“Sooo hungry.” Cameron complained, slumping heavily into his chair and cramming a forkful of spagetti into
his mouth. Adena and Tanis giggled and Squib cracked a smile, but Cody stayed quiet. Ears trained on the conversation, eyes
trained on Cody, Squib tried to analyze her behavior. Her skin was still thin and pale, but it had lost it’s yellowish
tint. The dark circles under her eyes had receeded slightly, though she still appeared exhausted. He watched her hands. Pushing
lettuce around her plate and heaping vegetables into seperate piles, she stabbed a tomato and popped it into her mouth, chewing
lethargically. But at least she was eating. Baggy clothes still hid her figure, but her hands appeared less scrawny, so she
must have gained back some of the weight she’d lost. Her bright, full red hair still hung limp and lackluster.
“You gonna eat that? Or just play with it?” Tanis teased. Squib watched for Cody’s reaction apprehensively.
Her eyes darted briefly to Tanis’ face, but then returned to her plate.
“Wasn’t aware you’d taken a sudden interest in analyzing my eating habits.” she grumbled
sarcastically. Squib grimaced. Ok, so her behavior was no better.
“Oh for christ sake Cody!” Adena finally
exploded, “You’ve been at this for a week! Whatever happened, get over it! Cause we’re all sick and tired
of your attitude!” she spat.
“Adena!” Squib hissed at her.
“What? I’m tired of walking on eggshells! Just get over it, geez it’s been two weeks!” Adena
“Then don’t walk on your stupid eggshells! Just stay the hell away from me!” Cody stood so fast
her chair toppled over with a clang, scraping loudly across the linolium floor. “I knew you wouldn’t understand.”
she muttered, storming out. But not fast enough that Squib didn’t see the tears the glistened in her eyes.
“Way to go, Adena.” leaving his half-finished dinner, he went after Cody.
“Cody?” Squib called tentatively, poking his head through the open front door of her dim house. He got no
answer and stepped hurriedly inside, craning his neck left and right, searching the dark hallways for her. Placing his feet
carefully on each step, so as not to make a peep, he wandered up the stairs, startled when he heard a large thump from down
the hall. His pace quickened and he briefly heard the top stair squeak as he hastily made his way up the rest of the stairs
and down the hall to the room that cast a pale yellow light out into the hall through the open doorway. Peeking inside, he
was relieved to notice that Cody was unharmed, though obviously upset. Clothes were strewn across the floor, an end table
had been toppled and he almost tripped over the tangled cord of a broken lamp that lay in pieces on the floor. The sheets
on her bed were twisted and several pillows appeared to have been tossed across the room. It was chaotic to say the least.
But Cody was no where to be found. Panicking, he stood among the ruins of her room and strained his ears, hoping to catch
a sound, any sound, that would alert him to her whereabouts. It was then that for the first time, he heard the pitter-patter
of water hitting tile. She was in the shower? He didn’t stop to think how this might look to someone who didn’t
know Cody the way Squib did. He didn’t care that he would probably be crucified if Cody’s father happened to walk
in at this moment. All Squib cared about was that Cody had obviously been upset and lately, she had worried him more and more,
all Squib cared about right now was making sure she was ok. He was hit with a wave of hot air and steam as he wiggled open
the bathroom door. He could see her silhouette on the other side of the showerdoor and over the splash of water, he heard
her muttering something. He couldn’t quite make out the words, but that didn’t matter. This wasn’t right.
A drop of water escaped from the shower and splattered onto his upper arm, causing him to flinch and jerk his arm away in
pain. The water was scalding. From what he could see, Cody appeared to be attacking her arms with a cloth. Glancing around,
he noticed several fluffly white towels, lying neatly folded on the bathroom counter. Again, without pausing to think, he
grabbed one and unfolded it in front of him. Adverting his eyes, he yanked open the shower door and caught a brief glimpse
of Cody’s startled and slightly angry glare.
“Squib? Go away.” she went back to attacking her arms. Stepping slightly into the shower, Squib wrapped
the towel around Cody’s body, pulling her flush to him.
“Cody, stop.” he demanded quietly, not angrily,
but almost pleadingly. With a shudder, Cody’s weight leaned into him and her sobs intensified.
“I can’t. I can’t.” she repeated over and over through her tears.
“Why not?” Squib tried to pry her into telling him what was going on.
“It won’t come off.” she sobbed, allowing him to lead her out of the bathroom, sitting the two
of them of the bed.
“That stench..it just won’t come off.” Leaning her head on his shoulder, she let herself cry all
the painful tears she had yet to cry.
“Cody, what’s going on?” Squib begged, holding her closer to him and rocking her like a child.
“I can’t, Squib. Not now. Please, I can’t.” she spoke into his chest, her voice muffled.
She sounded despairing.
“Not now.” Squib agreed, squeezing her softly.