Trust me, I am well aware,” he answered.
They both laughed and stared out at the river…