Monday, August 13, 2012

Cool With A "K" PART 31 - CHAPTER 4

"BAHAHAHAHA!" I cracked up, smacking my leg with my hand. 
Chris walked into the room, holding a glass in his hand. He sighed and walked over to the couch. "Angie, are you watching that show again?" 
I glowered at him. "Yeah. So what?" 
"You have been watching way too much 30 Rock." Chris said, "It's not healthy." 
"Yes, because it's completely healthy for you to watch sixteen consecutive hours of Pretty Little Liars." I said, my eyes on the TV. 
Chris' lips tightened. 
"That's different." He said stiffly. 
Watching the TV, I busted out laughing again. I covered my mouth and laughed hard, tears welling up in my eyes. I looked at Chris and he gave me, if possible, a look of even bigger disapproval than the time I laughed at one of Leo's poop jokes in first grade. I laughed harder. 
"I'm sorry!" I squeaked, rolling over on the couch. 
Chris rolled his eyes and groaned, bringing the glass in his hand to his lips, "You're ridiculous." 
My laughter finally slowed and I sat up. 
"What the hell is that?" I asked.
Chris wiped the corner of his mouth with his finger and answered cheerfully, "It's a smoothie. I found recipes for all of these super healthy drinkable foods online." 
I grimaced. "Ew. Why?" 
Chris gave me a look. "Because, Angela,"- Oh, great. -"Modern society is driving us into the ground! People in power are making crazy decisions and if we don't act soon, we're going to end up swimming for our lives in the melted ice caps because of global warming!" 
He paused, then added, "Either that or we'll be living on this festering planet in what was formerly the United States, surrounded by idiots and savages and we'll be forced to turn to cannibalism for survival." 
Chris stared off into the distance, dazed. He noticed me staring at him and he smiled. 
"So... What does this have to do with your nasty smoothie?" I asked slowly. 
Chris sighed, "Well, Angie, I just want to be around to help make good decisions for our planet once I'm old enough to actually do something. If I die before I can have a say in how we're going to keep our people and our planet from taking a nosedive into a distopian world out of a science fiction novel, I'll have to get past all of the horrible, greasy junk food society pushes on us. I have to stay healthy." 
I stared at Chris. "Okay... Where's all this society business coming from? Since when do you care about the government?" 
"Since always." Chris said, looking at me, "It's important. Don't you want your children to live in a world where it's safe to go outside? Where they can breathe freely and drink clean water and not be surrounded by illiterate lunatics?" 
"First of all, Chris, just because people are illiterate doesn't mean they're lunatics." I said, "Second of all, you're gay. You can't have kids." 
Chris looked shocked. He hissed, "I can adopt. What's wrong with you?" 
"Okay, geez, I'm sorry." I dismissed the conversation, not wanting to start an argument. I shook my head and turned back to the TV. I glanced at Chris. "What did you put in that?" 
He looked down at his smoothie, then back at me and he smiled again. "Well, I put in some fresh fruit that Mom and I got from the Co-op, some kale from the garden outside-" 
"Never mind. I don't care." I grumbled. 
Chris looked me up and down. He stood up and snapped, "Fine. You know who'd love to hear about eating right and my plan to save the world?" 
"Alice." Chris spun on his heel and walked out of the room. He poked his head back through the doorway and said, "This is exactly the kind of thing that eccentric college professors would be interested in." 
"Then it looks like you have a shot." I called back to him, "As long as you don't bore them with your Glee trivia knowledge." 
Chris scoffed and disappeared back into the hallway. I grinned to myself and picked up the remote, un-pausing 30 Rock. "Burn.

Chris stepped out the kitchen door and onto the back step, locking the door behind him. He held his cell phone to his ear and waited, walking through the yard. 
"Hey, Alice, it's me." He said, opening the gate and stepping out, "Do you wanna do something today?... Okay, awesome... We could go to the mall or something... Cool, see you there." 
Chris smiled and hung up, walking down the block to the bus stop. 

Chris got off the bus and walked away from it as quickly as possible. He didn't like public transportation. A woman with a stroller was standing near the bus stop. Chris glanced into the stroller. A chubby baby sat inside, staring at him with wide eyes. 
"Aww..." Chris said under his breath. He made a silly face at the baby. It stared blankly at him. Chris smiled at the baby and it scowled. Its mother looked at Chris uncomfortably. He smiled at her and she grimaced, pushing the stroller away from him. Chris' face fell. 
Was it my smile? He thought. Feeling troubled, he walked quickly up to the mall's front doors. A woman held the door open for him and he nodded to her, his lips together, "Thank you." 
Chris walked through the mall quickly, being careful not to open his mouth. 
Oh, God, it's my teeth. He thought, People don't like me because of my stupid teeth. 
Just then, Chris passed a clothing store with a big sign with the words "Sexy Kitten" written in pink cursive. He studied the mannequins in the window, dressed in tight, glittery skirts and lacy undergarments, and grimaced. 
Uch. Look at those stupid outfits. He thought bitterly, I can't believe people actually go to this tacky store. 
"Chris," Said a voice. 
Chris' face turned hot. Oh, no. He turned and saw someone standing at the entry to the store. 
"Geoffry," Chris said uncertainly, "Hi." 
"Hi." Geoffry said, smiling. He walked up to Chris and asked, "How are you doing?" 
"Fine." Chris answered, looking back at the mannequin display, "Just waiting for a friend. Alice." 
Geoffry smirked (with his stupid perfect smile that Chris knew was perfect without him flaunting it around like that) and asked, "Oh. Here?" 
Chris glared at him and said sharply, "No, not here. At the mall. Elsewhere." 
Geoffry nodded and Chris asked coolly, "So, what are you doing here?" 
"I work here." Geoffry replied. 
Chris gave him a look. "You do?"
Geoffry nodded. 
"I thought you worked at the theatre in uptown?" 
Geoffry shrugged, "I do. On weekends. I work here Mondays through Thursdays." 
"Wow. So, you only get one day off?" 
"Yeah, but it's not so bad." Geoffry said, "At least I have company." 
Before Chris could ask what he meant, a girl came out of the store and squeaked, "Babe, this chick wants to try on the merchandise, what should I-" 
The girl, Mabel, stopped talking and turned her head in Chris' direction. She smiled and said, "Chris Harper, is that you? I didn't see you there!" 
She laughed. Chris sneered and began, "Well, I didn't expect y-" 
Geoffry gave him a hard look. Chris stopped and he smiled sweetly, "Yes, it's me, Mabel." 
"Well, what a coincidence that we run into you in the women's underwear store." Mabel giggled, wrapping her arms around Geoffry's neck. She was wearing the same pink and black Sexy Kitten t-shirt that Geoffry was. She worked there, too. 
Still smiling tightly, Chris remarked, "Just as much of a surprise as seeing you here." 
Mabel frowned. Geoffry's eyes widened and he looked at Chris. After a short pause, Mabel giggled and turned to Geoffry. 
"We better get back to work." She said, twisting Geoffry's collar with her finger, "Our boss won't be happy with all this-" She turned to Chris, "-socializing." 
Chris frowned and Geoffry said, "Right. Sure thing." 
He looked at Mabel and added, "I'll be right there." 
Mabel scowled, not loosening her grip on Geoffry's arm. 
"Just a minute." He said softly. 
Mabel hesitated. She kissed him on the lips and Chris' stomach lurched. Mabel leaned back and said, "See you in a minute." 
She slinked back inside and Geoffry looked at Chris, looking slightly embarrassed. Chris wasn't sure he had ever seen Geoffry embarrassed. Geoffry chuckled and didn't say anything. Chris stood stalk still. 
"That was just..." Geoffry said, "Mabel-" 
"Works here." Chris said flatly, "Got it." 
Geoffry nodded and looked down at the floor. "Um... I'll see you around, Chris." 
Chris nodded back, "Yeah, whatever." 
Geoffry looked up at him. Chris looked back, his face unsmiling. They held their gaze for a moment before Geoffry turned and ducked back into the store. Chris stormed away, a new heaviness in his chest that hadn't been there before. 

It made him angry. 

Monday, August 6, 2012

Cool With A "K" PART 31 - CHAPTER 3

"Good morning and gooood niiight, I'll wake up at twiiliiight..."
I turned and glared at Chris as he sang along to his iPod. "Chris,"
"It's gonna be aalriiight!" He sang.
"Chris, shut up."
"We don't even have to try, it's always a good time!" He started dancing in his seat next to me.
I rolled over on the couch and kicked him in the side.
"Ow!" He cried, yanking out his earbuds, "What the hell, Angie?" 
"Stop singing." I said, turning up the volume on the TV, "I'm trying to watch 30 Rock." 
Chris looked at the TV.
"We've seen this episode like four times." He said.
"Yeah, because it's the best one." I said, snickering, "It's the one where Kenneth licks Cerie's face." 
Chris stared at me. "Which was funny the first time."
I looked at him, then at the TV and I muttered, "It's still funny."
There was a knock on the front door and I yelled, "Come in!" 
The doorknob jiggled and there was another knock.
"It's locked, Angie." Chris said.
Still watching the TV, I said, "Oh. Go get the door, Chris."
Chris rolled his eyes and got up. He walked across the room and opened the door. "Hey, Alice."
"Hey, guys." Alice said, smiling at Chris and walking in. 
"Hey." I said, watching the TV. 
Alice set her bag on the table and sat down on the couch with us. "How's it going?" 
"Pretty good." I said, "Watching 30 Rock."
Alice nodded, "Cool. Hey, Angie, did you do the Physics homework?" 
I glanced at her, "No."
Chris looked shocked. "Why not?" 
"Because. We only have like two weeks of school left." I answered. 
Alice gave me a disappointed look. "You still have to do your work. It's really important that you keep your grade up until the end of the year."
I groaned, "But I hate Physics."
"We all do." Alice said.
"I don't." Chris said.
I ignored him. I looked at the TV again and said, "Oh, the part with Kenneth and Cerie is coming up." 
Alice looked at the screen. "Angie, are you watching this episode again?"
"It's the best one." I said, "Now, be quiet a second, it's the scene where Kenneth licks Cerie's face."
Chris rolled his eyes again and got off the couch. "Oh my God." 
He left the room. On the TV, Kenneth licked Cerie's face and I started laughing my ass off.
"What's wrong with you, Chris?" I called down the hall, "Of course that's still funny."

"Hey, guys." Tae-Hyun said, smiling brightly as she walked over to our table at lunch. She sat down next to Leo. He smiled at her and she said, "Did I tell you that I get to have my braces off in a couple of months?"
Leo nodded, grinning, and blurted out, "Sweet! Now, when we make out, we can try that tongue thing I saw on cable!"
Tae-Hyun looked shocked and we all groaned with disgust.
I wrinkled my nose. "Oh, gross."
"Leo, we don't need to hear about that." Chris said, waving his hand at him.
Mouse commented, "And by cable, he means porn."
Tae-Hyun blushed furiously and Alice said, changing the subject, "So, braces. Congratulations, Tae-Hyun!"
Tae-Hyun smiled awkwardly and said, "Thank you, I'm really excited."
She looked around the table and asked, "...Have any of you guys had braces?"

Chris nodded, "I did in middle school. For two years.
He frowned and said flatly, "In seventh and eighth grade. Two of the cruelest years of everyone's education."
He shot Mouse a deadly look. She furrowed her eyebrows and crossed her arms.
"What's with the stink eye, Carissa?" She asked suspiciously.
"Carissa?" I asked.
Mouse shrugged, "I got sick of Christina."
Chris' eyes narrowed and he said icily, "You know what I'm talking about, Tiffany." 
Mouse's eyes flickered. Chris turned to Tae-Hyun. "See these teeth?"
He lifted his upper lip with his finger, revealing his pearly white, crooked canines and rather large front teeth.
Tae-Hyun nodded and Chris said bitterly, "I had braces for two years and once I got them off, my teeth were perfect."
He scowled at Mouse. "Like a movie star."
Mouse scoffed, "Chris, give it up. You're never gonna look like Tom Cruise."
"Hey, maybe I would if I had straight teeth, but we just don't know because you ruined them!" Chris yelled, standing up.
"Sit down, Chris." Alice and I said together. 
Leo laughed, covering his mouth with his hand when Chris shot a look at him.
"Oh, I remember that." Leo snickered.
"Doesn't Tom Cruise have buck teeth?" Tae-Hyun asked. 
"So does Chris." Mouse said. 
Chris looked at her, alarmed. He opened his mouth like he was going to say something, but he closed it again. He frowned and, straining to keep his tone level, said, "Don't insult the prince, Tae-Hyun." 
Chris turned his attention to Mouse again and the scowl returned to his face. He crossed his arms and pursed his lips. Mouse raised her eyebrow at him, then she smiled widely. For the first time, I noticed that Mouse had perfectly straight teeth. I knit my eyebrows and asked, "Hey, Mouse. Did you ever have braces?"

Mouse beamed at me and said, in that special making-Chris-angry voice she has, "Nope. These babies are natural."
Chris flared up, but before he could say anything, Tae-Hyun interrupted, "Chris, what did she do?"
He looked at Mouse, not a trace of a smile on his childish face.
"It was May 13th, 2009." He said flatly.
"Oh, geez." I said, putting my hand on my forehead. 
Chris continued heatedly, "It was a Tuesday. I had just gotten my braces off and I had perfect, straight, white teeth."
"I thought they would've been gay." Leo commented. Alice gave him a look.
"I was so worried about keeping track of my retainer." Chris went on, "The day after I got it, I announced at lunch that my retainer was really important and everyone should be careful to not accidentally throw it away."
Tae-Hyun raised an eyebrow and asked uncertainly, "You announced that to the whole lunchroom?"
I answered flatly, "It was just our table, I'd remember if it was the whole lunchroom."
"So, where Mouse comes in," Chris continued, shooting a dirty look at Mouse, who smiled toothily, "Just as lunch was ending, when one of the staff members brought a garbage can around for us to throw our trash in, Mouse picked up my retainer and threw it right in."
At that moment, Leo busted out laughing. Almost as if expecting this, Chris rounded on him and shouted, "It's not funny!"
A couple of kids turned their heads. Then, I lost it, laughing my head off. Mouse joined me.
Alice and Tae-Hyun bit their lips quietly, restraining themselves while they watched us laugh. Chris scowled around at us and turned back to his lunch, picking his food quietly with his fork.
Leo snorted with laughter. He pointed at Chris and cried, "You thought you'd look like Tom Cruise!"
Chris shot him a look, then he turned to glare at Mouse. Chris picked up his tray and said through clenched, imperfect teeth, "I've been told we have a stunning resemblance."- He looks nothing like him. -"But that was when I had straight teeth!"
With that, Chris got up and stomped away from the table. Mouse called after him, "Braces can't fix buck teeth." 
Alice laughed, covering her mouth. "Oh, poor Chris." 
"I know." I said, snickering, "Guys, we're bad." 
Mouse shrugged and I added, "But mostly you." 
"Yeah, I am..." Mouse said. She smiled at the thought.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Cool With A "K" PART 31 - CHAPTER 2

Mouse, Leo, Mary, Jessica, and Louis, Mouse's dad, drove down the road, packed into Louis' car. Leo looked out the window.
"Hey, is the road supposed to be gravel?" He asked.
"Yep." Louis said simply.
They parked in a cul-du-sac and stepped onto the gravel road. Mary looked up at her mother.

"Is it legal to be here?" Mary asked.
"Yes, sweetheart. We're visiting Laura and Jonathan." Jessica answered, opening the trunk of the car. Pulling out a covered glass pan, she closed the trunk and they set off down the road.
Mouse looked at the pan in Jessica's arms. "What's that?"
"That is eggplant, mushroom, and beef casserole." Jessica said proudly.
Mouse wrinkled her nose. "There's eggplant in that?"
Jessica frowned at her and said, "Yes, there is eggplant in it."
"Mommy, what's eggplant?" Mary asked.
"It's a vegetable, sweetheart." Louis answered her.
"Mom, I don't like mushrooms." Leo said, "They're all squishy and gross. They make me think of pudding when you, like, leave it out in the open for too long or something and it gets that nasty film over it."
Mouse gave him a look of disgust. "What the hell is wrong with you?"
Jessica shot her a look and hissed, "Hey! No swearing in front of Mary!"
"What does hell mean?" Mary questioned innocently.
Louis told her quietly, "Don't say that, Mary. It's a bad word."
Mary looked shocked. Jessica snapped, "Kids, stop complaining. I made this casserole and you are going to eat it."
Leo, Mouse, and Mary all scowled and Jessica put her arm around Leo's shoulders.
"Now," She said, "I want you all on your best behavior."
They reached a blue house with a huge garden in the front. Jessica gasped, "Ohh, kids, look at this garden!"
The screen door on the house opened and a woman with pale, strawberry blonde hair and a freckly man (who reminded Mouse disturbingly of Chris) stepped out. Both of them were smiling cheerily. The woman threw her arms out and she squealed, "Jessica!"
"Laura, hi!" Jessica cried, her voice jumping up an octave. She rushed over to hug her.
Mouse elbowed Leo and whispered, "Look, it's Chris and Alice in ten years."
Leo snorted and the freckly man walked over to him.
"Hey, Leo, how's it going?" The guy said, smacking Leo on the back. 
"Oh, not much... Jonathan." Leo replied, laughing uncomfortably. 
The guy's eyes lit up. 
"He-hey, you remember my name!" He said, "You can call me John, Leo, no need to be so formal. Man, it's been a while, hasn't it?"
Jessica smiled. "Quite a while, John."
She gestured to Mouse and added, "Laura, John, this is Mouse."
Laura gasped and grinned widely. "Ooh, Leo. Is this your girlfriend?"
Mouse and Leo looked horrified. 
"Ew!" Mouse said, disgusted.
"Uh, no, she's my step sister." Leo muttered.
"Oh!" Laura squeaked, "Excuse my ignorance."
John shook his head and he and Laura laughed. Leo smiled tightly, hoping that they wouldn't bring up his dad not being there. It really had been a while.
The screen door opened a crack and Laura turned around. She beckoned toward the house and said, "Oh, come on out, honey. Jessica and the family are here."
Leo and Mouse watched as the door opened a bit wider and a skinny boy slid through the gap. He had fair hair like Laura and freckles like John. He looked about the same age as Mouse and Leo and he was staring down at the sidewalk.
"Come on, it's alright." Laura said perkily. The boy hopped down the steps and stood next to Laura. She put her arm around his narrow shoulders and said, "Kids, this is our son, Casey. Say hi to Leo and Mouse, Casey."
The boy, Casey, looked up at them shyly. His eyes fell on Mouse and his shoulders sagged slightly, his eyes wide.
Arms crossed, Mouse eyed him. When he kept staring, she gave him a threatening look and Casey looked away.
John said cheerfully, "Well, there's no reason to stand out in the yard. Let's go inside."
Leo and Mouse exchanged a look; did they even want to see the inside of the house? 
The group followed their hosts into the house and Mouse whispered to Leo, "Remind me why we're with these people again? Are we here to let them chop us up into little pieces and feed us to their outcast son?"
"They're my mom's good friends, Mouse, that's why we're here." Leo whispered back, "We've known them for years and yeah, they're dorks, but don't be so hard on them. They're nice."
Mouse scowled at Leo and he gave her an uneasy smile.

The two families sat around the neatly set dinner table,  the adults chatting enthusiastically. 
"This casserole is fantastic, Jessica." Laura gushed, "Oh, it's just wonderful."
"Thank you." Jessica replied, nodding slightly.
John turned to Leo and Mouse, "So, where do you kids go to school?"
"Withrow High." Leo said. Mouse kicked him under the table and he winced.
Laura beamed, "Oh, I've heard of that place. Excellent education program it has!"
Leo leaned over and hissed to Mouse, "What was that for?"
"What's wrong with you, Leo, do you want them to know where we go to school?" Mouse whispered quickly, "Next thing I know, you're gonna be telling them where we live!"
Leo answered, "They already know where we live, Mouse, they've been to our house."
Mouse studied him, then sat back in her seat. "What is the world coming to?"
Louis smiled politely and addressed Casey, "So, Casey, where do you go to school?"
The boy sitting across from him looked up from the food he had been stirring together on his plate.
"Dinsbury." He replied softly.
Jessica nodded and said, "Oh, where is that?"
Casey stared at her, looking troubled by the demand for conversation.
"J-just north of here." He muttered.
Mouse looked over and saw both Jessica and Louis nodding like they were really interested in where his school was located, identical tight smiles on their faces.
When no more answers were requested from him, Casey quickly turned his concentration back to stirring his dinner.
Leo had barely gotten two more bites of mashed potatoes in before the next question was fired at him. Laura set down her wine glass and grinned at him.
"So," She said, "Are there any girls that you like, Leo?"
Leo looked up, surprised and a little taken off guard by the question.
"Any girls?" He said, swallowing his potatoes. He glanced at his mother. She was giving him a dark look, but smiled sweetly when he looked. Leo turned back to Laura and said, "Well... I guess there is this one girl..."
Both Laura and John gasped, like their friend's son's love life was the most exciting gossip of the evening.
"Her name is Tae-Hyun," Leo said thoughtfully, "She's in the same grade as us and she's from South Korea."
"Oh, how cool." Laura said, her eyes lighting up. 
Her face propped up on her hand, Mouse looked over at Casey. Even he didn't look like he didn't want to be there.
He is the same age as us. Mouse thought, There has to be something human about him.
That look on his face, that look of discomfort and unhappiness, that was it. It made Mouse smile.
"What about you, Mouse?" John asked.
"Huh?" Mouse said, breaking away from her thoughts.
Laura and John watched her expectantly. 
"Is there anyone special in your life?" Laura asked.
Casey looked up. Leo gave Mouse an uneasy look. Even Jessica, Louis, and Mary looked interested.
Mouse looked around at all of them, suddenly feeling even more uncomfortable. 
"No." She said flatly, "I... No."
John and Laura stared at her, their faces stuck in between a smile and a frown, like they didn't have a reaction prepared for this response. They simply nodded and an awkward silence fell over the table. Mouse looked back down at her dinner, picking through it with her fork, and Mary saved her.
"This is boring." She said out loud.
"Mary," Jessica hissed.
"Oh, that's alright." Laura said, laughing and waving it off. She turned to John and said, "John, dear, why don't you show them the..."
John put down his fork and started wiping his hands on his napkin, "Oh, yes, of course!"
He got up from his chair and walked around the table. He squatted down next to Mary and she gave him a very skeptical look.
"How would you like," John said, smiling, "To see our dog's puppies?"
Mary's eyes widened. "Puppies?"
Mouse's shoulders sagged.
"Yep! They're just out back." John said, straightening up, "Come on, kids, let's go have a look. Grown-ups, too, whoever wants to."
Jessica, Leo, Mouse, and Mary followed John out through the dining room door and out onto the deck.
"I built this deck myself." John said proudly, "With the help of my little buddy, Casey, in there."
"Oh, really." Jessica said, her voice still high and enthusiastic.
John nodded, leading them onto the grass, "Yes, indeed, a couple of summers ago. Come along."
He lead them to what looked like a small house across the lawn. 
"We built this as well," John said as he opened the door and flicked on a light, "But this one is newer. It's like a high-class shed."
"Wow, very nice." Jessica said, surveying the small room, "Very clean."
Just then, small whimpers made their way across the room and Mouse looked at John. "What was that?"
John beamed, like this was the moment he had been waiting for. 
"Here," He said. He lead them across the small room and into another. In the next room, within a short wooden fence in the corner of the tile floor, was a bundle of blankets, a small, cream-and-white colored dog, and several puppies of different colors.
Mouse's heart dropped to her knees.
"Puppies!" Mary cried, rushing to them. The rest of the group followed her and Mouse started to run, then stopped abruptly and walked next to Leo. He gave her a puzzled look. Leo, Mouse, and Mary all squatted down to look at the puppies. Mary gasped in wonder.
"They're so cute!" She cooed, "How old are they?"
John crouched down next to her and said, "They're almost three months old."
He smiled and added, "You know, we're looking for a home for them."
He looked up at Jessica and she smiled, nodding. Mary's and Mouse's eyes widened.
"You want us to..." Mouse said, "Take one of them home?"
John looked at her and smiled, "We would love for you to take one of them home."
He laughed. "Even better, each of you kids pick one out and bring that home!" 
Mary gasped and looked excitedly at her mother, who had a look of unease on her face. She asked, "What kind of dogs did you say these were, John?"
"Their mommy is a Japanese Chin." John said proudly, "Their daddy is a Tibetan Spaniel."
Mouse stared at the puppies, her head cocked to the side. Leo glanced at her, looking uncomfortable.
"Hey, Mouse." He said.
"What?" Mouse said lightly, looking at him. She hardened her tone and repeated, "What?"
"D'you wanna hold one?" Leo asked, looking at John, "Could she hold one?"
John smiled, "Certainly."
He opened the little wooden gate and stepped inside. Mouse looked at Leo.
John reached down and gingerly picked up one of the puppies. It whimpered and he shushed it, petting its head gently. He stepped out of the little pen and closed the door behind him. Leo, Mary, and Jessica watched tensely as John kneeled down next to Mouse and carefully handed her the puppy.
Mouse sat down on the floor, holding the little dog in her hands. Its fur was black-and-white and it had huge eyes. It whimpered for a moment, then snuggled up to Mouse and rested its head on her arm. She gasped, looking up at her family. Leo and Mary were watching her in fear. Jessica looked confused and John was beaming.
"I think he likes you." John said adoringly.
"It's a he?" Mouse said softly. She looked down at the puppy in her arms.
John smiled and nodded.
Mouse let out a breath and cocked her head again, gazing down at the puppy. Mary said suspiciously, "Mouse, did you eat anything funny today?"
"She ate the same thing as us, stupid." Leo remarked. Jessica smacked him in the back of the head and said, "Be nice to your sister."
"Does he have a name?" Mouse asked.
John shook his head, "Not yet."
"I wanna name him!" Mary whined.
Mouse shot a deadly look at her. "Never."
"Mommy-" Mary protested.
 Leo complained, "Come on, Mary, why does everything have to be about you?"
"Because I'm the littlest and I'm the cutest and I deserve to have everything be about me." Mary shot back.
Leo looked offended, "Nuh-uh!"
"Uh-huh!" Mary argued. 
"Guys," Mouse hissed, "Be quiet, you're gonna disturb him."
Leo and Mary exchanged a look.
"Well," John said, "I think I better go inside and help Laura clean up, but-"
"Can we stay here?" Mouse interjected. Seeing the look on Leo's face, she added, "You know... So Mary can get a chance to hold a puppy."
John nodded, "Sure thing."
Jessica smiled and said, "Thanks, John. I'll come inside."
"No problem." John said, addressing Mouse, Leo, and Mary again, "You can hold whichever one you like, just make sure none of them that you aren't holding get out."
Mouse nodded and she, Leo, and Mary watched John and Jessica leave the little house. Leo grinned at Mouse. She scowled at him and snapped, "What?"
"You just love that little puppy." Leo said, his tone dangerously close to a gush.
"Watch it, Leo." Mouse said icily.
Mary reached over Mouse's lap, "I wanna hold him."
Mouse moved away, "No way, dipwad, hold a different one."
Leo stifled his laughter to save himself from Mouse's wrath. Mary snapped at Mouse, "I wanna hold that one, dummy head!"
"Not a chance, dwarf!" Mouse said mockingly, "Dummy head? Is that the best you can come up with?"
"Who are you calling dwarf, fatty?" Mary sneered.
Mouse looked offended, "Shut up!"
"Guys, stop it." Leo said, but he looked extremely amused. "Just... Stop fighting and enjoy the puppies."
"That's what she said." Mary commented.
Mouse whirled to look at Leo, "Did you hear that? Your sister's disgusting." 
Leo broke into a furious laughing fit and Mouse grimaced at him. She held the puppy away from him and Mary, "You sicken me. Both of you."
Mary stuck out her tongue and Mouse did the same.
Leo got another puppy out of the pen and set it in Mary's arms. 
"It just sits there." She remarked.
Mouse stuck her finger in front of her puppy's face and it licked it. She smiled and let out a little chuckle. Once again, Leo looked at her in horror. He pointed at her, "Did you just...?"
Mouse glared at him. "What?"
"Did you just..." Leo said suspiciously, "... Giggle?"
"No." Mouse said sharply. 
A grin spread across Leo's face. "You did. You just giggled."
Mouse sneered at him, "I don't giggle."
Mary giggled. Mouse jerked her head at her. "See? That was a giggle."
"Right." Leo said, looking away. His amusement made Mouse angry, but then she remembered the puppy in her lap.

"Leo, I have to go potty." Mary said, "Help me find the bathroom."
Leo frowned. "No. Can't you find it yourself?"
Mary shook her head and Leo groaned, "Fine." 
He took the puppy from Mary and put it back in the pen. He said to Mouse, "You might wanna put that puppy back soon. I heard they disintegrate if they're away from their mothers for too long."
Mouse looked up at him. "Are you kidding? Only a dumbass like you would believe that."
"Believe what?" Leo asked. 
"That puppies disintegrate when they're away from their mom for too long." Mouse said flatly.
Leo's eyes widened, "Dude, put that puppy back! You've had it out for too long!"
Mouse stared at her step brother, trying to decide whether he was joking or not. She decided not and said, "Take your sister to the bathroom."
Mary squirmed next to Leo. He nodded and said, "Okay... But be careful with that puppy."
Mouse rolled her eyes and Leo left the room. Mary said, "He is so stupid sometimes."
"Yes," Mouse said, "Don't let him drown in the toilet."
Mary nodded and left the room. Mouse looked down at the puppy and said quietly, "Maybe I have had you out a little long." 
She carefully stood up with the puppy and put it down by its mother.
Casey quietly poked his head into the room. Mouse turned around and jumped.
"Oh," She said, the edge returning to her voice, "It's you."
Casey edged into the room and asked quietly, "So, you like the puppies?"
Mouse grimaced and said, "Yeah, I guess. They're alright."
She turned and looked down at the nest of puppies. Casey walked up and stood next to her, his hands in his pockets. 
"I saved that dog." He said, gesturing to the pen, "The mom... She was laying in the road, 'cause her foot was hurt. She was little then."
Mouse gave Casey a questioning look and he continued, "It's a miracle that she didn't get run over. I guess I came just in time."
He looked at Mouse for a moment and his eyes darted back to the pen. Mouse looked down, too.
"So, the mom's a..." She said.
"Japanese Chin."
"And the dad's that terrier thing?" 
Casey nodded, but he said, "A-a Tibetan Spaniel."
Mouse raised an eyebrow at him and he said, "They're not much... Bigger than the, uh, the Japanese Chins. They're like-"
Casey held out his hands to show her. Mouse cracked a grin.
"Right." She said, looking back at the puppies. 
Casey stood there a moment. He shifted uncomfortably and said, "So..."
Mouse's jaw tightened.
"W-which one's your favorite?" Casey asked, "Which puppy?"
Mouse studied the huddle of dogs. She pointed to the black-and-white one that she had been holding. "That one. With the black fur."
Casey nodded, grinning slightly, "Yeah, that's a good one. He's the only black-and-white one."
"I can see that." Mouse said, nodding. 
Casey smiled at her, looking like it wasn't something he practiced often. He backed away and said, "Well, I guess I should probably go now. Inside."
He turned to leave and Mouse said, "Hey, Casey."
Casey turned around, surprised. "Yeah?"
Mouse nodded to him and said, "Thanks for the story. About the mom."
Casey stood there, not sure how to respond.
"No problem." He said, and he turned and left the little house just as Leo and Mary came back. Leo watched him leave.
"You were talking to that Casey kid?" He asked Mouse, surprised.
She shrugged, "Yeah, he's alright." 
Jessica popped her head through the doorway and hissed, "Kids, we're only bringing home one of those dogs."
Mouse protested, "No! Mary will make Mitnick wear girly clothes and she'll drag him around all the time."
Leo, Mary, and Jessica all looked at Mouse. They said in unison, "Mitnick?"
"That's his name." Mouse said, crossing her arms, "After Kevin Mitnick? One of the greatest black hat computer hackers of all time?"
When they returned blank looks, Mouse rolled her eyes, "Kevin Mitnick! He got arrested, like, four times for computer fraud and possession of unauthorized access devices."
"You are so weird." Mary said.
Jessica crossed her arms and looked at the nest of puppies. Mouse picked up the black-and-white puppy and held it in front of her. Jessica stroked its head and smiled. Mary went to pick up her puppy and Leo helped her get it out of the pen.
Jessica looked around at the kids. She rolled her eyes and sighed heavily.

"Have a safe trip!" Laura said, waving.
John said, "Thanks for coming, guys. Come again soon!"
"Thanks for having us." Louis said, smiling and waving at them. 
They walked down the gravel road back to the car, Mouse and Leo each carrying a puppy.
"I want to hold Genevieve!" Mary whined, grabbing Leo's arm. He pulled away and said, "No way, you're not carrying it to the car."
"Genevieve is a she!" Mary snapped. 
Mouse leaned over and said to Jessica, "You see why we need two?"
"We don't need either of them." Jessica said, but she smiled at Mouse. "... You love that puppy, don't you?" 
Mouse scowled, "Why do you guys keep saying that? Sure, puppies are fine." 
"Alright." Jessica grinned smugly and they walked back to the car.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Cool With A "K" PART 31 - CHAPTER 1

Leo's mother, Jessica, stood at the stove. She called to her five-year-old daughter, "Mary! Can you get your brother for dinner?"
"Yes, Mommy!" Mary called back, hopping off of the couch. She shot up the stairs and down the hall to Leo's room. Without knocking, she turned the knob and flung open the door.
"Leeeoooo! Time for dinner, you-" Mary stopped in mid-sentence, her eyes bulging.
Leo was sitting on his bed. Tae-Hyun was with him and they were kissing. They whirled around to look at Mary and their eyes widened in horror.
Mary stared back at them, her jaw hanging open and her little hand still on the doorknob.
Tae-Hyun's face turned bright red and Leo held up his hand to Mary in defense.
"Mary..." He said firmly, "Do not... Tell Mom about this. Do you hear me?"
Leo's little sister, mortified, stared at him a moment longer. She sucked in a breath, squeezed her eyes shut, and bellowed, "MOMMY!!!!!"
Leo and Tae-Hyun's eyes widened and they looked sideways at each other.

So, as you probably guessed, Leo and Tae-Hyun got back together. Tae-Hyun was "mad at him" for a while, but I have a feeling that she was never really that angry, she was just pissed about Leo being a jerk and was too proud to apologize for getting mad. To be honest, I don't think she ever stopped loving him in the first place.
Chris has been acting a little weird lately, like the other night at dinner...
Chris, Mom, and I sat around the table, picking at our food with our forks.
"So," Mom said conversationally, "How about the three of us go see that new movie at the theater in downtown? It has Zac Efron in it."
"Sweet, let's go." I said, nodding.
"No." Chris said abruptly, dropping his fork with a clatter. Mom and I both looked at him in surprise.
"But Chris, you love Zefron." Mom said, looking disappointed.
Chris blurted, "We can't, that's the theater where Geoffry wor-"
He stopped talking, eyes wide. He glanced between us nervously and suddenly became extremely interested in his dinner.
"I do not love Zefron." He muttered.
Geoffry recently got a job selling concessions at a movie theater fifteen, twenty minutes away from our house. Chris is tweaky about seeing him for some reason. He's been a little weird about it for the past couple of weeks, ever since that whole big dramatic thing that happened right before the spring barbecue happened at our school.
Oh, and another thing; the school year is almost over. 
This year seemed to go by really, really slowly for some reason. A lot of bad things happened. Beside the fact that I almost failed French (I don't know why!), there was a lot of, er, drama. With my friends and I. I don't know, a lot of bad things just happened.
On the bright side, though, I guess there were a lot of good things that happened, too. We met Tae-Hyun this year. I also met Tina. They're both awesome. My brother learned a few important lessons... I think. I know that Leo learned a few things, and I did, too. Really, I think I learned more from my friends this year than I did from what they actually teach at school. 

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Cool With A "K" PART 30 - CHAPTER 22

I walked into the gymnasium, feeling tired and unhappy. I was greeted by the roar of conversation created by the entire school. Our school isn't that big, but when you get 'em all together for the spring barbecue, they can make some serious noise, especially when you're having a really bad day.
Look at me now. Chris and Mouse both got hurt because of me and I'm just standing here feeling sorry for myself.
I feel so bad. I blinked away tears and walked up through the sophomore section of the bleachers. I spotted my friends and watched them guiltily until Leo noticed me. I gave him a look, asking if I could join them, and he smiled, waving me over.
I smiled back quietly and made my way over to them, sitting down by Leo. Alice leaned over him and said, "Hi, Angie."
"Hey," I said softly. "How are you taking the pep fest?"
Alice has never liked pep fests. They're loud and hot and crowded, everything that Alice can't stand. She held up her hand and gave me the so-so sign.
"I'm okay." She said, smiling.
Chris and Mouse were sitting quietly on the other side of Alice, not speaking and staring at their feet. I smiled uneasily at them and said, "Hi, guys."

They glanced over at me and both muttered, looking away, "Hi, Angie..."
I nodded, leaning back. We sat in silence, slouching and dreading the wrath of the pep fest. 
Pep fest: definition: noun: We have short classes all day just so there'll be a couple of extra hours at the end of the day for a stupid event where we all scream about how great school is. We all go to the gym and cram into the bleachers while the staff does stupid stuff and celebrates how amazing and elite our school's sports teams are. They make us scream and see who can scream the loudest, la la la. ("Class of 2011, lemme here ya scream!")
So, obviously, for those of us who are unathletic and don't give a damn about the sports teams (A.K.A. the jerks who lock my brother in lockers during passing time), pep fests suck.
On the bright side, this was our special "Springtime Beavers Barbecue Festival!" that the school throws every year, so at least we get to go to the big fundraiser thing after the pep fest. And yes, the name is horrible. The beaver is our school mascot. We are the Beavers. I kid you not.
I shifted uncomfortably in my seat and waited for the teachers to start running across the floor in their beaver gear.
That sounded weird.
"You know what, guys?" Leo said, breaking our silence. We all looked at him. He continued, "This is stupid."
Chris gave him a look and said quietly, "What are you talking about?"
"I agree with Leo." Alice spoke up, smiling at Leo, "I think that we need to-"
But whatever she was about to say was drowned out by the deafening screams of the crowd as our principle, Ms. Nelson, walked into the gym and stood in the center of the room. She was wearing an orange "Withrow Beavers 2010-2011" t-shirt and holding a microphone in her right hand. Her blonde hair was in a ponytail and she was smiling. She held the microphone up and she called into it, sending feedback blaring through the speaker all around, "Hey, what's up, Withrow high?"
More horribly loud cheering. Sometimes, I think that Ms. Nelson is the only remotely normal staff member at this school, and I'm just grateful that she spared us from being called "beavers" just this once.
The rest of the pep fest was way the hell to loud for us to hear each other, so we didn't talk. They introduced the football team, the boys basketball team, the girls basketball team, the volleyball team, the tennis team, the badminton team, the ping pong team... I think you get the point. They introduced all of the sports team, then all the clubs, and then the cheerleaders did one of their routines. They aren't bad performers, I just kind of hate their stupid guts.
"And now," Ms. Nelson said into the microphone, "What you've all been waiting for; the Springtime Beavers Barbecue Festival!"
The gymnasium shook as the students roared in excitement, or maybe they were just screaming to scream.
"Now!" Ms. Nelson said, holding up her hand, "There are a few things I would like to address." She held up one finger and said, "First, this is a special school event and I want to see school appropriate behavior. Yes, it is a special occasion, but you are still in school."
A couple of kids groaned loudly. I could've sworn that Ms. Nelson's eyes were on Geoffry for most of this speech, who was shaking his head a few steps below us.
"Second," Ms. Nelson said, putting up another finger, "Stay on school property. We don't want any of you getting lost. We don't want another incident like at last year's Spring Festival."
Two football players high-fived in the Junior section of the bleachers.
"And third," Ms. Nelson held up a third finger, looking seriously over the crowd. A smile spread across her face and she said, "Have fun!"
I clapped my hands over my ears as everybody shouted. The bleachers shuddered as Ms. Nelson yelled, "You may be dismissed!" and everyone got up and thundered down the bleachers to be first outside.
I think it's amazing that no one has ever been killed trying to get down the bleachers in a sea of a bajillion other students during a pep fest. I can see the news article in the paper now: PEP-LESS HIGH SCHOOL STUDENT TRAMPLED TO DEATH AT PEP FEST. WHAT A DUMBASS.
My friends and I got up and awkwardly made our way down the bleachers and into the thick crowd of screaming teenagers leading out the gymnasium doors.

Chris, Mouse, Alice, Leo, and I stood outside in the football field, where numerous white tents and tables full of food were set up everywhere. We all held paper plates with assorted barbecue-esque food on them, not saying a word. Leo was, again, the first to break the silence.
"So, it's nice today, isn't it?" He said.
We all looked at him and Mouse said, "Yeah. Just like every other day of the year."
"Gorgeous." Chris said flatly.
I never said Leo broke the tension. He nodded and said quietly, "Right..."
Alice shifted from foot to foot, thinking. After another moment's silence, she said, "Hey."
We all looked at her expectantly and she said, "What are we doing? We've been friends for years and now we're wrecking something perfectly valuable by trying to stay mad at each other."
I didn't really think Alice was involved in the problem, but I saw her point.
We looked around at each other quietly.
"Something as perfectly valuable as the Springtime Beaver Barbecue?" Mouse said, cracking a grin.
Alice smiled and Leo started to laugh. I looked at my brother, who looked like he was trying not to laugh.
"Hey, guys," He said, "I'll be right back. I'm gonna go get something to drink."

Geoffry walked around the field by himself, on the outskirts of the gathering. He watched his classmates sadly. The whole school was poured out onto the field, but there was only one person on Geoffry's mind.
Where the hell is he? He thought, scanning the clusters of students.
Then, standing by a table, talking to some other students, he spotted Chris. A perfect profile; his light brown hair swept to the side, a vague smile on his freckled face...
Geoffry pressed his lips together and made his way over to Chris. People distractedly stepped in front of him and he weaved his way through the growing crowd. At last, Geoffry reached Chris. He put his hand on his shoulder, "Chris."
Chris turned to face him, his expression slightly troubled.
"Oh, Geoffry..." He said with a faint smile. "Hi."
"Hey." Geoffry said, smiling broadly. He felt like he hadn't seen Chris in ages. Not like this.
Geoffry studied Chris' face as he tried to find the words he wanted to say.
"Chris," He began, pausing.
But he didn't say anything. Chris nodded slightly, looking right at him. Geoffry's smile faded and he stared at Chris. Geoffry, what the hell is wrong with you?!
"Yes?" Chris said quietly.
Geoffry ducked his head down and patted Chris on the shoulder, "Have a sloppy joe. They're good."
Chris watched Geoffry walk past him, confused. Automatically, Chris' shoulders sagged.
Geoffry walked quickly away from Chris, shaking his head at himself.
Mm, mm, mm. Geoffry, what the hell was that? Geoffry looked back at Chris. He was watching him with a saddened look on his face. He quickly turned away when Geoffry saw him.
Crap, he's looking at me. Geoffry thought, also looking away, Chris. Little Chris Harper. I never meant to have anything with him. He's just another sensitive, clingy... 
Geoffry realized that he was digging his fingernails hard into the side of his leg. He stopped and thought, I don't need him. I never needed him. He never meant anything.
Geoffry stormed away from the field without looking back. He passed a wispy pine tree at the edge of the field and failed to notice Mouse watching him. Sitting on the pine needle-covered dirt ground, she stared hatefully through the branches at Geoffry as he left the barbecue. Her scowling face was covered in tears.