"Hey…is that Molly?" questioned Andrew as he twirled a dreadlocked hair around his straw. He pointed his empty King's Kup at an ant-like figure wrapped in orange emerged from a taxi below.
I squinted. Everything was a blurry mass of a disturbed artist's painting. I reached for my coke-bottle lenses at the top of my frizzy brown head and shoved them onto my face. The image snapped into place and I saw Molly, limping out of a taxi, which was folded around the back of a blue Prius, and invading the space of a rather imposing-looking giantess of a woman. Molly had never been afraid of confrontation.
"Cripes, you need to stop forgetting your contacts, Lola." Carrie grinned and sucked down the last of her slushie. Her wavy blonde hair, I noticed, kept whipping in front of her eyes, as though shielding her vision from reality. She solved this problem with the procuring of a hair band and a hastily-tied bun. "Those things belong on the Hubble telescope."
I gave her a shove and focused on the scene below, peering over the brick wall. Molly's cab driver was frantically gesturing to a weary-looking police officer , who probably wanted to go home to his wife, dog and three kids. The large woman was pointing at her vehicle and calmly reaching for her insurance card. Though it looked as though the accident had been the cab driver's fault, the tiny Molly was yelling and carrying on as though the woman had hit her at a red light going 80 miles an hour. Given the opportunity, Molly would yell her way out of a tinfoil hat.
Ryan shrugged and began collecting the King's Kups to throw in the landfill below. "At least she's confident enough with herself to wear them out in public. What about you, Ms. Headgear and Facial Mask?" he inquired of Carrie as she stuck out her tongue, which was blue from sugary slushie.
Molly had finished dealing with the police officer and, shrugging off the paramedics, she began to struggle up the stairs to King's Korner Pizza Palace. Fortunately, we were on break, so she wasn't in trouble for being late to her shift and we were there to help her overconfident self up to the restaurant.
Andrew and I ran to the staircase to help her up and gingerly took hold of the part of her arms covered by her long-sleeved orange sweater. Had we directly touched her skin, the flesh on our hands would begin to bubble and fill with craters of blood. Still, her sleeves felt like hot plates, and I found myself grimacing. Andrew was nearly crying as she supported most of her weight on his huge arm.
"God, Molly, did you get attacked by a dingo on the way here?" asked Matt, his blue eyes questioning. We were never sure whether or not Matt was teasing or truly asking a question. He was one of those hard-to-read people that are either masters of sarcasm or the dimmest of bulbs.
We plopped Molly down between Ryan and Carrie. Her red-eyed glare, meant for Matt, provoked enough fear for them to quietly inch away. Matt, wishing to redeem himself, ran inside the pizza place and reappeared with the first aid kit we kept underneath the register for times such as these. He had also, resourcefully, brought both oven mitts in order to carefully apply the ace wrap to Molly's swollen ankle.
I knelt behind Molly and slowly brushed through her strong, copper hair with my fingers and began to braid it. This activity always seemed to soothe her, and her body temperature cooled to steaming as Carrie thoughtfully provided her with a King's Kup-sized cherry slushie.
"Sweetheart…did you take your medicine this morning?" I asked quietly as I willed the rebellious strands to tuck into the braid.
She twisted to stare up at me. "Yes. You know damn well I never forget my meds, or my doctor would shank me." I quickly put a hand over her mouth, giggling with her, then immediately removed it with the smell of a grilled palm. I assessed the damage. Good, only slightly red.
Her smile dissolved into her face and she averted my gaze, staring at her newly swaddled ankle. "Whatever. It's not like those little green pills are actually improving my ability to interact with human beings." The cabbie, policeman, and the woman (whose name happened to be, according to Molly, Marianne Flederson), had given up gesticulating and were now instructing the newly arrived tow truck.
"Actually, they do," stated Matt, removing the oven mitts. "Not bursting into flame is widely regarded as an improvement for any social situation." Oh, the social graces of young Matthew…
The red eyes once more focused on their target and Molly began to shake violently. I immediately released my hold on her hair and silently signaled the others to back away. Then I heard the hiss of steam and realized that tears were trickling down her face as far as they could without evaporating, and her tired, red eyes had faded to orange.
This all felt so wrong.