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Saturday, May 29

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     Reese had been checking his grades on Saturday morning when he discovered that the assignment he turned for his English class last week had been graded: and he got a D. His heart nearly skipped a beat when he saw the scarily low “64” next to the assignment name in his class’ online grade book. D? A 64? After all that I’ve done for Olivia over the last few weeks, I put my trust in her. And now one of my most important assignments came this fucking close to being an F. He already had an F in the class, that’s what he was trying to fix, so technically the D wouldn’t hurt him. But it wouldn’t help anywhere near as much as the A’s and B’s that he had been turning in for other classes. He had to do something about it.

     He made his way to her room and knocked on her door a couple of times. “Come in!” she yelled, and he entered, closing the door again behind him. She was on her bed, laying on her side with her head propped up on her elbow, doing something he couldn’t see on her laptop. “Thank you for knocking, lil bro,” she told him with a cutesy smile, glancing over at him. She keeps calling me that a lot lately, he thought. Did she always say that, or is that something recent? “What’s up?”

     “Well, um, it’s about your homework… I mean my homework, but like, I mean the homework that you were helping do for me,” he stuttered. She seemed to be in a good mood, which made him nervous and broaching the topic with her. I know she didn’t mean to give me a bad grade, he told himself. But graduation’s in like a week and a half, so it’s still worth mentioning to her.

     Olivia cocked her head to the side, and sat up a little straighter. “What do you mean?” she asked.

     “Um, well I… I was checking my grades this morning, for some of the stuff that I turned in,” he said, scratching his neck.

     “The stuff that I did?”

     “Yeah, exactly. I mean, yeah, pretty much like, most of the recent stuff I turned in was stuff you uh, helped me with.”

     “…Okay.” She crossed her arms now, waiting for him to get to the point.

     “Anyways, there was, like, a D? On the essay you wrote for English.” He bit his lips, hoping she’d get the point.

     She looked to the side, then back to him, as if waiting for him to say something more. “Well, I guess it wasn’t my best work then. But it’s better than an F. What was the score?”

     “64,” he answered.

     Olivia shrugged, “Yeah, so I mean that’s not ideal I guess, but it’s better than an F. As long as it’s over a 60, it’ll help you pass. Remember, you don’t need a good grade, you just need something better than an F.”

     “No, I know that, it’s just that, a D makes me pretty nervous, you know? Like since grades are an average, then an A would help raise the average more than a D would. Or a B, I mean, I’m not trying to be picky.”

     Olivia narrowed her eyebrows, “Well maybe you’re ‘not trying to be,’ but you are. I didn’t try to get a mediocre grade, I just did what I could and that’s what it was worth. Like, Reese, I’m literally doing your homework for you and making sure you graduate high school, and suddenly my first grade I get for you that isn’t a 90-something and you come to me bitching about imperfection?”

     Reese gulped nervously, and started to feel embarrassed about being called out. “I just, I’m supposed to graduate like, really soon Olivia, and—“

     “I know.”

     “…and I’m just, like if I don’t then I’ll have to redo the whole year which is obviously a huge risk, and so—“

     “You know a really foolproof way to not have to worry about relying on someone else is to just do it yourself,” she argued, cutting him off. “You got yourself into this mess, and most people in your situation have to get themselves out. So if you don’t appreciate my help then fine, you can finish the assignments on your own and you won’t have to worry about someone else not being good enough for you.”

     His eyes went wide with fear of her abandoning him. Without her, he was worried he might have to spend every waking minute of the next several weeks working on heaps of late assignments to try and fix his grade. Ever since she had agreed to help him out, barely even a week ago, he’d experienced a refreshing sense of calmness and hope. “No, that’s not true Olivia, I do appreciate your help, seriously!”

     “It’s fine, Reese, I’m not mad,” she said, although given her facial expression, he wasn’t sure if he believed her; she clearly looked a bit offended. “And you don’t need to do any more chores or massages or games or anything else for me anymore, it’s fine.”

     “No, please Olivia! It’s fine, the D is fine! You’re right, you were doing a good job until then, I shouldn’t have complained.” Olivia ignored his pleas though, trying her best to focus on her laptop. But he rushed forward, falling down to his knees beside her bed and shaking her leg desperately. “Please Olivia, I’m sorry! The chores I was doing for you were nothing compared to how much homework I had. I can clean your room for you, or make you dinner tonight, or give you more foot rubs if you want. Anything! Just… forgive me, Olivia. Please.”

     Her face softened; as much as she had been frustrated by her brother’s complaints, she didn’t like seeing him beg like this. But regardless, she was still upset with him. “Fine, Reese, okay, whatever. If you want me to believe you though, I wanna be like, I wanna have no doubts that you need my help.” He nodded fervently, totally understanding her point of view. “Because it’s still time out of my day to go through all my old shit for you. So you need to make me believe.”

     “Yeah! Of course, for sure!”     

     “Fine, then first of all, I want you to go down to the end of my bed and give kisses to my feet as an apology. And if you’re willing to do that, then I also want—“ Before she could even finish with her demands, Reese had rushed down to the end of her bed, desperately grabbing ahold of one of her large feet and pecking her sole with his little lips. He glanced up to her as he placed kiss after kiss along the surface of her smooth skin, ignoring the smell of residual lotion from yesterday mixed with her natural aroma, to see if she was responding to his obedience. Her mouth was still open from not having finished her sentence, but she did nothing to stop him as he peppered her feet with kisses to show his newfound loyalty to her.

     He pulled his mouth back for a second. “Do you want me to give them a massage too?” he asked, before immediately returning to hailing her long, tan toes once more.

     “Um… sure,” she replied slowly, surprised to see him responding so enthusiastically to her demands. He pulled back with the kisses for the time being and shuffled forward intently, easily able to reach her feet on the end of the bed thanks to how tall she was. He quickly started to rub his thumbs deep into the arch of her foot, more passionately massaging his sister than any of their previous times together. As a show of good faith, he paused his massage momentarily and leaned in, placing another kiss firmly in the center of the ball of her foot, to show her that he hadn’t forgotten her original command, before resuming his massaging while she looked on approvingly. 

     He didn’t let up for the next twenty minutes, switching between her feet every once in awhile, and always making sure to place a solid, puckered-up smooch squarely on her feet like she had told him too. He didn’t want there to be any doubt in her mind that he was full of sorrow for ever complaining in the first place, and that he was desperate for her assistance. She was still on her laptop, but she shifted positions to get more comfortable, sighing contentedly as she crossed her legs. “Did you want me to do anything else?” Reese asked, wondering if she was maybe growing tired of his task. “What was the second thing you were gonna ask me to do?”

     “Huh? Oh yeah,” she murmured, forgetting that she had had two tasks in mind for him, but stopped herself out of surprise before she could finish telling him the second thing. “By the way, you can be done with my feet I guess, thanks for rubbing them for me. But uh, the second thing was that I wanted you to get some pen and paper, and write down ‘I’m thankful for Olivia’s help’ 500 times before I started working on anything else for you.”

     “Done.” He quickly stood up and ran out of her room to fetch a clipboard, some lined paper, and a pen from their dad’s office. He came rushing back in moments later with his tools, and sat on her floor, laying out the first sheet of paper on the clipboard and got to work writing out his sister’s decree, while she watched from her bed with satisfaction.

 

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