Chapter 12: Just another Saturday

E: “Tori! So, how was it? Tell me everything!”

T: “Uhmmm. Fine. I guess.”

“Just FINE?! Windenburg is one of the most beautiful cities in the world! At least according to tourist websites. And uncle Evander. Calling it fine… that doesn’t sound quite right.”

T: “Sorry to disappoint you. I didn’t get to see much of it – Carlie didn’t want to take me. She said sightseeing is for idiots. Those few glimpses I caught from public transport were breathtaking, though. So you’re probably right.”

E: “What? You didn’t visit the Van Haunt estate with the maze? The Chess Square? The Old Town? Anything? But what did you do, then?”

“Well, we went to Carlie’s dad house. And brace yourself, because it was the most awkward experience of my life.”


“So, when we showed up, his wife, Moira, was nowhere to be seen. Carlie said she never met her – presumably because Moira can’t stand the thought of Carlie coming over. But Carlie’s dad was nice. He welcomed us warmly and took our bags inside.”

“His daughters, Morgan and Siobhan, are already  in college, but they came home for the weekend, so we met briefly. Morgan just rolled her eyes behind Carlie’s back and left.”


“But Siobhan was actually kinda sweet. And very polite. She invited us inside and offer some tea and fruits, smiling constantly.

So we sat down  in a dinning room and chatted.

Siobhan inquired about my hair, where did I have them done and stuff like that. Then, she playfully teased Carlie about her hair – something like she have it easy with her straight, silky red locks in comparison with our frizzy curls.”


“And Carlie lost it! Completely! She started yelling like crazy, claiming that nothing in her life is easy and calling Siobhan a judgmental prick.”

Unsurprisingly, the most uncomfortable silence followed. I could hear the clocks ticking. Nobody knew what to say, so they just stared at each other, half shocked, half furious. And I sat there, wishing for a meteor to fall on my head.”

‘Why did I agree to come here?’


E: “Oh, holy plumbob! That’s insane!”

T: “Right? Poor Carlie.”

E: “Oh, come on. Carlie was the agressor in that situation. Don’t feel sorry for her.”

T : “Well, I do. She is Dom’s daughter, just like Siobhan and Morgan, but still, Dom chose to live with them. He loves them and supports them and takes care of them. He’s there for them, every day. And Carlie? She gets one phone call from him on her birthday. Imagine if  Dad was like that to you.”

E: “Whoa, I… I’ve never thought about it that way. I guess you’re right. And what happened then?”


“Lucky for me, Carlie calmed down while we were getting ready for the party. In fact, she  completely forgot about the incident the minute she got dressed. It’s understandable, though – she looked like a freakin’ popstar. Honestly, I felt  underdressed next to her.”

“So we got to the party, she introduced me to her friends, we chatted a bit and then we danced and danced and danced – it was so dope!”

“The music! It was amazing, like totally freakin’ awesome, since it was like an ultimate show of the most relevant DJs of Winderburg. But other than that, it was just a dance party, you know?

So after a few hours, Carlie went to order some drinks. She has a fake ID for situations like that, so it went smoothly. In fact, it went so smoothly that she never came back.”

“Hey, there!”

“Long story short, she hanged out with the boy she met on a bar for the rest of the night. And Watcher knows where they were because I didn’t see either of them ever since.”


E: “She left you there? All alone?!


“No! I was with her friends, remember?”

“Although,  they were practically strangers to me. There was a couple, or at least I thought they were a couple until the boy started hitting on me. You know, usual stuff like dancing just a little too close and staring just a little too long. He also touched me a few times, you know, ‘accidentally’.”

“He even followed me around everytime I tried to slip away. I asked him to stop and he acted like he didn’t know what I was talking about. The more I insisted the angrier he got, so…”

“…so, I ended up hiding in the bathroom, trying to call Carlie, but she wasn’t answering. So I called uncle Evander and he was so nice and came to pick me up”

“He and his girlfriend Kaya were really good to me. They fed me  and let me sleep on their couch. Kaya even lended me her old T-shirt to sleep in. “

And in the morning, uncle Evander took me to the train station and well, here I am!”


E: “Thank Watcher! Next time I see Carlie, I’ll kill her! Seriously, what was she thinking? How could she left you like that! A young girl, alone! And in a bar full of drunk strangers… What if something had happened to you?”

T: “Don’t be silly, Etty. I’m okay. Besides, I can’t blame her, that boy was totally gorgeous.”

E: “Tori! Please. Don’t be like this. You can’t ignore all the evil in the world. “

T: “Carlie is not evil! She’s sad. And lonely. You’d know that, if you’d be willing to get to know her better.”

E: “Well, you have to admit, she’s making it quite difficult for people to want to know her.”

T: “Maybe. And maybe you’re just overreacting.”

E: “And maybe you’re just too good for your own good.”

T: “Whatever. Enough about that. What about your weekend? Did I miss anything interesting?”


“Not at all. Everything was as usual.

I did some homework with Seth, while Amon went out with that girl of his. Oh, and Aunt Devi started with her music lessons.”

“I think she enjoys it, unlike everyone else – Dante is a terrible musician at this point. But he’s aware of that and it’s quite funny.”

“Hello, Etta. I bet you can’t resist my angelic music, can you?”

“He didn’t stop joking about it even after his lesson was over and we were having lunch in the garden.”

“And then I found out I forgot to put my hands on the freakin’ piano keys.”

“And I got some work done on my science project. Aleksey came and helped me with some graphs, so it’s almost ready.”

“So yeah, like I said: just another ordinary Saturday.”


T: “Now would you look  at that! Two hotties are trying to win her over and she calls it an ordinary Saturday! Careful, you heartbreaker!”

“Geeez, you’re even worse than Aunt Devi. We’re friends, simple as that.”

“Okay. Sure.”

Chapter 11: One of a kind

One Saturday in the middle of November, Aunt Camilla came to visit. She hugged everyone cheerfully,  investigated her nieces about potential boyfriends like aunts do  and teased the boys with uncalled-for advice about always using protection. Then she rushed to the dinning room and spent the rest of the afternoon there, chatting  with her sisters over a cup of tea.

“This will be my last year in representation, I’m afraid. I feel like I can’t keep up with the new girls on our team – but I’m turning forty so it’s understandable.”

Carlie showed up, too, much to Tori’s delight.

T: “Carlie! Long time, no see, huh? How are you doin’? Are you still painting?”

C: “Oh, come on, Tori. Painting is for idiots that have no life.”

T: “Uhm, okay then. So what are you up to these days?”

C: “I’m glad you asked – that’s what I wanted to talk about! there’s this awesome party happening in Windenburg next week and I want you to come with me. My dad lives there, so we can stay at his place.”

T: “Sounds great! But I don’t know. I’m not old enough to attend a party like that and my parents…”

C: “Boohooo! Little baby is scared of her parents. Do they still change your diapers, too?”

T: “No, but…”

C: “Gee, what’s wrong with you? Don’t be such a stuck up moron. It’ll be the best night of your life. Dancing, boys, juice…everything. You’d be stupid not to come, seriously.”

T: “I didn’t say I’m not coming. I’ll go! Just calm down, please.”

Etta was on the way to her room, when she overheard the end of the conversation. She didn’t like it. But the worst part was just about to come. Because in that moment, Carlie opened the door and saw her standing there with a guilty face.

The heck? You were eavesdropping on us? How pathetic!”

“I guess I have to ask you to come, too. Lucky for you, I’m generous like that, so yeah… you can come with us to the party, Etta.”

“Thanks, Carlie, but I have work soon in the morning every day and I can’t skip it. And I have to study for my science project. me and my team are supposed to test different metal conductors to…” 

“Who cares. This is the annual Summer Soltice Dance Party of Windernburg. It’s the party of the year, you bimbo.”

E: “I’m not really into that, I’m afraid.”

C: “Oh, whatever. I didn’t want you to come anyway. You’d just spoil all the fun.”

E: “Then why did you ask me in the first place?”

C: “Because I’m nice like that, obviously. I should have known better. Next time, I won’t bother with a lame nerd like you. See ya!”

Confused and upset, Etta retreated to the safety of the room and tried to comfort herself with a book.

It worked a bit, but just when she was getting to the really thrilling, suspenseful part, Amon walked in and sat beside her. Etta could tell he just returned home from a date with Brylee – he still smelled like her perfume.

A: “Hey, Etta! You busy?”

“Uhmm, kind of, yes. Do you need something?”

Etta was cautious. She didn’t know what this was about, but it was suspicious to say the least. She couldn’t remember last time Amon came into the girls’ room. If ever.

A: “I was wondering if you could help me with my homework.”

E: “I could. But I’m not… I probably don’t know much about the topics you study, since your two classes above me and everything. You should ask Seth.”

A: “Yeah, Seth! You know how nice and helpful he is – I bet he would strangle me in my sleep if he could figure out how to do it without becoming a prime suspect.”

E: “You’re too hard on him, he’s not that bad… But I see your point. So what do you need?”

A: “So, I’m supposed to write this essay about a certain book –  The eyes were watching Watcher or something along that line – and…”

“You mean Their eyes were watching God? Oh, that’s a wonderful book, Amon! You’re lucky to be writing an essay about that one. I hope one day we’ll get the assignment, too!”

A: “Or! You could write it now, maybe? Just in case the curriculum changes in two years or something.”

E: “You mean like…write it for you?”

A: “Well, I didn’t say that. But it’s a good idea. So what do you say?”

E: “I don’t know. I think you should read it – it’ll do you no harm. Besides, it’s a wonderful book with powerful themes such as judgment, isolation and unconditional love…”

A: “It’s a book about a middle aged woman analyzing her marriages, Etta. It’s boring as plum and absolutely unreadable. Please.”

“Middle aged women are people, too, and it would really open your mind to see their point of view. Watcher knows you need that.”

E: “So. I’ll help you with the essay, but only after you read the book. I’ll answer any questions and discuss everything with you and…”

A: “Right. That’s what I thought – you’re just like Seth. Condescending and arrogant and convinced that you’re better than anyone else because youre so well-read and cultured.”

A: “Well, guess what. I’m not interested in your plum, so keep your lecturing for someone who cares.”

And with that, he left. Etta just sat there, stunned and perplexed.

‘What on earth has just happened?’

She couldn’t stop thinking about it for hours. It was still bothering her when Aleksey, her classmate, showed up to work on the physics project. She was so distressed that even Aleksey noticed it. He’s never seen her so unfocused.

A: “Hmm, Etta, are you okay?”

E: “Do you think I’m a bad person, Aleksey? We’re not friends, so you have nothing to lose. Just tell me.”

A: “What? NO! You’re a great person. You’re smart and kind and driven…

“…and just great! The greatest girl, I mean, classmate… yes, the greatest classmate I like. I mean have. The greatest classmate I have!”

E: “It’s just that… maybe I appear arrogant or pretentious to some people…”

A: “Don’t listen to those people. They’re just jealous because they wanna be like you and they can’t.”

A: “Because you’re one of a kind.”

Etta scanned the boy. She knew him from school, but not very well. Up to this point they only talked about homeworks. Suddenly, though, he felt like a friend to her. His expression was sincere and his smile warm. He looked like he meant it.

E: “Well, that’s…that’s nice of you to say. I mean, really nice. So, ehm… Thank you.”

Chapter 10: As it should be

“Last week, I met a friend who is interested in music and I told him you’re giving lessons. is that all right?”

“A friend, you say? Do I know him?”

“Just a boy from our school. He’s in Amon’s class. He used to come here as a little kid to play wh…”

“Ooooh! A boy friend, then! I’d be delighted to meet him.”

“Devi, don’t. Don’t be that nosy grown up everybody avoid, please.  You’re too cool for that.”

“Oh, come on, Etty, I’m your beloved aunt. Who else would you tell about these things. Your mom? Surely not.”

“But there’s nothing to tell. He’s just a friend, I only know him briefly. So…what should I say to him?”

“As I said – I’d be delighted to meet him. And to teach him, of course. I just hope he’s more talented than Amon.”

Amon asked aunt Devi for lessons once he found out girls loves musicians. He wasn’t particularly talented, but he didn’t care. He just wanted aunt Devi to teach him a few well-known, simple songs to impress ladies.

A: *sings terribly* “And after aaaaaall, you’re my wonder…”

Etta didn’t really understand why. Amon’s girlfriend, Brylee, seemed impressed enough to her. She came over daily, staring amorously at him, laughing and blushing everytime he talked to her.

“Why are we not in your room, Amon?”

“Because my stupid brother refused to leave. So unless you want to look at his ugly face whole day, we’ll have to stay out of there.”

“I see. Poor you, to have a brother like that.”

“But you know what? My parents are at work. And they’re not coming home for quite some time. Maybe we’d have more privacy in their room.”

“Sounds like a plan, handsome. Let’s go.”

Etta would probably find it disturbingly amusing, but she was too busy  to pay attention to such nonsense. She was much more interested in a dinner party  her mom organized to celebrate dad’s birthday.

And she couldn’t wait for mom to come from work so she could assist her in the kitchen.

“So, Etta, how are the potatoes?”

“Fine, I guess?”

“Yeah, they look great. You knwo what’s  next: simmer until tender and then remove them from water. Then…”

Etta: “…add milk, mash the mixture and cook until heated, constantly stirring. Then add cheese and cook until it melts. And then stir in heavy cream, bacon and seasoning. I know, mom!”

M: “That’s my girl. Keep going!”

While Etta was busy with salads and side dishes, Melia prepared the rest of the feast.

Who needs apron when you have talent?

And what a feast it was! Even those teenage grumps Amon and Seth left their rooms to join the family and the guests. All those dainty dishes just couldn’t be resisted. They’ve got everything – fabulous soufflé to kick off the meal in style,  sensational, melt-in-the-mouth lamb cotlets or festive herbed salmon as mains and plethora of side dishes and fresh salads.

“Mmmm, smells like heaven!”

Etta even used her newly acquired mixology skills and prepared some simple cocktails. Needless to say, everyone was impressed.

“I wonder if  there’s a difference between lemon juice and citrus juice…”

With their bellies full and tastebuds satisfied, people warmed up. They smiled and laughed and joked.

T: “And then he said: ‘Bring my brown pants!’ Hahaha.”

The conversations were flowing and everyone was being  incredibly nice. Even Seth. It was such a change. Such a marvelous change.

Etta noticed the difference and she couldn’t believe it. The food brought them together. It was like people were happier, like the physical food made them ready to nourish their souls, too. And what’s a better way to do that than being attentive and kind to one another?

E: “This is so amazing.”

That wonderful, sincere ambience lingered around the place long after the food was gone. The young danced and surprised everyone with their moves, the adults talked. Etta couldn’t remember the last time they spend so many hours together as a family, but  she wished for evenings like this to happen more often.

Who knew Seth could dance like this?

The fun continued long into the night. The sun was already rising from behind the horizon when Melia brought the  birthday cake. Guests were already gone, but Chris didn’t mind. The important people were there.

“It’s good to have you here with me, kids. So good. Everything is as it should be.”

And with that on his mind and cheering of his children all around, he spinned into elderhood.

C: “So, darling? How do you like the new me?”

M: “You mean the old you, right?”

Chris frowned at her, acting all upset and offended, but before he could say something, Melia’s mischievous face went away and she smiled at him in that gentle, loving way that made his heart melt every time.

“Honestly, I love it just as much as the previous version.”

Chapter 9: Long day

Everything was suddenly so exciting.

Etta woke up early. So early that it was still dark outside. On a normal day, she would probably feel all sleepy and sluggish at that ungodly hour, but today was not a normal day.

“It’s my first day at work!”

Etta sneaked out of the room quietly and rushed to the bathroom. She tried her best to make herself look put together  – although she had some doubts if such a thing could be done at 4:30 a.m.

“There’s no time for make up today, I guess.”

Then, she put on her uniform. It was not pretty, but in her eyes it was the best freaking piece of clothing she’d ever wear. It made her feel so significant, so useful.

“Deep breaths, Etta. It’s gonna be fine.”

“RIGHT?”

Panic was taking over her as she stared at her reflection like that. She suddenly realized how unprepared she was, so she quickly turned around and left, ignoring the doubts in her head.

When she came back, others were already up, frowning sleepily at their food. Etta changed into something without an apron and joined Tori in the kitchen.

E: “Nice day, isn’t it?”

Tori: “Huh?”

Etta knew she’d get plenty of opportunities to talk to her sister during the day, once she’d adjust to daylight. She barely had enough time to finish the breakfast anyway.

School was busy, though. Etta needed breaks to proofread her essay about the long-term effects of vitamin supplements one last time. Meanwhile Tori struggled to finish hers, because she found gossips about the affair of her French teacher much more captivating than eating disorders she was supposed to write about.

Tori: “School is so tiring!”

Back home, everyone felt a bit worn out from all that studying. While her siblings decided to relax by watching TV and playing computer games, Etta went to the library. It was a perfect place for her to unwind. She also intended to find some books about brewing techniques. Or at least some that would help her distinguish between a latte, a café au lait and  a flat white, because, seriously, that plum was confusing.

She’s just spotted a book that looked promising – The Atlas of Coffee – when she heard  weirdly familiar voice.

“Hey, Etta!”

It was Dante, the little boy in Yoda costume. Except he wasn’t little anymore. And he wasn’t in Yoda costume, either.

E: “Hello, Dante! So nice to see you. What are you here for?”

“I’m looking for a book that would help me with reading sheet music. I’ve got a guitar for birthday and I want to, you know, teach myself… To play it.”

D: “But it’s harder than I originally thought and I could use some… guidance.”

E: “Oh. My aunt could help, she’s a musician. And she gives lessons. You should definitely stop by, if you’re interested.”

D: “Really?”

E:” Well, if you prefer to learn it from the books, it’s okay. I just thought that lessons would be more effective. But I’m no expert.”

“No, no. It’s a wonderful idea. But are you sure your aunt would be willing to do to it?”

E: “I’m 100% positive. Aunt Devi is a sweetheart. But I’ll talk to her and let you know, if you’re scared.”

D: “I’m not but… Thanks.”

She just smiled at him knowingly and resumed reading her coffee atlas, while he continued his efforts with decoding musical notes with a puzzled expression on his face. It was a nice afternoon.

When she returned from the library, it was homework time. At least for her and Seth, since Amon went to the gym and Tori was out with her friends.

E: “Hmm, Seth? Why did you left out exercise number four?”

S: “I haven’t figured it out yet.”

E: “It’s easy, though. You just have to divide it by four before you add these  numbers.”

S: “Oh, I see. I must have been thinking about something else.”

E: “Call it as you want, you’ve just been outsmarted by a freshman, big bro! Oh, yeah.”

Seth slowly turned around and looked at her. Then he stood up and move across the little space between him and the bed Etta was sitting on. He sat next to her and sighed.

S: “You didn’t outsmart me. You can’t. Everybody knows men are more intelligent than women and that’s a fact.”

S: “What? Seriously?”

Etta didn’t know what to say. Seth was always a little weird, but this was low even for him. She just looked at him in disbelief and left.

To comfort herself, she decided to try her hand at cooking. She went for the simplest recipe she could think of – scrambled eggs.

It wasn’t as easy as she expected.

E: “Stir until the consistency is right. Hmm. That’s not very specific.”

She tried her best, though. She watched mom cooks it a thousand times, after all. Surely she must have learned something from it.

E: “Am I doing it right?”

Or not?

E: “But how much exactly is a pinch of salt?”

But in the end, it turned out great. Even better than that.


Even Melia was impressed.

M: “What happened in my kitchen, for Watcher’s sake? Who is responsible for this MESS?”

“Oh, nevermind. It smells amazing.”

Luckily, the foodie side of Melia always wins.

The rest of the family was surprised to have eggs for dinner, but they didn’t complain.

“Mmmm, Etta, these were… Eggcellent!”

D: “Quite possibly the best scrambled eggs I’ve ever tasted. No offense, Mel.”

M: “None taken. Apparently, my little girl has a gift.”

The cooking success lifted Etta spirits a bit. The compliments made her forget Seth’s rude comments. But maybe she was just too tired to care. It was a long day.

E: “Oh, bed. We finally meet.”

And tomorrow would be no different.

Chapter 8: New Phase

“But Dad! I can’t start working now! I’ve just made it to the football team. I need to train.”

“Daily!”

“Okay, okay. Calm down. It was just an idea.”

Chris backed off. It was a smart excuse. And maybe it wasn’t excuse at all. Amon was actually visiting the gym. Regularly. Chris thought it was a good habit for a teenager.

Amon thought so, too. And so did the girls. And Amon was not losing any time. He asked the loveliest one on a date.

A: “My parents are pretty chill, but they just can’t understand that I don’t want to live like them.”

A: “Working twelve hours a day, for average pay, come home only to eat and sleep. And to start with that madness while I’m still studying, ugh!”

“I know, right? Mine are exactly the same. They can’t see how this approach won’t teach me to be responsible – it’ll only teach me how to be a slave!”

Amon: “Exactly! It’s good to know someone who share my opinion. Even better if that someone is a beautiful girl like you.”

“Oh, that’s sweet, thank you! You’re quite handsome yourself, if you must know.”

Few blushes and flaterred smiles later, the girl was completely smitten.

A: “I had such a nice time with you, Brylee. But… I feel something’s missing.”

B: “Oh? Is it… is it something I said? I though the date was going perfectly…”

“There. Now it’s going perfectly.”

Seth was a complete opposite of his brother. He didn’t care about girls and he openly despised sports. He loved R.E.F.U.G.E, though. And teh forums. And everything related to his computer.

“Ha! Take that, noob!”

And he refused to find a part-time job, because there were no job opening in his field. Chris was getting desperate.

Chris: “It’s hopeless. They knew we were coming and they prepared for us. I mean, Seth told me he can’t get a job because he needs to focus on the advanced courses in information sciences he takes this year. How can I argue with that?”

“I know, love. Let them be. As long as they are doing something useful, I don’t mind what it is. Although I fear that ‘information sciences’ is just another name for watching Youtube podcasts.”

C: “We shouldn’t be forcing them, that’s for sure. It would only lead to hatred towards work – and Watcher knows they’ll have enough of that later in life.”

“Chris, my love. If you dislike the company that much, you should just quit.”

“I don’t know, Mel. The money is good.”

M: “I know. But that’s the thing – I could help with the money. Our boys are basically grown-up by now and girls don’t need me around that much, either. I think it’s time for me to go back to work.”

C: “That… that would be amazing, Mel, but… Are you sure? What about the garden?”

“Well, let’s just say I can’t grow anymore in that department. Pun intended.”

Hello, Gus-Gus.

Cowplant was a sufficient argument for Chris, so they agreed. Melia’s maternity leave was finally over. She’s got a job at a small Italian restaurant in the neighborhood and she was about to work as a caterer, which was far from ideal but better than a dishwasher position.

She was a little bit nervous to start working again and she wanted to train a bit before her first day in the restaurant. And what’s a better way to train your catering skills than become a caterer for a day?

Luckily, she had two anxious birthday girls at home, who were in need of a great birthday party.

T: “Etty! Happy birthday! Aren’t I a good sister to remember?”

E: “You sure are. The best sister I have! Happy birthday to you, too!”

And since last party was such a success with all the goofy costumes, they decided to do it again.

Clowns and hotdogs were once again absolute hit among the guests.

The more clowns, the merrier.

But maids, pizza boys and Grim Reaper could also be found.

Devi: “I think this costume is rather scary, considering my role in this household…”

And the mysterious green boys came, too, much to Etta’s delight.

“You do know that frogs don’t have ears, right?”

“I’m not a frog, you silly little princess. I’m Master Yoda.”

He then proceeded to tell her all about the Republic and the Empire and about dozen of other things that were not making any sense to her. He had a lot to talk about. By the time he was done, it was already time.

What time, you ask? Well, everyone’s favourite time: time for cake!

Both girls were more than ready to enter the new, exciting phase of their lives. They learned to always expect positive outcomes. And in their minds, birthday parties could only lead to good things, anyway.

Chris: “Don’t forget to make the right wish, cupcakes!”

Maybe even to the best things. At least for those who dare to dream big and move forward. Because fortune always favors the brave.

“Say cheddar, Etty!”

Chapter 7: All the talking

The birthday party was a total success. Everyone had fun and looked great.

Clown costume was this year’s favourite.

Even though some people didn’t find it very fitiing.

And some people, on the other hand, didn’t need any costume at all.

Especially the kids, since they all hilariously chose a hot dog costume. Except for Etta. She did a more responsible concious choice and went for a veggie dog. Must be Devi’s doing.

Nobody could tell the hot dogs apart!

She also made a friend.

“I hope you’re a Jedi hotdog.”

And overall, everyone had a nice time, mainly the birthday boys. They both swirled into teenagehood with anticipation and optimism.

Amon was overjoyed that he finally reached the age limit for Simbook and he rushed to create a profile. It was a good place to check out his future high school classmates. Especially the female ones.

“Let’s see all the hotties!”

Seth waited until the fuss around the birthday party calmed down a bit and he sneaked outside while the guests were leaving to try on of the cocktails aunt Camilla forgot there.

He was expecting more, to be honest.

Not everything was new or exciting, though. Lots of things simply stayed the same. Seth and Etta were still the best homework buddies.

E: “You studied semi-permeable membrane today? What is that for?”

And Amon just replaced the monkey bars with more grown-up sports equipment.

“Let’s see if this old thing works.”

But Etta noticed some minor changes. Especially the willingness of her brothers to spend time with the rest of her family. Or the lack of it, to be more precise. Most of the time, they barely saw them. Seth was always locked up in his room or study, reading or using the computer for hours. They only knew he was home when he went looking for food. Unlike Amon who usually wasn’t home at all.

Melia quickly noticed their independence, too. And she got an idea.

M: “Looks like our sons are getting pretty self-reliant, aren’t they, Chris? And stop taking pictures of your food already.”

C: “Sorry, love. But the parfait looks so good with almonds and raspberries… Anyway, now that you mentioned it, you’re right. I feel like I didn’t see the boys for days!”

“Maybe you didn’t. They always have better plans than hanging out with us these days. “

“You can’t blame them, Mel, they’re teenagers.”

“I don’t blame them. When I was their age, I’d do anything to get away from my siblings. But I was, at least, being useful. They should be, too.  And do you think I should add other berries into the mix? Blackberries, maybe?”

“I don’t think so, it’s good as it is. Maybe add some powdered chocolate next time. And boys could help you with the garden, couldn’t they? It worked for you back then.”

“I don’t know, they’d do more harm than good in the garden. But they could find part-time jobs to help with finances. You already work too much and the older they are, the more they want.”

“Well, good luck persuading them, then.”

“Chris!”

“I’m kidding, just kidding! I’ll talk to them. It would be nice if they could pay for gym membership and video games with their own money.”

But the truth was, he wasn’t really sure how to bring it up. He realized Melia was always the one to do all the talking about serious stuff with the kids and he didn’t know where to start. He surely didn’t want to make it sound like they’re lazy or something.

He decided to search through some parenting sites first. He knew Melia’s mother had some luck with them when she was battling sibling rivalry of her kids, so who knows. Maybe he’d find some good tips there.

C: “Let’s see –  The Benefits of Part-Time Jobs – interesting,  I didn’t know there were any…”

But before he could read anything, Etta barged into the room with curious smile on her little face.

“Daddy! Are you working again? Why do you work so much?”

“What? Why do you think I work too much?”

“Mama said so. When we were eating breakfast. Don’t you remember?”

Of course he remembered. But he didn’t expect her to do so.

Chris sighed. He wasn’t sure if he wanted to have a conversation about financial planning with his ten-year-old daughter. And if it wasn’t Etta, maybe he wouldn’t bother. But he knew that once she asked nothing could stop her from getting the answer, so he went for it. It could be a good training for later, after all.

C: “Come here, cupcake, I’ll tell you something. The truth is… I work so much because I believe  all dreams can come true – you just gotta make them happen.”

E: “All dreams? Even the one where I became a butterfly fairy and lived in a tiny flower house? Could that happen, too?”

C: “No. No, I don’t think so. I meant the other kind of dream, you know. Like a toy you really long for or something like that.”

E: “Aha. I see. And what do you long for, Dad?”

C: “Well,  ever since I was a young boy, I dreamt about having my own restaurant. Then I met your mom and she wanted the same thing. We used to spend hours visiting diners around here or cooking for each other. our love for food really brought us together.”

E: “Oh, I wish you’d opened the restaurant! That would be so nice! I could be helping with measuring and stirring and cutting dough every day!”

C: “You certainly could. But, well, restaurant are expensive and… and we always needed the money for something else. Like electricity bills and school fees and house renovations… simply lots of boring grown-up stuff you don’t have to worry about.”

C: “But it’s not too late! That’s why I need to work hard every day. Because if you work hard, you can achieve anything you set your mind to. Remember that.”

E: “I will, I promise. I’ll work just as hard as you one day!”

C: “Oh, sweety. I truly hope it won’t be necessary. I’m doing this so you don’t have to.”

E: “Maybe i don’t have to, but I want to. I’m gonna help Mom with potatoes now, to improve my peeling skills!”

“Okay, my little kitchen maid. Make sure not to hurt yourself, though.”

But Etta was barely listening at that point – the excitement made her partly deaf.

In the evening Melia was amused and surprised.

“Etta was on fire today! What did you tell her?”

“Nothing, really. She’s just ready to jump at every learning opportunity.”

“I know she is. And what about boys? Did you talk to them?”

“No. Amon is still not home. And Seth, well, he couldn’t talk because he was… how did he say it? Raiding? Something like that.”

“Why am I not surprised? Maybe I should try next time. I mean it. They are old enough to help out.”

“You work hard your whole life. I think it’s time to slow down at your age.”

“Hey! My age? What is that supposed to mean?”

“Just that you’ve got ridiculously hot lately and I blame it on your silver hair.”

“Aaah. Of course, you do. You are a materialistic girl, after all, aren’t you?”

“And you are my winning ticket, love.”

Chapter 6: Are you ready?

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.

“Once again, nothing. I shouldn’t have read that much Harry Potter.”

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.

“Who knew dolphins never drink water?”

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.

“Ready to nail that research?”

 

“You know me, Mom – I’m always ready!”

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.

“I’ll definitely come here again.”

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.

M: “One could think she’s working on a masters thesis.”

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.

“This will look amazing on my project.”

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.

D: “Did you know that an adult dolphin can eat 10-25 kg of fish every day?”

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.

E: “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.

“Did I mention how much I love you?”

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.

“Thar it be, on th’ right side! I spy wit’ ye eye! Th’ KRAKEN!!”

 

“Ye hear it, mates?! All ye pirates, on th’ deck! Ready th’ cannons!”

 

“Yarr! How ’bout ’tis, ye monster!”

 

“Oh, yeah. I’m so good at this cap’n thing!”

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.

“Don’t forget to toast the buns, too!”

Or with tasting the results.

“Yummm, just like mom’s.”

On that weekend, however, they stayed home and hung out in the garden.

“Look, kids, that one look like an aliigator playing a trumpet!”

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.

M: “Hey, sweety. What’s wrong?”

 

Seth: “Why do people die, Mom?”

Melia stared at her son, perplexed. For the first time in her life, she really, truly didn’t have the answers.

“All living things die. Our bodies are kinda like… like very complicated machines. And just like a computer or a car, they just…wear out after some time and eventually, well, they stop working.”

“But, why are they working in the first place? What’s the point when everyone dies in the end?”

 

“Well, different people have different ideas about this, but… nobody really knows for sure, I guess. Some people think we’re here to make a difference and some think we’re here to just…live it up. Some people think we’re here, because Watcher put us here. I believe it’s up to you. You get to decide, why you’re here, what’s your purpose.”

“Uh-huh. And did you, Mom? Did you decide what’s your purpose?”

Melia smiled at him. This time, she knew exactly what to say.

M: “You, of course. You and your siblings and your Dad, obviously. And don’t worry, you have plenty of time ahead of you to figure it out.”

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?”

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.’