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Burn Away

by Hartley Harms

Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4 | Chapter 5 | Chapter 6 | Chapter 7 | Chapter 8 | Chapter 9 | Chapter 10 | Chapter 11

Chapter 4


The Harms family had gathered around their dining room table, candles lit, and dinner served. Night had fallen fourteen hours earlier and everybody was ready for daybreak again. Despite having been gone away for school, the family had slipped right back to where they were like nothing happened. Rain beat down on the windows of their house, rapping and tapping away at the glass like it was vying for the family’s attention. Instead, the family conversed, joked, and laughed, enjoying the time they had together. 

“Your father is right, Hart,” Kara said as she skewered some roasted vegetables with her fork, “You have to have thought of something to do now that you’re out of school.”  Hartley smiled and looked down and away from his mother’s gaze, playfully picking at some of the scraps left on his plate.

“Heh, you could always join up with the family business like me~” Lyra added mockingly as she smirked and looked at her little brother. Hart only smiled wider and looked away from her as well.

“Oh, come on, I wouldn’t do well with them. You went to the military academy after all, you’re actually suited for that stuff,” Hartley replied, finally looking to his sister once he had something witty to say.

“Believe me, you start out working event security,” Lyra said as she took a drink of water, “I was stuck guarding the town fair for the first two quarters I worked with ‘em.” Kara chuckled and reached over to pinch her daughter’s cheek.

“And now look at you, you’ve moved all the way up to bodyguard and transport security,” she said jokingly. Tate and Hartley both laughed. Tate stood up and took his empty plate as well as his son’s. Hart looked up and nodded a thank you as his father stepped away back to the kitchen to clear the dishes and set them aside before returning. 
  “Well if he really wanted to stick it to us he’d run off to join H.A.D.E.S.” Tate joked, eliciting laughter from the entire family.

“Okay, yeah I’m not looking that hard to piss you two off,” Hartley added, “No, I’d look for something a bit less exciting than that. Maybe a desk job would be nice?  Who knows, I might even go pre-med.” Kara nodded and smiled a bit as she too stood up to take care of her plate having picked off the last of the vegetables and sprouts.

“What makes you say that hun?” Kara asked as she cleaned her plate off and set it in the sink before returning to her seat.

“I don’t know, to be honest, I just think it would be nice to help,” Hart replied, shrugging. 

“EMT or paramedic?” Tate asked.

“No, I think that if I did go into it I would want to do something more hands-on rather than just passing people around. I would want to be fixing problems rather than keeping them from getting worse, if that makes sense,” Hart said trying to piece his thoughts together between pauses.  Kara gave him a warm smile telling him she knew exactly what he meant.

“Med school is a pretty big commitment,” Lyra said, nudging her brother’s waist a bit.

“I’m just bouncing ideas around, jeez,” Hart said while laughing, “I honestly don’t know what I would want to do.”

Their conversations drifted as new topics and subjects were introduced, how work was going, how Hartley was adjusting to being back at home from boarding school, friends he kept in contact with. The family would migrate from the dining room into the living room to enjoy some television. They took turns flipping through channels, swapping through the late-night news, talk shows, movies, all as the rain continued beating down on the house. Hours would pass and each family member would retire back to their bedrooms to sleep. Both of the Harms siblings stayed up a bit late to play some video games and watch a movie before both fell asleep in the living room.

Kara came in as the two were sleeping to turn the TV off. She woke them both up before leaving for work, getting them up and ready to be productive again. Hartley took the shower first as Lyra stayed in the kitchen to make them some breakfast. She lit the stovetop and poured some oil into a pan and let it warm up as she took some ingredients from the refrigerator. Eggs, bacon, some frozen potatoes. She cracked two eggs into the pan and poured some of the frozen, diced potatoes onto a small baking sheet. She went back and forth between tending to the eggs and tossing some oil, salt, and pepper over the potatoes before putting them in the toaster oven to roast. Not long after, the siblings’ father woke up and came out to see what had filled the house with such good smells. As if on cue, Lyra plated the sunny-side-up eggs and handed them to Tate.

“Breakfast again huh?” he asked playfully as he rubbed his daughter’s hair and sat down to dig in. Not long after Hartley came out of his room, freshly showered and clothed for the night. He came up behind his sister and stole a couple of eggs as well, cracking them into the pan before scrambling them with a fork.

“Mom woke us up, so I figured you weren’t up either,” Lyra replied, letting Hartley take over with the potatoes. She popped a few pieces of bread into their toaster before taking a glass and filling it with some fruit juice.

“Ha, what’s that supposed to mean?” Tate asked in response as he cut his eggs.

“I think she’s saying you sleep in too much, dad,” Hartley let out as he began plating his eggs and taking out the potatoes for everyone, “You’re not going soft on us, are you?” he asked as he took a seat next to his father, placing a plate of eggs and potatoes in front of him as the toaster popped.

“Oh, cut me some slack, you two. I make my own hours.”  Tate smirked as he ate his breakfast.

“Well, that’s just what mom says about you~” Lyra added playfully. Tate rolled his eyes and swallowed his food. 
  “And when does she talk with you about this kind of thing?” he replied, smirking.

“Oh, when we’re in the car alone,” Lyra replied, “she would talk a lot about how much better off she’d be if she married Brad from school rather than some washed up field agent turned into a two-bit investment advisor,” Lyra jabbed. Hartley snickered a bit as he enjoyed his breakfast.

“Well, it’s a good thing she didn’t. She’d spend herself under the table if it weren’t for me,” said Tate as he finished his breakfast, “Speaking of which, I should probably get back to the office tonight.”

“Do you think your interns might have set fire to your file cabinet again?” Lyra asked jokingly. 
  “How do you even do that?” Hartley asked to himself. Tate rolled his eyes and got up to take care of his dishes. He rinsed them off in the sink before putting his plate and fork into the dishwasher. He returned to his bedroom to get properly dressed and then bid farewell to his two kids, leaving them home alone. Both Hartley and Lyra finished their own breakfasts and took care of their dishes. Hartley ran the dishwasher as Lyra went to her own room to get ready for work as well. Soon Hartley was left all alone in the house. He sat on the living-room couch as his sister left. He sighed and looked down, sitting in silence again as his thoughts began to wander. Hart instinctively pulled his phone out to check for emails. His eyes lit up as one of them was from a boarding school friend, Lina. He quickly typed up his long response, recounting his trip but omitting what he went to do. He told her all about the places he saw, people he met and things he wanted to do, but had to leave behind. He sent the email off and smiled to himself before fiddling with his phone some more, checking the news, seeing what the weather was like. He hoped that Lina would be able to reply seeing as it was Satday night and school would be off until Sunday. He sat and waited for a while, often going between his mail app and whatever he was passing the time with, constantly checking to see if she replied. He stopped checking around the nineth or tenth time, his smile having faded.

Hartley wandered through his house looking for anything that could keep his attention. He checked outside to see if any of their plants and flowers needed watering, but his mother had gotten to them already before waking him up. He made his way to the basement to check if the laundry needed to be done, but his father had gotten to it earlier before dinner. Defeated, Hart returned to his bedroom and just sat at his desk resting his head on his hand. He turned his computer on and pulled up a web browser and began looking into the Episemon Classifieds. He looked through all kinds of entry-level positions before shutting the browser down and getting up from his desk. He walked to his bed and hopped in, staring straight up at the ceiling just waiting for someone to get back home.

Red vs Blue © Rooster Teeth. Halo © 343 Industries. Concept by Myshu, assisted by The Department of Chupapology.

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