I spent the next hour or so stewing and silently fuming. I ended up at my desk finishing my homework, except of course the science report. It required several days of class observations which I had only seen one on Wednesday, missing both Friday and Monday class. I had no clue what I was really supposed to write about, Wednesday seemed like months ago now. All I really remember was something about changing reactions and how he had ground sugar down then lit it on fire causing a big burst of flame and a dark gray mushroom cloud.
There had been several quiet knocks on my door from time to time all of which I had ignored. My stomach growled again but I ignored that too. Sighing and stretching I came up with the idea that I felt dirty, even though I had taken a show that morning after all the rummaging in the garage my fur had pickup loads of dirt and grime from the garage. I looked through my drawers for something to wear coming across the pair of ripped pants I had shoved in the bottom drawer of my dresser that were supposed to have gone to my parents room. I wondered for a moment if I should give them to dad or just toss them out. Slipping them back in I closed the drawer and found other clothes heading to the bathroom.
As I was stripping there was a polite knock on the bathroom door and a female voice that called my name. I quickly reached in and turned the water on before I peeled off my socks and stepped inside not wishing to deal with anyone yet. I admit I never really like taking showers all the wet fur is such a major pain. The difference this time I stood under the water letting it pound on my back with heat that was slowly seeping into my skin, I realized it felt good just let my body relax with the wash of water.
I pulled two big towels out of the cabinet and began a long process of drying and brushing out all my fur. I probably spent over an hour in the bathroom compared to my normal, what mom had dubbed, the fifteen minute sluice and fluff. I definitely felt clean and had sleek nearly glowing fur. Only on picture day was I this glossy. Pulling on a pair of jeans I gathered my clothes and towels and went back to my room to dump them in the hamper and finish dressing. When I finally arrived back to the living room I was surprised to see only James sitting on the couch watching some movie on T.V.
Watching me walk through he stated, "Julie just got here and everyones outside fussing over her baby and Lisa is now sulking in the back bathroom." He got up with the commercial and walked past me going to the hall and the bathroom while I considered what he said. Aunt Lisa was sulking... okay and Julie was here. Noted, and checked more invaders. I was shocked to still smell pizza when I went to the kitchen but the scent was not just some cheese, but a whole supreme smell.
In the kitchen I found four boxes stacked on the table but before I even got near I was told, "Don't you Dare!" I turned to see my aunt Yellow, yes Yellow her parents had actually named her that. Albert's wife fur color was cream, I could only guess that her fur had changed at some point after she was born, unless the name had some other meaning. Her fur was soaked down her arms as she was drying off a plate which she added to the stack on the sink counter. "We are all waiting and eating together for dinner so no picking."
I nodded and walked around her grabbing a glass from the over head cupboard and filling it with water from the sink before I chugged it down. I felt its heaviness drop into my empty stomach and refilled the glass going back towards my room. I had almost made it to the hall when I heard the front door crash open and the tail and back end of a tom that was carrying in some kind of playpen or something and quickly darted down the hall before I was drafted for more work.
I waited and waited still ignoring the two different times some one knocked on my door. There was a great deal of noise on the other side of my wall in the dining room but it wasn't until I heard the clunk of plates on the table nearly a half hour later that I got ready to leave. I gave them several more minutes waiting to see if someone was going to come back and tell me dinner was served but no one came. My three cousins were already chowing down in the living room seeming to be nearly done while the rest of my family and the two otters were taking the eight seats at the dinning room table all eating and chatting. I gave nods to Julie and her husband as they said polite hellos through food and went to the kitchen.
Shock and surprise, four empty pizza boxes.... Not even one piece remained unclaimed as I rechecked the four boxes. I did quick math looking at the box in front of me since from the grease I could tell the box contained eight slices. Eight times four is thirty two.... Divided by 12 should have been about two and a half or so but with eleven people each taking three there would be at least one left until I realized my mistake. Eleven times three is thirty-three meaning nothing left if everyone took three. I stepped back into the dining room and looked at the table, no serving tray so no pizza there were still several untouched slices in front of some of them but it seemed that most of what had been brought was totally devoured.
"You can eat in the living room or grab a chair and sit with us." By father spoke. 'Eat?' he didn't realize there wasn't anything to eat and sitting in the middle on the backside he was probably one of the first to sit down.
"Allen kids should be sitting in the living room not eating with adults." Lisa spoke in an almost lecturing tone. A rather audible spit/hiss came from the living room telling me Leanne did not consider herself a kid.
I checked the table one more time even though I knew what the results were. Looking through the fridge and freezer I found nothing really. We usually shop on the weekend and this one hadn't gone so well. All that was left to eat was questionable leftovers and the few frozen rocks I wasn't going to choke on while everyone else ate pizza. I grabbed one of the apples from earlier and dug my thick nails in squeezing and watching as its juice squirted out onto the shelf.
I closed the fridge and suddenly had the thought of reopening it just so I could slam it shut. They all wanted to eat as a family but didn't bother to make sure I got anything. With nothing but the apple and a strong scent of pizza I stomped back though the dining room. Conversation stopped by the time I entered the living room and the stomping of my paws was all I heard all the way back to my room. I turned and slammed my door way harder than I ever had before tilting my ears back to try to block most of the noise. Instead of closing it bounced back open so I had a chance to slam it closed again. This time it stayed shut and I stood there sucking on the mangled part of the fruit before biting in. I stood watching the door hoping someone would open it just so I could slam it on them, or throw the apple then slam it on them, or scream, throw the apple and slam it.
It took a few moments and most of the apple before there was a light knock at the door. "Ben?" Father fine, I took a step forward and reached out clicking the lock. As far as I was concerned all of them go go to hell right now! I could tell he was still on the other side and probably for once had no clue what to tell me or had he anything to say. I stood there listening carefully for like five minutes before I finally heard him move off down the hall.
My head was starting to pound and I squeezed my eyes shut, there was no way I was leaving my room even for some pain medication. If I was going to suffer then I would suffer all the way. I kicked off my shoes and laid down.
I cried some and cursed some. Mainly I just wanted all of them out of my house or maybe it was I wanted mom back so they wouldn't be here in the first place. But the part that still infuriated me the most was hearing Yellow tell me. "We're all going to eat together as a family." Well it seems first come first serve and screw the family were the way things really went.
I had dozed off and was startled awake by noised that I could tell weren't normal. A heavy click and bright light blasted in to the dim hole I was in. The shadow in the doorway was easy to recognize as my father. "Ben are you okay?"
"No." My voice was still thick and sounded somewhat choked as I tried to clear my throat. "Anything you want or need? My father asked.
I stopped for a moment it was mean, cruel and hurtful but I said it anyway, "You to leave." He stood for only a few seconds before backing out and quietly closing the door. I was awake now and could hear several low voices talking in the hall. I didn't care who it was it was far to late for an apology in my thoughts. Quietly I crept to the door 'CLICK' the lock sounded extra loud as I flipped the little knob.
Silence, maybe I could have almost smiled If I wasn't still felling like crap and my head pounding. That simple act of locking the door had totally shut them out in my mind and shut them up as well.
I peeled off the pair of jeans figuring my underwear was good enough for now and I went back to bed pulling the covers over myself. It was easily dark enough in my room to sleep but the constant different noises, thumps, and movement through the house kept me from drifting off and I ended up tossing and flopping around till at least one am or later so the alarm clock said.
Finally I suppose I dozed off because was suddenly looking at 5:12 in glowing numbers and I had to pee. Carefully getting up and as quiet as possible I crept to the bathroom and went, silently returning to my room. I was hungry, real gut pain hungry but knew there was no way to the kitchen with out waking several people up who were likely sleeping in the living room. Thinking hard I finally came up with what I thought was a good plan. I opened my window and, in nothing but the pair of jeans I had slipped back on, crawled outside.
It was easy once I had scrambled through the window to get around the house and make my way to the far side near the garbage cans. The door was still unlocked since I had not stopped to lock it the day before. I tried hard to be quiet as I closing the door and turned on the light on inside the pantry moving inside.
After a little searching I grabbed the flour and brown sugar tins along with the little can of baking powder then looked through the spices picking out the vanilla and banana flavorings along with cinnamon and the treasured ¼ bag of chocolate chips. I left the laundry room light on as I carried my load into the kitchen also flipping on the small light over the sink. Just enough light for me to cook with and hopefully not disturb anyone.
My first thought had been just to make a few pancakes and dash back to my room before the scent brought anyone. Then I realized it would make a far better point to make everyone breakfast and be sure there was enough for all. I pulled out milk, eggs, butter and the last few strips of bacon. Carefully and quietly I slowly pulled pans and pots out of the cupboard till I had the grill and a small frying pan. I let the bacon fry in the pan while mixing up batter adding a little banana extract and cinnamon to the mix adding just a small pawful of brown sugar at the end to make them sweeter.
I had the bowl and everything ready when I fumbled for a cup to get milk and try to wash the solid lump that was constricting my throat from a memory that had overwhelmed me. It had been over a year ago since my mother previous birthday that I had made a complete disaster. The night before her birthday mother and I had one of our first really big fights that had lead to her locking herself in her room not just sending me to mine. My father and I had talked later and he requested that I be extra nice and really try to make her birthday a happy memorable one.
I had gotten up early and cooked bacon and eggs for her breakfast but while trying to pour the batter on the grill for pancakes the bowl slipped spilling batter onto the range. It had also knocked the frying pan spilling grease out onto the range and starting a small but terrifying fire burning batter and grease and smoking like crazy. My mom walked into the kitchen with the smoke alarm blaring and me trying to pick up broken bits of ceramic mixing bowl that I had in my fright thrown at the fire causing the left over batter to smother the small flame.
She instantly began a yelling tirade about that, everything else from the previous day, and every other fault she could think of at the moment. I couldn't help but start crying I had already felt horrible from the evening before actually making my mother retreat to her room and my father who had a long conversation afterwards about being a real man. Add to that my screaming Mother and the fact that I was ruining her birthday before it had really even started made me feel that much worse.
Needless to say I was more than shocked when she had stopped to look at me kneeling on the floor amidst the mess heart sorry sobbing and even more surprised when she knelt down wrapping me up hugging me tightly and apologizing. We probably spent ten minutes crying together before she finally rose and tried to get me up and help clean. I insisted she start on her breakfast of bacon and eggs along with quickly made toast while I cleaned up the mess. She spent an entire hour in the kitchen just watching me work my tail scrubbing the burnt mess of the stove and even mopping the floor giving me a few words of encouragement and some advice at the end.
Back in the darkness of the kitchen I took that advice and found the smaller pitcher in the top cupboard above the sink and poured half the batter inside. I pushed the bowl to the back of the counter thinking that the mix in the pitcher and bowl would likely make about two dozen pancakes. I also had enough ingredients to make a second batch about the same size with vanilla flavoring. Pulling the near burnt bacon out, I loved crispy bacon and just before it burns is the best, I dropped them on to a plate I had set aside and let them cool. Draining just a little grease on to the grill that was now more than warm enough I poured out the first two pancakes extra large dropping a few chocolate chips on top. I cooked them both perfectly as I chewed on the first piece of bacon, light golden brown with dark chocolate spots. I quickly got a second plate putting it on the counter next to the stove and pushing the bacon plate to hard almost knocking it of with a crash that would surely alert the household. My quick reflexes had saved the bacon but my elbow had again knocked the frying pan causing a little grease to splash over the edge. With my breakfast secure I quickly turn to the sink for a rag to wipe up the little bit of grease.
Needless to say I stood there slightly stunned at the fact both plates were missing when I turned back around and the clink drew my eyes to the table where aunt Lisa had just set them pulling out a chair to sit down. "Hey that's mine!" I said trying to still keep my voice as quiet as possible hoping no one else showed up.
"Oh no worries you can certainly make more." She responded. "You have butter and syrup right?" she said looking at me, "Oh and some silverware as well." Resisting every single urge to yell, shout, scream, and throw a tantrum on the kitchen floor. I turned off the fire pushed the pitcher batter to the back of the range and as calmly and slowly as possible stepped down into the laundry room exiting the side door.
It was just getting light outside as I slipped past the garbage cans and ducked under the kitchen window stopping for a second when I realized there was now a second person in the room. The somewhat bigger frame made me believe it was one of my uncles, who reached out and likely grabbed the final piece of bacon off the table.
I turned in what was nearly a rage and tried stomping off only to step on some kind of stone or rock that was sharp enough to nearly cut into my pad, as pain raced up my leg I bit my lip to stay quiet. Taking more care, I limped till I reached the softer grass of the backyard. I walked most of the distance of the house before kinda flopped down to my chest and pressed the side of my muzzle to the grassy earth.
I made a bet with myself, well a sort of guarantee, that they would never even think to look for me until they had all eaten and the food was gone. I was planning on not moving from this spot until someone found me and asked me to have breakfast or what I felt was more likely, was that I would simply lay here until someone came outside and suddenly noticed that I was there. I was sure it would be somewhere along the lines of 'You know I haven't seen Ben yet *Burp *' The only hitch to all this would be my father. He'd probably go looking for me when he didn't see me around and in my mind I now decided that wouldn't count. There wasn't one person in that house who even cared that I was laying on the grass out back.
I just laid there until I was uncomfortable enough to have to roll onto my side. Dawn had passed and I could see lights now were on in my parents room behind the curtains. There was a loud thump and dishes settling that drew my attention since the didn't come from my house. The noise had come from next door not but a few feet away there were light shadowed movements on the lawn that I hadn't noticed. Shelly and her father were making some kind of breakfast in the kitchen. They were either up early or it was much later than I thought.
Totally ignoring my deal with myself I got up and crawled back through my window and with a bit of scrabbling ended up on the floor next to the nightstand. It was only 6:40 and if we went to school together it was usually around seven thirty but we could leave a little early today since I had all my homework to turn in. I quickly turned on the desk lamp and packed up the books and papers into my backpack adding anything else I though I might need for the day including extra writing paper and went to the dresser for clothes. Grabbing what ever was on top and dressing quickly I had everything set before I realized that it hadn't even been ten minutes.
If I showed up before seven Mr. Thaner would surely tell me to come back later and likely that would mean I'd have to wait all the way to seven thirty before we could go. I tried to sit patiently on my bed listening to the noises of the house around me, the murmuring from the kitchen side, a sudden slam of the bathroom door, and the rather loud noise that must be the television reporting the news.
I kept waiting, as usual time wanted to add its own personal form of torment as seconds stretched out and five minutes seemed like a half hour. Not being able to wait a moment more I grabbed my backpack and tossed it out the window, crawling out a few minutes before seven. Since I could tell that both Shelly and her dad were still in the kitchen I walked over to the back door instead of around to the front. I took the two steps up and was able to now see both sitting down at a small round table. Mr. Thaner was talking and a sideways profile of Shelly was nodding to his words.
My stomach growled looking at the table with the extra slices of toast and what were probably bowls of cereal. With a light tap on the window that startled both of them Mr. Thaner quickly got up and yanked the door open. "What are you doing here?" The words were gruff but I didn't sense the usually growl behind them.
"Well I was going to head to school early and turn in my homework. I was wondering if Shelly wanted to walk to school with me." I could see his lips twitch a few times almost like he wanted just to tell me to leave and slam the door. The groaning creak came from behind the big canine as Shelly pushed her chair under the table.
"I'll go get ready." She spoke darting from the room before her father even had time to glance at the clock on the wall. Mr. Thaner stepped back heading to the wall and the phone while pointing at me and a chair as he finished dialing mumbling something I couldn't hear.
I quietly close the door and sat down facing away from him waiting to see what was going to happen. I guess everyone had allowed the phone to ring and ring until my father finally picked up because it was quite a while before he spoke saying, "Is Ben supposed to be here?"........ "He has his backpack talking about going to school.".......... "Breakfast?..." I felt as his eyes turned to look at me. I couldn't stop the simple reaction of my head dipping down and my ears laying flat. He grumbled a few more things before hanging up and sitting back down in his place picking up a piece of toast and biting in.
"So you cooked pancakes?" I nodded. "They say they were very good." I nodded again inside the words made me twist but sitting there in front of him they seemed to have very little effect. "To hungry for some toast?" I glanced over at the plate and took one slice hoping my stomach wouldn't start growling like a small jet engine. Before I had finished the slice Mr. Thaner had taken the last one and began cleaning up the table. When he had the dishes were on the counter he spoke, "Your dad didn't know you left the house." I kept still as the water started running in the sink. "It would be bad to make your father worry for no reason. I don't, won't allow you to show up here again like that."
"Okay." I mumbled.
The water stopped and Mr. Thaner took several steps toward the table glaring at me, "You got some problem? You angry with your father or something." I sat for a moment and then suddenly realized I wasn't going anywhere until he some answer that was acceptable.
I took a deep breath to start in but at that moment Shelly walked back in dropping her backpack on the floor drawing both our attention. I could see her looking back and forth between me and her father wondering what exactly was going on with him looming over the table. "They are all over there, they didn't even know I left, it's like they don't care. I just... didn't want to be around them." I had tried to explain but I just ended up shaking my head realizing how stupid I sounded.
Mr. Thaner pulled out a chair and sat down, "And?" It was a prompt for more like he could tell I was hiding something.
"I wanted to yell, scream, tell them they are pissing me off." I had raised my voice some almost hoping for a challenge now that I wanted to vent.
His smile caught me off guard. "Good! In two ways, first your left rather than cause a problem, means your growing up. And good because I think you'd be stupid not to get upset with some of your family." He looked at the clock and I followed his gaze. Seven twenty I was surprised at how time had vanished this time, "Alright you two, off to school have a good day. And Behave!" He spoke sharply as an afterthought. I grabbed my backpack and nearly fled passing Shelly but waiting for her at the front door as she took nearly a minute to leave the kitchen.
The twenty minute walk to school seemed short. Shelly and I talked about the end of the school term and I gave her the few hints I had about passing the third tier. She brought up my mom once just kinda carefully, "So do you know what extra chores your gonna do, her chores?" My only answer was a head shake. I had no clue but I realized there was still a pile of my clothes on the washer waiting to be done.
Shelly had slowed down hand in her backpack questing for something. "Here take this." She handed over something blue. It was a small kerchief not silly or frilly just a small square of light blue cloth. I wasn't sure if I should take it, I wasn't even sure if I wanted it. "Dad gave me lots and told me, 'Don't need to come home just to wipe away tears or rub off some snot.'" I folded it and shoved it into my pocket. I didn't really want it but I felt this was a gift and I would accept it because it was the meaning behind it. She was trying to help me out already knowing what I was going to have to go through.
Guys aren't really supposed to cry even though I was always told it was good to cry if you have a decent reason to and I had one, one of the best, but I suddenly realized it would be better to have a way to wipe away tears than have wet fur showing that you'd been crying.
A quick round at the teachers lounge and checking in two classes had all my homework returned to the teachers with the exception of the dreaded science paper which I tried to just forget about. Only two of my teachers inquired about my absence and I told them I had been rather sick. The only one to question further had been Ms. Ashton "Seriously sick?"
"I spent three days in the hospital." I answered truthfully.
"Then why are you back at school already?" She demanded.
"As long as I take it easy I will be fine." I replied. After taking a seriously long look inspecting every part of me she could she told me to go straight to the nurse if I felt at all funny.
It wasn't until first period that I started getting little twinges of hunger again. I asked for a bathroom pass and was let out of class for a few minutes early. Taking several long swallows at the fountain I was able to quiet my stomach and take a leisurely walk to my next class. It seemed that trick didn't work very long as my stomach started grumbling not even twenty minutes into the next class and I asked to use the bathroom again. After drowning myself and feeling bloated with water I returned to class. The remark from Mr Lenord was if I was trying to make some record for the fastest bathroom break coming back just a few minutes later instead of the usual five plus most students took. The fact was the fountain was right around the corner were the mens bathroom was at the far end of the hall.
Well water, water and the fact that I really hadn't been to the bathroom for hours had me needing to go badly before the class was over making me wiggle and my tail twitched erratically behind me. Catching my teacher attention and learning the problem he stated. "No Ben I have never given two passes to a student in one class."
"Potty boy!" the jeer came from somewhere behind me. "Honestly Ben did you go earlier?" He asked.
"What exactly did you do then?" My teacher questioned. Whether I wanted to or not I was going to have to explain to someone or at least my friends why I had been gone for several days.
"I drank some water I umm.. Didn't bring a bottle with me." Maybe Mr Lenard thought I was making some joke in his class because he started to become upset.
"Water.. You went for water." The tone was one that had the entire class silent and still.
Thinking fast I reached a quick solution. "Yes, Doctors orders, and I was very thirsty." He began tapping his pen on the desk top something he usually did to alert us time was almost up whether for a test or the end of class.
"How exactly is it doctors orders, some note or something I'm sure?"
"No, I was in the hospital for three days and was running a fever of almost 108. When I left on Sunday it was rest and water, orders directly from the doctor. I was bored at home so I promised Dad to take it easy and drink lots.... but I forgot a water bottle." I finished explaining figuring a bit of lying would likely help.
"Really 108 temp and nothing happened?" Mr Lenord had a snide little smile and a sarcastic tone that I'm sure had several of the other students grinning.
"No, I umm.." I looked strait at him taking a second to gather myself. "It was three ice baths and I was totally unconscious on Saturday. They weren't sure if I would wake up at first or if there was any serious damage." His frown when I looked at him faded as I spoke. Then he seemed to spend the same moment that Ms. Ashton spent examining me.
"You probably shouldn't be in school." He spoke quietly.
"The doctor said I could go back Wednesday as long as I took it easy. Also I have no wish to repeat the tier so I can't miss any more school." I tried squeezing my legs shut suddenly feeling the pressure build for a moment before I started to wiggle again.
Mr. Lenord had stood up sliding a few books on the shelf behind him and pulling out a thick plastic orange bottle. "Take this and hurry up and go. I expect you back before the class ends."
Running down the hall I made it to the restroom and was still shaking while relieving my over full bladder. I filled the bottle at the sink and took a long slow sip still feeling my body almost quake as I started a quick walk back to class. I made it back with one minute left hearing Mr Lenord tapping out on the desk signaling his students to start packing up.
Even as the bell rang several students were pressing me about my illness, "Did you really almost Die?" The question was asked that stopped everyone to listen for the answer.
Taking a breath I answered, "Yes they weren't sure what was going to happen on Friday night."
"Wow dude you know...."
"Ben... I'll need to talk to you for a few minutes after everyone has left." It was a clear dismissal for anyone not named Ben. With all the students moving out I stepped forward and took the first seat in the row.
There were still a few students moving for the door when Mr. Lenord started, "Ben, bored or not, doctors approval or not, even worrying about failing a tier I don't think you should be in school. You seem worn and I can tell you've lost some weight, you face even looks pale and drawn."
Worn that felt like a good name at the moment. It was as if his words had made the truth known and I felt weak and almost shaky. "I'm asking you to stay here till the break is over, then head to you next class." I just nodded fifteen minutes here wasn't a problem and my next class was just two rooms down. I took a sip from the bottle and leaned back into the desk.
It seemed the time pasted quickly and as I picked up my backpack to leave Mr. Lenord asked, "Do you have any activities classes?" I shook my head, "You should sit down for the entire lunch time. When you leave the cafeteria find somewhere quiet to sit if you need to come back here." I nodded again and left.
Third class went smoothly until I started feeling hot and flush. I asked for a bathroom pass and Ms. Ashton didn't even ask a question only as I stood my legs were so shaky I could barely make it a few feet before I nearly stumbled catching myself on a neighboring desk still trying to make it to the front of the room. It was like I could suddenly feel my heart pound out and a humming started around me muffling the question the teacher posed. I realized I was on my knees staring at the floor and then on my side, something was wrong... again... but it was totally different a new sickness or problem as things seemed to grow quiet.
I was yanked to my feet and propelled out of the class. I thought maybe I had passed out since it was Mr. Lenord's strong arms that were tucked under my own keeping me upright. When we were in the hall I stumbled and almost fell before it felt for a moment like I started flying until I realized the bouncing motion meant I was being carried. As the movement continued things started to spin more and then darkness.
There was a horrible harsh burning in my nose that seemed to be creeping back into my throat. I fought to paw at what was in front of me struggling to sit or roll away.
"BEN, Stay still!" It was a command coming from a voice that I recognized that seem to bring up many things including my cooperation. "Now open your eyes." I did blinking back watery tears as my nose still seem to burn but I did now have a paw at my muzzle that could rub and try to clear out the scent. The taste seemed to be in my mouth too, like an acid that lingered on my tongue.
"Lea there is no answer do I need to call the ambulance?" Asked a voice outside the range of my current vision.
"No I don't think that's necessary at the moment. There is no temperature and he's awake." Lea or to students Mrs. Lea Hoepins the school's Nurse, guidance counselor, therapist, and mother figure. She was ready for all the roles and was as likely to bandage a cut as to tell you how foolishly stupid you were being. "Don't sit up yet." She removed the strong reptilian hand that had been at my chest preventing me from rising.
Giving me another minute she asked, "Can you tell me where you are?"
Still blinking away a little extra water I answered, "The health and wellness rooms." Actually it was an entire building several dozen room able to handle most things like a full out rip apart fight, an unexpected heat, or total mental meltdown. Mrs. Hoepins had a five well trained staff that could easily have second jobs at hospital or heath institutions.
"Water?" I asked.
She moved away speaking, "Mr. Lenord said you came to school when you shouldn't have simply because you didn't want to repeat a tier." It wasn't a question more like a statement of conviction, guilt, and sentencing. Having been with her through several therapy sessions I closed my eyes and tried to think out better answers than I had given my teacher. "Sit up slowly."
I sat up opening my eyes and reached out to grab a hold of the water glass as my stomach decided to give a small rumble. It was a stern eyeridge lowering scowl she gave as she pulled a metal stool over the bed and sat down. "Just a few sips only." She instructed keeping a tight hold on the glass as I moved it to my lips. The first sip was to wash out the remaining bitter taste and the second was two large gulps I got in before she pulled the glass away. "So what exactly is going on."
I shook my head in answer that was way to broad of a question. Mrs. Hoepins snapped her jaw shut making a very audible popping noise that had most students jump but since I had heard it many, many times before I didn't react. "Very well from the beginning." I shook my head again.
We had played this round about game several times before when I was asked to see her for some therapy/counseling. She wanted me to just spill it all out but I was only going to give her pieces to the right questions she asked.
"Lea is everything okay?" I was surprised by another voice and more so to see the school director.
"For the moment I am working out what is wrong. Now Ben..... Aahhh," my stomach had gurgled again as she began talking. "Ben when was the last time you ate?"
A simple question that fell with in our made up rules that meant I had to answer. "This morning."
"And you had....?" "A piece of toast and one piece of bacon." I answered keeping my voice bland. She waited for a moment expecting more but that had been all I had eaten.
"I see, and was no one making anything for breakfast this morning?" I almost shuddered. She was good with instincts that could ferret out the truth usually in a few questions.
"I was making pancakes." I stated.
"Really?" her tone was actually surprised, "What happened?" To big, I shook my head to which she popped her jaw closed again firing like a small cap gun. The director I assume had maybe seen something like this before had stepped into the room and stood near the end of the bed letting his bulky goat body take a strong stance.
"Son if someone is abusing you or hurting you speak up now!" He didn't know the rules but that question I could not let hang. "No, no and NO!"
"Ben what did you have for dinner last night?" See I told you she was good. "Apple!"
"I see and what was supposed to be for dinner." I gave just the slightest twitch at the thought, "...Pizza."
Mrs. Hoepins sat for a moment considering, "Ben look at me please." I turned staring at her, "Is something wrong?" Big, but I nodded. "Very wrong?" Nod. "When was the last time you ate a full meal."
"Yesterday morning. Dad and I had breakfast together, Bacon and eggs with lots of bacon. Jam and toast." I replied
"Was there any lunch?" I could see she was working things out and next she would be hammering out what the details were.
"Sandwiches that Dad made and pizzas that I made."
"And you didn't eat any?" Again there seemed to be a surprised tone to her voice.
I couldn't help the fact my anger got the better of me and answered with more than I should, "There wasn't any Pizza!... or sandwiches to eat! They ate it all!"
"Hmmm." With that she stood and moved out into the hall. The director was still staring at me picking fluff off his brown suit and giving a little head bob that had his large curled horns move the shadows at the end of the bed. After a few seconds started, "You know that..."
"Let him be." Mrs. Hoepins voice came from the hall, "This is about way more than food." I simply nodded. "Ben there is no answer at your house any idea why?" She was breaking the rules deliberately or otherwise. From where she was she couldn't see me shake my head yes or no as we had agreed upon.
I looked at the clock seeing the time I knew why there was likely no answer at my house, unless some one had done some quick shopping there was no way my house could feed everyone again. Deciding to answer I spoke. "Lunch maybe."
"Ahh and were is your lunch I wonder?" She asked walking back in the door.
"I left with out one." It would sort of be a wasted effort if I tried to keep that fact hidden she already knew I hadn't eaten.
"You left the house with out a real breakfast or taking a lunch with you." I nodded, "And you haven't eaten a real meal since yesterday morning." Again I nodded. She approached with a plate which had half a sandwich a piece of granola bar and two slices of apple. "EAT!" I started with the sandwich with out a thought of argument. Just a simple cheese and lettuce on wheat dry but I was hungry. After two bites she saw my glance at the glass and picked it up as she sat down.
"Mr. Lenord said you were sick..." Nod, "Hospital sick..." Nod, "Short and simple tell me what happened and you get the glass." I put out my hand for the glass and she passed it over, nothing wrong with a little deal especially since we had made a few before.
"Thursday, I collapsed, ambulance took me to the hospital." I chewed a bit more. "Had a temp of hundred and eight so ice baths. I was unconscious till Saturday............... Sunday I went home. Monday I drank a lot and rested." We both knew that I wasn't telling the whole story but she had asked about me being hospital sick so that was what I stuck with.
"Woah kid you were lucky." Said one of the male staff from the door. "There's still no answer at the house."
"It's fine it seems they might be out to lunch, maybe." She stated. I could still see her working out details especially with her stress on word they she had obviously picked out something.
"So he collapsed from not eating and being sick." The director stated seeming like the whole thing was clear now.
"Nope more than that. He's upset because he might not pass the tier." Mrs. Hoepins said catching another of the clues and linking it in. I had even shook my head slightly which she also caught. "Ben you want to talk about school?" Our fifth rule total subject change which meant all previous questions and answers were to be dropped or ignored.
"Are you worried about failing the tier?" she asked simply.
"Yes, I am." Her looked changed slightly to puzzlement likely thinking back to what she could remember of my past grade evaluations. "Why? Are you failing your classes?"
"Maybe math a little but I don't think so." I answered.
"Then why would you fail?" I almost shook my head since that answer would require more than something simple but after a few seconds went forward.
"Dad said I wouldn't be allowed to pass if I missed any more school days." It was a set up but there was no way to stop it.
"You're here today and with a good meal and rest you can be here tomorrow." I strongly shook my head taking the last bite of apple feeling a creeping sense of sadness that seemed to slowly rise up my back. "You can't be here tomorrow?" I had already finished the sandwich and apples but dropped the granola piece I had just picked up pushing the plate away. There was a lump in my throat now and the few sips of water I had left couldn't clear it.
She had me tagged, she hadn't realized it yet but I knew she did. The clock on the wall gave a slight hum drawing everyone but my attention, fourth class had ended and lunch was beginning. Looking back at me she asked, "Are you going to miss other days?" I nodded. "And next week?" just a shrug although that was against the rules.
I was feeling sort of tingly again and flush as Mrs. Hoepins took the glass away and guided me to lay down. "You know there are other ways of passing tiers, are you sure you're not failing any classes?" I didn't answer.
Instead the director spoke. "If there are good reasons for you to be absent we can make up time even get you over to Borddon school, you can make up the time or lessons during break."
"I think being in the hospital for a few days counts." Mrs. Hoepins added
"Yes that would, but why is he going to be missing more days?" The director not even playing our game had picked up on the conversation.
"Why indeed?" this was it..... "Ben why will you miss classes tomorrow?" Laying down had done nothing to ease the lump in my throat and as I opened my mouth it suddenly felt like a balloon. What I had tried to say came out as nothing but a gurgle.
"Ben you said something was wrong, very wrong?" a weak nod, "Something at home is very wrong?" nod and eyes squeezed shut trying to keep the water out. "Something is wrong with your family."
She had it we both knew she did and I tried to keep from crying, "Dad.... Mom.." Nod. "Is she in the hospital?" Shake. "Is it wor..." Nod nod nod. I was crying now still squeezing my eyes shut but the tears were leaking out the edges. "Oh Ben I am sorry." She had sat back down and grabbed my muzzle turning my head. "Ben I need you to look at me and answer one question." I opened my eyes to a blurry world and tried to focus on the form in front of me. "Are you starving yourself on purpose. Are you trying to injure or harm yourself?" I tried to shake my head but she had such a tight grip that I couldn't even twitch with out moving my body instead. "Ben this is very serious you need to say it."
With that she let go and my head seemed to flop to the pillow. "No" I croaked. "No what Ben?" She prompted. "No I wasn't trying to hurt myself." She looked me over again taking careful note on exactly how I looked.
"It is very important, as important if someone were actually hurting you. If you are not trying to cause yourself harm by not eating then why exactly didn't you eat?" Her voice had changed to one of those commanding modes again dropping the gentle prodding of the therapist and stepping into the motherly mode which required the truth.
"They ate it all." The admission still drew anger forth even with tears in my eyes in fact it only seemed to make it worse. "They?" The answer came out as a hiss to her question, "MY Family!"
"So they ate all the pancakes." I shook my head which seemed to be starting to pound slightly.
"No, I made the batter and two big pancakes for myself. When my back was turned she took them and I got mad!" I explained.
"You started an argument yelling and screaming." I shook my head which really made her pause, "Really??" She said shocked.
"I left." I stated simply.
"What else?" She asked. "They ate pancakes I stayed outside." I replied.
"Where was your Dad?" I shrugged, against the rules or not it was the best answer. "Tell me about the Pizza."
I had tried to growl but it came out as more of a groan as it seemed much of my anger drained away leaving me feeling weak. "They ate it, it was supposed to be a family meal and they ate it." I finally got out.
"Why where were you?" She had a hand on my arm gently rubbing down as I just laid there.
"In my room. I came out and they were all eating. I went to the kitchen and there was none left."
"They didn't get enough?" She asked the question that probably should have gotten me a little riled but there seemed to be nothing left.
"Four pizzas." "How many people?" "Eleven well twelve with me."
"Two to three each," I nodded. "Did you say anything?" Shake. "Why not?"
"It doesn't matter they didn't care." I told her.
"That Ben I find hard to believe." She told me.
"Really? They scarfed down everything at lunch and didn't even bother to save me a slice. No one apologized or even offered me something else to eat. Besides I wasn't allowed to even touch it because it was going to be a family meal. I was better off with the apple in my room. There wasn't even really a spot at the table anyway." I had gotten it all out in several rushes taking deep breaths in between. She gave a sigh and followed it with her jaw pop. I tried to figure out what did she was upset about but it seemed that Mrs. Hoepins simply didn't approve of how I spoke.
"Miss your not allowed in here step out." I could hear the directors voice but it was the second voice of, "BEN!" That had me jerk and sit up fast.
"Shelly?" She was standing just inside the doorway looking at me. "Miss out now." the director said getting in between us.
"No wait." I called out. He barely glanced my way before looking to Lea who nodded causing the director to step aside.
"Are you okay?" She asked and I just shook my head. She seemed to have a great deal of confidence walking across the room and stepping next to Mrs Hoepins leaning over the bed to give me a hug which I quickly returned.
"Here sit." She said grabbing Shelly's shoulders and moving her onto the stool. "Are you two related some how?"
I only sat there as Shelly answered, "No were neighbors." She had moved her hands down the blanket pulling it aside and getting a hand into my pants.
"MISS!" the director was moving forward immediately seeing the seriously inappropriate interaction as Shelly yanked the blue kerchief from my pocket and began wiping the tears out of my wet fur. "Shelly that is not something you should be doing." He stated firmly.
She stopped and turned looking at the school's director, "Dad says it's okay."
"Your father??" He sounded incredulous.
"I'm allowed to hug or help so long as some adult is present. He's been having a hard time and I know what it's like. I'll stop if you tell me to." She added.
"So then your mother died?" Shelly nodded to Mrs. Hoepins question handing me the kerchief and returning her hands to her lap. "Is your father home now?" With another nod the nurse had gone to the phone at the door asking for the phone number to her house.
As she pressed in the numbers she gave off a pop that had Shelly jump as she had reached out a hand to place on my arm quickly pulling it back. "Your last name?" She demanded suddenly. "Thaner." Shelly answered.
We both listened as Lea began speaking, "Hello yes, Mr. Thaner? This is Lea Hoepins the nurse at the school. First your daughter is just fine... well this is actually about Ben.... Well he collapsed in class today. Evidently he hasn't been eating anything but bits in more than twenty-four hours..... Yes well it seems he hasn't, he is also exhausted, I'm guessing he hasn't slept well... Yes I just found that out. I needed to ask a favor of you. We haven't been able to reach the Kalson residence and I can only assume they are out. I am asking you if you can take Ben home give him a good meal and have him rest till his father comes home.... Yes well.... Of course we will see you shortly."
She returned the receiver to the cradle, "Now Shelly." She jumped, while Mrs. Hoepins had been talking I had laid down and closed my eyes and Shelly had grabbed my paw. "I want to know what happened, Ben hasn't told me much except he was sick and that his mom died." Shelly squeezed my hand and I returned it as best as possible. She gave another squeeze with a little tug making me open my eyes and look over. Her gaze was intense gripping my paw and I guessed trying to get my permission so I nodded and squeezed back getting a small nod and a smile in return.
She kept my hand and turned ready to speak when the nurse interrupted. "Simple, quick, and easy. We don't need the entire story just let us know what happened."
With a nod Shelly started, "Well Mrs. Kalson collapsed on Wednesday and they took her to the hospital. Ben wasn't at school Thursday and I was gonna just stop and check if there was news but he never answered the door. I went inside and I couldn't wake Ben up at first. I mean I tried and it.."
"Shelly." She was interrupted, "Short, simple." It took Shelly a few breaths but after that she began outlining the simple details and was interrupted on Monday after noon when it was reveled my mother had cancer.
"Cancer. You just don't die from that it take a while before.." The director had started but I had croaked out. "Two years."
The room was silent. "Two years Ben. You've been fighting with her all this time." Mrs Hoepins started.
"Ben didn't know till Monday." Shelly stated again. "Ben's mother and father knew but they didn't tell him."
"But that's crazy she could have put you in home school and you could have spent more time together as a family. Two years is a long time." The director stated.
"She wanted a normal family." Shelly explained, "She wanted Ben to have a normal life and not worry about her or anything."
"Two years." Mrs. Hoepins stated again. Making even more connections. "That's when your fights started. Your mother was quite the lady but she should have told me I could have helped out and maybe even prepared you for this." She gave a little grimace as more things seemed to catch and fall in place. "Your aunt took your pancakes."
I sat up slightly on an elbow wondering where that had come from while nodding a confirmation. "You mother once told me that she could be just a bit vane but it was a mild case compared to her sisters selfishness. I'm surprised she didn't have you butter them as well the way your mother tells it." I had kept nodding the whole time she made her assumptions only adding in, "I left."
*Pop * "So tomorrow the funeral?" Nod, "and Friday."
"Friday is a family day everyone is going to stick around." I said sitting up fully and seeing Mrs. Hoepins make a motion for me to sit up I did now seeming to feel a bit better. Shelly stood up as well and before I realized what was happening she sat next to me on the bed giving me a hug. I could hear the director shuffle at the end of the bed but he said nothing as the nurse moved the stool back a bit and sat down.
"Ben we will check with your teachers today and see what we can do about your classes and final testing weeks." As the director finished he stepped to the doorway pausing to ask Lea a final question. "Are you sure its going to be alright sending him to another house?"
"It's right next door and I know the family some so it would be alright. Also Mr. Thaner did sound rather upset to hear Ben had collapsed. I'm sure its fine." She stated again watching as the ram gave a firm nod before exiting.
Mr. Thaner seemed to arrive quickly. Although it was just a twenty minute walk or short drive to the school it felt like only a couple of minutes before I was hustled into the back seat with Shelly still holding my hand. Mrs. Hoepins final instructions had been simple, 'Food then rest.' to which the large canine grunted and affirmative.
I watched out the window as the familiar streets and corners went by until the last corner pulling in at the third house instead of the fourth. I took my time getting out and going in Shelly waiting at the door patiently till I was finally inside and watching as I sat on the couch in their front room. Whether by some quietly spoken word or just her fathers knowledge Shelly had stood near the couch and we waited a few minutes till he returned to the room carrying a bowl with left over casserole inside.
As I started digging in Mr. Thaner asked, "What's this about you not eating?" I just grunted but before I could take another bite his arm had reached out and stopped me. "Ben you are in my house, eating my food, sitting on my couch. The least you could do is tell me why."
Although it was considered rude of course I kept eating while talking explaining how lunch had gone the day before. "We heard you slam the door." Shelly put in as I got to that part.
"The first time or the second?" She shrugged at my question and I explained how I had slammed not once but twice and how my father had just stood there. I received a huge scowl a few second later when I had told them that I made my father leave my room that night but when I was finished talking about the evening and it seemed the food was too.
As I stared down at an empty bowl Shelly reached out and took it stepping back only to say that it was really wrong to be mean to my dad since he was probably feeling worse than I was. "Well like he said sometimes we hurt others when we hurt." I told her retreating back as she went to the kitchen.
"And the pancakes?" Mr Thaner prompted while she was gone. I told him how I snuck out the window and everything that had happened until I knocked on his door. "You have a temper worse than your mother. And at times you are as foolishly kind as your father." He gave the simple assessment as I stared at him. "But neither of them would have been as utterly stupid as you were this morning!" I didn't now why but I felt ashamed at his words. Shelly had come back from the kitchen and was just watching hearing her fathers rough tone.
"Lay down, try to get some sleep and Ben don't ever come to my back door being stupid. You should have told me everything this morning. If you can't... or won't talk with your father you need to find someone else." With that he walked out leaving me staring at Shelly until she left the room too.
She came back a few minutes later to toss a blanket on me and left again leaving me laying there to think. At least that was what I had planned. For the second time, the first being the few hours before my father broke into my room I slept soundly with no real dreams or disruptions I was woke again by my father shaking me. I took my time stretching out and slowly sitting up while he waited.
My Dad rarely ever had trouble showing his feelings no matter were we were but as we looked at each other he very carefully reached out a hand and pat my head once before pulling it back. With a sorta half smile he said, "Let's go home okay."
I stood up and Shelly jumped forward giving me a hug which I gladly returned squeezing her as tight as I could for just a moment before letting go even though I could hear her fathers grunt. When we were almost out the door I heard Mr. Thaner call out to me, "Don't be stupid Ben." The walk back was of course quick and gave me no time to think so I just quickly passed the bodies in the living room and headed for my bedroom.
Only when I opened the door to my room it wasn't solitude I found. James along with Lisa's youngest twins Mitchell and Mathew, who were ten, were all in my room. Sleeping bags and several toys were scattered on the floor and the boys were gathered around a monopoly board that was also on the carpet.
"Guess what, Guess what!" The twins chimed together while one continued, "We're all gonna sleep here." and the other added, "We can stay up all night!"
"No your not, grab your stuff and get out." Probably not the best way to say it but James was the first to react rather quickly.
"Heck no." He said, "You can share. NO way am I sleeping in the living room with everyone else again."
"You can have the garage." I told him firmly while the twins looked seriously upset. I pulled my door open all the way and yelled out into the house. "DAAADD!"
Mit and Mat were both frowning but James had made a motion to keep them both seated while he mutter out, "Dream on."
My father was quick to the summons and with a glance around the room spoke, "James I already told you not to put your stuff in here." There were several other bodies that had moved into the hallway brought by my shout. "Mitchell and Mathew please gather your stuff we'll move my car and set up the garage. We have cots and.."
"What? Why the heck doesn't he have to share? A whole room all to himself and we get shoved in the garage?" James was at a near whine upset with the injustice.
"He's right Allen even you are sharing." One of the voices in the hall spoke.
"NO!" Dad's voice was loud and firm enough to be heard by all. "Ben asked for one thing when Lucy died but to be allowed his room for his own space. If you wanted other people staying in your room when your mother died watching you cry or being upset than that would be your choice. Ben gets his own room." The words were final and got no response but James who muttered throwing his sleeping bag over his shoulder and kicking monopoly pieces as he pushed his way out into the hall. Mat and Mit both gathered their stuff and quietly followed behind. I nodded to my father as he took the door handle and closed the door leaving me to myself.
Turning around I took a step and heard the crunch of a plastic hotel being crushed under my shoe. I spent the next twenty minutes or so cleaning up monopoly pieces, putting toys away, and cleaning up my room in general. I was feeling a little bad about Mit and Mat who seemed really upset at having to leave my room so I pulled out my football and headed into the hall.
As soon as I stepped out of my room I realized Dad and aunt Lisa were arguing at the end of the hall. "It's just like you. You don't need both!" She spoke loudly.
"Lisa the Suburban is barely running and the car is much easier to drive." Dad spoke back.
"Right so we can fix your truck and I'll have Lucy's car." I was shocked but only for a few seconds before I started feeling angry.
"Lisa its not..." "Don't try to get out of it this time!" She spoke out loudly interrupting him, "We are going to settle this now." Maybe it was the way she had raised her voice or maybe the fact that I did kinda hear a little bit of mom in her voice but either way it totally set me off.
"Then the answer is no, Hell no!" Both adults looked down the hall at me. "You think you can come here and take my mom's car. That's probably the one place where its easiest to see her."
"Ben this is an Adult conversation. You can't even drive so mind you manners." She told me making a shooing motion towards my room.
It was fury plain and simple, I held nothing back as I dropped the ball and stormed down the hall. "Listen Bitch!" Even I shocked myself when the word came out but there were still several more following behind it, "My mother funeral isn't eve over and your trying to take what's not even yours!"
"Ben that is Enough!" My father said actually raising his voice some.
I looked over at him, "Quiet DAD!" For the first time ever I watched as he closed his mouth and took a step back standing against the wall. I felt power, heat surging through me over the fact out little exchanged ended just like that, I had Won!!
I turned back to Lisa as she started saying, "You obviously don't KNOW or CARE what family is about you can't...."
"SHUT UP!" I roared, "It's because your family that I don't grab you and toss you out the front door!." I had been watching her tail flick back and forth behind her as it kept drawing my attention. I had timed it perfectly snatching it out of the air and gripping it hard.
*Hissss * "HOW DARE..." She had raised her arm flexing her fingers spreading them out. Not claws but still strong nails that could tear fur and gouge out skin sometimes even muscle.
My voice felt like steel as I lowered the volume and spoke firmly, "Do it and I will put you in the same hospital bed my mom was in." It wasn't a dare but and outright promise to which she spat out again not lowering her arm. "You get Nothing! All you can do is take and I've given you enough." I released her tail and turned to storm away before I really did do something that might require stitches or worse.
I stopped dead after a full pace realizing the entire living room was full with every seat taken including some of the dining chairs and a few bodies that stood in my way. "Allen, you control your child! Lucy would never have allowed him to act this way." I started moving again as people quickly stepped aside and out of my way.
"You're right. But maybe you should apologize to Ben first." I heard Dad say.
Somehow it seemed like forever trying to get across the living room, "You.... WHAT?" She said in a shocked surprise.
"Yes, you just upset the sole inheritor of Lucy's estate." I had stopped a few feet into the dining room realizing what my father had just said. "You can't mean..." I heard her quiet gasp clear across the dead silent room.
"Yes." My father said again, "Lucy wanted to make sure Ben was fully taken care of everything she owned is his, Everything." It was too much, I ran for the back door and fled outside. I dropped to my hands and knees when I made it to the grass panting. I was shaking and numb and tingly and flush and more all at the same time.
The argument had been a thrill I had felt such power even though I was afraid I might actually hurt her but realizing everyone saw had been a shock that I felt I needed to deal with but had not really cooled the fire inside nor the rush of adrenalin. The problem was my fathers words had been like a double bucket of ice water being dumped on me leaving me frozen now I wasn't sure what to do as the sudden horrifying thought that I now needed to take care of all of my mothers possessions.
"Ben." I didn't answer. I had no clue who it even was. "Ben take a seat I want you to meet Jewel."
"Jewel?" I asked flopping to my side rolling to sit. It was Amber my cousin who gently placed a near one year old into my lap. "Ben this is Jewel, you haven't seen her yet." This was another shock piled on top but an entirely different type.
She had some toy jammed in her mouth and was blinking in the outside sunlight as I let my hands steady her on my legs. She reached up and grabbed a hold of my arm while the other hand suddenly latched on to my muzzle. "Hey." I muttered as she started pulling the fur on my lips. I tried to use my hands to turn her and she leaned in pressing herself against my chest. "Umm, Jewel."
"Its fine she loves being cuddled no matter who it is, well as long as its feline." She informed me with a little chuckle. I could tell she was trying to purr or grumble in her throat as she rubbed her face and muzzle against my chest and under my chin. "Just like your dad. If your not careful she will latch onto you and we'll have to pry her off." That didn't matter at the moment as I hugged Jewel and gently rocked us back and forth wishing I could squeeze tighter.
"Noma" I heard something like that as the toy dropped out of her mouth when I moved to scritch her head and she snuggled up right under my chin.
"By the way Ben good job." I sat there puzzled, ya Jewel seemed content but was it that good? She continued helping me figure it out, "Telling mother off like that... it was just what was needed and probably something your mother would have done. Although she would have done it in private and you did take it just a tad to far." I stared at Jewel's ears watching them flick occasionally as I slowly scritched and pet her head. It wasn't like I could say much in my defense.
"She's right Ben." I hadn't even noticed my father till he spoke. "I want to say that in my house, or I should say our home, I never want to hear you ever use language like that again."
"Even if they really deserve it?" I mumbled loud enough to be heard. Amber gave a half snicker smiling obviously still enjoying what I had done while my father placed a solid hand on my head.
"Never. Your mother and I never let you speak like that before." Actually I had spoken the 'word' twice before the first time I had ended up with a scolding and apologizing the second well I probably deserved more than what I got. "I don't care how angry you are you need to keep such language out of our home."
"Okay." Jewel had shifted looking over my shoulder while my father was speaking and she was beginning to struggle some. "Uppa Uppa pa pa pa." Chuckling my dad reached down and scooped up Jewel lifting her into the air and spinning once amidst squeals of laughter that seemed to fill the backyard as he continued to bounce her up and down.
"Here," he spoke passing the kitten to Amber who had stood up. "Ben I need to see you in the kitchen for a moment."
As I went back in there were several buckets of chicken along with other things were waiting on the dining table that I now noticed along with the smell of food that seemed to reignite my hunger. There were also several more people in the house both family, as I guessed from the felines, and others who I didn't know or recognize. I stood in the bustle of the kitchen as several people were working together getting a meal ready, baking biscuits, washing the few dishes, and pealing apart the cheap paper plates making it easier to take one.
Dad had nudged the floor scale into the middle of the walkway of the kitchen as I entered. "Stand on it." I ended up kicking off both my shoes before I placed my feet onto the scale. "92." He announced, "That means you lost five more pounds since Sunday. You were 97 when we left the hospital Sunday and the doctor believes you weight might be better near 110." I stepped off the scale shrugging only to have my Dad grab my arm. "This is serious Ben it's not good for you to not eat. Everyone here now is going to be watching to make sure you get a full meal each time."
I started to turn away only to have him grip my arm painfully causing me to look over to him. "Ben I.. I almost..." There were tears in his eyes as he choked on the words making my own heart thump hard in reaction, "almost lost both of you." he got it out but that wasn't all he did. With a yank he was crushing me in an embrace and I could feel the shaking of his body as he cried. I hugged back and in seconds we were both sobbing against each other or maybe I was Dad didn't seem to be making much noise as I choked and whimpered against his chest.
I had no clue who had separated us and guided us both back to our rooms. I cried into my pillow as someone rubbed my back and petted the back of my head. After a long time I was told, "Come on try and dry up dinner's ready." I rolled over and a warm damp wash cloth was immediately pressed to my muzzle. I took the cloth and wiped my eyes and nose still sniffing. I worked to clean the saltwater out from my fur as a second dry soft cloth was tapped against my shoulder which I used to dry my fur with.