“—If there’s a dog attacking people, then they’ll need to take care of it,” Ophir said as she watches her little sister struggle to stay awake. It’s kind of cute the way her head bobs up and down—
Selina slowly collapses onto her right side blissfully asleep.
“Honestly, if you’re going to fall asleep don’t do it in my bed!” There isn’t any venom in her words, though. Sighing, Ophir resignedly gets to work.
Taking another washcloth, Ophir begins to wipe away the dirt and tear stains that litter the small figure on the bed. Selina’s eyes are still puffy, but the washcloth is quick to wipe away dirt, grass, and dust. Slowly revealing the healthy pink skin underneath.
Seeing her sister in this miserable state, it’s difficult to believe that two years ago Ophir had been terribly jealous of her kid half-sister.
Ophir continues to care for the comatose girl. She unbraids the catastrophe of what had once—possibly—been braids. Slowly working out the ties and trying to pick out the leaves and dirt that have somehow worked their way into the rat nest. The task is made simpler by the midnight black hair that contrasts with the lighter dirt.
Even looking like something a cat dragged in, her younger sister still looks cute. Nobles aren’t any smarter than common folk—a brief look at the Free land’s political history can quickly show evidence of that—but beauty has been thoroughly bred into their genes. Selina came from two such families, and as such, it would have been surprising if she hadn’t been at least cute. Not that Ophir had any right to complain, being half-noble herself.
Giving up on the hair, Ophir starts to work off the dirty tennis shoes from off her sister’s feet. After finally prying them off a small pile of dirt falls out accompanying the leaves and twigs that are already on her floor. Sigh. She would need to sweep after this.
What a troublesome little sister.
Figuring she’d deal with the rest after she got Selina down to her own room. She wraps her arms around Selina, one under the knee and one under her ribs. Pulling her close she heaves her up, being careful of the bandaged arm.
Selina might have been light but that didn’t mean she was light. Ophir had taken an Emergency Response for Medical Personnel class a few years earlier. One of the requirements was to rescue carry a few individuals. Compared to an 18-year-old guy Selina practically weighed nothing.
But she hadn’t princess carried the guy either.
She could have carried her over her shoulder like a sack of potatoes or used the fireman’s carry, but neither of those are particularly pleasant on the person being carried. Seeing her little sis as battered as she was, she made an exception.
She didn’t even consider grabbing Mark—the little psycho—or either of her parents. She was going to have stern words with them and she wasn’t about to go begging for help right before doing it.
Walking towards the door with her delicate package, Ophir couldn’t help but ponder over the scratches on her sister’s arm. The lacerations were deeper than a mere scratch, but not deep enough for stitches. However, the real question was how a dog could leave scratch marks on the upper arm. A dog’s claws could likely scratch someone, but Ophir had trouble picturing how that would happen on the upper arm.
When it came to dogs Ophir would expect puncture marks, not this.
This wasn’t one of her medical tests, though. If Ophir wanted the answer, she could just ask the kid when she was a bit more coherent. Or not. It didn’t really matter at this point. Selina was not going to be hiking the game trail any time soon if Ophir had anything to say about it.
Asking a thirteen-year-old to hike ten miles through the woods without supervision is probably child abuse anywhere but the Free Lands. It might not be illegal here, but even if her country didn’t count it as a gross violation between the relationship of parent and child, Ophir’s pride as a future medical personnel couldn’t condone this.
Making her way down the hall and stairs, Ophir planned out what she would need for tomorrow's trip. The Empire was a few miles away by car, and she didn’t want to forget anything. The idea that a forgotten piece of identification or certificate of completion could destroy her chance of becoming something more than free land fodder was horrifying.
She’d already packed everything a week ago of course, but double, triple, and quadruple checking was necessary when her future was on the line.
Going down the stairs was slow. Ophir could have gone faster but decided that walking down sideways with her back against the wall was safer than walking down them with her vision obscured. Tripping and falling down the stairs wouldn’t help her sister recover.
She should have gone faster.
A few steps from the end Ophir ran into the family member she least wanted to see. Mark.
Her younger brother was blocking off the stairs grinning up at her. Others might have thought it was a friendly smile offered up by a handsome, kind-looking young man.
Ophir was not fooled.
“Get out of my way psycho.”
Her words, dripping with hate, had little effect on him. He just kept smiling up at her as if he hadn’t heard anything. His smile seeming to beam all the brighter under her glare.
“Hello Sis! Did the little birdy come home injured? Ah, it’s sleeping! How cute! If you drop it, do you think it’ll wake up?” His voice was happy and carefree, as though he was asking about the weather tomorrow instead of asking her to drop an injured thirteen-year-old down the stairs.
Ophir glared. Clutching the small girl closer. Of all the people she could have run into and of all the places… but this was Mark. Of course, she ran into him here. That was how he worked.
“Get out of the way Mark. I’m trying to get Selina to her room. If you don’t want to help, then move.”
“Heh! Is that what you’re doing? If the birdy can’t get to its own room, then maybe it doesn’t deserve to get there! You’re denying nature it's due! Survival of the fittest and all that. Why don’t you just drop it, and we can both watch it fall? It might bounce!”
“You’re sick. Move. Now.”
“I don’t think so, Sis. I really like this spot. But how about we trade? I’ll move if you give me the birdy. Otherwise, we play the “how long can Big Sis’s arms last” game. Seems fair, right?”
Ophir would rather drop Selina than hand her over to the psycho. It would be far kinder. Luckily for Selina though, Ophir didn’t play Mark’s games.
“If you don’t move, I will kill you.”
Mark’s smile slowly fell off his face, until all that was left was an unnervingly blank expression. It creeped Ophir out how a face that looked so friendly and kind could be swept clean so suddenly. Leaving… that in its place.
“How would you do that?” The voice that came out is empty. It lacks the cheerful tone of before, but it wasn’t cold. Just blank, empty, just like his eyes and face. As if he really didn’t care either way what her answer was.
“I am being rewarded the Empire’s citizenship on account of my skill in the medical field. Do not underestimate what that means.”
She turns on the stairs, facing him full on with Selina in between them.
“It may not be today, or tomorrow, or the next day, but someday you’ll get hurt. You’re joining the Empire’s military, it’s practically a guarantee. There you’ll lay helpless, broken, but your kind sister will volunteer to ease your suffering.”
She takes a step down, only two steps separating them. The height and closeness forcing Mark to crane his neck to meet her eyes.
“You’ll start to get better. The wound healing. You might even celebrate the fact that soon you’ll be out of that stuffy hospital room, but then unexpectedly you’ll relapse. The wound gets infected, the disease resurges, the surgery has complications.”
His eyes have widened just a little. Ophir continues.
“Then… you will die. The tests will come back saying “natural causes”. It’ll be just heartbreaking how a strong, young military officer could die so easily. Your dear older sister will weep at how she couldn’t save you and everyone will believe that they are tears of grief…”
Ophir takes another step down; they are now eye to eye with Selina practically touching Mark’s chest. He doesn’t move.
“But nobody will know they are actually tears of joy! At a plan so perfectly executed and a brother so perfectly dead.”
Mark stands there not moving an inch. Seconds pass before he moves to the side. His expression morphing back to his cheerful self.
“How could a brother refuse when his Big Sis asks so nicely? I’ll let you be on your way then!”
“Thanks, little bro, I knew you’d see reason.”
Ophir steps past him making her way to Selina’s room. Mark shouts back!
“Sis, I didn’t actually believe you would do any of those things! You just said it so coolly and with such confidence I figured you deserved to get past! I’m not scared of you!”
Only after she closes the door to Selina’s room does she give out a sigh of relief. She hates going down to his level, but she’s dealt with her brother long enough to know that threats are one of the few things he understands.
Grumbling to herself Ophir walks over to the bed and plops Selina down. Working off her socks and jeans she slips a pair of pajama pants over her legs. Trading out the shirt is harder, but once again the fact that the girl weighs practically nothing helps a lot.
Ophir sighs. If only all her patients were this easy to man-handle. Her class once had to change a 350lb mountain of a man. It had taken the entire class. Rolling him over and arranging his arms and legs… she tried not to think of the following steps. Shudder.
Tucking her in she was prepared to leave when she felt a small tug on her shirt. Thinking she might have woken up; Ophir turns around only to find that Selina is still dead asleep but has grabbed onto the hem of her shirt.
Ophir reaches towards the hand and starts to work the small fingers free of her shirt.
It would have been much more adorable if it hadn’t taken a couple minutes to pry the little vixens paws off.
She doesn’t leave right away. Looking down at the young girl’s face. With its cute button nose and pink cheeks. The redness around the eyes has faded and her appearance is adorable.
Ophir sits on the bed stroking the young girl's head. Her poor younger sister. It was funny that the disgrace of two years ago would land almost solely on her small head. Sure, Ophir and the rest of the family had lost a lot in the kerfuffle, but nobody as much as Selina. The irony is that she was probably the most innocent in the entire matter and yet was punished alongside the guilty party. Nevertheless, the children bear the father’s sin.
Closing the door behind her Ophir sighs and leans against the wall. What had she been doing before all of this? She’d been cleaning her room and then…
Ah, that’s right. She was checking the paperwork to make sure it was all in order. It would be awful to travel all the way to the Empire’s border only to figure out she’d forgotten her birth certificate or number identification. Ophir had heard they were quite the stickler on having the right documents. Best not to put her citizenship at risk by misfiling some paperwork.
But first, she had some calls to make. The pound, the police force, and a friend.
After that, she’d need to have a talk with her mother. There was no way Selina had managed to get past her and her father without them noticing she was covered in blood. Ignoring a wounded child to continue their merrymaking was simply unacceptable.
*sigh* What a troublesome little sister.
Moving down the hall to the wall phone—the only phone with a connection out here in the woods—Ophir couldn’t help but feel guilty at leaving her sister alone to guard the house. Right after coming home so traumatized too.
It couldn’t be helped, however. The legal work was quite clear on the conditions needed to maintain ownership of this woodland mansion.
It was just another burden this broken family would have to shove on the small thirteen-year-old shoulders. Not like it was anything new.
It was at times like these that Ophir Starch wondered if keeping the name “Wrath” was truly a “blessing” for the small child. Her father had made quite clear his opinion in picking up the name “Starch”, her mother also sometimes seemed to despise the commoner name. As for her brother? She didn’t want to know what went on in that psychotic little head of his.
Ophir knew what her opinion was. She tried to crush the guilty feeling.
She had been terribly jealous of her little sister two years ago.
She wasn’t jealous anymore.