it's still 13 here so

Ascertaining

I am exhausted and and in a mood, and there was this prompt: “Describe in detail the most boring thing imaginable.” So okay.

Ascertaining

Helena reads labels. Any tags or packaging, really: cereal boxes, toothpaste tubes, drug facts… even shampoo bottles. “Lather, rinse, repeat if desired,” Myka had heard her mumble to herself once as she beheld a bottle of Pete’s anti-dandruff shampoo.

“What are you doing?” Myka had demanded, the first time she’d heard murmurings that went something like “machine wash cold with like colors gentle cycle do not bleach warm iron if needed.”

“Ascertaining,” had been the answer.

“Ascertaining what, exactly?”

Slightly offended: “The details.”

“Of?”

“It all.”

In the kitchen, as whispers, Myka hears, “vitamin A palmitate.” And “modified wheat starch.” In the laundry room, “only non-chlorine bleach if needed.”

Myka thinks, Okay, you glorious nutbar. I can work with this. So, for the first time since her macaroni-based DNA model in sixth grade, Myka undertakes a craft project. She buys the finest-tipped Sharpie she can find; she cuts a small rectangle of glossy fabric; she measures a length of yarn.

Helena comes to bed on an ensuing night and stops cold. She asks, “What on earth is around your neck?”

“The details,” Myka says, as deadpan as she can.

“Of?”

“It all.” She can’t maintain it. “Okay, not all. Some. Maybe.”

Helena crouches beside the bed, touches the glossy tag. That is enough to make Myka’s blood speed, but Helena also concentrates as she reads, and Myka thinks she might now die. “This is… rather explicit,” Helena says.

“The details,” Myka breathes. “Tend to be.”

“Rather explicit,” Helena repeats, “and rather unlike you.”

“You don’t like it. Okay, never mind, because you don’t like it.”

“I did not say that.” Helena places her body very near Myka’s.  And then, in same low hum in which she declaims information regarding net weights and expiration dates, she begins, “Remove articles of clothing with alacrity…”

Happy Birthday, Robin!

“Hey, Robin! Look what Usopp and Franky made!”

A flash of light blinds her momentarily and she has to blink several times before she can see Luffy’s equally blinding smile again.

“It’s a camera! Cool, huh?”

The “camera” looks poorly constructed, but to her surprise a fully developed picture of her caught unawares pops out of a slot at the bottom.

“Will you take a picture of all of us?” Luffy gestures to the rest of the crew assembled on he lawn deck.

Robin smiles and takes the camera from Luffy. “Of course,” she agrees.

Luffy cheers and scrambles to join the others. The group takes a moment to collect itself (with a little bickering and shoving) into a more presentable ensemble.

Robin raises the camera, ready to take the shot, but the expressions on their faces stop her.

“Hey, Robin…” Usopp frowns.

“I meant take the picture with your extra hands, Robin!” Luffy laughs as if she’s made a dumb mistake.

“Yeah, it’s not exactly a ‘crew photo’ if you’re not in it,” Nami adds.

Robin is stunned, but passes the camera off to a spare set of her hands and goes to join them. Both Franky and Zoro put their arms around her shoulders. The weight is a little much, but their smiles are infectious and she can’t help but smile herself.

She forgets sometimes that she is one of them. She’s still used to living on the fringe, never quite integrating with those around her. She forgets sometimes that to them she is special, she is family.

But when she remembers, the smile on her face is enough to shine through even on film.