13. Room For One More?

“Hi, I’m Jenny.” She said it to me, but quickly moved on to look at everyone else. “I was wondering if I could join your group.”

The others awkwardly introduced themselves, at the end of which she turned back to me, obviously expecting me to do the same. I should make clear at this point, despite my general social ineptitude, there are two types of people I have no problems talking to. The first are those even more socially awkward than me (so, everyone sitting around the fire) and the other is pretty girls.

What? How can this be? Simple, really. I have absolutely no illusions about my chances, so there’s no pressure to impress or come off cool.

I can only go by my own experiences, but I’ve always found that if a pretty girl talks to me it’s because she wants something. If she flirts with me, it’s something she definitely has no right to ask for, and she knows it.

I can’t be bothered with people who are happy to use others like that. In fact, when it comes to pretty girls, I have a tendency to act like a dick.

“Why?” I asked her. She looked confused by the question. “You’re with them aren’t you?” I pointed at Golden Boy’s group. “Why would you want to leave them for us?”

She took a moment to think over her response. “All they talk about is killing stuff and how to get hold of better weapons. I’m not really comfortable with that stuff, so…” Her voice drifted off.

It made sense. Like the girl who made the outburst earlier, Jenny didn’t fancy going on a killing spree either. But why choose us? I looked over at the other two groups. The one nearest were the cool kids. Maybe even she felt intimidated by them, although I’m sure they’d accept her.

The other was the all girl group. If she really wanted to avoid killing anything then that would seem the more obvious choice. But pretty girls often had issues with other girls. And having a few guys around to manipulate didn’t hurt, either.

“I’m not sure why you think we’re any different. Do you not remember the thing that attacked us? Killing is the only way we’re going to survive here, and the people you’re already with are probably going to be a lot better at it than us. If you can’t do it yourself, you should stick with the people who can keep you safest, at least until something better comes along.”

As soon as I said it, I realised it sounded like an insult. Like I was calling her an opportunist who took advantage of people until she could dump them for an upgrade. That’s not how I meant it, but I also wouldn’t deny that there was more than a small possibility she was one of those people.

Jenny seemed to have picked up on it as her face twisted from mild consternation into biting anger. “You’re right. No point hanging with someone who has a panic attack every time he nearly gets stung by a bee.”

I wanted to correct her, but what could I say? “It wasn’t a bee, it was a fairy”? Not exactly a ringing endorsement for my masculinity, even though the fairy in question had looked more like Tinkerbell with rabies.

She turned around and walked away.

“Hey,” I called after her. “Back in the clearing, thanks for helping me.”

She paused and looked over her shoulder, confused. Rather than get into an argument, I had sincerely shown gratitude, just to mess with her. Classic dick move. She didn’t say anything, just went back to her group who were all smiles at her return. I guess she hadn’t told them she wanted out.

“Why did you do that?” asked Claire.

“What? I did her a favour. She’s better off with them.”

“Sure,” said Claire. “You told her to piss off because you like her so m—”

I looked over to see why she had stopped in the middle of what she was saying, but she looked away, suddenly tending to the fire with great intensity.

It took me a moment to realise she must have come to the conclusion I really did send Jenny away because I liked her and wanted what was best for her. Maybe on a subconscious level that was true, but there was an even more pressing reason to send her packing.

Despite my claim that I don’t see women as inferior, I also don’t see them as equal to guys in all areas. That would be stupid. Clearly, the typical girl isn’t as strong or aggressive as the typical boy. There are exceptions, of course, but I didn’t think Jenny was going to turn out to have a love of MMA and a black belt in Brazilian jiu jitsu. In a world where we’d be fighting for our lives, the last thing our weak and feeble group needed was another girl.

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