Sometimes the Best Intentions are in Need of Redemption
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rating: +19+x


Pen.

Pen to paper.

Pen on paper.

Pen tapped on paper.

Polly tapped the pen on the paper.

Polly tapped the pen.

On the paper.

Polly tapped.

The pen.

On the paper.

Polly tapped the pen on the paper.

Polly tapped the pen on the paper.

On the paper.

On the paper.

This was about the same time that Polly tapped her pen on the paper.

Hey you.

Yes hello?

Hey, did you know?

Know what?

Well just have I ever told you?

Uh, what about?

Well about how Polly tapped her pen on the paper.

No, uh, no I don't think you've ever told me about that, might you elaborate?

Ah, well, you see. Polly, right?

Uh-huh.

She's got a pen, right?

Right.

And she also has a piece of paper in front of her — you follow?

Yeah I follow.

Okay, here's the hard part…

I'm listening.

She uh, so she takes her pen.

Uh-huh.

She takes it, and she taps it.

On what?

The paper.

Okay you lost me.

So I haven't told you about this before?

I don't believe so.

Okay, let's take it from the top. So, there's this girl named Polly and —

"Polly?"

My hand jerked suddenly upward and I smacked myself in the nose, which made a soft "honk" as its red puffy surface was so abruptly smushed.

"Oh my are you okay? Oh I'm so sorry!"

I crouched down and tried to massage the pain out of the bridge of my nose. "I'm okay! I'm alright, really."

"I can go get you some band-aids, or a Boo-Boo Blaster? Tee emm? Oh I'm going to call up —"

"Oh you don't have to! Really.—"

"Are you sure? It wouldn't take more than —"

"Yeah I'm sure, I don't want to be a bother —"

"If you say so, but seriously it would be no trouble —"

"You're so sweet 3T, but honestly I'm fine, just startled a bit."

"You absolutely sure?"

"Absolutely."

"Really actually? Positively?"

"Yeah, thank you so much for the consideration but really I'm fine…"

"…So, why did you come over?"

"Oh uh, just passing by and you were just talking to yourself again and I wanted to make sure everything was a-okay, you know? Heheheh… Is it?"

"Yeah, it's —"

"Is it all okay? Is there anything I can do?"

"Yeah! It's fine, it's quite alright, I've uh… I've just hit a block."

"Aww."

"Yeah, just a hurdle to get over! Nothing serious, nothing —"

"So sorry to hear that."

"— worth worrying about, just a —"

"I really don't like when that happens."

"— phase that will pass. Uh, how about you?"

"Oh I'm good! Just uh, finishing up a collaboration with Brainy."

"Aw, that's cool."

"Yeah. I mean, I'm going to present it under my name, but really I couldn't have done it without him. He's good. One of the goodest good Toy Tinkers to have come into our department. He's good, Polly. He's real good."

"I know! It's so cool that you get to work with him."

"Yeah…"

"It's real cool."

"Yeah, yeah it is…"

I leaned up against my work bench, still pinching my nose with my left hand, and smiled at Thomas Timothy Thompson. The happy bumbling droning of all the others working on projects in the Toy Creation Department, along with the loud whir of their instruments and tools, assaulted the ears of all in the great metal hall (if they didn't feel like using company provided Too-Much-Stuff Sound Pounder Earmmuffs™), and made it hard to hear one another.

"So… I'm going to get back to my work, Tom."

"Yeah, your work."

"Yeah…" Polly looked down at her blank piece of paper. "…my work."

"…Well okay! I'm going to go head back to my work station."

"Yeah!"

"Next to Brainy…"

"Yeah! See you later, alligator."

"Yeah you too… I'm always there if you need me!"

"Yeah!"

"You know where to find me!"

"Yeah I do, see you 3T!"

"See you, have a good day!"

"I will, take care!"

"I will, bye!"

"Bye!"

3T sulked backwards around the corner of the next workshop over, maintaining eye contact and giving an ardent wave. He passed by the Super Saws™, the Heck-Hard Hammers™, and the Edge-Ripper Hedge-Clippers™ on the tool wall before he disappeared into the sawdust and (pink, red and green) smoke of the hall. I smiled at him all the way, but as soon as he was out of sight… my waving hand curled and slumped as I let out an exhausted, exasperated, unmotivated, unenthralled, absolutely uninterested — and maybe even slightly disappointed — sigh. For as much as common courtesy said that everything was quite alright, everything was far from it. The presentation was in three days. Just three.

I sat down and leaned my head on the palm of my hand. What was I to do? What was I to do. I picked up my pen, and I tapped it. Where did I tap it? On the paper. Polly tapped her pen on the paper. Very important detail. Polly tapped her pen on the paper, and thought. What was I going to do? Tap. Would I forfeit this presentation? Tap. I couldn't afford that, I couldn't afford to miss one. I had to take every opportunity I got. Tap.

Maybe I shouldn't have lied to 3T.

Tap.

Maybe I needed to go back and ask for help.

Tap.

Serious help.

Tap.

Help conceptualizing, help making things reality, help getting anything, literally anything past the finish line.

Tap.

But that would require getting up.

Tap.

I didn't want to get up.

Tap.

Sigh.

Tap. Tap. Tap. Tap. Tap. Tap. Tap. Tap.

Tap.

Tap.

The pen was vigorously thrown at the tin wall, and it made a less than satisfying "ting" sound. Polly tinged the pen on the metal. I smiled. Initiative! There was no shame in asking for help. I was taking initiative. People don't learn before they have teachers. Maybe I just needed a teacher. A 3Teacher. Thomas Timothy Teacher. I chuckled at my own jokes. Things were looking up! Things were looking up. Polly pat her feet on the concrete. I took an apple from a basket and passed it to a low flying glow snake (swarms of which made up the only source of light in this place). I passed workshop upon workshop, Toy Tinker upon Toy Tinker, my confidence growing with each sideways look. I was going to have something to present this Gumday! I was!

I turned the corner, my chest puffed out and a fire burning in my eyes.

"Thomas Timo… thy… Thompson…"

He… wasn't at his workbench, that was for sure. I saw his tea, his small pack, a bag lunch, and his framed picture of that girl from the Sweets & Consumables Department. Maybe he was in the next booth over, with Brainy?

Shuffling one over, into Brainy's orange and black painted work space, I found myself still alone and a little confused.

"Uh, guys? Hello?"

He had his two tiger posters up as usual. Sometimes he changed them, in case he dressed up differently that morning, but most often it was all tigers. There were various tools sprawled about, some blueprints, some… jello? Just lying about, and a tin full of hard fruity candies. Notes were scrawled in his ever neat, dime tall hand writing. Blueprints were rolled into cylinders and put up as big columns all over his desk, and an inkwell for his old timey purple feather pen was accumulating a small pool at its base. Though recently used, the place was deserted.

"…Pals?"

Leaning backwards, and looking around both corners of the space and down the long, worn walkways… nothing. No Brainy, no 3T, no one useful in sight. I decided that I'd wait for them. Tom said they were collaborating on something, maybe they had both gone to find some materials or talk to someone about a project detail. Maybe they went to the bathroom together? People do that, right? I know I didn't, because I didn't have any friends to do it with, but I had heard it was a thing that normal people did with other normal people. So I'd wait. Standing, though? I couldn't stand that long. I'd sit.

I sat in Brainy's spinning chair (I wished I had a spinning chair in my space, but mine broke and hadn't been replaced yet), and began to twirl. Good thinking time. Motion was good for thinking. I couldn't help but let out a quiet "wee" as I flailed in the chair and turned every which way. He had a really good gig with his place here. I was a little jealous. The slightest bit envious, but not too much. Just enough to think of taking his chair. Maybe. Maybe one of his pens. He had some really nice pens. He'd be a lot less likely to notice a missing pen than a missing chair… What did he have lying about?

I pushed the chair out into the walkway, this time hoping not to see Brainy or 3T… and then I set to work. I mean, I wasn't planning to take anything, what was the harm in looking? I was just curious! It was going to be fine. I looked at all his little cabinets and read their labels:

References. Could be useful, I liked drawing references. They could have been culture references too, though. Not too interested in those. Next!

Paper. For taking notes on. I had been running low… and there's so many of those, he wouldn't mind if I took some. I opened it, and stuffed a small stack of printer paper under my coat (it was nearing winter up here) and zipped it up to keep it safe. Next!

Office Supplies. Boring. Next!

Ooo, a big wide one. Blank Blueprints. Maybe he had something in here? Below it was another one that said Works in Progress, which I assumed were other projects he was planning to get back to. I thought… but no, I couldn't break the code. I wouldn't want to steal an idea, that would just be preposterous. Next!

Scrapped.

Scrapped? Scrapped what? It was another wide one, so… blueprints? Scrapped huh? I opened it, and found many blueprints and notes crumpled up and shoved into the space. Ah, scrapped ideas. Ideas he wasn't going to work on — trash, it was his trash. His… trash… stuff… that he wouldn't miss if it was gone. I could look through a legend's trash.

I was trash. I was really bad trash, I was some putrid garbage rotting in some hole somewhere — figuratively. Don't want to be confused with Sewy. Poor Sewy. But Brainy's trash couldn't be worse than my trash. In fact, I was so bad, it was probably better than my best! And he didn't want it?

I re-checked the name of the drawer.

He didn't want it.

I lit up. What treasures awaited me? What trove had I just plundered, what gold had I found? I pulled the drawer completely out, rest it on my lap, and dug in.

Squishy Squeezy Hug Slugs! No.

Can of Bookworms. Ew. No.

Ant Seeds. Hmm? Oh, for your ant farm. I got it. No.

Bedbug's Bed Bites. I was sensing a theme. Still no.

Ring-Ring Ring. What? Oh. No.

A… Piano Plant? Ooo, now that was cool. And… it incorporated… you like, actually used plants to make it. Some pretty flowers, too! And some vine type things — and you got to do it in your voice! Ooo! It looked pretty easy, too — even I could make it. This was perfect! It even had a good ring to it. Polly's Piano Plant. Polly's —

"Polly?"

I convulsed and the entire spinning chair fell over, throwing the drawer up and letting it smack me in the cheekbone and spewing its contents all over the floor.

"Oh my, are you okay?! What are you doing in Brainy's work space?"

"It's not what it looks like, I'm just —"

"You can't be —"

"I swear I'm not —"

"Stealing from Brainy? Polly Gary —"

"I'm not! I'm really not! I just came over here —"

"To steal!"

"Don't talk so loud, people might believe you!"

Thomas Timothy Thompson immediately shut up, and straightened up (moreso than he already had), looking embarrassed. In little more than a whisper, I spoke up again:

"Help me clean this all up, please?"

"What?"

Right, it was very loud in there.

"Help me clean this all up, please!"

He looked helpless, glancing between myself and the walkway behind him. I beckoned him several times, each time he looked just a little more shaken and antsy. Finally, he gave in and crouched down next to him.

"So what are you doing?"

"I was coming over here to find you, because I needed to ask for help."

"I thought you said you were fine?"

"Well I'm not — presentations are on Gumday."

"I know…"

"And I don't have anything."

"So you noticed I wasn't there…"

"Yeah…"

"…and decided to steal from Brainy."

"No! No, Tom, no I didn't! I was waiting for you —"

"In Brainy's booth."

"— and I had nothing to do and I figured that — and look I went over here thinking you were with Brainy — I figured that he didn't need the stuff in his 'scrapped' drawer so I strolled through it looking for inspiration and look! I found one, I found inspiration!"

"Inspiration…"

"Yes, inspiration."

"…that's… not stealing?"

"No, it's not, I'm just… going to take some of his ideas and mold them into something of my own. Everybody learns from the greats, and I need a teacher, so I… well, I guess I should've asked him, but that's what I came over to do and nobody was here, so!"

"…So you just… rummaged through his desk…"

"His trash, 3T. I rummaged through his trash. He's not going to miss it, I swear. And I'm not. Stealing."

"You're not… stealing."

We both had our hands on the Piano Plant blueprints.

"No. I'm not. Tom, I wouldn't do that. That's mean. I'm just drawing inspiration from Brainy. Anyone can do that."

I tugged once, and he held fast.

"Tom?"

I gave him puppy eyes. I wasn't meaning to be deceitful, or guilt tripping, I just… really wanted those blueprints. And I wasn't going to steal. I wasn't. I was going to make something Polly Gary Ashley would make, just taking guidance from the greats. That's how it was going to happen. It was.

3T loosened up, and I gently slipped the blueprints out from under his hands. He stayed sitting on the floor, brow furrowed and lips pouting, while I slipped the reorganized drawer back into its place.

"So… where is Brainy?"

"He's —"

"Oh hi Polly!"

I quickly hid the blueprints in my coat while turned away from Brainy, and then promptly greeted him.

"Hey Brainy!"

"Hi! How are things?"

"Things are good — I was just here talking to 3T about the presentations. I don't have anything yet, and —"

"Aww."

"— so I was going to get tutoring from Thomas here —"

"I hate it when that happens."

"— but he wasn't around so I waited in your booth and… here we are! Heheh."

3T looked pitifully at me, realizing I wasn't going to tell Brainy about taking his scrapped blueprints. He shot me that "so you are stealing" look, and I shot him that "I am not, I'm just not going to tell him that I was rummaging through his desk because that would make me look bad and I wouldn't have been put in such a compromising position had you not shown up and started accusing me of things and I would have been able to go through this more properly then" look. Well, maybe he didn't get all the intricacies of that. But I think he got enough.

"So why is 3T on the floor?"

"… I'm tired."

"Makes sense."

"Yeah, it's been a long day."

"Yeah. That's how it goes, three days from presentations."

"Yeah…"

I stood, Brainy stood, and 3T sat in awkward silence. For a while. I mean, it wasn't really silent, because the whole room was so loud, but it was between us. Eye contact. More eye contact. Licking lips. Brainy's smile was fading.

"Alright, mind if I steal 3T for a bit?"

"No, not at all!"

"Thank you, Brainy, I swear I won't be long."

"Don't work him too hard, heheh."

"I won't! C'mon, 3T, I have something to show you."

"…You do?"

"Yeah! Get up, c'mon, I won't keep you long."

"…Okay…"

3T stood up, brushed some dust from the floor off of his pants, and sauntered towards me, his head hung low. Brainy raised his eyebrows.

"Wow, 3T, you get tired quick."

"Alright, see you two! Good luck at presentations!"

"Yeah, bye Brainy!"

"Bye Polly! I'll be at my desk if you need me!"

"Yeah, see you!"

"See you later!"

"Bye!"

"Bye!"

Taking 3T by the hand, I practically dragged him back to my work space. Past workbench after workbench, Toy Tinker upon Toy Tinker, my confidence lowering with each sideways look. Finally, we arrived at my bland and barren desk.

"So you are stealing."

"I am not, I'm just not going to tell him that I was rummaging through his desk, because that would make me look bad, and I wouldn't have been put in such a compromising position had you not shown up and started accusing me of things, and I would have been able to go through this more properly then! This is on —"

He pouted.

"…Oh fine, this is on both of us, okay? This is on both of us. But look, it's… it's really nothing, I swear."

"You're not going to present the Piano Plant?"

"I am not going to present the Piano Plant. I am going to make it my own thing. I promise you. 100%."

"Pinkie promise?"

I held out my pinkie, and he held out his.

"Pinkie promise."

He smiled and lightened up. We pinkie shook on it.




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