Taking the Bitter with the Sweet

by Nico-Stone Rupan


Chapter 2: Problems

Bitter Honey sat solemnly in her room, listening to her newest friends. Some were downers, but some were amusing. She just wished she could see them.

<To continue or not to continue?>

<Worthless. It's all worthless...>

<And that's when the Fire Nation made the donuts.>

Speaking of which, the smell of baking snapped her out of her daze. Her vision was filled with nothing but a blank spot of wall. How long had she been staring at nothing? She couldn't tell. Her mind wondered about the aroma. Cake? It smelled good. Was it a special occasion? Oh, yeah. Her 50,267th birthday. Right.

Bitter clutched at her head and sighed. She wished she could think clearly. She kept having to remind herself of her own name.

<Empress Turquoise Sunsheen. That's a good name for you.>

"I like it," Bitter said aloud to no one.

She then groaned and got up. She needed to get out of there. She also wanted a piece of that cake and wish whoever's birthday it was a good one. She went over to her door and reached for the knob.

<She's going to kill you.>

Bitter froze at the warning. She would end up standing still for a half an hour contemplating whether or not to risk leaving the safety of her room.

****************

The Person House was already packed when Gretchen and her mother, Gilda arrived. Many of her classmates were there as Bitter was fairly popular. The rest were Bitter's family, such as her grandparents from both sides. Gretchen glanced over at Sour Sweet currently greeting someone she didn't recognize, however.

"Starlight!" Sour cheered as she hugged her. "How's it been?"

"Oh, just great," Starlight answered happily. "We've just established three more branches of Our Church. It's been quite a busy year."

"How wonderful!"

"Of course, some of us are getting a bit antsy with how things are going in the country lately. We may relocate and create a settlement elsewhere. We're looking into some land in Guyana right now."

"It can get pretty hot in South America, you know."

Starlight winked. "We'll pack plenty of Kool-Aid, believe me."

Gretchen peered around for the person of honor.

"Bitter's still upstairs," she heard a voice say.

Gretchen turned to see the friendly face of Bitter's father, Second Person. "Oh, hi, Mister Person. Uh, thanks."

She was about to head towards the stairs, before Second held something out to her.

"Party hat?"

Gretchen cringed when she laid eyes upon it. It was a floppy eyesore in the shape of a birthday cake, complete with cloth candles sticking up on top. She gave her elder an annoyed look. Did he really think Gretchen of all people would want to be caught dead wearing something like that? Then again, Second had always been a dork in addition of being the world's biggest simp. Or he could've just been trolling her.

"Bitter's been a bit down lately," Second began to explain. "It might give her a laugh." He gave her a wink.

Gretchen found herself not being able to argue with that logic. If she were to look like a fool, at least she'd be doing it for Bitter.

"It better give her a good laugh..." Gretchen muttered under her breath as she snatched the hat out of Second's hand.

Reluctantly, Gretchen put it on and glanced at her mother.

"Looks good on you," Gilda said, trying her best not to laugh.

Gretchen rolled her eyes as her mother and Second went off to join the other adults. Finally, she could go find Bitter. However, before Gretchen could take a step on them, Bitter Honey appeared at the top of the stairs. Gretchen opened her mouth to greet her before noticing the distant, emotionless expression upon Bitter's face. Bitter descended the stairs and passed her best friend without so much as an acknowledging glance. Not even to the stupid hat she was wearing. Gretchen's spine shivered.

Bitter started making her way through the crowd. Some naturally tried to converse with her, but she dodged them as if they poisonous.

"There she is!" Sour Sweet cheered when she spotted her. "The birthday girl! Come on, everyone. A one and a two and..."

Everyone joined in for the chorus of the Happy Birthday song. As they did, Sour retrieved the birthday cake she had prepared. It was a grand confection with baby blue icing, the number sixteen written in white frosting with rainbow sprinkles, and complete with the same number of candles positioned around the top. Bitter didn't react to the singing, nor made a move to blow out the candles. By the end of the song, many began to notice as they exchanged awkward and confused glances. That included Bitter's mother and father.

"Uh, okay, Bitter..." Sour began with a concerned tone. "Let's dig into this cake, shall we?"

As she said those words, Sour held up a slicing knife in her hand. For the first time, Bitter showed emotion. Her eyes went wide in fear. That fear only lasted a moment, however, as it then turned into pure rage.

"I KNEW IT!!!" Bitter abruptly screamed, causing everyone to jump. "I KNEW YOU'VE ALWAYS WANTED TO KILL ME, HAVEN'T YOU, YOU FUCKING BITCH!!! YOU WON'T GET ME!!! CUNTS LIKE YOU NEVER WIN!!!"

Bitter shot her hand up and knocked the tray presenting the cake out of her mother's hands. The cake splattered upon the floor. With that, Bitter ran away and back upstairs. The slam of her bedroom door rang out. Everyone was left in stunned silence. Never before had any of them witnessed such anger, language, or action out of Bitter.

"Told you not to put her in public school," Niban stated flatly, breaking the silence.

"Mom, please..." Second whispered. He turned to everyone else. "Uh, it seems Bitter isn't feeling well. Maybe we can celebrate some other time."

Many visitors took the hint, nodded understandingly, and began to leave. Gretchen glanced over to her fellow students from CHS.

"OMG, what was that?" one sneered.

"I always thought she was strange..." another admitted.

"Oh, man!" a third laughed, quickly texting everyone in their contacts. "I wish I got video of that!"

Gretchen's fists tightened. Those fake bastards. They weren't Bitter's real friends. Gretchen was her real one and she wasn't leaving. Bitter needed her.

As the great majority filed out, Second let out a deep sigh. He looked over to his wife. Sour's eyes were fixed on her labor of love on the floor. She appeared as if she hadn't moved an inch since the bizarre outburst from her daughter. Finally, her gaze slowly met his.

"This is how it started," she managed to utter. A tear ran down her cheek. "This is how it started with me..."

****************

Bitter Honey felt like a small child again. She was cowering in the corner of her room, wrapped in a blanket for pseudo-protection. Her door was locked so her mother couldn't rush in to decapitate her. She only had her new friends to comfort her, even if she could barely understand them now. They were becoming more excited, talking over each other.

<ZYXWVUT Kettle corn needs more tartar sauce SRQPONM The filmography of Gary Busey provides the most poignant commentary of the 18th century urban youth within Peru. In this essay, I shall... LKJIHGF It's Thursday, mah bois. Yee haw! EDCBA Gretchen, when are you going to eat this poor girl's French fries, already? Now I know my CBA's, next time won't you rant with me?>

Suddenly, light began to show through the blanket's fabric. She could of sworn she had turned the light off of her room. Curiously but cautiously, she stuck her head out. She gasped as she realized that she wasn't in her room anymore. Nor her house.

A dark forest surrounded her. She stood, letting the blanket drop to the ground. She was about to take a step forward before a rustling noise halted her. Out from some bushes scurried a small, but fierce-looking animal. It looked as if it was half bird, half reptile. Before Bitter could react, the quick creature darted toward her and then the unexpected happened. It phased right through her legs as if it, or possibly her, were a ghost.

"Aw, what a cute chicken-snake," Bitter said in a sweet tone before growing sour and spouting, "Yeah, better run before I deep fry your ass!"

Bitter put her hand over her mouth. She had never spoken in such a tone-shifting manner. In fact, there were a lot of things she hadn't ever done before that she was doing lately. As she reflected on her behavior as well as her unfamiliar surrounding, she began to yearn for some kind of guidance. Any kind of direction would do.

Bitter's attention suddenly fixated on a specific point of the forest. She felt something pulling at her. Something telling her to walk that way.

She complied.

Bitter passed through the seemingly unending forest. Even the various chilling sounds of unknown creatures couldn't sway her attention away from the force that was leading her. Finally, she reached the end of the tree line. Ahead of her was a plank bridge covering a small crevasse and beyond that was the ruins of an ancient structure. In the middle of that, she saw the shimmering top of a pink structure. She knew that was the place she needed to be.

Her feet sprinted at full speed. She crossed the bridge, not even thinking of the possibility that the rickety thing could snap under her. She ran up the hill and swung open the large wooden doors to reveal the illuminated treehouse within. Bitter took a step forward when she was suddenly blinded by a bright glow. When it died down, Bitter found herself facing a sparkling being who looked strangely familiar.

"You do not belong here," it said in an echoing, yet monotone voice.