Meg hung on the bars while her mom prepared pancakes for breakfast. This was her last year in the middle grades, and though it had only begun, she couldn’t help but feel old, especially on their play equipment. It didn’t bring the same sense of adventure, and excitement as it had just a few years before. It’d been years since they moved to this house on Quail Run Lane, in the prestigious neighborhood, Audubon Shore. Their parents had wanted the best for their children, and if a home address guaranteed success, than they had gotten as close as they could to giving it. They didn’t have the finances for a house on Snowy Owl Lane, but Delaney and Jared hoped that this would be enough to get into any college.
They had bought an entire park’s worth of play equipment for their children to have for their fancy, and possibly envy of the other kids. Though no one was financially woeful in this neighborhood, and the kids on Snowy Owl, including Paige Lange, had an actual ocean-side beach. Meg didn’t think any of the kids in this neighborhood envied anything about her, but kids all across Jefferson High School envied Paige Lange. Maybe there was something prestigious about an address.
School had only started weeks before, and she’d already gotten her parents called in for a meeting with Principal Bekah Grimsley. Her parents had told her to rethink her friendship with Hadley Millett and she couldn’t help but think it might be wise. However, she had to spend her days in classes with her for the next year, and it might be easier to be on Hadley’s side, than not.
A small meow startled Meg from her thoughts, and she saw a petite cat looking up at her. Her parents had told them to leave strays alone since the beginning of time, but she couldn’t ignore the large green eyes staring up at her. She dropped off the bars, and went to kneel by the cat, allowing it to make the move closer to her if it pleased. She was thin, and smelled woodsy, as if she had been living in the wild for sometime. It was common for people to drop their animals off near the woods. The DNR had warned people that domestic animals weren’t able to acclimate to the natural predators of the area, but it hadn’t deterred people yet.
“Meg Schehl, what are you doing with that cat?” Her mother had came around the side of the house.
“Can I keep her?”
“No way. We have a dog, parrot, fish, and a gerbil, no more pets.” Delaney straightened her composure to be taller, and Meg knew that was the final word. With a soft pat, she bid the cat farewell, and headed in for breakfast.
Before stepping into the kitchen, the noises from her family could be heard clearly, the clanking of dishes, the questions about juice and homework, and plans for after school. Delaney insisted on preparing breakfast every morning, since she couldn’t be home for dinner most nights.
“Who forgot to close Cherry’s cage?” Delaney asked as their parrot swooped over the table.
“If she poops on me, I’m not eating breakfast.” Meg complained. Past experiences, led Meg to believe that the parrot had it out for her.
“Fine.” Delaney replied, without looking at her oldest daughter.
After a few bites, Meg gathered the courage to ask the big question that had been plaguing her mind. The timing was all wrong, with just getting ungrounded from the Principal meeting, but it was now or never. Nervously she cleared her voice then began, “Do you think, maybe, I, I mean we. Me and Peter, I mean. Could go to Wasco Cove tomorrow afternoon?”
Delaney and Jared looked at her simultaneously, then back to each other. Finally her father asked, “Who will be there?”
The worst question they could ask, she thought. She had hoped that they would think it was just her and her twin brother, Peter hanging out. “Some people from school.” They lifted their eyebrows, waiting for more. “Highs choolers.” She sighed. “Some of the high schoolers, Paige friends specifically.”
“Fine. Bring Seoul with you.”
“Mooom,” She drew it out like it had many syllables. “I can’t bring the dog! People would make fun of me. Seriously, I’d rather die.”
“Fine. Then stay home.” Delaney took another bite, then began talking about an event from work.
“Alright, I’ll take the dumb dog. But this is the worst thing, you could ever do to me!”
Before Delaney or Jared could comment, Lauren began coughing, and instantly their attention was on their youngest.
“Oh dear. It’s that time of year, back to school, back to sickness.” Delaney sighed. “No school for you today missy.”
Lauren didn’t protest, she hated school more than cleaning the toilet.
After Delaney bid the twins goodbye, she came back in to lay Lauren down. “You’re getting big.” Delaney remarked. “Eleven in a few months, can’t believe how fast it’s gone by.”
“It’s not fast at all Mom.”
“Mmm.” Delaney hummed, tucking in Lauren’s tag. “Just wait til you have kids of your own, you’ll see.”
Delaney began reading the story of Snow White, it had been Lauren’s favorite story since she was just a toddler. She thought her own hair was probably quite similar to Snow White’s and it made her feel more like a princess.
Lauren drifted asleep before the fever medicine had been able to kick in. Delaney pulled the covers higher, and kissed the top of Lauren’s head. It seemed like a blink from three kids in diapers, to almost three adolescents.
Delaney would be turning fifty in the winter, and had been on a fitness goal since 2011. The health risks of being overweight had scared into being healthy. Though, it’s widely known saying to never trust a skinny chef, but she felt in this case, she had needed to ignore that. She jogged every morning before the sun had come up, and did yoga in the afternoon before heading into work for the dinner rush.
It helped her find focus when the twins got home as well. If there wasn’t an issue to address at the school, then it was some other injustice. Quite plainly, Meg had found life unfair, and no matter how she got her way, she was never satisfied. Despite the fact that she had permission to go to Wasco Cove, she had a meltdown over composting the newspaper.
Peter did his chores, and homework within the first hour of being home. Then he fished in their pond, or went to South Soda Shop to visit with Paige while she worked. Delaney had always heard that boys were easier as teens, and currently, she fully agreed.
Lauren was right behind Meg, with kicking, stomping, and screaming tantrums as well. Jared was left to his own devices in the evenings, and he didn’t hide, that everyday, was a tough day. Just some sucked less than others.
Her and Jared had discussed the possibility of opening her own restaurant, but the timing never seemed right. They had finally paid the astronomical debt off on their home, but now they had to save for their kids’ college education, which was looming too close for comfort.
On top of it all, she couldn’t invest any more hours into her career at the given moment. She relied heavily on Jared to take care of the kids while she worked the dinner shift. There just wasn’t anyway she could be gone for more than her 3-8:00 shift.
When she got home from work, they would usually sneak upstairs to “talk” about their day, while the kids got ready for bed or finished up their current football game.
“I bet you’re glad we didn’t go for a fourth.” Delaney teased. She could tell it had been a particularly long day for him, and with Lauren sick, it would have made everything more challenging. It was these days that she wished she was a stay at home mom, then she could have been home all evening as well.
“You have no idea how glad I am of that simple fact.”
Saturday came in with heavy cloud cover, and whipping winds. The forecaster assured viewers that there would be heavy rainfall, and possibly dangerous lightening in the early evening hours. Meg and Peter assured their worrying mother that they would come home immediately if dangerous lightening began striking, she seemed to believe them, as she allowed them to leave.
At one point, Seoul chased Oliver, growling and with his nape hairs standing on edge. If Meg didn’t harbor an undying love for him, she would have laughed, instead she cursed her mother, and apologized profusely once she got the dog under control. After Oliver waved it off, she continued cursing at the dog under her breath.
Meg didn’t know why she wanted to come so bad, well she knew why. She wanted to see Oliver, they didn’t see each other much in the new high school. Most of his classes were on the third floor now, and she liked to look at his soft, bouncy hair when he walked. But it was a stupid reason to come, cause everyone but her and Isaiah Gavigan were coupled up.
She could hear him approach her, as his feet stepped on the fallen pine needles. “Mind if I walk with you?”
She just shrugged.
He took a quick step and was walking by her side, while looking up at the trees at the same time. “Tall trees.”
“Sure are.” She gave him a side ways glance, wondering if he was being serious, or what he was trying to get to.
They made it to Wasco Cove, and she sat down on a log. They could hear the other couples off to the north side of the beach gathering wood for the fire.
“So you’re an eighth grader, huh?” He stepped beside her, but didn’t sit down.
“So?” She shifted to put her back towards him more. He bothered her, she knew it was mostly from his little brother Isaac that was semi-dating Hadley.
He moved to sit down closer to the shore, the waves almost licking his feet. He patted the ground next to him, and after a moment she conceded and sat down near him.
“You’re going to be a freshman next year, and you should start thinking about the friends you keep. Now I don’t mean specific people, more so, that you should hang out with the high school crowd, cause you’re going to be one of us soon.” He paused, fixing the glove on his left hand. “It’s just you don’t want to start high school and have your best friend be a baby junior high kid. It’s just not cool.”
“Well, there’s not a lot of options for friends at the moment.” She rolled her eyes, she definitely liked him less than she thought she did previously.
“We all eat lunch at the same time, it’s a good opportunity to expand your horizons. Make amends with Paloma, and get over the whole school-girl, Oliver crush. It’s creepy.”
Swiftly, she stood up and glared down at him. “You… I…” then she growled, having no sufficient words to say. “I don’t know what you are talking about.” She finally said calmly through gritted teeth. “And I’ll sit with anyone I want.” Then she walked off before he could say anything more, all the while cursing the dreadful Gavigan brothers.
She found her brother in the forest, asking Paige to go steady with him. She had been talking about college at an exceedlingly rate, and Peter had confessed to Meg that he was worried she would forget about him then. But Paige was only a junior, Meg insisted, plenty of time to break up before then.
When she found them though, Paige was practically swooning, and confessing her love. Meg wanted to puke.
Meg decided to cool off and explore the forest more before heading to the fire, and when she got back to the beach, everyone was there. The fire was going, Oliver had got it burning, they told her. Paloma was sitting near him, and Meg kept her eyes away while she warmed her hands. Even with gloves her fingers were cold and hard to bend.
They all sat around, roasting marshmallows, with the boys telling ghost stories to scare the girls. Paloma and Paige screeched as if on cue, and the boys’ egos grew three sizes. Meg shoved another uncooked marshmallow in her mouth.
It began to sprinkle, and the moon was now entirely hidden behind the clouds. Meg moved to stand at the shore, feeling a shiver down her spine as she thought about the other creatures in the water. Ocean swimming did not make her list of fun things to do.
“Hey.” Paloma spoke softly as she stepped up next to her. Meg jumped, if she hadn’t just been thinking about the scary underwater creatures, she wouldn’t have been caught off guard. “Sorry. Didn’t mean to startle you. I just wanted to see if we could get past everything from last year.”
Meg shrugged, but didn’t say anything. The things Isaiah had said, did make sense, she didn’t really want to date Oliver anyway. And Henry was a senior, she wouldn’t have a chance at that if she wanted. And he had been right, she would be in classes with them all next year, and with her brother’s relationship with Paige; it really would be better if she was peaceful.
Meg turned to face her, “Yeah, I think that could be a good thing.”
Paloma seemed relieved, a smile flitted across her face, before she became anxious again. “Good. And hey, I’m sorry for being so uncool about it all.”
“Yeah me too.” She chuckled sardonically. “I definitely don’t want to be that girl that gets in fight over boys.”
“Me ether.” Paloma laughed with her. “So we good?”
“Hey sis, it’s time to go, Mom’s going to kill us if we are late.” Peter called from the fire. He had stood up, and Paige was looking for her keys.
As she passed Oliver, she gave a tentative wave. She was relieved when he waved back. “I could get used to this.” She muttered to herself as they left the warm fire.
Sorry this took so long. I’ve been beyond busy (with all good stuff), but super busy nonetheless, the end of the school year is always mass craziness. I apologize for being so behind in reading everyone’s blogs at the moment, I shall remedy that.
I can’t believe that Delaney (and Kenzie) will be 50 this round. Delaney had fertility issues, one miscarriage, then she couldn’t get pregnant for years. Her and Jared started trying a few years before Kenzie had Lorelei, and Lorelei is 19. Then she got pregnant with the twins, and then quickly after Lauren. Miss Lauren will be a teen this round, and it made me a little sad. Those darn kids, always growing up.
Lauren and Meg throw *constant* tantrums, and Jared is always looking exhausted by their behavior. Poor guy. And he has to help Lauren do her homework or she flunks out, and she is the most exasperated looking sim, as if “my dad is forcing me to do this, and I hate him for it.”
Meg and Paloma are not friends, but they aren’t raging enemies/haters anymore. Which is a relief for me, cause I was tired of their attacking all.the.time.
Everyday Paloma would walk by, as if baiting Meg to come out so Paloma could beat her up. Cause Oh yes! Paloma was just as bratty as Meg.