The night Daba died – it’s so weird, I’ve called him Connor since I was old enough to actually talk, even called him Connor in my thoughts, but now that he’s dead I call him Daba or Dad or… It’s weird, right? We didn’t sleep the night he died, it was noon before we all went our separate ways to mourn in private. Micah had left in the morning and after that it was just Violet, Mama and I sitting there in silence. Mama was shaking like a leaf and tears were rolling down her face but she hardly made a sound, barely sniffled, while we held her as comfortingly as we could. We were all crying. By the time I got upstairs and thought about sleeping I didn’t think I could squeeze another drop from my red, puffy eyes.
That’s when the real sorrow took over. I looked around my room, covered in paintings but not a portrait amongst them, and I felt lonely like I’d never felt before. Even with Mama and Violet in the house it felt huge and empty and at the same time my walls felt like they were closing in on me. For the first time since I was a little girl I just wanted my daddy. I wanted him to tell me everything would be alright, I tried to tell myself that nothing would change anyways and to suck it up but in the end I cried and I think I might have wailed and screamed as well.
Mama’s not doing great, but it’s early days yet and at least she’s getting out of bed, right? She’s not cleaning as much as she used to but that’s hardly saying that she’s not cleaning at all. Maybe some things are falling by the wayside but I’m sure she’ll snap out of it but I really hope it’s soon. Right now she spends most of her time sitting in front of the computer playing games and winding up the music box Dad got her for their anniversary. Round and round, over and over, the same tune day in and day out punctuated with the steel on steel crash of the cars in her racing game. She doesn’t talk to Violet or I but I don’t think Vi’s noticed. She’s always out with Micah or burying herself in work.
I guess I’m not talking much either, the colour seems to have drained from the world around me and I’ve got no one to speak with anyways. What? I should go hunt down Marcus and cry on his shoulder? I keep wanting to call Farouk but I know it’s not a good idea and it’s just for some sort of human contact anyways and not because I want to talk to him in particular. Colour seems to have drained from my paintings as well, I miss being able to use the vibrant hues I was using last week but they just look wrong to me… Maybe I should just concentrate on my sculpting?
The only peep I ever hear from Mama is her crying in her bedroom. ‘Cause of the open ceiling and how big it is her sorrow seems to echo through our lot and it feels like our loss is just dripping from these horrid white walls. They delivered Daddy’s headstone and Mama insisted that they put it in her room. Vi and I tried to dissuade her but the first words she spoke directly to us since Dad died were “I just… I want to feel him close to me again. Oh Connor!” and then she was crying again, tears streaking down her wrinkled cheeks. Violet looked at me and shrugged helplessly. We just couldn’t say no to Mama, not about this.
It’s been a couple weeks now and Mama’s not seeming to get any better. She doesn’t play computer games anymore, she just sits in front of the television with a blank stare. I don’t think she even knows what she’s watching and I don’t think she cares. She’s still not speaking to us but she’s speaking to herself a lot… In ye olde Simlish of all things. I’m worried. Violet’s worried. Mama’s looking older than she is (and she’s old but used to look waaay younger) and I don’t think she’s showered since Dad passed on. She smells and the house smells. The old Mama wouldn’t have been able to sit in the same room as all the mess we have but this isn’t the old Mama.
Violet thought some good news would cheer her up, she still hasn’t told her about being engaged so we figured that maybe, just maybe, things would get better if there was something for all of us to get excited for. No such luck. Violet ran into my room after telling Mama and collapsed crying onto my bed.
“I don’t know if she even heard me Zeez!” she choked out between sobs “I-It was like she just st-stared ri-right through me and when I stopped talking she walked past me and into her room.”
I hugged her, what else could I do?
Enough is enough. We should have buried Daddy ages ago but Mama kept holding on. Every time we suggested it she looked horrified and ran to her room and like good daughters we didn’t say anything but she talked to us today. For the first time in a month.
“Your daddy says hi, girls. He came by to see me last night!” And with that she headed to the shower leaving Violet and I sitting at the kitchen table with bites of waffles suspended in mid-air between plates and mouths. It’s time. I’ve been dreading today a little bit, dreading saying good-bye to Daddy for real… I feel like I never said hello. I got dressed for the funeral and then went downstairs to help Mama. She’s inconsolable. The guys from Violet’s band came by yesterday and took the headstone to the cemetery for us and Mama’s been crying since. I used some of the money we have to buy us a little land for just our family. I hope it brings Mama some peace to know he’ll be somewhere special but I say this with crushed fingers since she gripped my hand so hard on the ride over that I nearly screamed in pain.
The service was small in the end. Just me, Mama, Violet and Uncle Jared’s family came too but as soon as it was over the Ursine-Frio’s rushed from the graveyard leaving the three of us to mourn together in peace. Now that they’re gone our tears are (once again) flowing freely. I can hear Violet sniffling and Mama too and I’m sure I’m doing the same. I keep thinking about all those lost years where I could have been just as close with Dad if I wasn’t so damn stubborn and he wasn’t so damn quiet.
I keep remembering the way he hugged me before I left for Egypt. I remember finding it odd and awkward but I keep revisiting it as if it’s my fondest memory. Unbidden it will flit across my consciousness and I’ll remember the fresh pressed smell of his sweater and the way his arms felt safe and secure. When the hug happened I remember noticing how bony and frail he felt and now I remember how warm and strong. Violet told me that he’d single-handedly planned my last birthday… That he’d bought the cake and called my friends and planned the music and the meal. She said that even Mama didn’t know what he was up to. Why didn’t he tell me?!
We’re finished sniffling, Violet’s said a few words, Mama’s declined and now they’re both looking at me and I don’t know what to say. Obviously I was never close to Dad but I still feel compelled to let them both know how I feel right here and now.
“I was never close to Dad, obviously. I spent my whole life blaming him for the distance between us and never tried to bridge that gap. I was always so angry at him! I could see the way he loved Vi and anyone could see the way he loved you, Mama, and I-I just w-wanted to feel some of that too! I know now, in my heart and my soul, that he… he d-did love me, e-even if he didn’t show it. And I know now, that I love him too. I miss him more than I thought I could.”
I’m crying freely again now. So is Mama. She gathers me into her arms and holds me close, rocks me gently. “Everything will be OK now,” she tells me.
Life’s gone back to normal now, for me and Violet at least. Mama’s still sorta moping about the house but Vi’s working hard and planning her wedding (it’s going to be soooooooo beautiful) and seeing Micah in her spare time. And me? I’m still searching for inspiration but that’s just my life right? The difficult life of the unemployed-but-not-starving-artist. I like going to the art gallery a lot… It reminds me that I’m good enough to be displayed ’cause I’m certain that some of my work HAS to be better than a toilet on a box. I can’t compete with the masters but I can compete with a toilet on a box.
Y’know how sometimes you’re strolling through the park in the center of town, heading home after catching your big sister’s first rock concert of the day and you catch sight of something out of the corner of your eye? Something that makes you go oooooooooh! Yeah, I didn’t either until tonight. Until I saw a man running around in a tophat and tails and facepaint. So this is the mysterious magician huh? He’s actually pretty cute in his own, quirky way. I’m going to say hello.
His hands and eyes are soft, his smile is sweet and the tone and tempo of his voice just draws me in. I’ll be his assistant anyday! Wanna cut me in half Mr. Magician? OK! His name is Abner Crockett (ick) but he’s just as I described him. He takes my hand when I introduce myself to him and he smiles at me as if he knows me. I guess he does ’cause he asks me if I’m “the new heiress in town” and I am. Though it hardly feels ‘new’ to me any longer. I’m quite glad I decided to catch him before he disappeared, he’s only ever been a rumour to me and when I sheepishly tell him as much he lets out a hearty chuckle and assures me he’s real. No, really?!
We get to talking and we talk about everything! The magic he does (he won’t tell me his secrets) the art I do (I won’t tell him my secrets) our favourite places in the town (his: here, mine: the art gallery) our favourite foods (cobbler, lobster thermador) and our favourite places to get them (agreed: the bistro). We talk about everything I can think of and as it gets later and then earlier when the hands on the clock pass midnight I’m still trying to think of ways to keep us chatting in the park. And then, in a blink of an eye he tells me good-bye, says it was nice to meet me and leaves.
The next night I’m back at the park. I feel like a sucker ’cause I’m waiting for Abner. He left me last night without giving or taking a phone number or an address. I want to see him again and the only place I can think of to meet him is right where I met him last. I spend my night squinting at the black and white pieces of the chessboard (when I’m not peering through the darkness to see if he’s here) and it’s only when the sun starts spreading it’s light over the horizon that I know I’ve wasted my time. I’m tired and grumpy as I fall into bed around dawn, but at least I’m better at chess. I guess.
Despite my better judgment I’m back at the park once I wake up, back at a chess table I’m only paying half attention to while I continue my vigil. I don’t know what’s possessed me to continue hoping that the elusive Magician Crockett will show up and be glad to see me but it’s been a while since I’ve wanted to see someone the way I want to see him and I’ve asked pertinent questions this go around. For example, he’s single. Not seeing anyone, not married, not even flirting. I made him promise and he did, even though he seemed weirded out. I hope I didn’t chase him away.
I spend a few more days and night in the park and Mama joins me one night while I keep my look out. She’s still not talking to Vi or myself, she’s still mourning Daddy and I totally understand that but at least she smiles now. Sometimes, rarely, a ghost of a smile that catches the corners of her mouth. And sometimes she hums as well so I think she’s getting better, at least she doesn’t seem to be getting worse. I give up. He hasn’t returned and he hasn’t tried to get in contact with me. I’ve spent a week hoping to see him and each day I get more frustrated and care less. It’s time to quit being silly and go back to the things I love.
I’ve missed sculpting over the past week. It’s weird since I haven’t been doing it for all that long but I missed the feel of the cool metal of my tools heating up in my hands. My palms aren’t soft and smooth anymore, they’re getting a little rough and callused and I actually kind of enjoy the feeling ’cause I know it’s not for naught. I’m missed the feeling of wood and clay beneath my fingers, being molded and shaped to my whim and desire all the while taking any control from me. I finally understand that in each block I begin with there really is something particular that it wants to be. I’ve started thinking of it as the soul. Whether it wants to be a dancing crocodile or the bust of some ancient queen, the material speaks to me and all I have to do is listen.
Now that I’m spending time at home again I’m really seeing Mama’s progress. She’s cooking again and that means no more of mine or Violet’s burnt or undercooked breakfasts, no more take out, no more snacking. It’s wonderful!! Sure, she stresses out over the stove more often than she used to but at least she’s doing things other than cleaning and staring at a screen. Who ever would have thought that Rose the couch potato would be chiding someone else for their… I’d hate to call it laziness so I’ll just stop there. It’s just nice to see her doing better, that’s all.
I spoke too soon. This morning I came downstairs to the smell of waffles and mint and found Mama over the kitchen sink brushing her teeth. Normally she does this in the bathroom, like normal people, but this morning she wasn’t acting quite normal. Even for Mama. I stood there in shock as I watched her finish brushing her teeth and then watched her start again. And then again. By the time I’d cleared my throat loud enough for her to notice my presence she had brushed her teeth three times in a row, the waffles were cold and I was worrying. I knew she had some uh… Obsessiveness? in her, but this was not sometime I’d seen from her before.
I’ve taken to exploring the town, you’d think that having lived here all of my life I would know it inside and out but I never did much uhh… ‘sight-seeing.’ I thought of a lot of places around town as tourist traps and just avoided them but now I’m seeing them one at a time and it’s kinda nice to have a full picture of Sunset Valley. I’m a the beach today, it’s open bar here! How weird? I bet it would be really nice here in the middle of the day with the sun and people in the water…
I nearly didn’t recognize him without his costume on, but weeks after having given up on Abner here he is, appearing out of no where to give me the biggest shock of my day. Just like on the night we’d first met I found myself captivated by Abner. I could almost swear that he had real magic. We walked up and down the beach for the rest of the evening, talking easily, as if we’d known each other for years and years. He was a perfect gentleman. He didn’t put any moves on me and apologized every time he accidentally bumped into me and by the time he said he had to get going I knew I couldn’t let him leave without getting his phone number. So I didn’t.
I’ve decided to play it cool with Abner. I’m not going to come on too strong and since I’m the one with his phone number I’m gonna play the three-day rule game. I’ll call him. Soon. To take my mind off of what may be a blossoming romance (finally!) I’ve convinced Mama to pose for me while I try my hand at a new material – Ice! It took some hard work to get her to stand there but we both agreed that the end result was fabulous. It’s a lot harder to work in ice than it is clay or wood. I’d wanted to make ice sculptures of Vi and Micah for their wedding but I don’t think it’ll work out. It takes too long and they melt too fast.
I do like a man who’ll do what he says he’ll do. I called Abner this morning, asked him to come over to hang out and he said he’d be over at noon. It was exactly 12:00 when he knocked on the door. He warned me when he came in that he could only spend a couple hours but a couple hours were enough for me to solidify this crush that I have on him. I’m still trying to play it cool but I’ve invited him to Violet’s wedding next weekend and he said he’d come even though he has to perform later in the afternoon. I’m so happy that I have a date to my big sister’s big day!!
Vi’s wedding day snuck up on us really quickly! I mean, we had a calendar and every morning we’d religiously count down the days and everything was planned to a T but when Saturday morning rolled around and I rolled out of bed Violet was already pacing around her room stressing about all the work she had to do. We go her dressed into her gown and wow! did she look amazing. I calmed her down, asked what needed doing and told her not to worry. She doesn’t need to stress out today.
It’s noon and it’s beautiful out! Not too hot and there’s a great breeze coming off the ocean. I just know that today will be perfect for Violet. It has to be! Every one of her plans has gone off without a hitch. Her ceremony area looks amazing, the flowers are fresh and fragrant and the curtains are billowing softly. Balloons are blown up and now all I have to do is take care of some final touches before guests start to arrive and the bridal march starts playing.
Violet’s upstairs in the bathroom worrying over her hair, her makeup, her dress, but she looks stunning and I think she knows it. I hope that one day I find myself so in love with someone that I’m willing to give myself to them forever and ever but that’s such a strange prospect to me. I can’t imagine being anyone but mine! Violet though, has found a real catch in Micah. I couldn’t be happier for her or more excited to see her walk down the aisle. I wish Dad could be here to see her.
The buffet is all set up, the chairs are straight and there’s music playing quietly in the background. In my last few minutes of quiet before the ceremony and party start I’m setting out drinks and making sure everything’s spotless. Mama’s inside trying on dress after dress but I know she’ll choose the first one she tried on. She’s just as excited for the wedding as Violet is and I hope that she’ll let loose and enjoy herself and maybe put her mourning period at an end. I don’t mean, like, forget about Daddy, but I hope she’ll start to live again!
Abner’s arrived and my does he look dapper! As more and more guests arrive he’s sticking by my side, always there as if he belongs next to me and I really like it. He’s still acting shy, apologizing when our hands brush against one another and blushing when I look at him through my eyelashes. It’s quite a fun game, if I’m being honest, but now I have to run and leave him alone to get Violet outside for the ceremony. He catches my hand before I leave, tells me he has to go right after the bride and groom are man and wife and I can’t help but feel sad. I wish he wasn’t always running off but there’s no time for sulking now! I gotta run!!
The ceremony is simple and beautiful. It brings tears to my eyes and as I look around I can see I’m not the only one. Violet looks beautiful and Micah looks as handsome as ever. They only have eyes for one another and that’s how it should be. Their vows are touching and personal and peppered with inside jokes and it’s obvious that this is a match made in heaven.
Their smiles are bright as the sun as they slip their simple gold bands onto one another’s fingers and as they come closer and closer to being declared man and wife. Mama’s next to me, clutching my hand and sobbing but I can see that they’re happy tears and not the one’s we’ve been seeing from her in the last number of months. She’s just as excited as I am to finally officially welcome Micah to the family. He’ll be moving in tonight and I’ll have a brother-in-law I genuinely love. In a brother-in-law/sister-in-law sort of way. Don’t worry.
A cheer rises up as the new Mr. & Mrs. Micah Clarke (he takes her name, I guess he’s never been close to his family since he never talks about them) pull each other close and share their first married kiss. I love the way they’re holding on, as if they can’t imagine ever letting go and that’s how I think it should be. They look perfect together and I’m sure they’re going to have an amazing future! But for the present, it’s time for a quick meal and some not so quick toasts.
Once we’ve all eaten and spoken our fill it’s time for the first dance. I switch on the music for them and laugh with delight at the way Micah grabs his bride, pulls her close and whisks her around the dance floor. I can tell that they’ve had lessons and I guess that’s where Violet’s been disappearing to but I must say – totally worth it! They look like royalty gliding over the cobblestone dance floor. Ethereal royalty! They’ve only had eyes for each other all night – I don’t think they know who’s here and who isn’t – and I really don’t think I need to know the details of what they’re whispering into each other’s ears ’cause it’s making them both blush. Bright red.
And now the party starts!! Mama, me and the rest of the guests (sans Abner, what a pity) join Violet and Micah on the dance floor and start to get our boogy on! It’s been a long time since our humble home (and not so humble lot) have felt this full and alive with joy and excitement and I can see in Mama’s eyes that this is good for her. She’s spoken to every guest and she even offered a beautiful toast full of humour and joy and tinged with just a little bit of melancholy as she told us all how proud and happy Daba would have been had he been here.
“Connor was never one for being surrounded by people, but he knew the merit of a good party so let’s have fun!”
All the guests have gone home, the last dance has been danced and the moon is high in the sky. Micah and Violet have literally ran up the stairs to Violet’s room to celebrate their wedding in a whole different manner and I think that I’ll stay outside for a little while longer and give them some privacy. I don’t need to hear what they’re up to and Mama’s passing out on her feet but determined to clean before she goes to bed so I’ll give her a hand and let this magical night last just a little bit longer.
Will Abner and Rose’s relationship progress?
How long before we see little Violet’s and Micah’s running around?
Aren’t you glad that Lily’s doing alright?
When will that banner actually represent the Clarke’s and not just be a placeholder?
The answer to that last question is “eventually.” Chapter 4 – Under Construction coming soon!!