Simplicity is Never Simple Enough

Chapter One: Always Knock—Part One
"Time for dinner!" my mom yelled from downstairs, amidst the racket that my two-year-old sister, Elena, was creating with her pot-and-pan-banging that my mom called “musical genius”.
I sighed and typed, ‘Hey, gotta go, later, Jeanette ’ into the square, grayish box that I’m sure most people were familiar with. Heck, all people should be familiar with that. Unless, of course, they lived under a rock. But that’s about the only exception.
‘awwz ok sera’ popped up on the screen. I sighed for the second time, this time because of the…lack of capitalization and punctuation in my friend’s reply. I mean, Jeanette is my best friend and all, and she’s the best person in the world next to Patrick Star (who is awesome, by the way), but sometimes her typing…annoys me. You know, a lot. It doesn’t take more than an extra second to press the ‘shift’ key as you’re typing. And awwz? So you can take the time to add an extra z but you can’t add a comma?
Okay, rant over. I x’ed out of the chat screen and closed the cover of my laptop, not bothering to log out. Password protection, how I love you.
I dashed out of my room and downstairs, into the kitchen, where a brown-haired toddler wearing spaghetti sauce on her face was banging two pans together. Meet Elena. She’s adorable, and never a pain in the butt like the stereotypical little sister.
“Oh, Sera, could you get your sister cleaned up?” a woman with a long, grey-streaked ponytail said, holding a pot of cooked noodles. Mom.
I nodded, and was about to go pick up Elena when I saw the grocery bags, one of which contained a giant vat of chocolate ice cream. Five pounds of chocolatey heaven.
Oh, no. Mom, you can’t put five pounds of chocolatey heaven next to the stove! It’ll turn into five pounds of melted chocolatey heaven! I began weaving my way through the mess of silverware, plastic cups, and pans, trying to get the ice cream out of the heat.
“Sera?” Mom said, as I whooped triumphantly, grabbing the tub of ice cream.
Oh, right. Elena and her facial food.
“I know, Elena. But you know you can’t put ice cream near the stove! It’ll thaw, and thawed ice cream—even though it sounds okay—is not okay!” I scolded, and then laughed, realizing the roles had been switched.
Mom smiled and took the ice cream from my hands, opening the freezer. “All right, all right, the ice cream is safe. Now go get your sister cleaned up.”
Happy now that the ice cream was safe, I walked over to my sister and picked her up. “C’mon, Linnie, we’re going to get you squeaky clean for dinner.”
“Squeak?” Elena asked with big, doe-like amber eyes. Aww. I could just melt.
I nodded, grinning. “Yup. Squeak.”
I headed for the bathroom upstairs, passing my brother, Lucas, who was stretching and yawning.
“Sleeping all day?” I said, more of a statement than a question. Lucas nodded, rubbing his eyes, and reached out to pat Elena on the head, when I noticed that he was…erm, in nothing but underwear. I pushed his hand away from Elena’s head and covered her eyes. “You’re not going to corrupt Linnie’s mind! “ I yelled, half-jokingly. Half -jokingly.
Lucas laughed. “I’m her brother, and you’ve seen me in my underwear. Well,” he added thoughtfully, “your mind was probably disgusting from the start…”
I sighed, patted his arm, and said in the sweetest little-sister voice I could, “Still, don’t lie around in your underwear all day. Jessica could come by any time and who knows what might happen?” Lucas rolled his eyes as I mentioned his girlfriend (I thought the day would never come, but I guess it did), but he returned to his room anyways.
I strolled upstairs casually, pretending to be Elvis Presley. “Thank you, thank you very much,” I said in what I thought was a good impression of him. Elena giggled, and before I knew it she was laughing like a hyena—a very bubbly one, but hyena anyways. She was way too cute.
“Okay, Linnie, let’s get you squeak,” I told her as I reached the bathroom. I opened the door.
”Aaaaah!” Elena mimicked, raising her arms. Hmm. Did she see this on Sesame Street?
I was about to reprimand Lucas for not locking the door (oh, come on. My fault? Pshh. Everybody in this family knows that I don’t knock before entering the bathroom. It’s his fault.) when I remembered that Lucas was in his room. His room on the first floor. Then who…
“Sawa? Snakey!” Elena yelled happily, pointing her finger at…a green…lizard…in the sink…
Taking a bath.
“Miss, I’m afraid I’m a gecko,” the lizard…gecko said with a…British accent. Huh. Was this the result of too much pizza before my afternoon nap? No…I was awake. I think. I blinked and rubbed my eyes. And opened them. The lizard--gecko--was still there. Huh.
“Snakey talk?” Elena asked in a confused tone, looking at me with wide eyes. I set her down on the toilet—it’s okay, the lid was down—and stared at the lizard—geck…oh, forget it, I’ll say the thing’s a lizard if I want to.
The lizard glared at me with an expression of what could be called disapproving on a human face. I don’t know about lizards though. The look could have been one of desire and love for all I know.
“It is not polite to group one with another just for your own convenience, so I’d prefer if you continued to correct your mistakes until you remember without thought that I am a gecko,” the lizard huffed. Lizard!
…hmm. Wait…when did I say anything? What’s going on? Am I on a hidden camera show?
“Snakey mad?” Elena said sadly with tears glimmering in her eyes.
I hugged her and shook my head. “The lizard”—see the emphasis I put on the word lizard? I feel oddly victorious—“isn’t sad. He just…he just needs to finish taking his…bath.” I lifted her off the toilet and out into the hall. “Why don’t you wait here until he’s done?”
“Uh huh, Sawa.” Elena nodded and smiled angelically. Did you know my little sister has the best smile in the world?…I sound like a creepy child kidnapper right now, but I swear, she does.
I reentered the bathroom and carefully closed the door. Then, I turned to face the lizard, who was now cleaning himself with a literally crumb-sized piece of soap that he had apparently scraped off of the original. “Uh…so…what the heck are you doing in my house?”
The lizard looked at me pleasantly. “Is this an attempt at making conversation? Because I am more than willing to talk—“
I cut the lizard off. “No, this is not me trying to make small talk. This is me wanting to know why a lizard is taking a bath in my house!”
The lizard shrugged. “Well, I assume this house doesn’t really belong to you. After all, you have parents that actually bought the estate. And I’m a gecko.”
Cue my eye rolling. “Parent, you mean,” I corrected. “And my family bought this house, and I’m her family, so it’s partly mine. And I want to know why you’re here.”
“Well, you see, your family has soap. Pleasant smelling soap. It’s also very smooth and does wonders on my skin,” the lizard explained.
“Gecko,” the lizard muttered. …huh?
“Oh, yes, I am what you would call a mind reader,” the lizard said. Oh, great. I have a psychic, talking reptile in my sink, and it’s using my soap. Am I mental?
“I am a male. And actually, all animals, excluding humans, have clairvoyance, telekinesis, and other forms of psychic abilities. I am just one of the fortunate ones who have the knowledge to wield them properly. Your soap…it’s jasmine scented, is it not?”
Oh, wow. I now know that I’m crazy.
“It’s alright. I can confidently say that you are not a lunatic,” the lizard said in a somewhat reassuring tone. But somehow, him talking makes me feel just a little crazier.
“Then maybe I should refrain from speech?” the lizard asked.
I sighed, shaking my head. Then, in a swift move, I snatched the lizard from the sink and plopped him down on the floor, pulling the plug of the sink to drain the water.
“I feel offended that you would treat me in such a rough manner,” the lizard said. No, please, stop talking. I now am 100% sure I’m hallucinating. That’s got to be it. I turned on the sink and splashed some water on my—ouch. That was hot water.
I glanced at the floor hopefully. Nope. The lizard’s still there. Why? WHY?
“Well, I am here because I need to escort you to the secret headquarters,” the lizard informed me.
I stared at him, my curiosity rising. “And where is this secret headquarters?” I asked.
The lizard smiled mysteriously. “Why, it’s somewhere secret, of course!”
I feel like banging my head against the sink. No, the metal bar of the shower. Maybe a brick wall. I hate obvious answers like that that don’t answer the question.
“I doubt that would be a good idea. You could get a concussion and worse,” the lizard said, somehow shiny and soap-bubble-less. Maybe he wiped himself off on the rug? Whatever.
Anyways, time for this lizard to get out. Hmm… “Erm…I’m pretty sure Mom’s going to be a little bit freaked out to see a lizard in here. She hates reptiles. …so…can you…er…leave?”
“I don’t see a reason to, as I am quite adept at camouflaging and I’m certain I can stay out of your mother’s sight,” the lizard said. Ugh.
“Uhh…but…she might see you anyways," I said.
The lizard shook its head. "No, I'm certain that I will be able to hide from your mother."
Ugh. "Umm…umm…she can smell reptiles! Uh, yeah, that’s it.”
“I smell like jasmine scented soap, don’t I?” the lizard argued. Oh, really?
I shook my head. “No. Look. See, you have to get out. First of all, you don’t smell like jasmine soap. That’s rosemary, you idiot. And second of all, I want you out. It’s nice to know that animals can talk and have…superpowers, but I don’t want a talking lizard in my house. So could’ya please get out?”
The lizard looked…huh, a little hurt. Or maybe it was just me? “No, I can’t. I have specific orders not to leave your house until you are finished packing your belongings,” the lizard protested quietly. Oh, wow, the nerve of this…reptilian. I mean, you could just lea—
Waitasecond. Packing? Packing?