This should be the part where I apologize for abandoning this story. But I won't. Because I'm back now. Just go read.
A bit of time and some good food, Edith had always said, could cure anything. It could make the sick healthy, the elderly young, and the saddened happy. She had believed that wholeheartedly. Time cures sicknesses (though chicken noodle soup does help it along the way). A delicious meal can bring back fond memories of their youth to people who have left it far behind. And who can't smile after eating a delicious piece of pie? Food and time were the best cure in the world, Edith believed.
Sam, on the other hand, had decided that Edith was wrong.
Food and time couldn't do her any good now.
Sam was walking down the rainy streets of Seattle. The hood of her jacket was up, keeping both the water and attention away from her hair; her shoes weren't as lucky. Even the slightest puddle would splash up with a tiny plish, making her feet damp with every step. The lights of the cars and streetlamps reflected down onto the pavement in bright, blurry streaks, making the road look less like—well, a road—and more like the painting of an eccentric abstract artist.
She turned into a nearby corner store. It was one of those sketchy kinds of places that you only see in cities, where there is clearly some kind of illegal activity going on somehow (though it's never clear what, exactly, that illegal activity is), and most people would avoid for fear of getting shot (though the chances of that are pretty unlikely). The man standing at the cash register glanced up at her. What in the world was a teenage girl doing in here at night? She was definitely no teenage girl he'd ever seen. Is it normal for them to have hair like that? Pink wasn't a normal color, was it? He shrugged it off and lit his cigarette, despite the blatant "no smoking" sign that was located just above his head. She browsed for a few minutes, flipping through several magazines and comparing multiple different types of beef jerky.
The girl stepped up to the cash register, with a pack of teriyaki beef jerky and one roll of a certain type of chewy mint, in the fruit variety. He scanned her items.
He stuck what was left of his cigarette in an asktray. "That'll be two fifty-three."
She fished three crumpled one-dollar bills out of her back pocket and placed them in front of him. Her gaze was blank and emotionless, her voice monotone. "You can keep the change."
Sam unwrapped the chewy-fruity-mints and popped one in her mouth as she walked out. The candy was sweet.
That had been her name for a day. Candy.
She spat out the mint and dropped it on the ground as she walked. At the next garbage bin she passed, the rest of the roll was gone, too.
Sam truthfully didn't know what she was feeling. It wasn't exactly sorrow, nor was it anger, nor fear. Really, she couldn't say she was really feeling anything. She just didn't want to think about any of it. She didn't want to remember anything. For now, she was happy being only some girl on the city street. No one more, no one less. She didn't have to be Sam Puckett or Sam Auguston. She could just be. Memories were not something necessary for walking down the street.
The feeling in her stomach couldn't be ignored, though. It was that feeling that made her know something was wrong.
A car sped by, straight through a particularly large puddle. It splashed up, soaking Sam.
Under normal circumstances, that would have screamed something "Agh! Dammit!", or some other word of questionable kindness, and given the driver a certain one-finger gesture from afar.
Under these circumstances, though, Sam just stared in the direction of the car, and walked away. It didn't matter much anyway. Nothing mattered much, really. Life is life. You get stuck in it and can't do anything about it.
She sighed. The ends of hair had gotten wet from the car. If there was anything Sam hated, it was the feeling of wet hair on her neck. She pulled a black hair tie off her wrist and twisted her hair into a makeshift bun.
"Edith, why do you and Cecil deal with me?"
"What's that supposed to mean?"
"Well, I mean. . . Idunno, why didn't you just send me off somewhere? You've already had kids, why are you bothering with me now? That would have been a lot easier for you guys."
"Sammy, how about I ask you a question?"
"Cecil and I are old. We aren't all 'cool' like you teenagers are. You're still a kid, so why do you choose to live with two old farts when you could very well go be a foster kid like you tell everyone?"
"Because I like you guys."
"Hmph. Fine, I love you guys."
"That's what I wanted to hear!"
Sam's composure quivered for a moment, and she leaned against a nearby brick wall, closing her eyes. Pain—the emotional kind, not the physical—shot through her. Her life was falling to pieces around her and there was nothing she could do about it. She had lost her identity, her friends, her life, and now she had lost her new life, her comfort and security, and the woman who was not only her guardian, but her best friend. Part of Sam commended herself for being strong enough and brave enough to get through it—another part wondered why she hadn't fallen apart into a million pieces yet. It was almost unnatural.
"I'm going to need therapy some day, aren't I?" She hadn't realized she had said that aloud. A nearby man sitting on a bench glanced at her, dismissing her as some reckless teenager.
The rain picked up, growing heavier. Instead of light drops, the water now fell in big droplets, the kind that will soak a person to the bone in just a few seconds. Sam looked up, watching the droplets fall from the sky.
It came from her left. Three unmistakable voices, all shouting the same word. She turned towards their direction as they raced toward the yellow cab that had pulled up at the end of the block.
Her feet started to move before she could stop them.
"S-Sam?" It was Carly.
"What's going on?"
Ally was grabbing Freddie and Carly's arms, trying to get them to move. "We don't have time, guys, we have to move!" She gave up on Freddie, and was able to pull Carly along. The boy just stood still, staring down at Sam.
"Where are you going, Freddie?"
He looked flustered and confused. "I-I don't. . ."
Sam was getting slightly angry. "Why are you all-"
She didn't have time to finish her sentence.
Freddie pulled Sam towards him suddenly, catching her lips in his. In this moment, she knew everything he was trying to say. I'm trying to protect you. I want to try and fix this. Please don't disappear again. It was just a momentary kiss, yet she was so conscious of his lips against hers and the dissonance of their racing heartbeats and the blush radiating across her face. He released her, but his face still hovered inches from hers. The rain came down in big, heavy droplets, soaking them. "I'm not going to lose you again."
She wanted to insult him. She wanted to call him a nerd, a nub, a loser, an idiot. Anything would work, so why was forming an insult so difficult. Why was forming any kind of words suddenly so difficult?
Freddie stood up straight. He looked down at her again. "So don't go disappearing or anything."
He ran off after Carly and Allie, jumping into the cab they had finally gotten to stop. Sam gazed up at the sky, and when she looked back down, they were gone.
"Idiot! That idiot!"
She fell to her knees, dismissing the fact that she was falling into a puddle of city-water. Tears fell down her face, blending in with the raindrops. She had been crying all too much lately.
"I never asked to be the damsel in distress. . ."