Now and a Week Later
The snow was crunching underneath my feet with a vengeance as I started catching up to a blonde who was coming my way, slightly ahead of her friend, who’s eyes were widening at the sight of me. The blonde, on the other hand, was talking loudly.
“You know there’s all sorts of weird stuff that goes on here, this may be our chance to blow the lid right off of it!” She said excitedly, not looking at me, but over her shoulder at her companion. I was five feet away from her when she finally turned her head and saw me. She stopped in her tracks, obviously not remembering who I was for a moment. Then recognition dawned.
“Hey, what are you- GAH!”
I punched her as hard as I could, which to most people, probably isn’t all that hard, but it seemed to get her attention. She staggered back surprised. Then her face hardened.
“So it is some weird device, isn’t it? Wally here said he got –Wait!”
I didn’t let her finish before I tackled her to the ground.
“You royal pain in the ass psycho! Do you know what I’ve gone through today? You have pissed me off to no end, you know that?” I gritted through my teeth as I sat on her. “Give me back. The. Damn. Choker.”
“Why are you so eager to get it back?” She threw an awkward punch at me. I ducked it. “You could have waited until the snow stopped and I would have returned it!”
“Like hell. That is a gift my mother gave me and it is mine. You had no right to take it, no matter what your paranoid delusions say!” I roared back.
My temper proved to undo me, because I got caught by the backhand she slammed across my cheek. I tumbled off of her into the snow, and scrabbled back up. She was doing the same.
“Give me back the choker.”
“Tell me what it’s for.” She countered. I could feel my temper rising.
“Why should I tell you anything?” I hissed. “You stole from me.”
“How do I know you didn’t steal it?”
“Enough of this.” I threw myself forward and we fell to the ground, this time both of us ready to swing our fair share of punches and kicks.
When we were finally dragged apart by several people who had been walking along the street and a police officer who had come just in time to see me sock Pepper in the nose, I had five scratches across my left cheek and a throbbing bruise forming under my left eye. My right cheek wasn’t much better off, and my hair had been pulled. Plus some other bruises on my body, but not so much after I layered the clothing on so much.
Pepper looked about as bad as I did, except her nose was bruising and there was a bruise on her chin.
Served her right.
“What’s going on here?” The policeman barked at us, making sure the crowd held us apart. He was probably afraid we’d tear each other a new one if they let us go.
“Officer,” I began much calmer than I felt, “this girl stole a choker from me this morning.”
Pepper said nothing but glared at me.
“Is that so? Where is the choker now?” He cocked his grizzled head at Pepper. “Pepper? Tell me where the choker is.”
Pepper glared at me again, then mumbled, “It’s with Wally.”
The officer turned to her friend. “Wally? Hand it over.” He held out his hand, and Wally pulled out the choker and dropped it into the man’s hand.
He gazed at it for a moment then shook his head. “Big fuss over something so tacky.” He turned back to me. “Now, are you gonna want to press charges?”
“No, that’s okay.” I said realizing the danger. “I just want it back, I think I taught her something.”
He handed the choker to me. “Looks like she taught you a thing or two as well. Well, Pepper, you’re walking home with me, you too, Wally. And you, what’s your name?”
“I don’t expect anymore trouble out of you, understand?”
“Understood sir, thank you sir.” I hurried back down the street after being released by the good Samaritans. I think it would have been better if they had just left me alone, I was holding my own in the fight, but I doubt that’s Samaritan-ly.
“Mom is going to be so angry with me,” I said as I blotted some blood on a tissue someone had shoved into my hands. Those scratches hurt; I think there should be a rule about long nails.
When I had gotten to a fairly deserted street about six blocks as the crow flies away from home, I put the choker on. “Boston? You okay?”
“I took a punch meant for you and it hurt.” He growled. I could see his eyes glaring up from the inside of my coat.
“I’m sorry. I’ll try to be more careful next time. You’d better get into the marble, we’ll be there in five.”
“Right.” There was a sudden absence of warmth in my jacket and the marble felt cool as ever.
“Any ideas what I’m going to tell Mom and Dad?” I asked.
Parents are not my area of expertise.
“Great.” The rest of the way was traveled in silence. The snowplows were already clearing snow off the road, and the blocks were becoming increasingly clear. When I came to my road, the snow was piled up on the sides and the old car was in the driveway.
“Crud.” I said, staring at the car that signaled doom. “I am in so much trouble. You’d better stay quiet.”
Not a yowl out of this cat.
I walked up the driveway, and was about to open the door when I heard shouting.
“I’m going out to look for her, like you should be doing!”
“Patricia, she will come home or the police will find her. What if she comes home and we aren’t here?!”
“She should have stayed in the house! Something bad happened!” The voices died down into angry murmurs.
“Time to go face the inevitable.” I muttered as I opened the door. I walked in while Mom was taking a deep breath, ready to start yelling again. But the yell got lost in her throat when she saw me, and she made a strangled noise.
“Helena? Helena, what happened to you?!” She seized my arm and dragged me further into the house. “You’re all bruised and cut…Edwin, get a hold of the police, right this instance.”
“They already know I’m here.” I broke in fast, just as Dad snatched up the phone. “A police man sent me home. I was in a fight.”
“A fight?” Mom goggled at me. “With who? Why?”
“Some girl, she took something from me and wouldn’t give it back, I’m not hurt, don’t worry, I’m sorry I didn’t leave a note, and—omph!” My poor little body was crushed against my mother’s.
“You scared me to death. Don’t you ever do something like this again, you hear me?”
“Yeah.” I managed to get out. After about five minute, Mom let me go.
“Get up to the bathroom and we’ll take care of those scratches. Go on.”
I trooped dutifully up the stairs before Mom added, “You’re grounded.”
Just as I suspected I would be, Ma, Just as I suspected I would be.
I was grounded even worse when the blankets and clothes were returned to our house. Dad went off on a rant about letting people just have clothing in our closets. Mom told me that I wasn’t allowed to let anyone in the house without her express permission.
Oh, and I’m forbidden to go out of the house except for school. Which was okay, because I didn’t have anyplace to go anyway.
Valentine’s day came and went and the weather was looking brighter all the time. Almost a week after the little blizzard, the snow was almost entirely gone, with a few obstinate patches one the ground. Now the ground was bare, but the ground was warming and green shoots should be popping up anytime now.
Pepper, when she come within sight off my window, which only saw a part of the street, gave the attic of my house some of the angriest glares, and some of the shrewdest. She still hasn’t given up on the fact that I’m hiding something.
Speaking of which…
“I think Mario would have a bigger fan base if you could see the princesses better. I mean, if they wore something other than a frilly dress and did their hair different.” Boston mused as he looked over the magazine that Mom had gotten me. I can’t leave the house, but I shouldn’t fall asleep. She picked up the first one she could, which was a gaming magazine, for me to read as an alternative to sleeping. As it was, Boston was reading it more than I was, and voicing his opinions.
I absently rubbed the cheek where I had been scratched and yawned. “So now you’re an expert on fan bases?”
“I just know what I like, and I’d like to see something more…like this!” He flipped to a picture of Laura Croft.
“Yeah, and I bet you like her for her personality.” I said dryly. He grinned and went back to his original page.
“How long before we can wander again?”
“To hear Mom tell it, never and eternity.” I sighed and shifted my position. I was currently lying on my stomach on my bed, up on one elbow to look over Boston’s shoulder when he wanted to show me something. He seemed to find everything interesting, especially articles on people.
“That’s too bad, I’d like to go back to the library to pick up more books. Hey, Helen…”
“Hm?” I yawned again.
“Why didn’t you press charges against Pepper? Didn’t you want to?”
“I would have thought you would have figured up that much on your own.” I said, settling my head into the pillow.
“I have figured out that if you had pressed charges that the marble would have been taken away and you’d have been subjected to a grave amount of questioning, which would have probably pulled Croder out of the works.”
Croder. I read an article about him not three days ago. Apparently, he was the only survivor in his house after a storm hit. It took his wife and young daughter. After I read the article, I felt a lot more sympathy towards the old man, but I try not to think of it so much, because the bird, the storm, everything didn’t make sense to me, and I doubt it would ever unless someone spelled it out.
“Helen, did you back down because of me?”
“I didn’t back down- I made a dignified retreat. Besides, I won if I got the choker back.”
He didn’t say anything after that. He flipped aimlessly through the pages of the magazine as I drifted off to sleep.
She always seems to sleep when he had important questions to ask. She was akin to a lazy bum sometimes.
He twitched his ears and sucked on his tooth for a minute, regarding her now that she was asleep.
She may not come out and say it but she did it for him. It was…touching. And for all the grumpiness she showed she was quite a find, a believer that truly cared. So rare they are these days, from his notice.
Still, the events of the last week have been unnerving. And soon the world would be shaking from the combined beliefs of a few. It only took one wayward entity to shake civilization. Not all beliefs are good. But then again, she had already discovered this, had she not?
“This is only the beginning Helen…hopefully the seal shall not break more, we may have more on our plates than the keepers ever thought possible.”