A few weeks after Merrill came to our home we held a naming ceremony for him. It was mostly just an excuse to get Grandma Brandi and Grandpa Lórccan to visit and to buy gifts for little Merrill. The actual naming had happened without any ceremonies, when mum and Patrick had sent an official looking piece of paper to the city hall. It had been boring, and mum and Patrick had been smart enough to leave us out of it. Now it was time for cake and gushing about how cute the baby was. And yes, Merrill was pretty cute now that he was dressed in neat overalls instead of the caterpillar cocoon of a blanket. He was crying most of the time, and I was glad mum and Patrick had decided not to invite anyone besides our sort of grandparents. The house was already loud enough with Merrill crying. It didn’t need to be crowded as well.
Merrill managed to at least stay quiet when mum and Patrick stood in our kitchen and proudly presented our new family member to Grandma and Grandpa. Congratulations and visits from mum and Patrick’s friends had already been frequent, and gifts had been coming in before today, but this moment was for us family alone.
Grandma and Grandpa had already seen Merrill through mum and Patrick’s video calls, and they had immediately pegged him as a potential future musician because of… well, I don’t know how they did it, actually. Right now, Merrill didn’t do anything but slept, ate, pooped, and cried. Maybe it was the crying. At least it was noise that could with some – or a lot of – imagination be translated into singing. So they had bought little Merrill a tiny xylophone he could practise with when he had grown enough to properly reach for things.
Despite my questions about spotting musical talent from infants, I could get into the joyous mood of the party and smile in my formal outfit that had been hastily put together from second hand store finds. I felt like my clothes were getting smaller each, day, but I could forget all that for now. The cake and pie we were serving tasted amazing, and we could talk about how great life was going to be instead of focusing on any worries we might have had.
Once we had eaten cake and listened to Patrick’s short speech about how we were awesome and would all be great family for little Merrill, Grandma and Grandpa were finally free to dote on the tiny bundle of joy they were grandparents to.
“Oh, look at those big, brown eyes!” Grandma Brandi cooed when it was her turn to hold Merrill, “You’re cute as a panda! That’s right! A panda! And I so hope they’ll still be alive when you’re old enough to look at pictures of them and remember.”
Merrill’s chubby face twisted into something that was almost a smile, even as Grandma managed to somehow turn her baby talk into a lesson in the concept of extinction. Good thing he was small enough not to understand it. Guilt-tripping little kids with global problems didn’t seem like a good idea, and I hoped Grandma knew that. At least Merrill didn’t cry when Grandma Brandi started gently bouncing him up and down. Grandma looked at us and smiled.
“And you! I know you both will be great older siblings to him! Lynn, you show Rem how it’s done.”
I blushed at that. Compliments. When would they stop being so difficult to deal with? Well, maybe I’d get to that someday.
I couldn’t say that a baby was an answer to any of our problems. In fact, he mostly created more of them with his nightly crying and erratic sleep schedule that kept at least a couple of us awake each night, and with the money mum and Patrick had to sink into taking care of the baby. But Merrill coming to our lives was still a source of happiness for all.
We all loved him, and he inched all of us a little closer to feeling like our lives were back on the right track. Because in-between sleeping and crying with the kind of screaming, grating wail that babies somehow managed to produce with their tiny vocal cords, Merrill was looking at the world with admiration I found incredibly lovable. And he learned to smile pretty quickly too. After that he did it almost as often as he cried, and all of our hearts melted.
There was something, well, wondrous about how such a tiny thing could wrap us all around his little finger. Because that’s what he did. At first I suspected it was magic, like what Rem had claimed he’d used to make friends before he had stopped. But no, Rem insisted that Merrill wasn’t like him. That Merrill was cute and amazing without any tricks. He was our Hope, he had said. I think there was still some shreds of fairytale logic in how Rem claimed that Merrill would be the happiest out of us all. Oh, sure, Merrill was the youngest child, and those were always the ones who went places in the stories. But in all seriousness, there was at least some truth to Rem’s guesses. Merrill wouldn’t remember the fire. And I… no, we would make sure none of us had to go through anything like that again.
Merrill seemed to bring out the most change in Rem. He absolutely adored that baby, and was playing with him almost all the time. He wanted to help feed him and even – to my endless bafflement – change his diaper with mum or Patrick’s help. And when he wasn’t doting on his new baby brother he was busy running outside and painting his art, and he even joined the boy scouts because he had started to love the forest so much.
It was becoming clearer and clearer that Merrill had been that last thing that finally got him out of the dark places he’d been in for the last couple of… years? Had it been years already? I could hardly believe it. But as my shoes decided to not properly fit me anymore, and I could feel my body starting to change in scary ways, I had to admit that yes, it really had been a couple of years since the fire.
At first I didn’t notice it. I mean, it’s hard to notice your own growth when you can see yourself whenever you want. But soon it became evident that I wasn’t just getting taller; my body had begun some kind of transformation as well. I knew what it was, of course. It was the scary curse called puberty. I had had enough biology at school to know most of the basic changes, but to know they were happening to myself was a different matter.
I felt so clumsy sometimes, like my limbs couldn’t cope with the new centimetres added to them. Sometimes I watched my hands and imagined my bones being in such a hurry that they would grow through my muscles and skin, and the thought was definitely not a pleasant one. I think I even had nightmares about it once. It made even Merrill cry, or then he just cried because he was hungry, or lonely, or just felt like announcing his existence to the world.
I had to stop thinking like this. It was stupid and just made me feel bad. In fact, there were other things I needed to stop too. I needed to stop just sitting around and still having this lingering fear of Laketon or some other dark stranger that was usually shaped like Laketon in my mind. I needed to do something. We had a new home now, and a partially new family. A new life. I needed to really start living it and not just watch it.
So, I made a plan.
The most important thing I needed to do was to regain some control over my body, so on a whim I actually asked Patrick if I could enrol to Mr. Nyqvist’s Sim Fu class for kids. He and mum immediately said yes, and I started going to the local gym, where there was a small basement for a dojo, twice a week.
At first I was hesitant and felt lost. I had never even been to a gym, and I was sure I’d meet some of my classmates in there. Min wouldn’t be there, I knew. So that would only leave the less nice ones. Thankfully Mr. Nyqvist was really helpful and welcomed me to the group with open arms even though I started two weeks after the spring’s course had officially begun.
Apparently my age of barely fourteen was one of the worst ages to start a new sport. It was usually the time when people lost interest in their hobbies at least for a while. I did see some of the people my age dropping out even during my first course. But to me, punching things felt good. And being assured that I still had some control of myself felt even better. So I stuck around.
I also started going out a lot, to get the feel of actually being familiar with our hometown. We’d been living in Sunset Valley for over a year now, but I still only knew the main landmarks, and the basic day-to-day go-to places like school or the grocery store. I was almost embarrassing, really. Besides, my bones were growing and my legs needed to move.
So I ran, with the wind in my hair, freedom in my legs, and endorphins in my veins.
And as the year passed and my bones finally slowed down and still hadn’t pierced my skin, I had become to love running.
I wasn’t the only one growing. Merrill very quickly turned from a screeching caterpillar into a toddler, who unfortunately was still screeching and had by then learned new kinds of wails to torture our eardrums with. But his smile seemed to just get more radiant as he grew, so we couldn’t help but love him. It was actually kind of evil, really.
Oh well, at least Merrill didn’t mean to be evil. Probably.
He was still a perfectly healthy, ordinary boy when he turned one year old and could already sit up, crawl, and almost talk and soon maybe even stand. Rem loved to play with him. He was shaping up to be an excellent big brother, just like I’d thought. I sometimes watched them play peek-a-boo and wondered if Rem took Merrill to the forest as well. Merrill was ecstatic and laughing, so at least he wasn’t seeing anything too scary.
He let Merrill play with all of his old toys, except for one: Candinsky. For Merrill we had bought a new teddy bear, one that Merrill named Ninni. Or actually he had been so little when he’d got it that he had just pointed at it and made a noise that sounded vaguely like “ninnninnnninin”, so we’d had to do some interpreting that seemed to work for Merrill when he started talking a bit more. I supposed he could change it when he got older if he wanted.
Whenever I saw him contently tear at the teddy bear with his few teeth, I had to admit that Rem had been smart when he had decided not to give his own beloved bear to Merrill.
When my bones had stopped growing – or at least slowed down again – I had hit another problem. And that was the realisation that I didn’t want to share a room with my brothers anymore. My body was turning into that of a woman, and I didn’t want anyone walking in on me while I was changing my clothes. Not that it had happened before either, but I really, really wanted my peace. I made my case to mum and Patrick and actually got my wish. I could return to the room that had been mine for a while before it had been turned into the baby’s room.
Rem was so dedicated a big brother that when Merrill started to properly sleep through the nights, he wanted his crib to be moved to his room. It didn’t always seem to work, because Merrill still often cried at nights as well, and it would wake Rem up. Whenever he’d drag himself to the breakfast table, grumpy and tired, I knew it had been one of those nights again.
Mum offered to move Merrill’s crib to her and Patrick’s room a couple of times, but Rem had merely shaken his head.
“It’s okay. I’ll just have to dream nicer.”
Sometime after a series of particularly bad nights, when Merrill would toss his stuffed toys to the floor and throw tantrums even the rest of us woke up to, Rem was smiling more than usual at the breakfast table. He said that Merrill had woken up again at night, but that he had calmed Merrill down all by himself.
Mum and Patrick were proud of him. Merrill seemed happy too. I remembered I’d heard Rem talking to Merrill in a quiet voice, and could almost feel that strange feeling he sometimes gave me again.
Maybe he’d shown Merrill the forest. If that was the case, then apparently Merrill had loved it.
Aside from Merrill and me, Rem was of course growing as well. He slowly turned from a pixie-like child to a… well, he was still pixie-like, but he became a lot taller and lankier, and his eyes turned even brighter than before. His freckles multiplied until I was convinced that his face would soon become just one giant freckle. He didn’t seem to have problems adjusting to his growing limbs, and at times I felt a bit jealous of that. He was still running outside and climbing trees like a monkey. I suppose I was too happy about him finally being permanently out of his funk to be too jealous, though.
Besides, I was getting back in control of myself too. I was in great condition physically and not too bad mentally either. There was only one more thing I wanted to do to fix my body. But for that I would need money.
When I’d told mum and Patrick I wanted to get tattoos to cover the scars on my arm, I hadn’t known what to expect. I knew mum and Patrick weren’t very old-fashioned or averse to new things, and tattoos were not that big a deal anymore anyway. I remembered them being mostly for crooks when I’d been little, but by now every other person had them. Still, I had been a bit nervous. It turned out I hadn’t had anything to worry about. Mum had just nodded and told me that it was fine as long as I paid at least a part of them myself, and Patrick had added that I had to make sure the designs were good and something I would want to look at years later too. So yeah, my parents were awesome, and after getting permission from them I had been saving up my money as much as I could so I could afford to ask the local tattooist to put ink under my skin to mask my scars.
My arm had actually healed up pretty nicely, all things considered. The scars were still visible, but not nearly as bad as before. I was still wearing long sleeves every time I went outside, though, and I was still really self-conscious about my body. That was why it was extra annoying that my face was still sporting a spider web of messily healed burn. It too had become a bit less prominent, and my skills with masking it had become better, but I still liked to grow my bangs long to cover it, even if mum sometimes commented it also covered my pretty face. I usually replied to her that it was my face and my hair and I did with it what I wanted. Mum usually let it go after that. I knew that she at least sort of understood me. And sort of was enough. As long as-
“Lyyyy-yyyynn! Did you forget yourself in there?”
I was startled out of my momentary reverie by Rem’s shout. I realised I’d been staring at my reflection in the mirror without seeing it for the last… how long? I didn’t know, but Rem made it sound like it had been years.
“Come on! Let me in! I need to brush my teeth, and I’m super hungry!”
I smoothed my hair down and made sure it covered as much of my face as possible. It had become routine by now, and felt strangely comforting even when I knew it was like hiding.
“Then go eat breakfast while I finish up!” I said to the closed door.
“You know I hate brushing my teeth after breakfast!” came Rem’s reply, “And Merry’s getting agitated in his crib.”
“Then go get him. You’re his favourite.”
“Weren’t you supposed to earn money by watching him while mum and dad are away?”
I sighed and washed my hands before opening the door so quickly that I heard Rem yelp when he had to jump out of the way. It wasn’t a real argument, and we both knew it. I suppose years and growing up had finally cemented our brother-sister-dynamic into something a bit more traditionally snappy. At least we hadn’t gone all the way to shouting, pranks, and slamming doors. I was glad about that. I didn’t want to think about what kinds of pranks Rem could pull off with his powers if he really wanted to try.
“Fine,” I said, “It’s all yours.”
I hurried to Rem and Merrill’s room and found our two-year-old brother sitting impatiently in his bed. It was an early Saturday morning. Mum had an important interview somewhere in town, and Patrick had had to go to see a neighbour about a gardening emergency. I’d have liked to think it was an army of zombies attacking the garden, but alas, it was just too much water. Boring, and not worthy of the title of emergency. Then again, if I had listened at all during history, too much watering had managed to collapse civilisations. So maybe it really was that bad that Patrick had needed to fly to the rescue like a tree-hugging super gardener.
“What do you think, Mer?” I said when Merrill reached his arms up at me in anticipation, “Wouldn’t zombies be way cooler than too much water?”
“Thombie,” said Merrill, still not fully grasping the mechanics of Zs, “I’m hungry, Lynn.”
“Me too,” I said, “And so’s our brother, so we’re all in the same boat. What you say we do something about it?”
“Food!” said Merrill, with a tremble in his lower lip indicating that his happy mood was used up until he got it recharged with some porridge. I carried him downstairs and into the kitchen, where I set him down to his chair and hurried to mix up some food before he started to get really upset.
To say that Merrill had become less difficult as time went on would be a lie, in my opinion, even though mum and Patrick insisted that this was just a phase and that he would soon be happy and nice and become an upstanding citizen of SimNation. And I didn’t doubt that, really. Mum and Patrick had done a great job with us, so I was sure Merrill would turn out just fine too.
The problem was that he was quick to anger, and expressed it with either a violent tantrum or some pretty talented sulking. It wasn’t what I’d call pleasant, and if he hadn’t been really wonderful when he was in a good mood I’d probably have considered moving out of the house even though I was only sixteen. I kept reminding myself of the amazing and adorable Merrill when his demands for food became louder and shriller.
“Hey, patience!” I said over the bubbling of porridge, “We’re all hungry, okay? And you’ve got to learn that in life things don’t always happen in the blink of an eye.”
“Oh, frick, fine! It’s done now! See?”
I put Merrill’s favourite bowl in front of him. It wasn’t any different from the rest of our bowls, except it was made of plastic and had a smiling teddy bear at the bottom so you had to eat the food in order to see it.
“There. Bon appétit, you little foghorn.”
Merrill looked at me with a grumpy frown, and I remembered that aside from Zs he hadn’t yet grasped the okay-ness of being lovingly mean to the people close to you either. I just hoped it wouldn’t be a start to one of his-
The bowl went down, spilling porridge on the floor and only barely missing my shoes.
“Son of a…” I muttered, “Merrill, that’s not nice!”
He started to cry. Or more like scream.
“Wow, he’s being grumpy this morning,” said Rem, and I only then realised he had managed to sneak past me and grab a piece of leftover pie from the fridge without me even noticing him. He was really sneaky with his bare feet.
“Yeah, I know!” I said and turned back to Merrill, “Look, I’m sorry I called you a foghorn. I didn’t mean that. But you’re going to have to eat if you’re hungry. And it’s pretty hard to eat and scream at the same time.”
“Lynn is mean! Lynn is BAD!”
I could feel a groan building up in my throat. I tried to take deep breaths and calm down. This morning was going to really be a bad one. I hoped the rest of the day wouldn’t at least get worse. I tried to think of the money, and the tattoos that would adorn my arm soon. It didn’t help.
“Can I try to fix this?” asked Rem, looking like a freckled, pointy-eared saving grace at the moment.
“Please, do!” I exclaimed, “He’s in one of those moods!”
“Aw, he’s not that bad,” Rem said and picked Merrill up from the chair, “Or are you?”
I’m not sure how he did it, but in a few minutes Merrill’s crying stopped and was replaced by giggles. If I had tried to pick him up, I’d probably had just received a tiny slap in the arm for my trouble. Again, I might have felt jealous if I weren’t so glad someone got the job done. Besides, there were other things Merrill wanted me for, so I was definitely not useless. Like reading. I had read to Rem when we’d both been little, and now it was time for me to again open up the colourful, thin kids’ picture books we’d been hoarding somewhere in mum and Patrick’s hidden storage.
Once Rem set Merrill down and put a new plate in front of him, Merrill started eating peacefully, if messily in the way two-year-olds usually did.
“Wow, that’s just… I still don’t know how you do it,” I said, “Are you sure that’s not one of your tricks?”
Rem looked almost offended.
“What? No! I’m not making him like me, if that’s what you think. That would just be unfair.”
He smiled at Merrill, who beamed back at him and even had some of that porridge-filled smile left for me. Rem sighed contently.
“I like to know you all love me just because… not because of magic.”
We hadn’t talked about “magic” for some time now. Nowadays Rem usually didn’t want to bring it up to begin with. I didn’t know why. Maybe he just really wanted things to be normal, even though I knew he used his… whatever his powers could be called… sometimes in secret. Sometimes we had dreams I knew came from him, somehow. They were colourful and strange and usually in a place of light and songs. But Rem didn’t mention them in the morning, so it might have just been my own brain mixing up memories and whatever else was stewing in my mind after the day. Might have. I doubted it, though.
“Hey, don’t get too sappy now,” I said, “I should probably take Mer out for a walk after this. Wanna come with?”
“Oh, yeah,” Rem smiled brightly, “He loves that!”
“And it makes him sleepy. That means almost two hours of peace when he naps. I’ve got an essay I need to write for school.”
I glanced at Merrill, who had managed to finish his breakfast all by himself and whose face would need a pretty thorough wash before we got out.
“So, what do you say, little guy?” I said, “Want to go for a walk with your big brother and sister?”
Merrill smiled and I almost forgot all about his tantrum. Damn, that little guy was naturally manipulative.
Merrill stayed happy throughout our walk, which I was immensely grateful for. He pointed at things excitedly and named everything he knew how, and when he couldn’t either Rem or I were there to tell him what it was. Patrick had told us that naming things was very important for a child’s early lingual development, and I wasn’t about to question a guy who did teaching for a living.
“Balloon!” Merrill said excitedly, pointing straight upwards.
“It’s a hot air balloon,” Rem said, “It can carry people in it, too.”
“Can it carry me?” Merrill asked.
“If you pay money to the guy who rents it.”
“You pay money!” Merrill snapped.
“Sorry, I spent all my money on new paints. And Lynn wants tattoos with her money.”
He stopped walking suddenly, and I had to stop as well so I wouldn’t bump into him when he leaped in front of Merrill.
“But I’ll tell you what?” he said, “We can ask mum and dad to take us to the beach tomorrow!”
Merrill’s smile widened.
“I get to splash!”
“Yes,” said I, thankful I had already promised Min I’d go jogging with her tomorrow, “you get to splash all you want.”
Merrill seemed to forget his disappointment of not getting to fly in a hot air balloon quickly, and started pointing at things again.
“I see it. It’s really pretty.”
“Not right now, kid.”
I looked at where Merrill was pointing and saw Carla Faroffington and her newest boyfriend, Mina’s brother Mark Jones, looking indeed kind of zombie-like with the way they seemed to be trying to eat each other’s faces. I burst into laughter, and I heard Rem chuckle too.
“No, Mer,” I managed to say between my giggles, “That’s two people kissing, not eating each other.”
“You know, like mum and dad sometimes kiss each other,” Rem chimed in, and then tilted his head, “Well, maybe not quite like that. They’re never that… thorough, at least when they think someone can see them.”
I looked at Rem with outrage because he had dared to even get close to the eternally disgusting subject of the intimate behaviour of parents. Rem just shrugged, unfazed by my glare. In the background, Carla and Mark pressed even more firmly against each other.
“Come on,” I said, nudging Merrill’s stroller forward, “Let’s go before those two accuse us of voyeurism.”
“What’s… vo… voyrisme?” Merrill asked, his tongue getting tangled with the new word.
“We’ll tell you when you’re older, kiddo.”
We left the two near-cannibalistic lovebirds alone, and continued on. At first realising that people were starting romantic relationships at our age had been a shock to me, but after being surrounded by it for a few years now I had become quite desensitised to it all. In hindsight I probably shouldn’t have been shocked to begin with.
I suppose I should have felt sad about the fact that I was slowly getting surrounded by amorous couples at school, with me still being single, but I honestly didn’t care. I was in no hurry, so what was the point to feel bad? I could focus on being friends with people, who were thankfully slowly getting over the notebook incident and started to catch on to the fact that I wasn’t quite as timid and easy to target as before. It probably helped that I was friends with Min, who had become our school’s top athlete in recent years. Even Carla had toned down her haughty looks and mean comments and gossiping about people she didn’t like. She seemed a bit more… genuinely happy occasionally too. Maybe she was too busy with dating. Or then she was growing up. Whatever the reason, I was glad she left me alone.
We stopped in a small park for a while, where Merrill could walk around and play for a bit. He was still not the steadiest of walkers, but he was improving.
Mum especially had sacrificed hours and hours for teaching him how to stay upright, and he was almost there, in that phase when he looked really comical while stumbling about. He was also very persistent, and managed to walk from one place to another with only a couple of falls on his butt that were thankfully cushioned by his diaper. Sometimes he even wanted to bounce around, but that was when one of us needed to catch his little arms to steady him. Otherwise I’m sure he would have ended up faceplanting, and that would have sucked for everyone. I could just imagine the screaming.
“Make the forest! Make the forest!” Merrill squealed when Rem had caught him into his arms after a particularly excited bouncing moment.
“No,” Rem said and his smile actually disappeared, “We’re here to enjoy real things.”
“But it’s pretty!” Merrill insisted and his lip started to tremble again. Rem wasn’t having any of it, though. His face was very serious and he held Merrill firmly under the arms.
“A lot of pretty things aren’t real,” he said quietly.
He said it with such severity that even Merrill didn’t push it anymore. We went back home soon after that, let Merrill nap, and then read books in the living room until Patrick came back home.
Mum followed soon after, and they both seemed glad and proud that we’d managed to take care of our little brother so well. Merrill was giggling as if in agreement, though it was probably just because he was playing with the xylophone he – just like Grandma had predicted – loved.
The next day went just fine as well, just like a lot of days lately, now that I thought about it. There was Patrick, being happy and making French toast. There was mum talking excitedly over the phone about some writing related things. There were us, the three Farley/Monsoon kids who were probably a little bit broken – well, at least two out of three were – but getting happier and happier every day. I spent my day jogging with Min, and after that relaxing in my room with a good book. Rem drew a pile of drawings in his room and then went outside to meet some friends. Merrill tried to eat half of his toys. It was all so… normal. I loved it.
I knew that happiness like this wouldn’t last. I’d seen it dwindle or sometimes just crash down, and I had come to a conclusion that it was inevitable at some points. But hey, I’d take what we could get. Right now, there was almost nothing that could make me feel too awful about anything.
“I saw you in town yesterday. With Mark.”
“Oh? Huh, I guess I hadn’t told you about him.”
“No, but that’s not really my business unless you want to tell me.”
“Well, now you know.”
“Is he nice?”
“Well, he’s way better than Zeke. Remember him? Damn, am I glad to be rid of him! At least I know Mark better. And he’s exactly the kind of guy I deserve.”
“I don’t know if you’re saying that in a good or a bad way.”
“Don’t try to confuse me, okay? I don’t know either.”
“Okay. Well, I don’t know Mark that well, but I hope he makes you happy.”
“Uh… thanks. I don’t think I’ll ever get why you’re being so nice to me.”
“I like talking with you. And I like helping you sort out your thoughts.”
“Heh, well, I guess you are a pretty good therapist. Even if you are weird.”
“You could go see a real therapist. Talk to them about your parents.”
“Pfft, that’s for the weak! Besides, I can deal with it. Sure, my folks are being a pain, but whose aren’t? And when I hit eighteen, I can at least move out on my own.”
“But they’ll want to pay for it.”
“Of course they will. And I’m fine with that.”
“Money can’t buy love.”
“For some it can. For me, no. But I do like the money.”
“That’s… I supposed you do need money to live. But… maybe that shouldn’t be all. They ask so much from you, and don’t give much back.”
“Hey, I’ve got used to it. It’s the classic way for rich, fuckup parents. I got my friends, and my future, and some awesome stuff. That’s all I need.”
“If you say so.”
“Well, thanks again. I’ll see you later, maybe.”
“Yeah. I know.”
“Hello, Rem! It’s been a long time.”
“Don’t worry. I just wanted to say hi.”
“No! Not you!”
“You’re the Tree Lady…”
“Is that what you’ve been calling me all this time? My name is Villia. And I need to talk to you.”
“No! You… it was you! You made Laketon come to our house and take us! It’s because of you that Lynn was hurt! I don’t want anything to do with you!”
“Look, calm down. I know that I didn’t think things through, and that the situation with Laketon went out of hand, but you have to understand that I want to help you.”
“Help? You just want to take me away! I remember you! You were in our gazebo and told me you’d take me home when I was already there! Then you told me I don’t belong here!”
“That’s because you don’t. Just like I don’t. Now would you please not cause a scene here in the park?”
“You’re lying! I’m not like you! I for starters don’t steal kids!”
“Believe me, it wasn’t supposed to go that way. Rem, I have never lied to you.”
“Yes, you have! And now you’re lying about not lying. That’s not even your real face!”
“And you think that the one you’re wearing was supposed to be yours?”
“I… shut up! If you ever come near our home, I’ll make sure everyone knows what you did!”
“As if you haven’t told anyone about me already. Rem, no one is going to believe a boy with his head filled with ‘fantasy’, as the humans call it. No matter what you do, you aren’t strong enough to unmask me. Hardly anyone is.”
“I don’t care! I know there are people who could see you! See us! And I’m not listening to this anymore!”
“Wait-! Oh, damn it again!”
“You’re not going to run forever! Sooner or later you will want to know what you are.”
“Oh, hey, Rem. You’re late. We were getting worried.”
“…are you okay?”
“Yeah, I’m fine. Just tired.”
Author’s Note: Whew, this was one happy chapter! Almost… too happy… Oh, well, now I can start tearing that happiness down again. Mwahahahahahaaaa! As you can probably see, I had a lot of fun taking pics for this, hence there are a lot of them. And whoo, puberty! Now I can finally stop photoshopping Lynn’s face because there is actually a proper scar makeup for her! It’s from here: http://i-like-teh-sims.tumblr.com/tagged/download/page/4 along with other awesome scars.
Also Rem’s turtleneck shirt is from here: http://tamamaro.blog.fc2.com/blog-entry-206.html