I made my way up the steep hill leading to Hangman’s Tree. I tried making visiting Yellow-Foot’s grave a monthly event.
As I approached the tree, I heard harsh whimpering coming from the distance.
Without thinking, I hid behind the tree, with my back up against the sturdy trunk to get a listen.
I ducked down and slowly peaked around the bushes. I couldn’t believe my eyes!
“I’m so sorry!” Toni wailed. “I just wanted to keep my family together, I never meant to hurt anyone…. Please forgive me!”
She was kneeled down in front of Yellow-Foot’s grave, mourning heavily into the palms of her hands.
“He won’t hear you..” I approached. “He’s moved on.”
“Yeah? Then why can’t you.” She hissed, looking up at me.
Black tears from her makeup streamed down her beat red face, this was no performance.
I took a deep breath, and exhaled slowly.
“What are you doing here anyway? Didn’t think I felt guilty enough at the park that day?” She sniffled.
“You really did it… didn’t you?” I asked calmly.
“No I didn’t do it…” She sneered.
She stood up against the sunset, as the sun’s rays bounced off of her. Her body jerked repeatedly as she broke down and began to sob once more.
“But I was responsible…”
“I gave….someone money to …do it. I didn’t want to know…. the details, I just ….wanted him gone.” She began hyperventilating between words.
She took a deep breath and pulled out a tissue from her jeans pocket. With the tissue, she wiped her cheeks and her eyes, wiping the runny mascara clean with just a few swipes.
“He was ripping my family apart. And I took it too far. And now I’m haunted by it, every day. It doesn’t make it better when you and your husband keep throwing it back in my face. Seymour made it a big deal because he was bitter about me not going back to him. I know it, you know it, and the court knows it.”
I was taken aback by her blunt, but true words. Seymour tried so hard to win Toni back, and when she rejected him in a rather cruel way, Yellow-foot served as the perfect way to get her back. That’s not to say he didn’t care about him, he just took her to court to send her a bold message.
My eyes darted around as realization hit me like a ton of bricks.
“Doesn’t make you innocent, Toni. You still got away with murder.”
“I didn’t get away with it. As long as I’m in this town with people like you, I’ll constantly be reminded of it. Take my ‘freedom’ with a grain of salt.”
“I’ll leave you alone about it now, I’m done.” I announced, fixing my stare blankly on his grave, as did she.
She nodded her head, as a long, awkward silence built up.
She wiped her eyes again. “Well… If you’ll excuse me, I have a daughter at home to tend to.”
She tucked the tissue into her pocket, and walked away somberly.
“…Toni?” I blurted.
She stopped in her tracks, and didn’t say a word.
“What did you name her? …Your little girl?”
She turned around, and her eyes lit up instantly, as she walked toward me.
“Clementine….” She beamed, almost forming a smile. “After her grandmother. My dad’s mother. My father, Patrick.” She specified.
“That’s a really beautiful name, congrats!” I said.
“Now who’s kissing ass?” She asked. I couldn’t tell if she was serious or making a joke to lighten the mood, either way, it was awfully bold of her.
“Toni… I’m really sorry about that, honestly I just-“
“Don’t worry about it, I’m over it.”
When I got home, Seymour was napping, so I took the kids and started the bath.
Yellow had a blast splashing and playing with the bubbles, but Salem had an attitude right from the get-go.
“I doh wonna take a baff wiff Lo-Lo!” Salem complained.
“Well of course you do, it’s how we all bond, pumpkin.”
“No.” She pouted.
“Why are you being so damn sassy, little girl?”
Salem jerked when Yellow splashed her.
“STAHP SPLOSHING MEEEH!” She screamed, glaring at him.
“Alright calm down. You need to be nice to your brother, you’re going to show him how to do magic tomorrow!”
“Yellow, get that out of your mouth!” I laughed.
Today Seymour and I were determined to get Yellow to try magic like his sister, still no sign of anything yet.
“Come on baby, make the truck fly, like Salem can!” I encouraged.
“Salem, show show Lo-lo how to do it!” I said.
Salem grinned at me slyly, as if she was perfectly fine with being the only one that could do magic.
“I just don’t get why she could do all of this, but he can’t.” I sighed.
“You can tell he’s trying, honey. Give it time, he’ll figure it out.” Seymour assured.
“Loike this, Lo-lo!” Salem squealed.
Seymour stood up and whispered another good luck charm towards Yellow.
“I just hope he learns soon.” I said.
“He’ll learn honey, we can always try to get a hold of the Crumplebottoms if he doesn’t show progress for a while.”
“So how about we put the babies down for a nap, and you can come play with my wand? We’ll practice a little magic of our own!” Seymour said.
“Oh god that is so cheesy!” I responded.
“So is that a yes?”
“It will have to be quick, I have a lot of gardening to do!” I laughed.
“It can wait…”
“Easy tiger, put the kids to bed first!”
Later that day while the kids were still napping, I started working in the garden.
Brandt walked over from across the street and hopped over the fence.
“Nice bush you got there…” Brandt snickered.
“Good afternoon to you too, Brandt…”
“So what’s going on over there?” He asked.
He was referring to a small construction site where Gwendolyn’s house used to be.
“They’re building a playground. Do you even look at your mail?”
“Nah, Toni does that for me.”
“But yeah, it’s something this neighborhood needs, with all the kids being born lately.” I said.
“Sure. Speaking of, do you all want to come meet Clementine? Toni went to the spa or some shit with Dorothy, so she’s not home.”
“So Clementine is home alone right now?”
“No I’m right here. And she’s sleeping, I didn’t want to wake her.”
“Uh… I guess we can go meet her real quick.”
“Sweet, bring the nuggets. They can meet my new cat.”
“Here it is, Toni brought it in, it was a stray.”
“Ask Brandt what the name is, Salem!” I cooed.
“Sugar-tits.” He replied.
“Oh, that’s lovely… We’ll call her sugar, right Salem?”
“Whatever gets your panties moist. You guys coming?” He said, walking towards my old bedroom.
Seymour hesitated, giving me a nervous look.
I smiled, “It’s okay baby, she’s not here.” I said, soothingly.
The kids saw the toys and immediately squirmed around until we put them down.
“This looks great Brandt” Seymour said.
“It’s all Toni, dude.”
“Kids, don’t touch other peoples’ stuff.” I said, as Salem wandered off to the toy box.
“Nah it’s okay. Clem won’t play with half this shit anyway.” Brandt responded.
“Wow, I can’t believe this used to be my room!”
“Yeah, it took a while to get the smell of Barry love making out of here.” He joked.
“Seriously, Seymour? What did you tell him?” I grumbled.
“Relax dude, I get why you did it. You felt sorry for him.” Brandt said. “You know… If you ever pity me, you know where I live.” he said friskily.
“Dude, you know no boundaries!” Seymour chuckled.
I practically floated to the crib when Brandt took the sleepy baby out of the crib.
“Hey, Clementine!” I greeted softly. “She’s so cute!”
“You know, I feel really bad about us being here around her, without Toni knowing. I know we’re not on the best of terms.”
“She’s fine with it, trust me.”
Brandt put Clementine back into the crib and we all sat around, and just chilled like old times.
Suddenly the door opened and everyone’s head turned.
“Oh, hi everyone! I didn’t realize we had company.”
Everyone immediately stood up.
Brandt pulled Toni in for a romantic hug, causing an awkward vibe in the room.
I put my arms around Yellow, and watched him play with the blocks, to avoid the uncomfortable tension.
“Well I think we’re going to head out.” Seymour said.
I stood up to pick up the kids, and Toni locked eyes with me.
“Kirsten, I was wondering if you’d maybe want to go with me and the girls to get our nails done or something? She offered.
“Nah, I’m not much of a nail person, Toni. Gardening, kids, pets, you know, they’d never last.”
“Uh, well then maybe we could all go for a girls night tonight? You, me, Dorothy, and Jocelyn? It’d be a great way to get away from the guys for a little bit, I know there’s a game they wanted to watch.”
I could tell she was really trying, so it would only make things more awkward if I said no.
I looked at Seymour, and he just shrugged.
“Uh, okay. I’ll see if I can make it.”