and pluto Jul 26, 2020 14:49:10 GMT -5
Post by The Mason on Jul 26, 2020 14:49:10 GMT -5
she won't stop me put it down
“You should’ve gone to a doctor as soon as it happened.”
“Right, well, it was kind of a weird time to just go to a doctor if you haven't noticed.”
“You were hurt in that match. What if your hearing never came back?”
“Oh, I am?”
“Yes. I would’ve still had my left ear.”
“You could’ve had a concussion, Sadie.” A prompt no-sell at Sadie’s diffusing attempt at humor.
“Very true. Yet I’m pretty sure I didn’t.”
“Ack. This is why I don’t tell you anything. See… this was supposed to be where you praised me for fighting back from what should’ve been a match-stopping injury in the opening moments, carrying on like a… like a warrior guided by adrenaline and skill and becoming a champion… mm… not this… this sounds a lot like a lecture.”
“Well, maybe you should reconsider telling me about injuries you don’t wish for commentary on.”
“Maybe. But then who would I humblebrag to?”
And up until that simple comment, the energy in the room had been positive. Then like a switch was flipped, that vacuum turned on. Every last bit of light-hearted humor got sucked up and replaced with this brief, but thick, suffocating tension. The answer to the obviously-rhetorical question was Sherry. But of course, Sadie couldn’t humblebrag to Sherry. Because Sherry was
Normally dark comedy would prevail and Sadie would find a way to make a joke about it, not so much for her sake, but for the sake of everyone around her. It wasn’t like she brought it up often, but it was always just kind of hanging there. The woman that she was convinced she’d spend the rest of her life with was just suddenly gone, heads-up be damned, and no matter how hard Sadie tried, she was in it. Like a uniform. Constantly.
She honestly didn’t even know how. But she was doing it now.
“Hey.” Melina pushed herself up from the stool she’d been seated at alongside the kitchen’s attached bar area. “Look at what I made for Nando.”
Eager to distract her daughter from whatever cloud was forming over her, Melina walked the distance of the bar toward a repurposed grocery bag hanging from the knob of the pantry. She reached inside, retrieving a handmade surgical-style mask with the solar system etched across it from ear to ear.
Sadie couldn’t contain the smallest smile. “He’s gonna be silently infuriated that Pluto’s not on there.”
“I thought Pluto wasn’t a planet anymore,” Melina muttered with a frown.
“Yeah, it still gets him going.”
Sadie cast a glance toward the door, before back at her mother. “Speak of the devil.”
* * * * *
Nando Fresno said it casually.
He tried, unsuccessfully, to blow smoke rings from his mouth and into the air as he pinched what was left of a handrolled joint. Sadie sat across from him, shaking her head slightly before she accepted the joint across the partially shattered stone tabletop that sat on the back patio. She flicked ash onto the cement before meeting the alien hunter’s gaze.
“You disappointed in me?” Sadie asked with an air of mockery. “You don’t wanna be my friend anymore?”
“I’m still thinking about it,” Nando replied, leaning back in his chair with a tired smile. “I probably should have cut ties with you years ago. You always talk shit about my research van--”
“Child disappearance van,” Sadie asserted.
“That’s what I mean. Hell no we’re not friends anymore,” Nando said.
“You don’t mean it.” Sadie took a long hit from the joint before passing it back toward Nando, who reached for it-- only to frown as Sadie pulled it back to her lips for another hit. “Say it.”
“I don’t mean it,” Nando mumbled, keeping his hand extended, patiently waiting until the flower found it way back between his middle and index fingers. He looked up at Sadie and raised a brow. “You know she’s gonna call bullshit though.” A hit. A shrug. “I mean-- I would.”
Sadie was quiet for a moment, considering it.
“It comes with the territory,” Sadie said, quietly. “You go out there, threatening to fucking maim somebody and… and you gotta expect them to react, you know?”
Her gaze traveled away from Nando, toward the sliding door that led to the house’s base level. Through the screen, the United States Title was visible. Everything Nando was criticizing her for, even under the guise of a joke, was sitting on the couch, positioned in a way that it almost stared back at her. And it was the only thing that stood out.
“Yeah.” Nando sniffed. “I’m not sure what I was thinking.” He looked at the burning paper in his hand, turning it over, back and forth with his fingers. “You’re right. That’s probably the way Nina’s gonna look at it too. You’re probably fine.” He raised his eyebrows, adding, sarcastically, “I bet she’s already forgotten about the whole thing.”
Tearing her eyes away from the belt and letting them fall on her eccentric friend, Sadie expelled a long, defeated sigh.
“You make it sound like I killed somebody,” she said. Maybe defensively.
“You sound like you’re downplaying it. And to me, that’s odd, since you’ve dedicated so much time to that.” Nando nodded toward the belt, keenly aware that Sadie had been staring at it like a missed meal through the sliding door’s screen. “It’s almost like you’re waiting for someone to tell you that you didn’t do anything wrong.” He leaned forward, resting the paper against the ashtray as Sadie declined it with the wave of her hand.
“I’m--” Sadie started.
“I just never knew you to care about opinions like that,” Nando finished. He looked at Sadie with narrowed eyes for a moment before his lips stretched into a small smile. “Just say you cheated. I bet you’ll feel better.”
Sadie opens her mouth to respond… but both of them devolve into laughter before the words come out.
“You think you have it all figured out,” Sadie said, leaning back in the patio chair.
“Clearly not.” Nando leaned back as well. “If I knew half as much as you, I’d have an extra digit on my paycheck. I’d have a championship belt as a fucking mantlepiece. And I wouldn’t care how I got it.”
“Seriously, cut that out,” Sadie muttered, reaching for the discarded sunglasses that lied on the table in front of her.
“Hm.” Nando followed suit, mimicking Sadie, reaching for his own sunglasses, which had been tucket away in the pocket of his shots up until this moment. He slid the shades over his eyes, crossing his arms behind his head, mirroring Sadie’s posture. “I’m gonna be like you when I grow up, man.”
The words hung there though-- evident even through the thick haze of sarcasm. Every single word stuck, to the point where Sadie knew any attempt to unpack it all would be visible on her face. The unfortunate side of maintaining your childhood friends is that you develop this unwanted, unasked for kind of telepathy. Hiding your face only helps so much. Nando stared back at her, quiet from across the stone patio table, but Sadie was lost in her own reflection.