Chapter 21: Like a rain

“Yes, Mom, we’re eating our veggies. Yes, we do our homeworks every day. No, we haven’t killed each other. Well, not yet.”

“Of course, we take care of each other. Don’t worry about us, we’re fine.”

“What about you? How’s shooting going? How do you like San Myshuno? Should I add it on my bucket list?

Etta listened carefully to her mother’s chatter. She sounded better. Healthy. Even enticed.

After their inicial talk, it took a few more days for Melia to collect herself, but once she did, she was keeping busy.  The kids had been surviving on peanut butter sandwiches since the funeral, the house was fairly neglected and the garden…

…well, the garden looked as pitiful as Melia felt.

Goodbye, Gus!

She had got a lot of work to do. Luckily,  seeing her up and about infused the rest of the household with a new spirit. With their mom back, they felt a bit more like a family. A painfully incomplete family, but a family nonetheless. They were ready to help.

Few weeks and hours of persuasion later, Melia replied to the letter she had gotten from the SimChef producers  and soon after that, it was time for her first screen tests and shoots. With a heavy heart, Melia left her teenagers home with Devi and flew to San Myshuno.

That didn’t stop her from  stressing over her children’s well-being, of course. She was calling twice a day, armed with dozens of questions and concerns.

Etta was thinking about it on her way home from school and she decided she didn’t mind. It was a sign her mom was slowly getting back to normal and Etta would do anything to help with the process, even if it meant answering even a thousand phone calls a day. She was ready to be on her best behavior.

However, not everyone in the household was of the same mind as Etta found out when she got home. She was just raiding the fridge for leftovers, when Amon appeared out of nowhere, grabbed some frittata and took it to the living room to enjoy his lunch on a comfy couch. Etta followed him, the question already on her lips.

E: “Amon? What are you doing home so early? It’s only 12:30!”

A: “Etta! Well, I mean, I…. I… I could ask you the same question!”

E: “Mr Harrison is sick, they sent us home after fifth period. What about you?”

A: “I am, uhm, s-sick as well.”

E: “Mhm, sure, and I am Tinkerbell. Are you ditching school?”

A: “Me? I would never!”

E: “…”

A: “Please, don’t tell mom.”

E: “Only if you do all my chores for the next month.”

A: “Oh, come on! Can’t you just be nice for a change and help your brother out? Just this once?”

But Etta was unmoved by his pleas and remained quiet until he gave up.

A: “Ugh, fine, we have a deal.”

E: “Wonderful! Enjoy your free afternoon then, because tomorrow is laundry day.”

Amon rolled his eyes and grumbled.

Amon: “Oh, and by the way….”

E: “What?”

A: “Well, Devi won’t be back from her concert till tomorrow so I invited a couple of friends over.”

Etta instantly thought of the essay about Lord of Frogs that was due Monday and a pile of unfinished AP microeconomics exercises on her desk and she was about to say no, but then she remembered Dante was Amon’s friend, too.

E: “As long as they won’t bother me, I couldn’t care less. Just promise you’ll be quiet.”

Amon rolled his eyes again and nodded as she left the living room. Etta then rushed upstairs, craving a few moments of solitude.  She grabbed the book, determined to finish it that day, so she could start working on her essay. But the book was not as exciting as she would like it to be. Soon she found herself drifting off only to be abruptly awaken by ear-splitting, harsh noises.

‘What the…’

Etta was disoriented for a second, staring at the dark sky outside and then she realized she probably slept for a couple of hours. She quickly identified the source of the sounds – dance music and chanting and laughs – and she immediately felt her blood boiling with anger.


She walked out of her room, only to find people crawling all over the place and a whole crowd of her schoolmates dancing and singing along the stupidest song she had ever heard right there in the hallway.

Amon was among them, trying to dance his way towards Taylor, a super pretty cheerleader he hadn’t dated yet.

Etta: “Amon, can I talk to you somewhere quiet, please?”

A: “Sure, I can barely hear you over the music here.”

He slowly walked away and the little group he had been dancing with dispersed towards the other side of the room. Except for Taylor who did not like the interuption.

Taylor: “What the hell are YOU doing here, Ella? I thought this party was for cool people, haha!”

E: “My name’s Etta. And this is my house. Now if you excuse me… sorry, what was your name again? Oh, wait, I don’t care.”

Etta didn’t wait for an answer and without wasting another breath on that plum, she left. She found Amon in the kitchen with a usual smug grin on his face.

A: “What’s up?”

E: “Look. You said you invited a few friends, not half of our school! They’re literally everywhere! Don’t you think….”

A: “Weeeeeell, I mean, you know how fast news spread in this town. We’re just having fun, so what?”

E: “First of all, stop acting like you’re all just playing board games here, okay? Pretty much everyone is drunk, three strangers are smoking weed in my bathroom and I just saw someone in Devi’s room, you know… getting busy!”

A: “Good for them, I guess?”

E: “And second of all! Have it crossed your mind how inappropriate this is? We are in mourning, Amon! It’s disrespectful to throw parties just moments after dirt was scattered on your father’s casket, fo Watcher’s sake! How are you even in a party mood?”

A guilty expression flashed through his face, but before he could say anything, his lovely lady friend appeared, pushed Etta out of the way and gave her a disaproving, mocking look.

Taylor: “Sheeesh, what a buzzkill.”

Etta ignored her remark and  took a deep breath in, trying hard to keep her voice down.

E: “When do you plan to kick everybody out?”

A: “Oh, come on, Etta, don’t be so lame! Why don’t you grab a drink and just hang out?”

E: “Because unlike you, there’s still some human decency left in me, you absolute muppet!”

In that moment Dante walked in throught the garden door, wearing a swimsuit for some reason and inquiring about more alcohol. Amon gladly jumped at the opportunity and escaped the conversation.

Amon: “Let me find you some beer, bro.”

Etta felt tears burning in her eyes as she stood there like she was invisible while they all went about their business. Amon tried his best to acknowledge her as little as possible and she never felt more awkward and helpless.

Etta: “Amon, please, can you at least turn the volume down? I’m trying to…”

But Taylor’s cold, disdainful laugh cut her off mid-sentence.

T: “Oh, dear Watcher, just tell her what a pain in the plum she is, Amon!”

Etta: “Shut up, Barbie, it’s none of your business!”

A: “Whoa, watch it, sis, don’t talk to her like that! I think she’s right. Why can’t you stop being so uptight for one night and just have some fun, for plum’s sake!”

Etta could not believe her ears. She was genuinely counting on him to defend her against Taylor,  not the other way around. The betrayal left her speechless, but her brother was not done.

Amon: “Geeez, it’s not a coincidence you have no friends. Who would want to hang out with a bore like you!”

His words were like a slap in the face. She wasn’t ready for the humiliation that came with it, neither for Taylor’s hysterical laughter. For the first time in her life, she wanted to say something awful, too, she wanted to hurt him and to share her heartache, but she couldn’t fight the tears any longer. She turned around and ran to her room, sobs escaping her lips already.

A couple of minutes later, someone knocked on her door.

E: “Go to hell, Amon!”

But he, of course, did not respect her wishes and walked in. Except that it wasn’t Amon.

Dante: “Hey, it’s me.”

Etta sprang up from her bed in panic. He sounded genuinely concerned and on any other day, that alone would probably make her feel better. Right now, though, she was upset and confused and she didn’t want to see him any more than her awful brother. But more importantly, she didn’t want him to see her like this. She desperately needed few moments to collect herself.

D: “I just… You seemed really hurt by what Amon said and… not that I blame you, I mean, what a piece of plum! Honestly, it’s not true what he said. Lots of people want to hang out with you, he’s an idiot and I’m not here to apologize him.”

E: “Why are you here, then?”

D: “I just wanted to check if you were okay.”

E: “I will be, don’t worry about me.”

Etta wiped her tears and waited for him to leave, but he just sighed and came closer, his voice breathy and soft as a summer breeze.

D: “Listen, I know what you’re doing, okay? I know, because Angie was the same when our mother left us. She was doing everything in her power to stay strong and take care of me, just like you take care of your family. I know you want to protect them from the grief.”

She didn’t know what to say. With terror, she realized he was right and it paralyzed her to be suddenly so exposed. She didn’t have the strength to respond.

“But the thing is – you can’t, Etta. You can’t do this for them. Just like no one can do it for you. The grief… you can’t hide it behind the grief of others. It will always be there, so there’s no point fighting it. Just… take it. Take it like the earth takes rain, feel it, live it, let it cleanse you.”

He gently pulled her even closer and Etta, not fully realizing it, let herself fall further into his arms.

D: “It’s okay to be hurting, okay? It’s not a shame, it’s not a weakness and it’s not a burden. But if you ever feel like it is, I’m here, okay? I’m right here.”

Etta couldn’t stand it anymore. Something broke in her when he said it, the words scared her to death with their accuracy. They shook her soul and resonated with her very core and she cried and cried and he held her like there was nothing else in the world but her sorrow.

And for the first time in weeks, she didn’t feel alone in the world.

2 thoughts on “Chapter 21: Like a rain

  1. cathytea says:

    Oh, my ! This is one of the sweetest chapters I’ve ever read . Dante is so kind and true and really creates a safe space for vulnerability !

    Sorry it took me a few days to find this chapter ! For some reason, it didn’t show up in my WordPress Reader .

    Sure glad I found it! Your writing is so good . I missed it, and Etta.

    Liked by 1 person

    • carovnamaruska says:

      Thanks you so much for your kind words, I’m truly flattered! It was very challenging to easy back into it after such a long pause, so I’m glad you find my writing enjoyable.

      And yes, what a moment for Dante and Etta! I feel like they are both mature behind their years – Etta by nature and Dante because of his family – so they find great comfort with each other.


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