Heat, in its most miserable harangue, was in its full throes. It penetrated the windshield in a spiteful peal: as if it mocked Kneesocks for seeking refuge from the sun in a car. Its fangs dug into not only her body but her eyes, which formed a dire squint for nearly the entire trip, severing her vain attempt to preserve what little comfort she retained from the day. Eventually she just submitted to their close; still inclined to maintain a semblance of composure, she allowed her cheek to rest on a clenched fist as her arm leaned upon the car's window sill.
Scanty, of course, took little notice of her condition as she drove; however that did not stop her from letting loose yet another tirade about something trivial. Kneesocks paid her little mind; she was trying to sort her disheveled thoughts and their malicious errantry between her ears; all the while perspiring in her patent beige uniform.
Kneesocks looked over for a second.
The driver side window was down and cooling off Scanty but it seemed, of course, that the passenger window's switch was broken. Scanty could have easily lowered it with the driver's side buttons but it seemed the thought never graced her mind while she wrestled to talk over the sounds outside; but, her words never fell upon Kneesocks' ears.
She turned back to meet her squint.
And so it seemed but another abject ride home from their duties; Kneesocks loathed them so: they varied rarely from this taxing ordeal. She surreptitiously opened one eye slightly, noticed that her apartment complex was within eyeshot, advancing upon her, and a pang of relief emanated subtly from within her…somewhere; though, it wasn't strong enough to relieve her composure.
Scanty became audible for a moment: "…anyway it seems to have fruited most fortuitously so we will perform likewise tomorrow." concluding yet another post-job analysis: her tone as unflappable as ever.
Kneesocks mustered some energy with a meek dilapidated sigh, shifted in her seat, composed her face, realigned her glasses, and braced for her departure (these were all done very smoothly as they were second nature to her). Scanty had yet to notice that her position changed for a good few moments, but finally collected the time to steal a glimpse of her when she missed her usual cue to answer. Despite Kneesocks being flustered Scanty seemed to flourish as she did every day.
"Of course, dear sister" yielded Kneesocks with her usual conviction. Her façade would have fooled anyone into believing she was her usual apt self.
Her latent alacrity seems to have been beyond her grasp the past few days. Her taciturn mien and attitude (as well as the weight both those brought down upon one's shoulders) were still maintained admirably; however, it was clear to a trained eye she was beginning to feel a strain from the collective burden. Of course, it seemed Scanty's eyes were not trained.
"Is something wrong, sister?" asked Scanty displaying uncharacteristic adroitness.
Kneesocks was shocked for but a moment. She stiffened her posture slightly; caught off guard by this unusually considerate inquiry from her.
"Of course not," Kneesocks assured without missing a step. "Why?" too late did she realize that the word left her lips a little too quickly; she was too concerned attempting to determine how she faltered. Surely she couldn't have let her fatigue expose itself? Beneath her sweltering jacket a light panic began to glow within her chest.
"Ok, it's just that usually you've more to share." Scanty observed perfunctorily
Dejection grew within Kneesocks more than it should have after her remark. Had her efforts failed? She could only resolve to allow silence to fill the air instead of answering her; only because her situation would be distracted in a few seconds when the car would stop; they drug on longer than she anticipated and awkwardness began to bleed from the atmosphere. Usually it would not have been difficult for her to issue a poignant retort: but today she seemed so sluggish, the culmination of the past few day's battery on her.
Ardent efforts were put forth by Kneesocks; she hated to be falter in any fashion. If another were to see her meekness nip at her heels it would depress her to no end. Hitherto she was always able to strive without pause. The thought of all the effort she exerted, painstakingly put forth in order to be on par with her sister, going to waste concerned her deeply. Almost scared her.
Despite being younger she sought to be the more stringent between them. It was a heavy burden, she was to act as one astute beyond her ability, but she saw it as necessary in order to have a pragmatic perspective between them. Scanty was one who needed someone reasonable around her. Kneesocks was eager to consummate that role even if entailed enduring so much taxing rigidity, anything for her dear sister. It seemed to Kneesocks, however, that even though she sought to be the more reasonable one, she still flew off the handle too often; although, this clearly was not the case to any onlookers.
Banking right, the car began its park.
"Just a few moments longer…" Kneesocks assured herself; it was clear that she needed assurance; not clear to her sister, though, of course.
She loved her sister very much, her dearest sister, but at times the gap between them was horribly noticeable. They got along best as two people could on this world: that is why usually Kneesocks kept her woes to herself: so as not to make her concerned.
"Just a few moments…" she recounted, a few moments till she could disregard her façade without affecting her reputation or disconcerting her dear sister.
Scanty started "I don't believe I'll ever fathom why father requisitioned you an apartment in here of all places."
Kneesocks had nothing; she could not reply even if she had a clever quip which she often employed in an attempt to gain her sister's admiration: so bad was her stress. She settled with "I'm not so certain as thou sister."
Scanty nodded "mm." She didn't seem to notice Kneesocks' grammatical err.
Thou? How could she let herself slip so! Right in front of her big sister! She felt truly at wits end, emaciated, and now her sister would think her a fool. A deluge of helpless ire flooded her, her eyes stung a little but she immediately pulled herself together with what she had left.
"Thank you for porting me, dear sister" repeated Kneesocks for the umpteenth time as she frailly grabbed the door handle and found exit.
Scanty concluded their interaction pragmatically with a "Until tomorrow, sister" and sped off just before Kneesocks began to affirm, as if something compelled her leave.
Kneesocks waited till she was out of sight and let escape a massive sigh: one laden with sorrow. She heard in the sigh a slight tinge of frustration after it left her mouth. Her idling was dissuaded after she realized the sun's murderous assault on her head; she ascended the stone staircase.
Tensing her posture as she touched the door handle, she walked in, realized that the halls were empty, and let slack her body again. Her head drooped and she found herself looking at the floor. She ran her hand through her hair and let it sit there as she paced towards the elevator; she felt she had not even the strength to climb the stairs even if compelled by a raging fire. The elevator was already on the bottom floor when she pressed the button.
"At least there's that…." She thought, desperately seeking find an oasis amidst this torpor she felt in her head.
Lazily, she depressed the 20th floor button and the elevator ascended. The light motion made her a bit queasy but, of course, she never told that to anyone. Her back found rest against the back wall and she was struck with a lax surprise when she realized she slowly was sliding down to a sitting position. It was the first time in quite the while that she didn't care.
She seemed fain to allow herself a smooth bated slide until she hit the floor; finally her legs could relax. The impending walk down the hallway beckoned her mind with great foreboding, but for now she could at least rest a little bit.
A long, cooling breath escaped her as she loosened the uppermost buttons on her jacket and cleaved the fabric slightly; it did little alleviate her discomfort. Words could not describe how much she just wanted to be alone and allow the elevator to bring her all the way without stopping. She humored that she hadn't been this down in all her days since coming here.
The elevator ordered her rise in a cold fashion; she could not be here anymore. The light shone 20. Gripping the handrail, she rose to her feet, her jacket hanging a bit more loosely. Her glasses began to loose and she placed them in her pocket. The ceiling attracted her gaze as she walked on, continuously staring at the ceiling until she granted herself liberty for another lengthy and arduous sigh. Only after her head's reluctant leveling had she realized she passed by her apartment and doubled back to the door.
"Come on…." groaned her fatigued mind.
After fiddling with the lock she undid it and was met with a delightful curtain of air conditioning that restlessly flew from the apartment. She inhaled deeply; she felt ever so slightly relieved. The sweat from her clothing began to meet the cold air and gave her a shudder so she deposed her jacket on the hangars, leaving her in her white undershirt. The jacket slipped off the hook, she took notice, and then morosely determined it was of no consequence.
The apartment itself was modest: which suited Kneesocks just fine. She considered there to be a certain pride to be found in being conservative. However, it wasn't modest because she furnished it that way, but because her father determined their living arrangements.
Her desire got the better of her and she plod herself face first onto the couch and immediately felt pain seep out from all her battered muscles. She rolled over and began massaging her temples; another long, exasperated sigh.
Time passed, she lay there for a good while; the lapping drone of the air conditioner caressed her ears. Her eyes were closed but she knew she would not be able to alight into sleep's embrace.
The tumultuous thoughts plagued her until it manifested itself with a headache. Aspirin was in the bathroom, and she considered getting some, but measured the effort against the pain and decided to rest. As if confirming her intent, she let down her hair and continued to just lie. The sun seemed to bore of tormenting this city; it left and sought another for its cruel satisfaction, leaving a peaceful drape of darkness.
After what seemed an hour or so she let open her eyes to notice that the room's sole source of illumination was the pale blue light upon her air conditioner: which flooded into the room, yet failed to reveal the deeper portions of the dark inky cloud that occupied it. She sat up.
"A little better" she thought as she considered how she was to overcome this heavy stress that enveloped her. Nourishing, cool air filled her lungs as she inhaled deeply and, it diffused throughout her body. She let it settle a while before letting it all out in a controlled exhalation.
A voice rose from about the room "Feeling alright?" it inquired. Kneesocks immediately recognized it as her sister's but was confused: the voice had a sympathetic tone incongruent to Scanty's typical jovial and blissful one. She hadn't heard it in a long time.
"You've not even taken off your shoes." Noted Scanty, an expression mixed of calm and concern adorned her face as she stood towards Kneesocks' back at the head of the couch. Placid blue light lapped only half of her face and body, but the expression was quite clear to Kneesocks. Scanty had shirked her uniform for her undershirt and shorts at some point. She seemed an entirely different person from her carefree big sister.
"I…" began Kneesocks as she turned her body around to face her. She at once noticed a comforting warmth sprouting within her. She knew what was coming. "Of course, betwixt us one must exhume competence" quipped Kneesocks sardonically, but a light smile overrode the corner of her mouth. Her heart quickened pace and a rush of relief alighted to her as if it were a curtain lowering onto a stage, severing all malignance that lay beyond. Her sharp expression that she donned constantly slackened at the behest of the succor. She removed her shoes and slid them under the couch.
A very similar smile betrayed Scanty "Of course, of course, it's all you ever say" the tone managing to reveal a clear regard for her sister.
Scanty shifted herself and took seat next to Kneesocks; the blue light cast shadows in both their faces, obscuring them in a shadowy mix, but they understood each other enough to descry their faces despite it. Their smiles smoothly left their faces; they both knew the other was smiling on the inside.
Kneesocks was embarrassed at how much smaller she felt next to Scanty, but she knew it would not hinder her enjoyment. It was exceptionally rare for her sister to do this, but at the back of her mind Kneesocks' knew that Scanty would never allow her to suffer so much in silence, she would always deliver her from having to tread a somber desert alone. She felt surprised she had forgotten that.
"You know you are like an open book to me" said Scanty, clearly unconcerned for her usually exemplary vocabulary. She displayed what her true concern was; she wrapped her arm above her little sister's shoulders and waited. Kneesocks always understood; she scooted closer to meet her. Kneesocks' eyes closed as she let her head fall upon her bigger sister's body. Scanty tightened her grip and held her close.
The cool air no longer met Kneesocks; she was amidst a warm, snug pocket of comfort. As her euphoria mounted, her arms circumnavigated round Scanty's belly. She clasped her hands together.
"Seems we both have our facades" reflected Kneesocks internally. "How easily one forgets."
Every ounce of discomfort Kneesocks felt in the past, today, and ever melted from her body in a thick, steady flow. It radiated into the room and found no quarter. It was gone; Kneesocks felt much lighter. A warm bliss surfaced in its wake.
"Sister?" asked Scanty.
Kneesocks' eyes remained shut "Hm?" She squeezed her big sister.
"You are red as a beat"
How Scanty managed to see this with the meager lighting eluded Kneesocks, but she didn't care. She responded by moving her body a little.
Words seemed to lose any significance as they dwelled there; two incomplete halves made whole. Scanty hadn't displayed her affection to her little sister in years so it was eagerly entreated; Kneesocks absorbed it generously through her skin.
She pressed her ear closer against Scanty's body as she did last time Scanty gave such enamouration to her one, and only sister; she began to feel her sister's heartbeat. Kneesocks was overcome with nostalgia after a couple beats.
Memories surfaced themselves from the pools of her mind and recalled her of all the instances she began to question her faith in her sisterhood. It never exceeded that stage; Scanty always knew just when to interpose.
Kneesocks reflected as she held on to her sister: how more complicated Scanty really was than she let on to the world, did she think the same way as her? maybe they were far more alike than she thought.
Along her reflections sleep eventually overtook her and her body went completely lax, still hanging onto Scanty. Kneesocks' face was completely devoid of the static tension that plagued her face even when asleep. Only after she noticed Kneesocks was asleep did Scanty finally give way to the sleep that hung heavily upon her eyes. She would never let Kneesocks be awake by herself, of course.