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The phone. It had to have been the phone. No other sound could annoy one into waking at four a.m. like the buzz of a celphone, especially one with custom polyphonic ringtones. The faint glow of the monitor cast a light on her face, three letters spelling on the screen: D-A-D, dead and depressed. The air was cold as she breathed deeply, her eyes still focused on the screen. She had gotten that celphone from her parents since they had felt they needed to be in touch wherever and whenever. Back then she accepted gratefully, not knowing what grave she had dug for herself. They could contact her at a whim, not only ruining her sleep on many occasions but simply pissing her off with the standard conversations like: “how was your day” or “whatcha doin.” Not only did common technology create great new possibilities to frustrate novices of the digital world it also annoyed those who it was supposed to help.

With a deep sigh and a quick flick of the wrist she answered the phone. She knew the moment she heard his voice something was wrong. It wasn’t that his voice was slurred, no, that was a normal phenomenon, something she could deal with easily. It was the void she heard in his voice, as if…as if something nice had happened.

“Jack, what is wrong?” She only called her father dad if she was in the mood for doing so. But feeling slightly grumpy at this early hour she couldn’t find a kind name to call him so, “Jack what happened?”

Since her mother had passed away she felt she took more care of her father then he did for her. That sympathy came with the loss of her mother, but she did not always reach out to him, sometimes his infantile behavior made it easier for her to get mad at him. Actually annoyed would be the correct word, maybe even fastidious, Nah, asinine. She had been reading a few books lately and one word that had stuck with her was asinine. The asinine one, her father, was so deep within his own world that he never truly had time for her.

“Sora—her parents were into Japanese culture, her name actually meant sky—where are you?”

“Home.” She felt weird saying that word. ‘Home, the cornerstone of youth’ some random writer once said. Or at least, he should have said that once. Her home was dead, rotting like her mom’s carcass beneath the icy waves of the Atlantic. They never did find her body, so the casket—obviously—was empty and buried with her favorite brooch inside. Wow, instead of her soul God just might get a nice trinket. But really, home hasn’t meant a thing to her since her mother’s departure.

As if her father, lucid for the first time in months, could read her thoughts—she later pondered the thought his psychic abilities, afterwards sharing a giggle with her imaginary friend—he simultaneously asked and answered a question, “Home?” The question was, “Where are you,” and the answer that he presented in the form of one word was, “Sure, like we have a home.”

True. What could she call home? Her dormitory room filled with one light, one bed, one closet, one mirror, one desk and above all one door. Everything seemed so alone in her room, which, sadly enough was painted some awful medicine purple. If the color, sterile enough to puke out candy, did not kill you then it was the absence of a window. Not even a small peephole, no fissure in the wall into wonderland with its crazy cats, nope, just a sadistically boring colored room without a window. This was what she would rather call home than that hellhole which harbored her memories of the first sixteen years of her life.

She knew if the silence would hang long enough he would initiate the psychology routine and, God forbid he’d ever stop, he would then fall into a state of philosophical brain things and ask her questions like ‘Why are Martians green and not brown’ or her favorite ‘Why are there six buns yet eight hot dogs.’ Yep, that was her one-in-a-million dad.

“I’m staying over at a friend’s house. Why?” Since she had moved into the dorm she actually had stayed more at her friend’s house. Charlene, her best friend, was the sister she never had, and her parents, Charlene’s, thought of her as their second daughter. So when she thought of home nowadays she actually thought of Charlene’s house. It was nice, cozy and warm, just like that house in the Brady Bunch except, there weren’t that many sibling s running around the house in ugly clothing.

“Can I meet you?”

He wanted to meet her, at four in the morning? Sure, why the hell not. It is not like she had anything better to do tomorrow morning. Oh wait, she forgot, school. Nothing like a test you haven’t studied for yet to make you want to go meet your father at four in the morning.

“What’s wrong Jack?” She knew a question had to be repeated several times for him, yet this time she had not the patience needed for such a task.

“I’ll wait for you at Nancy’s.” He hung up.

Nancy’s, a diner, was a five minute drive from here. So five minutes later, now clothed in an orange turtle neck and blue jeans, she found herself looking at the giant red sign saying Nancy’s. She could have simply slept through the night, not giving a rat’s booty if her father got a caffeine-high while waiting for her, yet something in her told her to go the diner. That and the fact that her New Year resolutions were still in effect: Be nice, be nice and a triple extra dose of being nice.

Her father was inside, drinking a cup of java, and she sat across of him. He was wearing his black shirt that had been stained with bleach, yet in the oddest way it looked like some fashionable piece of cloth. Behind them, like some show from the eighties, a jukebox played some old Elvis song, a waitress was serving a married couple, they were obviously married, and at the bar stood two women. All that was left was some freak cook who had an affinity for painting, like that nice one from Pleasantville, and sure enough, there he was, but this time he was painting syrup on his breakfast pancakes.

“What’s wrong Jack?” Hadn’t she said that before? Forget the preliminaries; the niceties were lost on her father anyway. He was either quite pragmatic or aloof, it was one or the other, but both ways he wouldn’t accept handshakes or hugs. Not even from his daughter.

“Have you ever thought about modeling?” her father asked between sips.

With a small frame and ample breasts that was one of the last things she had ever thought of. She also had freckles and had some of the weirdest eyes—they were green when cold and grey when warm out—and above all, she slouched slightly when she walked. But yes, she did think of modeling, just like every other teen in the world, she also had those fantasies of walking down the same ail day in day out, while getting drunk at night, or stoned, probably on hypnotic-crap or some other hype drink.

“No, but if I ever do, Anna Kournikova lives next door, I’ll ask her to teach me how to play tennis while I’m at it.”

He stared at her, a dazed look on his face, and continued, “Those models are skinny as bones, no meat, no pounds, yet they are ‘it’. They are loosing touch with their humanity and now everyone wants to become like them. Maybe, in about ten years, they will have their own species…”

It was her turn now to look bemused. She knew her father was a two miles away from ordinary yet this was new, he had never spoken of models before. Hmm, models were attractive in their own way yet she seriously doubted they could become a separate species, but if they did, maybe Humanis Obnoxia Idiota would be a good name.

“Maybe it’s a disease,” he continued, “Maybe I’ll find the cure for it.” He had one hand under the table. Doing what with that one hand she knew not. But then again she did not want to know where those hands have been or will be.

“Disease? Yep, could be pops, just like those little boys and their Attracto Pastor disease. Or Bush and his Lying Buttus disease. But if you think you can cure them then sure. Have fun. But why am I here?” She was on a roll with these fake Latin names but she still didn’t find out why she was here. Maybe he had a disease…

“Oh, hi,” he said, as if seeing her for the first time today, “How do you do?” He was actually asking her how she was. This was just plain weird. Some alien must in his head, like that freaky one from Dreamcatcher. Soon he would breathe out some red mist and teach her how to fish keys out of a street filled with water. And then, in the greatest scene of all movies, the retard that would randomly appear out of, you guessed it, red mist would help them out.

“Oh, I’m great. Waking up at four is like nothing I’ve done before, I feel like singing and dancing.” She had always been a sarcastic person. Her mom had taught her that. You could say she kept up her witty and sarcastic remarks as a way to remember her.

“That’s good. The early worm gets bitten by the bird, or is that not the expression?”

“I think it was the early mole sees the sun.”

“Could be,” he smiled. His smile had always been nice to see. He could’ve been an actor, he was handsome indeed, yet for some reason he stayed in his old town, married his high school sweetheart and had me. But his smile had some dark tint to it, it was almost a sneer. But then again, in this day and age who didn’t have a sneer once in a while? Even Barney had a sneer once in a while, and that was settled outside of court.

He sipped from the cup, which by-the-by was empty, and spoke to her, “See there, you see that woman there?” He pointed at a woman. She was dressed in blue jeans and a tight fitting white blouse. She was a model or so the shirt said in big pink letters.

As she nodded he got up from his chair, walked across the diner to the woman, and invited her to sit with him. He gave a million dollar smile and she cooperated. She was pretty indeed Sora noticed, for she sat right next to her, across from Jake.

“Sora, this is Chris. Chris is a model.”

“Hi Chris,” she said, her hand slightly trembling. She always had anxiety attacks when meeting someone new but mostly it was a bladder problem. She never had a shaking hand while trying to shake a hand. In some weird parallel universe someone would see this happen and have a great laugh about it. Another thought occurred to her as she stuck out her hand. She was meeting a model with a ‘I am a model’ t-shirt on.

Before she could respond by grabbing the hand her father pulled his hand out from under the table with what he had been playing earlier; A gun. He fired the gun from across the table and shot her twice in the head. Chris was dead before she knew it. Or maybe her diminutive brain had actually felt it but Sora would never know now would she? Would her shirt change to, ‘I am a dead model?’

She didn’t know what made her puke. She didn’t know what she puked out. But she did. The blood, which amazingly was red, had splattered across her face making it look like some idiot trying to impersonate a character from Kippendorf’s Tribe. She was deafened by the blasts, but then she heard it go off three more times. Then all went black. The stupid jukebox was sadly playing that tune ‘Now there is only love in the dark…Nothing I can do, total eclipse of the…’ and before the word ‘heart’ could register to her brain she fell into a slumber of puke, blood and brain bits.

She came by because some idiot was screaming blood and murder. She was about to curse him or her, she didn’t care who it was, and then she remembered the awful dream; blood, puke, brain mush. She started to lick her lips because they felt dry, when she tasted blood. It didn’t taste bad, it just tasted tart. Blood. Whose blood?

She looked around immediately knowing it was no dream. Her father was sitting on a barstool a woman sitting next to him, her screams escalating because his constant gun waving. Those two and she was the only people alive in the diner, or so it seemed.

Everyone else, that is, the cook, the waitress, a man and the two women were dead. Ok, not dead, killed, slaughtered, shot, executed, eradicated, exterminated, slain. To many words for death and that stupid song, ‘I got you baby’ was making her want to create fifteen more words simply to demolish the transforming vocalist of a Cher into mincemeat. Oh and if she had to go through Sonny than that was just what she would have to do.

The woman was abruptly quiet. Sora looked at the scene. Her father had grabbed the woman pushed her against the floor and told her to shut up. The gun was calming resting in his hands as he commanded her to take of her clothes. The woman scurried as quickly as she could, her hands getting caught in the buttons, the zippers breaking as she tugged violently on them. But her father just waited, maybe twenty seconds, and when she was completely free of her clothing he told her to spread her legs. He put the gun in her mouth, she didn’t want it at first, but she must have liked it because she took and licked it—under her fathers command she later realized—as he shoved his hand between her legs. For some reason Sora could only think of those late shows on HBO. The woman looked as if she was about to die, little she knew how right she was, and as Sora’s eyes filled with tears—the woman was also crying—her father smiled a crazy grin.

Boom, was all Sora heard and when she opened her eyes again she saw the once white wall was now covered in red; ‘A flower in winter’ she could hear the abstract artist say or maybe ‘Paris in winter’. Her father walked across the room back to her, a pot of coffee in his hands, and sat back down across from her. He poured himself some coffee and gestured to see if she wanted any. She was still in shock yet her lips parted, and she answered, “No.”

“Well I can’t have a dry throat when I meet God now can I? You think I’ll see Miko?” Miko was her mom’s nickname, it meant dancing lady. She had always loved to dance, Sora thought, maybe she was dancing up there now? Her father ranted on, not even noticing that she was still trembling.

“Anyway chibi—chibi meant small or young—you know daddy loves you right? Just because I was the cure for modeling and people might revere me doesn’t mean I don’t love you anymore. I’m still your down-to-earth dad. Anyway, I hope you liked the coffee, buh-bye,” he finished the sentence with a bullet through the head. Again she got some of that tartly blood on her lips, this time it was her fathers. This time it seemed the channels from which she got her voice actually worked and she used them to scream loudly. Screaming at the top of her lungs she passed out, but not before her face fell in a pool of blood and she thought herself to be in a Stephan King novel.

When she woke up she was outside of the diner, a paramedic was busy washing her face off to see if she had any cuts. Being the only witness a cop, noticing she had awakened, immediately came to her to see what she knew.

“Hello, I’m Dillon. I’ll be asking you a few questions if that is all right, Miss…” he checked through some notes he had on a sheet, “Miss Sora Mills.”

All she could do is nod. Her other senses seemed to be numbed, she could not smell nor feel that well. She just lay back moistening her lips, hoping that she would be able to feel her lips soon again. Charlene once told her, after some crazy party at Max’s place, that when you got high you lost all sense in your tongue. That was how she felt right now, except for that great rush you got with Mary Jane or as it known around the world, Bob Marley’s best friend.

“Can I get you anything?” the cop said, his blue eyes piercing her like Achilles and his sword to that big dude in Troy. But his no-nonsense air and the way he held his hair—hey, she was rhyming—threw her off.

“Tea without sugar,” she responded, her tongue answering before she could. True, why would she want sugar? There was nothing sweet in this life anyway.

All not saved will be lost.

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The following comments are for "Tea without sugar"
by Siah

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