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Suzie’s House 499 : Midnight with Cookies

Suzie's House

Sonoma. What a weird name. Emma lay on the bed in Miranda’s room and stared at the ceiling. The room smelled of shoes.

Emma always thought Miranda didn’t like her. But as soon as she found out about Emma and the thing with her brother, Miranda cleared the piles of clothes and shoes off the bed in her room. The place was a kaleidoscopic mess – like one huge walk in closet turned inside out.

Thoughts of Miranda mixed with thoughts of James, and the band, and school, and everything went around and around in her head. It was a good thing the next day was Sunday. There was no way she would get enough sleep to be able to act like a good student.

She flopped around in bed for a minute or two, then gave up. The cookies everyone was too full to eat at the end of dinner called to her. Mrs. H probably wouldn’t mind. She always pushed her food on everyone around her even when she didn’t have any appetite herself. Emma slipped out of bed, and headed for the kitchen.

She imagined herself a ninja going down the stairs in contorted ways to keep the steps from making noise. In the hall way she turned into a Samurai on the way to battle, in case her ninja wasn’t good enough and someone saw her. In the kitchen she became a deer in the headlights.

Trent, stood on the counter. A cookie jar rocked from his fingers onto the top of the cupboards. At his feet stood Sonoma and Mrs. H., both laughing.

“You look like a five year old,” Sonoma said like it was a complement.

“I’m just saying, this wouldn’t be enough to keep me out of a cookie jar,” he said.

“It’ll be enough for Vin.” Mrs. H stepped back to admire his work.

“But won’t you need help getting them down later?”

“I’ll make the chairman get them down. If he’s going to insist I provide them, then it’s the least he could do.” Mrs. H. spoke around a long yawn. “If you’ll excuse me. I’m heading for bed. Help yourself to as many of the rest as you want. Oh, hi Emma. Can’t sleep?”

“Y-y-yeah.”

“Have a cookie.” She put her hand on Emma’s shoulder and gave it a squeeze as she went past.

“Th-th-th-thank you Mrs. H!” Emma moved toward a chair at the table. A plate full of cookies sat in the middle of the table.

“Oh, Emma.” Sonoma smiled like a grandmother on a food label. “We were just talking about you. Trent and I, I mean. I’m glad you’re here.”

“Wh-why?”

“Better to talk to you than about you.” Trent grunted as he eased off the counter to the floor.

Emma curled in on herself. Even if these might be allies, she felt like a thief invited to dinner after getting caught red handed.

“We think you could use some basic tools for dealing with your brother.”

“Wha?” Tools? Was there such a thing?

“If I was you, I’d probably have a lot of trouble with self confidence.” Sonoma snagged a cookie as she sat down.

“Yeah. Me, too.” Trent took the chair across from Sonoma so that no one sat directly across from her. Emma nodded. She felt a little hemmed in, but these two were friends. Or at least they meant well. She thought they would probably say something like she should just feel better about herself, the way school counselors tended to. Like that was ever any help.

“So first consider the source.” Trent said seriously. “If Big Jim says it, then you can’t really take it seriously. You already know that he’s going to try to hurt you with whatever he said.”

“I… I know! But!….”

“Yes, it’s easier said than done. I bet he hit you anytime you doubted him.” Sonoma eyed another cookie.

“Yeah. He.. he did!”

Both gray heads bobbed in acknowledgment.

“That’s the way bullies work. So you are going to have to fight it. You have to keep an eye on your own brain.” Trent tapped his temple. “When you catch yourself thinking the kind of stupid things he would say, tell yourself, ‘I have a right to be myself. Nothing anyone says can change that.’” He made air quotes. “Make it intentional. It’s like lacerating a boil. You gotta get all the puss out.”

“Trent!” Sonoma made a face which he shrugged off. She turned away from him pointedly to focus on Emma. “You’ll probably have to tell yourself a lot of times.” Sonoma agreed. “Along with things like, “I have a right to be here.” “I have a right to be heard.” and “I have a right to be loved.”

“But… What if I don’t?” Emma’s voice rose enough to make her throat hurt.

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