Kraken’s father had arrived home a bit late that night. Apparently he needed to catch up on some work he was behind on. What exactly was so difficult about coloring ink that he could get behind on, Kraken didn’t know. But she didn’t question it. Her dad was pretty secretive about his job. And why that was, she didn’t know either.
Kraken's dad worked at the Inkopolis Ink Coloring Corporation (IICC). It was there that the dyes used to tint Turf War ink were manufactured. The corporation was responsible for adding and mixing certain ingredients to make the correct color, as well as to cause damage to the opposing shades of pigment. Not only that, but the firm built the ink tanks that were strapped to the Inklings' backs during battle, which needed to be comfortable to wear, light and portable, and durable in the fray. Kraken's father, however, worked in the dyes division. He was a brilliant chemist—the top of his class—making it obvious as to why he was hired to be the head of his division. It was great to have a dad that knew so much about Turf War ink, like how it was made and how it worked, as Kraken received many tips and strategies from him that she used very frequently for Turf Wars. Yet, that also meant that he worked all the time, and his family didn't get to see him as often as they would've liked. His job kept him busy, but at least he always brought home a pretty penny every month. Still, Kraken wished that she and her brother could spend more time with him, and that he didn't have to come home stressed many a night after his packed days.
Since her mom was very insistent on “family dinner”, the entire family, much to their dismay, had to wait for Kraken's dad to get home. She felt like she was going to die of starvation, as did her little brother. His pathetic moaning could be heard as he wobbled down the hall. “But Moooooooom!” he whined. “I’m staaaaaaaaarviiiiiing!!”
Kraken giggled under her breath. I feel ya, bro.
“But Maaaaaarviiiiin!” she could hear her mom mock him. “Dad isn’t home yet. Once he gets here, we can dig in, okay?”
“Uuuuuuuugh!” Marvin groaned again. “Fine!”
He walked back in the hallway and stopped in front of his big sister’s door. No no no, Kraken thought.
“No no NO!” she yelled as she saw the doorknob turn. “What did I tell you about coming in my room?!”
The doorknob stopped rotating, and after a second or so, it spun back to its original position.
Knock, knock, knock.
"Thank you," Kraken sighed. "You may come in."
The door opened to reveal a "tiny green blob". Not really a blob at all though; that was only what his older sister called him. "Can I hang out with you, Myrtle?" he asked in his ante-pubescent voice. "Yes you may, my tiny green blob," Kraken answered with a grin. Marvin scrunched his little nose. "Don't call me that!" he commanded. Kraken laughed. "Then don't call me Myrtle!"
Marvin kind of closed the door behind him before making his way across the room. Kraken cringed. The door...the door... "Can you close the door all the way?" she begged. The little Inkling rolled his eyes and sighed, but gave into his sister's demands. He turned to close the door, all the way this time, and then waddled to the bed. He climbed onto it and sat on his knees across from Kraken. "You know I don't like it when you call me names," he said, putting on his best puppy-face. "I don't like being green. I wish I was big like you. And I wanna change my color whenever I want." Kraken smiled and rubbed her brother's pointy head. "I know, buddy," she sympathized. "I totally get it. I was just like that when I was your age." Marvin looked up at Kraken. "Really?" His sister let out a nasal snort. "Psh! Of course! Everyone was like that when they were nine. But look at it this way, bro: you're more humanoid than everyone else your age. That's pretty lucky. You might even be able to morph early." Marvin looked down at his gelatinous body. He was really humanoid for nine years old. He already had individual thumbs and longer legs than his friends. Inklings weren't supposed to develop those until they were around eleven, but lo and behold, there Marvin was: towering above his buds and thumbs galore.
"Okay, Myr—I mean, Kraken," he stuttered. He obviously wasn't used to his sister's preferred name. "Why don't you like 'Myrtle'? I don't see what's wrong with it." Kraken paused. She hadn't realized that he didn't know why. She had asked people to call her "Kraken" for years now, but her brother had never really asked her why. She only shrugged. "I dunno, I just...well, alright, here's the truth. People at school used to make fun of me for it. Said it was 'moldy', ya know? So my friends wanted to find me a different name so I wouldn't get picked on. So they thought of the name Kraken, 'cause, you know, the Krak-On-Splat's been my specialty for forever. And I'm pretty boss at the Kraken power-up—" she made a sassy hair-flip, "—if I do say so myself."
"Oh," Marvin commented with a giggle. "Can you teach me how to use a roller someday?" he asked Kraken, glancing over at his sister's weapon, which was leaning up against the wall by the door. "Oh, of course!" she answered, a bit thrown at the subject-change. "But of course you'll haveta wait until you're fourteen. And even then, you'll need to learn how to use a shooter before you even hold a roller." Marvin's mouth formed a tight line. "Aw. Fine."
A moment of silence passed, but it wasn't awkward at all. A truly special bond the two had. Few siblings could actually tolerate each other, much less like one other. Kraken did love her brother, and Martin loved her too. The times they were together were memories that neither would've given up for the world. Some were exciting, but most others were the chill and quiet moments. They didn't always need a conversation to enjoy themselves; sometimes just being together was joy enough.
And then suddenly, the air felt awkward. Kraken could feel it, and she was not the one causing it. It was Marvin, as she saw his smile disappear, and replaced with a distinct frown. "I miss your friends," he said.
And Kraken's smile disappeared as well.
"W—why would you say that?" she asked her brother, shifting her sitting position. She wasn't offended; she was just confused as to why he would mention it.
"I—I'm sorry Myr—Kraken," he spewed, fiddling with one of the tentacles at his side. "I was just—you mentioned them, and I—I don't know why I said that." Kraken could see in Marvin's eyes that he was upset about it. "Hey, buddy," she said quietly as she wrapped her arms around him. "It's totally okay. I'm not mad or anything." Marvin hugged her back; his sister always knew what he needed. "Okay," he muttered. And indeed Kraken was not mad. Just a little saddened.
Yes, she had had friends at one time. Three of them. Tracy, Sarah, and Kylie—some of the coolest girls that anyone could have had the pleasure of encountering. They all had met in third grade, and it was friendship at first sight. The group hung out together all the time, whenever they were free. Whether it was sleepovers, parties, Turf Wars (of course, once they had all turned fourteen), or whatever else they happened to be doing, they always made sure that they were with each other. Although their lifelong friendship, as it seemed it would be, was not as lifelong as they had suspected. At the beginning of high school, once "freshness" became the major priority, Tracy, Sarah, and Kylie wanted to be with the popular crowd. In fact, they were invited to be in the popular crowd. And all they had to do that they weren't doing already was ditch the people in their lives that were "moldy". And...well...that meant ditching Myrtle, the strange rich kid with the weird name. And really, that was it. They had decided then and there that they were no longer her friends. The next day, they tried to just avoid her, hoping that she would get the picture and move on. But she didn't. Myrtle kept on asking them what was wrong, and they still tried to ignore her. This went on for a few days, and eventually it ended after school one afternoon. With the words that Kraken would never forget: "Just stop it, Myrtle! Can't you see that we don't want you around?! Leave us alone, you loser!" Myrtle hadn't expected such an explosion. Sarah wasn't the type to yell at people, and Myrtle was astonished, as were the other two girls as well. But she herself was on the verge of tears. As Sarah stomped off in her own direction, Kylie and Tracy went to comfort their former friend. But she backed away, and refused to be condoled. They tried to explain what had happened, but they had no explanation, and no excuse. So Myrtle ran home, hiding her tear-stained face as her legs carried her across the city. All the while the same question screaming in her head: Why would they do this to me? But she kept running. Straight up to her apartment, straight to her floor, straight into her room, and straight to her bed. There she laid sobbing until nightfall, and then she cried herself to sleep. And it was about the next week when she officially went by the name Kraken. Her previous friends had given her the nickname a few weeks prior, but she hadn't originally wanted to change her name. It didn't seem like it was worth it at the time, but now it seemed the only way she would be accepted.
And that was the reason Kraken didn't like her name. The real reason. Contrarily, she thought is was a fine name, but it was part of the reason she was friendless to that day. And thus, she hated it. Of course, Marvin didn't know that, nor did her parents. Her mom and dad believed that she really didn't like it, but there was no reason to tell them otherwise. They couldn't erase the past. And Marvin was too young to understand. He didn't need the whole story.
"So," Kraken started back up again, awaking from her haunting memories, "how was school today?" Marvin's contagious smile suddenly returned, and Kraken silently rejoiced. "It was awesome! For history class, we went outside to the playground! And then—and then, we went out onto the field, and we reentacted the Great Turf War!" Kraken laughed. "You mean 'reenacted', buddy," she corrected. "That's cool, bro!" "Yeah!" Marvin exclaimed. "It was fun! I got to be the Octoling general! And I got to say things like, 'Fire!' and, 'Onward!' and 'Take aim, men!'. Like a real general!" If Kraken's grin had gotten any bigger, it would have taken up her whole face. It was such a tiny thing, but it meant so much to Marvin. Her little brother being so happy and so excited made her just as much so. In fact, she had altogether forgotten her previous dilemma, the issue that had put her in her bedroom in the first place. "Well, I'm glad you had fun!" Kraken said. Marvin's ear-to-ear smile remained for a few seconds, but slowly became smaller. "So your school wasn't very good?" he asked. Kraken tipped her head. "I'm sorry?" she inquired. Marvin nodded forward, at the pillow his sister was hugging. "Your pillow, it's wet. Were you crying?" Kraken stared at her brother, not knowing what to say. How the crap did he piece that together? Slowing lifting her green pillow and seeing, indeed, it still had a tearstain on it, she admitted, "I...would prefer not to talk about it. Alright, buddy?" Marvin nodded. "Okay," he said. "Please don't be sad, okay? I don't like it when you're sad." Kraken could have cried then and there, but with tears of joy. "Okay, Marvin, I won't cry anymore," she promised, as she pulled him in for another hug.
And then they heard the front door open.
"Yay!" Marvin screamed as he broke apart the hug and dashed out of the room. "Dinner time!"
Kraken chortled. Poor Dad, she thought. Dinner gets more hype than he does.
That night was a special dinner. "Special" meaning...not usual. Kraken's mom had tried to make a foreign meal, but even she admitted that she could have used a little more practice. Marvin lifted his weird-looking sandwich in disgust. "So, what is this supposed to be anyway?" he asked his mother. His father looked at him. "Now Marvin, that's no way to speak to your mother," he said, but turned to his wife. "But um, Alex, what was this called again?" The woman looked down at her dinner too. It's called a hamburger," she recalled. "It seemed like a good idea at the time, but it doesn't really look like the picture on the internet." And indeed it didn't. The bread that she used wasn't the right kind, and the meat wasn't formed into a disk-shape like the recipe instructed. What went wrong she didn't know, but the result didn't really look appealing.
"Well, does it taste good at least?" she asked her family with a hopeful look. Kraken had tried to eat her "hamburger" like a sandwich, but the meat only fell out between the slices of bread, so she resorted to a knife and fork. "Eh," she responded, after swallowing a bite of the dry meat. "It's alright, I guess. Definitely edible." Marvin stifled a giggle from across the kitchen table, but his father promptly scolded him with a glare. His mother looked up from her food and reached for a knife and fork from the middle of the table for herself. "So," she started, cutting the silverware into her meal, "what did you do today, Myrtle?" Kraken dropped her knife and fork conspicuously and scowled at her mom, who sighed in response. "Myrtle, you've gotta get over that. You know I'm not gonna call you anything but what your father and I named you when you were born." "She's right, hon," her dad chimed in. "I, for one, have nothing against your...unusual...nickname. But you need to cut your mother some slack, a'right? It is your real name, and she has the right to call you the name that we gave you." Kraken let out a sigh herself. "Fine," she grumped as she picked her utensils back up, and then remembered what had happened that day. "And nothing happened today," she fibbed, her scowl still plastered on her face. Her dad raised his eyebrows. "Really? Nothing?" he goaded. She didn't raise her gaze. "Yes, dad," she snapped back.
There was another silence. Kraken's parents exchanged glances, each knowing that something had happened, and it wasn't a good something. "Myr—I mean, Kraken," her dad said softly, grimacing at using his daughter's strange nickname, "you know you can tell us anything. We're you parents, and we love you. Did something happen that we should know about?" Kraken didn't know what to say. She didn't know whether to even say it. And if she did, where would she start? How much much to include, and what to leave out?
"Please, hon," her mother pleaded, "tell us. We can help, whatever it is."
And that was the straw that broke camel's back. Kraken shot out of her seat like a cork from a champagne bottle. "No you can't! You can't help! Nobody can!" she screamed, feeling oncoming tears. "I dug my own grave, and nobody can get me out, okay?! Not even I can! So stop asking me what happened today 'CAUSE NOTHING HAPPENED TODAY!"
Everyone's eyes widened to the size of the plates that their hamburgers were served on, and Kraken could hear her brother start to whimper. Look what you've done, Myrtle, she scolded herself. She had gotten angry again, which was what had gotten her into this situation in the first place. Why could she never learn? Unable to hide her contorting face, she dashed from the kitchen, sobbing all the way to her room.