Chapter 7

"Awkward" is the word of the day. Also "apalling"

      Wary of the coming introduction, Shepry and Koen prepared themselves to exercise the utmost couresy with Saffron's father. Shepry came with the earnest intention to make a good impression, but Koen's plan was to show just enough good to come and go with some food. Saffron led them in the door all sun and smiles, bounding lightly through the room to once more greet her father. They came into what had the looks of a dining room, kitchen, and den all at once, though with still a small feeling. By the looks of it, most of the house was contained in this room, with just a short hallway to their left.
      Saffron's father was just bringing the finished breakfast to the table, and there was a look about his face of general irritability, clearly dissatisfied with the need to cook more for his unwanted guests. He wasn't a very old man, and had only the beginnings of gray hairs on the side of his head, but he had an obvious disfavor of mornings which had a wondrous way to exaggerate his age. He kept a neat, short haircut, but it even seemed to have a messy look to it in this state, and it looked like he needed a shave. Perhaps he purposely maintained a look like that, but at the time it just made him look even more unhappy to be out of bed.
      Shepry was all abuzz trying to begin a friendly, polite introduction to him. She almost reached out to shake his hand, but that wouldn't work because he was still dishing food onto the plates. She needed to make some kind of gesture though. She almost started to bow, but that would look silly. She almost started to wave, but that's just weird standing a few feet from someone else. Such an awkward greeting!
      "You two are Shepry and Koen, right?" He said, relieving Shepry of her predicament.
      "Yeah," Koen answered him.
      Shepry hardly made an input at all, aside from "Mm-hm."
      "Well I'm Trig," he said, "You can sit down here."
      Everyone took a seat around the cramped table which obviously did not customarily seat more than two people. Shepry and Saffron were actually the only two sitting at decent dining chairs. Trig sat on a stool a little lower than the others, and Koen's chair was shaky and seemed that it could collapse at any moment. He was across from Saffron, with Shepry across from Trig. As everyone sat down, Koen was eagerly examining helpings of sausage and eggs before him, awash in the tempting scents. At the same time, Saffron was earnestly asking all she could about these enticing new people; Where they came from, how old they were, how they were associated, how many relatives they have, what games they like best, and everything else about them. As soon as she could, Shepry was engaged in recounting the story of how she and Koen had found themselves that morning, and all that had led up to their arrival at the house. It was enthralling to do.
      It wasn't until more than halfway through the story, though, that Shepry noticed that nobody was really listening. Aside from that, hardly a bit of food had left anyone's plate but hers. She might have noticed if not for the fact that she'd been leaning over her own plate for most of the time telling the story. Everyone seemed to have a focus of their own away from her. Saffron's eyes were fixed on Koen. Come to think of it, Shepry HAD noticed that Saffron had hardly a response during the story except toward the beginning when Koen would chime in a thing or two... Koen as well was looking right back at Saffron, though apparently breaking eye contact for brief moments the whole time, embarrassed. Trig was eyeing Koen as well, somewhat suspiciously, with a new kind of irritated look on his face, now apparently from something other than his reluctance to house guests. Every moment of silence was brimming with awkwardness, so Shepry broke it by resuming the story about the library.
      "Mr. Trig, do you know anything about that library?"
      His eyes turned momentarily to her upon hearing his name, but then realigned to face Koen. After a moment he responded, "Well Saffron and I know about it," Saffron then exhibited an eye-contact maneuver as her father had just done, "We go there from time to time to find a good book to read, but that's about all I'm able to tell you."
      Shepry just stopped the story short to focus on her food. Just as she suspected, nobody spoke up to ask her "What happened next?" or "Yes, go on." They just kept to their respective stares, pretending to eat. Shepry felt like the only person present who could grasp the full situation, and she knew that when somebody took the initiative to start up a new conversation, it would be something with just a hint of discomfort and difficulty. Somebody was going to say the food tastes pretty nice, or the weather's still been nice and warm lately, to which someone will reply that it won't be warm for much longer... She just KNEW it was about to happen.
      It was Trig who finally said it. "Tell me, Koen," he began just as casual and brisk as could be, "Would you say you've gotten a thoroughly good look at my daughter's tits by now?"
      A shock wave swept over the whole table, causing silverware to clatter and bites of food to jump almost too soon to the backs of throats. Koen's head whipped around in horror as he tried to shout "HUH?" but even such an unintelligible word was slurred by the shock of what he'd just heard. Indeed, all eyes turned immediately to Trig with unmistakable implications of fear, stupefaction, and embarrassment.
      As Shepry tried to regain reason, the first thing she could think to say after the five seconds' silence following Koen's outburst was "WHAT?" Meanwhile Saffron slouched and stared emptily at her plate, sadly aware of the approaching storm.
      Shepry had been truly dumbfounded by this brash question. What's worse is that she couldn't read Trig's own reaction to what he'd said. He seemed to be sitting there waiting for a response, as though he'd just asked a perfectly valid question like "Did you notice the flower garden outside?" She thought she'd notice his lip twitch to hide a laugh, like this was a twisted joke he liked to pull on visitors, but his face remained locked in the same severity there had been all through breakfast. Finally she had to say SOMEthing about this ridiculous bit of rudeness.
      "Excuse me sir, but how can you say something like that to Koen?" She was sure that anger was showing in her face, but she tried to keep it out of her voice if it could be helped.
      "Well you must have noticed how he's been staring at her all through breakfast, right? Just look at his face. You know he's not thinking about food right now." Koen was all caught up in a panic, looking from Trig to Shepry the whole time, but not daring to make eye contact with anybody, and doing his very best to keep from looking any more at Saffron.
      "Parents aren't supposed to say things like that! It's just...... Weird!" Maybe he could give some kind of explanation that would make his word choice perfectly rational. Sadly, he seemed to have no such thing in store.
      "What, like I'm just supposed to pretend there's nothing there? Look at those things! They're huge! Nobody could miss them!" Saffron just put her elbows in front of her on the table and with her hands over her head, she just hid her face and subtly shook her head.
      "But sir, that's just... Wrong! It's gross!"
      "Come on! Like I'm just supposed to avoid talking about something perfectly normal and innocent? There's nothing wrong with acknowledging what's clearly there for all to see, and asking me to just turn my head and pretend I've never seen my daughter is like asking me to sit here and lie."
      "Mr. Trig..." Shepry tried to begin before losing any composure, "I have to believe that this, sir, is very inappro--"
      "Why do you keep calling me 'sir' anyway? You think that's just something you're supposed to do, because you're supposed to be unconditonally respectful to older people? I don't appreciate you talking to me like that if you don't have an honest reason to do it. Tell me the truth: Do you really believe that I'm being respectable by saying this kind of thing? Do you think I SHOULD be called 'sir' right now?"
      Shepry just fumed and took a deep breath. "No," she said standing up, "and I think Koen will agree with me when I say I also don't believe we should have to sit here and subject ourselves to outlandish questions like that," She now walked over to Koen and grabbed his hand to pull him from the table. He was still in a daze from Trig's wild question, but he managed to follow her to the door.
      Trig rose now to see them out, and just left them with the message "Whatever, I hope you come to realize how pretentious you're being about this! You're going to just WISH to find someone as honest as me living in this world!"

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