Published August 21. 2009 4:00AM Updated August 21. 2009 8:21AM
"Hey, W. You home?"
The growly voice slipped into my dreams. I lifted my head. How long had I been asleep?
I pushed myself up - Yow! That hurt! - and rolled over to sit up on the bed. I held my glasses to my face and discovered that only my left eye was really working. My right eye was a blur.
I heard footsteps clopping up the stairs, then Minerva breezed into the room, grinning her widest grin. As soon as she saw me, the grin disappeared.
"Holy moly! What happened to YOU?"
"I had a fight with Eddy," I said thickly. The word "fight" sent a pang through my lower lip.
Her eyes flashed.
"HE did this to you?"
She waved a skinny fist in the air.
"I'll kill him!"
She spun around and stalked to the door.
"He's just as bad." Ouch! Those B-words hurt my lip.
Why did she sound like she didn't believe me?
"Yeah. I bloodied (Ouch!) his nose."
"You DID? You really punched him out?"
She sat down next to me.
"Yeah, I really p ... (Yow! Don't say that word!) hit him. Yeah."
"Wow! I never took you for a fighter." Her eyes glowed.
"Well, I can hold my own," I said, and felt like a blowhard for saying it.
For a long moment, Minerva stared at me, and I saw a softness in those moony eyes I'd never seen before. Slowly, she reached out and touched my knee. A tiny island of warmth sprung up in my sea of aches.
"Stay right here," she said, and she leaped up and ran downstairs. I heard her slam the refrigerator door. Then her feet clomped back up the stairs.
"Here. Put this on your eye," she said.
"What is it?"
"A porkchop!" (Yow! Yow! Both ends of that word hurt.) "Are you crazy?"
"Put it on your eye," she ordered. "It'll make the swelling go down. You're supposed to use a steak, but this was all I could find."
Gingerly, I pressed the porkchop to my eye. It did feel cool and soothing.
"Now you just hold that. I'll be right back." She turned and went down the hall. I heard water running in the bathroom. She returned with a cold wet washcloth. She sat down beside me on the bed, right up against me, and pressed the cloth to my forehead.
A delicious dizziness swept through me. I tingled where her leg brushed mine.
"We've got to get you better," she said. "Because tonight is Rescue Night."
Ulp! My heart clutched.
"Hold still," she said. "Don't jump around."
"You're kidding," I said.
"Of course not." She gave me a straight look. "We're ready to go, aren't we?"
"But (Ouch!) my glasses, they're ... " I hesitated to say the next word, knowing it would hurt my lip.
"No problem. Just need a little tape."
My heart sank. Would nothing stop her?
And then she brushed against my arm, making my heart soar again. And I wondered how she did it. How did she make me feel so good … and so bad, all at the same time?