Previously: Flashback, Part Three
Snake-Boy felt strange and safe on the hairy, smelly, lumpy thorax of the giant Daddy Long-legs, wedged in between Sky Prince and Lady Dogface. He had not been outside the Clockwork Brownstone since that first night. He liked the movability of the air. He liked the crispness of the lights along the sidewalks. He liked the rolling skittering swaying of the spider underneath him. He held his shoulder-snakes high above his head to keep them from resting on any part of his companions’ bodies. They wanted to wrap themselves around the necks of Lady Dogface and Sky Prince. They wanted to strangle and bite.
“Bad shoulder-snakes,” he said to them in his head. “Bad.”
Sky Prince kept reaching past him — sometimes behind him, sometimes in front of him — to pick at Lady Dogface. He would pinch her shoulder, for example, or grab one of her ears. Then he pulled his hand back, giggling at how mad he had made her.
“Would you please,” she said.
When Snake-Boy looked at Sky Prince, though, he stopped smiling. He looked away, suddenly very interested the back of his own hand, or the tree-limbs in the sky, or anything else.
“You make him nervous,” whispered Lady Dogface. “Don’t worry.”
“You make a lot of people nervous,” said Beast Mistress, from her driver’s seat at the base of the Daddy Long-leg’s head. Snake-Boy got the sense that she was broadening the topic in a way that only she herself, and possibly her husband, who was currently buzzing around her head in the form of four micro-demons, could understand. “And that’s a good thing. We like it when things get shaken up, don’t we?”
Snake-Boy wasn’t sure if she was asking her husband, or her daughter, or Sky Prince, or somebody else. He was pretty sure she wasn’t asking him. He decided to answer anyway: “I don’t.”
Beast Mistress glanced back at him with a parental kind of apologetic look, then turned her attention back to the reins and the road.
“I don’t want to make people nervous,” said Snake-Boy. “I don’t want to shake things up.” He sighed. “I just want to be like everybody else.”
For the first time, Sky Prince looked at him. “Me too. That’s all I’ve ever wanted.”
Snake-Boy enjoyed Sky Prince’s face while Sky Prince looked at him. It made the evening smell cooler and closer, having Sky Prince look at him. It made the stars start to twinkle in the sky more quickly and brightly and fine. Then Sky Prince looked away.
“Ew. Not me!” said Lady Dogface. She laughed. Everybody laughed, even Snake-Boy, not because of what she had said, but because of the accidentally perfect tone and rhythm of it, ba da daa, like a comedian’s practiced interjection at the end of a television skit.
Next: Flashback, Part Five