As I waited for my work as a fan to start, I spent a lot of my time exploring the town. Taking in the old sights. Remembering things I’d rather forget. Spending the last of my money on some stuff for sandwiches. As I painted and my stomach grumbled, I laughed at the thought I was pretty much a ‘starving artist’ at the moment.
One good thing about my work, though, was the fact I had a carpool. I wouldn’t have to walk to the theater everyday. I introduced myself and the man sort of glared at me. I gulped and looked down at my lap.
“I’m Donald Brown,” he grumbled, casting me a sideways look.
“What do you do?” I asked, giving him a small smile and trying to be friendly. The look on his face was rather discouraging but if we were gonna be driving together every morning for a while then I might as well give it a shot.
Whoever he was gripped the steering wheel so tightly that his knuckles went white. I buckled up just as he peeled out into the lane. I pressed back against my seat, feeling more nervous. I really hoped this guy was a better driver than he was conversationalist.
The day didn’t turn out so bad. As a ‘fan’ I got to listen to bands warm up and cheer them on. I also walked around town and if I saw anyone near a poster that advertised a gig coming up I’d stop and make a big deal over it.
Turned out he was assistant manager and was only carpooling for me since the band manager had asked him to. He obviously didn’t like me and the tension in the car made me really nervous. I wondered if he was like this for everyone or if maybe I was a special case. That, naturally, had me worried if these people knew my history–knew who I was.
Calcifer Danevbie, I thought miserably as we pulled up in front of my house. Monster.
I thanked him and he just grumbled something that might have been a ‘welcome’ but was probably more like ‘I hope you break your arm and I never have to carpool with you again’. Or something like that. You never know.
Penny came running as soon as I slid the door shut behind me. She asked how I did and I admitted I was exhausted. My throat hurt from cheering so much and my legs hurt from all the walking I had done. I fell into her arms, feeling very exhausted. “I’m just going to bed,” I said before disappearing into my bedroom.
Day two with Donald didn’t go any easier. He just grunted at me when I said hello, and grunted at me when I said goodbye. Since there was a concert going on that night, I didn’t need to run around town rallying up more fans. I stood outside the theater and made several comments on my phone to nobody about how TOTALLY AWESOME this band was. Then I got to see the concert and cheer and flail around like a maniac.
In the morning I woke up just as dawn was breaking. I stood in the front room, looking at my hands in the glow. It was so pretty that I decided to work on my painting again. If I got good enough, then I might be able to sell my paintings and bring in some more income.
“Penny, why don’t you read?” I asked, not even turning around to look at her. “I have a couple books, I’m sure you’d like them.”
“I’m okay,” she said, still watching me.
I shrugged one shoulder and dabbed some more paint on the canvas. “I feel bad that you don’t have anything to do,” I said, tossing my head to one side to get my bangs out of my eye. I loved my haircut but sometimes it did get slightly annoying.
“Do you want me to go?” she asked. “I can go in the other room if I’m bothering you.”
“You’re not bothering me,” I chuckled. “I just figured it was boring, standing there watching me paint.” I set the brush down and turned fully to look at her. “Pens, how come you never really do much of anything other than, um, watch me?”
“See this?” she asked, tapping the glowing orb on top of her antenna. “It’s attuned to you. When you’re not around, I’m always in my other form. And it feels strange not being around you when you’re at home. Like everything is all mixed up. Besides, I love watching you paint. It’s beautiful to see you do that.” She lowered her hands and looked at them. “I wish I could paint.”
“Why don’t you try?” I asked. “I can get some more canvas–“
“No,” she interrupted. “My hands don’t work as well as yours. I can pick up things and do some things, but painting is so… intricate.” She walked over and leaned in close to my painting, staring blankly at the colors. “My padded hands are too clumsy. So watching you is the next best thing. But if you do not wish me to…”
“No,” I said quickly, putting a hand on her arm. “You can watch me all you want. When you’re real, I will buy you your own easel.” I took her hands and pressed my lips against the back of them, wishing I could help her now.
I really need to find a way to make her real, I thought one night as I soaked away my muscles pains. I had never been much of an athlete. I preferred sitting around than running around. The only running I had ever done was running out of the house in anger. I never worked before. All this was strange and new on my muscles.
I should get a car, I thought, closing my eyes and tipping my head back. I need a fridge and kitchen stuff first. And a couch, I want a couch. And a TV. But I want a guitar. Ugh, this is all so much!
The most important thing is to find a way to make Penny real, I decided, sinking lower into the hot water. And then I can concentrate more on whatever else I need to do.
Between work and looking for a rainbow gem, I spent my time hanging out with Penny. She still loved pillow fighting, it was the one thing we had done most when we were younger. I enjoyed it too. There was something just so refreshing about doing something childish.
I sold my first painting which, in my opinion, wasn’t that great. I thought about keeping it but when one of my co-workers who sometimes carpooled with us spotted it through the window, they offered me twelve bucks for it. Considering how far away from pay day I was, and the fact I was at zero simoleons, I agreed. The money disappeared right away in buying more food. I was a bit glad Penny didn’t have to eat.
I realized that it was going to take me longer than I wanted to give Penny human existence. I talked to her about it and kept apologizing, feeling horrible about not being able to make her real immediately.
She took it okay and kept telling me not to run myself ragged trying to figure it out. “You’ll think of something eventually,” she said, her fingers resting on my arm. Then she twitched slightly, the cloth pressing firmer against my skin and she yanked her hand away.
“Are you okay?” I asked, seizing her arms. “You can’t get sick, can you?”
“I’m fine,” she promised, lifting her chin slightly. “I cannot get sick, as far as I know. I suppose that will be one worry when I become real. Being sick. But…” She put her hand against her cheek and gave a sort of sighing sound. It was a bit creepy with her blank doll face. “I’m sort of looking forward to it. There are many things I’m looking forward to.”
“Like painting,” I said with a grin. “What else?”
I knew one thing I was personally looking forward to was not having an emotionless face staring back into mine. I couldn’t wait to see her smile, to see her frown, to see surprise and giddiness on her face. Whatever her face looked like. Hmm.
“A lot of things,” she said very quietly. “Like being able to stay with you.”
“Aw!” I laughed, punching her arm. “C’mon, Pens. We’ll always be together, no matter what form you’re in. You know that, right?”
She was very quiet and then nodded. “Y-yes,” she squeaked out. “I know.”
I brushed past her, heading towards the easel. “You’re my best friend, Penny. Nothing will change that.”
“Nothing will change how I feel about you either, Calcifer,” she whispered so quietly that I wasn’t even sure if I heard her right.
On my first day off, I walked around town and tried to figure out where a rainbow gem might be. Or what it was. Maybe there was an easier way…
I decided to try to relax at the park. The chains of the swing creaked as I lowered my weight down and I stretched my legs out, pushing the swing back a bit. I could smell freshly mowed grass, the beautiful flowers my father always liked, and even the smell of freshly grilled hot dogs from where a family was grilling.
I always loved coming here as a kid, and I couldn’t wait to bring my own kids here. I shuffled my feet slightly and began swinging, closing my eyes at the wind whipping through my hair. I felt rather lonesome but didn’t feel like going home. Maybe I’d go to the graveyard. Not the most exciting of places but I thought maybe visiting my dad would help me concentrate on whatever it was I needed to concentrate on.
I pumped my legs a few more times then hopped off the swing, using my fingers to get my hair back in place. I began the long walk towards the graveyard, listening to the cars passing and the birds chirping. When I finally reached the cemetery, my legs weren’t as tired as they usually were. Maybe running around, drumming up business for the theater wasn’t as bad as it seemed.
Nobody else was around which made things very peaceful. I stood by Dad’s grave for a while, just thinking and listening to the sounds around me. There was a pond at the graveyard and I could hear fish splashing. Maybe I’ll take up fishing, I thought, rubbing an errant tear off my cheek. Once I get a fridge and stove, that will be a good source of food.
A strong gust of wind pushed back all the hair from my face and sent the edges of my jacket flapping. I shivered very slightly then suddenly felt a presence. I knew there was someone behind me but before I could turn to see who it was, she spoke.
That voice. I knew that voice. It was very familiar, but somehow slightly different. Could it really be her? I was too scared to turn around now and see. I was too scared to see it was her, but too scared that it wasn’t her. My body shook slightly and I glanced down at my hands. I couldn’t keep my back to her forever so after taking in a deep lungful of air, I slowly turned around and found myself looking deep into a pair of dark, sad eyes.
“Hello Teri,” I breathed out, realizing in a flash of stupidity that I had never said goodbye to her, and never once contacted her.