Knock, knock, knock.
*sniff* *sniff* "Go away."
"Please, Myrtle. Let me come in."
Kraken's mother opened the door slightly ajar and peeked in, only to see her daughter curled up on her bed, hugging her forest-green pillow. Kraken opened her once closed eyes and saw her mom walking to her bed, sidestepping the objects scattered about the ground. "Hey, girl," she uttered, as she sat atop the mattress and stroked Kraken's head. "Can I ask to you about today?" Kraken sniffed again and responded, "I—I dunno. I don't want you to get mad at me."
Her mom became worried. This couldn't be good. "What do you mean? Did you do something bad?" Kraken only hugged her pillow more tightly. She had done something bad, and she really wanted to tell her mother what had happened. But if she did, Kraken wasn't sure how she would react. "You—*sniff*—you promise not to get mad?" Her mother stroked her daughter's head more slowly. "Well, I suppose not," she replied with a sigh. "I mean, unless you killed somebody or something like that. Then I might get a little upset." Kraken giggled under her breath, but her frown returned soon after.
"I—I hurt a kid at school..."
Her mom's eyes grew a bit wider.
"...but he was picking on someone! And I wanted to help. But I got angry, 'cause he punched me in the stomach, and I...sorta punched him in the face..."
The head-rubbing had officially ceased. "Myrtle!" her mom whisper-yelled, and Kraken winced. "How old is this kid?" Kraken wished she could curl into a smaller ball than she was in already. "Uh...I dunno. Maybe fourteen—ish."
Her mother seemed to find a certain spot on the wall very interesting, but she soon adverted her gaze back to Kraken. "Honey, I don't know what to tell you," was her motherly advise. "You're right: you've kinda dug yourself into a little hole here." Wow, thanks, Mom, Kraken thought. But her mother continued. "But really, the best thing to do is to apologize. I know that's pretty cliché, but it's probably the smartest move to make. If you let it go and don't do anything, rumors will definitely spread. But saying you're sorry will at least bring a little respect to your name, ya know what I mean?" Kraken sniffled once again, but nodded. Her mom had a point. And she had been thinking of that too. But she knew that it would require a giant pride-check. "Okay," was all she could say, and her mom seemed content with that. She leaned down to her daughter and kissed her teary cheek. "I love you," she whispered, as she gave her a light hug. And Kraken smiled her first permanent smile that day. Perhaps she didn't give her mom enough credit for what she did. Not only did she cook the meals and keep the apartment running, but she somehow found time to love on her kids and give them advice. She was like a super hero, but with an apron that smelled like foreign meat. No Inkling her age would admit to liking his parents, but honestly, Kraken loved her mom. "Love you too," she found it in herself to respond. "And thanks...for not getting mad at me." Her mom smiled even wider. "No prob, Myr—Kr—Kraken..." she stuttered, and shook her head. "Girl, I just can't do it."
And they both laughed.
The next day arrived almost too quickly. The alarm clock on the nightstand blasted the Squid Sisters' latest song, and Kraken's arm braved the horrid sunlight to push the snooze-button. However, as is the case with arms, or with any limb for that matter, they don't have a way of seeing, and her sightless appendage ended up slamming on every area of the small table that wasn't her clock. But finally, with an exaggerated groan, Kraken prepared her eyes for the terrible brightness. The covers lifted off of her face, like a chrysalis breaking open to reveal its sleepy and refreshed butterfly. But she was not feeling like a butterfly at all. More like a grumpy moth. Upon spotting the cursed button, she promptly jabbed it with her finger with a foul hatred contorting her face, and she wrapped herself up in her cocoon once more. Ah, sleep. Never had she appreciated the satisfaction of sleep so much. The beautiful tranquility that enveloped her, how wonderful it felt. How soothing. How peaceful. How—
"No, Myrtle! You're not gonna hit that snooze button one more time!" came a voice from behind her door.
Kraken ripped the covers from her face again. "But Mom! I'm tired!"
"I let you sleep in for a long time! You've hit that button about seven times already! Now get up!"
Kraken let out a second groan, but obeyed. She forced the blankets off of her body, and the chilly air soon surrounded her, causing goosebumps to travel up her arms. The curtainless window allowed the sunlight to pour into her room, sending its inhabitant a good morning slap in the face. Kraken was officially as awake and alert as a lioness. But as irritable as one too.
Marvin was already at the kitchen table, dressed for school and happily consuming his Squid O's. Looking up from his colorful and nauseatingly sweet breakfast, he saw his sister trudging from the hall, wearing a dark blue t-shirt and red baseball cap. "G'morning, Sissy!" he greeted loudly, causing Kraken to wince and cover one ear. "G'morning, buddy," she muttered, rubbing her eyes. As she walked to the refrigerator, her brother tried to make conversation, though it was obvious that his brain was whirring from the sugar in his cereal. "So," he began, "are you feeling better?" Kraken didn't look away from the open fridge door. "Yeah, I guess so," she responded, staring at the cold shelves, as if her steady gaze would cause the food to rearrange themselves into a breakfast. This discussion wasn't up to speed with Marvin. So he sped it up himself. "That's good! 'Cause I was worried about you last night. I was hoping you'd be okay. I was up all night. Like, all night. And I had a lot on my mind. I mean, not just you, but like other things. And to be honest, I had a lot on my mind. Wait, I already said that. Oops. Well anyway, I was thinking about a lot of things. I was thinking out school, and what we did. Like that science experiment we did, and—" Kraken wasn't listening to her brother anymore. She was in her own world again. She had been up all night too, planning what she was going to do to apologize to that boy. And she had spent even more time memorizing said plan. First, find the kid. She didn't know how, but she'd figure out the details later. Second, get him to listen to me. She didn't know how to do that either, but...details. Third, apologize. And...she didn't really know what she was going to say. Should she go for the formal, "I am dearly sorry. What I did was foolish. Could you ever forgive me?" Or the casual, "Hey, I'm sorry for what I did, bro. I hope you're alright. We cool, man?" Or should she get personal, "Look, man, I have an issue with getting angry. When I'm mad, I do some crazy things. I've had that problem since I was maybe ten or so..." Or possibly bargain, "Please, don't tell anyone. I'll do whatever you want, man. Just don't tell anyone!" Of course, assuming that he hadn't told anybody about his prominent bruise. Someone had been bound to notice and ask how and where he got it. And he had no reason to lie. Someone definitely knew, and they were probably looking for her, ready to turn her in, put her on trial, send her to jail...
"Don't you think so, Myrtle?"
Kraken awoke from her thoughts. Wow, that escalated quickly, she realized. But that only proved a point: Kraken needed to get this all worked out before it became an major issue.
"Don't you think so—"
"No, before that."
"Oh! So like, if a volcano erupted and covered the city in lava, we'd need to get to all the skyscrapers to keep ourselves safe. So maybe we should start an aquareness and get all the tall buildings to put up signs warning everybody! Don't you think so?"
Kraken grabbed an apple from the fridge and walked to the table. "What do I think?" she restated, as she pulled a chair back and seated herself on it. "Well, first, I think, you meant 'awareness'," she said, taking a bite out of her breakfast. "And second," she began again, as she grabbed Marvin's bowl and pulled it away from him, "I think that you've had enough of that cereal."
No sign of him.
Not a trace.
Kraken had kept an eye out for the boy for the entire school day. In her free time, she had searched the halls for a familiar face. She even asked some kids that looked about his age if they had seen a boy with a bruise on his cheek.
No familiar faces.
And a heck of a lot of confused no's from a dozen freshmen.
Kraken wasn't able to pay attention in school, worried about what might happen if she couldn't find him. She didn't listen to the lectures, she couldn't finish any homework, and she wasn't able to catch the name of the new student in her grade. With every period that passed, the more anxious Kraken became. It came around lunchtime that she spent about half an hour glancing about the cafeteria, not bothering to eat her lunch, as her stomach was too uneasy to consume any sustenance. Hours flew by, but no luck was to be had. And that did nothing to bring down Kraken's tension. Anyone around her could notice that something was off about her, including her three former acquaintances. On normal days, she would once in while cast a disgusted glance at them. Yet, she never even cared to acknowledge their very existence, but only paced down the halls to her next class. Which was very unusual indeed.
And then it arrived. What Kraken dreaded the most.
The end of the day.
She was devastated. What she had feared would happened had happened. What am I gonna do now?
Kraken knew that she had to do it that day. She couldn't wait any longer. If she did, she knew that rumors would spread, and it would be jail time for her. So as she slowly exited the building, making sure that the boy wasn't still in the school, Kraken decided that she would loiter about the courtyard for a bit. She was sure to find him then.
And suddenly, Lady Luck seemed to shine down upon her. Kraken only wished that She wouldn't have waited until the end of the day to do so.
The dark blue sweatshirt, the black baseball cap—it was him. She could have sworn. He stood directly in her line of sight, and Kraken was overjoyed. Now, she thought to herself, what was the next step?
Kraken couldn't remember.
She had memorized the list! How could she not remember? It was on the tip of her tongue! What was it, what was it, what was it...
She had taken too long to think. Because he saw her. And he remembered her.
Kraken hadn't realized that she had been staring at him while she was recalling step one, which had been for a good ten seconds. No wonder he looked terrified; he must have been afraid that she had come back for more.
No! That wasn't her intention! She needed to make things right, and now was her chance!
"Hey, kid!" she yelled, as she walked toward the scared boy. "Please, I need to talk to ya!"
The boy backed away as she got closer, his face portraying his growing fear. Kraken saw this, and she eventually stopped advancing and put her hands in front of her. "Please, man, I just wanted to apologize for yesterda—"
"That's her!" he screamed.
Kraken froze. Now she herself was scared, for she saw someone near the boy that she hadn't noticed before. The Inkling that stood a few feet away from him must have been twice his height, and possibly triple his size. He wore a white t-shirt with a SquidForce emblem, and his arms were distinct and burly. Kraken had seen him before; he was a junior at the school. The MVP of the wrestling team. Did he...was he...Oh no. Kraken only stayed where she was, her hands in front of her, as if they could stop the muscled man from getting any closer to her. But they obviously weren't of any help.
"Is this her, bro?" he spoke in a deep bellow, his breath blowing like a monsoon over Kraken's face. And she wouldn't have dared mention it, but he could have used a mint.
"Yeah, that's her," the little boy whimpered, as if he knew what his big brother was about to do, and the thought scared him. The junior towered over his victim, and Kraken shrank as far back as she was able. But that did nothing, as he reached his hand down to the collar of her t-shirt and gripped it tightly in his hand.
"So, you're the squid that beat up my little bro, huh?" he interrogated, as he lifted Kraken an inch above the ground. She nearly died then and there. "N—no! Y—you don't understand!" she tried to negotiate, grabbing her captor's wrist and pulling herself upward, so as to not choke under her own weight. "I—It was all just a misunderstanding! I—I—" Kraken was pulled closer to his face. "You got no idea who you are dealing with, punk! Pulling an idiot stunt like that! Now you're gonna know how it feels!" Kraken was breathing faster than a squid swimming a marathon. There was no way out of this. "Please," she begged, "I'm sorry. I was wrong, and I feel really bad, and I just wanted to say I was sorry—"
With record air time, Kraken hit the ground. She moaned as she pushed on the concrete, trying to raise herself up. Her left arm throbbed with the most gruesome-looking rug burn, and cradling it only irritated the scratches. Did he just throw me?
Indeed he had, and that had only attracted an audience. Dozens of Inklings stood watching, readying their SquidPods for a chance at a viral video. Kraken turned her body to face her persecutor, only to see that he was already advancing. She forced herself to stand up as quickly as she could, but she wasn't quick enough.
A blow in the gut. Kraken stumbled backwards as she hugged her stomach, as if any affection she lent it would make it heal. Needless to say, none did. She wasn't watching her attacker, and perhaps doing so would have saved her some more pain.
Down to the ground she returned once again, due to a punch to the jaw. Kraken yelped in pain as her right arm broke her fall, and her left hand held the side of her chin. She didn't bother to rise again; getting up only seemed to result in more injuries. However, her assailant didn't seem to agree with this rule.
"You finished, kid?!" he yelled at her limp body, but that apparently wasn't enough.
"Please, John! Just stop!" came a worried voice from a bit away.
Kraken couldn't turn her head to see, but she knew that it was his little brother. "She's learned her lesson! So let's go!"
John threw an unbelieving glance at his brother, as if he had just said the most incredible statement he had ever heard. "No, bro. You gotta learn to stand up for yourself. When someone hurts ya, ya hurt 'em back. And ya give 'em a little something extra, to make sure they don't cross you again." He bent down and clutched Kraken's intensely rug-burned arm, much to her dismay, and pulled her upwards. She could have propped herself on her knees, but she didn't have the strength. John leaned down to her face so his monsoon breath could gust over her. "You gonna ever hurt him again?" Kraken was about to shake her head, until they were interrupted.
"Put her down, punk!"