Short Story: Is This Closet Mine or Yours?

Blythe stared up the ceiling, silently begging the Creators to grant her patience. Sol was the only person on the planet who could get into an argument with a cat.

“Is this closet mine or yours?”

Sol’s affronted voice echoed through the wagon, breaking the comfortable silence of a lazy afternoon. Adair, who had been sitting at Blythe’s feet, lost in whatever he was sketching, instead lost control over his pencil. Blythe heard a snap and then a curse, then Adair went scrambling. As he wedged himself half under the couch, Blythe simply lowered her crochet and stared in the direction of the kitchen. This raised so many questions. When did Sol come in without them noticing? How long had he been in there? How did he fit in there? And the most important question...

“Why is he in the pantry?” she hissed to Adair who she just knew was going to get himself stuck. It wouldn’t be the first time she had to tug him free after an attempted pencil rescue.

He gave her a muffled “It’s Sol, don’t ask,” and went back to reaching. For Petra’s sake, there was an entire jar of pencils not three feet away. Blythe snatched one and tapped him on the butt with it. She’d have preferred to knock some sense into him via a different appendage, but his head was trapped in the world of dust bunnies and missing art supplies. He must have realized this pencil was a lost cause, too, because he sighed and scooted backwards, taking the one she held with a look of resignation. Good, maybe now that he was paying attention, he could help her figure out why their friend was in the pantry muttering about how it belonged to him. Sol didn’t even live here.

She brushed the expected fuzz from Adair’s hair and called out, “Solei, who the frit are you talking to?”

From the pantry came the sound of a scuffle, as though Sol tried to move quickly in a space that barely fit him in the first place. “Willow’s trying to steal my closet!”

Blythe stared up the ceiling, silently begging the Creators to grant her patience. Sol was the only person on the planet who could get into an argument with a cat.

“She probably wants you to feed her.” Adair, seemingly unfazed by the situation, had one eye shut and was squinting at the pencil. It was a pencil. It was identical to the previous one in every way, except in not currently being lodged under the couch. Although if he kept staring at it much longer, Blythe was going to dump the entire jar behind inaccessible pieces of furniture.

The pantry door popped open and a perplexed cat was deposited on the other side. It opened again just long enough for a can to roll across the floor.

“She’s not going to eat chickpeas,” Adair pointed out as the cat began washing herself with a hauteur that suggested she was above dealing with stupid humans. She probably was.

Blythe certainly wished she was. With a roll of her eyes, she went over to stand next to the door. “Sol, why are you in the pantry?”

A clatter followed by “ow ow ow ow ow” came from inside.

That really wasn’t an answer. She caught sight of Adair going after the damn pencil again and nudged him with her foot. “You speak Sol. Get him to come out.”

Clattering became a loud crash. Now Adair’s attention was caught. He clambered to his feet and pushed at the door with all of his strength. The door remained stuck. “When did we get a lock?” he muttered, then said louder, “If those were my preserves smashing on the floor, you’re in a lot of trouble! I’ll do something drastic!”

He paused and scrunched up his nose, apparently catching on to how untrue his statement was. “Okay, wait. I’ll... I’ll send Blythe in there! And she’ll do something drastic!”

"Oh no you don't! You're not bringing me into his nonsense. Not this time." Sol's groaning and grumbles were mostly covered by her vehement words, which was all for the better. She was sick of always being the one used as a threat. What would she do, anyway? Drag Sol out of the pantry by his collar and toss him out the door? He was a grown man, for Petra's sake. So was Adair. They could sort out the jelly situation on their own.

She had just picked up her yarn and hook when the door flew open. Unfortunately it was not the one Sol blocked, which meant another member of her wonderful family was about to be bothersome. Sure enough, Dray stalked and seethed their way into the wagon with their entire body wreathed in flame. Through gritted teeth they asked, “Where’s. My. Bracelet.”

Blythe didn’t even look up. It would only encourage Dray and she was done encouraging any of these dorks. Sol could stay in the pantry and Adair could live under the couch if it meant she could have some pleasant silence again. “I don’t know. Where’d you lose it? Why would it be here?”

Dray didn’t live here either, although you wouldn’t know it from the way they constantly barged in. “I did not ‘lose it’. I keep a good eye on my possessions, unlike some people.”

Dray’s comment was directed at Etri who had slunk in behind them. Etri did live here, but if he decided to also be a pest, Blythe wasn’t above kicking him out, too.

Without a word, Etri rested his hand lightly on Dray’s shoulder. There was an audible hiss as the fire snuffed out, instantly lowering the temperature of the room. Dray spun around and glared at him. “I hate when you do that! Did I say you could touch me?”

“I did not say you could burn down my home, so I believe we are even.” Etri’s tone remained as neutral as ever, however his words were perfectly arranged to continue the quarrel.

Of course they would be. Creators forbid the others allow Blythe silence for five minutes. Knowing she wouldn’t be able to focus on stitches with all this distraction, she slid the hook inside the skein of yarn and placed the blanket aside again. If she stayed out of this, maybe everything would fizzle out and they would all leave.

A girl could dream.

While Dray spluttered that they were in complete control over their fire, Etri held up an hourglass-- or what was left of an hourglass.

A thud pulled Blythe's attention away and over to Adair who had given up on trying to pry the door open. With one final kick, he let the cat take over. Willow, presumably unimpressed by the idea of a dinner of chickpeas, began to scratch at it after Adair walked over to the others. “I’m pretty sure that’s supposed to have sand.”

“Yes. Strange, is it not? Hourglasses do require sand, so I wonder what could have happened to the grains once inside.”

“Maybe there’s a crack in-”

“It’s only a stupid piece of glass,” Dray scoffed, cutting off Adair’s suggestion. “You can use it as a paperweight or get another one. The bracelet was made custom and is worth far more than- can you shut the cat up?”

Adair scooped up the meowing cat before she could swipe at the pantry door again. “Willow! Bad! No damaging our house!”

Willow let out a startled “mrrrt” before beginning to purr, showing a feline’s usual reaction to being chastised. At least one being in the room was content. Blythe doubted ear scratches would work on any of the others.

“Thank you.” Dray spun on their heels to glare up at Etri again. “As I was saying, a bracelet is worth far more than a simple timer.”

“This ‘simple timer’ is irreplaceable and held the exact amount of sand to guarantee safe passage to the place of shadow.”

Adair, now having a conversation directed solely at the animal held in his arms, pushed against the pantry door with his shoulder. “Look, as soon as I can get this open I’ll feed you something better than legumes.”

Blythe’s plan to let everything fizzle clearly wasn’t working. Someone needed to put a stop to this and it wasn’t going to be any of the others at this rate, so once again it fell on her. While the cat could wait a few minutes for her to pry the door open to get her food, the bickering needed to stop five minutes ago. She rose to her feet and positioned herself between the arguing pair. They continued to squabble around her until she grabbed both by the hair and tugged to get their attention.

“What are you so upset about, anyway? We’ll find the bracelet and... we’ll get you more sand?” Blythe realized how stupid this sounded before the words finished leaving her mouth. She rallied and continued, “Arguing over what’s more important won’t fix anything.”

“No, but it makes me feel better,” Dray muttered as they carefully disentangled themself from her grip.

Blythe kept hold of Etri’s hair, counting on Dray to follow through in a way she thought they might. Sure enough, Dray reached up to free Etri far more gently than someone might expect from two people who had just been in a heated argument. This is, if that someone didn’t know them. As annoying as it was, bickering was how their friendship manifested. The only way she’d found to reliably stop one of their squabbles before it got to the point of wanting to bang her head against a wall was to give Dray and Etri a mutual enemy. Usually it forced them both to work together for a few minutes of blissful quiet. Occasionally it backfired and all three of them ended up covered in oatmeal. That had been a strange day.

Etri’s lips twitched at his partner-in-crime before he focused on Blythe. “As I was going to ask Atair, where is Sol?”

Ahh, now they were getting somewhere! Everything always boiled down to Sol, didn’t it? “He’s in-”

Adair's words barreled over hers. “Sol who?”

“Sol who?” Dray scoffed. “Try your best friend who has a habit of taking stuff to use in his inventions. Ring a bell? Where is he?”

“Oh, that Sol. I dunno, I haven’t seen him in days.”

Dray’s eye roll put Blythe’s own to shame. It was probably all the makeup Dray wore accentuating their eyes. “You’re a terrible liar considering the two of you were having a muffin eating contest this morning. Where are you hiding him?”

“Oh, right. The muffins...” Adair mumbled to himself. He proved Dray’s point by adding, “I didn’t hide him anywhere! Honest! He hid himself!”

Dray snorted and leaned over to look under the couch, like a six and a half foot tall man would fit. Blythe was surrounded by idiots. “Dray, he’s in-”

A sneeze erupted from the kitchen.

“Ah. He’s hiding in the pantry,” Dray said.

Adair didn’t comment, which was probably for the best. Sol, who would never know what was best if it bit him on the backside, said, “No...”

Dray strode over and shoved on the door to no more avail than Adair’s effort. “Solei Celeste, what did you make?”

Sol all but whimpered. Use of his full name had that effect. “A mistake?”

“That wasn’t what I meant and you know it.”

“Nothing! I didn’t make nothing!” The four outside the closet- minus the cat who was busy kneading Adair’s arm- exchanged a look. That was as much of a lie as Adair claiming to not know who Sol was. When no one said anything, Sol continued, “I didn’t! I had an idea and then I knew you guys would look for me so I’ve been hiding in here the whole time.”

“If you didn’t make anything, then where’s our stuff?” Dray asked. “You have five seconds to hand it over. Five, Four-”

“Don’t count at me! It’s in the drawer of my workbench! I wanted to give it back, but I was afraid you’d be madder if you knew I took it.”

“Too late.” Dray shot an angry look at the pantry door before stalking back out of the wagon with Etri close at their heels.

When they were gone, Adair leaned his forehead against the pantry door. His voice was much calmer than Dray’s when he said, “I have to get dinner started. Can you please open the door?”

There was a rustling and another crash that made Adair flinch, then Sol said, “I can’t! I’m stuck!”

“You’re the dope who went in there in the first place.” Blythe pushed at the door only to have Sol cry out “ouch!” It did, however, open a crack, and she peeked in to see him wedged between the shelves, more or less upside down.

Adair put his eye to the opening. More concerned about dinner than his best friend, he asked, “I wonder if we have any crushed tomatoes?”

Sol’s hand appeared under his nose. “Can we have this instead?”

Adair took the can and read the label. “Sol, this is cat food.”

“I know! Willow says it’s really good and I want to try it!”

Sometimes Blythe wondered if Sol really could talk to the cat. Most of the time she just wanted everyone to stop talking. She pulled the door shut and ignored Sol’s pleas to get him unstuck. “You know what, Addy, let’s just go out to eat. My treat. I bet we can find a place selling hot pepper chicken.”

“Awww, that’s my favorite! Bring some back? Please?”

Ha, she knew that might work. Sol enjoyed food almost as much as Adair did. “If you promise not to go in there again.”

“But it’s my hiding place!”

Almost. A bribe that would have worked on Adair failed on Sol. It did, however, give Blythe ideas for the next time Adair tried to wedge himself under the couch.

She grabbed her coat and nodded to Adair who was giving the cat food to its intended recipient. “Come on. We’ll leave the pantry to think about what it’s done. We can grab a crowbar on the way back.”

(I'm pretty sure the sentence prompt I'm using as a title/first line was one I borrowed from a writing friend, but it was too perfect not to use for my dorks! This story would take place sometime after the trilogy and is a look inside the daily life of my characters- cats, pencils, arguments, and all.)



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