Mrs. Petersburb ran around the kitchen and grabbed one diamond earing from a dish by the sink and another from the top of the refrigerator. Leaning against the fridge, she flipped her blonde hair back and fastened the sparkling jewelery onto the sagging lobe of cartilage that she heard things out of. Stephanie stared at the floor, trying not to look impressed that the grown up woman could accomplish that task without staring into a mirror and missing the ear hole four times.
"So, we're going to just be very close, just down the street, okay, sweetie?"
"Um, kay," Stephanie mumbled, eyes glued to her untied converse sneakers, barely peaking out of baggy unwashed black jeans.
"Here's the phone number of the house where we'll be, and here's the phone number of the doctor, and the fireman, and the policeman, and the therapist, and the physical therapist, and the physical therapist's boyfriend, just in case."
Mrs. Petersburg placed one hand on the counter top and balanced so she could hook on her obnoxiously tall high heals, elevating her to a foot above the quiet sixteen year old.
"You can help yourself to anything," Mrs. Petersburg trilled as she hooked her purse over her arm. From beneath heavy black bangs Stephanie furrowed her eye brows. They always said that, that you could help yourself to all of their food. But she had a pretty good idea that if she drank all the beer and ate all the laxatives they wouldn't be okay with it. Stephanie had never drank beer nor ate laxatives but Amy in math class talked about doing those things every day, and she had been homecoming princess three years in a row, so they probably tasted like contentment and belonging. Amy must have a cool mom. All Stephanie's mom let her eat was broccoli and milk, which tasted like loneliness and despondency and Sylvia Plath poems.
"One more thing," Mrs. Petersburg said over her shoulder. "Around 9:00, Stevie turns into a monster."
"Got it," Stephanie said.
Mrs. Petersburg let herself out her front door, pears dangling from her elegant neck as she flashed a lipsticked smile and shut the little girl into the house behind her, stepping off her own front porch, away from the confines of suburban housewifery, away from her life, and out into a different but similarly plastic, contrived facade of existence.
Stephanie locked the door behind the mom and walked around the huge house. She peered into the blonde baby's play cage, where it stood and looked up at her quietly with huge blue eyes. Were one year olds supposed to be able to stand up and watch someone so quietly? Stephanie didn't give a shit.
Stephanie went to the refrigerator, where there was a chicken sandwich wrapped up with a yellow sticky note with her name on it. She helped herself to ice cream, four cookies, and two pieces of cold pizza and shoved them all into the bowl. She then poured a giant glass of coke and curled up on the huge couch to watch nickelodian with the baby. Under her itchy black sweatshirt and the glaring lights of the television, Stephanie quickly drifted to sleep on the cold ornate sofa.
A few hours later she woke up to a sharp sound of something falling in the distance. Stephanie sat up slowly, wiping her eyes as the blurry living room morphed into focus. She pushed her messy hair out of the way and found her glasses. A dark maroon stain trailed across the carpet. Stephanie followed the trail through the living room and the kitchen, leading past the bathroom, into the play room.
A tall, dark creature hunched in the corner. It was covered in black and green scales with puss dripping from it's heaving skin flaps. It was shaking in rage or hunger, giant flipper like feet tapping excitingly. A pile of crap sat neatly on the carpet beneath the monster. It's back was to Stephanie as it knelt over a young man's body, scouring at it's flesh with claws and gobbling it up into it's bloody mouth. Sharp white teeth protruded over curled purple lips. It turned and glared menacingly at the small babysitter.
"Oh, brother," Stephanie muttered, rolling her eyes.
The monster snarled and hissed.
"Stevie, did you like murder this dude?"
The monster let out a belligerent roar, a string of human intestines dangling from it's salivating mouth.
"I can't believe you. Your mom totally said no dessert."
The monster lowered it's head and scratched it's snout with a claw.
"Whatever. I'm getting paid to watch you, not like clean up your mess."
Stephanie went back into the living room and watched some more television. After a while Stevie came back in and began to play with her hair with his bloody claws. He cried when she wouldn't let him sit on her lap because his tail was way too spiky. He peed and pooped and threw his excretion around the pristine room while screeching, totally disrupting Boy Meets World. Eventually Stevie resorted to attempting to devour his shadow until his mother came back from the party.
When Mrs. Petersburg returned she paid the bored teenager and Stephanie let herself out the door, leaving Mrs. Petersburg to grieve her dying sense of hope. Brian was waiting for Stephanie outside in his older brother's jeep. Loud metal music blared from the speakers and he was bobbing his head, pretending to enjoy it, because that was the kind of music 16 year old boys enjoyed, not the Carol King cassettes that had gone missing from his mom's collection and somehow ended up in a shoebox under his bed. Headbanging slightly off beat to the music, he didn't even say hi when Stephanie let herself into the passenger door and scaled the tall step up into the seat.
"Blah blah blah, football, blah blah, farts, blah blah," Brian said, or something similar.
"Hmmm," Stephanie murmured, slumping deep into the seat and chewing on her black fingernails.
"Blah blah, videogames blah blah the same thing over and over for ten minutes," Brian yammered.
Stephanie sucked on the tips of her hair.
"So, uh, my parents aren't home right now," Brian said.
They sat quietly for a few minutes.
"So, like, basically no one is home..."
"And there's like sodas and shit and no one to drink them..."
"You lonely or something?"
"Nah, bro. I was thinking you should come over. Maybe spend the night. Maybe we could, you know, DO IT."
"Um," Stephanie said.
"Don't be a nerd."
"Um, do you have anything... any condoms...?"
"For my wiener?"
"No... but there's a plastic baggy."
Stephanie shrugged, picking a scale off her sweater. "No thanks."