Yipes! More than two weeks since an update?! I’m sorry about that, it was never my intention however I cannot control how often my computer crashes on me, how often I crash after work (out of my hands, really!) or when Mother’s Day is scheduled. I’m glad you’re still here with me, willing to read what the Clarkes are getting up to and I hope all of you are enjoying Spring as much as I am! I do have a quick question for all of you who are familiar with wordpress; do you know how large I can post a picture before it breaks the page? Width dimensions specifically.
When Violet’s birthday rolled around, I have to say, I was shocked. Amazingly, after all these years birthday’s still came way too quickly and well, they surprised me every time. Once again I found myself watching one of my daughters standing at her birthday cake, surrounded by friends and scrunch up her face while she tried to come up with a candle worthy wish. This time though, it was different, my first baby was about to be a bonafide adult. No more pencils, no more books, no more teacher’s dirty looks. No more working at the book store – she’d quit the day she graduated from high school – my little girl was going to be a woman!
As the sparkle-vision enveloped her and our guest got rowdier I began to get anxious. The squidgy feelings I knew Violet was feeling? I was feeling them too. I wasn’t ready to give up on being her Mama and I was so scared that with her new-found maturity she wouldn’t have time for me any more. But I shouldn’t have worried. A girl always needs her Mama, especially when there’s a boo-boo to be sorted out and in typical Violet fashion she managed to skin both of her knees before aging up.
When she came down for breakfast the next morning I was totally taken aback. She’d let her hair out of the buns that she’d had it in since she was a child and I was stunned by just how long her hair actually was. Mostly though, she looked all grown up and she was rushing around the house with a purpose. It wasn’t even 9:30 on a Sunday morning and she was scurrying from one part of the house to another as if she had something she was going to be late for.
With her guitar in hand, as always, she made her way downtown and parked herself in front of the theatre. She’d called the day before, asking for a job but Sam Wainwright-Sekemoto had practically hung up on her leaving her flustered but only more determined than she had been. Violet had decided that if he wouldn’t give her an interview (at the very least) she’d make one for herself and she was set to spend as long as it took standing there, busking for a job.
According to Violet she played non-stop for about four hours before a dejected looking Sam invited her into the theatre and into his office. I guess that having a crowd of people standing on the doorstep of his place of business hours before the earliest matinee was meant to begin didn’t leave him much of a choice. Her starting salary was abysmal, as were her hours and she was only a fan which was WELL below her capabilities but Vi was thrilled!
I was a little more uncomfortable with Violet’s chosen profession than I liked to let on. Just the thought of her in one of those… Mush pits made me feel filthy. Jumping around a beer filled room with a bunch of sweaty strangers? Ugh! No thank you! Every time I thought about exactly what she was doing during her first days of work, I couldn’t help it, I had to clean something. Anything would do. My only consolation was that any fool could see that my Violet was meant for something greater.
I often wished that Rose would show some of the same ambition and work ethic that her bigger sister had. She was an honour roll student, I had the bumper sticker and everything, but most of her effort was turned towards boys. Night after night I waited up for her while she was out with ‘just a guy from school.’ She was always home before curfew but she often cut it close and I worried that she was doing more than ‘just hanging out.’
The only time I didn’t worry was when she was out with Blair. He was a good boy and I knew he would treat her right while they were out together. Unfortunately, their romance didn’t last long. Blair had graduated with Violet and had also gotten a job at the theatre, he’d also found himself a girlfriend who wasn’t still in high school. By the time he’d given Rose the “let’s just be friends” talk he had already started saving up for a ring for err… whatsherface. At least Rose handled the news well (for Rose) with a minimum of screaming and shouting.
Being a fan really did do odd things to Violet’s sleep schedule. I mean, I did get up awfully early to get a lead on the mess my family left behind but I had usually been awake for about four hours before she rolled out of bed. I always knew the second she was up because the shower upstairs would start running and she would start singing. Then she’d saunter down the stairs and make herself some breakfast. Rosie was at school (and never woke in time for breakfast anyways) and Connor and I had already eaten so there were always tonnes of leftover pancakes or waffles in the fridge.
Needless to say, I was uncomfortable with either of my girls using the stove. Lately it had gained another whine to it’s cacophony of sounds and I was worried that it would be the next object in my house to break. I couldn’t very well tell them they couldn’t use it, and they didn’t get the hint when I skirted around the issue, so I settled for making sure it was always in as tip-top condition as I could get it. I also made sure it was always spotless and I changed the battery in the smoke detector every day.
On the rare occasion that everyone was home in the evenings and not banging away at their keyboards or head-banging or just – no, Rosie was a good girl – I made sure that we ate dinner together. As a family. I loved those nights when I was surrounded by family but I couldn’t help but lament that there were two empty chairs at my table. Those seats should have been filled by two young gentlemen, wooing my daughters!
At least only having four people at the table meant only having four plates to clean, but I wanted to see babies again. I wanted grandchildren and neither Violet nor Rose (hopefully) were anywhere close to being ready to have babies. Connor and I had stored away all of the girl’s things from when they were younger and I was picturing them all back in a pretty white nursery with a gurgling little baby boy or girl lying happily in their cribs.
My appliances continued to break down around me, I seemed to have mastered plumbing since my sinks no longer fountained at me, but the computers and television and dishwasher? It was a never-ending cycle of sparking electronics. I could manage to get the TV and computers fixed but my back wasn’t what it used to be (and neither were my eyes) and crouching down for the dishwasher became too difficult. Also, it always worried Connor that I would work on it while it was spurting water at me so we hired a nice young man to fix it for us.
He was good at what he did, quick and friendly, and he left his number with Violet when he left! She’d hardly been able to keep her eyes off of Micah the first time he’d come in, hanging around the living room so that she could peek at him from around the corner. As he packed up his things she picked up her nerves and put herself directly in his way.
“Hi, I’m Violet.”
“Thanks soooo much for fixing our dishwasher.”
“You’re welcome ma’am… Violet.”
“Can I call you sometime? I mean, that was forward… Uh…”
Violet turned as red as her hair and tripped over herself trying to flee the kitchen. She spent the rest of the night grinning, as I mentioned, Micah left her his number.
He’d also done a wonderful job with the dishwasher, I could swear that the dishes were cleaner, the water was running hotter and the whine was gone! Violet spent the next day in a haze but soon got past it, the dishwasher just kept on working, I really couldn’t have been happier with the way things had turned out. I was very glad that I had pushed passed my pride and allowed Connor to use the ‘call a repairman’ function that came with our phones.
For a while my only concerns were work and my legacy. I still couldn’t convince either girl to talk to me about who would be heiress and even Connor tip-toed around the subject as if it were a rhinoceros. At lest that was the only subject that was off the table between my husband and I, we still, all these years later, had a wonderful relationship and all the perks that came with it. Emotional and well, otherwise.
Readers, you may remember that Rose was a quiet child who was fine to be left to her own devices? She hadn’t changed that much and when she was home she was often silently locked up in her room, painting. The walls seemed to acquire a new painting every day and each one was better than the last – and unfortunately darker considering how much she enjoyed colour. One night, though, I went to kiss her goodnight and she wasn’t in her room. She could have flown east with the ducks, all I knew was that it was out of character for Rose to not let me know she was leaving.
I had Connor call everyone we knew, asking if they’d seen our ZZ or knew where she might be. No one had any idea so we turned to the one place we could: SVPD. The dispatcher assured us that we needn’t worry until after the police had done their post-curfew sweep and in the mean time, she told us, all we could do was hold tight. I already was, clutching Rose’s comforter and holding it close to me. I breathed in the comforting scent of fabric softener and tried not to think the worst.
Violet got home before the police found Rose so she set to work looking for Rose in a way neither Connor nor I had thought of. She got in contact with all the people I didn’t know we knew and where her dad and I had failed, Vi succeeded. She was out with a boy from school according to one of the girls on her Llamessenger friends list – Marcus Morris. I remembered him, he’d been over to the house for more than one party… I remembered him being a bit of a snob and that was it.
I’d never been as grateful to anyone in my whole life as I was to the officer who brought Rose home to me. Watching my little girl step out of the police car with it’s lights still flashing and engine still running made me consider just how wrong things could have been. If I hadn’t been worked up before (which I most certainly had been) then I was doubly so now. The only thing that kept me from breaking down in tears was the fact that Rose was standing in front of me and she didn’t even have the good graces to look sheepish.
Before I could stop myself I was just letting her have it.
“Do you have any, ANY idea how worried I have been about you young lady? I walked into your room and you were gone like a ghost, no note, no nothing! How could you be so irresponsible and so thoughtless?! I hope I don’t have to tell you that you are grounded, because you are!!”
I forgot to lay out the terms of her punishment in my haste to stalk away from her. My heart was racing and I felt dizzy, I needed to get inside and calm down, fast!
Outside I could hear Connor taking ‘his turn’ at doling out a lecture. His relationship with Rose was still strained, but it meant that he didn’t feel compelled to hold back the way he had with Violet when she was a teenager. His admonishments continued for fifteen minutes and Rose didn’t say a word.
“And finally, Rose Clarke, your mother had it right, you are grounded. One month! No cell phone, you come right home after school, no friends, no parties, no trips to the grocery store, you are grounded!! Furthermore, you are NOT to see that boy again!!”
Rose wasn’t one to bite her tongue and I had expected to feel the full force of her wrath after my little yell but she’d held back until she could unleash it on Connor.
“What the hell do you care?!” I heard her cry, “You’re nothing but a selfish, lonely old man who wants everyone to be as alone and friendless as he is! GET YOUR DAMN FINGER OUT OF MY FACE!!! You can ground me but you can’t stop me from being with Marcus! He’s in all my classes and he’s my boyfriend. If you don’t like that well… We can just move to Riverview!!”
She left her father gasping in disbelief and tantrumed her way to her room, slamming doors and stomping up the steps before finally letting out an angry shriek which seemed to ricochet around the room. After that? Our eventful night was over.
I later found out that the two of them had been snuggling up at Pincochle Pond all night. The officer said that when they heard her coming they must have started to run because by the time she caught sight of them Marcus was disappearing into some trees and she had to make the decision between which of the two to pick up. Since SVPD had received numerous worried calls over the course of about an hour she chose Rose. I was glad she made that choice, but also horrified that the boy Rose was fawning over didn’t have the decency to be at her side when he got her picked up by the cops!
Things were very tense around the house for the next week or so. Rose wouldn’t say a word to anyone and Violet was always either asleep or at work so on the days when I didn’t work (which were most of them) I felt like I had to tread carefully around the house even if Connor was the only one home. Once more I found that making sure my plumbing and appliances were in working order had worked their way into my daily schedule of cleaning and tidying. Every time I went past a sink or the stove I couldn’t help it – I had to check!
I would make and unmake and remake the beds every day until there wasn’t a wrinkle evident in the fabric. I spent hours doing laundry and ironing just to find a creased corner and realize that all of my work had been for naught. There was something soothing about taking care of my routine tasks, when I was cleaning there wasn’t a care in my mind except for whether or not the last thing I’d cleaned was actually done to my satisfaction. Instead of running back to check it though I just made sure that I did a thorough examination of everything before I decided I was done for the day.
In the meantime, Violet had put Micah’s phone number to good use and they chatted away at all hours of the day or night the way she and Blair had when they were 16. It turned out that he lived outside of the city so they didn’t get a chance to see each other very often but even a quick good-night phone call was enough to have Vi walking on air the next day. Every now and then I could swear I heard her humming the wedding march under her breath and they hadn’t been out more than once, and that was for coffee.
In my old age some of my old habits had returned, brushing my teeth once no longer felt like it did the trick, every morning, noon and night my mouth felt like it was covered in fuzz and I would brush until my gums were nearly bleeding and even then, they never felt quite smooth. I was always sure that there was some bit of spinach or popcorn stuck where I couldn’t see it. My hands also had that problem, anything I touched made them feel as though ants were crawling over my skin and if it weren’t for hand lotion they would be perpetually raw and chapped. I knew it wasn’t healthy but I couldn’t help myself – nothing on me felt clean unless it was washed twice or even three times – not my teeth, my hands, my hair, my feet, nothing!
I still loved work, and I was still doing well, but I no longer felt the same thrill and excitement and fulfillment as I once had. I came home every day tired and feeling as though I’d forgotten to do something very important. I was blanking on my client’s names and spacing on closing out stocks until nearly the last minute. No one had noticed my mistakes but I had a feeling it was only a matter of time before the job would require more than I had to offer it. I hated to think it, but I was getting close to the stage where I knew it was nearly time to retire.
While Rose was still grounded and when Violet was at work dinner time was so silent you could hear a pin drop at what used to be Nick’s house next door. Rose and Connor couldn’t even look one another in the eyes and all my attempts at conversation were met with grunts or coughs or just more silence. I was starting to find the tension unbearable but we couldn’t back down on Rose’s punishment, not with a week left to go, so I just tried to ignore it as best I could and looked forward to the day when Rose could have her phone and friends back… And hopefully her smile!
Every night (or evening, I couldn’t stay up that late any more) I fell into a restless sleep, only eased by the fact that the moon was bright overhead and that Connor would settle in for the night at the same time. It didn’t bother me that he kept a light on to read, it didn’t keep me up, but no matter how many times I asked and pleaded and begged him he never remembered to take his shoes off before stretching out with his latest novel. He was getting more forgetful as he went on in years – we both were – but he had always been more than a little bit absentminded.
I tried to get through to Rose, but the one thing we hadn’t taken away from her was the television and when she was watching her shows (which seemed to be all of them) there was no talking to her. Every day she got home, did her homework and then plopped down on the couch in front of the TV and stared blankly at it until dinner time. Nothing I said would get through to her! Not graduation, not boys, not being un-grounded… Nothing! She didn’t even paint and I was starting to worry…
…what if Geraldo really was Maury’s brother? That would make him Ricki’s uncle and she’s dating Sally Jesse who is pregnant with Jerry’s child, and Jerry is Maury’s pool boy so… What?! Next week?!
Connor was still writing as if the printed word were going out of style but he was starting to re-hash his older stories. Of course, his fans didn’t seem to notice and his publishers and editors didn’t say a word so I didn’t either. I figured, why not let him do what makes him happy for as long as it makes him happy?
I was still very concerned about my legacy. I knew how it all worked, that there was no way for it not to continue and that if I couldn’t decide on an heiress then someone would but readers, I’m wasn’t sure if you’d make the right choice! I’m not even sure I knew what the right choice was. Both of my daughters were such different people and they would both be excellent choices to keep our legacy going but which would be best? No matter how much I dwelled on the matter I couldn’t make up my mind.
“To fly or not to fly, that is not the question. Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, or to take arms against a sea of troubles and by opposing end them. Revive! Revitalize! Mmm… No more! And by this elixer to know me… The rest is silence it seems.”
(Latest Red Bull ad on my TV rips off Shakespeare – I couldn’t help it and I’m not sure that my second to last line is correct but I couldn’t verify anywhere)
The second that Rose’s ‘sentence’ was up she ran from the house, yelled that she was going to Marcus’ house and was out the door and into the front seat of the car before Connor or I could lift our sorry selves out of the chairs we were in. All I could say was that at least she was happier than she had been for the past month but I still didn’t like the boy. He didn’t greet us when he visited the house and he never walked Rose to the door when he brought her back just in time for curfew. He just wasn’t a gentleman; I’d heard one of our Coffee Couriers talking to one of the Paper Boys about my Rosie’s kissing skills!
To take care of all my stresses I did the only thing I was still certain I did well. I cleaned my house from top to bottom, I shined anything that needed shining, dusted anything that needed dusting, scrubbed anything that needed scrubbing, washed anything that needed washing, swept anywhere that needed sweeping, vacuumed anything that needed vacuuming… My house was spotless from ceiling to floor and then everyone got home.
Have you ever turned around and wondered where you were and how you got there? It was happening to me more and more often. I’d step out of my car, say goodbye to my driver and then look about and realize that I couldn’t remember what I was meant to be doing, wherever I was. The first time it happened it scared me so much that I stood in front of the military base crying and being disoriented. I finally called home and the moment that Connor mentioned a meeting my memory clicked. In the end, I hadn’t even been late for the talk I was meant to be giving to and I’d come home with cash in my pocket and a raise to boot.
Violet and Micah’s relationship bloomed like a perfect flower. He really was a sweetheart and watching Vi swoon over a handsome young man reminded me of me in my youth, chasing after my wonderful husband-to-be. I didn’t know much about him but I liked him instinctively. I’ll admit it, I was biased towards the young man, he’d made my dishwasher run better than it had when it was new and I was tempted to ask him to have a look at the television but he only had eyes for my eldest daughter.
The same could not be said for Marcus, at least that’s what Rose suspected. She had noticed what she thought was make-up on his collar and she was certain that it wasn’t her shade. My goodness did she let him have it, the only person I had only ever heard her yell at like that was her father! Marcus didn’t seemed ruffled at all and by the time the sun was setting that night they were up in her room, kissing. I don’t think that they spoke unless they were arguing about something but they sure spent a lot of time together.
Unfortunately, I do think that Rose really thought she loved Marcus and that he loved her. They told each other often enough at the end of their shouting matches and it wasn’t entirely convincing but Rose’s demeanor in general was better. Her temper was under control and she was painting again and this time she was using colours! Real, pretty, vibrant colours! I tried my hardest to see what she seemed to see in Marcus but I just couldn’t, I also couldn’t keep her from someone who seemed so good for her. Sometimes.
Connor had begun to act strangely. What he was doing really wasn’t that odd but the fact that he was doing it was. It seemed as though every time I walked into a room he was standing in a corner whispering furtively into his cell phone! I honestly didn’t think he even knew how to use one but no matter how much I asked him to open up to me he would just swiftly change the subject or leave the room. I was getting a little fed up but I also had bigger things to worry about than why my geriatric hermit husband (who I loved more than anything else in this world) suddenly had a social life.
One day Connor called us into the backyard, hollering that we had to join him out there right away. Violet had already left for work so Rose and I pulled ourselves away from Daytime Soap Shows (Geraldo and Maury didn’t turn out to be brothers) to find him standing over the barbecue with enough hotdogs grilling to serve an army. I’d hardly had a chance to take in what I was seeing – the radio on, the cake – before I heard Rose’s squeal in my ear “A party! Thanks Mama!!” She threw herself into my arms and I looked at Connor with a bewildered stare. His eyes twinkled and he nodded and I wished my youngest daughter a happy birthday as my heart swelled with love for my sneaky husband.
All of Rose’s friends turned out for the party and the music was set to blast way into the night. The fire pit was about to be lit when Marcus and Rose started to fight. Again. At first it was quiet, and Connor filled me in on the details – Rose had caught her friend Peggy staring daggers towards the couple and put two and two together. Using a lot of choice words Rosie accused her boyfriend of cheating on her with the girl who was clearly not her friend. Angry tears streamed down her face as she realized what she had to do.
The rest, even the neighbours heard.
“You’re a goddamn loser Marcus. You and this… trash deserve one another. Go on Peggy, you can have him and I want my season 2 of Squee! DVDs back! What the hell is wrong with the boys in this town?! You don’t know how to treat a woman… WOULD YOU SHUT UP BLAIR!?!” I had never seen her so angry! “I give up!” I watched my daughter with tears in my own eyes, heartbroken on her birthday. I hated to see the disdain in her eyes as she scanned the faces of her guests. As she looked at each boy I could see her become more determined.
By the time she marched over to her cake she looked like she had decided upon something. Rose lit her candles by herself and before anyone could sing her happy birthday she had blown them out and the expected sparkle-vision was invading. Her actual birthday wasn’t for another couple of days and I hadn’t planned this party at all so all of a sudden my baby, my youngest, ZZ… Rose, was growing up without warning. I wanted to run to her and do what ever I could to keep her my little Rosie for just a little bit longer.
Obviously I could hardly have stopped her from aging up so I watched as she spun into a beauty. After cake was politely and quietly consumed, to no one’s surprise, the party broke up. Peggy and Marcus had long since left but the feeling out in the back yard was simply awkward so everyone drifted their separate ways. When I approached her later that evening to talk she brushed me off in such a way that my heart sank inside my chest.
“If I didn’t know you and Connor, I wouldn’t believe love could actually exist, Mama.
There is only one question: Who will you vote for once I get the poll up?
Current standings in poll:
And how freakin’ cute is Lily?