I went to see Doctor Laroche three more times over the next nine weeks and each time was as bad as the last, with him pretendin’ to care but not really, and being all arrogant and such. It was gettin’ to be a bit too much for me so I decided to put a stop to it.
“Mom. Dad.” I stood in front of them, looking at them and hoping they wouldn’t get all weird about this. They were both on the couch, snuggled up while all the kids were upstairs.
“Yes, sweetie?” Dad asked, smilin’ at me and suddenly I did not want to be there. Not cause I was chickenin’ out again, of course, but because I realized how the two’ve them were feelin’. Not… not something you wanna know ’bout your parents.
“N-nothing!” I stammered and tried to leave but my mom stopped me.
“Serenity, if there’s something you need…” He trailed off, also smiling at me but I could feel his want of being alone with Dad inside him. I wanted to cry. Or throw up.
But if I backed out here, I might not get the courage again. I needed to do it now, while it was fresh in my mind since I had been at the office just a few hours before. “It’s about Doctor Laroche…” I glanced up and could feel their emotions changin’, a wind of worry blowin’ in on their sunshiny lovey-ness. “I don’t think I should go to him again.”
They exchanged looks and Dad leaned forward. “Why not? He’s the best in chi–“
“That’s just it! He’s the best and he’s so annoying about it!” I exclaimed. Then my face went all red, I knew it did, and I began panicking. “I just think I’m okay now. No more blacking out.”
Which was true since it was the day before when I realized what was causin’ my blackouts. It wasn’t really my powers like I had been thinkin’ for ages now, but trying to put up a wall to block out emotions. It was when I concentrated on that that I fainted. If I didn’t block out emotions then I’d be fine. Simple.
Except, it wasn’t so simple because I hated feelin’ emotions. I missed the days when I had to concentrate for these powers to work and when I overused them I blacked out. I hated now, when if I tried to concentrate on not using my powers was when I blacked out. It wasn’t fair.
Plus the range of my abilities didn’t count for my maternal daddy, and his mom–my grandma. They were always in the back of my mind there, unless I really, really, really concentrated and usually then I fainted. Not fair. Totally not fair.
“You blacked out yesterday,” Mom pointed out bluntly.
I pushed my toes into the carpet. “Yeah and it made me know why. Now I won’t do it, so I won’t faint or anything anymore.”
“Well… why were you fainting?” Dad asked and I gulped, really not wantin’ to answer that question. They both stared, waiting. Waitin’ for me to tell them. “Serenity…”
“It’s–it’s complicated,” I whispered, taking a few steps back. “Look, I won’t faint anymore. I promise. Just–I’m done with doctors, okay? I’m done with all that! I don’t want to go back to anyone! I just want to be normal!”
And then I did the stupidest thing I could do. I turned and ran. I ran upstairs and threw myself onto my bed, cryin’ into my pillow. I could hear Kaylee kickin’ River out of the room and then I felt my sister’s hands on my back. She rubbed gently, not askin’ why I was crying. Just comforting, which was what I needed.
I was taken out of school for a coupla days, since my parents were really worried about me since my little episode. I didn’t want to worry them. But on the upside since Dad had to work and Mom had some big meeting with his publisher… me an’ Mal were at the park with Grandma!
My grandma was cool. Like, not the usual kind of cool-Grandma-ness that some people have but really, super cool. She invented a lot of things and at her house were tons of random little mechanical things. Like, she had this thing that if you put an apple in it, it would peel the apple without removin’ hardly any apple, then core it and cut it in slices. She made it. And Grandpa was cool too, and super smart. They both were. Apparently they were both really important scientists ‘back in the day’.
Grandma sat back on a bench while Mal messed in the sandbox and I was on the swings for a while, then I hopped off and went over, sittin’ down next to her. “Grandma?” I looked over at her and she smiled back. She was happy right now, pretty content. It was like sunshine with a warm breeze. But there was a hint of chill in the breeze. She was worried ’bout something. Me?
“Grandma,” I said again, kicking my legs, tryin’ to figure out what to say. “Do you think there’s something wrong with me?”
The chill in the breeze got a little bit more noticeable. “Sweetheart, if you’re fainting then there is something going on,” she said, reaching over and putting a hand on the top of my head, shifting my headband a bit. “Your… mom… told me that you didn’t want to go to the doctors again.”
Grandma always said ‘your mom’ like that. With a slight hesitation. Guess it was still weird for her after all these years to give her son a girly term like that. Duncan was the one to start it, though now sometimes he called’m ‘Dad’ and called Daddy ‘Pops’ which realllllyyyy annoyed Dad. And then he once called Dad ‘Old Man’ which, oh man, the look on Dad’s face was hilarious. But only when Duncan really thought about it, when he was just talkin’ he usually called’m ‘Mom’ and ‘Dad’.
One time I sat up late thinkin’ about what to call them cause ‘Dad Hal’ and ‘Dad Seb’ sounded weird and it was weird to call my parents by their names. But sometimes, just sometimes, I’d get this feelin’ from my maternal dad when someone called him ‘mom’. I think it’s something he just resigned himself to. But what else was there? Now that we were gettin’ older it was somethin’ to think about.
“I don’t want to go to the doctors anymore,” I said, returning from my thoughts to the conversation with my grandma. “I don’t need to, and it costs a lot of money.”
Grandma made a face and the cold wind of worry got even bigger as well as a bit of concern-clouds. “Serenity, you really shouldn’t be worrying about money like that.” She rubbed my head again. “Your parents can afford to give you what you need. And even if they were hurting for money, which they aren’t, your grandpa and I could help, and your aunts and uncles as well. You have a lot of family that love you.”
I swung my legs slowly, my face reddening just as slow. “It’s not just that!” I exclaimed. “It’s needless, y’know. I’m fine. I… I won’t faint anymore. I know why I’m fainting and I won’t anymore. I just want things to be normal.” Great. I felt tears comin’ up in my eyes. “I just want to be normal,” I whispered again.
But Grandma was smiling and then leaned over to hug me tight. “Sweetheart, you’re a Danevbie. Things will never be ‘normal’.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?” I demanded.
Grandma leaned back on the bench, folding her hands in her lap. “I think you’re old enough to know…” She trailed off and looked over at Mal to make sure he was still there. “It’s going to sound like a fantastical story, but it’s true. You know you get your hair from your great-grandmother…?”
And then she told me a really, really stupid story about how her mother was a rainbow-turned-doll-turned-human. I don’t know. I sat there, pretendin’ to listen, trying to be patient. What, did she think I was six? I was gonna be thirteen in two and a half weeks. I wasn’t a little kid anymore. But I said nothing, and just nodded.
“Wow,” I said when she was done. “Thanks for telling me.”
Grandma gave me another smile and said, “You’re welcome even though I know you didn’t listen to half of what I said.” My mouth opened slightly and she held up a hand. “I know! It sounds ridiculous and I know you just think I’m some crazy old woman now. I can’t make you believe it. Maybe you will one day, maybe you won’t. But there are too many secrets in this family…” She frowned, looking past me. I turned, but saw no one there. When I looked back at her, she was still staring, as if seeing somethin’ that wasn’t there. I could feel guilt from her, splattering down like a heavy rain.
“Things,” she continued quietly, “I wish I had told my kids.” She raised her hands, sliding her fingers under her glasses to rub her eyes. I felt a bit awkward cause I had no idea what I’d do if she started crying. But she didn’t. She lowered her hands again, but was all smiles except for that rain of guilt inside. “You’re so young. You have your whole life ahead of you. My suggestion is to stop worrying about things like money right now, okay?”
I nodded, sliding off the bench. “Okay,” I mumbled, turning to go off to play.
“And Serenity?” I turned back again to face her. She had this huge grin on her face. “Being normal isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.”
I raised an eyebrow. What was that supposed to mean? I just half-smiled back at her and went off to play. Not with Mal, because my baby brother was boring, but on the swings again. I began pumping my legs as hard as I could, flyin’ up into the air, trying to forget all my problems. Finally my legs got tired and I slowed down a bit, then jumped off the swing when it was at a certain height. I hit the ground and rolled a bit, laughing until I stopped at the feet of someone standing near the swings.
I was on my back, staring up at the vaguely familiar face of a teenager. It wasn’t until I noticed the hair that I remembered who it was.
“Henri!” I exclaimed, getting up and feelin’ all suspicious that he was here.
Henri looked happy to see me, and felt happy to see me which made me feel as awkward as I did when I thought Grandma was going to cry. “Hey Serenity,” he said, beaming. “You remembered me. I didn’t think you would, it’s been a few weeks. And I’ve become a teenager…” He stuck his hands in his pockets and I could feel he felt awkward too.
“Your hair is pretty memorable,” I said, putting my hands on my hips.
He looked all amused at that. “So is yours,” he teased and I scowled at him. He just laughed. “Wanna swing?”
I really didn’t, but went over to the swings with him anyway and soon the two of us were all over the playground, laughing and having fun. We played a bit of tag, see who could jump the farthest off the swings, and finally wound up in a playhouse talking. I was starting to get along with him and kinda liked him, in a weird sorta way. Maybe… he wasn’t so bad. And when it was time to leave, we had agreed to meet up at the park that weekend.