Chapter 13: Where We Are Now
Low play of ballet music echoed through the speakers in the van, treading in the course of slowly forming spring coming in, humid on just a mild level of notice, while out on the sidewalks filled with busy people just going through their daily work. A few now and then, wearing still thick coats or jackets to fight the slight chill that was, in time, going to fade away.
Night Stripe rested his head on the glass, eyes blinking to spot to spot, in thought of catching something. He breathed slowly, unknowingly fixing his love sleeve white shirt collar, wishing he had his vest, but the added weight the spring, wasn’t a smart move.
At least, recalling that summer might have some hot days, it brought some pleasant, while with spring was another story.
With his eyes already feeling itchy, lifted up his goggles to scratch just under his left eye.
“Night Stripe, don’t do that, we’ll be at the school soon, and I will give you some eye drops. Okay?”
He sighed, nodding to his mother at the wheel, with him seating in the back with the twins off the side of them. Both of them sound of sleep, the ease speed of the car, was doing wonders at this moment.
With such silent there was, before they knew it, they were in front of the school. Hazy finding a good parking spot, unbuckle quickly, while having a free hand look for the bottle of eye drops in the glove compartment. Once it was found, she meant around the other side, where Night Stripe was waiting for her, again seeing him now rub his eyes.
“Honey, no, stop that.” Hazy ordered, moving closer, removing the goggles in place in his hands to keep them off his face, leaning his head back, brushing some hair out of the way, and blinking with a wince when feeling the drops landed.
Night Stripe the small sting settle before placing his goggles back on, smiling in thanks to his mother, who slip the bottle in her pocket shirt, while the other hand fixed up his hair. Ending with a soft kiss on his forehead, which he gently battered her away, after she somewhat pulled away.
“Okay, now the year is going tricky. So let’s go over the list one last time, before you head in okay?”
Night Stripe gave a nod, with understanding. Reaching for his bag that was on the ground, opening one of the side pouches, handing it to his mother to read off to him, while he listened, eyeing the school head clock, they had enough time.
“Okay, first on here is that for eye drops, head to the nurse’s office, ask for the temp for the eye drops that are label with your name, also what else is there. Next is do not go outside for too long, hay fever is not something we want now, it worries me enough to just let you go now. Third is in your bag, I packed up a lunch for you and I hope to find an empty bag in there, got it? There also medicine in the bag too, I already called the school ahead of time, so everything is good there. Last thing, is that if you need something, I’ll be at home working, so call if you need me, whatever it is. The pager is with your lunch.”
Night Stripe slowly repeated the things back, numbering them off with his fingers as he did. Soon taking back the list, and placing it back in his bag, close to where his notepad was still time, as a reminder. Zipping up the side pocket, and having the bag now gone from the ground, on his shoulders, about ready to turn, but was uncalled for, being pulled into a hug.
He didn’t bat away his mother this time, looking anywhere else she wasn’t, as his face heated up. Waiting for her to be done with it, not long, once she was done, let go. Refining the goggles; as they tilted on a slant from the surprise hug, Hazy had given him, and let him off into the school building, glancing over his shoulder to his mother back in the van and leaving in it, and with that headed to the head office, and soon to class.
Time pasted by in a smooth blur, Night Stripe was able to have a free period, thinking of going to the library, making a quick note mind, in looking up remedies that could handle hay fevers. This year wasn’t being, as kind, to how last year was. Edging a maze through the students that lingered in the halls, upon finding the doors, and going in, which was luckily quiet and lacking people unlike before.
Placing his bag down by a chair he was going to take a seat at, staying in eye view of his bag, looked through the books of the subject idea in mind. Too lazy to go find a stepping stool or even a ladder, just stood on his tip toes and reached out for a higher shelf, nudging one book close by, made a few others fall with it.
One happening to land on his foot, puff of a hiss left his lips, shaking off the pain, and soon crouching down to gather the books that fell. Having upon seeing a helping hand, also grabbing the books, not speaking a word to him, about being a dupe or anything, meaning likely this person he didn’t know or just wasn’t rude. Once all were off the ground, Night Stripe finally saw who was helping him, and it made his throat tighten a bit.
There before him, standing just a few inches under his height, with multicolor, a large smirk in place, sporty clothes on that much close to what an evening jogger would wear. Matching in close to her skin tone of a darker color, sneakers scraped against the carpet floor, moving in to help place the books back on the shelf. All but one that Night Stripe tucked under his arm, as it was the he was looking for, hearing the other clear her throat awoken him from his slight daze, and greeted the other.
“Hey there Night Stripe, old buddy how have you been?” She replied back, with a goad tenor, that wasn’t threatening but, it didn’t rub him the right way.
He just shrug, quickly giving a goodbye, moving to his bag, grabbing it, and went to sit somewhere in the library, in hopes of losing her. It wasn’t long, until he finally did, seeing her through a lower shelf pass by, unknowing of being watched. Once he could tell she was farther away, he found another table, and read there, making sure to have a wall to his back, lacking any surprises to come.
Trying to read, but sadly, the recollections during winter were not making it easy. With a sigh, placed the book down, searching in his bag for a notebook to write in, hope it would calm his nerves. While at first, nothing came, but it did, and he could feel his shoulders ease, relaxing away the pain he had before.
Even though, his mind couldn’t completely let it go.
He sat there, in shock, face burning a new kind of flame, as Raven sat in front of him, smiling. A trail of soft pink dust ran over her nose.
“Did you feel anything you thought it would be?” She asked him, snapping back from his lost trance.
The dark hue on his face lightens, just enough for the chilling air to the rest, and soon he shook his head. Though he also gave a statement; to go with it, asking as well if they could go for a walk, seeing as the twins were getting restlessly with not moving anymore, wanting to let of what happen before, sink in, have a better answer to give.
“Sure, come on, I need to find Noteworthy, we still have the whole day.”
With that, both walking through the crowds, having the stroller be their blocker, in moving others out of the way, it was making the walking more bearably. And while they were pushing along, through the crowds, they talked, one-sided it looked like, but it was enough to pass the time.
“So, it was okay . . . oh, aren’t you sweet . . . Night Stripe why didn’t you tell me . . . well yes, I am shock, who wouldn’t be. That doesn’t always mean it’s going to end bad, have more faith in me . . . okay, I am guilty for being a little pushy . . .you are like a little brother I have never had, Night Stripe, excuse me for worrying about you and your wellbeing.” She replied with, quickly to sidestep someone, able to catch what Night Stripe was signing, before soon giving an answer. “You have never been put well under pressure, I will be sure to have him stop with the repartee about you . . . though it is hard not to, with a face like yours.” Ending with pitching his cheek, who in returned batted the hand away, rubbing his assaulted cheek, blushing rigid when hearing her laughter.
He tried to make her stop, in a way of stop babying him, saying he was anything but a child needing care.
“Night Stripe, whom helped you with your balance issues during our second year?” She asked with a smirk.
He only sticks his tongue at her.
Raven let another set of giggles leave her, having to pointed out to him, of why she babied him, because of how he handle certain things, was far from a adult matter. Though, she didn’t have the heart to fix it, as she wasn’t that kind of person.
Everything just went smoothly that way for them, wasn’t long until finding Noteworthy, at a toy vender, just getting a prize after knocking all the bottles down, and placing it on his shirt. Waving when seeing them, walking over to them, handing the stuff purple dolphin to Raven, who took with a smile.
“That game is more horrible to play than the mallet one.” Noteworthy stated, pointing to the pin he was wear on his shirt near his collar bone, soon saying. “I got this pin from the bottles for a good try.”
Raven patted him on the shoulder in comfort, holding the dolphin close.
“Well, if you didn’t skip gym when we were playing softball or basketball, you would have been learning about the balance ratio of the head to hip connection. That is your fault.”
“It was gym and I don’t think all teachers know all how to the cell morph level of that. Tried it once and the gym teacher just gave me a blank stare.”
“Coach Black Marble isn’t one of the teachers that take more than class; so of course, he would be blinded by that. You should know your teachers better than just going on a whim.”
“I did with you?” Noteworthy said with a smile, glancing at Night Stripe, with somewhat worried eyes, but was given back, a soft smirk, brushing off softy the look that was given to him.
They were on good terms, even if it was awkward, they looked past it.
“That you did . . . how did that go for you?”
“I think well. I have never been this happy, that’s for sure.”
“Noteworthy . . .”
Night Stripe just rolled his eyes, blocking out what else they were going to say, slowly pushing the stroller away the lovely-dopey couple, thinking it was time to look for his parents. He was all ready to head home, this day, just took a lot out of him.
When nearing where some of the rides were, took a seat at a bench to relax, checking on the twins. Finding the back stroller pockets of baby food, diapers, and thermostats milk bottles. Grabbing two, and slowly and carefully, fed the twins with the milk bottles when testing how warm they were, fitting for them, but burning to Night Stripe, but shook off the burn, and focus on them.
Once they were full, covering one of his shoulders with a towel, burped them each, and tucked them back in. happy on the inside of how easy it was becoming to take care of them, his folks would sure be over the moon about it, minus watching the twins, but able to do more. It was becoming a win-win at best.
This was becoming just a good day so far, while he rocked the stroller, lulling his siblings to sleep, while looking for his parents. So far, nowhere in sight, might be best to try elsewhere. Patting down the stroller’s pouches, and side pockets, to make sure everything was in place, while thinking of to look for his parents.
It was then he noticed someone seating down next to him, while he tend to hushing his brother, when a jiff of wind stroke his cheek, out of sleeping, for how chilling it was. Wasn’t long, before he was back to sleep, saving Night Stripe the trouble of not only crying sibling but two.
“You got better raising skill than Applejack . . . Apple Bloom was never this quiet after a while when she was a baby. My ears can still remember the screams, yikes.”
The voice made him jumped a bit, side gazing person who was now seating next to him. Shiver going down his spin, when seeing one of Fluttershy’s friends have the same look Parasol had when she was ticked off at either him or Shooting Star, mostly the latter of doing something stupid. It nerved him, but he still said hello to the other.
“Yeah, hi . . . I heard from what Fluttershy said, about certain things that shouldn’t be said, and for now I am okay with this. Personally, having no one that isn’t an outsider of closeness with us knows about this, would be best if they just don’t remember. You are following me here, right? Cause, good o’ Dashy doesn’t feel like repeating.”
The thought only made Night Stripe shake more, but kept in mind, that Rainbow Dash was just very protective of her friends. Though, he had noticed, though never said she ever showed it to others. If he hadn’t know Parasol as long as he did, Night Stripe would likely be thinking Rainbow Dash, wanted him in a ditch somewhere. In a way, yes she did, but was able to repress it better than Parasol. So he was very glad for that.
A heavy sigh left him, withering in his writing, slowly figuring things out now. Yet, when not even another few lines could come out, he put his things back in the bag, going back to the book, and started reading, hoping to change the current path thinking, to something else, more family friendly for his mind.
Already in mind to stop by the children section of books, maybe he could find one of his favorites and have that, as a better wave off. Even though, the chances of Rainbow Dash still in the library were still good, maybe it was best, just to leave. Not to bother with putting the book back, headed for route that lead elsewhere, that wasn’t the front end of the library.
The moment he opens the door, the bell rings, making his shoulders twitch when seeing he ended on the wrong end of the school for his next class. With another sigh, rushed to get to class, hoping to get there before last warning bell, already missing the calm day, knowing the rest of the day wasn’t going to happen.
The day ticked on, now classes come and gone, leaving just remaining minutes to come and go home. The teacher having the class do quizzes, in a way to keep the students quiet before the last minutes. Night Stripe happy to know, the quizzes don’t hold much over the overall grade, he likely be staggering now in this class.
Ending up skipping another one, going to the next page of the packet, to work on another question, just now hoping to find all the easy ones, maybe work on a difficult one, and go from there. Common sense questions were easy enough, though if they weren’t always phrased in such a cryptic way, students wouldn’t be complaining that the teachers hated them.
One of the many chats that happen in the halls, that Night Stripe just wished would tone down, if anything else the buzzing the hallways were just now feeling like a big drama show Red Rose spoke so fondly off in passing words.
He heard a tapping and saw a finger on his desk, looking up to see the teacher standing by, eyes just scanning the boy.
“I think you are overstaying your welcome, Mr. Inkwell, as your classmates have already left.”
Night Stripe looked around the classroom, when noticing that he was indeed the only one still there, with a sigh fixed up his quiz packet and handed it to the teacher, letting her look over it, while he got his things together.
“You handle this subject well, Mr. Inkwell, but you have to know, I am not like Miss. Elbow Grease, you’re in this class to go beyond what you know from her, yes?”
Night Stripe gave a nod.
“I think you can, but you need to show it, these quizzes are giving me doubt now.” She started with, before getting a good look at Night Stripe’s face, in asking. “Have you been sleeping, you look much worn out. Eyes that red look like you haven’t been resting.”
Night Stripe had a frown on his face, recalling the list that he had overlooked in his bag for the most of the day. His mother wasn’t going to be pleased about this.
“Night Stripe, Mr. Inkwell, you do understand of how I feel with you in my class. You need to work on this. Understand?”
He gave a nod, finally getting his bag on his shoulders, moving around the teacher, heading for the door. Upon hearing the teacher adding a few things, he heard, before leaving. Having a heave of a sigh, and walked through the hollow hallways.
“Night Stripe Inkwell, is that you?”
He turned to face the voice, very glad right away the person pointed out anything wrong with him, also noticing it was one of the year book makers, cheery as ever it seems. Night Stripe gave her an agreeable answer, while asking what she wanted.
“Sorry, to bother you, as seeing you are leaving, but anyway. There is an opening for the year book for all writer contesters, which of those who entered last year, to do an assent poem section. You’re name was on the list, I wanted to ask, if you like to partake?”
He shrugged, unsure if anything else.
“By the end of the week, those who want to partake, come to editing club room, and just sign in. the rest will come after that. Again, though just in case, it is just a short blog poem, of any length the writer wishes, and if the editing goes well, you’ll see the poem there.”
Another shrug, but with more of a he would think about it, using her clipboard to give a better answer to her, letting her read it.
“Great! Until than Night Stripe, thank you for your time.”
He nodded, wishing her well, and went on his face. Finally leaving the building; out in the parking lot, the spring humid air getting to him, jagging his footing, having to reach out for something to keep him standing, enjoying the coolness of the flag pole, to rest his forehead on. His body shaking of rib rattling cough, wanting with the need of laying down, felt nice, but not the wisest thing, yet, his body didn’t let him give a fighting chance to do.
“Night Stripe, are you okay?”
He angled his head to the voice of Fluttershy, giving a slim welcoming smile, before another cough made him lean forward and away from Fluttershy to see his distressed. While curled in a sitting way, flitching when feeling hands on his shoulders, in a soothing matter, cold to the touch, felt as very nice as it broke through his shirt.
“You are burning up.”
He heard her say.
“Hang on, I see your mother pulling up . . . Night Stripe?”
Fluttershy looked to him, leaning against her, passed out, and burning up. She carefully wrapped her arms around him, trying to get him on his body off the ground, in time for Hazy to park nearby. Worried; helping in careful ushering Fluttershy to get Night Stripe in the van, while in placing him close to the AC that was for now on low, but not for long. Fluttershy seating close by, while Hazy shut the door, heading to the front of the car, taking them back home.
“Will he be okay?” Fluttershy asked, but Hazy didn’t reply back, as she focus on the road, leaving Fluttershy close to Night Stripe, feeling the AC turned up now, cold enough in shaking Fluttershy, but calmed Night Stripe’s body enough that it wasn’t, quivering to a subtle jump.
She saw his hand moved in a twitching sign, a question, before having it fall back on the floor.
“We are almost at your house, hold on.”
His head jagged a shake, close to a nod, before his body fully relaxed against the AC fan. Fluttershy, in hopes of calming herself, petted his hair, in hopes this would just be a bad dream really. Even more so, when Night Stripe started another cough, shaking his body, as well Fluttershy’s body from how it shook her.
“We are almost home.”
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