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Illura Tabletop Drabbles

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She could recall the very words that her parents had said.

“High school is going to be great, dear! You’ll have a lot of new experiences, but going through high school is an enjoyable one. The possibilities are endless!”

The girl, Jenny, had taken those words to heart, being ambitious enough to even start her own club. The school treated her in high regards as well, praising her from her skill and kind demeanor. For a petite freshman, she was rather popular already!

But, gosh, when her parents said ‘new experiences’, she certainly did not stop to consider that one of these could of been becoming acquainted with someone who was, well…

Honestly? She wasn’t sure what to call them, but human was anything but the answer she was looking for.

After a quiet weekend, and a mundane Monday, the mysterious allure of this person had become the subject of her thoughts. They had said they were born here, but was that really the truth? Was there any other non-human behaviors or traits they had? Question after question piled up, and by the time Tuesday had rolled around, poor Jenny had made her way to the library, hoping that maybe, just maybe, there was some sort of book that could steer her in the right direction.

As she would wheel herself down the aisles, scouring each shelf for any book of interest, her eyes would catch onto those on sea creatures. While they weren’t human, maybe they had some similarities to these sorts of creatures? Especially those related to squids, or octopuses, considering that their unusual friend’s most prominent feature was the long, writhing feelers protruding from who knows where on their body.

The word ‘friend’ was such a strange statement, too. She did trust them, and she had known them for a few weeks, but it still put her to shivers thinking that all this time, they weren’t actually human-….

Suddenly, the girl would gasp. Of all people, the very same friend of theirs was now standing in front of them, peering down at them curiously. When in the world did they get here, and why? The answer was not an especially hard one. Like herself, they were here for books on fish, though unlike her, was simply reading them because they liked the subject, not for research purposes.

“Do you think…I should get a book on clownfish, or something on sharks?” They’d ask, as they would skim the shelves, returning their attention back to the girl. “Are you looking for fish books too? I can help. I’ve read a lot of these books.”

“Oh, uhm…” What a pickle to be in. She didn’t want to lie, but she definitely wasn’t going to explain why she was here, either. “...I...I am! Do you think you could grab the green one on the top shelf, Hayden…?”

Their friend would, thankfully, agree, easily bringing the book to her – an anatomical study on cephalopods – and placing it into her arms. “That’s a good book,” Hayden would state, matter of factly, to the girl; “There’s a lot of well drawn pictures. The person behind this book did a lot of research.”

She was really, really glad that they didn’t connect her reasoning as to why she wanted the book. Phew! As Hayden would focus their attention to what book they were going to rent themselves, Jenny’s curiosity would get the best of her, beginning to flip through some pages. And, every once in a while, she would glance up, staring at their companion – while she was glad that they finally ditched their previous attire for a long, concealing dress that easily kept their oddities hidden, she had really hoped that there was some way to covertly compare them to the diagrams in this book…

To her surprise, the answer to that came to her in the most unexpected manner. As she had readyed herself to head home, with her new book checked out, Hayden had prompted her with a simple question:

“Can i go to your house?“

It was such an alarming question that it took Jenny a fair minute to digest it. “…sure, but, w-why do you want to go?” She would stumble out. "Because i keep trying to make something, but it doesn’t come out right! I don’t want to wait until Friday. I’m hungry for it now.'

Oh, they were talking about baking! At least the subject at hand was not too different to what she was used to. "Ok, i think…i can help! What are you trying to make…?”

“Uhm..those….cream puff things, they sounded good, but they’re so hard…I’m making them anything but puffy. Or creamy. I don’t know what to do…” The disappointment on their face was clear, too clear. Was this usually stoic person actually going to cry?

Nonetheless, their worries causes the girl to request that they stop pushing the wheelchair, motioning them over to take their hand. “We can try together, ok?’ She’d tell them, gently stroking their hand. "I should have the ingredients at home.”

It’s after Hayden removes their hand from hers that she’s reminded of the first time she truly saw the peculiar appendages of theirs. She had caught a glimpse of them as they had left the room abruptly, but it wasn’t until after the club was over that she had gotten a good look at them. and, to make things even more awkward, Hayden had allowed her to hold one of their many feelers, with the hope that touching one might allow her to accept the strange reality. Even now, she could recall how eerily smooth, yet pleasantly cool they were against her fragile hands. Chilling, but surprisingly less slimy than she expected.

The lingering thoughts of that encounter is halted as she hears the telltale screech of the train as it pulls to a stop. The ride sure had passed by quickly! Getting home wasn’t going to take much longer. With a bit of help from Hayden, the two of them manage to get off the train, and eventually, make it home. To Jenny’s surprise, no one was home, but perhaps it was for the best. After all, she was letting in someone her parents barely knew, and while Hayden had practiced hiding their…abnormalities, she was still wary of them messing up.

As she ensures the door is locked, she finds that Hayden’s already in the kitchen, searching for ingredients and any sort of measuring tools, placing them messily on the table. She calls out to them that “ketchup is not one of the ingredients” as she carefully searches the shelves for her never failing set of recipe books, presenting a rather huge book on the table for the both of them to view.

“This should be a good recipe…” She mumbles, as her hands pull forth a page depicting a basic, but promising, recipe on the ever so coveted cream puffs. “Do you think you can handle this?”

“I should!” Hayden states, though there is some obvious hesitation in their voice. The girl would watch them squint at the instructions once more, and then, without warning, pull their feelers up and out from their dress, three protruding out from each of their sleeves to make a grand total of six, wiggling appendages.

Jenny couldn’t help but to bring her hands to her mouth, drowning out any chances that she wanted to use to scream. This was many, many more than she had been accustomed to seeing. “h-Hayden, why are those…uhm…out?”

The response she gets, at first, is a long, fixed stare at her, a puzzled look present on their friend’s face. And then, as if something clicks, she sees them gasp. “We have to do all these steps, so i figured it would be faster if i could do them all at once!” A confident nod follows, as they take a bowl into their hands, directing their ribbon-thin feelers towards the pile of ingredients.

“W-Wait, wait!” Jenny would wheel over, taking a firm hold of the flour they had attempted to lift, “you can’t just do all the ingredients at once! D…Did you try this the last time you made the cream puffs, too..?”

“It’s faster that way…” Hayden would admit, perplexed. “should it be slower then?”

“Just…… just one step at a time.” Jenny would confirm, letting her hands relax. “How about i measure, and you can mix, ok…?” Hayden was more than happy to agree to these terms, eagerly mixing the ingredients together as Jenny would carefully measure them out. Soon enough, they had the puffs in the oven, with the creamy mixture cooling in the refrigerator until later as well, leaving the two of them to wait for their tasty treats to bake.

“See, wasn’t too long, right?” Jenny would ask, her perky smile warmly spreading wide. Despite the awkward situation she was in, she was having a lot of fun! And her friend was too, even if she had to scold them for absentmindedly licking the batter off of their hands (and, even more so with their feelers).

In fact, now was less of her relaxing and more of her attending to the mess that Hayden had made on themselves. “Gosh, you and the ingredients really like each other, don’t they?” She would tease, as she would dab a towel against their arm, warily keeping an eye on the just as messy, but much less normal, set of feelers. Unless Hayden would take liberties on them, she would have to clean them too, and she couldn’t help but shake a little in her seat thinking about it.

“Are you still concerned about them?”

Jenny would look up at Hayden, and gasp. “Oh, nono, i wasn’t, I mean…they are a little strange, but they suit you…?” They did like fish, after all, and anything sea related. She wasn’t completely lying here!

Thankfully, Hayden didn’t take this as anything but a compliment. “You think so? I think they do too. They’re really helpful…” Once again, She had to scold them for bringing one towards their face and trying to eat the batter of one.

“You’re going to get sick that way!” She warned them, waving a hand to, perhaps reluctantly, request that they bring the batter covered feelers over to be washed as well. It was always fascinating how surprisingly gentle Hayden would be whenever they brought one to her hands – she very well expected them to simply throw the bulk of them onto her lap, wavering about impatiently. Then again, she was cleaning them, not stroking them with her hands. It was rather priceless seeing an expression, especially an upset one, from Hayden as she would remove the precious batter that they still had every intents on eating.

She did not, however, expect that expression to change to that of a smile once she had finished. “You made them look so nice and shiny…” Hayden would comment, eying their clean and batterless feelers before turning their attention back to Jenny. “You’re really talented, thank you!”

“Oh, it was nothing, I just….”

“wanted to see them?” Hayden would finish for the girl, giving her a curious glance. “I know you’re trying to research them. I rented the same book when I wanted to learn more.”

Jenny would simply nod. She really did think she had gotten away with that! “It’s ok, you know.” Hayden would continue upon noting the lack of words. “They are…abnormal. So, looking into the abnormal is common. It helps to understand and familiarize one with the subject."

Carefully, they would place one of their appendages ontop of the girls hands. "So, don’t be ashamed to view me as anything but human, or to research me for that purpose. I can’t change the fact that I’m not human.” they would glance away, contemplating their next words. “Just treat me…as a friend. That’s all i want.”

“Of course…!” The girl would reply, taking the startled person into her arms, catching them off guard with a gentle hug. “You…You’re different, and its overwhelming, but…you are my friend, ok?”

This time, it would be Hayden who would only nod, letting the girl hold them in loose, but heartwarming embrace.