Sugar watched the flowers die beside her in a vase. She hadn’t moved for two months, is why she could watch them do that. She sat on the corner of her smashy brown sofa and looked at the vase and looked at the flowers there and looked at nothing else. When her brother brought her food to eat three times a day, Sugar ate almost as though she was blindfolded. She couldn’t taste anything anyway, so why would it matter if she knew what she was eating? The flowers had been placed there at the beginning of the two months. At that time, they were pink and blue and purple and yellow and bright as anything. Now they were gray and gray and gray and also gray and couldn’t be bright if the light of the sun was injected straight into them.
“Sugar?” Her brother was bringing up lunch. She didn’t turn her head. She didn’t answer either. “Sugar, I have your food for you.” She reached out and knocked over the flower vase to the floor and the murky brown water sloshed all over the carpet. The flowers splayed; wilted. Sugar turned and looked at her brother. He gave her the tray and for the first time in two months, Sugar looked at her lunch. It was a ham sandwich, an orange, a chocolate slice, and a cup of milk green tea. That tasted like shrimp once she tried it, though, so Sugar didn’t finish it. She thought about knocking it over too, just because she could, but then she set it on the table and left it alone.
“Could you get a car for me, May?” Her voice sounded different because she hadn’t been talking much except for in her head, where her talking seemed to never stop. May(onnaise) her brother was surprised. He didn’t know where his sister wanted to go. Where would she be welcome? He had let her stay at his house, of course, but where else would they take her? He sat down on the smashy brown ottoman beside the smashy brown couch and waited for an explanation. “I want to go see a friend.”
“You don’t know her.” Sometimes Sugar wasn’t even sure she knew her. “But I want to go see her. She wrote me a letter… It said I could visit anytime I needed to and now I need to visit so, May, so help me peanut butter crackers and mother’s ashes, call me a cab or I’ll take the shrimp tea and pour it all over my head.” It was a valid threat. It was the kind of thing Sugar would say three months ago. Plus, she was an adult now and May couldn’t stop her from leaving if she wanted to. She wasn’t a monster and she wasn’t sick so if she wanted a cab, May would have to make a call.
“Alright. Do you have money for a cab?”
“In the suitcase.”
“Thank you for letting me stay here.”
May smiled, glad for the thanks. “You’re welcome. I’m going to go call that cab now.” He stood from the ottoman and went to the kitchen, where his phone was strung close to the wall. He called the cab to his house, told the driver about his sister’s situation and promised he would pay extra for him taking her to see her friend, and the cab driver said he didn’t care and that he’d be there in ten minutes.
When the cab came later on, Sugar got up from the couch and caught a glimpse of herself in the mirror. There she was, with her face half caught in a tangle of metal and wires, and her left arm made of old machine parts. She wasn’t completely human anymore, but for the first time in two months, she didn’t care. She didn’t care. She took her suitcase from the front door where she hadn’t bothered to move it from and hugged May goodbye, being careful not to squeeze him too roughly or poke him in the eye with a stray wire. After saying goodbye to her brother, she headed towards the cab. When she reached it and opened the passenger side door, she was surprised to see that the cab driver didn’t look at all shocked to see her. He looked like he saw cyborg girls every single day of his life.
“Where to, sugar?”
“How do you know my name?”
“Is your name Sugar?”
“Oh, well, I call everyone that. Didn’t mean to startle you.” He ran a calloused hand through his hair and smiled, showing a mouth full of large white teeth. “Do you know where you want to go, though?”
“Here’s the address.” Sugar handed him a piece of paper she had torn from the letter. It was just the one address, 114 Bad Luck Chuck Road. “My friend lives there. Her name is Heidi.”
“Sounds good to me.” The cab driver punched the directions into his GPS and started the engine. Before Sugar could jump out and run back inside to her sofa, they were heading down the road and the cab driver was trying his best to make polite conversation. “Where’re you from?”
“Oh, just here. I’ve lived here my whole life.” She didn’t mention that she had lived somewhere else for about two years before she had to come back here.
“Do you travel much?”
“Um, I’ve been to some places.” Mongolia, Egypt, backpacking all around South and Central America, Canada, Germany… To name her favorites.
“That’s good. It’s always good to get out and look at the world.” He turned close to the destination. “How do you know you’re friend here? How did you two meet?”
“I knew her brother, I guess. We aren’t really that much of friends, but she said I could come visit her and I was tired of my brother’s house so here we are, right?” The cab driver huffed up the driveway and then Sugar was at her friend Heidi’s house. “It’s been so nice talking to you, really.” She handed him a wad of cash, much more than he needed or even wanted, and then headed towards the front door. She knocked four times and then three times and then seven times before someone opened the door, and when someone finally did open the door they were wild looking with wheat colored hair swinging heavily past her ankles and what looked (what Sugar desperately hoped was not) dried blood around her mouth and stained to her teeth.
“Sugar?” She smiled and Sugar’s stomach lurched. She had obviously been eating.
“Yeah, that’s me.” Sugar shifted her suitcase to her other hand, the stronger hand, and nodded. “Um, you’re Heidi?”
“Of course I’m Heidi. I don’t look like Lewis, do I? No, no, I could never…” Her head snapped forward and she was looking directly at Sugar’s soul. “Don’t mention Lewis, please.” Then she took Sugar’s hand and pulled her inside.
“It’s, ah, it’s a nice place you have here.”
“No, it’s an awful place and yet I can’t seem to leave.” She ran her tongue across her teeth. “Excuse me, I’ve just had lunch. Sandwiches, you see, are the best thing to ever grace this planet.”
“Frankie said he had the best memories in this house. He loved to talk about you. He really did. I thought then that he was just like us, just normal.”
“But then he took what you loved most, didn’t he? Because he wasn’t just Frankie, was he? No. He was a supervillain. Butthrad. I know, Sugar, I know because he was my brother and he killed someone I loved most. Like you loved your art.” Sugar had been an artist before her accident. “Like you loved your face.” She had been a rather pretty girl before her accident too. Only now she knew it wasn’t so much of an accident as it was a purposeful event with a particular someone to blame.
“Yeah, you’re right. Butthrad took a lot from both of us. You as a sister, me as something I thought was love but was maybe never that at all. I don’t know. Do you think he ever loved me, Heidi?”
“Probably not. Anyway, do you want some sandwiches? I have an extra one in the kitchen and I can go get it really quickly for you.”
Sugar could tell something was wrong but she didn’t know what it could be. “I’m going to run to the bathroom, actually. Point me in the direction?”
“Sure. It’s that way.” Heidi pointed towards the back hall. Sugar walked and wondered why the walking made her feel so tired and why something smelled like an old copper mine. An old copper mine. Like… blood. Sugar found the bathroom easily because the door was open, but she didn’t have to use it, not really. She was looking for the source of the copper mine smell.
She found it in the small closet just off the bedrooms. It was the body, the disastrously gutted body, of a person. Suddenly everything came together too fast for her own good and she was falling towards the floor, weighed down by shock and by secrets. She had handled her interactions by sitting alone and watching flowers die, but Heidi, the sister, had handled it by murder and not just murder but… something else too. Sugar didn’t even want to think of that. She had to get out. This was not the kind of friend she wanted to talk to. She couldn’t get pulled into an orbit like that ever again, lest she lose another limb to it.
(By the way, this is part of a bigger story, so if you want to connect those pieces I'd recommend you read Morris Cupcake the Sandwich Boy and also The Reign of a Supervillains as Told By His Sister.)
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Crazy! I love the consistency of all your stories, some with familiar characters and settings. It's like your stories are all part of one bigger story.
I know! Do you think I should make a note of orders to read it in so it makes more sense though? And I like the prompts a lot this week so I hope I'll have some neat stories this week.
Oh, sure! That could be really cool. Eventually you could probably make an anthology.
Marvellous, Rhondalise. I felt my condemnatory attitude of Sugar changing as the story progressed. Lovely and weird. By the way, your editing is excellent. Not a word or punctuation misplaced. You take care and consequently, the story flows.
Thank you, Len! I hope you'll see more of Heidi in her other stories. I have a collection of Heidi and Lewis and Sugar and Ruslan, among other characters, stories that I'm hoping to publish soon... it's called "Marbles Like the Ocean" so be on the lookout for that!
A thrill ride! Really kept me on the edge of my seat wanting to read more.
"Do you think he ever loved me, Heidi?” “Probably not. Anyway, do you want some sandwiches?" --loved this
Hi, Gabi, thank you for your comment and if you want to hear more about Heidi, please read her diary in The Reign of a Supervillain Told By His Sister's Diary! A lot of my stories connect to each other.
very proficiently written
Thank you, Jim Murray!
Wow. This is masterfully written. I'll have to check out your other work.
Thanks so much! I checked out some of your work too!