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grains of sand in the hourglass

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They all sat around the small dining table, just adjacent from their kitchenette. Their apartment was pretty small, but it worked for 8th grader Rosalia, medical student Erhard, and new paramedic Maria.
She picked at the food (a quick pasta salad mix, one she was never fond of, but food is food!) and listened as Maria ranted about her day. Something about being displaced to a house where someone had a shallow cut on their arm and how they just "needed" to be taken to Resurgam via ambulance.

"What an absolute waste of energy! Honestly!" she scooped more food onto her fork, "And then while we were dispatched, there was an accident at a power plant and by the time we could arrive as backup,
everything was mostly taken care of. If our response time was near immediate we could've given the most effective treatment to everyone. I overheard Hank saying he had to perform an amputation; that
the bone was so damaged by the hydrochloric acid burns, he would've died if they attempted to keep the leg."

Erhard spoke up, "The HIPAA violation aside from him telling you all of that, I'm honestly tired of interning at Resurgam. They're painfully short-staffed on trauma surgeons. My residency can't come fast enough."

"You guys are so negative! Did anything good happen today?" Rosalia said with a huff. If anything she felt more out of place considering her day went really well! Even her Algebra test that she didn't
study for came back as an 89%, and she felt weird not contributing to the conversation.

Her older brother hummed thoughtfully, "Tomoe did allow me to watch in on a particularly interesting endoscopy procedure." With the mention of the name Maria's eyes lit up.

"Oh, I love Tomoe! She's so beautiful, and kind, and smart."

"We know," Erhard deadpanned.

"That wasn't all I was going to say, idiot!" She lightly punched him on the shoulder. "Anyways, I was going to talk about how we shared a moment in the 2nd floor breakroom together. Did you know how fu-"(insert Erhard's death glare) "-reaking! Freaking! How rich she is? She was telling me about how she owns the endoscope she uses for procedures and the gold plating and stuff."

"Maria, you need to make your move."

"Oh, naive, little Rose... It's more complicated than that." She briefly looks away sheepishly, "Plus I have no chance." Rosalia rolled her eyes. Maria was the bravest person she knew but come on!

The dark haired boy seemed fixated on his phone. "Well, she's on her way over since we made too much pasta salad and I know Rose won't eat it." This erupted two different shrieks; one of little Rosalia
out of excitement, reaching to high-five her brother, and one of horror from Maria.

"Erhard! I look like absolute ass. What the fuck is wrong with you? Are you a sadist?!" Maria ran to her room. Rosalia's sides were hurting from how hard she was laughing and even Erhard was cracking a small smile. He moved to pick up their disposable silverware and empty paper plates to throw them in the trash.

"You know what you're doing, right?" Rosalia asked. Sometimes it was hard to tell with her brother.

"Of course I do." He dropped his voice just a bit. The walls in their little apartment were a bit thin. "You want to go walk to get some ice cream while they are forced to talk to each other?" The young girl nodded with so much enthusiasm, one would wonder if she might hurt her neck. With that there was a knock at the door. Erhard walked over to the door to greet their guest. "You can come in, the door is unlocked." It opened just in time for Maria to make a totally-not-awkward-and-rushed entrance into the living space.

"Hello, thank you so much for offering dinner! I hope you don't mind if I make myself comfortable." Tomoe said letting her hair out of her usual ponytail.

"Of course not! Make yourself as comfortable as you need!" Maria had changed into her own idea of 'clothes that are more attractive than her usual work attire', high waisted sweat pants with a sports bra.

Erhard shared a glance with Rosalia. "Well, Rose and I were just going to head out briefly to grab some ice cream as dessert." Maria's eyes went wide but she nodded nonetheless.

"Well then I guess I should get out of the doorway," Tomoe chuckled.

"See you guys when we get back!" Rosalia chirped. The siblings set out on their mission to get ice cream but the two of them knew the mission won't be completed until they hear what Maria has to say.

"They're probably just gonna be like the kids my age," the blonde girl huffed, "All 'I really like you!' and stuff but won't hold hands even."

His eyes narrow, "Well, Rose your not allowed to do any of that. You're too young. Focus on your school work."

"Wow. Thanks dad." She stuck her tongue out.

They reached the small ice cream parlor that was just a few blocks from their apartment complex. Whenever one of the three of them had an accomplishment they'd go to get ice cream from there. Graduations, jobs, school stuff, or even just a good day was worth celebrating with their ice cream. They settled on some vanilla, chocolate and strawberry since they weren't sure of Tomoe's preferences (although they had a long rationalization on the prospect of her being vegan/lactose intolerant). Rosalia found herself smiling widely, unprovoked. She really loved her family. Things were rough and strenuous times were far from uncommon but everything always worked itself out.

"Hey, Erhard?"

"Yeah?"

"I love you. Thank you for being such a good big brother."