Skylar walked with Emily, leaves on the ground rustling as they weaved their way between trees. They were arm in arm, chatting about random things. Emily also giving directions to the pond they wanted to show Skylar.
“Do you have any pet peeves about Qwortarian culture, or things that your fellow Qwortarians do?” Emily asked after nudging Skylar a little to the left.
Skylar tapped their chin. “I can look up pet peeves are, but I’m still not sure what you mean.” Skylar tugged Emily back, so they had room to sidestep a bush. “Can you give me an example?”
“Sure.” Emily tilted her head a moment, before she gasped. “Oh I have a great pet peeve. When people use literally the wrong way!”
“They use literature the wrong way?”
“No, they use the word literally, the exact opposite way it is supposed to be used.”
Skylar ran their fingers along smooth birch bark. “Like, when a person says I could literally kill you, but they don’t mean it?” Skylar had caught on pretty quickly people sometimes they didn’t even mean half of what they said or did when they let anger fuel their actions.
“That’s one. Or, they’ll say something like, I could literally eat a horse. But they wouldn’t even eat a horse, much less consume the weight of a horse in one sitting.” Emily leaned into Skylar. “We should be close to the pond now.”
Skylar didn’t see anything, but they heard a croak of a frog. “Oh, so, like, they use literally instead of using something else… like figuratively.” Emily nodded. Skylar reached out a hand to push a branch up a little higher so the two of them could duck under it.
A tiny clearing with a pond. Small circular rocks lined the edges, and the water was crystal clear. The croaking was louder, and as Skylar traced their gaze along the ground they spotted several frogs hanging about the mossy earth. “It’s beautiful.”
“And peaceful.” Emily added as she pointed. “There are a couple logs over there, right? So we can sit.”
“Yeah.” Skylar brought Emily over and the two of them sat down. “So, I think I know a pet peeve.” Emily clapped her hands as Skylar cleared their throat. “It really annoys me when people shape shift into something you are talking about. And then gloat about how quickly or how accurate they are just based on what you said. It’s distracting and just pretentious. Speed shifting isn’t for regular conversation, that is a skill for competition or survival.”
“Yeah that sounds annoying. Like when people interrupt a story asking for clarification, or guessing how it will end.” Emily braced her hands on the edge of the log and leaned back. “That’s why it’s nice to have a quiet place to come to, just to relax and be yourself.
Skylar agreed by not saying anything, just listening to the serenade of frogs and buzzing of insects.
Word count: 494