Monday 1st December 2014
Normally (and she used that word in the loosest of ways), Bonnibel’s study room was where the explosions of paper and books happened. Her bedroom was more or less quite tidy… for the most part. Apparently that didn’t hold true during her crunch session right before a physics exam.
After a frazzled, “It’s open!” Marceline had pushed the door of her flat open to find what pretty much amounted to a papery war zone. There were sticky notes everywhere. And no, she was not over-exaggerating. They were on the fridge, stuffed between the sofa cushions, in strings all over the walls and down the corridor, pressed up against picture frames and wrapped around the handles of doors. With her mouth hanging slightly open because wow, hey, it’s not every day she witnessed Attack of the Sticky Notes, she pushed aside a few full sized sheets of paper in one doorway and peered around.
Finding Bonnibel in the sea of multi-coloured paper scraps would not be easy. A teetering pile of text books leaned precariously across the opening to the hall leading away from the living room and to the bedroom. So many books were stacked on the chairs and tables that they almost hid the paper they were on top of. Almost.
“Um… where are you?” Marceline called. So maybe there wasn’t so much paper that it was possible to lose an entire person, but it was fairly overwhelming.
“My room. Mind the beakers.”
Marceline couldn’t help but finger the lines of neon notes tacked to the wall as she headed for the bedroom. She didn’t look at any of them. That would probably blow her mind. But it was safe to be boggled by it. Where the hell did she even get this many sticky notes? She must’ve bought an entire Officeworks to get them all.
There wasn’t quite a curtain of paper hanging from the top of the doorframe, but it came close. Bonnie was wrapped up on her bed, bags beneath her bloodshot eyes, three empty coffee mugs on the side table. Dressed in sweat pants and a baggy shirt, her hair in utterly uncharacteristic disarray, she had her nose buried in a text book of some kind.
Carefully (so she didn’t scare the wired wildlife), Marceline perched on the edge of the bed and pushed the top of the book down so she could see Bonnibel’s face properly. Her eyes – way more red than green in that moment – darted around fitfully before finally settling on Marceline, her hands reaching up to shove pathetically against Marceline’s hand.
“I’m reading,” she protested.
“I can see that. Have you slept?”
Bonnie made a funny sound in the back of her throat. “Not in nearly sixty hours.”
“How much coffee have you had?”
Her eyes flickered, unseeing, across at the mugs. “Mmm…. Maybe a litre?”
Marceline chuckled. “That’s no good for you, Bon,” she said gently, prying her friend’s stiff fingers off the text book. She placed it as gently as she could on the table with the cups. “You need to sleep if you want–”
“If I want to pass, I have to revise.”
“I think you’ve got that covered.” She stood, hauling a complaining Bonnie up with her. “Come on. You need to have a shower.”
“Are you saying I smell?” Despite how little sleep she’d had, Bonnibel still managed to sound offended.
“I’m saying that the better part of three days without showering is unhygienic and you’ll turn into a caveman.”
“Whatever. Just have a shower. I’ll make dinner.”
Bonnie blinked as if the information wasn’t actually being processed. “Shower…” she mumbled. Her hands groped around behind her for clothes.
“Get in the shower,” Marceline chuckled. “I’ll leave some clothes on the sink for you.”
All Bonnie gave her in reply was a vague hum as she meandered across her unkempt floor towards the bathroom, the blanket she’d been smothered in trailing behind her. Marceline snagged a corner and it slipped free. She looked like a zombie, not even noticing the sheet as it fell to the floor.
Once she heard the tap in the bathroom start running, Marceline began rummaging through her drawers. It took her a moment (how the freaking heck had she managed to get sticky notes in her drawers?) but she eventually decided that pyjamas was probably fine. And it would be an improvement on what Bonnie’d been wearing. Anything would be.
She knocked on the door before stepping inside, waiting for a muffled sound – that she took for confirmation that she could come in, but could’ve been anything – to push the door in. Marceline set the folded clothes on the edge of the sink, trying not to let the colour flooding her cheeks mean anything. Trying to forget that her friend was wearing nothing and hidden only by the cloud of steam fogging the glass door of her shower.
“You didn’t suggest I get in and you bring me clothes so you could perve did you?” Bonnie asked, her voice ringing off the tiles. Now that she’d been doused in hot water she was sounding much more lucid.
“In your dreams, Banner,” she laughed. It sounded forced to her, but hopefully Bonnie would think it was just the acoustics of the room.
She had to back out hastily then because there was burning in her veins and thinking was so very difficult in the closed room. Marceline sucked in a massive breath when she reached the kitchen, hands fisting, knuckles going white on the counter top. For a slow count of ten, she focused entirely on keeping her breathing level and not… that. It… well, it almost worked. It’s the thought that counts, right?
Sticking her head into the cold of the refrigerator seemed like a good idea, too. It sure sent waves of cool streaming through her. That was so much better than the other. So. Much. Better.
Unfortunately, there wasn’t a great deal of food in the kitchen and most of it was buried under drifts of lurid orange Post-Its anyway. She called for take-out. Neither of them would be in the mood to clean the kitchen after eating, so this was best all around.
While she waited for the food she busied herself peeling notes off the appliances and furniture. And – because she’s just that good of a friend – she kept them in stacks based on which class they were revision for. In a way that could only be explained with ‘it’s Bonnibel’, it didn’t take her long to realise that the classes were colour coded. Typical.
Maths notes were on purple, chemistry on the horrible red, biology was written on a fluoro green and physics had been taken on a blue so vibrant it hurt to look at. Because Bonnie was meticulous about everything, Marceline didn’t simply throw out the notes for classes she’d already sat the exams for. Instead, she stuck them to the tops of the appropriate text books. Which she also attempted to stack in a more economical way.
By the time Bonnibel shuffled out of the bathroom, hair still in disorder (but now because she’d just washed it) and eyes still looking a little vacant, Marceline had all her books in piles based on subject with sticky notes on top. Alas, she hadn’t quite managed to tidy all of it because it seemed that Bonnie collected text books and between her living room, the study, kitchen and her bedroom, there were more books than Marceline could ever remember seeing in her house before.
Still, when Bonnibel realised the room had been cleaned she blinked. “You neatened everything out,” she whispered, fiddling with the hem of her shirt.
“I neatened some of it out,” Marceline replied, looking at the mountains of text. “There was too much to…” She trailed off as Bonnie slowly (very, very slowly) wrapped her arms around Marceline’s waist.
“Yeah…” she hummed, scratching the back of her neck. “No worries. Come and sit down, you look wrecked.” Carefully, she guided Bonnie to a chair and let her slump into it.
“You said you’d cook?” Somehow it was both a demand to be fed and a question at the same time.
“I changed my mind, ordered out,” she wavered. “There was too much mess. Um, why did you have a sheet of notes in your cutlery drawer?”
“Reminders,” Bonnie sighed.
The door pinged.
“You put something on the television and I’ll bring you food,” Marceline decided. “And some paracetamol. You look like you need it.”
Bonnie just nodded dumbly and reached for the remote. It took her a whole five minutes to pay the delivery guy, grab bottles of water from the fridge, some drugs from the cupboard above the stove and return to the lounge. In that time, it didn’t appear Bonnibel had moved a great deal. The television mumbled something about the creation of the universe and whirled through incredible images of space that Marceline was one hundred percent convinced were computer generated.
“Here you go,” she muttered, slouching onto the chair beside Bonnie. “Honey chicken and rice, water and pills for your sleep deprivation.”
Bonnie made a sound that seemed vaguely appreciative and mechanically began to eat. For a moment, Marceline kept an eye on her, worried that she might’ve forgotten basic human functions. Eventually, her flesh memories kicked in and even though the motions were wooden, at least she was eating.
“God, Bonnie,” Marceline whispered. “Why would you put yourself through that kind of revision? That’s like an extreme sport for nerds.”
“Gotta pass my classes,” she mumbled around a mouth full of rice.
“Three days of straight revision can’t be good for you. You’ll… blow a gasket or something in your big brain,” Marceline joked. “That’d suck.”
“I just have to do good at school.”
Marceline’s smile faltered. Bonnibel always had good diction, good grammar (well, ninety-nine percent of the time) and as much as she’d like to put that one down to sleep deprivation, it might be something else and that was concerning. She set her nearly empty bowl of fried rice on the table and bumped her shoulder against her friend’s.
“Are you alright, Bon?” she asked quietly.
She nodded. Then shook her head straight after. “No,” she exhaled, letting all this… this… emotion out with it. “I’m not.”
“Hey,” Marceline said, placing her hand on Bonnie’s knee. “You can talk to me, you know that, right? Instead of trying to kill yourself by not sleeping?”
When Bonnie turned to look at her, the absolute last thing she’d expected was the barely contained tears. “It’s been a year,” Bonnibel whispered. “The twenty-ninth of November marks one year since my family died.”
“Oh, Bonnie,” Marceline sighed. Honestly, what the hell was she supposed to say to that? “I’m sorry. Why didn’t you call me?”
She shrugged. “Just wanted to be alone, I guess.”
“No, that’s rubbish,” Marceline decided. “You should’ve called. That’s a shitty thing to live through alone and I was wo–” She didn’t finish the sentence but Bonnie knew. Goddamn.
“You were worried?” Bonnibel asked, a watery smile flickering to life.
“Of course I was, nerd attack,” Marceline admitted. “Nobody has heard from you since Friday. I was going to come over sooner but Pippa said you like to revise by yourself sometimes. But then you didn’t turn up to our little study session today in the library and I… Yeah. I was worried.”
Bonnie leaned forward to put her bowl beside Marceline’s. “You’re a softy.”
Marceline rolled her eyes. “Shut up. Are you okay now, though?”
Bonnibel shrugged, bobbed her head, rolled her eyes and then sighed, shaking her head. “I thought… I don’t know… I just, I figured some time alone would… Maybe? You know?”
“Not really, honestly. I never knew my mother,” Marceline reminded her. “I’ve got absolutely no idea what this is like. But you didn’t need to be alone.”
Gaze flickering around the room, uncertain, chewing her bottom lip, Bonnie mulled whatever was going through her head over. It must’ve been sluggish due to her tiredness because normally a decision would’ve been reached after five seconds. Finally, she let her eyes meet Marceline’s. “Will you… Will you stay the night?”
A gentle smile bloomed on Marceline’s face before she even realised it was pending. “Duh,” she teased. “Do you need a hug?”
Marceline held one arm out and let Bonnie climb into her side. “Put something geeky on television and go to sleep,” she instructed.
“Will you be here when I wake up?” Bonnibel asked in a surprisingly vulnerable voice.
“You’re pretty much on top of me,” Marceline observed. “I dare say I’ll still be here in the morning.”
Bonnie sighed. “Good.”
With the television turned down to little more than a murmur, they watched it play through all sorts of documentaries. And when Bonnibel began to cry softly into Marceline’s shoulder, she tried extra hard not to let it get to her. But she’d be callous to admit that it didn’t twinge a little deep down or make her heart quiver with all the tears she refused to shed.
Rubbing circles onto Bonnie’s back wasn’t something she gave conscious thought to. Neither was the quiet tune she began to hum. But it made Bonnibel pull her closer, arms latched around her neck. Admittedly, this is not what she’d expected from her day. Not how she ever thought she’d drift off to sleep either.
But in the scheme of things, falling asleep with her arms around Bonnibel wasn’t so bad.
Especially when Bonnie cried herself dry around midnight but didn’t let her go.