Martin Frobisher, an English seaman who lived in the sixteenth century, is someone I can relate to on so many levels.
Martin Frobisher, an English seaman who lived in the sixteenth century, is someone I can relate to on so many levels.
Yay!! Chapter 15!! Wow we never thought that we'd actually get this far!! Thank you so so much for reading!! :) xx
I try to stop my knees from shaking as we bounce down the potholed road. Ty seems to notice and reaches over to pat my kindly shoulder.
"Don't worry." He whispers, smiling reassuringly. "It's going to be fine."
I nod. "I know."
Papa shoots me a glance through the rear view mirror. He seems a little bit anxious, but I'm pretty sure that Tyler coming along might be helping his nerves. Well, I hope.
He whips his cell phone out, and begins to text. It doesn't bother me at first, I just spend my time looking at the trees flying by, outside of the window. After a while, though, loneliness sets in. Before I met Ty, and became closer to the rest of the people I know, this situation wasn't a problem.
"Ty?" I manage to croak out, quiet enough not to have Papa notice behind the italian opera that has been playing.
"I'm scared." I confide, adjusting the constriction of my seat belt. He smiles, and reassures me once again. Ty's hand drifts to mine, and I tighten my grip, not wanting the warmth of his weathered hand to leave.
The vehicle squeals to a stop after the long trip, Papa gesturing to a woman with wavy red hair. She throws open the door, sliding into the passenger seat and giving my father a quick peck on the cheek.
In my peripherals, I spot Tyler quickly sneak a look in my direction. I swallow hard, focusing on the little children waving from the front yard of a cute cottage.
Pa rolls down the window so that Janet can tell them goodbye, the two little girls nodding at her instructions and obediently following the babysitter back into the house.
I quickly lock eyes with Ty, alarmed.
"I didn't know she had kids." I hiss, his hand rubbing soft circles on my shoulder.
"It's okay..." He murmurs, the lady turning around to smile at us.
"Hello." She speaks quietly, her freckled cheeks blushing slightly. "I'm Janet."
"Birdie." I state, watching her nervously bite her bottom lip.
"I am really glad to meet you. Rich told me so much about you." She grins, her tone of voice gentle and motherly. "Your dad sure is proud of you."
"He's my Papa." I don't understand the words spilling from my mouth. Why am I being so rude.
Thankfully, Ty cuts into our conversation.
"I'm Tyler Koppinger." He reaches out a hand that the timid woman warmly accepts and gives it a friendly shake. "I'm Birdie's best friend."
It takes a second to register, but by the time Papa's girlfriend has turned back around to face the front and Ty is tapping away on his phone, I'm practically hyperventilating.
Ty called me his best friend.
It's one thing considering someone your best friend, but when they say they're your best friend, especially in front of people, it's a whole different thing.
We arrive at a nearly deserted restaurant that I have never been before.
"Hey, Rich. Hello, Janet. How're you?" The waitress gathers the menus and leads us to a table. Ty leans over and pulls me a little closer to him, my head spinning.
"How often do you come here?" I stare at my father who is guiltily playing with the napkin holder set on the round table.
"We've been here once or twice." He avoids making eye contact. "Maybe more."
"Oh." I can't help but feel betrayed. Those nights that we would usually spend together, he had been sneaking off to Yarmouth to see his secret girlfriend. The stress that had been relived from swimming and spending the day with Tyler returns suddenly as an unsettling silence falls over the table.
"Can I get you anything to drink?" The waitress shouts from the kitchen. I cringe. Great service.
"I'll have a coke, please, Jill." My father hollers, raising his eyebrows questioningly at the rest of us.
We all place our orders, then sit awkwardly again. We're the only guests in the establishment with the exception of the two gossipy seniors hooting at the table behind us. Other than that, the place is completely dead.
"So, Birdie. Tell me about yourself." Janet says just above a whisper. I can tell she's trying really hard to gain my trust.
"Um, I like to draw and swim." I smile a little, then quickly return to scowling. "I help out at the marina sometimes."
The red-haired woman nods. "Rich tells me about how helpful you are."
I glare at Papa, who happens to be staring up at the ceiling.
"Papa seems to tell you a lot about me." I remark grudgingly. "I only found out you existed this morning."
"Oh." Janet looks to Papa for help, but he doesn't say a word. "Um, so, Birdie... Do you have a boyfriend?"
"No!" Both Ty and I exclaim in unison. Confused, I turn to look at my friend, his ears bright red.
"Sorry." He mumbles hastily.
"Okay." Janet taps the salt shaker distractedly against the table. "Uh, what about your father? Is there anything that I need to know about this stinky guy?"
Papa slips an arm around her shoulder, and I think I throw up a little in my mouth.
"Well," I spit, scrambling to my feet. "You seem to know him better than I do." I march towards the bathrooms, shoving open the door and collapsing onto the grimy sink. In the cracked mirror, I see the beginning of the tears start to pour down my cheeks. I tear a wad of paper towels from the dispenser, shoving them onto my face in an attempt to stop myself from crying before my eyes turn bright red.
"Birdie?" There's a knock on the door, a definite hint of irritation in Papa's voice. "Birdie, can you come out here, please?"
"No." I bark stubbornly, throwing my ball of serviettes into the overflowing trash can.
"Birdie..." Pa's tone is full of warning. "Birdie, don't make me come in there."
"Just go back to being with your girlfriend." I scream through the door, leaning against the rusty toilet stall. "Go away. I'll be out in a little while."
"No, you're going to come out of there right now." My father almost never sounds this upset with me. "You have ten seconds. Ten, nine, eight..."
"Shut up!" I wail, my fists clenched. "Stop counting! You're treating me like a kindergartener! I'm not a little kid."
"I can't believe you could do this to me!" I slam my head against the paint-chipped wall. "You can't just expect me to be alright with finding out you've had a secret girlfriend for months! I hate this, I hate her, I hate you."
Papa's counting trails off and he's silent for so long, I'm not sure whether he left.
"Kestrel." He growls. "You're going to come and join us for a nice meal this instant. You're being ridiculous."
"Kestrel." I hear his footsteps disappear down the creaky hallway leading back to the dining room. After five minutes, I've cleaned myself up and am busy convincing myself to walk through the door. It takes me a little longer than I wanted it to, but I eventually slip into the hallway leading to our table.
Halfway down my trek, though, I absentmindedly walk into someone, which sends me flying back onto my butt.
"Ow." I look up to reveal Ty, who is holding his hand out for me. "Oh, sorry-"
"It's fine." He chuckles. I'm pulled up, and begin to walk to the table again, but am pulled back by his firm hand.
"Huh?" I question, cocking my head over.
"It-" He stammers, "Let's go for a walk. It'll be much too awkward at the table. Maybe let's look at the shops, I've never been to Yarmouth before." Tyler asks, and I nod my head. We walk out the back door, making sure to sneak past where Papa and Janet sit.
"Wait-" I stop him before we pass through the door. "Do they know that we're doing this?"
"No," Tyler admits. "But, I gave your dad my cell phone number. It's all good." He bumps into me slightly before shoving the door open, and we both tumble out into the fine evening mist of the town.
"Hey, I have an idea!" I grin, taking another bite of my chocolate bar. "What if we pretend that we're different people? Like, we're siblings, or cancer patients who have fallen in tragic love, or-" I pause before continuing, only now realizing what I've said.
"What?" Ty says, a chunk of peanut escaping from his mouth.
"N-nothing." I stutter, and stuff the rest of my 'dinner' in my mouth. The park bench that we're sitting on is a little damp from the afternoon rain, so it's a little bit uncomfortable for me.
"I don't want to go back yet. Would you like to get some coffee?" I nod, flustered, at his question and we walk towards a small shop on the adjacent street.
A bell rings when we enter, and the cozy smells of a coffee beans and freshly baked pastries his our noses. Tyler sits down in a corner booth and I pop in beside him, propping up a menu to shield the two of us from the rest of the shop.
"Okay." He looks at me seriously. "My name is Jason... Thumb."
"And mine will be Lena?" I suggest, putting down the laminated menu shortly afterwards.
"Alright." He grins and calls over a waiter. We both order a sweet cappuccino-like drink, and decide to share a dessert. After she leaves, Ty reverts his stare back to me, a mischievous look on his face.
"So, Lena, what do you do for a living?" He grins, winking subtly in my direction.
"I'm a... schoolteacher."
"What kind?" Tyler asks.
"I'm the school's..." I pause to think. "Guidance counselor."
"Cool, maybe you could give me some advice?"
"Anytime." I giggle.
"Well... There's this girl I like, but I don't think she realizes my feelings for her."
"What is she like?" I press on, but our conversation is cut off by the waitress, who hands us our coffees and dessert. We say our thank-yous, and continue our banter.
"She's kind, a good friend, and can be a cry-baby... but for some reason I find even her flaws attractive." I blush even though he's not talking about me, but I'm still affected by what Ty is saying. The two of us take a sip from our overly-sugared cappuccinos.
"Y-you should just suck up and tell her." I stutter, covering my cheeks with my hands.
"Oh, should I?" His words are answered with a flustered nod. "Birdie, I think you're great. You may not reciprocate my feelings, but... I really, really like you."
I'm speechless. Before I know what I'm doing, my arms have moved on their own accord and are wrapping themselves around Tyler's torso.
"I really, really like you too."
"Where on Earth have you two been?" Papa fumes, pacing in front of the mediocre restaurant. Janet is off to the side where she can watch my father explode from a safe distance.
"We just went for a walk and got some coffee." Ty explains, defensively stepping between the two of us.
"Well, it would be very much appreciated if you could tell me where you're going next time." Papa's face is bright red. It's been a very long time since I've seen him this upset.
"We're alright, Papa, please just let it go." I urge, squeezing his had consolingly. "You have Ty's phone number anyway, right? My father looks at me like I've grown a second head. "Right?"
"Uh, no..." He answers. I immediately turn to the source of the crime, but the tall, blonde boy just shrugs and mouths an apology.
"Whatever's done is done, I guess." Papa sighs and steps into the car. "Are you getting in or what?"
I wipe the sweat from my brow that has been accumulating there for an hour. The marina is pretty much abandoned in the morning, especially on a Sunday, but Papa still insists that we set up early. In my opinion, it's silly. I like my sleep. Today seems unusually hot compared to the past
"Birdie, what would you like for dinner today?" My father calls from the beach shack, holding a phone receiver in his hand. "Leon is inviting us over, and he wants your say in the meal."
"I don't really care, but if I had to choose..." I take a moment, contemplating my choices. "Mashed potatoes and corn, maybe. That seems like a nice meal." He smiles back at me, and reattaches the telephone to his ear, keeping it there with his shoulder, and seconds later I can hear Papa talking in the background, replying to Mr. Koppinger's request.
Sitting on a wooden bench alone gets boring after a while, so I decide to take a dip in the water, not caring what Pa thinks. Luckily, I always keep my bathing suit on nowadays when I'm at the work, so it takes seconds for me to strip down and hop into the chilly bay.
It's refreshing, the cool water on my skin. I grab my goggles off of the dock, strap them on, and let myself sink to the bottom. Fish don't show up around the dock as much in the morning, but there is still a few floating around me. I slowly breast stroke farther out from shore, but make sure that I'm still close enough that Papa can still find me if he realizes that I'm gone. The sea is an almost fluorescent shade of turquoise, and at the bottom I can make out shells and rocks that have adopted the same tint. Before thinking it through, I dive to the bottom, and search around for the nicest shell. In the corner of my peripheral vision, there's a glint and I scramble over to check it out.
A shiny- something or other- lays on top of a large rock, and it begins to intrigue me. Right as I snatch it up in my hand, though, my last few bubbles of air float through my nose and up to the surface of the water.
My reaction to the tightening in my chest is frantic, and I sputter to the top, getting a nose full of water in the process.
It seems serendipitous, though, the time I pop up, because once I regain my breath and stop coughing like a maniac, I can see Papa waving me back to shore. With the shiny thing safe in my hand, I start back to the dock.
"Birdie, There's customers! Stop goofing about, and go home quickly to change!" He chuckles half-heartedly. "Please, I need your help." Pa has been a little too cold since yesterday's event, which worries me because I've pretty much forgiven him.
"Alright." I sigh, grab my clothes before they flip into the water, and run back to the house. On my way down the winding path, I bump into Ty for the umpteenth time.
"Hey, where're you going?" He wears his bathing suit, a brightly coloured towel slung over his shoulder.
"I'm going home to change." I frown. "Papa needs my help."
"Right now?" Tyler sighs, rolling his clear blue eyes. "I thought that we could go swimming."
"Can we go later? I'm already in trouble as it is, I don't need my father to be any more mad at me."
"I was going to go to the cliffs, though..."
"Oh, fine." I roll my eyes and turn in the direction he's facing. A few strides later, we're piling into Leon's car, Ty at the wheel.
He starts down a rocky path, lumps and bumps of wild tree roots creeping through the gravel We're struggling across. When the two of us arrive at the top of the hill safely, I let out a sigh of relief that neither of us is hurt.
"Are you sure about this?" He shivers, rubbing the goosepimples freckled on his arms.
"Ty, I've been jumping off here since I was a wee kid, I'm pretty sure that it's safe to jump." Tyler shakes his head stubbornly.
"This must be a health risk!"
"Admit it, you're just arguing 'cause you're scared." I tease, patting him on the back. "Make sure to stay straight as a pencil, and plug your nose."
"Will you hold my hand?" He asks, and I promptly agree. Ty grabs my hand, and the two of us step forward, or toes curling over the edge of the mossy rock.
"One," I start, swinging the arm that connects us.
"Two." He shivers.
"Three." The two of us float together for a brief moment, before crashing into the water. Luckily, Ty remembered to plug his nose. We both surface, the blonde boy sputtering in between laughter.
"That was actually so fun." He cheers on his way back to shore, struggling less with his swimming than before.
"Birdie!" someone screams and i cry and go home and paint and ty coems and omg ilysm birdie.
A/N whoooo a cliffie
sorry this is a psychological experiment go along little kiddies (sorry haha)
sooo happy holly days here's a picture for you you should print it off 'n stuff :)
~Fedora & What
Here is Chapter Fourteeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeen wow we're almost done!! A massive thank you to everyone who stuck with us through the whole thing, we really really appreciate it!! :) xx
Sorry, this is another short one but it's early! We'll definitely write tons over the holiday (we promise) yeah right
By the way, a million thanks to Luna, who drew us an amazing picture! We love it so much :)
It's still dark when I wake up, the gentle raindrops pounding against the roof above my head. I slip out of bed, creeping across the creaking floorboards to the living room where I wrap the quilt thrown over the couch around my shoulders.
"Hey." A soft voice calls, Papa peeking around the corner.
"Good morning, Pa." I reply, making room for my father to curl up on the sofa beside me.
"You're up rather early." He remarks, a smile on his lips as he tugs the blanket up to his chest. I shrug.
Papa's eyes slide closed, then blink open again as he tries to keep himself awake.
"Birdie, my little bird, I have something to tell you." He murmurs tiredly, resting his head against my shoulder.
He grins drowsily, his fingers toying with the ends of my tangled hair.
"I have a girlfriend."
My heart sinks at his words. "What?"
"Her name is Janet." Pa continues, a crack of thunder sounding from the black sky. "She's really nice, Birdie. I think you'll like her a lot."
"Yeah, congratulations." I smile politely, and head off to my room. " I need to get my textbooks organized, be back in a few." He lets me slip into my room, not pushing to figure out my apparent lack of interest on the subject of his girlfriend.
Since I'm already in my room, I decide to clean up my school things anyway. My closet is a disaster. I take a moment of preparation before tearing open the closet door, and when I do I'm glad that I took a second to release my stress.
Boxes tumble down, littering my floor with books. Frantically, I manage to save my old fish bowl before it hits the ground, and set the empty glass dish on my desk. Textbooks from years ago are scattered across the hardwood, dog-eared with doodles and awful sketches between the endless lines.
I drop to my knees and begin to gather the fallen objects, the distraction not enough for me to forget about Papa's girlfriend.
I know she's going to hate me. All women hate me. I'm awkward and clumsy, not feminine in the least. I get nervous around other girls, because I know I'm not like them. And that ever since what my mother and Claire have done to me and what from I have seen from spending time around Kittie, I'm never going to trust another female for as long as I live.
I toss the junk from my closet onto my unmade bed, surprised when I feel tears dripping down my cheeks. It's been a while since I've cried alone in my room and it feels strangely unfamiliar, despite the dozen years I had done it every single night.
There's a gentle tap on the half opened door, my father peeking around the corner timidly.
"I heard a crash." He murmurs, his eyes landing on the disaster of books and loose pages strewn across the thinly-worn bedspread. "You okay?"
I peer down at my socks to hide my teary eyes, but he's already witnessed my sadness.
"What's wrong, little bird?" He says softly, squatting down so we're at the same eye level. "Why are you crying?"
My lips stay glued shut as I stubbornly turn to face the wall.
"Come on, Birdie." Pa sits down on the cold flooring beside me, wrapping an arm around my shoulders. "Don't be like that. You can tell me what's bothering you."
"It's your girlfriend!" I blurt, watching the confusion form on his wrinkled face. His stubble has turned into a scrawny, pathetic excuse of a beard. Whenever he would grow any facial hair when I was little, I would always grab it in my fist and try to tug it out. I have absolutely no sense of fashion, but even as a toddler I knew that his beard looked appalling.
"What's wrong with Janet? You've never even met her." Papa crinkles his forehead, his eyes hurt.
I sigh, explanations a swirled mess in my head.
"It's just... I-I..." I stammer, toying with the loose threads hanging from the blanket sweeping from my bed to the dusty floor. "I know that she's going to hate me, Papa."
Papa pulls me in for a hug, the scratchy hair surrounding his mouth feeling like a porcupine climbing my forehead. His chest bounces as he chuckles slightly, playing with the frizzy ends of my wavy hair.
"You don't know her." Papa grins after I pull away. "She's not from Wrenside, she's from Yarmouth. I met her about two months ago, and she's absolutely lovely. I know she'll like you, Birdie. You're wonderful, who wouldn't like you?"
I wrinkle my nose. "A lot of people don't like me..."
Pa's mouth is smiling, but his eyes look depressed as he is clearly remembering the horrible things people have done to me.
"Not Janet." He assures me, getting to his feet, then helping me up. "She's going to absolutely love you."
I follow my father to the kitchen where he searches through cupboards for sugary cereal that we eat out of coffee mugs with crumbs in the bottom.
Now I know that Janet will probably like me, but that really wasn't exactly my main concern. I'm secretly more worried that I'm going to hate her.
After our brief breakfast, we both head down to the Marina. The sky is still as dark as night, hidden behind ominous clouds that had thankfully stopped dropping rain. Leon is already on his yacht, sweeping up debris from the deck.
"Hello!" He waves joyously, gesturing for me to climb aboard.
"Why are you here so early?" I ask, leaning against the railing. The elderly man shakes his head.
"It was Ty who wanted to come."
My head shoots up from where I was examining a pebbling stuck in a crevice in the bottom of my runners. "Ty's here? Ty actually woke up this early?"
Mr. Koppinger laughs. "I know, I had a hard time believing it myself. He's down by the beach, said something about wanting to practice his swimming." He raises a furry eyebrow. "I think he's waiting for you?"
"Oh." I scramble back onto the dock, marching towards the beach. "I'll see you in a little while."
I only find it the tiniest bit insane that Tyler wants to swim in this weather. The water is a dark grey, matching the threatening sky and it's so chilly I actually had to put on a sweater. My sneakers slap the wet planks, my eyes scanning the sandy patch for the teenaged boy. I spot him further down the strip, waded in barely to his knees and even from where I observe from a great distance away, I can see that he is shivering and trembling remarkably.
I jog through the damp, sticky sand to where he stands frozen in place, his lips tinted blue and his hair a little bit flatter than usual.
"Hey, Birdie. I've been waiting!" His teeth chatter uncontrollably, his hands rubbing the goosebumps dotting his toned arms. "Where's your bathing suit?"
"I don't have it." My eyes flick to his tanned abs. Wait, what? No, no they don't. I swallow, fixating my sight on the dark horizon, chanting some ancient nursery rhyme in my head to prevent my thoughts from wandering to Ty. He is my only friend, probably my best friend, and that's all I can think of him as. I've never had a friend my own age before, I can't lose him because of some imaginary feelings that my head concocted and tried to make me believe.
"I don't have it," I repeat, allowing myself to sneak a glance at the cold boy. "Because it is seven degrees outside! Ty, you're crazy, we can't go swimming!"
"Of course we can!" He insists, bending over to feel the water with his hand. "It's really nice!"
"No it's not." I roll my eyes, hiding a smirk. "Ty, come on. Let's go back to the marina or play video games or something. This is ridiculous."
"It's really nice!" He says again, his voice wavering from his intense quivering. "See?"
He bends over, cups his hand and scoops the water up and throws it towards me. I can't stop the scream from escaping my lips as the frigid water soaks through my sweatshirt.
"I hate you!" I wail, watching him snicker, then splash me again. "Ty! I'm wearing jeans, for god's sake!"
He continues to attack me with the salty water until I'm completely soaked from head to toe.
"Fine." I growl, slowly taking a step towards the ocean. The water is the coldest it's been for as long as I can recall. I slip off my shoes, leaving them in a dripping pile by the shoreline, biting my lip as the water laps up the bottom of my pants.
Ty smiles at his accomplishment, then turns on his heels and dives straight into the water. He surfaces sputtering, but still a huge improvement from the last lesson. I take a deep breath, then also dunk myself into the freezing bay. It knocks the wind out of me, but there's something about swimming in the morning that is refreshing and rejuvenating. I swim farther out from shore, passing Tyler and treading water just as my toes can longer touch the bottom.
Ty is still only waist deep, but without warning, flops down into the water and thrashes towards me in his original stroke. He doesn't lift his head until he stops beside me, standing on the ground, looking especially proud of himself.
"That was so good!" I gasp, grabbing onto him to hold myself up as I give my tired legs a rest. "Have you been practicing?"
He shrugs. "A little bit."
"Well, you don't need me anymore!" I beam, my heartbeat quickening in my chest, because Ty has his arms around my waist, holding my shoulders above the surface. I feel extremely heavy in my sweater and jeans with my hair clinging to the side of my face. but I'm sure I'm warmer than Tyler in his patterned swim trunks.
"I'm so good," Ty narrows his eyes mock competitively. "That we should have a race."
I smirk. "Let's do this."
"Go!" Ty suddenly releases me from his grip, my face dipping below the water as I struggle to kick back to the top. Tyler is already speeding halfway back to shore, his limbs flying madly in every direction.
"Cheater!" I shout, plummeting into the ocean and chasing after him. He might be stronger than me, and I might be wearing all my clothes, but my experience is no match for his skills. I beat him with ease, lying down flat on the beach with my ankles in the water.
"Darn it." Ty pants, landing on the shore beside me. "I thought I would've kicked your butt for sure."
I laugh, my chest rising and falling heavily. "In you dreams, slowpoke."
"I'm the slowpoke?" He chortles with fake disbelief. He scrambles to his feet, grabbing my cold hand and pulling me up. "I challenge you to a rematch."
We swim for a good forty minutes, the cold nothing compared to how much fun we were having. Is this how people who had lots of friends live everyday? That would be amazing, getting to laugh and joke around with people who were practically family. I think that I would like that very much.
It begins to rain once again as we're walking home, but being already drenched, we take our time strolling through the forest, stopping in every puddle of deep brown mud to squish it in between our toes like little children. Once at Leon's, we both do our best to wipe our feet on one of the many prickly welcome mats, but it tickles the soles of our feet so badly that we leave a trail of dark footprints all the way to the bathtub where we rinse them well. I borrow a pair of Ty's sweatpants, leaving on my soaked underwear for a wet splotch on my bum, which left Tyler in hysterics for at least five minutes. After we're both changed, we light a fire in the fireplace and bury ourselves under the dozens of exotic quilts and afghans scattered around the cluttered living room, which is where Leon and Papa find us playing video games three hours later.
"There you guys are!" The eldest Koppinger eyes the mud tracked to the bathroom. "Where were you?"
I hold up a dripping strand of curly hair which, frustratingly, was still drenched, despite the fact that we had been crowded around the warm orange flames for a fairly large portion of the day.
"You guys went swimming? In this weather?" My father slips off his jacket, throwing it over the teetering coat rack of unusual hats.
"You bet!" Ty grins, fixing his quiff, which has unfairly gone back to being absolutely perfect.
Leon disappears down the corridor lined with photos, probably following the footprints staining the uneven hardwood floor. Pa comes over and kneels down in front of the warmth.
"Hey, Birdie..." He smiles, a hand flying to his sore back. "Do you think that I could speak with you for a just a second? In the other room?"
I drop the controller, Tyler being not enough of a gentleman to pause the fast-paced game for me. My father leads me to the kitchen where he giddily bounces on the balls of his feet.
"So, after this morning when you told me that you were worried that Janet wouldn't like you," He inhales excitedly. "I called her and we're meeting for dinner in Yarmouth tonight. Isn't that great?"
"What?" I sit down on the cushioned chair at the oak table. "Tonight?"
Papa nods. "Yep! I'm so excited for you to meet her."
"Yeah, I can kinda tell..." I remark, observing the childish grin on his face.
"This is going to be so much fun!" He does the most embarrassing dance that makes me sort of aware that part of the reason I have had almost no friends was because I have his genes. Papa didn't have many friends growing up, either. But at least he was always there for me, unlike my mother. I look up to him, he plays a major role in my life. He is very much respected around town for the good work he does, and I hope one day, people will treat me the way that they treat my father.
"I'm going to home to have a shower." Pa waggles his hips as he makes his way to the door. I know I can't tell him. There's no way that I can let him know without breaking his heart that I am dreading this evening more than anything before.
I like being the only woman in Papa's life. I like making him laugh, seeing him smile. Of course I want him to be happy, but it's just been the two of us for so long that I don't if I can share.
But I am probably being stupid. There are tons and tons of parents who date, and from what I've learned from the relationships around town and on television, they don't necessary last.
I'm being an idiot again.
What a big surprise.
"Birdie?" The blonde boy pokes his head around the corner, his expression impatient, but becomes immediately sympathetic when he sees me. "Is everything okay?"
I think over my answer for a second before staring down at my lap and shaking my head slowly. Ty pulls up a seat at the table.
"Um... Do you, erm, wanna talk about it?" I can tell that this is new for him, but just the fact that he is trying to get me to open up about my feelings makes my heart swell. He is so kind.
"It's just..." I hesitate. I've never trusted anyone with my secrets before. Taking a deep breath, I decide to take the chance. "Papa has a new girlfriend, and I hate her. I think."
"You think?" Ty raises an eyebrow, looking freakishly like a younger, ponytail-less version of his grandfather.
"Well, I haven't really met her yet." I explain, intertwining my fingers and resting them on the scratched tabletop. "But I'm going to. Soon."
Ty purses his lips. "Are you going to be okay?"
Am I going to be okay? The words bring tears to my eyes and a buried memory to mind.
"Nobody cares about you." Claire sneers, jabbing me in the ribs. "We could kill you, and nobody would even care."
"Somebody would care!" I insist, wiping the tears from my eyes, earning myself another fist to the gut.
"You're wrong. Your mother left, she hated you so much, your brother hasn't stood up for you once yet, and everybody knows that your father doesn't really love you. You're just too much of an idiot to realize it." She jeers, shoving me to the ground and starting to march away. "Nobody will ever care about you."
"Birdie, don't cry." Ty inches his chair closer to mine, pulling me in for a warm hug. "Please don't cry. Please."
"I'm sorry." I choke out, trying to escape his tight grip, but he won't let me go. "I'll be fine. I'm just being stupid."
"You're not being stupid." He murmurs, and I let myself go limp. "When my mother started dating other guys, I was just as upset. It's weird, isn't it?"
We stay like that for a few minutes until he finally pulls away.
"If you're really nervous about it, I'll come with you to meet her." Ty smiles compassionately. "It's going to be okay."
"You're so nice, Ty." I rest my head against his shoulder, letting my eyes slide closed. "You're so, so nice."
Tyler exhales, his arm where I lay my head dropping as his chest deflates. "I'm working on it."
When I get home, a clean and well-dressed Papa stands in front of the mirror, running a comb through his wet, graying hair. He had been looking happier lately, I just figured that it was because of Izzy's visit.
I wish he had told me about her earlier. I was not expecting this to happen. I never had a single suspicion that the nights he went out without letting me know where, he was going to see his girlfriend. He's been alone for so long.
"Papa," I begin, causing him to spin around, his glasses sliding down his freckled nose. "Is it alright if Ty joins us this evening?"
My father frowns. "Well, you see, I was kind of hoping that this could just be the three of us..."
"Oh." I purposely make my voice drip with disappointment, scrunching up the corners of my eyes in a way that I hope makes it impossible for Papa to say no. "It's just... Well, you know how I get around strangers. I just thought that maybe if I had a friend with me, I would feel a little bit more comfortable. But if you wanted this just to be about us, that's fine, I guess..."
Papa stares at his worn hands, bandaged and calloused from the strenuous work he does daily at the marina.
"You know what?" he mumbles, looking up to smile at me. "I think that sounds like a great idea. Of course Ty can come, if he wants."
I jump to my feet, giving him a quick peck on the cheek. "Thank you so much. I'm so excited!"
Total lie, but my father buys it and hugs me with a huge grin on his face.
"That's my girl. Now, go get ready. There's no way I would ever let my two favourite girls meet face to face while you're wearing those sweatpants"
<A/N> We're pretty proud of this chapter no matter how short it is ^ v ^
~Fedora & What
Sorry for the late chapter so here's an old man on a tight rope -->
I poke at the slimy pizza, tentatively raising it to my mouth. Surprisingly, it's not as awful as it looks.
Papa has already finished off his portion and is scraping the remainder of the sticky pizza off his plate and into the garbage. He leaves the dishes in the sink to soak and then heads to the door.
"Birdie," He calls from the other room. I stand up and join him in the entrance where he is balancing on one foot to tie his shoelaces. "I'm going out. Can you please finish cleaning up and then go help Kittie close up the marina for the night?"
"Sure." I swallow the last of my dinner. "But if you're not going to the marina, where're you going?"
Papa stares at me for a moment before blinking and slipping on his sweatshirt. "I'm just going out with friends. I might be home late."
"With who?" I pry, grabbing onto his arm.
Pa shakes me off. "Why are you so concerned, Birdie? I'm an adult, I can do what I want."
"Okay." I mutter, turning and trudging back to the kitchen. My father had never kept many secrets from me, so this was strange. I ignore the curiosity and sit back down at the table, resting my chin in the palms of my hands.
I stroll around the house, the boredom after all the craziness of the past few weeks unfamiliar. I sit on the couch with my sketchbook and flip through all my old drawings. Did Ty really think that they were good?
At one point, I thought that I was a good artist, but now I'm not so sure. The longer you stare at the sketch, the worse it gets, the more flaws you find, the more you want to crumple it into a ball.
When I look up, the living room is dim, the sun no longer visible through the dusty windows.
"Darn!" I quickly race to the door, shoving my feet into my sandals and taking off towards the marina. By the time I get there, I'm out of breath and exhausted by the short sprint, sweat clinging to my forehead.
I spot Kittie descending the steps of a boat and standing on the dock, staring thoughtfully out towards the sea.
"Kittie!" I stop right in front of her, bending over to help slow my pounding pulse. "Sorry I'm late. I forgot."
She shrugs. "There really wasn't very much to do." The young woman looks like new. There isn't a drunk aura radiating from her like there usually is. The thought of helping Kittie sober up brings a smile onto my face.
"Oh." I pause. "Would you like to take a canoe ride?"
She looks at me pensively for a moment, before answering with a brief "Okay."
The two of us push the small boat off of the shore, and hop in while it's still close enough to the sand to not get our socks wet. I snatch a paddle and slowly push us off of the clay-like sand, into deeper water, and soon through the deep waters of the salt water bay.
"I used to do this a whole lot, you know. Canoeing." The recovering alcoholic lets her finger tips lightly skim the surface of the water, making wave-like patterns flow from behind them. "I used to live on Vancouver Island, and boating was a sport all of us enjoyed. Days before my family died, we moved up here, to escape from the bustling city we grew up in. It was quite a change to go through, especially the difference in driving habits, it was much too confusing for my famil-" Kittie's voice wavers, and I pat her lightly on the back. "I was the only one not in the car." A single tear slips down her cheek. "Thank you."
"Kittie, My father and I only just slightly helped you back on your feet. It was you who helped yourself recover, you should really give yourself some credit." I reply, slowly circling the bay with our bright red canoe. She smiles out across the water.
"I'm so proud of myself." She wipes her eyes and sets her paddle across her lap. "I really am. But I couldn't have done it if you guys hadn't helped me get started."
Kittie sure has changed.
The next day, I'm back at the marina early, sitting in the scorching sun with nothing to do, when suddenly Claire and Kennedy come walking down the dock.
"Hey, Kessy, where's Ty? We need to speak with him." The girl, about my age demands.
"Must be in his grandfather's yacht." I shrug indifferently, raising my hand to my brow.
"Okay." Claire smirks, turning around and making her way down the long dock to where the large boat is tied, Kennedy trailing behind.
They emerge minutes later with Ty, Leon poking his head out after them.
"Where're you all going?" The senior citizen calls after them, his stringy grey hair plastered to his forehead with sweat.
"We're just going to go hang out around town." Kennedy explains, pointing in the direction of the streets past the beach and brush.
"Oh." Leon's eyes flick to me, then back to the group of teenagers. "Are you going to invite Birdie? Wouldn't that be nice?"
Ty stares at me for a second before shooting a nervous look at Claire.
"Well," she grins, her smile bringing back memories of fear. "I mean, Kestrel can join us if she wants."
"Um..." I ponder. "I have some homework to do, actually- I need to get home."
"Come on, it would be fun to 'chill' with these cool cats." Leon wiggles his eyebrows. The group of teenagers in front of me nod sarcastically, and I'm unable to discern whether they're being true to their actions or not.
"Just for a little while, I guess." My shoulders do a short shrug and before I know it, Leon is back in his boat and Ty's posse maneuvers me off of the dock and down the narrows sidewalks of downtown Wrenside.
After a few minutes of our stroll, Claire stops in front of the ice cream parlour.
"I'm smoldering. Let's get something cold." She hangs onto Kennedy from the neck. "And you'll pay, right, Kenny?" A kiss is left on his cheek before Claire skips into the store.
"Isn't she gorgeous?" The young O'Keefe sighs, and Tyler has to slap him to get his attention back. The three of us follow Claire inside, and begin to order our ice cream. When it comes to my turn, I look at Kennedy, expecting him to refuse to buy me ice cream, but he nods. I open my mouth to order, but am suddenly interrupted by Claire.
"Oh, and she'll have a kiwi frozen yogurt." After placing her last demand, she escorts Tyler and I to a table while Kennedy pays. "Hey, don't look at me like that. It's for your own good." Claire confirms in the direction of my slight scowl, and turned around to check up on the progress on the ice cream front.
When he returns with our desserts, Everyone grabs theirs and licks the ice cream hungrily, but I make sure to thank Kennedy before picking up my spoon.
He nods in acceptance of my thankfulness, and takes a big bite from his chocolate cone.
When everyone's done, I'm still picking at my food. Kiwis, for an unknown reason, give me an upset stomach, and have as long as I can remember. On one side of my dish, there's a pile of mangled fruit, while on the other side I'm working on evading the rest of the kiwi while still eating.
"Kessy, you're being very unappreciative. Apologize!" She reminds me of a strict mother, scolding their child for feeding the dog their brussel sprouts.
"I'm sorry. It won't happen again." The words don't come from my mouth, which alone confuses me, but when Ty's hand lands on my back the confusion that's going on in my head explodes. Why would he do this?
"Tyler, get out of our conversation! You ruin everything!" Claire begins to throw a fit, and before she veers out of control, Kennedy grabs her shoulder and walks away with the screaming girl in his arms.
"Sorry about this, guys. See you later." And with that, the door closes behind them.
"Want me to eat your kiwi?" Ty asks.
"You know, she was actually genuine for a while there. Claire's just been... less trusting lately than when I first met her." He explains, chewing loudly on a mouthful of the green fruit-mush.
"And why is that?"
"We..." Ty pauses. "We tried dating for a week or so, and when I broke it off Claire was devastated. Poor thing."
"I didn't think she cared that much." My whisper is barely audible.
"Me neither." The empty ice cream dish is passed back to me, and I toss it into the garbage bin behind me. We walk out the door, side-by-side.
Before I know it, the two of us are on the crosswalk that separates the way to the Koppinger's from the route to my house.
"Well, see you later, I guess." I shrug.
"You don't have to." Ty gasps. "I mean- you can come with me if you want. I just bought this new video game-"
"I'd love to." I answer before he overexerts himself.
We're halfway down the road to Leon's when Tyler surprises me. We've been walking casually for the past five or ten minutes, and neither of us have said anything, but for a reason uncertain to me he slips his hand into mine. This action alone makes my heart beat a mike a minute, and my hands begin to clam up.
"Thank you for accepting me."
"I could say the same thing about you." I reply, looking up at his face, the afternoon sun sending a light shadow from the tip of his nose.
"I'm so glad that we're friends." Ty looks up at the sky, and tightens his grip on my hand, as if it's his last wish to stay connected to me. Internally, I doubt that it was a conscious decision on his part.
Externally, I shoot him a big grin.
I sit back down on the green couch, my old bed, and hand Ty a glass of deeply coloured banana juice. My own cup of juice is permanently set on the coffee table, as the sickly yellow concentrated juice reminds me of the chemistry experiences Papa and I used to do together.
"Want to play with me?" Ty hands me a controller and, once again, I am lost as to which buttons to press.
I can almost feel Leon's smirk when Tyler's hands land on top of mine and guide me through a tutorial for the game we're playing. Even after my fingers are released, I'm still navigating through the video game horribly, but much better than when I play with Izzy.
"Birdie, is Issac still here? I'd love to invite them over for a dinner party." Leon calls from the kitchen island, still engulfed in his cross-stitching.
"I'm pretty sure, yes. Papa said that he'll be leaving later this evening."
"Good to hear." He picks up the telephone and inputs a the numbers for my father's cell phone. After a few short rings, Leon starts babbling into the receiver at a record speed. "They'll be here in two hours. I'm going to go pretty up, have fun, kids." He winks in our general direction and skips happily into the bathroom, shutting the door gracefully behind him.
"Grandpa is so weird." Ty resumes or game, clicking a button to relieve it of its paused mode.
"Says you," I retaliate, bringing up our old joke, which doesn't seem to have any effect on me anymore whatsoever.
"Pshaw" He brushes my remark off with a flamboyant gesture. "Pick up the controller, it's your turn." I scramble to retrieve it from the desk, but while I'm struggling to get a hold on the video game controller, my persona rolls off a cliff.
"Drat."Ty emits a sigh. "You're nice and all, but no proper lady goes without wicked gaming skills." He lectures me, giving my head a little bop.
"Ooh, she's a feisty one!" Tyler sticks his tongue out. "Hey!" A second later, I've grabbed hold of his spiked-up hair and am pulling it slightly. "Okay, truce. No more hair pulling, no more name calling. got it?" I nod. After a while, I've confirmed that I'll be a proper lady no matter how 'skilled I am in gaming' and turn off my controller with a satisfying click. Ty is still working on beating a boss, though, so I pull my knees up to my chest and lean my head on his shoulder.
"Being friends is fun." I mutter before drifting off peacefully.
Why do I always fall asleep?
When I wake, Issac and Papa are already setting the table. I let out a small groan, and Iz looks at me goofily, before shaking his head and going back to straightening the plastic cutlery and paper plates. It takes me a while to realize that my head is still resting on Ty.
"I-I'm so sorry!" My first reaction is to jump up briskly and apologize, and that I do. Tyler is still playing his game, and shrugs without looking up from the television screen.
"It's fine, having a warm shoulder is always good." Izzy and my father chuckle from behind us. "Now, go help your family. I'll be right there." I receive a pat on the head and walk into the kitchen obediently.
"You two are too cute." Leon remarks, sticking his finger into a creamy cheese sauce that has been simmering on the stove.
"Please don't tease me. It's nothing like that." I try to make myself clear, but the result is Issac laughing his head off behind me.
"Oh, Birdie, you don't know the half of it."
Half an hour later, we're sitting at the dining room table, eating our meal hastily. Izzy has apologized profusely, but he has to leave to catch his flight soon.
"How early is the plane leaving, anyway?"
"Two." Iz shrugs. "I want to get back on the campus as early as possible. There's classes in the morning." We all nod at his explanation.
"It'll be tough without you here, Issac." Papa sighs. "Although, I guess your absence at university will be kept on record."
"We love you, bro, you can come to us whenever." I add.
The Koppingers agree.
It's not long before hugs and kisses are shared, and Issac is on his way home.
The two of us have decided that our chapters will be shorter and we're going to condense the story to 18 instead of 24 chapters.
muah, love you!
A/N Bonjour my babies! Enjoy
Working at the marina, once again, has become a natural day-by-day occurence. Except for this morning, though. This time around, as a family we've decided that taking the early hours of Sundays and Mondays off work will be better for all of us.
Every year when hurricane season rolls around, and we have to shut down the business, the habit breaks and it seems natural to sit around all day, but when the storm passes falling back into the process can be a struggle.
Issac leaves tomorrow. We've been having fun and treating him well, but four days is the maximum time as he can swindle from his school and work.
"Birdie!" Papa says, peeking his head into the room.
"There's a package for you." He replies, creaking the door open and placing two large cardboard boxes on the edge of my bed. "Remember, the faster you get it done, the more time you have to do anything you want this year."
"I don't think I'm going to start doing schoolwork when it's only July, Pa!" I set my sketchbook down, before heading to ripping open the first box and piling the math textbooks and papers onto my comforter.
"Oh, of course, little bird. I was just suggesting..."
"It's okay, Papa, sorry for lashing out at you." I apologize. "I'll get these organized. Thank you." He shuts the door, and I hastily shove the books I've unpacked back into their boxes and put them on a shelf in my closet, the lazy person I am. Afterwards, I flop back onto my bed and resume the drawing that I've been working on. Each attempt looks better than the last, but I'm not even close to achieving the perfect sketch. I crumple up my most recent paper, and throw it into my overflowing wastebasket.
For the tenth time, I start to draft his angular jaw, cheekbones and slightly crooked nose.
"So far, so good..." I mumble, lightly flicking my charcoal to create his irresistable eyelashes, which are upon closer examination, very long.
I'm starting to draw the hair when Ty barges into my room.
"Oh, hello!" I blush, closing my book and sitting up. "What brings you here?" In a fluster, I pick up the clothes that are thrown all over the hardwood floor of my room, and toss them into a collapsable mesh basket.
"I have to do some work. Do you have any power outlets in here? All of the plug-ins that I could find in the other rooms are full." He steps inside, revealing a large laptop bag slung across his shoulder.
"Yes, I'm sure there's one down here. I can get your computer set up on the internet right now, if you'd like that."
"Thanks!" He shoots me a toothy smile, hands me his laptop, and sits down on the right side of my old bed, resulting in a squeaky groan eminating from the box spring. I sit down on the ground beside the bed, and rifle through the bag, trying to find the power cord. Once I've located its pocket, I stick one end in the wall and the other into the back of the computer, flipping the top open and turning it on. When everything is loaded, I make a few clicks and plug in the internet pass-code before sitting up and handing the laptop back to Tyler.
"Wow." He flips to the next page of my sketchbook, his mouth agape.
"Hey, what are you doing?" I set the computer safely on his knees, and snatch Grandpappy's book from his hands, close the cover, and hug it protectively to my chest.
"You drew me perfectly." His expression hasn't changed much at all, even though he's not even holding the sketchbook anymore.
"Sh-shut up! I never said you could look through it!"
"Oh, Birdie- I'm so sorry, I didn't think you'd be this mad." Ty frowns, his apology genuine. "Please forgive me, I regret not asking you first. Serious."
"I forgive you." I look up, letting him see the blush cascading across my cheeks. "It's not that good, though-"
"It's amazing! What do you mean?" He pats the bed beside him, and I climb onto the sheets beside him.
"Anyway, what kind of work are you doing?" Tyler has a website open, and is scrolling through pages and pages of what looks like nonsense to me.
"The reason that I came up here in the first place is that I need to find a college or university to apply to before the end of the summer. I'm reaching the deadline for most schools in my area, and I still have no clue what my major will be!" He throws his arms into the air expressively, but his fingers fly back to the pressure pad in a flash.
"I'd love to help." I say, grabbing a corner of the duvet and tugging it over myself.
"Well" He starts, handing me a pad and paper. "I'm going to list the classes I'm considering taking, and you're going to write them down. Is that okay?" I give him a nod of approval.
For an hour or so, we compile a list of courses, the majority being based around sports. I start getting tired, though, and begin to drift into a peaceful nap.
"Hey, Birdie." Ty is shaking me awake, but I refuse to move, until I notice that I've been sleeping on his shoulder for the past hour.
"Oh!" I snap up, and flatten my hair."I'm so sorry, I wasn't helping you-"
"It's fine, Birdie. I fell asleep too. Researching is really tough and boring " Ty laughs. God, is he charming. "Right! Your dad is calling you, I think it's time to go to work."
"Thank you! Um..." I pause, looking at the computer screen. "You can stay in here if you want."
"It's okay, I think I'm going to go the marina too, maybe help you guys out." He shuts his laptop and stores it in its bag. I nod, as a secluded kind of thank-you, and guide Tyler out the door.
"Ooh " Kittie teases, looking Ty up and down. "Hell-o there." She walks up to the tall boy, and lightly touches his arm. Tyler shifts uncomfortably, but doesn't move.
"Um, hi." He murmurs, inching away slightly as she feels his biceps. "I'm Ty."
"Nice to meet you, Ty." She smiles seductively and Tyler glances at me nervously. "My name is Kittie."
"Hey, Ty, why don't you go find Papa and ask him if you can help with anything?" I suggest, prying her fingers from his arm.
"Alright." Ty shrugs, slipping out of her grasp and disappearing around the corner. As soon as he is out of sight, I glare at Kittie and she throws her hands up in the air.
"Honestly, Kittie, could you be any less subtle?" I scold, ignoring her eye roll.
"I don't know what you're talking about." she spits, reaching up to fix her ponytail hanging down her back.
"Really?" I exclaim, leaning over to stare in the face. "Really, you have no idea what I'm talking about?!"
"Please, just leave me alone." she whines, turning and marching away, leaving me fuming.
I snatch the broom and climb aboard the nearest boat, sweeping away the dust and dirt gathered on the deck.
"You okay, Birdie?"
I spin around, Papa standing on the dock, adjusting the brim of his oversized hat.
"Yeah, I'm just a little upset." I murmur, returning to cleaning.
"What happened?" Pa scrambles up the ship and leans against the railing. "What's wrong, little bird?"
"Nothing, really. Kittie was just being creepy and couldn't keep her hands off Ty." I wrinkle my nose, setting the broom against the wall. My father's eyebrows shoot up.
"Why does that make you upset?" Papa asks, wrapping an arm around my shoulders. "Is someone a little jealous?"
"No!" I shrug out of his embrace and stare moodily out towards the ocean. "Why would you even say that, Papa?!"
"Relax, I was just teasing." Pa chuckles, wiping the sweat from his moist forehead.
"It wasn't very funny." I grumble, facing away.
Avoiding Papa, I go to check up on my brother, who is mopping up spilled water from the dock. It makes me remember the incident about a month ago, when my slip-up injured our father. Before I think of anything else anxiety and panic-inducing, I hop over to my brother, and straighten the tipped over bucket before it dumps into the ocean.
"Fancy meeting you here!" He grins, wringing out the cloth and throwing it into the dark grey bucket. "Where have you been?"
"I was helping Papa." I answer plainly, setting his cleaning supplies in the small shed.
"Ooh, confessing to him your love for Ty?" He wiggles his eyebrows suggestively, but I, on the other case, am steaming.
"I'm sick of everyone teasing me about my friend! We are not a couple, and we're definitely not in love!" My cheeks puff out like a distressed chipmunk, and I storm away proudly.
On my rampage, I pass by Tyler, once again. He greets me, but I carry on down the marina.
Once back home, and safe in my bedroom, I roll into bed. I don't cry, or throw my pillow out the window, I just ponder.
I think about whether or not Ty actually considers me a friend,
I think about why I continually express my emotions like a ten-year-old,
and I also think about why I have confirmed that I have feelings for my friend. I've never felt about someone in this way, and the sensation in the pit of my stomach is likely to be something other that love.
It all confuses me.
For the next hour, I go the lazy route and stay stuck in bed. There's nothing much to do. Yes, I could draw, but I've already done that today. The only other thing I can think of is to see what's happening on the internet, but sadly a tortoise-speed connection is the only service provided in the small town of Wrenside, and our computer was ruined in the storm anyway.
Nothing else comes to mind, so I slip into the living room and wait for my family to get home. It isn't long before Izzy returns, though. He sits down beside me on the couch, and flips on the television, turning it to his video game.
"Did you have a good time at the marina?" I say, staring at the racing game he's playing.
"Yes. It's sad that I won't be working there for a while, though... I'll really miss you guys, you know that, right?" I'm suddenly swept up in a hug, and I squeeze my brother back, holding his curly brown hair.
"Don't worry, Iz. It won't be that long." In my words, even though they're meant to console him, there's some hint of my own self-reassurance. "We'll call as much as possible. Promise." He nods happily, and turns back to his game, handing me a controller blindly while still concentrating on the screen. I turn it on and quickly join.
No matter how much I try, I'll never be good at car-racing games. Whenever I need to click a certain button, I hit the wrong one and crash. Every single time.
It doesn't take long before I'm pooped. Izzy's still going strong, though, so I head to the kitchen to grab a can of soda and sit down at the table. I'm only taking my first sip when Ty barges in, grabs my arm harshly and pulls me out of the front door.
"What the heck?" I'm stumbling behind him, trying to keep up so as to not be dragged across the muddy ground. Tyler doesn't reply, and instead maneouvers me into the tree house. "Ty, what's going on?"
"Your brother told me that you'd had a conniption fit over at the docks earlier." He drops down into the beanbag chair. "What's wrong, Birdie?" He grabs my hand comfortingly. I glance around nervously, and my eyes stop on his forearm. There's a long, protruding scar across it, and a small sigh escapes my lips when I realize why it's there.
I was the one who caused this.
Absentmindedly, I slide my hand down to rub the end of his scar.
"I'm sorry." I whisper, looking up at Ty. "I'm so mean... taking advantage of your kindness."
"Birdie, that makes no sense whatsoever. And, you're completely evading my question." He pouts sternly. I let out a frustrated sigh.
"I was just upset, okay?" I peer out the window carved in the wooden wall. "It was nothing. Why do you even care?"
"I don't know." Ty replies, staring at me with those bright blue eyes. "I've been a crappy friend and a horrible guest. I'm trying to be a better person, have you got a problem with that?"
He shakes his head. "Why do I keep screwing up? Why can't I just be nice?"
"You're nice." I assure him, reaching towards him to lay a friendly hand on his arm.
Ty looks doubtful. "Birdie, you can't honestly tell me that I haven't been incredibly rude to you and everyone else. Sometimes I just can't help it..."
"I'll help you." I watch his mouth twist into a smile at my words. "I'll help you with your manners, which trust me, have already much improved."
"Absolutely!" I beam, gathering myself to my feet.
Ty looks please with himself.
"Thanks Birdie." The blonde boy climbs out of his seat and stands in front of me. "You really are a great friend."
A great friend. I had a friendless childhood, always longing for a companion. And now I finally have Ty, who has finally agreed on being my friend. Spontaneously, I reach forward and hug him. My head only reaches up to his chest, and both of us are equally surprised, but the warmth against my body is comforting.
Tyler is the first to let go, and he gives me a small pat on the head before speaking. "Thanks, weirdo." He blows a mocking kiss and shimmies out of the tree house, leaving me standing in the wood fort alone.
I chuckle slightly, covering my face with my hands. Although, before I chase after him, my body freezes.
Thoughts flood my mind, irrational things that I know aren't true, but taunt me anyway. It takes me a minute, but I manage to shake them away and climb down the rope ladder.
Tyler isn't the only one that has changed.
A/N Sorry that this chapter is really short! We're planning to merge chapters, though, so I guess there's our excuse. hah.
Actually, another excuse! It's What's birthday tomorrow! Yay!
Love you guys so much /smooches everyone but Aiden
~Fedora & What
A/N Hello beauties. Here's chapter 11. We're going to try to update every Wednesday, dunno if that's possible but we'll try :)
The first thing I notice when I wake up in the morning is an elbow jabbed awkwardly in the small of my back. I shift on Papa's slumbering body, trying not to wake him, but Ty's elbow digs farther into my spine.
We're sleeping on the floor, arranged in a way that our toes will be warm by the fire, which is smoking lazily after being unattended throughout the night. Tyler looks so peaceful. It seems selfish, waking him up for my comfort. So, instead, I slip out from between him and my father to go fetch some cereal for myself. The sun is just beginning to rise, so I sit at the living room table with my bowl of shredded wheat cereal and watch the sky lighten.
"Morning, Birdie." Leon appears on the couch behind me. "I hope you slept alright?"
I shrug, swallowing a mouthful of milk. "Yeah, I guess."
Leon sips from the steaming mug held between his weathered hands. "Thanks for letting us spend the night. We were absolutely beat after putting out that fire."
"I honestly barely noticed you guys were even here." I reply, running a hand through the my red waves of hair. "Well, except that I slept on the floor."
The elderly man chuckles, his ponytail bobbing as his chest quakes.
"I think that you're my long-lost granddaughter, Birdie." he hauls himself to his feet and hobbles towards the kitchen. "I really do."
I smile into my breakfast, hiding the fact that his words were the kindest things anyone had said to me in a long time.
Once my dirty dishes are stacked neatly in the sink, I change and after a quick goodbye to Leon, I march through the forest into town. The blanket of treetops shield me from the pulsating rays pounding down from the sky. It was going to be a hot one, for sure. Once I step out of the shady woods and into the road, I can immediately feel the heat on the back of my neck, my shirt growing sweaty and sticky in a matter of minutes. I duck into Redman's for a few minutes, a sudden blast of frigid air as I throw open the door. It's so cold it's nearly unbearable, so I purchase my drink quickly and then step back outside, keeping to the shade as not to get another sunburn.
The water I bought is finished in sec`monds and I toss the crumpled bottle into a nearby recycling can on my way towards the beach. It's crowded and loud and I have to force my way through the swarm of sunbathers and swimmers to an unoccupied patch of sand where I drop to the ground and dig my feet down into the warm granules.
I spot Claire tentatively wading into the ocean towards her calling friends. We briefly meet each others' eyes before she turns away. Still an improvement from the teasing, name calling and of course, the attempted drowning, but less than what I expected after she pulled me aside the other night. I clearly wasn't thinking when I assumed that after her confrontation we would automatically be friends. Things are still the same; she's popular, I'm no one and it will always be that way.
It's less relaxing just sitting on the beach when I'm surrounded by shouts and it's nearly impossible to enjoy myself when an obnoxious boy takes it upon himself to spray me with a water-gun until I get so frustrated I have no choice but to leave, so I stumble to my feet and slink away, shaking the water droplets from my frizzing hair.
After a quick stop at the deserted marina, I head back home to find Papa and a drowsy Ty munching on sandwiches at the kitchen table.
"Hey, little bird, where have you been?" Pa hugs me without getting up, and despite his efforts to hide it, I can tell that his back is killing him.
"Just went to the beach." I murmur, falling into the chair to Ty's left. He doesn't acknowledge me, just continues picking the pieces of lettuce from in between the two pieces of bread and setting them on the place mat beside his plate.
"Why are you doing that?" I scoop up a piece of the green leaf and then try to shake the sticking vegetable from my finger.
"I don't like lettuce on my sandwich." he grumbles, finally satisfied with his lunch and shoving half of it into his mouth.
"Was the beach busy?" My father wipes his mouth on the paper napkin and disposes of his Styrofoam plate in the trashcan. I nod.
"Yeah, there were quite a few people down there."
"You know," Leon enters the room, flying into the spot at the table that Papa abandoned. "I haven't gotten to go to the beach very often, yet. And it sure seems to me that today would be that day to go."
"It is really hot out..." I agree, staring questioningly at Tyler. He blinks and swallows the last of his meal.
"Um..." He tosses his plate to the counter and then leans back in his seat. "Yeah, I guess I'd like that."
"Rich, are you going to come?" Leon calls to Papa. His greying head peeks around the corner.
"Sorry, guys." he sighs, a hand on his spine. "My back is feeling absolutely horrible. I'm going to rest for a little while and then go find Kittie to help me out at the marina."
"I guess I'll go change, then" I shrug, grabbing a slice of bread from the cutting board to postpone my hunger.
When the house was rebuilt, Papa and I had to shop for more clothing. For the two of us, it was an agonizing task, since neither of us like to spend time in fancy outlet malls. The first thing I bought was a new bathing suit, not even wanting to don the green one again.
I hold my new swimsuit in front of me, and shrug before pulling it on. After criticizing my reflection in the mirror, throwing my hair into a lazy bun, and snatching my sketchbook from the kitchen counter, I head out the door to find Ty and Leon sitting on the deck patiently.
"Took you long enough." Tyler grumbles, getting to his feet and stumbling in the direction of the beach. His grandfather and I take off after him, hauling along a stack of towels. While we're on our way down the busy path to the bay, I slip off my shoes, the flimsy sandals being much too awkward and cumbersome,
When my feet first sink into the sand, there's a scalding hot sensation, and I can't help but flail around like a chicken with its head cut off. Once the burning passes, I manage to walk semi-normally to where Ty has laid out a series of beachtowels.
"What the heck are you doing, weirdo?" He smirks, pulling two bags of ketchup chips from Leon's giant tote bag. "Some new dance you invented?"
"Shut up." I joke, laying down on a zebra-patterned towel. Leon is sunbathing beside me, and his relative has already ran off towards the beach. Instead of swimming, though, Ty is just wading in chest-deep water, his arms floating limply at the surface. "Hey, Leon"
"Yes, Birdie?" he lowers his head, looking at me from above his sunglasses.
"I'm going to go swimming now. Be back soon."
"Have fun!" The old man calls after me as I strap on my goggles, and brave the hot sand while running to the ocean.
The water is a perfect turquoisey blue, as it always is, and chilly, but not freezing. It's flawless. I duck underneath, using my arms to glide forward. When I reach Tyler, I pop out behind him, causing Ty to emit a small shriek.
"Sorry." I laugh, treading water a few feet farther into the ocean.
"Don't do that, Birdie! I could have drowned!" He pouts, fixing his hair.
"You can't swim?" I tease, inching closer.
"Ssh!" His brow crinkles, scanning the beach. "You don't need to announce it to the whole world!"
"I said I was sorry"
"Alright. There aren't many pools near where I live, that's all. I've never really had the chance to learn the sport" I nod, not wanting to anger him any more.
A few seconds later, an idea pops up in my head. "Hey, what if I teach you?"
Ty stares at me, complentating.
"Yeah, I guess..." he says finally, nervously checking to see if the people surrounding us are listening. "As long as nobody finds out."
"Sure." I slip back underwater, pulling myself through the water further from shore. Ty watches me from where he stands, observing my technique before attempting to follow me. After a few steps, though, he heads back, unconfident without his feet planted to the ground.
"We might need to start at square one" Tyler sighs.
"Um... Okay" I pause to think. "Like, arms?"
"More like kicking" He admits, crossing his arms over his chest.
"Alright" I walk closer to him, and grab his muscular hands. "Swimming, really, is second nature to me. But anyway, this is how you start." I start doing flutter kick, letting my feet splash above the water. "Just do this at the surface of the water" My hands let go of his briefly to show him an example of how the kick works.
"Oh, okay." Ty clutches my hands in his, lowers himself into the water and begins to do a somewhat discernible flutter kick. His feet flail wildly, and when Tyler comes up for a break, I notice he has a nose full of salt water. "How was that?"
"Um..." I release his hands as he stands back up. "It's a good start."
"Great." Ty mutters, frowning. I catch his wrists and shoot him a smile.
"It's okay, we'll try again. Just maybe don't put your face in the water this early."
Tyler's already improved by the second attempt, but as soon as he pokes his head below the surface, he comes up sputtering and coughing.
"I thought we weren't at that step yet." I chuckle as the flushed boy glares at me playfully. "Sorry"
"One more try, and I'm done" I don't have time to respond before my hands are clasped in his, and Ty is doing a seemingly prefect flutter kick. "Good?" He looks at me with his blue eyes, the colour of the water we're standing in. His eyes are so encapsuling, and I can't believe that I've never noticed how beautiful they are before.
"Hello?" Tyler is waving his hand in front of my face, snapping me out of some weird trance.
"Y-yeah, it was amazing" I give him a smile.
"Really?" He looks like a giant puppy dog when he says this.
Ty seems exceptionally proud of himself as we wade back towards land, zigzagging through the crowd of vacationers and locals alike.
"Done already?" Leon murmurs sleepily as we drop onto the ground beside him.
"Yep." I dig my sketchbook out from the bottom of the cloth bag, flipping to a fresh page and beginning to sketch a circle. Ty scoots over next to me, his mouth full of chips.
"What are you always drawing in that thing?" he asks, spraying soggy pieces of food onto the sand.
"Nothing, really." I reply, adding more lines to the paper. "Well, nothing good, at least."
"Can I see?" I defensively hold the book up to my chest.
"What's in it for me?"
"I don't know, I'd just like a peek" He shrugs.
"Oh, alright. Only a peek, though" I shove the hard-covered book out towards him, shielding my eyes from his facial expression.
"It's not that good..."
"Is that me?" Ty says.
"I'm not sure yet." I admit, letting my hand fall from my face.
"Well, it looks a lot like me" He pauses. "I mean, it's fine if it is, I'm not blaming you" I scrunch my face up, and stick out my tongue before setting my grandpappy's book back onto my lap.
He hovers over me like this for another hour, until I've completely given up and Leon says that it's time to leave. We gather our belongings and trek down the beach towards home. The house is deserted when I return, Papa still out working at the marina. I'm heating up some leftovers for dinner when there's a knock on the door and I race to answer it, expecting the Koppingers.
Instead there's a man and a woman I've never seen before in my life in matching t-shirts, sunburnt and confused. The two of them push past me and step into the living room like they own the place.
"Excuse me, where's the information desk?" The short, chubby woman asks, adjusting her oversized sun hat.
"S-sorry" I stutter, shaking my head. "But this is my home."
"Oh. We're extremely so-" Her husband starts, but is interrupted almost immediately.
"Okay, I guess we could settle for you helping us. In which way is the beach?" The lady hands her bags over to him, and waddles a little closer to me with her fat legs.
"You should have passed it on the way over here." I raise a spoonful of lasagna up to my mouth.
"I know!" She snaps. "Where is the private beach?"
"There aren't any private beaches here..."
"See, sweetheart, it's fine. We can rent a boat there, and spend the afternoon out at sea. How does that sound?" Her husband kisses the crown of her head, and the woman just grumbles.
After a small fit, He finally manages to drag his wife out of the house, shooting sincere apologies my way. I tell him that it's no problem, but in reality, I'm very puzzled by their visit.
Seconds later, Papa comes through the door.
"Birdie, who were they?" He puts down his coat, and sits down next to me in the kitchen.
I sigh, realizing that he must have encountered the frazzled vacationers. "They're... It's a long story."
"It's okay, little Birdie" My father pats me lightly on the back. "The man told me what happened. I trust
you handled the situation well?"
"Yep" I smile, taking my empty bowl to the sink. Once it's filled up with water, I plop down on the couch and flip on the television.
"it's extraordinary, Jennifer, really. the death rate in Chicago is increasing at such an incredible speed!" A well done-up man says animatedly to his co-host.
"Yes, it is, Gerald. On a related note, reporting from the streets of Chicago, Illinois, we have our very own Clarence Day reporting on the scene" She taps her papers on the desk, cuing in the next part of the segment.
I have trouble keeping my eyes open, with all of the swimming I did earlier, combined with the utter blandness of the news channel. In a few minutes, the tiredness takes over and I doze off into a sweet nap.
My brother's insane laughter awakens me with a start.
"What the-" I moan, my crusty eyes springing open. "Oh my gosh! Izzy!" A gasp escapes my lips, and before I fully regain conciousness, I jump into his arms. Even though Issac's still doubled over in laughter.
"It's nice to see you, tweety bird. Happy early birthday" Oh, right. My birthday is coming up soon. He wipes tears from his eyes, trying to calm down, but bursts out laughing shortly afterwards.
"Hey, what's so funny?" I pout, crossing my arms over my chest.
Sometimes my brother can take it too far. I race off to the bathroom, groaning at the moustache and unibrow he's written on my face. Using a threadbare facecloth, I attempt to rub off the graffiti, but a ghost image of it stays drawn into my skin.
"You're getting it." I whisper, grinning at my reflection.
"So, what's it like in New York?" Papa questions, taking a bite from his hamburger. We're in the greasy truck stop, sitting snugly at the table farthest from the stand-up comedian.
"the city is so amazing!" Izzy throws his arms up in the air, careful not to hit any of the bulky truck drivers. "It's so bright, so busy... so atmospheric!" he chomps into his mushroom burger.
"Wow" I lean over to my brother. "How're the girls?" Teasing has always been a 'thing' between the two of us.
"Good. Um, uh... Birdie, if you promise not to make too big of a deal out of this, I'd like to tell you two something" Pa and I nod hungrily, putting our burgers down on their nests of french fries. "I-I've met a really nice girl. She's in the same school as I, and- well, she's my girlfriend" I look at my father, who has a ecstatically happy, yet pained expression on his face.
"Issac, that's amazing!" Papa grins widely, patting him on the shoulder. "What's her name?"
"Kayla Norris." He blushes, pushing a handful of fries into his mouth. I don't talk, not exactly in shock but not as happy as Pa is, either. Even though I'm still very happy for Iz.
"Seems like Birdie has her own love interest, too" My father turns towards me, wiggling his eyebrows.
"No!" My hands shoot up to cover my face. "He's just a good friend" I mumble.
"Ooh, what's his name?" Izzy giggles girlishly.
"Tyler." I grunt through my hands.
"Nice" My brother smirks. "Anyway, that isn't why we're here." He changes the subject promptly. "Happy birthday, sis!" Issac presents a wrapped gift, blue with a white bow placed on the top.
"Wow." I slide it over to myself, and look up in awe. "Thanks so much!" My shaking fingers rip open the wrapping paper and cardboard, to reveal a pair of pyjamas with chicks dotted on them, and a white tee-shirt.
"Unfold it!" Izzy grins, pointing to the latter. I do, and start laughing at the sight of it.
"Oh, Iz, this is too much" There's 'I'm cheesy' written on it in bold letters, with a swiss cheese decal placed in between the words. "I love it. Where'd you get everything?"
"Oh, just in town. At the embroidery shop"
I guess my brother can be tolerable.
When we leave the restaurant, I smile a bit at the woods behind the creaky establishment, but don't say anything. The three of us pile into the car, me demoted to the back seat.
"Where to now?" Papa says, manoeuvring the car out of the lot.
"I'd like to just go home" I shrug, buckling myself in, the mangled box of clothing sitting on my lap.
"Will-do" We drive for a while on the familiar gravel road, until we've reached our destination. Izzy and I climb out, but Pa stays inside the cabin. "Where do you think you're going?" He says, motioning for us to buckle ourselves back in.
"I thought we were going to stay at home?"
"Objection; no birthday girl gets away without a nice dish of ice cream" Papa chuckles. It's barely five minutes before we walk into the parlour, its bells sounding to our entrance.
"Wow, it's really busy" Issac whispers into my ear. "Much more than I remember it being"
Much, much later, the three of us walk outside with our desserts, holding back the urge to gobble them right up. To our dismay, there's nowhere to sit down, so we clamber back into the car once again, and eat in there.
"Iz, I hope it's alright with you, Birdie and I will be working all day at the Marina tomorrow" Papa says, chewing on the last bits of his waffle cone.
"Oh, Pa, I'd love to help! I'm serious!" My brother replies, smiling. "Don't think that just because I'm your guest means that I'm incapable of doing work!"
My father and I chuckle, because we're certain that Issac has never done anything seriously in his life.
"Goodnight, tweety bird." My brother ruffles my hair with his free hand, the other brushing his teeth feverishly. "See you in the morning."
"G'night" I slink into my room, set the alarm that's sitting on my desk to rouse me at three in the morning, and quickly fall into a peaceful sleep.
Izzy takes quite a long time to wake up, and when he does, Papa and I are already bored out of our minds, waiting for him to come with us to work.
"KESTREL!" My brother screams, right after a bucket of ice-cold water drops on his head. "What is this?"
"Revenge..." I blow him a mocking kiss, and return to the dishes I've been working on, internally giggling about my pay-back.
Last night, when I was woken by the alarm, I'd created a well-known trap for my brother. I'd left his door ajar, and set the pail of chilly water on the top, so that it would tumble onto his head in the morning. After that, I had climbed back in bed, like nothing had happened.
"Okay, I guess it's fair." He rolls his eyes, and throws on a dry shirt.
"Come on, Iz, we need to get going." Pa checks his watch, nervous that we'll be late.
"I'll catch up with you, no need to wait" He waves his hand like it's no big deal, and turns around to grab a box of cereal.
"See you, then?" I ask, slipping on my boots.
"Hello!" I smile at the customers, but my face drops into a frown when I notice that it's the couple that barged in on us rudely yesterday.
"H-Good morning" The tall man stutters, rubbing his moustache anxiously. "Um, we'd like to rent a speedboat for the day" He pauses. "Please. Also, we're incredibly sorry for our rudeness yesterday. Right, dear?" His wife grumbles.
"Okay." I hand him a slip to fill out. "I'd still like an apology form your wife, though." I make sure to mumble this one.
"Apologize for what?" She lifts herself up onto her tip-toes to reach my eye level. "I didn't do anything wrong."
Before I can counter-attack, Papa steps in the way and touches my shoulder reassuringly.
"Birdie, if you don't mind, please may you go help customers outside?"
"O-kay" I sigh, and trudge outside.
"Are they the Koppingers?" My brother asks me, pointing to the two men walking towards us.
"Yes" I reply. "Why do you ask?"
He winks. "Tyler is pretty good looking"
"Shut up." Izzy laughs, and returns to his work.
Ty and Leon are eating sandwiches, like usual, on the balcony of the yacht. Tyler is tearing apart his food, trying to escape from the greens, even though his grandfather is already licking his fingers and crumpling up the Saran wrap his sandwich was once concealed in.
"Hey, Birdie, We have a sandwich for you!" Ty calls, holding up another package.
"Thanks, I was getting a little hungry" I reply, and run through the boat hastily, up to the deck. They hand me my food, and I gladly sit in the chair they've provided, chewing into the sandwich. "You guys pamper me."
"Actually, Tyler made these! He insisted that we make one for you."
"grandpa!" Ty blushes to his ears.
Did he really make this sandwich for me?
Maybe I like Tyler more than I let on.
I trudge down the dock, exhausted after a long day of work at the busy marina. Wandering down the beach, only a few lone vacationers still lounge on the darkening sand, the tide pulling the waves further up onto shore.
I make a quick stop at my tree house, scrambling up the ladder and sinking into the beanbag chair for only a moment before being forced to continue on my route home. I try to go there everyday, even if it was just for a second.
I spot Izzy through the grimy window, lying on the couch with his eyes fixated on the television. The exact same thing he would do before he left for school. It's almost like he was never gone at all.
"Hey, Birdie." He grins, clicking off the TV and pushing himself up into a sitting position. "Sorry I wasn't much help today."
"It's fine." I kick my shoes into a pile by the door. "You shouldn't have to work while your visiting."
"Yeah..." He climbs to his feet and hops to the kitchen, returning a minute later with an unopened bag of barbecue chips I knew Papa bought just for his return. I lean over and pluck a chip from his hand on my way to the shower, ignoring his protestations.
I wash briefly, changing into a fresh t-shirt and pair of shorts, snugly wrapping a towel around my dripping head, recognizing the muffled voices in the other room as the Koppingers and my father.
"-plants all died! I don't know what I'm doing wrong!" I hear Leon exclaim as I exit the bathroom and creep down the hallways towards the kitchen. "Maybe I should just give up on gardening."
"No, don't give up." Papa assures the elderly man. "Birdie can help you again, if you'd like."
"Yes, I would like that." I grin at Mr. Koppingers voice. "Birdie is a very sweet girl."
"Seriously? That little devil?" Izzy pipes up and Leon chuckles.
"Yes, she's extremely kind."
I poke my head around the door frame and smirk at my older brother, getting a laugh from everyone. Even Ty had his phone tucked away in his pocket, sipping his canned drink and listening to the conversation around him.
I slide up onto the counter beside Izzy, inching away as he tries to slip an arm around my shoulder.
Pa and Leon continue talking about gardening, which soon becomes a heated discussion between Tyler and his grandfather about whether you're supposed to water your flowers in the rain.
"Alright, we'll let Birdie decide." Ty jabs a finger in my direction. "Birdie, it's up to you to end the debate. Do you water your plants in the rain or not?"
"Sorry, Leon." I shake my head, snickering. "I just don't think it's good for them. I'm going with Ty on this one."
"Of course, you're going with Ty." Izzy hisses in my ear, his remark earning him an elbow in the gut.
Leon laughs, his voice booming and echoing throughout the house.
"I guess I do remember my mother saying something about not over-watering your garden." He admits, running a hand through his tangled ponytail hanging limply down his back.
Tyler can't stop laughing, resting his forehead in the palms of his hands.
"Well, sorry! Margaret used to do all the watering..."
The room grows silent for a moment, Ty's laughter silenced.
Izzy's head whips around the room, his eyes flicking from each face to the next. "Who's Margaret?"
"Oh, she's my wife." Leon sighs, slumping in his seat.
"Was your wife." Tyler corrects, my father shooting him a sharp glance.
"Yes." The old man takes a sip of his drink. "She was my wife, thank you, Tyler. She was teaching me how to garden and cross stitch and I was teaching her to draw when she... When she got sick."
"Oh... I'm really sorry." Izzy lowers his head. "Do you mind if I ask what happened?"
"Oh no, of course not!" Leon cries a little too joyously, startling all three of us. "She had brain cancer. Had trouble remembering her own name. This all happened right after- This is kinda a long story, are you sure you guys want to hear it?"
We nod and he continues.
"Six years ago, I won the lottery. I had enough money to be happy for a really, really long time." Leon stares out the window as he talks, his voice distant and empty. The rest of the room is silent with the excepting of Ty nervously drumming his hands on the table. "Then Margaret got sick."
"Leon, you don't have to talk about this if you don't want to." Papa assures him, leaning over to place a hand on the old man's shoulder. He shakes him off.
"Don't be ridiculous, this was a long time ago!" The eldest Koppinger insists, getting to his feet and leaning against the counter. "I'm over it, I really am. Anyway, I spent half of my winnings on paying her medical bills, but she didn't get any better. She was to have a surgery, a surgery that could possibly cure her, but... It went wrong, and she didn't make it."
Leon rummages through the fridge, pulling a jar of mayonnaise from the shelf and plopping it down on the counter. "So, I was of course born here, in Wrenside, but moved to Utah when I was still young. After Margaret died, I lived by myself in the US for a little while before moving back here. This is just the perfect little town for an old widower."
"And then I met you!" I smile, playing with the ends of my wet hair. Leon grins.
"Yes, and then I met you, Birdie."
A/N Whoooooooooooopppp almost 5000 words in this chapter. Happy Birthday
looks like we're getting to the part where we write fluff!
'Kay guys, we're really sorry for slacking off, so chapter 12'll be out reeeeally soon! It's like... 1/4 done already :)
LOVE YOU GUYS <3
~Fedora & What
A/N Sorry, we maliciously left you guys on a cliffie two or so weeks ago, whoops :P
Ty holds out his fist, a metallic glimmer visible between his fingers.
"I believe this is yours?"
He places the pocket watch in my palm, closing my fingers around it.
"Yeah!" I admire the shining antique, feeling the smooth metal. "Where did you find it?"
"Uh, yeah..." Ty drops into the beanbag chair, sinking all the way to the floor. "I found it at Claire's house..."
"Claire's?" I lower myself down beside him, tucking the watch into my jacket pocket.
"Yeah. I asked her about it and she told me it was yours." He reaches up to fix his blond quiff. "So I kinda stole it..."
"KINDA stole it?" I chuckle, the first raindrop hitting the roof, followed by many tiny taps. The humidity makes earthy smells waft off of the newly placed cedar planks.
"Totally stole it." Ty grins, bumping me with his elbow. "I stole it back"
"Thanks." I beam, climbing to my feet and heading to the ladder. "We really should get back, it's getting dark and the rain is starting to pick up." He nods, and follows me out of the treehouse.
We race up the front steps, tracking mud into the front entrance.
"Hey, guys." My father calls from his spot on the couch.
"Papa!" I kick off my dirty shoes and curl up beside him on the chesterfield. "Have you seen my treehouse?!"
"Didn't Ty do an amazing job?" Pa smiles as I rest my head against his shoulder.
"Yeah..." I murmur, my eyelids sliding shut. My father strokes my hair, and Tyler flicks on the television to see what's on.
We watch TV for a little while before Leon clicks the remote and the room slips into darkness.
"Well," Leon hauls himself up from his seat on the sunken couch. "We have a big day tomorrow! You're moving back home!"
"Yay..." I mutter, my eyes weighed closed as Papa gets up and moves to his own sofa. The only permanent resident of the small house laughs, and begins brushing his teeth.
I fall asleep immediately, dreaming of walking through the forest, climbing into my new fort and hiding in there, staying there forever.
After breakfast the next morning, we grab our bags and furniture we salvaged from the wreck lying under a tarp in the front yard and manage to cram it all into the back of Mr. Koppinger's vehicle.
After a whole morning of lifting heavy objects into our polished house, the final decoration is set in place and we're ready to move back into our home.
"I think I'm going to go try and finish the final repairs on the marina." Papa wipes the sweat from his forehead, a hand on his sore back. "Thanks so much for your help, everyone." He gives a lame round of applause for our moving crew. I giggle, looking around me to see the Koppingers, Redmans and O' Keefes doing the same.
"No problem." Leon taps my father's shoulder. "We're happy to help."
"Come on, I want to get home now." Ty groans, tugging on his sneakers.
"Bye!" Leon calls as we wave from the window before they disappear down the winding path into the forest. The rest of the crew leave shortly afterwards.
Papa hugs me goodbye and heads down to the marina, leaving me alone in the house.
It feel so good to be back, lying on my own bed, sitting in my own kitchen.
Eventually the excitement from being home wears off and is replaced with boredom. I hadn't been this alone for a while.
I stick my feet into my blue flipflops and make my way to the beach.
There's visitors everywhere, tourists from all over the world here to see the ocean.
I make my way to a deserted patch of beach, dropping down into the warm sand.
I prop the battered sketchbook open in my lap, running the charcoal in fine lines across the unmarked page. The pure sand scorches the bottom of my bare legs and the blazing sun pounds on the back of my neck as I squint at the yellowed page. With an exasperated sigh, I tear the page from the booklet and crush it in my palm.
"Birdie!" Papa gestures from down the beach, waving me over. I push myself up from the ground and shove my feet into my sandals, tucking my sketchbook into my bag as I hop across the burning sand.
"Hey, Birdie. I'm gonna need some help down at the marina."
"Okay." I brush my hair out of my eyes and follow Pa towards the docks.
Kittie doesn't look at me when we arrive, but I can practically feel her hate for me radiating off of her.
"Kittie-" I start, trailing off as she shoots me a glare.
"Just shut up and please don't accuse me of anything." She growls, jabbing a thin finger in my direction.
I nod, shuffling after my father. Usually I wouldn't take that kind of rudeness from her, but I already feet massively guilty and, well, at least she said please.
Papa's afternoon of sweaty, physical labour looked tiring, but despite my insistence, he still was convinced that I wasn't healthy or fit enough to do much work. Not that I was complaining, I was very happy with sorting out the bills and insurance fees from the storm, sitting in the shade punching numbers into an overly-large calculator.
"Thanks so much, Birdie. We're closing up for the day now."
I finally look up, the sky beginning to darken and the humid air cooling. By the time Papa and I get home, it's clouded over and a few round raindrops splash onto the fixed rooftop.
"You did a good job, Papa." I pat him on the back as he watches his food spin around in the shiny new carousel microwave.
"Thanks, little bird." He grins, kissing the top of my head. "Remember how the water used to drip there?"
"Yeah." The scratchy outline of the bottom of a big metal bucket is still visible on the wooden floor, even though it's been such a long time since it sat there.
I shudder. "We were kinda living in a dump."
Pa laughs playfully. "We're still living in a dump, Birdie. Just one with a nice roof."
It's nice to finally spend time with my father again, something I hadn't gotten to do much for the past little while.
He tucks me in tightly under the covers that night, regardless of my protestations.
"What?" He chuckles, fluffing my pillow and slipping it beneath my head. "You're too cool to have your old Papa say goodnight to you? Has Tyler changed my little girl?"
A giggle escapes my lips at the preposterous thought that I might consider myself 'cool'.
"Well, goodnight, little Miss popular." My father teases, closing the door behind him.
"Goodnight." I call, rolling over and drifting off seconds later.
A blaring siren wakes me from my peaceful slumber.
"What the-" I question, tugging on my threadbare slippers and bathrobe. The noise wanes a bit, but is still loud enough to keep me on my toes. When I pass Papa's room, I peek inside, confirming he's still asleep. Sure enough, my father is lying halfway off of the mattress, his tongue lolling out of his mouth. I snort, trying to contain a laugh. Papa can sleep through anything. My feet pad to the door, and I step out onto the ancient, creaky porch.
The first thing that catches my eye is orange-tinged light leaking through the highest branches of the slight woods behind my house. I rub my eyes, trying to figure out what is creating the pulsating glow.
"Oh my god" I tear back through the front door, and stop beside where my father sleeps. "Papa" I whisper, nudging him fully onto his bed. "Papa!" He startles awake, snatching my wrist.
"Birdie" He moans, rubbing sleep from the corners of his eyes. "What's wrong?"
"F-follow me" I stutter. He slouches behind me when I lead Pa outside, and point to the sky.
"What is it?"
"Birdie, I don't have my glasses with me. What are you pointing to?"
"There's a fire" I pause, making sure he's still listening. "I was woken up by sirens. We need to help"
"O-okay" Papa turns towards me. "But, Birdie, it's dangerous. I don't want you to leave the beach"
"No is no"
"What if you get hurt?"
"I promise I won't" He kisses my forehead, and reaches inside the house before pulling a jacket over his nightclothes. "I love you"
"You too" I wave goodbye. "Be safe" Pa gives me a reassuring grin, and runs off into the night. A small sigh escapes my mouth, and I pull up a few flimsy plastic chairs to rest on, knowing that it would be useless trying to fall back asleep. I try to rest on the seats, feet thrown onto the speckled white table, but it's too uncomfortable. In the far corner underneath the deck, I reach into a monstrous chest to find a stack of folded up afghans.
I wrap a blanket around my shoulders and curl up in a ball to watch the smoke rise above the trees. When I turn in the direction of the ocean, however, I am blown away. Fog covers horizon, making the ocean unintelligible from the expanse of sand before it. The only thing I point out in the hazy white mist is the roof of the new shack peeking out.
Curious, I decide to pack up my things and go for a walk. My backpack is already sitting by the front door, so I sling it over my shoulder and trek down the short, muddy sidewalk from my house to the beach. The horizon line begins to form when I step onto the sandy beach, but I still cannot see any details in the water whatsoever. It just looks like there's a giant sheet of onionskin paper seperating me from the beauty of the ocean. I dip my toes into the chilly water, watching fog swirl around my bare ankles, but decide not to when I step on an especially sharp rock in my bare feet. Before I impale myself on another, I slip into my sandals and scurry up onto the dock, avoiding the unused planks of wood placed randomly around me. The construction is almost done; Papa only has a few things left to do. Once at the very edge of the pier, I swing my legs over the side and smile at my surroundings. Either the fog has cleared up a little since I had first noticed it, or it's because I'm inside of it that I have a bit more view than before. The haze drifts in wisps over the water and cliffs.
I flip open my sketchbook, ready to draw. It's difficult trying to depict the beauty with only a nub of charcoal. I end up with ten attempts, but nothing worth using.
Disheartened and tired, I close the heavy cover of the book, tucking it under my arm for the walk back home. I turn around for one last glance at the breathtaking ocean, wishing I could capture the moment in Grandpappy's sketchbook alongside his own illustrations, however I don't have the time nor the patience to get it right. Not to mention the talent.
I can still hear the yelling and calls of the townspeople working together to extinguish the blaze when I arrive on my front steps. That's the thing about Wrenside, we can always count on each other. After Grandpappy's funeral, volunteers took over the marina for a whole month and when Mom left, word spread quickly and soon mountains of casseroles and cakes appeared piled on the kitchen counter, ready to be heated and eaten. Even Papa's accident drew in presents and cards from the neighbours.
Without a second thought, I set down my things by the rack of muddy shoes, grab a pair of more substantial shoes than my flimsy flip flops, and race out the door.
"Birdie, what are you doing here?" Papa breathes, taking a swig from his bottle of water. "I told you to stay at home!" An abandoned apartment block is on fire behind us, hoses spewing at the never-ending flame.
"I-I wanted to help" My hand drifts up to my neck, and I rub it anxiously.
"This is no place for you to be, Birdie! You could get hurt!" He sighs. "Look, It would be great if we had an extra hand, but the last thing I want is for you to get hurt" Pa kisses my forehead, and pulls me in for a hug.
"What should I do, then?"
"The daycare needs help, if you're up to going to aid them" I nod, give my father a squeeze, and walk a few streets away from the blaze, to the jolly daycare where I spent my afternoons as a little kid.
"I'll see you later, Sweetie" Mama kneeled down and held me in a tight embrace.
"Don't go!" I cried, tears rolling down my face. "Don't go, Mama!"
She stood up, and crossed her arms. "Kestrel, I need to go now"
"Don't be such a baby" She pouted, pulling on her jacket. "Goodbye" My mother walked away briskly, leaving me in the empty lobby to cry by myself. Soon afterwards, an employee of the daycare came up to me and picked me up.
"What's wrong, Kestrel?"
"Nngh" I shook my head and grunted.
"Do you want to talk about it?"
"Alright" The young man set me down, and grabbed onto me hand. "Let's go play with blocks!"
"Okay" I said in my childish slur, letting my new friend lead me into the large room, children bustling around.
I kick off my shoes and walk through the colourful doors. It's much smaller than I remember, the building in my memory being much more grand and busy. There are barely any toddlers inside, mostly gradeschool-age kids and teenagers. I sit down on a bright blue chair, and fiddle with a stuffed lamb toy. Everyone is playing with someone else; I am obviously the odd done out. In the fuss, I make out Claire, Kennedy, and a few more people I grew up with, but Ty's blonde hair, spiked to the side like it always is, catches my attention. He's playing with who I know to be the the O' Keefe's youngest child, Abriannah. I smile, and sit down next to them.
"Why are you here?" Tyler sighs, leaning back on his hands.
"Because I want to be?" I catch myself laughing, and quickly seclude myself once again. "Hi, Abriannah" The little girl looks up at me, and gives me a grin, her long and wavy hair bouncing.
"Hi" She looks at me inquisitively. "What's your name?"
"My name's Birdie" I pout, not realizing that she never really knew me. "I work at the Marina"
"I'm not allowed to swim. My daddy says the ocean is too dangerous" Abriannah stutters on the last word, trying to form its sounds correctly. "Oh, and It's Bree, not Abriannah"
Ty runs his hand through his hair, and stands up.
"I should get going. My grandpa's still helping out, but I have some research to do. See you later Bree!" He picks her up and spins her around. "You too, Kessy" I stick out my tongue at him.
"Bye" Bree scurries onto my lap, and picks up a pad of paper.
"Do you like drawing?"
"I love drawing!" I smile. "Would you like to draw at the table?"
"Okay!" She stumbles over to a short desk.
"What do you like drawing?" I grab an orange crayon and start sketching out a girl with long hair, done up in a ponytail.
"I draw doggies, mostly." Bree shrugs. "I really like that! Her hair is like mine!"
"It sure is"
After she left, my life was turned upside down. Everything that reminded me of her, I wanted to destroy.
One morning, Papa had already left for work, and Izzy was still asleep. I was looking in the mirror, assessing my reflection. When my mother was still around, I brushed my long, red hair every day and would sometimes let her stick a bright red bow into it. Lately, it had just been an unkept mop.
There was only one way to solve the problem.
I grabbed a pair of cherry red scissors from the kitchen, and tiptoed outside. Without a mirror, my haircut turned out sloppy and uneven, but I didn't care.
When I was done, I brushed my hahhir out, glad the short, choppy locks didn't tickle my neck or forehead anymore.
"Birdie? What did you do!" When Papa returned from the Marina, he was flabbergasted by my new look. "Where is all of your hair?"
"I cut it" I say matter-of-factly, hoping that he wouldn't get mad.
"Kestrel, why did you do that? Your hair is so beautiful!" A single tear rolled down his cheek, and landed on the top of my head.
"I'm sorry, Pa-"
"It's okay. Sweetie, it's fine." He looked right into my eyes. "Would you like to go to the barber tomorrow? Get a cute haircut? That would be fun"
I nodded obediently.
That evening, Papa isolated himself in his room. It was all my fault, too; he loved my mother.
She was never coming back.
"Bree-Bree, come with me" Kennedy pulls his little sister away from the table, away from her drawing. "You shouldn't be spending time with Kestrel. She's weird" Abriannah pouts, and snatches my sketch from the table.
"No, Kenny, she's nice. Look" Bree holds up the drawing for his brother to see, but he just shaked his head.
"Kessy, stay away from my sister"
"Okay" I shrug, dusting off my pants.
"Let me talk to her." Claire steps out form behind Kennedy, and grabs my shoulder before pulling me out of the room and into a broom closet.
"What's up?" I peer around nervously, taking in my surroundings.
"Look" She sits down, and crosses her legs. "My intention is not to be mean"
"Just, hear me out, okay? I was going to give the watch back, I promise. I guess someone got to it before I did... though. So, sorry, I guess"
"Thanks for the apology"
"Don't interrupt me!" Claire raises her voice accidentally, but corrects her tone. "No hard f-feelings?"
"I guess" Forgiving her is hard, but everyone should have a second chance. Even a heartless childhood bully.
It's quiet, only the sound of people laughing and chatting outside and our own breathing in the cramped closet.
"Okay, then." Claire gets to her feet and leaves, the light pouring in for a brief second before the door swings shut once again. "Bye" Her muffled voice states monotonously.
I panic, looking around in the dark. Surely she wouldn't have locked the door; she just apologized to me. Just in case, though, I reach towards the doorhandle in the veil of darkness and give it a tug. The broomcloset opens with ease.
There's nobody left in the building. It's easy to tell that everyone went home while I was stuck in the cramped room alone. I trudge out of the front door, gathering my jacket, but not bothering to pull it on. The walk back home is short, only a few blocks. It doesn't take me long.
"Welcome home! Where were you?" Papa turns on the sofa, meeting my eyes.
"I-" Leon and Tyler are here too, the three of them crouched on the couch infront of a burning fire place. "I was just cleaning up the daycare."
They won't notice a white lie.
"Oh, Birdie, that's great! Thank you!" My father gives me a grin.
Leon pipes up next. "Come over here, sweetie, there's hot chocolate and a nice, warm fire waiting for you" He winks. I follow the voice, and tuck myself in between Ty and Papa. On each side of me, my shoulders touch their neighbours', the people I snuggle inside a big, warm fleece with. Tyler shifts awkwardly, moving farther away, but I don't let him know I noticed, even though it irks me slightly. He probably still thinks that I'm weird, anyway.
"Was putting out the fire easy?" I question. "It mustn't have taken too long" I grab the only untouched mug from the coffee table, and sip on it while talking to my close friends.
"After you left, it started getting easier, yes." Leon rubs his oily ponytail.
"When Ty arrived, two extra hands really helped us and the blaze was out almost instantly" Pa smiles.
"I didn't help much at all" Tyler sulks. "I could have done more"
"I guess so" Leon deadpans. "But playing with the little children was much more helpful" Ty doesn't answer, but instead downs the dregs of his cocoa.
There's not much more to say, so I stare into the pulsating flames, the oranges, reds and blues flickering together. Creating light and warmth.
It makes me think about how fragile life is. How our lives could shatter in mere seconds. This very house could set on fire this very second, and my friends and I would go down with it.
I would rather die than have Leon, Papa, and especially Ty tortured in front of me.
If only there was a way, a way that I could protect them, if that time may come. Protect the people I love.
A/N Wow philosophical Birdie /claps
Sorry, it took us a month to write this... We've been kinda lazy so we promise to poop out chapters like never before, kay? They've been so short and released so irregularily lately :(
We love you guys! Please give us a critique for this chapter 'cause we know it's not our best :(
KAY BYE <3
~ Fedora & What
I step over to the next cage, excitedly peering in on cute little birds fluttering their wings. Ty, Leon, Papa and I arrived at the pet shop approximately an hour ago. The two oldest have been arguing furiously with the store owner while Tyler and I took refuge in the very back aisles of the building.
"Are they done yet?" he groans, leaning against a giant bag of dog food. "It's been so long"
"Whatever" I smile even though it still makes my head hurt. A few days ago was when I was first allowed to venture from the Koppinger's, but still am racked by migraines and nausea.
I admire the tanks of colourful fish, their tiny bubbles and unblinking eyes. I had a fish, once, but one day I came home and there it was, floating upside down at the surface. I wasn't upset. It was just a stupid fish.
I make my way over to the birdcages, the birds screeching and squacking as I near their homes.
The bird I had seen a month ago bounds over to me, and cocks its head. It has fluffy feathers peeking out from the back of its neck, and thick, white stripes stretching from its wings to beak.
"Hey there little bird" I smile, and stick my finger through the cold metal bars to pet the chickadee's forehead. He only stays put for a short while, though, as the small bird squirms away from under my finger, and moseys over to a darker bird in the cage. I watch as they peck at each other, and goof off in the cage.
''They're pretty cute, aren't they?''
I find myself face to face with the redheaded girl who occasionally works at the shop.
''They're beautiful.'' I sigh, listening to the chickadee's songs.
"Truly." She pauses. "Chickadees are thirty percent off, if you'd like to buy one" Initially, her statement makes me really happy, but nervousness floods me once I realize that Papa'd never let me have another pet. I'm much too bad at taking care of them.
"N-no, it's okay" I smile fakely, and shake my head. The redhead gives me a short smile, and prances off to feed the sugar gliders.
I go back to the singing birds, and think for the first time about how amazing it would be to get a chickadee. I had always wanted a pet bird as a child.
Ty walks up behind me, and flicks the back of my head gently.
"Talking to yourself again?" He laughs, and helps me to my feet. There's a throbbing in my brain, but I ignore it. "Grandpa and your dad are almost ready to go"
"Okay" We trot over to the till, where the two stand, deep in conversation. Pa turns to greet us, but Leon looks at the ground sadly.
"Papa, the bird I saw a while ago is on a really good sale!" I say, throwing my arms up in the air enthusiastically to lighten the mood.
"Birdie, your birthday is in a little more than a month, maybe you could but it then" my father sighs, and scratches his arm. "Just not now, okay?"
The store owner walks out of the back room, and looks toward Papa and Leon.
"We'll be a short second, kids. Why don't you go get a smoothie or something?" Mr. Koppinger's face is as red as a tomato when he says this, which worries me that the problem might be more than I've assumed.
"S-sure" I lead Tyler out the door, and we walk silently to the neighbouring building, an old ice cream parlour. "Here's five dollars" There's an extra bill in my pocket, so I hand it to Ty. "I'll be waiting outside"
Minutes later, he returns with a cone of ice cream.
"Here's your change" Tyler gives me a handful of pennies and dimes.
"Thanks" I pause. "What do you think they were talking about?"
"Not sure. I think it might be something money-related, though" He licks at his double-decker treat. "But whatever"
'No, not whatever!' I think. What if we become bankrupt? Maybe that's why Papa didn't let me get the bird. Perhaps we were already bankrupt.
It seems like no one ever tells me anything.
As we're driving home in the Jeep, I notice that Papa and Leon are being eerily silent.
"What was that argument about?" I adjust the beanie neck pillow Dr. Norman provided me with.
"Nothing much, sweetie, just a little spat" Leon reassures me, his eyes never leaving the road.
"Seriously? That was much more than a 'little spat'" Tyler mimics his grandfather. "Sorry. I'm also very curious" I smile at his apology. I've never encountered an apology from him that wasn't forced.
"Okay" My father sighs, and reclines in the passenger's seat. "The gentleman who owns the pet store is going to sue us for...causing small plumbing problems..." I frown. "No biggie"
"After he dropped that information, I kindly agreed to pay him a sum instead of getting the law involved, but Rich refused" Leon says, turning into the gravel road leading to
"Seems like a stupid argument, if you ask me" Ty chuckles, and turns toward the window.
When we approach the house, I unbuckle my seat belt and hobble out of the car. The eldest Koppinger leads the way, stacking stray lawn chairs and gathering random picnic blankets from the deck before we step into the quaint cottage. Referring to it as 'quaint' seems the most correct, since Leon's house is anything but extravagant and gigantic. He seems to like it that way, and I agree with him.
We set down our raincoats, as the weather has been quite muggy for the past few days, and the four of us plop down on the couch. I reach for the television remote, and flick on the flat-screen before us.
"Here we have the Pademelon, or Thylogale billardierii, a small creature that resides in the forests of Australia." The four of us blankly watch a documentary about a cute little kangaroo-like animal. It's interesting how friendly they are to their trainers, even though they're wild animals held captive. One segment turns to another, and eventually we've spent the whole rest of the morning sitting in the living room.
"I should tend to my garden" The old man strikes up conversation. "It's been awhile, and I'm worried."
"In this weather?" Papa exclaims, and walks over to fetch himself a beverage.
"Why not?" Leon bids us farewell, and tugs on his rain boots before he disappears into the cold, wet day.
"I need to get going, too" Pa sighs, also gathering his things. "Play nice" He winks before leaving the room.
'That was quick" Ty comments, throwing his feet over onto the coffee table.
"Yep" We sit awkwardly for a half hour, until the morning turns to afternoon and the sky finally starts to brighten.
"I guess I should help your grandpa" I sit up, and pull on my shoes. "bye"
"Goodbye, Miss Boring"
"Can I help?" I hover over Leon, slipping on a pair of gardening gloves. "I'm not too good at taking care of plants, so I won't be of much use"
"Go grab a watering can" He points towards the shed, and I follow the path. Inside the teetering building, there's stacks of random junk, but I'm not really surprised. Leon had to store everything somewhere, I guess.
I fill up a metal bucket and pour chilly hose water onto the plants as Leon kneels beside them. He holds the yellowed leaves between his fingers and lets out a little sigh.
"I try to water and take care of them everyday," he looks up at me. "But they keep dying."
"Wait" I gasp, remembering something. "In the magazine I read a while ago, there was a 101 sort of segment" Leon smiles. "Be right back"
I dash as fast as my head will let me, into the house and out again with the thin book in my hand. I sit down next to my elderly friend, and flip it open to page twelve.
"Here's a check list" I say, and Mr. Koppinger leans in to see what it says.
"Is the soil fertile?"
"What does that mean?"
"Well, the book says that fertile soil is when your dirt is high with nutrients. Like, compost and stuff, apparently'' I shrug, reading on. "It's actually really important to have good soil"
"What's next?" I peer at the glossy paper.
"Secondly, provide good conditions for your flowers and stuff. Make sure it isn't constantly in the shade, and that you're not drowning it. Things like that"
"I'll work on that" He throws a handful of dirt into the hole of a previously alive tomato plant.
"You might want to get rid of the weeds" I laugh, after reading a tid-bit on how fatal weeds can be to the growth of plants. I turn to see the stretch of dead plants across the front of Leon's house. There's more little weeds sticking up than flowers.
"I-I thought those were wildflowers" he smacks his forehead. "Oops"
Hours later, the two of us slink inside, our hair laced with strands of grass and hands caked with mud.
"You can shower first. I need to order pizza" He scratches his cheek, and picks up the phone receiver.
"CHEESE!" Ty yells from the couch, his eyes not moving from the video game. Leon and I roll our eyes.
"Okay, I'll be right back" I grab my duffel bag, and walk into the bathroom. With three more people at the house than usual, it's become pretty filthy. I set down my things and, after the tap heats up, jump in the shower while still wearing my filthy clothes. For awhile, I stare at the floormat, swirls of dirt flowing off my
body. The beating flow of water is warm, and soothing.
"Your turn" I step back into the living room, drying my soaked hair. Leon sits at the counter, cross-stitching a bowl of fruit.
"Thanks" He winks, and begins to walk to the bathroom. "Oh, you and Tyler can go get the pizza in half
"Okay!" I smile, grabbing a juice box from the cupboard and plopping down on the floor beside the coffee
"Where is the pizza place?" Ty questions, pausing his game.
"Uhh... a few towns over. We might need to leave before thirty minutes is up"
"Sounds good to me." He goes back to the television.
"Let's go now. We don't want to be late" I gather up the pizza money, Leon's car keys and my bag. Ty groans, sets down his controller, and walks to the door alongside me.
"Do you even have your license?"
"Nope, that's why you're here!" I grin, slip on my sneakers, and run out the door. He follows. I actually manage to make it into the Jeep without any nausea, which is a feat, with my condition lately.
"It's much too early to go get the food" Tyler complains, slipping into the driver's seat. We take off down the road, and I give him directions towards our destination. Otherwise, we don't speak.
It's an hour later when we arrive back in Wrenside. The sky is still bright. I hold the food in my lap, picking them up occasionally to make sure they're still hot.
"Hey, Birdie" He says, swerving messily around a parked car.
"Would you like to go see the treehouse later?" We almost slam into a semi truck, but Tyler miraculously manages to avoid the collision.
"Of course!" I smile. Ty is a horrible driver, but he seems to be in a nice mood, so I don't bother him about it.
"We have the pizza!" I grin, stepping into the house. Papa and Leon cheer hungrily from the kitchen island, while taking out paper plates and equally disposable cutlery.
"How was the drive?" Leon smiles, typing up his hair.
"Good, I guess" I move on to giving the four of us each a slice of pizza. We all sit down. The rest of us stare in disbelief as Tyler grabs a bottle of ketchup from the counter, and squirts it all over his dinner.
"What are you doing?" Papa laughs, taking a sip from his cola.
"Are you serious you've never seen a person eat ketchup before?"
"Uh, no. Not like this" I laugh, putting down my slice before I drop it.
"It's the same stuff as pizza sauce"
"No, it isn't"
"Weirdo Canadians" he chews a bite of pizza. Pa and I laugh as dribbles of ketchup go down his chin, and a little red mustache forms on his upper lip.
"Hey, Birdie" A few minutes later, Leon asks me a question.
"would you like to get some ice cream with me after dinner? It may soothe your
head for awhile" He stuffs a spoonful of pizza into his mouth. I giggle at his unusual mannerism.
"S-sure" I hesitate, looking at Ty, who I had already promised to accompany after dinner.
"You don't have to, of course" Mr. Koppinger says. Tyler's pouting, but, eventually, he nods in acceptance.
"Oh, no, no, I'd love to!"
"That's good" Papa eyes me skeptically, a smug grin on his face. I try not to pay
Once we're done digesting our dinner, Mr. Koppinger grabs his handbag and tugs me towards the door.
"We'll be back later" He says, dropping my hand momentarily to let me pull on my sneakers, but grabs it again when I stand back up. "Bye"
"Bye!" Pa laughs. The giddy Leon drags me down the long gravel road leading to his house, and into town.
"Where's the parlour, again?"
"Oh, it's that way" I point to where Ty and I were earlier, catching my breath.
"Oopsie!" He grins, letting me recover before continuing on towards the ice cream shop. My spirited friend opens the parlour's door with a flourish, resulting in a loud jingling.
Next week is the (meager amout of) vacationers usually arrive, so when we walk inside, the store employees are sitting behind the counter, their feet resting on a bucket of chocolate sauce.
When they hear us come in, one person pops up to serve us. The other three stay in their positions.
"Welcome! What can I do you for?" A quirky employee comes out from behind the cash register to greet us.
"Hello, sweetie!" Leon, in his usual bubbly manner, gives her a grin. "I'll have a kids size vanilla cone. And whatever the young lady wants"
"Um..." I look all around me, at the number of menus written on the black-board walls. "I'll have a hot fudge sundae, please" I say, finally deciding on what to eat.
"Good choice" Mr. Koppinger winks.
"I'm always in the mood for hot fudge and pecans"
"Who isn't? We smile.
"Order up!" The server smiles, handing a bowl of vanilla soft serve to Leon, and after shaking sprinkles on top, a heaping bowl of chocolate and ice cream to me. "Have a good evening!" Mr. Koppinger hands a handful of cash to the lady, and walks outside, me tailing behind him.
"Mmm" Leon smiles, licking his ice cream. "This is good!" I can tell his grin is fake.
"I asked for a cone..." Mr. Koppinger admits, sticking a spoon in his mouth. "But whatever!" He motions for me to sit next to him on the pier, and I gladly take the spot.
"Chocolate, or vanilla?" Leon asks, scooping up more soft-serve.
"Oh... I don't know" I sigh, trying to remember my favourite out of the two. "Maybe vanilla. I'd rather have chocolate drizzled on top instead of having it flavoured that way"
"Me too" He smiles. "Your turn!"
"Do you mind if it's personal?"
"Not at all!"
"Are you... rich?"
"I guess you could say that. It's a long story" He scratches the back of his neck.
"Oh." I reply.
"Well, I guess we have time." Leon spoons another mouthful of dessert into his mouth. "I really don't mind."
I settle back into my seat to listen.
"Well, it all started five years ago, when I was seventy. At that point, I was living in Utah with my son. I haven't admitted this to many people, but when I was younger I had...gambling troubles" I nod, urging him on with his story. "The only time I ever got lucky was my seventieth birthday. I had bought a ticket for 15 million dollars" He pauses dramatically, slapping himself in the forehead. "And won"
"What's so bad about that?" I question, thinking his reaction to the money was ridiculous.
"Once my name entered the news, I received hundreds of letters a day from people that had the same habits as me. I was flooded with mail, each one asking for me to feed their addictions with money. I burned every single letter. A month later, my wife Margaret died in a tragic accident" He leans into his hand, hiding the expression showing on his face.
"I'm s-sorry..." I try to apologize but Leon turns his head to look at me.
"Sweetheart, it's not your fault Meg died"
"Long story short, I moved up here to evade the bimbardment of letters" He erases the look of sadness displayed across his face. "I haven't been bothered since!"
I finish off the last dregs of my melted ice cream, and throw the plastic container into the recycling bin that sits beside us.
"Are we done?" Leon stares down at his own empty bowl sadly, probably thinking about what he could have done differently so as to get a cone instead.
"Let's go, then!" He reaches over me to throw out his own garbage, and stands up. We admire all the work done on the marina before we leave. Since my accident, Papa and Mr. Koppinger have been working on it day-in and day-out. It looks great.
"Wait" I stop ater a few steps. "I'm meeting up with someone here. I'll meet you back at your house!"
"Okay" Leon gives me a wink, and hops away. I sit back down on the bench, and look around the bay. There are busy fishermen working on their boats, and children splashing around in the ocean, a pink-and-orange sunset reflecting off the stretch of water.
It isn't long before Ty arrives.
"Hello" I pat the bench beside me, but he insists on standing.
"Ready to follow me?" Tyler scratches his neck.
"Sure" He leads me into the forest adjacent to my house. We make our way down the winding path, tumbling over the occasional root. After a while, Ty and I reach our destination.
"Well, here you are"
"Wow" I gasp. "It's amazing"
"T-thanks" he smiles at me. "Go inside!" I nod my head, and start to climb up the rungs of the brand-new rope ladder. Inside the treehouse, there's a brand-new beanie chair and a stack of pristine magazines, each placed exactly where I remember them.
I lower myself onto the squishy chair, and take in my surroundings. It's amazing, thinking that Ty, Papa and Leon would do all this for me.
Ty clambers up the tree behind me and leans up against the wall.
"I have one more surprise for you, Birdie."
Wow, this is a horrible/short chapter haha :)
sorry this sucksssss
we won't be able to continue writing every Sunday... it saps too much time...
we hope you understand...
APOLOGIES/// THIS CHAPTER IS UBER SHORT. sowwy Q n Q
"A little to the left!" I holler. Papa moves the board a tiny bit and holds it in place.
"Here?" He calls, the nails stuck between his teeth. I flash him a thumbs up and he hammers one into the board and then steps down the ladder, wiping the sweat from his brow. "Ooh." He breathes, once both feet are placed on the ground. "I'm exhausted! Good thing we're almost done!"
We had been working hours a day for the past week to get the house fixed up and suitable to live in, and there's a probably a day's work left before we could move out of Mr. Koppinger's and back home.
I whip my head around to see Pa moaning, and clutching his back.
"Papa!" I race to him and grab his arm to support him. "Papa, are you alright?"He nods, lowering himself to the ground. "I'm fine, Little Bird, but I think that's enough work for today." I straighten his hat, and collect the building materials scattered all over the yard.
We hear a car pull up behind us, and both turn our heads to see Leon park his hummer and climb out of the driver's seat. Ty jumps out the other side and they both walk up to us.
"Hello!" Mr. Koppinger greets us. "How's the work coming?"
"We brought sandwiches." Ty holds up a plastic bag and tosses us each some lunch. My father unwraps his sandwich and takes a huge bite.
"How's the roof coming?" Leon asks, putting a hand to his brow to look up at the house. "It looks almost done."
"Yeah, there's just a little more work to do." I sigh, staring up at the building. "But Papa's back is bothering him so it might take a little longer than we first expected."
"We can help." Mr. Koppinger offers, putting an arm around his grandson. "Right, Tyler?" Ty rolls his eyes.
"Yeah, I guess..."
"That would be great!" Papa finishes off his sandwich and licks the mustard from the patch of stubble starting to grow above his lip. "Thank you so much!"
"Oh, it's no problem at all!" Leon pats my father on the shoulder. Once we're all finished our lunch, Papa directs us on fixing the roof.
"Now, just grab some glue and climb up the ladder." He instructs. I head over to where he's pointing, searching through the pile of tools.
"Where?" I peer at the toolbox.
"Oh, right! I forgot to buy some!" Pa smacks his forehead. "We'll just do the gluing tomorrow."He passes me his thick work belt and I strap it around my waist.
"Grab a board." He directs me. "And climb up onto the roof."
I carefully balance the wood under my arm as I step up the tall ladder. When I reach the top, my feet slide on the mossy shingles. "Careful!" Papa shouts as I regain my balance and crawl on all fours along the slanted roof. Nearing the gaping hole, I peer down at my empty bedroom, wood splinters covering the hardwood flooring. I slap the board down and slam the nails in, holding it in place. I slowly make my way back to the ground and grab another board. On the roof again, I nail this board down as well, but as I stand up, my feet slip, and there's nowhere I can hold onto.
"Birdie!" The roof disappears below me and my arms flail, desperate to grab something, anything. There's a brief second of flying, before I plummet to the ground. I see the trees, the clouds and then the grass, a little too close to my face.
I land hard, my head throbbing. The ground spins and the sky twists above me, my hands grab at the burning in my neck.
"Birdie!" I hear a fading shout as darkness closes in. "Kestrel!"
"We're home!" I step in the door and hang my Winnie the Pooh backpack up on the little hooks. Izzy kicks off his shoes and walks further into the house.
Yesterday was like every other day. Mom came around the corner with a huge smile, a tray of freshly made chocolate chip cookies cooling on the table. She never complained about making us snacks, even though she barely had any time between getting home from work and us returning from school. She would pour us each a glass of milk and kiss us on the tops of our heads. We would sit at the kitchen table and tell her everything about our day. She never wanted to miss a single event that happened, even little things, like what colour skipping rope I had at recess or how I got to drink from the cold water fountain after gym class. She was such a good listener.
Today is different, though. The house is cold and there is no lingering smell of Mom's baked goodies.
"Mommy?" I call, poking my head in every room. "Mom, where are you?"I head to the living room where Izzy is sitting in front of the TV. "Where's mom?" I ask, and he shrugs.
"Maybe she worked late." His eyes don't leave the screen. Of course, my brother's answer is logical, but isn't satisfactory for six year old me.
I sneak into my parents' room, and emit a giant whine. The dresser drawers are gaping open, all of my mother's clothes gone, except for one shirt balled up on the floor, like it had fallen from her bag. Or maybe she had meant to leave it, maybe she doesn't want anything to remind her of her awful family. I hold the shirt, one that I gave to her last year for Mother's Day. I picked it out myself and Papa paid for it. When she unwrapped it, she kissed my nose and told me she loved it. She wore it as often as possible and would always compliment me on my great choice.
"This is my favourite shirt!" She would twirl every time she wore it. I hold Mom's 'favourite' shirt in my hands and use it to dry the tears. Izzy appears behind me.
"She's gone." He whispers in disbelief, scanning the half empty room. "Mommy left."
I tear away from him and run outside, digging my fingernails into the ground and scooping up little handfuls of dirt. Without another thought, the shirt is shoved into the hole and buried into the black earth. I pat the ground nicely around it, then stand up and give it a kick. "Goodbye, 'Mom'."
"Birdie?" The voice is distant and muffled. "Birdie, can you hear me?"
My eyelids flutter open to meet Dr. Norman's, his giant nose centimeters away from mine.
"Good morning, Kestrel." He smiles, leaning over me.
"Birdie." I manage to croak out, my head aching. Everything aching, actually.
"Hey, little bird." Papa appears, a relieved grin on his face. "I was worried about you."
"What happened?" I rub my sore head, feeling a huge welt under my wavy red hair.
"You fell off the roof, dummy." Ty, another person in the crowd around me, peers down at my throbbing form. I, too, look at my bruised arms and legs and shudder.
"Was it bad?" I ask nervously.
"Nah." Papa waves the thought away, but his red eyes say otherwise. I take his hand and shoot him a weak smile.
"I'm fine, Papa." He replies by simply giving my hand a light kiss.
After some simple tests, Dr. Norman scribbles on a slip of paper and sticks it on my arm.
"Grade two concussion." He informs me. "Usually I say two days bed rest, but since you fell from way up high, I'm gonna say three, maybe four." He turns to Papa and gives him instructions for my medication and tells him to wake me up every hour for the first night.
Dr. Norman pats my shoulder. "You'll be better in no time." and assures me with a wink.
"Ugh" I wake to Ty poking my forearm, intense shadows reflecting on his face from the sunset. "Why do I have to be woken up? It's hard enough to sleep as it is" He sighs, and lowers himself down onto the arm of the couch.
"Yes?" I crane my head to look into Tyler's eyes, but an insane pain attacks my brain, and I plop back down onto my stack of pillows.
"I've been thinking"
"You've been treated terribly by me" He pauses to take a deep breath. "I'm sorry. This is probably a stupid question, but do you want to start over?" I gasp, taken aback by his words. By how many things this boy's done to me, my gut informs me that he's just another liar, luring me into trouble like all the others.
Although, for a split second, I catch a glimpse of Ty's face in my peripheral vision. In that moment, I am told that his emotions are real.
"Hello?" I snap back to reality. He kneels beside me now, awaiting my response.
"Thank you" tears begin to spill from the corners of my eyes, each sob increasing my pain. "Thank you so much" I sniffle, taking a tissue from Tyler.
"Jesus, you're such a crybaby" He rolls his eyes, plops the Kleenex box on my shaking stomach, and walks out of the room.
"Wierdo" I laugh. I wipe the tears from my cheeks and curl up under the covers again.
"What now?" I mumble from beneath the blankets. I poke my head out the top to see Leon hovering at the door. He comes over and sits on the end of the bed.
"How you doing, kiddo?" he asks, placing a soft hand on my shoulder. I shrug, the slight movement making my head throb.
"Badly" I say truthfully, closing my eyes to evade the nausea that hits me suddenly. "Please may you get me a glass of water?"
"Of course" He shuffles into the kitchen, and fills a glass up to the rim with cold water. Before leaving the counter, Leon drops a blue straw into the clear liquid. I accept the drink gladly, and after my friend helps prop me up, I am instantly taking generous gulps.
"Whenever you need something, sweetie, just give me the call" He lays me back down and goes off towards his bedroom.
"Wait" I manage to croak before he's out of range. "Where's Papa?"
"He'll be here soon" Leon promises, and closes the door behind him.
After what seems like ages of laying alone in the dark, I finally succumb to sleep. Even when I'm dreaming, there's an endless pain resonating from my brain.
"Birdie" Ty sits on the roof, and offers me the place beside him. "Sit down, I want to talk" I plop down beside him, and dangle my legs off the eavestroughs.
"What is it?" I ask. He smiles, and ushers me closer.
"We should be best friends"
I grin, and scooch the last few inches closer to him. Suddenly, Tyler's face contorts into a malicious grin. I try to inch away from the edge of the roof, but it's useless. His strong hands whip me over the side of the building.
"Why?" Is the only word I can gasp, as I tumble towards the ground. For what seems like an eternity, I fall. With each second, my headache gets worse. But still I fall.
Papa is on the ground under me, screaming my name. His voice is much more distant than it should be. Right before I land on the mossy ground with a splat, I am startled awake.
"Birdie, Birdie, it's okay" My crusty eyes open to my father cradling me gently, and humming into my hair. "You're fine, sweetie" I grip onto his sweatshirt tighter. There is a sheen of cold sweat covering my forehead, and with a shaking hand, I wipe it away.
"Papa" I cry, tears rolling down my face. "Why am I so weird?"
A sullen expression clouds his face. "You aren't, sweetie. You're the best girl ever"
"Now, go to sleep, sweetie" I shut my eyes, but there's no use trying to fall back asleep. For awhile, I rest in the darkness, trying not to think much, because that makes my head throb even more.
"Oh, I give up" I whisper to myself, and haul myself into a sitting position. Even with that small gesture, my head spins and there's vomit in the back of my throat, but I continue towards the fridge. The cool air that blasts at me once I open the refrigerator doors is refreshing. Before I fall unconcious to the ground, I snatch a ginger ale from the highest shelf, and walk to the kitchen island. On the counter, Someone's left a bottle of painkillers. Instead of staying at the island, I pour out a few pills and take my things back over to the couch. My head still pounds. I gulp down the fizzy liquid with the medicine and lay back down on the couch, carefully propping my head on the squishy mound of pillows.
I still can't sleep.
Six hours later, Leon shuffles into the kitchen, and sees me reading a gardening magazine on the couch.
"Good morning, Birdie" He yawns, and fills a kettle with water. "Trust you got some shut-eye"
"Not much" I reply monotonously, and flip to a page covered in a picture of the many different types of pansies.
"Is your head better?"
"Even the tiniest bit?"
"No!" I throw the magazine to the ground. "I barely had two hours of sleep. My head feels like it's goingn to explode, and the fact that I could puke any moment just makes it so much better"
"Ssh, Birdie, Ty and your father are still sleeping" Leon snatches the kettle from a red-hot elemet moments before it whistles, and pours an even amount of scalding water into two bright green mugs. He grabs a box of teabags before he sits next to me. "Cinnamon spice or rooibos chai?"
"Whichever" I kick the dog-eared magazine underneath the coffee table, and grab a random flavour of tea from the box.
"You know, a good attitude always helps" Leon sighs, stirring a spoonful of honey into his own mug.
"What's the use, though? I'll be stuck here, doing nothing all day! For a week!" I sip my beverage, but it's much too hot for my liking, and I place it sloppily onto a coaster. While splashing burning tea on my hand. I screech, blowing on my hand.
"Sorry about that" Mr.Koppinger jogs into the kitchen for a few seconds, and comes back with an icecube. "This should help"
"Thank you" I watch, mesmerized, as the ice cube melts in my scalding chai tea. Once the whole thing's turned to liquid, I take another sip.
"I should wake up Rich. We're going to rebuild the shack at the Marina today" Leon's use of Papa's real name makes me smile. Not many people use it around me. Not anymore.
"Okay" My beath catches in my throat, and I am forced to take a deep breath before continuing. "Have fun"
Once they've left to the Marina, I stumble over to the bathroom and ready a steaming hot bath. It fills the whole room with humid air, and the large expanse of mirrors are fogged up. I dip my toes into the tub, and adjust the temperature a bit, before submerging myself in the hot water. Breathing in the humid air clears my brain, and makes it easier to relax.
That's when I drift off.
"Oh my god!" Ty peers around the door, into the bathroom. My eyes open slowly, and it takes me a few seconds to realize that he's intruding on my bathing. I throw my arms around my midsection, and sink deeper into the water.
"Why are you taking a bath in your clothes?" He snorts, knocking the door open. "Never mind the fact you're sleeping" Tyler's hair is sticking in every direction, and he's still wearing his pyjamas.
"My clothes?" I question groggily, and look down at my body. Sure enough, my own fleece jammies are plastered to my skin. "oops"
"It's almost lunch" He states, looking at the ancient radio in the hall. "We should probably bring some food over to you dad and grandpa..."
"I'll be right out" I scratch my neck, and stand up, but practically fall out of the tub when my head begins to throb again. "Ow"
"I'll have some medicine ready, too" He smirks at my pain, and steps back into the hallway. "Weirdo"
"You'll need three tablespoons of butter"
"Four?" I grab a jar of butter from the frodge, and place it beside a pot of noodles.
"Well, sorry" I say sarcastically, and plop in an estimated amount of butter. "What else"
"A glop of milk"
"What's a glop?"
"Oh, never mind!" Tyler grabs a jug, and lets one 'glop' into the pasta.
"Now, put in the cheese, and mix it around" I pour in a bag of orange powder, and stir it until the whole pot looks like it's been attacked by a hi-liter.
"Ta-Da!" I lift up the noodles, proud of our feat.
"Whatever" Ty spoons a bit into four bowls, and covers each one before dropping them unceremoniously into a plastic bag. "I'll be back later. Don't die"
"Good-bye to you too"
For the second time in the day, I wake up in the weirdest place.
"How'd you get up there?" Papa laughs, carrying me back to the couch. My eyes are still shut, but I emit a half-hearted giggle. "Seriously, you're the only person I know that can sleep on the drier with a concussion"
"Maybe because she is the only person who has ever slept on the drier" Leon joins the laughter.
"Doubt it" Ty's voice says. "Anyway, I need to search for a college. See you guys later"
"Bye" My father and Mr. Koppinger say, and Papa puts his hand on my forehead.
"I think you're getting better already"
"That's good" I smile, and roll over to my side. Leon leaves the room, and I am left with Pa.
"Yes?" I reply sleepily.
"Hypothetically... If I had a girlfriend, would you be okay with that?"
"Hmm" I think. "Depends"
"Thank you" Papa gives my nose a kiss. "Sleep as much as you can, little bird, It's late"
There was another sleepless night.
Please forgive the
1) Horrible writing and
2) Terrible length
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