I made it as far as my bedroom door, before I completely broke down. My father disapproving of each heartbroken sob that escaped my throat. It wasn’t fair! This was why I didn’t want to get attached! Why!! Why did do this to myself! Poor Merlot, I just wanted hug him. Hold him till the hurt would go away, but there was nothing to be done. All I could do was stand by and watch.
He was my family! The one person I had ever felt close to, and now I was left with no one again. I mentally kicked myself for considering my day bad before. This was a nightmare and I had no way to wake up. No pink princesses, no more stories. I was alone, I would never make another friend. I vowed to it. Losing them was way too hard, and I couldn’t go through it again. Ever.
There was no comfort in knowing I might see him again. It wasn’t the same! It wasn’t fair, but really, when is life ever fair.
The first year, was just like we had promised. Writing all the time, several phone calls a week. The second year, the phone calls were less frequent, and even when I tried, I usually ended up leaving a message that was never returned. I became resentful, refusing to write, waiting till he wrote me first. It was one of many mistakes I would make. Soon there were no letters, no calls, no contact at all. I could feel a bitterness beginning to make its home in the already dark corner of heart.
My nineteenth birthday came and went, and it had been over a year since we had spoken. Obviously I was never adopted, and even when I found myself free to go home, I couldn’t bring myself to leave. I was scared. Scared of what I might find there. My father haunted its ground, and I knew it. Nothing had been touched since our departure. No one had ever set foot on the grounds since that awful sunny afternoon.
I just wan’t ready. Not yet.
What most other kids found as hard work, or boring chores, I found as a great relaxing way to ease my mind. Clean was always better and poor Gramma Mallow was getting old. So basically if I didn’t do it, it wasn’t going to get done. Most days I could be found, wiping down counters, making sure there were no mystery dishes hidden in any of the room upstairs. Daily maintenance to help keep our home in tip top shape. After Indy and Andy were adopted, by two sperate families thank goodness, the home went through it’s dryest spell yet. Which I suppose was a good thing. All the children around had homes, but it only increased my isolation, since Gramma Mallow was spending more and more time in her room.
It was a Friday afternoon, when I received a surprise visitor. I was busy as usual cleaning up. Dropping a few things into the dishwasher, when I heard a voice, much deeper and smoother than anyone I knew personally. “Hey you.”
Out of instinct, I shut the dishwasher closed, came to my feet, and without even looking started to berate the strange intruder for his lack of manners. “Look I don’t know where you come from, but it is proper etiquette to use the- Merlot?”
Even after he affirmed my question, it was still hard to grasp that it was him. He had grown up so much. A handsome young man now stood before me. For the first time in many years, I could feel a genuine smile trying to stretch across my usual scowl.
“What are you doing here?!”
“I just got my license!” He grinned, holding up the paperwork to prove it.
I took the paper, which I assumed he wanted me to do, and read it over. “96 out of 100. Not bad at all. Better than me… though I have yet to take it.”
“It was super easy.”
“You drove all the way here from Fondant Fields?”
“Well yeah, this is the first place I’ve gone. I had to come see you.”
I handed the paper back. “You came all this way to see… me?”
“Of course! We haven’t seen each other in forever and now that I can come to you. What would stop me?”
“I hand’t really thought of that.”
Merlot took off to the fridge, swinging the door open wide. “Man I’m starving. Gramma Mallow got any thing good to snack on?”
“Not really.” I said gravely. “Gramma Mallow isn’t cooking much these days.”
“Oh… well let’s go get something then! I’ll drive.”
“Haha alright. Let me just do a couple things.”
We hopped in his car, and drove out to the diner across town. It was a comfortable ride, he was a skilled driver, so I was relieved to find, that I didn’t have to resort to putting permanent nail marks on his dash. You never know what you are going to get, when you jump in the car with a newly licensed teenage driver. Ride at your own risk.
Lunch was decent. For greasy diner food anyways. Not my favorite, but lately pickings were slim and I wasn’t that great of cook back at home.
“So then he slipped! Fell face first into the trashcan! It was classic!! Hahahaha”
“Ah, yes that sounds most amusing.”
“It was. It was.”
We started to head back to the car, when he stopped me. “Hey Victoria, I wanted to ask you something.”
“I wanted to know if you wanted to come back to Fondant Fields with me. You know, for the weekend.” He was slowly nodding his head up and down, some sort of silly, mind trick to get me to say yes.
“Oh, I don’t know.”
“We have a room all set up. Auntie Clarette is looking forward to it! Pleaseeeeee?”
He batted his eyelashes and I pursed my lips in reply. “Alright, but I need to go back to the house to get a few things.”
“Woo! Let’s go!” He cheered dangling his keys above his head, already running to the car. Silly boy…
“Man, nothing really changes around here does it?” Merlot asked, making himself comfortable on my bed.
“Not really no.” I was working on gathering a few things for the trip, trying to decide what to bring. I wasn’t very keen on leaving Gramma Mallow alone, but I assured myself she would be fine for the weekend.
“Oh you should bring pants or something warmer. Fondant Fields isn’t nearly as nice as here. It gets pretty cold at night.” He warned as he took hold of the bar underneath the top bunk, and pulled himself up into a half chin up.
“Very well. Slacks it is.” I closed the top drawer and opened the bottom one. Took out a couple pairs of slacks, and threw them with the other pile of clothes I had set aside. Packing them all into my carry on, I threw the bag over my shoulder.
“Ready!” As I’m ever going to be…
We were both greeted with open arms, by his aunt the moment we stepped in the door. Her heartwarming smile was infectious, and I found my own mouth trying to smile just as wide, to match her ferocity. “Hello dear! Oh, I am so glad you could make it! Come in! Come in! Merlot dear, why don’t you take her things to your room.”
“Sure!” Merlot grinned, snagging my bag off my shoulder, zooming up the stairs.
Clarette swooped her arm in mine and pulled me a little further into the house. “Now dear. You must tell me how you’ve been. It has been far too long.”
“Well… I just turned 19.” I had nothing else I could think of…
“Berry side layer, say it isn’t so! My you were just a girl, the last time I saw you.”
“Yeah, it has been a while…”
“So what have you been doing with yourself?”
“Well, I am thinking about going back to school. Getting a business degree.”
“Ohhh well, that sounds just delightful!”
“Back!” Merlot exclaimed dropping right down next to me with an exuberant hop.
“Wonderful dear! Why don’t you show our guest around the old place. Hmm?”
“Right this way madam.” He winked, throwing out his arm, for me to take. I was amused, so I played along. “Why thank you good sir.”
“So this is our room. Auntie Clarette, put a spare bed in here, so we could share a room, just like the old days! So what do you think?”
“Wow, it sure is… purple.”
“Yeah! Isn’t this cool! It will be just like it used to be.”
I surveyed over the room. Purple wallpaper, quilting, pretty much everything was some shade of purple. Some so bright, I swear I could feel my eyes bleeding. For some reason my eyes wanted to open wider, and that only made it worse. Merlot seemed perfectly content, so I left my comment on the decor as stated above.
A stiff chill ran up my back, causing me to clutch my arms for a bit of warmth. “Where can I change? You’re right, it is kind of chilly here.”
“Oh right through that door.” He stopped. “Or I can just go downstairs. You stay. I’ll go.”
“See you downstairs!
With that he closed the door behind him, leaving me in the putrid purple room. I reminded myself it was only for a couple days, as I slipped into something warmer.
“Wow that is a big house.”
“Does someone live there?”
“No one knows.”
“No one knows?”
“Well… someone must, but I have no clue who. No one ever comes in or out. And it’s pretty heavily gated, so you can’t really get up there to have a look around.”
“It is…Rumor has it a crazy old woman lives up there, but no one can prove it and no one has ever seen her… Now come on! There is way more interesting stuff to show you than this dusty old house!!”
In true “teenager with a car” fashion, Merlot wanted to take me all over town. Show me around Fondant Fields. Since I had never been there, I looked forward to seeing what it had to offer. He tried to find all the places I would find interesting, but in the end that left him completely bored out of his mind. While I was fascinated with the art in the local gallery, he was about ready pass out on the floor from sheer boredom.
“This is really interesting.” He yawned, looking at his watch.
“These are some amazing pieces. I have never seen anything like this.” I held out my hand, pointing to the canvas. “See that mark there? It’s some sort of artist insignia, yet it’s not.”
“Oh uh huh, yeah, that’s… great.”
“No… what would ever make you think that.”
“How about you pick the next place.”
Well, I was thinking we could run up to the city! I here Briocheport is totally crazy!! And with you going, I think Aunt Clarette would be willing to let us. What do you say?”
“Have I ever told you no yet?”
“Well, yeah.” A cunning grin curled my lips. “Let’s do it!”
The sun was just far enough down in the sky, that all the lights, as far as the eye could see, were on, welcoming us into the city.
“Wow.” The light flashed past my window, and I could barely take in all that I was seeing. I had never been to the city before. Let’s face it, I had never left Sugar Valley before.
“Welcome to Briocheport.” he smiled. A smile, that came off as more of a smirk. A smirk like, this wasn’t his first time in the city.
“You’ve been here before.” I gasped.
“I may or may not have borrowed my aunts car one night.”
“Merlot, you’re terrible.”
“You know it.” He chuckled, sticking his tongue half way out, playfully biting it with his front teeth. “Now let’s go see what we can get into!”
The night was filled, debauchery and all kinds of other nonsense. I was definitely out of my element, but even I have to admit it was fun. He some how managed to get me up for some karaoke, even though I am probably the most tone deaf person on the planet, and I didn’t put up too much of a fight over it all. I was laughing so hard I was crying and I was feeling more at ease, than I had…ever. The city is truly beautiful and we saw so much of it, I was just in utter awe the whole time. A night I would definitely remember for a long time.
“We’re lost aren’t we?”
“No. Well maybe.”
“I’m pretty sure we are lost.”
“I can find it, I just need a second to think.”
“We’re not even on the road anymore.”
“I know. Just give a minute here.”
I leaned my head against the seat and closed my eyes. We had pulled over after a small “short cut” ended up getting us so lost, we didn’t know which side was up. We couldn’t even locate a main road. Just trees, darkness and an array of bushes, that had a tendency to scrape against my car door, as we passed.
Merlot drummed his fingers on the steering wheel. “Maybe if we try up that little hill.”
“Worth a shot. Don’t really want be stuck out here all night.”
“Okay.” He put the car back into drive and we slowly moved across the rocky road, my teeth chattering, head bobbing the entire way. The brights were only able to shine along the road in front. It was a pitch black night and it made for even rougher driving conditions. We finally got up over the hill and my entire lurched forward, ramming myself against the seat belt, when a heavy footed Merlot, slammed on the breaks.
“Do you realize what this is?!?!”
“No? What is it?”
“THIS!!! It’s the park! Victoria we found it!”
“What?” I wasn’t getting it. Of course I wasn’t, I had never seen it, I had no clue what it looked like. I Only knew what he had told me about the swing and flowers, the only thing missing was his little pink princess. A thought, which made me want to gag. Why did I ever read him that stupid story…
Before I had a chance to say more, he was unbuckling his seat belt and jumping out of the car. “Merlot wait!”
“It’s real! It’s real! I knew it had to be!”
The headlights shone bright upon the hidden park. Small cherub statues adorned the odd placed swing. “Who would put this way out here in the middle of no where?” I asked as I came up beside an overly ecstatic Merlot.
“I don’t know!!” He laughed, still bouncing up and down. Would have sworn their were springs in his sneakers. “So if this is real, maybe that means she is real too!? WHOA!? WHOA?! HAHAHAHAH!”
“Take it easy Merlot, it’s just a swing in the middle of a weird park.”
“Ah you don’t get it.” He grinned, waving his arm my way. “I just can’t believe it! Hah! Amazing!”
Once he had found his dream park, he didn’t want to leave it. Well, I didn’t want to spend all night in a creepy park, so I made him a deal. We stay for an hour or so and then we try to figure out how to get home. He had no problem with our agreement, so he ran back to car, to turn the head lights off. Just what we would have needed, run the battery down and be stuck. No thanks…
We found a nice place in the grass and settled in, he was still mindlessly chattering about how cool it was and I was mindlessly wishing we could go home. There was a nice view for stargazing, and I found myself quite interested in the constellations that could be seen from my comfortable place on the grassy knoll.
“Since your aunt is your real aunt… Does she know what happened to your mother?”
Every movement beside me stilled, he wasn’t even breathing anymore.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to pry. I was just curious.” I added trying to smooth over my obvious intrusion.
Another small pause before. “I guess I got loose one night. Snuck out of our small little shack and out into the Twizzlerbrook swamp. No one knows what actually happened, when I disappeared, but my mother went looking for me. She looked everywhere. Her flashlight was old, and only lasted an hour or so, but she kept looking anyways. She went way too far out, deep into the bayou below town, got caught in the mud, and was sucked in. It took weeks for anyone to find her, and when they did, my poor grandmother, couldn’t take it. She weeped for days, swearing it was her fault. She should have stopped her, warned her, but she couldn’t. That is not fates design, or some other strange mutterings. The townsfolk didn’t really hold an old gypsy woman’s words for much value. Even though half of them had come to see her on at least one occasion, maybe more. One day, her heart couldn’t take it anymore. I guess losing me and my mother was just one straw too many… So unlike you, I actually did kill my mother.”
I leaned over onto my side, propping myself up onto my elbow. “Now just a minute. Merlot you can’t blame yourself for that. You were just a baby. There is no way, you can pin that on yourself. It was a terrible accident. Nothing more.”
I don’t think he was sure how to reply. You could see, the emotions raging through him, even without saying a word.
He was silent and still for several more minutes after his sad tale. I had this eerie flashback, when I was telling my story. It didn’t make things any easier.
“I really want to thank you….For every thing. You have seen me through a lot, and I really appreciate that. I know I was a pain at first, but you never gave up on me. I wouldn’t even have found this place, if it wasn’t for you. So thank you. I mean it. Thank you for always being here.” He leaned over and planted a small kiss on my cheek.
As sad as it sounds, it was my first kiss of any kind. Well since my mother… I reached up and touched my cheek pulling my hand away. Looking at my fingers, as if I expected to see it on my fingertips. “We’re family. Of course I will be here. Always.”
We did eventually find our way home, swooping into our beds about 4:30 in the morning. Aunt Clarette was not amused, but when we explained how turned around her got, she lightened up a bit. The rest of the weekend was rather uneventful in comparison. We decided we had enough excitement, and spent our last evening, watching movies and stuffing ourselves on all kinds of insanely fattening foods. It was pretty glorious.
Monday after school, Merlot took me back home. He promised his aunt he would come straight home, so he dropped me off at the home and I waved him on, till he was out of sight. Ughhh now to get out of these pants, I thought to myself as I headed inside. It was fun, but home was definitely calling to me.
It was probably a couple hours after I had returned home, that I realized how quiet the house was. There was no noise at all, anywhere. The only sound to be heard was the gentle tick tock from the large grandfather clock downstairs. Something in my stomach sensed something was wrong, but my mind and my heart, didn’t want to beleive it. I searched through every room, praying I would find her, sitting in a rocking chair, or perhaps outside in the garden.
When I first walked up to her room, I couldn’t bring myself to turn the knob. I shook my head. “She’s fine. She’s just napping. That’s all.”
I finally took a deep enough breath that would allow me to let myself inside.
The room was still, so still. She was sleeping peacefully on the bed. I breathed a sigh of relief. “Oh you’re just napping. You scared me half to death!”
She didn’t move. I stepped closer, watching and waiting for her shoulder to rise and fall with her breath. It never did. “Gramma Mallow?”
They said she went swiftly. No pain or struggle, she just drifted off to sleep. None of their reasoning’s helped to lessen my guilt. My heart was aching to get out. How could I leave her!? We might have been able to save her, if I had been there? I lost a piece of my heart that day. The only sort of mother I had, and now she was gone. I took refuge on my bed for several hours, I didn’t know what else to do. I wanted to cry, but the tears wouldn’t come. I wished for anyone to come and rescue me. I didn’t want to be alone, for the first time it was too much to bear.
“I’m sorry Victoria. I have no authority to change their decision.”
“But this is my home?!”
“I understand that, but this is not how things work. Gramma Mallow was slipping deeper into debt, but felt to guilty to ask you to go home.”
“But I can’t! I can’t go back there! Don’t you understand!?”
I could barely breathe. I was so angry, I wanted run her head through the glass window behind me. I couldn’t go home. I just couldn’t. How could no one understand! I gritted my teeth. “When?”
“You have two weeks, but the sooner the better. I am terribly sorry Victoria.”
“Whatever.” I growled. “You don’t care. You say you do, but I know better. Just get out! I’ll be gone by tomorrow.”
“Very well dear. Goodbye.”
I walked away with no reply. If I had, I probably would have gotten even nastier. I went back to my room and slammed the door.
“I have to be out by tomorrow.”
“What am I supposed to do? They can’t expect me to go back there?”
I started to consider what I might find there and my breath quickened , my finger tips started to tingle, I clutched the clothing around my chest. “What am I supposed to do?” I just kept asking the same question over and over again.
“I don’t know, but we will figure it out. Okay?” I looked up to find those purple eyes bearing down on me. I ran across the room and threw myself into his arms. Sobbing so deeply I could barely stay on my feet. “I’m scared Merlot! I don’t want to go back there?!”
“I know, but what if I went with you?”
“You would do that?”
“We’re family right?”
“Yeah.” I smiled with a sniff as I wiped my nose.
“Let me call my Aunt and let her know I am going to be staying here tonight.”
“No! No need to thank me. I’ll be right back.”
“I can’t do this.”
“You’re doing fine.”
“It’s too hard.”
I reached out for the frame. My fingers graced its edges, before running them over my mothers cheek. “She always had the most beautiful smile. Even when she was sad, she had this way of putting on the most believable smile. I always hoped I would inherit that from her, but I didn’t. I will always look like my father. Ugly.”
“You are not ugly. Don’t say that.”
“Heh. It’s true. I know it.”
“You have a beautiful heart.”
I snorted. “That is definitely not true. I am just like my father. I feel it, all the time. One day it will consume me.”
Merlot placed his hand on my shoulder. “It will not. Don’t say that. It won’t. You’re not. You are a good person Victoria.”
I picked up the frame, squeezing it close to my supposed beautiful heart. “I hope you’re right.”
“Once you have successfully spent the night in this big scary house. You have pretty much conquered everything. So, tell me, what are your plans after that Miss Bitters?”
“Probably go back to school I guess. Try and get what I need to transfer over to the Briocheport state university.”
“Briocheport? But that’s so far!?”
“Yeah, but I can’t support myself here, with no furthered education, besides it will give you a chance to see the city again right?”
“Yeah, I guess so. You gonna be okay, if I actually fall alseep?”
“I think so. Gonna go see your princess?”
*Yawn* I sure hope so.”
The next two years, were a whirlwind of activity. I found myself constantly bogged down with course work, my part time job and any other mundane maintenance to be done around the house. This sadly left me little to no time for socializing. Merlot and I would call and chat briefly here and there, but it would be months at a time before we would actually see one another. I promised during my next break, that I would make it a point to come out to see him, but he assured me, that it would be no problem for him to make the trip out to me.
So the next break to come down the pike, I was sure to call him and set up our visit.
“Talk to me.”
“Hey, just thought I would let you know, that I will be free this weekend if you wanna come out.”
“Umm, yeah. Sure.”
“Great see you then!”
I was more than a little surprised when he popped up on my doorstep, not alone. In toe with a girl about his age, who seemed to have forgotten how stand on her own, and was instead using him like a coat rack, hanging herself all over his shoulder and cooing the entire time. It took everything I had not to throw up on her shoes.
“Uh hey, Merlot. Who is this lovely young woman?”
“Hey Vic. Oh this? This is Rassy. Go ahead darlin say hello.”
“I am kinda surprised to see you both here…” I added, eyeing her suspiciously.
“Well I figured since I was out here, I could see you both. You don’t mind if we both stay here?”
My blood was beginning to boil, but I pushed it all back down, deep down. “Not at all. Come on in you two…”
There is probably no need to tell you, that it was a less than enjoyable afternoon. The two were pretty much locked at the lips the entire time, only coming up for air when I alerted them that dinner was ready. The noises alone were enough to turn my stomach. I did what I could to tune them out, which mostly involved me watching the clock, begging for the day to be over.
That turned out to be a mistake. Well one of many. My second mistake was allowing them to take the room above mine. I had no clue what was happening up there, but I assured myself that I didn’t want to. I ended up covering my head with a pillow, to try and block out the atrocious noises. Waiting ever so impatiently for the night to be over.
“Why don’t you come talk to me~”
“Hello? Is someone there?”
“Victoria dear. Come. We need to to talk~”
“I thought I asked you not to call me that. Oh my my, little Victoria. What a mess you’ve become. And to think you had so much potential. Wasted…”
“What are you doing here? You’re not real. You can’t be. You’re locked in a cell somewhere.”
“Am I? You always were a little dense. One of your many fall backs I’m affraid.”
“No. I won’t listen to you anymore! I won’t!”
“Oh Victoria. Poor insolent child.”
“No I won’t let you hurt me anymore! I’m not a child! I’m not!”
“I’m not here to hurt you dear. I’m here to help you. Don’t you see? When you are nice to people, they view you as weak. You leave them wide open to trample all over you.”
“No. You’re lying!”
“Am I? Did you see what happened today? You let that boy walk all over you. You might as well have laid down on the floor, with a big sign that said Door Mat come on in.”
“No it’s not like that. He’s my friend! My family. He loves me!”
“Do you honestly beleive that?”
“NO! NO! I won’t. You can’t!”
“Do you think he would have come at all if it wasn’t for that girl, he brought here to fraternize with. You’re fooling yourself if you believe anything else my dear.”
“You have no family. No one wants you. Not even me.”
“Stop! I can’t! STOP IT!”
“No Just go away! Leave me alone! I don’t need you anymore!”
“HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA- Victoria? Victoria wake up.”
“Victoria you gotta wake up. You’re having a nightmare.”
My eyes shot open, and I wanted to spring out of bed, but the sight of Merlot and his little tart stopped me half way. Blinking blearily I gazed around the room, both sets of eyes were watching me.
“Are you awake now?” Merlot asked placing a hand on my shoulder. I looked at it. “I’m fine.”
“We heard you screaming.” Said his little female companion. Her voice was like nails on a chalkboard.
“I told you, I’m fine. Now I would like to get back to sleep. Thank you for your concern, but I can take it from here.”
I rolled over and pulled the blankets over my head. “Night.”
The next morning came far too quickly. I was still exhausted, but due to my lovely internal time clock, I was awake at 6:30, just like every other day. My whole body was frazzled, my eyes were a bit red and puffy, and all I wanted to do was shove little tart face out my front door.
My feelings of animosity grew deeper, when I was invited to accompany them to the pier. I should have said no. Perhaps it all could have been avoided…
“Merlot? Who the berry is that girl?!”
“Me? Who the berry are you?”
“Oh hey Apple… Hi. This is um Rassy. My friend.”
“Friend? I thought I was your girlfriend?”
“Girlfriend? Oh no no no. I’m his girlfriend. Tell her Merlot.”
“I can’t believe you?!”
“Oh darlin relax.”
“Don’t you tell me to relax. And don’t you ever call me darlin again. In fact! Don’t ever call me at all!”
Apparently, Rassy was not the only one Merlot had been hanging around with. Apple I think that was her name, was not very pleased to see them together, and everything pretty much broke loose after that. Everyone was screaming and crying and all I could do was watch. When Apple finally had enough, she ran off sobbing around the corner. To my horror, Merlot had this little smirk on his face. Was he actually enjoying it?
Well Rassy had, had enough as well, and demanded that Merlot take her home immediately. Probably the best idea I had heard all day. So I offered to walk back, I needed some time to think anyways.
The more I thought about it, the angrier I became. Everything about him was changing and not in a good way. I had even more time to think about it, after I got home, because it took him forever to get back. I assumed it had something to do with what ever had to pull to try and smooth things over with Rassy, but honestly that didn’t help his case either.
All the anger I had been suppressing was sitting at the surface, just waiting for him to come back. The moment he did, I wasted no time.
“Do you mind telling me, just what the berry happened back there?”
“What? You mean with Apple and Ras?”
“Nothing. Just a little girl fight. It happens a lot. It’s no big deal.”
“No big deal? That poor girl Apple. She ran away crying, and you laughed. I saw it!”
“Look, girls just get too attached to me. She’ll be fine.”
“What’s happening to you?”
“Me? What’s happening to you?!”
“You’re not that same little boy, fighting just to protect someone else’s feelings.”
“Yeah, well, I’m not a little boy anymore.”
“What? I’ll find another.”
“When did you become so arrogant.”
“Look. Just get off my back alright.”
“I just can’t belive it. What happened to your princess? Surely she wouldn’t want to see you this way.”
“You of all people should know, she’s NOT REAL! Okay. Those dreams stopped along time ago, because new flash, I’m not a child anymore!”
“This is not you Merlot. It’s not. What happened to the boy who saw me through the scariest night of my life. What happened to the boy who dreamed he would find his princess. I just can’t believe, he’s not in there anymore.”
“I didn’t think you would.”
“Yeah, well you were wrong.”
My voice dropped very low. “I don’t know what else to say, except that I am disappointed in you.”
“Disappointed?! Geeze lady, where do you come off. You’re not my mother alright?!”
“But we are family.”
“No, we’re not that either. You’re just some lonley woman who needed someone to look after her.”
Everything I had ever known crashed down around me. I turned to walk away. He was right. He had always been right.
“Look, I didn’t mean that. That’s not true. I’m sorry. Victoria, please talk to me.”
“I think you need to leave now.”
Suddenly the realization, of what had just happened sunk in. I felt an arm grab my shoulder, pulling me back. “Please Victoria please?! I’m sorry?! I didn’t mean that! I didn’t!”
I couldn’t move. He was right. Berry how I hated to admit that he was right. Merlot continued to sob, pulling me back, but it was too late. My heart had shut down and those final words sealed it. I took hold of his shoulders. Wthout saying a word, I pushed him slowly out the front door. Closing it behind me, blocking out his cries.
With no more distractions in my life, I was able to fully focus on school. Quickly transferring to my first uni of choice. Graduated first of my class, and before I knew it, I had landed a posh job at a marketing firm, right here in our very own Sugar Valley. The moment I was in the door, I was moving up. Stepping on which ever peon I needed to get where I wanted to go. It was fulfilling and exhilarating. The entire office was terrified of me, and I couldn’t have asked for anything more.
Within five years, I had landed an executive position, with it only one superior above me. It wasn’t perfect, but I had a ways to wait to land CEO…
“Sir that is unnecessary. I assure you.”
“Nonsense. You are doing a bang up job! You really are, but the work load is just too much. Not even a super woman like you can do it all. Which is why we have hired you an assistant.”
“Sir I don’t need one.”
“This is not optional Miss Bitters. You either accept our assistant, or you will be looking for another job.”
“Wonderful. I knew you would see things my way.”
“Hi Miss Bitters! Oh it is so wonderful to finally meet you. You are a legend! Wow this is just. I can’t believe you chose me, out of all the people!”
Fairy Floss… I hated her the moment I saw her. She was perky, pink, freckled and I couldn’t even stand to look at her, let a lone listen to her insufferable voice. This must have been what Merlot’s princess would have looked like if she had been real. The thought only made me despise her more.
She was the reason Merlot changed so drastically. Yes, it had all been her fault, and since I couldn’t punish the real princess. This little pink tart would fill the bill perfectly…
“I was expecting to see that report Wednesday. Where is it? hmmmm?”
“I put it on your desk Tuesday night before I left.”
“Well thats funny I don’t see it in my inbox. You know what i think? I think you forgot.”
“No Ma’am. I made sure it was out well before it was due.”
“Don’t you no ma’am me!I am your superior and you WILL NOT argue back to me!”
“I want to see that report on my desk in one hour! One hour! Now, GET OUT!”
I waited till I was sure she was back at her desk before I returned to mine. Taking a seat, I leaned over and slipped her report out of the trash, dusted it off a bit and set it down. Picking up the in house phone, I dialed over to her.
“Yes, Miss Floss it seems I have found your report. That is all.”
Yes, this could be fun afterall…
“Morning dear. How did you sleep?”
“Alright I guess. I’m starving.”
“As if that is anything new…”
“Hmmm well what you know. Looks like the old spinster’s heart finally gave out.”
“Huh? Oh nothing, just says here that my old boss passesd away a few weeks ago. Rest is Peace Miss Victoria Bitters, you old bitter, bitter bat.”
“Berry Merlot, are you alright?!”
“Uhhh yeah, I’m fine. The milk, I dropped it. I’ll um get some paper towels.”
“Mhmm, I’m good. Everything is under control…You had a boss named Miss Bitters?”
“Yes, I never told you that before?”
“No, I don’t believe you ever did.”
“Horrible awful woman. I can see why I wouldn’t want to bring her up. You’re lucky you never met her.”
“Uhh, yeah. She sounds dreadful…”
“Look I don’t care how much it costs. I need it done…”
“Yes, drain it…”
“Well then it won’t be a problem will it…?”
“Alright. Uh huh. Goodbye.”
“That was work. They need me to take the lead place on the crew going to France.”
“Next week. Just for a couple of weeks.”
“But Merlot, I won’t be here next week. Who is going to take you to the airport?”
“It’s all taken care of. They reserved me a spot in the extended parking, everything will be in order. You won’t have to worry about a thing.”
“Except that you are in France without me. What if you meet a silver little french girl…”
“Sorry. It’s still…”
“France. What on earth would they need you there for?”
“Hey… Victoria, it’s me. I know I am probably the last person you want to see right now, but I just found out, and I really need to talk to….”
“I’m sorry I couldn’t have done this when you were still here. I should have…”
“Those things I said to you. They weren’t right, they weren’t fair, and you didn’t deserve them. I was an arrogant teenager who thought he knew everything. Well you were right, and I was wrong, because I knew nothing. I still don’t, but what I do know, is if I could take back what I said I would. I relive it, even now. Wishing I could catch the words, pull them back, before they did, what they did.”
*sniff* “I’m so so sorry, but I want you to know that I am doing what I can to make it right by you. I hope you know that, and I don’t know if it will make you feel any better to know, but I am being severely punished for everything.”
“I leave tomorrow, to put the final things in order, but I just wanted to come say *sob* goodbye. I love you. Thank you for everything. I never thanked you enough, so thank you.”