Flippy stared at the TV in front of him; the black screen. He could see his reflection looking back at him; the couch he sat on, the coffee table in front of him, the carpeted floor his boots rested against. A clock hanging on the wall by the entryway ticked methodically. Light streamed in from the sliding glass door on the other side of the room, healthy green grass and blossoming potted plants decorating the patio.
In the silence, it felt like a stare down, the way it mimicked all his moves. When he blinked, it blinked. When he sighed, it sighed. But he couldn't look away. It felt like he was monitoring himself, there on the TV screen, he could see all his movements. And when he looked away, he would lose that connection. He didn't want that. Flippy wanted to keep the security. If he kept watching himself, he wouldn't do anything he would regret. He could make sure he was sitting there, calmly, normally. Not dangerous at all.
He flinched when he heard plates scraping against each other from in the kitchen. The smooth, high pitched voice of Flaky's humming was the only soothing sound. The sound of a faucet turning on and water splashing in the sink made his ears perk up. It sounded so lively, and for a moment he wondered if Flaky really had it all under control in there. But she kept humming, humming a happy tune that played in his ears.
Flaky had insisted on making him dinner for his birthday. She had announced the idea the week of his birthday, tagging along with him as he went to go pick up some things from the store. Flippy had immediately waved the idea away, saying it was alright and she didn't need to do anything special or go out of her way. But the look in her eyes clutched at his heart, squeezing it and swallowing it whole. The hazel irises and glassy pupils, always surrounded by a sea of white as she always had her eyes wide open; a habit of her eternal anxiety. She had smiled up at him, leaning her head back because of the stark difference in their heights, eyes begging.
'Please? It-It's no trouble! It's y-your birthday! Please, Flippy?'
He had sighed as she gripped the basket in her small hands, clutched against her pink sweater. He didn't say yes, but when he looked over at her, his eyes gave her the 'Ok'. She had been so happy, spasmodically jumping with excitement and turning to run down the aisle towards the cake mix, tripping over her own two feet and falling head first to the floor.
Now here he sat, twiddling his thumbs in the living room that was so small it was almost claustrophobic. This didn't help his anxiety at all, only adding to the pent up feeling in his joints. Images of past aggression due to confinement in small places flashed and replayed in his mind. He shut his eyes tightly until bursts of light exploded behind his retinas. Today was his birthday; it was supposed to be a special occasion. But it seemed to be more important and special to Flaky than to himself. But Flaky's happiness, being his number one priority… He sighed, taking off his cap and running a hand through his green hair.
How had he managed to get himself into this situation? It had seemed more like a movie than reality. Like a story of fiction instead of real life. When he had met Flaky 2 years ago, he had expected the worst. The usual; fear, terror, avoidance, hurt… But she had just stood there, shaking in her shoes, dandruff falling from her thick red hair like snow, her hand out in a timid hand shake. Splendid had stood to the side, grinning smugly. Flippy remembered the feeling of taking her small hand in his, slowly and cautiously. Her fingers had been warm and soft, her nails bitten to the cuticle from nervous biting. And she had smiled at him. She had smiled, not seeming to notice the various weapons he kept strapped to his belt and the blood stained army uniform he wore, the ugly scar on his face.
Life had never been the same since he met her. It had been so much… livelier. So much more open; more room to breathe. He saw more light and felt odd warmth he wasn't used to feeling. But it also came with the haunting chill of uncertainty. Uncertainty that he wouldn't snap, like so many times before. The fear of Flaky getting too close; playing with the fire until she inevitably got burned. She was so innocent, so naïve. He was the complete opposite, the part of the world humanity had bared it's fangs to and chewed up, spit out. He was strong, hardened, and tough; if the moment arose, she wouldn't even be able to put up a fight.
He sat up straight when he heard a crash split the air. His pulse quickened when he heard the sound of Flaky's high pitched scream and the sound of more crashing and of panicked half sobs, shoes shuffling frantically across the floor. He clutched at his head, closing his eyes again and trying to stop the pulsating, throbbing veins full of adrenaline. The feeling of losing control was quickly replaced with fear, fear for Flaky, fear she might be hurt. He sat up, making quick strides to the kitchen.
Flaky hummed to herself as she ran her hands across the nice china plate. She had taken it out of the china cabinet, decided to wash it as it was covered in dust. It shined and glimmered under the stream of water and white suds of soap. She smiled at the delicate painting of small flowers that surrounded the edges.
'So cute,' she thought happily to herself, feeling the excitement she had been feeling since that day at the store tingle in her stomach. It was going to be perfect; she would make sure of it. With a smile, she sat the plate down tenderly on the rag she set out to dry all the other china on.
She had forbidden Flippy to be in the kitchen while she cooked, shunning him to the living room. He had sullenly complied, dragging his feet to the couch and slouching down. Flaky had laughed; Flippy could be so cute sometimes. She loved the expressions he made. Everyone saw the same thing on Flippy's face; small variations between unhappy, really unhappy, and pissed off. But she saw so much more. When he moved a certain way, that was a smile. When he sighed, that was happiness. When he furrowed his brow, it was a sweet form of concern. She saw it all, noticed things probably Flippy wasn't even aware of himself. She took pride in that. But was she really that special? It was second nature to her; the ability to read Flippy.
She set the plate down when she heard a 'Ding!' from the timer next to her on the counter. Wiping her hands on a dish towel, she crouched down in front of the oven, peeking in slightly to check on the strawberry cake. It was a golden pink, and she quickly shut the door so the smell wouldn't reach Flippy and give the surprise away. She slyly turned off the oven, feeling accomplished.
It had been one year since Flippy had become such a big part in her life, taking a whole year just to get him to open up, to let her inside and actually get to know him a little; to build a steady friendship. He was still closed off, highly secretive, but much better than he was. Flaky liked those moments when he told her things, when they talked about stuff that embarrassed him. She liked getting to know him, was always hungry for more information. Any tidbits or scraps she could get her hands on felt like little gifts. She treasured these gifts more than anything. Slowly, she had become more and more dependent on the green haired, ex-soldier.
Flaky opened the refrigerator, taking out the vanilla icing and fresh strawberries. She had spent hours at the store picking out the right ones; were they red enough? Did they have any bruising? Were they juicy enough? Did they have too many seeds?
She had wanted to call Flippy so badly, to ask for his help. But this time she was on her own. It was scary yet strangely liberating. She clung to Flippy so fervently; she wondered how he managed to keep any sliver of patience. But maybe, just maybe, she could make up for all her past grievances and use this moment to show the depth of her gratitude. Maybe she could shine in this moment. The thought of making Flippy proud made her so ecstatic she danced a little on her way to the silverware.
She pursed her lips as she looked around in the silverware drawer, fumbling forks and spoons around, intent on finding a butter knife to spread the icing with. Did she really not have one? She could have sworn… Maybe she had lost it. I mean, it wouldn't be the first time she lost a random object. If you looked under the beds or in the cupboards, you could find things from gel pens to broken tacks to spools of thread long used up. But after no luck, she sighed, turning over things in her head on how she should approach this. Normally, she would have flipped into one of her mundane, relatively small anxiety attacks, where Flippy was always a step away to making everything better in moments. He had somehow become something of a guardian angel to Flaky, but for some reason when she thought of him now, sitting quietly in the living room, she felt a wave of calm, firm confidence go through her, filling her with vicious determination. She would freak out later.
She made her way to the other side of the counter to the extra drawer, where anything that wasn't a spoon or fork or knife was stuffed into. Syringes, measuring cups, rubber bands, some old magnets, a couple balls of string… She took out the closest thing to a butter knife; a cake cutter, bent on the handle and shaped to a fine point at the end. It reminded her of a garden hoe, and for a moment she imagined making a birthday cake out of potting soil. She giggled, then shook the thought from her head to become serious again.
After cleaning it to a flashy, sparkling clean in the sink, she opened the icing lid, slowly sliding the tip of the blade into the soft, white mass. Flaky loved icing, even though sugar usually made her system go into overdrive and she would be stuck in a high anxiety sugar-high for a couple of hours. She loved sweet things, loved the taste, and savored it. She furrowed her brow for a moment, concerned that maybe Flippy didn't like sweets. But come on, who could just NOT like icing? Flippy would definitely like it. She was sure of it.
Flaky slid on two oven mitts, slowly but surely taking out the golden, delicious cake. It had risen to a perfect height and looked just as moist as the mix in the bowl had been. It had taken sheer willpower to keep Flaky from caving in and licking the bowl clean. Now she set her fruitful results down on the counter a couple inches from the sink, just in case the icing got sticky and she needed to wash her hands. If there was one thing Flaky hated more than pressure, it was sticky things. But as Flaky leaned around the cake to reach the icing, her elbow hit the switch to the right of the sink, the trash disposal roaring to life.
A scream escaped her lips at the sudden sound, throwing the cutter up into the air and ducking for cover. It clattered to the ground a few feet away. Flaky turned to glance at it through her fingers she had involuntarily covered her eyes with, and the sinking feeling of getting germs on the utensil sent a new panic into her. Who knows what disease causing possible-carcinogens lay festering on the tile? On her way to crawl over to it, reaching up to steady herself on the counter, her fingers grasped the towel she sat the drying dishes on, pulling it over the edge as she let out another scream of surprise. She crashed to the floor, covering her head as silverware rained down on her. She held back tears, shaking as all the china clattered to the floor, sliding across the tile after bouncing off her arms and breaking into a thousand pieces. She waited until all the noise had stopped and complete silence had returned once again to look up, realizing she had closed her eyes tightly. Broken china lay all around her, still shaking as it began to settle. Slowly, she tentatively sat up, only to turn and see Flippy standing in the doorway, eyes wild and body shaking with tremors, a look on his face that she could only describe as pure bloodlust.