Monday, January 28, 2013

Fire Lily, Issue Two - Chapter Two


“You know, you're real bossy online,” Sierrah griped as Lily climbed into the passenger seat of her blocky white van.

“S-s-sorry.” The seat belt jittered in Lily's shivering hand, clicking as it missed the latch. Sierrah rolled her eyes, snatched the belt from Lily's shaking hands, and locked it into place. Lily looked away, pulling up the hood of her extra-large winter jacket.

“All bundled up. Are you going skiing? And what's with all the shaking?”

“I g-g-g-g-get cold reme-me-member?” But as she spoke, the window became white with steam.

“Yeah, I remember that.” Sierrah pressed the gas. The van groaned as it pushed forward, crawling over the pavement like an old tortoise on a hot day. As they rounded out of the driveway, she dug into her purse and came free with a fistful of marshmellows. They made pleasantly soft mushing sounds as her teeth reinvented Fluff. “But it was only a bit of a chill last time. Now you're freezing? What gives?”

“I don-on't know.” Lily bunched up her shoulders and snapped the hood strap around her mouth, trapping her hot breath inside.

“You'd think you'd be hotter than usual...” Sierrah trailed off, chewing the marshmellows thoughtfully. Without warning she clapped her hand over Lily's forehead.

“Ow.”

“You're right 'ow.' You aren't cold at all.” Sierrah returned her hand to the wheel. “Girl, you're burning up. Like, really burning up. You're like an oven.”

“That explains i-it then.” Lily didn't look away from the road as they turned into downtown. Her eyes swept dilegently through alleys, between cars, up driveways searching for anything unusual. There seemed to be a lot of unusual lately, and it always led to trouble. Just what she was looking for. She sighed.

“Explains what?” Sierrah's eyes darted to her passenger.

“My body is hotter than the air around us,” was the muffled reply. “But I guess not hot enough to ignite my clothes.”

“That's probably a good thing.” Sierrah burst out laughing, filling the car with half-finished thoughts of perverse nature, all of them interrupted by another bout of juvenile howls. Lily felt her cheeks turning red. For once she wished they were cold.

The van grumbled as it went up and down streets, crossing one way through an intersection then crissing the other five minutes later. The sun began to sink behind the rising buildings, casting long and looming shadows on the city below. Smaller businesses began to turn their signs, and their keys, though most had adopted a policy of leaving on the lights.

Sleep came to Lily's eyes as the city became a melt of colors and shapes. She fell slackjawed and unattentive as parked car after parked car disappeared behind them. Her thoughts, equally tired, swirled like a blackened, muddy pool. Nightmarish faces screamed up from the depths only to be chased off by dragons and clear skies. And then, at last, her grandmother whose pleasant smile seemed almost wicked somehow. It was the smile that knew.

What if her secret was found out? What if her grandmother really did know? Would she tell anybody? Lily frowned. Would she have to be silenced? She shook her head, and stared ever more intently at the dimming streets. As the tall street lamps switched on, casting spotlights every few yards, despair began to set in. Along with a persistent and powerful hunger.

“Do you want to stop?” Sierrah asked suddenly, her loud voice jarring after lengthy silence. “I'll buy a pizza, if you want. Man, I want pizza. With cheese and pepperoni. Onions. Yum.”

Lily's stomach cheered. That was all the answer the blogger needed to pull up beside Papa Presto's Pizza Pies.

A bell dinged once as Sierrah threw open the door and marched eagerly into the cheese-scented air. Everything about the place was warm, from the red leather seats to the red and white checkered floor. The air itself was warm with the heat of flaring stoves, crisping ovens, and of course steaming, saucy pizza. It was a welcome change from the coolness of the night outside, but Lily's shivers still trembled as she followed quietly in Sierrah's shadow.

The man behind the counter was middle-aged and wore a goatee with hard eyes which, with his obvious attempt of flashing the tattoo on his shoulder, he tried to wear like he meant business. Despite the tough rocker act, he put much pride in his sparkling countertop. Not a speck of grease stained the glorious finish. He shoved the dirty rag behind the register and looked up at Sierrah, barely noticing Lily. “What can I getcha?”

“Well, let's see.” Sierrah placed a finger to her lip and stared up at the menu. The man at the counter waited, but his patience was short lived. A sense of urgency was growing plain in his steely eyes. After a minute Sierrah began speaking, without taking her gaze from the menu: “I'll have a large, and I mean a large, the biggest size. Extra cheese, all six of 'em. Pepperoni, sausage, hamburger, onions, peppers—green and red--”

The man jumped suddenly, as though he'd been startled. His fingers pounded heavily across the keys on the cash register.

“--olives, mushrooms, chicken—oh man, you have barbeque chicken? I want that too. Bacon, ham, pineapple, and what's that on the end? Steak? I want that, too. Yeah. Steak sounds good.” She glanced down at Lily. “Steak good for you, Shorty?”

Lily nodded and managed a muffled “mm-hmm.” The man behind the counter seemed in a panic. His fingers were a flurry at the register, and he'd brought his arms into it, lifting them up wildly then slamming them down as though strength alone would type more order. At last he stopped and glanced up over the display.

“Is that all?” he asked weakly.

Sierrah smiled. “And a cherry on top.”

“Huh?”

“Oh right, and fountain drinks. Two large.”

The man stared bewildred for a moment, then punched a few keys and tore the receipt. “Twenty-one eighty-seven, your order will be up in about ten minutes. Here's your cups.” He slid them mouth-down over the counter.

Lily was hungry, but even her stomach shrank away at the thought of all that food. She wondered if they'd even come out with a pizza, or if they'd have to eat it out of the box with forks. Either way, she decided not to care. It was Sierrah's order, so whatever she wanted.

They chose a spot by the front windows, one of the only tables to have chairs instead of benches. From where they sat, Sierrah could keep an eye on her car, and, she reminded Lily, they could watch the streets.

By the time the pizza was out, Sierrah had already gone through three cups of coke and had gone back to sample another. When she came back she tossed herself in the seat, through open the pizza box, let loose the most delicious of smells, and nearly fell back laughing.

“The cherry,” she cried. “They really gave me a cherry. Look. Look.”

She spun the box around so Lily could see. There at the center of all eight slices sat a plump red marachino, seemingly plucked right from a sundae. The box twirled to the side and Sierrah snatched the tiny fruit, plopping it onto her tongue greasy-bottom first.

“Mmm. That was a great idea.” She wiped the dripping cheese from her lip and gestured to Lily. “Hey, take a slice, Hot Stuff. I ordered this for us both, you know.”

The pizza stared up at her. A dozen delicious aromas filled her airways all at once. A smell so strong it knocked her back into a feeling of clouds and space. Her stomach whooped, her mouth filled to the brim with hunger. Not knowing where to start, and no longer caring for modesty in the presence of the enthusiastic Sierrah Scott, Lily dug her fingers between the piled meats and vegetables and ripped off a huge slice, slippery with grease and sauce. Cheesey tassles dangled down as she bit in and like a rocket took off into heaven.

But it was a bliss that was short lived. As the piece of dripping downtown ecstasy slid away a long yellow bus roared past the window. Lily met Sierrah's intense gaze, and without a word they folded the box shut and slipped back into the night.

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