Regret. Regret is something I now know is easy to have. If only I would have learned that sooner rather than later.
After a few days of living together Pig-Tails wouldn't stop talking, I had to stuff cotton balls in my ears. My plan also just got a whole lot more complicated if I was going to take care of her, but I know I will. Prudence, on the other hand, can look after herself. Getting her to talk more was the only problem I had with her. That, and the fact that Pig-Tails purposefully glares at her to freak her out causing me to distract Pig-Tails so Prudence can creep away. There was also the issue of Pig-Tails not going to school and I'm guessing, considering her parents aren't here and probably haven't bother to look for her, I'll have become her new caretaker for the time being. The main problem was food which I didn't have but Prudence said she'd provide us a share of hers for a little while. Since that incident at the restaurant I have now started working there and need practice as I have been told by Mr. Hideyoshi. By the way, Mr. Hideyoshi is the elderly owner's name and he said to call him that instead of 'Old Guy' or - as Pig-Tails calls him - 'Wrinkles'. In fact, he doesn't have many wrinkles at all and looks fairly young which Pig-Tails doesn't seem to care about just that he's old and old people have wrinkles. I went to the restaurant to ask more about the vacant apartment with Prudence with Pig-Tails insisting to tag along. She was cleaning a table when I waked in because the shop hasn't opened yet, it was still a little early. Focused on a small spot that she kept scrubbing at, she didn't notice we had wandered in. That was until Pig-Tails started glaring at her from behind, which caused her to shiver a bit and slowly turn her head.
"Aurelia, c-can you p-p-please tell her to st-stop?" She said in a very frightened tone, all the while trying not to look at her 3'6'' frame.
"Pig-Tails, you can stop now."
"Hmph! If you say so Aurlelia!" Pig-Tails diverted her gaze to the menu board above the front counter.
Pig-Tail's face went from a sort of daydreaming drool to close lipped disappointment.
"No fair! I'm Hungary! Where's Wrinkles?!"
"He's b-back in the k-kitchen preparing the food," Prudence explained, "He'll b-be out any second now."
Not really too concerned with Pig-Tails right now I took the moment to ask Prudence about the vacant apartment. As we were discussing the apartment Pig-Tails gave Prudence the occasional death stare to freak her out, which made the conversation abruptly stop each time so Prudence could hide behind her cleaning rag. After doing it around a few times more Pig-Tails got bored and wandered off to the front counter to stare at the menu up close. Apparently it was more fascinating than the new apartment we were trying to acquire.
"So Prudence, how long do you think it'd take me to earn enough money to rent out the apartment?"
"Well... a f-few m-more days worth of work... should do it."
"It's really that cheap?!"
"Well... yes... on account of them b-being so s-small."
"Thanks Prudence, I'll make sure I get it."
"Just make s-sure you d-don't overdo it."
"I won't, I promise."
Glancing over at Pig-Tails I noticed she found Mr. Hideyoshi quickly enough, who was coming through the kitchen door. He motioned at me to turn the closed sign to open as he patted Pig-Tails on the head, like a domesticated animal. Lightly pushing her away from the counter so she wouldn't get in the way of customers, he told her to behave herself. If I had to pick what domestic animal she was, I'd have to say a dog. I mean, that's what dogs do, eat a lot and look for attention all the time. Right? She also has that aggressive side to her, I feel sorry for Prudence because of that.
The work hours went by slowly, with barely anybody coming in. In my boredom watching the register as my eyes drifted over to what the others were doing to pass the time. Prudence and her cleaning obsession was in full gear, she was cleaning off tables and checking every spot that even was even a little bit possible of having dust. If there weren't any tables to clean or spots to check, she polished the already clean tables and double checked every already cleaned dust spot. I think she has a serious problem and should consider acting more like me. By not doing anything. Although, I feel that it isn't my place to tell her what to do, after all she is helping me find an apartment. Passing by one of the larger booths, she suddenly shivered and quickened her pace to the next one. Without even having to give it a second thought, I knew it was Pig-Tails. Ugh. That kid makes my life so much harder than it should be, as if getting my wings isn't trouble enough! She gave Prudence a look as she passed, then turned back to whatever she was doing. What she was doing was staring. Out the window. Talk about boring, even she must be bored. Looking around some more, I couldn't see Mr. Hideyoshi anywhere, and knowing him, he's probably in the back.
Curiosity got the better of me as I took a break from the counter to check the kitchen. No one. The storage room. No one. The restroom. Nobody. I was running out of options. After searching for more time than I'd planned on, or wanted to, I decided asking Prudence was a good idea. She kept tabs on everything that happened in the place.
"Mr. Hideyoshi?" She said, in the middle of cleaning off a table, for the fourth time today. "Now that you mention it, I d-don't see him either. Hmmm. Did you check out b-back? Maybe he's taking out the t-trash." Saying all of this while her cleaning rag was moving so hard over the surface of the table it was making a squeaking sound, which prompted Pig-Tails to look over.
"Hey'! I'm tryin' to concentrate! Be quiet!"
Not wanting to get involved, I slipped away to the backdoor. Of which, naturally, led outside to the back of the restaurant. The air outside was lighter than inside and it didn't smell like raw fish, it was a relief. Scouting around for the trash-can, I found no sign of Mr. Hideyoshi... or the trash-can. Giving up, which I should have done ten minutes before, I turned to head inside. To my surprise, lo and behold! There he was, coming out the door. He look directly at me as he closed the door behind him, in concentration. I was standing like an idiot, gawking at how he was in the restaurant the whole time. Why the hell couldn't I find him?!
"Staring out the window." He said as he approached. "I would have never have guessed her to be like that." He chuckled.
"Your little friend, you know, the short one."
"Oh! You mean Pig-Tails?"
"I mean Cindy. Did you notice?" His smile was gone, his chuckling ceased.
"Notice? Notice what?"
"The reason she's staring out that window."
"Because she's bored?"
"No." He let out a sigh and shook his head in disappointment. "Do you even use your head to really think? She's lonely."
Did he just insult my intelligence? Who does he think I am, a non-smart person? An idiot? Well, he has another thing coming because I'm anything but stupid! And Pig-Tails, lonely? Fat chance of that, with the way she talks! She's just...
"Homesick, is that what you were going to say?" He said, as if he were reading my thoughts.
"How did you-"
"It was obvious by your expression, that 'Who does he think he is?' face. You're really bad at hiding your feelings. You know, she is homesick in a sense, but really... she's lonely."
"Well, of course she's lonely! She's homesick! She just-"
"Doesn't want to go back home." He finished for me, looking directly at me this time, eyes reaching out to me, begging me to listen.
"Doesn't want to- what do you mean she doesn't want to go back!? Isn't that why she's homesick!?"
"That's exactly the reason, she is homesick. Sick of home."
Homesick? Sick of home? Lonely? But... but she just looked bored! How can she be lonely with her energy? How can she be homesick with her pep? That can't be the reason! She's just bored! She's Pig-Tails for crying out loud!
"If she's sick of home why hasn't she said anything? Why haven't I noticed? If she's lonely, why hasn't she told me?"
"She probably doesn't like to talk about it, focusing on other things to keep her mind off it."
"Then how haven't I noticed anything?"
"Oh, simple, you don't really think with that head of yours." He smiled brightly, even though it was clearly not a compliment.
"Thanks, I would never have known if you hadn't pointed it out." My face contorted and I twitched a bit at his remark, mumbling. Funny.
"No problem, glad I could help." He was still beaming.
"What do you suggest I do, since you seemingly know everything about other people."
"Oh, I don't know. Figure it out yourself. Good luck!"
With that, he left me standing outside with a look of total un-freakin'-believable frozen across my face. Man, was it cold outside or what? I had the chills and my arms had goosebumps all over them, but I, like my face, was frozen in place. I can't believe it, he ditched me!
Later after the shop closed, Prudence, me, and Pig-Tails were walking back to Prudence's apartment. As she and I were discussing more about the vacant apartment, Pig-Tails just stared at the passing cars and street lamps in the street. The night was cold because you could see her puffs of breath every so often as she took in the scenery. It was unlike her, not be talkative. Once our conversation reached a point where I no was longer interested - Prudence talking about glasses and how expensive they were - I decided to nudge the lone ranger walking next to me. No response, so I did it again with more force. This time she turned sharply, her usual anger reaching moderate levels.
"Hey! Stop it! You stupid idiot! Hmph!" She scowled up at me, pursing her lips and cheeks together. Her cheeks were red from the cold, and her pigtails swayed as she made a face. So I poked her cheek with my finger.
"Don't poke me!" She huffed, her anger levels rising.
"Why not? I thought you liked attention."
"Because you're a stupid idiot! And what are you staring at?" Pig-Tails turned her head to huff at Prudence now, who was in front of us leading the way to her apartment. She had looked back to see what the two of us were arguing about, I think.
"N-nothing! I was j-just..." She stammered her words trying to get them out. "Wanted to see what was going on... and umm..." Pig-Tails let out a growl in response, like she really was a lion who escaped from the circus. I put a hand on her head to calm her down. After all, I didn't want her pouncing on our helpful, and shy, hostess. She looked back up at me, her growl turning into a low rumble. Was she going to bite me? To prevent the possibility of that happening, I flicked her on the nose.
"Ow! What was that for?!" She exclaimed, rubbing her nose.
"Stop scaring Prudence, she's a delicate lamp." I retorted deadpan, pinching her cheeks and stretching them like a grandma does with one of her grandkids.
"Hey! Dwon't pwinch me eiwder! Ywou stwupid idiot!" She complained, her words coming out perverted as I was still stretching her cheeks. That was when she growled and tried to bite me.
I let go sharply as her tried for one of my fingers, catching frosty air between her teeth. She went for my other fingers and it turned into a game of cat and mouse as I was trying to avoid getting clamped.
"Umm... you guys..." Prudence whimpered softly in front of us, holding her hands out in front of her and waving them to get over attention – or trying to anyway. The way she was doing it you couldn't really tell if she was signaling to us or the traffic that has piled on the street since we've been standing on the sidewalk. With the two of us going at each other back and forth, it might as well been rush hour. "It's getting d-dark. We should get m-" Pig-Tails growled at her to be quiet, causing her to pause for a few seconds, and she growled again, this time because she missed another one of my fingers. "...moving." She said after those few seconds of hesitance, finished the sentence. Good job.
After she tried for my pointer finger I flicked Pig-Tails on the nose again, and told her to cool it. Her anger levels were reaching the eruption point and I didn't want a volcano to erupt. I'd be fine (of course), but Prudence would probably turn into one of those ash remains like you would see at Pompeii after that volcano went. What volcano was it? I know this one.. if I just... - oh yeah it was Monte Vesuvio! That was the name, I think. Anyway, I didn't want that to happen, for obvious reasons.
"Ow! Hey! That one hurt!" Pig-Tails huffed at me, staring at her nose and rubbing it like last time. She let out a small groan. "Ya didn't haf' to do it so hard." She mumbled under her breath, still touching it and mispronouncing the word have.
I lifted an accusing finger at her, "I wouldn't have done it if you had calmed down." I pointed my finger back towards Prudence. "Now, I think you should apologize. Yeah?"
"Oh... no... it's f-fine! She doesn't-!"
I growled at her this time, then turned to her while indicating at Pig-Tails. "She needs to learn. Being polite is something she needs." I sound motherly, since when was I her mother?! "Plus, you deserve one."
"O-ok... but can w-we d-do this in... inside? It's k-kind of c-cold out... a-and.." She sneezed. "I w-want t-to..." She sneezed again. "Get i-inside... where it's..." A third sneeze. "It's w-warm... if you..." Another sneeze. Jeez how many times was she going to sneeze?! "If it's a-alright with y-you." She finished, wiping her nose on her handkerchief and sniffing. Drawing her coat closer to her body, she wrinkled her nose. Pig-Tails shouted in response.
"I want to go inside too!" She raised her hand, the scarf Prudence gave her to wear swaying around. The girl had it wrapped so loosely around her neck, I was impressed it hadn't fallen off yet. "Aurlelia."
I cringed at the mispronunciation of my name, for the hundredth time, and clicked my feet together. Now that she mentioned it, I was feeling the chill too. I want someplace warm, I want someplace warm, I want someplace warm. I didn't have boots on, but I didn't care – I was cold!
"Yeah." I turned to Prudence. "Let's go, lead the way!" I pointed in the direction of the apartments in a dramatic pose. Onward, west! Or something. Pig-Tails laughed and Prudence smiled as the three of us all marched hastily to our apartment.
Laying on a blanket I stared up at the ceiling. The hanging lamp swayed slightly above, making a creaking sound. It needed to be oiled. The floor beneath me was hard, though thankfully it was carpeted, and a little more than uncomfortable as I also had no pillow; I just used my hands instead. Sound asleep next to me was Prudence, who gave no objection the first night to allow Pig-Tails to sleep on her couch. She looked so... placid just lying there, probably thinking about cleaning tables or something obsessive like that. Cleanliness was what she dreamed about – I noticed this our third night together when she started making motions with her hands; as if she were scrubbing. Scrubbing what – a table? I really didn't bother to ask her about it, I didn't even want to know. Pig-Tails snickers in her sleep and mumbles occasionally – I really don't want to know what she's thinking about! Sometimes though, if I look closely there are tears. I always assumed she was dying of laughter so hard in sleep that she cried, but now I'm not so sure. What about her parents – aren't they worried about their kid? Where are they now? Why did she run away in the first place? Then again, it's Pig-Tails, nothing to be concerned about. She's not the mopey type, or for that matter the most civilized. I mean, it's Pig-Tails for Heaven's sake; a little lion always ready to roar! Sprawled out on the couch, she was out cold; best to leave her that way.
As I stare from the two of them back up towards the ceilings I think. Before you get any wise ideas: Yes, I know how to think, thank you very much! I thought about all the things I've done up until this point and what I'm going to do in the future. My wings are still out of reach, My designated kid's school year starts after next week – I still have to apply there and get enrolled. I wonder how that will turn out, hopefully good. Well whatever, I'll deal with it in the morning – right now I'm tired and want to go to sleep.