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It was the night before Christmas Eve and my aunt’s kitten, Joy, was rampaging about my room. Leaping up and attacking my feet. I always twitched my feet in my sleep, I couldn’t help it, and she attacked anything and everything that moved. I woke up with a yell.
“AHHH you stupid cat! that HURTS!” but it came out more like “Ahhupidat! atURTs!” because it was now one am according to the digital alarm clock, and I had spent the entire day in the car, arriving here at 10 pm and immediately flopping down on the bed. Joy was the thing, I refuse to call her a cat. She’s not a cat. She’s an abomination. She was the thing that made me swear off cats for years. “Ahh!”
Her claws were like little needles, poking through my socks and puncturing my skin. I swear they hit the same spot every time. I reached up towards the headboard grasping onto something and throwing it in the general direction of her obnoxious purring. She was like a fracking car motor. The last thing I heard was her claws catching on the carpet as she ran out of the room.
I must have fallen asleep at that point, because you have to fall asleep to wake up. I got up feeling groggy. My eyes were caked with sleep, my hair was in such big knots I could feel them, my back ached from the springs in the bed, and I had a vague memory of someone climbing in the window. Padding across the hallway to the bathroom I realized it must have been a dream. I hadn’t had a dream since I was little, at least not that I could remember. I’d had a dream! My mood instantly improved and I set my toiletry bag down on the bathroom counter, digging through it for my toothbrush. Where was my toothbrush? I shook it up and dug through again. And again. Finally I dumped the whole thing out on the floor. I picked up every item individual, tampons, IB Profin, Tums, hair clips, hair brush...there was no toothbrush.
Joy. A memory came back to me. I’d thrown something at her. I hope it hit her. Sure enough, I ducked into my bedroom door and saw my toothbrush lying on the floor. At least I thought it was my toothbrush. Chunks of bristles were missing and there were tiny punctures all over the rubbery grip on the handle. That thing had no respect for personal property. Then again, I had thrown it at her. But still.
“Cat got your toothbrush?” I looked up and saw a boy standing in the doorway in pj pants and a t-shirt. A very cute boy. A very cute boy I didn’t recognize. But I did have a lot of cousins after all, I mean my mom had three sisters and three brothers. My grandmom had had 7 kids, my mom called her a crazy b****, in a loving tone of course. Grandmom had been the sweetest woman I ever met, but she’d died when I was 9.
“Are we related?”
“Ahaha. No.” He smiled and held out his hand, “I’m Seth. Probably your adopted cousin.”
“Adopted? huh. Oh, Uncle Jerry?” I said, shaking his hand.
“Yeah, he’s my..dad.” He seemed uncomfortable, “Anyways, you need a new toothbrush? You’ve got some kickass morning breath.” He leaned away dramatically and pinched his nose.
I laughed even though there was no way he could smell my breath from two feet away.
“Yeah I do. I’m Rebecca, by the way.”
He nodded, he was giving me one of those weird looks I get from guys. Those looks that are impossible to read but they definitely aren’t nothing. Then returning to the moment he said,
“Oh, toothbrush. Right.” and walked the short two steps across the hall, digging into a drawer and grabbing out a toothbrush still in its original packaging. I smiled and took it. Awkwardly stepping past him into the bathroom.
We silently brushed our teeth, I tried not to look in the mirror. Afraid of accidentally meeting his eyes. Was it wrong to find your adopted cousin attractive? I mean, you aren’t related to them, right? So it’s ok? But still...he’s my cousin...sort of. Ugh. Why couldn’t he just be ugly and lame.
I leaned down to rinse out my mouth, he stepped back. The movement seemed natural. He was as used to sharing a bathroom with someone as I was. Interesting. I switched to brushing my hair, my whole family took evening baths and showers, if you’re wondering why I didn’t take one. It was like a genetic thing or something. Apparently what’s his face had caught onto it. Crap. I’d already forgotten his name. What a dork.
I slipped past him again, somehow he was still finding things to do, he’d brushed his teeth, then flossed them, brushed them again, brushed out his hair, messed it up again. He was kind of strange. He was still there when I came out of my room fully dressed.
“Nice pants.” He had that deer in the headlights look most people got from my pants. Today they were black with green staining that was supposed to look like tie die but actually looked like electricity flowing through them. Which was way much cooler than tie dye.
We kinda just stood there awkwardly looking each other up and down. He was wearing a black t-shirt with a reference to a Lonely Island song that fit him in all the right places and jeans that were loose around the knees but stayed up around his waist. His short black hair was messy, but in a cute way, and his deep green eyes filled me with envy. I’d always wanted green eyes. His nose was one of those ones that turned up a little bit and came to a sort of point. We finished examining each other, and it didn’t feel awkward anymore. Of course, I don’t find many things awkward, maybe he still felt awkward. I smiled just in case. He smiled back.