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Small Anxieties

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“Come on Charlie.”

There was no response as she quietly got out of the car, though Peter noticed she looked a little bit annoyed. He stayed close to her as they began walking up.

“WHAT, it’s Burger King, you like Burger King.” He told her and she paused in response. She just gave a glance to the door.

“There’s...a lot of people in there.”

“Oh come on, really now?” He sighed as he pulled her along. “There’s like, 3 other groups of people, you’ll be fine.”

This had been a recent issue, and their mother had wanted Charlie to “do more things by herself” such as ordering food. Peter sort of understood, Charlie never went out unless she was forced to, and she never seemed happy going to school. It did make him sort of sad that his little sister didn’t seem to have many friends and was so quiet. Their mom had told him to go get lunch and let Charlie order for herself and he didn’t mind really.

The only response she could muster was a very nervous ‘cluck’.Peter just gave her a gentle pat on the shoulder as they entered and got in line. There was only one person ahead of them.

“Just...order...” He told her.

But he was caught off guard when she suddenly grabbed onto him, hiding behind him.

“Charlie, seriously?”

“Next.”

Peter simply walked forwards, dragging his little sister with him as he approached the counter. He gave the cashier a forced smile.

“Haha, she’s shy...” He said gently. “Charlie, order.”

“No.”

There was no option but for him to just stand there awkwardly as she remained clinging to him. He glanced down, and she seemed genuinely distressed, for some reason. He sighed, their mom wouldn’t be happy about it, but he couldn’t find it in him to force her, or yell at her. He just decided to order something she’d like, along with his own lunch. The two headed over to their seats, but Peter decided he’d have a “big brother” talk with her.

 

-
Peter set the trays of food down in front of them and sat down in the booth across from her. Charlie grabbed her bag and looked inside it quietly.

“Umm...”

“It’s chicken.” He told her, actually taking out the box for her and opening it. They were the chicken fries they had previously gotten rid of. “It’s like chicken strips, but they look like fries.”

“Ok.”

There was a short pause and he leaned on the table with his arms. Thinking about how to approach this. But he decided to just be how he always was with her.

“What’s wrong sissy?”

She scowled, apparently not liking that nickname at the moment.

“What...nothing...” A fry was plucked from her bag as she quickly ate it.

Peter glanced around, knowing he’d have to pry her open as she seemed moody. Still, he forced a smile. He did want to help her, even if he didn’t know how.

“Why were you so nervous back there huh?” he asked gently.

Charlie just glanced up at him. It was several seconds before she spoke.

“Umm...I just don’t like talking.”

“You talk to me though!”

She paused a bit before responding.

“...I trust you...”

He failed to keep a smile off his face. Aw. Charlie did indeed talk to him but he didn’t know she considered him trustworthy.

“Thanks...er, I mean, I get that but...”

He took a quick bite of his burger before continuing.

“Talking to people is a part of life. You’re gonna have to do it.”

“Yeah, ok.” She mumbled, wanting the conversation to be over. Peter could have guessed what her counterargument would have been though, and addressed it anyways.

“You shouldn’t worry about what they think of you. You’ll never see these people again anyways ok?”

She actually seemed to ponder that for a second.

“Yeah...guess you’re right.” She admitted, gnawing down on a chicken fry. Like a rat. He smiled.

Digging into his bag he found a rather small onion ring, and took it out. He’d gotten Charlie’s attention as he held it in front of him. He tossed it up in the air and just barely caught it with his mouth. That got a very small smile out of Charlie.

He dug out another small-ish onion ring and tossed it up,but he failed to catch it. She giggled as it landed on his shirt. Peter didn’t have a problem with that.

There was a brief pause, and Charlie seemed to stop mid-bite. She made a face, before grabbing the nearest napkin and spitting out what was currently in her mouth. He immediately became concerned.

“What, what?”

“...There’s a lump in it...”

He just paused, even though he already knew. Picky eater.

“It...it’s meat...” He blurted out. “It’s gonna have lumps sometimes...”

Charlie just sat there, not saying anything. She simply got another chicken fry out of the box and starting eating it, much slower. Peter sort of rolled his eyes without her noticing and grabbed the short end of the fry that she didn’t eat and took a bite of it. She didn’t object. He knew this would drive their mom nuts, but he didn't know what he was supposed to do really. Besides she was eating right? Part of it anyways. And she had regular fries to go with it.

A few minutes passed in silence, which wasn’t unusual. When Charlie didn’t feel like talking Peter usually left her alone. He noticed her glancing up at the menu which was behind him. Holding back a chuckle he already could guess what she was looking at.

“Chocolate pie?” He asked.

For whatever reason, she was fiddling with her sleeves a bit. She looked a little hesitant.

“Can you buy me one?” Her voice was just barely above a whisper.

Peter smiled. He hated to tell his little sister no, but he figured he’d make a deal with her.

“How about...if I buy you a pie you’ll tell me how school is on Monday when I get home?”

“Ok!”

That was easy. Too easy? Charlie wasn’t one to lie to him, so he figured he could trust her. He slid out of the booth.

“Alright. I might get one too.” He told her, giving her a quick pat on the head.

She smiled at that for some reason and Peter gave her nod.

Overall, not a bad outing.