Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Chapter 2.11- All the Lovely Things

          Midafternoon on the first day of summer found Layla in her kitchen contemplating an unexpected sprinkle of rain through her window. The recent heat had taken to withering her plants if she didn’t water them both in the morning and in the afternoon. The question now was whether this little bit of water would sufficiently quench the thirst of her plants or not.

          Finally deciding that she’d better go and tend her garden herself she turned and her kitchen door opened. (Aaaaaand the villagers Rejoice!)

          “Um,” Layla was at a loss. “Hi???”

          Phedra, however, ignored the wave offered by her extremely confused sister. She’d found something else you just didn’t see every day.

          “There’s a radio on your fridge,” she said without expression.


          “Why is there a radio on your fridge?”

          “So I could dance in the nude without the neighbors seeing?”

          “But your door and gate are unlocked. Your neighbors could just walk right in and see you just as easily. And aren’t you afraid you’re going to make it fall one day?”

          “No.” Why was everyone always questioning her decisions?

          “Oh. Okay then. Hi!”

          “No!” Layla finally bounced back out of radio land angry. “No hi! I haven’t heard from you in months! It’s almost been a year! Cyrus gets your calls! Mom and Dad get your calls! I get No calls! I send you letters! There are no answers! And then you walk in my backdoor? What the hell Phedra?”

          “I can explain?”


          “Can I at least be invited to sit? Or have some coffee? Cyrus says you make some mean Joe, and I am dead on my feet.”

          Glaring a little, Layla hissed between her teeth while turning to the coffee maker. Phedra would always be able to disarm Layla. And really there was no way she’d turn her sister out of her house without first hearing what had been going on.

          “Aw! I knew I could count on you to keep me alive a little longer!”

          “Depends on what kind of excuse I get for not hearing from you for so long.”

          “Uh, it’s a good one? At least it was right up until I walked in that door. Yikes. You’ve gotten crabby.”

          “At least I didn’t disappear.”

          “Aw! You knew through Mom and Dad and Cy that I was alive and okay! Don’t be like that.”

          “You call Cyrus all the damn time. You call mom all the damn time. You talk to dad all the PlumbBob.damned.time. Can’t spare 5 minutes on the phone for me? Even Galen gets to hear from you since he lives in the house with mom and dad. Run out of paper so you can’t answer the letters even?” Spinning on her heel she left the coffee urn in the sink overflowing with water.

          “Cyrus was right. You learned some language.”

          “Yeah,” Layla nodded, pouring the full urn into the coffee maker and turning the tap off. “Yeah, I’ve learned a lot in the time since you disappeared.”

          “PlumbBob, sorry,” Phedra pouted. “If I’d known you didn’t want to see me I wouldn’t have come.”

          Spinning back to Phedra, eyes hard, Layla leveled Phedra with her stare.

          “I don’t want to see anyone who doesn’t want to see me. Or hear from me. Or talk to me. Or let me know on their own that they’re okay.”

          “Look I didn’t talk to you because a lot of stuff happened and I figured you’d be disappointed in me.”

          “Wrong. That just means you’re disappointed in yourself. You didn’t give me a chance.”   

          “Yeah,” Sighing heavily Phedra lowered her gaze. “Wait, what happened to the top of your shirt? When did you get boobs?”

          “You missed a lot. And you sound like Aunt Estella.”


          “Yeah, I guess Cyrus wouldn’t have told you about her. They haven’t met.”

          Grabbing a couple of mugs out of a cabinet, she poured each of them a mug. Handing one to Phedra she headed into her dining room with Phedra tiptoeing behind her.

          The silence stretched between the two much as it had when Cyrus had shown up at Layla’s door. Layla wasn’t going to break this one though. If Phedra had an explanation she wouldn’t force it out of her.

          “Your house looks pretty nice,” Phedra finally squeaked out.

          “Yup,” nodded Layla.

          “Though I never would have pegged you as a ‘plaid’ person.”


          “I like your hair like that,” Phedra pressed on. “It’s nice to see it down.”

          Layla didn’t even bother to respond, taking a long drink instead.

          “I quit teaching in the bush because I was pregnant.”


          “Oh, please,” Layla spat. “Like I believe that.”

          “His name is Henry. I married his dad, George. We’ve been living with his folks on the east coast.”

          This time, Layla only spared a withering glance for her sister before returning to her mug. A sniff from Phedra made Layla’s shoulders slump.

          “Oh my PlumbBob.” For a long moment Layla sat in stunned silence trying to digest her sister’s words.

          “It wasn’t going well in my village. I was constantly battling with the chieftain. And I was homesick. George was teaching in the village with the phone. He was one of the few people that could speak to me. And we got close. We fell in love. When we found out Henry was on the way we both quit. The moment we touched back down in Sim Nation we got married.”

          Letting all her breath out, Layla finally stared hard at Phedra, trying to see if she was telling the truth.

          “I know how much I hurt you when I left. I figured you’d be so much more hurt, and disappointed, when you found out I’d just given up like that. I didn’t tell mom and dad until after Henry arrived. Even then I had to beg her not to tell you until I could. And it’s taken me a while to finally gather enough courage to tell you. And there’s still more.”

          Feeling just a little dizzy, Layla let her eyes trace the pattern on the table. That didn't help.

          “Look,” said Phedra. “Look, the plaid is cute and all but it is killing my back. Is there somewhere more comfortable where we can sit?”

          And so the sisters ended up sitting on a couch in Layla’s cluttered living room.

          Once again, Layla wasn’t going to break the silence. Not out of anger, but because she was still struggling to come to grips with what Phedra had just told her.

          “So,” Phedra said slowly. “So that sparkly one by the lamp is kinda cool.”

          Layla nodded, totally forgetting that Phedra couldn’t hear her when she didn’t use words.

          “With all your doors unlocked aren’t you worried about burglars?”

          Again, Layla didn’t speak. Shaking her head soundlessly the only response she could manage.

          “Okay. So I’m just going to lay it all on the line ‘cause I’m pretty sure it’s impossible for this to get any more awkward.”

          Finally, Layla turned to Phedra, her face passive.

          “George and I have an opportunity to go with a research team that’s going to be doing work on islands that haven’t been properly documented by anthropologists. I’m the pilot for the expedition. George is on the science team. We’re leaving Henry with Cyrus and Olivia. We’re only here for a few more days before we leave. We don’t know how long it will be before we’ll be back. But we can’t take care of Henry when we’ll be so busy. He’ll be better off here, where his life can be stable.”

          Another bomb. Layla was starting to think her ears might go numb.

          They were leaving their child to go and fulfill Phedra’s lifelong goal of island discovery. They would only be here briefly. Was she only telling her this so that Layla wouldn’t ask Olivia where the baby had sprung up from?

          How could Phedra just leave her son like that?

          How could she marry a man she barely knew?

          Why didn’t she tell her earlier?

          “I’m sorry, Laydee,” Phedra whispered. “I’ve really let you down I know. And I’m trying to make it up by going back out to chase my dream again. Just- just don’t hate me.”

          “I don’t hate you,” Layla answered. “I’m just wondering why you didn’t tell me at first. I would have understood.”

          Smiling, Phedra turned to Layla. “No, no you wouldn’t have.”

          Layla raised her eyebrows, narrowing her eyes in challenge.

          “The girl I left behind would not have understood that I gave it all up for love. But the you you are now, the you who finally found someone you could let your guard down with; this you does understand." Phedra paused, peering closely at Layla. "And right now you’re trying to figure out how to refute that.”

          Grinning broadly, finally, Layla rolled her eyes. “Yeah, whatever. You always tried to say you knew me better than I knew myself. But you still should have told me.”

          “I know. But now tell me about Joel, and island hopping, and living in this tiny backwater town, and the guy Cyrus says you’re dating.”

          Laughing a little, Layla launched into her own tale. All about her own island adventures, moving here and finding the town’s memories of Buck.

          She told her about Sally and Uncle Trigger and Aunt Estella and Silas and Rosemary and Skeet.

          She talked about her garden, and attempting to can fresh produce.

          Layla told her of all the lovely things she had seen as she explored the town.

          And she told her about her steady business collecting things other people overlooked on the ground.

          Phedra finally started asking questions then; asking about why she hadn’t expanded her collection to water collectibles, and if Layla had ever learned how to fish like she had wanted. This led Layla to tell more about her time on Ouroboros than she’d put in her letters.

          Then Layla told Fay the story of how she’d met Ned. How awful it was at first. How awkward and boyish he could be. How sweet he was on their date.

          “Ned?” Phedra asked.

          Layla nodded, thinking her question was simply about his name.

          “Okay then.”

          “He’s nice. Be nice.”

          “Whatever you say,” however, Phedra looked confused for a moment. Shaking her head to clear it finally. “Look, we’re staying with Olivia and Cyrus while we’re in town. Come have dinner with us tomorrow night. Meet George and Henry.”



-- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- --

          I almost threw in author commentary on the first shot- Who will walk in the door now? I decided to leave it out and not leave readers waiting. lol

          This was not the role I had originally intended Phedra to have. But she surprised me by getting married almost immediately after moving out. So I was just going to slightly revise her part when she got pregnant. Wammo-Blammo she goes missing ‘cause there is no way Layla would have understood how that could have happened. And honestly, Layla still doesn’t actually get it. She just finally gave in.

          So! I’m not going to leave you hanging to see her husband. There are a few shots on the bloopers page of George Dean. He was originally a pudding from Riverview and I couldn’t let her be married to that. I did leave his personality alone though.


  1. OMG Phedra!! There's a radio on your fridge? Really, Fay? o_o And now that I've already scrolled up and down a couple times to make this comment after I started reading, I'll go ahead and tell you I'm disappointed that I don't see Ned or the man we all love to hate (Well, I kinda like him still). Iggy, that is. Ned is boring. But I'm rambling...back to reading.

    I love how almost anticlimactic their initial conversation is, lol. It's like they haven't been away from each other for so long.

    "That just means you're disappointed in yourself"--ooooo good one.

    Oh wow. All that talk about freedom and following your dreams and she...gets knocked up and married pretty fast. That whole premise was part of what's been driving Layla ever since Phedra left. And now...leaving her kid behind to try it all over again? Goodness. What's Layla going to make of this and how is it going to change her?

    1. I couldn't resist those two shots. Layla waved at her? And Phedra ignored her to stare at the radio? Too good not to use.

      No extra characters this time. Just the two sisters struggling to see if they still actually know one another.

      They were so close as teens that I kind of envision them as the friends that can pick up the phone and talk to each other after not speaking for years and still know exactly what's going on and what the other is thinking. So it was just them slipping into routine. lol

      Yup. Layla hit her hard with that line.

      Uh, Layla hasn't even really grasped what happened herself, so how it's going to affect her remains to be seen. As it is she respects Phedra for jumping back in. Remember, Layla is incredibly shallow and sees only that Phedra is doing what Layla expects her to do. Most likely Layla will see this as a wonderful sacrifice to living for yourself and your dreams which might make Layla just a little more cold blooded in the end. We'll see. I haven't really figured that out yet. lol

    2. Hm. That makes me wonder if her view will change once she has a kid, or if she will resent her child for getting in the way of her freedom.

    3. We'll just have to see. And on that one I do actually know how she'll feel. lol. But you'll see when the time comes.

  2. Phedra's life story is surprising, but also understandable. I mean, it happens. Falling in love can change your plans.

    I know what it means to serve as a kind of role model for a younger sibling, and to look at yourself in that light, but I'm a little concerned by how much Phedra sees herself through Layla's eyes. I mean where she says she knows she let Layla down and is going to make it up by dropping her kid here and leave to adventuring...Seriously? If Phedra is really doing this for Layla, to be the person Layla wants her to be, she needs to stop.

    My sister and I are like that, we're tight, but we live on opposite sides of country and don't get to talk much. But when we do, it's like we just talked yesterday. So I totally felt the Phedra/Layla connection.

    Now, I'm disappointed Estella didn't show up to lecture Layla about having a radio on her fridge. =P

    1. To a degree- but only a small one- Phedra recognizes the rare opportunity to be a part of this research team and is doing it for that. However, she's really using Layla as her scape-goat. She's feeling guilty about her decision to leave her son behind and is trying to stroke Layla's ego in apology. Not that Layla needs her head to get any bigger. Ha! But her example, and her dependence on Layla's opinion has evolved into something that is unhealthy for both of them through this. She shouldn't apologize for living her life her way, and she shouldn't have hid that she was capable of making her own decisions. That is something that will come back around for Layla.

      I have a pledge sister that I'm close to like that. I love how easy it comes.

      Lol. Estella has probably Sallied Forth to go and scold someone else into living a more upright life that particular day.

  3. Ok, I read this this morning, and went to comment. Looked at the time, 7.28, and I have t leave at 7.30. So, I've been waiting ALLLL day to comment on this!!!

    Hi Phedra!
    The wave was hilarious, so casual, like she's seen her every day recently or something lol!

    Well, my my, Phedra has been busy! It's sad that she felt she couldn't tell her sister that she was married or pregnant, they're major life events, and she should have known that Layla wouldn't care that she wasn't 'living her dream' anymore. As you age your dreams change, and it's sad that they went that long without talking for no reason really.

    I'm pretty shocked that Phedra would leave her child behind to go back to work! I suppose it's safer than taking a baby with you to a country that could well have thousands of diseases and be a warzone, but I guess I didn't expect Phedra would leave a child behind! :|

    I'm guessing at the end by Phedra asking 'Ned?', she's either met Ned, or been told by Cyrus that she's seeing Ignacio. Or both. Shame Layla didn't pick up on that! ;)

    1. Phedra has lost a lot of confidence in herself. Her inability to succeed in starting a school really shook her up, so her judgment is rather unsound right now. Um, she also feels like she owes something to Layla since Layla has financed her life up until this point.

      Phedra's reasoning behind what she's doing will be explained better next chapter. And part of it is simply because they don't feel that it would be the safest thing to bring a baby with them.

      Layla was still a little shaken by what she'd just heard and I don't think she was really on her game. lol. She also doesn't listen very well and so heard it the way she wanted to hear it. Ha!

  4. Hmm, not sure what to think about Phedra and Layla's relationship right now, or the way their conversation went. I dunno, the whole conversation seemed a bit surreal and left me feeling like I didn't really like either of them...

    1. It's supposed to feel kind of surreal, Layla was kind of feeling it was all really surreal. Their relationship is pretty strained right now, mostly for lack of communication on the big stuff. And I kinda don't like Layla at all right now either. She's being a bit of a monster, but I promise it's to a particular end. Um, in fact, the story is going to start getting a lot darker at this point. I really want generation 3 to have some motives behind what/how it will be and it kinda needs to start now in order for it to go deep enough for such a change in the story.

      Phedra and her motives will be explained a lot better next chapter. Though I can't promise you'll like her motives or even her reasoning. She's really on the defense here, and has lost a lot of her confidence in herself. Not being able to succeed in the school she was supposed to start really shook her.

  5. Well that was certainly a shock! You certainly weren't lying about the "secrets" part, here. I really like how flawed all of the characters are. And yet, they're family. And seem to stick together, for the most part.

    1. They'll never be able to get rid of each other will they? Bah all the flaws. Though I like stuff that's a bit dented and used. Gives it character. lol

  6. Well, my iPad Bluetooth keyboard is aging up, so this will be shorter than usual. Aggravated at Phedra. Still, the stuff she said was funny in the beginning.
    I have to tell you that I've started noticing in my own writing that I've been employing more red herrings than I used to. I used to be a Chekhov's gun girl, but that's changing. I bet it has at least to some extent been from me reading this. :)

    1. Oh no! That sucks. I hate tap-typing on that thing. :/

      Phedra had a lot of options she didn't choose that would most likely have been better for her family. It's sad she dropped the ball so thoroughly and then let Cyrus talk her into compounding it all.

      LOL! That's hilarious! Does this mean Erin's computer by the windows will indeed blow up to give a certain someone an opportunity to replace it for her? =D Or are those windows... revealing? *heyhey! I never thought my style would impact anyone either! <3 Thank you!

    2. Worrying what your foreshadowing in the next few chapters, I am.

      LMAO! The The Windows... They bug her, but she knows it would be worse if they faced the front.

    3. You *should* worry. >:D The roll after this one really threw the story for a loop.

      LOL. xD