Sunday, 2 November 2014

The Four Stars Chapter Five

Previous chapter: Babysitting at Dinner.

Chapter Five: Childminding Again.

Child rearing? Not the first thing any of my chosen would go for. ~The Watcher.
A week went by after the four housemates had started their jobs. By the weekend, Isabel and Francesca got promoted to full-time shifts, and Attie was making a little headway beyond a receptionist for the local police.

Hera, on the other hand, had a hell of a time as she was pushed right into learning Actionscript and Basic. She managed to slog her way through the programming classes provided by the computer club, and eventually rearranged her schedule a bit.

"I didn't know how much effort goes into making video games," Hera groaned as she flopped on the sofa in front of the television. "Should I stop complaining about them?"

"You can complain about them, within reason," Attie said with a snort of laughter. "Or else we'd still be stuck in the pixelated era of games."

"Indie companies are going back to the pixelated look, just with advanced gameplay," Hera said. "Plus better music."

"Right, you can't say something without shoehorning Broadway in," Attie sneered. "Do you ever have anything else on your brain besides Broadway and games?"

"She has Nightshade on the brain," Francesca piped up.

"If my dog could sing and dance, I'll ask her if she'd like to join me on Broadway," Hera murmured.

"You've only got a few years to do that," Francesca said, then looked glum. "Dogs live for about a decade on average."

"Oh, please don't brood so much," said Isabel, as she stood beside the long sofa the other three were sitting on. "You look so pitiful when you're sad."

Francesca's phone rang at that moment. "S'cuse me," she said, and got up to answer the call.
It was Ana's mother. "Hey! Help me look after the rugrat after school tomorrow, will you?"

Francesca was gobsmacked. "Why?" she squeaked.

"My husband and I are heading out to town. Besides, the kid likes your place, doesn't she?"

"Uh, yes," Francesca admitted. "Ok, I'll look after her till nightfall."

"Good enough," said Ana's mother. Francesca let the call end.

"Ana's coming again?" Hera asked. Francesca nodded. "I hope she learned some manners," the blue-eyed woman remarked.

--------

The next day, after long hours at work, the four housemates were at home. Attie was regaling Isabel with tall tales of being the next super spy when the doorbell rang. Francesca answered it and saw a sad little girl on the doorstep.

Sad kid.

She tried to console Ana.
"Oh, what's wrong?" Francesca asked in a concerned voice and invited Ana in.

"My mom told me I was bothersome and she's glad that I'm gone," Ana said.

Francesca tried to console her, "Don't take it so personally, she's probably got a bad day and wants to relax without anything getting in the way."

Francesca was startled by the mouthy kid.
Anxiety built up.
"Be quiet, fatty!" Ana suddenly said. Francesca gaped at her.

"What?" the plump young woman said and rubbed her ear. "Oh dear me," she muttered to herself, "That might not have been the right thing to say."

"It wasn't, you old shirt-bursting hippo! Lipstick-wearing pig!"

Ana went on about Fran's weight.
"Hippo?! Shirt bursting?! Pig?!" shouted Francesca. "Then it was a waste of time trying to help you feel better, you little brat!"

At that moment, Hera strolled out of the bathroom, whistling a tune. Francesca went on, "If you've learned to put down people based on their looks at such a young age, what hope do you have when you get older, huh? Gonna make fun of their introversion next?"

When Ana didn't answer that, Francesca snarled and stalked off to the upstairs bathroom. She splashed water on her face and touched up her makeup in a bid to calm herself down.

Hera did some weeding.
Attie chose to defuse the situation by distracting Ana from her bad mood. "Hey, kid," she said, "Have you seen last night's baseball match?"

That got Ana's attention, and she exclaimed, "I did!"

"You know what else? There's a Disney short cartoon about baseball."

"The one with Goofy, right? That was funny," Ana said. She continued chattering about cartoons with Attie, forgetting what she just said about Francesca. However, the younger Lion hadn't forgotten that insult.

In the meantime, Hera weeded the flower bushes. She stopped whistling Higitus Figitus and started humming Bare Necessities as she plucked the weeds out.

As she weeded, she thought about the argument she just heard. "Poor Fran," she mused. "I don't have enough of the situation to make a judgement, alas."
She went back in and took some cake from the fridge. She sat down to enjoy it as Francesca plopped into the seat next to her.

Francesca kept glaring throughout the dessert. It made Hera so uncomfortable that she promptly excused herself after eating the piece of cake.

Cautious.
Stink-eyed.
"Stop side-eying me," Isabel said to her cousin. Francesca stared spitefully at Ana instead.

"Call me fatty, will you?" Francesca muttered. "I'll have you know that some people can be bulky without being morbidly obese."

Ana felt afraid, then left the table to watch Attie fix the stereo again. The dinner passed in silence after that.

"Go on home, kiddo."
Francesca had enough of scowling at Isabel, so she went out to water the flowers. Isabel decided to send Ana off before things got even more awkward.

After Ana left, Isabel heaved a sigh. What a day! She hoped that Ana's mother wasn't as much of a jerk as the kid made her out to be.

Next chapter: Finding The Faraway Tree.

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