On the opposite side of the island, tied to a post, floating on the water, sits the tiny rowboat that Seymour Darling salvaged after the vicious storm that flipped the couple’s lives upside down once and for all, figuratively and literally.
There it sits, almost taunting them, really. It’s just a painful reminder that their escape has been practically handed to them on a silver plate. However, every time they attempt to row away from the tiny island, it’s just water. Miles upon miles upon miles of terrifying, nightmare inducing, empty water. And they always seem to find their way back, back to square one.
Seymour and Kirsten sat cuddling in the hot sand, overlooking the ocean that surrounded them. They spent hours sharing fantasies about escaping and being rescued, as was routine for them.
“What if I just took the boat this time? Just me?” Kirsten suggested in desperate hopes of finally finding land.
“Won’t do no good, baby. You know that.” Seymour insisted. The couple has been through this many times over the several years they’ve been stuck on the tiny island.
“Remember that time you and me both took everything we could, and rowed as far as our arms would let us?” Seymour reminded.
“How could I forget? We were out there almost a week!”
“Yep. We thought we’d never get back.”
“No, you thought we’d never get back. I told you we would, and we did!” Kirsten teased.
“Well just because you were right that time, doesn’t mean it’s not a gamble, Kirsten.”
“Well I feel like we’re running out of options, Seymour. If we don’t try something we’ll be stuck here forever. We’ll never see our kids, or meet our grandchildren.” Kirsten said.
“Look, Kirsten…” Seymour began, as he stood up and shook the sand off.
He then held Kirsten’s face, as he touched his forehead to hers.
“I’m coming to the harsh realization, that that might be our fate. And it’s time for us to accept it. Now before you say anything, hear me out okay? I’m not thinking of it as giving up. Of course we’ll always have getting out of here in the back of our minds, but we need to stop obsessing about it. We’re wasting precious time dreaming about getting off this island, when we’re not actually living. It’s time to make the most out of the lives, that we’re so blessed to have. We may never see our kids or our old life ever again, but we have our fond memories of our children, and they have the same for us. So if we have to spend the rest of our days on this island, surviving for food and shelter, then so be it. As long as we have each other, that’s all that matters.”
“Ah-heh-hem…” Bianca cleared her throat, as she stood in the doorway watching Belinda.
“Bianca! You mustn’t startle me like that, have you nothing better to do?”
“And what do you think you’re doing? I hope you’re not meddling with those bottled messages. Yellow has to get them to the island himself, you know.”
“Yes, yes. I am aware. But it is just so unfair! We claim to be using our powers for the greater good, but we are immortal my dear, and thus seem to forget how short their lives are. We viciously tore them away from their babies, all for the sake of the legacy’s magic!”
“I know. But do you realize how angry Beatrice will be when she finds out? She’ll flip her lid!”
“Ah, and that is why you will keep your pretty little lips sealed tight, my dear sister. Ignorance is bliss, in this particular case!”
“Well, I suppose it couldn’t hurt to… slightly guide the bottles a bit closer to the island…”
“My sentiments exactly my dear, my sentiments exactly. Just a small breeze in the wind, is all we will need. Now come! I require some of your assistance…” Belinda smiled.
“Well, well, well! It looks as though I did not receive an invitation to the sisterly bonding hour. Such a shame, am I no longer a Crumplebottom, my sisters?” Sneered Beatrice.
“Beatrice! We were just-“
“Save it, you idiots! I know very well what you were doing.”
“Have you nothing but rocks in your over-sized heads? Yellow Darling must use his own powers to send those bottles, that is the very point of all this!”
“But how long must we keep this up?” Belinda shouted. “The other purpose for our plan was to force Seymour and Kirsten to mend their differences, which has been done, in my opinion. Yellow can find other ways to develop his magic abilities.” She continued.
“Yeah!” Bianca added, sticking out her tongue.
“I suggest you conceal that disgusting appendage before I do so for you.” Beatrice said. “And we had an agreement, that Yellow must use his own powers, without our help.”
“And how do you propose he manages to do that, when we prohibited him from dream-seeking, his only known power, Beatrice? asked Belinda.
“We did not plan for him to develop that power, he did so on his own. If his dream-seeking abilities become too powerful, then we will at risk of him finding out that it was us who planted the storm.” Beatrice explained through gritted teeth.
“This is true! So then, we will have to be patient.” Belinda smiled, agreeing.
“You can’t be serious…” Bianca pouted. “Just a minute ago you said-“
“I know what I said! But Beatrice has a valid point. It will take time, but Yellow has to use his own abilities, without our help.”
Fall was coming to an end, and we finally arrived home, to our quiet little farmhouse in Appaloosa Plains, just like every other year.
Clementine was waiting for us at the house, of course, and along with Birdie and Salem, we spent almost the entire night catching up. Birdie really adored Clementine. Clementine was great at giving compliments, and Birdie was great at receiving them.
“Wow! It sounds like so much fun in Midnight Hollow!” Clementine exclaimed. “I’m so jealous, I wish I could be a witch!”
Birdie smiled slyly, “Well you know… If you married into the family you could be a witch. You know you and Yellow are totally in loooooove!” Birdie teased.
“Birdie…” I said sternly.
Birdie leaned back and crossed her legs. “Well you know it’s true.” She said. “Even old man Cricket can see your guys’ chemistry, and he’s nearly blind!”
“Miss Priss has a point.” Salem agreed, lounging lazily on the couch. “You’re made for each other.”
“Ahem,” I cleared my throat, attempting to change the subject. “What about you, Clem? Tell us about your fall!”
Birdie and Salem made eye contact with one another and chuckled, as if they were subtly agreeing about their amusement of my obvious discomfort.
“Oh no, my fall wasn’t half as exciting as yours! My life is boring without you guys. You guys don’t want to hear about it.” Clementine said.
“I want to hear about it!” I said, encouragingly.
“Oh god, just get a room already! Ugh.” Salem groaned.
Birdie squealed with laughter. “I know right!” She said.
“Aw thanks, Lo!” Said Clementine, before filling us all in on what she’s been up to.
“Well, my dad and Ms. Loveland have been going on real dates lately. Every since that night at prom, my dad has a completely new view on women, and told me to forget everything he’s said before about them. I was so excited when he told me he was going to give Gracie a real shot!” Clementine squealed.
“I think they’re getting pretty serious too.” She continued. “Sometimes she stays the night at our house. And not in the ‘guest room’ either, like all my dad’s other one-night-stands! She actually sleeps in his bed in his room, with him!”
“She even invited me and my dad over to her house for dinner one night. I’ve never seen the inside of a teacher’s house before! I thought it would be all boring and blah, but it’s actually really cute!”
“She has the most adorable kitty too, oh my god! Her name is Babycakes, and Ms. Loveland even let me brush her!”
“Babycakes didn’t really get along with my dad very well, but some things take time.”
“Oh! And my dad finally gave me official driving lessons! So that was pretty fun.”
“Umm…. I think that’s it. Oh wait I forgot! I met this guy…”
“Well… more like he met me. He actually reached out to me. His name is Ghost. Just Ghost, how cool is that?! Anyway, Ghost is like, a super traditional native-American. He wasn’t related to Yellow-Foot, but he’s part of his tribe. He said his family really looked up to Yellow-Foot.”
“But yeah, since you guys weren’t around, I spent most of my time with Ghost. He’s pretty cool, I guess you can say we’ve gotten pretty close. He’s been teaching me about my heritage. Since for some reason my mother didn’t really want me to know about it.”
“Oh… Well! He sounds great Clem, I hope I get to meet him soon!” I smiled.
Clementine tried to keep talking, but Birdie was already bored with the conversation that spent too much time dwelling on something that was in fact, not Birdie.
“Too bad I couldn’t get my hands on that potion though! That was the reason I went there to begin with.” Birdie said.
Salem stood up, and focused hard on her hands, that she began to slowly move around in circles.
“You mean this potion?” Salem asked, levitating a large, steaming beaker from underneath the couch.
Birdie jumped up, and spastically gasped. Clementine wasn’t sure what the big deal was, but she followed Birdie’s lead.
“Oh my god, you got the potion! How did you do that, Salem?!”
“I jacked it from Cassandra.” Salem grinned.
Birdie enthusiastically threw her arms around Salem. The beaker nearly fell to the ground, so I dived for it, but Salem stopped it with her magic, leaving me to hit the ground.
Birdie grabbed the jar and ran downstairs with it. Salem shrugged. “I guess I’ll go paint or something.” She said, before stepping over me and following Birdie downstairs.
They left Clementine and I alone in the living-room, which since prom night, was something I was trying to avoid.
“Uhh.. Lo? Can we go somewhere and talk?” She asked.
“Huh? Oh yeah, sure. Where should we go?” I asked nervously.
It was pretty chilly outside, so Clementine and I quickly scurried to the barn.
She was shivering, so I held her clasped hands between mine to warm them. “Your hands are so freezing!” I said.
She grabbed my hands tighter and smiled at me. “So, everyone seems to think we’re a thing, huh?” She asked.
“Ha, yeah I know..” I said nervously.
Clementine grinned, and her cuteness overwhelmed me, forcing me to smile.
“So…. are we?” She asked.
I sighed and squeezed her hands gently. “Clementine, you know how hard this is for me..” I began. “I want to say yes, but…”
“…It just isn’t possible.” She finished my sentence.
I sighed heavily once more and nodded.
I took a seat on one of the barrels stacked up against the horse stable, and Clementine was immediately by my side, resting her sad little head on my shoulder.
I was trying my best to stay strong, but the pain was becoming unbearable. I’d do anything I could to fulfill my parent’s wishes, and ultimately, my family’s legacy, but some times I wondered if it was even worth it. Maybe, just maybe Salem wouldn’t be a terrible heir, and I could just give in to Clementine.
But in the depths of my heart, I knew that my parents had chosen me for a reason, and I didn’t want to mess with that. It was my dream to be heir, and when my parents offered me that sunstone along with giving me my place as heir, my dream came true.
“Lo… What if I’m okay with it being temporary? We could live for now, and just be young. We could just start something, until you met your future wife, or even just for the summer, Lo! It could work, really. I don’t think we should go through life wondering what could have been.” She pleaded.
“And if we fall in love? I couldn’t see myself leaving you.” I said.
“What if we’re already in love?” She asked quietly.
I said nothing. There wasn’t anything I could say. I didn’t want to be an asshole and just blow her off, but I also didn’t want to give her hope that we could end up together. Clementine and I are both two very passionate human beings. If I fell too hard for her, I know there would be no turning back, and I’d be forced to give up my spot as heir. So I said nothing.
“Lo please… My heart feels like it’s breaking…” She whispered raspily. “Say something. Say anything. Give me some sort of sign, a whisper, anything.”
I said nothing.
She bowed her head down in defeat, as I genuinely wondered if the amount of emotions my small, teenage body was feeling could possibly be lethal. At that very moment, such a possibility would be welcomed.
“Okay Yellow. As you wish.” She sniffled, walking away.
“Clem, wait…” I said, jumping off the barrels, and tripping slightly.
She stopped, but didn’t look back.
“I still want to always be best friends… You still love me, right?” I asked.
She turned around, with tears streaming down her face, and forced a smile. “Always!” She said.
She began sobbing hard, and before I could step closer to hug her, she ran home crying.
I felt like the biggest loser in town. In fact, I probably was. I thought about just crawling into the nearest hole in this barn and sleeping in it. It’s all I deserved really.
The longer and longer I stood there, slumped over in that barn, the more and more I wanted to reconsider everything, find Clementine, hold her her in my arms, and passionately beg for forgiveness. So to stay true to the legacy, I decided to go to bed. Maybe what I needed was a good long sleep to set my mind straight.
As I entered the house, it had appeared that everyone had went to bed. The lights were off and the house was surprisingly quiet.
I didn’t mind the silence at all, it was quite nice. I was also pretty happy with myself for making it through a dark room without endangering myself or others.
But suddenly… I heard a sound, and froze….
“BOO!” Birdie shouted.
“Oh my gosh!” I screeched like a small child.
She couldn’t stop laughing as she turned on the lamp behind me. “Calm down silly, it’s just me!”
“Geez, Birdie, you almost gave me a heart attack.” I said.
“Cool so are you ready to meet my new assistant?” She asked.
“Sure.” I smiled.
I followed Birdie downstairs and couldn’t believe she actually pulled it off!
“Meet Lola! Say hi, Lola!” Birdie said.
“Hi Lola!” waved Birdie’s pink friend, with bright blue hair, a pointy pink nose, and buttons for eyes. Her voice was very high pitched and squeaky. Very chipmunk-esque, if you will.
Birdie giggled, “So she needs a little work, but what do you think?”
I wasn’t sure what to think, honestly. Although I’ve grown up around magic and strange occurrences, there’s always something that catches me off guard, and makes me question everything I’ve ever known. Always something to blow my mind.
“She sure is… something!” I said, laughing along with the two of them.
“Something? Something bad or something good?” Birdie asked.
“Hahaha, something good, definitely something good!”