a story by
(c) 1998 by Chris Yost. All rights to story content reserved. Characters Sabrina the Skunkette, Amy the Squirrel, Tabitha, Carli, and Tammy Vixen (c) Eric W. Schwartz. Character Roxikat (c) John Barrett. Character Thomas Woolfe (c) Michael Higgs. Characters Chris Foxx, Susan Felin, Cindy Lapine, Amy Squirrel, Clarence Skunk, Dexter Collie, Angel Collie, and Wendy Vixxen (c) Chris Yost. All rights to additional characters reserved by their respective owners. Story based on characters and situations created by Eric W. Schwartz.Windows95 (TM) Microsoft Corp. Amiga (TM) Gateway Computers.
Amy pulled herself out of bed. She reached over to her bedside table and felt around until she found what felt like a wristwatch and brought it over to where she could see the face.
"Oh God, it's almost ten!" She rolled over -- Thomas was already up and gone. Amy pulled herself out of bed and got herself groomed, dressed, and with her walking stick and a very small package, an envelope, and a picture in hand she hobbled her way up the short hallway.
She stood at the edge of the wall from the kitchen and watched. Sabrina sat at the dinette table, her glasses setting on the table top. She was huddled over a small bowl, and as Amy watched she could see Sabrina taking a white bottle and spraying a squiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiirt! of liquid over her finger. She held her eyelids open with two fingers from her other hand and put the sprayed one against her eye, then brought it back down, shook her head, and sprayed a squiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiirt! over it again.
Amy couldn't stand it any longer. "What are you doing?" she asked.
"Trying to put in my new contacts," Sabrina said. "I can't get them in right, and each time I take them out I'm supposed to clean them with this saline solution before I put them back in." She held her eye open again.
Amy came closer to the table. "Why this sudden interest in contact lenses?"
Sabrina smiled. "For Chris," she said. "Remember when I told you what he'd said about what I look like without my glasses?" Amy nodded. "Well, since he liked me that way too, I thought I'd try the look for him." She tried to put the tiny lens on her eye again, then removed it and hit it with another squiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiirt!
"How many of those bottles have you gone through?" Amy asked.
"Let me empty that for you." Amy reached in front of Sabrina and picked up the full bowl, and tried not to let it slosh while at the same time setting down the other things she'd brought with her. "Someone left these for you last Saturday morning," she said. "Thomas had put them in our room when he cleaned off the table after he brought me home from the hospital, and we forgot about 'em."
"Thanks." Sabrina put on her glasses, picked up the picture and turned it over. "An A500 Plus. Why in the world ... you sure this is for me?" she asked.
Amy dumped the bowl down the sink drain and rinsed it out. "The envelope had your name on it," she called back.
Sabrina picked up the envelope and fiddled with it, then set down it down, untaped and opened the box. "Amy ... "
Amy barely used her cane when she came back and set a larger bowl in front of Sabrina. "Very funny," Sabrina said, then "Lookit ... "
Gripping it carefully by the ends, Sabrina pulled a long microchip embedded in a piece of anti-static foam. "Oh my God!" Amy over-exclaimed. She turned to look at Sabrina. "What is it?"
"A sixty-eight-oh-one-oh chip." Sabrina studied it from all angles.
"Oh." Amy watched her. "Uhm, is that good?"
"It's the Amiga CPU chip for ... why would someone send this to me?" she wondered aloud.
Amy shrugged. "What does it say in the envelope?"
"The env -- oh, yeah." She ripped the top open and removed a card. The front showed a drawing of a wide field with a male and female fox ala Wuthering Heights running toward each other, arms outstretched. She opened the card and read the handwriting ... then put her nose closer to the card and she read it aloud to Amy:
"Wow," said Amy. "I guess it was worth bruising my tailbone for. Looks like you have another admirer."
"Yeah, but who ... " Sabrina picked up the chip again, then looked back at the card. "Clarence," she said. "It had to have been Clarence." She held the open card toward Amy. "Look at that bad penmanship. And he's an Amiga user, too." She pondered. "'My heart'," she repeated. "This 68010 chip is 'the heart' of the computer. He really knows how to make an analogy work." She studied the chip again, being careful not to touch the exposed metal leads. "If nothing else, he knows how to be romantic."
"I thought you said Clarence was seeing your friend Cindy," Amy said, puzzled.
Sabrina set everything down and took her glasses off. "It sure seems he is," she said. She picked up the contact lens and her saline solution. "You said that was Saturday morning though; he didn't take Cindy out until Saturday evening, which was when I got engaged. It had to be him, it's only logical."
"You know, a mirror would be a world of help," Amy told Sabrina.
"Yeah, I know." Sabrina tried putting the lens in again. "But I was already working at this when I thought of it before. Hey! I got it!" She spread her arms and squinted her other eye.
Amy looked and nodded. "Ominous."
Sabrina fished out the other lens from its case. "I couldn't believe it when I saw him," she went on. "He looked like a normal person."
Amy snickered. "He can't be all that bad!" she said. "You say Cindy's taking an interest in him."
"It's Cindy's pet project, un-nerding him. She really defends him though. I guess it's possible she might like him."
"I guess we'll find out." Amy carried her walking stick and determinedly limped back toward the kitchen, then stopped and turned back. "But you won't," she said. "You're not going to be with us anymore."
Sabrina looked over her shoulder. "You're as bad as The Clique," she said. "I'm not dying! I'm only going to be about four and a half hours away."
"It's going to be so weird with you not being around." Amy came back and folded her arms on the back of Sabrina's chair. "We've been roommates for almost five years." sigh "Do you know how odd it's going to be? Putting your mail on the corner of the table and remembering you're not going to be here to pick it up. Seeing something in the paper you'd be interested in and you're not here to tell … "
"You're the closest thing I've had to a sister. I'm really going to miss you."
As she raised her arms, Amy bumped Sabrina in the back of the neck just as she was navigating her other contact lens toward her eyeball. It fell off, bounced off the edge of the table, and disappeared God-knows-where in the plush carpeting.
Sabrina turned her head and squinted at her roommate. Amy took on a sheepish grin and shrugged. "Sorry?"
Sabrina looked through her one good eye into the jungle that was the carpeting around the table. Then she looked back at Amy.
Amy also looked into the pile of the carpet. "I, well, suppose we can find it when we run the vacuum," she said.
"Oh, Ay-mee!" Sabrina crawled around on the carpet while Amy looked over the table top.
Sabrina pulled herself to her feet and looked at her new contact lens covered with the specks of dust, crumbs, hair, and who-knows-what-else-but-God-and-He-wasn't-telling. Sabrina sat back down in her seat and gave the lens a squiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiirt!
Amy watched Sabrina put the lens in one side of the carry case and remove the other, give it a squiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiirt!, and put it in the other side and snug the covers down tight. She picked up her glasses, put each of those lenses in her open mouth one at a time and gave each a loud haaah, wiped them with the bottom of her blue Amiga T-shirt, and slid the near-invisible temples over her tiny ears.
"He likes me with my glasses, too."
Cindy climbed out of the pool and toweled off. She rubbed the towel briskly through her hair and softly down her long ears. Picking up her short yellow robe she slipped her arms into it and walked through the house to the front porch.
She opened the lid to the mailbox and peeked inside. As she moved back to the front door her peripheral vision caught sight of someone walking on the sidewalk. She turned and instantly recognized him.
"Hi Clarence." She gave him a wave, and raised an eyebrow as she looked at him.
Clarence waved back. "Hi, Cindy," he simply said, and barely managed to get that much out. While he couldn't see her in her bikini, he could certainly see much more of her legs than he was used to seeing on a woman.
Cindy walked down the front steps to the walk that led to the house. Clarence saw her and stopped at the other end. "What're you up to?" she asked him.
"Uhm, nothing." Clarence pointed down the street. "I was ... just heading to the library."
Cindy leaned on the banister. "You're dressed awfully nice for the library," she said with a smile, knowing he'd made a detour of seven blocks to pass by here.
Clarence raised his arms with an embarrassed look. "Yeah, I ... " He dared take a step closer. "I ... well, I'm just not used to wearing blue jeans I guess, and ... "
"Hey, it's okay." Cindy said. "Some people are comfortable in them, some people aren't." She held her arm out and motioned toward the house. "Want to come on up?"
Now Clarence was frozen for the moment. Me? He looked behind him to see if he could see who she was talking to. He turned back, and she was looking right at him.
"C'mon, I won't bite."
Taking awkward steps, Clarence walked up to Cindy, and she guided him to the porch swing. Clarence sat down on one end, Cindy sat next to him with only a small space between them.
"I'm sorry about the jeans," he said. "I broke out in this really bad rash when I got home in them." He started to pull his pant leg up. "See, it's mostly gone now."
"Uh, thanks anyway," Cindy stopped him quickly. "But it's practically summer, aren't you hot in polyester?"
Clarence nodded his head. "A little, yes."
They both looked forward, sighing quietly.
"You ... you look awfully nice," Clarence said. He was at a complete loss for words.
"Thanks." Cindy fiddled with the knot on her robe sash. "It looks a lot better like this, though," and she opened the robe partway.
Woah my! Clarence turned his head away, then slowly turned back.
"Clarence!" Cindy closed her robe again. "I'm the shy one, remember?"
"Well ... "
"I'm sorry." Cindy thought for a more appropriate subject. "I was in the back swimming," she said. "Do you swim?"
Clarence shook his head. "Not really. Not well, anyway."
"Want to try?" she asked. "You can wear one of my dad's swimsuits."
Clarence felt his stomach tightening. I'd love to! "Uh, no thanks. Maybe another time."
"It's because they're my dad's trunks, huh?" Cindy said more than asked. "Hey, I understand. You can go get a pair of your own if you'd rather."
Inside, Clarence was shaking like a leaf. The white fur on his palms was glistening. "Y'mean you, me, just us, the two of us, back there, no one else, just us ... "
Cindy looked up and the Doberman mail carrier came by. With informal hello's he handed her a small stack of mail and walked off the porch. Then she turned her attention back to Clarence. "Yep, just us. Don't worry, I promise to behave myself."
Clarence involuntarily laughed, so did Cindy. Clarence was very close to accepting her offer. Cindy looked quickly through the pile of mail and a square lavender envelope caught her eye. So did the name in the return address: Clarence Skunk.
"Awwww, you shouldn't have."
Clarence watched her open the envelope, wanting to snatch it from her but unable to move, changing all over from a pink to a beet red. Cindy slid the card out.
"You pick out nice cards," she said, looking up at Clarence with a shy smile. "I loved Wuthering Heights."
Clarence felt his face burn. He tried his best to stammer something intelligible. Then Cindy opened the card and read what he'd written inside:
Tall and Tawny
Yet to me
By one smitten
This be written
Just for thee
Loved by The Clique
And now This Geek
Please, love me?
Cindy's mouth parted slightly. She re-read the poem, this time quietly. Clarence was torn between the urge to run away and never come back again, and to stay. It was also now that Clarence became aware of a pressure that tightened against the polyester of his trousers.
Cindy raised her eyes slowly, and turned them toward Clarence.
"Maybe ... ," Clarence started, " ... maybe I better go." But he knew if he did, Cindy wouldn't help but notice and he'd be more embarrassed than he'd ever been in his life.
But Cindy only said one word. "Why?"
Clarence fished as hard as he could for the words he needed to make a quick and polite exit. None could come. Instead, he watched Cindy edge herself closer, her long legs together and cocked to one side, her right ankle hooking itself behind her left.
"I mean, you meant all this, didn't you?"
Clarence nodded. He spoke quietly. "Yes." He brought his closed hand to his mouth and cleared his throat, wanting to be assertive. "Every word."
He sat nervous, fidgeting, aware of every subtle movement the swing made as Cindy leaned toward him. "I never had anyone write me a love poem before," she said to Clarence. "It makes me feel kind of special."
She watched the smile break on Clarence's muzzle. "As to the last line ... well, we've got a long summer to work on it."
When she kissed him on the cheek, Clarence went completely numb; his breathing rapid for a moment, then shallow, and a sigh accompanied a feeling of relaxation mixed with relief washing over him ... soon he was aware of an unusually growing warm feeling where the tightness in his trousers used to be.
Cindy smiled, unaware. "You okay, Clarence?" she asked.
"Yeah!" He answered quickly, feeling the warm feeling feeling warmer. "I'm ... fine!" Clarence got up quickly, and ... well, you can imagine after that ...
Cindy looked up at him. "What's the matt -- ?" By the way he was standing, she let her mouth open slightly and Oh my God!
And poor Clarence was dumbfounded. He took a step and had to bend his legs slightly, he felt his tail lower and open out some, the blush replaced by the feeling that every ounce of color was draining away.
Cindy jumped up, her robe falling open enough to reveal her ample cleavage to Clarence, which didn't make things any better for him. Cindy was the one blushing now. He can't leave like this! she told herself. "Maybe we better get you inside," she said, taking his arm and guiding him to the front door.
"But -- " Clarence pointed out toward his freedom beyond the porch as Cindy turned the knob. Seeing no way out, he asked "But what'll I do while my clothes dry?"
Cindy raised her eyebrow, and smiled. "Go swimming with me." And she closed the door behind them.
>> SABRINA'S ROOM -- PRIVATE CHAT
Chris> You were doing that for *me*?
Kitten> Sure! But you should see how much that saline solution costs!
Chris> LOL! That's why I wear glasses, I just have to breathe and wipe :) I love your going to this extra trouble just for me :*
Sabrina nodded to the monitor. She felt the breeze over her fur and turned around quickly to be sure the study door was shut.
Chris> Backtracking now -- How's Amy doing?
Sabrina fiddled to rehook her bra, then saw Chris' question come up. She typed back:
Kitten> She's getting around without her cane better now. She's a resilient woman
"Yeah, I'll buy that," Chris said aloud.
Chris> Be sure to give her my best
Chris sat and watched the screen. It sat idle for nearly two minutes. He typed again.
Chris> Kitten? You there? I think we're lagged!
He could read his own words, but nothing else was coming over. He clicked the tiny button at the bottom of the screen to look at the Status page:
Kitten (sabrina1@...server.croax.net) has quit (ping timeout)
Chris made a fist and smacked the top of the table. Then, "She'll be back," he said.
In her tiny study, Sabrina was fighting to reconnect with the IRC server. Finally it let her in! She tried to join Sabrina's Room, but it was still locked as a private chat room. She sent a message to Chris:
>>Private message from brina1> Hey, lemme in!
Chris looked at the screen and paged her.
>>Private message from Chris: Hey, that's a cute nickname too, 'brina!
Sabrina looked at her screen, then with a gasp looked quickly back to when she had reconnected:
nickname 'Kitten' already in use -- using alternate nick
Sabrina panicked and clicked Disconnect. "Stupid server thinks I'm still logged on!" She waited an extra minute or two before reconnecting.
When Chris saw his page going unanswered, he tried again
>>User 'brina1' -- no such nick
Chris scratched the back of his head. "What in the world ... ?"