Chapter Eighty: La Morsure


Marley wondered into my room, her heels dragging softly on the carpeting beneath her. She leaned up against the wall, very near the window, and her eyes gazed the streets below. She let out a huff of air, ignoring the distraction, then turned back towards me. She pushed a strand of hair behind her ear, “How long are you going to keep yourself locked up in this room, Fluorine?”

Close up camera one, the hero sings in this scene.


I shrugged, my hands digging into the mattress below me. Another lecture was coming my way – something about how three weeks was too long to sit around moping about a guy. They all went like that, but I never really listened. I just never felt like doing anything.

The boy that gets the girl gets to go home where they get married.


She walked over to my dresser, opening up a drawer. My eyes followed her, and I asked wearily, “What are you doing, Marley?”


“Trying to find you a dress, of course,” she chirped back, pulling open the next one. “We’re going out for a girl’s night.”


I stood up, forcing myself to drag myself over to her, “I don’t want to go.”

But stop the tape, the sunset still looks fake, to me.


“I don’t recall saying this was optional,” she replied, a bright grin on her face.


“Marley,” I whispered. “I’m not ready.”


She turned to me, her eyes narrowing. “And when will you be ready, Fluorine? Hm? You won’t be ready until someone gives you that extra push. Which is what I’m doing. You’ve got to go learn how to live again.”


I sighed; I knew trying to convince her of anything else would be futile. She had her mind made up, and she would drag me there in these pajamas if she had to. “I don’t have anything to wear,” I said, hoping that would thwart the attack until a later date.

The hero looks like he can’t breathe; the damsel just left everything.


She grinned, “You can borrow something of mine. I have JUST the outfit.”

~~~~~~~~~~


Marley finished up my make-up. My instincts were screaming at me not to allow her to anywhere near my face, because based on the look Marley was portraying, mine had to be very similar. But I had allowed her to attack me with eyeliner and lipstick, and I was legitimately worried about the outcome waiting for me. Truth be told, I could, at times, be quite the innocent little girl. And wearing thick make up and risqué clothing was not exactly what I enjoyed doing. The dress she had picked out for me, obviously, was tight and short. I knew what type of man would enjoy that, and they did not impress me.

You’re like a black cat with a black back pack full of fireworks, and you’re gonna burn the city down, right now.


“Ta-da!” Marley said, turning me around to face the mirror.

My jaw dropped, and my swollen and red eyes widened. “Sweet Berry,” I murmured, turning to her with horror plastered upon my face. “What is THIS.”


She shrugged, “You look hot, Fluorine.”

I turned back to the mirror, trying not to grimace. I just had to last two, maybe three hours tops, then I could come back home, throw my PJ’s back on, and crash back into bed and sleep away all this pain. I glanced at her, “Are you ready to go, then?”


She smiled, pulling me alongside her, “Of course. Let’s get going, love.”

~~~~~~~~~~


I only lasted an hour at the bar.

I got a few drinks, danced with ONE person – the rest were all a disappointment, because seriously, if you’re too far gone to even get the words ‘want to dance’ out of your mouth properly, then you need to slow down on the drinks.


I found Marley in the restroom, where she was busy reapplying lipstick and fixing up her hair. I hadn’t ever known Marley to be the party girl type, but then again, we had only been in the big city for two months, and most of that I spent my nights with Dublin and the other half I spent laying around. But still, she wasn’t that timid little girl that I knew back in high school, who I had to save from an attacker. She had developed confidence in the time we had been here; but I wasn’t too sure whether I appreciated this new grown up girl.


“I think I’m going to head on home,” I said, shouting just to be heard over the too-loud music.


Marley glanced at me in the mirror, her puppy dog eyes staring at me, “Aww, come on, just a little while longer!”


I shook my head, “Can’t sorry.”


“But we’re just getting started,” she whined.

I tried to look sincere with my apology, “I just… I can’t.”


She grumbled an okay, then gave me back my phone, of which she had been holding hostage ever since Dublin had left, just to ensure she dealt with him rather me having to go through the heart ache of hearing his voice over calls and reading the texts that I knew he had sent. “Text me when you get back.”


“Ok,” I replied, slipping back out into the crowd, squeezing my way through until I was outside in the cold night air. I inhaled deep gulps of it, letting the chill freeze the sweat that was dripping down my forehead.


I started walking in the direction of home, because we didn’t live too far – about five blocks, I think it was. That, and I didn’t have money for a taxi. I felt my phone buzz, and I glanced at it, seeing the words “my baby” pop up on screen. I felt my heart beat freeze, and I closed my eyes, trying to convince myself I could do this.

“Hello?” I answered, preparing myself for the rush of emotions.


“Fluorine! Are you there? Hello! It’s Dublin – I’ve been trying to reach you for weeks, babe. Listen, I love you…” he rambled on, but I ignored him. My body, which had been frozen with the fear of hearing his voice, was now twitchy with panic. I felt anxious – more than I ever had in my life. My eyes darted around, trying to find what would trigger such an emotion, but I came up empty handed.

All I knew, was that something about the night was off; it was almost as if I could feel eyes on my back, following my every move.


“…you’re right,” I muttered, into the phone. “We were pretty perfect together. But after what you did… I no longer see a future for us.”

Babbling went on in my ear as Dublin continued to talk, ignoring what I was saying, pleading with me to get back with him. I heard footsteps – or, at least, I thought I did. But, when I turned around, I saw nothing; not a car, bug, or even a tree was budging.


“Look, Dublin,” I said, cutting him off mid-sentence, forcing him to listen. “I’m kinda busy right now, can I call you back?”


He didn’t sound too happy about me dissing him, but he mumbled an alright, then the line went dead. I held the phone in my hand, gripping it with a hold as tight as death, then took a timid step forward. I moved slowly on purpose, my ears listening to the shadows. Then I heard it again – footsteps, definitely human, and, from the sounds of it, either boots or heels, and they were coming towards me – and they were coming fast.


“Who’s there!?” I shouted, my voice shrill. Why was I freaking out? This was part of living in the city, wasn’t it? Having creeper people follow you? Maybe I should be honored – was I pretty enough to creep on? Or did I just look weak enough to attack?

Oh, close up camera two, ‘cause the hero dies, in this scene.


I shook my head, trying to clear it of the thoughts. I thought – no, I knew – I wouldn’t be able to fight off a mugger or stalker or, I shuddered at the thought, something worse. Not hearing a reply, I shouted it again, “I said: who the berry is there!?” I didn’t realize I was shaking until my phone dropped, cracking into pieces on the floor.


I heard a voice, one that sounded oddly familiar, come from behind me, in the opposite direction I heard the footsteps, “Shame you broke your phone.” A man said, tilting his head, not in confusion, but rather like he was sizing me up, like a snake stares at its prey, “That might’ve proved to be useful to you.”

Your inspiration is the loss of absolutely everything.


“Wh-wha-what do you want?” I stammered.


He grinned at me, holding out his hand as an invitation.

“I don’t have a lot of money,” I said, fumbling around. “I’m a part time person, I don’t make much. But here – you can have it all!” I shoved what little money I could find on me into his hands, but he let it slip through his fingers.


He looked at me expectantly, his eyebrow shooting upwards, “I don’t want your money.”


“What do you want then?” I screeched, begging with fate to bring someone into my world to rescue me.


“You,” he purred, coming closer. I knew that I knew him – but I, for the life of me, could not remember from where. He stared into my eyes, and I noticed that his were unnatural – they looked like the stars I had prayed to for answers, and were dancing the way my feet did for a living. They were menacing, yet comforting at the same time – I was losing myself. His stare was intense, hypnotizing. I couldn’t remember my name.


He crept closer to me, forcing me to back up, closing in on me. My back suddenly ran into a metal barrier, and the chains rattled, and I knew I was caught between him and the fence behind me. My hands clutched together, and my legs trembled, and he towered before, sniffing the air. “You smell so lovely,” he murmured, closing his eyes.


“This shouldn’t hurt… too much,” he grinned, leaning into my neck.

I screamed. It was instinct. I tried to fight, but it did no good. His body was like a bag of bricks, pinning me back, leaving me hardly any room to breathe, and clipping any chance I had of making a desperate escape in the bud.

And flashback on the girl, as we montage every memory.


“PLEASE! STOP!” I wailed, his fangs digging deeper into my neck.

My vision was filled with red dots, adrenaline attacking me to the very core. I tried to understand what the man was doing – he was making a slurping sound, and I felt pain, cuts into my skin. It couldn’t be, but it was. He was… drinking, from me. The only liquid I had in me – my blood. He gulped it down greedily, taking large amounts at a time. And the more blood he took, the weaker I began to feel.

My squirms suddenly lost their strength, and my cries died out. This was it – this was how I was going to die. My eyelids drooped, my body falling onto his, no longer able to support itself.



I felt my heart rate slow, and my eyes no longer could make out shapes properly – everything was blurring together. My eyes made no sense of the objects before me, my vision too confused to understand, even to my own mind. The leech on my neck tensed, and he squeezed me closer to him, clutching onto my body. “Fudge,” he hissed, wiping his lips on his sleeve. He let out a slur of murmured curse words, then tightened his grip on me, “I’ve drank too much.”

My finger twitched ever so slightly, and he smiled, a frown looming behind it. His fingers caressed my cheek, the cold registered dimly against my numb cheek, and clutched onto him, my hands making fists in his shirt. My own legs could no longer hold me up, and my entire body was begging – screaming – at me to fade into the darkness. But death would’ve been all too easy an escape; the monster leaned before me, again, but this time his teeth didn’t rip into my neck – instead they punctured the skin. But I was dying all the same; he was ripping what little shreds of life I had left to shreds.

It was only a moment, it seemed, before the pain began. It ripped at my heart, tore at my organs, made what little blood still flowing through my veins boil.


He pushed me down, forcing me to lie on the jagged terrain below us. He crouched by me, hiding me protectively, and put his head on my chest, his ears searching for a pulse that even I could no longer feel. He must’ve heard a faint fight for life within me, though, because a relieved and satisfied smile soon spread across his face, and his pearly white teeth reflected with the shining of the moon above us.


He pulled me into his arms, cradling me, and ran his fingers slowly through my green hair. He whispered in my ear, “It was finally your time, Miss Fluorine Drop.”

And we bleed out in the bathroom sink, and we fade out as the soundtrack sings…


My life ended, but my world began, with fire exploding into my veins.

-Lyrics by Mayday Parade; “Black Cat”-

Authors Note:
Alsoooo, I am opening up a Question & Answer session now. Figured now would be as good as time as any. :] You can ask them here, or on the Tumblr, although I’d prefer if it was on the Tumblr, because it’s easier for me to keep track of. But it doesn’t matter. ^-^

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Chapter Seventy Nine: Breathes To Stay


I grinned the moment I walked into the door. After a long day training, I had been looking forward to seeing Dublin’s friendly smile, knowing his sideways smirk was the only thing that could possibly make me smile at a time like this. But, upon arriving home, I saw the lights were dimmed, and soft jazz music was playing – and, get this, there were CANDLES. All around our small little place, were candles. It was beautiful and the exact food my romantic heart was craving. I slipped off my shoes, leaving them on a rug by the door, knowing how much Dublin hated for mud to be on the floors.


I giggled, my cheeks blushing at what I knew was coming, “Dublin?” I called out. I waited a moment for a reply, but when he didn’t walk out, I called again, adding a slight tune to his name, “Duuuublin?”


Once more, no reply. I frowned; what was the point of all this, if I was just going to be ignored? My face puckered, my eyebrows knitting and my lips contorting into a thin line. On instinct, I followed the lit candles into my home, which led down the hallway and towards the bedroom. It was at this moment that I heard the noise, the noise that left with me a funny feeling in my stomach, as if a hammer had hit it. As I neared the bedroom, the noise became louder and more distinct, and my heart started to race. My brain was screaming at me to flee, for it already knew the scene of which I would be walking in on. There were soft moans escaping through the door, lies and deceit sneaking out with the discarded air.


I hadn’t noticed before, but as my hand touched the cool metal of the door handle, I realized I was shaking. Not just my legs or my hands – but me, my entire self, was shaking.


I slammed the door open, and not even the most wicked nightmare could prepare me for the sight awaiting me. I saw the man I loved and trusted, the one of who I wanted to spend the rest of my life with, the one who, just the other day, had calmly been discussing the upcoming of marriage between us on our living room sofa, in the arms of another girl. A girl of whose face I could pick out from a crowd, for she shared my very own blood – my sister, Xenon.


“Oh, Berry,” the words escaped my lips before I could think of something better to say. But they captured the emotion perfectly.


Dublin glanced up, sweat dripping down his face. “Oh, fudge,” he muttered, pushing my sister away, and rolling off the bed to pull his pants back on.


Xenon stared up at me, startled. She scrambled off the bed, hiding behind Dublin, her eyes searching the room for discarded clothing.


“Get out,” I whispered, the air getting caught on the lumps of my throat. I picked my eyes off the ground, forcing my sister to stare me in the face. She didn’t budge, and I took a step closer, “I said: get out.”

My sister let out a small ‘eek’ and grabbed her clothing, scurrying out the door, tipping over a candle on her way out. Dublin stared at his hands, shame radiating from his body. “You, too,” I murmured, my voice breaking on every letter. “Out.”


Dublin looked me, an apology on his lips, but something in my face told him that he best keep those words to himself.

He walked past me; leaving me standing in the middle of a room I had once deemed to be something along that of protection.


I fell to the floor, my legs no longer able to handle the burden of holding me upright. I licked my lips, my mouth producing too much saliva in anticipation of the tears that I refused to shed. I dropped my head to the floor, squeezing my eyes shut. My hair fell around my shoulders, and my hands dug into it, pulling it back along my scalp line. My throat was burning, and my heart was stuttering on the beat that it had pounded away for countless years. My blood beat at the sides of my head, my temples aching. The cries proved too much effort to hold back, it was the only thing my body could think of doing. I took a deep breath, letting the sobs shake my body, until I was curled up on the floor suffocating from my own sadness.


I don’t know how long I was there, but I knew it wasn’t near long enough.


A figure was leaning over me, picking me up bridal style, cradling me in their arms as if I were a child, carrying me towards the bed. I wiped my eyes, which were red and swollen; I had never been a pretty crier.


“Why?” I asked, my voice hoarse.

I felt a tear land on me, one of which was not mine. Lips touched my temple gently, as the lower jaw shook. He ignored my question, “I’m so sorry.”

~~~~~~~~~~


Sleeping. That’s the only place where it didn’t hurt. It was the place where the pain melted away and happiness took root in its place. My dreams were filled with wonderful things, things that couldn’t hurt me. I didn’t have nightmares, only fantasies. But you know what they say about good dreams; they’re just as potent as the bad ones. They build up the joy in your heart; make you smile while you slumber, only for them to end up lying in scattered pieces with the first rays of sunlight to peak its way through the window accompanied by the shrill shrieks of an alarm clock. Nevertheless, though, sleeping is what I enjoyed. Dreaming, that’s where I was happy.

~~~~~~~~~~


I felt numb to the world. It was an odd feeling, really. Where hunger used to gnaw at my stomach all day long from the food that I selfishly deprived it off, there was nothing. I didn’t want to move, didn’t want to think, didn’t want to do anything that might force me to face reality. I watched the clock move, although the time didn’t register in my mind. Nothing did.


I heard the doorbell ring, but I didn’t get up to answer it. Knocks accompanied it, but those too, I ignored. I heard a voice, and the words dimly registered in my mind, because it was a word my brain was used to picking out from a crowd – my very own name.

I heard the door open, and then shut, a soft muffle that otherwise wouldn’t have been heard if not for the utter silence of the world around me. But still, I stood stiffly where I was.


“Fluorine?” a voice whispered, soft and true, thick from the emotion it was holding back.

Say you’re sorry, that face of an angel comes out just when you need it to.


Everything that I had been holding back crumbled at that exact moment. As soon as the words hit my ears, I knew I was goner. A wail that hardly sounded human ripped itself free from my throat, and a pounding began in my head, hammering at my skull. “No,” I said, looking up at man who had been my entire world, and now left me with only specks of dust.

As I paced back and forth – all this time, ‘cause I honestly, believed in you.


He came up to me, his hands holding each other as he plead for forgiveness, “I am so, so sorry, Fluorine.”

Holding on, the days drag on; stupid girl, I should have known, I should have known.


He stood up, pulling flowers – the white ones, the ones I had loved beyond words – in front of him. But I couldn’t touch them. White meant purity and innocence, and he was anything but. He was a monster, and his evil doings were tainting the goodness, staining them black before my vision.

I’m not a princess, this ain’t a fairy tale; I’m not the one you’ll sweep off her feet, lead her up the stairwell.

I threw the flowers on the ground, and shoved him back, using all the strength I had. “NO.” I screamed. “YOU CAN NOT SAY YOU’RE SORRY.”

He picked the flowers up, offering them to me again, desperately. “Fluorine, I – ”

This ain’t Hollywood, this is a small town – I was a dreamer before you went and let me down.


“NO.” I screamed again. I shouted it multiple times, kicking and throwing things, including the engagement ring on my finger, at him in the process. Knowing the man I loved was in the arms of my very own sister, a sister who probably enjoyed the fact that she caused me such pain. I don’t know who I felt more betrayed and deceived by. But I had been played like a fool, and I refused to be the laughing stock of them any longer.

Now it’s too late for you and your white horse to come around.


Dublin looked at me, desperately, his bright eyes catching my attention, just as they always had. “Fluorine, please, it was just that one time. It was a moment of weakness. She stopped by and I…”

“Stop,” I whispered. I didn’t want an explanation, I just wanted this pain to end – nothing could justify what he did, nothing could make me forgive him.

Baby I was naive, got lost in your eyes and never really had a chance.


He dropped his head, squeezing his hand shut over the engagement ring, “I’m so, so sorry, Fluorine. Please, just tell me, do you still love me?”

I felt the lump rise in my throat. It was like a mountain finding its own plain, and the words were getting stuck behind it, poking into like daggers. The metallic taste of blood filled my mouth, along with the salty taste of tears. “Yes,” I whispered, defeated. “Yes, I still love you.”

My mistake, I didn’t know to be in love, you had to fight to have the upper hand.


He moved towards me, ready to take me into his arms and feed me lies which my heart was all too willingly to indulge in. But I refused, making my emotions starve. “I love you, Dublin. But I do not trust you. And that is something you are not going to be able to fix.”

I had so many dreams about you and me, happy endings, now, I know.

~~~~~~~~~~


Marley crept into my room. She knew something was wrong; the door had been permanently shut for the past two days, and Dublin, as far as I knew, was nowhere in sight. She found me, sitting in a crumpled mess on the floor.

She let out a sad sigh, and I glanced up at her, my eyes stiff from all the salty tears they had been pouring out. “He’s gone, isn’t he?” I whispered, my voice hoarse, broken to my own ears.


Marley shook her head yes, and I felt as if I had been punched into the chest.

She slumped down beside me, and her hand gently eased into mine. She squeezed it gently, and at the sign of such sweetness and comfort, and utter friendship, the tears fell again.

’Cause I’m not your princess, this ain’t a fairytale, I’m gonna find someone someday. who might actually treat me well.


“He broke it,” I whispered.

Marley let out a cooing sound, and I felt her soul reaching out to mine. It was comforting – to know someone cared. Her voice was soft, “What did he break, Fluorine?”

I stared at her, unable to stop the tears. My lower lip trembled, “My heart, Marley. He broke my heart.”

Oh, it’s too late… to catch me, now.

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Chapter Seventy Eight: Blossom


Three more boxes to go. That’s all I had left to unpack. My eyes begrudgingly forced me to stare at them; it seemed like little work, but it was so hard to find places for things to go. I sat down on the bed, and I noticed with a slight groan that my lower back was killing me – lifting heavy things all day long wasn’t the smartest thing after a dance workshop. I sighed and straightened out the blanket beneath me, which was a soft shade of teal.


The sun’s ray’s peeked through the window, and I noted I was going to have to adjust the curtains. The glare was just enough to make my eyes cringe, and it was positively blinding.


My father poked his head into the bedroom, and his face lit up. “Found her!” he called out, to I assume to be Dublin and my entire family – mom and dad forced Xenon and Argon to come along. Not that Argon had any grudges against me, but Xenon complained the entire way up. I forced myself to smile at my dad, because I knew he was a bit peeved at the thought of his little girl living with her boyfriend, no matter how long we had been together. Yes, Dublin and I were living together, but Marley was in the room opposite of us – so it’s not like we were hiding away from the world, just, we would be sharing a bed. And that was what freaked out my dad. While I knew he had suspicions about Dublin and I, the whole living together thing confirmed the fact that, if we already weren’t, that we were going to be doing… things.


I stood up again, walking over to him. I winced as I took that first step; my muscles were not appreciating me making them hold me up again. My voice was soft, because I noticed that my dad had puffy red eyes. “It’s not like I was hiding, dad.” He shook his head, and his chest shuttered as he made a sniffling sound. I felt my eyebrows raise, “You’re really going to miss me, aren’t you?”

You can’t measure love – it has no start; it has no end.


He shot me a crooked smile, a mix between a sob and a smirk. He pulled me into his arms, crushing me against him, and I breathed in his familiar scent. My dad was always comforting to me; it wasn’t the smell of my house that smelt like home, it was him. His after shave, his cologne, and that tinge of bacon that never quite seemed to leave his breath. His face dug into my hair, “You’re my Ducky, of course I’m going to miss you, kiddo. But I know you’re going to do wonderful things. You’re going to chase your dream, and one day you’ll be dancing on the big stage in front of millions.”

Ask me what I mean, there’s no in-between, there’s only you and I.


I rolled my eyes at him – I’d be lucky if I got accepted as a backup dancer for a singer; so many people were after those positions, and so little were filled. My dad pulled back, and placed his hands on my shoulders, “Just sometimes, I wish you were still my little girl – but you’ve grown to be such a beautiful young woman.”

“Dad, please stop being sentimental before I start crying, too,” I mumbled, my smile growing wider.


He chuckled, “Just promise me one thing, okay, Ducky?”

“Whatever you want,” I replied, rather hesitantly.

“Be safe,” he warned. “The city is a dangerous place.”


I laughed, hitting him playfully on the shoulder, “Daddy, I’ll be fine.” I saw the worry still there in his eyes, so I tried to think of something that would calm his nerves. “And I’ve got Dublin to watch out for me. Nothing will hurt me as long as I’ve got him.”


His brow furrowed, and he cleared his throat, “About that – it appears we’ve never had the, um, ‘talk’, so to speak…”


I held up my hands – I loved the man, but he should seriously learn when to bring things up and when to let them just rest in the early graves. “Sweet Berry, please Dad, no.”


He looked relieved, and wrapped his arm around my shoulder, pulling me back to where everyone else was, where my mother quickly rushed up to us, fussing like a mother hen.

I shrugged my shoulders at a very amused Dublin, who had found his spot by my side. Dublin didn’t take his eyes off me, but he spoke to my parents, “Don’t worry, Mr. and Mrs. Drop, I promise to treat your daughter with the most respect a man possibly can.”

Silver ecstasy, you – you gave it to me; wasted so much time, saying goodbye, searching for you and I.

~~~~~~~~~~


I looked up at the sky, and the tree’s above me mixed with the sunlight, and the flowers around me, gave me a calm feeling – as if everything in the world was, and always would be, utterly perfect.


Dublin walked up behind me, and pulled me into his arms. “You’re looking beautiful as always, babe.”

No one else, ever loved me like you did; no one else, ever gave me such a thrill; no one else, ever loved me like you did.


I kissed his nose, and he dipped me, causing a very girlish giggle to escape my lips. “You better not let me slip,” I warned, my hand grabbing onto his shirt.

He looked me in the eyes, “Love, I’d never let you fall. Never.”

You and I will always be together.


I smiled, and we stood back up, and I wrapped my arms around his neck. “Never?” I breathed.

He chuckled, and picked me up slightly. “Never ever,” he whispered.


I felt my voice start to falter, and I forced my eyes to look away from his, and they found solace among the flowers beneath me. Dublin slowly coaxed my head back up, “Fluorine, please don’t look at the ground. I love seeing your beautiful grey eyes – that beautiful smile of yours that makes my heart race.”

I grinned bashfully, “You’re just saying that.”


“Am I?” he questioned, as he slipped down onto one knee. I felt my eyes go wide, and I felt like a deer, who felt that moment of anticipation after being caught in the headlights.

“Dublin,” I said, flustered. “What are you – what are you doing?”


He smirked up at me, “Well, if you’d stop interrupting me, I could ask you.” He looked at the ground, then back at me, a huge grin on his face. “Fluorine Calliope Drop. I love you, more than I ever thought I could love anyone – I know we’re young, but I know this is love in one of its purest forms. Will you do me the honor,” he said, pulling out a ring, “Of marrying me?”


I felt my face freeze; I wanted no one other than Dublin in my life. He was my Prince Charming, he was key to my happily ever after. I smiled, “Yes!”


He slipped the ring on my finger.

No one else, ever loved me like you did; no one else, ever gave me such a thrill; no one else, ever loved me like you did.


“A thousand times yes,” I repeated, as he pulled me into his arms, a place of which I never wanted to leave.

There’s only, you and I.

-Lyrics by Never Shout Never; “Silver Ecstasy”-

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Chapter Seventy Seven: Making It


Wanting to be accepted is the root of all disappointment. Chances are, the more you want something, the more the universe is going to pin itself against you, to ensure that you get nothing even close to what it is you were after.


But still, hope was burning bright within me. It might’ve been small, but it was there. And it showed, from the way my palms sweated to the way my lower lip trembled, even the way my legs refused to stay still, forcing me to pace back and forth across the small room.


Marley walked into the room, her footsteps quiet against the wood flooring against us. She greeted me with a wary smile, as if she, too, didn’t get much sleep the night before. “Is the list up, yet?” she asked.

Give me a second I, I need to get my story straight.


I shook my head no, trying to hide my dismay. Her head tilted to the left, her eyes gluing themselves to the floor. We both knew that the two of us were really the only two out of our dance class that stood a chance; while we had both become very good friends over the past month after the, uh, ‘incident’ so to speak, we were competition none-the-less.

Between the drinks and subtle things, the holes in my apologies, you know I’m trying hard to take it back.


“Well, um, ok. Good luck, Fluorine. You deserve it, you really do,” she said, awkwardly breaking the tense silence that had built up between us.


I tried to force myself to smile, but I knew it didn’t reach my eyes. This audition was the make or break for dancers. We had both tried out for the scholarship to get into one of the most prestigious dancing schools, and we’d be lucky if even one of us got it, and the chances that we both would? Slim to none. And no matter how badly I wanted it, or how much I had worked for it, I knew that if I got in and Marley didn’t, guilt would build itself up in my gut. I believed we both deserved it, but I knew that only one of us would get to chase the dream.


I sat down on the floor, leaning up against the cold mirror behind me, ignoring the fact that sweat was forming in places where deodorant had long since worn off, “You do, too, Marley.”


She sighed, and came and plopped herself down next to me. She radiated anxiety, because I knew how much she was depending on this. Her family didn’t make much, and with five younger siblings, she didn’t want to be a burden to her parents. That was why she worked so hard at everything, a trait that I now admired about her, rather than envied.


She laughed nervously, “If we both get it, maybe we can room together. College boys, they’d be nice to see, right?”


“I’ve got Dublin,” I reminded her. Dublin had applied to a college that was near mine, only half an hour away, so we could still see each other. Of course, he had all the right connections and the proper grades, and he got into it. Even though his passion was music, he was majoring in business, to please his father. Joked with me that he’d play at the bars for tips, but I knew it hurt him to shut his mind off to his dream.

Marley sighed, “Oh, yeah. I forget about him sometimes.” She tried to keep a straight face, but she failed.


Her laughter filled the room, and I couldn’t help but smile myself. Laughter was the only thing that seemed to put a dent on the nerves and make them calm down.


So, we were in a laughing fit when our teacher walked in. She raised an eyebrow at us, as most did whenever Marley and I were together. In fact, some people genuinely thought one of us was in the friendship for a joke, but that isn’t true. Marley was like the sister I never had – just, um, don’t tell Xenon that. “Ladies,” she said, a soft smile on her lips. We both scrambled into a standing position, trying to keep the laughter in, but my ribs were shaking, forcing the laughter to continue. As soon as I saw the list in her hand, though, I became breathless.

Tonight, we are young.


She walked over to the board, where she posted it. I turned to Marley, who had turned to me, too. “We have to promise not to get mad,” I said, holding out my pinky finger. She bit her lip, looking as if she were about to cry, and shook my pinky with her own.


We both walked up to the list, and my mind was so jumbled that at first, I couldn’t even read what it said. It all mixed together in my head, forming incoherent words. My sight was going blurry, so I demanded that Marley tell me what it read. “What does it say!?” I asked eagerly.


She turned to me, her eyes wide and her mouth open. She was amazingly composed, though. “We… Fluorine.” She paused, glancing back at the list, her face erupting into a grin. “WE BOTH GOT IN.”


Just as we had laughed together moments before, we were both now jumping and screaming.

So let’s set the world on fire, we can burn brighter than the sun.


Dublin walked in, and his face showed relief at my joy. “Did you get in babe?” he asked, giving me a quick kiss.

“WE BOTH DID!” I screamed, unable to keep my voice done. I felt jittery, and now I was shaking for all new reasons.


He smiled at Marley, the killer smirk that could make a male model cry with its perfection. “Guess the three of us will have to party it up in the big city, eh?”

I jumped into his arms, “Ready to embark on forever?”


He lowered me to the ground, and the both of us forgot about Marley. She coughed uncomfortably, and I laughed, turning my eyes to her apologetically.


Dublin leaned into me, pressing his body closer, and whispered in my ear, “There’s no one I rather face it with.”

The world is on my side, I have no reason to run.

Lyrics by Fun; “We Are Young”

Also, in case you’re wondering why the lighting is always so dim in the dance studio scenes, it’s because the lighting reflects oddly in the mirrors. 😮

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Chapter Seventy Six: Timing


I’ve never really understood why mom never liked Aunt Vera. I mean, personally, I loved her. She was always so sweet and gave the BEST birthday presents. I had always wondered why she was never married, though. I mean, she was beautiful and friendly and one of the most successful lawyers around. If I was a guy, she’d certainly be a catch to me. I mean, I’m not saying a girl HAS to be married or anything, I just sometimes get curious. But most of that curiosity is fueled by the fact that she has a kid.

Now, I know you don’t have to be husband and wife to have a kid. I mean, my parents aren’t married yet, but they have three kids of their own, so I know there’s no law or rule or anything. I just sometimes wonder why Vera would’ve got with someone who bailed on her. She deserved better, and heck, you’d think a girl with her intelligence would’ve been capable of finding a better guy.


Anyways, one night, as we were preparing dinner, Vera called and said she wanted to drop by because she had someone for us to meet. Xenon, who had been playing with Belle, Vera’s daughter, looked up at us, a smirk slapped across that smug face of hers. “I bet she’s bringing her boy toy,” she said.

I wrinkled my nose in disgust at her, “Boys aren’t toys, Xenon. And don’t say that in front of the baby. Seriously, what’s wrong with you?” We didn’t exactly have the best sister relationship.


Xenon just rolled her eyes, “Whatever, Fluorine. Just because you have a boyfriend doesn’t mean you know everything.”


“Yeah, well, you’re too young to know everything.”


“I’m 14!” she mumbled, annoyance in her voice.


“And I’m 17, what exactly is your point?”


She glared at me, “Nothing, Fluorine. Nothing at all.”



Argon stood quietly to the corner. He hated it when Xenon and I would fight, because he always felt like we expected him to take a side. Xenon especially, though, since they were twins. She figured that since they shared the womb together for nine months, that they should always have each other’s backs. And I didn’t blame him for shying away from us, because we never really got along.


I heard the doorbell ring, and Argon was only all too happy to go get the door for us. My mother and father rushed down the stairs, tidying up the living room one last time. Vera walked in the door, and a petite yet beautiful pink girl entered behind her, a big smile on her face.

But I might have spoken too quickly. Because as Vera hugged my dad and mom, and shot the three of us kids a wave, she turned to the small female standing beside her. She smiled at us all, “Guys, this is Maybell.”


I turned to Xenon, dumping the foot into a pot, “See, Xe? No boy toy.”


Maybell smiled at us all, and a giggle escaped her lips, making her utterly and heartbreakingly adorable. “Maybell, this is everyone.”


Vera dropped her hand, wrapping her fingers around Maybell’s, who had a blush forming on her cheeks. Vera smiled lovingly at her, “Maybell… is my girlfriend.” So, not a boy toy, but a girl toy.


We all stopped what we were doing, stunned into silence. I guess that explains why she had never gotten married to the guy who knocked her up – she knew she couldn’t ever be really INTO him.


Surprisingly, it was my mother who broke the silence. The hard and protective wall she usually had up whenever Vera was around suddenly crumbled, and she hugged her like she was an old friend. My mother was laughing, “Oh goodness me! All this time I had been so mean towards you because I thought you were going to try and steal my Israel away!”


Vera’s eyes widened, but she winked at her, always a jokester, “Well, I did have my eye on him at one point.”


She turned to smile at Maybell, “But, my heart found its proper other half.”

~~~~~~~~~~


I don’t necessarily think I’m in the ‘popular’ crowd at school. Sure, everyone knows my name and stuff, but that mainly due to Dublin. He’s an absolute wonder on the guitar, and his voice is like honey – he makes my knees get all wiggly and makes my heart turn to goo. But, I am a pretty friendly person, and I’m a great secret keeper and advice giver, so I am pretty well liked, which is how I end up on the guest list to pretty much every party. And, well, I don’t mean to brag, but come on. Dublin and I were the show-stoppers. We were literally THE couple in high school. Heck, we were even the running for the sweethearts of our graduation class, and my bets were on the fact that we’d get it. We’d been together a little over a year now, and I can honestly say I love him with all of my heart. Or however much love a teenage girl can manage.


Anyways, when we arrived at the party, it was the typical mess. People grinding, which made me sick. Since when did rubbing your privates against each other ever become an option for dancing? Whatever happened to waltzing?


Dublin shifted his eyes at me, his hand going to my lower back as his arm wrapped around my waist, pulling me towards him and into his lap. He gave me a kiss – he was always one for a bit of PDA. He had been drinking already, and his words were slurred, “Wanna dance, babe?”

If I lay here – if I just lay here, would you lie with me and just forget the world?


I choked back a disgusted cough, sober Dublin knew exactly how I felt about this type of thing. I stood up, and he stood with me. I rolled my eyes at him as he breathed on me, his entire body reeking of the scent of beer. “Sure, yeah. But hey, I’m gonna go to the restroom really quick, ok?”


He smiled at me, his eyes sloppily trying to focus on my face, “Sure, babe. I love ya.”

Those three words are said too much; they’re not enough.


I avoided the kiss he tried to plant on my lips, and walked away from the music that was blasting out of the speakers.


A person could hardly even hear their own thoughts in there. As I was heading towards the bathroom, I heard a small shriek, followed by a small, high pitch voice repeating only one word, ‘no’.


I glanced around the corner and saw Marley leaning up against the wall, her small frame offering her no protection from the giant man who leaned over her. There was no way that guy was in high school, I had never seen him around. Must’ve been some college kid trying to crash the party. He leaned towards her though, his hands on either side of her face. “Come on, baby, it’ll be fun.”


Her eyes were wide with fear, and she glanced my way, pleading with me to help her. The man leaned forward, kissing her cheek, and she hit his chest with her fists. “Get off me!” she screamed.


He laughed, a wicked and sick sound. I balled my hands up, my face crinkling in anger. Adrenaline pumped its way into my veins and I went up to him, tapping him on the shoulder. He turned to me, his eyes lazily going up and down my body. “Excuse me, but I think she said to get off her.”

He put an arm against Marley’s chest, pinning her to the wall. He turned to me, “Want me all to yourself, huh, pretty girl?”

I stood up straight, owning up to all five feet and four inches of myself. “Um, no. What I want is for you to go away, thanks.”


His face puckered, anger shooting through his eyes, which showed he had surpassed all levels of toxicity – but it caught me by surprise, looking him in the eye. Something was off, but I couldn’t tell what. It was almost as if his eyes weren’t quite human. His voice was low, though, and a whining escaped, “Aw, come on, now. I just want to have a little fun is all!”


He loosened his grip on Marley, and she slipped out of his grip, coming around to my side to stand on the defense with me. In a way, I was surprised she just didn’t escape when the chance was given to her. So many others would. But not Marley. Nope, she came and stood beside me. We weren’t friends in the slightest bit, but right now, we were both united in our fear, for he had us both backed up against the wall.


It was at that moment that I experienced true fear. I started gulping in deep breaths, because I knew what this type of guy could be capable of, and it terrified me. I screamed out for Dublin, but over the loud music, I doubted that he could hear me. Marley glanced at me, “I am so sorry, Fluorine.”


I gripped her hand tightly, when my eye caught onto another figure coming into the room.

Let’s waste time chasing cars around our heads.


He too, looked older than a high schooler, but his eyes weren’t lost and wandering like that of so many who had the infliction of the drink on them. His were clear, but still different, just like the man who was after us. And he walked with a purpose, as if nothing had or ever could harm him. He walked up to our attacker, his indigo hand colliding directly with the gut and then neck of the drunken party crasher. He turned to us, his hair covering up his face. “Go, girls. Go back to your party. I can handle him.”

I need your grace, to remind me: to find my own.


I swallowed, but the air got caught in my throat, “Is he – is he your friend, or something?”

If I lay here – if I just lay here, would you lie with me and just forget the world?


The attacker let out a hiss, showing displeasure, although whether the anger was towards me or this mystery man, I couldn’t be certain.

I don’t quite know; how to say: how I feel.


A dark chuckle escaped from the man, and he turned his attention away from me, “He’s something, alright.” Although I couldn’t be certain, I could’ve sworn he said, “Not… time, yet.” But he would’ve had to have whispered it, because it was so low that my ears strained to catch those few words.

All that I am, all that I ever was: is here in your perfect eyes, they’re all I can see.


Marley grabbed my hand, pulling me away from the scene. Back out where everyone else was, away from the fear, I noticed that I was shaking. Marley clutched onto me, her arms trembling, “Thank you, Fluorine. Thank you, thank you, thank you.”


“Yeah,” I said, dimly, my eyes focused in the direction in which the two strangers were. “No problem.”


Dublin found us at that moment, and he smiled at me, “Heeeyyyy!” He glanced at Marley, whom he knew I disliked, and his brow furrowed, “I thought you…”

I quickly interrupted him, “I changed my mind, Dubs. Marley and I are friends.”


“We are?” she asked, her eyes showing her doubt. I guess I wasn’t as good at hiding my displeasure in her as I thought I was.


I laughed nervously, “Yeah. I mean, after something like that, we gotta be.”


She smiled that award winning smile, and I turned to Dublin, trying to hide the panic and desperation in my voice, “Hey, babe, mind if we get outta here?”


He grinned at me coyly, his hands cupping my face as he pulled two fingers through my hair. “What you got in mind, Carrot?”


I leaned into him, fitting into his chest perfectly. I inhaled the familiar scent of him, letting it intoxicate my mind. I let out a deep sigh, because I knew what he wanted, and I knew that like many other times, he was going to get it. But I didn’t mind, really. Knowing he loved me was actually something I wanted after what just happened. Dublin made me feel safe and protected, like if I was in his arms, nothing could ever hurt me. Even if he wasn’t the knight in shining armor that came to my rescue, he was the only price I had.


I kissed him, letting my mind get lost within itself, “Why don’t we find out?”

~~~~~~~~~~


“Run, little girl,” the voice purred, looking over the woman’s corpse at me.


I caught the man’s gaze, fear gluing my feet to the spot. My eyes were wide like a deer caught in head lights, knowing the inexplicable end is coming too soon to flee. My instincts were begging me to scream, to let the sound of utter terror escape my throat, as if that could be savoir. The man wiped his mouth on his sleeve, his face failing to mask his annoyance. He stepped closer to me, inching towards me, the hunter closing in on the prey. His face broke into a grin, but not one of joy. It was one of malice, of danger, of impending doom. He crouched before me, shrinking down to eye level. My breathing, which was already off beat, got caught in my throat. My heart was like a wild animal, beating away, hammering its way out of the cage of my ribs.


His eyes bore into mine, staring me down. He looked into them, not a word passing between us. I cringed under his gaze, but he stood firm. Finally, he brought his finger up to his lips, signaling to be quiet. The voice that reached my ears was low, like a predator, and was raspy from lack of air. “Go, little one. It is not your time, yet.”


I woke up screaming. My heart was racing, and I was sweating, my legs and back damp. Dublin, who was lying next to me, bolted up alongside me, his eyes wide from not being fully awake but startled. His arms found me and pulled me closer to him, and I trembled, burying my head in the crease of his neck. “Shhh,” he purred in my ear. “It was a just a dream, babe.”


I clutched onto him, my fingers digging into his shoulders. I felt him stiffen as my nails broke skin, but he held me all the same, for which I was grateful. “It just felt so real,” I moaned, trying to hide the embarrassment – I was almost 18, not a child, I shouldn’t be scared anymore.

Dublin pressed our noses together, “You’re safe with me now, babe. You’ll always be safe with me.”


He started rocking us back and forth, and hummed a low tune, his voice quickly taking place as he sung me a lullaby. My eyes were squeezed shut, my body trying to keep from shedding the tears that were begging to spill over. He pushed my hair away from my face, back into the knotted mess it was from all the twisting and turning. “Do you want to talk about it?” he asked.

I shook my head no. I didn’t want to talk about, I wanted to forget it. My dream wasn’t a fantasy my mind was making it up; it was a memory, one that I had been trying to suppress for a very, very long time. Dublin kissed me, “Let’s try going back to bed then, ok?”

I don’t know where, confused about how, as well.

“Okay,” I whispered, lying back down. Soft snores quickly broke free of Dublin’s mouth, as he tried to sleep off the liquor from earlier tonight.

Just know that these things will never change for us at all.


But I stayed awake. The fear from the man at the party tonight had put a large dent in the wall I had built. There was a nagging voice in my head, though, that said that wasn’t the only thing that was forcing these memories to surface. But try as I might, I couldn’t put a finger on what it was that triggered it.

If I lay here; if I just lay here, would you lie with me and just forget the world?

Lyrics by Snow Patrol; “Chasing Cars”

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Chapter Seventy Five: Fresh



I took a deep breath, trying to concentrate. I counted myself off in my head, trying to keep my breathing steady and calm, even with the numbers. My eyes opened on eight, and I took a giant leap, spreading my arms out to the left and right to help keep myself straight and balanced once I finally landed. My feet hit the ground, though, and I faltered – my ankle gave out, since I had forgot the key aspect of the landing; getting my foot in place. I cursed to myself, making myself stand up despite the pain that shot through my leg.

I can almost see it, that dream I’m dreaming; but, there’s a voice inside my head saying, “you’ll never reach it.”


“Fluorine, if you want, I could help you,” a small voice said from across the room. I glanced up to where the voice came from, letting out a loud yelp from the sharp pain that shot across the joint in my ankle.


We were the only two still here. Me and my arch-enemy who just so happened to be one of the most beloved people in the world, Marley.


I hated her. I hated her SO much. Okay, maybe I didn’t actually hate her, but I despised the living heck out of her. We had been in the same dance class ever since we were little, and always – ALWAYS – did she outshine me. She always got the proper footwork, always had the perfect emotion displayed on her face, never once slipping into a frustrated grimace like I had on many an occasion. To top it all off, she was sweet and grateful and humble, which made it all the worse. Like, maybe I’m the only one, but if you’re always going to be better than me, then at least have the attitude and own up to it.

Every step I’m taking, every move I make, feels lost with no direction – my faith is shaking.


She really just got on my nerves.


I sighed and walked up to her, where she was doing her last few stretches before we went home for the day. “Congratulations, Marley,” I murmured; my parents had raised me to me courteous, and being as she got the lead in the musical for the play earlier that day [beating out me, of course] I figured I could at least get the satisfaction of getting even more upset over her perfect smile.

But I gotta keep trying, gotta keep my head held high.


She grinned, her eyes crinkling at the sides, because her kindness was always genuine, “Thank you, Fluorine. That means a lot.”

There’s always gonna be another mountain, I’m always gonna wanna make it move.


“Yeah,” I replied. “Whatever, Marley.” Berry, she made it so hard to hate her.


She let out a nervous giggle. I shot her a tight lipped smile and return, and headed in the direction towards home, which basically meant exiting the two double doors on the left. Outside, waiting for me, was Dublin, my boyfriend of a little over nine months. Dublin was an absolute sweetheart; he brought me flowers once a month, always on our anniversary, and always made sure to have my favorite kind – the white ones. Not only that, but where I have failed my driving test a shocking THREE times, Dublin passed with flying colors, and now gladly took me where ever I wanted to go.


“How was it today?” he asked, drooping his arms around my waist.


I felt a smile creep on my lips, tugging the corners into my cheeks, “Good, I guess.”

His lips gently brushed mine, laughter escaping. “Only good?”


I pulled away slightly to look him in the eyes, “Yep. But you know what makes today WONDERFUL?” He tilted his head to the side, confused, so I said, “You. Being here. You make everything better.”


He tightened his grip around me, then lifted my feet off the ground, spinning me around him in a small circle. Delighted squeals escaped my lips, and the two of us were both laughing, soprano and treble voices mixing together to create a perfect harmony. I kissed his cheek, “We’re pretty much perfect together, aren’t we, Dublin?”


He started walking, and his hand dropped to grab mine. He leaned over, though, and planted a sideways kiss on my forehead, causing my breath to escape me. Even after nine months, I still wasn’t used to the small things. “We’ll forever be perfect together, Carrot.”

I may not know it,but these are the moments that I’m gonna remember most.


I ignored the fact that he called me Carrot, even though I hated it. I mean, it’s not every day a teenage boy uses such words when talking to his girlfriend; most are afraid of any type of commitment. I smiled up at him, making sure to catch his eye. “Forever,” I agreed.

-Lyrics by Miley Cyrus: “The Climb”-

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Chapter Seventy Four: Wonderful


Rare moments like these, you know – moments of quiet and peace, where you’re holding the one person who means everything to you in your arms – they didn’t come often. I shifted to the left, because my neck and shoulder were starting to cramp up. Laurel, who had been slumbering peacefully moments before, let out a low groan. A yawn tore her lips apart, and her eyes opened sluggishly, looking up at me with contentment. Her legs, which had been wrapped around me, stretched out, her toes reaching towards nothing in particular, and her arms shot up, as she attempted to wake herself up.

It’s a little bit funny – this feeling inside; I’m not one of those who can easily hide.


As she readjusted herself around me, I pushed a strand of her hair back. “Morning, beautiful,” I said, kissing her on the forehead.

She let out a huff of breath, digging her head in the ridge of my collarbone, nesting her face into my neck. “Israel, I have morning breath. I am not pretty.”

So excuse me forgetting, but these things I do; see I’ve forgotten if they’re green or they’re blue.


I forced the laughter back down my throat, but the smile that wove its way onto my lips proved impossible to hide. I put my hand around her cheek, my fingers stroking her jawline, which had the imprints of a pillow on it still. “Laurel, love, I’ve told you before; you’re always beautiful to me.”


But, as I said, moments with Laurel and only Laurel were few. It didn’t take along before one of the kids started crying. It wasn’t a full out wail, but more of an “I’m lonely right now” type of cry. Laurel groaned again, and I laughed, “Think its Xenon this time?”

Laurel let out a small laugh, “It’s always Xenon. That girl always needs attention.”


“I’ll go get her,” I said, lifting Laurel gently up off me and adjusting her carefully back onto the bed beneath us. Her hands clutched onto my pillow, forming fists around the edges.

“I thought we were going to try and teach her to self soothe,” she remarked.


I shrugged, already at the door and on the way to Xenon’s room. “You know my heart can’t stand to deny my kids something I want.”


“You’re such a softy.”

“But that’s why you love me.”


I heard a laugh come from her, and I walked into Xenon’s room, where a very tired little girl sat in a crib. Her brother, Argon, who just so happened to be her twin, slept peacefully in the next room, undisturbed by the whimpering’s his sister let out.


Xenon, upon seeing me, lit up like a light bulb. Her lip, which had been puckered out with sadness, quickly formed into a grin. Her tears stopped instantly, and she clapped her hands together in delight, her small bunch of green hair bouncing up and down. “Daddy!” she cooed, her voice filled with joy, sounding a lot like the bells of Christmas time.


“Hey, monkey pie,” I grinned, picking her into my arms. “What’s all this crying about, love?”

Anyway the thing is, what I really mean, your’s are the sweetest eyes I’ve ever seen.


But Xenon wasn’t quite old enough to form and understand language yet, so she simply said the one phrase she knew would make me happy, “I missed woo, Daddy!”

I kept a firm grip around her, balancing her on my hip, “Okay, well, let’s try to go back to sleep, okay?”

She dug her head into my neck, the way Laurel had earlier. “But Daddy, I don’t want to be alone.”


“Sweetie pie…” I began.

She looked up at me, her pink eyes full of innocence, “I wuv woo, Daddy!”

And you can tell everybody, this is your song; it may be quite simple but now that it’s done – I hope you don’t mind, I hope you don’t mind.


I kissed her cheek, knowing this was a scheme to get me to stay with her, but knowing that it would also work, “Love ya too, Xe.”

~~~~~~~~~



“Fluorine,” I called out. She quickly stopped what she was doing, and positioned herself directly in front of the couch, hiding the fact that she had been doing anything. Except for the fact that she didn’t quite have her breathing under control – she was panting, winded from something unknown. I raised my eyebrow at her, “I thought we agreed we weren’t going to practice on the couch anymore?”


Her lip pouted out, just as it used to do when she was still a baby that I could fit into my arms. Her eyes slanted up to me, showing her guilt. “Sorry, Daddy. It’s just… I want to be perfect for my recital. And everyone else is so much better than me.”


I went and crouched in front of her, taking her small hands in mine. I looked her in the eyes, forcing them to lift the weights off their lids and look me back in the eye. “Fluorine, I very much doubt that any other little girl is more prepared than you.”


“But I always forget this step…” she tried to show me, her face crunching up with frustration.


I smiled at her, trying my best to reassure her. Like her mother, Fluorine never gave up. She worked at something until it was finished, and it wasn’t finished until everything about it was perfect. She bit at her lower lip nervously. “Ducky, you’re over-working yourself. Just take a break. Let your brain rest. Don’t beat yourself up about it. You do know, it takes four hours for something to stick in your brain. Try again later tonight, okay?”

She huffed out a sigh, and I took her in my arms to give her a hug. “Will you still give me flowers, even if I mess up?”


I kissed the side of her cheek, “Ducky, you’ve seen me try to dance. Even your ‘mistakes’ look more graceful than me. So of course I’ll still give you flowers.”

“I like the white ones,” she reminded me.


“I know, Ducky. They’re your favorites. Just like your grandmother.”

That I put down in words, how wonderful, life is, now you’re in the world.

~~~~~~~~~


“So what do we do next, Daddy?”

I smiled down at my son, who had recently turned five. I patted his head, continuing the preparation for dinner, “Well, Argon, we stir it all together.”


He shook his head, crunching up his face as he took in this information. “And what about after that?”

I added a bit more salt, “Why, we have to keep stirring, I do believe.”

“And after that?” he asked.


I smiled at him, the little guy was too curious for his own good. “Take a wild guess,” I suggested.

I know it’s not much, but, it’s the best I can do.


“Ummm… we keep stirring?”

“Bingo!” I shouted.


My mother, who had been leaning quietly against the kitchen counter, rubbed her arms anxiously. She gave me a smile, “You know, Israel, he looks more and more like you every day.”

There was truth to her words. Argon, unlike his twin sister Xenon, was pretty much a carbon copy of me. Same blue skin, just as my mother, grandfather, and great-grandfather, and the same soft tufts of orange hair that came from my dad. He did, however, inherit Laurel’s pale and striking green eyes, which very much stood out on his features. He was a striking lad, with two left feet, and the coordination of well, a kitchen mop. The kid wasn’t any good at sports, but he had a wild imagination, and liked to know anything and everything.

“Acts like it too. Or so Laurel says.”

My gift is my song and this one’s for you.


My mom smiled, “Yes, I suppose so. Goodness, he reminds me of your father, you know. So full of life.”
I swallowed nervously. Mom was missing Dad more and more lately; we were about to come to his thirty-fifth anniversary of his death. My mother gave me a weak smile, her eyes clouded with sadness for a moment. “You know, sometimes, I feel like I can see Dad.” She used to hate when I would talk about how I could see Dad, but it was only truth – I could. He still appeared regularly in my dreams, always asking about the kids and my siblings, yet somehow avoiding my mother, as if the thought of being separated from her for all this time still made his non-existent heart ache.

“Yeah, I do, too.” She smiled at Argon, who had gone unusually quiet with this talk, and said, “You’re going to have many adventures, aren’t you?”

And you can tell everybody, this is your song; it may be quite simple but now that it’s done – I hope you don’t mind, I hope you don’t mind.


Argon smiled, “Yes I am grandma. I’m gonna be a pirate, and a firefighter, and a doctor like you and a cop like daddy and an investigator like mommy and everything in the entire world!”


My mother smiled, “Sounds like you’ve got quite the plans.”


“I do, I do! And nothing – NOTHING – is gonna stand in the way of them.”

That I put down in words, how wonderful, life is, now you’re in the world.

-Lyrics by Ellie Goulding; “Your Song”-

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