Tuesday, June 1
The first day of June brought a warm breeze through the upper Oregon suburbs, as the weathermen announced it hit 80 degrees for the first time that year. Because of this, Olivia decided she’d go on her run in the morning, to beat the afternoon heat, and headed out shortly after Reese left for school. She returned to see an empty driveway, and after poking her head into various rooms throughout the house, she realized she was the only one home. As she headed up to her room, Olivia realized that despite the nice, familiar feeling of being alone at home again like her days in college, she was a bit put off by the realization that her brother wouldn’t be home for another couple hours. She didn’t want to wait that long for her daily foot rub. But she didn’t have a choice.
When Reese made his return later that afternoon, he heard Bon Iver’s voice serenading him as he walked through the door, from what sounded like was coming from upstairs. Guess Mom isn’t home yet, he thought. Their dad was of course still at work; he never was home from 5:30. He trudged his way up the stairs and gave a nod to Olivia as he passed by her room on his way to his own. “Good, you’re finally home. Come in here,” she said. He sighed and slumped off his backpack inside his room before returning to his sister’s. There was something important that he had to talk with her about, but he couldn’t tell what kind of mood she was in, so he thought it would be best to wait until later that night. She had no reason to be mad at him; she had just waited several hours for her foot rub. As he clambered onto her bed and sat against the wall, she lifted her feet onto his lap and closed her eyes as she felt his little fingers through her socks as they got to work. Even though her run was hours ago and she felt completely back to normal by now, the feeling of her brother’s hands working away diligently at her soles, between her toes, along her heel - it never ceased to feel good to her. After a little while, she began to daydream, and her mind drifted back to her run from that morning and her realization that she’d probably need to start running earlier in the day now as the summer heat approached. “Wonder if I should’ve showered as soon as I got home…” she thought out loud, temporarily forgetting she was in the presence of her brother.
Reese heard her musings and took it as an opportunity to answer her question for her. Hunching his neck down, he leaned towards her toes, stopping just a few inches shy of the socked surface, and inhaled her scent to see how badly she stank. She heard him and popped her eyes back open, seeing her brother sniffing at her feet with a crinkled nose but otherwise honest expression on his face, before returning back to his former position and continuing her massage. “They don’t smell super great, assuming you just put them on this morning,” he said, while Olivia’s face was one of shock.
“Why were you just smelling them?” she asked, attempting to ease her tension and unease towards Reese.
He hadn’t thought he was doing anything wrong; he figured she would’ve asked him to give them a smell anyways, like the day before. “You… were just saying that you thought you should’ve showered,” he stuttered, utterly embarrassed now. “So I tried to… take initiative… cuz I figured you’d make me test them anyways like you’ve done the past few days.” His fingers were frozen now, scared to continue at her feet. He had had no malicious or perverted intentions by sniffing at her dirty, sweaty socks, but he felt self conscious now as Olivia peered down at him from across her bed.
Luckily, her face lightened up as she heard the explanation. She hadn’t even assumed anything weird was going on, she had just been confused was all. “Oh. OK.” She paused for a few moments, pursing her lips as she wondered what to do next to break the awkward air. “Well, you can start another bath then,” she managed, and he nodded, glad to do her bidding if it meant escaping their embarrassing interaction. Never assume anything again, he scolded himself. I looked fucking stupid. I should just leave it at doing what she explicitly asks.
As she sat in bed waiting for her bath to fill, she wondered for a moment if it was bad that she had easily conditioned him into doing something strange like that. But then she realized that it was unlikely he had really been conditioned in just two days, and judging by his embarrassment he had just made an assumption about her. She wasn’t planning on asking him, but he was right: it wouldn’t have been out of character for her if she had based on the past couple days. Then she started to think about the bigger picture, and all the things she had been having Reese do for her ever since she came home from college. Was she taking advantage of his situation at school and conditioning him because of it? The thought startled her at first, until she realized that she wasn’t conditioning him to do anything. If she had an ulterior motive in mind, something dastardly planned as a result of his increasing servitude, then it would be conditioning, and probably immoral. But she just liked having things done for her, there weren’t any secret evil plans. And he was fully capable of standing up to her if he wanted, like he did the day before.
Satisfied that she had quelled her internal moral dilemma, she stood up and grabbed her robe, heading for the bathroom to see if her bath was ready. Reese turned to see her enter, her robe in her arm. “Why do you always come in early?" he whined, and she raised an eyebrow at his attitude.
“Always?” She remembered coming in early some other day, the day Jordan came over if she was remembering right. But that was only one.
Reese sighed as he realized the same thing she did: it wasn’t a very common occurrence. “No, not always I guess. Just… why don’t you just wait until I come get you?”
Olivia ignored his reasonable question. “Cranky today, jeez.” She set down her robe on the counter and slipped her dirty socks off with her fingers. “I can come in whenever I want, it’s my bath.” She definitely has some kind of attitude today… “Now, I’m gonna get naked now, so I’d appreciate it if you left, please.” He blushed as the thought of his nude sister inadvertently flashed in his mind, and he quickly got up from his seat on the edge of the tub. “Here, fetch,” Olivia joked, tossing her balled up dirty socks out into the hallway, laughing as Reese blushed even more since he had no choice but to head into the hall anyways. As soon as he was in the clear, he heard the door shut firmly behind him, and the rustle of Olivia’s clothes as she began to undress. He sighed, picking up Olivia’s big, greying socks, and tossed them back into her room, while he retired to his own for his first chance at relaxation that day.
* * * * * *
Later that night, Reese knocked on Olivia’s open door, and she told him to come in. She was laying on her bed in sweats and a t-shirt, with cute yellow ankle socks, while she worked on her laptop. Her hair was still damp from her shower. Reese was nervous to speak with her about an issue regarding his homework, and was hoping her mood had improved in the last couple hours. “Hey, uh, you know how you’ve been sending me copies of some of your old homework files to help me pass and stuff?” She looked up from her computer and nodded. “Well, the last one you sent me got an D… and, like…”
She cut him off, since he was fumbling over his words anyways. “Wait, was it caught by TurnItIn?”
“Like, for plagiarism?” She nodded. “No,” he answered, “it said it was fine. I just mean like, after I turned it in, and Mr. Cartwright graded it, he gave it a D. Which, like, I mean, it’s better than an F, but it doesn’t help my grade as much.” She just looked at him, making him feel awkward about bringing it up. “Like I’m grateful for your help, so thanks. I mean really, but like… are you not able to see the grades you got on your previous stuff?”
“No, Reese, because I graduated high school four years ago and didn’t bother keeping a record of my grades,” she replied with a dry tone. Her confident demeanor contrasted his bumbling one, and he felt like a fool for even broaching the subject. Of course she wouldn’t know her old grades, fucking idiot, he thought, scolding himself. “You’re lucky I’m even helping you at all,” she reminded him. “You don’t even have to turn in the stuff I give you, but it’s better than doing everything from scratch like you were doing.” She scoffed at him, feeling like her brother was coming off as a choosy beggar. Getting something for free and then complaining that it wasn’t good enough.
“You’re right, yeah. Sorry,” he said. She sighed, wondering if she had maybe been a bit too harsh.
“Look, I can transfer another couple assignments for you tonight, but only if you go to the store tonight and get me some sugar-free coconut cookies. And some more coffee creamer.”
Reese felt hesitant; it was 9:40, and even though he didn’t go to bed until 11, he still wasn’t in be mood to rush to Whole Foods (his sister’s favorite grocery store) before they closed. “What if I go tomorrow on my way to school? Or on my way home?”
Olivia shook her head, “But I don’t want them tomorrow, I want them now. Cookies are a dessert food, not a breakfast food.” Reese breathed in and sighed, resigning to the fact that she was right, and it looked like he’d have to get his shoes and keys and leave tonight. Olivia didn’t take kindly to his resistant behavior after already complaining to him about his free homework help. “And you have to give me another foot rub when I get back.” Reese almost opened his mouth to argue, since he had already given her her daily massage, but thought it might be best to keep from arguing with her. She’s right, she’s been a big help. I feel bad for even fighting her on it. And heading to the store and coming back to rub her feet some more is still probably less work than if I had to do all my old homework assignments.
“Alright, fine.” He turned and left her room, going to his own to grab his keys. “I’m heading to the store to get something real quick,” he called out to his parents, wherever they were in the house, and left out the front door to do Olivia’s bidding before they could question him on the movies behind his late night food delivery.