Posts Tagged ‘friend’

Burning Eyes

Posted: June 23, 2014 by writingsprint in Fantasy
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burning eyesSamantha’s eyes burned the color of candle light. The tribal tattoos on her arms and back twitched.

“What did you say to me?” she asked. Her voice barely reached him but it carried more weight than if she’d screamed. Cane looked like he nearly peed his pants.

“I said you’re not thinking clearly. We need to talk to these people…”

The passion rose up in Samantha. Her eyes flared brighter. She imagined she felt fangs in her mouth and claws on the ends of her black-polished fingernails. She imagined it, and if it hadn’t been for the infernal light in her eyes and the heat inside her head, she might have believed that was all it was.

Cane’s voice died inside his throat. He gulped.

“We’re going to Paradise Hall, where they’re holding my baby, and we’re going to start burning things until they give him back to me.”

“You’re going to start burning things. What am I going to do?”

Samantha smiled. Stand there and look handsome, what else? “You need to get the little one out of there while I protect us.”

“Sam, you’re about to cross a bridge that might only go one way. Do you really want to do this?”

The fire cooled. The light in Samantha’s eyes receded, until they looked like beautiful ebony marbles. Her tattoos stilled. Samantha wanted to make this decision with her eyes open.

Her voice rubbed raw as winter frost when she said, “Yes.”

“This is what they want!”

Sam’s tattoos twitched again, whiplash sharp. “Do you really think this is what they want?”

Cane said, “I won’t help you.”

Her fire settled again. Good old Cane, who’d always been there for her. She wouldn’t call him her moral compass – Samantha didn’t answer to anyone but the universe – but he was close. “Then go home. I’ll see you when I see you. But I have to do this.”

Cane sighed. He walked over and stood alongside her. “Guess I’m crossing that bridge with you.”

She touched his arm. He jumped. It was only warm with friendship. “Thanks.”

Photo credit unknown. Used without permission.

Tonight’s scene was inspired by the picture above, which I forget where I found online, and the following dice roll from Rory’s Story Cubes: demon inside (Samantha), a cane (Cane), a building (Paradise Hall), a sad face (Samantha’s baby), chaos symbol (the mayhem she’s about to make), a bridge over water (crossing a bridge), a tree (the universe — it’s a stretch but hey), a house (go home), and block letter L (Cane won’t leave).

Angel with a Bent Halo

Posted: February 7, 2014 by writingsprint in Fantasy, Lost Angel
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angel muralAngelina never knew her parents. Her born name was Jane Doe, found in a box behind a dumpster in west Philadelphia. The nurses named her Angelina. She was adopted as a child by a retired couple, and grew up mostly happy, usually healthy, and wondering why she’d been left to die as an infant.

Her hands were shaking as she unlocked the door to her house. Her roommate Keith opened the door for her. “I just got home. I—hey. Are you all right?”

“No, I’m not all right!” She told him the story about what happened. By the time she was done, Keith looked like he wanted to hit somebody. “And then he vanished. I wanted to tell a cop, but I didn’t know what to charge him with.”

“You weren’t followed on the way home?”

“I got in a cab once I was on the edge of the park. I don’t think anyone followed me.”

“Son of a bitch… I’m sorry, Angel.”

“Look, I know that’s my nickname, but let’s not use it for a while, okay?”

“No problem. Do you want me to walk you home for the next couple of days? I can bug out early from work.”

She wanted to say no, but she still felt pretty shaky. Besides, what was the down side? She owed Keith a six pack of beer? “That’d be great. Thanks, bud.” He gave her a hug, and they put away the groceries together. They were about halfway through when she asked, “What gets me is, what if he’s right?”

Keith laughed. “You know, I was just thinking the same thing. I mean, you work for the Food Bank. You teach yoga to kids on the weekend. You’re a peach. If anybody in this world’s an angel it’s got to be you.”

Angelina thought about the weed she’d smoked in college, the speeding tickets she’d never paid in Nevada, and the wild time she’d had at a friend’s bachelorette party last year. “Yeah, well, not as much as you think. I meant taking me back to Heaven. How does he pull something like that off?”

Keith shrugged. “In ‘Meet Joe Black,’ Brad Pitt just walks over a bridge. Up one side, down the other, and he’s gone.”

“But shouldn’t I have some choice in it? I mean, one, absentee father, and two, I didn’t ask to go anywhere. Why can’t he show up and help me with my love life or get us some more funding at the food bank?”

“It’s probably easier to get you into Heaven.”

He Couldn’t Walk Away

Posted: January 26, 2014 by writingsprint in Drama, The New Nurse
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knee x-rayAllen finally went to bed at about 1:00 that morning. Jonathan let the dogs upstairs to keep him company. It helped him feel better. The dogs lay down at the foot Allen’s bed and immediately growled their intentions at Jonathan. He waved at them as he shut the door.

The good news was, it wasn’t as bad as he’d feared. Allen had hit the ground hard but there was no dislocation. The tendon was badly bruised. Nothing was torn. Allen had to take it easy for a few days. There were lighter, seated exercises they could do until the swelling went down. Other than that, he needed time.

Need to talk. Call tomorrow.” He tossed the phone on his bedside table.

Jonathan rubbed his eyes. He needed a beer, and he needed his friends.

Wait a second. What time was it?

They’d give him shit for it but it was close enough.

Jonathan dialed home. The phone rang twice. He heard a clattering sound on the other end. Scratching. Then a yawn, and he heard the drowsy sound of his best friend Dan. “If it had been anyone else, I would’ve chucked the phone in the rubbish. How are you doing, mate?”

“Ugh, Dan, not good. My patient’s a pisser and if I don’t miss my guess, he kneecapped himself last night, for God knows why.”

“The knee injury bloke you’re working for?” Jonathan said yes. Dan laughed. He didn’t suffer fools. “What the hell? Did you tell him to go dancing?”

“No! We were about to start the second diagnostic!”

Dan yawned again. “What makes you think it did it to himself?”

“No tearing. No rotation. His hands weren’t scraped from trying to stop himself. It’s like he just dropped to his knees to pray.” Jonathan yawned, too.

Dan laughed again. “Nutty. Sounds like he’s got a death wish.”

“He doesn’t wish for anything. Nothing makes this guy happy except complaining.”

Jonathan stared off into space. Good God, was that it?

“… got your work cut out for you. Look, Jonny, I need to get ready for work. Can we talk later?”

Jonathan came back to reality. “Yeah, right. I’m good now. Thanks, Dan. Tell everyone I said hi. Cheers.”

The line disconnected. Jonathan flopped back into bed. He already felt wired from the day. This felt like a kick in the brain. How did you treat someone who didn’t want to get better? Jonathan rubbed his face. He couldn’t quit. Allen needed help. Jonathan couldn’t just walk away.

broken lanternKit sat down and wept. Crying, two days in a row, for very different reasons. Kit had never been so sad and so afraid in such a short period of time. He hoped the rest of his life would be easier.

Lady came over and hugged him. Kit didn’t know how long they sat there like that, but a long while later, Morgrim came upstairs. He had never been allowed to go upstairs higher than Kit’s room, but his curiosity got the better of him. Awkwardly, he hugged the two of them, too.

Finally, Kit said, “Thank you. Morgrim, please clean the room. Lady, would you help me find the tool box?” Kit looked around the room. He didn’t see it. “I think it got knocked around from its spot.”

It took them a while. The room looked like a giant, angry child had turned it upside down and shaken it. Everyone stayed away from the jar except Kit. He was the only one who seemed confident that Vrajitor wouldn’t smash his way out. At one point, from across the room, Lady reached toward the jar, then pulled her hand back. She didn’t even want to imagine touching it. Inside, the fairy-sized Vrajitor raged at her.

“How long will that hold him?” Lady asked.

“Forever. I used his own magic to make the jar. As long as he’s alive, it’ll hold its shape. The more magic he throws at it, the stronger it’ll get.”

“Are you sure?”

Kit tapped his chest. “I’ve been checking. It’s already twice as strong as it was an hour ago.”

“If I may, young master, how will we feed him?” Morgrim asked.

“Magic honey. The same as we feed the fairies.” It was dropped into his mouth from the top of the jar. With the fairies, Kit had been bitten getting them into the lanterns in the first place.

“Here it is,” Lady said. She found the box laying on its side against the far wall, under a stack of books. They were a set of tools for delicate work, and a small hammer. Fine carvings decorated the sides. Kit took the hammer. “Come on. I know what I want to do first,” he said.

He started downstairs. Lady turned back toward the jar. “Is it safe to leave him here alone?”

“It is. Would you feel better to watch him, while I do this?” She nodded. “Okay. I’ll be back soon.”

Kit went into the staircase. He pulled open the curtains of the nearest window. It was a beautiful, sunlit day outside.

Kit walked up to the first lantern. Inside, a fairy stood with its hands on the lantern glass. It had watched him come down from the laboratory. Kit held up the hammer. The fairy looked at him. Its wings flicked intently. Even with eyes the size of pinheads, Kit could tell it was sizing him up. It wasn’t time for food, and the only time he’d walked up to the lanterns other than feeding time, Vrajitor or lady had been with him.

Kit held pointed at it, and made a gently waving gesture with his hand. He mimed hitting the lantern glass. He pointed at the fairy again, then pointed at the window. The fairy stared at him. Kit repeated his gestures. The fairy moved back.

With just the right touch, Kit rapped the glass and shattered it. Kit stood back. The fairy buzzed up to about Kit’s height, wings beating fast enough to buzz like a bee. Kit gave it plenty of room, and stayed ready. Fairies were like squirrels. He could kill it easily, but they could be nasty buggers if they wanted.

It flew out the window. Kit went to the next lantern, and repeated the process. By the time Kit broke the third lantern, the fairies were cheering. The fourth one sat on his shoulder to watch. The fifth sat on his head. “You’re welcome to stay,” Kit said for them all to hear. “There’s plenty of honey.” And plenty of room in the tower, for his new, adopted family.

Out of Time

Posted: December 18, 2013 by writingsprint in Drama, The Line of Duty
Tags: , , , , ,

Part eight of “The Line of Duty”

By the fourth day the fog had disappeared completely. The sky was cloudy, but it was good to see blue again at all. It also made the snipers start shooting better. The sunlight must have been bouncing off the mirror in Jack’s periscope because he was already drawing fire. Criston could hear the ground being pelted by the bullets.

He also felt nausea rise inside him every time the shells shook the ground. He was definitely sick. Jack yelled one more targeting correction and dropped back inside the ditch. He straightened his helmet and snapped, “Sooner or later I’m going to have them bomb those lousy snipers instead of tearing up the wire.”

Criston relayed the correction. He winced as he put down the headset. Carefully he peeled off the right side of his jacket. His shoulder was killing him, had been since last night. Under the bandage had grown a bruise the size of his palm. There must have been a smaller fragment Jack hadn’t been able to dig out when he’d been hit. Digging and sleep had given it a chance to work itself around He felt himself sweating, even though it was cool enough to make his breath fog. “Do we have any more alcohol?”

“Nothing. Back in the line they do, but all you can do is wash it,” Jack said. “We don’t have any more bandages, either.” He looked up as the corrected fire mission flew over them.

Criston took a bullet from his pocket and bit into it. He removed the old bandage and took out his knife. There wasn’t much pus on the wound, but he could see easily that it was swollen.

“What are you doing?”

“This is supposed to prevent blood poisoning or something,” he said. The bullet was clean. His knife was as clean as he could keep it. If he’d been back in the trench he would’ve been sent back for treatment the first day.

Criston cut the swelling. He was gasping for breath. He pulled the bullet from his teeth and reapplied the old bandage. He sat there for several minutes, waiting for his heart to slow down and for him to stop sweating.

He grabbed the radio box and switched onto the frequency that the lieutenant used to receive back in the line. “Mole to Hole, Mole to Hole, come in, please.”

Hole responded. Without another word Criston said, “All right, lieutenant, listen. We don’t have enough supplies to stay out here after today. We’re out of food and water and the batteries in the radio are going dead.” He coughed and spat mucus to the outside of the ditch. “Plus I need medication. I’m sick and my wound is infected. Over.”

Jack looked at him. “Right,” Criston said. “Right. Understood. Out.” Criston yanked off his headset and threw it onto the ground.

“Bad news?” Jack asked.

“We won’t be relieved until sometime after 9:30 tonight. They want to wait until they’re changing the sniper posts so that they won’t be able to shoot at us.” That meant no food until then, and he had to pray that nothing really awful happened to his shoulder.

Day by Day

Posted: December 17, 2013 by writingsprint in Drama, The Line of Duty
Tags: , , , , ,

Part seven of “The Line of Duty”

The next few hours passed and no one came to relieve them. No followup attack. No one was giving answers why, either, but then the Germans could’ve been listening in. That didn’t make Criston happy, but it was the only excuse that anybody would’ve given him if he’d wanted to hear one, which he didn’t. On the bright side he didn’t have the sergeant yelling at him for having a bad attitude.

They’d ticked the Germans off rather royally once the American artillery started to tear apart the supply roads and land their shells in the trenches rather than near them. No surprise there. The Huns had started up in a way that made the morning’s shellacking look like a spitball fight. They hadn’t stopped since then.

Criston shoveled awkwardly, using only his left arm. Jack had brought his entrenching tools with him, and they took turns yelling fire corrections and making the crater deeper. His right arm took a fragment two hours before, and he couldn’t use it without having something to bite on and bringing tears to his eyes. It hurt a little worse tripping into an exposed nail.

Jack was calling in another correction, then looked at him. “Do you have any alcohol for that? We used up mine when we dressed it.”

Criston’s face was sweating. “Just whatever’s in my field kit.” He swallowed. “Tell those guys that I caught something from sleeping out here last night.” His throat felt more swollen than his arm and almost ached as much.

Things slowed down a little bit once the sun set. They were both at the point were the constant falling of bombs went into the background noise. Criston asked, “Do you think we’ll get out of here?”

Jack rolled his eyes heavenward. He stared at the sky through the night mist and smoke from exploding artillery. “I couldn’t tell you. This is the worst yet.” To punctuate the point there was a shriek, both ducked, and a shell landed close by. Both were showered with dirt, but neither of them had flinched. Ducking was just standard procedure. Jack continued, “If we had a tunnel like we use for the listening posts we’d be in good shape.”

It’d take a month to dig, not to mention that they couldn’t keep it from collapsing, and that it was so far back to the line that they’d probably suffocate while digging. Criston didn’t reply, but he also didn’t plan on being there for a month.

Jack took out a pack of military-issue cigarettes and tried to light one with what was left of his matches. They were far down enough inside their ditch that a sniper wouldn’t spot the light.

The second day wasn’t much different. Neither was the third.

What Are Friends For?

Posted: December 16, 2013 by writingsprint in Drama, The Line of Duty
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Part six of “The Line of Duty”

Jack shuffled around until he was right-side up. “Hey, buddy,” he said. Criston was still speechless. “I brought some food and blankets for us. The food’s a little warm. Check the radio, will ya?”

He wasn’t picking up on something that was staring him in the face. There was another crash of shells a little farther off. Slowly, he shook his head. No. No! “What the hell are you doing here with a radio?” he demanded. A sharp whistle made them both duck. That had to be the reason why. Artillery.

“Will you just check it?” Jack cried.

“No, dammit!” he said, shoving the set away from him. Another volley of shells crashed outside, and he shouted, “They want us to spot for artillery, don’t they?” They were going to do it all the time. They hadn’t planned on pulling him out. The Germans had known it from the moment they realized he was in such a close position.

Jack nodded. His voice was low but he could hear him. “Sure as hell I’m not out here for my health.”

Criston felt sick. The crater was a small one, only a little better than laying down on open ground as it was. The two of them barely fit in it at all. Mechanically he picked up the radio set and checked it out. Tubes okay, mikes okay, wires still connected. Jack took out one of the makeshift periscopes that they used back in the lines and checked the field.

Criston connected the set and clicked the mike. “This is…do we have a code name yet?”

“We’re the moles. You’re calling Rockdropper.”

“Rockdropper, Rockdropper, this is Mole, over.” He looked at Jack and asked, “Is there going to be another attack soon?” To get them out of there…

The radio crackled. “Mole, this is Rockdropper, we read you loud and clear, over.”

“Yeah,” Jack answered, “In a few hours they’re going to switch us with somebody else. It’ll be like listening post duty.”

“Roger, Rockdropper. We’re all set out here. Over.”

“We’re going to start shooting off fire missions in a few minutes, so stay ready. Over.”

Criston shuffled around to Jack’s side, then ducked down again as more shells came in. “When did they first get the idea?” he asked. As long as he was going to stick around, he might as well know why.

Jack looked at him. “Last night. Me and the sergeant wanted to get covering fire so you could get back in, since there wasn’t supposed to be another attack. Then when we were about to somebody else caught wind of it and asked exactly where you were.”

“That settled that,” Criston murmured, not looking at Jack.

“Yeah,” Jack said.

He nudged Jack. “Hey. Did they order you to come out here?”

Jack looked at him. “It was volunteer. Shut up and wait for their orders.” He shoved down his face so that his helmet would block it from view. Criston half-wondered whether he should be impressed or kick Jack for being stupid enough to come out here so that both of them could get blown to smithereens. Criston looked at the side of the ditch and how close the bottom was to the top, and realized that he was somewhere that made him miss the line. Criston slumped down to the bottom of the crater and thought enviously of slogging his way back through the communication trench to the rear. His leg muscles would burn worse than they did during the charge. They’d grumble and curse for having to wait for their replacements.

The radio crackled, but it was just static. Criston thought about the next attack. It would come soon. The Germans fired again and he hoped it would come soon that much more.

Equal Shares of Fate

Posted: November 17, 2013 by writingsprint in Is That You?
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Van Gogh, "Sorrowful Old Man"

Van Gogh, “Sorrowful Old Man”

The next day, the guards blindfolded him and brought Whitaker to the talking room. He recognized the sound of his feet on the floor. It smelled like old socks. He didn’t know why. It was clean like a hospital room.

The guards removed his blindfold. As usual, Whitaker saw a room with white tile floor, white painted walls and ceiling, and lights that were just barely too bright. There was one table in the room. Gruber sat on the opposite side. Today there were two chairs, not one, on Whitaker’s side. The guard walked out.

Whitaker stayed standing. Another guard brought in Marina. She looked at Whitaker, then at Gruber. Whitaker jumped when the guard clanked the door shut.

“It’s a lovely day,” Gruber said. He gestured to the seats. “Please. Sit.”

“I’ll stand,” Whitaker said.

Marina looked at him. Gruber chuckled. “Marina usually sits. Whitaker stands or sits, depending on how adversarial he wants to be with me. I haven’t figured out a pattern with him yet. Will you sit, Marina?”

She dragged her chair away from the table. Marina sat down. She looked ready to jump across the room. “Why are we both here?” Marina asked.

“An excellent question!” Gruber said. He folded his hands. “Well. I’ll get to the point. It’s no secret that the two of you are fond of each other. I’m here to make you both an offer. You can both be released, today. You will be sent to Sovo Prospekt.”

Marina’s hands went over her mouth. She brought them to her sides and made fists. She shook her head. “No. I won’t go back there.”

“Don’t be silly. It’ll be fine. You won’t be there alone. Whitaker will be there with you, along with his family.”
“Completely free?”

“Free in every way.”

“Whitaker, this is his game. Sovo’s ruled by gangs. We would be living from day to day. You can’t imagine.”

“What’s the alternative?”

“That you never… ever… leave this place. You will both be locked in a cell, together, for the rest of your days. I will give you no contact with the outside world. You can be fond of each other, and only each other, for the rest of your lives.”

“What about my family?”

Gruber shook his head.

“You have no right!”

Gruber stared at him.

Whitaker looked at Marina. “Once we’re in Sovo we can leave. We’ll get a car.”

She shook her head. “We would be gunned down before we left city limits.”

“But people survive there. How did you?”

“I was one of them! I was the worst!” Whitaker felt like she’d thrown cold water into his face. “I gunned down a family of three because they wouldn’t give us their food. I deserve to be here.”

Whitaker sat down in his chair. Gruber smiled.

“Both of you must agree,” Gruber said. “Before you leave this room.”

Whitaker rubbed his hands on his face. Marina sat still as a statue. He wasn’t looking at the same woman who’d been his friend on those dark, hopeless nights.

“This is your game. Making us hate each other.”

“I’m showing you the truth. You need to understand why your being here is necessary.”

Whitaker wanted to yell, For her! Not for me! He punched his right fist into his left hand. No. That was the point. That was what Gruber wanted.

“Both of you must agree,” Gruber said.

“I do not agree,” Whitaker said.

Gruber frowned. “To stay, or go?”

“I do not agree,” he repeated.

Marina nodded. “And I do not agree.”

“To… fine. I can play this game as long as either of you.”

They said at the same time, “I do not agree.”

None of them said much to each other for the next six hours. An ironic advantage of having a minimal diet was that neither Whitaker nor Marina had to go to the bathroom. Gruber paced the room. Whitaker had never seen anything like this. He sweat. He swore at them. He promised that Whitaker would rot in his cell, and Marina would walk grandly into the town square at Sovo Prospekt, naked and unarmed where every enemy she’d ever made could stone her to death.

“I do not agree,” they both said.

Six hours after that, the guard opened the door. They blindfolded Marina and Whitaker, and took them back to their cells.

Prisoners

Posted: October 15, 2013 by writingsprint in Is That You?
Tags: , , , , ,

He had been kept prisoner there for three years. He thought it was three. He lost count after the first few weeks, when the days started blending into one another and he stopped looking longingly, hopefully, vengefully at the gates. He stopped thinking about escape the first time when he woke up with a jolt to the sound of gunfire outside.

He closed his eyes and moaned as he thought of the muffled thud the body had made. That had been the next sound he heard. “Oh, God,” he moaned. Tears rolled down his face. He had never even seen the body. Anymore, he wondered if it really happened, and the keepers had just staged it to break their souls.

“But I found where they shot him,” he said. “Red, in the dirt, where they thought they covered it all up.”

He looked to the wall, to the air slit in the floor that he used to speak through to the prisoner in the next cell. He thought he heard her moving towards the slit. Then he heard her ask, “What did you say?”

“But I found where they shot him,” he said, and repeated the rest too. “I was just reliving an old conversation.”

“Some of us remember our families. You remember conversations.”

As far as he was concerned, life before they brought him here didn’t exist anymore. “All that I have that I treasure, now, is what I found in here.”

“We need to get you out, then,” she said.

“They both chuckled. It didn’t work that way. They got what they wanted out of you, or maybe they didn’t, and then they let you out.

“Cedric was taken out after he told them where his brother was.”

“That wasn’t why. His brother lived where he always lived.”

“So what difference did it make?”

“None. All I can think of is, they wanted to break him.”

“Well, they haven’t tortured me yet. It’ll be a few hundred years before they break me if they keep this up.”

“Speak for yourself. My children are growing up.”

“Not me. This is a vacation compared to where I came from.”

She was silent. He was making her sad. “I miss you,” he said quickly. “It’s been a long time since they let us see each other.”

“Careful. They might hear. Then we won’t see each other for years.”

Or maybe just wearing masks, or some ridiculous shit like that. That was how they worked.

This is an old story that I played around with, but I think it really fits one of the prompts from this week’s Inspiration Monday from Be Kind Rewrite — “inches away.”

prison cell

sick catKerri went to the coffee shop again for the next two days. The sign to adopt the cat was still tacked to the cork board. Kerri asked Tom about it. He said he didn’t know. He must have passed the word along to Andrea, because the next day Kerri met Andrea by her door holding cat carrier.

“Hey,” Kerri said.

“Hey,” Andrea said.

Awkward. Kerri wanted to get her mail, but Andrea was standing between her and the mailbox. She had to know that. She’d been over her apartment enough times. “You don’t want her?”

“We’re… not a great fit. She keeps pawing at the dog. I spray her with a water bottle but she’s stubborn.”

“She’d be perfect for me, then.”

“That’s what I was thinking.”

“Well, let’s go upstairs. You can drop her off. Thanks.”

“Sure.”

Andrea stepped back to let Kerri lead the way. That was new. Andrea always used to lead the way, no matter what they were doing. She said it was her impulsive side. Andrea set the carrier down and opened the door. The cat waited until Andrea stood all the way up, then scooted out like the carrier was the last place she wanted to be. She disappeared behind Kerri’s easy chair.

“Ungrateful little shit,” Andrea said.

“She probably just hates being cooped up,” Kerri said. The cat came back out to the middle of the living room. It was wobbling. Kerri was about to wonder what the hell was going on, when the cat hunched, gagged, and threw up on her carpet.

“I’m sorry! She was fine when we left! I swear!”

“She’s probably motion sick from the carrier. Ugh!” Kerri started for the kitchen to grab paper towels. Andrea was already there. She stood in her way, turning in circles. “I… you need to move.”

“You changed everything. Where are the towels?”

“I’ve got it.” She gently pushed her out of the way. “I had to keep busy. Can you fill a bowl with water for her?”

“Have those moved?”

“No, same place.”

Kerri held her breath and worked on the stain. It came up. Andrea put down a bowl of water, then came back with the bottle of Stain-Rid that Kerri had used for Mr. Scrimshaw. Tag team, just like old times.

It took a few minutes, but she got most of the stain up. What was left wasn’t as bad as the old wine stains, coffee stains and snags in the rug that had accumulated over the years.

Kerri washed her hands. She could see into the living room from the kitchen. The cat looked fine. It nosed around the furniture, checking out its new home. Frankly, she looked like the most comfortable person in the room. Kerri’s hands smelled like smoke and chucked-up cat food, and Andrea sat on the end of the easy chair looking guilty.

“Hey. Are you all right?” Kerri asked.

“No! Three days ago I throw you out of my apartment. Today I bring you a pet and it gets sick on your carpet.”

Kerri took a long look at her former girlfriend. Andrea looked fragile. Kerri wasn’t interested in getting back together or anything, but she had to admit she was curious. “Since when does that kind of stuff bother you?”

She pet the cat as it walked by. “I’m going to miss the little dustball. Oh – you’ll have to clean more. Or brush her a lot. She likes to go underneath stuff.”

“Great.” Kerri got two bottles of flavored water out of the fridge. Andrea took one. She looked sheepish. “So if you’re going to miss her, why give her away?”

“I didn’t want a pet. I missed you.” Andrea stopped herself. “Not the drama. Just, you know, hanging around. When you showed up I was so mad! It was like you were sneaking in to steal my band-aid!”

Kerri took a sip of her water. So. “What do you think about visitation rights?”

Andrea rubbed her arms. Kerri could relate. Her skin was crawling remembering the breakup. “We’d have to play it by ear.”

“Choosers can’t be beggars. Sounds good to me.”

This post brought to you by the prompt “choosers can’t be beggars” from Inspiration Monday at Be Kind Rewrite.