Summary: What’s love got to do with it?
|Prompts:||#358 Cartography at Taming the Muse.|
|Story 1 from First Person Table at Narrative x 10.|
Word Count: 1,156.
Commas Brought to You By: Howard Russell.
Episode: #85 Fool for Love.
Disclaimer: Another day, another…they don’t pay me anything at all. I just do this to amuse myself and you. That’s what allows me and mine to slip under the radar while playing with characters created by those more fortunate than us.
A series of quick, clumsy clicks, scrapes and squeaks come from the kitchen, inspiring my heart to bobble in my chest like a yoyo in the hands of a hyperactive child. I don’t know why my instincts go all whacky. I just know that something’s wrong with a capital ‘ruh,’ no ‘wuh’ because that would just be silly. The noises are off. There are too many thuds. It’s—
Buffy’s home. I leap from the couch. She’s in trouble and so am I. Sort of. The coffee table doesn’t quite reach out and swat me. At least I don’t think so. It’s close. For an instant my left shin has my undivided attention, or the sharp, hammer-handy thwap that sets it on fire does. I get over trying to clutch my leg before it lands me on my butt and half-hop, half-jog from the living room, through the dining room, toward Buffy who’s—
She’s late. She’s like that, always making us worry. I guess that figures since she’s the only one in the world who matters.
For some reason I think seeing her will help. Thinking like that was totally wishful. My tummy joins the fracas with the yoyo action when I do. She’s all hunched over, clutching her gut, hugging it, like she’s trying to hold something in. I don’t want to think what that might be. Something’s really, really wrong, but nothing looks wrong, except for the hunching.
Did she hurt her back? Is she trying to imitate Mrs. Spunkelcrief from down the street to get some extra attention? It’s weird. I know she isn’t, but part of me still wants to think it’s happening, like I always knew it would. I knew she’d—
Just past the doorway, I stopped moving. I should be. I should go to her and do—
I don’t know what to do.
The backdoor’s open and it’s totally full of her shadowy, shadowish boyfriend. Where there’s one, there’s always the other. How’d I miss him?
I should call an ambulance.
I’m not sure if I said that last thing, or if she heard me. She said something. The same old something. I should say something, so I repeat myself, almost, maybe, “Should I call for an ambulance?”
Not that it does any good. She croaks, “No,” all adamant, almost before I finish.
Unbelievable. She’s hurt. I mean, it’s obvious, right? Riley looks like he wants to agree with me. He like actually meets my eyes. There’s agreement, and even an abbreviated nod. Buffy’s being crazy.
She says, “I don’t want Mom to worry,” like that’s perfectly reasonable. Like Mom wouldn’t worry if Buffy bled to death, or passed out, or whatever on her kitchen floor. She’d totally wig.
My jaw’s kind of dragging the linoleum. I’m kind of staring, like I’m the idiot when the idiot in this situation is so clearly Buffy. I shut my stupid mouth, gather up the tattered scraps of my dignity and turn my back on Hart to Hart. Degrassi will be so much lower drama than them.
My leg lobbies a violent protest to every step of my return trip to the living room. It makes me grumpy. I flop down on the couch just in time for a commercial break. All I can do about it is sigh and try to resist the urge to buy fabric softener. It’s hard. The stereotypical mom-type they hired to sell the stuff is pretty persuasive. Somehow I hold out.
“I’m fine,” Buffy wheezes. “We’ll be upstairs.” She doesn’t look fine. Looks like Riley’s the only thing that’s keeping her on her feet, but whatever, she doesn’t want to share, I don’t care to push, yada, yada, yada…
A couple moments later, the sounds coming from upstairs pretty much label her statement total bullpoop. The bathroom cabinets each open about half a dozen times, paper rustles, plastic things clunk together. Those are all fair clues, but the best one by far is the total lack of chatter. Buffy isn’t running her mouth. That’s probably a sign of pending apocalypse or something.
I wait until I just can’t stand it anymore. Michelle and B.L.T. are squabbling again. I wish they’d hurry up and breakup. Meanwhile in the really real world, Buffy and Riley are holed up in her room doing—I’m not even sure what. I heard the door shut, so that first part’s conclusive, the rest is totally up for speculation.
I’m not much for speculation. Not when snooping is so much more productive. And fun. I get to be sneakier than the slayer, which is pretty cool. And I get to find things out. Stuff I’m ‘way too young’ to know about. It’s a win all around, unless I get caught. And then all she can really do is yell at me. She does that anyway, so…
I don’t even bother to go upstairs. The door’s shut. I won’t be able to see anything, and what with the moratorium on talking, with Buffy being whatever she is, wounded I s’pose, but I still don’t really know. The only way I’m gonna know is….
I breeze through the house and out the backdoor. Not that my leg doesn’t hurt. It does. It’s just that between breezing and stumping, breezing is way less noisy. There’s a ladder in the little garden shed out back. I go for that because it’s so much easier than climbing a tree like she does. It takes me a few to get set up without making a bunch of noise. I’ve done this before, so I kind of know the ‘what’ and ‘how.’ That doesn’t spare me a couple of cringe-worthy moments. Nothing too bangy. I don’t give myself away.
The ladder’s just tall enough. I peek over the window sill and get lucky. The window’s closed, the curtains are open. Perfect. They can’t see me, but I can see them. It’s hard to tell what Riley’s up to. He’s kind of in the way. I mean, it’s totally obvious he’s doing his field medic thing with the bandages and bloody gauze on the little table beside the bed. That part’s pretty gross. It takes a moment or two for him to reach for something, turn just right and—
I’m still not sure what he’s up to. It’s still pretty gross, so gross I almost fall off the ladder. This is like something from a movie, with the special effects and the gory makeup. It’s hard to believe that it’s real—that that’s my sister. Either he’s stitching up her belly or he’s taking a stab at amateur cartography, or both. Good thing swimsuit season’s over. That scar’s gonna look like the Strait of Gibraltar.
I’ve seen enough, which is sort of good what with the car turning down our street. I think that might be Mom. Sounds like her. Someone needs to run interference, give them time, act surprised, play along…
I’m so unappreciated.