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The Prompt-let

By @Grallingbo

"Have you ever tried to force yourself to work around an insecurity?" (original characters)

The door swung open, hitting the wall with a startling bang as the man walked into the flat. He didn’t bother closing the door before falling forward and landing on the couch facing the TV. It was silent before a voice called out from above; “Oakley?”

Charley walked downstairs, a steaming mug of cocoa in his hands emitting a heavenly scent that nearly tempted Oakley to lift his face from the cushion. “I didn’t think you’d be back so early,” Charley added, sitting down next to Oakley on the couch.

The scent was much stronger now. Oakley thought–at this point–Charley had made the cocoa for him. Oakley adores chocolate, after all.

For a while now, Oak has been making rounds all over town so he can make a quick buck. Oak is the type of man that revels in praise much more than he should, so taking up jobs for people around the block usually fueled his strange ego. Charley was sure that soon, Oak wasn’t doing it for the money; he was just doing it to feel better about himself. Due to recent events, Oak has been acting against himself, falling into a concerning fit of self-loathing that Charley hated to see him go through. Charley was content over the fact that Oak was trying to help himself for once, but the poor man looked exhausted. How long will it be until the praise isn’t enough to keep him going? To keep him suffering?

“I couldn’t take it,” Oak responded, his face still buried in the cushion. “I couldn’t take it, so I left early. Didn’t even warn Ms. Leaton before I went running.”

Ms. Leaton is one of Oak’s frequent customers. She was the top contender when it came to making Oak feel better than he thought he was. But now, it doesn’t seem like that’s the case anymore.

Oak felt something warm rest on the back of his head. “Take this,” Charley said, “I can always just brew another one.”

Oak weakly reached up, grabbing the mug by the handle as Charley rose from the couch and headed to the kitchen. Oak fixed his position, laying his back against the couch so he could properly sip from the mug. After a few sips, Oak stared at his reflection in the dark brown liquid inside of the mug. He stared long and hard at himself before finally, he looked up at the TV in front of him.

“Do you ever feel an enormous weight on your shoulders that only you can get rid of?” Oakley asked, placing the mug on his lap. “But you just can’t, because your hands are already preoccupied.”

“Plenty of times,” came the response from Charley all the way in the kitchen. “I guess not as many times as you, though. What ‘tard takes on five jobs all because of a minor slip-up?”

Oakley chuckled guiltily. “This ‘tard,” he said, the grin on his face limp.

Oak heard Charley laugh a bit from the kitchen. As he came out from the kitchen with another mug in his hands, he said, “Maybe you should stop being a ‘tard and get your head out of your own ass, ah?”

“It’s hard when it’s all I am,” Oak said, turning his head away from Charley as he sat down on the couch by his side.

“What, an ass?”

“No, my–” Oak paused to exhale at Charley’s comment. Charley grinned.

“My’pologies,” Charley said. “Please, go on.”

Oakley fumbled a bit with the mug in his hands. “I’d rather not get into it right now, actually,” he mumbled, his voice low and quiet. Somehow, Charley still managed to hear him.

“I’ll pull it out of you someday,” Charley insisted, nudging Oak in the side.

“Being my closest friend, I don’t doubt that you will.”

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