21 // Are You Feeling It Now, Mr. Krabs?

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"STELLA, is that you?"

I paused, pulling tighter the blanket cocoon I had swaddled myself in, as a voice shattered the silence. My breath hitched in my throat. I was mid-step, the kitchen tiles cool against my bare feet, with my other hand positioned on the fridge handle. It wasn't a voice I was very keen of hearing at that moment. And so I paused, and I waited.

If you didn't move, it couldn't see you. If it applied to some dinosaurs, maybe it also applied to moms.

"Stella, I heard you, I know you're in the kitchen."

I blinked. "No, this is Patrick."

My mom then crossed through the archway from the living room, her brow quirked and a parental hand positioned on her hip. She was wearing her usual athletic-spirited apparel, and with her hair pulled back and a minimalist off-white purse hanging over her shoulder, she looked a lot more put together than the bedhead and blanket ensemble I was currently rocking. At least some people said I had her light eyes.

Although mine looked a little more bloodshot.

"Hey mom," I mumbled half-heartedly when she walked in, pointedly avoiding her gaze. "Just getting some grub. Don't mind me."

"Did someone get home pretty late last night?" she asked, breezing past my words, but the tone of her voice said she already knew.

I shrugged, making some noncommittal mumbles in response while sticking my head in the refrigerator in hopes that my ostrich-mentality would work. If I couldn't see her, she couldn't see me. That seemed like a sound science.

She cleared her throat. "What was that?"

It did not work.

"Was just at Eva's, we had a long night, is all. Watched some movies. All the chick flicks. Was super fun." I shuffled around the milk and butter, looking for something to eat that could be made under five minutes, or with the aid of a microwave. Not that I usually didn't like to go all-out with my creations, but I wasn't really feeling it. I was feeling more like sleeping for an eternity than anything.

Death, happily, had been bypassed by the crackers Reese had brought in the morning. It was the little victories, but movement was still mostly a hassle.

"Well your dad called this morning, but you were asleep, so I didn't want to wake you," she continued, and I felt a strange twist in my stomach at the mention of him, which I chose to ignore for the sake of food scavenging. Sandwiches were quick and delicious. I decided I would make a sandwich.

"Oh yeah?" I murmured, feigning disinterest, keeping my voice steady as I pulled open the bottom drawer to shift some more food around.

"Yeah, I told him how great you've been doing and how I haven't gotten any calls from your teachers or principals at all since school started, which is a definite improvement from last year. I guess the breathing techniques really are working."

I nodded, swallowing any emotions that would inevitably arise with the conversation she was trying to have and that I was desperately trying to escape from. I could hear the forced nonchalance of her voice and the fidgeting of her purse, but I wouldn't acknowledge it. It wasn't the first time.

Grabbing rye bread and sliced ham, I pushed the fridge door closed with my body, making sure to keep my blanket draped over my shoulders. "Well I am the golden child, considering what you have to work with."

"I heard that!" called Chris from the living room, a sharp edge to his voice, causing me to roll my eyes.

"It wasn't a secret!"

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