Free love, free life. Ugly was a societal norm. Lanad take any old face off the street into a bodily hug. Show them they were loved. Whisper something meaningful and life changing into their ear, natch. Something like, end US dependence on foreign oil. Just your everyday motivational soundbyte. Something she could definitely rock. Most days. Sometimes it was just too much bother. Emotions, hormones, all too damn high. Cresting a wave of self-loathing, much as shed never admit it.
Shed been bullied once, at least once, she remembered. Never again, not while she drew breath with steady hand. Drew that thang in Crayola. Okay, though, to be fair. There was still technically one person shed take lip from. Unfortunately! Hard to outright dismiss familial relations, and Ben did his damndest to remind her of that fact. Like that day on the playground, even. Hed swooped in, all knight in shining armor-like. Ugh. She owed him for that. Owed him an tirade of insults over his shit haircut, more like. And then a thanks. Maybe a thanks. Probably not.
She couldnt see his usual mess of anime spikes around, he was out. Upperclassman were out with Mr. Graham on a field trip to a museum, or something. Sounded fun. She could hear the deathly wails echoing down the highway onramp. All the way here, in the Fields home. Man! Someday shed be doing that shit too, and boy could she not wait. Vibrating with excitement where she sat, anticipating the day shed be drafted onto a crowded, poorly ventilated school bus with a bunch of other kids who didnt want to be there.
And jeez again. The house was a disaster zone. Any worse and it would be a breeding pen for flies chittering out Marvin Gaye or Drake with their wings. She could smell the vague ferment of unwashed dishes. God help her, she had to wash those dishes. God help her, she didnt want to. Effort
nah. Procrastinate, that was the name of the game.
Nine point five texts to the effect of Lana make sure the house is clean when Ben gets home! Yeah yeah Mom. Really rocking the age-inappropriate leet speak: LOL DOO (sic) TH DSHS KTHNX.
The sun was getting sleepy, she could see the shadows coming through the living room window getting longer. Not much time left, to pretend she was going to get the work done.
Laziness aside, today was a good day. Laziness included, today was a good day. Sitting back, relaxing. Ignoring homework, housework, chilling with music and lovely day aesthetic. Brandon Flowers and wildflowers. Sub beating down on the brow, a bit too but fuck nature: air conditioning. Birds were chirping, smiling, whispering platitudes and cliches.
Lana stretched, catlike. She had sat herself on the bottom step of the stairwell. Only clean part of the house at the moment, since Ben had busted his ass over it however many weeks prior. Like a month, as of now? Sense of time was beginning to sluice out of the folds of Lanas poor cranium. Why hello there, scensence. Gah. She was too young to be old.
She hadnt really been cleaning her room that one day when Lucilly and Ben had been awkwardly flirt-cleaning downstairs. Shed been busied by cussing her head off at old school Tower Defense games. Ben would have gotten on her case, but hed been distracted by girls and baseball. Living himself the life, for like a whole month. A month free of brotherly nagging. Maybe senioritis, maybe a profound sense of zen. Maybe Lana strategically excluding him from her room. Lana had felt it a kindness to him and mostly herself if she kept her lack of cleanliness under wraps. You lived longer when you didnt worry, Lana had once heard. Specifically, she lived longer when Ben wasnt tisking at her about one of her many perceived-slash-actual cock ups.
Lana yawned, before spontaneously mashing her teeth into the head of the pen in her hand. Surface of her pen was a reticulum that undulated in countryside valleys and hills. Pretty nasty ass habit, Ben liked to tell her. Didnt look so bad to her, like, girls looked cute with things in their mouth. The old chipmunk-gopher aesthetic from Axl Frog videos. Something like that.
Pen bled over paper, in brief, but Lana snappily staunched the bleeding. She didnt like how dry her paper looked. Jeez. Only so much to say about mitosis at a grade apropos level. Wikipedia beckoned, but shed have to leave her spot. It was nice and cozy here, sinking into the carpet and the linoleum. Kinda comfy spot that made you wanna curl up for a lil catnap.
But, she had a paper to write.
But, fuck that.
Lanas head drooped until a couple of loose curls of black were stabbing her in the eyes. Ouch. Regret already strong. Promptly forgotten. She slid out her legs, flexed them a bit so she had an appreciable blood flow again.
Sputtering of a cars engine right outside the window. Looked like Mom was home. No need to evacuate Dunkirk yet, she could relax. It wasnt Ben whod be coming home, not for
hours? Probably hours. She could stay right where she was, long as she didnt like accidentally trip Mom when she was trying to come into the house or whatever.
Nice to have had the house to herself, if only for a few hours. The lock began to rustle.
Wait, fuck. Dishes. And, uh. Everything else in the house. Probably even that damn clunk ass vacuum cleaner that took two people to maneuver. Maybe Mom wouldnt care? Maybe run for the kitchen and pretend shed been-? No, that didnt make things any better. Goddamn cozy ass spot had let her down! Betrayed her, her Judas. No wait. Idea. She had her homework in hand. Non factor tree pulp. But she could always say shed been working on it. Oh hey Mom. Yeah, I was about to get on the cleaning, I was just finishing my homework for today. Teachers had no mercy, at all.
Wasnt even a lie. Shed had a lot of homework. It was just all already done. Before Cochises last bell had rung. Lanas head ran parallel cores for a few seconds, all scrambled up. Then the doorknob jumped with a rattle in its frame, with it jumped Lanas heart. Out of time, far too soon.
Operation bluff her ass off was a go.
Eventually. The door actually still wasnt open, Lana realized. How long was Mom going to have to wrestle with the lock to get inside? Lana could see it in her mind's eye, the usual scene. Ben and Lana rolling their eyes, Mom struggling with unsteady hands and dropped keys. Yeesh. What did wise men say? Some things never changed
The door finally opened, with a sound alien to the English language. Some kind of desperate, animal whine, straight out of those show em the meat grinder vegan promo documentaries like Earthlings, Meet your Meat, Our Daily Bread.
Something was wrong.
Lanas first fanciful worry was that Mom was pissed about the dishes. Hindsight came after, in one of those whimsically eternal moments where time itself seemed to be an afterthought. Or something contrived like that.
((Lana Fields continued in Sweet Talk))
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