Nectar Hills, Generation 2, Chapter 1
(Written in collaboration with OCValkyrie)
It feels like my whole world is closing in on me. I don’t know why I’m getting in trouble for stuff I didn’t do. So, here I am, grounded again! This is getting old. Ever since the girls came into the house, life has gone from good to bearable and quickly heading towards berrydoo! I don’t know how much more I can take.
I don’t know if it’s just me, but I feel like Mom and Dad are targeting me; pinning all of the bad wraps on me. Why do I have to be their fall guy? Don’t get me wrong, I love my parents and my siblings; and will love them to the end; but there are times…
Dusty never gets in trouble; is it because he’s always at the library with his nose stuck in some book or doing research on the computer? I mean, my grades are just as good as his… and I help out around the house more.
Perhaps he has the right idea! I should stay AWAY from the house…probably wouldn’t do any good, though; they’d be laying in wait, ready to pounce, as soon as I opened that door.
“I just need to get away from here. Far away from here,” I sighed to myself. “I swear it’s going to be someday soon.”
Great, now I’m talking to myself. Just wrap me in one of those white jackets with the never-ending sleeves now and lock me away.
At least Cotton is able to come over steal me away from the insanity that dwells within these crappy, weather-beaten walls. Even if I can’t leave the yard, it’s a welcome break. When I’m with her, I look into her sparkling pink eyes and I’m lost in her.
After spending time with Cotton, I dream about us in some fantasy world; it’s like we’re teleported to our own “Secret Garden!”
We’re there alone – the two of us – riding Unicorns in a secluded wood, known only to them. The moon shines brightly overhead, illuminating the opening in the middle of the forest in a sea of soft blue-green hues; the Unicorns radiate a warmth from their moonlit glow. Magic crystal trees of pastels; purples, pinks, greens and blues; surround the glen within the wood, letting off their own magnificent glow.
The Unicorns walk in perfect unison close enough with each other that we are able to easily hold hands. The soft touch of her flesh is soothing and calming. All of my woes; my cares; vanish while I’m here; there is only Cotton.
The Unicorns are in control; knowing exactly what our plans are as if they made the plans themselves. They transport us to a small pond at the base of a waterfall. The water cascades down the rock face, spraying out a light mist as it makes its way over the protruding stone, smoothed over throughout the ages.
I alight from my mount, walk to Cotton’s and offer my outstretched arms to her. We slowly walk down the bank to where a picnic basket sits upon a blanket. I take her hand in mine; my heart begins racing. I’m so weak and vulnerable when I’m near her. We’re compelled in our actions, as if in a hypnotic-like state, following unspoken suggestions; fully aware of where we are and what is happening.
We sit next to the basket and begin enjoy the lunch that was left for us. I choose a slice of Angel Food Cake and bring it to Cotton’s lips. She takes a bite, then removes the cake with her other hand, taking my now empty fingers into her mouth, lightly sucking the crumbs from them. She offers the piece to me and I take a bite, then pull her close and place my lips on hers. The kiss is gentle, yet sends surges of excitement throughout our bodies.
Not having eaten much at all, our appetites are sated. We lay on the blanket, Cotton resting her head on my shoulder while the Unicorns drink from the pool.
I lean forward and kiss the top of her head; she playfully paws my chest with her fingertips. Not a word is spoken; none needs to be. I could stay here for hours; days even. This is all I need – for now. As long as I have Cotton – here, in this place – it’s enough.
Cotton stands and takes my hand. She pulls me along as she runs toward the pool. We stop under the spray of the waterfall. I pull her into an embrace and we kiss once again. We remain in each other’s arms under the warm cascade of water, enjoying the closeness. My heart fills with a feeling unlike any other; no sexual desire; no sexual tension; just love.
We once again mount our faithful guides. I have never ridden a horse in my life, but I feel as if I’d been doing it since I was a child. Cotton looks at me out of the corner of my eye – her face so alive. There is love in those eyes; that smile.
We ride through the forest until dawn breaks over the horizon. I feel so alive when I’m with her.
I’m jolted back to reality, sitting bolt upright in my bed, wishing it were not a dream; wishing it could have lasted forever. I realize I am more alive when I am with Cotton than when we’re apart.
Cotton’s gotten a part time job at the theater working for her father, so I see less of her these days. The annual fair was coming to town in a couple weeks and we’ve made plans to go together – assuming I don’t get sentenced to grounding for something I didn’t do - AGAIN.
My sentence ended just a couple days before the fair. Cotton was working more and more, and I was feeling quite alone. Cotton and I made plans to meet at the park where the fair had been set up. Dusty asked if he could tag along and told him I didn’t mind, so long as he made himself scarce if things got heavy, if you know what I mean.
As we got to the park, my phone began to ring. Stupid ringtone – made a mental note to get a better one. A text from Cotton, “Can’t make. Gotta work. Sorry :) Love you!”
“Damn!” Well, at least I have Dusty to hang out with.
“What’s the matter?” he asked from behind, startling me. “Hee hee!” he snickered as I jumped. He had been checking out the bumper car ride. The rides weren’t scheduled to begin running until tomorrow morning, but he wanted to get an up close look at how they operated.
“I guess he could help me fix if we ever found one in the junkyard,” I chuckled to myself.
As we made our way around to the various attractions, we came across a small tent. The sign out front announced Jahara the Seer. For a fee (of course), you could have your fortune told or palm read.
“Maybe you should see what’s in your future,” Dusty chided.
“Like I need a fake to tell me I’m already living in purgatory.” I shot back.
“Oh, go on! My treat!” he said as he dug into his pockets for some money. “I mean you don’t believe in this stuff anymore than Berrycorns, so what have you got to lose, right?”
“What the hell…” I agreed.
I stepped into the tent and was greeted by Jahara, flashing a toothy grin. I thought I had met Jafar in person for a minute. I began to look around for a squat, fat talking parrot.
“Welcome my friend! Please, have a seat. Would you like your fortune told by the ball or the palm?” he asked, motioning me to take a seat opposite him at the table in the center of the tent. On the table was a crystal ball that lay in a metal cradle.
As I sat I said, “Let’s see what this broken crystal has in store for me,” smirking at Dusty who responded with a forceful elbow to the back of my head. I guess I deserved that one.
“Let us begin, then.” Jahara said as he closed his eyes and began to wave his hands over the crystal ball.
He waved his hands over and over the crystal ball what seemed like an eternity. I tried very hard not to look annoyed.
“I see… I see… travel in your future. You will be making a journey that will change your life in the not too distant future. You will not make this journey alone. Someone very close to you will join on this trek; a sibling perhaps. Beyond that, I cannot tell. The crystal ball has gone hazy.”
“Why are you still looking into it, then? There’s more, isn’t there? Come on, let’s have it!” I chided.
“Only a haze, I’m sorry. I cannot see any more.”
“Well, thank for nothing!” I growled as I left the tent.
I waited outside the tent for Dusty who was taking his sweet time exiting. When he finally came out, he had a distraught look on his face.
“What’s up with you?”
“Bull; he said something to you; what’d he say?”
“Um, well… He told me to prevent you from taking your journey, that it would only bring pain and sorrow.”
“Not that I’m planning a journey, but that’s a crock and you know it.”
“Let’s not test fate, Smoky! Whether he was making that up or not, you have to admit that things at home… between you and Mom and Dad, I mean, have not been very pleasant.”
“Whatever!” I said as I turned away. “Let’s go home.”
I was learning how to shape metal and plastics; how to make aesthetic looking inventions. It didn’t matter that they really served no real purpose, I was learning. That’s all that matters, right?
I found some plans for some inventions that were never finished by the inventors. It wasn’t apparent if they weren’t able to make them work correctly, died in the process, or just gave up. I decided to take some of the more interesting plans and give them a whirl.
I built this thing called a Harvester from one of the plans. The guy who designed it, came across a couple obstacles, and couldn’t get enough suction to actually pick things up. His attempt was several years ago, and he had died since. I was able to change a couple things, thanks to Dusty’s expertise in physics and mathematics. I took it to the city gardens to see if I could actually harvest anything.
Eureka, it worked. It took much less time to harvest several plants at once. I hurried home so I could begin constructing another one to take this to the consignment shop to sell. I’m positive this will bring in quite a bit of money.
I wanted Ms. Muffin to see its worth, so I asked her to step out back. I took some trash from the dumpster behind the building and strew it across the pavement. I hadn’t tried this particular machine yet, so I hoped it would work as efficiently as the first one.
I flipped the switch and it whirred into action. It picked up all of the trash effortlessly. I threw some more down and handed the machine to Ms. Muffin.
“Oh, my! Are you sure it’s safe?” She asked.
“If you hold it like this… and like this… there, that should do it,” I assured her. “Make sure you keep a tight grip.”
She flipped the switch and began sucking in pieces of trash with ease and grace.
“Oh, this is fantastic,” she beamed. “This will make you… and me… a small fortune.”
I said I would try to build some more of them, but made no promises. School comes first, after all.
When I got home, Mom had Dusty and Grey in a line to parade their Prom suits that she had purchased and sewn. Prom was still a ways off, but she wanted to make sure they were done.
“Where have you been?”
“Out! Is it a crime to go out?”
“That will not do, young man. You will tell me where you were and you’ll tell me now.”
Woah! Where is this coming from? She’s marked me a criminal now. I guess it’s not all right to go into town on a Saturday afternoon.
“I was at the consignment shop dropping off an invention I’m selling, if you really must know.”
“Why do continue to build needless junk? If you need money, you only have to ask.”
Oh, here it comes; the speech again; as if we haven’t heard it enough already.
Luck was on my side, though. Abbey began crying at the top of the stairs. “Ugh! Just go upstairs and try on your suit,” she said as she rushed up to make sure she didn’t fall.
“Boy, are you clueless,” I muttered under my breath and turned to walk out the back door. It’s not about money at all. I happen to like building things; working with my hands, you know? I don’t think she will ever get that.
I had no intention of trying on those clothes after that. She and Dad have been real edgy ever since the girls were born. Will they ever be normal again?
I headed outside with the intention of getting away for a while when Dad came out of the Nectary and called after me to return immediately. I kept walking as if I didn’t hear. I just needed to go somewhere else; be somewhere else. I would be in for a serious grounding when I got home, but I didn’t care. I only took a short walk; down to Peppermint Pier, and returned home. I went straight to the shed and began building another Harvester to take to the consignment shop.
Grey heard me working in the shed and came out to talk. “Sorry you got in trouble again.”
“Thanks, it’s no big deal anymore. It seems like I get in trouble just for the sake of them having someone to ground.”
“Yeah, you have gotten some bad wraps lately.”
“That’s an understatement! They’ve been whacko ever since the girls were born. Do you think there’s a connection? I’ve heard of something called Post Par…something, that can affect women after a pregnancy, but what’s up with Dad?”
“I wish I had some answers for you, but I’m just a dumb jock!” he grinned. “Don’t let it bother you too much, ‘kay?”
Dumb jock with straight A’s in school. I used to have straight A’s, also. They’ve been slipping lately and I’ll be lucky to keep them B’s. I’m having a hard time concentrating; at school and at home.
“I’ll try not to; thanks!”
“The rest of us are here if you need to talk; you know that, right?”
“Thanks, but I doubt any of you have enough time to sit and listen to all my gripes,” I said, nudging him in the side with my elbow.
My stomach was telling me I need to feed it, so I went into the house to find something to eat. Mom saw me come in and came to apologize; a little too late as far as I was concerned. I let her prattle on and get it out. I didn’t say a word; just stood there and pretended to listen.
When she was done, I turned to the fridge and found something to eat. It seemed the air was clear, at least for the time being. I went to the shed to be the hermit she constantly accuses me of being. I could wait there for my punishment for the next thing I didn’t do, as well as anywhere else.
It didn’t take long, as Dad came into the shed and laid another two week sentence on me. I still don’t know what it was for. I may as well ground myself, just to get it over with, when I see them coming.
Grey borrowed old Prune Poczki’s truck and he and Onyx brought back some junk from the junk yard so I could have something to pass my time. I felt like a felon stamping license plates. Among their finds were a TV, that I decided to start with first, and a trash compactor. We could really use a trash compactor in the house, but I did not want to do anything for my parents at this moment.
Grey and Onyx would scrounge the junkyard, I would fix the stuff, and Dusty and Coal would clean them up and then we’d take them to the consignment shop to sell them. We’d split the money evenly.
I had a tidy sum saved up from all of the stuff we’d sold. Ms. Muffin would always smile and wave as we entered the shop with more to sell. I think she was kinda teased Onyx, pretending to be sweet on him because he embarrassed so easily. He’d walk the other way and wander around, looking at all of the stuff on the shelves while we transacted our business.
I would stay in the shed working until about the time Mom and Dad would take the girls up for bed, then go into the house and do my homework. Grey was cleaning up after dinner when I sat down.
“They told us not to do anything for you; no more scrap; no more junk,” he said in a hushed voice.
I just shrugged and continued to do my homework. “Thanks,” I offered as he walked into the kitchen.
“Sorry,” was he response before heading up to bed himself.
I decided to get some fresh air after finishing my homework. I grabbed a lantern and walked down to the orchard.
I sat under the trees at the far edge of the last row and just looked up at the stars for a while. All that open space and here I felt like I would explode at any minute from being so closed in. How I would love to travel among the stars, by myself, no one to tell me what to do or ground me time and time again.
I got up and returned the lantern to the shed. I stepped up onto the front stoop, I was taken by surprise when I saw Cotton sitting on the bench.
“I had a feeling you needed some loving attention,” she winked.
“You are a just what the doctor ordered,” I grinned.
We moved down off the porch and farther from the light. She placed her hand on the back of my neck and pulled me close. Our lips touched, pressing against one another’s in a passionate kiss.
She couldn’t stay long because her Dad would be returning from work soon and she had to be home before him. I t was enough for me right then.
Towards the end of my latest two week sentence, I was elected babysitter while Mom and Dad took my brothers to watch Grey play in the Homecoming game. He was the starting quarterback this year. The team captain and quarterback had broken his leg while fooling around at the observatory with some of his friends and was unable to play in the game. I wished Grey luck before he left. He grabbed me and gave me a hug. I thought he was going to crush me.
Cotton got wind that I was home with the girls. I always want to refer to them as “the twins,” but then remember there are two sets of twins and a set of triplets. Someone needs to teach Mom and Dad what “One at a time” means. She surprised me by coming over to keep me company. I thought for sure she’d make the game. I was glad she came since I couldn’t go out; not even to the shed. The girls were sleeping and the baby monitor was on, and I really didn’t want to sit up there with them anyway.
“Oh, I have something I want to give to you.”
“Oh, I like presents,” she smiled, “especially if they’re from you!”
I ran up to my room, taking the stairs two or three at a time, and retrieved the package I had purchased a few days beforehand. I had hidden it in the back of my dresser.
“I was going to wait til after graduation to give you this,” I teased.
“Oh, just give it to me already,” she pleaded.
“I was at Cherries Jubilee the other day and got the perfect gift for my perfect angel.”
“Cherries Jubilee; the Jewelers?” she asked if seeking verification from herself. “I love, love, love jewelry!” She began pawing at my pockets, looking for her prize.
From behind my back, I slowly moved my hand holding the package, and sank to one knee as I did so. “Cotton Candy, will you marry me? Before you answer, I know we will need to wait until…”
“Yes! Yes, yes, yes!” She screamed through clasped hands. Instinctively her hands covered her mouth that now hung open as she gasped at the sight of the bauble.
The ring was small, but it was a real diamond. I had found the gem while nosing around the old mine in the hills just outside of town. I had showed the gem stone to Cherries Jubilee. She lent me enough money to get it cut with the promise that I sell her the smelted gem for an agreeable sum.
This sum included the cost of making the ring for Cotton. Getting her size was easy enough, as she was always in his shop trying on jewelry. Ms. Jubilee assisted me in choosing the right setting for the stone upon its return from the cutter. She threw in a pink velvet lined ring box at no extra charge.
Cotton threw her arms around me and kissed my lips, nose, cheeks, even my eyelids. I think she likes the ring…
End Generation Two, Chapter One