“Crisper,” I said, “You can’t be serious.”
Crisper is my best friend in the whole world. I’ve known her forever – almost since I was born. She’s a lot older than me, but she only brings that up when it’s good for her. Whenever we have talks like this, she’s always saying: “I’ve seen a lot more of the world than you have, Piddles. Trust me, it’s true.”
Of course, my name isn’t Piddles - it’s Rusty. Piddles is just something my friends call me sometimes. I wish they wouldn’t, but I don’t think that’s how it works. I guess no one ever really gets a say in the really important stuff.
It’s kind of funny. Crisper hates being called Crisper, and that’s her name. If you ask her, she’s “Lord Xylliander Purninanel – scourge of crickets,” or something equally silly. She hisses at me when I call her Crisper, but I don’t think it’s fair that she gets to be a Lord and I’m stuck being “Piddles.”
“Alright,” I said, “I’ll do it. Just to prove you wrong, though. Once and for all. You can’t fool me. It’s not like I’ve never been outside before.”
Crisper seemed to think this was funny.
“Reaaaaally?” She purred. “You’ve been all over, have you? As far as I can tell, all you really know is ‘over here’ and ‘over there.’ Cosmopolitan, indeed! Maybe I misunderstood you. Did you mean that you’d been all over the house, Piddles?”
I shot her my best mean and nasty look, but she didn’t even flinch. All she did was give me a superior look, then she yawned.
“Don’t call me ‘Piddles,’” I continued, adding a growl.
“Oh, fine!” She sighed. “Whatever you want. You’re just trying to change the subject with all this mess about names, anyway. What does it matter what people call you?”
“I am not changing anything!”
Crisper turned and walked away.
Crisper has always had a knack for making conversations go topsy-turvy. We’ll be talking about something – nothing in particular - and all of a sudden she’ll tear into me. Hiss and spit and posture, then dart off into one of the back rooms. She’ll accuse me of being insensitive or stupid or mean or hateful because she said that I said whatever it was that upset her that I didn’t really say.
See? It gets confusing. Of course, we both know I’m not any of these things – and she doesn’t mean anything by it - that’s just how she is. You get used to it.
I think she was just mad I caught her lying. I don’t often get to one up Crisper: she’s pretty sharp. Even when I do, though, you’d never know it. Crisper always finds a way to make me feel teeny-tiny, even when I’m right. Especially when I’m right.
Our relationship has always been complicated. When we first met, she didn’t think much of me, I don’t think. Our first conversation was nothing but hisses, rude words, and growls. Jakob – that’s the man we both live with – did his best to smooth things out, but she’d have no part of it. All she wanted to do was sulk and glare.
Eventually she came around, but it took awhile. And it wasn’t easy. I don’t think we spent more than twenty seconds in the same room together the first week.
When I finally decided I was sick of it, I started following her around. We went from room to room, and she cursed and hissed at me in every one. I kept on following and talking, though. Once she figured out I wasn’t going to leave her alone, she puffed up real big and said, “Piddles - leave me alone or you’re going to get it!”
Crisper always said stuff like that, but I guess this time she meant it
I got out of there pretty quick once she showed me how sharp her nails were. She scratched up my nose pretty good. It only hurt a little, but it scared me. I ran off, howling like a baby. Jakob finally put some medicine on it and sat with me until I calmed down. Then, I figure he gave Crisper a pretty good talking to. I don’t know for sure, but just after they even went out the front door.
The door Cripser would later tell me all kinds of wild stories about.
Like I said, I don’t know what they talked about, but once Crisper got back, she was always nice as pie. For little bit, she even started calling me “Rusty,” but I knew something that good wouldn’t last. Ever since that day, we’ve been best of friends. We never gotten into another fight, and she’s never clawed me again. Never even come close.
That doesn’t mean she doesn’t still mess with me, though. Like a minute ago, up to old tricks. Telling me stories about the world outside the front door. I’m no dummy. I know both doors both go to the same place, but she keeps on with her stories anyway.
“I go out there every night,” she says to me. “It’s a whole other world! One full of dangerous monsters, excitement, and danger. Even treasures!”
I usually play along for a while. “Sure, sure.” I’ll say, “But, anyone can see that the doors are the exact same. Look at them. Same door, same place.”
She’ll laugh and roll her eyes. Then she’ll say, “Alright, if that’s what you think. You’re sure are missing out, though.”
She’s been unusually insistent about it today, though. Ever since Jakob and I woke up this morning (we slept together for the first time last night!), it’s almost all she’s been talking about. Outside this and hidden treasure that. It’s why I finally told her I’d go out the front today, so she’d finally shut up about it.
If I had known how long her badgering was going to go on, I would have done it the first time she said something. It’s not like I’m scared, and I don’t believe all that crazy stuff. I just didn’t want to give her the satisfaction Also, when she plays games like this, there’s usually some kind of prank waiting at the end. Like I said earlier, she’s pretty clever.
Lord Xylliander Purninanel napped on the couch. Piddles had darted toward the door three times already today, only to chicken out at the last minute. She knew eventually he’d build up the nerve to make a go at it.
She yawned and rolled over, smacking her lips lazily. The late afternoon sun shone on her stomach as pleasantly as always, but somehow today it felt even sweeter. Jakob would be home soon, struggling with armloads of groceries. She was sure that would be when Piddles would make his move. She almost felt sorry for the poor guy. Out the door, into the street, and out of her life forever. Then things could finally get back to normal.
She gazed out of the living room window, wearing a thousand yard stare and the barest whisper of a smile. Jakob would return soon, and the world would know that the Scourge of Crickets still had claws.