**(I'm a slowwww typist, so I guess the blog gets impatient and sends my work to drafts. )**
After spiking my hair a little more and putting on my makeup, I pulled a long black sweater over my head and some black leggings on, then shoved my homework and my sketchpad in my backpack. I stopped to give Charlie, my gopher snake, a couple strokes on the head. As I pulled my hand away, he lunged and bit my forearm through the thick sweater.
"Ouch! What was that for?" I checked the bite; it was barely more than a couple of scratches, but they stung. Gopher snake bites were not dangerous, and charlie had never bitten me, or anyone else, for that matter. I had even fed him the night before, so her shouldn't be cranky. I was really not looking forward to a day that was starting out as badly as this one. I headed straight for the coffeemaker.
Taking the back stairs, or what Mom said were the servant's stairs, I passed through the butler pantry, then dragged myself into the kitchen. Mom was rinsing her coffee cup in the sink.
"Your running late; your sisters have already left." She looked me up and down as I poured myself a cup of coffee."What are you supposed to be?"
"Doesn't anyone in this household say 'Good morning,' anymore?" I don't know why it even mattered to me, since I couldn't manage good manners myself before lunch, let alone proper etiquette.
"Good morning, Alex," cooed my mother snidely. "What are you supposed to be dressed as this morning?"
"A fairy princess. Where's the sugar?"
"Thought so. The black lipstick was a dead giveaway. How many times do I have to tell you that stuff stunts your growth?" She turned her back to the sink and leaned against the counter as she crossed her arms.
"The lipstick or the sugar?"
"The coffee. You can't afford to loose out in that department."
"I believe it's referred to as 'failure to thrive', or so I'm told." After opening three cupboards, I found the sugar bowl and tipped it over my coffee cup.
"That's a load of crap. You're petite. That doctor was trying to find a way to blame me for your small size as a baby. You ate like a horse - that hasn't changed - you just didn't sleep more than two or three hours a day. Without rest, it's hard for a growing body to...well, grow.
"Don't worry, I still blame you."
Mom playfully smacked my shoulder with the back of her hand.
"Hey! Hot stuff coming through. I want it on my insides, not my outsides. Is there any bread left? I smell burnt toast."
"That's it there on the table." Next to a jar of raspberry jam and a pot of honey was a stack of almost black toast. Martha Stewart my mother wasn't. Even though she was home all day, she spent most of her time transcribing medical records for doctors in her home office.
"How does the cereal situation look?" I asked as I placed my coffee cup on the table.
"We're out of milk. I need to pick up some groceries today."
"Can you pick up some more frozen mice for Charlie?" I rubbed the bite on my arm. "And I suppose eggs and hash browns with a side of pancakes are out of the question?" I opened the refrigerator door and basked in the wave of cool air.
"Hello? Will you look at the clock? Time to get rolling, birthday girl."
I cringed. "I don't do birthdays."
"You're too young to be trying to dodge them already. You'll regret skipping them, mark my words."
"I only regret skipping meals. Birthdays - not so much." Time to change the subject. "Where's Dad?"
She dropped her crossed arms and turned her back to me, busying herself with re-rinsing her cup. "He left early this morning. He had a flight to catch before sunrise."
"But he just got home last week! And today's...never mind." I slammed the fridge door. How could he skip out on my birthday? Halloween was the one day he and I ignored together.
"It's the gypsy in his blood. And it's his job, honey. Did Greta talk to you this morning?"
"I believe that's 'Great Grandmamma' to you...wait - to me. Just 'Granmamma' to you." So much for trying sassy so early in the day. "Will you let me finish my coffee?" I picked up my cup and took a slurp.
"Did she warn you?"
"Yeah, yeah, got the message. Big bad bogeymen out to get me. Got it. Next topic." I plunked myself down at the table. "Better yet, no topic, just silence."
"This isn't a joke, Alex. How often do you get a visit from a dead relative?"
I gave her a deadpan stare.
"Okay, fine, I forgot for a minute who I was talking to. I mean how often do I get a visit from a dead relative."
"She came to you, too?" Okay, I'm a little slow on the uptake before my caffeine infusion. "You don't see ghosts. How did you manage to see her?"
"She just appeared in the bathroom mirror this morning. Is that cool or what?"
I snorted. "Yeah. So cool."
"Anyway, she didn't feel you would take her seriously."
"I can take care of myself, Mom. I've been doing it for fifteen years now, as of sundown."
"Sure you have.