A/N: Just as a heads up, this chapter is a bit of a long one. And, as you can see from the chapter title page, I got Generations for my birthday!! YAY!!!! I haven’t gotten to try out too much yet, but I love what I have so far =D
“There’s someone trying to get in! Quick, ready the cauldron!”
“I’m trying to, I’m trying to!”
“He’s getting closer!!!”
“Geronimo!!!!!!!!!!! TAKE THAT, FIEND!”
“AHHHBLARGHCOUGHSPLUTTERCHOKE! Tamara!!!” I yelled, my just dry cleaned suit now soaking wet. I looked up in annoyance only to see Tamara looking back at me with wide, startled eyes.
“Oops, sorry Harry! We thought you were a death eater!” Tamara squeaked, disappearing back into the tree house.
“I was actually worried that it was nargles,” Catherine said, her head poking out as she looked down at me bemusedly. Ahh, of course. Ever since the girls read the entirety of the Harry Potter series, they had been running around pretending everyone was wizards. Catherine liked to play as Luna, Tamara said she was Hermione, I, of course, was Harry, Marina was Ginny, Daniel was Ron, and grandma was McGonagall in their little imaginary world.
“Right well, dinner’s ready in the Great Hall if any of you are interested,” I said, shaking some water out of my shoe.
“Yay, food!” Catherine cried out, breaking character as she darted out of the tree house and down the ladder.
“How do we know it’s really you?” Tamara sniffed, folding her arms across her chest.
“I have the power to ground you, you know.”
“Daniel, dear, could you call your father, I think…I think my water just broke,” Marina said, holding her stomach and taking a few calming breaths.
“YOUR WHAT JUST BROKE?” Daniel cried out in a panic.
“Honey, it’s okay, I just-”
“OH GOD, why isn’t dad here?!?!?!
“I’m going to call a taxi now, okay? I’m fine, really.”
“GAHHHHH what should I do!?!??!”
“…call your father, please?”
“Right. I can do that. Totally easy. I got this.” Beep, beep, beep, beepbeepbeep beep. Ringgggg. Ringggg.
“MOM IS ABOUT TO EXPLODE!”
I immediately hung up the phone and called Marina as I rushed out of my office, hastily telling the secretary where I was going and then racing out the door. Marina had just arrived at the hospital and was going to check herself in, she said. She sounded remarkably calm, so unlike myself.
You’d think after three children and two pregnancies things would be a little easier on me, but they weren’t. My heart was beating erratically and I was already feeling clammy and anxious. Why did I let Marina talk me into this again, why?! Especially since it was twins again!
Hold on…ahh yes, I just flipped back in my journal and noticed I hadn’t mentioned that. Yeah. At one of many pre-natal exams, we discovered that Marina was once again pregnant with twins. It was certainly, er, surprising. For both of us.
“You and your overzealous sperm!” Marina had cried out.
“What? You’re pinning this on ME? How about you and your overzealous eggs!? ONE AT A TIME, HELLO!”
“OH YEAH, well maybe if you hadn’t-”
“Er, you guys do realize that neither of you had any control in this…right?” the nurse had cut in nervously…and so it was that we discovered we would soon have FIVE children. …and so it was that I had to sit down before I passed out.
But we had gotten over that initial shock, readied the house and the kids, and were now as prepared as we could be for the new additions to our family…which was a good thing because it looked like they were coming now!
I arrived at the hospital about fifteen minutes after Marina did, rushing to her side and grabbing her hand. Once again she gripped it tightly, and once again I got the feeling that she did this more to comfort me than herself. I took a deep breath, closing my eyes for a moment. This was, by far, my least favorite part of having children…and I wasn’t even the one giving birth to them! Damn!
It was a very, very long night, but by the end of it we had welcomed two new babies into the world, a beautiful baby girl who we named Laura, and a perfect baby boy who we named Andrew. It never failed to amaze me how much you could love someone even after you had just met them, but once again as I looked into our newborns’ eyes, I had no doubt that extending our family once more was the right thing to do. I couldn’t imagine our life without them.
“Reed?” Marina said as she took Andrew out of his crib to feed him.
“Hmm?” I asked, cuddling Laura close to me and smiling as she gurgled quietly.
“If I ask you for more children, please whack me upside the head.”
I laughed a bit, shaking my head. “I doubt that I could ever bring myself to do that, but I do promise to say no,” I said with a grin.
“Thanks,” Marina laughed.
For all our joking around though, Marina and I could not have been happier about the twins’ arrival into our family. Although it meant that we were once again barely getting any sleep, nothing brought us more joy than seeing our babies smile and holding them close to us. Our family was really and truly complete.
“And then the princess said ‘oh no you did not just mix paper with plastic!’ and-”
“Daniel!” Catherine laughed. “That’s not what the book says!”
“Sure it is! Look right here…” Daniel said, vaguely pointing to some sentence or other in the book.
“That says, ‘and then the princess said ‘I knew you’d come to save me! I never lost hope!’”
Daniel studied the book for a moment and fought back a smile. “Oh yeah…so it does.”
“So they created a new, green kingdom, where everyone recycled, rode bicycles, and used only natural pesticides to grow crops and everyone lived happily ever after breathing pollutant-free air. The end.”
“You mean ‘And so the handsome prince asked for the princess’ hand in marriage, and she said yes, and they all lived happily ever after,’” Catherine corrected with a contented sigh.
“Eh, that’s basically what I said.”
“DAD, Tamara said that I was adopted!”
“No I didn’t.”
“What? Yes you did!”
“GRR, I DID NOT!”
“You totally did too.”
“Hey! So uh, Dad, when are you going to teach me how to drive? I mean, I know I said I preferred my bike, but prom is coming up and I don’t think my date would appreciate it if I tied her to the handlebars and biked our way to prom.”
Marina and I were seriously at our wit’s end when my mom suggested that we hire a nanny to help us out. At first, both of us hated the idea, even though we had considered it before. After all, hiring a nanny just felt like…I don’t know, giving up. Plus, I didn’t like the idea of someone else taking care of our kids, but after the third night in a row with less than three hours of sleep, we finally agreed that we needed help.
So since I had work, Marina spent any free time during the day interviewing potential candidates. I had expected this process to take a really long time, especially considering how specific we were in our requirements, but it was only a couple days later when I came home from shopping for groceries that Marina called me into the living room for a moment to chat.
“I hired someone,” Marina said happily, immediately cutting to the chase.
“You what?” I asked, bewildered.
“I hired a nanny. I know it seems fast, but I have no doubt that she will be absolutely wonderful with our kids. Oh, and she says she knows you!”
“…..she does?” I asked, sincerely puzzled. “What’s her name?”
“Ginger Blossom,” Marina stated happily. “Here, let me go bring her in!”
Ginger. Ginger Blossom. One thousand cranes, Ginger? Twinkling eyes, Ginger? The Ginger I knew? Was the room spinning? Why did I suddenly feel so nervous? That didn’t make any sense. It was good that I knew our new nanny. Ginger would probably be great with the kids. Man, is the A/C working? Why am I breaking out into this cold sweat?
“Reed, honey?” I suddenly heard called, jarring me out of my thoughts.
“Huh?” I asked, looking up, and then immediately froze, my voice catching in my throat. There, standing next to Marina, was of course, none other than Ginger herself. The Ginger I knew. She definitely looked much older, but at the same time still so familiar. My heart hammered and I gave a small nod to acknowledge her, mentally kicking myself for reacting this way. What the hell was wrong with me?
“Hi Reed,” Ginger finally said with a somewhat nervous smile. “It’s been a long time.”
I cleared my throat and attempted to return the smile, hoping it didn’t look like a grimace. “So it has,” I finally managed to say. I took a breath and looked up at the ceiling for a moment before looking back at Ginger. “So, um, how are you?” I asked stupidly, at a loss for anything else to say.
“I’m fine,” she answered, her smile faltering some. “I’ve been teaching for awhile now and finally decided I’d try a hand in the medical field like I’ve always wanted to.”
“So you’re a doctor?”
“Oh, no. Not yet,” Ginger said, blushing deeply. “I’m actually between jobs as I go to school. I want to be a nurse, but go figure, it’s expensive, so I’ve been babysitting and the like to get me through school. I was working with another family, but the kids have all grown up so they didn’t need me anymore. Then I saw this ad in the newspaper and, well, figured I’d give it a shot,” she said quickly.
“And she’s almost done with her classes, so she’d only be able to stay short-term, but I figured that was perfect for us, right, Reed? I mean, we basically just want the help through these difficult ages, and then we could manage from there once the kids are a little older.”
“Uhh, yeah. That- that works out really well,” I said. Marina looked at me for a long moment then, biting her lip, but then seemed to snap out of whatever thought had come to her mind, a small smile back on her face.
“Great! So, you’ll be staying in this back room here,” Marina started, guiding Ginger away to give her a tour of the house. “We recently remodeled it for….” Her voice trailed away as they walked off, leaving me alone with my thoughts. What the hell was wrong with me? Why did I react that way upon seeing Ginger again? Well, it had been a long time. It was like seeing a ghost, really. This was true. I seriously hadn’t been expecting that at all. I hadn’t even thought of Ginger in so long.
I took another deep breath, running a hand through my hair roughly and then closing my eyes tightly, my head suddenly throbbing. Jeez, pull yourself together man. It’s just Ginger. It’s just Ginger. Just Ginger.
As we got ready for bed that night, Marina asked if I was okay, and I surprised myself when I hesitated for a moment before answering, but I did, mumbling that I was fine. And I was. I really was. I didn’t know why I was acting this way. I was happy with the new hire and appreciative of the help. We had really, really needed it.
“Are you sure?” Marina asked again, studying my face.
“Yes, I’m sure. It was just weird seeing her again,” I admitted, slowly pulling Marina into my arms. I bent my head down and began to trail kisses down her neck, trying to forget everything else.
“Oh,” Marina murmured, closing her eyes and leaning into me. “Tell me…was she, an old flame of yours?” she asked hesitantly. I paused halfway through planting kisses back up her neck, sighing a bit.
“Almost. I…kind of messed things up,” I admitted. “But it doesn’t matter,” I continued quickly, having felt her stiffen up in my arms. “That was so long ago. I mean, I was, what? 16? 17? It was stupid. I haven’t even spoken to her since I moved to Bridgeport. That was ages ago.”
“Best decision I ever made too,” I followed up. “You know…since I met you.”
“You mean that?” Marina asked, looking up at me anxiously. I looked at her in surprise and nodded.
“Of course I mean that. I mean that with every fiber of my being.”
“Thank you,” she whispered, then leaning up to kiss me. It was an odd reaction, but I didn’t question it, fully giving into the kiss as I slowly pushed her back onto the bed. I couldn’t explain it, but I suddenly needed her more than anything. Wanted her so badly. I forced any thoughts of Ginger out of my head and deepened the kiss, my hand running up Marina’s thigh. She let out a soft, breathy gasp, leaning into my touch as my tongue found hers. She tasted so sweet. “Wait,” Marina whispered quickly as my hands began to pull off her shorts.
“What?” I asked breathlessly, using every ounce of willpower I had to pause.
“Who are you thinking of right now?” she asked, her eyes bright.
“You, of course,” I answered, feeling utterly bewildered as I stared down at her. She met my eyes for a long moment and then nodded, pulling my head down to capture my lips in a fiery kiss. The question confused me, and I was about to ask her about it, but she must have been reading my mind, because she chose that exact moment to slip her hand into my boxers…and after that I swear I couldn’t have formed a straight thought even if I had tried.
All I knew was Marina…Marina and her touch…Marina and her taste…Marina and the feel of her legs grasping my waist…the sound of her soft, ragged breaths in my ear…our muffled cries…and the sweetest oblivion. All I knew was Marina. Marina, Marina….
Ginger seemed to fit into our family nicely. The girls loved her, Daniel didn’t seem to mind her, and the babies just adored her, fascinated by her long, bright orange hair. With her help, we could all breathe a little easier, and for that, I was thankful.
I didn’t see her much though. Partly because I worked, but also partly because I was kind of purposefully making sure I was in a different room than her when I was home. I couldn’t really explain it. I just felt…odd, around her. Uncomfortable. I didn’t like it at all, this weird, tense feeling that seemed to expand in the room if she were ever around. No, I didn’t like it at all, and so I had to avoid her as much as possible.
Sometimes though, I feared this made things worse.
For instance, I had heard the babies crying one day so I went upstairs to check on them, but as I was entering the baby’s room, a certain someone was coming out, and we ended up bumping into each other (Ginger nearly toppling over as she was thrown off balance)….and I was pretty sure I almost died of a heart attack as I caught her, wishing more than anything that I hadn’t because my heart was racing horribly now. Maybe I was having a heart attack.
“Oh, I’m sorry! I was just going to warm up a bottle,” Ginger cried, righting herself and looking thoroughly embarrassed.
I took an automatic step backward, feeling sick as I waved her apology away. “It’s fine, really.” She gave me an apologetic look and I met her eyes for just a moment, but that was long enough for that uncomfortable feeling to come back and I had to look away. “I’m gonna go get the baby,” I had muttered, and then slipped past her into the room, scooping up Andrew to me as if my life depended on it.
This was not good. This was not good at all.
But things quickly went from not good to absolutely awful- this time for an entirely different reason. It made all my worries about this tension seem frivolous and utterly stupid. …and it also made life seem frivolous…and utterly stupid.
The sun was just setting and my mom was finishing up in the garden when the same funny feeling that my dad must have gotten struck my mom, and she too passed away, calmly and peacefully. I think she was looking forward to seeing my dad again, but this granted me no comfort. No comfort at all.
My mom had not only been the rock of this family, but also its founder, for it was her who, at the young age of 18, decided to leave behind a life in the city for a peaceful life here in Neverglade. It was her that started it all—without her, none of this would have happened. Without her—god, I can’t even write anymore.
I can barely see the page.
Everything hurts. Everyone hurts. I want to fix it, but how can I when I can’t even fix myself?
They were probably happy now that they were reunited. I know I couldn’t stand it if Marina were taken away from me. Sometimes I wonder how my mom even lasted this long without my dad. And sometimes I wonder why she couldn’t hold on for just a little longer. I wasn’t ready to say goodbye.
But then again, would I ever have been ready?
I think I’m going to make a warm mug of milk with honey.
God, Mom, I miss you so much. We all miss you so much. You will always be in our hearts. Always.
Every time I think I’m getting better, I get worse. Everything reminds me of her. Especially this garden.
Should I get rid of it, or try to continue it myself? I had never really had much interest in growing plants, but it seemed so wrong to get rid of it. I saw Daniel out here sometimes, tending to the plants. I knew he liked it, so I guess I’ll keep it. I know my mom probably would have hit me upside the head if I destroyed it anyway.
The thought made me laugh…and then I broke down crying. Every time I think I’m getting better, I get worse….
Gah, Marina’s coming. I need to pull myself together. I don’t want her to see me like this.
So much for that. I think I spent the half the night crying in Marina’s lap. God, what’s wrong with me? She was endlessly supportive though. Hell, it actually even honestly seemed like she hadn’t minded.
I eventually fell asleep in Marina’s arms, the warmth of her body comforting me. With her, I may be able to get myself back together.
I found my mom’s journals today. I mean, I always knew where they were, but I re-found them, and instead of ignoring them, I decided to read them. They made me cry for no real reason, but they also made me laugh. My mom was a pretty interesting person, I have to say. Even more than I had realized.
Also…I was a pain in the ass when I was a toddler. Sorry about that, Mom and Dad….
I got paid to be in a commercial. …no, I’m not kidding. It was a commercial for this new, high-end cologne, so I guess they wanted a big time business guy to market it. It makes me want to die whenever I see it on TV, but Marina says it’s sexy, her favorite part being when I take off my shirt. Gahhhh, kill me now.
But at least I got paid well for it. Ten thousand simoleans! Plus, I get this stuff for free now and it actually does smell good.
….and Marina often drags me into the bedroom after the commercial airs.
Overall impression? Big success.
“DAD, you’re stepping in the lava!!”
“THE LAVA PIT! RUN!”
“Oh no, Dad! That was a close one! Good thing I transformed the lava into chocolate syrup before you burned up! You should really watch where you’re going. Be careful now though, you might grow dinderhorns!”
“Yeah, they can grow if you’re exposed to too much chocolate syrup. They’re like cow horns, only they’re curly, pink, and squeak when you squeeze them. Oh, and they glow in the dark.”
“How can I prevent this?” D=
“Hello beautiful,” I said alluringly as soon as the door to our bathroom opened…and then immediately yelled when it WASN’T Marina who exited.
“What?” Ginger asked in a panic, her eyes wide in alarm.
“Shit, I thought you were Marina. Goddamnit,” I said, embarrassed to no end. “I mean, not that you aren’t bea- I mean, well you know what I mean. Fuck. ….right, I’m going to go downstairs…so…yeah.”
“Marina’s in the babies’ room,” Ginger said quietly, looking at me strangely. “Sorry about that…this bathroom was just nearby.”
“It’s cool. Hah. I have to make sure I look before I flirt, right? Hah. Okay, bye.”
“It’s nice to see you in a good mood again,” Ginger blurted out, wringing her hands. I stopped in my tracks and made a face. I guess the funk I had been in was more noticeable than I had originally thought. After the initial surprise of her statement though, I nodded slowly and managed a half-smile.
“Marina’s been really helpful.”
“Oh. That’s good. She’s a really nice person.”
“Yeah, she is.”
“Is everything okay in here?” I suddenly heard Marina ask from the door.
“AIYEE!” I said, jumping in surprise and feeling caught in the act even though I hadn’t even been doing anything. Beside me, I noticed Ginger jump as well, turning in the direction of the voice and looking petrified. Marina fixed her gaze on me, giving me a questioning look, and I immediately scooped her into my arms in response, kissing her right on the lips. “Everything’s fine,” I said, pulling away. “I was looking for you.”
Marina looked up at me and smiled, kissing me back. “Looks like you found me,” she said, smiling up at me happily. “Or at least I found you,” she added with a soft laugh.
“I think I hear one of the babies crying,” Ginger suddenly said, looking uncomfortable. She gave a nervous laugh and then darted out of the room, her head averted the entire time. I looked after her for a moment, watching her leave and biting my lip. Why did I suddenly feel so…crummy?
“Babe?” Marina asked, trying to catch my gaze.
“Huh? Oh,” I said, shaking my head for a moment and looking back at Marina. “Sorry about that. I was just thinking…I don’t hear any crying.”
“I guess she must have ESP,” Marina joked with a slight shrug of her shoulders, although there was something else in her eyes.
“Guess so,” I said with a smile, pulling her in for another kiss. She hesitated for a moment, but then returned the kiss, wrapping her arms around me and leaning into me gently. She felt so warm and soft against me…so perfect. God I loved her.
And that’s why you have to continue staying away from Ginger. The thought surprised me, but I also knew that it was true. This…odd, uncomfortable feeling was something to be avoided at all costs.
“Make love to me,” Marina whispered in my ear then, running her fingers gently down my cheek as she effortlessly turned my attention entirely on her.
“Oh god…yes, of course.”
.…what had I been thinking about again?
Something absolutely, positively irrelevant, I thought to myself as I lifted Marina onto the bed.
So utterly irrelevant.
It wasn’t long before we were celebrating Laura and Andrew’s birthdays. I wasn’t sure I was up for a party yet, but we threw a small one at the house anyway, just with family members. Slowly, but surely, it seemed that the house was moving back into some semblance of normalcy.
Everyone cheered as I brought each of the babies to their own cake, but it was a bittersweet moment. I knew that Laura and Andrew were our last babies, so seeing them grew up made both Marina and I feel incredibly sad. But at the same time, we were happy, because all of our children were happy and healthy, and well, what more could you ask for really?
It was almost fascinating to see how different all of our kids looked from each other. Despite having two sets of twins, it didn’t seem like anyone looked quite alike! We really weren’t sure where Laura got her shade of blonde hair, but we figured it was from my dad’s family somewhere, since pretty much his whole family had been either blonde or strawberry blonde. Her eyes though were like Marina’s, a dark olive color. Andrew, however, had my bright green eyes and Marina’s hair color, an adorable combination of the two of us. What had I done in life to be so utterly blessed?
For their birthdays, we got them each a new doll. They were selling them at the science center- a new interactive toy of some sorts. I don’t really know, but Marina thought they were cute and that they’d be perfect gifts for the babies, and she was right. They absolutely loved those things!
I watched them playing with their new toys for a long time as I absent-mindedly ate some cake, and I couldn’t help but notice Ginger doing the same. She gave me a small smile when she caught me looking at her, and I forced myself to return a smile of my own before immediately looking down at my cake and studying it. I heard her take in a sharp intake of breath, but continued to keep my head down.
There was at least one good thing about the babies growing up. The faster they were old enough to go to school…the faster we wouldn’t need Ginger anymore. I felt horrible thinking it, because she really was great at her job and helped out a ton, and she was a good friend of mine…but I just couldn’t stand this tension anymore.
The faster it was gone, the happier I would be. Gahhhh, where was Marina? It was always at moments like this when I missed her most.
I didn’t think there was anything that her smiling face couldn’t cure. God, I loved her so much.
.…so why wouldn’t this other feeling just leave me the hell alone?