The crashing noise caused Arnold to jolt awake, instinct forcing him from his bed, curiosity compelling him to descend the stairs to find out what had caused the disturbance. The sounds of pots and pans colliding echoed from the kitchen, the light spilling out from the slightly ajar door. He braced himself in case it was an intruder (though why one would go to his kitchen, he had no idea), he pushed the door all the way open.
Instead of a stranger, he found his wife with a pot boiling on the stove as she frantically chopped vegetables, muttering a recipe that she currently had a book open to.
"Helga?" she paused and looked up from her work, her expression mildly surprised and incredibly annoyed. "What are you doing?"
She started to answer, but a yawn interfered. She sighed. "I've gotta get Lucy's lunch ready for tomorrow…I mean, it's her first day of preschool, she should have something really good, right?"
"Helga, you already set the alarm so you could do this at six in the morning…it's two a.m. You need to come back to bed."
"But the water for the soup's already boiling," Helga insisted, crossing her arms. "I'm not going to bed until this is finished."
"Stubborn," he accused.
"Football Head," she shot back.
"Helga, this is ridiculous. You have to get some sleep. Lucy will be fine with a sandwich, a fruit and a snack. You don't have to make soup. Or if you really want her to have soup, you could always use one of the cans. There are still a couple left in the pantry."
"Not good enough."
"But Helga -"
"I said it's not good enough," she snapped.
"Sorry," Arnold sat down at the kitchen table, resting his head in his hands as he watched her. He knew what this was about. But he wondered if she did.
"No…I'm sorry," she apologized. "But …But I have to do this."
"You know…you're not like her."
Helga bit her lip. "…Not like who?"
Silence passed between the couple for a solid minute, though it felt like much longer. Both of them knew who Arnold was referring to. Helga's feigned ignorance wasn't fooling him for a second, and she knew it.
But Arnold decided to humor her. "Your mom. I remember that she used to forget to pack your lunches, or when she did she'd put things like shaving cream in there, or only a pack of saltine crackers…but Helga, you're not your mother. You've really been there for Lucy. You don't have to go out of your way to prove it. You are a good mom."
Helga sighed. "You always did see right through me," she faked a laugh. "But I guess this is one of the obvious ones. But my mom wasn't always the way she is either…I think she was really there for Olga. I don't know…All I know was what happened after I came along," she lowered the heat on the soup and dropped the vegetables in before giving it a quick stir, "I know it wasn't who she really was. That the 'smoothies' were making her that way but…criminy, was it too much to ask for a mom who actually acted like a mom should? I guess I feel I have to make it up to Lucy because …I don't know, because Miriam never made it up to me. I suppose that doesn't make sense."
"No…no, that makes sense," Arnold assured her.
"You think I'm pretty crazy, huh?"
"No more than usual," He chuckled, standing up and opening the fridge. "What else did you want to make her?"
"You've got work in the morning."
"So do you. But you insist on doing this, and I'm going to help you."
"I thought about making her a cake…for when she gets home…is that too much?"
"Probably, but she's three, nothing wrong with spoiling her every once in a while," Arnold retrieved the eggs from the fridge. "And it'll give her something to look forward to in case her first day doesn't go so well."
A few hours later, Lucy emerged from upstairs, completely dressed, only to find her parents asleep on the kitchen floor. "I'm going to preschool now!" she cried in irritation, stamping her foot for emphasis. Helga and Arnold immediately woke up.
"Oh no you don't, missy, you're not walking all the way there," Arnold insisted, scooping his daughter up into his arms.
"I thought you two were gonna sleep through my first day," She sniffled, cuddling up to her dad. "I thought I'd have to walk all by myself…"
"We'd never let that happen," Helga insisted, scooping her out of Arnold's arms. "Lucy…why are you wearing my old pink bow?"
Lucy tugged at it. "Daddy said that if I wore it, I'd look cute like you did at my age, and that it looks really good with matching pants." Sure enough, she wore pink pants.
"Your daddy is a yutz," Helga laughed, then considered it. "But you do look cute…c'mon, let's get going…"
Arnold and Helga both got out of the car with Lucy and gave her a hug before she headed inside. "Think she'll be all right?" Helga asked, waving when Lucy reached the door and turned around to check that they were still there.
"Yeah," Arnold pulled Helga into him. "She's got a great mom."
Helga punched him playfully in the arm. "You are way too mushy sometimes, Football Head."
Author's Note: …Mindless, fluffy…yet I love writing stuff like this.