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.”
Yes it is that time again. I don’t envy you guys one bit! lol
Current Life Stage: Teen
Brave, Couch Potato, Artistic, Good.
Current Life Stage: Child
Traits: Brave, Artstic, Loves the Outdoors.
Current Life Stage: Child
Traits: Brave, Neurotic, Artistic.
Current Life Stage: Child
Traits: Brave, Family Oriented, Artistic
There are your candidates. Good luck!
“I say we make Pumpkin go first. You know she will never do it.”
“Ok Pumpkin. You have to go first.”
“What?! Why me?”
“Because we say so. Unless your scaaaaared.”
“I’m not scared! Its just…”
“Awww look Persimmon. Pumkpin is a big chicken.”
*Bock Bock Bock*
“FINE. I’ll go.”
“Don’t forget you have to go all the way onto the porch, or it doesn’t count.”
“Ya ya… I got it.”
*mumbling to herself* “Me scared? *Pfff* I’ll show them.”
“Guys the door is open…”
“Wait. Did she just go inside?”
“Pumpkin! What are you doing?!”
“Pumpkin have you lost your m-… Ok…this place is creepy.”
“Whose the chicken now?”
I’m not scared.
“Oh ya? Prove it.”
“Alright I will, but you have to come with me.”
“Its like some sort of nursery, but its all creepy and black.”
“Persimmon. Pumpkin. Lets go now. We have seen enough.”
“Oh relax Saffron, you are starting to sound just like Pumpkin.”
“Having fun girls?”
“And then I found them upstairs snooping around.”
“I am so sorry Miss?
“Dilly. Dilly Pickles.”
“Miss Pickles. I assure you the girls will be punished for this.”
“Well don’t be too hard on them. I remember being adventurous at their age too. You may want to talk to them about boundaries though.”
“You are absolutely right. My sincere apologies.”
All three girls were sent to their rooms, to think about what they had done. Pumpkin was quite unsettled by this, because now she was stuck in the room with her dreaded hamper. She pretty much sat on the bed the whole time eying it, making sure it did not move an inch.
Saffron tried to argue that she had nothing to do with it. She swore up and down she was just an innocent bystander, but I wasn’t so sure.
Persimmon on the other hand seemed to enjoy her punishment. She just propped herself up on her bed with her favorite books. Mental Note: Next time no books!
Almost a week to the day later, tragedy struck the Chiffon household. It was pretty late on a Saturday evening; we were all asleep except Orange Blossom. She was finally getting around to doing her laundry, when she heard a strange noise outside. She tossed her laundry in the dryer and ran out the sliding glass door to see what was happening.
I don’t think she expected what she found there. There was dad. It was his time to go. Orange called out to him, but it was too late. He was already gone. She stood motionless staring off into the darkness, until she heard Persimmon run up beside her.
“I’ts ok. You should go back to bed.”
“Where is Pappa?”
Not long after Pumpkin also ran outside. “He’s dead. Isn’t he Orange?”
Orange turned and placed her hands on Pumpkins tiny shoulders. “Yes. He is.”
She didn’t cry, but she didn’t need to. You could see the sadness all over her face.
After calming the girls down, Orange had the unfortunate job of waking me to tell me everything that had happened. Since Mom was so heartbroken she was not speaking to anyone. Orange knocked as quietly as she could on the door, before opening and tiptoeing inside.
*Half Asleep* “Hmmm? Orange its 2 in the morning whats wrong?”
I pulled the covers back and placed my feet on the floor. She just stood at the end of the bed saying nothing. As I walked over to her, my uneasiness grew with each step.
“Mom. Grandpa is gone.”
I felt my heart shatter into a million pieces. The tears were streaming down my face like a broken faucet. I didn’t know what to do. Once I started crying, Orange Blossom couldn’t keep her composure a moment longer. I pulled her into a hug and cried all over her shoulder.
“I am so sorry you have to see me like this.”
“I’ts OK Mom.”
All the crying woke Pummy from his light sleep and he was all too concerned. The three of us went down the stairs to find Mom.
There she was outside. Standing almost in the exact spot where Orange had been just a few minutes before. She too was staring off into the distance.
“Mom. Are you OK?”
“Honey, I think we better just leave her be. She needs some time to grieve.”
We tried to go back to bed, but none of us slept that night. My hero, my friend, my Dad was gone.
R.I.P Peche Chiffon
You will be missed.
How many birthdays can you fit in one chapter? How about 6?
My beautiful girls grew so quickly, that when their birthday arrived I was in denial. In fact all 4 girls were getting ready for their birthdays! We decided to throw a big party and celebrate all 4 together. Of course we ran it by Orange Blossom first. She was so excited about it she did not care who she shared the day with. With her consent out of the way, I ordered 4 cakes and invited the crew!
Orange Blossom went first since she was the oldest. We gathered around the cake and she made her wish.
My goodness she was stunning. Was it strange I started to cry? Well even it was, it didn’t change the fact I teared up. She looked so much like Pummy, yet in a very feminine way. Our Orange Blossom had bloomed into a beautiful young lady.
Next up was Persimmon Peel…
Persimmon was the more traditional of the three. I just adored her complexion and gorgeous eye color.
Then Pumpkin Pie…
Pumpkin was a very cautious child. She was just as brave as her sisters, she would just have to be much more sure of the situation before she would go for it.
Lastly was Saffron Sugar…
Just like the other two, Saffron was incredibly brave and outspoken. 4 amazing gals. I don’t think Pummy and I could have been prouder.
After the festivities the girls all migrated to the living room, where they watched TV until it was time for them to go to bed. Even when I went to the couch and watched them all converse and laugh, I had a hard time accepting the fact all my babies were turning into young ladies. All unique and special in their own way.
Almost the first day of school Persimmon made a friend. Her name was Sugar Snapple. She invited her home one day after school, and from then on they were inseparable.
“We’re gonna be BBF’s!”
“Honey I think it is BFF…”
Like a lot of the family, Persimmon fell quickly into painting. I never really got the hang of, but it was well known fact that almost all Chiffon’s were born artists. Persimmon was no exception. She had such an amazing grasp on color and depth.
Pumpkin also made a friend not long after school had started. His name was Apple. He was a very sweet boy, and just like Sugar we saw a lot of him.
Saffron never really latched on to anyone at school. She much preferred the company of the family. She was focused on school than the others also. She was always asking for Orange for help. Orange was more than happy to help out when she could. All the girls got along famously. I was grateful for that.
There was only one person Saffron liked hanging out with more than Orange and that was mom. She loved that “grammy” would sit and play dolls with her.
“Ok Grammy. You get to be the mommy and I will play the daddy.”
Orange also liked to hang out with grandma. Though they spent most of their time hanging out in front of the TV. Orange Blossom loved to watch TV. I worried that she was maybe watching too much, but she always got her homework done first. Then she would sit and watch for hours.
Her TV watching may have not been such a bad thing actually. She caught a show one time about fashion designers and make overs and she fell in love with the idea instantly. She begged Pummy and I to get her a sketch table so she could practice her drawing. We bought one for her as soon we could. After that she quickly became disinterested in the TV.
All the girls were coming into their own and it seemed none were blessed with my uhh problem. That is until one night about 3 am when Pumpkin burst into the bed room.
“Sweetheart are you ok?”
“Oh ya. I’m Fine. I was just uhh… wondering if I could sleep with you tonight.”
“This would be third time this week. Whats wrong with your bed?”
“There is something creepy in my hamper, I just know it.”
“Honey there is nothing in your hamper. I promise.”
Poor girl was so anxious over that hamper. Nothing else ever phased her, but that hamper could have fallen off the edge of the earth and she would not have batted an eye.
I took her back to her room, where we looked through the hamper. As expected nothing was there. I tucked her in and kissed her on the forehead. She was not as bad as I was at her age, but I still kept a close eye on her just in case.
More time passed and soon Pummy and I were also celebrating our birthdays. Dad fired up the grill and cooked up some awesome veggie burgers for the party. We once again invited the family.
I got to go first. I wasn’t nervous at all (what a shock) I was actually looking forward to getting older. My life was pretty darn awesome. This was just the inevitable next step. I made a wish to bless my family for years to come and then blew out my candles.
Oh ya baby, I still got it.
Next was Pummy…
Still handsome as ever. As I stood there watching him take a seat to eat his cake. I thought about all the crazy things we had been through. Still going strong as ever. We had come a long way.
“Hey Apri! Its Precious.”
“Hi ya! How are you?”
“I’m Great. Hey you ready? I was thinking we could go today around 2.”
“Ready for what?”
“Our Tattoos silly.”
Oh Crap. I had completely forgotten about that. I guess I had hoped she had to.
“Meet me at the Hard Candy Salon around 2?”
I hung up the phone, and I could feel my stomach tying itself up in knots. Why did I ever to agree to that?! I took a couple deep breaths trying to give myself a little pep talk. You can do this. One step at a time. Like Sensei always said, “Worry not of the future. Only the present moment.” Lets just worry about getting to the salon first.
I asked mom to watch the girls while I went out. I kissed all three on the forehead and off I went. Precious was already waiting for me when I arrived. She had a huge smile on her face. I gathered my courage and rushed up the steps. She laughed as she called back to me.
“Hey you! Wait up!”
Once we were inside, my fear began to grow. I started looking at all the awesome pictures on the wall trying to calm myself. I saw a few things I liked, but nothing really spoke to me. I had an idea of what I had wanted and I did not see anything close to it.
Precious walked over to me. “You alright? You look a little paler than usual.”
“Oh ya. Hunky Dory.” I said as I tried to fake a smile.
“Do you wanna go first?”
“No no be my guest.”
Precious nodded and pointed out the design she had been eying to Taylaberry the tattoo artist. Tayla asked what colors she would like and then excused herself for a few minutes while she drew up a sketch. When she returned she put the outline on Precious’s ankle and went straight to work.
I was so jealous. Precious was so brave. She watched the whole thing. Not even a hint of nervousness or anxiety.
“Does it hurt?” I asked.
“Nah its more like a hot rubbing feeling.”
When she was finished, Precious had lovely pink and white stars that encircled her ankle. It was quite pretty.
Precious got up from the chair and Tayla came over to me.
“Ok so did you decide what you wanted?”
“I uhhh. Well… uhhhh.” My mind was completely blank and I started to feel dizzy. “I uh need some air.”
I ran straight up the stairs and outside. How embarrassing.
Once outside, I tried to catch my breath. The cool air outside was quite refreshing and the dizziness started to fade. I was so frustrated with myself. Just like every other time I got scared, I wimped out and ran away. I actually wanted the tattoo, but the fear just took over. I took a couple more deep cleansing breaths. No more scaredy Apricot.
Lets do this.
I marched back down the stairs and straight over to the design I had chosen. She went to her desk, drew the sketch and came back. I was sitting in the chair already.
“Ok lets do it.” I said in the most confident voice I could muster.
Tayla laughed. “Well if you want this on your back, you are gonna have to turn over.
She motioned for me to get up so she could recline the seat and then instructed me to lay on my stomach.
Now I am not gonna say it didn’t hurt, because it did. It just was not as bad as I was expecting. Afterward she told me I had picked one of the most sensitive areas to get a tattoo. Wish she would have told me that before hand…
She was excellent at her job that was for sure. I was happy that I finally went with through with it. I Apricot Bloom the biggest nervous nelly in all of Twizzlerbrook got a tattoo!
We ended our day with a trip out to the Lemon-Mint for some of that killer cobbler. Yum Yum! What an exiting day.
The kids have also had some excitement recently. A fire broke out in one of the science labs and caught the entire west wing on fire. The entire school was evacuated while firefighters (including Pummy) rushed in to put the flames out. The poor kids were screaming and crying. Orange Blossom was so scared something was going to happen to daddy.
Once the flames we extinguished all of the fireman emerged from the building unharmed. Orange rushed to Pummy and wrapped her little arms around his neck. She was so happy to see he was ok that she started crying all over again.
“Its ok Sweety. Daddy is fine.”
The experience was quite moving and scary for everyone involved. The other kids were so greatful for their valiant efforts. Pummy received a gift in the mail from one of the young girls. There was a note attached that read.
Dear Mr. Chiffon
I just wanted to thank you and tell you that you have changed my life forever. You were so brave and I cannot tell you, how safe I feel knowing that people like you are out there keeping us safe. Please take this small gift.
Ruby Red Grapefruit
Inside the box was a drinking llama statue, which now sits proudly on the end table in the living room for all to see.
Thankfully unlike her mother, Orange recovers quickly from lifes bumps in the road. I think she is just too busy to have all the worries I did when I was her age. She simply adored that easy bake oven. She was quite the baker and she even took it one step further, and started selling her goods.
She set up a little table just at the front of the house. She had drawn a little sign with muffin and cupcakes on it, and with her little simoleons jar she set up shop. I think her vanilla muffins were my favorite. They were just the right amount of sweet. Sometimes I think she ate more than she sold, but she had fun.
I loved that our neighbors were so supportive, when ever they saw her little open for business sign, they would come over and check out her daily goodies. Awww my little entrepreneur.
The girls were getting so big. They were learning to walk and talk right before my eyes. Pumpkin Pie was our little chatter box. Once she learned to talk it was almost impossible to get to her to stop.
“Momma! Dadda! Papi!…..
Even with his hectic new schedule, Pummy made time to hang out with all the girls. Just like Orange Blossom they adored him.
“I wuv you daddeee.”
I could never repay my dad for all the support he gave me through the triplets toddler years. He was an amazing teacher, and I never would have made it through with out him. So many times I would get overwhelmed, but dad would be right there to step in and help out.
One afternoon, while Persimmon and I were learning how to walk, there was a knock at the door. I put her back in her crib and headed downstairs to answer it. I was more than shocked when I saw who was standing on my door step.
“What are you doing here Olive? If you are looking for Peche, he doesn’t live here anymore.”
“I know. I came here to see you acutally.”
“Ya…You…I wanted to explain something.”
“Why explain it to me. Don’t you think Peche is the one who deserves an explanation.”
She sighed and dropped her head. “Will you just shut up and listen for a second.”
“This isn’t easy for me to say, but you are the closest thing I have to a friend, and for some reason I feel I need to say this to you.”
“I have my reasons for leaving Peche. I do, but I wanted you to know it wasn’t some diabolical scheme to destroy your families life I swear. Peche is the most amazing guy I have ever met.”
“Wait, I don’t get it. If he is the most amazing guy. Then why would you leave him?”
She stood motionless for several moments.
“Do you have any idea the kind of family I come from? No one ever said I love you. I can’t even remember the last time I hugged my mother. Only thing my family cares about is perfection. Bitters don’t make mistakes. So you can imagine when I came home pregnant and not married, how well that went over.”
“I’m sorry Olive.”
“Ya. You’re sorry. How do you think I feel. I had a beautiful newborn son, and thanks to my mother, no idea how to love him. Then there was Peche, so loving and so amazing with him. I felt so inadequate. I could never be the mommy like you or Cherry are.”
I just stood there looking at her. I didn’t know what to say.
“Thats all I came here to say. If we ever could even possibly been friends, please don’t tell Peche that I was here. He would never understand. Its better this way. He will find someone new, that will know how to love him and our son.”
As quickly as she arrived, she was gone again. She had her reasons, and as much as they did not make sense to me, it was not my place to make her decisions for her. I knew she was serious, she wouldn’t be coming back. I watched with a heavy heart as the sad and lonely Olive Bitters walked off my porch for the last time.
OMB! Babies Interlude!
After Olive left, none of us knew what to do. Did we try and talk to Peche about it, or just leave it be. He never mentioned it, and it seemed that it had not phased him in the slightest. That acutally made me more nervous than anything. Bottling up your emotions was the worst thing to do. I guess he was too busy with little Forrest to even think about it. Unlike me, he took to fatherhood like a duck to water. I was quite jealous.
I wanted to be angry with her, but for some reason I wasn’t. Instead I felt bad for Olive. Looking at that precious little face, I couldn’t ever imagine leaving him if he was my child. What was going on inside, that she would up and leave her new born son and loving fiance.
After a couple of weeks I decided to approach Peche about the whole thing. My heart was racing a 100 miles an hour. I didn’t want to make him cry, but I was growing more concerned of his quiet, stoic demeanor.
“Hey Bro. How you hangin in there?”
“Fine I guess.”
“You really have not talked about Olive since she left. I was wo-”
“Ya. and I don’t want to ok? She obviously wasn’t happy with me. So maybe she is better off.”
“Peche, I don’t think it had anything to do with you.”
“Well what ever. It is done now. She said I wouldn’t understand and she was right. I don’t. So all i can do now is care for my son. In fact I think Forrest and I will be moving out. There are just too many memories here.”
“I gotta go to work now.”
Peche made his leave, and I just stood on the porch. I just didn’t know what to do. I wanted to fix it, but it was clearly out of my hands. The sun broke through the clouds just a huge contraction hit. I was going into labor. All my mind could think was PAIN! So much pain. The contractions were so close together, I knew I would never make it to the hospital. This baby was coming NOW! I was terrified, and home all by myself. By the time family arrived home, we had added 3 new members to the family.
Luckily the whole family was helpful. Pummy and I would have never been able to do it on our own. The triplets quickly bonded into the family, just as little Orange Blossom had done a few years before. Each was unique in her own special way. I could hardly wait to see how they would develop over the years to come.
Speaking of developing! Orange Blossom celebrated her birthday not long after the girls were born. We invited the entire family for a huge birthday party. She and I blew out the candles. I could hardly believe my little baby was growing up.
What a gorgeous young lady she was growing up to be.
It was so wonderful to have the whole family together. We all sat around eating cake and talking about happier times. Telling embarrassing stories to Orange Blossom about when she was a baby. Laughter and joy filled the air. I was truly blessed.
Even the elusive Seashell made an appearance. I was so surprised to see him, I almost tackled him to the floor.
“Take it easy sis.” he said with a smile.
“I’m sorry. It just seems like it has been ages since I have seen you.”
“Ya it has been a while. You know, Sugar Valley is too far away. Precious and I are thinking of moving the family here to Twizzlerbrook. Little Almond will be starting school soon, so this would be the best time if we were gonna do it. What do you think?”
“Yes! I think you should.”
One of Orange Blossom’s gift was a an easy bake oven. She was so excited to play with it, she begged Pummy to set it up right away. She started mixing her muffin batter and got straight to work on her very first batch of Blueberry Muffins.
Once the muffins were finished, she brought one to Grandpa Peche. He would be the first to try one of her amazing muffins. He sucked it down pretty fast, so it must have been pretty good. The satisfied look on her face made him smile even more.
“That was one excellent muffin!”
Orange Blossom just adored Mom and Dad. Mom would come in and read with her almost every night. Sometimes I would sit on the bed with her and we would both listen to the lovely narration my mother had always had a knack for.
After Peche had gotten settled into his new home I went to check it out. Pumpkin was in one of her fussy moods, so I packed her up and she and I went to the other side of town to visit. It was a nice little place not far from the bridge. He seemed genuinely happy.
Little Forrest was just darling. Though in my personal opinion, I thought he needed a haircut. No clue where that hair color came from though. Peche said he had seen a photo one time of Olive’s grandmother, and it was pretty close. Either way he was a cutie with those deep purple eyes.
In no time at all the girls were celebrating their birthdays! Safrron was up first…
She looked so much like Pummy and Orange Blossom, with that lovely orange skin and hair. Gorgeous!
Next was Persimmon….
She was much darker complected, but it looked like she had gotten my hair color. It was quite lovely.
and last, but not least! Was Pumpkin…
All beautiful and unique in their own way, goodness I was the proud mommy of four gorgeous girls!
Then another thought hit my brain. Triplet toddlers… Oh Berry help us.
It wasn’t even three weeks after Olive left our house, that she showed back up on the door step. Looking incredibly sheepish, she confided in Peche Jr. that her mother had kicked her out when she found she was pregnant. Being the wonderful fun person Olive was, she really had no other friends. Which also meant she had no where else to go.
Unlike me, this was the first Peche was learning of the pregnancy. He was so overjoyed, I swear he almost teared up. He told her she could stay as long as she needed.
He called mom downstairs and replayed the poor experience for her. Mom was shocked by the cold and cruel behavior of and Kiwi and insisted she stay as well. I had never seen such gratitude across her face before. She thanked both Peche and my mother wholeheartedly.
From that second on, Peche was in daddy mode and I’d never seen him happier.
Now almost this exact scenario played out for me in my head the day we heard her in the bathroom that morning. So none of it was a surprise to me. That doesn’t mean I was excited about it, I just knew it was coming. I spent a lot of my time in Orange Blossom’s room, and the house was pretty big, so we did not see each other much.
Orange Blossom was such an angel. We were already trying to teach her how to talk. She was not very interested in it at first. Once she had gotten a couple words down though, she just wouldn’t quit.
Little changed from babyhood to toddlerhood for Orange Blossom and Pummy. She still adored him and he we still wrapped around her finger. She looked so much like him, it was uncanny.
Olive and Peche decided to move into the old guest house. It did give them some well needed privacy, and also kept her out of my hair. She spent a lot of time napping and it seemed pregnancy had mellowed her out. I only hoped it would last.
The only time I really saw her, was when she would come into the main house to work out. Something about the TV in the living room she preferred better. One afternoon while she was getting her burn on, Peche floated through the sliding glass door. He grabbed the remote and paused the more annoying than helpful instructor on the tube. Olive stopped and turned to Peche with a more than confused look on her face.
“Olive, I think you are the most beautiful woman alive, and now you are going to have my baby. Please make me an honest man and marry me?”
Olive did not even hesitate. She accepted and Peche slid the ring on her finger.
I was at the computer the entire time, and heard the whole. I felt sick, as much as I would like to say it was from the surprise proposal, it wasn’t. I had been feeling nauseous on and off for a little while. This new medical plan we were getting through Pummy’s work offered online support. My results were in and yes I was with child once again.
I jumped from the computer to tell Pummy the good news. To no surprise he was just as overjoyed as I was!
He tried to listen to my tummy, but it was entirely too soon to hear anything. He didn’t care though and neither did I.
We got another surprise that day. Precious and Seashell were also expecting their second child. According to the doctors are due dates were going to be incredibly close, if not on the same day! I could hardly wait to find what we were having!
While we were giddily making plans, baby Bitters had plans of its own. Olive went into labor right then and there. Pummy and I were the only ones home at the time, so we took her off to the hospital. As Pummy drove, I called Peche to relay the news.
Precious offered to stay with Orange Blossom until we got back home. Orange Blossom loved her auntie dearly. Who am I kidding? Orange Blossom loved everyone!
The diner was not far from the hospital and Peche ran all the way there. It was a very quick delivery though, so by the time he arrived, the baby was already here.
Forrest Bitters was born at 11:16 pm. Peche was now the proud father of a little baby boy.
After a few days, I dared to venture into Forrest’s room. There was Olive holding her darling bundle of joy. He really was precious baby.
“Congratulations…He is beautiful.”
“Uh…thanks.” she replied as she shifted him up on to her shoulder.
I was just about the to leave the room when she said something else.
“I just wanted to say…sorry.”
Thats all she said, but it meant so much more than just one word. For the first time in my life I looked back at her with a smile.
She stayed in his room for hours that night. Just watching him sleep. Somewhere around midnight I heard her walk downstairs and through the sliding glass door.
After I had left Forrest’s room, Precious cornered me downstairs.
“I have an awesome idea!” A devious smile creeping across her face.
“Oh, I don’t know if I like the sound that.”
She laughed. “Lets do something crazy! After the babies are born. Lets get tattoos!”
“Just think about it! OMB Apri it would be so fun!”
It did sound fun, but terrifying at the same time. “I’ll think about it.”
The next morning Peche awoke to find Olive’s side of the bed neatly made. He headed to Forrest’s room thinking she would be there. She was not. He went back to their room where he spied a small piece of paper on his bed side table.
I don’t deserve to be a part of your amazing family. I know you will not understand, but I am sorry.
With that she was gone.
By the time the family returned from their vacation, the house was fully ready for us to move in. Mom was so excited to meet her new little grand baby. Orange Blossom was capturing hearts this way and that. You couldn’t help but smile when you walked into the room with her.
A few days later, we got a phone call from Seashell. He was calling to announce the arrival of their little bundle of joy. Almond Powder-Chiffon was born only a week after Orange Blossom and as soon as she was able, Mom drove out to Sugar Valley to visit. I wanted to go, but poor little Orange Blossom had a small cold and I just did not feel comfortable driving her all over the place.
There was no doubt about it, my mother goes gaga over babies. Especially her own grandchildren. If you looked up Doting Grandmother in the dictionary, my mothers face would stamped right there. I personally think it is awesome, the kids were lucky to have such an adoring grandma. We never had that seeing both our grandparents passed before we ever had a chance to meet them.
Mom had decided since she was unable to throw me a shower before the baby was born, that she would do one after. She was really hopeful that the Powder-Chiffon’s would be in attendance.
“So do you think you guys will be able to make it down?”
“I probably won’t be able to, but Precious said she will definitely be there.”
“Oh yay! We are going to have so much fun! But you will have to get out there sometime and meet your niece. She is such a darling baby”
“I know Mom, and soon as I can, I will.”
Mom was definitely right about that. Orange Blossom was the most precious baby ever, and she had her father wrapped firmly around her tiny little orange finger. He would get off work and rush through his shower just so he could see her sooner. I was so amazed how good he was with her. He was an only child and never really had been around babies prior. I guess some are just naturally good parents.
Surprisingly Peche Jr. was almost just as amazing with her. He absolutely loved her too. I would find him in her room all the time, just talking and singing to her. She would coo along with the tune. It melted my heart to see them together. He was going to be an awesome daddy one day.
Then there was me. When they were handing out amazing parent genes, I must have been in the wrong line. I couldn’t seem to do anything right. Every time I would try to hold her she would cry, and everything I tried just made matters worse. I would get so frustrated, I would almost be in tears. Then one of the guys would take her from me and she would instantly stop. Talk about making a person feel inadequate. They said it was because I was so nervous. Well how could I not be with everyone hovering over me all the time. Dad said I would get the hang of it. I seriously doubted it.
Just when I thought my day had hit its peak, I walked out of Orange Blossom’s room and saw this. Yuck. The site of it made me almost ill to my stomach. I headed off to mom to find out what the heck was going on.
“What is she doing here mom?”
“Well, Peche has not seen her since we got back and he asked if she could stay for a couple weeks.”
“A COUPLE WEEKS?! Have you lost your mind?”
“Honey, i know you two don’t get along, but they really seem to care about each other. Can’t you just try and put those childish squabbles behind you? For Peche’s sake?”
“Fine… But I swear if she tries anything stupid, I am gonna clock her.”
Even Pummy tried his best to make small talk, but the evil winch wanted nothing to do with him, and on top of that Peche was falling into the same pattern. Luckily he did not say anything mean, I would have really had to put my foot down, brother or not, no one talks nasty to my Pummy.
It was just a weird vibe all through the house. Peach Puff was almost never home. She had started hangin out at the Holly Berry Dive downtown. She would stay there until the wee hours of the morning. I swore there had to be a guy, but there wasn’t. Curiosity got the best of me one night and I followed her out. She just sat at the bar, ordered a couple of drinks and then sat in the far corner at the vintage chess table… I still say there was a guy.
The day of the shower came and I couldn’t hold it in any longer. I had not gotten a chance to speak to Olive since I saw them that night on the couch. I had to say my piece.
“Olive. I am not sure what is going on here, but if you are trying to hurt my brother just to get back at me for Berry knows what reason, I really wish you wouldn’t.”
She stood there silent for several moments.
“Is it so hard to believe that I may acutally like your brother huh?”
I desperately wanted to say yes, but I bit my tongue.
“Just because I don’t like you, doesn’t mean I don’t like him. He’s a really good guy and ya believe it or not, I really DO care about him. So if this interrogation is over I’m gonna go now.”
She walked off and I just watched in total disbelief. Was it possible for a Bitters to have actual feelings?
It was supposed to be a happy day, celebrating the arrival of Orange Blossom, but I was anything but cheery. I still harbored a deep resentment for Olive and wasn’t sure if it would ever go away. There was a strong possibility she could acutally be my (don’t even think it!) sister-in-law one day. That just irked me to no end. I started to day dream about punching her out at her wedding. A naughty grin started to grow across my face just as my train of thought was interrupted by a familiar voice.
True to her word there was Precious. I almost squealed with excitement as I ran across the grass to meet her. I pulled her into a hug and didn’t want to let go. Finally a friendly face to talk to! We chatted and laughed as we headed towards the house. Precious was just dying to meet Orange Blossom.
She told me all about little Almond, and I told her all about my drama with Olive. She always was on my side about the whole thing. After all she was there the day Olive kicked the crap out of me at the spa. She told me I could call her anytime if I needed to vent. I don’t think she would ever fully understand how much that really meant to me.
While I was in the sanctity of Orange Blossom’s room, the family was outside with the beast. She was actually warming up to the rest of the family. I am not sure what it was about me that she hated so much. Oh well, it was no skin off my nose. I was glad to steer clear of that sunny sweet disposition.
I really didn’t get those two. One minute they were all kissy and cuddly and then the next they were at each others throats.
The good times must have been really good, to put up with junk like that…
Ok, enough about Olive, it can’t be healthy for me to complain about her all the time. Besides there was many other things afoot in the Chiffon household. Peach Puff and Sunset had decided to move out. There was house across town for rent and they got a really good deal on it. Mom was kinda disappointed, but we all had an idea this was coming.
She went to confirm with Sunset, and yes it was indeed true. They would be moving out shortly. The lease started in just a couple weeks.
Mom couldn’t help but be excited for him. He looked so happy and proud to finally be moving out. I made sure to say my goodbyes and I made them both promise they would have to come and visit a lot.
The excitement didn’t stop there though. One morning before Pummy had to go to work, the three of us were hanging out in Orange Blossom’s room, reading stories and cuddling on the couch, when all of a sudden we heard Peche’s bedroom door open and foot steps run to the bathroom.
Next we heard the unpleasant sound of retching through the wall. I knew all to well what was going on. Great looks like I was gonna be an auntie to a demon spawn….
Afterward she came into Orange Blossom’s room. My eyes followed her the entire time she was walking.
“Hey, can I…hold her?”
“You’re not going to eat her are you?”
*Eye Roll* “No…”
“I guess so.”
I placed her into Olive’s arms and she instantly started crying.
“Uh Ok… Here.”
She passed her back to me and she settled right down. I was finally getting the hang of it.
“Aww she is just hungry. Huh sweet pea? You were just hungry.”
In no time at all we were celebrating Orange Blossom’s birthday. We all gathered around the cake as we sang Happy Birthday. Orange cooed and laughed as we blew out the candles.
What can I say? Cute as a button no?
When I arrived home after that fateful night, my mother did not talk to me for about 2 weeks. She must have known exactly what was had happened and now hated me for life. These thoughts did not help my poor psyche one bit. I slipped into a pattern of sink and stove checking for weeks on end. Waiting for the day she would come to my room and disown me. My father said she had no intention of that, but I felt other wise.
When I wasn’t in a constant state of panic, I was on the phone with Pummy. As always he was the best way to calm me down. We figured until the time was right, we would just lay low. I knew the confrontation with my mother was inevitable and if she kicked me out, then we could discuss what would happen next.
“Sweetheart its gonna be fine.”
While I was at home sweating bullets, Pummy was busy training for his new job. His mother was overjoyed to have me in the family, and his aunt helped him land a job at the Twizzlerbrook Fire Department, but before he could start, he had to work through the academy. Luckily there was a branch right here in Sugar Valley, so the worry of commuting was not on the table just yet. He always made sure to jog by the house everyday and I would run out to see him. I wished he would wear shirt though…
I did manage to get myself back into my training. Working on board breaking as well as other various goodies the Sensei had given to me to practice on. I knew he had lost his mind when he handed me a long glossy rock. How was I supposed to break that?! I just knew I would break my wrist. He assured me I wouldn’t if I used my training techniques. Well I didn’t break my wrist, but I didn’t break the rock either. Just as I chopped there was a knock at the door. The disruption totally threw off my game and I smacked it pretty hard, but all I felt was pain. I blew on my wrist as I welcomed the person on the other side of the door to enter.
My stomach did a somersault when I saw my mother come through the door. Oh no. This was it. The moment I had been dreading since I had gotten home.
“Apricot there is something I have been meaning to say to you.”
“Sweet pea, I am so sorry for the way I have been acting. I should have never said those horrible things to you. You were so happy and I was scared, but that is no excuse for me to take it out on you like that. I know Pummy is good guy. No, he is a wonderful guy, and he has been since you were children. I just want you to know that I am truly sorry and I am going to try my best to be more supportive of you two. He is a Chiffon now after all.”
“How did you…”
“Honey I’m old, but I’m not stupid. Now let me see that ring.”
She pulled me into a big hug and I could feel all that anxiety melt away. She said we needed to discuss arrangements to get Pummy moved in as soon as possible. I was so happy, I could not wait till he was out of training so I could call him.
After she left, I had a burst of energy and decided to work it out on the dummy. All of a sudden a wave of nausea fell over me and I had no choice but to bolt to my bathroom.
That was the second time that day I had thrown up. I thought it was possibly the questionable mac and cheese I had chosen to eat for dinner the night before, but maybe it wasn’t. All the mac and cheese was definitely gone and I still felt sick. Flashes of that passionate night under the stars ran through my head, and it all became clear. Uh oh….
Just to be sure, I made an appointment to get a check up.
The next few days were excruciating. I wanted to tell mom and dad of my suspicions, but I just was not ready yet. Instead I decided to wait until I knew for sure. That doesn’t mean I kept it a total secret, I was busting at the seems to tell Pummy and when I did, the reaction I got from him made it all worthwhile, he was so happy at just the thought of maybe being a daddy.
Pummy had headed off to the academy the morning I got the call. That was not the only excitement happening that day. Mom and Dad and I were sitting around the table, when they dropped this bombshell on me.
“Honey, we are moving.”
I almost choked on my eggs. “We’re What?!”
“I know this is a big surprise, but your father has been offered a new job at the culinary school in Twizzlerbrook, and they really want him. They have even offered up some land for us to build a new home on.”
“Well…building on the main house begins soon, and while that is underway, we are all going to go to Chambery so your father can visit with some of his family.”
“All of us?”
“Yes you and Pummy are welcome to come.”
“I uh…need to take this.” I grabbed the phone from the table and headed into the kitchen.
“Hi Mrs. Chiffon this Peppermint from Doctor Flowery’s office calling. I have your results. Congratulations you are going to be a Mommy! We need to make you an appointment for a prenatal exam as soon as you can.”
“Ok thank you so much!”
I closed the phone. I was going to be a mommy! My excitement was cut short by the second realization. I was going to be a mommy…I was not ready to be a mommy. I didn’t know a thing about being a mommy. I could barely take care of a house plant! It was going to take a lot more meditation to get me through this pregnancy. No longer having a choice, I headed to the living room to give everyone the good news.
I decided just coming right out with it was the best way… so I did.
“Mom. Dad. I’m pregnant!
“Aww hunny thats great!” Dad looked a lot like Pummy when I had told him. Positively beaming.
“And I have been thinking. Maybe I should not go on this trip. I wanna try to keep my stress levels down, and flying three continents away doesn’t sound like a very good idea for me. You know?”
“I completely agree sweet pea. We will have to get you guys set up in the guest house while we are away. I had it built first, for an occasion just like this.”
It was so nice to have my loving understanding mother back.
When Pummy and I arrived in Twizzlerbrook we headed straight to the house. My poor back could only take so much car ride. I was so achy all the time. Pregnancy was miserable on me. If I could have stayed in a hot bath the whole time I would have been a lot happier.
Time at the guest house was terribly boring and terribly loud. All the construction was annoying to say the least. The only thing to do was read, and that was not all that easy with the incessant hammering and sawing. I was not much of a reader, but when you really don’t have many other options, reading wasn’t so bad, and eventually I even learned to tune out the construction symphony. After being cooped up in the house for about two weeks though, I decided to head out and see a little of what Twizzlerbrook had to offer.
Lemon-Mint Esplanade was a good distance from the house, but I thought a walk might be just what the doctor ordered. It took me about 40 minutes to get there, but when i did, I was so glad I decided to venture out. It was so beautiful. I struck up a conversation with the food vendor. She said her name was Honey and she had lived in town all of her life. She gave me a few other points of interest to see and then offered me a free slice of her world famous cobbler.
The cobbler was amazing. I sat and read a book I had brought along with me while I munched. I was surprised how well I was adjusting to such a fast and drastic change in my life. I was so proud. Once I devoured the cobbler I decided to head back home. Pummy would be home before I knew it and I was missing him something fierce.
It was his first day down at the station house. He would not be going on any calls just yet, but they had him working hard none the less.
He seemed to be the most handy of the team and the old Woo Woo 4000 was in dire need of some love and care. Pummy was more than happy to oblige. With in no time at all, he had returned to her to her former glory and she was ready for what ever the day might bring for her.
Once the station bell rang though, Pummy was out the door eager to get home to me and Orange Blossom.
Seeing that I have never been one for surprises, as soon as I was able to get a sonogram done to find the sex of the baby, I did. We were having a little girl and Pummy and I both agreed Orange Blossom was the perfect name for our little angel. Mom about cried on the phone when I told her of our decision.
Little Orange Blossom was not even here yet and Pummy was already in love. We would sit for hours so he could listen and talk to her. She was already starting to recognize his voice. She would start to kick when he was around.
Before it even seemed possible, I went into labor. I was reading on the couch when I felt a pain like nothing I had ever felt before. It shot me from the couch and I grabbed my belly. I called to Pummy who was in the back room.
“Honey, we gotta go now!”
He emerged from the bedroom still in his Pj’s looking just a little bit panicked.
“Yes! Right now!”
I had never seen a man change his clothes so quickly. He was in the room and out again, in what seemed like 30 seconds. He ushered me to the car and we were on our way.
12 hours later at exactly 8:25 am. Orange Blossom was handed into my arms. She was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen in my life. I still had my fears about being a good mommy, but just having her there with me, I knew I would work it out.
When we were all released from the hospital, we received a phone call from my mother. She said they would be home soon and she could not wait to meet her granddaughter. I hung up the phone and looked back at Orange Blossom. Welcome to the family sweet pea.