“Y’know, that’s not what an apology sounds like.”
There’s always a risk with Oscar prompts that I’ll end up thinking about Brothers Together Oscar. The little sweetie needs to be checked up on from time to time.
Oscar wished humans didn’t come to his motel to have their fights, but he was used to it by now. The loud, sharp sound of voices so much more powerful than his wavered in the stale air within the walls and the air ducts. Raw emotion that could overwhelm him like a tide ensured that he knew exactly where they were just from the sheer volume. Most of the time, it ended with a door slamming.
He sighed as he wandered his route through the motel. In the vents and the walls, under the floorboards and above the ceiling, Oscar had a routine that he kept to every day. Knowing the schedule and when to nab a stray trinket or dropped piece of food was his entire livelihood.
Today was a good day as far as that was concerned. His bag was comfortably heavy with the spoils of his search for food, and there was even a raisin he was looking forward to eating later. He’d also found a half-emptied packet of tissues underneath a dresser. He carried that under one arm, unsure of what he’d even use it for but glad for the find.
It just figured that a lover’s quarrel would erupt while he was on his way home.
Their voices were raised when he was still in the ceiling of the next room, picking his way over pipes and ceiling tiles or balancing on support boards. They crescendoed as he wriggled into an opening in an air duct, one of his shortcuts on the way home. The usual Why would you do this? and That’s not what I mean! reverberated through his cloth-wrapped feet.
He paused while sidling past the vent opening into their room. The ceiling vent gave him a view of the table below, and the foot of one of the beds. From the looks of things, a woman sat there while a man paced back and forth.
“What the hell were you thinking?!” the man thundered, and Oscar flinched. For a moment, he froze as fear of that voice crept over him. He couldn’t help it.
“Don’t talk to me like that! Don’t! You never just listen to me, you never do!” the woman wailed back. Her voice was closer to breaking. The shrillness hurt Oscar’s ears.
“Listen, honey, I’m sorry, I really am, but you’re the one who keeps screwing up!” the man snapped back.
Oscar frowned. Y’know, that’s not what an apology sounds like … While the man continued berating the woman, he could swear she started to sob quietly. The raised voice had finally beaten down her defenses.
Oscar couldn’t blame her.
He realized that he’d lingered too long when the man finally stormed to the door of the motel. Light and air flooded in from outside for a moment, and then the door slammed so hard that Oscar almost lost his footing.
He was left stunned while the woman below wept.
Oscar shifted his feet. He should be going. He never liked being privy to what the humans thought were private conversations. Even if they yelled them for anyone to hear, it wasn’t his argument to weigh in on. It wasn’t even his world.
He crossed the vent at last, but then paused when he heard a forlorn, shaky sigh from below. From the new angle, he could see the woman sitting at the edge of the bed, face buried in her hands. She sniffled, and Oscar sighed. The poor girl had been left on her own. Maybe not for good, like Oscar had, but he knew that isolating feeling. Familiar surroundings became warped and inescapable.
He was going through the motions before he could stop to consider it. The packet of tissues, thanks to being half full, fit through the slats of the vent. The plastic rustled so loudly in his ears, and he heard a gasp below as it emerged on the other side.
Once it was pushed enough through to fall to the table below, Oscar turned and bolted. He couldn’t wait around to see how the woman reacted to the sudden appearance of something to dry her eyes. It was too risky. If she found him, he could be trapped.
But she needed something to dry her eyes more than Oscar did. He had his food from the day, and that was the important part.
Hopefully, she wouldn’t mind the help.