Note: This is it. The final chapter. (Kinda cliché in my opinion, but what crazy soap opera isn't?) Sorry it took me so long to post; my writing style has changed so much since writing this, I had trouble keeping it in sync with the others. And…I've been devoting my time into DitT and essays. (I still don't really like this chapter, but I've been pouring over it long enough, so...eh. Enjoy.)
Fall. Something about this season always sparks my memory. All the chaos that was my life seventeen years ago floods into my mind whenever I watch the leaves fall, leaving the trees stark and bare.
But I find that I can look back and laugh. Because when you're living in a future that's bright, why dwell on the ugliness of the past?
I turned and smiled as my husband approached me, holding a freshly caught rainbow trout.
"You in the mood for Sashimi?" I asked, crossing my arms.
"Kind of," he admitted with a grin. "Do you mind? I don't know if it'll be enough for all five of us--"
"Three," I corrected him.
I laughed. "Yeah, three of us. You know what today is, right?"
"…Uh, should I know?" he blinked uncertainly.
"The Full Moon Festival, you idiot!" I reminded him. "Jack won't be here."
"Oh? Does he have a date?" Ray asked eagerly. "Any idea who it is?"
"No fishing clue. As a matter of fact, I don't know who asked Dacey, either," I told him.
"My little Dacey?" Ray pouted. "B-but she's too young to go—"
"She's fifteen, Ray. By all means, she's old enough to have a date with a guy," I interrupted. "Anyway, I wonder who asked her…do you think Tim maybe…?"
"MOM!" We both turned to see a furious brunette on the stairs, her hair done up in a side ponytail and her blue eyes glaring to the brim with teen angst. "For the last time, I don't like Tim! He's so—ore-obsessed. It's freakish."
"Dacey, your mother tells me that a boy asked you to the Full Moon Festival," Ray began with a frown. "I think you're too young to—"
"I'm always too young, Dad!" Dacey complained. "Can't anyone have a little fun around here? Fishing, farming, mining—it's all so boring! The festivals are the only fun we get to have, and you won't even let me go to any of the good ones!"
"Geez, get over yourself, you little drama queen," I said as I rolled my eyes. "You can go, alright? Chill."
I was rewarded with a hug and an "I love you, Mom" as my husband watched in disgust.
"…So we only get hugged if we do what they want?" Ray muttered.
A knock at the door stopped me from responding. Suddenly my daughter was lunging for the door, only to be held back by a pair of strong teenage arms.
"Jack, lemme go!" Dacey complained. "It's for me!"
"Shut up, Dacey. Unlike you, I actually have a date coming tonight and I want to answer the door for her. So if you don't mind—"
My firstborn pushed her aside and opened the door. Waiting on the doorstep was a young woman dressed in a conservative purple gown that complemented her violet tresses perfectly.
"Sup, Jack?" she asked in a deep, melodious voice.
"Uh, Jane Marie, these are my parents," Jack introduced us lamely.
She stared at us blankly. We stared right back, my mouth and Ray's hanging open in shock.
"So…this is what your family is like, Jack. Huh." She adjusted the fedora on her head and smirked. "Well, I guess some fruit does fall far from the tree."
The hair, the fedora, the insult: there was no doubt.
"Holy fish," I gasped. "You—you're dating--!"
"Mom!" Jack growled warningly. "Family feuds are so overrated. Just deal."
"But she's one of them!" I protested. "She's Jamie and Maria's—"
"With all due respect," Jane interrupted me, "I know very well your opinion of my parents and their opinion of you. Quite frankly, after all I've heard about a nutcase like yourself, I too am loathe to date one of your kind. But I am willing to look past our differences to date Jack. If I, a sixteen year old girl, can understand that, then why can't an adult like yourself? End of discussion. Good day."
She promptly turned on her high heels and called out, "Jack, we're leaving."
"Oh, no you're not!" I growled. "Jack, you stay right here!"
"JACK! Get your butt out of this house or I will personally rip you apart like the momma's boy you are!" Jane shouted from outside.
He turned to us and grinned. "Is she awesome or what?"
"…Or what," Ray and I spoke simultaneously.
"Don't you dare go with her," I warned as Jack started to go outside. "I am your mother, and I forbid it--!"
The door slammed.
"Harley, it's fine. Maybe it'll be good for us to spend more time with Jamie's family," Ray suggested.
"I don't want my grandchildren to have Jamie as their grandpa!" I complained. "And he'd be my brother-in-law! Ewwwww."
"Don't forget Maria," Ray added.
"Not helping, Ray."
Dacey, who had remained silent by some miracle all this time, finally spoke up.
"If you guys flip out over my date, then I am so not gonna talk to you ever again," she threatened.
"Wow, what a punishment," I remarked dryly. "Whatever will we do with peace and quiet, Ray?"
"MOM! You are not funny, okay?" Dacey told me.
There was a knock on the door.
Ray and I both held our breath, praying that her date wasn't some psycho. Dacey squealed in delight and rushed over to the door, fixing her hair hurriedly before opening it.
Both of us stared at the visitor in shock. Dacey's date was wearing what apparently was "emo-punk" styled clothing, and his shock of jet black hair fell into his eyes. Overall, he was a pretty depressing figure.
"Mom, Dad, you both know Kurtis, right?" Dacey insisted.
Unfortunately, we did know him. Dia and Kurt's rebellious son, Kurtis, was constantly the topic of the village's gossip.
"Hey, Kurtis," I began with fake enthusiasm. "How's your mom doing?"
"…My parental units are fine," Kurtis replied.
Ray leaned over to me and whispered, "Is he wearing a nose-ring?"
"Maybe it works as a lock-pick," I whispered back.
"You look handsome tonight, Kurtis," Dacey giggled, twirling a strand of her hair shyly.
"Do I?" Kurtis replied nonchalantly.
My love-struck daughter shot Ray and I a "leave-us-alone-you-nosy-parents!" look, and that told me more than ever that I should stay put.
"Kurtis," Ray began with a low growl, "you know that if you and Dacey do anything beyond a kiss, you will have to deal with the most terrifying thing alive."
"You?" Kurtis replied dubiously.
"No. Harley in a rage."
That visual had more of an impact on the teen, and his blank look faltered for a moment at the mental image of me smacking him on the head with a hammer.
"…Point taken," he nodded, taking Dacey by the arm and starting for the door.
"Don't forget your curfew!" Ray shouted as they left.
"Tie a leash on me, why don't you?!" Dacey screamed back as she slammed the door.
"The only thing this soap-opera needs is popcorn," I suggested, amused by my hormone-driven daughter. "Geez, was I like that when I was her age?"
"Like mother like daughter," Ray muttered darkly.
I shoved him playfully. "How would you know? You didn't even know me back then."
"And for that, I will be forever thankful."
"Hey! Be nice!"
He laughed and put his arm around me. "I'm kidding, Harley! But you know, now that it's just the two of us—"
"Yes, Ray. Three."
As if on cue, a little boy entered the room, dressed in his pajamas and yawning. His big blue eyes looked up at us inquisitively, and he murmured, "Mommy? Daddy? Beddabye time?"
"Aww, he's wearing the fishy pajamas!" I squealed, running over and giving the kid a huge hug. "No, Charles. Not beddabye time. We have dinner first."
"Dinny-din?" the boy insisted.
Ray blinked. "Oh…I forgot he wasn't in bed yet. Come over here, Char, and give your daddy a hug!"
"Too late," I told him, cuddling Charles tightly. "I claim first dibs on snuggle time."
"Because I gave birth to him, idiot."
Charles giggled as I began to tickle him unmercifully. "Mommy!" he protested, laughing. "Stop!"
"What's that? You want more?" I teased him, grinning from ear to ear.
"Stop!" Char giggled again. "Mommy!"
"Tell you what," I suggested, a gleam in my eyes. "I'll stop. Just promise you won't date any psychos when you're older. Especially children of adult psychos. Like Katie's kid or Alex's. Okay?"
"Pwomise," he nodded, no doubt uncomprehending everything I'd said.
Ray shook his head. "Harley, don't put your hopes too high. He's our kid, after all."
"What's that supposed to mean?" I retorted. "That we're all doomed to love psychos?"
My husband smiled, and his smile soon broke into laughter. His unsaid answer hung in the air, and I let go of Charles as I stood up and put my hands on my hips.
"Just so you know," I reminded him, "between the two of us, you're the psycho."
"I don't know, Harley. You're pretty darn close."
"…You're lucky I married you," I smiled, unable to combat his statement.
"I'm the lucky one," Ray grinned, holding me close as he brought his lips near mine.
"EW! Lovey-dovey! EWW!" Charles screamed, interrupting our moment. And with a wry grin, we pulled apart from each other and started towards the kitchen.
"What are we having for dinner again?" I asked.
"Fish, Harley. Fish."
Sometimes love does funny things. It pulls on your rod, and you wind up with a boot or two. But, when life gives you boots, go for a walk! Because, at times, the worst mistake you've ever made can wind up the best choice of a lifetime. You just have to be patient, hold on to your rod, and hope for the best. Who knows what you'll catch!
It's…done. Finally, it's done. Cliché and not worth the time it took, but done. And there's no planned sequel. If I did do anything, it'd probably be about Jamie and Maria. But I don't think I'd have time to write it.
Thanks to all who read, favourited, reviewed, or critiqued. The Stats page is staggering. Really.
And Neco-Arc: Thank you for inspiring this story, and introducing me to this site. This story is dedicated to you.
Once again, thanks for reading.