Sunday evening, Miracle wanted to throw another party. They all decided on a costume party. We haven’t had one at Cradle Rock for generations! Not since Palo Verde’s days!
Chandler’s sister Khloe was feeling the tragicness of her gloomy trait. Chandler the Cheerful danced with her, but it was hard to get a smile out of the tragic clown.
The Grims had fun dancing. It was like a convention of the darkside, and that made everyone laugh in a sort of “why not” kind of way.
Salix went into labor before the party finished. She changed out of her costume and tried a little dance therapy. Movement’s good for labor pains, right?
As the guests filed out, old Joe stopped and pointed up to the sky. Khloe giggled, thinking he was imitating the astronaut statue that stands guard near the old relics of rockets.
It was cute and clever, pointing in the opposite direction, like a mirror image, like you were seeing double.
But it wasn’t that kind of point. It wasn’t really a joke at all. There’s a reason the tragic clown was at this party, even if she didn’t know it at the time.
There’s a reason we had a whole convention of Grims, too.
When the real Grim arrived in his puff of black smoke, the circle had already begun to form.
Salix, in between contractions, pled with Grim. Who can deny a pregnant mother, especially while she’s in labor?
Simple. Grim can.
Ted and Aspen’s ghosts joined the circle of mourners. Once again, Cousin Irving wept buckets. Tommy was pretty broken up, too.
The guest meandered off, eventually. Parties at Cradle Rock are getting a reputation.
Even if it meant witnessing death, Aspen was overjoyed that she’d come out that night–she got to be there for the birth of her grandchild.
“I’m so proud of you, Salix,” she said. “You’re really doing a great job.”
“Oh! Eesh. Mom.” Salix said between breaths. “Oh! Hoo! Ha. I don’t know how you did this!”
While Salix breathed through the pain, Grim made his way to the one form of entertainment that made every trip to Cradle Rock worthwhile.
And while Aspen’s spirit looked on, Salix welcomed into the world her daughter, little Tamarind.
And then, she welcomed little baby Doug Fir, Tamarind’s twin brother!
While Salix fed Tamarind, Ted’s ghost, all blue from having witnessed Joe’s death, stopped by Doug Fir’s bassinet.
“Little one,” he said, “you might have been my son.”
Aspen, too, greeted Doug Fir, her own grandson! How amazing to have two! The first twins of the Bough family!
Later that night, Niko also dropped by.
“Sal,” he said, “I am so proud of you! Twins! My little girl! You are tougher than we ever knew.”
Old friends go, new lives come. Spirits of those we’ve loved remind us that they will be with us always, through departures and arrivals, part of us to celebrate and to commemorate the shifts in season and time.