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Pen Your Pride

I was in the kitchen with Mrs Briffen, taking small bites from an egg-toast as I sat at the counter. Ever since I arrived, I often took advantage of the fact that this house had an endless supply of delicious food. It was something my brother would dream of. Literally, he dreamt of it.

Mrs Briffen told me about her two sons and their hyperactivity whilst her knife sliced down a cucumber in the middle. She giggled as she reminisced, giving me a jolt everytime the sharp tip brushed close to her chubby finger.

I tried to equally distribute my attention to Mrs Briffen and my egg toast but it was becoming increasingly difficult with the strong, awful smell that had diffused through the slightly parted kitchen door. The stench was familiar and it brought back terrible memories.

I was aware that Harry had returned from college but I figured he was upstairs. Either a part of the house had caught fire or he had come down to the living room and was doing something absolutely horrid.

I headed to the living room to find him doing exactly what I feared. The stench was worse there and it was all hazy. My nostrils were not accustomed to the smell and I felt my chest tighten as the smoke entered my system. My hands quickly made their way to my nose and mouth, shielding them from the choking smell.

Harry was lazily seated on the largest couch in the room, the weight of his body slumped down and his right hand holding the toxic substance close to his mouth.

"What are you doing?" My voice was muffled.

"Well, what do you think?" He forced a smile, it quickly disappeared.

"Why would you do this to yourself?"

"My life is shit anyway." He casually said before the cigarette slid back into his mouth. "Got a problem with it?"

"I-I can't stand the smell." I managed to say and ended my sentence with a cough.

"Then go outside or something."

I lightly shook my head. I turned my back at him and started walking away. It wasn't because I was concerned for his well being, I just couldn't stand the ambience. I found myself pacing back to Harry.

"My father died because he smoked a lot. I can't wrap my mind around the fact that some people would indulge themselves in things that they know would harm them. You should stop."

"Ever asked daddy why he did it?" Harry arched forward, sitting up before resting his elbows on his parted thighs, the cigarette still in between his fingers.

"Well, I was a kid and I didn't quite understand-"

"You didn't understand. And sweetheart, you won't." He puffed out a small fog of smoke before his free fingers went through his messy hair. "If you still haven't realised, the world isn't as innocent as you think. It's not always bunnies and rainbows. In fact, it's never any of those shit."

"I do understand." I told him. "I understand that people have problems but we always have a choice. We can choose to deal with them in other ways. More rational ways."

"You can if you're surrounded by people who actually give a damn about you." He let out a small laugh before he continued. "You know you're the first person to tell me to stop smoking." He glanced up at me again.

"Then take it as a good sign." I shrugged before coughing again, the smoke beginning to really take a toll on my senses.

"You know what it's like to be around people who constantly wonder what you've got in your wallet?"  He asked.

"Well, yes." I was sure my answer surprised him. "Richard and his guys would always check on our savings and if we had a little over seven hundred, they would find ways to cut it back down to about five hundred. They want us to be under their control, always."

He looked at me carefully after I finished talking, as if he was genuinely pondering over what I just said. Both his glare and my sudden burst of confidence in speech contributed to the flush in my cheeks. I only hoped he wouldn't notice as I was afraid he would take it for all the wrong reasons.

He blew out a sigh before glancing at the cigarette which had shortened a great length since our conversation started. His tongue swiped across his bottom lip as he seemingly deliberated on something. I was glad when he chucked the used cigarette into the small ashtray.

 "Have you ever had cake pops?" Harry asked as he stood up from the couch and I almost gasped. I was immediately brought back to that night. The night he obviously didn't remember.

"Thalia?"

"Huh?" I zoned back in.

"Cake pops. Ever had them?"

"Uh... no."

"Well they're really good." He picked up his car keys and cocked his head toward the door.

Did he want me to follow him out the door? I couldn't be sure so I didn't move.

"Well, are you coming or not?" Harry's voice sounded again. His message couldn't be any clearer now.

________________

Mrs Briffen's POV

It had almost been an hour since Harry and Thalia left. It was odd to see Harry act differently with Thalia. I can't remember the last time he took a nice girl out for some cakes instead of those noisy music places. She was too pure for him, and I knew he would think twice before he attempts to damage that rare trait.

Jeffrey and Manny had left almost fifty missed calls on my cell phone and I was certain they were just playing around again. I was about to dial home to warn my husband about the phone bill when the door bell began to ring.


I looked through the peephole to see Damian. Either his puffy face was distorted immensely through the glass or he really was that angry.

"Sir Damian, what a surprise." I greeted rather timidly as he walked in.

"Something's wrong." He said, cupping his chin as he paced back and forth in the hallway. "Where's my son? Where's that girl?"

"Thalia's in the shower. Harry hasn't come home yet." I lied.

"Apparently Harry told Patrick's son that he wasn't sleeping with the girl. Due to the lack of experience or something like that. You wouldn't happen to know anything about this, would you, Maria?"

"N-No."

"Maria," He forced a grin amidst the evident frustration, his yellow teeth coming into sight. "Think about your children before answering this question," He breathed out. "Am I paying for nothing?"

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