Whisper 2.30

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Dear me,

The gnomes may be celebrating my return from university…

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but I’ve come home to a mess.

I walked right into the middle of a fight between Riley and Bo.

“But you can’t keep pranking everything,” Riley was saying.

Bo screamed. “It’s just a whoopee cushion!”

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Riley was being so reasonable, explaining all the ways somebody could get hurt.

“But I have to!” screamed Bo. “You’re limiting my self expression!”

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She grounded him.

He wept. Mr. Drama King, my baby brother.

“It’s not fair,” he cried.

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“I’m home!” I said, once the ruckus died down.

“Thank God,” said Bo. “You won’t believe how impossible your IF has been to live with.”

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I tried to offer another perspective. “Maybe she’s had reason to be a little strict?”

“ARGH!” screamed Bo. “Nobody understands me! I hate imaginary friends! You’d think, if we imagined them, they’d have some compassion. But NOOOOO! Nobody loves Bo.”

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I suggested he head out for a cup of tea.

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“Feeling better?” I asked him after he’d downed three cups.

“Hydrated,” he said. “And the phytonutrients are awesome.”

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When I was getting ready for bed, I noticed that the faucet in the kitchen sink seemed to be pointing in the wrong direction.

I called Bo over.

“Do you know anything about this?” I asked him.

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He said he didn’t know sinks from rocket launchers. Then he snickered.

“Bo! What did you do?”

First he denied everything. Then, when I said he’d have to fix it if anything broke, he finally confessed. He’d booby-trapped it. The sink would blow the next time anybody turned it on.

“How’re we supposed to cook? How’re we supposed to wash dishes? What about washing veggies?”

“Don’t eat veggies,” he said.

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Bo! What’s gotten into that kid?

I grounded him.

“The prom is tomorrow,” he said. “Me and Patches were going. Not together. But separately. In the same limo.”

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“You’re so grounded,” I said.

“I just want to kiss the world,” he said, “and then watch everyone die. Poison flower kisses.”

“You’re so weird. I just want to work on my novel.You think I want to spend my evening yelling at you?”

“You don’t?”

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“Not really,” I said. “I don’t like being mad at you.”

“Then don’t be,” he said.

“All right,” I said. “I won’t be.”

We both started laughing.

“Poison flower kisses!”

He exploded in laughter.

He asked me about all the pranks I did as a teen. I’d only done a few. And I never got in trouble for them.

He said he shouldn’t get in trouble for them, either.

I realized that the only reason he got in trouble was because he’d gotten caught; whereas, I’d never gotten caught, so I’d never gotten in trouble. Which made me think about what kind of lesson we were teaching Bo. Which was, don’t get caught.

We made a deal: I’d let him off the hook, if he’d promise to clean up any messes that his pranks caused, including fixing anything that got broke.

We shook on it.

“I’m so glad you’re home,” he said. “All I want is a little self-expression.”

Good grief!

Welcome home,

Me

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Whisper 2.15

Heya, Shan. Thanks for the postcard you sent. I love the painting of lava you did on the cover, and the one word you wrote on the back made my day.

“Radical” has always been one of my favorite words.

We had big drama at home this week. You like drama? Naw, me neither. But with a rebel teenage brother and a law-abiding IF helping me raise said little brother, drama is bound to happen.

I was out for a long nighttime run. I love running at night. There’s hardly any traffic, and I can feel the frost creep up as the temperature drops, and the stars! Well, the stars look like ice crystals, but I know they’re suns for other worlds. So there I was, running under the suns of other worlds, when the whole three act drama plays out at home.

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See, Bo went over to the Wolffs’ house after school. It’s sort of a tradition, since I always went home with Waylon after school, and now Bo goes home with Gator. Our family kinda likes hanging out with the werewolves.

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Bo said he had a great time over there.  He did his homework–before playing video games, I might add! Then he listened to Dwayne playing the guitar.

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And then, before he knew it, it was late. He got a courtesy ride home–from the cops. He persuaded the cop to let him off down the street so he could walk home as if nothing had happened.

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But he wasn’t counting on Riley waiting up for him. She’s got a thing about following the rules.

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“Um. So. I’m home?” Bo said.

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Riley let into him. Of course, knowing Riley, I’m sure she was sweet about it and never even raised her voice. Let’s just say that she read him the riot act in sotto voce.

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She told me that he actually applauded her speech.

“That was awesome!” he said. “You used about twenty of the best why-follow-rules cliches ever! Even the classic: ‘rules are for following!’ Duh! I bet the rule-makers paid you big bucks for using that one!”

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He was mad. She was hurt.

“So, how much do I have to pay you to keep you from grounding me or telling on me to Marigold?”

She said that was the final straw, and she grounded him for a week.

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When I got home, there was such a fuss waiting. Bo was upstairs, rocking as fast as he could in the rocking chair, and Riley was downstairs, rocking as slowly as she could in the rocking chair, and the upstairs floor was creaking lickety-split, while the downstairs floor was groaning and moaning!

I had to pry the story out of Riley, for she really didn’t want to tell on Bo. We talked a bit. I told her the story about when I was out after curfew and got a ride home in the cop car. That was also at the Wolffs’ house! And I got grounded, too.

“But then Mom ungrounded me,” I told Riley. “It’s a stupid rule, anyway, and we were never meant to follow stupid rules! Besides, having to ride home in a cop car is punishment enough.”

“Bo thought it was cool,” she said. But she agreed that we could let Bo off the hook. She was too mad and too hurt to speak to him. “I’ll talk to him tomorrow,” she said. “If he apologizes.”

So I went upstairs to tell Bo he wasn’t grounded, after all, but that, all the same, it’s probably a good idea to be home by ten.

Oh! But I left out the best part!

On my run, I swung by the festival grounds.

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And guess what I saw? Puppies!

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There were two of the most adorable, bouncy puppies!

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Are you sure you don’t want to move to Moonlight Falls with me? We could get our own house and adopt puppies! They’ve got two! One for me and one for you!

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Think about it?

I miss you.

Love,

Marigold

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Whisper 1.38

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Marigold heads off to school, and I think what a good kid she is. She’s been doing her homework like we talked about, getting plenty of sleep, taking care of her little brother, helping around the house, working out, and studying chess. All this, in addition to playing with and taking care of Zoey with all the love and attention that a true dog-lover has to give.

I watch Bobobo while he sleeps. Will he be like his sister, I wonder. I notice differences already–he spends less time playing with his rag doll and more time playing with blocks, the peg box, and the xylophone. One thing’s for sure, this boy will grow up smart.

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I laugh to think that I’ve become such a family person–such a mom! When did that happen? I’d never really set out to do this. I just followed that pull in my heart, after Dante passed over and I realized I wanted a kid. Then Bobobo! Now that sprout was a complete surprise! And here I am, old enough to be a grandma, with a teen daughter, a toddler, and the family dog. Quite domesticated, I’ve become. And what a wonder that it’s all working out so well.

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Then, that night, Marigold doesn’t come home when she said she would. She’d gone over to Gator Wolff’s after school. They’ve become friends, and she’s been tutoring him. I said she could stay for supper if she was invited, but I expected her home by curfew.

I start to worry. It’s not like her to be late, and it’s not like her not to call.

Then I hear a car pull up outside. It’s a police car, and Marigold gets out.

“What on earth?” I shout. “What happened? Why is a policewoman bringing you home?”

“I got busted,” she says.

“Busted? You are so grounded! I said be home by ten! There’s no excuse.”

“Mom! It’s not fair! I’ve already had the ignominy of riding in a cop car! Now this? This is unjust! This isn’t like you! This is just unfair!”

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I’m too worked up to listen. First the fear and worry, then the police car, then seeing that she’s OK! She’s OK. I remind myself. She’s OK. And she’s Marigold. If she says this is unfair, she’s probably right.

I put Bobobo back in his crib. I pour myself a cup of tea and sip it slowly, remembering to breathe. When I finish, I find Marigold and I ask her to tell me what happened.

“I got put in a police car, that’s what happened!” She says. “As if I were a criminal!”

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“Before that,” I say. “What led up to that? I’m not mad anymore. I just want to know what happened.”

“I went to Gator’s, just like I said,” she begins. “I did my homework, first thing! Then I did some research on my laptop. When I was done doing the research, I went to find Gator.

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“He was upstairs, playing video games in his room, so I just hung out and waited for him to finish. He kept saying, ‘Next level, next level,’ but then he’d play on.

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“I got so drowsy waiting for him that I went into the guest room to take a nap. I was too sleepy to ride home, Mom! I was sure I couldn’t ride carefully, and I know you always say to be careful. So I was just going to shut my eyes for a moment, and then wake up refreshed, and ride home.

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“Only when I woke, it was super late. I ran outside to come straight home.

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“But I ran into a cop.

“‘What are you doing out after curfew, miss?’ she said. ‘You are so busted.’

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“And then she put me in the car. I felt mortified. I knew you’d be mad. I knew it! And I knew you’d never believe me. And I didn’t do anything wrong! I just fell asleep. It sucks to be 16. I was just trying to be responsible, and not ride home when I was sleepy and couldn’t be careful, and then I get hauled off in a cop car? That’s ridiculous!”

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I think for a moment. Curfew does seem a little antiquated to me. And Marigold was trying to be responsible. I do always tell her to be sure that she’s alert when she rides her bike. It’s not like she was out drinking or doing anything that was actually against the law or harmful. She actually did what was right and just happened to get caught by a silly law.

She used her best judgment and it backfired.

“I’m not happy with the way this turned out,” I say. “Sometimes, we have to think three or four levels deep. Yes, I want you to do what you think is right and best, always, and I always want you to be careful and safe. And sometimes, you have to think your choices all the way through to look at all the consequences.”

“And if I can’t see all the consequences?”

“Then you do your best.”

“Like I did.”

“Right.”

“So am I still grounded?”

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“No. And I’m sorry I didn’t give you a chance to talk first.”

“That’s OK,” she says. “I’m sure you were just doing what you thought was right at the time.”

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