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The Tin

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                “Anna,” Elsa stopped dead in her tracks on the way to sit on Anna’s couch, “what on earth is that?”

                “What is what?” Anna called from the kitchen where she was busy uncorking a bottle of wine.

                “This.”

                Anna peeked her head around the corner to see her sister holding up an old tin can with the words ‘sin tin’ written in sparkly gold sharpie taped to the side.

                “Oh!” Anna blushed. “I think the name on the side is pretty self-explanatory.”

                “A sin tin?” Elsa repeated. “Anna isn’t that a bit morbid?”

                “No, not at all!” Anna insisted, bringing her sister a glass of wine. “You know how lots of people have swear jars? Well, I don’t really swear-“

                “It’s uncouth.” Elsa nodded in agreement.

                “Yes, see. That’s what 12 years of boarding school gets you.” Anna laughed.  “So, I had seen that somebody would donate the contents of their swear jar to charity at the end of the year, and I thought that seemed like such a nice thing to do. Well, seeing as I don’t swear very often, I thought up a ‘sin tin’. Anytime I do something really bad I stick a couple quid in the jar. It’s kinda like penance.”

                “Anna, we aren’t even Catholic. We can barely even say we’re Lutheran.”

                “Yeah, I know.” Anna scowled at her sister. “But it’s really a nice thought!”

                “So, what’s this for?” Elsa pulled out a five-pound note.

                “I lost my temper when I was in the queue at Tesco and snapped at the person behind me when they asked to hurry. I apologized, of course, but I still put money in the tin.”

                “You are just so friendly.” Elsa rolled her eyes heavily and then pulled out a twenty. “And what’s this?”

                Anna felt her cheeks flame up.

                “Oh… Uh. That was nothing?”

                “What on earth would warrant twenty pounds? I can’t imagine you ever doing anything that would warrant such a hefty fine! What did you do? Steal your coworker’s stapler?”

                “Um. Yes. That’s exactly what I did.” Anna nodded her head too hard.

                Elsa raised a perfectly arched eyebrow, not believing a word, but not pressing the subject further.

                “Well, if you want my opinion, I think this is really unhealthy. You don’t need to catalogue every bad thing you do.” Elsa took her seat on the couch and flipped on the tv. “Trust me, I’m the one who has been seeing a therapist since I was 22. I know a toxic coping mechanism when I see one.”

                “Well, the year is almost over, and I said I’d do it until the end of the year.” Anna explained.

                “Hmm.” Elsa hummed her disapproval, but they both went back to watching Eurostar. “Maybe just put in your change instead?”

                “Yes, I could do that.”

 

                                *****

 

                The twenty pounds was for some incredibly lewd thoughts that had led to some explicit dreams that even now in the middle of the workday made Anna blush.

                She quickly shook her head and tried to get herself to refocus on her work.

                Anna could hardly believe that she had let her mind wander into such a filthy place. Prudence had never exactly been one of her virtues, but a year ago she would never have thought that she would resort to actively fantasizing about a coworker.

                Of course, a year ago she was engaged and living with her fiancé and getting it on a semi regular basis. Well… at least once a month. So, it was hardly regular, but it was something.

Now she was living on her own (because her ex was a cheating bastard) and too embarrassed to buy anything that resembled… something that could give her pleasure. Just the thought of it made her bury her head in her hands.

                “Penny for them.” A deep voice interrupted her thoughts.

                Anna felt her heart lurch for a moment, and she turned quickly to see that Kristoff, her coworker, had poked his head into her office.

                The subject of her inappropriate dreams.

                “Huh?”   

                “You seem a bit distracted. I was just wondering what you were thinking.” He leaned against her doorway.

                She took the splitest of split seconds to drink him in. He filled her doorway so nicely and she absolutely loved it when he rolled his sleeves up to his elbows about halfway through the day. She wondered exactly what it was he did that made his arms look so fit. He worked in an office for god’s sake.

                “Oh, my sister just came over last night.” Anna swallowed and blinked a few times while she tried to get her thoughts under control. “We stayed up really late and I’m kind of tired today.”

                “So, things are getting better with your sister?” He asked stepping into the office and sitting on her desk.

                Anna had to quickly shun away the teenage girl inside her that squealed Oh my god, he cares!

                “Yeah! They definitely are! We haven’t been this close since we were kids.”

                “That’s wonderful, Anna.” Kristoff smiled. “I know how important she is to you.”

                He has got such a nice smile.

                It had taken her a long time to work a smile out of him, on account of him being a bit of a grump when they first met. Now he seemed to be smiling at her more and more and she was letting herself hope things that she probably shouldn’t.

                Anna quickly reigned her thoughts back in again and smiled back at him.

                “Yes, Elsa is the most important thing in my life. Besides this report.” Anna held up a thick bundle of papers. “This is going to destroy me.”

                “You’re having trouble with that too, huh?” Kristoff chuckled.

                “Yes.” Anna sighed. “I think I’m going to have to take it home again. I hate doing that.”

                “I do too. My dog doesn’t deserve that kind of stress in his life.”

                “Aww. Yes, poor Sven.” Anna agreed thinking of the fluffy Newfoundland dog that Kristoff often showed her pictures of.

                “Speaking of Sven, are you coming to the company rugby game this Friday night?”

                “Uh, no. I wasn’t going to.” Anna gestured to her small frame. “I don’t exactly have the body type for it.”

                “I bet you’re stronger than you look.” Kristoff gave her a quick once over, and Anna noticed his cheeks turned faintly pink. “You could certainly flatten Tom on the second floor and he’s playing.”  

                “Well, I appreciate your confidence in me.” Anna laughed.

                “I was actually asking because I was thinking of bringing Sven with me to the field. He has been a bit cooped up the past couple of days and I wanted him to get out.”

                “Are you offering me the opportunity to finally meet the precious wittle doggy!”

                “Not if you talk to him in that voice.” Kristoff pretended to frown disapprovingly but Anna could tell he was amused.

                “I will most certainly be using that voice.”

                “So, you’ll watch him while I play?” Kristoff looked hopeful.

                “Of course. How could I say no?”

                “Thanks, you’re a life saver.” He gave her a lopsided grin.

                Anna vaguely wondered how watching Kristoff play rugby was going to help her keep her thoughts under control.

                Then she thought about taking at least five pounds out of the ‘sin tin’ because she was making up for her misdeeds by helping out her friend. Then she reminded herself that the money she was putting in there was going to charity and she thought she might have to put in at least a pound for thinking about taking money back out.

                Elsa was right. This was a very unhealthy way to donate money.

 

                                *****

 

                “Hi, Sven!” Anna squealed as Kristoff and the big dog trotted up to her.

                The fluffy pooch gave a happy bark and greeted her with several hearty licks on her hand.

                “Oh my gosh, Kristoff!” Anna squatted down in front of the dog and he transferred his licks to her face. “He is so much cuter in person! Sven! I wuv you so much alweady!”

                “Don’t talk to him like that.” Kristoff groaned.

                “I can’t hewp it! He’s just too pwecious!” Anna scratched Sven’s ears affectionately. “It’s so nice to meet you, Sven!”

                “It’s nice to meet you too, Anna.” Kristoff said in a silly voice that was very clearly meant to be Sven. “Kristoff’s told me so much about you.”

                “Oh really?” Anna laughed raised an eyebrow. “I hope it’s all good things?”

                She directed this question more to Kristoff.

                “Of course.” Kristoff’s cheeks turned pink.

                “Bjorgman!” Somebody from the field called.

                “Oh, I’ve got to go play.” Kristoff handed the lead to Anna. “If you want to walk him around the field once or twice? That way you don’t have to sit and watch me play.”

                “Who said I was going to watch you play?” Anna grinned at him.

                “You’re right. That was a very self-centered assumption.” Kristoff rubbed the back of his neck and looked a tad embarrassed.

                “You know what they say about assumptions.”

                “That they make an ass out of you and me?” Kristoff asked.

                “That our assumptions are usually correct.”

                Anna had no idea what had made her so bold and flirtatious and she nearly died when Kristoff cocked his head to the side and gave her a smirk.

                “Bjorgman!” Several men shouted from the field. “Come on! We need our star player!”

                “Go on,” Anna shooed him away. “You’ve got a game to play and I’ve got a dog to walk.”

                Kristoff jogged off to the field, throwing a glance at her over his shoulder and she tried not to grin too big.

                Anna then walked Sven around the field several times. He was a fabulous dog to walk. He stayed right in step with her and never pulled on the lead. In fact, he guided her gently so that she could stare unabashedly at Kristoff whenever he pulled the bottom of his ruby shirt up to wipe sweat off his forehead and she got a glimpse of his taught stomach and broad chest.

                She was definitely going to have to put more money in that tin.

 

                                *****

 

 

                Friday Rugby nights became a regular thing. Anna walked Sven around the field several times, gawked at Kristoff, then cheered wildly from the sidelines when he won the games, which was regularly. He really was the star player.

                Sometimes Elsa would come with to watch the game, which was quite amusing to watch her prim and proper sister in perfectly tailored clothes scream her enthusiastic support from the sidelines.

                “So, was he your twenty pounds?” Elsa asked her one evening when Kristoff waved at them from the field.

                “What?” Anna blanched.

                “Was it Kristoff’s stapler that you stole?”

                “Oh.” Anna felt her cheeks redden. “Yes. But you know, I’m not doing that anymore. You were right. It was a bit unhealthy to keep track of every little thing I did wrong.”

                “Couldn’t afford to keep up with those twenty-pound notes, huh?”

                “Uh. No.” Anna’s cheeks burned.

                “You know, I never thought I would enjoy rugby so much.” Elsa commented. “It’s actually a very fascinating game.”

                “Mhmm.” Anna agreed as she watched Kristoff actually take off his shirt to inspect a blood spatter on the fabric.

                It was definitely too cold outside to be shirtless, but Anna wasn’t complaining. In fact, she was thinking that if she were still actively keeping track with the ‘sin tin’ she’d be broke.

 

                                *****

                It was a bitterly cold day when the fight broke out. She had been giving Sven a particularly thorough scratching behind his ears after a carrot-cake flavored dog treat. When she looked up all she could see was fists flying between Kristoff and an opposing team member.

                “Kristoff!” She gave a strangled cry then scolded herself for possibly causing him any sort of distraction.

                Oaken, one of their giant coworkers who acted as a referee pulled the two men apart.

                “Okay, that’s enough.” Oaken said lifting the other player by the scruff of his neck and throwing him away from Kristoff.

                The other man was definitely worse off, but Kristoff’s nose was still bleeding profusely.

                “Both of you go home.” Oaken declared.

                “What!” The other team members complained. “You can’t send Kristoff home! We’ll lose the game!”

                “I’m sorry for this violence. But they need to go home now.”

                “Kristoff.” Anna whispered to him as she waited at the sidelines. “What were you thinking?”

                “It’s nothing.” Kristoff grumbled between gritted teeth as he pinched the bridge of his nose.

                “Come on.” Anna grabbed the crook of his elbow and steered him towards her car.

                “Where are we going?”

                “My flat. I’m going to fix you up.”

 

                                *****

 

                “What on earth possessed you to get in an actual fight, anyway?” Anna asked him as finished with the antiseptic cream on his nose.

                Luckily it hadn’t been broken, the skin on the bridge of his nose had just been cut.

                Anna felt almost ashamed for being grateful his perfect nose was still in tact. Sven looked relieved too as he sat vigil by Kristoff’s knee giving the occasional whine.

                “I-“ Kristoff hesitated. “It’s best if I don’t say.”

                Anna pulled back from him and eyed him curiously.

                “You know who you’re talking to right? Do you think I’m just going to let this drop? I’ll weasel this out of you if it’s the last thing I do.”

                Kristoff rolled his eyes and gave a huff of a laugh.

                “Fine.” He groaned. “That guy, John,-“

                “Of course, his name is John.” Anna gave a disgusted scoff and leaned back in to place a bandage over his nose.

                She tried not to notice just how close she was to him. 

                “He said some… rude things.”

                “What kind of rude things?”

                “Rude things about you.” Kristoff looked at her carefully.  

                “Oh.” Anna was slightly surprised. “Rude like, ‘oi mate she’s uglier than your dog’.”

                Kristoff shook his head and clenched his jaw.

                “Or rude like,” Anna continued carefully, “mentions about… inappropriate things?”

                “Yes.” The muscle in Kristoff’s jaw jumped.

                “Well, that was a silly thing to get in a fight over.” Anna tutted at him as she took a seat beside him on the couch. “I’m not a maiden in need of defending. Besides, men say things like that all the time.”

                “Real men don’t say things like that.” Kristoff insisted, his eyes dark.

                Anna looked at him closely.

                “Well it’s a good thing you beat the absolute shit out of him then.”

                Kristoff raised an eyebrow at her, and she blushed a bit.

                “Careful with the language.” He teased, knowing full well that he hadn’t ever heard Anna swear before, and while he by no means was foul-mouthed, he would drop an explicative here or there.

                Without even thinking about it, Anna made a show of fishing out a pound note and stuffing it in the tin that was on the shelf behind the couch.

                Kristoff’s eyebrows drew together as he read the gold lettering on the side.

                “What’s a ‘sin tin’?”

                “Oh gosh.” Anna blushed and pulled the note off the side quickly and crumpled it. “It’s nothing.”

                “No, I’m intrigued now. You have to tell me.”

                “No, I don’t.”

                “Do you not know who you’re talking to? Do you think I’m going to let this drop? I’ll weasel this out of you if it’s the last thing I do.” Kristoff gave an incredibly poor impersonation of her, quoting her earlier words.

                “Ha. Ha. Ha.” Anna rolled her eyes. “I do not sound like that, by the way. You’ve got my accent all wrong.”

“What this posh, toffee-nosed-“

“Rude!”

“Not rude! True. You sound very well educated.”

“Well I was.” Anna pointed out.

“And I wasn’t. That’s why I sound like Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins. Just the absolute worst cockney accent you’ve ever heard in your life.”

“You do not.” Anna laughed.

“So, what’s the sin tin?”

“I had seen that some people donate the contents of their swear jars to charity at the end of the year and I don’t really swear-“

                “I beg to differ.”

                “Oh, shut up.” Anna smacked his arm.

                “Ow.” Kristoff groaned.

                “Oh! I’m sorry!” She yelped.

                “It’s fine. I’ll live. Just remember that you’re a lot stronger than you look.”

                “Let me get you some ice.” Anna insisted jumping up from the couch, and Sven followed her into the kitchen.

                “Keep talking while you do that.”

                “Oh, well. I decided to make a ‘sin tin’ instead. That way when I did something bad, I’d put a pound or two in the tin and donate it at the end of the year. I quit doing that though. My sister pointed out that it wasn’t very healthy to keep track of all my wrong doings.” Anna came back into the living room to find Kristoff inspecting the contents of the tin closely. “Now I just put my extra change from Tesco in.”

                “Hmm.” Kristoff accepted the ice from Anna placed it on his shoulder. “What sort of things warranted putting money in the ‘sin tin’?”

                “You know. Getting cross with people, bad thoughts, that sort of thing.”

                “Bad thoughts?” Kristoff pressed.

                “Mhmm.” Anna couldn’t look at him. “You know, like wishing your coworker would drop dead so you could get a promotion.”

                This made Kristoff give a hearty laugh.

                “You’ve never once thought that.”

                “No, but you get the idea.” Anna reached for the remote and flipped on the tv to change the subject.

                “I can’t imagine you ever having any bad thoughts. You’re just so kind and trusting.” Kristoff remarked.

                “Well I do. So, did you want me to order something in?”

                “Like what?”

                “I was thinking Chinese or maybe-“

                “No, I meant, like what bad thoughts you would have.”

                “Kristoff,” Anna groaned putting her head in her hands and refusing to look at him. 

                “What? I’m just curious!”

                “Kristoff…”

                “Come on! What thoughts?”

                “Thoughts like whether or not it’s true what people say about men with big feet!” Anna flung her hands in the air and turned to face him. “Because your feet are fucking huge!”

                Kristoff’s eyes widened in surprise.

                Anna felt her cheeks flame red.

                “I mean!” She stammered. “Not that. That’s not what… I mean. Oh god.”

                Anna groaned and put her head back into her hands.  

                Kristoff remained silent for a moment.

                “Well firstly, I think we do need to get you a swear jar… because the fucking mouth on you is astounding.”

                Anna growled at him in response, too embarrassed to look up. He was being funny to try and break it easy to her that he had no interest and he was insulted that she’d all but admitted she had thought about having sex with him.

                “Secondly,” Kristoff continued by reaching back into his back pocket, not without a groan of pain, and fished out a fifty pound note and stuffed it in the jar.

                “What-“ Anna looked at him confused.

                “If thoughts about how you’re attracted to one of your coworkers – friends – warrants money in the tin, then I definitely need to contribute my fair share. Because I think you are so sexy.”

                “I-“ Anna felt her cheeks growing warmer, but this time it was less from embarrassment and more from the way Kristoff was looking at her. “I thought you said real men don’t say things like that?”

                “Oh, real men do not say the things that wanker was saying.”

                “Language.” Anna giggled.

                Kristoff gave her a rueful look as he pulled out an additional pound and put it in the tin.

                “Real men do realize when a funny, kind, absolutely beautiful woman who is newly single starts working on their floor. But they don’t try to press their advantage.”

                “Maybe they should.” Anna shrugged and gave him a sly smile. “I mean this woman has very obviously been ogling you from the sidelines of rugby games for almost two months.”

                “Oh, really?” He grinned mischievously.

                “Please,” Anna laughed leaning in closer. “You knew. Why else would you whip your shirt off every other game when it’s freezing out?”

                “That was just wishful thinking.” Kristoff was leaning closer too. “Does that warrant a few quid in the ‘sin tin’?”

                “You can kiss me now, Bjorgman.”