Forenote: For musical inspiration, look up "Hazy - Miracle" on YouTube.
It was 4:15 PM on Whipple Street.
In a corner house, decorated in lace of weeping vines and five-year old Christmas lights, two boys were entrenched in an argument over who's toy soldier was more courageous. Perhaps their mother would have minded had she not been so preoccupied with a pie left far too long in the oven.
Two blocks down, old Mr. Peterson was at it again – down on his hands and knees, plucking out weed after weed… in his neighbor's yard. His neighbor couldn't stand his obsessive tendencies. Mr. Peterson couldn't stand the weeds.
Next door, "Mrs. Destiny", as everyone called her, waited on the curb for a ride that would never come, desperately trying to ignore her husband's expletives as he yelled at Mr. Peterson to keep the &% *+ out of his garden.
And across the street, in an unassuming, little yellow abode, a young, auburn-locked girl was playing dolly dress up in her bedroom. It was awfully delightful, pretending that she was the red-haired doll, going on a date with a handsomely dressed male doll named 'Rudy'.
She sighed. Maybe one day the real Rudy would go out with her. He always made jokes at her expense, but she wasn't fooled. She knew that, deep down, he really found her irresistible. That's what made playing pretend so wicked fun – you could make people do what you really wanted them to do, what you knew they really wanted to say, even if it wasn't real.
Forcing the dolls into a passionate kiss (perhaps a little more roughly than would be… normal… for a child at play), the girl laughed maniacally. Oh, how it tickled her so! She didn't even hear the sing-song beeping in the background, signaling the end of the wash cycle….
Not but an hour ago, while everyone else was living their lives on the broken isle of Whipple Street, two little hearts were beating anxiously in a laundry room – abandoned; forgotten. Said room happened to be in the same yellow house of the auburn-haired girl, in fact, the hearts nestled most uncomfortably in a white washing machine. There were no clothes with them in the wash, of course. It was their bath time, after all, and you didn't need any clothes with you or on you when you were soaking up. That would just be silly.
Two little hearts. They raced dramatically inside the bodies of their owners – a couple of lab mice, to be exact. One of them pawed in vain at the machine door, banging on it, slamming on it, desperate to get out. The other was singing. Singing and dancing. What fun it was to have your own private pool, and one that was going to spin around and around soon at that! His heart was not racing from anxiety, but from anticipation. Already he'd started "swimming" around in the little puddle of water forming at the base. He wanted his doggie paddle arms to be ready for when he and his best friend played Marco Polo.
"Look at me, Brain! I'm Shamu!" the taller of the two mice yelled out as he splashed around the bottom of the large, damp basin, spouting out water from his mouth to complete the affect.
"Pinky, would you stop that?!" the other yelled. He was shorter, stubbier, and a bit more… temperamental. The frown he threw angrily towards the cheerful mouse was telling. This was no laughing matter. "We're going to die if we don't get out of here! Now, help me find a way out!"
"Oh, Brain. Always so dramatic! You never used to be this huffy…."
"I have every right to be "huffy", as you so sarcastically put it!" the one called Brain retorted. "That great oaf's unscrupulous shenanigans may very well have landed us in the butcher's house this time."
He circled the basin for what must have been the thousandth time, testing every area, prodding every nook and cranny for a possible way out, but to no avail. The simple thing would have been to push open the door, but, alas, he was too small, too weak, to do so.
Pinky sniffed around at Brain's last comment, as if hoping to catch a whiff of something succulent. Nothing caught his fancy, however, and his brows creased in response.
"But I don't smell any meat, Brain…."
"Oh, forget it. Just… help me push open the door."
"But we already tried that, Brain."
"I know we did! Let's just… try it again! Maybe we'll be able to budge it."
And so they tried again… and again… and again. Pinky resorted to hurling himself full on at the see-through door, his head banging against the plastic so hard that his entire head reverberated, something he found incredibly funny.
Brain wouldn't dare succumb to an act so embarrassingly low, especially when he knew it would do absolutely no good whatsoever. But he did bang his fists upon the door, willing someone, anyone, to hear them, even though the obvious was staring him right in his languid face.
It was hopeless. Utterly so. This is how it was going to end. After all the beatings, bruises, and badgering they had endured, he, intelligent future-world-leader that he was, was going to perish in a washing machine. A miser's death. It was downright mortifying.
"Woooooo! Brain! The whole washer is spinning around and around like a carousel! Ha-ha-ha!"
"That's just your head, Pinky. Would you stop fooling around and help me get this open?"
Pinky actually stopped for a moment, pausing in his inane antics to sit waist-deep in the slowly rising water. It was cold, but he didn't mind it. Pools were supposed to be cold.
"But… but, Brain…"
"No buts, Pinky!"
The lankier of the two desperately tried to hold in a snort, albeit not very well.
"This is no laughing matter, Pinky! We're going to die. Can you not understand that?!"
"Well, only if you don't hold your breath, Brain. You can always swim to the top if you don't want to stay under the water."
"There IS no top, Pinky. The entire machine is going to fill up with water and us with it! By the time the water hits the ceiling… that'll be it."
"But… it'll drain, right, Brain?"
"Yes… after half an hour."
"Oh! Well, that's not so bad then is it?"
"We won't last half an hour, Pinky. We can't hold our breath that long."
Pinky's ears drooped. Suddenly, swimming in a giant, circular, whirly-go-round pool didn't seem so much fun.
"Well…," he piped up, ears lifting a little. "What if we took a deeeeeeep breath, and held it for a looooooooong ti-"
"WE CAN'T HOLD OUR BREATH THAT LONG, YOU IMBECILE! DON'T YOU UNDERSTAND?! We're going to DIE! Zip. That's it. The end! No more "fun fun silly willy"! And all because I couldn't take over the world!"
His associate didn't respond this time. He simply sat there, watching forlornly as the supposed brains of the operation crumbled to pieces.
The little megalomaniac shuffled up to the door, looking out at the opposite wall of the laundry room; at seemingly nothing at all.
"If I'd taken over the world we wouldn't be here to begin with. Running for our lives. Tortured day in and day out…. We would have been happy."
"Weren't you already happy, Brain? Back at the lab?"
"Of course not, Pinky. We were the subject of man's insatiable desire to belittle those lesser than him and experiment in areas he knew next to nothing about. Always trying to prove our worth; never taken seriously. How can anyone be happy in a situation like that?"
"I was happy, Brain…."
"Yes, I know you were, Pinky."
By now the water was up to their chests, rising steadily second by second. Brain simply stood there, head hanging, one paw pressed against the door window in a vain attempt to connect to the outside world, to let someone know he still existed.
"I just… wanted to make a difference…."
His body lifted a little as he said it. He'd been so engrossed in his conversation he hadn't even noticed that the buoyancy of the water had already lifted him up off his feet. He and Pinky were slowly, steadily, rising to the top… and the water with them.
The finality of it all…. It frightened him. Wide pink eyes flashed with uncertainty, their gaze trained almost subconsciously on the lanky, floating mouse in front of him. Despite his saccharine tendencies, despite his unfailing proclivity to drive Brain up the wall, there was something about Pinky that spelled… comfort. Warmth. Familiarity.
It wasn't a question. It wasn't a command. It was a plea. The words escaped his mouth before he could stop them, reaching out, grasping for some sort of… embrace. He didn't have the guts to stretch forth his hands, and so he did so with his words, in his inflection.
Pinky took hold of them immediately, swimming forward to float next to Brain and encompass him about in a gentle, sincere hug. In one of those rare instances, Brain didn't push away, or bop him on the head, or tell him to mind his own business. No. He hugged him back.
"It's all right, Brain. W-We'll get you your world," Pinky uttered quietly, petting Brain on the head as he held him close. Brain could only sigh, his face half-buried in Pinky's chest.
"Pinky…. I never…. I-I wanted to tell you, but I never… said anything before…."
"Wh-.. Said what, Brain?"
"You… you've helped me a lot, Pinky."
"You mean on your plan thingies, Brain?"
"Yes…," he mumbled, a note of hesitation in his voice. "But… more than just that, my friend."
Funny, how he could call him a friend in address, yet couldn't actually muster the strength to say he'd been a friend.
A slight gasp escaped his lips as a shiver ran up his spine.
"Are you all right, Brain?" asked his cage mate, tightening his grip a little.
Brain buried his face completely in Pinky's chest, the better to hide his embarrassment.
"I'm scared, Pinky…"
Pinky swallowed… hard. His friend always had a solution for everything; always knew just what to do. If Brain was scared it must be bad, and yet… he himself couldn't find much reason to quiver.
Ironic. The one who supposedly had all the answers, who always tried to keep himself so composed, was visibly more frightened than his emotional partner. To Pinky, seeing Brain scared was more unsettling than the actual thought of death. Their impending doom troubled him, certainly, but the fact that he could only offer light consolation to someone much more disturbed than he was what truly made him start to fidget. He shivered a little from the cold, and from the agitation that he couldn't do anything about their precarious situation. In response, to at least have some greater sense of security, he held Brain closer to his chest, and Brain responded in kind.
Only now did Pinky become aware that the washer was two-thirds of the way full. He looked down at his feet, or, rather, where his feet would have been. It was so dark beneath the water he couldn't see his toes, much less the bottom of the basin. That did scare him a little. What did one do when they were scared?
Brain looked up. He looked up… for Pinky had started whistling.
"Pinky, what are you doing?"
"Whistling, Brain. They say when you whistle you're not so afraid anymore. Remember, Brain?"
He said it because he'd heard it in a movie once. Brain did not remember the quote, but he did know the tune, for Pinky had sung it. Many times. Had made it up himself, in fact. It was a silly little tune, entirely too positive and nonsensical for Brain's taste, and yet, despite it all, he found himself whistling along.
And so it was that they spent their last moments together, in the dark confines of a washing machine, whistling. The water continued to rise, the basin started to churn, but if anyone had walked in at that moment and listened very carefully, they might have heard over the more prominent sounds… two little voices in harmony, singing to the tune of "Just Say Narf"….
Author's Note: The amount of abuse that went on inside Elmyra's house was positively despicable, yet it also lends itself to a number of angst prompts. What other torturous shenanigans might have gone on in her abode that we did not see? In one particular episode that was absolutely rife with instances of persecution and humiliation for both mice, she throws them in the washer, albeit for only a brief spell. My response to this was, "Well, what if she left them in there…?".
Side Notes/Fun Facts:
• The title, "Delicates", is indicative of what setting Elmyra put the machine on after throwing them in there. Whether she turned it to that herself or it was already on that setting is left unanswered. I just wanted it to be ironic.
• Whipple St. is a street in Burbank, California near Warner Bros. Studios.
• I firmly believe that, even if he was on the verge of death, Brain would still have a difficult time telling Pinky "I love you".
• The movie Pinky was thinking of is the 1956 film, The King and I (which is my favorite musical).
• The music that goes with this story should actually be properly timed with the length it takes to read it.