Edelweiss Wolff and her mobile phone had a love-hate relationship.
Okay, it was mostly hate.
Edelweiss mashed the predictive text selection panel over and over again with her finger until the text window was good and full and hit Send, as though she were somehow winning by submitting the garbled message to transmission.
Her daughter Freesia’s phone vibrated at the other end of the house.
“What’s so funny?” Freesia’s friend Ace wondered.
“Mom’s fighting with her phone again.”
Freesia showed Ace the recent conversation history, which was full of much of the same with the occasional weird photo thrown in.
“Haha..” he laughed, “I like the accidental selfie.”
“Hahaha! My mom is a freak!”
Freesia’s sister Forsythia joined their chat. With just a few days of high school left for the twins, the kids had been making a concerted last-ditch effort to bring their grades up. Forsythia had taken it upon herself to act as homework ringleader, if you will – rounding up nearby minors and whipping them into performing in her studious circus.
“Homework time, kids!” Forsythia announced. “Chop chop.”
“Ugh,” groaned Freesia.
Ace took the opportunity to excuse himself. “I’ve got to go check on my dad – I’ll come by later?”
“Sure, deserter – quit the field!” Freesia teased.
“Hey, I’m going to a damned bunker, Sarge!” he laughed.
. . .
Despite the grumbling, these group homework sessions were already having an impact. Fennel had a strong A grade, Forsythia had a B, and Freesia’d brought her own D- up to a C+.
“He’s cute,” Forsythia commented.
“Do you want his number?” Freesia retorted.
“I’m just saying,” Forsythia went on, “if I weren’t so much older you’d have some serious competition on your hands.”
“Don’t be gross.” Freesia balked.
“Oh – so you do like him!”
“Shut up. God.”
They finished the extra-credit assignment just in time for Forsythia to run off to work.
Freesia was feeling a bit peckish so she thought she’d make herself something to eat. Not having much cooking skill to speak of, she went for her favorite easy-to-prepare meal: some fancy oatmeal.
The doorbell rang just as her food was ready.
Wow, she thought, he’s back already.
Freesia was expecting a friend at the door, but found an enemy: it was her brother’s sleazy buddy, Chester.
“Oh Lord,” she moaned. “Not you again.”
“Hello, Beautiful,” he grinned.
As was the norm with Chester, he showed up feeling Flirty. Following her into the kitchen, he lined up the unwanted advances and started lobbing them at Freesia, who deflected them with a certain natural flair.
“That’s funny,” she scoffed, “’cause from here they look like itsy bitsy rubber bands, flapping in the wind that comes out of your mouth.”
Chester started ranting incoherently; it was how their conversations usually ended. Freesia got up from her chair and went back for her food. But the microwave was empty.
“Did you take my plumming oatmeal?!” she snarled at him.
Chester didn’t visibly have Freesia’s bowl of oatmeal, but she was sure he had something to do with its disappearance.
Until Fennel moseyed in from the table.
“Dude. Is that my oatmeal??”
“I guess,” Fennel shrugged.
“What’s the big deal?” Fennel asked. “Just make some more.”
It doesn’t take much to set off poor Hot-Headed Freesia. But being tired, hungry, and insulted was enough for her to become fully enraged.
Fennel and Chester had the good sense to vacate the kitchen, but not until Freesia’d had a chance to fully express her disgust.
“I can’t believe you,” she said.
“Don’t ever speak to me again — no, don’t even look at me.”
. . .
Much later that evening, after the others had gone to bed, Ace finally made it back by. He found a strangely quiet Freesia waiting up for him.
They stood a while without a word.
“Are you staring at my boobs?” Ace joked.
But there was no witty comeback from his fiery friend.
“Today sucked,” she said flatly.
“Aw, c’mere.” Ace offered himself up for a sacrificial hugging.
She gratefully plunged the dagger in.
“I hate everyone,” she mumbled into his shoulder.
“I know you do,” he smiled gently into her hair.