I was gonna get a promotion. Dr. Elliot promised me that once the current tests I was undergoing were done, I’d be upped to lab tech. Only two weeks! I was super excited.
I came home after that information, worked in my garden for a bit and then cleaned the entire house. I wanted to scream and jump up and down. But I should contain myself. I was an adult, after all, not a child. Omigod I’m gonna get my promotion! How could I not be excited? I remembered all those celebrations back home. Kyle’s couple of promotions, Ken’s promotions, Rion’s promotions, and of course… her promotions. It was a big deal back home so naturally I was excited now. I just wished I had someone to celebrate it with–but I’d be going home this weekend. Mom and Dad were having their birthday party, and I couldn’t miss that.
I went to work that day with a huge grin on my face. I still didn’t have many friends at work but they still asked what had put me in such a good mood. I merely replied that I had a great morning. I couldn’t brag about a promotion that hadn’t happened yet.
Later that week I was at the library. The next morning I’d be taking the bus back home for the weekend but for now I was just trying to relax. It had been almost two months since I was last home and honestly, I wasn’t sure what to say to them face-to-face. The needle pricks on my arms had healed and there was no visible signs of what I was doing.
I was so absorbed in my book that I didn’t notice him until a shadow fell over my book. I looked up and was rather surprised to see that creepy guy’s freckled mug staring down at me. He smiled and I quickly bowed my head again, trying to concentrate on the words.
“Hey again,” he said with a bit of a laugh. “Fancy meeting you here.” I remained silent. He coughed. “I’d give you a proper greeting, but I don’t know your name?”
“My name is none of your business,” I replied flatly, not even looking up at him.
“Hm,” was the only noise he made in reply. There was a minute of complete silence, except for the sound of me turning the page. Finally I couldn’t take it and I shut my book with a snap.
“What are you doing here?” I demanded, glaring at him. “Are you stalking me or something?”
“We meet twice in two weeks and that makes me a stalker?” he inquired.
I stood up, angrily pushing the book back in place. “Why do you seem so intent on talking to me when I’ve made it clear I don’t want to?” I asked, turning to face him.
“Why are you so intent on not talking to me?” he replied with a smile. “Have I done something to offend you? Was it that cheesy line I pulled in the junkyard? I’m sorry for it,” he added, looking honest. “I was just curious what you were doing there if you weren’t collecting junk for any reason. How about we start over?”
“How about not,” I replied coldly, my purple eyes meeting his grey ones.
“I get it,” he said, still smiling. Why was he still smiling? He was so annoying. “I’m sorry to bug you. But I’m not stalking you. It was just… happy chance?” he offered and I just raised an eyebrow. “Patience perforce with willful choler meeting, makes my flesh tremble in their different greeting. I will withdraw but this intrusion shall…” He paused and then grinned broadly. “Hopefully seem sweet, and not be bitter gall.”
Now both my eyebrows were raised. He was still smiling, obviously waiting for a reaction. I decided not to admit I found his twist of words to be amusing.
“You are heard no more. It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing!” I misquoted in reply and turned to leave.
“I see, lady, this gentleman is not in your books,” was his reply.
“You are a frantic fool, hiding your bitter jests in blunt behavior!” was mine, though I did not turn around but continued forward.
“The lady doth protest too much, methinks,” he said, sounding rather smug about it.
I stopped and then spun around, stomping my foot. “That I am not staying here to write you down an ass! But sir, remember that you are an ass! Though it be not written down, yet forget not that you are an ass!”
“It is my will, the which if you respect, show me your fair presence and put off that frown,” he said.
“It fits,” I replied, tired of this. “When such a villain is a guest. I’ll not endure you.” I turned once more to leave but he reached out, his hand on my shoulder.
“I shall be endured,” he replied softly.
“Shakespeare shouldn’t be spouted from the lips of a stalker,” I replied, pushing his hand off my shoulder. “Now please, leave me alone.”
“I wasn’t stalking you!” he protested. “It was just happy chance, honestly. I have every reason to be here. More so than you!”
“Oh?” I demanded. “And why is that? Are you better than me?”
“No, probably much lower than you,” he replied, grinning. “But I have a secret to tell you. This is the Wright Reading Room. Correct?”
“Yes,” I replied, not sure where he was going with this.
He leaned in very close as if this was indeed a secret. “My last name is Wright,” he whispered. I pulled back and stared at him in surprise. He stuck his hands into his pockets and began rocking back and forth on his feet, like a kid. “Yep!” he said brightly. “My full name is Kellen Wright. My great-great grandfather built this place. His son took over and his son, my grandfather, is currently in charge. But my grandpa’s health isn’t doing so well and my dad hates books. My aunt is gonna inherit this place but she’s not living here currently. So, I’m in charge. One of the things I do in my free time.”
“Oh,” I said. “I see. Well, ah, I suppose that does give you every… right to be here.”
“Is that a pun, ma’am?” he asked with a smirk.
I felt a strange sensation in my face. I raised my hands, feeling a warmth in my cheeks. Was I… blushing? “It is a goodbye!” I snapped and quickly turned to leave.
“Wait!” he called as I started through the doorway of the room. “Please let me know your name!”
I stopped, and looked over my shoulder, finally allowing a smirk on my face. “The moon, the fickle moon, the inconstant moon!” He gave me a curious look and I left the library, jogging all the way home in a sort of breathless confusion.
I was confused for quite some time. All that night, and all the next day as I was taken back to Sunset Valley. I didn’t like that creeper in my mind so I tried focusing on the fact I was going to see my family.
It was great being home. I was only staying overnight and I knew I would be exhausted by the time I got back to Riverview–but I was happy enough. I went inside and was quickly pulled into Mom’s arms. I hugged her tightly back and then began greeting everyone who was there.
I wasn’t exactly excited about the prospect of sharing a room with Tempest again and the fact she barely said two words to me confirmed the fact that she wasn’t happy either. I tried my best to ignore her, chatting with Mom.
“I am not as anxious for this birthday as your father is,” she said when I asked. “But it is kind of strange to think I will be getting older.” She tapped her finger against her chin in thought. “But that is the way of life.”
“The way life is supposed to be,” Dad added as he came in. “Hey kiddo.” He hugged me tightly and kissed my forehead. “How’s life in Riverview?”
After we talked for a bit, he went to get dinner and the birthday cakes. Mom wanted to stretch out on the couch, Kyle was still not home, and I decided to spend this time talking to Orion. I asked him if meeting the same person twice in two weeks counted as stalking. He replied that it depended on the situation, and was someone stalking me?
Sensing that he’d follow me back to Riverview with his badge and gun like previously promised, I assured him it wasn’t like that. “It just kinda seemed weird, seeing him twice in two weeks,” I said, not adding that he had tried chatting me up.
“You’re bound to see the same people sometimes if you’re out in town,” he said with a shrug. “I wouldn’t worry about it. But if this person is stalking you, don’t feel too afraid to fight him.”
I rolled my eyes. “I won’t, remember? I attacked that guy in high school.”
He laughed and gave me a quick hug. “Yeah,” he said, messing up my clipped back hair. “Little Miss Toughgirl!”
When Kyle came waddling in, I was really surprised to see his baby bump. I was gone two months, I thought as I hugged him and began listening for my little niece or nephew. Kyle was now seven months in. In two months I’d be coming back for the birth.
“What are you going to name the baby?” I asked, looking up at him after hearing nothing.
“That’s a secret,” he laughed, rubbing his belly. “We’ve picked out the perfect name for the baby, boy or girl.”
“Unisex name?” I asked, putting my hands on my hips and grinning.
“No,” he admitted. “But we have a boy name and a girl name. I kinda want a boy but Kenya has his hopes set for a girl.” He laughed again. “We don’t know the sex. We decided to be surprised.”
That night the candles were lit and the birthdays were celebrated. Dad blew out his candles and made a wish. I wondered vaugely what he wished for. I watched with wide eyes as sparkles surrounded him, pulling him into the new part of his life. I don’t think he was as excited about it as he was pretending to be.
“How do I look?” he asked.
“You look great, Dad!” Kyle exclaimed.
“I don’t look too old?” he asked, a small smile on his face.
“Nope,” Tempest promised. “Not at all!”
“Cal, my dear, you are as handsome as ever,” Mom said, slipping past me so she could put her arms around Dad. “You are always the most handsome man in the world.” She ran her fingers gently through his hair and then pulled him in for a kiss.
It was still kinda weird to see my parents so mushy.
Now it was Mom’s turn. Dad lit the candles and then Mom stood over her cake, thinking for a while before finally leaning forward and blowing the flames out.
Kyle had once told me she had been kinda freaked out at the only Big Birthday she had gone through as a human–when I was still a baby–but I could tell by the look on her face that she was still not used to it.
She also looked rather unhappy. But before any of us kids could promise her she looked fine, Dad pulled her tightly into his arms.
“And you, my darling, are as beautiful as ever,” he said, stroking her hair like she had done to his a moment ago. “Love you,” he added.
“I love you too,” Mom said, giggling slightly, sounding much like a young girl. Tempest began giggling too while Kyle and Ken held hands tightly. As Dad kissed Mom, I couldn’t help but wonder if I could have something like that at that age. I wasn’t interested in romance or love or husbands or kids.
But looking at Mom and Dad, so happy and so in love, made me wonder if maybe… just maybe it wouldn’t be so bad to have someone to love like that.