Epilogue IV: This is Home
"I've got my memories,
Always inside of me.
But, I can't go back, back to how it was.
I believe now, I've come too far.
No, I can't go back, back to how it was.
Created for a place I've never known.
This is home,
Now I'm finally where I belong.
Where I belong.
Yeah, this is home.
I've been searching for a place of my own.
Now I've found it; maybe this is home.
Yeah, this is home."
"This is Home"
"Come in, even though I know you're already here…" Helga sighed, keeping her eyes closed smiling to let her sister know she wasn't upset.
"Guilty as charged." Olga replied, sitting on the edge of Helga's bed, where she was stretched out. "You okay?' she asked.
"Yup." Helga said, straining to sit up after an extended nap. She knew that she had plans for that afternoon, but decided to relax anyway. "Why do you ask?
"No reason, really. Just wanted to make sure." Olga said, taking a glance around the quaint room. Helga had only begun to decorate it a few short weeks ago, waiting until she heard back from a few colleges to see if she'd even need to. To Olga's excitement, she would be attending a school nearby, and didn't have to leave. "I'm proud of you. You know that, right?"
Helga scoffed. "You had better be. Need I remind you that I graduated 19th in a class of 413 students?" Helga joked.
"Yeah, but you know what I mean." Olga said, halfheartedly smoothing out a wrinkle on Helga's comforter. "We did pretty good for ourselves, didn't we?"
"Duh. We Pataki girls don't go down easy."
Olga cupped her earlobe and leaned toward her sister. "I'm sorry; what was that?" she said, smiling.
Helga rolled her eyes. "I'm sorry; this Pataki girl, and that Micheals girl, don't go down easy."
"That's more like it." Olga replied, sitting back to rest her delicate hands in her lap. Helga sat amazed as her sister continued to beam like a four year old with a new toy.
"You are such a newlywed." she stated, shaking her head as though disappointed. The truth was, she was anything but. Drew turned out to be everything the two didn't know that they needed. "Speaking of my wonderful, new big brother, where is he?"
Motioning to the door with her thumb, Olga replied. "He's headed to the park to make sure there are no crashers. You know Drew…"
Helga merely shrugged her shoulders and cast her eyes around the room. She was well aware that Olga and Drew were throwing her a graduation party; the had long since stopped trying to surprise her. She either found out, or found herself surprised in the worst way, and thus, instated a "No More Surprise Parties For Helga Act", which was still being adhered to quite a while later.
"He wanted me to give you this, though…" Olga said, placing a lavender box with a pale yellow ribbon binding it, on top of Helga's bed, between the two of them. Helga smiled at her sister, and took the box quietly. Slowly opening it, her once playful grin dropped into one of shock, before her mouth formed a wide 'O' shape.
Sitting upon a tiny cushion within the box was a yellow lily pendant on a silver chain. The flower was exactly as Helga remembered it from Olga's wedding, barely two months ago; the bright orange center, freckled with darker spots, fanning out into a pale yellow color. The ornament was no bigger than a quarter, but Helga was so captivated with it's color and precision, that she ignored the look of anticipation on her sister's face.
"Do you like it?" she asked, nervousness lacing her voice.
Looking up from the box, Helga smiled. "I love it. It's perfect."
"We found it in St. Thomas on the last day of our honeymoon. Drew remembered how much you liked them when you were helping with the wedding, and thought you'd like this too."
While Olga spoke, Helga gently removed the necklace from the box, and reached behind her own neck and struggled to latch the chain. Once she did so successfully, Helga strained to see it, resting her chin on her chest and petting the spot where the pendant sat.
"Of course I like it. I'm going to brag about it all day." she replied, lifting her chin to show it's effect to her sister.
"Glad to hear it. Let's get going; I have a feeling that Drew's going to start digging into the cake early." Olga sat, lifting herself off of the bed.
Helga leapt off of the bed, and followed Olga out the door. They climbed into Olga's car, and began driving to Tina Park. Drew and Olga spent a small sum of money to reserve a pavilion out there for Helga and some of her friends. Helga informed them that she didn't want a party; that graduating and going to college was enough, but they insisted, especially after she was responsible for the bulk of the planning that went behind their wedding. She arranged all meetings with the florists, tailors, event coordinators and found their perfect venue. Initially, when she'd approach a business about planning a wedding, they doubted her, since at the time, she was only 17. But by the end of their brief meeting and with the introduction of her immense wedding planning guide and quick wit, they knew she meant business. So, as a thank-you, Olga and Drew arranged a small gathering for her. And she was expressly forbidden from helping out in any sense of the word.
"Excited about this fall?" Olga asked, tuning smoothly a few short blocks from the park entrance.
"Very." Helga replied, not bothering to hide her smile. "The environment seems nice, the campus id great, and the writing department is supposed to be amazing."
"And the fact that your boyfriend is conveniently going there as well is just a perk, right?" Olga asked suspiciously, but smiling through her joke.
"What?" Helga asked, feigning shock. "Arnold is going to NYU too? I had no idea…"
"Very funny. But if I find out that the two of you are sneaking around…" she warned.
"Oh, how very parental of you, dear sister. What do you mean "sneaking around"? Neither of us got dorms, so it's nnot like we'd have anywhere to go."
"You don't need a dorm to be sneaky." Olga said, as though stating the obvious. "There's abandoned wings of the school, and empty stairwells, and…the Religious History section of the Library…where no one ever goes."
Helga wrinkled her nose. "Whatever. How do you know all of this, anyway?"
"I was in college once upon a time, too." she replied, simply.
Helga's eyes widened at her sister's words. "Meaning…?"
"Meaning…" Olga began. "I know all the little tricks that you kids play."
"Do tell…" Helga suggested, noticing that they weren't far from the recreational area.
"His name was Seabert Wright, and we'd-"
"Hold on." Helga said, interrupting. "You dated a guy named Seabert Wright?!" Olga looked thoroughly embarrassed at the memory.
"Unfortunately in my younger years I was a very poor judge of character." she said, shaking her head. Helga was sure that she was reminiscing about Doug Liar McScamface, or whatever his last name was. Deciding not to chastise her sister, Helga was still shocked at the ridiculousness of the name.
"What kind of name is Seabert Wright? Who hates their child enough to name them Seabert Wright?"
"I always guessed that they were into sailing, or fishing." Olga said. "Anyway, we met in the 5th floor stairwell of Wellington College for exactly 3 weeks." Olga said, pulling up to the park and turning off the car.
"Sounds like fun…to think, you could have been Mrs. Seabert Wright, if things were different." Helga joked, stepping out of the car, noticing the darkening sky. Summer showers had been common and relatively short, so even if it did rain, Helga was sure it wouldn't be anything epic.
"I don't think so." Olga said, spotting the reserved pavilion up on a hill and walking toward it. Drew hauled the picnic supplies when he left earlier, and walked up the hill empty handed. "I hope it doesn't rain on your parade. Literally."
Helga suddenly heard her name from behind, and turned just in time for Arnold to scoop her into his arms and whirl her around a few times. She smiled and laughed, waiting for him to put her down. When he didn't, she recognized the force of his embrace; he held her almost tenderly, attempting to keep her safe. He held her as if she were about to break. When he did release her, he avoided her gaze, until she addressed him.
"What's wrong, Arnold?" she asked, worried.
"Nothing." he said, immediately putting on a happier face.
"Is everyone at the pavilion already?" Helga asked, turning back toward the hill.
"No, Phoebe just called, she's on her way. Same with everybody else." he noted, his eyes shifting from Helga's, where they stayed stagnate and reassuring, to the pavilion, where they were laced with anxiety, and briefly to Olga's, signaling something. Helga caught each look that he gave, especially the ones that weren't meant for her, and questioned him again.
"Are you sure nothing's wrong?"
"Of course. I have your gift in the car. We can go get it…" he suggested.
Helga, however, turned to look once more at the pavilion. "No, that's fine." she said, obviously distracted.
"Well, Drew's not done with the decorations. We can wait down here for a few-"
"Arnold, what's up there? Tell me the truth." she said, furrowing her brow in worry. He was hiding something from her. And it wasn't just decorations or a present. His silence did nothing for her, and in an instant, she tore out of his grasp and shot up the hill.
Arnold, not expecting her speed, ran after her, calling her name all the while, struggling to catch up with her. In turn, Olga followed the two up there, for the sake of checking on Drew and figuring out what made Helga so upset.
When Helga arrived at the covered gazebo, the sky had begun crackling, signaling a thunderstorm on it's way. Disregarding the fact, Helga looked around for Drew. The gazebo was fully decorated, yellow and lavender (her favorite colors) streamers adorning the wide banisters. Taped over the seats were long posters that read "Congrats!" and "Happy Graduation!" and the like. Helga paused to smile at the trouble that Drew went through, but was soon distracted by the exchange going on, outside of the gazebo, parallel to her. Stepping outside, she drowned out the sound of Arnold calling her name from behind her and focused on the altercation that was in process, not far off.
"I don't think this is a good idea-"
"You don't understand! And who are you supposed to be, anyway?!"
"I do understand, but I really think you both should lea-"
Helga was confused as to why Drew was arguing with a bunch of park-goers, that, to her, didn't seem to be doing anything wrong. Maybe the park mixed up reservations and they thought that they reserved the same pavilion on the same day.
"Drew?" Helga asked from behind him, and she was shocked at the momentum with which he turned to face her. He looked truly shocked to see her, and began to stammer an excuse, for any questions that she was bound to ask.
"What's going on?" she inquired. By this time, Arnold had caught up with her, and stood a few feet behind, matching Drew's expression of nervous anticipation.
"Helga, maybe you should-"
For the first time since discovering the argument, Helga looked at the other participants. There was a man, tall and portly, wearing more weight than he should have. His hair was cut low, in a style that Helga saw little of, except on military commanders. He looked at her as though he were confused, which, in turn, confused Helga. Behind him stood a shorter woman, no taller than herself, with dark brown hair cut into a tragic bob, the ends curling just below her ears. She too, was slightly overweight, but the pair was pretty average to Helga.
Looking back to Drew, Helga silently questioned why he was standing out there, arguing with some pretty harmless looking strangers. Above them, the sky roared and darkened further, but everyone stood in place.
Finally, Drew spoke, quietly, to his little sister. "Helga, I think you should go back to the car." he said, keeping his eyes fixed on hers.
Before she could ask why, the couple stepped forward, looking astonished, uttering her name in a tone barely above a whisper. Helga took one more look at the them, under a suspicious gaze, before she reeled back from insight. In the passing of a second, she felt her breath leave her body, and the overwhelming need to collapse.
She saw Drew hang his head, in what was probably shame and a sadness at the emotions to come.
She saw these two…strangers, the excitement on their faces making her heart race and her anger grow.
But lastly, she felt. She felt the rain, soaking into her hair and clothes and skin. She felt the wind beating against her face as she sped past Arnold, out of the park. One block. Two blocks. Five blocks.
She felt the pouring rain, that caused her hair to cling to her damp face, the constriction of her chest in retaliation from unshed tears, and the aged wood of the door to a house; one that she had never called her home, but the only place that would bring her solace.
Helga could not think of a time that was more inconvenient for them to return.
But there they were. Robert Daniel and Miriam Annabelle Pataki.
They, too, were back home.
"Belief over misery, I've seen the enemy, And I won't go back, back to how it was. And I got my heart set on what happens next. I got my eyes wide, it's not over yet. We are miracles, And we're not alone."
"Belief over misery,
I've seen the enemy,
And I won't go back, back to how it was.
And I got my heart set on what happens next.
I got my eyes wide, it's not over yet.
We are miracles,
And we're not alone."
Isn't that awful? I mean, that's just terrible. Well, there you have it. The final epilogue of Back Home. I know, I know…I said that "all questions would be answered", and other such malarkey, but I'm saving it. Worry not, the sequel is coming. As of now, exactly 50 percent of you said to continue on, and everyone else agreed, but with terms. Some said to make sure to add lots of Arnold and Helga moments (that's guaranteed) and to wait until The Compromise is finished. The first is definitely doable, but as for waiting until Compromise is finished…not so sure about that one. Compromise is going to be my longest work of fiction (I'm on chapter 12 as of late, and I still haven't gotten the juicy part!) So, waiting until Compromise would be…a long wait. And I'm impatient. So, expect it…well, I have a few projects lined up, but after Arnolds Love and the amazing finn's present is complete, then you'll have your sequel. It won't be terribly long. No more than...6 or so chapters. But it'll be good. Promise.
The song used her is so utterly perfect. D+Refernce the top of the page for name and artist. I heard it at work, and knew that I had to add it to my story. I'm a little bit sad. This is the actual end to Back Home.I now the sequal is coming, but this one is really done this time. No more epilogues...hope everyone enjoyded it. Thank you!