Dependents

BY : DancingBear
Category: +G through L > Hey, Arnold!
Dragon prints: 5499
Disclaimer: I do not own Hey Arnold, nor any of the characters. I do not, and will not make any money from this story. (Original creator: Craig Bartlett)

 

The paint on the door in front of her was cracked, the edges rolling back on themselves. She wanted to pick at them, pull the dry flakes off with her fingernails, pull long green strips from the wood beneath.

She fidgeted, nervous. She glanced back at her car, parked under the streetlamp, sitting in a circle of yellow light. In the hours it had taken to drive here, she had not thought once about this moment, she had just driven, trying to hold herself together long enough to get somewhere safe.

What if he doesn't live here anymore? What if he isn't home? What do I say if someone else opens the door? What if he says no?

She steeled herself, forced herself to be strong. She could feel panic clawing at the bottom of her throat, making it hard to breath, holding her ribs tight. She had to do this. She glanced back at her car again, making sure everything was alright. She took a deep breath and knocked.

A dog barked, she heard voices, a laugh, movement, footsteps. She thought she might pass out, her heart was beating so hard in her chest. The door cracked open. It's him. He was smiling, looking down, keeping his foot in front of the square dog that was straining to snuffle at her legs.

He looked up, his curved lips stiffening when he saw her face, freezing his mouth into a rigid copy of his soft smile.

His eyes searched her face, checking and re-checking her features as though he didn't believe his own eyes. They lingered on her, surveying the black bruise that had blossomed over her eye and cheek over the past 24 hours. Shame burned her from her feet to her fingers, she swallowed her pride.

"Hey… Arnold."

He blinked. "Helga?" They just stood there, staring at each other. He's still here. "Are you OK?" He asked finally, stepping forward slightly, lifting a hand as though he would touch her bruised face, but stopping short of contact when, despite herself, her eyes squeezed shut in a flinch.

Say it. Ask him. It's not for you, it's not about you… just do it. "I…" she swallowed "I need help." Her voice cracked, scraping from her throat in a thin whisper.

He nodded, his mouth open slightly. He reached down to grab the dog by it's collar, and moved aside. It looks the same. The hall was lit, welcoming, with the same old wallpaper on the walls and the same worn carpet on the floor.

"Come in." Arnold smiled, but it did nothing to cover the concern and pity in his eyes. "Are you hungry?" His voice was gentle, just like she remembered. She hesitated, glancing back to her car, reassuring herself that it was still there. That she is still there.

"I… I can't…" She swallowed. Her hands were shaking at her sides, her keys jingling. Arnold frowned.

"Helga, you need to come in. You look like you're about to pass out." His hand reached out, but she couldn't take it, not yet.

"My daughter's in the car."


 

 



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