Fly Away Home, Part I
Creepilla Creecher sat with her back against the tired brick wall of the park's central building, which at one time had been a place that housed restrooms, eateries, and minor museum that at one time paid tribute to Middlington history. But the building had been abandoned before Creepie had even been born, and nature had spent the last seventeen years slowly reclaiming its territory. Vines covered the sides of the structure that were warmed by the sun's afternoon rays. Creepie preferred the dark side of the building, which received far less sunlight. The ground she sat upon was littered with brown leaves that had been collecting as autumn made its slow march into winter.
Creepie nestled a spider web between her delicate fingers, its once proud inhabitant having long since moved on to a better feeding ground. A disgusted sigh escaped her mouth, betraying her mood. How could everything have gone so wrong?
She was angry with her parents. It wasn't a feeling that she was accustomed to. It was the first time she could recall fleeing Dweezewold, that the decrepit old manor had not felt like a refuge against the rest of the world. And it wasn't. Not anymore. Not for her, at least. But the irony of her actions were not lost on her. She had done exactly what she had sworn not to do. She had gone out into the world.
How could they do this to her? She felt like a fly, helpless and frightened, as a sadistic child tore at the wings on her back. She wasn't accustomed to fear, but the very idea of not being able to live in Dweezwold was perhaps the single most frightening image that her mind was capable of scaring up. The human world was something she preferred to experience in small doses. She didn't fit into it very well, and wasn't interested in conforming. She expected to be accepted from herself, not for living up to the standards of others. Of course, the people that genuinely accepted her were few and far between, but she was grateful for them. If it weren't for Budge, she probably wouldn't have survived her first semester of middle school. And, of course, there was Chris-Alice. She meant well. She also tried entirely too hard, but it was just too difficult to stand up to her. She was so kind-hearted and energetic, it just felt wrong to try and take the wind out of her sails. That trait would probably carry the red-head far enough in life, so maybe there was something to it. There were brief moments in Creepie's life where she wished she knew how to be less stand-offish. But it was still difficult for her to feel excited about a lifestyle she seldom understood.
Fortunately, she didn't always have to go it alone. She did have Budge, the only other person in her everyday life with whom she really approached an understanding. Of course, that was because she trusted him more than anyone else. And her trust did not come easily. She wasn't quite certain why that was, but he remained without question her best friend. He stood beside her when her principles and values came into conflict with everyone else's, and though he often managed to get himself in trouble, he would also charge in to rescue her like an oversized Sir Galahad if she got herself in over her head. Not that she did such very often.
"Creepie?" The sound of her name was faint but still noticeable, sounding friendly, curious, and reassuring. There were few people strolling through this area of the park, but she still didn't like the idea of exposing herself.
"I'm over here." She called softly, just loud enough for him to hear without attracting unwanted attention to herself. She pricked her ears up, listening for Budge's footfalls. She didn't call to him a second time, feeling unsympathetic because of her mood. Consequently, she heard him stop several times, then mysteriously start again, as though they were playing some half-hearted game of hide and seek. Creepie noted that he did not call her name a second time, which meant that he was probably all too aware that she wasn't in a pleasant mood at the moment. Feeling somewhat guilty that she had barely given him a clue to finding her, Creepie shuffled her feet among the dead leaves several times, hoping that Budge would pick up on the sound. He did, and she inclined her head towards him as he rounded the side of the building she had burrowed herself against. "Hey." She finally said in greeting as he approached her.
"Hey." Budge said in response as he stood across from her.
Creepie looked up at him expectantly, her hands busying themselves by making a cats' cradle out of the webbing she had picked up. She worked at it furiously, anything to avoid talking about things she didn't want to talk about. "Sorry if I sounded strange over the phone, but…I really do a lot better in person. Guess you knew that, though."
"I hear you." Budge agreed, loweing himself to a sitting position against an old oak tree which shaded the building, sitting across from the petite girl. "So. . ."
"Thanks for coming." Creepie said under her breath. "I really didn't know who else I could talk to about this."
"Hey, what are friends for, right?" Budge asked.
"Yeah. And I could really use one right now, Budge." The girl with multi-colored hair continued to avoid his gaze. Budge began to get an idea why she was upset. She hated feeling needy or vulnerable, even to someone she trusted.
"What's wrong?" Budge frowned, wondering just how unsure of herself Creepie was feeling. It was a bit of a shock to see her looking so beaten down. To Budge's eyes, she seemed small and vulnerable. This definitely wasn't like her.
"I had a fight with my parents." She said flatly, staring at the intricate design of the web in her hands, avoiding eye contact with her friend.
"About?" The boy prompted, waiting for the truth to out itself and for things to start making sense.
"My future." Creepie rolled her eyes. "They told me that I can't stay with them in Dweezwold forever. I mean, what the heck is that?! Dweezwold is my home. It's the one place where I can be me and no one can judge me. I don't have to worry about saying the wrong thing or making others suspicious when I'm there. I don't have to pretend to be something that I'm not. I can handle school because I know that I can go home at the end of the day. How can they take that away from me?!" She said with a passionate amount of exasperation. "This is beyond unfair!"
"Are you sure?" Budge asked, daring to try and dig deeper into the reason his friend's adoptive parents would make such a decision.
"What?" Creepie asked, cocking her head, unsure if she had read Budge properly.
"Are you sure that it's unfair? They must have a reason."
"Budge, I'm talking about being driven away from the very home I hold dear. The only home I've ever known. How would you feel?"
"I guess it depends on how you look at it. I mean, no, I wouldn't want to be told I can't stay at home. But I understand-"
"No, you don't, Budge. You don't understand. Look, I'm not about wallowing in angst. You know that. You also know that I don't care what other people think of me. But don't tell me that you know how I feel. Because you don't. Even I don't know how I feel half the time. I just have to be, that's all there is to it."
"Yeah, I know. And I'm sorry. You know I wouldn't want you to be anyone else." Budge grinned. "But I do think that I understand where your parents are coming from on this one." He pressed.
Again, Creepie cocked an eyebrow at him, an almost imperceptible smirk drawing at the corner of her mouth. "This ought to be good."
"It seems kind of typical to me. Of all parents, I mean. You know how they always want what's best for you, how they always want their kids to have a better life than they do. I think they just worry about you limiting your own options when you have so much potential. You have so much to offer the world. You were raised by bugs, Creepie. But that's not what you are. You're not an insect."
"And I'm not quite human either, Budge. So what am I?"
"One way cool girl, in my book."
"Nice save." Creepie stated in her more normal, deadpan voice.
"It's not a fave when your stating the obvious." Budge pressed.
"I didn't ask you to meet me here so I could be flattered." Creepie explained. "You know, just because I don't have wings or antennae or more than two legs…those aren't the things that make me an insect. It's more a way of being, what I relate to, what I believe in. Most of the people I've met. . .they're shallow. They only have one way of looking at the world. They don't get it. They're just passing through. It annoys me when people don't have perspective. But I guess I do that myself sometimes. I often have trouble reconciling the average human point of view. So maybe I'm not perfect either. I mean, I'm only human, right?
Budge chuckled at her minor joke. "Hey, you said it, not me."
"Yeah, I guess I did. So, what do you think. Can I be both?" Creepie asked. The tone of her voice indicated that it wasn't a question of her own abilities, but rather of his faith in her.
"I think I would be pretty disappointed if you weren't. Don't change on me."
Creepie arched her right eyebrow at him, wearing a bemused expression. "You know that you'd be lost without me."
"You think?" Budge asked.
"Maybe. But I know that I'd sure hate to lose my best friend."
Budge did not say anything in response, fearing that it would sound hollow. The faint sound of football practice could be heard from afar—the school football team had been allowed to take over the largest green in the part until the stadium was rebuilt to standards. "Sounds like they're practicing pretty hard." Budge expressed. "The Homecoming game is next week."
"Yeah, I'll bet Chris-Alice is getting more excited by the minute. She's been bugging me to join the cheerleading squad again."
Creepie set the spider web she had been playing with down and picked up a pinecone, throwing it at her friend playfully. "What do you think?"
"I think that the world will miss out on something truly special." Budge explained, then saw the dark look Creepie was shooting him and expanded his statement. "But I also think it would probably be a disaster waiting to happen." Budge acknowledged.
"That makes two of us." Creepie said. "She also wants to know who I'm taking to the Homecoming dance. Even though I've already told her that dances aren't my thing either. But she's really not letting go of that one."
"Well, it is kind of a girl thing." Budge nodded. "You know, the drama of which guy asks you to go, trying to find the perfect outfit, the endless fawning over Harry until he finally asks someone. . ." Budge trailed off.
"Yeah. I'm sure it's a wicked blast." Creepie deadpanned. "So are you asking me or what?"
"I…what…but…I thought you just said that dances aren't your thing."
"They aren't. But hearing Chris-Alice remind me about what I missed for two weeks afterward is even less my thing. Besides, the last dance we went to…well, I hated it less than I thought I would. It was. . .interesting."
"As I recall, the reason you had a good time is because you were dancing with a roach."
"It was an honest mistake, Budge. It could've happened to anybody! And technically it's your fault because you were late. Um, you will pick me up on time, right? Actually, it's okay if we miss some of it."
"Hey, don't worry. No costume this time. I'll make sure everything is all set ahead of time so I don't stand you up again. You're not having second thoughts, are you?"
"No, it's okay. Like I said, I didn't have such a bad time at the masquerade."
"Coming from you, that's rather high praise." Budge smiled.
"Was that a backhanded compliment?" Creepie asked playfully.
"Sorry. It wasn't meant to offend."
Creepie shrugged. "I'll let you have that one since it's true." She felt akin to a spider with an overstuffed fly in her web. A hint of a smile formed on her face, an almost imperceptible pulling at the corner of her mouth.
"All right then." Budge nodded. "I'll pick you up on Saturday night. It's a--"
"An arrangement." The girl jumped in, heading off the dreaded 'D' word. "I'm not into labels. So, you want to get a bite and tell me exactly how my parents aren't ruining my life?" Creepie lifted herself off of the ground, dusting her black dress off. She crossed the short distance to her friend, proffering her hand to him.
"You're offering to help me up?" Budge asked, confused.
"Hey, I may be small, but I'm not dainty." She reminded him, pulling on his arm with considerably more force than one would expect her to possess. "Ants can lift much more than their own weight too, you know."
"Sorry if I doubted you." Budge covered up his surprise by clearing his throat.
"Just promise not to make a habit out of it. You're usually the only one who doesn't doubt me." Creepie chided. "Now let's go take that snack break. I'm kind of on my own for dinner tonight."
"You should be careful about eating too much fast food. It'll stunt your growth." Budge said, very amused with his own joke.
Creepie crossed her arms over her chest indicating that she was not amused by his comment. She skittered away, letting her actions speak louder than any words she might have retorted with.
"Creepie? Hey, Creepie! Come on, it was just a joke!" Budge called after her, beginning to give chase. "You're not really made at me, are you?" He did not receive an answer. "Are you?" Budge asked again. She still did not respond. "Come on, Creepie, I hate the silent treatment!"
Creepie halted her movement, turning towards her approaching friend and allowing him to catch up. She fixed him with a look that made Budge feel as though she were evaluating him. "It was a joke, Budge, I get it. Kind of like how I'm letting you squirm right now. Don't worry, if I ever get genuinely mad at you, you'll know."
"All the same, I'd much rather be on your good side." Budge said.
"Wise choice." The pale girl smirked. "Come on, I'll let you buy me dinner. The Tiki Chaltet. What are friends for, right?"
"Right." Budge rubbed his neck nervously, wondering what would come next it suddenly occurred to him that a girl who had a praying mantis for a mother might be inclined to play with her dates before devouring them. And in that instant, he promised himself to make sure that Creepie had nothing less than a fabulous time this Saturday night. Now he only had to come up with a plan to make things perfect.
To Be Continued
I'd like to start by thanking everyone who read this for reading it, because, well, it seems that there aren't a lot of Growing Up Creepie fans in the world, and this fanfic is pretty well buried here at FFN, so the fact that anyone at all is reading it feels like a rousing success in my book.
If you've never seen this show, please look up Discovery Kids on your cable or satellite service and look for it, it shows on Saturday and Sunday nights. This show needs a lot more exposure, and while I think that the recent "Creepie Week" event on DK went a long way towards making things better, there's still plenty more to be done.
Regarding this story, I plan on it being four or five chapters. And focusing on the dance and a little growth for Creepie as a teenager. The theme of Creepie "coming of age" and eventually having to move out of Dweezwold Mansion, but this is a "tight" story that will only take place in a few installments. So while I expect things to get a little deep, it will not become too philosophical. Look for mild Creepie/Budge content and expect Creepie to do some thought provoking evaluations of herself.
At any rate, I'm sorry to cut the notes short, but I'm falling asleep in a hurry over here. If you're waiting for an update to "Operation: Mother," The J.A.M. and I are aware that the release date has slipped by and we are in the process of correcting the problem, so we'll be updating with a new trailer as fast as possible.
I'll probably be expanding these notes in the near future. But for now, thank you all for reading the story and, hopefully, leaving a review. The next chapter will be arriving soon.