Things that day went from bad to worse. And all Leonard could do was watch. If Leonard had thought things were heating up before, he was in for a big surprise. The house was turned upside down.
After the fight over the salad and the exercising, both of the girls got ready for the arrival of Lucy's sister. Leonard watched from the safety of the edge of the room. He listened as Lucy nervously prayed aloud: "Please, oh please let Isabelle be in a good mood. I'll do anything!"
In Leonard's humble opinion, the name, 'Isabelle' brought up the image of tiny butterflies flitting around dew-dropped daisies -- not something to be afraid of. However, all picture perfect images of harmless butterflies and sweet floral scents crashed into pieces as Isabelle strode through the front door without knocking. Leonard heard her shoes shrieking on the marble floor as she waltzed into the kitchen.
As a 'friendly greeting' to her sister, Isabelle snapped, "Do you know how heavy my bags were? I can't believe you made me walk up those steps with them by myself! I could have broken a heel. Can you believe these heels were over two-hundred dollars? They're obviously worth more than those steps. Odd house you have here. You still living with that weird girl? Shadon, was it?"
"Her name is Shannon." Lucy glared. "It's not that hard to get it right." Lucy was, Leonard thought, clearly returning the 'friendly greeting' to her friendly sister. Those two obviously had a 'friendly' relationship. Leonard was apprehensive to see what other 'friendly' things they did together. He had an uneasy feeling about 'friendliness'.
"And I love my house. Don't you dare insult me. I moved here to get away from you." Lucy spat, pointing.
Isabelle laughed, a creepy animal sound. It was a laugh like rusting copper. It reminded Leonard of an old penny he saw in the back yard. It's year was 1966. Attracted to the strange smell, Leonard licked it. In short, let's just say he wished he didn't. Leonard was making sure to turn the other way the next time he saw a shiny copper object.
"I never did think you'd manage to go to college. You never could handle the commitment for anything. You surprised me. I don't think you'll be able to keep this house for long. Bills pile up, responsibilities add onto each other... good luck with your life. You shouldn't get too far. I can see you're still a brat. That hasn't changed." Isabelle smiled smugly. "My dear little sister, you never did let anything go. Still don't."
Leonard held his breath as Isabelle smacked her little sister with malice he had never seen before in a human.
"Get OUT of my house. Before I call the police," Lucy said in an iron voice, sounding stronger than she felt. "I said, GET OUT!"
Isabelle stood for a moment, triumphant, but still upset, then stalked out of the kitchen, yelling, "And you shouldn't leave stupid toys around the kitchen where people can step on them!"
Lucy turned slowly, and seeing Leonard, she laughed. "What are you doing here?" Lucy bent down to pick up the gnome, hugging him to her chest. She squeezed him tightly and wiped a silent tear from her eye. She sat on her heels with Leonard in her arms, crying. She whispered in Leonard's ear, "You're the only one I can trust."
Leonard felt a sinking feeling. It was an awkward situation, to say the very least. He couldn't move. If he moved, she would gasp and take back her words. But Leonard began to feel a teensy weensy connection with Lucy. He couldn't quite identify it, and definitely couldn't place a thick gnome finger on it, but he felt like he had known her long ago. Or something. Leonard wasn't entirely sure. One thing he knew was that the more time he spent around Lucy and Shannon, the more time he resented being a gnome.
Leonard wanted a real life, with real hands, feet, fingers, and eyes. He wanted real words, real food, and real friends. But most of all, he wanted real love, and a real heart to give it to a real girl like Shannon or Lucy. Those humans really didn't get how lucky they were. Their lives were intricate, full of emotion and design. More and more, Leonard began to feel like his life was limited, a worthless pile of stinky garbage like the stray dogs in the neighborhood kept eating.
Lucy put Leonard down and stared at the wall, trying to get control of herself. Scrambling into the room, Shannon slowed and placed a frail hand on her friend's shoulder.
"Oh my gosh, Lucy!" Shannon gushed. "She really beat you up, didn't she? Oh my gosh! Why are you just standing here, letting her get away like that? Are you crazy? She freakin' attacked you!"
Lucy shook her head, tears creeping down her cheeks. "You don't understand! She's my SISTER! How could I do that?"
Shannon softened at the sight of Lucy's forlorn face. "But, listen. It's against the law for anyone to attack someone unless it's in self defense. I know you've had problems with Isabelle before, and... wouldn't you like to have your sister tucked away in jail so you can move on?"
Lucy boiled over, like an overflowing pot of oatmeal left on the stove too long. "NO! I can't do it! I just can't! If you say I'm not allowed to wedge myself into your problems, you can't wedge into mine. You don't know who I am deep inside. I know you don't."
Shocked, Shannon said, "Of course I know you! We've known each other since middle school! I just want what's best for you."
"Well, I want what's best for you and you still don't let me help you. You still don't!"
"I'm not going to freaking 'calm down', Shannon!" Lucy erupted. Then, "When my mother died, she told me never to stop trying to be Isabelle's friend. I've failed that request so many times. So many times! And you want me to lock Isabelle up in jail? Sorry. I can't. It's my only hope to be Isabelle's friend. It's my only hope to grant my mother's last wish."
"But, Lucy! She attacked you. She obviously doesn't care what happens to you. A friendship can only work if both people involved are equally interested."
At this, Lucy's face crumbled. "When you're a younger sister, you always have that need to please your older sister. For me, anyway. I guess I never could please Isabelle. I don't think I'll ever be able to."
Shannon understood that Lucy needed a nice, big hotdog. Hotdogs were Lucy's favorite food. And, even though meat made Shannon squeamish, she tried to fight through it for her friend. It would mean a lot to Lucy.
Leonard watched from the end of the counter, still trying to take in all the events of the day. He had an uncontrollable desire to comfort Lucy; he wished he could hold her tightly and not let go. Leonard realized that he needed some comforting, too.
A swift few knocks at the door, and Shannon flipped into a ditzy, glitzy girl in love. With me? Leonard knew that it was not him, but continued to fight the truth.
The door whipped open. "Hey, sweets..." A voice boomed. Leonard lost all hope. It's me or the guy.
"Neil!" Shannon rushed over to the man and bounded into his arms.
It's the guy, I guess. Leonard hopped down and listened to the lovers. He gave a tiny gnome sigh. He looked at their shoes. He looked at the bottoms of their pants. Maybe all I'm good enough for is the bottom of a dirty shoe?