Wednesday, August 9, 2017

July 2017 Music Post

It's been another month!  I'm working on planning for Jada (seriously, I'm making lots of progress), and I'm also juggling a new job, but I feel like I got some really awesome new music both from old and new artists.  Hopefully you think the same thing!


  1. Skulls by Bastille (added July 2)- Okay, this is obviously one of the old artists here.  I remember hearing this song playing in Forever 21 a few years ago (before I was a Bastille fan) and really disliking it.  You'd think that'd be a red flag for me- I'm so in love with their previous music I'm mistaking quality for band love.  But when I listened to it again at home during my Bastille love fest, I still felt the same way about it.  I wouldn't even get to the chorus.  But then another one of Bastille's songs plays part of the chorus for Skulls in the outro, and I was really captivated by it in that piece.  Since then the song overall has grown on me and I've accepted it as another Bastille gem.
  2. Leave the War With Me by London Grammar (added July 15)- I love this song for the chill jazzy backgrounds throughout the verses and the way it picks up going into the chorus.  And then of course, Hannah Reid goes into the upper register of her voice many times for this song, and as a soprano I have a lot of fun singing along with it.
  3. Waiting for You by Isobel Anderson (added July 15)- This song was introduced to me through a friend at camp, who played lots of indie music during the dusty days of my favorite summer trip, Girls Camp (there's a lot of sarcasm in that.  It was a tough week).  But thankfully I fell in love with this mournful melody and could say that there was good in going to camp.  At least three minutes and six seconds of the experience was alright in the long run.  But overall, two thumbs down.
  4. Cemeteries Of London by Coldplay (added July 15)- I've been scavenging through Coldplay's older songs over the past few months and I'm currently looking at some old Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends (2008) pieces.  And I LOVE Cemeteries Of London.  It's almost an addicting song with the fast pace and breaks of la's throughout the piece.  I think Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends was the last of the classic Coldplay, which isn't to say I don't like the modern Coldplay music.  I just feel like the instrumentation in this album was some of Coldplay's best uses of their talents.
  5. Little Boy In The Grass by AURORA (added July 17)- This AURORA piece was tucked into an older EP next to two other songs that were both featured in her debut album, but this one somehow didn't make it in.  I love the way AURORA throws her voice over the higher notes in the pre chorus and the simple instrumentation building for the ending.  
  6. Ophelia by Lena Fayre (added July 17)- Spotify has been pushing me to listen to Lena Fayre for quite some time now seeing how similar she is to artists like Phildel and AURORA, but it wasn't until I found this piece on Spotify's Deep Dark Indie playlist and became interested.  Lena used the unique concept of melismas on open vowels and lots of repetition to make for a slightly haunting song where her vocals are the centerpiece.  I like how she embraced something different and I'm excited to look into more of her music down the road.
  7. Hourglass by Lily & Madeleine (added July 17)- I honestly don't remember how I found this band of sisters, but I think part of the reason I stopped to glance over their discography was my own sister.  Before she left for college she'd been the household musician with a capital M and I usually shied away from music because it seemed like that was her area of expertise and not mine.  In reality, she would rather have had me join her in duets, but I never took her up on the offer.  To see a sister band where the sisters' voices blend together so seamlessly was intriguing and I really enjoyed the steadiness of Hourglass's background and vocals.
  8. Lost! by Coldplay (added July 18)- This is another song from Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends (I'm only now realizing how needlessly long that album title is after typing it three times), but it has a very different feeling from Cemeteries Of London.  It takes on a lighter and positive tone and makes for an easy listen.
  9. The System Only Dreams in Total Darkness by The National (added July 20)- I've always loved The National's piece Lean from the Hunger Games: Catching Fire soundtrack, but I never thought I'd dig deeper into what the band had to offer.  Once again I got recommended through Deep Dark Indie and found a new side of The National's music, with a faster pace and more complex instrumentation.  I'll have to see what other The National pieces I'd be interested in.
  10. Black Water Lilies by AURORA (added July 20)- I'm working myself up to being a complete AURORA fan and adding the entirety of AURORA'S music.  Because she's still a new artist, I don't have many songs to go and I've been savoring the few remaining pieces.  AURORA is really good at creating original pieces while still staying true to her style.
  11. Don't Forget About Me by CLOVES (added July 21)- This dark, chilly ballad with smoky-voiced CLOVES driving home the lyrics has been playing in my head (and through my speakers) lots of times since I discovered.  It has so much soul to it that it's practically impossible to listen to it without stopping for a second to soak in the feelings behind the lyric.
  12. What a Day by London Grammar (added July 22)- Ladies and gentlemen, London Grammar can even make an incredible piece of music without words for a full third of the song.  The layered background in this song is just as soothing as Hannah's cascading voice and I have listened to this song many times while trying to plan out the remainder of my book.
  13. The Curse by Agnes Obel (added July 29)- I've gone back to Agnes Obel for some nice creepy melodies with plenty of thoughtful instrumentation, and I found the cello-driven The Curse.  It's the epitome of Agnes Obel music and if anyone is curious as to what her style is, I would recommend this song.
  14. Making Contact by Kyle Dixon & Michael Stein (added July 30)- Can I go one month without going back for more of the Stranger Things soundtrack? Doesn't look like it.
  15. Writer In The Dark by Lorde (added July 30)- I had my reservations about Lorde's second album, but I'm slowly dipping my feet into the Melodrama water and I'm getting started with Writer In The Dark.  I love the flawed emotions portrayed in this song and how Lorde drops her voice down low only to lift it up again.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Stranger Things- The Actual Trailer











If you frequent this blog, you may recall a post I made back in February in which I described the panicked excitement of the Stranger Things fandom as they got their first look of season two.  The Superbowl teaser caused quite a flurry on all social media sites, particularly tumblr, and to this day gifs are recycled and new far-fetched theories are constructed off of the sparse content shown in the teaser.  But as I said before, that post was made back in February.  February.  To be fair, the teaser did come earlier than anticipated.  But the official trailer?  What trailer?  The Duffer brothers seemed to have forgotten that they had a show to promote.  And just like before, theories began popping up just as the buzz of the teaser wore off.

Because an official trailer is a bigger undertaking than a 37 second teaser, people rationalized that an official trailer would drop sometime in the summer.  But even as that theory was decided upon, we all knew the Duffers wouldn't be below doing a surprise drop, which kept everyone on their toes whenever anything suspicious was posted on the Stranger Things Twitter or Instagram.

The first theory was one that made me the most excited.  This year the Tony Awards took place on my birthday, June 11th, and because it is a notable event and it's on the 11th (for those of you that have not seen the show, the main girl is named Eleven so it's fairly noteworthy), it was a hopeful promise.  But the setting didn't quite work with the Stranger Things aesthetic, and although I didn't fully believe in the theory, I was sad to see it go.

The one after that was much more promising: the trailer would release on the one-year anniversary of the show's release to Netflix, on July 15th.  Needless to say, everyone was fully geared up for that one. But as the date came closer, it was apparent by the lack of promotion that the most we'd get on July 15th was a brief acknowledgement of the date.

But our hopes were not shattered yet.  The San Diego Comic Con, where trailers are released right and left, was still a viable option.  And then came the news: the Stranger Things cast and creators would be at Comic Con, with the promise of "never-before-seen footage".  It was also offering a Q&A panel with the cast and creators and it was centered in Hall H, the biggest and most prominent hall in all of San Diego Comic Con.  So all we had to do was wait.

Easy enough, but because the Duffer brothers suddenly flipped a switch and moved into promo season, there was suddenly more to freak out over.  Most importantly, this:



This poster was coupled with a short clip of the boys biking down the road while the sky…did whatever it's doing.  This is all new to even those who have seen the show multiple times.  This would've just been a simple poster and tease had it not CHANGED THE RELEASE DATE.  Remember when the teaser told us Halloween?  Well, it was bumped up four days and even just that change flipped the fandom upside down.

And as the new trailer loomed ahead and cast members confirmed their presence at the panel, the Duffers went to another level and started releasing quick and ominous teases each day.  And if that wasn't enough, they started releasing a new dialogue clip on Instagram every hour the day before the trailer.

Miraculously, the fandom survived the teases and prepared for the trailer to drop.

After waiting months, the last few hours were possibly the most difficult.  Not only did we have the new trailer to look forward to, the cast was present and the new content was likely to kill us all:

To be fair, the Stranger Things cast was there looking like one giant photogenic family, which didn't bode well with anyone's emotions:
Photo credit davidharboursource

I mean, look at those cuties!  It was a lot for a content-deprived fandom to handle.
And then came the moment.  When the first post announced that they had the link to the trailer, a stunned silence fell upon the tumblrsphere.  Quickly, fans rushed to the link and like an explosion, gif sets and all-caps screech posts shot over every Stranger Things dashboard around.

I won't be posting the trailer on here because it contains season one spoilers and some people don't have respect for themselves and have not yet seen the show.  But I will say that the general consensus after all the drama had passed was no different from the one fans had been holding in their hearts for months:



Wednesday, July 19, 2017

June 2017 Music Post

This is super late because I was dealing with some pretty major computer problems but now everything is finally back to normal so I'm planning on getting back on schedule!  I've also been on trips these past two weeks so I haven't been able to do any planning for Jada, but I'm planning on starting that ASAP and hopefully planning to the very end of the book (which is super daunting but at least I know how it ends)!


  1. This Isn't You by Kyle Dixon & Michael Stein (added June 6)- This is one of the most popular songs from the Stranger Things soundtrack, and for good reason.  Not only is it super soothing and lovely, it also carries a painfully nostalgic element that makes me choke up.  It could be because I'm in love with Stranger Things, but still.  Speaking of which, there is a new trailer (!!!) coming out on Saturday, and there will soon be a post discussing that because boy do I have a lot to discuss.
  2. Biking to School by Kyle Dixon & Michael Stein (added June 6)- This is another Stranger Things piece, but it couldn't be more different from This Isn't You.  I love this song mainly because it's SO FREAKING CUTE and it's associated with one of the few happy scenes in the whole show (hmm, maybe that's why it's only 44 seconds long…)
  3. Hallucinations by Kyle Dixon & Michael Stein (added June 6)- This is one of the most dissonant and chilling pieces off the soundtrack, and for those of you that are familiar with the show, the scene this song plays in is honestly the trippiest scene in the entire show, and in a show titled Stranger Things, trippy scenes are happening right and left.  Gosh.  I love Stranger Things.
  4. Whatever It Takes by Imagine Dragons (added June 6)- So I was an Imagine Dragons fan from the very beginning, and I still enjoy their music, but I've definitely cooled off towards them recently.  Like, Believer is intense and the drum beat is addicting, but I honestly think they hit their peak on their first album, which isn't to say that their second album was bad, I just…I feel like with Evolve they got a little caught up in their image rather than their music.  But I did add Whatever It Takes, so I definitely don't dislike it.  I just don't see anything with the same caliber as Bleeding Out or Radioactive.
  5. Hell to the Liars by London Grammar (added June 7)- For whatever reason when I saw London Grammar's Truth is a Beautiful Thing discography I thought I wouldn't like Hell to the Liars.  My brain just decided it was a nope so I wasn't too hyped when I saw that they had released the song.  I clicked to listen and within seconds I was legitimately close to tears.  From the swelling instrumentation to Hannah Reid's rolling low notes to that gorgeous high note she hits to end each chorus, this song had me awestruck and it only solidified my love for London Grammar, who I've honestly fallen head over heels for since they started promoting their second album.  Please look them up.  They're amazing.
  6. Bitter Sweet Symphony- Live at BBC Maida Vale by London Grammar (added June 12)- This was the first new song from London Grammar's new album I listened to because it was a cover of a song I was already familiar with, but London Grammar's version is very different from The Verve's.  Personally, I appreciate the fact that London Grammar made the widely known song into their own while holding up the initial integrity of the piece.  That's a challenging thing to do and I think they did it well.
  7. Everyone Else by London Grammar (added June 12)- The background in the intro reminded me of Shyer, a song from London Grammar's previous album.  I'm trying to keep these London Grammar descriptions short because I know if I went into detail for each song this post would become an incoherent rant on how much I love the band, so we'll just move on.
  8. Wild Eyed by London Grammar (added June 12)- The verses of this song have the drama level fitting for a movie soundtrack, and when you pair it with Hannah's deep voice…nope I'm keeping these brief I have to move on.
  9. Non Believer by London Grammar (added June 12)- Not only is this a jam it also features some really interesting voice altering techniques with synthesizers.
  10. Who Am I by London Grammar (added June 15)- I'm just going to take this spot to talk about how grateful I am for London Grammar's consistency.  A band very similar to them called Broods had me totally on pins and needles for their second album because their first album showcased a sophisticated and polished pop that I really enjoyed, but I was slightly worried as their leading singles were released.  They seemed a little forced, but they weren't bad songs so I just rolled with it.  But I don't think I'd ever been so disappointed when their album dropped.  They had shed their original sound for a radio-friendly vibe and hardly sounded like the same group.  This is not uncommon among their genre, and since London Grammar has similarities to Broods, it was a possibility that they would go for popular demand as well.  But when they started releasing songs off of Truth is a Beautiful Thing, I never once felt like I had to worry about that, and as I've worked through the album, I know I really didn't.  They stayed consistent and as a full-fledged fan now, that's really appreciated.
  11. Bones of Ribbon by London Grammar (added June 15)- This song is so cool!  There's so many new places Hannah's voice goes to and this piece has some of the most imagination-provoking lyrics out of all of London Grammar's music.
  12. It's Happening Again by Agnes Obel (added June 15)- I took a little break from London Grammar to find another haunting Agnes Obel piece, and this song helped me write out the most recent Jada posts.  I've decided that Agnes Obel is the ultimate writing accompaniment artist.  Somehow her voice just makes it easier to focus and get out the words I need to.
  13. She's Leaving Home- Remastered by The Beatles (added June 20)- I hadn't heard this particular song from The Beatles until a girl in my choir class played it for us.  It's different from their classics in the way of instrumentation, as it features a symphony and harp without guitars or piano.
I'm skipping over the song of the month this time because it's late and I've got a feeling that if I don't finish this tonight it'll never get done.  But I promise that I'll be more frequent even though I'm planning and not posting Jada, because finally the demon living in my computer has been exorcised and will never block me from Blogger again.  Thanks for reading!

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Jada Installment #26

Kit

Christmas fell through the cracks this year, and Jada and I go to bed on Christmas Eve too exhausted to make note of it.  We didn't have time to buy presents while we were buying the necessities for Jada to live.  Almost everything she owned got locked up in the house she's been barred from, and while we haven't tried going back, I have a feeling Lissa will pull the 'my property' crap and hoard Jada's things until something in her gives.  Beyond the constant 'oh wait, you don't have your foundation' or anything else, Jada is getting calls from Elisha every day because apparently he wants to keep her posted on the wedding plans.  That's something I still don't know about.  Jada hasn't told me she's against it, but we've yet to sit down and talk about it.  Jada looks so wounded every time feels like a bad time.

I wish I could say that I'm coming to terms with the pregnancy, but I know I'm nowhere close.  Yesterday Jada wore a fitting shirt and I couldn't stop turning to gawk.  It doesn't feel real but at the same time it's all I can feel.  In June, we'll have a baby to take care of.  Even if she does marry Elisha, the baby is still going to be my niece or nephew, who I'm going to look after just like I promised Mom I would for Jada.

I just have to accept it first.

"Sorry we don't have anything for you to cook up," I say, surveying our tree-lacking apartment.

Jada sits beside me on my couch-bed, still clad in the pajamas we bought yesterday.  "I'm sorry you have to spend Christmas in an apartment instead of a house you actually know,"

"The devil house?  I know it, but I never want to actually be there.  The only thing that makes it okay is you being in it, and if you're not there then it has no redeeming qualities,"

Jada smiles weakly.  "To you,"

I'm quiet long enough for Jada to mourn the loss of her home.  "But the apartment really is growing on me,"

Jada glances around as if taking it in for the first time.

"You know," I begin.  "We don't need to be positive just because it's a holiday.  You can spit it out,"

My cousin shrugs.  "I was just thinking that I didn't think I'd have a Christmas worse than the one after your mom died.  But this Christmas topped it,"

"You remember that?"

"I just remember eating the charity dinners from the neighbors.  Those came for a while,"

"They did," I agree, but I don't want to talk too much about Mom today.  "It's okay that this Christmas sucks.  We have had plenty of good ones,"

"We have," Jada affirms, and I'm glad I didn't promise that good ones would be ahead of us.  I can't know for sure- not when Jada could be spending every coming Christmas with a family I've never met.


Elisha

Jada is a taboo subject since the pregnancy got out, and that can be felt more strongly than ever at the breakfast table Christmas morning.  Beyond the tamping of anything Jada-related, I've become somewhat of an outcast within my family.  Abbi isn't allowed to sit by me.  Maverick is cut off when he tries to speak to me across the table.  Even Norman and Kathleen, who flew in for Christmas, are sworn into silence as they regard me stonily.  Mom sits on my left side while Dad sits on my right, as if dutifully blocking me contaminating spread from their pure children.

"Who is coming to the Christmas party tonight?"  Abbi asks.  Ever since she found our her best friend was going away for the holidays and couldn't attend, she's been bringing up the party constantly.

"The usual people," Mom replies.  "And Maverick invited a few of his friends.  Really, Abbi, if you had told me Laurel couldn't come sooner I would've been able to invite different friends of yours, but now it's too late,"

Abbi barely conceals a face.  "So no one I know is- wait, what about Jada?"

The air in the room rises a few degrees.  Kathleen reaches for her drink and Maverick and Norman shovel food into their mouthes while they wait for the parents to stifle their wayward child.

Mom goes for the gentle approach.  "No, Jada is not coming," She even tosses in a smile.

Abbi doesn't return it.  "Why not?  I mean if she and Elisha are getting married than people will want to meet-"

"Jada is not coming because she isn't fit for an event like this.  If she can't acclimate to a place other than the bottom rung of class then we'll have to wait before showing her off.  Until then, there is absolutely no need to bring her into any conversation," Mom practically spits.  "Now eat your breakfast."

After Abbi is facing her plate Mom wastes no time redirecting the conversation.  She swoops in on Norman, urging him to tell us all about his fascinating business ventures.  Norman launches into a story he must've saved up specifically for a family event- a story of prestige and work ethics that my parents lap up like panting dogs.

But then the lull comes, and a small but indignant voice pipes up.  "What about Baby Blue?  Can she come?"

Mom plasters on a superior smile.  "Just her name should indicate that she's not someone to introduce to our business associates.  You don't even need to look at her to know that- although a glance certainly would help,"

I can't keep staring at my place like a statue.  Not when Mom slanders Baby Blue in front of the whole family.  But when I look up to confront her I stop, suddenly transfixed by my little sister.  Abbi's eyes flash with an intensity that could only come from my mother, and they are flaring defiance for Jada and Baby Blue.

Immediately I'm overwhelmed with a destructive wish: I want Abbi to break every barrier, every tradition pinning her in.  I want her growing into a hellish storm of rebellion.  I want her with dyed hair and piercings.  I want her stumbling home plastered and high, three agonizing hours after curfew.  I want her sticking her middle finger in the face of Vanes family honor and I want her to make a tear-filled phone call in which she tells me scandalized parents that she's-

No, I can't wish that on my sister.  Not that.

I suppose my mind only wants to find a coping mechanism.  I want to pull my innocent little sister over to my side because I'm so damn lonely since my ostracism I'll wish for anything to get me off the trash pile island of mistakes I'm sitting on.

If the Vanes family wasn't obsessed with normalcy, we'd be a lot better off, or at least I'd be.  Instead we're being forced through the same motions every day even as they're no longer applicable.  They want normalcy, but right now it doesn't exist.  My actions flipped the concept of normalcy upside down and onto its china doll face, and it is broken until I marry Jada and fix it.

I excuse myself to my room as soon as the Christmas breakfast ritual is over.  In my room, I sit silently, the only noise filling the dead space being the chatter in my head.  The voices revolving and dancing about, obsessed with the same question I can't answer, still can't answer: who are you, Elisha Vanes?

This is how I occupy the bulk of my time now.  Listening.  Wondering.  Wishing I had the words to say back.  Realizing that the one person that holds all my words and pulls them out of me when I need them could vanish from my life because of what I did.

I retrieve my phone from off my desk and go to call her.  I know she probably won't answer- even though she hates celebrating holidays with her parents, she'll try to drum up some Christmas cheer for her brother's sake.  It goes to voice mail, and I speak my mind in the way only she could've ever taught me to do:  "Hi, Baby Blue.  Just wanted to tell you merry Christmas and that I'm proud of you.  And glad to be.  You…always speak your mind.  You never hold back how you feel.  And I'm glad that I got to be there as your friend to hear them all.  Have a good day today, even though it's hard.  Okay?  Merry Christmas."

I set my phone down.  I wish my family would just tell me, as publicly as possible, how much they despise what I'm putting the family through.  Call me out on what I am, spit in my face and list all my disgraces until they don't have anything more to say.  And I will take each word they spit at me and it will be alright, because I would rather listen to the disgust they hold for me than the hatred my mind spews at my amoeba-like form.  Right now, when they ignore me and suffocate one another with normalcy, it only cements my deepest need: to be called something and anything rather than a million things, massing together to form nothing at all.  The nothing of Elisha Vanes.


Jada

The night is cold, so different from the sticky heat in Idaho.  It's okay.  The cold is good, even as it stings like slaps against my cheeks.  The cold will keep me safe from the heat of embarrassment as I meet him for the first time.  The heat of the sun in June, while I wait on the porch for Kit to come home, because I know she's safe.  The heat waves reflected off the rusted bike lying on its side in the yard.  I've always been too afraid to ride it after Uncle Alex dumped it there in his grief-rages.  The bike belonged to Aunt Adrienne.  She liked riding around on Sunday mornings, Kit told me that later.  I couldn't remember all the details surrounding Aunt Adrienne's last day with us.  To me, it was just a normal day, slipping easily into the recesses of a five-year-old's spotty memory.  I suppose she left in the morning, suppose she kissed Kit and I goodbye, because Kit said she always did.  And then a few hours later I suppose the fear set in for my uncle when his wife wasn't home for Sunday brunch.  I suppose he called our distant neighbors.  I suppose he tried to hide his nervousness for Kit and I, but then again he wasn't the best at hiding what he was feeling from his daughters.

I don't know who found the body, but someone did and someone informed Uncle Alex of the accident. An autopsy must've happened quickly afterwards, seeing that we didn't get too many bodies in such a desolate place.  They determined that she'd had an asthma attack while riding, causing her bike to veer into the deep ditch they found her in.  Her spine took a blow in the fall, and she did shortly after.

The bike rusted, and I made a silent vow to never ride a bike since I know what it can do to a family.  I had to break that vow when I met Elisha, who doesn't understand that it was a bike that put me in a closet and it was a bike that scared me away from tables and it was a bike that made Kit an orphan and it was a bike that sent me to my mother.  A bike spun its way into my life and brought me to the Vanes stomping ground, and that bike was my reason for leaving the house on the cold night I met Elisha.

The bike wheels are turning rapidly in my mind as I clutch tightly to the couch cushions.  Kit is hovering at my shoulder as I break out of the panic attack.  "Jada-"

I heave myself off the couch.  I know what I'm supposed to do in these situations.  If a panic attack has waned into crippling anxiety I need to get into my element.  I need to hold Bran or I need to start at an old familiar recipe I know like the back of my hand.  But as I stand in the apartment I remember that those saving graces are gone.  The kitchenette is empty, and Kit is the only living thing in the room.

Except for the baby, to which I plead, oh, dear God, let me be okay.

"Jada, it's okay.  You're here with me now, in Washington.  Is there anything I can do to help you?"  Kit is asking.

I can only reply with a strangled "No!"

No wonder Corazana feels the need to spit in my face.  Without an uncertified lap dog and a few pots and pans, Jada Wallace dissolves into a pathetic heap, like a smashed bike on the side of the road.


Baby Blue

"Well, computer monitor, another Christmas is almost over, and I can't say this one shattered my expectations.  I mean, Bryant and I exchange gifts and sometimes the parents will get in on the action, but usually it's just Bryant and I pulling together the Richardson family Christmas.  And it's not much because Bryant and I don't have the time to put all this effort into something my parents don't even care about.

"Elisha's family makes Christmas an event.  Not exactly the type of event I'd like, but still it's nice that there's so much emphasis on the holiday.  To be honest computer monitor, I came here to sulk.  Elisha knows that Christmas makes me kind of sad because he knows that I want so much more for my family.  I want Bryant to have parents he feels like he can trust and talk to and depend on.  Hell, I would love to have parents like that.  But I spent too long trying to create this loving family only to be disappointed every time.

"So Christmas is tough.  But it's especially tough this year because Elisha always calls to talk to me on Christmas and this year I've shut off my phone because I know he's not.  He always calls to promise that someday I'm gonna have my own family and it's going to have the best Christmases known to all.  I kind of held onto that hope, you know?  That was a promise I really needed, and I felt that deep down in my heart it would come true someday.  But now, I'm starting to see that promises with even all the odds set up to support it can still be broken.  Jada never expected to be pregnant just before turning eighteen.  Elisha never expected to be a father straight out of high school.  And I shouldn't expect a happy faraway family because no matter how badly I want it each Christmas, I may never get it."



I love Baby Blue and I want her to have a happy life but as the author of the story, that simply is not possible.

Question: How do you think Elisha will handle the isolation from his family?

Next:
  1. From Kit, "Bran"
  2. From Bryant, "Broken Open"
  3. From Jada, "Noose Plans" 


After the next installment, there will probably be a brief hiatus while I work on planning the future installments.  Thanks for reading!

Monday, June 26, 2017

Jada Installment #25

Jada

Maverick walks in and sees me right away.  I'm seated at a booth in the back, tapping my foot against the banquet's back and hoping Kit sees the note I left on the kitchen counter.  Or, more accurately, kitchenette counter.

Maverick slides into the seat across from me.  "Have you ordered anything?"

I shake my head.  When Maverick called me and told me to meet him, I didn't imagine the meeting was simply for breakfast.  "What is it you want to tell me?"

Elisha's brother looks at me forlornly.  "I'm not allowed to talk about you at home.  No one is.  Mom is just making her wedding plans, occasionally telling Elisha the important ones, and shutting down every conversation about you.  I don't even think Abbi knows about the baby, but maybe that's best.  Really this is what I was worried about when he started taking you home.  That you were pregnant just like Gwen,"

"But Gwen wasn't pregnant with Elisha's baby.  Baby Blue told me.  You lied," I counter.  My twinge of anger brings heat to my cheeks.  Another hot flash.  Fantastic.

Maverick only raises his eyebrows.  "I highly doubt Elisha would be telling Baby Blue the truth.  I mean, Baby Blue was practically his girlfriend at the time.  Honestly, they practically always have been together,"

"Well, practically doesn't matter," I say, fanning my face with a napkin.  "And I trust Baby Blue more than I trust someone that tried to undermine their own brother,"

"I would rather mess up his plans to protect an innocent girl like you," Maverick replies.  I go to interject but his next onslaught of words make me bite my tongue.  "Which is why I want to tell you my plan.  I've always been a bit of an escape artist.  In a family like mine, it's important to have escape routes,"

"What do you mean?"

"I fit the Vanes mold pretty well.  Better than Elisha ever did.  But that's not to say I agree with how it works.  It's suffocating, and I know how hard it is for the average kid to get tossed into the mix.  So I make my own little escapes.  I rebel in little ways, but that's not important right now.  I can handle Vanes.  You, on the other hand-"

"Can handle anything," I snap.  "You don't know me,"

Maverick frowns.  "Hear me out, Jada.  You don't want to be stuck in my family for the rest of your life.  So I'm willing to help you.  I can get you enough money to leave and start over completely.  You can go anywhere, get into culinary school, and have the baby that'll be yours and no one else's.  And I can pay for your cousin to go with you.  Just say the word and you'll have the escape us Vanes kids can only dream of,"

"It can't be that bad.  Your parents love you a lot," I reason.

"They love us when we're following their rules.  After that we are nothing but mislabeled products.  And you are not their child.  You are a middle class pregnant teenager with a mental disorder.  In their eyes, you can't sink much lower,"

"How did you know I have a-"

"Elisha told me.  He trusts me with these things.  My parents don't know yet, and we can only hope they never find out.  Do you understand?"

My hot flash is subsiding into a cold fury.  "My mental health is nothing they need to think about,"

Maverick folds his hands on the table.  "Your mental health is everything they'll want to think about.  Because if they see you as weak they'll only continue to manipulate you,"

I want to say I'm not weak, to storm out and take a place in the Vanes family out of spite, but if I wasn't strong enough to stand up to my mom, how am I going to stand up to Corazana?

Maverick continues, "I know you're not a fan of me after I told you the truth about Elisha.  Maybe it was low-brow even if I had good intentions.  It's okay- you don't have to like me.  But you should consider my offer, and make a decision on it quickly.  Because the wedding will be sooner rather than later,"

And with that he stands to go.

The money to go anywhere, the money to escape…but escape what?  I'll still be pregnant and Maverick isn't going to alleviate all the problems in that, nor will he be paying for the medical bills I know Kit and I can't afford.  But when I think about Corazan's spittle running down my face and Elisha wincing at her words, I know I will have to consider leaving it all behind.


Kit

"Don't ever do that again," Jada's note is crumbled in my sweaty fingers as Jada stands in the doorway.

"You saw my note," she points out.

"Yeah, the vaguest note I've ever seen," I refute.  "Did you think it was a good plan to leave right after I find out you're pregnant and homeless?"

"I needed to go for a walk because I don't have my kitchen things or Bran with me," Jada whispers, and already I'm softening.

"Were you having a flashback?"

"Just feeling panicked.  It happens a lot these days,"

"Where did you go?" I ask.

Jada hesitates.  "Down the street and back a few times.  Not far,"

I toss the note in the garbage.  "If you went to see the father, it's okay.  Just be honest with me,"

"I didn't.  I promise." Jada swears.

I guess I should've dropped it at the beginning seeing that Jada has only lied about one thing in our life together.  "Okay.  So you went for a walk.  Wake me up first next time.  I'd rather talk to you than get a note,"

Jada nods.  "So, Mom didn't tell you who the baby belonged to when she called?"

I shake my head.  "Because I probably wouldn't know him anyway.  And I'd rather hear it from you.  Who is he?"

Jada climbs up onto the counter to sit with me.  Her shoulders fold in towards her chest as she says, "His name is Elisha Vanes and he comes from a very wealthy family with five kids and two very put-together parents.  He graduated high school and is taking a gap year but we planned on going to Charlottesville so he could go to school there.  But now his family knows I'm pregnant and I'm not sure where we'll be going,"

Elisha Vanes.  I hate the sound of him immediately but hold off on the tear down.  "So, what's your relationship with him?  Are you guys in love?"

Jada shakes her head.

"Okay so how-"

"We were being stupid.  We had just met and he'd been drinking and we slept together like total idiors and a few days later I called to tell him I was pregnant," Jada says bitterly.

"But what exactly happened," I push.

Jada lets air out of her mouth.  "There's nothing else to say.  What happened is what I said,"

I slide off the counter and face her.  "Look, I quit my job for this.  I came here after dropping everything and even if my everything isn't much I deserve to know the whole story because as of now I'm pretty confused,"

"What about it's confusing you?  You went through basic health class.  You know how people get pregnant," Jada snaps, her face burning now.  "I'm mad at myself for it.  I'd redo everything if I could.  Talking about it isn't helping anyone,"

I fold my arms.  "I'm confused because I thought you were afraid of sex,"

Jada looks at the ground.  "Not anymore.  I mean, plenty of younger teenagers go through that, but I'm eighteen now."

"And you've handled it remarkably well,"

I wish I could take it back as soon as I've said it.  Jada raises her head but keeps her eyes on the floor.  "I'm sorry, Kit.  I'm so sorry,"

"Look, I'm not trying to slutshame you or anything like that.  You're too old for me or anyone else to be policing your sex life.  But neither of you thought to use any form of protection?"

Jada shakes her head.  "We were being stupid,"

My cousin is not one to rush into stupid things, but everyone is allowed their slip-up, be it over spilt milk or matters far more destructive.  I just wish Jada had the slip-up that would hurt someone other than her.

"Listen, Jada.  I'm not happy about the circumstances.  Not even a little bit.  But I'm here now, and we've been through worse together, and I'm not leaving you for anything.  I'm here now, and I'm here for the forever you need me for.  Okay?"

Like an eight-year-old sliding down off a deadly table, Jada lands in my arms and hugs me tight.  "Okay,"


Baby Blue

"I'm going to be honest, computer monitor.  I've had a hard couple of days.  I feel so guilty for that stupid almost kiss and then just flat-out awful because I haven't talked to Elisha for real since then.  The only time in between was for him to call and basically tell me I couldn't come back.  At least for a while, he said.  I don't know.  All I do know is that the family knows and they're getting married soon.  A week ago I would've called Elisha back and said it was stupid for him to shut me out of his life just because he was marrying Jada.  I'd have told him that I am his friend always and that he could be married with 800 babies and I should still get to be his friend.   It shouldn't matter.  But now that we've had that stupid almost kiss that he initiated, I have no idea.  Because the rules of friendship are very clear and different from that of a relationship.  And if Elisha can only look at me as someone he wants to be kissing, I shouldn't be anywhere near his marriage.

"That's not why I'm talking though.  It wasn't always like that with Elisha and I.

"I met him in kindergarten for the first time formally in the lunch room.  His mom sent him to public school so he could get the normal school experience and not be sheltered, which is total bs.  But anyway, little baby Elisha is shy and has no friends so as I'm plopped down to eat he comes up with his lunch box shaking in his hands and asks, "Can I sit here?"

"I remember my response so clearly it's almost like it got recorded and repeated in my head a million times after.  I said 'this is a lunch room.  You can sit wherever you want.'  And for the next few years, he sat by me.  Our whole world was one big lunch room.  We could sit wherever we wanted to, because in our lunch room no one cared.  But somewhere down the line we started to realize how different our lives were, and when I got old enough to be something other than cute and nonthreatening to the Vanes, I could feel his mom slowly trying to tell me that we did not live in a lunch room anymore.  I was expected to hold onto my lunch and wait for an invitation to sit down.

"I don't think I would've ever gotten that invitation.  I practically grew up in that mansion, but the fact that I'm another piece of white trailer trash keeps me standing all the time.  And I've always thought that maybe if I was someone else, someone that came from a decent home with a decent income then maybe…things would be different.  But I am who I am, and Elisha is a Vanes.  I can't sit where I'm not welcome."


For the record, I would let Baby Blue sit wherever she wanted, but maybe that's just me.

Thank you so much for reading!!  I actually wrote this all in one day but didn't get it posted until a few days later.  I've been making tons of progress!  The only issue with that is that I'm almost to the end of the posts I have outlined, so I'll need to take some time off from posting to make those outlines before continuing (I know the general plot after this, just not the exact order and details).

Question: How do you feel about Maverick's deal?

Next:

  1. From Kit, "This Christmas"
  2. From Elisha, "Normalcy"
  3. From Jada, "Withdrawals"
  4. From Baby Blue, "Faraway Family"

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Jada Installment #24

Jada

I take up residence in a chain hotel and spend the evening debating on telling my mom where I am.  At long last I decide I'm too tired to confront her and fall asleep, waking up to a calendar alert from my phone and several texts from my fiancĂ©.  I have another appointment with Dr. Ven Eira, and Elisha is picking me up in an hour.

I spend that hour walking to the Walmart down the road for clean clothes and breakfast.  I apologize to the baby on the way over- I hardly ate a thing yesterday.  Back at the hotel I shower standing stock still under the water.  How exactly did I get here?  How did I get to the point where every thought of my mother makes me sick with worry?  How did I fall into the Vanes family so fast?

"How did I get here?" I mumble at the shower mist.  When it gives no response I direct the question at the baby, and of course it doesn't answer, but I've at least got the feeling it hears me.

Elisha meets me outside in his car.  "Everything okay?"

I buckle my seat belt.  "My mom is going to hate me and I'm afraid she'll hurt me when I go back,"

Elisha sputters a little.  "You can stay at the hotel for as long as you think you'll need to, you know,"

"No.  I have to go back.  After the appointment.  I need to face her and get it over with,"

For the first time I feel like I'm committing to bravery in front of Elisha, and he looks disgusted.  "But that doesn't make sense, Jada.  You can't be afraid of something only to walk straight into it.  Especially in your condition,"

I don't respond.

Elisha hates it when I do this.  I know from the way his gaze blares into mine when I snap out of my silent spells.  I think to all the times I wanted so badly for Elisha to look at me and be comforted by the strength and reliability in my presence.  But now I'm too tired to care.

Elisha stays in the waiting room while I wait in the examination room for Dr. Ven Eira.  She bustles in with an ease in her step and I remember that her life is virtually unaffected by all of this.  But that does not stop me from releasing the weight when she asks me "How are you holding up?"

"You knew that things were…complicated," I start.

"I've seen pregnancies around complicated circumstances before," Dr. Ven Eira says, nodding.  "Do you want to tell me about it before we get started?  I can be a confidant just as much as a doctor,"

"Yes," I say, surprised by my own surety.  I do need to tell someone that will tell me things back.  So in one long guttural string the facts come free.  I feel like a snake coiled in my stomach unraveled and slithered up my throat until it all came oozing out my mouth.  I finish on the topic of my mother and leave out the details regarding Elisha's.  Mom can hurt me, but Corazana can destroy me, I'm sure of it.

"Jada, I want you to be as healthy as possible while you're pregnant and postpartum as well, and that means physically and emotionally.  Did it help for you to tell me those things?" she asks when I'm coil-less.  I nod.  "There's a group of other pregnant teens that meet once a week in Seattle.  Of course every situation will be different  but it might be nice to find people dealing with similar issues.  And the sessions are free too,"

I think about this.  It would help, I'm sure, but something tells me that visits like that would not be approved by Corazana.  Not at all.  I don't know all the Vanes standards yet, but I can guess that the neurotypicals Elisha's father sucks up to don't take too kindly to therapy groups.  "Thank you for telling me.  Maybe I'll see about that when things settle down,"

"Have you ever had personal therapy before?  To help with your PTSD?  I know most patients do find comfort through counseling,"

That's a good question, and days before I would've answered with ease.  But now…  "When I came to live with my mom, I was put in therapy.  People wouldn't have looked too kindly on my mom if she hadn't put me in.  I stayed with that therapist for…two, almost three years.  But they moved and a new one took their place but Mom decided one therapist was enough.  I guess if I had fought harder she would've kept the sessions going, but I was going into middle school then and didn't want people knowing about my life before, and the therapy was a result of that, so I just forgot I needed it,"

My doctor leans forward, taking hold of my arm rest.  "If you need it again, it's there.  Just remember that,"

"Alright," I reply.  "I will,"

Dr. Ven Eira breaks the solemnity by slapping her hands down on her knees and letting out a sigh.  "So.  We are actually here for an appointment.  Do you remember last week when I explained the ultrasound procedure?"

"Yes," I say.  "I drank lots of water at breakfast,"

"Excellent.  Do you have any questions about it?"

"Just one.  I was going to look this up before coming here but…you know the situation.  Uh, I know fetuses don't look like real babies for a while, but at this point, uh-"

"Will it look like a real baby?  Yes, with any luck.  Are you okay?"

I realize that my eyes are watering.  "Yeah.  Just tired."

The procedure doesn't take long.  I have gel over my stomach and a transducer over that, and I am seeing a baby on the screen in front of my that is mine.  There isn't much to say about it- it looks like any other growing baby.  Dr. Ven Eira says it's still developing small, but other than that I can find no visual indications that it's anything I helped create.

But that does not stop me from thinking I can see you, you're here when I eye the curve of its forming head.  Hello.

I wonder if Elisha should be in here to see this, but all I can think about is how easy it was for him to leave me there with his mother.  So I stay put.

"In as early as four weeks we might be able to tell you the gender," Dr. Ven Eira is saying.  "Six weeks at most.  And potentially you could feel some movement within the next two weeks, but since it's your first pregnancy I'm not counting on it.  With a fetus this small I'm guessing movement will occur during the later spectrum.  Weeks 23-25 most likely,"

I nod.  "And I'll be seeing you next month?"

"Yes.  And Jada, you have my office number.  If you want the contact information for that therapy group, I'd be happy to get it for you, alright?" Dr. Ven Eira's brown eyes bore into mine.

"Alright," But the word is as empty as my mother's promises.

***

Elisha and I only discuss the appointment briefly before he drives me to the hotel so I can check out.

"Sorry I didn't just take my own car when I left my house yesterday.  I couldn't find my car keys and I was too anxious to keep looking so I just walked.  That was inconvenient," I tell him.

He shakes his head.  "It's fine Jada,"

He pulls up to my house.  "If you need anything, call,"

"I will," I promise.  "And…you should know.  I saw the baby today,"

Just as I expected, this comes at the wrong time.  Elisha's face tightens.  "Oh,"

"I didn't have Dr. Ven Eira call you in because things are so scary right now, but I know there'll be other ultrasounds.  Like, probably next month we'll be able to see whether it's a boy or a girl and you can-"

"You were right about that,"  Elisha interjects.  "I don't want to see the baby right now.  Things at home have been hard.  I'll call you if my mom wants to tell you wedding plans.  She's already working on them.  See you soon,"

"Goodbye," I reply, stepping from the car.  At the moment I don't think Elisha wants to hear me say anything else.

His car peels off the driveway and I watch it go.  A stab of guilt propels me to whisper "It's okay.  He's just scared right now, like I am.  He'll be better soon."

My house looks the way it always has, but I feel ill as I survey it.  I spent years living in it without realizing that it was run by a heartless machine, only concerned with its own oil.  And because there is nowhere else to go, I'm returning to it.

It's work hours and I doubt she took another day off for my sake.  I'll go in, take a quick nap and some time to plan out what to say.  Maybe whip up some snack Mom likes.  And I'll work things out with her.

I go to the door and pull my house key from my pocket.  Push it in the lock.

And freeze.

Something is wrong.  I can feel it immediately.  The key does not fit properly, and I cannot turn the lock.  I jerk it free and make another futile attempt.  But there's no point in trying a third time- I already know.

"She changed the locks," I breathe to the baby.  "She…"  Anything else I say is insignificant.  I don't need to run through every moment I've felt neglected or battle reasons why my mother is still redeemable.  She changed the locks, and my home is no longer mine.

"A warning would have been nice," I mutter.  "Wouldn't it?"

I sink to the porch, but I do not let myself pull my knees up into closet-stance.  I can not break down here, but what am I going to do?  Tears start as a reflex, slipping down my face like hot butter down ceramic.  I miss those simple things in cooking.  I miss the days where I'd lose myself in pots and pans and measuring cups.  It was always difficult, keeping the monsters away, but in the kitchen I can't get in to I developed my routine.  Stirring and kneading kept my mind busy.  The precision needed when adding ingredients to a cake mix kept my brain from wandering.  And when all was said and done I could burn my lips on bread crusts or make something people enjoyed.  I could be proud of myself knowing that I had utilized what should've made me weak and used it as a tool.  And all the while, I thought Mom was proud of me too.  But now that a locked door stands between my kitchen and I, I realize that the only person that saw how remarkable it was that I could get by day by day was-

Kit.

I fumble frantically in my pocket and pull out my phone.  I don't stop to think about how betrayed my cousin must feel after hearing I was pregnant from Mom and not me.  No matter how hurt she is, she will not leave me alone when I need help as I do now.  My phone pulses against my ear as it rings, and I find myself in a very different kitchen, my body shaking with sobs as I wait for Kit to come find me and tell me everything will be okay.

I can't let myself get stuck in those memories right now.  I can't be hysterical when she picks up.  I wipe my tears away, clear my throat and- the line stops ringing.  It wants me to leave a message.

I can't begin to.  The phone slips from my hands and I'm too frightened to make my melting butter analogies over it.  My baby gets squished between my legs as I hug them to my chest and disappear to the closet with my face against my knees.  I break down against them, anxiety racing up my throat in silent screams, battering against my skull again and again.  I am small, small enough to be locked out of houses and small enough to be spit upon and small enough to fit in any wedding dress, any wedding dress at all.

"You're too small for this world, baby," I choke out.  "No one deserves to be as small as you,"

When I raise my head I can see the white marks of my foundation rubbed onto the fabric of my jeans.  My scar… I'm rushing to somehow cover it with my hair when I hear the car pull up.  Whoever it is, they can't see my scar, they can't see my scar, they-

"Jada?"

"Kit?"

I recognize her first by voice and second by everything else.  Sight, smell, touch.  All at once I'm pressed against her, crying against her shoulder that still smells like paper fresh out of a printer.

"You're going to be okay, Jada.  You'll be okay," she says, her arms both tight and soft.  "Lissa told me everything,"

"I…I'm sorry," I get out between tears.  "I wanted to tell you but I didn't know what to do,"

"Well, I can't imagine telling Lissa went over well," Kit reasons.

The hysterics are shaking over her shoulders as I explain, "She wanted me to get an abortion but I said no and now I-I can't get in b-because she changed the locks and-"

"Shh, shh," Kit says, rubbing my arms.  "She changed the locks?"

I nod.  "To keep me out,"

Kit pulls back to jostle the knob.  In one fluid motion she rears back and delivers a kick to the door, her heeled boots leaving a dent past the paint.  She throws a curse at it before turning back to me.  "It's okay.  I knew you weren't going back there with her.  Not after she started trying to control you.  I got an apartment for the two of us.  It's not exactly a luxury inn, and we'll need a bigger space for when the baby comes, but for now it'll be better than living with Lissa,"

"But you-you have a job in Portland!  You can't stay until the baby comes,"

Kit gestures to her car, which has a suitcase pressed against the window.  "I quit.  My landlord was sympathetic about the lease on the apartment and only made me pay off the rent for this month before leaving.  I have a good amount of cash saved up, and I'll get a job here.  You know my talent for saving money.  Do you have any?"

"A little in my bank account.  But not enough to raise a baby off of," I reply meekly.

"We'll worry about that later," Kit answers.  "It's cold outside.  Let's head on home,"


Bryant

My parents were angry when my first grade teacher Mrs. Hampton told them I should be held back.  They got all up in her face and pointed out that I did all my work and didn't struggle in any subject, even the ones I didn't like.

"Academically he's fine, yes.  I'm not worried about that," Mrs. Hampton stood her ground.  "I'm worried because socially he is very behind.  Of course I can't hold him back without your permission, but I believe he'd benefit from more time here.  Speech therapy as well.  Have you spoken to his doctor about possible-"

"Are you suggesting," Mom broke in hotly.  "That he's cracked up?  Because if you are, you can go to hell,"

They sent me out then.  I don't know what words passed between them, but Mrs. Hampton got the upper hand and I redid the year.  She got to spend another year looking down at my silent desk in worry, but that was all.  They weren't going to hold me back again, because the first time had already taken a toll on the scant social life I held.  Some kids said it was because I was stupid, but the ones that knew me even a little bit were quick to correct them.  I was not stupid, they said.  But I was wrong.  Wrong in the head because all my words felt so wrong in my mouth.

It wasn't just the kids either.  The parents saw Baby Blue in third grade while I stayed in first and said that the Richardson family did alright with the sister.  But the brother, the younger one, he had a few screws loose.

My parents gave up on defending me (if that was really what they were doing) when I went into middle school.  They told me I would need to learn how to be normal and get over my 'irrationalities'.

"You do know what that means, don't you?" Mom asked, rubbing her hungover head.

"Yes," I replied.  Maybe Mom had forgotten that academically, I always did fine.

"Well, I never know with you," Mom snapped.  "I want to, but you can't communicate.  You've never been able to, and it's exhausting as hell."

I knew she was lying about wanting to.  Baby Blue could communicate just fine, better than fine, and they never listened to her.  My parents were stuck full of guilt between the daughter that hated them and the son with 'a few screws loose'.

Most days I just say screw it and admit that I am never going to get over the phobias and that the rest of the world is just going to have to live with that, but tonight is different.  Tonight I feel the gap between me and everyone else, everyone that's not afraid of people and talking and noise and conversation.  We humans live in a beautiful world with beautiful people and things, but while all those beautiful people are standing on soapboxes and shouting into megaphones, I am watching all my thoughts like a slideshow in my brain.  No one sees what I do because I can never find the words to tell them.  And what is a brain with loose screws binding it up?  It's not only a liability but an utter waste of space.  My head is just a cavity of miscommunication.

The door opens.  "Bryant?"

My thoughts are so sluggish with depression that it takes a minute to answer.  "Yeah?  I thought you had the late-night shift,"

Baby Blue steps into the room.  "No, that's tomorrow night,"

My sister has always taken a different approach when it comes to me.  Unlike Mom and Dad, she seeks my thoughts out.  She knows she has to even though she doesn't understand why.  She tells me I can connect and speak my mind and relate because she's one of the only people ever to have seen me do it.

"Oh.  Good," I look at her.  "Wait, are you crying?"

"Yeah.  Sorry," she says, wiping the shine off her cheeks. 

"No.  Don't be sorry.  I always know what to say to you anyway," I protest.  "Come over here.  Do you need lemons?"  She hasn't in a very long time, but I have to be sure.

"I'm fine," she replies, climbing onto the foot of my bed.  "I wasn't sure you'd still be up.  Have you heard from Jada lately?"

My face burns when I remember the lavender notebook.  "No,"

"I didn't think so," Baby Blue says.  "You know, Bryant, you are the luckiest thing that has ever happened to me,"

"Me?"

"Yeah.  I mean it sucks that our parents thought it would be smart to reproduce for a second time, of all things, but you should know that you are the only thing in my life that I know with every passing minute that I can depend on."

"And Elisha too," I say, unsure if cavity brain me can handle the weight of Baby Blue's complete trust on my own.  I wait for her to add a nonchalant "oh, him too" or even a joking reason as to why he is not to be trusted, but instead she says nothing.  Nothing, that is, until her tears stop for real and she can say "Thank you Bryant,"


Kit

The apartment is bare and only has one window, but I think Jada is more depressed by the desolate kitchenette than the lack of sky.

"It's fairly temporary," I remind her.  She nods silently.  She has hardly said a word since I found her on the porch.

I move the boxes of takeout into the trash while she sits on the sheetless bed one wall away.  I want to talk to her, but she's exhausted from her breakdown and the pressure of my whore of an aunt squeezed her through.  I'll unload my questions tomorrow and let her sleep tonight.

"I can finish picking up dinner," I call, although in a space so small I hardly need to.  "The bed's not big enough for both of us, so I'll take the couch.  And I grabbed you a toothbrush when I got dinner.  Just look in the bags and it'll be there.  Tomorrow I'll bring you with me and we can buy whatever you'll need.  Okay?"

The bed springs creaks in what I take to be a response.  A few minutes later Jada shuffles into the bathroom and shuts the door.  When I come back from dumping the trash bag, she's in bed with the lights off.

"Goodnight, Jada," I offer.

Her voice is muffled when she answers.  "Goodnight Kit,"

I dig around my suitcase until I find some sweatpants.  They smell like an algebra classroom in June but I step into them anyway and make my bed on the couch.

Really, Jada and I could've squeezed into the bed together, but part of me is afraid to touch her.  I didn't hesitate to go to her on the porch when she was in hysterics, but now in the quiet of this ghost town I can feel the presence of her baby right along with her.

My Jada is pregnant.  All geared up to be a mother in the summer.  Neither of us know how a mother goes about raising her baby and neither of us ever imagined…it's stupid to even say it was unexpected. Your cousin is pregnant and due in June.  That's all I got from Lissa, but that was all I needed to know before I was packing up.  Jada's life had made a sharp turn in a direction neither of us could navigate without a crash or two, but since I'm here we'll at least be on the side of the road together.

I stiffen at the sound of tears from the bedroom.  Jada must've thought I'd fallen asleep.  As it is my responsibility I have always been quick to comfort her.  At home in Idaho I could hear crying from any room in the house and in the hospital I could see the tears before they were rolling.  But in a moment like this, when her pain is stretched out so far ahead of her, I can only let her cry herself out.

She was past her withdrawals when we were able to take her home.  She had grown significantly since I had last seen her, but my parents were worried.  "Maybe she'll always be small,"

The smaller she was, the easier it was for my four-year-old self to cart her baby carrier to the car, which I did with pride.  Technically, she was my sister now.  Mom and Dad had signed every adoption paper with a flourish and cooed to her using words like 'our baby' and 'sweet little daughter'.  I was thrilled to be taking her home, even if it meant the drive of a century.  The car ride back wasn't so bad though.  Jada had learned to smile and gurgle and I made plenty of silly faces to encourage those reactions.  Even as she slept I kept an eye on her- she was the most beautiful baby I had ever seen.

I wonder if Jada's baby will look like her or the father.

I jerk awake, sweat soaking my tank top and my mouth coated stiff with dry saliva.  Our only window shows the winter sun and when I sit up I can see there's a spot where we'll need to repair the blinds.

Slowly I walk to the window to inspect it.  From far below I can see where residents park their cars.  Conveniently I parked close to the window the night before and-

The car.  Panic tears through my chest when I realize that in this apartment, I am completely alone.



Here you guys go, have a cliffhanger.

Question: Are you glad Jada has Kit with her now?

Next time:
  1. From Jada, "Escape Artist"
  2. From Kit, "The Father"
  3. From Baby Blue, "This Is A Lunch Room"

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Jada Installment #23

Okay!  I'm attempting to make up for the lack of a post last month by doing three posts in the month of June.  I'm off to a good start so I think I have the capabilities to do it but my gosh it's been a whirlwind in the past week.  Also, tomorrow is my birthday!  So it's been kind of nuts, but school is almost over so I'm surviving!

Jada

My face is haloed by a rat's nest when I wake in the morning.  The sun is already up- I must've slept for at least twelve hours.  I roll onto my back and place a hand on my stomach.  Good morning.

Mom must've suspected I'd be getting up soon.  I can smell breakfast cooking downstairs.  Over breakfast, we will talk.

I don't bother with changing or fixing my hair.  It takes long enough for me to get out of bed anyway.  Downstairs, Mom is spooning scrambled eggs onto a plate with bacon and toast.  I am the cook in the family, but this is a dish Mom can handle.

"Good morning," she says.  "You slept a long time.  Sit down; let's eat."

I do as she says.  She sits across from me on the other side of the counter where we always sit, placing a plate before me.  She pours ketchup over her eggs.  I crunch off the crusts of the toast.  My baby is merciful when it comes to what I can and can't eat, but they are very opposed to scrambled eggs.

Mom is in between sips of milk when she says easily, "I talked to the Vanes family already, of course,"

And I can't eat another bite.  "You've already told people?"

"It won't be in the papers, Jada.  I'm not telling the world.  Just the Vanes.  And I called Kit too.  Be glad she didn't have to watch her get the news,"  Mom says loftily.

But that's exactly what I wanted to do.  Kit deserved to have me tell her, not the women she despises.  "I thought we'd have time to talk things over first,"  I say, swallowing.  "Before everyone knew,"

"We're talking now," Mom counters.  "How far along are you?"

The words stick and sting.  "Fourteen weeks,"

"Dear God, Jada.  That's second trimester.  It took you this long to tell me?" she snaps.

There's no response I can give to that.

Mom sets down her fork.  "Well, this is going to pass quickly.  The Vanes are going to pay for an abortion and you will stay away from Elisha afterwards.  Because I know you aren't with him because you care.  You close people off much too quickly for that,"

"You haven't asked about an abortion yet.  I know you haven't," I protest.  "Because the Vanes are conservatives and I know they won't agree to an abortion,"

Mom shrugs.  "I'm a good convincer.  Don't underestimate what I'll do, Jada,"

"But you don't know the plan yet-"

"I can make a guess: you marry Elisha and the two of you have a healthy child together.  You spend the rest of your lives living the ideal of a good income and a lovely kid.  But I know you Jada.  No child you raise is going to end up healthy.  Even Elisha's money can't guarantee that."  There's an edge cutting across the business-like calm, and I realize with a sinking heart that she does not intend on making an unanimous decision.

"I decided on keeping the baby.  That's already my decision," I say slowly.  I'm testing the waters.

Mom raises an eyebrow.  "You want to marry Elisha?  Well maybe if I ever felt like I could trust your decisions I'd give you over happily.  But look at yourself.  Your biggest accomplishment will be finishing high school, if you actually manage to do that.  And by the time the friends you don't have are leaving for college you'll be doing the same as you always do.  Getting by day by day without ever trying to fix what's wrong with you.  Take my advice for once and maybe you'll have the chance to be something more."

Anger forces me to my feet.  "It'd probably be smart of me to listen to you.  Of course you have more experience with terminating children you don't want and won't take care of.  But no matter what I do in regards to the baby, it has to be my choice.  No matter what."

"You are eighteen.  I can't make choices for you,"  Mom has reverted back to her flippancy.  "But I'd advise anyone you go crawling for help for to keep you at arm's length.  Because all the days you spend fighting monsters you make are the days the people that love you need you the most,"

There is a plate, still steaming under scrambled eggs, and it would take one throw to crack right over my mother's face.  It's a white-hot rage in my chest but I put reigns on it so I can say what I suppose Kit has been saying for years.  "I needed you while you were fighting nothing but your own selfishness.  And now I'm going to spend the rest of my life trying to destroy monsters you made for me the minute you changed your mind,"

"Then I hope it's a life you're proud of," Mom hisses.  "Run out and away from em if it makes you feel better.  Besides, the Vanes are waiting for your sorry life anyway,"


Baby Blue

"Hi, computer monitor.  Now I know you don't have feelings or opinions, but if you did I'm afraid today is the day you'd lose all respect for me.  I am the stupidest.  I really am.

"I was over at Elisha's house because I hadn't been over in a while and we were just upstairs talking like we always do.  As you probably know, I'm very good at talking, and once you get Elisha started, he's a pretty decent talker himself.  Anyway.  We were talking.  I was telling him about my job and he was telling me about how lately Maverick has been avoiding him, which he hates.  I mean, Maverick was kind of stepping over the line at that dinner with Jada, but Elisha understands why he did it.  Maverick always has Elisha's best interests at heart, and Elisha knows that.  He just wishes Maverick would stop being so weird and about things so he could tell him he forgives him.

"Sorry.  That was a bit of a tangent.  Me talking to Elisha is not the reason for me being the stupidest.  The reason is that we're just sitting on his window seat talking and all the sudden we're super close and we almost kissed.  Ugh.  Just saying that gives me chest pains.

"You wouldn't know this obviously, but Elisha and I were a very brief thing at the end of junior year.  We broke up because all our friends thought it was weird because we were too platonic or whatever, but the point is that I know what it's like to kiss Elisha, and right then we were about to.

"It was the stupidest thing.  I don't like him.  He doesn't like me.  He's engaged to Jada, who is literally pregnant with his baby.  Just a whole lot of stupidity all around.  I've only wanted for Jada to trust me and here I am acting as the home wrecker.

"And if you're not cringing yourself to death yet, there's more: we're about to kiss unfortunately, and then the door opens.  We weren't close enough at that point to look like we actually had kissed or anything, but Corazana walks in and she's obviously pissed about something, which is always scary.  She told me I needed to go home and everyone knows not to argue with Elisha's mom because if you do she'll roast you first in English and then in Spanish and you'll definitely be dead when the first 'puta sucia' hits.  So I leave.  And lo and behold, I see Jada in the foyer as I'm leaving.

"Obviously someone told someone else and it finally got to Corazana.  Now she knows Jada is pregnant and that Elisha and Jada are trying to get married under a serious time crunch.  You'd think I'd be worrying about Elisha because he's my best friend, but I know he's safe in this situation.  He'll go along with the wedding that'll be set up as soon as possible and he'll be okay because even if he brings out more gray hairs than Norman and Kathleen ever did and Maverick and Abbi ever will, he's still their son and it counts for something.  No Vanes left behind.  But Jada isn't in the Vanes equation yet, and now she's an immediate threat to their reputation.

"I'm not particularly religious.  Bryant is, and maybe I'll ask him to toss up a few prayers, but computer monitor, I have a feeling that only God can help a girl like Jada now."


Jada

Elisha won't look at me.  He sits next to his parents on the opposite side of the parlor, glancing around me as if I'm covered in a eye-deflecting net.  It sounds pathetic, but at this moment I need to look at his eyes.  I need to know that I'm not about to be abandoned for the second time.  I've hardly had time to recover from the first- Mom's presence downstairs did not give me much time to put myself together before coming over.

"How far along are you?" Corazana spits, her eyes darting over her son and I.

"Fourteen weeks.  The baby is due June fifth,"

"So you've been pregnant since September," Corazana is staring daggers at me.

"Y-yes,"

Corazana nods slowly, then looks to her husband.  Mr. Vanes is a resolute businessman that only speaks when his wife has quieted, which is practically never.  But now, Corazana is giving him the floor.  "Well, you plan on getting married.  Corazana and I are here to help speed up the process,"

Elisha says nothing, so I speak for us both.  "That was our plan from the beginning.  But my mother is against it and-"

"You do understand," Corazana breaks in.  "That you are carrying my son's child.  And whatever choices you want to make involve more than just you,"

"I understand that," I get out, looking to Elisha's terrified face for help.  "She just sees things differently and I need to take both sides into account.  I-I don't know how she'll react if I don't,"

Gone is the cheery and talkative woman I met before and could see, really truly, as my mother-in-law.  She leans forward, hands against knee caps, and utters, "You're not getting an abortion.  I'm not allowing for it.  Do you understand?"

Finally Elisha finds his voice.  "Mom-"

"Elisha, this is not your question to answer," She tosses in something else in Spanish that I can't translate.  Elisha winces.

I don't want an abortion.  If I did, I would hide behind Mom and let her deal with Corazana's deadly eyes.  That is not what makes me hesitate.  My hesitation comes from my mother, who is not the woman I trusted and is not someone that can take care of me.  I'm caught between the threat of Corazan's face and my mother's cold-hearted back.  The threats press and press until they press right up against the thought: what would hurt the baby less?  Because I now know something I should've figured out a long time ago: Jada is no longer Jada.  She is baby and Jada, and the baby is all anyone here will care about in the end.

"I understand," I tell her.

The reaction I get is not what I had anticipated.  "Elisha.  Alexander.  Give us privacy,"

I can't help but panic a little at the sight of Elisha leaving so abruptly.  Never looking back.

I am just turning back to face his mother when I feel the warmth, the moisture dribbling down between my eyes.  The saliva sticks there for a moment before rolling like lethargic tears around my nose.  Corazana Vanes has just spat at me.  Having no other defense, I raise my hand to wipe it away.

"Jada, I'm going to tell you about something you know nothing about: reputation.  My husband owns a respectable company that makes more money in a year than you will make in your entire life.  And he didn't get that way just through his education and business ventures.  He made connections.  He got to know people.  They came to respect him.  He developed his reputation as a sturdy business man.  The father of five upstanding and innovative children.  He has spent his life nurturing that reputation, and what would happen if suddenly his connections couldn't trust him?"

I am silent.  Corazana doesn't want an answer.  All she wants is for me to shut up until I open my mouth for the 'I do'.

"So, Jada.  I am not going to be the one holding your hand through any minute of this.  I do not care what you think or how you feel.  The reputation of my family will always be more important than the whore that threatened it.  Here is what you're going to do: you're going to marry Elisha and leave.  I will find a place for Elisha, and you will go with him.  You will be expected to follow any and all of the Vanes standards as you will be a part of the family with us," Corazana pauses, raking her gaze down my body.  She does not pause at my abdomen.  "Do you understand?"

My jaw is locked.  My hands are frozen in my lap.  But a decision rises up from the pit of my stomach and I pry my lips open to give it voice: "Yes,"

Corazana shoos me from the room soon after and tells me to go home.  I don't fully register that that means returning to my mother until I'm out in the foyer and Elisha is grasping my arm.

"Are you leaving?  For home?"

I'm chained to my deal with the Vanes while chained to Wallace by birth.  "I…I don't know if I can go back there.  At least not today,"

"She didn't take it well?" Elisha asks.  He didn't need to and he realizes directly after.  "You can take my credit card.  Get yourself a nice hotel room where you'll feel safe and stay for as long as you need to.  And I'll check up on you, okay Jada?  We'll get through this,"

He will.  The baby will.  But Jada?  I only nod in response.


Elisha

In my room I crush my teeth together, grinding until my jaw aches.  I can't seem to breathe full breaths anymore.  No- I can only sit and try to uproot my molars.

I can imagine the things my mother must've said to Jada.  I know Mom has never been a saint, nor does she use tact if she doesn't think it's been earned.  Until we're far away from here, Jada's life is going to be hell.

The door opens.  I jump, but it's not Mom's temper.  Just Dad's graying hair and disappointment, which is almost worse.  He sits beside me on the foot of my bed and says, "Elisha,"

And there are a billion horrible paths one could go down while discussing that name.  "Dad, I'm sorry,"

"You never actually loved her, did you?  Not even for a second," he says, his voice soft.

"No,"

"Then, Elisha," he begins, "I'm sorry too.  Do you know how I met your mother?"

I nod.  They met at a bus station and talked the whole bus ride that followed.

"Of course you do.  You've been told by her herself.  But I do not have as much energy for talking as she does, so you do not know my side of the story,"

I'm really not in the mood for stories, but I'm in no position to tell him this.

"Your mother hardly spoke a world of English.  She had recently immigrated from Mexico.  She told me as much about herself as she could.  There were lots of hand gestures and facial expressions.  But in that time, no matter how awkward it could be at times, I realized that I was speaking to a truly fantastic woman.  We exchanged means of contact and went our separate ways, but I knew not to let her slip away from me, because I could already feel that there was something about her I'd never shake.  So in a predictable fashion, we fell in love.  But being in love with all of your heart is never something you can predict.  It is something indescribable to wordsmiths and unfathomable to philosophers.  And I am sorry, Elisha.  Because you should've had that.  We all wanted that for you."  Dad smiles then, the wrinkles creasing in an unpracticed manner around his eyes and lips.  "But, knowing your mother, the wedding will be lovely,"

He's up and gone before I can say the words I feel scrambling up my chest: you're wrong.  I already found it.






Thank you for reading!  If I'm able to get it done, the next installment should be up in about a week and a half!

Question: Do you think Jada made the right decision to go along with the Vanes or would you rather she stay with Lissa?

Next time:

  1. From Jada, "Confidant"
  2. From Bryant, "Few Screws Loose"
  3. From Kit, "She Cries"