Etta continued to sleep with her mom for a few days. But soon it seemed like the incidents stopped. She occassionally felt like she was not alone in the room.
Or that she sensed some motion with the corner of her eye.
But her suspicions were never true. She never found a monster under her bed, or a ghostly figure standing in the room, no matter how hard she investigated. And so she concluded her imagination was to blame and let it go.
It wasn’t that hard, because once again, more exciting things were happening. One day, she’s got a new assignment in school. It was for the science class and she was supposed to do a project about an endangered animal of her choice. She chose dolphins.
An important project like that required a thorough research. Etta, naturally, aimed for the A+ with this assignment (just like with everything else) and she was ready to give her all into it. She spent hours browsing Simpedia, where she learned there were around 40 extant dolphin species – quite a lot! – and plenty of other interesting things, too. Still, the text there was a little too complicated for her, with all the Latin names and unfamiliar words like hybridization or dimorphism.
When Melia saw her daughter’s dedication, she decided to take her to the library. She was sure Etta would find some age-appropriate books there.
First, they had to talk with the librarian. He was a funny looking man with giant red beard, but he was nice. He needed Etta’s name and date of birth to prepare her membership card and after that, she was free to roam the ancient corridors of that magical building.
Etta quickly found the kids’ department and searched through the books. There were many great books, but in the end, she chose Big Encyclopedia for Little Sims and Visual Encyclopedia of Animals.
She took the books into the reading room and sat beside her mom. Melia used the time to browse the internet and look for new recipes while she kept an eye on little Etta. The girl studied the books with such resoluteness that it made Melia’s smile.
Etta was very satisfied with her choice of literature. Both books were full of useful facts about biosonars and porpoising. In addition, the pictures were really nice, too. She tried to recreate them as soon as she got home.
After she was done drawing, she accompanied aunt Devi and they went fishing together. Sure, there were no dolphins in Willow Creek, but there were other fish – the ones that dolphins eat. Like trouts or pigfish or mackerels. Aunt Devi knew everything about them and she knew quite a lot about dolphins, too.
She worked on it all week and by Friday, she was finally done. Due day was on Monday, so she had some time to spare, but she had no intentions to care about the school during the weekend. Weekends were reserved for Dad.
Saturdays were Etta’s favourite, because her father was not working. He had time to breakfast with them for however long they pleased, so he often just sat and listened to their chit-chat, sometimes even after the pancakes were eaten and long forgotten.
Chris was a family man. He loved the kids deeply and if it was up to him, he’d breakfast with them for hours every day. The only reason he didn’t was his work and, as a matter of fact, he was working so much mainly to be able to support the kids. And Melia. He knew Melia’s culinary talent was exceptional and he remembered how she’d dreamed about having her own restaurant when they started dating. She’d never talked about it since the kids came along, but Chris didn’t forget. How could he? At times he felt like he only lived to make her happy.
To compensate for his absense during the week, he at least tried to spent the weekends with the kids. They mostly went into the park. Chris pretended to be a sea monsters, while the girls went crazy trying to hit him with the bubble gun.
Amon usually said he was too old for childlish games like that and he rather played with his friends on monkey bars. Seth, on the other hand, often stayed at home, reading.
Etta didn’t mind her brothers’ lack of interest. She adored visiting the park with dad. Not only they could play there all day – they could also eat there. Etta never missed an opportunity to assist with meal preparation.
Or with tasting the results.
On that weekend, however, they stayed home and hung out in the garden.
Melia was busy with tacos, ice cream and two chocolate cakes she was baking for the boys’ birthday party and Chris wanted to stick around in case she needed some help.
And she did. Not with the cooking, but with Seth. She was in such a rush whole day that she didn’t realized she hasn’t seen him since last night’s dinner. She checked his room and all the bathrooms, but she couldn’t find him anywhere in the house. Luckily, Chris found him in the garden, looking at the graves of his grandparents and crying.
He sent for Melia immediately.
Melia stared at her son, perplexed. For the first time in her life, she really, truly didn’t have the answers.
Melia smiled at him. This time, she knew exactly what to say.
Seth looked lost in thoughts and not fully convinced, but at least he was not upset anymore.
Melia hugged him around the shoulders and changed her tone to sound more cheerful: “And now, are you ready for some chocolate cake?”