Rhodes made his way back to the Merchants’ Hut, checking over his shoulders twice in the process to make sure Maple wasn’t following him. She wasn’t, so that was good. He climbed up the stairs to the second level of the building and called out. “Sandy? Yoo hoo! Ya there?”
Nothing. The upper level felt deserted, so Rhodes made his way around each of the rooms, looking here and there, under this and that, just to make sure Sandy wasn’t hiding. His searching paid off in the end, for he found her under PK’s bed, in a nook just big enough for her to squeeze under.
He peered under and tried to coax her out. “Sandy, Maple’s gone n’stuff. You can come out now if ya want...”
She shook her head vehemently, bumping and shaking the bed frame in the process. “I’m staying right here.”
“Oh... well, okay. I guess I’ll sit here too. Do you mind if I do that?”
Sandy sighed. “I guess not.”
They sat there together for a timeless period, neither one speaking. Rhodes had tucked his knees up to his chin and was slowly and noiselessly rocking back and forth on the wood paneling. He didn’t know if Sandy would talk or not, but that didn’t particularly matter. He just wanted to make sure she didn’t feel alone if he could help it.
Eventually his patience paid off and she spoke. “She’s probably not coming back, is she?”
“Maple? No, she won’t be coming back for a bit hopefu--”
This confused Rhodes. Why would Sandy ask that? “She always comes back, Sandy.” Perhaps the day had taken too much of a toll on the poor girl.
“It doesn’t really feel like it.”
“Do... d’ya think so? What makes ya say that?”
She didn’t answer. Rhodes didn’t wish for the conversation to end so early, so he tried to find another way to keep it going. “So, um, ya been helpin Malt out with anything lately?”
“Not a whole lot. I don’t know him very well.”
“Oh. He’s nice n’stuff, you should give’m a chance. I bet he’d like it if you did! I dunno what exactly you could do for him anyway, but I’m sure he could find a thing or two. He’s been having me run errands for him, and he says it’s helped a lot... so I’m sure you could help him too, if ya wanted. I know he’s been real helpful to Miss PK, so by helping him you’d help her!” Rhodes noticed a wince from Sandy at the mention of their leader. This was peculiar. Perhaps related to Sandy’s irrational fear?
Well, he was going to try to pry at it. Slowly. “So... you and PK gonna do anything fun soon?”
Sandy sighed. “Probably not. I don’t think she likes me anymore.”
What? This... this was news to him. She was cranky lately, sure, but not like Sandy? That didn’t seem to make a lot of sense. “Don’t be ridiculous, Sandy! You know that’s not true, she thinks you’re pretty cool and--”
“Please. Please don’t,” she pleaded. Why...? He started to mentally kick himself in the butt. He had apparently not been observant enough, didn’t notice problems forming beneath his very nose. But he had been so busy lately! Worrying about Shroomsworth, if Tao would be all right, being a pathfinder... But still, how could he not have at least started to figure out something was amiss?
“If you really think that’s true, can you... at least tell me why?”
“Don’t tell anyone.”
“I’d never,” he promised. And he never would.
“Do you remember Sorbet’s birthday party?” she asked. Rhodes nodded, and when she didn’t continue, remembered that she couldn’t see. So he told her that yes, he remembered. “I gave her a little present I made, but I don’t think she liked it very much. And she didn’t give me anything back, either. I mean... not that I was expecting anything back, but when we went to go sleep, she told me she definitely had something for me... but then she didn’t. I don’t want to say she was lying, I don’t want to say that at all, but she, I think, I think she completely forgot.” By this point in time Sandy’s speaking sped up to a point which made it very hard for Rhodes’s ears to keep up, hut he managed.
“She left when our house broke, she left and ran off and I had to go with Mike, do you remember? I had to go with Mike even though I don’t like him very much, and she left me alone, and finally we found Shroomsworth again, and even though I didn’t like him a lot at first, I liked him more then, and then he left too. And I thought she would be gone forever. And then she wasn’t, but then he left, and then she started to smell like death too. And now I think she’ll leave, and you probably will too, and so will Malt I bet, and everyone will be gone. Everyone will be gone, and then I’ll be all alone and won’t know what I’m doing. I thought maybe I wouldn’t be, but that one night, that one night I got lost because Maple dragged me further and further into the forest, we came back home real late and I came up to this room, this very room, and the door was locked! The door was locked and I couldn’t get in, and I don’t think she even cared that I couldn’t get in! So Maple brought over a blanket for me and we had a sleepover, but it wasn’t very fun, not really, because I wanted to sleep in this bed over my head and I couldn’t! I just couldn’t because she locked me out! I don’t even know what I did and she never told me!”
Rhodes was pretty sure he caught most of what she said, but it had become much more difficult when Sandy started to weep. The whole latter half was uttered in between sobs and hiccups, but Rhodes was pretty sure he understood the situation much better now. But the real question was: what could he do about it? He crawled halfway under the bed alongside her and tried to give her some sort of hug in the limited space. He didn’t know what else to do. Not yet.
Okay. Nobody take this the wrong way, but...here's what gonna happen. After PK continues to neglect Sandy and make her feel like piss, she comes to a point where she can't take it anymore, and runs away from Tao without telling anyone. Instead of realizing she's gone, PK forgets all about Sandy and eventually, everyone else stops thinking about her too (even Maple). Oh. And Sandy never comes back to Tao. Ever. ...
Yeah, I know this makes you miserable, but, hey. That's how always makes her characters feel.
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`anmari has been spreading her infectious positivity throughout our community for over 6 years. Throughout this time Ana has been at the core of all things devious, passionately developing an eclectic gallery, helping organise devmeets, participating in chat events and also recently completed dedicating her time as a Community Volunteer. We are absolutely delighted to bestow the Deviousness Award for May 2013 to `anmari, congratulations! Read More