Washing Dishes

Lucy takes another emote drop out of the open packet on the coffee table, and puts it on her tongue: Washing Dishes After a Christmas Meal. The drop dissolves in her mouth, and her anxiety immediately begins to wane. It’s her third Washing Dishes in the past hour, and it’s all that’s keeping her from freaking out right now.

Flapjacking Sterling never showed, and now she’s stuck with a case of stolen emote drops.

Well, minus three Washing Dishes After a Christmas Meal, of course.

That’s enough sampling the merchandise, she tells herself. She seals the open packet and puts it back into the case with all the others, then shuts the case. I’m going to kill him. Seriously. Flapjacking kill him.

She won’t, of course. But she can think about it, right? Think about sticking a zap gun into Sterling’s flapjacking mouth and pulling the trigger until it clicks?

Sure you will, kid. People yelling at you makes you want to cry. Of course you can blow Sterling’s head off, no problem.

She has to figure out what to do with this case of drops, and she has to figure it out right now while the Washing Dishes is still mellowing her out. While her brain is still soothed from all the warm feelings of love from unwrapping presents, and the full stomach of a good meal, and the soft buzz in her brain from a fine holiday family gathering. Before the drop wears off and she’s back to freaking out about five thousand credits worth of drops sitting on her coffee table (minus the price of three Washing Dishes, obviously) and having no idea how to move them without Sterling, and also where the flapjack is flapjacking Sterling anyway?!

Lucy exhales heavily and rolls her shoulders. No freaking out allowed now. Freak out after she gets rid of the drops. Easy peasy.

She pulls her vPhone out of her pocket and taps open her contacts list, starts scrolling. Donny? No. Rico? No again. Magda? Moved to KnockJack Corp. territory out east. Omar.

Well… Omar.

Omar.

Lucy taps the call button and puts the vPhone to her ear. It rings once, twice, three times. With each ring, the feeling of well-being the drop gave her starts to fade, and the anxiety starts to creep back in. Four rings. Five. Voicemail.

“Omar, it’s Lucy. Umm… look, I’ve got a thing here I need to talk to you about because Sterling is a stack of flapjacks and he blew me off and I don’t know who else to ask. So yeah. Umm… call me back when you get this, okay? Cool. Yeah, so thanks. Okay.”

She ends the call and feels like a flapjacking idiot. She hates talking on the vPhone, almost as much as she hates talking to people in real life as well, but she doesn’t know what else to do. She’s got to move these emote drops. Time’s wasting.

The Washing Dishes has pretty much completely worn off, and her stomach is starting to ache. Not from the drops she’s taken, those are totally clean. It’s her anxiety, turning her insides to knots. She lifts her phone, knowing looking at it won’t make Omar call her back any faster, and then she almost drops it in surprise as it vibrates in her hand: a text, but it’s not Omar. It’s Lily.

Going to Bambang’s for noodles. Meet me?

Can’t, Lucy replies. Waiting on a thing.

Lily responds with an ani of lips and a tongue blowing a raspberry. No things are as important as noodles at Bambang’s. COME EAT WITH ME.

Waiting on Omar to call.

Omar never calls. COME EAT WITH ME.

Lucy puts her vPhone facedown on the table and leans back against the futon. Lily is made of ninety-five percent persistence and five percent stubbornness, so Lucy knows that the only way to win this game is to stop playing. She can be stubborn herself when she needs to be.

Her vPhone vibrates against the table. She doesn’t pick it up.

It buzzes again.

Once more.

And again.

“Flapjack,” Lucy mutters. She grabs the vPhone and reads the texts.

You NEED to COME EAT WITH ME.

Don’t ignore my texts.

You’re ignoring my texts.

I’m coming to get you so you can COME EAT WITH ME.

Lucy groans. There is no escaping Lily when her sights are set on you. She is like that cybe bounty hunter on that VerpNet show that Lucy’s never actually watched, the what’s-it-called? CybeHound? CybeTracker? Something stupid like that, so of course it’s insanely popular.

Lucy grabs her backpack from beside the futon, unzips it, and tosses an assortment of flapjack under the coffee table until she has room enough inside the pack for the case of emote drops. She doesn’t really want to take them with her, but she certainly doesn’t want to leave them out of her sight. Her SymHeart would blow a gasket from the stress of it, and thinking of that makes her think of the rapidly-approaching cardiac warranty expiration date on her cybernetic ticker, which makes her pulse race, which makes her think more about her warranty, and so that’s what it’s like being Lucy, right, Lucy?

For flapjack’s sake.

She jumps as her doorbell buzzes loudly, while at the same time, her vPhone vibrates and a message pops up on the screen: I’m here so OPEN THE DOOR.

I should have taken another Washing Dishes, Lucy thinks. Or the whole flapjacking packet.

The doorbell buzzes again while her vPhone vibrates in her hand, so she heads to open the door before Lily decides to climb up the fire escape and come in through the window.

Lily the CybeTracker.

Or something like that.

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