Seeing Red

Clayton pressed the lock on the bathroom door until it gave a very satisfying click. His eyes scanned the sink-top until he found the white plastic stopper which he quickly used to plug the hole. While the sink filled with water he dug into his back jeans pocket and pulled out the folded over packet of Kool-aid he’d snuck from the pantry that morning.

Anticipation overwhelming him he ripped the top off the packet and spilled almost half the powered contents into the still filling sink. The powder reacted quickly turning the clean clear water a pale then deep red. Marcus had been right!

Delighted by his success, Clayton opened the cabinet under the sink and took out his tub of bath toys. Digging through the assortment of pirate ships and action figures he finally found some rubber dinosaurs which he felt would be perfect actors for his game.

The orange T-Rex gave a mighty roar as he circled the watering hole in search of his next meal. Suddenly from the side he caught sight of a solitary stegosaurus making his way to the pond. The air stilled in the trees as the T-Rex took one steady step forward, than another. If the stegosaurus noticed him too soon he’d lose out on yet another much needed meal. Determined the T-Rex lowered his head as he began moving faster toward his prey.

The stegosaurus turned his head cautiously, perhaps giving in to a sense of foreboding. He saw the beady red eyes of the charging T-Rex baring down on him, now at full speed. The monster’s teeth gnashed in anger at being spotted, but he was already fully committed to his course of action by this point. The stegosaurus readied his tail for the coming fight, the plates on his back tingling in the hot sun.

A sudden and loud hammering broke the moment as the T-Rex slipped from Clayton’s hand and fell into the blood red sink splashing colored water everywhere.

“Hurry up in there, I need to get ready to go to the mall,” Veronica said.

Her voice carried throughout the entire second floor of the house. Clayton just cringed.

“I’m busy,” he said loudly.

“Clayton, I need to get ready, quit playing with yourself and get out of there!”

“I’m not playing,” Clayton said, blushing as he cast a guilty look at his toys. He reached into the water to fish out his T-Rex.

Veronica banged her fist against the door again, shaking it in its frame.

“I mean it Clayton, get out of there right now or I’m telling Mom!”

“Use the bathroom downstairs,” Clayton said.

“I can’t you little twerp, I need to take a shower.”

“You just took a shower last night, even you don’t smell that bad.”

Veronica pounded furiously on the bathroom door. Clayton worried that the flimsy door lock wasn’t going to be enough to restrain his sister.

“Clayton, I’m counting to three!”

“Go ahead, I told you I’m busy,” Clayton said. He readjusted the stegosaurus on the counter, getting it ready for another attack.

“That’s it, I’m telling Mom!” Veronica said. Clayton heard her storm off down the stairs and begin calling for their mother.

Stupid Veronica, Clayton thought angrily. He knew this wasn’t a fight he could win, not once Mom got involved. Ever since Veronica had started middle school their mother had been taking her side in everything. Suddenly he wasn’t allowed in his sister’s room anymore, couldn’t walk around in his underwear in the mornings, wasn’t even allowed to be ‘rude’ to her annoying friends who called every waking minute.

All this lead Clayton to form the absolutely true belief that teenage girls, or even pre-teenage ones, were absolutely impossible to live with.

Quickly, Clayton stowed his toys back under the sink and surveyed the mess on the counter. He unstopped the sink and did his best to rinse out the pink ring left on the porcelain. Now he needed to figure out how to wipe down the counters without leaving red stains all over his Mother’s favorite hand-towels.

Thinking fast he opened the hamper and dug around until he found one of Veronica’s black t-shirts. It had the words “Girl Power!” embossed across the front in a glittery silver mess. It was a stupid shirt, it was perfect.

Clayton used the shirt to wipe down the counter until all the red water was absorbed. He then tossed the dripping evidence back into the hamper and slammed the lid shut. There, now it didn’t look like he’d been up to anything. The only evidence left was the half-full package of Kool-aid sitting on top of the closed toilet seat.

Hearing footsteps clomping up the stairs, Clayton knew his time was running out. He was about to just toss the package away in the trash when he suddenly got a better idea. He slide the shower door open and reached up for the bright pink shampoo bottle his sister had insisted on buying last time they were at the store.

Veronica banged her hand against the door forcefully.

“Clayton, let me in!” she said.

“I’m almost done,” Clayton called back.

“Mom, he’s been in there forever!” she cried putting her hands on her hips in what she assumed was the most dignified stance to indicate her disapproval of the situation. Mrs. Blake checked her delicate golden watch and sighed. She really didn’t have time for this right now.

“Clayton honey, other people need to use the bathroom,” she said.

The toilet flushed and the sink ran for a moment before Clayton sheepishly opened the door.

“I told her I’d be done in a minute,” he grumbled, eyes downcast. He kept his hands in his pocket, to hide the red that had absorbed into his fingers.

“You two are going to have to stop butting heads over everything,” Mrs. Blake said, “I’m going to be late for Bridge if I don’t hurry up and get ready right this minute. I can’t always drop everything to break up your arguments.”

“Yes Mom,” Clayton said. Veronica just crossed her arms over her chest defiantly.

“Can I go to Marcus’ house?” Clayton asked, he had to let his friend know about the experiment.

“Is your room cleaned?” Mrs. Blake asked.

“Yup, finished it this morning,” Clayton said.

“Okay, go play. Be home for dinner.”

“Thanks Mom,” Clayton said, he shouldered his way past his still pouting sister and ran down the stairs. Somehow he thought it would be best if he wasn’t around for the aftermath.

“Finally,” Veronica said, rolling her eyes as she reached for the bathroom door.

“What about your room?” Mrs. Blake asked pushing the door shut.

“Mo-om,” Veronica wailed, “I don’t have time, Jenny’s mom is coming to pick me up in an hour. Can’t I do it tomorrow?”

“Veronica I told you kids yesterday that I wanted those rooms cleaned first thing. Go get it done or your not going anywhere tonight,” Mrs. Blake said firmly.

“You’re ruining everything!” Veronica cried stamping her foot. She whirled around and stomped down the hallway slamming her bedroom door behind her.

Mrs. Blake shook her head wearily and slipped into the bathroom. She looked at herself in the mirror, trying not to notice the bags under her eyes or the wrinkles that seemed to have sprung up overnight. At least she still had her long blonde hair to get by on, the same as Veronica’s.

She undressed quickly and turned the shower on hot, letting the steam fill the stall. Climbing in the shower her eyes were immediately drawn to Veronica’s shampoo bottle. Such a gaudy “look at me” shade of pink. Still her daughter had insisted it was the only thing that could make her hair look right. Apparently, the bargain brand shampoo she had been using all her life was no longer good enough.

Mrs. Blake had indulged her, not only to prevent another argument, but because there were plenty of times when she wished she could treat herself to a little something special. In fact, now felt like one of those times.

She read the description on the bottle. Something about unlocking hair’s natural beauty with specially formulated enzymes. Sounded about right, besides if it was good enough to keep Veronica’s hair looking vibrant and young then surely it could perk up her own look.

Mrs. Blake squeezed some shampoo into her hand. Wow, what a strong color, she thought. Guess this is what it feels like to be trendy, she chuckled as she set the bottle down and began to work the shampoo lather into her hair.


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