Replies: 17 (Who?), Viewed: 487 times.
#1 28th Aug 2021 at 9:01 PM
The change will be good.
Your parents both still love YOU.
This is about THEM.
It all happened for a reason.
Everything will be ok.
Teens are resilient, you’ll be stronger from this.
All of the useless platitudes repeat themselves over and over in my head as I watch my mother embrace “Aunt Vi”. Aunt Vi of course isn’t really our aunt. We’d never heard of her before the divorce and she has absolutely no family connection to us at all. But it’s the only thing my mother, Mary-Sue has called her.
A glance at the house and I sigh. I’ve never seen the point in becoming attached to a place. My sister, Angela crumpled to the floor and sobbed when she’d learned we’d be leaving our Pleasantview home. But as we stood here, in front of our new space, I had to admit...I doubt this place could ever feel like home.
“Oh girls, I know you’ll want to make the space your own but I’ve set up your room upstairs, new beds, fresh wallpaper, everything has been aired out. This house hasn’t really had guests in a long time. It will be nice.” Violet turns and tells us. I don’t miss the singular word “room” and I stare at Violet with dread.
“That sounds great.” Angela tells her, smiling. I wonder if she caught the same thing I did, knowing for a fact that Angela would be the first to throw a tantrum at the idea of shared space.
“Come on in.” Violet invites with a warm smile. “I’ve made lunch.”
“Your mom tells me you’re into lore and myths.” Vi says, looking at me. I give a slight nod. Not sure where this is going.
“Well we don’t have any alien abduction stories like you’re used to in Pleasantview, but if you’re patient enough, you’ll find there’s lots of lore here on our little island as well.” She beams and her eyes twinkle. Angela sneaks an eye roll in my direction, mocking my interest in the paranormal. She’d never be interested in anything so frivolous. She was too busy...brushing her hair. When I catch my mom looking at me encouragingly I ask a few questions about the island but Violet doesn’t share any details.
“You might have better luck coaxing some stories out of your mom. She was quite the fairy chaser as a kid.” Violet shares.
Both Angela and I turn to my mother expectantly. I have a hard time believing that my mother ever even believed in Santa Claus, let alone fairies. My mom gives a rare smile and chuckle and shakes her head. Not surprisingly, she doesn’t tell us any fantastical stories from her youth. Some days I’m convinced she’d never even been a child.
As Angela clears the table I notice my mom staring at me...wistfully? I can’t tell what her look is but something seems off and I can’t quite tell what it is.
“You going to help? Or just sit there?” Angela grumbles in my direction as she loads the dishwasher. I get up quietly and help pack up the leftovers.
The rest of the day is uneventful. Angela and I putter around, help out with some things, chat with Violet and sit outside. We start school tomorrow and I’m dreading the idea of our “fresh new start.”
“Got any emails from Duuuuustin.” I tease when catch Angela on the computer. She turns and glares at me. I guess that’s a no.
“We don’t need to talk to each other every second of the day. We’re going to enjoy our space.” She explains, more to herself than to me. I’d been surprised when Dustin had agreed to give “long distance” a try. Though I had a suspicion he wasn’t going to be quite as committed as my dear sister. I’d left someone behind too. We weren’t as foolish. We’d made it a clean break.
“I was just bugging you.” I tell her. “I think it’s sweet that you’re attempting to stay together.”
She stares me down to see if there’s any sarcasm in voice. When she realizes there isn’t she just nods. I plunk down in a chair behind her and stare at the ceiling. It’s desperate times when I’d rather be in the company of my sister than be alone.
As the day turns to evening, Mary-Sue finds her friend playing the piano and she stands to listen for awhile. When the music stops, Violet turns to her and smiles.
“How are you holding up?” She asks. Mary-Sue shrugs. She’s used to telling people “Oh, I’m ok.” But with Violet, she can be honest.
“This is harder than I thought it would be.”
Violet nods towards the couch and they both go to sit down. The house is quiet as the girls have gone up to their rooms to unpack and get ready for school the next day.
“I’m glad you came out here.” Violet says quietly. “I know with everything going on with you and Daniel, finding a new house and all that would be a lot. It will be nice to have a busy house for awhile. Please stay as long as you need.”
Mary-Sue nods. She knows the invite is genuine but there’s something else she needs to confess.
“Vi…” She starts. She has to do this. She can’t leave without an explanation. She owes her friend that much. Her friend who was about to be so much more. Violet waits patiently.
Mary-Sue takes a deep breath. “I’m not staying.”
“You’re...not…” Violet repeats carefully, not sure she’s understanding. “Where will you go? I thought you said there weren’t really other options for you and the girls until you bought somewhere and you wanted to wait until the market was better?”
“The girls will stay. I’m not staying.” Mary-Sue says.
Violet stares at her for awhile and then simply asks “Pardon?” Surely she’s misheard. Mary-Sue leaving the girls? That wasn’t what they’d talked about. Violet’s life didn’t have room to RAISE two teenagers. She was the only veterinarian on the island and she was rarely home. Between pets and farm animals, and managing the stock all on her own…
“Mary-Sue, you can’t be serious. You just fought for months to get the girls from Daniel and now you’re going to leave them? Why don’t you see if he can have them for awhile? Until you … work this out?” Violet reasons.
“Is that a joke?” Mary-Sue snaps. “You know what he did. And you KNOW he only fought for the girls because he didn’t want me to have them. That man and his dirty little maid are not raising my daughters while they work through their mid-life crisis.”
Violet hasn’t spent time with her friend in years and is surprised at her vehemence. “How are you any better if you just fought for them and are leaving them? How long would you be gone? Mare- I can’t raise your children for you. I work. I don’t have time. I don’t want kids. This isn’t what we agreed to.” Violet’s voice is calm but firm. She is not agreeing to this.
“I know your life has just shifted in a major way, but Mare, running away isn’t going to be the solution.” Violet reasons with her friend. “And you can let life slow down a bit here. You know that. You’re not working for awhile, the girls will settle. There’s no rush for you to leave.”
Mary-Sue nods and takes another deep breath. Violet reaches and squeezes her hand reassuringly.
“Everything will be ok.”
Mary-Sue sighs. Another useless platitude.
“You notice something odd with mom? She seemed off.” I ask, slowly pulling my things out of the brand new luggage that I think was bought to cheer us up.
“I don’t know, Lil, could it be that she’s moving into her friends house because her husband cheated on her and left her to raise two teenagers on her own?” Angela replies sarcastically. I look over at her and she’s not even unpacking. Just sitting on her bed watching me unpack. She’s probably hoping I’ll get fed up with her mess and put her crap away too.
“You know that’s not what I mean.”
“I just...she had a vibe. I don’t know how to explain it.” I tell her. She just shrugs and yawns. It’s been a long day. The island is ‘just’ off the coast of Pleasantview but involves a 2 hour drive and then a ferry ride in. With all of our physical luggage and mental baggage, we’re both exhausted.
“She probably just needs a good night’s sleep.” Angela says after a bit. She shoves her suitcase and it clatters to the floor and announces that she is getting ready for bed. I decide to follow suit, closing my luggage and carefully moving it behind my bed.
When I wake up to the smell of pancakes there’s almost a full minute that goes by before I remember where I am. I groan. First day at a new school. At least mom has the decency to make us a hot meal. Not something she normally does. I trudge down the stairs in my PJ’s and plunk down at the table.
“I think I have a fever” I grumble, holding the back of my hand to my forehead dramatically.
“Haha.” My mom replies, handing me a plate of pancakes. “I bought the good syrup.” She winks, knowing my weakness. I grab the bottle and pour it on. She opens her mouth to say ‘that’s enough’ but stops. She knows today will be torture. She’s trying to appease me. I pour a little extra on while she watches and rolls her eyes.
Angela joins us shortly after.
“No Aunt Vi?” She asks sleepily.
“Aunt Vi leaves before the sun rises. I think she caught the early ferry out to pick up a shipment for the vet clinic.” Mom explains. I’m usually a light sleeper but didn’t hear a peep. I must have been tired. We eat a nice breakfast and my mom seems better. Almost...cheerful. Maybe she did just need a good night’s sleep.
“Ok, bus comes in 15 minutes, you girls better hustle unless you’re going to school in your pajamas.” She tells us.
“OMG! 15 minutes!” Angela cries while at the same time I grumble about having to get on a school bus.
“Just go get ready, girls.” She says smiling.
I may have been joking about the fake fever to my mom but I still wasn’t completely sure I’d be attending school today. When she watches us get onto the bus like it’s the first day of kindergarten, waving and blowing kisses, I realize it’s going to be harder to bail than I thought.
“Good morning, Pleasant Girls!” The bus driver smiles cheerfully. “It’s not often we get new stops for the high school!”
I smile at her but groan inwardly. I don’t hate school. I’m actually really good at it. Better than my sister. What I hate are high schoolers. And I can’t imagine that “small town” high school is any better than Pleasantview High School. I thunk down in my seat beside my sister who is already chatting with someone behind us and start daydreaming about the life I’d left behind.
Once the girls were gone, Mary-Sue heads back up to her room and grabs her single bag of luggage. The cab will arrive any moment and she wants to be ready. She smiles at the wonderful morning with the girls. She feels bad for not telling them but after Violet’s reaction to her plan to get away, she couldn’t imagine how it would go with the girls. Angela could be quite theatrical.
She wouldn’t be gone forever. But she didn't know what her plan was and didn’t want to commit to a time frame. She’d spent her entire adult life with a man she thought had loved her while at the same time messing around with every passing female. She’d worked hard to raise strong girls. They’d be ok. She’d worked hard to make money and live a good life. She wasn’t exciting or sexy. she knew and accepted that. That’s not what was important in life. But now...she wasn’t sure WHAT was important in life. And she needed some time alone to figure that out.
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#2 19th Mar 2022 at 12:31 PM
PI (2) Anthony
As the bus makes stop after stop on the way to school, I quickly come up with and execute a plan to escape. When it stops at what looks like a park, I rush to the front, and hop off claiming to have forgotten my lunch. Angela doesn’t notice I’m up and out until it’s too late. I wave off the bus driver, saying I’ll catch a ride. She waves back with a friendly smile.
It was too easy.
Once the bus rolls away, I take a deep breath and pause to take in my surroundings. There’s a mailbox out front, but the land looks like a park. The air here is fresh and has the faint smell of water. Every direction I look is filled with trees, flowers, landscape that makes me feel like I’m on a vacation.
Except I’m not. This is home now. It’s beautiful but it leaves me unsettled.
Instead of letting my mind go on a rant about life, I lean down to sniff some lavender plants. My eyes closed, I breathe them in.
When our high school had a formal dance, I’d hated the idea of wearing a corsage but of course Dirk, my boyfriend, ex-boyfriend, I guess, had insisted. He was cheesy and into traditions like that. Instead of a rose or a tacky carnation, he’d picked wild lavender and pinned it to my dress. The entire evening, I could smell the lavender. It quickly became my favourite flower.
I sigh, and push away thoughts of Dirk. We’d opted for a clean break. No contact for a few days, friendship texts only...when we were ready. I’m not sure when that would be but I wonder if Angela and Dustin were stupid or brave for trying to stay together.
When I stand up and start following a path I try to figure out what my plan is. I can’t head back to the house, my mom will be there and having her get all worked up about school seems like a bad way to spend my time. I can only hope the school is not too quick to call in my absence.
“So the new kid likes to ditch school and trespass on private property?” I hear from not too far away. I glance over to see someone sitting by a tree. He looks to be about my age, so he can’t be too fussed on me ditching school.
“Shouldn’t YOU be off to school?” I ask, raising my eyebrow. He smiles and shrugs.
“Missed the bus.”
I nod towards the bike behind him. “Then you might want to hurry up. You don’t want to be late.”
“I’m taking a personal day.” He says, getting up. “Anthony.”
“Lillith.” I reply. “This is private property?” I ask, looking around. All I see are trees and and a pond. I guess someone could own the land. It really just seemed like open space.
“It IS but the owner doesn’t mind people wandering around. As long as you respect nature.”
Fair enough. I look at him carefully, he’s cute. A bit woodsy for my taste but cute.
“So, what’s your plan for the day, Lilith? Since you’re obviously also not headed to school?” He asks. It’s my turn to shrug. My only plan was to not go to school.
“You ever go fishing?” He asks.
“Fishing...you know, catching fish. Sustenance, cook it up for dinner kind of thing.” He explains. The look on my face makes him laugh. “I am taking that as a no.”
I’m not sure what to think of this. Kid in the woods, skipping school to go … fishing?
“Well, come on then. If you’re not going to school, you should still be productive.” He states. Good gawd, he sounds like my dad. Surely he was kidding.
He wasn’t kidding.
I sit quietly while he fishes for awhile and consider if I can make some sort of escape without being rude. While I had not had a plan, this was not how I intended to spend my day. I’m sure eons of silence have passed when he turns to me and asks if I want to try.
“Fishing.” He says. “It’s easy.”
It’s not easy.
And he tries to hide the sound of his laugh as I stab myself with the spike on the end of the string. I can’t even believe I haven’t walked away yet but Anthony seems sweet and I don’t want to be a jerk. He keeps saying things like “cast off” and “reel it in” but he might as well be speaking another language because I have no clue what he means.
When I manage to get the string out further into the pond he says “well done” like I’m a good dog and he gets a glare for it.
“For real, that was good.” He smiles, and shakes a wisp of hair out of his eyes.
When he pulls his third fish out of the water, I almost ‘accidentally’ hit him with my rod but manage not to.
“Hey! You’ve got something too!” He shouts when something tugs at my line. I will never admit this out loud but I felt a jolt of excitement as I wound the handle around, pulling in the line. Did I seriously just catch a fish? I wind it up faster and faster and yank the rod back to pull it out of the water. I look to see what I’ve caught...
And it’s a boot. I’ve caught a boot.
Anthony lets out a whoop of laughter, no longer attempting to hide his amusement and I wind up to throw the boot back in. Which of course throws me off balance and I stumble forward.
Thankfully I don’t quite make it into the pond, but I do end up covered in mud and my pants are soaked.
“Ok, ok. Maybe we’ve had enough of fishing.” He finally says through gales of laughter. I’m glaring at him, and attempting to brush off the mud. Which of course is just making a bigger mess. I groan about needing to change. But I still don’t think it’s smart to head home. It’s been a few hours but my mom will clue in if I’m home too early.
“I’ve got a change of clothes, if you don’t mind wearing something…” He looks me up and down in a way that only a teen boy can and I feel myself blush.
“Less fashionable?” He finishes.
“Sure.” I grumble and then look around. Where does he have clothes? “Is your place nearby?” I ask. Hoping we don’t have to go anywhere near Violet’s house.
We walk for a bit and find a cabin and a treehouse.
“Umm...you live here?” I ask. It comes out a bit judgemental and I quickly glance at him to make sure I haven’t been rude. He smiles.
“Not really. Mr. Ranger lives in the cabin. Sometimes I crash in the tree house.” He replies. I look at him for a few minutes, not sure what to make of this. When he doesn’t give any more details, I don’t ask. I want to. Was he homeless? He was my age, surely he didn’t just live in a tree fort.
When we climb up, I’m surprised to see that the fort is furnished. Just the basics, but that includes a bed and a bookshelf. I find myself drawn to the book titles. The best way to learn about someone? Figure out what books they read. I’m skimming titles and spot a poetry book by Satoro Simguchii. It’s old.
“Whoa…” I breathe.
I wander over to the chair and open it carefully.
“Is this an original print?” I ask breathlessly. He’s watching me carefully but he nods. “Where did you find this?”
“He’s originally from the island. There are a few originals floating around.” He says it casually but I can tell he’s proud of his find. He should be. If you want to buy this online, it goes for more simoleans than our car. I quietly thumb through the pages and he turns to dig out some clothes. He tosses me a pair of cargo shorts and a button up shirt.
I make a face.
“I told you...not as fashionable.”
“Cute.” He replies when I come out of the bathroom.
“This is absolutely NOT cute.” I tell him. “But thanks.”
I spend some more time browsing his books and we chat awhile. I learn that not only is he into poetry, but he paints. Keeping most of his stuff at home. I look around again and he laughs.
“I don’t actually LIVE here.” He finally clarifies. “I technically live with my dad but he’s...not always easy to get along with. So I hang out here a lot.”
I nod. I don’t really know what he means but I’m trying not to be nosy. I tell him that I’m into painting as well but left all of my stuff behind when my parents split and we moved here.
“Like, you left your art behind?” He asks. I nod. He doesn’t ask questions. I can tell he is also trying not to be nosy.
Eventually I decide, it probably IS time for me to head home.
When we head out of the tree fort, I spot someone gardening and must make a startled noise because he looks up and smiles.
“You bringing girls up there now?” He teases Anthony.
“Hey, Mr. Ranger.” Anthony calls, smiling. He introduces us and I immediately sense a warmth in Mr. Ranger.
“You must be one of the Pleasant girls.” he says smiling. I nod, already having figured out that everyone in this town knew we were coming.
“I knew your grandparents.” He says. “Though, haven’t talked to them in years.”
This throws me off. My grandparents? They had lived here as kids for a few years but I didn’t think they’d stayed long enough for anyone to know who they were.
“Nice people.” He says.
“Thanks.” I reply.
We chat a bit longer and I eventually make my exit. Time to head home.
The house is quiet when I walk in. “Mom?” I call. No answer. Weird. I mean, I know she could go out but we don’t have a car here and the house isn’t close to anything. My mom wasn’t one to go for walks. I look around and then head upstairs.
“Mom?” I call again. Maybe she’s having a nap.
When I peek into the room everything is gone. She’d been sharing a room with Violet. I look around. No luggage. No bed. My heart sinks. I pull open the dresser and the drawers are empty.
She’s gone. I knew I had sensed something yesterday. Gone. I try to think of other explanations but I know, deep down, she’s left us. On an island. With a woman we barely know.
What the hell was I going to tell my sister?
#3 19th Mar 2022 at 1:01 PM
PI (3) Second First Day of School
Angela walks in as I’m making a cup of coffee and she slams some notebooks down onto the table.
“Well, there’s your homework. That you apparently couldn’t get for yourself because…??” She stops and glares at me. “Are you drinking coffee? Mom will FLIP.” She interrupts herself.
“Soo? Do you at least have a good story? Migraine? Lady cramps? Gawd, what amazing excuse do you have for hopping off the bus and taking off on the FIRST day of school? Mom is going to kill you. Especially if she founds out WHILE you’re drinking coffee.” She’s grinning wickedly. None of these things actually bother her. She enjoys when I get into trouble.
She stops again, waiting for an answer. I don’t have one.
“And what the HELL are you wearing?” her nose turns up in disgust. I have to smile at the last dig. The outfit is horrific but I’d had a decent day, it was a reminder that things didn’t start out so miserably. I’d spent at least an hour lying in bed trying to figure out how to do this. Angela hadn’t taken the divorce well. She wanted life to be perfect. Being told we were moving sent her on a spiral of tantrums and sobbing.
Now I was going to tell her our mom had taken off? I take a breath and hold the coffee cup in both hands, the warmth seeping through my hands and into my arms.
When I sit, Angela does too and she starts telling me about school. Immediate switch from snarly to pleasant.
“It wasn’t so bad.” She tells me. “I made a friend, Harper. She’s cute, stylish. Definitely a good start.” She rambles. She goes on about classes, teachers, a few kids.
“Met a guy…” Her voice trails off. I should probably just blurt out the crappy news, but she seems so content.
“I thought you were still with Dustin?” I question. She shrugs.
“I am. And it turns out the guy is Harper’s brother, so I should probably steer clear. But, Lil...he was gorgy”
“Probably more your type than mine. But still. Eye candy for sure. Maybe I’ll introduce you tomorrow. When you ACTUALLY go to school.” She’s looking at me again, waiting for more details on my day. I’m not sharing. She likely wouldn’t believe me anyway.
“Mom left.” I blurt without thinking. Well, ok. That’s one way to do it.
“What? Where? Do we have to make our own dinner?” She asks. I take a deep breath and try again.
“Mom’s gone. Gone gone. Like, packed her stuff and left, gone.”
“Lil, that’s ridiculous. She probably just went to the store.”
“With all of her clothes? Ang, I’m telling you. She’s gone.” I tell her. She watches me take another sip of coffee. I watch a swirl of emotions cross through her eyes. Her brain not sure how to react. Sad? Angry? Hysterical? For once, none of those emotions are directed at me.
“I knew it.” She whispers. My eyes shift up to hers.
“You knew it?”
“Yeah. You said you felt it too. Her stupid weird vibes yesterday. Staring at us like we were ghosts or something. What the hell, Lil? What are we going to do? Like...are we just supposed to LIVE here?” She gestures to her general surroundings. “Do we call dad?”
“What?!” I snap. “We are NOT calling dad. Can you imagine? Living with them? Dad and his tramp?”
“Ok, ok. I know. I just...now what?” She sounds defeated and while I may not get along with her much, it breaks my heart to see her defeated.
“We can stay with Aunt Vi.” I say quietly. “She seems nice enough. You said school was ok.” I’m trying to reassure her but honestly, I have no idea if we CAN stay.
“She’s not even our aunt.” Angela groans, leaning down. “She’s not going to want us here.”
Out of nowhere she jumps up and storms out of the room and asks me not to follow. I sigh. Suddenly I feel like I’m not a teenager anymore. I look down at the coffee in my hands like it’s to blame for suddenly feeling like I’m 45.
I sit quietly and stare into space for awhile, wondering exactly what we WERE going to do. I’m sure I should have bigger feelings, like my sister. Anger, sadness, abandonment. But she feels them enough for the both of us, so I let myself be numb.
Eventually I’m hungry and find the leftover pancakes from that morning in the fridge. I call up to Ang to eat too. It’s dark now, well past dinner hour. Still no sign of our Aunt Vi either. She’d said she worked long days. She wasn’t kidding.
Eventually Angela joins me, and I’ve started working on some of the homework she’d brought home. Skipping school didn’t bother me but I was also pretty conscious of my grades. Plus it kept my mind busy.
Angela sits directly beside me and eats her pancakes like a starving rhino. Food flying everywhere. I’m trying to be the mature supportive sister so I stay quiet. Despite the fact that a piece has landed on my paper.
“We’ll just start our new life here. It will be fine. It will be great!” She announces. Suddenly thrilled at the idea of being abandoned on an island with strangers. She rambles on about how resilient we will become. And surely mom will be back eventually. Didn’t take long for her to change her tune.
When she resumes eating, I refocus on my homework. Denial is a peaceful phase. I’m not going to shake her out of it.
It’s quite late when Aunt Vi pops into my room.
“Hey…” she says tentatively. “You girls are still up.”
I set my book down and look at her. She already knows. I can tell. She thinks she has to tell me and she has no idea how.
“We already know she’s gone.” I say. She breathes a sigh of relief but then sadness fills her eyes.
“I think she’s just scared.” She explains. “She’ll come back.”
After some more reassurances, Vi leaves and I pick up my phone. We’d sworn we’d wait a few days, but I can’t help it. The days weren’t supposed to be like THIS.
I stare at the phone, willing a response. It comes almost immediately and I’m flooded with relief when it does.
D: I knew you’d cave first.
I desperately want to type “I miss you.” I start to and then stop. Then retype it and delete it again. Damn it. Why was this so hard? It wasn’t weird to miss him. It was perfectly normal. But to type it.. UGH
D: I miss you.
I feel tears welling up in my eyes and I let them fall.
L: So much.
“Mary-Sue Pleasant, you have two devastated girls here and you need to get your ass home now. Stop with your nonsense and grow up. If I don’t hear back from you by tomorrow night...I’m calling Daniel.” Violet hangs up the phone. What was she going to do now?
Violet wakes up in the middle of the night to the sound of her buzzing phone. A quick glance at the time. 3:30am. She yawns as she reaches and answers. The number familiar. It was Beth Wilson. She’d been having trouble with her newborn calves and if she was calling at 3:30am, it was an emergency.
Violet stares at the phone and pauses before shooting back a quick text. COULD she just jump up and leave? She had to. But she had two teens in the house. Was it ok to leave them alone? This late? Would they be nervous? Should she wake them up to tell them?
She had no idea what the rules were with teenagers. She’d never had kids. She’d never spent time with kids. It didn’t seem right to just sneak away in the night. What if THEY had an emergency.
She quietly tiptoes into their room and of course, both girls are sound asleep. Surely waking them up can’t be right either. Damn it, Mary-Sue. This was not supposed to be how this worked out.
She opts for jotting a quick note and heading out into the night without waking them up.
When we get up the next morning, Aunt Vi is up and out already. If we hadn’t chatted late last night, I’d have guessed she’d stayed out the entire night. This was a new feeling. Back at home, I don’t think we were ever left on our own. Not unless our parents had a date night or something. Dad was always busy with work, but he’d do that from his home office. Mom was in and out often but we ate dinner as a family most nights. Watched tv together most nights. We’d even be forced to join family games night once in awhile.
I had of course agreed to attend school but I had NOT agreed to go to all of my classes. Baby steps into this new life. I find myself in the library browsing books and hiding out. I’d gone to 3 classes already and the first thing I’d noticed was how small they were. 10 or less kids in each. It was unsettling. No way to hide in the back when there are only two rows of desks.
“No fishing today?”
I look up as Anthony comes in and sits down. I smile. “Nah, figured I should check this place out.”
“The library?” He asks. I laugh and shake my head.
“School. Apparently we’re supposed to come here daily?”
He shrugs to that and asks how the day has gone so far. I tell him. I leave out the home stuff. It’s nice to just chat.
I decide I can manage my last class of the day and walk in to find the principal is subbing for the regular teacher. Angela is already sitting down in the front row. I gratefully find a seat behind her...as close to the back as possible. The principal, Mr. Ghasem acknowledges my arrival with a brief nod and begins the lit class with a question about morality.
His attention seems focused on a guy in the front row who is, in my sisters words ‘gorgy’. Being in the back row means I can get a decent look at him without being noticed. He’s lean and has longer hair, pulled back into a small ponytail.
Mr. Ghasem suddenly stops right in front of him, an angry look on his face.
“If you think pulling a stunt like this in class is going to embarrass ME, you’ve figured wrong.” He says firmly. I can’t quite tell what the stunt is but the class is silent. The kid just shrugs.
“March yourself to the office. I’ll be there when class is over.”
As he gets up to leave I notice he has a cell phone and a pack of cigarettes sitting on his desk that he’d have plunked down out in the open. With the principal as the teacher? Interesting. Surely he WANTED to end up in trouble? I’m intrigued.
“Girl, I saw you making eyes at my brother.” Harper says, making kissy faces in the mirror. “I have to warn you. He’s no Prince Charming.”
Angela makes a face. “I wasn’t making eyes at him.”
Harper laughs. “Oh yes you were. You and every other girl in this place. Doesn’t bother me but all he does is break hearts.”
The girls continue to fuss and primp before heading home for the day.
“You forgot something.” I say casually, tossing over the phone and cigarettes I’d snagged off his desk after class. He looks down at his stuff and up at me in disbelief. Then he laughs.
“Bold move, Pleasant.”
“It’s Lilith.” I correct him. I hate how everyone in this town knows who I am. He nods and continues to sit.
“I see you didn’t make it to the principal’s office?” I am genuinely interested. In a town like this, surely you couldn’t get away with much before they called your parents.
“Nah...but I’m sure I’ll hear the lecture when I get home. Just delaying it a few hours.” He replies. “You not worried my dad will call your parents?”
“Mr. Ghasem. Principal of Pepper Island Public School. Thinks he’s the boss of the world.” He says again. The principal was his father? It explains his attitude. Double interesting.
I sit down and take one of the cigarettes out of the pack. He’s watching with curiosity but hands me a lighter. I’m not a smoker but I’ve done it before. And well...at this point why not? What was going to happen? The principal might call my parents? Good luck trying to find them.
Neither of us says anything for a while and to be honest, the quiet is nice.
Eventually I get up to leave and he gets up at the same time. For a brief moment he stands quite close and my heart rate picks up it’s pace just a little.
“See ya around, Lilith.” He says, grabbing the rest of his stuff off the bench. He heads off down the stairs of the building and I’m left watching him. Realizing moments later that I didn’t even learn his name.
#4 22nd Mar 2022 at 11:21 PM
Beautifully written! They're not babies so with a little help, they should be able to make it without Mom. I really enjoyed reading this update!
#5 23rd Mar 2022 at 1:32 AM
Originally Posted by jain
Beautifully written! They're not babies so with a little help, they should be able to make it without Mom. I really enjoyed reading this update!
Awww. thanks! I have tons more written, just need to get it posted. Will hopefully be able to update regularly!
#6 26th Mar 2022 at 12:04 PM
PI (4) And the Oscar Goes to...
Violet makes a point of getting home from work early to spend a bit of time with the girls. She hasn’t heard from Mary-Sue and she wonders if calling Daniel had been the best choice. She’d spoken to him this morning and he had seemed quite distraught that Mary-Sue had taken off. He had not, however jumped in with an offer to take the girls. What was wrong with these parents? She’d promised to keep him posted and let him know if there was any trouble with the girls.
The girls are playing out front, the school bus having just pulled away and Violet smiles. She remembers Mary-Sue telling her over and over how awful the girls treated each other. And here they were just playing together out front. Maybe the island air was good for them.
When she offers to make dinner, Lilith jumps in to help. Grilled cheese and salad. Nothing special but comfort food. They could all use it. Violet had spent her life following her passion for animals. She’d worked in a vet clinic for as long as she could remember. Volunteering, being the vet tech and then becoming the vet herself. When the opportunity to open her own clinic opened up, she leaped at it. It was exhausting and hard but she loved it. She’d never spent much time thinking about family or kids. She was happy without it.
But coming home and having someone there, cooking a meal with someone else, eating dinner with someone else...was nice.
She listens to the girls chatter about their day. Lilith teasing her sister about math homework and boys. She has a hard time imagining these two fighting when they get along wish such ease. When there is a lull in their conversation, she speaks up,
“I spoke to your dad today.”
My head snaps in the direction of Violet. She called our dad? I don’t know what to say to that. Were we going back? For a brief moment, Dirk crosses my mind, and tolerating my dad to have Dirk back seems worth it but when I glance at Angela and see the look of horror on her face, I remember that going home would not be like before.
“I let him know about your mom taking off.” She says, studying our faces carefully.
We all take a silent bite of grilled cheese and I give Ang a kick under the table with a look. She knows immediately what to do. There are some benefits to having a twin...I have no doubt she knows exactly what I’m asking.
Without hesitation she sniffles and Violet looks over. “Are you ok?”
“We CAN’T go back.” Angela sobs. I nudge her with my foot again. Too big, too fast. Dial it back, sister. She sniffles again.
“I made a friend today. And my language teacher thinks I can get my grades up from what they were in Pleasantview. And I know it’s only been two days, but I...I like it here.”
She has tears rolling down her cheeks and if I could give her an Oscar right here and now, I would.
Violet listens carefully and glances at me. I am not good at this game. I give her a half shrug “I made a friend too.” I say, leaving out the part where I made the friend while skipping school.
Violet sighs. “I let him know that I’d keep him posted on how things are going. But honestly, girls, I just don’t know. It’s so nice that you’re here. You’re both sweet...I’m just not sure I’m meant to be a guardian. I’ve never been a parent. And I can’t reduce hours at work, it’s just me there. And I LOVE my work and…” She trails off a bit and I can see that she’s conflicted about this. Who can blame her?
Angela nods supportively but still has the waterworks happening. No wonder my parents bought her anything and everything she ever asked for.
“I don’t know how to do this.” Aunt Vi says with another epic sigh.
“You can’t be worse than our actual parents…” I smile and she lets out a laugh but I see a look of sadness pass through her eyes.
“Ok. We can try. But girls, I can’t make any big promises here. If this isn’t working, you have to speak up. And I’ll do the same.” She says.
Angela is careful not to switch to joy too quickly and gets up, giving Aunt Vi a big hug. It feels a bit like we’ve run a con job but none of the feelings are fake. Maybe a tad exaggerated but we don’t want to go back.
That is a hard thought to own. Not wanting to go back, when we didn’t want to come here in the first place.
When Aunt Vi heads upstairs, Angela makes herself a cup of coffee and I laugh.
“Not worried about how mad mom would be?” I ask. She takes a long, slow sip and I roll my eyes. My sister, the rebel.
“You really gonna avoid the house after not coming home right after school?” Harper asks, sitting up on the balcony. Harry glances up and sighs. She’s not supposed to be up there. It’s HIS space. She often just makes herself at home, claiming it to be unfair that he gets his own apartment when she’s the oldest.
It was to keep the peace. His mother had gotten sick of him fighting with his dad ALL the time. This seemed to work. He ignores her and keeps heading towards the steps.
“I heard about your stunt today. Seriously? Can’t you just CHILL for once?” Harper questions her brother when he gets up to the balcony. He shrugs.
“It wasn’t a stunt. I came to class, I put my stuff on my desk.”
“Ooooh, so you’re a smoker now. Got it.” She rolls her eyes. This ongoing saga between her brother and father has stretched out over a year now. It seemed so pointless.
“Don’t you just get sick of him telling you what to do all the time?” Harry asks.
“He’s our DAD, that’s his JOB.” She responds. “But, by all means, keep pissing him off. Then maybe they’ll come to their senses and give me this” She gestures to the apartment space.
Harry laughs at that. It would never happen.
When he walks back into the room, his younger sister Hannah is laughing and jumping on his bed. Another sigh. So much for having some space.
“Can we go now? You said you’d take me to get the game today!” She shouts as she jumps higher. He glances back out at Harper who is still just sitting on the balcony.
“Han, I have a feeling I need to stay in tonight. Dad is pretty mad at me.” Harry explains, having forgotten all about his promise. She sighs looking disappointed.
“Isn’t dad ALWAYS mad at you? Maybe you shouldn’t keep beer in your room.” She suggests with a shrug and and eye roll. She had a good point.
“You promised to take me into town to get me my game. You know mom and dad won’t do it. Pleeeeeeeeeease?” She begs. One last glance at Harper who was likely going to rat them out and he agrees.
“But we gotta go now before dad realizes I’m home.” Harry says. Hannah grins ear to ear.
“Did you finish practicing piano?” Mr. Ghasem asks his daughter as she grabs a snack from the kitchen. She freezes. She’d practiced as soon as she’d gotten home. One hour, every day. Their dad believed you had to have a special talent, skill or passion. He’d decided HERS was going to be piano. She throws on a smile.
“I did.” She looks him in the eye.
“A full hour?” He asks, staring at her. How is it possible that he knows she’d sat for 45 minutes, mostly tapping keys randomly. 45 minutes. NOT a full hour. Or maybe he didn’t know but he knew she was a terrible liar. She pauses. Could she lie? He’s staring at her and she knows she can’t. Too bad she couldn't be more like her brother.
“Almost an hour.” She admits. He nods and then gestures towards the piano on the other side of the room. She wants to argue. She knows she won’t be expected to sit for 15 minutes. He’ll want her to redo the full hour. An hour allows for focused practice. An hour a day leads to improvement. She considers arguing. She would love to argue. Instead she chooses the petty move that will get her dad in trouble more than her brother.
“Did you work the smoking issue out with Harry?” She asks. It doesn’t even matter that it’s obvious she’s not interested. Her mother is instantly up and ready for an argument.
Harper wanders over the to the piano and lets her fingers feather over the keys as she listens to her mom rip into her dad for not telling her about whatever the “smoking” issue was. Ok. That wasn’t the nicest thing she’d ever done but she WAS sick of being told what to do ALL of the time.
She plays the keys loudly, and not well as her father huffs and heads upstairs.
“You here all on your own, kid?” The girl at the counter looks down at Hannah who just rolls her eyes. She hated being called ‘kid’.
“Nah, she’s with me.” Harry says as Hannah hands him the game she’s been desperate to get her hands on. When he gives the girl a smile, she perks up.
“Oh, how cute! You’re taking your little sister out on a date.”
Hannah looks at Harry and raises her eyebrows. He shrugs at her. It’s not his fault girls like him.
As he pays for the game, the girl makes some offhand comment about him taking HER on a date and he manages to side step it by giving his attention back to his sister.
“Since we’re already here…” Hannah starts, glancing over at the bowling lanes. “Think we can stay for a game? Or two?”
He’s already going to be in trouble. He’s sure Harper is right about losing his room above the garage, but at this point, Hannah is right. They’re already out. He agrees to ONE game.
It turns out, he’s not very good. And Hannah does not let him think otherwise.
Hannah on the other hand...
Is apparently a bowling master.
“Maybe we should try a different game...your ego can’t handle much more of this.” Hannah suggests.
They go a few rounds at the pinball machines and it’s getting later and later.
Harry notices a few yawns from his sister, despite her intense focus on the game.
Eventually SHE suggests they get going. For his sake of course. Not because she’s tired.
#7 26th Mar 2022 at 12:30 PM
PI (5) Huh...
“I’m so glad things seem to be working out for you.”
Violet nods and smiles. “They really are. I remember Mary-Sue telling me horror stories of the girls fighting and screaming all the time but honestly, they’re quiet. They help out around the house. It’s kind of nice having them here.”
Dave, an old friend she’d once been in a relationship with smiles back. They chat quietly into the evening and Violet finds herself wondering if she would be disappointed if Mary-Sue did return.
It’s been a few weeks and somehow by some miracle we’re starting to feel a bit settled. I’ve spent some afternoons with Anthony, Angela and I have sort of been getting along, Violet seems to be adjusting to us staying with her. I’ve even managed to make it to most of my classes. So when I’m called into the principal’s office, I’m surprised. Maybe it’s like a guidance counsellor style check in or something. When I’m invited in to see Mr. Ghasem, I’m smiling.
He starts by asking how things are going and I tell him. He’s watching me closely and I can’t tell what he’s waiting for or expecting. When I’m done speaking there’s a long drawn out pause that makes me nervous.
“Do you value the arts, Lilith?” He asks. I’m not sure I understand his question.
“It’s just that you haven’t attended a single visual arts class yet. You’ve signed up. It’s an elective.” He states. I did NOT sign up. My mother had signed me up. “But you seem to think that you don’t need to attend art class, which makes me think that YOU think the arts are not important.”
I’m sure my mouth opens and closes a number of times but I’m not sure what to say.
He launches into a lengthy speech about having a passion or interest in life. But that it’s hard and you have to work at it. I’m listening. Sort of.
Art class. Of course I valued the arts. My entire life had been about painting at one point. My bedroom a studio. Our garage, a studio. Dreams of having my OWN studio. But art is about painting your emotions. It’s easier to do that when your life is average. Teen drama, boy trouble, emo phase, none of THAT was hard to get onto the paper.
“Lilith? Are you even listening?” Mr. Ghasem snaps. I tune back in and nod. He shakes his head.
“You will be expected to attend ALL of your classes. Whether you’re interested in them or not.” He states. I nod again, looking down. I’m not sure I can make it in to an art class.
“And I will be phoning Ms. Swan who is your current caregiver?” He’s asking, unsure. I nod. I’m sure he’s expecting me to say something but I can’t. I feel my cheeks flush and I’m worried I might cry. An unexpected feeling. Things had been going so well.
“Lilith?” He asks again. I look up.
“Do you understand? You are expected to go to all of your classes. I will be phoning your guardian.”
“Yes, sir.” I respond. When he dismisses me, I am holding back tears which is embarrassing.
As I’m leaving, I see Harry sitting, waiting to go in. He gives me a half wave but I ignore him. I’m mentally calculating how long it will take to get to the washroom and wondering if I can hold my tears that length of time.
I book it down the hall, panicked that this overwhelming need to cry will take over.
The school washrooms are no treat but I’m grateful that no one else is in there when I open the door. I find a stall and take some breaths. I feel hot tears welling up.
Art class. My art teacher had been the first to notice when our family life had started to get disastrous. She’d even called home, to see if my parents could enlighten her. I’d stopped painting. I’d show up and do nothing. I couldn’t. How could I paint the chaos of everything? In front of my classmates painting fruits and flowers.
Oh gawd, someone had seen me.
“I know you’re in here…” It’s Anthony. I wipe my face with my sleeve and peek out of the stall.
“You know this is the ladies, right?” I respond.
“Yeah, but you looked upset.” He half smiles but looks concerned. I tell him about getting hauled into the office for skipped art classes.
“You haven’t gone to ANY art classes? I thought you were a painter.” He says, recalling a conversation from the first time we’d met. I’m surprised he remembers. Once again I’m left standing like a fish. My mouth opening and closing but no words.
He’s looking right into my eyes and the concern there is genuine.
“You don’t have to tell me.” He says with a shrug.
I wait and then I tell him.
I tell him what it’s like to suddenly be expected to put your emotions on paper when they’re REAL. Not stupid teen emotions but parents fighting emotions. Parents being overbearing to make up for their lack of parenting. A sister you can barely stand being in the same room as without starting WW3. Being abandoned on a stupid island by your parents because they’re too busy living their own lives to CARE about you. And I’m supposed to PAINT THAT? My voice is getting louder, and he’s nodding and agreeing with every word.
“Screw them.” He says when I finally stop.
“My parents?” I choke out a laugh through tears that I hadn’t even realized had started falling again.
“Well, yeah. But I meant Mr. Ghasem and the art teacher. You paint when you’re ready. What’s he going to do? Kick you out?”
I shrug. “He’s going to call Violet.” I say. He already knows what is at stake there.
He makes a face at that. “I’m sure she won’t just ship you out. But I see the dilemma.”
He thinks for a little while longer.
“I have an idea, but I have to think about it first. I’ll get back to you tonight?” He says mysteriously. I raise an eyebrow at him.
“Just tell me.”
He grins. “Nope. Besides, you probably have another class to get to…”
I glance at the time on my phone. He’s right. “Shit.” I mumble. The least I can do is continue to go to my other classes.
I sneak into science a minute late but the teacher hasn’t started yet. Angela is glaring at me.
“What? I haven’t missed anything.” I whisper.
“You got called into the principal’s office.” She states in a loud whisper. How on Earth had she known that? Sure, we sometimes had a twin connection, but we weren’t telepathic.
“What did you DO?” She demands. I glare at her.
“It’s nothing. It was about art class.” I vaguely explain. She stares at me. She knows I haven’t been going. She also knows I haven’t painted anything in over a year.
“Is he going to call Violet?” She asks with a worried look. I nod.
“Come on, Lil. You have to figure this out.”
“I KNOW.” I reply. I’m relieved when the teacher clears her throat and starts the class. I can feel Angela staring at me, but I manage to ignore her until we’re too busy with our lab work for her to ask anymore questions.
When the bell rings at the end of the day, I purposely miss the bus and sit out front for awhile. I’m not quite ready to face Violet, and I don’t mind the walk, even if it is a long one. I’d been half expecting Anthony to find me again but I hadn’t seen him the rest of the day. I had no idea what he was up to. I found myself becoming more curious about whatever his ‘idea’ was.
“Need a lift?” I look over and Harry Ghasem is settling in on the bench beside me. We’ve spoken a total of 4 times. None of them as interesting as the first conversation.
“I’m good, thanks.” I tell him.
“It’s a long walk.” He just lives up the road from us. I wonder how often he gets stuck walking home. I shrug.
“You wanna talk about getting sent to the office?” He asks. I give him a look and get up to sit on the bench.
“Not really.” We weren’t friends. We were hardly friendly. If I was going to talk about it, it wouldn’t be with him. I’d been intrigued by his attitude the first day of class but since then, he’d just been around.
“You looked upset.” He says.
“I was.” I tell him. I study his face for a moment but it’s unreadable. Is he concerned? Nosy? He’s looking at me but I’m not getting into it. Not again. Not with him.
“My dad can be intense. Whatever it was, I’m sure it’s not as big of a deal as he made it out to be.” He says.
“It was nothing.”
He’s waiting again and I almost laugh. He reminds me of his dad waiting for me to fess up in the office. I won’t dare say that though. We sit quietly for a bit.
“You sure you don’t want a ride home? It’s not a big deal.” He offers after a few minutes. I shake my head.
“I could use the quiet time and the freedom before I get home.”
He nods as if he understands.
“I should get going though.” I say and move to get up. Staying behind had been for quiet and sitting here awkwardly with Harry wasn’t getting me that.
“Hey,” He says as I step away. I turn back and he’s getting up. I hope he’s not going to insist on giving me a ride. Or worse, walk home with me. I really could use the quiet.
Before I know what’s happening, he reaches for my arm and pulls me closer, and he tugs me forward. In a blink, he’s leaned in and is pressing his lips to mine.
Well then. I had NOT expected that. I fall into it for a moment before we both pull away.
“See ya,” He says, and then walks away. Huh. I glance back at him as he heads back into the school. What the heck was that?
#8 14th Jun 2022 at 3:34 PM
PI (6) - Paint on Paper
In an effort to play the good twin, I start dinner as soon as I get home. Violet isn’t home yet and my sister is upstairs, probably playing on her phone. I’m dreading Violet coming home. I can’t imagine her being mad about skipped classes. Or even disappointed really. She’ll just be all...confused. She’ll wonder if she can “handle” teens and question whether us staying is a good idea.
She’s trying. She really is. She even tries to be home for dinner most nights. Even if she can’t stay after. But she doubts everything she does and it leaves me feeling unsettled. Like we have to be perfect or we’ll be banished.
And somehow we HAVE managed to be nearly perfect.
Angela and I end up eating dinner alone, a text from Violet saying she’ll be home late. Anthony calls around 8pm.
“Ok. Everything worked out. I’m coming to pick you up.” He states without any explanation.
“What? I can’t go out now. I’m already going to be in trouble and Violet isn’t home!” I argue. “AND you haven’t told me ANYTHING about what you’re planning.”
“I know. I’m still not going to tell you. But come on, I’ll swing by shortly. Pretend you have a headache or something and go to bed.”
I picture his excited face when his ‘idea’ had come to him. I glance up as Angela walks in.
“Yeah, ok.” I agree.
“I need you to cover for me.” I tell her.
“You don’t even know what it’s for.” I argue.
“I don’t care. I don’t want to get kicked out and I’m not helping you with whatever stupid thing you’re up to.”
I don’t blame her but I’m still annoyed. “Fine. But I’m going out anyway. SO you can cover for me and I’ll be less likely to get caught. OR you can not.” I shrug. She sighs and ignores me, climbing onto her bed. She glances at me occasionally as I fix my hair and get ready.
“Where are you even going?” She finally asks. I stick my tongue out at her. I don’t want to admit that I have no idea. She rolls her eyes at me and pulls out her phone.
It’s not hard to sneak out when your caregiver isn’t home. Violet isn’t likely to peek in on me later if she thinks I’m asleep. This was almost too easy.
“You steal a car?” I ask, half joking, half wondering if his dad would be mad. He shakes his head.
“Nah, I’m allowed to take it out. My dad’s working tonight anyway though so he won’t even notice.” He nods towards the house “I see you got out ok?”
“Violet’s not even home yet.” I say as I climb in.
As we pull away, I glance back at the house. No use worrying now.
It’s fairly quiet as he drives. I’m tempted to ask where we’re going and what the plan is but I know he won’t tell me. He’s enjoying having a secret plan way too much. And I don’t want to give him the satisfaction of my curiosity. He keeps glancing at me, probably waiting for me to ask. No way. He wanted to keep it a secret.
When we pull up in front of the school, I wait for the car to get going again. When it doesn’t I look at him. He’s grinning at me and puts the car into park.
“What is happening?” I ask. He smiles and moves to open his door.
“We’re sneaking out, to go to SCHOOL?”
He laughs. “Come on.”
“Ok, no offence, but this might be the lamest sneak out ever.” I whisper, glancing around. The places is empty.
He starts heading up the stairs.
“Won’t it be locked?” I ask. I have to admit. I’m getting a little bit curious. He smiles back at me.
“I have a key.”
“To the school?”
Another grin. I roll my eyes and follow.
When he uses the key and walks right in, I’m sure he’s done this before. I follow him in, with another look behind me to make sure no one is watching.
When we get to the top of the stairs, he stops by the windows overlooking the water. I stare out for a moment, taking in the view. Even more spectacular at night. I turn and see he’s placed a bottle of whiskey on the table and I laugh.
“THIS is your big plan? Sneak into the school and drink? I think it’s been done before. And whiskey? Really?” I tell him. Surely this isn’t his plan?
“I didn’t think you were a peach schnapps kind of girl, but maybe I was wrong.”
I roll my eyes.
“The booze wasn’t the plan. But I got nervous and brought it.”
“Nervous?” I ask. Oh, I hoped this wasn’t another random romance moment. One was enough for the day. He looks down, slightly embarrassed and I’m suddenly worried I’ve misread our friendship entirely.
“I just don’t want you to end up mad at me. I still think it’s a good idea...but…” He pauses. I must get a strange look on my face because he lets out a laugh.
“I’m not trying to hook up with you.” He admits. I breathe a sigh of relief. “It’s just that, I like you a lot and I don’t want to cross a line. A FRIENDSHIP line, not a romance line.”
“I’m pretty hard to offend.” I tell him, having no idea what he’s getting at.
“Ok. But let’s drink first anyway.” He grabs the bottle and takes a swig.
“What about your car?” I ask.
“We’ll cab home, I’ll get it in the morning.” He shrugs. No big deal. I wonder if his dad would be mad but don’t ask.
I take a small sip and squeeze my eyes as it burns down my throat.
“Whiskey? Really?” I repeat. My gaze travels back out the window. It really is a stunning view. I grab the bottle and take a bigger sip. I roll my shoulders and slowly feel myself relax. It’s been a long time since I’ve had a really good friend. Dirk, of course but it wasn’t quite the same. This was...comfortable.
I turn back to look at Anthony and he’s watching me. He looks like he wants to say something but doesn’t.
“This is totally unrelated to ...well … anything but...I saw you kiss Harry.” He says, still watching me.
“Uhhh, nope. He kissed ME. And where the heck were you?” I ask, thinking back to the empty yard.
“Still around. Heading out of the school.” He says.
“At the risk of being annoying...I have to warn you. He’s...kind of a jerk.”
“Ok.” I reply. I’m not sure of what else to say. I’m not overly interested in Harry.
“For real, Lilith. He may act nice, but he’s selfish and mean.” He says it a bit more intense this time and I wonder if something’s happened between them.
“I didn’t argue. I said OK.” I tell him. I stand up and take another, longer drink of the booze and then set the bottle back on the table.
“Now, let’s get to it.” I announce loudly. My voice echoing down the hall. “Whatever it is, I’m ready!”
Anthony laughs and gets up.
We head up another flight of stairs and I follow behind quietly until we get to one of the rooms. The door is partly open and Anthony walks in. When I step in, I know what room it is before the lights are even on. I can smell the paint.
The art room.
I am suddenly really angry. After explaining how I felt about everything today did he suddenly think I’d just change my mind? A bit of booze was all I needed? I had thought he’d understood. He’d argued right along with me like he had understood. I manage to keep my mouth shut and count to 20 quietly in my head. Calming strategy from youth counsellor number 4. He’s looking around the room, touching things. He’s nervous. He knows I’m mad. Then why do this?
“What is this?” I finally manage. “I told you. I don’t paint anymore. And a few swigs of booze aren’t going to change that. What the hell?” I’m quite proud of my outburst. I don’t even swear.
“Noooo. No no no.” He responds. “I’m not asking you to paint. Not really.” he says.
“Ok. It’s ok. I knew you’d be mad at first.” He starts, as if to reassure himself. He gives me a half grin.
“If you knew I’d be mad then why...” I start.
“Yup. BUT” He cuts me off. “You’re not here to do art. You’re here to paint.” He says. I stare at him waiting for more of an explanation. He’s not making any sense. And I’m not doing this.
“You have to go to class. And you’ll have to paint. But you have to learn to just put the brush to the paper. Paint. Not art. Not the same.” He’s trying to explain but I’m still not understanding.
“When I paint at home, I consider it to be art. It’s me. It’s all that stuff you described when you were upset earlier. Feelings, emotions. Stuff you don’t want to share with people. I get it. When you paint at school it’s like...colouring. You paint fruit. Or flowers. Or shapes.” He gestures to the table of “inspiring objects” on the other side of the room.
“Why would I paint fruit?” I ask.
“The same reason you look under a microscope at pond samples. Because it’s class and you were told to.”
I just stare at him.
“I’m not trying to push you into doing something you don’t want to do.” He assures me. “I’m trying to get you to see that you can still go to class and participate without actually doing art.”
It seems stupid. And too easy. But he has a point.
“I’ll go first.” He says. He walks over towards the easels and takes several brushes out at once, dipping them into multiple colours. I cringe as the paint mixes.
“See?” He says as he wipes the brush across the canvas. “It’s just paint on paper.”
He turns around and faces me, one hand behind his back, still painting without being able to see and I laugh.
“It doesn't matter what it looks like. It’s not deep, meaningful or even pretty.”
I watch him for awhile and I have to admit, he’s right. Surely I can do THIS.
“Ok, so...now it’s your turn?” He asks, clearly still worried I’ll be mad. I grab the brush from his hand and don’t even clean it off before dipping it into a new colour. I haven’t held a paint brush in a long time. It’s a cheap one. The bristles are stiff and shedding. I look down at it. I never would have painted with this before. I look up at Anthony. I’m suddenly filled with panic.
“Doesn’t even have to be pretty.” He repeats. I take a deep breath. Ok. I can do this.
He moves back towards a couch and I dip the brush into a new colour. Moving it across the canvas. I can feel the paint gliding on the paper. It’s horribly cheap paint but it still feels good. I feel tears welling up in my eyes again and I can’t even believe I’ve become the person who cries multiple times a day.
Without looking at him, I tell Anthony he has to turn away. No peeking. Mostly so he doesn’t see the tears I’m trying to wipe away. He does as he’s told.
I slather paint all over the page and smile. ‘It doesn’t even have to be pretty.’ I think to myself.
“You gonna be all night?” Anthony teases after awhile.
“Nope. I’m ready for the grand reveal.” I announce.
He turns around and starts laughing. Uncontrollable laughter.
“This is the first picture I’ve painted in over a year and you’re LAUGHING at me?” I demand. I’m kidding but he doesn’t know that. His face shifts to horror as he analyzes how his reaction has upset me. His mouth opens to apologize but I cut him off.
“I’m kidding.” I tell him. He swats me in the arm and laughs again. “Not funny.”
“So? Now you can go to art class?” He says. I nod and push back feelings of weepiness.
“Thank you.” I tell him. He blushes and I lean in to hug him. “I needed this.”
It’s late. Very late. But we’re already out and I’m already in trouble. I suggest we walk home rather than cab. We both live in the same direction and while it’s a long walk, it’s a gorgeous night and I’m not ready to call it quite yet. He agrees to the walk.
As we open the front door of the school, the dark night is ruined by blazing blue and red lights. Two cop cars parked right out front of the school. As two teens waltz out the doors smelling like booze and spattered with paint.
#9 14th Jun 2022 at 3:51 PM
PI (7) - It Suits You
I spend the silent drive home worrying about Anthony. One of the cop cars has Anthony’s dad in it and he’s livid. He swears his dad is intolerable but not aggressive but Anthony spends a lot of time at his treehouse and I worry anyway. The officer driving the car says nothing to me. I’ve already given him my address but he knows where I live. Of course he does. Everyone knows everyone here.
The closer we get to the house, the worse I feel. I’m not sure if selfish is the right word but it describes how this has felt. Skipped class, risked being in trouble, ignored it, snuck out, broke into the school, drank. Stupid. Stupid. Stupid.
I think about Angela’s face when she finds out and once again I find a tear sliding down my cheek.
I’m half hoping Violet still won’t be home but I know she will be. It’s late enough. The officer explains what happened when we get to the door and Violet listens carefully.
“Thanks for bringing her home, Tyler.” Violet says quietly, looking at me. The fact that she knows the officer by his first name makes me feel more embarrassed. This is her home. She must be mortified. When the officer leaves, we’re both silent.
“I’m so sorry.” I whisper before she says anything.
“I didn’t even know you weren’t home.” She says half to herself, still trying to figure out what’s happened. I nod but keep my head down. She sighs and I can almost hear her inner dialogue, running through the list of reasons why she shouldn’t have taken in two teens. Her life had been just fine before we showed up.
“You’ve been drinking?” The officer hadn’t said anything about that, but she can tell. I nod. Another sigh.
“I’m sorry.” I say again but I’m not sure it’s helping. She’s just looking at me, thinking. I try to imagine my parents and what they would do. My mom would yell. She’d stomp and storm and send me to my room. Ground me. She’d cry too. My dad? He’d make sure I knew just how dangerous my choices had been and highlight just how upset I’d made my mother. Thinking back, I don’t think he ever actually worried about us. Just made sure we knew that we’d worried mom. He’d checked out of our family long before the maid incident.
I hear footsteps clunking down the stairs.
“What happened?” Angela asks sleepily. When Violet still doesn’t say anything, I explain in as few words as possible and Angela’s mouth drops open.
“You went drinking at the school? What the hell, Lilith? I figured you were just out tromping through the swamps again with your weird nature friend.” Angela snarls. I glare at her. She didn’t need to be rude about Anthony.
“You knew she was out?” Violet asks. Angela freezes and then nods. “I DIDN’T know she’d be drinking. Or breaking and entering.”
Thanks, sister. You’re really helping here. Violet looks back and forth between the two of us.
“Why break into the school to drink anyway?” Angela asks, looking at me closely. She knows I’m not stupid and wouldn’t just break in somewhere with no purpose. I shrug.
“No reason? Really? Just to hang out at school? The place you try to avoid all day?” She moves closer to me. It feels like the old days and I brace for a shove. I hope it doesn’t come to that. I’m embarrassed enough. Fighting with Angela in front of Violet would be the cake topper.
“Well?” She demands. I’m not getting out of this. Violet stares at me as well.
“Anthony took me to the art room. We painted stuff.” I grumble.
“Like graffiti?” Violet’s eyes go wide.
“What? No! Like on a canvas.” I don’t want to explain. I really don’t. I’ve been over it a hundred times today already. Angela just stares at me. Violet looks confused.
“You painted?” Angela asks, suddenly quiet. Her face softens. I nod.
“Really?” She asks. I manage a teensy smile and nod again.
She pulls me close for a giant hug and I close my eyes. It feels nice. It’s been a weird day. When we step apart, Violet is still just standing there, staring at us.
“Ok…” Violet says, clearly confused. Angela looks at me and then takes over.
“Well. I think we’re both grounded.” She says to Violet who raises an eyebrow. “Lilith for more days than me because she’s the one who snuck out.”
“Why are YOU grounded?” Violet asks Angela.
“Because I knew and didn’t tell you. But she gets more time. She’s the one who broke in, drank and got dragged home by the cops.” Angela smirks at me and all I manage is a glare.
“I’m going to need to think about this.” Violet states but she’s considering what Angela has suggested. She’s conflicted. She’s questioning whether it’s the right consequence. I hate how unsure of herself she is. I hate feeling one step away from being sent away.
“We should get to bed.” Angela says, once again taking charge and ushering me back towards the stairs. Violet nods in agreement.
“We can talk in the morning.”
We head upstairs quietly and I get a glare from Angela as we get to our room. “You’re welcome.” She snarls. I can’t even argue with her. She’d kept things calm somehow.
“Thank you,” I whisper.
The next morning is a hectic one and Violet sends the girls off to school without many words. To be honest, she isn’t sure what words to say. Angela had suggested they be grounded. This makes sense, after being brought home by the police. But for how long? A week? Is that too harsh? Not enough? This wasn’t Violet’s area of expertise and she felt so lost.
She was growing quite fond of the girls but feared that her “parenting” would cause them more harm than good.
She smiled at how Angela had hugged her sister after learning about her painting. They cared a great deal for one another and it was beautiful. Could she really punish them? The drinking was bad. Breaking in was bad. But breaking in to paint in the art room? Was it really so bad? She sighs.
A glimpse movement catches her attention and an old friend, Dave Mathers rounds the corner. Her heart flutters at the unexpected visit.
“I heard you had some trouble.” He drawls, his soft southern accent making her smile. It had been awhile since she’d seen him.
“Doesn’t take long for rumours to make the rounds.” She replies, getting up for a hug that feels so familiar she could stay in it forever.
When he pulls back he just looks at her for a moment before asking: “Coffee?”
“I’m guessing by your empty hands, you’re asking for some, not offering.” She rolls her eyes and gets up to brew some coffee. She was sure the man lived on caffeine and sugar. He was a musician, always the late nights but somehow also early mornings.
When she comes back she hands him a cup and they sit quietly for a moment. Enjoying the morning sun, the hot beverage and the company.
Eventually Violet cuts the silence. “You just pop by to save the day?”
He chuckles. “Nah, you don’t need a superhero. Just wanted to see how you were making out with your new...guests. Heard things got exciting last night.” He’s looking at her carefully, trying to assess her mood. She’d never been one to just blurt out her feelings. She just gives him a shrug, making him chuckle again.
“Can I tell you what I think?” He finally asks.
“Do I have a choice?” She smiles back.
“You do. You could cover your ears while I tell you. But that would be rude.”
“Ok, let’s have it.” She says.
“I think it’s great.” He states and waits. “You having these girls here. I don’t know much about them but if their folks just dropped them off, they obviously are in need of some good care. And I think you’re the perfect person to give it.”
“But I…” Violet starts.
“But you’re busy? Too busy? Never home? Can’t stop for a second? Don’t have time for a family?” He cuts her off. And she stops.
“I stopped by the store the other day. It was closed. With a number to call for emergencies. It was dinner time. Spotted Parker nearby and he says you’ve been closing up for a few hours each day. To be home for dinner.” He pauses and Violet isn’t sure where he’s going with this. Is he criticizing her for being busy? Or for closing the shop?
“It’s GOOD, Vi. You’ve been working yourself to the bone for over a decade. And you can still do that. But this is good. I can see that you already care about them and it’s only been what? A month or so? You have a big heart. These girls need you.”
She watches him as he takes a breath. She braces for what he is about to say next. She already knows. She closes her eyes as he says it.
“I’ve always said you’d make an amazing mother.”
“You know that’s not what I’ve wanted. I didn’t want to BE a mother.” She replies. It’s an old argument. The one that had ended their relationship years ago. He sighs.
“But this is different. And it suits you.”
They sit quietly for a while more. Violet thinking back to the many times they’d discussed kids. Settling down. Hiring someone to help at the shop. He’d always been willing to change his lifestyle for her. She’d been the one unwilling to change.
“And what do you suggest I do about the current situation? Lilith being dropped off by the cops. Drunk, having broken into the school.” She asks after a while.
He laughs. “What did your parents do with you? All those times we broke in?”
She shoots him a look. “We were smart enough not to get caught.” A small smile forming.
“You’re overthinking it. You know that. Come up with a consequence, move on. You DO know what you’re doing.” He encourages her. Getting up. It’s her turn to sigh. He’s right, she thinks. She doesn’t need to overthink this.
“You know this is right for you.” He says, reaching over and touching her face. Her breath catches and she reaches up to touch his hand. The comfort in the simple gesture is almost overwhelming.
“Thank you.” She says quietly. He gives a small smile and a nod.
“Do you remember that time we managed to get into the pool when we broke in?” He says with a smirk. She playfully swats his arm and blushes. Remembering very clearly how that night had gone.
“Let’s stop the trip down memory lane before it gets away from us.” She teases. He flashes her a smile and says good-bye.
School is a blur and I spend most of the day worrying about how upset Violet is. She barely said a word this morning as we were getting ready for school.
“It’ll be fine.” Angela assures me. “Go talk to her.”
“But what if…” I have this sinking feeling that we’re going to get sent to live with our dad. And I can’t let it go.
“But nothing. Just talk to her. Whatever happens, happens.” She gives me a quick squeeze and we head into the house.
I can’t tell if I’m relieved or more anxious to find that Aunt Violet isn’t home. I should have known she would be at work. Angela and I work on a project and I offer to make dinner again. Working on my best behaviour. As the day turns into evening I can barely sit still. Pacing back and forth.
Eventually I make a hot chocolate and sit outside. The evenings have become cool.
I tense when Violet arrives home and sits beside me.
“Your sister says you’re anxious?” She asks. I’m not sure how to answer that. I nod and just look at her. I’m waiting for her to say she’s called my dad. Or my mom. Or anyone. She seems less confused now than she did last night. Was it because she’d already decided we weren’t her problem anymore. That and a million other doubts are running through my mind when she finally says something.
“I’m not going to call your parents.” She states firmly. I let out a big breath I hadn’t realized I’d been holding. She looks at me with a sad expression.
“I talked to Angela inside.” She continues. “She says that’s what you’re worried about. Getting sent back?”
I nod again. “I’m really sorry. I shouldn’t have snuck out. And when I knew the plan was to break into the school, I should have said no. I should have…”
“I’m not calling your parents.” She repeats. “I don’t get why they’ve become so distracted with their lives. I’m sure they love you deeply. But for now, they’re not able to take care of you. I’m not going to run and phone them just because things have gotten a bit...out of hand.” She says warmly. I’m waiting for the part where she dishes out the consequence when Angela comes out to join us.
“So, have you got to the part where she’s grounded? For a WEEK.” Angela smiles as she sits down. “A whole week.”
“I was JUST getting to that. I was explaining first that we are going to work through all this together.” Violet tells her. Looking at both of us. Angela smiles and I get the feeling they had had more than a brief conversation inside.
“But yes. You are grounded for a week. Tech for school but not for socializing. Only school and home. For a week.”
“I only got 2 days.” Angela adds in, obviously in a good mood. I haven’t quite pushed passed my anxiousness. Violet turns back to me and places a hand on my knee.
“We’re all going to mess up at some point.” She says. “I’m not about to toss you two off the island.” She winks and I finally let myself smile back, taking a deep breath. I haven’t quite pushed passed my anxiousness. Violet turns back to me and places a hand on my knee.
“We’re all going to mess up at some point.” She says. “I’m not about to toss you two off the island.” She winks and I finally let myself smile back, taking a deep breath.
We chat quietly as the evening fades and eventually Violet shares that she has to go back to the clinic for a vet appointment and to do stock.
“I trust I’ll find you BOTH here, sound asleep when I get home?” She asks. We nod.
“Ok. Then I won’t be terribly late but I’ll see you in the morning.”
Grounded. One week doesn’t seem too bad.
#10 18th Jun 2022 at 1:45 PM
PI (8) You Going to the Party?
“You know, other teenage siblings try and avoid each other. They stay in their OWN rooms even.” Harry glares at Harper who has once again made herself at home in his space.
“I need to talk to you. It’s not like I’d ever find you in the main house.” She snaps. He waits for her to continue. When she doesn’t, he sighs.
“I’m throwing a party.” She says, getting up off the bed. She’s looking him right in the eye which means she’s worried she shouldn’t be throwing a party. She’s faking confidence. Harry smiles. At least she’s faking confidence in a way that will be fun.
“Mom and dad are gone for the weekend. People are coming Friday.”
“You’ve already invited people?” He’s surprised. He’d assumed she was coming to him for...not permission really but validation that this was a decent plan. When she nods to say she has, he can tell she hasn’t yet.
“What about Hannah?” He asks. Their little sister would be home for the weekend too.
“She’ll be fine. Only people she knows would be here. And she goes to bed before people would even show up.”
“I’m in. But...I don’t want to take the fall if mom and dad find out.” He warns. She nods.
“I know. I’ll own this.”
They both know Harry will still be the one on the hook but he appreciates the thought.
“Hey, are you going to Harper’s party Friday?” Angela asks, plunking herself down in front of me in the library. She’s grinning from ear to ear.
“I’m not sure if you recall but I’m grounded. Until Saturday.” I give her a look and she pauses but she’s practically wiggling with excitement.
“Omg, just talk about the party. It’s fine.” I say. She looks ready to burst.
“I’m sorry, it’s just that going to party feels like...I don’t know. It’s just been awhile. Remember when I dressed up as you at Meadow’s party?” She laughs and I shake my head. No one had been fooled.
“Maybe you could ask Violet for a night off? I mean it’s the LAST night you’re grounded. Surely she’d let you off.”
“No way.” I don’t want to take advantage of Violet. She’s sweet. She probably WOULD let me off a night early. But I’d never ask. I deserved to miss a party. And it wasn’t a huge loss for me. Angela is looking at me but she’s clearly daydreaming about the party, not waiting for me to explain myself.
“I think Harper is like...my friend.” She states randomly after a moment. I look at her carefully for a moment. And she’s looking right back, waiting for my reaction. Back home, Angela struggled with friends. She’d had plenty of people she’d hang out with. Go to parties with. None that I would call a real friend. She always seemed to choose the wrong people. She’d never really admit that of course. This was as close as it would get.
“She seems nice.” I say, sharing my approval and she smiles.
“You guys going to Harper’s party Friday?” Anthony asks, appearing out of nowhere.
“Don’t be rude. Lil is still grounded.” Angela tells him. He looks embarrassed for a moment and I roll my eyes at my sister who grins.
“Are YOU going?” I ask. “I thought you were also grounded?”
“Yeah, my dad doesn’t really care. I was only really grounded for like… a day before he lost interest in trying to keep me in the house. Besides, he’ll be on nights.” He shrugs. “Maybe you can sneak out. Might be weird, Harrrrrrry will be there.”
Angela’s eyes go wide and she looks from Anthony to me. I hadn’t mentioned anything to her about Harry. There really wasn’t anything TO mention.
“What does THAT mean?”
Anthony laughs. Apparently these two are giddy with party brain. Angela turns back to me.
“It’s nothing. He’s just kidding.” I glare at him. Angela doesn’t buy it but we are interrupted by yet another person making themselves at home at our table, asking about the party.
“Did I hear you say there’s a party?” I turn towards the unfamiliar voice and I’m looking at the newcomer as he settles in comfortably beside me as if joining a group of old friends. His dark hair is styled perfectly and I imagine he spent way too many minutes in front of the mirror.
“Not your kind of party, Ken.” Anthony states flatly and when I look over I can see all of the giddy has disappeared. Anthony very clearly is not pleased with the new company. Angela gives a subtle cough and is ogling him from across the table.
“Oh, any kind of party is my kind of party, right, Kinz?” He says. It takes me a moment to realize that ‘Kinz’ is another guy standing at the side of the table. I hadn’t even noticed him. Ken and Anthony are just staring at each other. Anthony looks mad, Ken looks smug. I lean back and watch quietly.
“Well, I’d have to talk to Harper, but I’m sure you could get an invite. She said everyone is welcome.” Angela chirps, grinning madly at the two boys. I nudge her with my foot under the table. I don’t know what’s going on here, but there’s something.
“I didn’t realize we had another set of twins on PI.” Ken says, changing the subject. He’s looking at my sister like a wolf watching a rabbit and I’m suddenly on board with Anthony’s glare. Angela giggles and leans forward. I look closer and realize that the two boys ARE also twins. Kinz, still standing is a bit less coiffed but they are definitely twins.
“Been awhile since we partied with twins, huh, Kinz?” Ken says with a wink. Gross. He’s still staring at Angela and one look at Anthony’s face tells me I’m right to feel protective. The brother standing beside me chuckles but doesn’t say anything.
“Well, we were just finishing up here.” I state, getting up. Anthony follows my lead, grateful for the escape. It takes Angela a moment but she gets up as well.
“It was nice to meet you….” He waits for a name as he looks at me. I don’t respond.
“Angela, and that’s Lilith. Nice to meet you.” She’s all manners and giggles and I swear the brothers are practically salivating. She even lightly touches Kinz’ arm. I was going to need to talk to her about first impressions and reading the room.
We head into the hall and Angela dashes off to class before I can say anything.
“Who the hell was that?”
“The rich kids.” He states with a sigh. His face is still tight.
“What does that mean? The rich kids?I haven’t seen them before.” Our classes are small, there’s no way I’d missed them. That didn’t mean they weren’t at school but still.
“They come like half the time. They travel the rest of the time. Everyone is grateful for the time they’re away. They’re not good people.”
He takes a deep breath, as if to shake off his annoyance at the encounter.
“You sure you can’t come to the party?” He asks again trying to regain his energy from earlier.
“Very sure.” I still haven’t gotten much of an explanation of the guys in the library but I let it go for now.
Angela can’t wait to ask Harper about Ken and Kinz and the party. She’d had her eyes on Harry for awhile, but she’d heeded Harper’s warning and stayed back. And she was glad for it too since it seemed her sister also had an eye on him. Now she had TWO new boys to investigate.
When she mentions the names casually, Harper’s eyes snap up and she pauses.
“Damn, I was hoping they’d be gone longer this time.” Harper mumbles.
“They’re cute though, right? They were asking about your party.”
Harper snorts, “They won't’ come to my party. Trust me.” She says. “Those boys don’t stay on the island one second more than necessary and they certainly don’t socialize with the locals.”
“What do you mean? They don’t live here?”
Harper shakes her head. “They’re off the island. On the private island. I’m not even sure it has a name. They have to be registered for school, so they technically go here. But only sometimes.”
Angela thinks for a moment and remembers the seeing the island off in the distance. There were only two homes there. “Large” didn’t even come close to describing their size.
“Could I invite them though? Like...if they wanted to come?”
Harper laughs again. “Sure, you can invite them to the party but don’t hold your breath waiting for them to show up.”
#11 18th Jun 2022 at 2:17 PM
PI (9) This is a House?
I’m not terribly disappointed to miss the party but watching my sister as she gets ready has me feeling kinda bummed out.
“You still sending pics to Dustin?” I ask as she snaps selfie after selfie with her puckered lips and winky eyes. She turns to look at me, assessing if I’m teasing or not.
“He still texts me you know.” She defends with a mumbled ‘sometimes’ under her breath. I don’t know why she hasn’t given up. The guy was a toad to begin with.
“BUT, I fully intend to meet some NEW boys at the party tonight.” She flashes me a smile and I get a nervous feeling in my stomach.
“You know, Anthony says those guys are jerks.” I know full well she won’t listen but I feel obligated to try anyway.
“You said he told you that about Harry too.” She quips back at me. “And apparently you didn’t listen.”
I open my mouth to argue. She has no idea what she’s talking about but she’s also clearly not in the mood to LISTEN to me. I shrug back at her. “Just be careful.”
Violet goes over the list of rules with Angela before she heads out. Mostly it’s just don’t drink, be home by 1am, call if you need to. Angela nods and smiles. Violet glances upstairs, almost wishing the girls were going together but trying to stick with her set consequences.
“I’ll be fine.” Angela assures her with a smile.
Violet nods but still feels apprehensive. Angela gives her a quick squeeze and zips out the door before anyone can change their minds.
I lay in my room staring at the ceiling. I’m not in the mood for tv or reading but I’m antsy. I want to DO something. Most Friday nights I’ve spent hanging out with Anthony or Angela. I glance at my phone. I’d pestered my sister about Dustin but I’m guilty myself, having texted Dirk more than the few agreed upon times. I reach for my phone but put it back. Lately I’ve developed the fear that I’ll text him...and find out he’s seeing someone else. We’re not together. Eventually we’ll both move on. I just hadn’t yet.
“Ugh.” I grumble.
Sometime around midnight I wake up with a racing heart. The anxiousness from earlier significantly worse. I can feel it thrumming through my body. I look around the dark room. Angela isn’t home. It’s not past curfew yet, but something is off.
I glance at my phone. No messages. I shoot Angela a text and wait. No answer. I’m not sure what my problem is but after 10 minutes with no response, I become worried. I KNOW she’s likely just having fun. I KNOW she with her friends and not worried about her stupid grounded sister but I still feel unsettled. I pace around the room a bit before heading downstairs.
I don’t know what I expect to see but I go stand outside for a moment taking in a few deep breaths of fresh air. It doesn’t calm me down, it makes things worse. I check my phone again. Still nothing. My fingers are drumming my leg and I begin to feel frantic.
I walk back into the house and find myself staring at the empty easel that Ang had set up for me when we moved in. Logic says everything is fine. Angela is fine. My brain is screaming that it’s not fine. Something is wrong but I can’t wake Violet up just because I feel weird.
I grab a brush and mess around with the paint pallette. It’s been awhile but it will distract me until curfew when my sister will walk in the door and laugh at my foolishness. I don’t really pay attention and schlop the colours onto the canvas. It takes all of half an hour before I can’t even focus on this. Curfew is in a few minutes. No sign of Angela. I text her again, surely she’s on her way home and would be paying attention to her phone now.
Nothing. Damn it.
At exactly 1:01am, I wake up Violet. I’m embarrassed because it feels like I’m ratting out my sister for being late but Vi picks up on my anxiousness right away.
“Has this happened before?” She asks.
“Angela being late?” I ask to clarify. Angela was late half her life. Violet shakes her head.
“This feeling? Your worry. About your sister. Isn’t there like a … twin thing?” She looks a bit embarrassed herself at the suggestion but she’s right. Maybe that’s what this was. Once when we were 4, Angela had fallen off her bike and broken her arm. I’d been in my room reading but I’d instantly had a feeling of panic and remember running outside yelling. My dad had been quite surprised. It had happened other times too.
I look back at Violet and nod but my worry has worsened. I’d hoped she’d just reassure me that I was losing my mind. What if something really was wrong?
We’re dressed quickly and Violet drives over to the Ghasem family house where the party is taking place. She doesn’t comment when there are no vehicles in the driveway, despite being told that a parent would have been home. I give her a lot of credit for that. She glances at me as we park.
“You go in.” She says. “No need make a scene. Just grab your sister. I’ll be here.” She seems sure that it will be that easy and I feel a bit better now that we’re out of the house.
I walk up to the door and don’t bother knocking. The music is loud and I can see people from the window. The party is still full swing. I already feel better. Angela likely just lost track of time. I’m grateful Violet was reasonable and had waited outside.
I spot Anthony attached to some girl whose name I don’t know but recall it sounding like a subdivision. Sparkle Water or something absurd. I’d seen her around and had no idea he was into her. I look around for Angela and don’t see her but I hear music from upstairs as well.
“Hey! Lilith” Harper comes over to me. “You made it!” She’s smiling.
“A bit late but nice to see you. I figured you went with your sister.” She states. The knot in my stomach returns. I survey the room again. She’s not here. I already knew she wouldn’t be. I’d just hoped I was being ridiculous.
“I actually came to get her. She’s past curfew.” I explain. Harper makes a face.
“Well, she ditched me for her new friends. Apparently THEY were having a party tonight as well.” She rolls her eyes. “But you’re welcome to stay.”
She clearly hadn’t registered the part about curfew.
“I actually need to find her. Do you have an address or something of where she went?”
“An address?” She laughs. “She’s with those idiots from the island. It’s the bigger house.”
The island? How the hell did she get to an ISLAND? I’m starting to feel nauseous. I’m thanking Harper when Harry saunters over with a smirk on his face. I don’t have time for him. I glance over at Anthony who has unattached from his makeout buddy and I try to catch his attention with a wave. If I walk out of here without my sister, I need to be able to tell Violet WHERE to find her.
Anthony catches my eye and heads my way but when I turn back Harry has stepped closer and places a hand on my hip, pulling me closer. I’m startled and give him a shove back and his sister snorts with laughter. I don’t take the time to tell him off. I need to find my sister.
I give Anthony the quick version but he’s been drinking and he just keeps repeating what I’ve said only slower. And mostly he’s looking at Harry. After a moment I just walk away. My god drunk teenagers are irritating.
Violet is waiting when I come back out and when she doesn’t see Angela she looks as anxious as I feel but she swallows it quickly.
“Not here?” She asks.
“She’s with these rich kids, Ken and Kinz?” I tell her. “I don’t know. Harper says they live on an island?” I’m trying not to go into full blown panic mode. Violet nods as if she knows exactly who I’m talking about and for the first time, I’m grateful everyone here knows everyone else.
“She’ll be fine.” Violet says. “She just ended up somewhere else tonight. We’ll find her.” She assures me and pulls me in for a hug.
“Are you sure that’s where she ended up?” She asks. I’m not completely sure but I tell her that’s what a friend had said. Another nod and she pulls out her phone.
It’s the middle of the night and she starts the conversation with an apology. I have no idea who she’d be calling. Maybe she knows the twins’ parents.
I hang on to her every word but am not sure I follow what’s happening. I watch Violet in awe as she talks calmly into the phone, giving instructions? I’m not even sure. When she hangs up, she looks at me.
“We’ve got a lift but we have to get home first.” She says. A lift? To the island? Were we getting on a boat?
She drives home a lot faster than she’d driven to the Ghasem house and once we’re parked we stand out front for a few minutes. I’m too anxious to even ask what’s going on. When I hear the whirring of a helicopter, I look up to find that it’s not way off in the distance but lowering itself in front of our house.
Violet jogs towards it and waves me over.
“Thanks, Jay. I didn’t think my boating skills were up for a night ride.” She says getting in with a smile.
“Anything for you, Vi. Hop in.” The pilot says. I manage to pick my jaw up off the floor and climb in behind her. He takes off immediately and we’re landing again in less than 10 minutes.
“You need me to wait?” He asks as we’re hopping out. Violet nods and thanks him again as he shuts the copter off.
When we get out, I’m wondering how many people we’ve now woken up with the helicopter when I turn around and for the second time this evening, my jaw drops. THIS was where my sister was? This was a HOUSE? The entire structure doesn’t even fit into my peripheral vision.
Who were these people?
“Come on.” Violet says and she leads me to the front doors. At least one of us has confidence.
#12 19th Jun 2022 at 1:11 PM
PI (10) You Play Pool?
“I saw on Entertainment Weekly that they’ve started filming Master of Blood this week.”
His voice is smooth but he’s nervous and it makes her smile. She’d ignored his text earlier but couldn’t resist when he called. He knew to never call when Chase was home. And he was right; filming had started again this week. Chase had flown out a few days ago.
“I can come over. Take the boat across. Be there in less than an hour.” He offers after a few moments of quiet.
“My kids are home. Ken and Kinz have friends over” She states.
“You know what I mean.” He says quietly. And he does know. Her limits have been made clear.
“I know you can’t have me in the house.”
There’s a pause. It’s the same dilemma every time. Where do you meet when you can’t be seen ANYWHERE?
“Come here then.” Lux says after a moment.
“Lux, you live with your parents. I am NOT coming to your home.” She huffs and even though she can’t see him, he feels himself blush. He has always been confident in his decision to live with his parents. He helps with the farm. He plans to help them as they get older. But when SHE says it, he feels embarrassed.
“We’ll meet at the pub.”
“The WHAT?” He can’t tell if she didn’t hear him or if she’s never been to a pub before. He wouldn’t be surprised with either. He was sure the shoes she wore sometimes cost the same as the entire pub itself. He had a hard time picturing her with a beer in her hand, laughing in a booth.
“The pub. There’s a patio. No one will be there. I’ll make sure. You can walk down by my place, there’s a private beach path. Trust me.” he assures her.
She paces. Always anxious when giving in to his plans. DID she trust him? She could not be spotted. Her husband’s fame made her a target of potential paparazzi and any sort of scandal would throw both his and her reputations through the ringer. They were THE it couple. Power, money, fame. The wolves circled daily waiting for any sign of weakness.
Did she trust Lux with that?
She agrees to meet him. Lux smiles as if he’s won first prize at the carnival. His heart starts to beat faster and he turns to get ready.
Angela knew she was in over her head when they’d gotten on a yacht. She of course had wondered how she’d get home later but these were the cool kids. She’d figure that out later. What was she going to do? Say no? Ha! Not likely. Ken hadn’t been fazed at all as they’d hopped aboard and sailed across the short waterway over to the island off of Pepper Island. It’s not like they’d gone far.
Harper’s party was a fleeting thought once she’d been invited to Kens. Did she feel bad? Maybe a little but she couldn’t pass up an opportunity to meet some new people. Surely Harper would understand that? Angela was still new...finding her place.
Besides, Ken was cute.
She’d kept her cool when they’d strolled up to the house that looked like an entire 5 star resort. Harper had called them the rich kids. She wasn’t kidding. She’d felt him watching her as they’d headed in the front doors. Assessing her reaction. This whole evening was a test. She knew that. This wasn’t her first rodeo. The cool kids always had a test.
In Pleasantview she WAS the cool kids. She knew how to play this game.
Ken gives a casual “Hey, this is Angela” as they walk in and everyone pauses for a second to check her out. She smiles and pushes every ounce of confidence she has to the front line.
Scanning the room she is surprised by the small nature of this “party” but that just means they’re selective with their friends. She flashes a smile to the room as Ken steps away from her side and glides right up to one of the blond girls.
Angela recognizes her instantly. Fern Zelly. Fashion blogger and influencer and Angela is impressed. She’s been following Fern for years. Ken heads straight to her and traces a finger down her arm. Angela knows this game as well. Ken had been flirting with HER all evening. This is his chance to test her level of jealousy. If she wasn’t trying to impress, she’d roll her eyes. She can’t quite hear everything he’s saying but he then turns to Angela and gives an introduction.
He finishes with a nod towards Angela. Fern smiles and her eyes flash with amusement.
“Fern, right? I recognize you from your blog. I loved the post you did about waves for straight hair.” Angela tells her, walking a fine line between flattery and fangirl. She throws in a hair flip and has Fern smiling. “It has certainly given these locks a bit of life.”
“She’s cute. I like her.” Fern says to Ken who is watching carefully. Angela wonders if Fern is the worst they’ve got. If she is, this will be a breeze.
“You play pool?” Fern asks.
Angela shrugs. “I know how to play but haven’t in awhile.”
Fern turns to one of the girls who is already playing pool and holds out her hand. The girl passes her the cue, and wanders away to sit down. Angela doesn’t miss the quick flash of annoyance in the girls eyes, confirming her assessment that Fern is definitely the one in charge here. Perfect.
Angela had learned to play pool from her father. While he wasn’t useful for many things as a parent, she sends him a silent ‘thank you’. Losing this game wouldn’t cause her much damage but winning? Well that would give her plenty of insight to how this evening would play out. It would also let Fern know that while Angela was looking for an ‘in’. She wasn’t looking to be another little follower.
A glance to the pouty girl who’d handed off the cue and Angela reaches for her own from the table.
As Fern sets up, the chatter around the room gets quieter.
The game starts off well. Fern is good and Angela keeps up. Not winning...yet.
She’s glad for the opportunity to show off and show Ken that she’s not planning to cling to him for the evening. No one hides the fact that the game happening in the middle of the room is of high interest. Though Angela guesses, from the way the guys watch her, anything Fern does is of high interest with this crowd.
As the game continues, everyone eases back into their conversations and drinks but it’s clear they’re still watching the game. It doesn’t take long before Angela is winning. She knows better than to play it as “beginners luck”. Fern watches her every shot and when the game finally ends, Angela grins.
“Good game.” She says. Fern grins back and Angela knows she’s hit the mark. She’s is impressed, not annoyed.
They chat for awhile after the game and Angela starts to loosen up. This IS a party after all and she’d befriended the queen. It was time to enjoy herself.
When Ken brings her a drink she doesn’t think twice before taking a sip. Ok, she thinks a little bit about the “no drinking” rule from Violet but the second she’d stepped foot on a yacht, the rules had gone out the window. Besides, it’s not like she was planning to get brought home in a cop car after breaking and entering. Her sister had set the bar for behaviour and she didn’t think this quite matched it.
She makes the rounds and meets a few different people. All of whom seem much nicer than she’d expected for a rich kid party. She considers Anthony’s warning for her sister and wonders if he is only interested in Lilith himself.
“New girl seems nice but a bit dull” Evelyn Martin says to Ken, scanning the room. “Thought you said you were bringing twins.”
“The other one is grounded. Broke into the school.” He tells her, watching for her reaction. She smiles.
“Now THAT sister might be fun to hang out with.” Evelyn replies. Ken gets a glimmer in his eye. Pepper Island didn’t get new kids very often. And twins? Troublesome twins? It didn’t get much more exciting than that.
“You gonna go get your moms pills tonight, or you playin’ it safe after last time?” She asks with a sigh. She really hoped he wasn’t trying to put on a show for the new girl. Evelyn didn’t get to party with her friends much and always had a better time when they mellowed out on whatever Ken could find in his mom’s office.
“Rough week?” He asks. She shakes her head and rolls her eyes at him. She doesn’t need to explain herself to anyone. Not anyone here anyway. She’d hung out with this crowd for years but she wasn’t sure she really considered them to be friends. More like acquaintances of convenience. Her mom LOVED that she partied with the son of Chase Harrington. She bragged about to all of her friends.
The night continues to go well and Angela spends time with a few others. She starts to wonder if Ken will make his way back over to her. Maybe he was more involved with Fern than she thought. She was trying to be independent but had assumed she’d get SOME of his attention.
When he finally makes his way over to her and joins the conversation, she grins. She doesn’t miss his fingers lightly touching her arm.
“Hey, do you have a charger I could borrow for my phone?” She asks. “It seems to have died.”
Ken takes it and looks, then nods.
“Yeah, I had to head down to my moms office anyway. We can grab the charger too.” He says.
“You’re going to drag her away with you? Lookin’ for some alooooone time.” Leo teases, getting up and stumbling a bit.
“Yeah, I think after talking to you for 5 minutes, I’m not dragging her away. It’s a rescue mission.” Ken jabs. The boys jokingly push each other and Leo sits back down.
“I do have to head upstairs though, you coming?” Ken asks, tracing his fingers down Angela’s arm lightly. She gets a shiver and smiles but notes it’s the same move he’d used on Fern earlier. She doesn’t care too much. She hadn’t hopped on a yacht to NOT end up sneaking off with a boy at this party.
“Yeah, you can give me a bit of a tour.” She tells him. He nods and turns. She catches him wink at his friends and she wonders how many girls he actually brings to parties.
As promised on the way down to his mom’s office, he gives a brief tour and while Angela tries to stay cool, she can’t hide her amazement at the size and wealth of the house. She gets the feeling Ken enjoys showing it off so she acts suitably impressed. She’s not even sure if his parents or family are home. You could live here for days and never run into anyone else.
When they get to the office, Ken pulls a key out of his back pocket to open the door and Angela starts to feel nervous. Are they not supposed to be down here? What did he need from a locked room? Or maybe it was just a precaution because they had friends over?
Ken heads straight over to a mini fridge and enters a code. Two locks? She feels a flash of disappointment as she realizes he really DID need to come down here to grab something. She’d hoped it had been an excuse to get her alone. Had she misread his wink to Leo? She hoped not.
He roots through the shelves for a moment and finally pulls out a small package and shoves it into his back pocket. When he turns around she’s watching curiously.
“Just some chill pills.” he says casually. She notices his cheeks turning red.
“Fern and them are into it. Not hard stuff or anything. Samples from my moms work.” He keeps explaining as if she’d grilled him with questions. She hasn’t said a word. “I think they’re for anxiety or whatever.”
She’s not sure what to say but definitely finds it interesting that he’s not nearly as cocky now as he was earlier.
He walks back over to her and carefully places a hand on her hip. THIS was what she’d been waiting for. She had played the night just right.
“I’m glad you came tonight.” He says quietly. “I wasn’t sure if you would or not. Harper and I...don’t get along and I figured she’d convince you not to.”
“She tried.” Angela smiles. He pulls her a bit closer, his other hand finding a place on her lower back. Fingers touching her skin. He’s paused. Hesitating? Angela can’t tell what he’s waiting for. Is he nervous? She doubted it.
Finally she loses patience and tugs him closer, lips meeting his. Letting him know that this had been HER plan as well. She wasn’t leaving the crowd with him for the house tour. All hesitation is lost his fingers move up and grip her hair, holding her close. Another hand slides down her back and for a few minutes the rest of the night disappears.
When they pull back, Ken chuckles and holds her hand. “I wasn’t expecting that.” He says. He’s met with a look.
“Really?” She raises an eyebrow.
“I was HOPING, but…” His voice trails off. She couldn’t figure him out. He’d seemed all confidence earlier. Both at school and at the party. Now he seemed almost unsure of himself. To be honest, she was surprised he’d kept his hands from wandering too far. She’d expected more.
When she spies the lake in the through the window she wanders over to look.
“Breathtaking.” Angela whispers.She can see Pepper Island not too far in the distance, a blur on the horizon and a small flicker of worry passes through her. It’s not quite curfew yet but it was clear she wouldn’t be home on time. Thinking of curfew reminds her that her phone is dead and she mentions it to Ken.
He turns back to his mom’s desk and digs around for a bit pulling out a phone charger.
“We should probably get back upstairs…” Angela says quietly, unconvinced still mesmerized by the water and the gardens below. Ken’s fingers brush her own and she reaches her arm back, not quite turning but feeling him standing close behind her.
“No rush.” He says. She turns and he’s grinning at her. Confidence fully returned.
#13 19th Jun 2022 at 1:26 PM
PI (11) Must've Been Some Party
When they get back to the party, Ken is greeted with sly looks and and a few whistles. He acts embarrassed but Angela can tell instantly this had been his goal. When he gets a fist bump from one of the guys, Angela sees that they’ve made some big assumptions about their time downstairs. She’s feeling a bit flushed but if she was being perfectly honest, it had been a pretty PG makeout session. Definitely not worth winks and first bumps.
She watches Ken carefully and he avoids eye contact with her.
“Please don’t tell me you forgot to nab your mom’s stuff.” Fern asks. She glances at Angela and her friendliness seems to have faded. She seems...tired. Irritated. Ken shakes his head and pulls the the little package out of his pocket. He hands the entire pack to Fern.
Fern opens the package and takes one of the pills almost instantly and then holds one out for Ken. He glances at Angela, and then back to Fern, reaching out and taking it. He swallows it quickly. Fern holds one out for Angela and she shakes her head.
“Nah, not really my thing.” She says as casually as she can manage. Fern laughs.
“Cute. You practice that line in health class?” Fern smirks. All judgement now.
“They’re handed out like candy by doctors. Just relaxes you a bit.” Ken adds.
“I didn’t think I needed to relax.” Angela says back. This is, of course, another test. And she can’t tell how to pass. If she says no, they may not want her around, worried she’ll nark. If she says yes NOW, it’ll look like she caves to peer pressure.
She’s not sure which is worse.
Angela manages to swiftly change the subject and while Fern engages, Angela can tell she hasn’t hit the mark. A glance to Ken who has become a bit distracted and she realizes if she doesn’t partake in their little extra curricular activity, she wouldn’t be invited back. Damn it.
She thinks quickly and then lets Fern know she’s changed her mind.
“Maybe I will try one of those pills. Can never be too relaxed, right?” She instantly sees a change in Fern and knows that this was the right move all along. She takes one and pops it in her mouth. As Fern jokes, Angela sticks the pill to the roof of mouth.
“Can you point me to a washroom?” She asks Ken, coyly grabbing his hand. He’s already getting spacey and when he gestures to the washroom, he’s quite vague. She thanks him and isn’t sure she hides her eye roll this time.
She heads quickly across the room and reaches to open the door to the washroom.
She’s barely inside as she uses her finger to pull what’s left of the pill out of her mouth. Most of it’s still there, but some has dissolved.
“Can I help you?”
Angela hadn’t realized she had walked into a bedroom. Not a washroom. She does a double take and sure enough there’s a little girl sitting on the ground in front of her. Glaring at her.
“Oh, sorry. I thought…” She glances behind her. There isn’t another room. She was sure this was the direction Ken had meant.
“You’re new.” The little girl says, getting up and giving her a once over that made Angela glance down to make sure she hadn’t spilled anything.
“I see you’re not into the drugs.” She nods towards Angela’s hand, now holding mostly white mush. She quickly hides her hand behind her back. Had the kid been home the whole time? Was there an adult home?
“If you’re gonna lie about it, those,” She gestures to the mush in Angela’s hand. “Are the easiest. Spacey and tired will do the trick.”
Angela is still struggling to find words. She finally manages “Are your parents home?”
The little girl just laughs.
“Mom is. Somewhere? I think.” She says. “Dad left earlier this week.”
“You don’t know who my dad is?” She asks. “You ARE new.”
Angela doesn’t ask more. She’s still a bit frazzled at having found a child one door away from a bunch of drunk teens.
“You can use my washroom.” She points across the room and Angela nods and thanks her.
She washes her hands profusely to get the residue of the pills off her hands and gulps down some water in hopes of diluting whatever she’d ingested. The view from this room is similar to that in the office downstairs and she glances out across the water again. It was becoming clear that while most of the night had worked itself out just fine, it was time to start making a plan to get out of here.
Angela heads back to the party after the little girl assures her that she is fine. A grownup is home. She’s exasperated by Angela’s concern but convinces her and sends her out.
The vibe in the room has shifted. Fern is now making herself cozy with someone on the couch and the guys are playing poker in the corner.
“You ok?” Evelyn comes up and asks her. Angela nods and thinks about the advice from the kid.
“Yeah, just a bit...spacey.” She smiles and Evelyn grins back.
“You get used to it.” She says, reaching over and touching Angela’s arm. Flirting? Angela can’t quite tell.
“Your girl is hot.” Leo says to Ken, glancing behind them. “You said she has a sister?”
Ken smirks. “TWIN sister.” He says as if he’s hit the jackpot.
“Damn. You bringing HER to the next party?”
“Not for you.” Ken says. Leo snorts, shakes his head and moves his chips.
“Hey,” Angela carefully interrupts the poker game.
“I think I gotta get going.” She says. Ken doesn’t look surprised. Or upset.
“Ok.” He says, he turns to sit back down. Now onto his third personality of the night - complete indifference to her. This one being her least favourite.
“It’s just…” She pauses. “I don’t know how to get back?”
He shrugs as if this isn’t his problem.
“Ivan doesn’t drive the boat this late, you’ll have to get a lift another way.” He says it so casually and she’s trying to stay calm. Another way? WHAT other way was there. She’d spent the night acting like she fit in she felt it slip away as she admitted to him that she didn’t KNOW how to get home.
“I just figured you’d crash here. Like everyone else”
“Maybe she’s had enough of you.” Leo Calls over, clearly listening in. Angela feels flustered and glances over. Again, Ken shrugs, acting as if none of this is a big deal and making it clear it wasn’t HIS problem.
Ken turns back to the table and sits down, leaving Angela standing there. Well this wasn’t going well.
She wanders across the room and spotz Kinzie sitting alone. She IS starting to feel a bit off. She wonders if more of the pill had dissolved than she’d thought. Kinzie is watching her as she walks to the window. He’d seemed like the nicer twin in the library the other day. Maybe he’d help her out.
“You ok?” He asks.
“Yeah...just, trying to figure out how to get home.” She says, forcing her voice to sound casual but she’s beginning to panic. Her phone has been plugged in for awhile, she can send Lilith a text but that didn’t get her out of this. Not by a mile.
“You can just crash upstairs. There are a few rooms.” Kinzie suggests.
“No, I really should get home.” She tells him.
“Back to the island?” He half laughs. “Not unless you can charter your own flight. Our staff doesn’t take us out at night. Parents orders. He rolls his eyes at the inconvenience.
“F*ck.” Angela replies. This time he lets out a big laugh.
“You could always swim.” He says, still laughing. It’s a lazy laugh, like he’s not even really listening.
For the first time that night, Angela realizes she’s messed up. She looks around and everyone is indeed acting just as Ken’s little sister had described. Spacey and sleepy and they have certainly lost all interest in her.
She crosses the room to where they’d plugged in her phone to find that it’s sitting beside the charger. Unplugged. She hadn’t plugged it in.
She starts to feel suffocated. She takes slow breaths and counts to ten. A therapy trick, learned while her parents went through their divorce. Getting up, she takes one last look around before trying to remember how to get outside.
She manages to get herself out and walks down to the beach front of the lot. She can see the other side. Swim across? Was she THAT crazy? Sleep on the beach? Find a room in the house? What were her actual options here? She could wait awhile longer. Go back in and phone Lilith. She glances down. She’s holding her phone. It’s still not even charging. Besides, what use would it be to call Lilith anyway? It’s not like her sister could drive a boat. Or even find a boat.
Her head feels cloudy and she’s grateful she didn’t swallow the entire pill. This fogginess was enough to make her uncomfortable. She plunked herself down in the sand and wiggled her toes in it while watching the waves. In the distance she can hear what sounds like a helicopter and she wonders if there’s some sort of medical emergency. She recalls someone telling her that while there wasn’t a hospital on the island, people could easily be flown out if necessary. She closes her eyes and tunes out the loud, obnoxious sound.
“Must’ve been some party.” A voice from behind. Angela glances up to see Lilith standing there, a look on her face that Angela doesn’t recognize.
“You ok? What the hell are you doing out here?” Lilith asks. Angela opens her mouth to answer but it all seems quite foggy.
“Seriously, Ang. What happened? Are you ok?”
Angela manages a soft nod and then falls into her sisters arms. That’s when she notices Violet standing behind them.
“You ratted on me?” Angela demands. “Are you serious?”
Lilith pulls back, concerned. “Ang...we just found you spaced out on a beach. On an island. Alone. This isn’t ratting on you. It’s making sure you’re not dead.” Lilith looks closely at her sister. Her eyes are glassy. She doesn’t smell like alcohol. Lilith glances back at the big house. Few lights are on.
Violet interrupts before the girls can argue.
“I’m glad you’re ok. Let’s deal with all of this when we get home, ok?” Her voice calm and soothing. Angela agrees, wanting nothing more than to just get home. Violet looks to Lilith who nods.
“I think she needs water or something.” Lilith says quietly. A hint that something’s not quite right. Violet nods.
Angela says nothing as she’s boosted into the helicopter by Violet. Another sign that something is off. It’s not every day you just hop into a helicopter at the end of the night. Lilith climbs in after them, grateful they’d found her sister without much trouble.
“This is quite the place.” Rina had said, meeting Lux down by the water. “Surprised that it’s empty on a Friday night.”
Lux shrugs. “You said you wanted privacy.” He moves closer. She’s dressed casual. For a pub and he takes in the sight of it. Having only ever seen her in business or formal attire, he grins. It’s a look he could get used to.
“You didn’t have to do that.” She says, knowing it wouldn’t have been cheap to buy the pub out on a Friday night. He shrugs it off as if it was nothing. She knows it isn’t nothing.
“I wanted to make sure you’d be comfortable.” He tells her. He leans in close and his lips tickle her ear.
“Besides, just look at this place.” He says, mesmerized by the beach. Her gaze follows his and she takes a deep breath. Releasing the week’s stresses, worries about her kids, and the loneliness of a husband gone to work. The air is fresh, the sound of the waves is hypnotizing. She runs her hands down Lux’s arms and slips them around his waist. If she’d been hesitant before, she wasn’t now. Pulling him close, losing herself to the moment on the beach.
#14 19th Jun 2022 at 1:43 PM
PI (12) Are You Asking Me on a Date?
“Violet?” Rina asks after ringing the bell.
“Rina! Hi! I’m glad you came, come on in.” Violet greets her with a warm smile and waves her in. Rina sighs with relief. Violet hadn’t sounded angry on the phone but she’d still worried that she was headed to the house of an angry mother. A validly angry mother. She lets out a sigh of slight relief and follows the woman inside.
“Thank you for coming.” Violet says as they sit down. “I know you’re a busy woman and I don’t mean to be a pest I just thought...well I wanted to tell you about something that happened at your son’s’ party the other weekend. I probably should have called sooner but to be honest, I’m new at this.” She isn’t quite meeting Rina’s eyes, unsure of what the reaction will be.
She continues on to share about how the kids had found some pills, most had taken them. She shared about how Angela had been unsure of how to get home, and she shared her worries if they hadn’t come and found Angela at the beach.
“I know this isn’t the sole responsibility of your sons. Angela has been grounded since. But I thought you should know.” She finishes.
Rina lets out a long sigh and closes her eyes. “Thank you for letting me know.” She says after a few moments. She looks like she’s about to get up to leave but then takes a look at Violet who truly seems concerned, not angry.
“This isn’t the first time.” She confesses. There’s a long pause as the two women stare at each other.
“How do you do it?” Rina asks finally.
“Work, be a good parent of twins, and on your own nonetheless. I have my husband to help but honestly we struggle with the boys. They are ALWAYS into something. We spend tons of time as a family, though we probably spend more time apart than most. We eat family dinners, we give them chores, we travel and value education and yet…”
“I’ve only been at this for a few months and to be honest, I was hoping maybe you’d have some tips.” Violet half smiles and Rina laughs.
“You want parenting tips from the mother whose kids gave yours drugs?” She takes a light tone but it’s filled with empathy.
“Well in a few short months I’ve had one dropped off by police for breaking and entering, principal phone calls about skipped classes, and one try drugs at a party on an island she has no transportation home from soo...I’ll take whatever tips you’ve got.”
Rina laughs again.
The women chat a while longer and as Rina eventually gets up to leave she pauses and gives Violet a genuine smile.
“This was really nice.” She says quietly. “Chatting with another mom, woman, parent of teens.”
Violet smiles and nods.
“Can we have coffee again sometime? Maybe just for fun? Not because our children are on a crime spree together?” Rina lightly touches her shoulder and Violet nods again.
“That sounds lovely.”
After she’s gone, Violet sits out front mulling over the things Rina had said. It definitely felt like breaking in and drugs were not typical teenager things. But she had never been a typical teenager, so maybe they were? She certainly hoped things would settle with the girls for at least a few weeks. She had been hoping to find help for the vet clinic and would need extra time to look at resumes and do interviews. She couldn’t have her eye on the girls ALL of the time.
“Every time I come by here, you’re looking pretty miserable.” She looks up to see Dave strolling up with a smile. “You need a vacation.”
She rolls her eyes. He knew very well she’d never taken a vacation in her life. They hear a rumble of thunder and it starts to drizzle rain.
Dave jogs up to get under the porch and swings in to give Violet a hug. “You wanna talk about it?” He asks. She shakes her head no.
“But, since you keep showing up...any chance you could take a look at the girls’ computer? It seems to be busted and they need it for school.” He shakes his head with a smile and agrees.
“Two visits in just a few weeks.” She states. “You up to something?” Violet asks as he putters away at the computer.
“Nah, just checking on you. Not sure how long you’ll last with two teenagers in the house before you need some help.” He says with a grin.
“Yeah, you know, a second parent. Someone to run interference.”
“I don’t think I’ll need your help” She says. Though the idea of having someone else to help with decisions and consequences did sound appealing.
“You just asked me in to fix your computer and you’re gonna tell me you don’t need help? Maybe you really DO need a vacation” He dangles the screwdriver up and his eyes twinkle. She feels her heart flutter and she shakes her head again.
“There.” He states, pushing the button to turn it on and test it. As she watches it turn on an idea pops into Violet’s head.
“I can’t swing a vacation but I do have an idea for some fun.” She finds herself saying before thinking it over too much and giving herself a chance to change her mind. He raises an eyebrow at her.
“I was invited to a party this weekend. And I was told I could bring a date.” She explains.
“You’re asking me on a date?”
“I’m inviting you to a party. At the Harrington house.” She adds for interest.
“Well now I’m intrigued. How’d you swing that?”
She explains her earlier visit with Rina Harrington and he smiles. “Well. Then, yes. I will go on a date with you Violet Swan.” He gets up from the computer and is looking at her.
“You know what the worst part of a date is though?” He asks, moving closer. She shakes her head, unsure of where this is headed.
“Waiting and wondering if you’ll get a kiss.”
Violet feels her cheeks heat up and she’s sure it’s noticeable.
“Well, it’s not our FIRST date, so I doubt you’ll spend much time worrying about that.” She says.
“But I would. I’d hate to ruin our date by worrying all evening.” He’s moved closer and his hand reaches up, thumb touching her lip.
“Maybe we could just get that part over with now...you know, for the sake of saving the evening.” He says. He’s watching her, waiting for a reaction, knowing that after all these years she’s just as likely to shove him out of the house as she is to kiss him. When she leans forward, her arms go around his neck and he’s surprised at the intensity of her lips pressing to his.
“OMG, Angela, just do your stupid book report and…Oh.” Lilith freezes as she opens the door and spots Violet and Dave. She tries to duck out, but Angela is right behind her and shoves her forward.
“Oh.” Angela states. Dave and Violet quickly pull apart and the four of them stare at each other awkwardly.
“Dave was just finishing up with your computer.” Violet explains quickly, scrambling for something, ANYTHING to say. Angela raises her eyebrows.
“That what you kids are calling it these days?” Angela smirks. Lilith swats her in the arm and Dave laughs.
“Sorry, we were just dropping off our homework, we can head out again.” Lilith says, looking at Violet.
“No, no, you girls can stay up here. Dave really was just heading out.”
“He could stay for dinner.” Angela states. Another swat from Lilith, who was wondering why her sister couldn't just mind her own business. Violet and Dave don’t commit to anything and head downstairs.
“Do you think they’re like together together?” Angela asks after they’ve settled in to their daily routine of homework before dinner. Lilith shrugs.
“Only seen him twice. I doubt it.”
“So he’s what? A booty call?”
“Omg, Angela gross. Mind your own business.” Lilith rolls her eyes but wonders the same thing. He seemed like a nice enough guy.
When Dave does stay for dinner, the girls give each other a look from across the table. Maybe there was something more than a hookup going on here. Lilith hoped so. She’d wondered if Violet had been seeing anyone before they arrived. Worrying that they’d squashed any other relationships she’d had.
“I think it’s time you start thinking about getting a job.” Raul Davis tells his son, Anthony. They don’t often eat meals together but Anthony had cooked a lovely meal and Raul happened to be on the day shift this week.
“Dad, seriously? With school, and chores and painting, when would I have the time?” It comes out defensively and he can see a look of annoyance flash through his dad’s eyes. Half the food they eat, Anthony catches and grows. He keeps good grades and he paints. There is no extra time.
“Maybe less time painting will free up your time.”
“Do we need the money or something?” Anthony snaps. He knows they don’t. They’d gotten decent insurance when his mom passed away. And they’d spent none of it since.
“Just think you need to start having more responsibilities. That’s all.” Raul states again, getting up and leaving the dinner table. It would have been too much to think they’d actually enjoy a full meal without arguing, Anthony thinks.
He could of course explain to his dad that he’d been commissioned 3 times now for art. He’d been paid a decent amount of money. His art WAS his job. But he was sure his father wouldn’t get it. Art couldn’t be a job. A job meant hourly wages, hating your work, and coming back home again. He was sure his dad loved being a cop before his mom had died. But now...well now he just hated everything.
The next morning before heading off to school, his dad mentions printing off resumes again. Anthony only argues for a few minutes before finally agreeing that he’ll make some up and print them off. He has no intention of doing so, and he’s sure his dad will forget all about it in no time.
“Oh heeeeey Angela.” Angela turns, surprised to see Ken standing right behind her. A smirk on his face that does not look friendly. It had been nearly a week since the party, and none of them had so much as acknowledged her presence with a nod. She’d gotten a few looks from Fern that she’d hoped would lead to a hangout or SOMETHING but so far...nothing. She’s not even sure what she’d done to annoy them.
“Just wanted to say thanks for waiting until the day before I get out of this nightmare of a school to nark on our party. I really appreciate it.”
“I have no idea what you’re talking about.” Angela tells him. He rolls his eyes. She briefly remembered telling Lilith about the pills but she was sure Violet hadn’t known. How had she ratted them out? She was sure she’d kept quiet. Had Lilith narked? Angela glances over at her and she’s just watching quietly.
“Oh come on, Ken. She was probably just doing the right thing. Sweet, innocent little Angela. Worried about her new friends.” Fern chirps. Angela feels her cheeks flush, already missing the radio silence she’d enjoyed all week. Other kids in the class are watching but no one joins in. Lilith watches closely, not sure if she should jump to her sister’s rescue.
“The only thing I did at your party was leave. It was getting lame and I went home. Thanks for the invite though.” Angela states, getting frustrated at their accusations. Fern smiles at her.
“What are you twirps still doing here?” Harper Ghasem walks right up to Ken and flicks him in the nose. “Thought you were off to Twikki today. I was looking forward to another extended absence.”
“We WERE. Until SOMEONE narked on our party and now we’re staying here. Indefinitely.” He glares at Angela, and she feels Fern’s eyes on her as well. Indefinitely? They weren’t leaving again? The twins AND Fern? Angela had hoped they’d be off and away soon.
“Oh nooo, now you’re stuck with us lowly normal people. Yikes. Whatever will you do now?” Sarcasm dripping from her voice. “And now we all get to suffer your drug withdrawal crankies. Ugh.”
Ken and Fern are now glaring at Harper who turns to look at Angela. Angela mouths a quiet “thank you” but receives nothing but a glare back.
“Sorry your new friends didn’t work out.” She states, staring down Angela for a solid minute before turning and plunking herself down at desk behind them.
#15 25th Jun 2022 at 11:53 AM
PI (13) THIS is a big fish
“I’ll be back later!” I call out as I dash down the stairs, pushing past my sister.
“I’m right heeeeere!” Angela snips, imitating my loud yell.
“I wasn’t talking to youuuuuu. I was telling Violet.”
“Is she even home?” Angela asks, glancing back down the stairs. I shrug. Doesn’t matter.
“See ya!” I call. Anthony has promised me a delicious breakfast if I went with him on an errand, and I didn’t want to be late.
When we pull up to a house I’m confused. Anthony had a huge portfolio bag with him in the car and he’s rung the bell. He won’t tell me what we’re doing here but at least we’re not breaking into a school. And we don’t appear to be breaking into the house.
When a woman comes to the door, she greets Anthony with a smile. He makes quick introductions. Her name is Beth Wilson. She looks me up and down.
“Well, well, well. You’re one of the Pleasant girls, eh?” She says and I’m instantly nervous. What was this? After a moment she breaks into a warm grin and looks over at Anthony again.
“I can see why you’re enthralled with her.” she tells him and he blushes.
“Anthony tells me that you paint as well.” She says, and then asks me some questions. I don’t mention that I’ve barely touched a canvas in awhile. I HAVE been dabbling a bit. After some more chatting she invites us in. I still haven’t quite figured out what this errand is. As we head in, Anthony dashes back to the car to grab his portfolio bag before joining us inside.
I’m offered a seat and expect the other two to join me but they both get to work quickly. Anthony starts setting some paintings up on the wall, and Beth starts puttering in the kitchen. I sit quietly and try not to feel awkward. I glance over at Anthony and after a few minutes, he’s hung 5 giant paintings.
“Whoa...did you do these?” I ask. He nods and I can see that he’s blushing again.
“I usually do landscape stuff but Beth asked if I’d do some for her and this is what I ended up with. Not my usual style.” He explains. “I hope she likes them.” He adds quietly, obviously nervous about sharing his work.
Beth pauses with some eggs in her hands and stares at the paintings. I can see Anthony shifting uncomfortably. When she breaks into a wide smile, he sighs with relief. We watch as Beth walks over and looks at them.
“Those are my girls.” She smiles, pointing to the cows.
“I know the stuff I’d showed you was flowers and stuff, but this...seemed more like you.” Anthony explains. Beth looks at each one carefully and smiles.
“They’re perfect.” She tells him, pulling him in for a hug. I watch them, fascinated by the exchange. I had never painted for someone else before. The idea seemed...strange. But watching this...it seemed so genuine. I glanced at the paintings again. Each with a unique style but each one so synced up with the others.
It’s not too long before Beth’s husband Gerald and her son Stephen join us for breakfast. They are equally as thrilled with the paintings and the meal has a feeling that reminds me of sitting with my own family as a kid. I can see why Anthony likes it here.
“That was really nice. Thanks for taking me with you.” I say to Anthony when we get outside. “Your paintings are incredible.”
“Thanks.” He replies, shooting me a smile. “I was really nervous she wouldn’t like them.”
“I think you nailed it. She was so happy!” I reach over and squeeze his arm.
“AND the day is not over.” He smiles.
“You have more planned?” I ask. He’d only mentioned the errand and a meal.
“I do!” But you’ll want to go home and change first. Last time we did this, you ended up face planting in the mud.”
“Noooo, not fishing.” I groan but I’m smiling.
“YES fishing. AND this time we’ll make sure you catch more than a boot.”
Violet stares at herself in the mirror. Had she really asked Dave on a date? Had he really kissed her? What was she going to wear? The Harrington house? What was she going to WEAR? A glance at the clock, it was only mid day but Dave was coming to pick her up around 6pm. She’d assumed she’d just wear a dress from her closet but she’d tried them all on. It was no use. WHAT WAS SHE GOING TO WEAR?
This was a total mistake, she thinks.
Another glance at the closet as she makes her bed and fusses with the pillows. She could try her stuff on again but she knew it was no use. Did she even have time to go into town? There was the one boutique but she’d have to leave right away if she wanted to be back on time. Assuming she managed to catch the ferry.
She SHOULD be dashing out the door but Violet sits at the table staring at her salad. Why was she so nervous? She hears one of the girls coming into the house and hopes it’s Lilith. The last thing she needs is another head to head with Angela. She’d come home from the school the other day reeling about being “tattled” on, and Violet still hadn’t quite recovered.
She looks behind her. It’s Angela. Violet feels herself force a smile, hoping they’ve moved past the yelling. Angela let’s out what can only be described as a huff and then spins and turns around.
Violet takes a deep breath. She had refused to apologize for calling Rina Harrington but she COULD try and repair this...by asking for help.
“I need a dress.” She says quietly. She’s mortified. Asking a teen girl to help her shop for a date. But maybe it was what they needed. Angela freezes in the hallway.
“You want to borrow a dress?” She asks, turning around, sarcasm dripping from her voice. Violet takes another deep breath and doesn’t dare look over.
“For the masquerade ball. I don’t have a dress. I don’t own anything formal enough. I could use…” She pauses. “Help.”
Angela has waltzed back into the kitchen and Violet is sure that she stares her down for a solid minute. Maybe contemplating if this is worth breaking her vow of rage. Violet offers a hint of a smile.
“Isn’t the masquerade tonight?” Angela finally speaks. Violet nods.
“Is there even a store here?”
Violet shakes her head and Angela’s eyes go wide.
“We’d have to take the Ferry into Willow Harbour. There’s a boutique there. We’d have to leave now.”
Angela nods. “Ok, let’s go.”
And just like that, all was forgiven.
The ferry ride was proof that there were no longer any hard feelings. Angela chattered Violet’s ear off the entire time. They enjoyed the view and Violet was relieved that she was no longer public enemy number 1.
“Formal?” Angela asks, in serious shopping mode. Violet nods.
“Ok. You pick some things, I’ll pick some things and we’ll go from there.” All business. Violet nods and Angela gives her a look, sending her scrambling to find some choices.
Angela watches her carefully as she holds up different outfits and makes faces. Assessing what Violet likes and dislikes by watching her. She’d never seen Violet in anything formal, or even overly stylish but she’d only really seen Violet in work mode or pajamas. They finally land on a few different things and head towards one of the change rooms.
“Your outfit first.” Angela insists.
Violet struts out confidently in a bright dress. Angela’s mouth drops open.
“Is that a collar?” Angela asks, gaping. “On a formal dress?”
They stare at each other for a moment.
Violet looks at Angela, waiting for some feedback.
“I’m not speaking to you until you take that off.”
“I thought it was cute.” Violet replies, heading back in.
She comes out again and looks at herself in the mirror.
“Better. But it’s not it.” Angela says.
“Really? I like this one.”
“You liked the last one. Here. Try this.” Angela hands her a white dress with a nod of encouragement.
“Now THAT is gorgeous.” Angela gets up and smiles. She can tell Violet is uncomfortable but she has a plan. And so far it’s working.
“I can’t wear this. It’s...uncomfortable.” Violet crosses her arms over, feeling bare in something sleeveless and short.
Angela nods and hands her the next dress, knowing it’s the perfect one.
When Violet steps out, Angela breaks into a huge smile.
Violet turns over towards the mirror and looks at herself. Fingers tracing the delicate embroidery. She swooshes the skirt and smiles.
“It’s perfect.” Violet reaches over and pulls Angela in for a hug. “Thank you.”
Anthony gives me a few pointers before we start and I’m determined to get this right. He catches fish almost daily. Surely I can catch ONE. He shows me the different baits and explains the benefits of each one. And then we cast out our lines and wait.
And wait. And wait.
“It’s kind of weird that the first time I met you, we spent like half a day sitting in silence.” I say, smiling over at him. He shrugs.
“It’s kind of weird that you followed me around and let me teach you how to fish. I like weird.”
“I didn’t FOLLOW you around. You were...interesting.” I tell him. He snorts a laugh and holds a finger to his lips.
“Shhh...you’re scaring my fish.”
I feel a tug on the line but he doesn’t notice right away. I start reeling something in. It feels like it’s pulling and when I get it up out of the water…
It’s a FISH!
Anthony laughs as he helps me unhook it.
“HA!” I declare, feeling as if I could take on the world. “I caught one!” I can feel my face beaming. This was a strange thing to take pride in, but after my first misadventure with fishing, I was feeling pretty impressed with myself.
Anthony congratulates me and then tells me to toss it back.
“WHAT?! You keep all of YOUR fish!” I state. Why couldn’t we keep this one?
“It’s too small. We can only keep the bigger ones.” He explains. I pout as I toss the fish back into the water. It’s possible that I stomp my feet a little too.
“Now THIS is a fish.” Anthony bellows as he reels in his own fish that looks suspiciously like the fish I’d just thrown back.
“It’s the SAME SIZE!” I argue.
“OMG - it’s the SAME fish.” I narrow my eyes at him. He just shrugs at me and puts it in the bucket. I turn my glare towards the water. I WILL catch another one. These stupid fish were about to to get caught.
When I feel a tug on the line again, I feel my heart beat race a bit. Another one so quickly? It tugs back and I know it’s not another boot. And it feels bigger. I spin the reel harder and harder and yank the line out of the water.
“HAAAA” I cry out. “THIS is a BIG fish!”
Anthony laughs and pulls in his own real to help me once again.
“I’m keeping this one.” I tell him and he shakes his head.
“And what are you going to do with it?”
“Who cares? It’s so much bigger than the one you caught!” I laugh.
“I mean LOOK AT IT!” I waggle it around and he laughs again, putting it into the bucket with his own fish.
“Catfish.” He says. “Looks like you caught dinner.”
“I sure did!” I cheer. “Wait...what?”
“Dinner. We’re going to have catfish for dinner.”
We pack up the equipment and leave it all at the cabin where Mr. Ranger lives. As we start heading back to my place, I feel a bit overcome with emotions. I reach over and give Anthony a big hug. I can tell I’ve surprised him. Heck, I’ve surprised myself but I squeeze tight anyway.
When we pull away, I apologize, feeling a bit embarrassed. He just smiles at me.
“I don’t mind the hugs, just maybe a bit of warning next time. You know...before you squeeze me half to death.” He smiles at me and I roll my eyes. It was nice to have a friend.
#16 27th Aug 2022 at 2:07 PM
PI (14) - I didn't invite anyone
We walk in the door laughing, and I immediately stop to stare when I see Aunt Vi coming down the stairs. She is dressed to the nines and I’m speechless.
“Whoa...you look...amazing.” I say, staring at Aunt Vi. And she does. Her dress is stunning and with the mask, she just looks...well...beautiful. She smiles.
“Your sister helped me out today.” She says, and I can tell she’s relieved and to be honest, so I am. Having Angela waging war on Violet had made the house tense for a few days.
“You guys are here for dinner?” Angela asks, joining us in the foyer. “You’ve been gone all day.”
“We are. And if you’re nice, we’ll even make some for you.” I stick my tongue out at her and she rolls her eyes.
“OK, ok. A few rules before I leave.” Violet says, interrupting us. We both look at her expectantly. The rules are as expected. We’re not allowed out since she isn’t home (and she’s trying harder to keep tabs on us). We’re not allowed guests since she isn’t home. Don’t burn down the house. The usual.
“NO guests.” She says sternly, looking from Angela to me. What she means is ‘no parties’.
“Uhhh….” Anthony chimes in in the background and gives a little wave. “Do I have to leave?”
Violet looks at him as if he’s appeared out of nowhere. “No OTHER guests.” She says. Anthony grins.
“I feel special.” He jokes.
“Just laying down the law?” Dave comes in from outside and I have to admit...he looks dashing. A vast improvement from his usual grungy, repair man look. He’s staring at Violet and I step out of the way so he can have a better view. She looks fantastic and we all just kind of stare for a moment.
“Ok! I think we’re ready to go.” Violet announces as she realizes we’re all just looking at her.
“Do YOU have a curfew? Should we wait up?” Angela teases.
Violet’s cheeks flush and she mumbles something about not being out too late. Work in the morning.
“Definitely don’t wait up.” Dave replies, squeezing past us and swooping Violet into a kiss that leaves the three of us staring open mouthed.
Angela clears her throat after a minute and once again, Violet is looking flushed. We all stare at them.
“Have a good evening kids.” Dave says grinning.
“Stay out of trouble.” Violet says, as they head out the door. She turns back. “Please.”
Angela and I smile and wave. We are really trying hard these days. Well…I am anyway.
When we get to the kitchen, Anthony goes into full blown teacher mode and I’m offended. “I’m actually quite a good cook.” I tell him. He gives me a side eyed look that says he doesn’t believe me.
“Hey! For real! Just because I’ve never CAUGHT my own meal, doesn’t mean I can’t cook.” I move closer and try to help.
He continues to narrate what he’s doing as he prepares the fish we’d caught. I give him some tips for flavouring but he ignores me and I shove him out of the way a few times to attempt to take over.
He of course just keeps cooking and I finally stand off to the side and pout. While telling him how I’d do a much better job.
I won’t say I’m happy about the fire because well...we were told not to burn down the house. BUT I can’t say I’m not a little bit pleased when Anthony burns the meal after ignoring all of my excellent cooking tips and advice.
“Be more careful.”
We try again this time and Anthony lets me do my thing. We’re laughing and having a great night.
“You guys going to cook all night? Or do we get to EAT sometime?” Angela grumbles, coming and standing in the doorway.
“You’re right on time.” I smile, turning around.
“Dinner is served!” And it looks delicious. I have to admit, the idea of eating food we caught has me feeling quite accomplished. As I set some plates down at the table, the doorbell rings. My eyes snap up to Angela with a glare.
“What?” She replies. “I didn’t invite anyone.”
It’s not terribly late but it is getting on in the evening. Who would be popping in? We look at each other for a moment.
“Whoever it is, no guests. Seriously. Just one weekend without getting in trouble would be nice.” I say to Angela. She turns and heads to the door and I set plates out for the three of us.
Rina Harrington smiles as she glances out at her guests. Another successful party was underway. And it meant that Chase was home for a few days before heading back to his shoot.
She’d been thrilled to see that Violet Swan HAD shown up. She’d really felt a connection when they’d met the other day and Rina warmed at the idea of having made a friend.
When the music slows, she feels arms lightly wrapping around her from behind and she leans back into her husband’s grasp.
“Dance?” He whispers. He doesn’t need to ask. She’d never pass up the chance. They move slowly to the music and she holds on tight. Life was busy, hectic, frantic even but she never minded if they could find these quiet moments to pause and just enjoy.
As the song ends, they’re approached by a handsome man that Rina doesn’t recognize.
“You told me your wife was beautiful but I’m not sure beautiful cuts it. Stunning is a much better descriptor.” He says as Rina holds her hand out to shake. Rina glances at her husband waiting for an introduction or explanation and Chase introduces her to one of the newest, hottest actors in Simswood; Cain Foley.
“They say I might even be the next Chase Harrington.” He winks at Rina and is standing closer than she’d like. “A younger, hotter...Chase Harrington.”
“Younger, maybe.” Rina replies, turning to her husband and tracing a finger down his arm. He grinned back at her.
“I’m going to grab us some drinks.” She says, leaning close and ignoring the young actor. As she turns towards the bar she stops and blinks. Lux Wilson is there, grinning madly and mixing his own drinks. Lux Wilson is standing IN her house, just steps away from her husband. He spots her and flashes her a smile that makes her heart jump.
“Everything ok?” Chase asks and she realizes she’s still just standing there. She shakes her head.
“Yeah, Sorry. Be back in a minute.”
“You can’t be here.” Rina says as she approaches Lux and starts mixing a drink.
“Oh, but I was invited.” She turns quickly to look at him. He had not been invited. He chuckles at her gaze.
“My date is just over there.” He gestures and gives a little wave when a brunette smiles at him. Rina recognizes her but isn’t sure where from. Definitely unsure of how she’d be on the guest list.
She pauses and looks him in the eye. “Not in my house.” She whispers. Something flashes across his face but it’s gone too quickly before she can quite name what it is. Annoyance? Anger? Jealousy? Lux certainly wasn’t known for lacking emotion, it’s likely he was feeling all three. Rina looks over at Chase who has finished up his conversation with Cain.
“I’m not here to spill your little secret, Rina. I’m just having fun.” His voice sounds light but his eyes are serious.
As she walks away she struggles to take a deep breath, trying to calm her sudden nerves. He shouldn't be here.
Lux watches her cross the room back to her husband. He knew she wouldn’t be pleased that he was at her party but he was tired of being in the shadows. He DID have a date. And he WOULD behave mostly. And maybe this would just make things all the more exciting.
He hears her laugh as her husband whispers in her ear and the jealousy he felt was palpable. He had no strong feelings against Chase Harrington but he sure as hell did not enjoy watching them together. Flirting openly. Laughing and acting like they owned this town.
“I need to take a breather upstairs for a minute.” Rina says as Chase pulls her close for another kiss. He looks at her quizzically, waiting for further explanation.
“Everything ok?” He finally asks. She nods.
“Just...need a moment.” She replies. He watches her closely but can’t quite figure out what’s wrong.
“Want company?” He asks. She shakes her head.
“No, I won't be long. Just need a quick, quiet moment.” She replies. He gives her hip a squeeze and kisses her lightly on the forehead.
#17 27th Aug 2022 at 2:18 PM
PI (15) Lilith Story-fest
When Angela is gone for more than a minute, I gesture to Anthony to dig in. She’s probably invited someone over and is deciding if she should let them in or not.
“Uhhh...Lil?” She says, eventually coming back into the kitchen. “It’s for you…” Her voice trails off and I stare at the visitor.
It can’t be.
“Hey,” He says so casually that I almost forget it’s been months. My mouth opens to respond but words don’t come out. My body is frozen to it’s spot and Angela is giving me a dirty look that I surely haven’t earned.
“You just gonna sit there and stare at me?” Dirk says with a grin that is achingly familiar. I manage to gain control over my brain and body and I scramble out of my seat and cross the kitchen in a less than graceful leap.
“Uggghhh.” Angela groans. Anthony raises an eyebrow.
“Boyfriend?” He mouths to Angela curiously. She shakes her head.
“EX-boyfriend.” Angela replies, not nearly as quietly. “They broke up. But it seems they forgot.”
I’m not listening. My body is wrapped around Dirk and I’m pretty sure I will never ever let go.
“Should we leave?” Anthony asks after a moment and I feel Dirk pull away. I tug him closer and he chuckles.
The boys introduce themselves and Anthony invites Dirk to join us for dinner. A glance at me and I nod. Of course he can stay.
“I don’t want to interrupt. I should have called before…” He says.
“You’re not interrupting! We were just settling in.” Anthony smiles. Dirk gives me another look that I can’t quite read and then we all sit down.
Angela is quiet and the looks she sends my way seem suspiciously daggered but I can’t fathom what I’ve done to offend her.
“She IS an excellent cook, just don’t ask her to make you soup.” Dirk laughs as he and Anthony chat and share stories like old friends. My brain is spinning and struggling to process what is happening. It’s a bit surreal having the two of them sitting here together.
“I make excellent soup.” I interrupt. “It’s not my fault you don’t like spicy foods.”
“Spicy? I ended up needing medication for internal bleeding!” Dirk laughs. I smile and laugh. That wasn’t quite true, but it certainly wasn’t too far from the truth.
“I will definitely keep that in mind the next time she takes over the kitchen.” Anthony laughs.
“YOU started a FIRE!” I demand, refusing to let these two gang up on me. Anthony’s cheeks redden and I stick out my tongue.
“Ok, well while we all love a good Lilith story-fest, maybe we can wrap this up?” Angela interrupts. Dirk muffles a snort with a cough and Anthony just looks between Angela and I, unsure of where the mood shift came from. I roll my eyes. I’m not too sure either.
“Well, it IS getting late. Maybe I should head out. Let you two catch up.” Anthony says, getting up and helping me clear the table.
“Please don’t leave on my account, I feel like I’m cutting into your evening.” Dirk says uncomfortably.
“No worries. Time I got home anyway.” Anthony smiles back at him. I reach over and give Anthony a hug. It HAD been a wonderful day and I didn’t want him to leave thinking I’d forgotten.
“I’ll give you a call tomorrow.” I promise. He nods and smiles.
“Have a good night, Lil.” He gives my hand a squeeze and leaves.
When she hears the soft click of the door closing, she sighs. She should have known better than to wander off alone and expect to be left...alone. She doesn’t turn right away and listens to his footsteps crossing the carpet. She knows instinctively that it’s not Chase. He’d asked if she’d wanted company and he’d respect that she’d said no.
When she finally turns, he’s standing right behind her. A wicked grin on his face as if he’d stolen something and was about to get caught.
“You. Are. Stunning.” He says quietly, fingers reaching and lightly tracing the inside of her arm. She offers him a half smile.
“Lux, you’ve crossed a boundary tonight.” She says quietly, looking him in the eye but not moving away from his touch. “This is my home. Chase is here. My children are home. This isn’t ok.”
She sees a flash of the look she’d noticed earlier. Jealousy. More obvious now than it had been before.
“Why are you with me?” He asks bluntly. His frustration is visible on his face but his hands are still light on her hips.
“Why are you with me? You love him. You love your family. You have this perfect life that you don’t want me to mess up. Why bother with me at all?” Lux holds her tight and waits for an answer. He’d wondered this for a while now but had been too afraid to ask. He wasn’t known for falling in love but here he was, staring at this woman. This powerful, incredible, smart, stunning woman. And he had no idea why she’d even give him the time of day.
When she doesn’t respond, he catches himself off guard and whispers “I love you, Rina Harrington.”
“Gawd dammit.” Rina mutters under her breath as Lux walks out of her office. The kiss left her breathless but this wasn’t what she’d expected. When she’d first met Lux, she’d been just another one of his conquests. A notch on his belt, and that’s exactly what made him safe.
Her heart races as she pictures him going back to the party. The same room as her husband, moments after confessing his love.
“F*ck.” She snarls, slamming her hand against the chair, knocking it to the ground.
#18 27th Aug 2022 at 2:33 PM
PI (16) I won't tell if you don't
Lux had f*ckd up. He’d known it the moment the words had left his mouth. ‘I love you Rina Harrington.’ He mumbled to himself, in a mocking tone. What an idiot. He knew he had a reputation for being reactive, but he also had never felt like he wasn’t in control. When he’d said that, he’d surprised even himself.
Was it true? He stared out at the fields surrounding his house and sighed. He’d never been in love. Never really cared to be. He liked things the way he had them. He had no idea why suddenly his feelings for Rina were more. And WHY her? Was it because she was unattainable? He let out another sigh and leaned his head back against the brick wall, staring up into the sky. This was not going to end well.
“I had a lot of fun tonight.” Gerald smiled at his wife, Beth, swaying to the music in their small hallway upstairs.
“You just like to see how the other half lives from time to time.” She winks at him.
“Other half?” He laughs. “You mean the one percent. If half of us lived that way, the world would implode.” He grins and pulls her closer.
“It is fun to pretend to be fancy though.” He says after a while. She chuckles in agreement.
“Anthony seems nice.” Dirk tells me. He has a look on his face that I can’t quite read.
“He is.” I tell him. “I met him the first day, ditching class.” I smirked, hoping to get a smile out of Dirk but he seems to have gone all serious on me.
“Maybe I shouldn't be up here?” He asks cautiously. “I don’t want to ruin anything...if you’re...and Anthony might…” He’s bumbling.
“I’m not dating Anthony.” I state clearly. “Just friends. AND if I WAS dating Anthony - I think maybe kissing you in front of him would have changed things quickly.” I try smiling at him again.
“Yeah, but if you guys are headed that way. Lilith, you seem happy here. I don’t want to mess that up.”
I think for a moment. “I am happy here. And I really like Anthony. But friends only. Really.”
He nods, but I can tell he’s not entirely convinced.
“You came here for something.” I say quietly. I know he didn’t just come for a visit. He’d have called first. Something’s up. I start to put it together. Does he WANT me to be with Anthony? Is HE with someone else? Is that why he’s come? Maybe I’d messed things up for him. My heart starts to beat faster and I feel nauseous. I know we broke up. I KNOW he won’t be single forever. But I’m not ready for this.
“Yeah, have you talked to your parents lately?” He asks. He looks nervous. What did my parents have to do with this? Had they seen him with someone else? I shake my head and he sighs. He starts and stops himself a few times and I wish he’d just spit it out before my heart explodes.
He takes a deep breath. “Kaylynn Langerak is pregnant.”
It takes a moment for the words to register because they are so far from what I’d expected.
“She’s living at your house. With your dad. She’s pregnant. They’re…” He pauses. “They’re getting married.”
I shake my head for a moment and let the information sink in. My dad was having a baby with the maid? Did my mom know? OUR house? Dirk WASN’T seeing someone else? I sigh with relief at that and he’s looking at me, waiting for a reaction.
“I thought you were going to tell me you were…” I start. I feel my cheeks blushing. “I thought you were going to say you were seeing someone.”
“Aww Lil, you know I’m not ready for that.” He says quietly. I nod. Me either.
“You really haven’t talked to your parents, huh?”
I shake my head. It’s not something I’d thought about but sitting here with Dirk, talking about it made it seem as absolutely absurd. How had we gone from our family in Pleasantview to this?
He steps closer, cautious. He’s worried and I miss this. Someone who cares. For real. When he leans in to kiss me, I don’t hesitate. His arms wrapped tightly around me. It’s so familiar, so achingly comforting, I could cry.
“Stay?” I ask when we pull apart. I’m sure he’d already decided to but I ask anyway. He chuckles and nods.
We curl up and lay quietly. Dirk dozes off first and I just watch him. Brush a piece of hair off his face. It’s longer than I remember. It’s cute. I close my eyes. I don’t want to fall asleep. I know he’ll have to leave in the morning. I just want this to last forever.
“You have to go.” Violet whispers against his lips. She really doesn’t really want him to but she feels strange, having the girls see him there first thing in the morning.
“I think they know we’re dating.” He chuckles.
“Are we?” She asks and he pulls back.
“Aren’t we?” His face has gone serious and she regrets saying it. He carefully moves her off of him and gets up off the bed.
“Damn it, Violet.” He says, starting to get dressed to leave.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean…” She stops. “I just meant we should talk about this.” She moves closer to him, trying to repair the moment.
“Then talk.” He states.
“Not now. The girls are…”
“your excuse.” He finishes for her. “We’re adults. Me staying the night isn’t going to shock them. It’s fine. Let me know when you want to talk.” He states, moving towards the door. He turns back and looks at her, then shakes his head and walks out.
“I gotta go.” Dirk whispers quietly. It’s still early but sunlight is starting to trickle in. His hand his on my waist and I don’t move.
“I don’t want you to get in trouble.”
“I don’t care if I get in trouble.”
He chuckles at that but starts to get up. I groan in resistance.
We’re both still dressed from the night before. I get up with him and give him a squeeze.
“I miss you.” I tell him, and the words don’t do the feelings justice. I more than miss him. I ache for him. Having new friends is great but it’s nothing like this.
“I know. I miss you too.” He kisses my nose and I make a face.
“When you left we…” He pauses.
“Broke up?” I guess. He nods.
“Are we still?”
“Broken up?” I ask. I think for a moment.
“We have to be, don’t we?” I say quietly. “I mean, we can’t date. This is the first time we’ve seen each other in months.”
He nods again. I can tell he’s unsure. I am unsure too. Maybe we could make it work? I also know that he is social, and sweet and romantic, and I don’t want to keep him from that. I let out a breath I hadn’t realized I’d been holding.
“I think we’re still broken up.” I whisper. Another nod from Dirk. He pulls me in for another tight hug and when it’s time to pull apart I feel tears welling up.
“Love you, Lil.” He says, sneaking out of my room.
What the hell was I doing?
As Dirk heads out the front door he runs into a blond man, also sneaking out. He gets a look and gives a look back. At least HE had gotten dressed before creeping out of the house.
“Violet was hoping the girls wouldn’t see me.” he says to Dirk. Dirk shrugs.
“I won’t tell if you don’t?” A nod from the man, and they head their separate ways.
“Rough night?” Gerald teases Lux who looks half asleep and hasn’t said anything since the family had sat down to breakfast. Beth and Stephen also look at him. They’d all come in late but Lux was the only one who looked like he’d been suffering for it. They were used to early mornings on the farm.
“He’s just out of sorts because he’d had hopes of hitting on Rina Harrington.” Snorts Stephen. “And I’m guessing from his lack of bravado this morning...he struck out. What a shock.”
“Rina Harrington?” Beth looks at her son with disapproval. Lux just shrugs. He hadn’t even meant to say anything to his brother the other day. He’d hoped Stephen would forget.
“Please tell me he’s joking.” Beth says. Her intense gaze pushing Lux to answer.
“Oh come on, Beth. Stephen is just teasing.” Gerald says, though his look says he’s not sure.
“Sorry Lux. She’s literally the most un-eligible woman on the planet. She’s married to the hottest movie star. She owns one of the most powerful companies on the planet. She’s not slumming it with you. You can’t seriously think you stood a chance?” Stephen is watching him closely. HAD his brother thought he’d stood a chance?
“Just drop it.” Lux says. The other three just stare at him.
When it’s quiet for too long, he finally sighs. “I’m just tired. Ok? That’s it. Nothing else. Not scorned by love. Not bummed out. Just tired. That’s allowed, right?”
They resume eating cautiously. Beth watching her son carefully. She was going to have to have a talk with him if he was now chasing married women.