"Yum, nothing like cold, canned chili for lunch and dinner," Amanda commented sarcastically, plunging her spoon into the opened can for her second bite. "This really does wonders for the digestive system as well. You'll have to excuse me if some of my bodily functions overwhelm my Victorian manners." She smirked under her breath.
Logan had the same feelings about their fare, peering through the deepening gloom of the window, watching for any sign of their captors. "Beans, beans, the magic fruit. . ." he started, then felt embarrassed to continue. "It's pretty funny how ashamed we can become of our bodily functions, you know," he lamented. "And our physical anatomy."
"I'm surprised we haven't heard from the kidnappers yet," Amanda quickly interjected to change the subject. "Do you think they can get through the swamps at night?"
"I don't know but I'm kind of afraid to light the candles tonight. The light would tip us off immediately if they did get through. We're better off staying in the dark. Besides, we can see outside more clearly if it's dark in here." Logan took another bite of his chili, forcing a swallow.
"How are we going to keep watch through the night?" Amanda asked him seriously. "I mean, one of us can't watch in all directions and we all need to get some sleep somehow."
"Actually, I think as long as one of us watches the front during the night we'll be safe. As far as I can remember, it seemed like we came ashore not far from the steps here in front of the house. As long as we have a couple of minutes to prepare before they come up the stairs we'll be all right," he answered.
"O.K., I've done my time in solitary confinement," Liz called whiningly from the bedroom. "It's time to change watching posts now. It's your turn in here Logan."
"Come on in here, Elizabeth. We're just going to watch from the front windows at night." Amanda answered her sister loudly enough to be heard in the next county.
Logan held his ears, shaking his head in exaggerated discomfort at her volume. "Jeez, I don't want you mad at me," the fireman teased. "The eardrums would never be the same."
Elizabeth walked into the room with a scowl on her face. "Was this another command decision made by the leadership team?" she asked sarcastically. "Do you think it would be possible to include me in some of these decision-making processes? I mean, so I'll at least know what's going on." The youngest girl folded her arms, flopping into the armchair like a pouting ten year old.
"Oh, chill out," Amanda retorted. "We're not trying to leave you out. You were just in the other room when the subject came up."
Elizabeth just sat and glared at her sister while burying herself deeper into the chair. The air in the room suddenly felt sullen and heavy. Logan noticed his breathing was even becoming difficult. The energy between the two sisters was so thick that it was almost tangible. It felt like opposite poles of two giant magnets pushing away from each other. He expected to see sparks erupt into the air between them.
"Amazing," he said to himself, "I never knew that emotions could be so physically apparent." The lad watched the girls, feeling the interaction between the two in the waning light for several minutes until Amanda brushed past him en route to the bedroom. A strange energy that felt like static electricity splashed over him as she brushed past, making his hair stand on end. He looked back at Elizabeth, who now sat with her knees at her chest, staring vacantly through one of the darkened windows.
"I can't believe her, she always does that to me," Liz whined in a low, hollow voice to no one in particular.
Amanda walked brusquely out of the bedroom toward the bags of clothes piled by the door. She opened the first one, rummaging through the contents blindly in the semi- darkness. Apparently finding what she was looking for, she stood up and held a pair of trousers against her waist. Satisfied, she returned to her search until finding an agreeable shirt. The young woman headed again toward the bedroom door. "God, I wish I could take a shower," she whined, "I can't stand feeling this grungy anymore. Isn't there any way that I can get clean?" she complained once more.
"You can pump some water into the sink over there," the fireman offered as gently as he could manage.
Amanda just glowered at him over her shoulder, whisking away instead into the dark bedroom. A thick feeling of maddened ire seemed to follow the hostile girl through the darkened doorway. The energy felt totally different around Elizabeth. Around her was like a black hole sucking up everything in her vicinity. The darkness even seemed thicker surrounding her.
Logan heard Amanda blithering in the other room which redirected his attention into a more physical form. "Damn it," the incensed woman screamed, "all I want is some hot water!"
Suddenly, a loud thump came from the bedroom followed by a loud, "Shit! Ow, shit that hurts."
"Are you all right?" Logan asked thoughtfully.
"Yeah, I'm O.K. I just banged the hell outta' my knee. It's so dark in here I can't see a damned thing," Amanda answered vehemently.
Elizabeth never uttered a word or moved a muscle. Boy, she's pissed, the fireman thought. It all seemed such a trivial matter to him. "Are you alright, Liz?" he finally asked.
"Wonderful," the irate girl answered sarcastically. "She always treats me like a. . . a. . . little sister."
Logan couldn't see her face, but he was sure that she was profoundly serious. Maybe he just couldn't really understand this sibling rivalry thing, and it seemed so pronounced between these two girls. He had read a lot about the competition that gets generated between two siblings who think they are vying for the love of a parent, however, he'd never gotten to experience it for himself. This particular case seemed to be pretty extreme. The young man found it very difficult not to have judgement on Elizabeth for being so childish, or on Amanda for being so demanding. For the first time, he was really beginning to understand how each person, living in their own little universe, could experience a completely different reality. Each one, in their own mind, was completely justified in their feelings.
Suddenly Elizabeth broke the silence. "Since mom died, Amanda has kind of taken over the responsibility of being a mother to me. Our father is a very busy man, sometimes working for days at a time, keeping everything going. You know, I think he just misses mom. My sister was really close to him, they did things together all the time, I guess I was more of a momma's girl. Anyway, since she died, about five years ago, dad has spent more and more time at work and sis has taken his absence pretty hard. I guess she feels like she's lost two parents instead of one or something. I know daddy loves us very much and is probably going crazy right now, not knowing what's happened to us, but I really don't know if Amanda can see that. I really think she feels he has abandoned her and doesn't like her anymore. So now, she's my mom and feels she is the only one here to look after me. God, I sometimes feel awful for despising her for just loving me! But, you know, it really gets me sometimes, just bugs the shit out of me."
Amanda walked out of the bedroom combing through her oily hair just as Elizabeth reached that admission. "What are you guys doing?" she asked in a cheerier tone.
"Oh, nothin' really," Elizabeth answered through the darkness in a distinctly friendlier voice. "Sis, I'm sorry that I got mad at you. I know that you're just looking after my own good but, you know, I'm growing up, too. I just want to be a part of things and not a tag along. That's really important to me right now, okay?"
Amanda stood in silence for several seconds, which began to bring out a little tension in Logan once again. He began wonder what was about to happen. Tensions were high enough right now with everything else that was going on. All that he needed was to have the only other two people in his immediate universe at each others throats.
"Liz, you know, you're right. I apologize. I've tried to look after you since Mom died because I promised her that I would. I guess that I just started feeling more like a mother than a sister. I'll try to always remember that you are an adult, too. I can't promise that I'll always be successful, it's pretty ingrained, you know."
Amanda walked over to Elizabeth and sat beside her. "Pals?" she asked.
"Pals," Liz responded.
"Now, if I could just have a long hot bath and some clean clothes that fit, everything would be fine. Well, not really,"
Amanda corrected herself. "I just hope these pants don't fall off while I'm walking around. At least not in the daylight." The two sisters looked thoughtfully at one another.
"I think I'm going to find some different clothes myself," Elizabeth broke the silence. "Maybe that'll make me feel a little cleaner." She laughed, walking toward the bags. "Let's see, sporting, casual or evening attire?"
Morgan unlocked the door to Logan's apartment and stepped tentatively through. The darkness of the deepening evening had utterly engulfed the small room, as it had her heart. At least she was expecting to be alone this evening while Logan was at work. That expectation was her only solace, keeping the young woman from feeling completely alone and desperate. She could pretend everything was normal for a while. Standing just inside the still open door, the spinning lass took several slow, deep breaths, trying to clear her mind.
Slowly, she closed the front door and made her way into the tiny kitchen. Morgan set her purse and a small bag of groceries on the counter. "Get a grip," the young woman scolded herself, a tear rolling down her right cheek. "Okay, Logan, I miss you already. I want you to come back to me, you hear? I know you're alive and can somehow feel me thinking about you. I just need to keep my time occupied until you get back."
Still in the predominant darkness, the redhead sauntered into the bedroom, took off her clothes and slipped, once again, into the night shirt that had been left upon the bed. Softly, she caressed the material as if it was Logan himself wrapped around her. Then very deliberately, she ambled into the living room, stopped, peering longingly through the sliding glass door. Lightening flashed in the distance, could Logan could see it too?
Memories roiled through her mind like a VCR on fast forward. She could hardly keep up with the spinning scenes as they came speeding past. Memories of when she first met Logan, their first date, their second date and almost every minute that they had spent together over the previous month flashed through her mind. Finally she stopped resisting herself for remembering those happy times and began enjoying each and every little thought as it came along. The reminiscing young woman even found herself laughing aloud at some of the funnier ones. She and Logan hadn't been together very long but Morgan was amazed at all of the wonderful memories that they had already created together. Some of the best memories of her life had been in the last few months. "I love you Logan Keohane," she called aloud. "You will be my husband for the rest of my life."
Amazing, this feeling of love, Morgan thought, turning from the door, shuffling into the kitchen to prepare her dinner. She switched on the overhead florescent light and began unpacking the food. Suddenly, pausing in her work, the brightening lass walked through the small apartment, room by room, and switched on every light that she could find.
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