Courtney's Heart [Chapter 1: Mother's Love]

Courtney woke convulsing, her soaked face slapping against drenched sheets. But before panic could set itself in, a snap into consciousness drew her still.
She sat up, patting and holding herself, rocking back and forth. Only, she didn't know why. There was a black hole wherever her mind reached. No memory, no residual feeling.
  Nothing.
 
Had she dreamed? And if she had, was it good or bad?
  She literally had no idea. But then again, no good dream did that. Not outside of possessions.
  She turned, patting her pedestal until her fingers clapped against cartoonishly thick spectacles. Her pink glasses bounced onto the back of her hand as though placed on rubber.
  She reacted, jumping as though electrocuted, backhanding them.
  They rose, she missed.
  They were past grabbing, but not saving. She raised her knees. It would have worked, if she were calm.
  Instead there was a crack of plastic when she kneed them shut, they rose skywards. She swung as though in a fist fight with a ghost, leaning too far to keep her balance.
  Thud!
  Courtney was on her stomach, face rooted in thick zebra carpet.
  She groaned, squirming into the pain. Somehow, the position was relaxing, her mind allowed to flat line until a knock on the door forced her back into reality.
  The handle turned, ever so slowly the door opened.
 
"Mom, I'm fine."
The door kept opening at the same speed.
"I'm naked, don't come in!"
A nuclear blast could not have opened the door faster.
"Courtney, what's happening? You fall off the bed?"
"Not in the way you think mom."
  "Okay, Cici" Her mother said, pushing each syllable in a manner which grated against her soul so hard she could hear the scraping.

 
"Mom, I'm fine."
"Then why did you fall?"
"Because," she hesitated for a moment before giving up. "I was picking up my glasses."

  Her mother's eyes pointed down at the carpet, from the glasses to her. The logical thing to do would have been to laugh, it should have been funny.

But the absolute last thing she needed was her mother's crushing embrace, wrists locking her under her armpit.
There was enough muscle involved to lift her. Courtney heard sniffing and heavy breathing, she was being rocked like a child.
 
"Mom, please, I'm fine."
"I know." She wheezed. "You can be fucking fine, that's what I want, but..." The pressure intensified, to the point of forcing Courtney to burp out her own lungs. "I'm not."
 
"It's not your fault mom. You know that."

She said nothing, instead Courtney was in an intimate hold. She eyed the area, most especially the bed and sighed.

The pitch of her mother's breathing had shifted, she was gone, long asleep, the intensely thick carpet, blanket enough. She held her tight, face in her mother's relaxed hair, the smell of coconut butter, clearing away any existentialism brewing in the last few hours, leaving only sleep.



------
  Courtney woke wrapped in a blanket, arms tucked under her. She might as well have been cuffed.
 
-----

Undressing was always the easy part. It didn't mean there wasn’t thinking required. Patting her hips found the bottom of her shirt. Patting again led to the top of her pants.
  Then it got hard.
  Her left foot hit the bedstand, but it was the inside, not her toes, acceptable.
  Still shifting her feet sideways like a clown, she got to the bathroom.
  More patting, hot water tap, more patting, cold water tap, patting, shower curtain.
  She stubbed her toe, biting her lip to keep from screaming, the plastic hook for her gown hit her head, bouncing her to the ground. Her arm on the curtain saving her.
   
"Down goes Frasier." She sighed.
  She pulled herself up, the curtains reinforced to her weight.
  Courtney stepped on her toe the same way a ring man would pressure, a swelling eye. Only with way less mercy.
  Pat, pat   Door handle.   Pat, Pat   Bed   Pat, Pat   Cupboard   Grip, Grip   Navy blue jeans,   Grip, grip.   Yellow top with long sleeves with a red graphic with a red polo-neck and a red back that made it look like a one punch man cape before a thick black jacket, a trench coat.
  She stood in front of her mirror, her hand extended to feel for the glass, she had only her reflection and her mind, working overtime to see how far she was from the glass.
  The distance seemed endless, expanding and expanding, pushing her out of her room, out the window, into space, where they was no light.
 
"Cici!"
  Courtney blinked, snapping back into the real world. Her heart sank, she was back.
  Grab, grab
  Door Handle
  Both hands locked onto the rail on either side and she rushed down. Was her every step smooth?
  No, but they were her steps. The floor was carpet, thick rug covering every inch of the house. She was at speed when she pushed the flap doors to the kitchen and found both her mother and Beatrix.
  She had black dreads, even thicker than her own, they formed an Afro of snakes weaving and winding up her head. She smiled, voluptuous cover-photo lips parting to a grin. Both girls were trench coats that would make shooter blush.
 
"You look stunning."
"I learned from the best."
That made her mother chortle, nearly ruining the moment.

"I made you both cereal."
"Mom, you didn't have to. I'm sure she ate at home."
"It's cool, Ms B has the best cereal."
"There you go 'Cici', the 'best'"
Courtney sighed, sitting down and taking her own over-sized bowl. Hers was far more than wanted but her mother was already pouring warm milk. Beatrix ate as though late. Courtney held her spoon close to the base, without touching milk. She ate in silence before looking up and seeing her mother staring, appalled.

  Courtney stopped.

 
"Wha?"
"Are you being chased? By the police? Maybe?"
  Beatrix giggled. Courtney blushed.
 
"No 'mom' this is a lot of food and we have to walk soon."
"You could catch the bus." Her mother chimed.
"Too embarrassing. It's like mountain climbing. I don't want everyone watching while I try crawl up the steps. I won't go through that."

"Plus, the walk belongs to us."

"Yeah, you share a bus ride. You share an Uber, you can only 'take' a walk, you can't 'share'." Courtney said, only to be pinched in the bicep.   Ms B smiled, her arms crossed before shaking her head and kissing her forehead.
 
"You are both dumb, but I swear I love you," She said, hugging Beatrix before leaving.
  Both girls stared at each other and burst out laughing.
 
"You hear?"
"What?"
"Mrs Thompson is going to start a voting initiative."
"But we can't vote."
"Don't tell her that."
"It literally doesn't make sense."
"Finish eating."
"I am drowning in this."
"Come on."

Beatrix pushed in closer both eating off the same bowl.

 
-----
  It didn't take long before they were outside, fingers interlocked. The walk was quick. She barely had to look at the ground when Beatrix was there. Both glancing at the ground regularly.



"Do you think she's going to ask us to help?" Courtney said, after jumping up a curb with Beatrix after crossing the street.
"What?"
"Mrs Thompson, the voting initiative."
"Why you so worried about it?" Beatrix asked, there was suspicion in her tone.
Courtney had been looking for it.

"Because, I thought it would be funny if I pretended to care about the words coming from her mouth. So, I said, 'wouldn't 'wouldn't it be cool if we did more than vote?'"

Courtney's heart dropped when the walking stopped. The last thing she wanted to do was look up.
"Why?!" Beatrix exclaimed.
"I dunno, I just wanted to see what she'd do, I didn't know she’d think of it as her moment."
"Mrs Thompson is a living meme. Of course she's going to lose her mind."
"Again, accident."
"Wait, I think I have an idea. I think you're going to like it, but your mom won't.”
  Courtney didn't miss a beat.
 
"I like it already."

-----
  Getting through the school grounds in the morning was annoying, a chore lessened with the brushing of Beatrix's shoulder, none more so than dealing with homeroom.
But time passed and fourth period found them in the toilet.

"You sure about this?"

The look Beatrix gave was electrifying. There was no going back. Beatrix would have stuck electrodes into her brain and forced her to move if she had to. She didn't. It was happening. They took off their jackets, revealing red, "Make America Great Again", shirts adding the hats. They were ready.

Jackets held by Beatrix, they marched ahead. There were eyes on them already, if only they'd been walking in slow motion. Courtney's smile evolved to a grin. But that wasn't the image her partner was going for. Beatrix all but strutted. At the very least it was a catwalk, she might as well have been seeing flashing lights. They entered the class, not looking anyone in the eye before sitting down. If attention was what they wanted, attention was absolutely what they were getting. But Courtney eyes locked onto the constellation of faces, posters and billboards spread over the walls.

Senators, governors and house representatives. Courtney had to take a moment to chide herself, there was something distasteful about knowing so many of the names there. But the blame was squarely on her mother's shoulders.

Her mother, the lawyer.
  There was a level of enthusiasm needed to be a teacher:
A Hollywood 'Lean on Me' enthusiasm. There was 'white people' enthusiasm and... then, judging with the native American statue in the corner, there was Mrs Thompson, an absolute cartoon. Ms Thompson swallowed the moment Courtney made eye contact. Courtney turned to Beatrix and a chill ran down her spine.
  Those teeth, that gleeful stare, the slow blinking. Everyone knew the metaphor of a shark's grin. This was not it. A shark grinned because of its bone structure. It grinned because it was about to eat, no matter how malleable and stretched the metaphor could be, there was nothing personal. Whatever smile Beatrix was giving. It was worlds away. If a wolverine could grin then, there it was. Silence fell over the class.

The lesson began and eight minutes in, Beatrix's hand rose.

  Courtney's mother was to blame.
  Beatrix, could have been called Bee, Beebe, Trix, X, any thing. None would stick because she wanted 'Beatrix', the name you stick to someone when you were being a jerk.

  Why,
because,
That's why.
  Most certainly. The woman who shouldhave zoned out the second Courtney's mother chose to regale them with a lesson in black truth. Instead zoomed in.
Beatrix was zoomed in again.
"These faces are all modern democrats." Beatrix said.
There was no blood left to drain from Courtney.
"Well, I just wanted to put up the faces of people who made a difference."
"There were six civil rights bills signed into being because of republicans. Where's-"

Courtney remembered this! This was the speech her mother had given. A speech born from them, watching the Trevor Noah while waiting for the WI-FI to reconnect.

-----
  It was 5pm when her mother walked out the principle's office, Courtney in tow.  
-----
 
      The school's unfortunate design had never been as apparent as when they were making the seemingly endless trek back to the car. But it didn't mean her mother was quiet, or even angry. No, what she was doing was worse, she spoke loudly and smiled into her phone. One would have thought her child had won an award.

Courtney kept her head low, hands firmly secured into her pockets. She was walking with an ocean of nitro-glycerine in the middle of smoker’s convention.
  The ride was exceedingly quiet. Broken only by the ticking of the time bomb, it amplified with every second, she could feel the heat coming from it. Not to be left out, her heartbeat decided to audition for lead drummer in a band. Hammering brutally against her chest until...
 
"Mom, I want you to know,"
  Boom!   The car swerved and screeched to a halt, nearly flinging them both.
 
"There's nothing you can say to get out of this!"
 
"How about, you nearly killed Henry?"
 
"Who the fuck is Henry?" She yelled.
 
"The guy who just flew into the bushes!"
  The bush just before the bonnet trembled violently, an icy Afro popped out.
Henry was their age, but he, by dint of his face was an absolute disgrace to his age group, being five years younger in the face, while somehow having the early stylings of stubble and simultaneously not being a 'little person'. Though, there was nothing 'little' about his dive for the bushes, it would have been impressive were it not so galling. A mental tape recorder clicked on, she just absolutely had to tell Beatrix!

  The doors on both sides of the car burst open, her mother's feet landed on the footrest then crunched on the icy floor, dagger like heels cutting through sleet and snow like a hot knife through butter.

  On the other end, caught up in the moment, Courtney completely missed the first step, her shoulder slammed the door, swinging it wide, she reached for it and got nothing, only getting her index finger caught it, ripping the when the door bounced back. She swung, thrown by her own momentum, doing a full front flip, her head just missing the tar, a second before slamming into it anyway. She was conscious, unmoving and relying on an adrenaline shot that never came.
  She was close to screaming but trembled trying to hold some composure. It lasted one second before a sudden violent pulsating explosively expansive pain hit. It held her down, twisting her, grabbing her lungs and throat, dragging her jaw open by the teeth and slamming her lungs. She screamed, her face, contorting, possessed by pain.
 
-----

The ride back from the hospital was an awkward one. Nothing said between any of them. Her mother's eyes were red, her stare distant, quite so.
  Another day, another cast.
  She looked so tired, beaten.
Now...
The person who did not deserve the thousand-yard stare was Henry.
  It was infuriating. But nothing was said until the car almost careened to a stop, as if it were a tire, rolled up a hill, the hand break pulled, the tire toppling over.
 
"Go inside," Her mother breathed. "I'll drop him off and... Meet you inside."
 
"Cool." Courtney replied, wishing she'd said nothing.
  The door opened, only it wasn't hers, Henry had just jumped out the car, and was now holding the door for her, his hand extended.
 
"What are you doing?" She asked, genuinely confused.
 
"I'm making sure you make it safe." Henry said.
  This left her at a loss for words. There was a chortle from behind her, Courtney frowned.
 
"I'm fine now. Okay? I just slipped."
 
"Actually-"
 
"It was my fault, I wasn't concentrating."
 
"Because you were worried about me? Right? Now, I'm making up for it,"
 
"You don't-"
 
"Look, this is important to me. So, can you please?"
 
She sighed, defeated.
 
"Okay. But this isn't a thing."
 
"Yet." He said, smiling.
  She wasn't smiling back. But wasn't hostile. That was enough to keep him smiling and lock eyes. They were walking to the door, still holding hands.
 
"I thought you were only walking me out the car."
 
"I, and this is gonna sound like bull but yeah. That's what I thought too."
  [in"So, this isn't some plan?"
 
"No, but can I be weirdly honest?" He seemed to hesitate there.
 
"I guess. The painkillers are working too well, you literally can't hurt me."
 
"Cool, I was gonna say. You ever been drunk? Actually no, tipsy. You're not drunk enough to lose motor functions, but you're so euphoric that you feel like the world makes sense and your every move is a move which happens to be in the same direction as the universe and I just need to go with the flow."
 
"I'll confess, that little tangent. Was weird, but you got me, what's the flow saying to you?"
 
"I'm-"

He stopped; they'd reached the door.
 
"Can I take you out?"
 
"Like a hitman?"
 
"What? No, I mean, I liked holding your hand, so you know… going places and smile. I don’t actually know what happens in dates… look everything is telling me to kiss you, it's like alarm bells are going off in my head, a horn is blaring and just-"

  To her complete surprise, he stepped in going with it, she put a hand on his neck, finding him. They kissed, Courtney rising until they parted.
 
"I'm really sorry." He breathed. "I've never ever done anything like that"
 
"Never apologize,"
 
"I'm sorry."
 
"I just said."
 
"Again, sorry, I mean, not about-"
 
"Attacking my face?"
 
"Not that,"
 
"So you did attack my face?"
 
"Okay, I see what you're doing."
 
She grabbed his face and kissed him before laughing,
 
"What?"
 
"I just had a thought. You don't live close, right? Which means you're going to have to sit in the car with an angry mother, who's overprotective of her little girl's love life. And has no shame,"

  She pecked his lip, he was too wide eyed to react.
 
"And her daughter was all drugged up when you did it."
 
"You're kidding."
 
"I'll see what's left of you Monday."

  She opened the door, almost slamming it closed. She grinned from ear to ear. A pause in adrenaline reminded her that, yes, she was still in pain. It wasn't enough to stop her laugh. Though, when she realized she wasn't the only one laughing, she screamed and tripped on her heels only to be pulled into Beatrix's arm.

 
"Gotcha"
 
"Good, though, if I fell again. I'm not even sure I'd feel it."
 
"Want to test it?"
  They were really close together.
 
"No thank you."
 
"That's a shame."
 
"Our noses are rubbing."
 
"So what? Don't pull away or I'll let you fall."
  [in"Only if you treat it like a suggestion not a threat."
  They laughed; Beatrix wasn't letting go.
 
"You know I'm mad at you,"
 
"Because..."
 
"Because you let that boy kiss you."
 
"He jumped me,"
 
"Oh bullshit, you were caught up in the romance."
 
"Come on you can't actually be mad."

  To Courtney's utter surprise Beatrix hadn't so much as blinked. The moment, the hold seemed to linger before it dawned on her that the void in time may have been waiting for her to fill it. She put an arm around Beatrix’s cheek and meshed their noses.
 
"Can I kiss it better?"
  This was enough to break Beatrix's reverie.
 
"Nope, not from second-hand lips."

  Before Courtney could question it, Beatrix let go. Courtney had enough time to clamp up and shriek before Beatrix caught her. But couldn’t hold for long before she too fell making herself a cushion.

"I want worlds more than your second-hand lips, come on."

Courtney grinned and wrapped her hands and legs around Beatrix who, with a heavy grunt, sat up, pulling herself to her feet.
 
"Phew, I hope you know, outside of your own mother, I'm only person who can carry you."
  Courtney adjusted and rested on her neck, sighing into her.

 
"You can't carry me forever."
  At that Beatrix put an arm around her and turned.
 
"Hey, where you going?"
 
"Proving a point, but you knew that."
 
"Don't know what you're talking about."
  With her breath held, Beatrix made the slow climb up the stairs before running down, Courtney didn't even flinch, sighing into her neck.
 
-----

Beatrix stopped at the kitchen.
 
"What's going on?"
 
"What you mean?"
  Courtney looked up and found Beatrix's piercing stare. It was alarming how good at staring one woman could be.
 
"Well, I'm just frustrated. I can't believe this happened. I just, wish I would stop."
 
"I'm going to ask a stupid question, but I need to know, stop what?"
  Courtney mumbled, the stare was back, pinning her down. She wasn’t going to avoid her.
 
"I'm talking about how weak I am." She said eventually.
 
"You're not weak, you have a condition, sadly it's a shitty, weird one, but. I mean, damn."
 
"Damn."
 
"Again, that doesn't mean you're weak. It proves you're strong enough to smile and be the best friend I'll ever have. And I know what I am girl. You're not just strong, but powerful enough to keep up with me, even today." She touched foreheads. "But most importantly, you're strong enough to carry my baby."
  Courtney's eyes had been welling up to the point where tears hung to her eyelids, when Beatrix's words drew her head up.
 
"Who?"
 
"Bitch you heard me. I am going to be stuffing babies in there and raising them myself, like your mother does."
  Beatrix laughed, wiping Courtney's eyes and cheeks, flushing.
 
"You're jealous? Of your own mom?"
 
"No!" Courtney would have spat were they not her own house.
 
"You jealous I think your mom is beyond awesome?"
 
"No, I know my mom's alright... but don't think the one-parent thing is easy."
 
"On her,"
 
"No, dumbass, on me. She's both the cool parent and the mean one. But she's meant to be the mean one."
 
"The cool parent is overrated. Good cop, bad cop. Either way your ass is going to jail."
  That made them laugh and just look at each other for a moment before Beatrix turned and waited expectantly. Courtney clung to her back. Beatrix took milk and cereal.
 
"When was the last time you ate?"
 
"Dunno, I guess with you at recess."
 
"My god, you'd starve if it weren’t for me. Hold on, I'm going to switch to bran flakes."
  A fight was building up inside of her, she’d already regretted not lying in the first place… but bran flakes?  
"What, why?"
 
"Coz I'm gonna use the strawberries."
  That made Courtney hesitate.
 
"Well, you know... if it's not too inconvenient."
 
"Nah, not too inconvenient. Just inconvenient."
  That was enough to make her bite Beatrix’s shoulder before being shoved into a wall.

 
----------

Their legs were intertwined, passing each other to the point where one had woolly socks on the other's chest, legs nursing a bowl keeping them from toppling. Beatrix ate slow, stalling and waiting for a metal to hit ceramics on the other side. Being the ‘fast eater’ always felt gross.
 
"We gonna talk about the elephant in the room?" Courtney asked.
 
"Which one? The 'we were nearly suspended' elephant, the 'you nearly died on a car door and wanting to kill yourself over it’ one? Or," there was a dramatic pause, "the ‘you who kissed some fucking kid’ elephant."
 
"His name is Henry."
 
"So 'the boy' elephant."
 
"He's in our class, at least two of them!"
 
"Why do you know that? Is this some fairy tale moment where you met and fell in love. Have you fallen in love?"
 
"No person. I was caught up in the moment, so was he."
 
"You were caught up in knowing who he was, what classes you know him from?"
 
"I know that you know him, even if you've never said a word to him."
 
"Okay, fine, I just don't get it. Three kisses, one was him catching you by surprise. One was definitely you fucking with him, like a fucking queen, as well you should. But one of them was because there was nothing more in the world you'd rather be doing."
  Courtney didn't have a sharp line or snappy come back for that. She was cornered, stuck with a distinctly unique sinking feeling. Only, she was confused. Why was she being cornered, at all? Still, she remained silent as the din of the movie formed a background static.
 
"Wanna know which one?"
  At first she said nothing, before Courtney made out what felt like a distant 'yeah'
 
"All of them. Something can be two things at once."
 
"I fucking knew it!"
 
"What the hell are you going so crazy for?" Courtney yelled back.
 
"Finish eating and check your plate. There's something special for you."
  Courtney tried to lift it, but socks clamped on her wrists, Beatrix's toes locking down hard.
 
"Finish."
  Courtney did as told and finally lifted, beneath were the words. 'all three'
  Courtney's heart skipped a beat.
 
"You're right, two things can be right at once even if one changes."
 
"You're a fucking bitch!" Courtney yelled. She was flush but pushed Beatrix's knees together hiding behind them. Punching the inside of her feet. It made Beatrix burst out laughing.
 
"I can't believe you! I thought you were going through some intense jealous outburst that I didn't understand, I was freaking the fuck out."
 
"Two things can happen at once."
 
Beatrix parted her was and stared her in the eye.
 
"So, what now?"
 
"You do right by me." Beatrix said.
 
"How?"
 
"Eat my pussy."
 
"What?"
 
"Woman, I know you heard me."
 
"Fuck you."
 
"Yes please! Do the right thing."
  Courtney squeezed her toes and Beatrix, laughing, groaned sexually.
 
"Right there baby, I knew you were a freak."
  For some reason unbeknownst to her she was determined but too weak to stop Beatrix from laughing like a hyena. Her legs wrapped around Beatrix and squeezed.
 
"Oh baby, get in there!"
 
"Fuck you."
  She started tickling her. Beatrix threw all she had into flipping her like an omelette. Both girls were screaming, Courtney keeping her vice grip and tickle, consequently being thrown into a death roll.
Her wounds teased, then violently assaulted, on they rolled.
 
"Wait!"
  It was too late. They flipped right off the bed. For almost a full moment the world was still, even the two remotes had turned the TV off.
 
"Hey Cece. You good?"
 
"Yeah, nothing's bleeding"
 
"You know what you call that?"
 
"What?"
 
"Damn good pussy,"
  Courtney burst out laughing.
 


If you're wondering why this chapter is here instead of one of my other worlds, such as Jin's War or 2150AD aka the New Fifties then... GOOD! Chapter 2, maybe 3 will let you know!


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