Chapter tune: The Velvet Underground – Sunday morning
It was a lovely Sunday morning. Raina had completely calmed down from the night before, as had the atmosphere between her parents. Since Skye had promised Edith they’d visit her and her kids at their booths during the spring festival, the whole family decided to go to the park. It was a great opportunity for a relaxed outing which, frankly, they all needed.
After some time, Dylan, Calla and their daughter Charlie arrived as well.
“Hello fuckers!” Charlie exclaimed as soon as she saw a couple of her friends from school.
Calla, at the sound of her daughter’s unexpected swearing, looked mortified. “Charlotte! What is this language? Oh, I swear to …Dad! Dylan!!” she turned to both Jared and her husband who were – not so – secretly chuckling “Stop laughing for crying out loud!”
“Holy crap mom, why do you give a shit? Mister Jones said it’s okay to swear! He says it’s a sign of intelligence! And look, I made dad and grandpa laugh!”
“Oh my… I feel dizzy. Well next time you listen to your mother young lady, not that crazy old Jones! Bear” she turned to Dylan “remind me to have a word with our lovely neighbor as soon as we get back home.”
“Jesse was swearing all the time and he turned out fine” Jared muttered, earning a low-voiced but strong response from his wife Rose. “Jared, hush!”
“I heard that dad! Well, girls don’t swear like boys do, Charlotte. You have to be polite.”
“But mooom! You say all the time that women can do anything men do! That is bullshit!”
“Okay, that’s it! If I hear you say a nasty word one more time, you’ll be grounded for a month; and I’m not kidding Charlotte!”
“Aww this is bullsh…. whatever..! I’m going to play with Raina and you won’t have a clue if I’m swearing or not!”
“This is a freaking nightmare” Calla turned to her brother. “And it’s like this every single day. She’s so hyper all the time, I have no idea how to make her more calm.”
“She’ll grow out of it sis, don’t sweat it too much. She’s got a lot of energy, that’s all.”
“Well, easy for you to say. Raina is such a mild tempered, sweet child.”
“She is” Jesse said proudly, but his face darkened immediately as he recalled the events of last night again. He turned to Dylan. “Hey man, can we talk for a while?”
“Sure man, let’s go.”
“Allison” Edith scolded her daughter “you are wrong again. How hard is it to make a simple addition and then a simple subtraction? And you have missed writing down at least three clients. Look, Andrew’s book is flawless. How can you keep track of your profits if your calculations are wrong? Do you think if I made the same mistakes at your dad’s company you’d have all those pretty things that you have? Let me answer that. No, you wouldn’t.”
“I’m sorry mom… I’ll try again.” Allison replied . She hated disappointing her mother, but unfortunately this seemed to be the case every day.
“But it’s not really her fault she’s terrible at math.” Andrew chimed in.
He was never subtle at his criticisms but, unlike his mother, he knew that nobody was perfect and that each person had their own strengths and weaknesses. Maybe that’s why it was so easy for him to point out loudly other people’s flaws; he was under the impression everyone was already aware of them. At least as far as his sister was concerned, he had the best of intentions; even if that wasn’t always clear. And if their mother wasn’t so keen on keeping an eye on them all morning, he’d have no issue filling Allison’s book himself. Not only because he loved numbers, but because it kind of pained him to see Edith berate his little sister all the time. Like he’d said, it wasn’t her fault she was terrible at math.
“Well it’s her fault she’s not trying hard enough. As it’s your fault for not having enough clients. Loose the scowl Andrew.”
Andrew turned his face up to his mother and flashed her a big mocking smile. “Is that better?”
It was her turn to frown. “Hardly. Well, I should go greet some people. Make sure to behave until I get back!”
As soon as Edith left, Raina and Charlie approached the booths.
“Phew, that fucking witch is finally gone” Charlie muttered under her breath. Raina giggled and smiled at the siblings. “Hey guys!”
Allison waved enthusiastically at her friend, while Andrew stood still, his cold gaze remaining unchanged.
“Andrew, you look so silly behind that booth!” Charlie grinned.
That gained her a tight-lipped grimace by him. “How fitting. You look so silly behind those bangs.”
Charlie kept grinning. “Man, you are a real tightass, but you’re funny.”
Raina didn’t comment on that. She couldn’t understand how Andrew could be characterized as funny of all things, but she also liked that boy. She always admired him and how smart and bookish he was, and wanted more than anything to be his friend. Of course this wasn’t an easy task. Most children at school were competing for his friendship – for some reason – but he avoided everyone, preferring the company of his books instead.
Andrew suddenly shifted his gaze towards Raina. “Hey, little one.”
Little one? What the heck? “I’m not little! Allison and Charlie are the same age as me.”
“Sure. Whatever. Hey, would you mind taking my place behind the booth for a while? I really need to go somewhere.”
“Hmm… you need to go to the bathroom?”
“Uh… yeah, sure.”
“Okay, no problem!” Raina chanted cheerfully and promptly took his place next to her friend Allison – much to Charlie’s dismay, whose hyper nature didn’t allow her to sit still for too long.
“I have some of the best lawyers in my company. I could ask them about your case. Although I’m not really sure there’s much to be done, since you have signed and even your own lawyer seems stuck.” William – Edith’s husband – said to Jesse and Dylan who came for his advice on how to beat the record company they just signed with.
Jesse and him had taken a liking to each other from the first moment they’d met, back when their daughters had quickly become best friends as well. William, although a large company owner, was one of the most polite, unassuming and generous people Jesse had ever encountered. It was a surprise how he had even managed to grow his company so much, given that he’d very much prefer to sell his award winning programs at the lowest price possible, and raise the salaries of his employees to match his own income. He’d always been the genius one, but his wife was in charge of anything money related, and boy did she know how to make a profit.
“Can’t we just buy the contract out? The tours could take years, and well… I don’t know man. I just… I don’t feel the same way I did ten years ago about concerts and tours and all that jazz… maybe it’s time for something else.”
“Yeah” Dylan said “Wouldn’t be so bad if we stayed with our families for more than three months a year. At this point it’s more exhausting than fun, I tell you. And I know all the other members feel the same way… more or less.”
“I bet it will require a lot of money from your part though” William replied after some thought. “But I’m no expert. I’ll have one of our lawyers contact you and take a look at that contract, maybe find a loophole if you’re lucky? Let’s hope they do.”
“Alright, thanks man. We really appreciate that.”
“Girls! Where is Andrew?” Edith’s voice sounded pissed. Sure enough, when Raina and Allison turned their heads to face her, she looked that way too.
“H-he… he j-just went…” Raina, ever the shy creature, stammered in her effort to explain that he had gone to the bathroom, but she stopped; kind of suspecting this was just an excuse. After all, she had been behind that booth for about an hour already. Charlie had gotten bored of waiting long before that point, and had abandoned the girls to go play with some of her other friends who had visited the park. Allison picked up on her friend’s stressed voice so she decided to step up, even though she kind of knew what that meant. It meant suffering Edith’s icy wrath for the rest of the day, maybe longer. “He just went to the bathroom, mom. But look, he put Raina at his place so he wouldn’t lose any customers!”
“He just conned you stupid girls into believing that” Edith muttered under her breath. “He’s the smart one, but apparently he’s also lazy. I have no idea what I did to deserve such lazy, useless children. Now go and find him, both of you! And Allison, pick up your things, we’re leaving as soon as you bring your brother back.”
“No, mom! I haven’t played with my friends yet! You said that – ”
“Not a word Allison. You can stop stuffing your mouth with those muffins now. We’re going home and you’d better have your homework ready within an hour, or else.”
She closed her eyes and put two fingers on each temple. “You ruined festival day, I hope you’re happy. William!”
Her husband took a deep breath, as if mentally saying not again, before turning to her. “Yes, dear?”
“We’re leaving. As always, I’m a joke to your children.”
“Honey come on, they’re your children too” he began to say, but Edith’s poisonous glare made him slightly shift the subject. “What happened?”
“Andrew left his booth. And I’m more than certain that he’s somewhere close, once again reading one of those ridiculous non-school books he borrowed that offer him nothing. When what he should be doing is learn how to make a dime and be useful to our society. What if he keeps behaving like that? I fear for his future William, for the future of them both.”
William placed his hand gently against his wife’s back. Their marriage had come to a point where to an outsider, it would seem like they got married for any other reason but love, which could not be further from the truth. He was crazy about her the moment he met her, falling head over heels in love with her ambition and strong personality, as she had had been immediately charmed by his genius mind and peaceful nature. But years had made her more difficult than he’d ever dare to imagine; and two children almost right after their wedding did not help either. Now, he equally tried to avoid her angry fits as much as he tried to get close to her, since he couldn’t even remember when was the last time they’d even slept in the same room.
“Don’t you think you’re overreacting? They’re just childr-”
“Don’t take their side.” Edith interrupted him. “And here I was wondering where Andrew got all that cockiness from. Like I said, we’re leaving.”
After some time, Raina spotted Andrew sitting on a bench under a tree. As she approached, she realized his mother was right. He had blown them and the booth off for some time alone with a book.
If the circumstances were different, she’d have noticed it was a very interesting looking book. But at that moment, she just felt a quick rush of anger, considering she and her friend got scolded by the most intimidating woman on Earth for his sake.
“What are you doing here?” she said, her voice a little more loud and aggressive than usual. “Don’t you know your mom sent us to search for you? She is super pissed.”
Andrew looked at the time. He hadn’t realized he had been sitting there for a whole hour. “Crap. Sorry. I just needed some time.”
“I b-bet you did! But now your mom wants to leave because of y-you and I didn’t have a chance to play with Allison yet!”
Andrew shot her a glare and without answering, got up to return to his family.
But Raina was unusually angry. She had helped him and he returned the favor by making a fool out of her and his sister. “Allison j-just tried to cover for you. I bet your mom will ground her and she didn’t d-do anything wrong! W-why would you do that?” she said, while realizing that she was stammering again and tears were falling from her eyes. Apparently, her body was rejecting anger and turned it into something else, which made her even more upset.
“Why do you care?” Andrew asked, not really waiting for an answer.
“Why? B-because she’s my friend, that’s why!”
A look of regret on Andrew’s face took the place of his frown, just for a second. “I said I’m sorry. I should go back. Allison can’t handle being scolded by my mother.”
It was Raina’s turn to feel sorry for yelling at Andrew. He had just lost track of time, that wasn’t a crime after all. She smiled at him, trying to lighten the mood. “I tried explaining to your mom… I’m sure she understood, so don’t worry!”
“Hey, you don’t get it little one. So back off.”
“Don’t call me that!”
“Alright. Whatever. I’m going.”
“Get what?” she belatedly asked. But Andrew had already walked away. As Raina watched him go, she noticed his pace was slightly slower, his steps slightly more dragged than usual. Another person would not even notice those tiny, seemingly insignificant details. But she did.
What she couldn’t have seen at this point was that she’d never get the chance to be friends with him. As she wouldn’t get to be friends with Allison for much longer either. She couldn’t have seen the explosive divorce between Edith and William, or the police cars parked outside their house several times before that. Or that in less than one year, the Thornes would leave Starlight Shores as suddenly as they came. Only this time, they’d go in two separate ways.
A/N: Hey guys! I don’t have much to say here, except that the last part of this chapter was a last minute decision (melodramatic much? lol), so we wouldn’t have to spend more time with children because seriously, they bore me to death, lmao! You can see that in my pictures too, which are a bit more lazy than I wanted too buuut… eh. :p We won’t spend time with the characters as teens either (not much happening there), so the next chapter will begin with Raina and the gang as a young adult in Boroughsburg AT LAST! We’ll definitely have some flashbacks here and there though, so this is not the last time we’ll see the kids as well, kids 😀 As for Jesse and the band, I’ll mention what happened later in the story. But don’t worry, it’s not all bad 😉 And I think that’s all I wanted to say! Thank you so much for reading! ❤ ❤