I smacked the alarm clock on my nightstand as it rang. I opened my eyes. The sun was seeping through the curtains and into the room. I yawned and pulled myself out of bed. I peeked into Sonic’s room. He was still sleeping soundly in the bed. I decided not to bother him and begin my morning routine.
After a shower and throwing on clothes (thank goodness the bracelet was waterproof), I headed down to the kitchen. I ripped a sheet of paper of the magnetic list hanging on the fridge and examined it. Suddenly I realized something.
“Grocery day…” I mumbled.
I had to go into town that day to stock up. I couldn’t leave Sonic at home, not if I wanted to continue his freedom of mobility. I had to take him with me. But how could I begin to disguise a hedgehog? I ran back upstairs to check the linen closet. I had a few spare clothes and props I was saving for future costumes. I looked to see if I had any child sized clothes that would fit. I sighed in relief to find a gray jacket and stretchy ebony blue pants. The jacket was still pretty big, but I gathered the hood would be large enough to hide Sonic’s blue quills.
There was a thunk, and shortly after I heard:
My eyes widened as I ran into Sonic’s room. I found him on the floor, his hands raised in the air as the bracers locked up. He glared at me. I winced.
“Release!” I commanded.
The bracers released and Sonic’s arms limpily flapped down on the ground. I sighed, embarrassed.
“Yeah, you keep saying that” Sonic muttered and stood up, “Isn’t there any way you would, like, extend how long I can go before being shackled in place!?” exclaimed Sonic, exasperated.
“I’ll look in the database later to see what I can do” I sighed again.
Sonic quickly noticed my choice of fashion.
“Why are you dressed so…fancy?” He asked.
“Today is grocery day” I replied, “Come on, let’s getcha something to eat.”
“You’re dressing fancy for the grocery store?” He echoed, dryly.
I didn’t respond and just rolled my eyes.
When we got downstairs, I pulled a box of cereal from the cabinet, along with a bowl, spoon, and a carton of milk, and pushed it towards Sonic. He helped himself and then I took the box. We ate in silence. Finally, I had to break it to him.
“So…Here’s the deal…” I said, leaning forward on the counter.
Sonic looked at me suspiciously. I hesitated.
“I have to go into town today. I need to stock up on groceries, especially now that you’re here, I gotta get more.”
I blew a raspberry.
“Well, if you want to stay mobile, you’re going to have to come with me.”
Sonic’s eyes widened, then groaned as he threw his head back and rolled his neck.
“Great. Boring Overlander stuff.”
“Do you wanna be locked up for hours while I’m gone?” I asked.
“Well then there you go.”
I handed him the clothes I had picked out.
“This should keep you from being noticed. They’re going to be a little big, but they’ll keep you safe.”
Sonic took my clothes and sighed.
“I hate everything about this.”
I shrugged again.
After I finished cleaning up breakfast, and after Sonic begrudgingly got into the disguise, we headed out to the car, which was a badly aged, four seated, low-lying car.
“Wow, what a piece of junk” Sonic commented.
“Gee thanks, Sonic.”
Larhen County was very small. There was only one large road, two lanes with enough space for side-street parking. It was thickly lined from start to finish with businesses that surprisingly flourished. Despite the fact that Larhen County was mostly inhabited by farmers, many sewing shops and other crafts stores made their living. On the right, at the midway point on the street, was a reasonably large, recently restored, western-style, 19th century theater, which grandly stood out from the rest of the closely-connected businesses, and my home away from home. Finally, and at the end of the stretch was the supermarket, which was the only business with a large parking lot in order to accommodate every Larhen resident.
I parked near the front of the parking lot and put the car in park. I looked over at him. He was scratching at his jacket and pulling up his large pant sleeves. Sonic and I both subconsciously took a deep breath and sighed.
“You ready?” I asked.
“Ready as I’ll ever be” Sonic replied.
And with that, we stepped out, and into the supermarket.
For a long time, it went smoothly. We quietly went up and down the lanes. I quietly picked up produce and boxes and gently placed them in the cart. The only peep we made was Sonic requesting for more chili dogs. I assured him that I wouldn’t forget.
Suddenly, I spotted Ayanna in the fruit section. Under normal circumstances I would’ve been delighted to run into a friendly face in town. But today I was frightened. I quickly turned the cart, narrowly avoiding Sonic’s foot.
“Hey! What gives!?” Sonic hissed.
I said nothing and started to quicken my pace.
She was too near and too clear to pretend I didn’t hear. I paused. Sonic realized what was going on. Slowly, I turned around, and smiled.
“Hey Ayanna!” I greeted.
My red haired friend looked down at Sonic, who turned his face away, as subtle as he could, shifting his weight.
“Who’s this?” She inquired.
I shuddered a little. I tried to compose myself best I could.
“This is…” I hesitated, “… ‘Sonny’! his name is Sonny! He’s my cousin, my…third cousin…twice removed…! B-But we call him ‘Sonic’, since that was his nickname on the track team!”
Ayanna eyed me suspiciously for a split second. Sonic gave me a weird look. Then, Ayanna smiled.
“It’s nice to meet you, Sonny!” She greeted, warmly, “Welcome to Larhen County!”
“Thanks…” Sonic replied, in a low tone.
Ayanna turned back to me.
“You’re still coming to the theater to paint the sets in a couple days, right?”
“That’s the plan.”
“Good. I’ll be coming to help too. Since Mrs. Miller has been sick, they’ve been falling behind, I hear.”
“Yeah, she’s better though, but we’ve told her not to come back for a few more days, just to be sure. You know Mrs. Miller, we have to all but tie her up to get her away.”
Sonic gave me a weird look again. I shook my head in disapproval.
“Well, I’ll see you then!” Ayanna finished.
I nodded again.
And with that, Ayanna proceeded to the back of the store.
“Set painting, eh? Is there anything you can’t do?” Sonic commented.
“Well, if you must know, I’m horrid at golf.”
Sonic snorted, then giggled quietly. I glanced at him with a small swell in my heart. I made him laugh a little.