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(A Historic Neighbor from Hell Chronicle)
An R.L. Mathewson
From the characters in Truce
“Try to go on without me,” Noah whispered weakly from where he lay sprawled out across the freshly polished kitchen floor.
“Okay,” Shaun, his twin brother and the reason that he was forced to do this, said with a shrug as he shoved another piece of bread in his mouth before reaching over and helping himself to Noah’s bowl of oatmeal.
Biting back a curse that would have Mrs. Buckman threatening to grab a switch, Noah shifted his gaze to his mother, careful to look pitiful as he did only to find her standing there, pinching the bridge of her nose and-
“Are we really doing this, Noah?” she asked on an exasperated sigh that had him narrowing his eyes on her.
“Yes, we really are,” he said, giving up laying there since the heartless woman clearly didn’t care if he was near-death and dragged himself back to his feet so that he could glare at the woman that had betrayed him.
“You’re going to school,” she said, gesturing for Shaun to hurry up.
“No,” Noah said, facing off with his mother, “I’m not.”
Without bothering to look at him, she said, “Robert,” and that’s all it took before he found himself thrown over his father’s shoulder and heading towards the backdoor.
“This isn’t over yet, woman!” he yelled even as he reached over and grabbed his lunch pail off the kitchen block before he found himself being carried out into the crisp September morning and headed towards the one place that he’d vowed that he would never go near again.
“I thought we’d talked about this,” his father said as he put him down his feet with a warning that dared him to try to run.
“We did,” Noah agreed as he jerked his thumb towards his twin brother who was busy devouring the apple turnover that he’d helped himself to, “but he sold me out for a jar of blackberry jam and some day-old biscuits.”
“They were delicious,” his brother murmured with a nod and that devious smile that he’d been wearing since this whole thing started.
His father sighed heavily as he plucked the lunch pail from his hands and helped himself to half the beef sandwich that his mother had packed for him. “Did you explain it to them?”
“Hundreds of times,” he bit out with a glare at his brother who’d shifted his attention to his own lunch pail.
“And they didn’t listen?” his father murmured as he finished off his sandwich and helped himself to the apple that Noah had been looking forward to.
“They took it as a challenge,” Shaun said cheerfully as he dug in his pail for his apple as they headed down the dirt road towards town.
His father nodded as he finished off the apple and threw the core in the bushes. “That would explain all the baked goods,” he murmured thoughtfully.
“What baked goods?” Noah asked, narrowing his eyes on his father.
“The ones they leave on the front step,” his brother answered for him around a bite of apple that had Noah fully realizing how deep this betrayal went.
“You…bastard!” he hissed with a disbelieving shake of his head as he threw his empty pail to the ground and-
“Let me go, old man!” he snapped as he once again found himself thrown over his father’s shoulder.
“I’ll get right on that,” his father said as he stopped walking so that he could take a knee and look Shaun in the eye as he asked, “Did you really tell everyone that your brother was next in line to be earl?”
“I might have,” he heard his brother say as Noah laid there, thinking of all the things that he was going to do to his brother tonight after the candles were blown out and his parents had retired for the night.
“And the reason…”
“He knows why I did it,” his brother said, making Noah shake his head in disgust as he decided that there was no time like the present to make his brother cry like a girl.
Decision made, he moved to dive off his father’s shoulder only to find his father’s hold on him tighten. That was fine. He’d wait until the lunch bell was rung and then, he’d make his brother pay for telling every girl in town that he was going to inherit his uncle’s title and fortune. The jest should have run its course by now, but no matter how many times he’d explained that he wasn’t next in line they refused to listen.
They’d all set their sights on him.
All of them.
Every girl, woman and mother in town believed that he was next in line and no matter what he said, they refused to listen. They followed him everywhere, smiled, waved, and giggled, god, the giggling. He could almost forgive his brother if it weren’t for all that giggling.