Episode 1. In which the doorbell has a seizure
“Ding-dong. Ding ding dong. Ding ding ding ding ding ding dong dong ding-dong!”
I tossed about uncomfortably in my sleep, trying to shut out the incessant ringing.
“Arianne, please make him shut up!” cried Caleb.
“Mmf,” I said into my pillow, which tried to squirm out of the way, mumbling something about how inconsiderate I was being, blowing my nasty overnight breath right into her face. “Listen,” I began, lifting my head up to address Caleb without bothering to open my eyes. “I don’t feel like getting out of bed right now. It’s Saturday morning for Pete’s sake! Why don’t you ask Superball if he’ll go and talk to that neurotic thing.”
“Ask Superball this, ask Superball that!” snarled Superball. “Just because I’m not immobile like some unmentionable couch potatoes around here ….”
Caleb retorted, “I resent that! Did you hear that, Arianne? Did you hear that? Make him shut up, too, while you’re at it!”
I couldn’t get any more rest, so I sat straight up in my bed, rubbing my eyes.
“You guys are just lame,” I said, flopping onto the floor.
“Uch! ouch! owie!” yelped the carpet fiber clones in unison. “Be gentle! We’re very sensitive carpet fibers, you know!”
I shot them a nasty glare. “You guys wanna be vacuumed today or something?” The threat sufficed, I noticed to my satisfaction. Down I strolled to the source of the sound.
Chirpy wore the same crazed expression as usual, his big open mouth of a doorbell button popping in and out ad infinitum.
“Chirpy, it’s freaking six A.M. Could you try cutting it out for once?”
“Ding ding ding dong!” he chimed. “Ding dong ding dong dong.”
“I’m only giving you one more chance!”
“Ding dong ding dong!”
Annoyed, I pulled out a roll of duct tape and sealed the button in, causing a constant hum that was nevertheless preferable to uncontrollable ding-dongs that were driving everyone in the house nuts. I stumbled up the stairs, grumbling to myself.
“Oh, thank goodness, Arianne,” said Caleb as I pushed him open to return to my room.
“I’ll buy you earplugs next time I go to Wal-Mart,” I muttered, drifting back to sleep atop my pillow, which was now admonishing me about letting my hairs carelessly dribble into her mouth. Lazily, I flipped her upside-down and resumed the bit of beauty sleep that remained.
“Renée,” I said, pushing down on the obstinate laptop, “if you don’t go in, I’m going to have to leave you at home while I go to school.”
“And you think that bothers me?”
“AND I’ll turn off your firewall.”
“You wouldn’t dare!” she said nervously. “You wouldn’t dare!”
“Repeating it don’t make it any more true,” I sang, giving another push. “Have you been eating a lot of croquettes lately or something?”
“No~,” said Renée defensively, “just a few too many scrumptuous pâtisseries.”
“As a laptop, you should be watching your weight. I think you’re approaching a milk jug in mass.”
“Mon Dieu! You’re kidding, right?”
“Indeed not,” I said morosely, zipping up the backpack, only now noticing that I had not unplugged my headphones from Renée’s port.
“Ohforthesakeofallthat’sholyunplugitfirst!!” she shouted as the zipper caught on the cord, which, as we all know, functions as a nerve when not properly disconnected.
I apologized immediately, unzipping the bag and removing the headphones.
“C’mon, let’s go to school.” I only received a muffled grunt as a reply.
The bus ride there was boring until Jeena hopped on.
“Hey, ‘sup Arianne?” she greeted.
“ ‘Sup,” I answered unenthusiastically.
“Chirpy again?” she guessed.
I nodded. “Yeah, that about sums it up. I’m thinking it might be a mechanical problem.”
“Or a mental one,” Jeena offered.
“Oh, please!” I protested. “Anyway, it should all be fixed now, or at least I hope so. I have enough to worry about as it is, honestly.”
“Yeah, like the math test we have fifth period.”
“Hm? What math test?” I asked mindlessly.
“Um, Arianne,” said Jeena, her eyes betraying a profound emotion that seemed to bridge pity with a plump helping of ‘wow, you’re a dumbass.’
“Wait, MATH TEST?!” I positively screamed, causing the person behind me in the bus to boot the seat abruptly, nearly creating a dent in my spine.
“Erm, not that I studied, either,” said Jeena.
I glared at her, saying, “Not helping.”
“It’s after lunch. You have plenty of time to cram.”
“I guess so.”
So it came to be fourth period, just before lunch. It was Civics class, but I had a lot of trigonometry to worry about at the moment. Putting up a shield of random Civics papers, I cracked open my Trig book to page one hundred-twenty to review the law of cosines: c-squared equals a-squared plus b-squared minus two a-b cosine C. That seemed simple enough, as long as I kept all the signs straight. But what if I didn’t apply it correctly?
I flipped the page to see if there were tips on when to use the equation when all of a sudden, I felt a gust of wind tickle my right ear.
“Eh?” I said, mildly startled.
“Oh, it’s just me,” reported a crumpled-up piece of notebook paper lying on the ground in the aisle next to me.
“Are you okay?” I asked.
“Arianne!” called a distant voice.
“Hold on, I need to figure out what happened.” Turning a bit more in my seat, I could now see that the paper had clearly been thrown. “Okay, I think you look like you’re in fine shape. Just let me go and get you off the filthy ground.”
I got out of my seat and retrieved the piece of paper.
Unfolding it, I realized that it was completely blank. My investigation was yielding important findings: the owner had thrown it without the intent of sending a message, and also without the impulse of frustration at having written something incorrectly.
“There, there, you’ll be fine,” I said, attempting to smooth out its wrinkles.
“Argh! No! I’m not fine at all! Look at me! I look like I’m an old hag now!” cried the leaf of paper.
“It’s nothing that a bit of wrinkle cream couldn’t solve,” I said soothingly, continuing to smooth out the wrinkles.
“ARIANNE!” The shout had grown unbearably shrill.
“Yes?” I asked, looking up from my desk. The teacher seemed to be angry.
“Stop being a petulant adolescent. Throw out that piece of paper immediately and stop talking to yourself.”
“Oh no, that’s fine. I don’t mind taking care of it. And I’m not talking to myself, ma’am, just to the paper.”
“If you don’t quit being fresh, I’ll give you detention!” she threatened
“Um, I wouldn’t like that,” I said.
“Then good, get your eyes front, put away whatever book you’ve unwisely chosen to open in my classroom, and start learning some economics for a change.”