It all came to a head; she thought standing in the refreshment line of the food court. Century City mall allowed shoppers to bring food from the food court to the Century 8 Movie Theater located at the end of the food court. They had stopped because Cameron Baum knew that John liked the hamburgers there … He and Derek could eat three of them each for lunch. Cameron didn’t eat … but in a strange way watching John eat brought a sense of interest and relief … in a couple of years in time, it will be hard for her to find him a good meal. She found him standing rigidly. He was only half listening to Morris, but his green eyes flashed worriedly toward her, meeting her gaze. She shot him a pleasant smile, it seemed like the right thing to do, humans liked to be reassured.
“Hey, dead head did you hear me?”
The voice was unpleasant and angry, squeaky with puberty, strange that a girl claiming to be an orphan of Riverside docking district in Los Angeles had a mid-western accent. Cameron’s smile faded turning away from John to the honey haired, buxom teenage girl with appealing curves and covered in Dr. Pepper.
“I did not.” She lied. Cameron heard her, but didn’t feel the need to address the condescending tone or under the breath names being spat at her under the false assumption that the undercover cyborg could not hear her.
Riley Dawson flashed sparking blue jewels at her, anger, borderline hatred were in them. It was not the way that Derek or Sarah looked at her, They hated what she was … this girl didn’t hate her for what she was … she hated Cameron for who she was … not because she was a cyborg … but because she was Cameron, John’s meddling, naïve, attached at the hip sister.
“I asked what your problem is?” The blond girl’s face scrunched harshly, contorting on itself. She liked like a dog barking at an intruder … but that was Cameron’s job wasn’t it?
Cameron tilted her head. “I don’t have one … I didn’t spill the large soda on myself, you did.” She countered. “Isn’t that why you wanted my help?” It had been Riley who asked Cameron to help her.
The blond girl snarled. “Only after you bumped me!” She claimed in anger. It had been true that Cameron had bumped Riley, why however is beyond her.
She was here with Morris and yet while she found his stories intriguing she hadn’t felt right watching Riley and John together. The pain in his smile, the wrenched out laugh like a squeal of buckling foundations, he wasn’t happy. In fact the more he spent time with Riley the more John seemed almost sad, sadder than when he sat next to Cameron and couldn’t lift his arm and wrap it around her, or when she smiled and he knew she didn’t mean it … Cameron alone tortured John by being there, reminding him she was something he could never have. Riley Dawson somehow was worse than that … she didn’t know what she was doing or how it was happening, but she was hurting John, and even though she couldn’t protect him from how he felt about Cameron and their future, she could protect him from Riley.
“I said I was sorry …” She stated with all the sincerity of a GPS guide’s voice.
Riley squeezed the soft drink out of the hem of her shirt. “Sure you are …” her tone dripping with disdainful sarcasm.
This made Cameron frown. “Do you doubt my honesty.” It may have been that she spent too much time amongst humans … but she felt a sense of pride? A dislike of her word being challenged.
“I doubt everything about you!” She scrubbed a sponge against her shirt. “Your motives. Your naïve appearance. Your mental problem!” Each point was delayed by a harsh scrub of the sponge. She growled, looking Cameron in the eye. “Guh, you know, I used to think to myself … “God he must be a saint to deal with and love such a retard.” Now I think it’s an act …” She pointed the darkened sponge as if an accusatory finger.
Turning her head a tick, Cameron took a step forward. “An act …” She sounded how she looked … Dangerous.
Riley didn’t notice, scrubbing fiercely. “Yeah, Coal Miner’s Daughter … an act.” She repeated Cameron with a mocking impression of a mentally impaired person.
“My father didn’t mine coal … he had other do it for him.” She replied in confusion.
“Okay, Ms. Kentucky … save the jokes for the talent portion of the white trash beauty pageant.” She snapped.
The cyborg wasn’t sure what they were talking about anymore. “I don’t understand.” She really didn’t see the connection between discarded paper towels, Coal mining, and herself. But girls were complicated as Sarah liked to say.
“It’s clear … to anyone who spends an hour with you … you’re in love with him.” She shot at her.
Cameron was automatic, almost automated.
“Impossible.” Like a spring it came out of her.
Looking to the sky, were blue eyes in annoyance. “Oooohhh Plllleeeassse!” She sounded as if asking god for help. “Don’t try and sell me that bullshit.” She snapped.
“I don’t sell manure … I’m not Home Depot.”
Riley’s smile was incredulous. “Don’t try to deflect with a joke … look at you, too dumb to realize it, or just a really good actor.” She dropped the heavily soaked sponge on the counter, with a moist thud. “It doesn’t matter what you’re trying to pull here … it’s not going to work.” She took a step aggressively toward Cameron.
“Oh no …” She shook her head. “You can play the retard … the helpless little angel, and he’ll love you, but you won’t have him, because you’re just his sister.” Cameron could feel her breath on her nose and lips, it smelt like mints covering cheese fries. “Someday, John is going to leave you and your crazy mom and your hard ass uncle, and you’re not even going to be a REFERENCE in his head!” She was in Cameron’s face.
“No ...” Something snapped. It took ahold of the cyborg, it wasn’t her programing. It was that strange part of her that didn’t come from what was built inside her by her father … it was something else, something that made it possible to override her programing that drove her to still protect John no matter what it said in her head. It was in control now.
“Yes … face up, dead head … you’re going to be history.” She started to walk away.
“No” This time it was a stronger statement not the curious first time she said it. “I’m his future.” She announced. At the word “future” Riley almost snapped back like a deer at the click of a rifle safety.
“What?” She seemed to lose her composure for a moment.
“You’re Kate Brewster” She stated.
“She’s a girl John kissed in Middle School … Sarah saw it, chased her out of the apartment with a ruler.”
“What are you going on about?”
“You’re Sage …”
“Yes, She and John made out once, she grew pot in her back yard … her father was a dirty musician that tried to sleep with Sarah, John punched him out and broke his leg in three places ... she broke up with him. He and Sarah weren’t “down” or “righteous” enough for her.”
“You’re Sherri Weston.”
“Sherri … from Biology?”
“John was interested in her … but it faded in time.”
“So what does that have to do with me?”
“He’s told me about all of them.”
“And he’ll tell me about you.”
“He will … one day … when you’re nothing but a funny story he tells me in bed … just like the rest of the girls like you.”
She turned her head waiting for Riley to respond. When she didn’t she left, joining John who was making his way toward the theater with their lunch.