Shopping Outing | Teen Ink

Shopping Outing

October 21, 2022
By edwardcullenswifeandgf BRONZE, Wilmington, Delaware
edwardcullenswifeandgf BRONZE, Wilmington, Delaware
3 articles 0 photos 1 comment

Favorite Quote:
uhuhuhuhuhuhhuh - Butt-Head


Malls are either a catastrophic war zone, or they are a blissful utopia. You get to choose as soon as you enter the door. It also depends on when you go. When you go during Christmas, it’s easier to expect it to be catastrophic and apocalyptic. If you go in the middle of the week, it’s nicer. Mole, Gregory, and Pocket had taken a day off to go during the middle of the week.


“I have $400,” Pocket chirped, “We can go wild, Gregory!”

 

“How did you even get that much money?” Gregory asked. She had a different voice in public then she did at home. It was timid and shy, people had to really listen to it whenever she started to talk. 


“Can I have some?” Mole added. He was joking, of course. He made enough money at this point anyways, he didn’t need anymore, not from Pocket.


Pocket ignored Mole’s joking request, “It’s birthday money I saved up!” He chirped, “I’ve been saving it for a couple years.”


“How many?” Mole asked curiously. 


“Hmmm… Three?” Pocket tilted his head quizzically while he tried to remember, “Because I moved here two years ago… Yeah! The first year I started saving I was still in England and my grandma gave me money that translated to $100 dollars here.” He grinned happily. Pocket didn’t talk very often about his family back in England, but when he did it always seemed very positive. 


Gregory’s stomach churned uneasily, and she looked forward ahead on where they were walking. “Pocket.. You shouldn’t spend your money on me.” She sighed. There was something about Pocket spending three years worth of money saved up on her that made this whole trip seem suddenly nauseating. Even though the mall was the least crowded it had been all week, and even though it was a warm spring day, Gregory felt like everything was horrible. 


South Park’s mall wasn’t very big. Gregory knew it was common for malls to be ginormous, but she was thankful that South Park’s wasn’t huge. It was still a popular hangout spot though, and kids from the highschool went there to go shopping and loiter in the food court to eat free samples. Gregory and Mole never went much, neither of them had a reason to. The mall had three entrances that lead to the three different halls where the shops were lined. There was no real order to it, Gregory realized, because on the C hallway there were toy shops next to clothes shops and then there would be a furniture store across from both of them. All three hallways connected to the center of the mall, which acted like a watering hole in the savanna. In the center was a fountain, where children threw in coins and then teenagers immediately fished them out. They would roll up their sweater sleeves and sit on the edge of the tile, and then plunge their hands into the crystal water and pull out quarters and dimes and then drop them into big coin purses. When they walked away from the scene of the crime, the purses would jingle as they bounced at the teenager’s sides. Gregory didn’t like the idea of stealing change from a fountain. 4 dollars wasn’t worth getting wet over, and she didn’t want to steal someone's wish away. At an unrelated fountain, Mole had suggested they try and fish for the coins. Gregory said to this, What if someone had wished for their dad to be brought back to life? Then she cried thinking about a little kid wishing for their dad back, and her and Mole left the fountain. She didn’t like them, if you’ve seen one Fountain you’ve seen them all. You imagine one tragic wish, you can imagine every other wish in the world someone would make. The fountains were graveyards for hopes and dreams, Gregory didn’t want to be a grave robber. If she were to throw in a coin to a fountain, she didn’t know what she would wish for. Wishing for something felt like saying goodbye to something. If Gregory were to stare into a Fountain’s water and see her reflection and confidently say I wish I was born someone else and then throw in a coin, she would know that the wish would never come true. She was just removing the idea from herself and closing the thought. What she actually meant would be, I wish I was born someone else. I will rip this idea out of me and throw it into the water to drown and die, then I will go on with my life and not think about that ever again. No one ever wished for something genuinely believing that wish would come true. It was just a positive send off for a part of you you wanted to kill. 


Pocket laced his hand with Gregory’s and pulled them along. “I want to, I really want to pick out clothes you’ll like, It’s going to be fun! I did the same thing with Pip, you know. We took out some of his allowance and I got to help style him.” He grinned. Pocket acted as the leader of their weird trio. Pocket was sociable and good with people, which was useful because it meant Mole and Gregory could hide behind him whenever someone started to talk to them. This made him the leader, because people outside of their circle perceived him that way. When they looked at their group they would see Pocket, with his round cheeks and body and cheerful expression, and then they would see he was with two other people who looked sick at the fact they were talking to someone new. Then they talked to Pocket, because Pocket loved to talk to people. Then they would get bored of all three of them and the group would move onto a new person to bother and talk to. Pocket led them through social situations, so he got to lead them through almost everything else. Mall, school, walking home, his voice was a lighthouse for Mole and Gregory to follow. 


“Three years worth of birthday money,” Gregory reminded wearily. The words felt so wrong on her tongue, because they were silently associated with the fact that again, Pocket would be wasting all of it on her. 


Pocket blew off Gregory’s reminder by shaking his head. “I’ll get stuff for myself too if I see it. But love is giving gifts.” He explained. All Gregory heard was Love is sacrifice. 


People always write love songs as something happy and something that should be celebrated and sought after. Gregory thought that love could be this way and very much was most of the time, but sometimes she wondered if any love songs were scary. Love scared her sometimes, because it was sacrifice and being willing to face humiliation and continue on with life even after it. Loving someone reminded Gregory of throwing herself in front of a moving train and hoping that her body wasn’t torn up too badly after the impact. Love was a deep dark sea that for a long time threw around Gregory’s body like a ragdoll. When Gregory realized she liked Pocket, it was the most difficult and confusing thing to deal with. Fighting against the churning sea, fighting with herself on whether she would ever act on the thoughts that made her feel so guilty whenever she looked at the person she loved. What if he doesn’t like me back? What if I ruin what we have already? Can I love him in the way I’m pretending to now? How long can I pretend? How long can I lie? Loving him sometimes made her feel bad, because she began to wonder if Pocket was ever getting tired of her. What if Pocket was sacrificing more than Gregory was, was Gregory sacrificing enough for her? What kind of love was that, where you shed yourself away and lose everything in hopes of someone else filling in the broken pieces of you? What happens if the person who is trying to connect in the parts of you that you lost doesn’t fit? Do you wait for someone to fix you? 


Gregory’s face fell more than it did before. She knew she was rather pessimistic. She found a new wish for the fountain, I wish I wasn’t so damn negative all the time. Being a sour sally just brought everyone down. Gregory tended not to voice most of her thoughts anymore, because she realized her outlook on things was rather poor. Gregory had been around her fair share of negative people. They were people who insisted on voicing anything that crossed their mind. When people who are inherently negative do that, it interferes with the people who are inherently positive. Sometimes the thoughts were just honesty, but most of the time Gregory knew that someone could easily shoot down whatever depressing thing she was thinking about. So she never told anyone about it, because maybe staying silent would make it go away. 


The three of them walked into the first store, which looked promising. The windows pictured mannequins wearing all sorts of different girls' clothes. They were talking to each other. 

Look at my cute miniskirt, do you think they’re all looking at it?

 

Oh, definitely Marigold. Look at my comfortable sweater. I think everyone is going to be talking about it. 

Then they giggled to each other and went back to being mouthless mannequins. 


Pocket disappeared into clothing racks, and Gregory found Mole sitting on a bench near the side of the store. She sat down next to him.

“I’m not too sure about this.” She admitted sheepishly, “What if I don’t look good?”


“You’ll look fine,” Mole replied coolly, “At least Pocket gets to style you. Maybe your clothes will look better now.” He snickered to himself.


“That’s not funny.” Gregory hissed. She looked down at what she was wearing now. A sweater and loose pants. Was that bad? They were just normal clothes. 


Pocket reappeared with some outfits, and shoved them into Gregory’s lap. “Go! Go!” He urged. Gregory hurried away to the shop's dressing rooms while Pocket sat down next to Mole and began their chatter. 


Gregory stood in front of the dressing room mirror, and she wondered if there was a plastic surgery place in the mall that would turn her into a plastic mannequin. She would stand in the store window, motionless, and she would look pretty. Mannequins didn’t have wide shoulders, mannequins didn’t have a square body and skinny legs. Mannequins didn’t have big feet. Gregory felt wrong for wearing these clothes, it was wrong to come here. She had to get them off of her. Wasn’t trying on new things supposed to make you feel good about yourself after discovering your true identity or whatever? Had she been wrong? She just needed the skirt and the blouse off, she needed to return to her sweater and her pants that showed none of her form and showed nobody what she really looked like. Her body was a monster and the baggy pants and sweaters she wore were what tamed it. 

“Does that make the sweat blood?” She questioned aloud. She laughed dryly at her joke. She ripped off the clothes and threw them aside like toxic waste and then slipped back into herself. 


“Did you try anything on?” Pocket questioned when Gregory came out without wearing any new spectacular outfit.


“Pocket..” Gregory faltered, “I think we should go home. The stuff you gave me.. It just..” Made her feel horrible? Made her want to cry? Looked terrible on her? Felt like wearing a halloween costume? “...Wasn’t me.” Gregory sighed, “I’m sorry.”


Pocket looked painfully disappointed. He folded his hands in his lap and nodded, “I’m sorry, I thought this might be more fun for you.” He explained sadly, “I didn’t want to make you upset.” 


Gregory wanted to say that she had been upset for the entire day, and nothing Pocket had done had caused it, but she didn’t. She just stared at the ground so she wouldn’t have to see his face.
“It just felt wrong wearing it. You know?” She asked, “Did you ever feel that way?” Pocket was more familiar with that kind of thing. Maybe there was a time when he was scared to wear fancy bow ties and suits to formal events. 


Pocket pondered over his response. “Yes, I do believe so.”


Mole butted in, “Me too. It’s about finding the right style. Clothes aren’t gendered- But- Like-” Mole held his hands out, circling them over each other while he tried to keep his sentence going. 


“When you find out something new about yourself, it’s easy to feel like a lot of other aspects of yourself are changing too.” Pocket reclaimed his spot in the conversation politely, “Before I figured everything out, I didn’t dress formally at all. I just wore dresses that didn’t fit and I never brushed my hair.” He recalled. That was hard to picture in Gregory’s head, Pocket scruffed up and uncomfortable in a long nightgown or easter dress. He seemed so comfortable in his own skin she had started to assume he came out of his mother like that, in a lacy bowtie and vest with a desire for four O’ clock tea. 


Mole nodded, “Me tooo!” He related, “It was like.. Like…” He struggled to find his footing again.


“Wearing a ski mask stapled on.” Pocket offered. 


Mole nodded, “Yes! Like that! And then I figured everything out and it was like. Boom. It’s off!!” He exclaimed.


Gregory listened along in awe. Pocket and Mole had reached into her head and pulled out her thoughts, read them, and were now discussing the reading material back and forth right in front of her. She didn’t say anything, because everytime Pocket or Mole opened their mouths they were saying something she had already thought, something she had already written down somewhere, something she already muttered under her breath in front of the mirror. She felt tears prick at the corners of her eyes and fall down her cheeks.


“Gregory?” Pocket turned to her. He had seemed to be relaxing, but now his body was tight and on lookout mode yet again. “What’s wrong?”


“There's hope!” Gregory sobbed, why wouldn’t she be crying? “I didn’t have to throw all my hope away. It’s still here.” She blubbered, touching her chest. In her heart. It all hadn’t been for nothing. It was impossible to believe, and even harder to say, but her wish was finally coming true. 

“I want to keep shopping.” She declared, wiping her eyes, “I want to find myself.” 


Pocket understood perfectly, as he often did. The three of them went to a different store, something more earthy and relaxed, and this time Gregory led the way for them. She picked out sweaters, but they fit her this time. They weren’t hiding her anymore, they were helping her. She picked out some blues and yellows because they were her favorite color, and she did end up getting just a few skirts. She wouldn’t wear them all the time, but she really liked them and she wanted to have them. Pocket said she could pick out anything she wanted. 


~


They went home, and Pocket laid in bed with Gregory with his head on her chest. He looked like he was sleeping, but he wasn’t. He was just tired. Even the most chatty people get socially exhausted sometimes. 


Gregory’s room was illuminated by her bedside lamp. The rest of the room was dark, filled only with the shadows of things climbing up her yellow walls. Outside crickets sang the song of the night with the stars as their spotlight, flickering and twinkling in the air. It was cooler at night than in the day, so Gregory’s window was open so a soft breath was able to float through the window and into the room and keep it comfortable and cool. Gregory’s bed was always comfortable and well made, she liked that her mattress sort of pulled people into it. Her pillows were soft and fluffy with a flowery case (they used to be Antoinette’s). She had a small stack of books next to her bed, but she wasn’t reading them. She was preoccupied with other things.

 

Gregory was looking at her ceiling, running her hands through Pocket’s hair without thinking about it and appreciating how soft it was in between her fingers. She liked the strands that were running in between her pointer and her middle finger, it was like threading through silk. Sher reflected on her day, thought about how it seemed so sour at first and quickly turned sweet. She was thinking about the fountains again, the wish graveyard. She was thinking about her tidal wave of confusion, about the period of time where she was in love with Pocket and he didn’t know yet and she hated herself for it more than anything else in the world. She was thinking about the sinking feeling she got each day when she saw him. It was this hole in her stomach that would expand and pull things in whenever Pocket did the tiniest of things. It was like he was disgusting to her. But he wasn’t, because everytime the hole inside Gregory grew and ate more of her, all she could think about was wanting to see Pocket again. 


“Pocket?” She asked quietly, not looking away from the cracks in her ceiling. They looked like fault lines, cracks in the pavement that happened after earthquakes. “What do you think love is?”


Pocket moved slightly, head shifting upwards so he was facing the ceiling too. “I dunno..” He mumbled. When he was tired he never really put amazing effort into deep conversations, but Gregory needed him to now. The topic was at the forefront of her mind, and she was dying to get it out.


“I’m being serious,” Gregory added, “What do you think it is?” She didn’t answer first, she wanted to hear what Pocket had to say about it. She imagined it would be something positive, she worried it would be drastically different from the torture Gregory had pictured. 


Pocket went silent, and his breathing was the only thing keeping the room from complete lack of noise for a few minutes. “Skydiving.” He stated plainly, “It’s skydiving. Someone pushed you out of a plane and then you’re falling, then you’re flying.” He imagined. The orangey light from Gregory’s bedside lamp hit the side of Pocket’s face, and it gave his eyes a sort of far away glimmer like he was imagining the time he was pushed from a plane and started to fly. 


“Is it scary?” Gregory asked. She admired every detail in his face, his freckles, the pinkish tint to his lips. He was beautiful. He was a picture perfect painting. He reminded Gregory of warm summer days and gummy candy. 


Pocket nodded, “At first. But it’s really sweet too, once you realize you have a parachute. Once you unlock your parachute you get to float.” He turned over again, so he was in between Gregory’s legs with his back on her and his head staring up at her chin. “Why? Are you scared?”


It was so easy to start talking about Pocket, words just flowed out like syrup, “I don’t want to mess anything up,” Gregory admitted. “Things are so good with you. I’m waiting for something bad to happen, or to find out I’m doing everything wrong.”


“You’re doing everything right.” Pocket countered, “I think everything is just perfect, and they’ll stay that way. You’re positively amazing.” He promised. 


“You think so?” Gregory hiccuped, voice suddenly small and weary. She had never seen herself as anything more than adequate. She wondered what person Pocket had been dating that he thought was amazing, because it certainly wasn’t her.


“Everyone does.” Pocket replied with a dopey smile. He was getting tired, Gregory could tell easily. “You’re the best girl in the entire world.”


“Stop.” Gregory muttered.


“Why?”


“Because it’s not true,” She sighed, “I don’t know what you see in me. That’s the problem!” She exclaimed suddenly, “I just don’t understand anything, ever. At all.” She put her face in her hands to hide it shamefully. Gregory Bellarose the third of Yardale, not knowing something. It was taboo.


Pocket reached up to Gregory’s arm and pulled one of her hands away. He sat up, crisscrossed, across from Gregory and looked at her seriously and softly. 

“I don’t understand either,” He said slowly, “That’s what couples do. We figure it out, we find what’s right for us. That’s why it’s confusing, because this is.. A new discovery, and we’re researchers observing it.”


Gregory giggled at the silly analogy. She let her other hand fall into Pocket’s free one, “You really think I’m amazing?”

 

“I think you’re the star I want to look for in the night sky.” Pocket drawled out, leaning forward so his forehead was touching Gregory’s chin. 


Gregory kissed the top of his head, “You should write poetry.”


“I do already. I just don’t share it. It’s for meee only.” Pocket replied back. He snapped his head up and kissed Gregory quickly, pulled back, and smiled. “I love you.”

 

Gregory returned the sincere smile and then returned her own kiss, which lasted longer. They’re kisses always seemed brief and momentary, like their moments together were fleeting. This kiss conveyed the opposite. It said that Gregory was here to stay, and they were going to last. And with each day they spent together, each month and each year, their kisses would start to mean more and more and shape into a language of their own. 

“I love you too.”


The author's comments:

Me and my friends are huge fans of South Park, but specifically their parodies and takes on characters featured in classical literature. Gregory is based off Enjolras from Les Miserables, and Pocket is a parody of Charles Dickens's Herbert Pocket featured in Great Expectations. Anyways, their personifications in South Park are our favorite characters, so me and him have a lot of fun making our own takes and scenarios with the two of them. 


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