Chapter 5: Parsley

Next day, Etta thought about what happened. It seemed unreal and much less scary now the sun was shining through the windows and the house was full of busy noises.

She heard the shower. Spoons clinking against cereal bowls. Mom reminding Amon to pack rulers and drawing compass for his geometry class. It was about time for Etta to get up and get ready for school, too.

“It was just a weird dream, right, Louis?”

She decided not to worry about last night happenings anymore. And even if she hadn’t decided that way, she’d probably forget very soon, because she had much more exciting things on her mind.

“It’s Monday! I bet you’re excited!”

Like fractions. Or the Solar system. Or the concept of temperature with positive and even more fascinating negative numbers. Etta’s little, curious head just couldn’t stop thinking about these things, so it was easy for her to forget about everything else.

“J-e-l-l-y-f-i-s-h. Jellyfish!”

She would never admit it in front of other kids, but she loved going to school. The lessons were really interesting. She liked homework, too, even unpopular mathematical exercises. Doing homework after school with Seth was kind of like a hobby for her. She sometimes peeked into Seth’s assignments and got all excited to see polygons, poems and pictures of ancient civilizations. She just couldn’t wait to learn about that stuff.

E: ‘2831 x 4? Can Seth really solve that? Wow!’

Seth was her companion most of the time. He didn’t talk much and was always so focused on his work that it was almost scary. He also disliked other kids, especially noisy ones. But all those qualities made him a great homework buddy. Even Tori sometimes joined them to work on her homework, and she often stayed around to have a friendly dance-off with Etta.

Dancing Queens

But she was not as studious as her twin sister and most of the time, she prefered playing outside with Amon and the ever-growing group of their friends.

“Brylee! So if you could be a dog, what breed would you be?”

Etta didn’t mind it, though. She rather went outside with Aunt Devi. Devi was patient and wise, she taught her where to catch frogs and how to distinguish between valuable medical herbs and useless forest weed.

“So where are we going today, Auntie?”

Together, they walked around Willow Creek and looked for fossils and sparkly stones and treasure maps. Etta always pretended Aunt Devi was a famous archaelogist and she was her scholarly, trusty sidekick. (Although in reality, Devi was the one to do all the explaining, of course.)

“This limestone is a sedimentary rock, Etta – that means it consists of layers of sediment, like sand, mud, tiny pieces of others rocks, minerals or even plants, that are compressed over long periods of time until they form solid rocks…”

And so, days were passing by very quickly for her, simply because time flies when one’s having fun.

“Ooh, fireworks!”

Two or three weeks after the incident, Etta was walking around the house. It was Saturday. Tori and Amon were in the park, Aunt Devi was working and Seth had one of his weird moods again and didn’t let her play with the chemistry table. Etta was wondering what to do next, when she heard strange noises from the kitchen.

“Hello?”

It was her father. He was making dinner.

“Why are you cooking, Dad? Is mama sick?”

“No, cupcake, not at all,” Chris laughed as he stirred the pasta, “she’s taking a bath. I’m cooking because I want to surprise her.”

“How is dinner a surprise, Dad? We have dinner every day!”

“Exactly! And every day, mom is the one who prepares it. So today I’ll surprise her by doing it myself!”

“Oh. That’s very nice! Can I help?”

“Sure! I’ll need parsley and fresh tomatoes to decorate it. Can you bring me some from the garden?

Etta was losing no time and ran out to the garden. She found the tomatoes really quickly, but parsley got her worried.

“If only I knew which one of these is parsley!”

She looked at the plants carefully, but she couldn’t recognise them all. Some of them appeared to be crosses of many different types. Little Etta was clueless.

Luckily, she was smart, so she quickly came up with the solution – she’d look it up in the book! Aunt Devi always adviced: “When in doubt, read!” So she ran back inside, straight into boys’ room and took out Aunt Devi’s old book about plants.

“Hmm, let’s see: la-ven-de…no, mag-nol…no, nas-tur-ti-um…Nasturtium? What on earth is that? Ah, parsley! There you are!)

She started reading the description, when suddenly something seemed to be moving between the beds.

She instictivelly flinched and looked that way, but she saw nothing.

“Strange, indeed.”

Still, she decided to finish the article about parsley in the kitchen, with her father nearby.

Not that she was a coward, but something peculiar was happening and she wanted to have a witness, just in case more strange events occured.

She also spent that night in her parents’ bed with her mama (for the same reasons, of course.)

‘I wonder if you’re brave enough to face my mama,  you ghost!’

Keeping up with the spares!

Even though my story is a legacy and is meant to be focusing mainly on the lives of heirs, I can’t help but care about  the spares, too. And I’ve been trying to include them all, but the family is just growing at all fronts, so it’s getting more and more difficult.

I also feel like at this point, their stories are kind of wrapping up and we’ll be seeing less and less of them with time. And that’s why I’m writing this post – it’s meant to be a quick summary of my spares’ lives, brief introduction of their children and my way to say goodbye to their story lines.

So in case you’ve been wondering how they’re doing, here’s what they have been up to.

Castor

Castor owns a comfortable, modern house in Oasis Springs and he lives there  with his wife Annabeth and their three kids –  twins Ross and Isis and teenage Serena.

He works in the IT industry as a video game programmer and in the meantime, he’s also playing (and  sometimes even winning) R.E.F.U.G.E tournaments.

Annabeth works for Sim Industries as an assistant, which basically means she just makes coffee for her bosses. But she’s a family woman, so she doesn’t mind that much. She’ll have plenty of time to focus on her career once the kids leave the nest.

Although she’s not sure if it’s going to happen anytime soon. Ross, the eldest, is already a young man, but he seems to lack ambition of any kind. He’s never been the brightest student and college never appealed to him. He’s satisfied with the life he has, living with his parents, unemployed, watching TV and playing computer games in his man cave – as he calls his room – all day long.

His twin sister Isis is much more driven. She likes nice, expensive things – luxurious furniture, rare paintings and beautiful clothes.

She wants to be an expert chef one day, like her aunt Melia. She even joined the Upper Crust club to be surrounded with like-minded food lovers. And unlike her brother, she really hates nature, especially insect.

Teenage Serena  tends to avoid her sister’s drama. Actually, she tends to avoid everyone most of the time. Like most teenagers, she’s at her happiest when she manages to sneak out of the house unnoticed.

Or when she trains alone in a little gym in the basement.

But despite their differences, they can always find time to spend some time together. At least when ice cream’s available.

Damon

Damon  and his family reside in Willow Creek, in a lovely, rather traditional house, just a few streets away from the Rossini Residence.

Damon’s wife Katie is a breadwinner. She’s an extremely gifted, smart woman and she’s also a succesful, renowned scientist in a field of molecular biology. She currently leads her own research group that studies telomeres and their possible link to immortality.

A career like that is exhausting and stringent and Katie would’ve never been able to handle her job , her family and her biggest passion – gardening – without Damon’s help.

Damon  quitted his job a long time ago to take care of the kids. Ever since then, he is a stay-at-home dad and quite frankly, he doesn’t mind. He knew Katie was the one with potential and dreams and he wanted to support her every step of the way. Taking care of the kids is his way to contribute. Also, he loves it – firstly, because it gives him plenty of time to watch cooking shows and secondly, because the kids are so awesome.

Colin, the young boy they adopted shortly after the wedding, is already a teenager. The years he spent in foster home caused that he grew up to be a little insecure and timid, but once he warms up to people, he’s a sweet, sensitive boy. He’s also a talented painter and a poet.

Carmen is an easy-going, lively clown of the family. She’s always in the middle of all the fun. Carmen is very free-spirited, too. She doesn’t like playing in her room or even being inside. She prefers the great vast outdoors, exploring and wandering around after curfew. Damon and Katie had a lot of mini-heart attacks when she left for her adventures without telling them.

Their youngest girl, Renée, is much more manageable. She’s bubbly and kind and she has a good influence on her mischievous sister.

Her favourite thing to do is tasting her Dad’s cooking. She seems to inherit his tremendous appetite.

They lead a simple,  harmonious family life and it’s what Damon always wanted – a happy home with lots of children…

…and the love of his life by his side. Just like his parents.

Camilla

Camilla started her new life as a single mom in a modern bungalow in Oasis Springs. She wasn’t happy to be there, since the whole neighborhood was  intertwined with Dom in her mind, but it was the most reasonable choice. Much simpler than moving across the globe as she originally intended.

Carlie’s school was in Oasis Springs, just like her friends and her favourite teacher, Miss Hernandez. Carlie was a crabby girl, easily irritable and even grumpy sometimes, so it was hard for her to warm up to people (or for people to warm up to her). Camilla didn’t want to take those few friends away.

As for Camilla, she needed to stay in Oasis Springs to train. She’s became a succesful, decorated wrestler and she just couldn’t leave her coach at this point in her career.

Besides, she loves Oasis Springs. She can’t really imagine her life without a morning jog around here.

And Carlie fell in love with their new house immediately. Especially with her room – spacious, pretty and blue, which is Carlie’s favourite color! She even has her own creativity table.

She misses her dad sometimes, but most of the time, she barely notices things changed. Dom was never around much, constatly oscillating between Windeburg and Oasis Springs, so Carlie’s got used to spend time only with her mama around.

But she loves her mama very dearly so she’s quite content these days.

Evander

Evander really found himself in Winderburg. The city was full of hedonists and artists and intellectuals and weirdos, so nobody cared about one more melancholic introvert living in a small rented cottage outside of the city centre.

Except his roomate Kaya, of course. At first, Evander was not particularly interested in her, because he was focusing on his painting career. And he has always been very shy around strangers. But you can’t avoid someone you live with forever. And so it happened they often left the house at the same hour and travelled to work together.

Or bumped into each other in the kitchen.

Or just had to talk because the toilet broke and someone had to pay the repairs.

After a while, Evander started to feel comfortable in her presence and he began to like her company. Suddenly, he actually talked to her whenever, even when he didn’t have to. And they quickly went from innocent questions about their days at work to conversations about their families, pasts and plans.

One day Evander realized that she became a good friend of his. He couldn’t wait for Kaya to come home from work to asked about her day and about her opinion on his newest still-life or just hang out with her in the garden.

They were spending every weekend together, visiting Kaya’s favourite cafes and parks. She was a native Winderburgian and she knew her way around the city.

At one of their trips Evander just felt so good and at peace with her, he barely  understood it. He never felt that comfortable with anyone, not even his family. She was so easy to talk to and to laugh with.

And when they took the selfie and Kaya jokingly cheered how good-looking they were, Evander looked at her and saw how unbelievably pretty she was.

It was like he was suddenly looking at her through different eyes. And in that moment he knew what he wanted to do.

Kaya wanted the same, it seems. So now they went from roommates to living together. (And it’s all the difference in the world.)

Eudora

Well, and Dory. With her, it’s hard to tell. On Sunday, rumors say she married Alfred after all that drama anyway and they ran away together. Monday they say she lives with the homeless  in Oasis Springs. Oh, and some say she actually found her way into the Gallery and used it to travel to parallel universes – and the stories just get more and more absurd from there. Like the one when she was supposedly living with the famous Boughs in their timeless neighborhood. Or the one where she became some kind of a pre-wedding counsellor. Dory of all people!

But how much of it is actually true? I guess we’ll never know.

Chapter 4: Back to normal

Even though it didn’t seem like it, Camilla was thinking about the future a lot lately. Especially since her conversation with Melia. She knew her sister was right. She was neglecting Carlie in order to buy herself more time for self-pity (and drinking), counting on Melia to take care of everything.

The truth was, she wasn’t doing it on purpose, she just couldn’t help it. Camilla didn’t know how to look her daughter in the eye. She couldn’t find a way to tell her that her father was gone and her family was broken.

And even if she could speak to Carlie… What would she tell her? She wasn’t sure what to do with their lives now, she hasn’t figure out where they’d go and how they’d continue. She knew the trailer house was out of the picture. It wasn’t hers to begin with and even if it was, the place was just too full of memories. A single fact that Dom bought it for her and Carlie, back when she was his number one…

‘Who am I kidding? I’ve never been his number one and what’s worse – neither has Carlie.’

And so everytime she tried to think about the future, her heart burst with pain, because it brought out the past she wanted to forget about and reminded her of all the things she did wrong.

Her present situation wasn’t helping, either.

Chris: “Mel, this chicken is so great, seriously. I’d marry you again if I could.”

Melia and Chris were like doves, happy and more in love than ever. When Chris looked at his wife, eyes full of adoration; when Melia complimented him with a shy smile; or even when they just talked quietly to each other in such a nice, respectful way – it felt like a knife went right through Camilla’s chest.

She had to do something. Quickly.

Next day, she ran upstairs and found Carlie alone in the girls’ room.

Camilla: “Hey, sweetheart. How are you? D’you like it here?”

Carlie: “It’s an okay room, I guess. The toys are nice.”

Carlie shrugged and remained silent for awhile, expecting her mother to continue. But when nothing was happening, she continued herself.

Carlie: “But I wanna go home, Mom.”

Camilla: “I know, my love, we’ll leave this house soon, I promise. It’s just…I’ve been thinking, uhmm…”

Camilla: “Maybe we could…uhm, not go back to the trailer. I found us a house in Oasis Springs. It’s a real house, like you always wanted, with big windows and more rooms. And it’s really nice and not that expensive. So what do you say?”

Carlie hesitated like she wasn’t really convinced her mother was being serious. But after a long observant look, her face lighted up and she smiled.

Carlie: “But only if I can have my own room.”

Camilla: “Sure, sweetheart, anything.”

Carlie whooped with delight and hugged her mom happily. Camilla laughed with relieve, but the gloomy thoughts didn’t really go away. She knew the war was not won yet.

‘Whew, that went great. Now I only need to tell her that her father is not going to live with us there. No biggie.’

A few days later, everything was ready. Camilla made the calls, signed some papers, talked to her bank about mortgage…and just like that, she was a proud owner of a lovely, spacious bungalow in Oasis Springs.

It was time to say goodbye.

Camilla: “I know I’m awful and everything, but I don’t want you to think that I’m not grateful. You saved my life when you let us stay. And thank you for talking to me, Watcher knows it takes a lot of courage. You opened my eyes with that talk.”

“I’m really sorry for being such a pain in the rear. It won’t happen again, I promise.” Camilla said as she hugged her sister.

Melia: “Yeah, because I’m not letting you stay anytime soon. Ha! Just kidding. You’re having a hard time, I get that. I want you to know that whenever you need me, I’m right here.”

“And even if you don’t need me – I’ll come to visit you soon. There’s no getting rid of me,” she added, with a warm smile on her face.

Camilla nodded, kissed all four children on their cheeks, took Carlie’s hand and with big smiles, they walked away.

Camilla: “I hope you’re ready, sweety!”

Mel was worried when she watched them leave, of course. But she was relieved, too. Camilla and Carlie were just too much to handle. Without them, family life at Rossini residence went back to normal.

Or so they thought.

Until one night, Etta woke up suddenly because she heard strange noises. She quickly realized it was a piano, but she never heard the melody before. Is Aunt Devi composing a new song? But why would she do that in the middle of the night?

Etta decided to investigate.

She got up and sneaked out of her room, as queit as she could, because she didn’t want to wake up Tori. The house was dark and creepy at this hour. She slowly continued towards the stairs, expecting to see Devi’s silhouette sitting at the piano in the hall.

But she saw nothing. Just piano tiles moving on their own, causing the piano to play a mysterious melody. Etta was so scared that she could hear her own heartbeat.

But then she looked closer and she noticed the tiles were not moving on their own. Something translucent and shimery was pushing them, over and over again. Something in a shape of a…

Person?!

Etta froze.

She felt a sudden urge to scream when the realization came to her mind, but she was so terrified that scream got stucked in her throat. She backed up to her room, shaking, and she quickly hid in her bed.

‘Oh, morning, come already.’

Chapter 3: Ugly Monkey Butt

When kids heard Carlie and Camilla would be staying with them for some time, they were thrilled. Aunt Camilla was always so funny and Carlie was a good friend of theirs.

At first, everything went well. Carlie was around the same age as her cousins and she enjoyed time spent with them. She liked their toys and games and a beautiful big garden with monkey bars.

“Wanna play hide and seek?”

Even the food tasted somehow better here.

“I love cheese.”

For a couple of days, they had a lovely time together.

“Let’s play Ponnies vs. Unicorns.”

But kids are kids. One minute they are friends and then all of the sudden, they can’t stand being in the same room. And young Carlie Fyres apparently inherited her mother’s temperament.

Tori: “And yesterday, Aunt Devi gave me this sparkly pink rock and she said it was magic, because it’s…”

Carlie: *yawns* “Yeah, who cares.”

Especially Seth had a hard time getting along with her, because she was noisy and didn’t let him play with his own toys.

“How cool is this.”

But Seth was never the friendliest kid on earth so nobody was really concerned about his constant rambling and bad mood.

Seth: “When will this nightmare end?”

After a while, though, other kids started to behave strangely, too.

First, Etta got really sad.

Carlie: “Why is your hair so weird and puffy?”

Etta: “Is something wrong with my hair, Aunt Devi?  Carlie said it is weird-looking.”

Etta never thought about it before but now that Carlie mentioned it, her hair were different from Carlie’s. And she suddenly wished they weren’t.

And then one day, Amon got unreasonably angry.

C: “Hey, Amon! According to my  artifact finder, there’s an anciet scarab talisman under your bed. So move! I have to explore it around here.”

 

A: “Uhmm, I don’t know, I was about to sleep…”

 

C: “I don’t care! I am a famous archaelogist and… I WANT TO PLAY! HERE!”

But the real shock came when Tori, the sweetest, kindest, most sociable girl to ever live, started yelling at her cousin and called her an ugly monkey butt.

Carlie: “The only thing that’s ugly is YOU! AND those hideous tentacles ON. YOUR. HEAD!!!”

Melia overheard the argument – she couldn’t help it, the girls were so loud people in Oasis Springs probably overheard it, too – and she was horrified. All those bizarre moods her kids were having lately…They didn’t seem that bizarre anymore.

M: “Nobody speaks like that to my little girl!”

She didn’t dare to scold Carlie herself. She knew Camilla was overly sensitive about her daughter. She decided to talk to Camilla first. But that was a quest of its own, since Camilla had other things to do:

Melia needed to be observant to catch her in a mood for talking and even then, it was a difficult conversation to have.

M: “You shouldn’t be drinking this much, Millie. It’s not doing you any good…”

C: “I know, I know, Mom told me. Alcohol is my enemy. But you know the saying – keep your friends close and your enemies even closer.”

M: “Right, whatever. There’s something else I wanted to talk about. I’d like to know what happens next. What are your plans for you and Carlie?”

C: “Why? Am I a burden already to you and your pictoresque, perfect life?”

M: “No! Of course not. Stop saying that. But if you’re staying, we need rules – split bills, shared chores, schedled bathroom time…and so on.”

C: “Shared chores? I thought you were a stay-at-home Mom. Chores are your thing since forever.”

M: “Maybe. But it’s getting overwhelming, especially with one more kid to take care of and…”

C: “Excuse me, WHAT? Are you implying that I’m not taking care of my own child? Is that what you’re trying to say?!”

M: “Millie…”

C: “DON’T Millie me! If you’re gonna be like this, complaining about my daughter and…and…and about my very presence in this house, I can as well live somewhere else. You’re pathetic.”

Melia sighed and gave up. One look at Camilla’s stubborn face and she understood the conversation was over.

M: “Okay, then. Goodnight.”

Camilla watched as her sister walked away and finished her drink, frowning angrily.

‘What an intrusive witch!’