CHAPTER 15: THE RESURRECTION, PART 4

In many comic books and films, any work that focuses on a superhero will often keep a majority of its focus on one of the main character's most prominent challenges: Balancing their double-lives. With one life of danger and crimefighting led alongside a normal life of work, family, friends, and love, finding a middle ground to these conflicting lifestyles is not an easy one, and there exists no 'correct answer' to the problem.

Heroes such as the Green Eye, with a family well aware of his nocturnal crimefighting activities that lend him their support, have little in this challenge to face, but there are other members of the Hillwood Heroes that do. This handful of members of the team do not have such luck; these three being Nadine, Sheena, and Eugene.

Where many of the other Hillwood Heroes occupy their time with either jobs or dedicate most of their time to crimefighting altogether, these three seek out a higher education for their own betterment. Here, they attend the local Hillwood Community College; a step in the direction of a brighter future, and their choice of community college a good way to balance their lives.

They are hard at work in their classes as they are at battling crime as it comes by night, but, for now, they are easy at rest, needing to give themselves a break. Taking a seat at the base of a tree on the field of the campus, the trio help themselves to a shared joint of marijuana with the leaf homegrown by Stinky Peterson; relaxing from their stressful classes by indulging in a haze of cannabis.

After a deep inhale of the smoke, Nadine let out a good cough; the herb making its way into her lungs.

"That good?" Sheena asked.

"Shit, yeah, that's good. I don't know how Stinky grows this so good." Nadine asked.

"Well, they don't call him 'Stinky' for nothing." Eugene said.

Feeling the effects of the plant make their way to their minds, the group gave a laugh at Eugene's joke. Under the haze of the marijuana, the simple joke that would only usually garner but a few laughs got a heavy helping of laughs towards it, with all members nearly going hysterical over a simple quip.

"How come we had to go all the way to Stinky's to get some weed, though? Couldn't you have just bought some at a smoke shop on the way here?" Nadine asked.

"Nobody makes it like Stinky. I'm glad to see cannabis legal now, but nobody can grow it as good as the underground dealers like he can." Sheena said.

"I don't know, it's a little seedy for me."

"That's where half the strength is. So, how'd biology go?"

"Not too bad. Just wrap up this year and pull through another, and I get to move my credits to Bennington College to get my entomology degree."

"Wait, isn't it called Wellington College?" Eugene asked.

"Uh, no, I'm pretty sure it's Bennington."

"I could've sworn it was Wellington. Sheena?"

"I don't know, Helga's sister Olga went there, and I'm pretty sure she said it was Bennington." Sheena said.

"Whatever. I'll worry about that when I get to it. Man, I remember Olga, she was real nice. Helga used to be a total bitch, but she really came around. Hard to believe that those two are even related." Nadine said.

"Well, keep in mind, she didn't have the best household to grow up in. Like she said, her parents spent way too much time on Olga and not enough on her. I mean, I didn't think she had the healthiest home growing up, but, hearing the stuff she said, just... damn."

"I don't even understand how a little girl can be treated that way. I never had any issues like that growing up."

"Yeah, well, you were raised by hippies, let's be fair. They probably grow harder shit than Stinky's kush."

"I resent that statement. Stinky grew a giant pumpkin; there's no way my hippie parents could compete to that."

Once again thrown into a fit of hysteria, the group of friends laughed heartily at the joke; barely able to compose themselves under the influence of the smoke.

"So, what about you, Eugene, how was your film school class?" Nadine asked.

"It's cinematic arts, but it's going great. My teacher tells me I have a lot of talent." Eugene said.

"From what we've seen on the stuff you've shown us, he'd be crazy not to see how good you are." Sheena said.

"Yeah. Be nice to get a career into film, be a big director, maybe be the next John Waters. I looked up to his stuff a lot as a kid."

Before Eugene could comment any further on his own passions and dreams, a certain sort of interest caught his eye, preventing him from continuing the conversation any further. Standing alone by tree was a young man sporting well-combed hair and a thick stubble of a beard; gaining his attraction in an instant. While not knowing whether this man was also gay, let alone interested, Eugene decided to try a move towards him anyways.

"Speaking of 'looking', I just saw something I like. Wish me luck, you know I'll need it." Eugene said.

As Eugene headed off to speak with the lone man, hoping to find a new partner in him. The two girls left behind, Nadine and Sheena, watched on with two sets of observing eyes; all eager to see what would come of this interaction with Eugene and this stranger on campus.

"Not a bad catch; hope Eugene lands him. Knowing how many bad relationships he's been in and out of, he could use a break. The little jinx never got a break." Nadine said.

"Yeah, I hope so." Sheena said.

While Nadine was hopeful and supportive for Eugene, Sheena's voice implied that she did not quite share the same sentiment, even though she stays closer to him than most others in their group of friends. Curious towards what she could have meant in her speech, Nadine inquired further into Sheena's tone, hoping to find a clearer answer to her discontentful look.

"You don't sound much like you do. Something on your mind?" Nadine asked.

"Well... to be honest... part of me hopes that Eugene'll give up on men completely." Sheena said.

"What? Why, you a homophobe or something?"

"No, not at all, I believe that love is love, but..."

"But what? Do you not-"

"It's not that, I... Well... I've always kind of liked him, you know."

"Oh, I see where this is going. Girl, I'm telling you this as your friend: Give it up. He ain't gonna want you."

"Well, you know, there's always a chance. There's some instances where gay men can still make one exception for women, and vice versa. Maybe if I-"

"Look, Sheena, we all knew that he was gay before even he knew it. Most of us were pretty sure what we liked and didn't like, and Eugene made it pretty clear that he didn't like women like the other boys did. Not to sound stereotypical about it, but, he was way into theater and musicals. I never met a straight man who cared at all about that. Assuming I went with that 'exception' thing, if he was willing to make one, wouldn't you think he'd make it already with you?"

Knowing that her friend was right, Sheena gave a nod of her head in agreement, even if the rest of her was in disagreement.

"You're right... but it's still not easy. How am I supposed to tell him how I feel if I know he won't return it? Would that just destroy our whole friendship? I couldn't be able to do that." Sheena said.

"Look, girl, it's your life. You wanna tell him, that's up to you." Nadine said.

"What is with you?! Are you just trying to be just a jerk today? What's your problem?"

"What's my problem? I've got my share of problems. C'mon, you don't think I have my own issues in life? Rhonda, my best friend since forever, is dead, and her dad's going totally crazy over it. The last link I have to my best friend is losing his mind, and, even though I'm trying to help him, he won't listen to me. Hell, he won't even listen to Arnold. That should tell you he's a lost cause."

Feeling guilt over her snap towards her own friend, Sheena gave out a sigh, releasing some of her own remorse over her own harsh actions.

"I'm sorry. I can't imagine what it's like to lose a best friend like that, and it's not something I intend to ever prod at, which is why I won't tell Eugene how I feel. But you shouldn't feel like that towards somebody. He's probably just as hurt as you, if not more." Sheena said.

"He's not hurt. He's just empty. You can see it in his eyes. You see the face of somebody who has nothing left, and he's willing to do anything. That's something I don't intend to ever prod at." Nadine said.

"What do you mean?"

"You remember what he was like before we formed the Hillwood Heroes. He was a ruthless killer, gunning down people just for small crimes. You remember Torvald? He gunned him down. How about Wolfgang? He crippled that Nazi bastard. And that was when Rhonda was in a coma. Now that she's dead..."

Unable to finish her own sentence, Nadine shook her head, dismissing any thoughts in her head regarding that topic.

"I just want to get my degree and get out of here. This superhero stuff is just getting too crazy for me. It already cost me my best friend, and the only family of hers." Nadine said.

Nadine's last words shared much weight in their sentiment, but there was not much time for either of them to reflect on it. A commotion was beginning to arise from the campus, originating from a quarrel between Eugene and the young man he was approaching. Watching Eugene be thrown to the ground by the stranger, the two girls gave out gasps of concern, joining the rest of the students observing the event.

"What the hell, man?!" The man asked.

"I-I'm sorry, I thought you were gay." Eugene said.

"Hell, no. Why don't you go to a leather bar if you want to get some? You goddamn fag."

Angry from the encounter that he had just shared with Eugene, the young man walked away, avoiding any stares or looks from the other onlooking students. Disregarding the man as he left, Nadine and Sheena rushed to help Eugene off the ground, placing him firmly back on his feet again.

"Are you okay, Eugene?" Sheena asked.

"Yeah, I'm fine. I just made a wrong move, that's all. Chalk up my luck again." Eugene said.

"Are you sure you're fine? I mean, I'm right here if you need anything."

"Really, I'm fine, it was nothing. I've been hurt worse than that. Thanks, though. Listen, I've got my next class coming up in a couple of minutes, I'll catch up with you later, okay?"

Getting up from the ground properly and dusting himself off, Eugene prepared himself for his next class, bidding his two friends their temporary goodbyes. Though Eugene was just fine following his unpleasant rejection, Sheena was not so easy to watch the event unfold.

Regardless of his joyful disposition, Eugene was always one to have very poor luck in his own life, often called a 'jinx' by others. His relationships were certainly no exception to his poor luck, facing numerous rejection or breakup after another. Nonetheless, these issues never seemed to reach the young man; his disposition as bright as ever.

Sheena, conversely, held a different view of his rejections. Where others would be quick to dump him or reject him, Sheena would not be so fast to do so. Or, so far as she thinks.

If only I could show him how I like him. Maybe he wouldn't keep being thrown away so much. Maybe he'd have a better life if he knew how I felt. Sheena thought.


Another place, and another time in the day, another young man by the name of Arnold Shortman makes his way back to the Sunset Arms; his coffee date with Lila over and other things to tend to on this day. Following a peaceful stroll back to his home, Arnold makes his way back in the front door, relieved to be home once again.

Following such a walk from the coffee shop, the first thing to come to his mind was to find some food, his body needing more sustenance after his journey. Heading into the kitchen to obtain a snack, Arnold looked through the pantry to find his food, wondering what sort of goods could be waiting for him within.

"Not much left in the pantry; nobody's gone shopping yet. But your parents left some pancakes in the fridge for you." A voice said.

Recognizing the voice instantly, Arnold turned to see Helga sitting at the dining table, treating herself to macaroni and cheese.

"Nobody was around for lunch, so I just managed on my own. Thought you would have eaten at the coffee shop." Helga said.

"Nah, I wasn't that hungry, and there wasn't much to eat there. After walking all the way back, now I'm starting to get hungry again." Arnold said.

"Sounds like you."

Giving a chuckle, Arnold went to the fridge and retrieved his pancakes, putting them on a plate and subsequently setting them in the microwave. As he activated the microwave, Arnold retrieved a bottle of maple syrup, then stood by the counter, waiting for his food to heat itself up.

As Arnold waited for his pancakes to heat up, he took notice of Helga's particular attire. She was attired in one of his plaid shirts, and, from the outlines of the shirt and the low covering it provided at the bottom, she appeared to have nothing else on besides the one shirt.

"Aren't you worried that someone'll come back sooner to see you like that?" Arnold asked.

"Nobody ever comes back earlier. Barry stays out until sundown doing his music-on-the-street thing, the Grossmans don't come back until 6, Chris just left for his night shift, and Aaliyah went to her mosque. Then, there's your parents working at the diner. That leaves just you and me." Helga said.

Giving a nod, Arnold retrieved his reheated pancakes, carrying them over to the table to eat his own food, seating himself across from Helga. Pouring the syrup over his hot pancakes, he let his hotcakes soak up the maple fluid, allowing the sweet and savory liquid to reach into their spongy bodies and enhance their flavor.

After the syrup made its way to the cakes, Arnold cut a few layers of pancakes out and took a bite, allowing their soft, warm, and sweet flavor to work their way through his mouth. With a soft chew and moment to savor the pancakes, he let the food make its way down his gullet, beginning to fulfill his needs for any sustenance.

"So, how'd the 'date' go?" Helga asked.

"It went pretty fine. Lila definitely seems a little... different... from when we knew her." Arnold said.

"Different how?"

"Well, she definitely got a lot more religious, going and quoting bible verses all from memory. It was a little strange to hear her talk like that, but, overall, she seems... okay, I guess."

"You guess? You sound like there's something wrong with her."

"Well... You know that I can read people's hearts and minds; feel what they feel, and know why they're feeling it. For most people, it's pretty obvious what I can see and feel. I can know exactly what someone feels, but, with Lila, I can't get a clear read on her."

"What do you mean? Like, she's blocking you, or something?"

"She can't be blocking me, at least not intentionally, she doesn't know I'm the Green Eye. It's really strange. It's like she's got so many different emotions all at once, but I can't really deduce a single one, or know why she feels that specific emotion. If I didn't know any better, I'd say she doesn't know either."

"Why do you think that is?"

"Not sure. Considering that she's gotten a lot more religious, maybe she could be trying to suppress or hide something."

"Like what?"

"Don't know. Your guess is as good as mine."


As the two lovers ponder what sort of dark past that Lila Sawyer could be harboring, the character in question makes her way down the streets of Hillwood, setting herself on a course back to the First Baptist Church of Hillwood. Concurrently as Arnold and Helga question about the strange past of the fundamentalist female, Lila herself finds herself conflicting with said past during her walk.

For many years of her life, all of which were in the most malleable time of her lifespan, Lila has delved herself deeper into her own religion, hoping that she would find the pain and the misery she feels would finally dissipate. These feelings did not leave her, however, and all efforts to push them away have not saved her from them; instead, they have further pushed her towards a place of hate.

With every turn of her head, she tries to move her head away from the thoughts, but that which meets her eyes next make her attempts at escaping her own mind futile. At every street corner, on every advertisement, on anyone showing even the slightest show of skin, she feels the heat come over her again.

This heat is not like any natural heat, not any sort of desire to find a fulfilling mate. This heat is a mixture of pain and pleasure, love and hate; something that no human being was meant to feel. She remembers what caused these thoughts to stay with her, and she hates what becomes of her when she thinks of that memory.

Soon, she does not think about this memory any further. Now, she has made her arrival at the First Baptist Church, just as she had intended. Entering the church once again, Lila did not start herself on the tasks she needed to complete, but, instead, make her way straight to one of the rows, seating herself to make a prayer.

Closing her eyes, clasping her hands together, and bowing her head, Lila gives herself to her god, hoping that her being of worship would grant her the peace she so desperately hoped for and needed.

"Our father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil." Lila prayed.

Though all her heart and soul were put into her prayer, none of it felt sufficient to cleanse herself of all her impure thoughts. Feeling a tear run down her eye, Lila bowed further into prayer; her voice trembling under the weight of her thoughts and her desire to see her thoughts gone.

"Please, lord, change my heart and cleanse these feelings from myself. I do not wish to live like this, to feel as broken as I am. I have and always give myself to you. I am the clay to your potter. I ask that you mold me into your vessel, and not let me be dragged down by this sin and misery. Do not let the words of Satan fill my head. Please give me the strength to be your child. Amen." Lila prayed.

Rising up from the row, Lila wiped away her tears, walking her way back into the other end of the church to begin her own tasks for the day. Around this time, this would typically be the hour where Lila would end her youth sermon to the church workers' children, sharing the gospel with them to keep them occupied as their parents worked.

Today, however, with the plans of a date being made, the mother named Billie took over the teaching duties for the children, providing them with a sample of scripture fed through her own interpretation for the children. Where Lila was well-known for her more hardline teaching methods on the children, Billie demonstrated a more lenient view.

Taking a look from the side, Lila observed the sermon as it came to its conclusion.

"Mrs. Billie, I have a friend who says that she has two dads. Doesn't the Bible say a man laying with another man is an abomination?" One child asked.

"It is true that the Bible tells us that, but, if you look at the rest of the verses, it says a lot of other things that we shouldn't do, but most of us still do. For example, have you ever eaten shellfish, like shrimp?" Billie asked.

"Yeah."

"Well, that same part of the Bible says it's also an abomination to eat shellfish. Does your dad shave his face?"

"Every day."

"The Bible also says it is an abomination to shave your face. Is your shirt pure cotton or a pure single fabric?"

"Uh... No, I think it's cotton and linen, my mom says."

"It's also an abomination to wear mixed fabrics, and those 3 are all in Leviticus as well, just like the verse about homosexuality."

"So, then, we shouldn't listen to the Bible?" Another child asked.

"No, no, that's not at all what I'm saying. The point is, while the Bible teaches us about Jesus, it also talked a lot about laws that existed in the old days before Christ, and, while some of those laws might have existed to help us, they aren't really needed now. What matters is that we follow Jesus' message: To love everyone unconditionally as he does and give our hearts to him."

Having gone over quite a long lesson with her students, Billie checked the time on her watch, finding that the time had reached a minute over the ending of their sermon.

"Well, children, that's it for today, I bet a lot of you guys are pretty worn out after having to sit and listen to little old me after all that. Why don't you kids all stretch your legs out a little?" Billie asked.

All the children, each one eager to finally let out some of their pent-up energy, instantly got on their feet and put them to use; wanting to finally spend time at play rather than sit and listen. With the sermon over, Lila stepped over to Billie, greeting her friend and congratulating her on a job well done.

"Impressive. I didn't think you'd be able to pull it off so well. I was afraid I'd have to cancel my date." Lila said.

"Oh, I wouldn't want that. You, spending all this time over our kids all week, you deserve yourself a break. Say, how did the date go?" Billie asked.

"It went ever-so-swell, thank you."

"So, who's the lucky guy?"

"His name is Arnold. I knew him when he was a boy and I just moved here originally from Pleasantville. He's a very polite and sweet man, and very compassionate."

"Oh, really? Tell me some more about him."

"Well, he's been living back here for over a year now. He left for a country called San Lorenzo 6 years ago, and came back home not too long ago."

"San Lorenzo? Where's that?"

"It's this little country that's sandwiched between Guatemala and Belize. I was supposed to go on a field trip there once, but, then, I had to move, and that whole field trip wasn't actually a field trip anyways, but that's not the point. He, uh, like I said, he has a fiancee, and everything seems to be going well between them. I'm not sure I'll be having much of a chance with him."

"Oh, no. Are you sure?"

"I'm sure. He said that she even had all kinds of shrines and art dedicated to him since they were kids. He didn't say how far it went, but it sounded like it went a little... far."

"'Far'? Like, how 'far'?"

"He didn't say. From what he implied, it was kind of... weird."

Unsure what to make of this information, Billie paused in her speech, thinking over the implications over these facts.

"What's the matter?" Lila asked.

"Nothing, nothing, just... From what he was implying to you, you're sure that it went something creepy?" Billie asked.

"I don't know, maybe?"

"And this was something that happened when they were just kids?"

"Yeah?"

"And this was all on her part, the guy didn't come around 'til later?"

"Hey, what are you getting at?"

"Well, I mean, from how you're describing this girl, she sounds kinda... 'off.'"

"What do you mean, 'off'?"

"Like, kind of unstable, maybe a little anger issue here or there, maybe a little too obsessed with their partner. Sound like her?"

"I don't know, I..."

"Did you know this girl, too? Did she have any sort of home problems or something?"

"Billie, what in the world are you talking about? Why so interested all of a sudden?"

"Sorry, sorry, I, uh, the way you're describing this reminds me of a... bad experience my friend once had. Basically, the guy was a pretty bad stalker, and she had to dump him. She started to date him for a while because she felt sorry for him, but it didn't work out so good. From what you're telling me, the situation sounds an awful lot like what she had."

"So... you don't think he really loves her?"

"No, that's not what I said. I'm just saying, maybe she couldn't be a good 'fit' in the same way my guy wasn't. I could be totally wrong, but that's the impression I'm getting. Just saying."

"I see... Well, Helga did always have a lot of anger issues, and I did hear that she didn't have the best household growing up. Maybe she could've grown out of a lot of it by now. People change, you know. I changed a lot since I was a kid, I don't see how she couldn't have."

"But what if she didn't? That's all I'm asking. If they're really as good a match as you're sure they are, great, and maybe you should find somebody else. But if they're not... well... I helped my friend stop herself from making a mistake, and I'd hate to see someone else not make the same mistake."

Understanding her friend's point, Lila nodded her head; the sentiments of her argument reflecting well in her mind.

"I see what you're saying. Well, I guess it doesn't hurt to make sure." Lila said.

With their conversation coming to an end, the young Joey ran up to his mother, gripping her by the leg in a hug. Though never quite used to her son's frequent surprise hugs, Billie was always welcoming of his affection, kneeling down to reciprocate the show.

"Hey, there's my little rascal. Did mommy bore you at sermon today?" Billie asked.

"It was different from Miss Lila, but I liked it. Mom, I have to pee. Can you take me to the bathroom?" Joey asked.

"Oh, mom's got to do a few things real quick so we can get ready to head home. How about Miss Lila takes you to the bathroom while I work?"

"Oh, sure, I'll take him." Lila said.

"Thanks. I'll just be a second, I promise."

Agreeing to take the young boy to the bathroom to relive himself, Lila escorted the young Joey to the facilities, leading him by the hand. Making their way into the women's room, Joey removed his pants, then subsequently was placed onto the toilet by Lila, allowing him to relieve himself.

As Joey was left to his own business, Lila took her time to reflect on her own thoughts, giving herself a moment of peace. However, that peace she sought out for has not been found. Instead, her thoughts return to the scarring memory that keeps haunting her, just as it always has.


Years ago, back in the southern town of Pleasantville, Lila's mind is no longer in the present of Hillwood, but in the past of her old home. Returning from a hard day of schoolwork, the young lady enters her house once again to relax following her studies; letting her mind recuperate from such a troublesome day.

As she entered the house, however, she is quick to find that she is not the only one who has had a troublesome day, and this other having suffered a far worse day as well. Stumbling in a dark house with the scent of alcohol running rank throughout, Lila entered the house to see her father alone on the couch, holding his head low with an empty bottle of whiskey.

"Father? Are you alright?" Lila asked.

"Ugh... Ngh..." Her father mumbled.

"What's wrong? What happened?"

"I got... laid off... again..."

"Oh, goodness. I'm so sorry, father, you really did try your best."

"Wasn't... good enough..."

"Father, you shouldn't be drinking again. You know it's not good for you."

"Ngh... This is all I have now... Your mother died... Everyone thinks I'm a bum... Left this town only to come right back... I'm nothing..."

"That's not true, father. You have me."

Through the haze of thought that still remained in his head after the copious amounts of liquor he had consumed, a very nasty thought began to cross his mind from his daughter's words. Feeling lonliness and wanting from so many years of being away from the comfort of a woman, and seeing the young Lila blossoming into one herself, his thoughts began to come to fruition.

"Heh. You're right. I have you. I'll always have you. C'mere, sweetie." Her father said.

Innocently walking up to her father, Lila gave him a hug, hoping that her own comfort would help him forget his own troubles. She was quite correct in the sense that it was some comfort that her father wanted, but not quite the kind that he was in search of, nor would it quite be enough to allow him to forget his troubles.

Of course, that would not stop him anyways.


In the present time, in the restroom of the church...

Feeling the pain of the memory as it continued in her mind, Lila realized that there was no more that she could do alone that would rid herself of the pain of her memories. To dispel the thoughts and feelings in her head, she would need the help of someone else to help her forget.

In her vicinity still lies the young Joey, sitting on the toilet to relieve himself. Watching the boy with his pants down, his vulnerables exposed, thoughts began to come to Lila for her own purposes. She knows the boy is young, sweet, and innocent, and she knows what it was once like to be the same.

She needs someone to feel what she feels.

She needs someone to hurt like she hurts.

She needs Joey.

"Hey, Miss Lila? I'm all done now. Can you help me off now?" Joey asked.

Lila did not answer, but instead looked at the boy as he sat.

"Miss Lila?" Joey asked.

Walking up to the boy, Lila kneeled beside him, still not fully ready to carry out the act that occurred in her head. Millions of protests ran through her mind all at once, all reminding her of the consequences of her actions. She knew deep down what she was about to do was wrong, and how it could harm the child.

But, underneath all that, she wants to harm the child.

"Miss Lila, what are you doing? I'm done now." Joey said.

Lila ran a gentle hand over Joey's shoulder, lightly stroking her palm over him in a calming motion. The boy did not understand the action being put onto him, but it gave the mixed feelings of security and insecurity all at once, leaving him uncomfortable and unsure what to make of this situation.

"Miss Lila, what's going on?" Joey asked.

"Shh. It's okay, Joey. Don't think about this too much. This is a special game that boys and girls do sometimes. Do you want to play a little game with me?" Lila asked.

"Uh... I don't know. I feel kind of funny."

"I promise it'll make you feel good. Besides, it's me. You can trust me, can't you?"


Back in the past...

Lila's father ran a gentle hand over her shoulder, lightly stroking his palm over her in a calming motion. The girl did not understand the action being put onto her, but it gave the mixed feelings of security and insecurity all at once, leaving her uncomfortable and unsure what to make of this situation.

"Father, what's going on?" Lila asked.

"Shh. It's okay, Lila. Don't think about this too much. This is a special game that boys and girls do sometimes. Do you want to play a little game with me?" Lila's father asked.

"Uh... I don't know. I feel kind of funny."

"I promise it'll make you feel good. Besides, it's me. You can trust me, can't you?"


Back in the present...

"Uh, sure, I guess so." Joey said.

"Good. Just stay quiet and let me do everything. Also, this is a very secret game, and nobody can know about it but us. Can you keep a secret for me, sweetie?" Lila asked.

"Okay, I guess so."

"Good boy. Just relax now."


Back in the past...

"Uh, sure, I guess so." Lila said.

"Good. Just stay quiet and let me do everything. Also, this is a very secret game, and nobody can know about it but us. Can you keep a secret for me, sweetie?" Lila's father asked.

"Okay, I guess so."

"Good girl. Just relax now."


Outside the restroom, the mother of the young Joey, Billie, finished up the last of her tasks, cleaning up the room as she set away every used toy and trashed every half-eaten snack and empty juice box. With every chore needed to be done now finished and out of mind, there laid nothing for her to do now, but depart with her son to her other duties at home.

"Well, that's that. Now, where is that little Joey? Oh, right, bathroom. Now, why's he-" Billie thought aloud.

Just before she could finish her sentence, Lila returned from the restrooms with Joey, taking the young boy back to his mom.

"Oh, there you guys are, just wondering where you were. What took so long?" Billie asked.

"Turned into a number two. He told me right as he finished." Lila lied.

"Yep, that sounds like Joey, all right. Hey, baby, you ready to go home?"

Billie crouched down to welcome his hug, this time preparing herself for his enthusiastic hugs. However, unlike before, where he was typically energetic about his shows of affection, Joey only normally walked up to her and gave a hug, eliciting a surprised reaction from Billie.

"Well, seems like somebody's a little tired, huh? You usually almost knock me off my feet." Billie said.

"He did seem a little tired after he was done. Guess all that running caught up to him." Lila said.

"Looks like it. Well, I'll see you another time. Take care, okay?"

"You too. I'll be seeing you around, and I'll think about what your said a little more."

As the mother and son departed, Lila was left behind with a new sensation of emotions in her own mind. The thrill and excitement of what she had just gotten away with had settled in well, and gave way to the other emotions she held. For once, the pain and the hate she felt all seemed to make sense, and, for once, she felt at peace, even if only for that moment.

Joey, conversely, did not feel such peace. His body felt enjoyment from the acts he was put through, but there still laid a sense of pain underneath the pleasure. He does not understand why he feels dirty, he does not understand why he feels ashamed, and he does not understand why someone he likes like Lila could make him feel this way.

Though he hides his own emotions, there is still a sign of pain within him, signified by a single tear running down his face.