Twenty Pineapples | Teen Ink

Twenty Pineapples

August 14, 2021
By Bella_Queen DIAMOND, Plymouth, Ohio
Bella_Queen DIAMOND, Plymouth, Ohio
81 articles 25 photos 79 comments

Favorite Quote:
Keep your face always toward the sunshine and shadows will fall behind you.
-Walt Whitman

That Gap Year was starting to seem more like a self-destructive road trip meant to make me go slowly, but efficiently, insane.
I bet twenty dollars my sister was behind all of it.

She was always talking about Karma, and that one time I missed her ballet recital. Like that would send the world spinning into a fit.

But, alas, I was in a sea of pineapples because of it.

Pun intended. What pun, you ask? Well, it’s funny because my car was literally a pineapple. Not the cute ones, either. It was ugly, with rusted tires, a bright yellow paint job, and an engine that refused to start at the moment. When I got it for my sixteenth birthday, my sister immediately started to howl at how ridiculous it looked in our cul-de-sac town with the neat rows of houses and driveways.

I agreed with her, but my mom and dad were always talking about “responsibility” and “building from the ground up.”

Well, guess what, guys, Todd Baker had a blue Cadillac and he looked much more happy than me to not have the “responsibility” of giving it a new paint job.
But, two years later, I adored the little lady that my sister had painted to resemble a pineapple. It had little painted on seeds all around it and a bright green top made out of recycled tires and plastic cups.

But, at times, I hated it.

“Start, you piece of candy corn!” My parents hated cussing, so I learned at a young age to substitute. 

I wrenched the key out of the ignition with a furious cry and shoved open the door. I wanted to kick the pineapple but didn’t dare; if Sarah saw that I had chipped the paint when I got back, she’d surely bring even more bad luck down on me. Heck! I’d probably end up dying in a plane crash!

I sighed in frustration, the sun already forming a ring of sweat around the neck of my shirt. I was only about two hours away from Phoenix. Maybe I could walk?

My sister’s voice seemed to fill my head. “And risk heat stroke? I don’t think so.”

I rubbed the sweat out of my eyes and turned slowly in place; my car chose the middle of nowhere to break down in. All I could see for miles was a cracked road and cactuses.

“Wow. That is the ugliest car I’ve ever seen.”

I jumped and spun around, arms up in a strange karate-move-thing to defend myself. A guy a little younger than me was openly staring at my car, his backpack overflowing with empty cans, candy wrappers, and plastic bags sitting on the hood.

Of my car.

I carefully appraised him, keeping my ninja hands in place; he looked disheveled, with black hair tied into a messy knot at his head, a torn brown hoodie, and dark skin seemingly layered with dust. When he looked at me, though, I found he had what my sister would call “swoon worthy baby blues.” Substitute the period with several exclamation points. But where had he come from? Thin air?

“Can I help you?” I asked warily.

He grinned lightly, “Can I help you repaint this ugly son-of-a-gun?”

I frowned, lowering my hands. He didn’t seem very threatening. “I’m just waiting for someone.”

The guy made a show of craning his head to look down both ends of the road. “Is your friend a cactus?”

I scowled, “No.”

“Hm. Thought so. They’re prickly fellas.” At his joke, he burst out laughing, the sound of it echoing around us. I waited patiently until he calmed down, my face drawn tight in annoyance. “Sorry!” He finally stood straight, wiping the tears sliding down his round, freckled cheeks. “I couldn’t help myself! That was good, right?”

I shrugged, “Corny, if I’m being honest.”

He grinned, “Can’t please everyone. Now what’s really going on? You can’t possibly be waiting for a girl out here, can you? In my experience; she doesn’t like dirt and scorpions as much as you think.”

I already hated him; he was the kind of guy my sister would date.

I strode over to his backpack and scraped it off the hood to hand it to him. “This car is very delicate.” I told him, “she doesn’t like dirt.”

“So you chose to take her to Arizona?” He frowned. “Strange, dude. Not gonna lie.”

I rubbed the space between my brows. “Don’t you have something better to do?”

“Like clean trash off the side of the road? Nah. I’ve already done that today.” He held up his backpack proudly, “I do it every morning.”

“Let me get this straight; you drive here every day to clean up trash?”

“Nope. I walk.”

I brushed aside his words. The guy was obviously insane. Like all my sister’s boyfriends. “Well, thanks for insulting my car.” I waited for him to leave, already popping the hood of the Pineapple to see what was wrong with her.

But he didn’t.

I stared at him out of the corner of my eye, fed up. “What?”

His stupid grin returned, “I was just waiting for you to ask for my help.”

I paused. “Do you have any tools? Experience?”

“Nope. Do you?”

Good question.

“Not really.”

“Great! We can screw this up together!”

He pushed the sleeves of his hoodie up and moved to my side, his backpack once again sitting on my car.

“I have some tools at home. I could go grab them?”

I perked up; the sun seeming less cruel at the moment. “You have a car?”

His grin never wavered. “Nope!”

“Then how will you get home?”

“Walk. I live a few feet down.” He pointed to the road behind me, but I didn’t remember seeing any houses for at least three hours. Seeing the confusion in my sunburnt face, he sighed, “I made a little shelter using a tarp and a few cactuses. They’re good support columns.”

Realization dawned, and my face reddened. “Oh. You’re…”

“Homeless? Yeah. In the middle of nowhere? Yeah! It’s freaking awesome! No one to bother me!”

I sincerely doubted that he liked solitude as much as he pretended; he was too talkative to be an introvert.

“Or I could try to start it again?” He suggested.

“I already tried⎯Hey! Get out of my car!”

But he already had the door wide and was pushing the key I had tossed on the seat into the ignition by the time I reached him. 

My knuckles were wound tight into his hood when he turned it.

And the Pineapple flared to life.

“Aha!” The guy patted the steering wheel, “she lives!”

I dropped his shirt, surprised, “That actually worked.”

“Heck yeah, it did!”

He scooted out of the driver’s seat, grabbed his backpack, pushed down the hood, and then jogged round to the passenger’s seat. I was too shocked that the Pineapple was working to notice him until he was inside.

“Got working air? It’s freaking hot out there!”

I snapped back to attention to glare, “What do you think you’re doing?! Get out of my car!”

He held up his hands, fake fear on his face. “Listen, rich boy, I fixed your car, so you have to give me a ride to town. I need some things. Unwritten rule, you feel me?”

I snorted incredulously, “No! And what makes you say that I’m rich?”

He looked pointedly at my Harvard Law School shirt. I didn’t need to tell him that it was my big brother’s; he would still say I was rich. Which I was.

“Okay, fine. But don’t touch anything.”

I shut the driver’s side door and switched on the air.

“How rich?”

“Excuse me?” 

He propped his feet up on the dash, disregarding my disdainful look. “Like, how rich?”

I shrugged.

He snorted, “You’re so rich you don’t even know your net worth!? Bro!”

“Noah. Not ‘bro.’” I clenched the wheel, pulling away from the side of the road, and tried not to knock his dirty boots off my dash.

“Lovely to meet you! I’m Percy. After the kid in that god book. Hey.” He snorted, gearing up for another joke. “If I was as rich as you, I’d buy twenty pineapples just because I could! Get it? Cause of the car?”

“Har, har,” I mocked, hoping that would shut him up.

For a while, it worked.

“And also like four watermelons. They’re my favorite.”

This was going to be a long two hours.

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