Uncategorized

Generation Three Prologue: There Are No Rose Gardens Here

Screenshot-77

The world was spinning and I was screaming. I didn’t even know why. Not really. No matter how wide I forced my eyelids, I couldn’t focus on anything. It was dark and blurred and there was this horrible sound that reminded me of the time I went to the junkyard with my father and we saw this machine eat a car. I had found it captivating then but now the high-pitched crunch made me want to hide.

The spinning stopped and I realized Helios was crying for our Mom. I instinctively did the same, spitting out hair that had wrapped around my tongue. I heard her reply, though the meaning behind her words was lost, and I was suddenly glad that mother always made us wear seat belts. I was certain the blood rushing to my head meant we were upside down.

I could hear my heartbeat in my temples as the car began to rock. Shiloh managed to slide between the front seats, her eyes filled with emotions I couldn’t quite place. I watched as she quickly unbuckled Helios’ sobbing form, wrapping him in her arms before he could crash down to the ceiling. She turned to me and did the same. I tried to cry out for Mom again, to thank Shiloh, but my mouth felt dry and sticky. I couldn’t form the words. It wasn’t until Shiloh began using her shoulder to push open the door that I realized tears were still staining my cheeks and hiccups punctuated my breathing.

Metal scraped against mental as the door finally gave way. I covered my ears in a desperate attempt to protect them from the sound; eyes squeezed shut, even as the cool night air washed over my already shivering frame. A strong hand gripped my bicep, practically dragging me out of the wrecked vehicle. I opened my eyes long enough to see Shiloh using her other hand to steer Helios’ form towards the tree line.

Screenshot-92

“Where’s Mom? Why isn’t she with us?” Helios asked, voice hoarse from tears and screams. Shame pooled into the bottom of my stomach – I had forgotten all about my Mother in the wake of the chaos. I contorted my body, desperate to catch a glimpse of the twisted metal that lay demolished behind us, but Shiloh wouldn’t let me. She tugged me forward again, causing me to trip over the yellow flats I was wearing.

“She’s fine. She is just waiting for the police.” Shiloh’s words were frantic, pouring from her lips like fluid. I knew she was lying. The way her pink eyes darted from the tree-line to our peripherals betrayed her.

“But I didn’t see-“

“Helios, I need to you to focus.” She snapped, eyes narrowing as she gazed down at my brother’s silver head. I watched as his lips formed a pout before his eyes hardened. I knew that look; it meant Helios was determined. I, on the other hand, still felt disoriented. The throbbing in my head continued, making any thoughts I tried to process seem jumbled and foreign.

Shiloh had dragged us a few meters into the forest when a loud explosion boomed from behind us, waves of heat washing over our backs. Another startled scream ripped from my throat, and Shiloh froze in her tracks. She looked down at each of us as if she was debating something before she took a deep breath, “You know that there are bad people in this world, right?” I spared a glance at Helios before we both nodded, “Well, those bad people are after us right now. I need you two to run as fast and as far as you can. Don’t stop for anyone. Do you understand?”

“What about you?” I whispered eyes wide. Fear began to leak into my bones, tightening muscles and making it hard to breathe.

Screenshot-90

“Lux, Helios. Do you understand?” She repeated. Her tone was stern, leaving no room for questions despite her obvious evasion of mine.

“Yes.” I mumbled as Helios nodded again.

“Good. Now go.” We stood there, unsure of what we should do even though our instructions had been simple. Finally Shiloh’s eyebrows creased, “I said go!”

Helios snatched my hand into his, tugging at me impatiently. It took a minute for my panic ridden body to respond but soon my feet were moving faster than they ever had in my life, encouraged on by Helios’ pace. We sprinted over roots and rocks, our breath coming out as puffs in the air before they disappeared into the fog that was settling around us. I didn’t know how long we had been running before voices began to filter through the crunching of leafs and snapping of twigs. They were so soft and muddled that Helios didn’t seem concerned even though every unfamiliar tone caused my stomach to twist into knots. When the voices began clear, bouncing off of near-by trunks and foliage, I could see the look of panic reflected back to me on my brother’s face. Neither of us knew what to do, the sound of footsteps and commands echoed around us, leaving us with seemingly no place to hide.

Screenshot-93

“Lux,” Helios stopped, whipping around to face me. Mud stained his face, his hair was a mess and dried blood dotted his arms. I could only imagine what kind of wild animal I looked like, “Let’s climb this tree.”

The tree he pointed to was tall, with plenty of branches for us to hide in, “How are we gonna get up there?” I asked, confused. While it was the best hiding place known to us, the lowest branch was still a good foot or two taller than us.

“I’ll boost you.” He didn’t wait for me to agree to his plan, already kneeling into the mud. Mom would have been so mad that he was getting his only nice pair of pants dirty if she was here.

“How are you going to get up?” I asked, walking over to him in a haze of uncertainty.

“I’ll find a way, don’t worry.” Helios flashed the same smile he always gave me when we were doing something we shouldn’t be doing and he wanted me to believe everything would be alright anyways. Only, whenever he used that smile nothing ever ended up alright; one of us ended up hurt, or stuck or crying.

I placed my foot into his cupped hand. He boosted me up just enough so I could reach the bottom truck. The bark bit into my hands, scrapping the skin as I pulled myself up, “What now?” I called down. Helios was using his hands to move around the dirt and leafs around the tree, “What are you doing?”

“I saw this in a movie once. I’m covering our trail.”

“You need to get up here too!” I hissed, letting my hands dangle down. My skirt ripped as I used my thighs to balance my weight on the thick branch. It hurt, but I ignored it, “I can help you pull yourself up.”

“You need to get higher up, Lux. You aren’t hidden at all.” Helios dodged my suggestion as smoothly as Shiloh had before him. He stood up, finally satisfied with his work, before he began to stomp his once polished boots down into the dirt. The foot prints he made led away from the tree, his back turned towards me. I was in awe of my little brother. He seemed so calm and collected, especially when compared to me. I was struggling to produce coherent sentences.

Screenshot-97

“Lux, get yourself hidden!” He hissed, “I have a plan, I’ll be right back.” And then he made a mad dash through the tree, disappearing from my sight.

Tear stung my eyes. Helios had left me all alone. First mother, than Shiloh now him. I held back my sobs, as I managed to steady myself on the branch. Using the trunk for support, I quickly found a foothold and heaved myself onto the second branch. It was a good thing we had a lot of trees in our backyard back home, I had a lot of practice climbing them even if mother wasn’t fond of us doing so. She often worried about us falling and breaking a bone – which had happened to Helios on one occasion. I steeled myself against those thoughts as I rose through the branches. Falling now was not an option.

I had gotten maybe twenty feet up into the tree when footsteps began to break through the silence. Elation coursed through my body as I scanned the area for Helios, hoping he had returned just as he had promised. Unfortunately, the young man that caught my attention was older than I was and did not have silver hair. Panic replaced the joy I felt just moments ago and I melded my body against the branch I was lying on. Holding my breath, I resisted the urge to close my eyes as the pink boy wandered around a few nearby trees. He looked lost. For a moment I was certain he was much too young to be a bad person but Shiloh’s words kept me from giving away my position.

Screenshot-99

The pink man was looking at the fake footprints Helios’ had created. He wandered around them, careful to never step directly onto one of the footprints, until he backtracked to the second, real, footprints Helios had made as he fled the scene. I followed his movements until the branch I was on hid him from my line-of-sight. I adjusted myself, trying to get a better look, but my movement caused the branch to shake. As leafs gently floated to the ground, I held my breath again.

It didn’t matter.

Screenshot-101

A particularly large and beautiful leaf landed on top of the stranger’s head, causing him to stop. He hesitated, pulling the greenery out of his hair, before slowly looking up. Rosy pinks met with my bright yellows and I had to stop myself from screaming out. Surprise faded into confusion before a small frown crept onto the young man’s lips. Slowly, he raised a single finger to his lips; a gesture I had seen before.

He was telling me to be quite.

More figures busted through the foliage. They all looked much older than the pink man that had already averted his gaze from my own. Through the soft humming of birds and crickets I could make out their conversation.

“Did you see where they went?” The man’s breathing was labored but even as he wiped sweat from his brow I could tell he was determined to find me and Helios. Perhaps Shiloh, as well. These must have been the bad men she had warned us about.

“Yes,” The pink man lied smoothly, “The tracks lead north.” I did not know which direction led north or south, but I did know that the footprints the pink boy pointed to were the fake ones. He was helping us.

Screenshot-102

“Good work, boy.” The two men took off in the direction they had been directed, with the pink man walking after their retreating form. He paused, only for a second, to look back up at me. Unlike before, his gaze caused a shivered to run down my spine and my blood to run cold.

Or perhaps it hadn’t been his glare at all.

My whole body felt as if it was on fire suddenly, flames emitting from the base of my neck and slowly licking down my whole form. I struggled with the pain, trying my hardest not to scream, until black ate away at my vision.

*

Screenshot-103

“Hi, handsome.” I purred, batting my eyelashes up at the middle aged green man. He wore a suit, not a wrinkle in sight, his shoes polished and hair swept back with expensive gel. The watch on his wrist was enough to feed me for a week and the rings on his fingers were worth a tiny fortune. It was obvious to anybody that this man didn’t belong in the streets and there was only one thing that would bring a man of his caliber down to the dirty part of Starburst Shores.

Sex.

He eyes raked over me, undressing me before he even got my name – if he would even bother asking for it, “Well, you’re a pretty one.”

I giggled, coyly covering my mouth as I pressed my body against his arm, “You lookin’ for a good time?”

Screenshot-104

“How much?” He asked, but his arm was already snaking its way around my waist, his hands inching lower. I could have requested the sky and the moon at this point and he would have given it to me.

“I’ll give you a good deal, mister.” I winked at him, making sure to expose my breasts as much as possible through my low cut top, “I got a place nearby.”

Words were no longer needed as he nodded, allowing me to link my hand in his and lead him off of the street and into my nearby motel room. The moment we entered the smell of mold and cigarette smoke assaulted my nostrils. The man beside me scrunched his face up in disgust but I simply smiled, strutting to the hard bed. Legs crossed, I ran my fingertips over my exposed thigh, allowing the fabric of my skirt to rise as well. Just as quickly as it had appeared, the disgust on the man’s face vanished. I smiled in triumph as he undid his tie, throwing his jacket onto floor.

This man had never done this before. I could tell in the way his hand shook when he went to touch me, or the way he fidgeted before finally taking a seat next to me on the queen size bed. It squeaked under his weight and I found myself rolling my eyes as he leaned in to kiss me. He smelt like classy cologne, and his teeth had been recently brushed. It was better than most men who came in stinking of their lunch. Even still, as his lips touched mine, I had to hold back a gag. It was always the same – too much tongue, too much saliva, fish lips, and teeth clattering. It was like these men were suddenly teleported back to middle school, awkwardly trying to find the right pace but failing miserably.

Screenshot-105

His eyes were closed as he gently leaned me back against the lumpy mattress. Mine? Mine were open. I moved my lips mindlessly, hoping that Rosaline would soon gather the courage to emerge from the bathroom. As if we shared some telepathic connection, the door slowly opened. The green and pink woman was armed with a baseball bat as she crept towards our intertwined figures. Just as the man’s hands delved under my blouse, the sickening crack of wood against skull erupted. The man’s hand went limp.

“Jeez, about time.” I grunted, pushing the dead weight off of me.

Screenshot-107

“Oh my gosh. Did I kill him? Is he alive?” Rosaline fretted. In her panic she dropped her weapon, letting the wood crash against the carpet. Her hands burrowed into her hair, eyes wide, as she stared down at the lifeless form.

“Rosa, he’s fine.” I dismissed her worries but didn’t bother checking for a pulse. It served the man right, preying on woman he thought were desperate and helpless. Instead, I began rummaging through his pockets.

“Luxxxxaaannnnaaa!”

I found myself rolling my eyes at Rosaline but caved, throwing her our victim’s wallet, “Fine, fine. I’ll check.” I removed his watch, dangling it off of my own wrist momentarily, before I finally took two fingers to his pulse. It only took a second for me to confirm that he was alive, “He’ll be fine.”

“Oh Berry, he’s got a family!”

“What?”

“He’s got a family!” Rosa repeated, shoving an image of the green man with a wife and kid in front of my eyes.

“So? What do we care?” I asked, yanking gold ring after gold ring off of the man’s chubby fingers.

“If we hurt him-“

Screenshot-109

“Look, Rosa. He’s what, 40? With a wife and a kid. I’m probably like, five years older than his daughter and he tried to pay me to sleep with him. They’re better off without him.” I pointed out.

“Can I please call 911 when we get out of here?” Rosa’s voice was shaking. Part of the reason I loved her so much – and trusted her with my life – was because she was the complete opposite of me. Warm where I was cold, sensitive where I was callous, kind where I was sarcastic. I crashed reality down upon her head and she reminded me of the good in the world.

“Whatever. Do what cha gotta do.” I sighed, stuffing my pockets full of the jewelry I had snatched.

“Hey, um, Lux?”

“What, I said you could call-“

“No, um,” Rosaline began to fiddle with the hem of her shirt, eyes down casted even as I tried to meet her gaze. She hardly ever acted this way with me unless she thought I might get upset at what she had to say, “I know you said to forget about what you said the other night but, um, does he have numbers?”

I frowned, pushing myself off of the bed, “Yes. He does. I told you everyone has them.”

“What do they say?”

Screenshot-110

“10987.”

“And mine?”

I let my eyes travel above her head to the crisp numbers that floated there, unseen to everyone but me. I had never told anyone except Rosaline about them, I had always just assumed I was going crazy. After twelve years of holding it in from fear, I had to tell someone. I wasn’t sure when they appeared – I couldn’t remember much about my life until I was nine or so – and I didn’t know what they meant. Every person I had ever met had one and each number was different. I couldn’t make heads or tails of it.

“It changes,” I brushed past her, making my way out of the motel room, “Look, I don’t wanna talk about it. Don’t cha got a call to make?”

“Yeah, right, sorry.” She mumbled, scurrying out of the door like the timid creature she was. I shook my head, closing the door behind our fleeing forms.

———-

A/N: Whhoooaa. Generation Three guys. This is cray cray. I am going to try to have update weekly or biweekly now that Lux’s time to shine has started, but no promises.

Rosaline Valley is Ariella’s. She writes the fabulous rainbowcy As The Color Wheel Turns, so you should totes go check that out when you get a chance. :] Thank you for letting me use your beautiful creation!

I love you guys and appreciate all of your support! ❤

Advertisements
Uncategorized

Finale: …But It Was Destroyed In One

Eight years. It had been eight years since Noir proposed to me. Eight years and my wedding day had finally arrived. I should have been giddy – Bubbleport finally legalizing marriage between Mixed-Colored ‘Bows was a huge victory – but in reality I was scared. Our wedding would be the first nationally recognized union. My everyday existence garnered the attention of reporters. Every step my children took had the potential to be headline news. I should have been used to the spotlight but I wasn’t. The nagging feeling in the pit of my stomach grew with every tick of the minute hand, and while I should have been getting dressed and putting on make-up, I was doing work instead; anything to take my mind off of the events that were sure to follow – the name calling, the dirty looks. Weddings were supposed to be joyous occasions, but I was certain mine would be ruined by some bigot.

Screenshot-70

“Mom, shouldn’t you be getting ready?” Apollo stood in my doorway – back straight and head held high. He didn’t wait for me to answer his question. He took it upon himself to stroll right over to the lesson plans I was working on, flipping the binder shut. He was only nine but had a way of acting like he was much older.

“Did your father send you in here?”

“You need to get ready! We have a long trip ahead of us!” Apollo scolded.

I mimicked his expression, staring in my oldest’s colorless eyes, “I asked you a question, young man.”

Screenshot-71

His empowered countenance fell, replaced by a jutted lip, “Yes. He can’t look after you since it’s bad luck to see the bride before the wedding, right? So, I’m in charge,” Apollo’s smile returned, “And Dad wouldn’t want you to be working before the wedding! Come on, aren’t you supposed to do all that girly stuff?”

“Okay, okay. You win.” I sighed, holding up my hands in resignation. I felt a wave of pride swell up within me at Apollo bright eyes – he was growing up well-adjusted and responsible – more than I ever imagined him being when he had been born all those years ago.

It hadn’t been easy to give him the life he had. When it had come time to enroll Apollo and Pumpkin into elementary, the city had been in an uproar. The rich didn’t want Mixed children in the same facilities as the Pure Berries. The mayor of Zinfindel had found it to be an easy enough problem to ignore when it had just been my son and niece; he swept it up under the rug and left it to us to homeschool our children. However, years passed and soon the number of Mixed Berries needing an education grew. The problem he tried so hard to cover up began to peek its head out from under the rug. Protests, angry letters and a few news reports led to the creation of Zinfindel for Mixed Berries. I jumped at the opportunity to teach the third grade. Most of the teachers in the program had children who attended the school, and while it wasn’t equal, it was more than most of us thought our children would ever receive.

Screenshot-72

“Mama!!!!” Solem’s screeching caused Apollo’s and my head to snap to attention, though neither of us were surprised at the sound. Solem was usually screaming, or tattling or crying. His small frame tumbled into my room, big yellow eyes brimming with tears, and I could already hear the stomping of feet following behind him, “Luxanna and Helios took the remote away from me andandandand when I tried to get it back HELIOS HELD ME DOWN WHILE LUX SPIT ON ME!”

“NU-UH!” Helios cried, white hair wild, “He’s lying!”

Screenshot-73

“Yeah! He’s lying!” Lux echoed, arms crossed. She made no attempt to hide her movements as she stomped over to Solem and punched him in the side, “Stop trying to get us in trouble!”

“You’re doing a pretty good job of that yourself, missy!” I shouted over the cries that had begun to erupt from Solem. Lux froze, realizing what she had just done, and linked her hands behind her back. An innocent smile snaked its way onto her lips but it was too late, “You apologize to your brother right now!”

Lux’s smile fell and she eyed her twin with distain, “I’m sorry,” She began, adverting her yellow gaze to her own feet, “but if you weren’t such a baby all the time I wouldn’t have to hit you!”

I was pretty sure that didn’t even qualify as an apology but no amount of ‘I’m sorries’ would cause Solem’s sniffling to cease. Instead I sighed, annoyance wrinkling my brow, “Lux, go to your room until I call for you. You too, Helios!”

Screenshot-75

“What? What did I-“

“Now, Helios!” My voice cracked as it raised a few octaves but it had the desired effect: both set of tiny feet scampered out of sight.

Apollo, my savior, followed after them, “Don’t worry, I’ll make sure they do what they were told.” He called before disappearing down the hall.

“Solem, honey, are you okay?” He nodded, pawing at his wet cheeks as I collected him into my arms. We stayed like that until the doorbell rang. I slowly peeled myself away from him, wondering if I coddled Solem too much, but every time one of his siblings singled him out my heart broke, “I have to get the door, baby. Are you going to be okay?”

“Yes.” He squeaked. Solem followed me out like a little duckling, only parting when we reached the bottom of the staircase. I watched as he darted into the living room, cheeks stained with dried tears, before turning my attention back to the door.

Screenshot-79

Through the door I could see three girls and I felt a shiver of apprehension trickle down my spine. They were not going to be happy that I wasn’t ready – not bathed, not made up, and certainly not ready to be a bride at a wedding.

Sure enough, the duo started fussing over me the moment I let them inside.

“Why aren’t you ready yet?” My sister asked. Her eyebrows crinkled in worry, “You aren’t having second thoughts, are you?”

“No, no. Of course not. I just got… distracted.” Not a complete lie – even with Noir taking Lightning and Nova with him, I still had four children under ten running around the house. They didn’t need to know that my work had sucked me in.

“I’ll text Noir,” Shiloh sighed, “Let him know we’ll be late.”

“Where’s Apollo?” Pumpkin voice was sweet and soft, so unlike her mother’s. Apollo and Pumpkin had been best friends for years now, so it wasn’t unusual for her first inquiry to be his location.

“In his room with Helios.”

“Go play, Pumpkin. Mommy has got some work to do. Quickly now.” Shiloh shooed Pumpkin, which earned her a glare from my sister.

Pandora held her tongue, however, and turned to me, “Come on! Let’s go, pronto!” She motioned me to lead the way, letting go of Pumpkin’s hand as the orange haired angel glanced from her mother to me to Shiloh before running gleefully upstairs.

Screenshot-81

From there the hours passed in a blur. Shiloh and Pandora buzzed around me like bees; one focusing on hair while the other did my make-up. Though Shiloh and I still had our reservations about each other, we had both managed to put aside our differences for Noir. Like it or not, I wasn’t going anywhere and I wasn’t the type of girl to force my boyfriend, fiancé or husband to cease his friendships. That really only left us with one option – toleration. With time, I’d like to believe our tolerance became something akin to friendship.

“There.” Pandora announced, looking rather proud of the work she had done on my face. Shiloh nodded, indicating that she had also finished pinning my hair into place.

“Can I look?” I asked, excitement running through my veins. I had been trying to keep my mind off of the wedding, afraid that I would get cold feet. It seemed to be having to opposite effect. I was nervous, anyone could tell by the constant shaking of my legs, but it was a good kind of nervous. The kind Noir used to give me when his knuckles would brush against my skin or his breath would wisp across my neck.

The kind he still gave me.

“No! You aren’t the full package yet.” Pandora said. She wasted no time in rummaging through my closet, looking for that one white dress we had picked out months ago. Shiloh stood by my side, her pink eyes trained on the tilt of my head. If I so much as glanced in the wrong direction she would cluck her tongue, calling me to stare straight ahead.

“Here it is. Stand up.” My sister ordered and for a moment I pictured her as the bride. She was much better suited for the normal demeanor brides were portrayed as having.

Screenshot-87

I did as I was told, stepping into the dress with a little help from Shiloh. Together they pulled up the dress, zipping and button and pressing the fabric where it was needed. When the gown finally met their expectations, Pandora swirled me around by my shouldered and let me gaze at myself in the mirror. Tears sprung to my eyes. I twirled back around, gathering both women into my arms, and smothered them in the tightest hug I could muster.

“Alright, alright. No need to get sappy on us.” Despite her words, Shiloh returned my hug gently.

“Noir’s going to die when he sees you,” My sister cooed, pulling out of my embrace, “Oh! Let me show Pumpkin! She’ll love it! She’ll think you’re a princess – she’s obsessed with princesses.” And with that she was off.

Pandora returned with the whole crew behind her, “I want to get married,” Pumpkin announced immediately, looking over at her mother expectantly.

“Yeah, not this decade.” Pandora shot down her daughter’s request, making the orange haired girl pout.

Screenshot-83

“Mama! You’re pretty!” Luxanna cooed, eyes wide as her small hands gripped the train of my dress. I collected Luxanna into my arms, smiling as she nestled her head into the crook of my neck. She might have been a trouble maker but she was still my princess, and certainly daddy’s little girl, “Can I drive with yoooouuu?” She asked, batting her eyelashes.

Before Helios even opened his mouth to echo his sister’s request, I knew it was coming. The two were inseparable, “Me too! Me too!”

“Of course. Apollo, Pumpkin and Solem can drive with Pandora and Gram’ma.” I answered as Helios buried his face into the folds of my dress.

“We need to go. Noir can only stall for so long.” Shiloh stated, heels clicking impatiently. I could practically feel her gaze on my skin, begging for me to agree with her. It would only take a quick nod in order to get the gears moving.

“She’s right. I shouldn’t be too late to my own wedding, right? Panda, go ahead. I’ll catch up later.”

*

Screenshot-88

“In other news, Raz Prelude’s funeral will be held this weekend. The prominent businessman was killed earlier this week while holding a press conference about his company’s role in legalizing marriage between Berries of all colors-“

“Shiloh, turn that off.” I hissed, pressing a random button on the stereo in hopes of turning the channel. It worked, “I don’t want Lux and Helios to hear that kind of stuff.”

“Why not? You can’t sugarcoat their whole life, Estelle.” She pointed out. She only took her eyes off of the road for a second, but it was long enough for me to see the empathy break through her usual calm demeanor. Her words might have seemed harsh but they were true, eventually I wouldn’t be able to protect Lux and Helios from the outside world. That day, however, was not today. Today they were still my babies, sleeping soundly in the backseat.

“I know that better than anyone,” I reminded her politely. Shiloh didn’t respond, her lips pressed into a thin line. Perhaps that hadn’t been the best choice of words; Shiloh knew the horrors of this world just as well as I did. Apologizing wouldn’t change anything, Shiloh was the type of girl who just needed to be left alone when aggravated or annoyed, so instead I sighed and averted my attention out the window.

Screenshot-77

“SHILOH WATCH OUT!” The words ripped out of my throat, leaving it hoarse and raw, but it was too late. The trees along the road became blurred as the sound of metal collapsing screeched through the air. Glass shattered. Smoke filled my nostrils, burning, as my head crashed into the sandpaper-like airbag that had exploded from the dashboard. As the world span out of control, I could distinguish the sound of children crying. My children.

The chaos gave way to silence. There was blood but I couldn’t tell where it was coming from. Was it even mine? “Luxanna! Helios!” Their names caused my throat to catch on fire. I didn’t care. I tried to turn in my seat, lights flashing haphazardly though my vision, only to realize the dashboard had melded around my legs, plastic and metal coalescing with flesh.

“Mama!” The cry came in unison, confused and terrified. My mind stopped its frantic struggle long enough to realize that I was upside down.

“It’s okay, it’s okay.” I whispered, taking a few deep breaths in an attempt to get a hold of the situation. Shiloh’s shivering form caught my attention. Like me she seemed confused, unable to comprehend where the black truck that had T-boned us came from. But there was something else in her eyes, a sort of terror I had never seen before. I followed her blank stare out the wind shield, towards the vehicle that had sent us spinning, and felt every muscle in my body curl in trepidation.

“Shiloh,” I called over the hissing of the collided cars, “I’m stuck. You need to get Luxanna and Helios out of here.” My voiced sounded eerily calm to my own ears. The tone did not reflect the panic that was welling up in my lungs, making it difficult to breath.

Her head snapped in my direction, clarity shining through the dread, “Let me help you. We can get away together-“

Screenshot-89

“No! No. Even if you managed to get me free before the Resistance’s reinforcements get here… I don’t think I can walk. Please, just keep my kids safe. Shiloh, please.” Desperation seeped into my voice, and I watched the internal struggled flash across her face: despair, anger and finally determination.

“As soon as they’re safe, I’m coming back for you Estelle. I won’t leave you here.”

“Thank you,” were the only words that escaped my lips as she undid her seatbelt, maneuvering her legs out from under the steering wheel and climbing into the back seat. The car rocked back and forth as Shiloh kicked open the driver-side backseat door, ushering my pride and joys out in front of her. I watched with baited breath as they disappeared into the distant tree-line, Luxanna peering over her shoulder as Shiloh pushed her along.

A sense of peace settled over me. I was going to die here. I wasn’t naïve enough to believe that Shiloh would actually make it back to me in time. This attack was premeditated – it wasn’t a coincidence that it had been the Resistance that derailed me on my wedding day. It was an attack. A lesson. They were putting me in my place.

The sound of a car door slamming shut echoed from behind me. My hand began shaking uncontrollably. I could see two pairs of feet approaching my side of the vehicle, their shoes polished and pant legs pressed.

aShiloh Leeks

There was an explosion. And then there was nothing.

Uncategorized

Chapter Twenty-Two: Rome Wasn’t Built In A Day…

Screenshot-45
“You don’t like it here, do you?”
Noir’s soft voice took me out of my reverie. Over the last two years I seemed to be slipping into them more and more. It hadn’t gone unnoticed.
“It’s not that I don’t like it. It’s just… overwhelming.” My voice was barely a whisper – not that it mattered. Noir’s hearing had never returned. He had once told me that he could hear ghosts of sounds; shadows of words. Almost as if his ears could only pick up an echo of what was occurring around him. It did not hinder our communication with each other. We both preferred sign language to spoken word and when we did speak Noir had no problem reading my lips.
“Estelle, you don’t have to stay in Bubbleport for my sake.”

Screenshot-49

Noir’s calloused fingers caressed the top of hand; a gesture that used to cause me to blush. Two years ago I probably would have shrunken away from the public show of affection, turned scarlet red. A lot can change in two years. For one, I wouldn’t have been in the middle of a café without a disguise on, on a date with a man that wasn’t my color.
“Where would I go? I’m barely welcomed here and Bubbleport is supposed to be a safe haven for Bows like me.” I took a deep breath and let it seep out between my teeth slowly. Noir’s thumb began to draw imaginary symbols into my skin and I closed my eyes, allowing myself to become lost in his touch.
“What about Zinfandel Plains? I could come with you.”
My eyes snapped open, eyebrows raised. Noir would never be happy in such a small town. He was born and raised in the city, smog in his lungs and gasoline in his veins. “Noir-”
“I know what you’re gonna say and it’s fine. I managed to find trouble and excitement in Sugar Valley, didn’t I?”

Screenshot-46

“Because of me.” I interjected.
“Exactly. As long as I’m with you there will always be enough excitement for me.” Noir winked at the end, intertwining his fingers with mine. I rolled my eyes but was unable to contain the small smile that tugged at the corner of my mouth. No matter how corny or silly he was being, I loved it. It was reassurance that he was still mine, even after two years of monogamy.
“Really, Noir, Bubbleport is fine. The secession of both Bubbleport and Zinfandel from the Mainlands went well and-“
Noir leaned across the table, silencing me with a quick kiss. Familiar sparks of electricity ran down my spine and I shuddered at the contact. That was one thing time hadn’t changed.
*

Screenshot-31

“Oh god, please, no.”
“What? What do two lines mean?”
I looked up from the pregnancy test to Noir’s anxious eyes and back again. Two pink lines. Two little lines that spelt disaster and misery for all of us. The little cluster forming in my uterus probably didn’t even have a beating heart and we – I – had already condemned it to a life full of hatred and bias.
“It means I’m pregnant.”

Screenshot-32

There was a moment of silence in the bathroom before Noir’s eyes lit up. His lips spread into his familiar grin before he lifted me into the air, despite how cramped our bathroom was, and spun me around. His excitement was contagious and I found myself giggle even as my bare feet grazed the sink, knocking over toothbrushes and soap.
“I’m gonna be a father!”
Reality came crashing down as soon as those words spilt out of his mouth. My laughter halted, eyebrows furrowing. Noir noticed the transformation immediately.
“What’s wrong?”

Screenshot-38

“Noir, this is not a good thing.”
Strong arms fell from my side and I could only watch as a mixture of confusion and distress pooled into his bright lilac eyes, “Why isn’t this a good thing?”
“Besides the fact that we aren’t ready for a child? That we weren’t trying for one?” I asked. Noir continued to stare at me, waiting for the real answer. He knew what it was – we had never explicitly spoken about having children together but we had discussed whether or not I wanted any. I hadn’t. Not because I didn’t want to care and raise my own child but because I would not wish my life upon anyone, let alone my own flesh and blood, “You know why.”
“Estellise, his life wouldn’t be like that. We wouldn’t have to hide him. He could go out with us, go to school, and have friends. Just like you do now. I promise. Pandora has been doing well with Pumpkin in Zinfandel Plains, it could be the same for us-“
“Pandora’s situation is different from ours.”
When Pandora found out she was pregnant with Sunburst’s daughter it had been a joyous occasion, but only because Sunburst was no longer with us. Her bundle of joy gave her something to cherish despite Sunburst’s untimely passing and we had all promised to help her in any way possible – even if their intimate relationship came as a surprise to most. It had been hard for her to raise Pumpkin this past year but our parents had moved to Zinfandel Plains to be with her and according to our last conversation, Flax was supposed to be moving in with her any day now.

Screenshot-34

“Why? Why is it different? Because Pumpkin’s father is dead?”
I didn’t have an answer for him and I could see the irritation building behind the pain. Noir’s back straightened, arms tense, and his eyes closed. He was desperately trying to contain his temper – he always did. He walked on egg shells around me, as if I could break at any second. He was right to do so; you can only lose so many people before teetering on the edge.
“Having a child with me is dangerous, Noir. I can’t put you in danger. I can’t lose you.” Hot tears burned at the mere thought of leaving Noir behind. It would be for his own good. He could be happy here – in the city where he belonged. With time he would forget about me, “I never should have agreed to go on that date two years ago.”

Screenshot-41

“I’m not leaving you,” The frustration curling in his muscles unfurled, leaving his shoulders slumped and a sour look on his lips, “Being a member of the Uprising is dangerous, Estelle. Being with you, supporting this child, that’s right. Nothing could be righter.”
“You are always so near-sighted.” I scoffed.
“And you’re always so far-sighted,” He engulfed my petite frame in his arms, holding me against his chest. I closed my eyes, listening to the sound of his heartbeat, as he held me as if I would disappear into a puff of smoke at any minute, “It’s why we are good together, Estelle. We balance each other out.”
“Do we really?”

Screenshot-43

“Of course, you’re the yin to my yang.”
I snorted but a smile snuck onto my lips.
“The peanut butter to my jelly.”
Laughter sent shivers down my spine. I probably should have been annoyed by how easily he could turn any argument into a joke but I wasn’t.
“The Fus Ro to my Dah.”
“What?” I managed through giggles, pulling out of our embrace just in time to see the playful glint in his eyes.
“The grease to my lightning.”
“What are you even talking about?”
“The YO to my LO!”
“Oh Berry, I’m leaving.”

Screenshot-44

“The Bella to my Edward!” He shouted as I made my escape to the bedroom.
*

Screenshot-15

Moving to Zinfandel Plains was the best decision of my life, though it had taken Noir a long time to convince me of it. Not long after we found out I was pregnant Noir went behind my back and conspired with my parents to buy a house in the small country side town. I had been angry, especially since Noir had borrowed money from my father in order to come up with the down payment, and had resisted the change with every ounce of my being. Try as I might, there was nothing I could have done to stop it. By the time I had been enlightened of their little plan Noir had already bought the house and canceled the lease on our small apartment. Not to mention, he had put in his two weeks at the club. Without an income of my own I had no other option but to move. That didn’t mean I wasn’t kicking and screaming the whole way.
I started to appreciate Noir’s initiative when we had finally unpacked all of our belongings. The house was gorgeous on the inside and out. It was two stories, way too large for two people, but Noir liked to remind me that there would soon be three inhabitants and more to follow. I wasn’t too sure about that last part but he was right about one thing; my belly had become swollen. Our first child would be making his entrance soon.

Screenshot-16

I cried when the nursery was finished. Days of painting and shopping – organizing and reading directions while Noir put the crib together – had finally come together to create this perfect little space.
I cried when I went into labor, on the way to the hospital, and again when it was time to push. There were no tears left to shed when they put my baby into my arms but Apollo had no qualms screaming for me. It was like he was feeding off my fear and insecurity. The moment he was adjusted in Noir’s arms his wailing died down and I wondered how Noir could be so calm and assertive while all I could do was panic about thoughts of the future.
I held my breath when we drove home. For the first month of Apollo’s life I walked around, just waiting for our house to be set on fire or for men to show up wielding guns and shouting threats. Noir did everything in his power to soothe me when he wasn’t working security jobs – and even took care of Apollo whenever he could –but my nerves were frayed.
It took almost half a year – when Pandora talked me into taking Apollo to the park with Pumpkin – for me to realize that no one wanted to hurt me because I was mixed; because Apollo was mixed. They didn’t care, and if they did, they looked away or left. Some made snide comments but no one made any attempts to remove us from the park. Pandora pushed her baby girl on the swing without a worry and I realized – I should be able to do that too. No, not should, but could. I just had to let go of all the reservations and suspicion that I had grown up around.
It was that day that I promised to be a better mother to Apollo. I had grown up with a distant mother, I didn’t want the same for my son.
It was also the day that I agreed to having more children with Noir. It wouldn’t be easy, but together we could cultivate and protect our family.

Screenshot-21

I was not expecting him to respond to my declaration with one of his own.

Screenshot-24

Screenshot-22

Screenshot-28

Screenshot-29