Saturday, 10 December 2016

Forrest 4a

Mercy ....

As me and Caramel lie on the sun lounger together, enjoying the warm sunshine, I can not help but feel really happy and content, finally, for the first time, probably ever.

Even though me and Caramel have been seeing each other on the sly for over twenty years, our relationship has always been very dysfunctional, because I have had to hide myself away from all the kids, as well as everyone else.  Our time together has only ever been snatched and sneaked hours and half days, we didn't even know if we could actually live together, as a couple, day in and day out, without getting on each others nerves.  It worried me especially, because I am so used to having my own space and living my life so totally alone.

You've got a hold on me, don't even know your power

I am really enjoying not being constantly alone, and even the simple things are making me smile, like having someone to cuddle up to whenever I feel like it and not waking up alone to a cold empty bed.  So far it is working out a lot better than I imagined it would, however, I have always been told I am very hard to live with, so it does not stop me from quietly worrying and wandering how long it will be before I start getting on Caramel's nerves, just like I used to get on Granites.

Sometimes I used to drive Granite to distraction with all my irritating ways due to my obsessive and compulsive disorder.  So far Caramel seems to be coping with it okay, and has even found some of the things I do amusing at times, but then I guess she has already had years of practice living with Bayleaf, who unfortunately has inherited the condition partly from me.

Even though I am still a psychological mess underneath, on the surface, suddenly I almost feel normal, which is something that I have never really felt before, I have a chance of a normal life and relationship just like everyone, instead of a dysfunctional one.  Right now I am enjoying my life, and just hope it can last, but doubt that I could ever be that lucky.

We have been out in Sandy Shores for a week, the last week has blissfully flown by, and I know the next week is going to fly by even quicker, because right at this moment, I really don't want to go home.  I have always loved this place, and never enjoyed the journey back to Sugar Valley, but this time it is going to be different, I am seriously not looking forward to what we have coming to us.

I stand a hundred feet, but I fall when I'm around you

      "You be careful, you don't catch the sun, the last thing we need is you going home a different shade of green, or they will know you have been out here with me."  Caramel mumbles
      "Does it really matter now, when we are going to come clean when we get home."
      "Yes, because we don't want them starting on us the minute we get off the plane!!"  she mumbles   "Don't forget, we might not be able to do it straight away, we have to make sure Alpine is having a good day mentally remember, and you did say you wanted to explain it all to Mango first before he has to hear it from gossip!!"
      "I guess."  I mumble  "Talking about Alpine, it's your turn to check on him today."  I laugh  "Ask him if he has finished the scarf he told me he was knitting for me yesterday."  I start howling  "Seriously, I still can't believe they have got him knitting, or that he is actually enjoying it!!  I am going to rip him something chronic when we get him home!!"

Carmel laughs at me lying there having hysterics as she gets up off the lounger and goes into the beach house to get her phone, so that she can call the hospice.

Now that I am alone, I stare out over the beach, taking in a sight that I have seen a million times, but one that I can never get tired of.  Suddenly I realise something for the first time since we arrived here, I haven't seen any of my normal ghosts.  The number of times over the past twenty years, that I've sat here watching Granites ghost, as an adult, toddler or child, sat playing in the sand or in the sea, is ridiculous.  Usually he haunts me constantly here, because I usually get flashbacks of memories of us being here together ...  but suddenly he has gone.

I think about that for a moment - these flashbacks are a big part of my problem, a problem that has had me seeing a psychiatrist for nearly twenty years.  I have been so preoccupied with Caramel, and trying to make the most of our sneaked two weeks out here, I haven't even noticed that Granite and his ghosts have actually gone, and he's hardly crossed my mind this past week either, when normally he is constantly in my thoughts!!

Finally I can see ... I am letting it go!!

Show me an open door, then you go and slam it on me

I suddenly remember something that Granite had told me months ago.  I jump up off the lounger and go into the beach house, heading for the bookcase.  I search the row of books and pull out my favourite book.  I smile at Caramel who is nattering away to Alpine on the phone and go back out onto the deck.

I sit down at the table, opening the book, and start to search the middle of the book, where the story is split into two parts.  I catch my breath suddenly.

Just as Granite said, on the first blank page between the two parts there are a load of short messages, that he has left me over the years.  They are all dated, and started from the year that he left prison and stop 5 years ago ... I see his phone number and his Mint and Cherry address in amongst the messages which all end with I love you and forever.

I'm so stupid, if I had picked up this book once during those years, I would have known where he was, all that time wasted because I tried to do things that did not remind me of him, reading this book every time I came out here was just one of them.  It is hard now knowing that this book has been sat there all this time containing the answers to a question that I asked myself a million times over the years ... where is he?"

I can't take any more, I'm saying baby ...

I think about the letter that he said he left in this book over ten years ago.  I shake the book just holding the cover and amazingly - an envelope does fall out of the books pages.  I watch it fall onto the deck and just stare numbly down at it for a while.  My name is clearly written on the envelope in Granites neat elegant handwriting that I recognise instantly.  This amuses me for a moment, remembering how I always used to rib him over his perfect girly gay handwriting. 

I pick up the envelope, and stare at it while my stomach ties itself up into painful knots.  I automatically smell  the envelope, which is one of my irritating bad habits.  The envelope has that old musty smell, I should imagine from sitting in this book for ten years, and I know it has been over twenty years since I opened this book, and I doubt anyone else has over the years or would this letter still be in here?!

I continue to stare at it while I wander if I should even be reading the letter inside.  I turn over the envelope, now very curious to know what he actually wrote in it.  I am planning to rip it open to see, but the writing on the back of the envelope stops me.

He has written 'LOST RIVER ELF' in capitals.  I stare at it for a moment, and the only word ringing in my head is 'BULLSHIT!!"

We used to play an anagram game, 'Lost River Elf' being the anagram for 'Still Forever'.  He always used to say he would love me forever.  I can hear him saying it now in my head, he used to say it to me all the time.  He doesn't love me any more, not that he ever did according to him, it was emotional attachment not love.  There is no forever, so saying still forever is bullshit!!  The words on the outside of the envelope are bullshit, so what is written in this letter is now going to be total bullshit!!

Please have mercy on me, take it easy on my heart

I get angry, I now have no intention of reading the letter inside, and without even thinking about it, I start to tear the envelope and its contents into shreds, letting it fall onto the table.  I don't stop until it is all torn up into tiny pieces.  I can't help but think that if I had found the messages or this letter any time over the past ten years up to about eight months ago, I would have cried myself stupid over the missed opportunities and the wasted years, but now I can't cry.  I'm angry, especially with myself because I know I have needlessly driven myself half crazy because of loving him, my head is totally messed up psychologically because of him, and everything he has ever said to me was all bullshit!!

Caramel runs out of the beach house laughing, then stops and frowns at me as she stands watching me tearing at the paper like a maniac.

     "What are you doing?"
     "I'm exorcising my ghosts!!"  I mumble as I start to scoop all the pieces of paper up into my hands.  "Can you fetch me the lighter, so I can light a fire."

Caramel laughs even though she is confused, and runs into the beach house while I finish picking up every single piece of scrap paper off the table and floor, careful not to leave a single piece remaining.  She passes me the lighter which I take over to the pit fire.

      "Have you gone mad?"  she laughs
      "I've always been mad, I thought you knew that!"  I laugh at her
      "What are you burning?"  she asks as she watches me throwing the paper onto the burning fire.
      "A letter.  I'm burning Granite and forty seven years of bullshit!!"  I laugh sarcastically at her  "He has gone, and its about time I started to make some better memories to replace the old ones that haunt me!!"

Even though you don't mean to hurt me, you keep tearing me apart

I grab Mel's hand and start to lead her down onto the beach.  She is now highly confused and I have no intention of explaining to her what I'm intending to do.

Every spot on this beach where I have seen Granites ghost, I am going to wipe the memory away by make a different memory there.

The first new memory is an easy one to make.

I stop when I have reached the spot where I always used to see him laughing and building sandcastle.  I'm not sure why but when he was a child and adult, he always used to sit in the same place to build sandcastles.

Mel runs into me quite forcefully, because I stopped suddenly.  I spin round and put my arms around her before I start to kiss her.

      "So how do you fancy getting sand in places you didn't think possible?"  I smirk at her
      "What are you planning to do, bury me up to my neck?"  she frowns at me
      "No stupid!!"  I laugh for a moment
      "Then what?!"  she laughs at me
      "The sun must have gone to your head, your dirty mind isn't working very fast today!"  I smirk at her "I have never actually done it on the beach, have you?"
      "No I haven't!"  she giggles

She doesn't argue when I pull her down onto the sand.

Could you  please have mercy, mercy on my heart

After taking our time over making love on the beach we put our clothes back on and just sit there quietly, happily satisfied and enjoying the warm sun.  I doubt that is a memory that I could ever forget, that was definitely the most erotic moment I've ever had in my life.

I also can't help but think about how stupid I've just been.  Even though this is a private beach, and nobody should be trespassing on it, there are still parts of the beach, especially where we are now, that can be seen from the public water or road.  We are still out in the colour coded world and still could get arrested for colour mixing, or indecent exposure and whatever else they could do us for.  I was really stupid to not think about what we were doing so openly.

I am beginning to think that Caramel has fallen asleep, until she speaks. 

      "I could quite happily stay here forever."  she laughs quietly
      "Me too, I always imagined I would live here one day."
      "Would you live here, in the beach house?"
      "Yeah, that's what I imagined when I bought the place.  I had basically given up on Granite ever coming back six years ago when I started to nag you about changing things, and this place was somewhere for me to be if you never came to your senses and I walked." 
      "So now I know, where to find you if you do a runner on me again." she laughs quietly
      "Drat, me and my big mouth!!"  we both laugh at each other for a moment  "Of course to live here permanently it needs a lot of work doing to it, it needs to be completely renovated, even ripped down and rebuilt from scratch.  I have been meaning to do it since I bought it, but I've just never got round to it."
      "It's not really possible now though is it?"  she opens her eyes and looks up at me  "Now that we are sorting our lives out ... Alpine and the kids?"
      "No not really, but we can still keep it as a holiday house and come out here while Alpine is in respite.  We will still need breaks once in a while, and I never get sick of this place, and everyone here are used to me and my ears."  I smile down at her as she starts laughing.  "Besides I think if we lived here permanently they might just clock on to us colour mixing.  So Berry Shores will have to do instead."

I run my hand across her stomach and I can't help but notice, how bloated her stomach feels to normal.  A few times I've noticed she appears to have put weight on, her stomach showing in her clothes, when it normally doesn't.

I drive through the night, just to be near you baby

      "Your stomach is bloated ... "  I mumble  "You don't have any stomach or bowel problems do you?"
      "No doctor."  she laughs quietly

She moves my hand off her stomach and snaps at me not to mess.  I frown at her for a moment, but she doesn't see because she has her eyes closed again.  I run my hand over her stomach again, and she moves my hand again.

     "Someone is touchy!!"  I laugh at her  "Are you scared I might notice you've put weight on?"  I mumble against her neck, which I start kissing.  "You know I'm not shallow, I don't give a shit about how fat or thin you are!"
      "Oh you will be!"  she laughs sarcastically
      "You are getting a right podge. " I laugh  "It must be all the crab you've been eating!!"
      "Its not crab."   she mumbles  "You are observant ... this time."
      "You've eaten enough to sink a ship so far, you've hardly eaten anything else since we got her!!"  I laugh at her  "Every time I turn round, I'm tripping over an empty crab shell.  The way you are going at it anybody would think you are craving ... it ...."  I say it, then the penny drops and I think about her observant ... this time comment.  I frown at her as I quickly take my hand off her stomach, I suddenly get a feeling of fear wash over me, knowing what I might be touching.  "Mel Please tell me you are NOT .... "  I can't even say the last word.

She just stares back at me sheepishly saying nothing.  I know that look.

      "You are aren't you!!"  I snap at her
      "Yes"  she mumbles
      "No! ... NO! ... NO!!!  You are NOT doing this to us again Mel!!" I snap at her  "Well how stupid am I!!  This is the reason why you are so ratty, tired and run down - because that's not crab, it's a bloody ... brat!!"  I point at her stomach in shock.
      "I didn't plan it!!"
      "Oh I've heard that one before, and more than once, I'm getting tired of hearing you say it!!"  I jump up onto my feet  "This is why you are suddenly 'off'' alcohol isn't it?!"
      "Yes."  she mumbles
      "How stupid am I to not realise what has been going on with you!!  I should have guessed when you started to get so ratty!!"  I snap at myself  "How far gone are you?"
      "13 weeks." she mumbles

Heart old and testified, tell me that I'm not crazy

      "Well you can forget it!!  As soon as we get home, you can get rid of it!!"
      "YES!!  You know how I feel about it ... I really don't understand WHY, after everything we have been through, WHY you would do this AGAIN!!"
      "It's not like I planned it!!"
       "Its a joke I didn't want ANY kids, let alone how many I've actually got!!  You know I can't hack them until they are teenagers!!  You've seen how I get around small children!!  I've even had to move out of my own house because there are two babies and a child in it for berry's sake!!  Me having kids ... It's not fair on them, because I'm a useless Father, who can't give them what they need, not that I need to tell you that, so why would you want to put yet another one through it!!"
      "IVE TOLD YOU ... IT WAS NOT PLANNED." she yells at me  "This is actually the last thing I want or need right now, or ever!!  Just when we are getting our lives sorted out, this happens!!"  she snaps  "IT JUST HAPPENED!!"
      "So why not tell me the truth before you let me think we were finally getting somewhere?!  I finally thought I was getting a normal life!!  Why let me sit there and make all those plans for our future when you knew the minute I found out about the brat - it would change everything!!"
      "I was too scared to tell you ...."  I don't even let her finish because my head is going.
      "What doctor did you see, because you haven't seen me, or are you being stupid again and not seeing a doctor?!"  I frown at her  "Tell me you still have the coil fitted and didn't have it removed on the sly, just so we could create yet another brat!?"
      "I went to see Ice, when I realised I was pregnant, because I knew you would kick off!!"   she mumbles  "She removed the coil, she said it had slipped and come out of place and that is why I am pregnant ... I don't know how it happened, it shouldn't have, but it did!!"
      "Great so I guess the whole extended family know now ... so it looks like Alpine will be getting another one of my brats to look after - which is not going to impress him very much, not that he is mentally stable enough to do this again, it's not like when the others were little!!"

I'm not asking for a lot, just that you're honest with me

      "No, Ice said she wouldn't say anything, patient confidentiality, she can't can she."
      "I knew I should have had the snip after the last time, I half expected you might do this again, and I was right!!  Berry I'm so stupid!!!  You PROMISED me this would never happen again!!"  I snap at her  "For berry's sake Mel - you are in your mid forties, its too late for you to be having babies now, especially with the risk factors because of your age, and you know what this is going to do to me ... to us!!"
      "Don't keep shouting!!  I didn't plan this to happen!!"
      "When did you plan to tell me?  I guess after you dumped me for a while then come crawling back when it was too late to do anything about it like last time!!"  she just looks down and says nothing.   "Well it isn't too late this time, and you said its the last thing you want or need - so you won't have a problem getting rid of it, will you!!"
      "You know how I feel about that, I won't do it ... but how can you ask me to do that after the miscarriage and Cinnamon!!  I've already lost three babies - I am not losing any more!!"   
      "You lost the first one by choice Mel, you gave him up remember ..."
      "That is not fair and you know it!!"  she slaps me
      "Okay, I'm sorry, I know your parents didn't give you the choice, but you have known where he is for the past two years, it's not like you can't get him back, you just don't want anything to do with him, because you can't face him!!"  I snap at her  "If you are trying to replace Cinnamon with another baby, like Mint was a replacement for the miscarriage, why bother putting us through hell and all that shit again to do it ... when all you need to do is pick up the phone to Shale or Turmeric and sort out getting to know your oldest son!!"  I yell at her  "You haven't even given a thought to what this might do to Alpine either have you!!  He has lost his son remember, which nearly broke him, you having another baby might unhinge him, and berry knows what the other three will think about it!  It is not like it is even safe to have a baby in the same house with Alpine now!!"  I snap  "Here you go again, Mel you are always so damn selfish, you should have just put me out of my misery and let me walk!!"
       "You are the selfish one!!"
       "I am not like I am on purpose, where as what you do is intentional!!"  I almost yell at her  "I can just see what is going to happen here, I'll have to move Alpine in with me and you are just going to have to stay where you are and sort your own mess out alone.  Thanks by the way for wrecking any chance of the kids accepting me, they are going to hate me more now, this is just going to make me look like an even bigger asshole than I look already!!"  I yell at her as I start to choke   "I am having nothing to do with this one, just like I had nothing to do with the others!!"  I snap  "So I guess that is us over and done with, because I warned you any more after Mint and I am gone for good!!"

Caramel burst into tears and runs into the beach house.   I stay where I am, I stand and watch her run off, I have no intention of and following her because I know we will only end up arguing.

My pride is all I've got, I'm saying baby ...

My mind is now doing somersaults and in turmoil, trying to process the thoughts of having yet another child.  I did not think it was possible for this to happen again, and I can already feel all my unwanted thoughts and feelings creeping back.  Just when I thought we were free of the crap and sorting out our life, suddenly it has all rolled back to square one again, and I'm not sure I can mentally take it!!

I flip open my phone.

        "Gran ... "  I stutter trying to choke back my tears.  "Are you at work?"
        "Yeah I am ... what's up Leafy, you sound upset!"
        "Mel's pregnant again."  I mumble
        "Oh hell!!  Not again!!"  he mumbles  "Why does she keep doing this to you?"
        "She said she didn't plan this one, it was an accident, which is why I'm phoning, can you pull up her medical records and tell me what it says, I need to double check for my own piece of mind."
         "Yeah just hang on a sec."  he mumbles as I hear him moving about a bit.  I stand waiting for a while, I guess while the computer is loading up and he is reading.  I keep hearing him laughing to himself quietly, yeah I guessed this would amuse him!!   "Mmmm according to her notes, her coil moved out of place, so yes it is an accidental pregnancy.  The coil was removed after the pregnancy was confirmed."  I start swearing because I can't actually blame her for the pregnancy this time.  "She has had her 12 week scan, has she shown you the scan pic?"
        "No?  Why?" 
        "OH FUDGE!!"  he starts howling almost uncontrollably for a moment and I don't know why
        "What's so funny Gran?"
        "YOU!!!  How many kids do you need!!"  he laughs.  "You should ask to see the scan pic!"  he starts laughing mischievously, so I know he is hiding something.
        "Is there something wrong with the foetus?"
        "No.  Everything looks perfectly peachy!!"  he laughs  "So I guess you'll be wanting a termination."
         "I wished!!  She won't even consider it, and I'm just wasting my breath trying - we argued tooth and nail over two of the pregnancies and I couldn't budge her.  Regardless of what it does to me, I guess now looking back, it was okay back then under the circumstances, but not this time,  its not safe to have a baby around Alpine now, her age and the risk factor, it is seriously a stupid age for us to be having any more kids, for fudge sake I'll be nearly sixty before I can even talk to the brat!! ... I can't do this again, it is going to crack me up completely!!"  I start choking as I start to cry  " Meadow is seriously going to be gunning for Mel when she finds out this has happened again."
Would you please have mercy on me, I'm a puppet on your string

         "Leafy, don't upset yourself!!  Do you want me to try and talk to Mel?"
         "You can try but I know it won't make any difference ... she would rather lose me than terminate the pregnancy, so I may as well just walk now!!"
         "Don't you even think about it!!"  he snaps   "I know this one was an accidental coil malfunction, but you are both responsible for it, you more so, because contraception isn't just her responsibility you know!!  It's all well and good you keep saying you should have had the snip after Bay, but you haven't have you!!  So Leafy this is just as much your fault as hers!!"  he tuts  "If I was in your shoes and had your condition, I would have had the snip and she would have been sterilised to make sure this never happened once, let alone how many times you've managed to knock her up ... this is the fifth time isn't it!!  Why haven't you had the snip Forrest?"
        "I hoped one day I could get over my problem and do it right."  I snap  "And you can shut up!! I do not need a lecture from you of all people, especially when you are starting to sound just like Mango!!"  I snap 
        "That stung you didn't it!!"  he starts laughing  "Leafy, for someone so intelligent, you aren't half stupid sometimes!"
        "YOU are the reason why I am a mental case and so stupid half the time!!"
        "Awww baby, it's time you let it go!!"  he laughs  "You will feel a whole lot better for it.  I do."
        "What the hell do you think I'm doing, or trying to do, now this goes and bloody happens!!
        "You can try to talk her into a termination, although I can understand why she might not want to this time."  he laughs quietly  "She is not at a good age to be having babies, she's seen what it does to you, she knows about your medical condition, it's not like you don't already have a tonne of kids, it's going to cause complications because of Alpine, so why would she be so selfish to put you through that again and not have a termination when the pregnancy was an unplanned accident?"
         "Hhmmm ... she doesn't really know, not completely ..."  I mumble
         "WHAT!?"  he snaps  "Please tell me you have never told her!!"
         "Not properly."
         "What the hell Forrest!!"  he snaps  "What exactly have you told her for berry's sake!?"
         "She's always accepted me just saying I hate children - she's seen exactly what it does to me being around them, so what else does she need to know?  She didn't believe me when I told her about the psychiatrist, so I just didn't bother to explain the rest, because I didn't think she would believe that either."

and even though you got good intentions, I need you to set me free

         "YOU IDIOT!!!"  he snaps then laughs  "In a way you are kind of asking for it!!  I'm sorry, but if you haven't told her about this phobia properly then she isn't going to even consider a termination is she, because she doesn't actually know what she is doing to you does she!!"  he laughs quietly   "That has always been one of your problems hasn't it Leafy, keeping yourself shut off.  I'm surprised she hasn't got frost bite off your cold front like I used to get!!"  he starts really laughing  "When you get back I'm getting a pair of scissors on your tubes, Snip, Snip, I'll make sure it never happens again!!"
        "Don't start turning it into a joke Gran, I am really not in the mood to be laughing right now!!"
        "I'm sorry, but you are your own worst enemy sometimes Leafy!!"  he tuts  "I just don't get why you don't manipulate and control her like you did me?  She is the one wearing the trousers in your two's relationship not you!"  he laughs quietly  "Maybe I should have worn a skirt, then I might have got somewhere with you!!"
         "Shut up you idiot!!"  I snap  "I burnt your letter by the way."
         "What letter?"
         "The one you left in my favourite book."  I laugh  "I did not read it because it would have just been bullshit  ... because you wrote  Lost river elf  on the envelope, which is bullshit!!"
         "That's not strictly true, I will always love you, but not in the way it matters!  I love you like my brother and you will always be my best mate and soul mate, so it is still forever."
         "If you say so ... bro!"  I laugh  "You don't want to let Mace hear you saying that, or he'll have a hissy fit!!"
         "He knows how I feel about you, we don't have any more secrets, unlike you and Mel, who you seriously need to talk to because I think you are both holding out on each other!!"  he laughs
         "Why do you say that?"
         "Just!!  Speak to her about the scan."  he laughs and I start to get a really nasty feeling that he is hinting at something, and if there is nothing wrong with the baby, the only other thing I can think is that there is more than one.  "Soooo, you are in Sandy with Mel aren't you, you sneak!!" 
         "Yeah."  I mumble
         "I knew it!!  I told Mace you would be, we had bets on where you had sloped off to.  Meadow told me Coconut Island - yeah my ass - I know you hate the place with a passion!!  Mace thinks you are in Berry Shores visiting Gravel trying to get him to nail Mace completely so he spends forever inside, so you can pounce on me."
         "Tell your drama queen he is a twat!!  I've got better things to do with my life and he is welcome to your gay ass with my blessing, it's no good to me is it, I'm straight!!"  he starts laughing
          "Woohoo, finally he admits it out loud!!"  he laughs when I call him a twat  "Yeah obviously you have something better to do ... making babies!!"  he starts howling
          "Hell Gran ... do you ever give up!!"  I snap  "Babies ... you keep going on about the scan ... babies ... please tell me there is not more than one brat!!"

would you please have mercy, mercy on my heart

         "Finally!!"  he laughs quietly  "Sorry Leafy ... there are two."
         "NO!!  NO!!"  I start yelling  "I can't do this!!"  I crack up as I can feel myself starting to panic.
         "You need to calm down Leafy, take deep breaths, breath through your nose!!"  he mumbles as I stand there doing just that, trying to calm myself down.  "You need to tell her the truth about your medical condition properly ... and see how it goes from there."  he signs  "Please ... DO NOT do anything stupid - just hang in there till you get home and I will help you deal with it.  I'm warning you Leafy, if I find out you've done another runner, I'm going to find you and drag you back!!  You need to deal with this, you can't leave her to cope with this on her own, like you've said Alpine is not mentally capable of helping her this time, and how is she going to manage Alpine and two babies??!!"
         "Seriously, I can't help it when my head goes - I'll be gone before I know what I've done."
         "Look, have you not thought yet, this pregnancy might actually be a good thing, and your only chance to do it right this time.  I know you hate how you have had to be with Bay, Fudge and Mint, but with these two it could be different!!"
         "Yeah right, like I would be that lucky!!"  I laugh at him  "Gran, if you have got an instant cure for my phobia, then you bring it on, but I'll tell you now, I've been suffering for far too long to ever think that I'm ever going to be cured of this problem!!"  I snap  "I can't deal with one brat, let alone two!!" 
         "I think you are wrong!!  You now have the chance to resolve and put to bed all your mental issues over me, which is the trigger for your condition.  Think about it, after your initial craziness when I first returned, your mind set has changed drastically!!  I know you are letting it go and have accepted we are over and we were never right for each other in the first place.   We both have been living a life that was better for us, you with Mel, me with Mace, but we just couldn't see it, because we were too busy holding onto our emotional attachment.   You are starting to see all that now, aren't you?"
        "You know I am."
        "See .. you are halfway there already, you have already started moving away and living your own life without me and by the time this baby comes, you could well be completely over it.  You can't tell me you are not already happier now than you have been for a very long time!!"
        "Yeah I am but ..."
        "No buts!!  Can you believe, this is the first time you've phoned me in over a week, and I hope that means that you have hardly been thinking about me either because you are too wrapped up in Mel.  Just like I hardly think about you these days because of Mace.  Trust me in nine months time when you are holding those new born babies and have a smile on your face, you will wander what all the fuss has been about all these years!!  I will be completely out of your system and your phobia should go with it, because your psychological issues involving me should be dead and buried and not there any more to screw you up!!"

Consuming all the air inside my lungs

        "Six months - she's already gone three."
        "You know what I mean you twat!!"  he laughs  "Just do me a favour Leafy, think about what I've just said ... you have screwed yourself up because I haven't been here, you have been clinging onto our happy past, like I was, but we can both  make our futures happier!!  I needed to come back so that we could both resolve our issues, and now I am back, we are doing it."  he laughs quietly  "You know what they say, you never beat your fears unless you face them head on, so you need to try and turn this into a positive, something for you to aim for ... finally beating your phobia and being a Dad to those babies!!"
       "That is a lot easier said than done!"  I mumble
       "Yes if you stay defeatist, you need to snap out of it!!  You are in the perfect place to make a fresh start and you need to grab it with both hands!!   Twelve months ago we were a pair of idiots still holding onto each other ... Did you ever think we would move away and get over it?"
       "Exactly, we have moved away and we are getting over it.  You just need to realise you love Mel and are happier now than you have ever been, and the past was a bad place and is over and gone!!  You need to bury it!!  You have the chance here to make a much better and happier future, and be a proper Dad to these babies like you always wanted to be for Bay, Fudge and Mint.  You can get over this phobia Leafy, I know you can, just like you are getting over me!!"

After our call is finished, I move to a different part of the beach and sit down alone just staring out at the sea while my mind is now in turmoil and totally torn again.

I glance over to the spot on the beach where we had made love, and I can not help but think, way to kill a perfectly nice memory and replace it with a hell of a one!!  I went from feeling ecstasy to despair in a blink of a moment, finding out she is pregnant again.  Here was me thinking we would just be making one memory, but instead we made two and I am definitely not going to forget either in a hurry!!

ripping all the skin from off my bones

What Granite has said to me is now really playing on my mind.

I am letting it go ... his ghosts have gone and I don't think about him constantly any more.  I know we were never right for each other with our different sexual preferences, we were just kidding ourselves.  I know we never really made each other happy after we crossed the line from being mates to lovers, which was disastrous in itself.  He always said I screwed myself up trying to play gay, and I think now he might have been right and that's when my problems actually started.  I am already a lot happier now with Mel, and it doesn't bother me any more that he is moving on and with Mace, in a way it is a relief!!  I can finally be who I am meant to be, now that he is no longer weighing me down mentally and emotionally.

So why does it still have a hold of me, why is it still screwing me up enough to trigger my condition?!

Like he said, realistically all of the psychological issues that are screwing me up, causing and triggering my condition ... should ... be going with him ... so logically, I should be able to beat my phobia before this baby is born ...  babies I am stupid enough to keep making.  I am an idiot, because, it is my own fault, I do keep doing this to myself!!

All I want to do now is let the panic take over and run, but I know if I do run it won't take me long to come crawling back to my dysfunctional life, which I can see is never going to end now!!  I've already done it twice before, I can't help it.  Just knowing that the baby is mine tears me in two ... I can't keep away even though it is the best thing for me mentally.  One thing that has always been stronger than my phobia, I have always wanted to be something and someone my phobia won't let me be ... a proper Father to my children!!

Hell!!  This time there are two babies!!

It hits me again quite hard and I start to feel the panic welling up inside me again.  I now can't think straight about anything, because I can not get past the two babies, I can't cope with one baby at a time, how the hell I am supposed to cope with two??!!

I have to stop thinking about it for a while, before I loose it.  I can already feel an anxiety attack coming on, so I lie down on the sand and stare up at the sky while I am taking deep breaths to try and calm myself down to stop it from taking over me.

I'm prepared to sacrifice my life ... I will gladly do it twice

I know I have got to stay and face this somehow!!

What the hell did I do to deserve my life??!!


Song = "Mercy" ~ Shawn Mendes 


Sunday, 4 December 2016

Forrest 3b

It did not take me too long to talk Alpine into forgetting that he wanted to go out to the cemetery, and I get him back into bed, without him kicking off.

I distracted him by getting him to tell me some stories and show me some photographs he has from school.  I gave him a sleeping tablet to help get him back off to sleep.  I settled him back into bed then leave the room, hoping he will finally go back to sleep.

Now not comfortable about going back to bed myself, in case he does try to creep out again, I lie down on the couch, while I am giving the sleeping tablet time to kick in.  At least if he does come out and tries it again, I will be ready and waiting for him.

While I am lay there giving him time to fall into a deep sleep, I can't help but think about Mel and the way she has started to talk to Alpine, she is obviously not helping him by keep shouting at him and calling him names.  She hasn't always been like this, but I've noticed it a lot lately, especially how ratty she is getting.  I understand that she is worn down and irritated because of how many years she has been dealing with his unstable condition, which makes me wander why she has been digging her heals in for so long about not coming clean with the kids, so that we can change things and stop living the dysfunctional life that we have been for over twenty years.

I am still feeling a little creeped out, and can't help but keep wandering about this ghost thing and especially some of the things that Alpine has said.  The button is now bugging me because it does seem to be exactly the same shade of dark pink as the clothes Jazz was wearing in all the school photographs.  I can't say I remember seeing anyone in this town that colour, ever!!

I suddenly feel a little uncomfortable, cold even, as I shudder, probably because I am creeping myself out wandering if any of his ghostly friends are actually here in this room now and watching me.  I think I am seriously starting to believe that ghosts might exist after all, it just seems too much of a coincidence that Tapestry and Alpine are both saying they can see Cosmic and Storm.  There is only one explanation for Tapestry saying he can see Cosmic ... because he actually is!!

I laugh at myself for having crazy thoughts, as I grab the throw off the chair to cover myself with.  I lie there listening to the silence while I'm trying to convince myself that ghosts aren't real and Alpine has been talking more insane rubbish tonight than I think he has, and Mel is right, I am over thinking again.

I'm very tired from all the uninterrupted sleep that I have had tonight, and fall off to sleep on the couch without really meaning too.

I am startled awake suddenly by loud giggling.

Girls giggling.

I don't open my eyes, because I am worried about who it might be, but I think I already know who it is probably going to be ... Fudge and Mint.

I know I have fallen asleep on Caramels couch, which is not the cleverest thing that I have ever done, because I have now left myself exposed.  At least if I had been up in the bedroom, I could have hidden myself from them, like I have done many times in the past.

      "Who ever would have thought Forrest was hiding that body under his clothes."  Fudge giggles
      "Well he does work out at the gymn with Bay a lot doesn't he." Mint mumbles
      "Another waste of a good man, have you noticed it's always the gay ones!!"
      "Yes I have."  Mint laughs  "Especially Mace, I think I'd fade if Parsley had a body like his!!"
      "Granite must have a thing for fit bodies, because he sure knows how to pick them!!"
      "It's no wander Straw is trying to jump all the gay guys, I wander if she's had a pop at this one yet?"
      "Forget Straw, I wander if Bay has, they have been mates for ages haven't they, and like you said, they are always going to the gym together ... surrounded by all those hot sweaty bodies ... it's bound to make them horny!"
      "Stop!!"  Mint almost chokes out as they both start really laughing

This makes me cringe, not only what they are saying, but who is saying it, and I'm not sure I like the direction their conversation is going in!!  Obviously the throw that I had grabbed off the chair to cover myself with because I'd been a little cold, has slipped off me while I've been sleeping, or have they pulled it off.

I keep my eyes closed, hoping they will move away, but they don't.

      "I wander what he's doing here, virtually naked on the couch?" 
      "I don't know.  Wake him up and ask him."
      "Shall we?"  Fudge giggles mischievously
      "Yeeeaaaah ... Leafy is usually up for a laugh."  
      "What do you think ... water, screaming or tickling?"  Fudge laughs
      "Water I reckon, we haven't done that in ages."  Mint giggles

I can't stand it any longer.

I open my eyes.

     "DON'T even think about it!!  If I want to get wet, I will take a shower!!"  I laugh at them 

I sit up quickly and try to grab the throw off the floor to cover myself.  They both start howling with laughter as Fudge snatches the throw out of my hands and throws it away from me.

  "Don't cover up on our account!!"  Fudge laughs  "We were enjoying the scenery."
  "So I heard!"

 I am laughing outwardly, but I'm not laughing inwardly.  This is very awkward and embarrassing, as well as all wrong ... if only they knew who they are actually talking to ... and now I don't even know how to get myself out of this situation.

       "Shame we didn't get to see you wet!!"  Fudge laughs
       "You should be ashamed of yourselves, both of you!!  You have obviously been spending way too much time with Strawberry, you are starting to sound just like her!!"  I snap at them  "I'm old enough to be your Dad for berry sake, and you don't want to let Mosaic and Parsley see you talking or acting like that, I'm not sure your Mother would be too impressed either!!"
      "You need to lighten up Forrest, you are starting to sound like my Dad!!"  Fudge laughs  "So, what are you doing here, virtually naked and on the couch ... I hope you are not hiding Bay somewhere!!"
      "Fudge Seriously!?"  I snap at her quite angrily
      "Sorrrrry!!"  she laughs sarcastically  "We can see you are no fun in the mornings you grumpy grouch!!"
      "What time is it?"  I frown at them
      "It's 9.30am."  Mint mumbles
      "Have you two wet the bed!!"

They both just stand there laughing at me.

I have a horrible thought, wandering how they got into the house, wandering if Alpine has managed to escape and I have slept through it, as I have been asleep for about three hours.  I glance over at the front door and I can see the chain is still on.

       "How did you two get into the house?"
       "Through the back door, we have a key."  Mint smiles at me  "We know Mom always puts the chain on."
       "Have you checked on your Dad since you came in?"
       "Yeah, he's asleep."
       "Good."  I sigh with relief
       "So how come you are camped out on the couch?"
       "I slept on the couch to stop your Dad from going to the cemetery during the night, which he seemed determined to do."  I smile at them  "And I'm a grumpy grouch because I've had hardly any sleep, he has had me up half the night."
        "It's unusual for you to sleep over?"  I laugh in my head, if only they knew
        "Alpine has been very difficult lately and yesterday, if he hasn't already told you, Alpine fractured Bays arm in three places, as well as cut his head open which has needed stitches.   So I stayed over to help your Mother look after him, because I don't think she is safe to be left in the house with him alone any more, and especially not while he is in this frustrated mood which has him lashing out all the time."
       "Bay told me about his arm last night, he's not very happy."  Fudge mumbles  "He said he attacked him over a sandwich."
       "Yeah, the slightest thing has him kicking off at the moment.  If Bay can't handle him then your Mother doesn't stand a chance on her own, she's already covered in bruises!!  You will have to get used to seeing me here a lot more, because I'm moving in for a while, so your Mother is not left alone with him.  He's been thumping everyone who comes through that door lately, I'm sure you've seen Preludes face, but now he has gone as far as breaking bones, it's time to change things for your Mothers sake and safety."

         "Is he really getting that bad?"  Fudge frowns at me as they both sit down.
         "Yes he is at the moment, but I'm hoping it's only grief and it is temporary, I hope he'll calm down again soon.  I still don't think he is over Cinnamon fading and now with Sunny on top, it has unhinged him, so from now on, you girls are not to be here alone with him, and you definitely don't bring your baby around here unless you have checked on his mood first."
         "What does Granite think of you moving in here?"  Fudge frowns at me
         "I think you must have realised by now, that mine and Granite's relationship is over, seeing as he is with Mace and Bay is moving to Cherry Hill with the Rock clan and I'm not."
         "We did wander."  Fudge mumbles
         "I am divorcing him, something I should have done over 20 years ago, and our relationship never restarted when he came back, obviously because he's with Mace."  I laugh  "So I doubt he cares what I do with the rest of my life, seeing as he hasn't cared about what I've been doing with the last twenty."
         "Is that why you are now living at Bay's place alone?"
         "Not really, besides it being too cramped, me and Granite will always be the best of friends and while we can live together like grown ups, me and Mace living under the same roof wasn't really working, he gets paranoid every time I so much as talk to Granite." I laugh nervously because I have to tell them a little white lie, because I can't tell the truth about why I actually moved out of my own house, not yet anyway.
         "I'm sorry!!" Fudge mumbles
         "Don't be, I'm not."  I laugh at her  "I'm used to living alone and prefer my own space anyway." 
         "Where is Mom?"
         "She's upstairs sleeping."

I grab Fudge's arm as she goes to get up and walk off.  My first though is if she goes into Caramel's bedroom, she is going to see my clothes.  I don't even know how I'm going to get up there and dressed without them seeing me, her bedroom door being the one right at the top of the stairs.  I can't help but think that it is probably a very good job I did sleep on the couch, or they would probably have walked into Caramels room and caught us sleeping together.

      "You need to leave her sleeping, while she has the chance.  Your Mother is really struggling at the moment, she's exhausted, mentally and physically and she's had to accept that she needs some help, because she can't carry on like she is."
      "Is this what the respite care is that Bay has told us about?"
      "Yes, yesterday me and Mango finally managed to talk her into accepting some of the help that is available to her.  I am sorting out a few weeks respite care for your Dad, then I'm sending your Mother to my beach house in Sandy Shores, so she can take a break, before she makes herself ill or has a nervous breakdown!!"
       "Why didn't she tell us it was getting this bad?"
       "Because she is stubborn and she didn't want to burden you with it.  You all have your own lives to live, and she doesn't think it should be your worry!!"
       "What is respite care anyway?"
        "It's a medical service that is run for unpaid carers like your Mother, it gives them a break while someone else takes the responsibility of caring for the patient..  So he will be going into the hospice in Raspberry Hill for two weeks, the hospice is a care home for mentally and physically ill people."
        "Raspeberry Hill?"  Fudge frowns at me
        "Yes, unfortunately there is not a hospice in this town as you know."  I laugh quietly  "Something I know that me and Mango would like to change."
        "Can he only just have this respite care because he is getting so bad now?"
         "No, she's been entitled to this help since his diagnosis, so she could have used this service years ago.  Me and Mango have both spoken to her about it more times than I can remember over the years, but she doesn't like the idea that the three of you won't be able to go out to Raspberry Hill to visit him while he is there, obviously because you are mixed berries."
         "Well that's stupid!!"  Fudge tuts  "Like we did not need a break from it either!!"
         "Yeah, Bay kind of gave me that same impression yesterday."  I smile at them  "Listen, while your Mother is not around, I need to pick your brains over something ... I'll just run upstairs to the spare room and get dresses, while you put the kettle on and make us a brew."
         "Do you want something to eat?"
         "French toast if you can make it, if not I'll do it when I come back down."  I smile at Fudge  "No sugar in my coffee, I'm sweet enough."

They both laugh as I jump up off the couch and leg it up the stairs.  Sending them into the kitchen is my way of stopping them from watching which room I go into when I get to the top of the stairs.  I check they are not watching me when I open the bedroom door.  I slip in quickly and Caramel is still sleeping, so I get dressed quickly then sneak back out again.  I am very irritated by the fact that I don't have time to take a shower.

I check on Alpine, who is fast asleep, before I walk into the kitchen.  Mint is making coffee and Fudge is trying to make French toast but she is looking very confused by it.

      "What have you put in the mixture?"  I laugh at her
      "Just an egg and milk."  she frowns  "I've watched Atlas making it for Bay and Slate, but I can't remember what he put in it.  I laugh at her as I open the cupboard and pull out the honey vanilla and cinnamon and grab more eggs from the fridge.
     "Here, I'll do it."  I take the bowl off her  "Can you grab the bread for me please."  I smile at her
      "I've never eaten French Toast."  Mint laughs
      "Well, we'll change that in a minute."  I smile at her  "Have you not had breakfast?"  she shakes her head.
      "Has Bay been here, these cupboards are tidy and everything is in size order and regimental lines again."  Fudge laughs as she opens the cupboard, to get out the bread, and stares into it.
       "No, I have done it, unfortunately I suffer from O.C.D amongst other things."  I laugh awkwardly  "Your Mother might be able to live in disorganized chaos and mess, but I can't!!  She already knows that she will have to get used to tidy cupboards and draws, no dust and furniture moving around while I'm living here, if she doesn't want to drive me cuckoo."
        "You are as bad as Bay!!"  she starts laughing  "He verges on neurotic with some of the stuff he does."
        "Yeah I have noticed since he's been living at mine.  I knew he was a bit of finiky neat freak, but I didn't realise how bad he was."  I laugh  "He is driving Granite crazy, just like I used to."
        "O.C.D, haven't you just diagnosed Bay as having it."
        "Oh, so he has told you then."  I raise my eyebrows at her  "Yes, I noticed it from watching him living at mine, his obsessive and compulsive behaviour is as bad as mine!"  I laugh

        "What makes people have O.C.D?"
        "There are quite a few causes for it ... Family history – you're more likely to develop OCD if a family member has it, possibly because of your genes.  A differences in the brain – some people with OCD have areas of unusually high activity in their brain or low levels of a chemical called serotonin.  Life events – OCD may be more common in people who've experienced bullying, abuse or neglect and it sometimes starts after an important life event, such as childbirth or a bereavement.  Personality – neat, meticulous, methodical people with high personal standards may be more likely to develop OCD, as may those who are generally quite anxious or have a very strong sense of responsibility for themselves and others."  I smile at them
        "So which one is Bay?"
        "I can't really discuss that with you, it needs to come from him, but as it happens we are still trying to put our finger on why he has obssessive and compulsive behaviour."
        "What about yours?"  Mint laughs
        "Oh, I'm complicated, I'm a bit of everything."  I laugh awkwardly
        "It must be a gay thing!"  she laughs
        "No it's not a gay thing!"  I laugh back  "It's a mental disorder, that anyone could get.  My Dad had it, so I guess I partly get it from him."  I smile back at them.  "So, how is it going with Parsley now you two are back together?"  I ask Mint to move the conversion away from the OCD.  "I've noticed you look a lot happier these days."
       "Yeah, it's good so far." she grins at me
       "Are you getting any trouble off Strawberry, is she still pestering Parsley?"
       "A bit, but who doesn't she pester!!"  she laughs  "She has been quiet since Sunny faded, but no doubt she'll start up again soon enough."  she laughs  "We think she will try to get her claws into Tap now he's rich and famous!!  She's the type and already tried once, doing her naked slut dance remember, and of course she wants Vanilla."
       "She's got no chance of taking his little girl away from him, and she will definitely never get her claws into Tap, I know he hates her guts - he's said he'd rather sleep with another bloke than have her maul him!!"  I laugh  "He is definitely the faithful type and too into Crystal.  He had his chance with Strawberry but he didn't take it - I doubt many straight men would walk away from a totally naked women so blatantly hitting on them!"
      "She's been hitting on you gay guys lately, and age doesn't seem to be a boundary either, so have you been mauled by the bike?"  Mint laughs
        "Hell no, I don't give her the chance!!  I'm not sure she would even try with me, as me and Strawberry do not get on and we have had a few serious run ins!!  I see her coming and walk off in the opposite direction, just like I do when I see her Mother, but it is more of a red thing, I hate that colour!!"  I laugh at her for a moment
        "You are lucky, she has mauled virtually everyone else in this town!  Even Bay has taken a ride."

     "Yeah I know, and it has messed his head up, the idiot!  I doubt he'll ever get that drunk again!!"  I tut  "You know what Strawberry is playing at don't you, and why she is trying it with the gay guys, she's got it bad for Atlas, she thinks hitting on everyone around him is going to get his attention.  She is seriously delusional and not in the slightest bit amused about him being with Saffron."
      "She's had a pop at Granite hasn't she!!"
      "Yeah, that was hysterical to watch.  He grabbed her hand and dragged her off into the bathroom, I think she thought her luck was in until he pushed her into the shower fully clothed, then turned on the cold water and held her there until she was totally soaked!!  He told her she's like a dog on heat and needed a cold shower."  they both start laughing  "He kicked her out of the house dripping wet after he'd covered her in talc.  She must have looked a right sorry sight walking home!  I doubt she'll try hitting on Gran again!"
      "Oh man, I wish I'd seen that!!"
      "I seriously don't know why she keeps pestering Parsley, he's made it perfectly clear he is not interested, and its not like she never gets any."  Mint mumbles
      "It's to wind you up Mint!"  Fudge starts laughing  "Besides she is a chancer, and she's got more chance of going where she has already been.  Parsley is an easy target for her, they were together for a few years."
       "I guess."  Mint mumbles
        "I seriously don't get it!!  I bet she does the Karma sutra, like Coral, anything and everything, why else do all the blokes fall over themselves to ride the bikes !!"
      "Do you girls ever talk about anything other than sex?"  I ask as I put a plate down in front of them.  They both start giggling
      "You are not like the other oldies, you are more laid back and generally up for a laugh and gossip.   We can't have these sort of conversations with or in front of Mango or Dad, they are stuffed shirts!"

I just laugh at them

     "Talking of gossip, have you heard Crimson has dumped Wisty."  Mint laughs
      "No!!  Since when?"
      "She landed unexpectedly last night and caused a right commission.  I heard them downstairs kicking off.  Apparently Crimson walked in on her arguing with some woman on the phone, over text messages Wisty has been sending to her bloke.  Crimson was furious, and he binned her"  Mint says

I nearly choke on my food.  Now I'm in trouble, it was actually Mel that Wisty was arguing with last night, because she's continuously stalking me, even though I've told her to get lost.  I'm now shitting myself knowing she is back in town and living in the same house as Mint.

      "Seriously!?"  Fudge frowns at her  "Why has he dumped her?" 
      "She has been seeing this other bloke, so she's been cheating on Crimson, like I think he's been cheating on his Mrs.  The other bloke has also ended it with Wisty, so she's got herself into a right depressed mess!  I don't actually think she is too bothered about Crimson, it's the other one."
      "Who is he, anyone we know?"
      "I doubt it, it's bound to be someone she met in Rainbow I should imagine.  I kept out of the way, Prelude was on one and kicking off because not only has she been messing about with a married man, she's come out of Uni during term time, instead of waiting for the holidays.  Too busy feeling sorry for herself I think, she's letting her studies go to pot. "  Mint mumbles 
      "Poor Crimson, this is the last thing he needs on top of his Dad fading!"
      "Yeah I know, the timing does stink, but it's not like none of us didn't see this coming.  Wisteria and Crimson were never going to last!"
      "Why not?"  Fudge frowns at her
      "Wisty is a pure berry with the chance of a good career a head of her, out in the coded world.  She was never going to tie herself down to Crimson and this town was she!!"  Mint laughs  "She would be stupid to be colour mixing when she doesn't need to, and I don't think she has ever really been into Crimson that much anyway."
     "You are quiet suddenly?"  Fudge nudges me
      "I am just eating."  I nudge her back  "Which you should be doing instead of gossiping!!  French toast is not so nice when it's cold."  I raise my eyebrows  "And I doubt either of you ate breakfast this morning before you came out, I know what you kids are like ... breakfast is a meal you should not be skipping!"
      "Yes Dad!"  she laughs at me jokingly  "If you say so, but I didn't see you doing much eating, you was sat staring at the wall!!"
      "While I was chewing!"  I smirk at her

       "So how is Willow?"  I ask to change the subject.
       "He is fine, he is keeping us awake at night, but he's okay."
       "I'm surprised you didn't bring him round with you."  I say but am very relieved that she didn't bring him with her, the last thing I want or need is a baby screaming the house down and setting me off.
       "After what Bay told me last night, I wanted to see if Dad had calmed down first.  So Mo has taken him round to his Mom's, not doubt Tap will end up hogging him, like he hogs all the babies that go round there."  she laughs   "Who would have thought that Tap would turn out to be Super Dad and our number one baby sitter!!"
       "Yeah, Tapestry has surprised all of us, especially Mango.  He has had to eat his words on more than one occasion, especially about what kind of Dad he would make!!"
       "It is pretty amusing - we thought he would be the worse, he could hardly look after himself when he was a teenager, yet as parent's go, he beats Coral and Mo hands down."
       "Mo is okay though isn't he?"  I frown at her
       "Yeah he's okay, but Tap only has to hear a baby cry and he's there like a shot and seems to know what they need - Mo takes a while longer to get there on both counts."  she laughs

We eat quietly for a moment, Mint is amusing me, she is making Mmmm noises while she eats, I think she likes French toast!!  My brain is now doing somersaults, worried about Wisteria being back in town and the trouble that she could cause for me, if she tells anyone about us, just to spite me.

      "So what do you want to pick our brains over?"  Fudge frowns at me, reminding me, that I have something to run by them to see how they react to it.  I have been so distracted with the conversation, I had actually forgotten.
      "You know your Dad's condition is only going to get worse .  You have all been warned that there will come a day when he will need permanent hospice care because your Mother will never be able to cope with him, especially not on her own."
      "Well that is still a long way off, but your Mother is very stubborn, she has been turning her back on respite care for years, when she could have used it and I think she will do the same with permanent hospice care when that time comes.  I know she is going to continue even when he becomes uncontrollable and she can't cope with it - so I want to sound you out about something."

       "I don't understand why she is being like this!"
       "This town makes it very awkward, as you know there is not a hospice in this town, the closest one is Raspberry and being out in the coded world, obviously it cuts your contact off with your Dad with you being mixed berries, that is why she is digging her heals in."
        "That's bad!!"  Fudge frowns  "I've never really thought about that before, so what are we going to do?"
        "There is a very easy solution.  This town is by far the worst of the three colour mix towns, it is a dump in comparison to the other two.  Berry Shores and Cherry Hill both have very good hospices, so the only way to make your Mom's and your lives easier, is if she relocates to one of the other colour mix towns.  That way, your contact with your Dad is not cut off like it would if she stayed here and he has to be placed in Raspberry."
        "Well if that is what she has to do, then she has to do it ... there is no other choice is there."
        "See I told her you would be sensible about it!!"  I laugh for a moment  "She thinks it's too far for you to travel and you won't be happy about it."
        "What other choice do we have?  She is just being stupid - I would rather she did that than us never being able to see Dad again, or her continue to struggle when there is no need for her to be."
        "Me too - it will be no different to Bay being in Cherry - we will have to travel to see him."  Mint mumbles through a mouthful of food.
        "There is something else you could think about ... you two both relocating with her.  It would make the decision so much easier for her to make."  they both stare at me quietly for a moment  "I know it is something that you need to discuss with Mosaic and Parsley, and it is a big decision,  but it will make all of your lives easier as well as better."
       "How will it make it better?"  Mint frowns at me
       "Both Berry Shores and Cherry Hill, are a lot bigger and better than this town in every way, they are both on a par with most of the coded towns - you two never having been out of this town, probably would not realize but this town is so primitive and run down, it is a joke!!  Actually this town is a joke for the rest of the world.  The quality of everything here is substandard compared to everything out in the rest of the world.  The other two colour mix towns will give you, and especially your children, a much better quality of life, better education, better jobs and opportunities.  Weather wise they are a lot better and Berry Shores is a coastal town, with sea and beaches."

       "Wow!  I have never seen the sea."
       "I know, none of you have.  I'm actually half tempted to get you both to dye your hair, so I can take you over to Sugar Falls or Apple Valley, and show you how the rest of the world live.  You have never seen a shopping centre or a proper supermarket, they would blow your heads to pieces!!"  I laugh
       "That actually sounds like fun ... can we do it?"  Mint grins at me
       "I'll ask your Mom, and if she says it's okay, then we can do it."  I smile at them
       "We are adults now you know, we don't need Mom's permission to do anything any more"  Fudge starts sniggering at me.
       "I guess not!"  I laugh back
       "I seriously can't believe you just said that!!"  she carries on laughing
       "Yeah it was a little stupid, but you two will always be kids to me, I am an oldie remember!!"  I laugh  "Okay get some hair dye and I'll take you to Sugar Falls, before I go to my Sisters." I start laughing  "Make sure its not permanent dye, or you'll be walking round like it for months ... on second thoughts, I'll pick the dye up this afternoon on my way back from Raspberry."
       "When can we go?"  Mint asks like an excited child  "Can we go today?"
       "I'll take you tomorrow if you want.  Today I'm taking your parents to Raspberry so that your Dad can see the Hospice."  she grins at me  "In the mean time you both should research the other two colour mix towns on the internet, and you will see what I mean.  Ask Tapestry, Granite, Mace, Atlas, Turmeric, they will be able to tell you what Berry Shores and Cherry Hill are like in comparison to this town.  Bay and Slate have been out to Cherry with Granite - they loved it and didn't have to even think about making the decision to relocate. Slate knows he is giving Amber the opportunity of a much better life not staying here."
       "You are a pure berry - so why have you stayed here if it is that bad?"
       "I was actually born here.  My parents come from Sandy Shores originally, and moved here because of my Dad's job.  They moved out of town years ago, but I stayed here for a very good reason, which I will tell you about one day."  I smile at them  "Even though this town has a lot of faults, the people here are second to none, and that is what partly keeps me here.  You know we are more like one huge family in this town, and we all look out for each other, well you won't find this anywhere else in the world, not even in Berry Shores or Cherry Hill are the people so connected, but they are still good people.  One thing the three colour mix towns have is good people, those living out in the colour coded world are not nice at all."

Mint amuses me by moving chairs when she has finished eating, until I realise she has just left her plate behind without washing it up or at least putting it into the sink, which irritates me a little.

       "What are they like?"  she asks as she sits opposite me.
       "I'm surprised your parents, or Cinnamon have never told you about the coded world, they have lived in it, and Cinnamon worked out there."  I frown at them
       "No, they have never really talked about it."  Mint mumbles.
        "Well, out in the coded world, they are very narrow minded, and their world is run soley by colour - it's ridiculous, to the point where they have colour shops, and only a person of that colour can go into the shop to buy anything.  You can get arrested just for walking around in clothes or owning something that is not your colour."  they both stare at me wide eyed  "Basically if you are not their colour generally they don't want to know.   A blue guy could be on fire in the street, a purple guy would walk past him and not even spit on him to help put him out, he would walk on by leaving him to burn because he is not his colour.  Anyone caught colour mixing is arrested and locked up for time.  Mixed berries, colourless and gay people are treated pretty badly.  Mixed berries are arrested then shipped straight off to a colour mix town.  Colourless babies are dumped, abandoned and even faded at birth, there are very few that survive to even reach toddler age.  Lilly and Crystal are rarities coming here from the coded world, to even have survived to become an adult.  I'm sure you know how Tapestry acquired Snow, if Tap hadn't picked him up he would have just been left to fade."  I roll my eyes  "Homeless people, something you will never see in a colour mixed town, but out in the coded world there are thousands of people without family, food or shelter, who are living on the streets, and society just leaves them there to rot."
      "That is disgusting!!"  Mint frowns at me  "So do we have to break the law and risk getting locked up every time we go out into the coded world to get to the other colour mix towns?"
       "No.  Cherry and Berry both have their own Airports and there is kind of an unwritten law, between Raspberry and Sugar, any mixed berry catching a plane to the other colour mixed towns is allowed into Raspberry but only to travel from here to and from the airport.  If a mixed berry is found anywhere else in town they will arrest them and escort them straight back here, the same if they try to catch a plane to any of the colour coded towns."

       "Why does Tapestry get to travel around?"
       "Because they are hypocrites!!  The world knows Tap is a mixed berry, like Rocky, but because they are famous Rock Stars, the rules don't apply to them any more, they over look them being mixed berries."  I laugh  "The same applies to Mango, he's one of the worlds most respected and sort after Neurosurgeons, he openly tells everyone he is a mixed berry, even though he doesn't have to, but he still can go out, travel around and throw his weight around in any hospital on this planet because his status is bigger than him being a mixed berry!!"
       "I really hate being a mixed berry!!"  Mint mumbles
       "I'm sorry!"  I mumble without thinking
       "Why are you sorry!"  she laughs at me  "It's not your fault is it!!"

Yes it is my fault, but she just  doesn't know that yet.

       "Why do you hate being a mixed berry?"
       "We weren't given the choice, of being what we are, like Saffron says ... we have had our parents sin inflicted on us, and they were selfish!!"  I raise my eyebrows at her  "We are the ones being punished for their colour mixing, and we are the one's trapped in this town like caged animals, and like you said, living a substandard life, when Mom and Dad can go out into the coded world whenever they feel like it!!  Even Mom's parents disowned us because of what we are, and that's why I am never having any kids ..."
       "And she's off!"  Fudge laughs
       "You don't want children?"  my stomach rolls, suddenly worrying that she has my problem, even thought it is very unlikely.
       "No I don't!"
       "Don't you like children?"
       "Not much, I can take them or leave them, and it won't bother me never having any."  she laughs  "I don't want to inflict being a mixed berry on them!"
       "You know you might feel like a caged animal living in this town, because it is so small and your opportunities are limited, but I doubt you would feel that way in either Berry Shores or Cherry Hill.  They will both give you the better life and especially career opportunities, which I think is what drives you, little Miss Ambitious."  I smile at her and she laughs  "And you know, there is only you who is caging yourself in this town - hair dye opens the world up for you to explore, the only thing you have to be careful of is having children out in the coded world, obviously you have to do that in a colour mixed town ... " I laugh  "But seeing as you seem hell bent on not having any, then it won't be a problem for you.  There is nothing actually wrong with being a mixed berry, colour is only skin deep we are all exactly the same underneath.  It is just the coded worlds ignorance, that says otherwise, because of the way they have been brainwashed, like how they see colourless people, as freaks of nature and are ignorant to them actually being the product of a medical condition.  You and they are just as human as the rest of us, they just need to learn that."

      "That is easy for you to say, you are a pure berry!"  she laughs at me
      "I would much rather be a mixed berry than have my ears!!"  I laugh  "Me being a pure berry is forgotten, I look like a freak and until people get used to me I'm treated like one and something alien out in the coded world, so I may as well be a mixed berry, I'm not treated any better.  You can dye your hair and nobody would ever know, unlike me, I can't chop my ears off can I!?"
      "Why are your ears like that anyway."
      "They are genetic, they have run in my family for generations, my Mom, Sister and her two children have them.   There is a stupid passed down tale of fairies or elves in our distant past, not that I really believe that, others wise I'd have wings and be imortal!!"  she starts to really laugh at me  "Exactly how stupid does that sound!!"
      "You should get River to research your family."  she smiles at me  "He's like a walking encyclopaedia and he's helped me with quite a few articles I've done for work.  He is researching the Orchids and Shines at the moment because of the mad genetic colourless eyes and hair."  I start laughing  "I bet he might dig up an answer for your ears."
       "Maybe."  I laugh
       "I've thought about asking him to research Mom and Dads families, because who exactly do I look like?"  my blood runs cold and I start to feel nervous.  "I've always been the odd ball!!  I don't look like anyone!!  None of us look like Dad, and while  Cinn, Fudge and Bay all look like Mom in ways, but I look like nobody."
       "You know you need to be very careful with that - your Dad is very touchy about his past and his parents,  you might uncover things that could very well make him feel even worse about himself.  He doesn't even know their names or why he was put into the care system, and you might upset him if you even try to ask him.  He is unhinged enough at the moment."
       "I guess, but it just bugs me, I swear sometimes that I am adopted!!"  I can feel my nerve start gangling, because I never imagined that any of them questioned who their parents are, and this is sailing a little too close to the truth.
       "Seriously you are not adopted!!  I'm your Mother's Doctor, so I would know and you have your Mother's hair for a start!!"  I laugh at her  "I'd say you take after your Dad's side of the family, whereas Cinn, Fudge and Bay take after your Mom's side."
I sit staring at her - visibly it is so obvious that she is my daughter and I don't know how or why nobody except for Granite has ever seen it!!   If they both opened there eyes a little more, they would clearly see who Mint looks like.  I can feel Fudge staring at me intensely and I start to feel uncomfortable and need to move the conversation, right away from this, so they don't think about it too much.  They will know the truth soon enough.

      "So can I ask a favour of both of you.  To at least think about moving to a different town to help your Mom.  You would make her life so much easier if you chose to relocate to Berry Shores or Cherry Hill with her.  Eventually she will be left with no choice and will have to make that move with or without you, and I know she would much prefer to make the move with you, and I think if she knew you two were going with her, she would make the move sooner rather than later, so she can at least get settled in the town before the time comes when your Dad does need permanent hospice care."
      "Okay."  they both mumble
       "So which town has the best Hospice?"
       "I have looked into both of them already, and even though there is not really much between them, in my view Berry Shores is the better option.  The town itself, is a lot bigger and better than Cherry,  but if you do decide to moved to Cherry then you would be with Bay, and the whole family can stay together."
       "Are they in the same area?"
       "Berry and Cherry are not too far apart so it is only a short flight between the two, which will make it a lot easier to see Bay.  Either way making the move will give you and your children a much better life, and it's not like you won't know anyone in either town, the Rocks will be in Cherry - Granite, Slate, Turmeric, Mace eventually and of course Bay and the three kids.!!"
       "We won't know anyone in Berry Shores."
        "You will - Atlas and Saffron are moving to Berry Shores after the trial, and I've heard Maize talking about going with Saffron and taking Poppy.  Crimson has also got the bug to relocate too, he's realised there are better opportunities career wise out there for him, so I wouldn't be surprised if he ends up there.  Also Tap, Crystal and the kids are always out there because of his work, it's where Rocky lives.  Tapestry is buying a house out there, eventually he says he is going to relocate to Berry."
       "It sounds like everyone is jumping ship!!"  Fudge laughs  "If Tap is going to be out in Berry Shores, I bet we wouldn't have much trouble persuading Mo and Parsley."
       "No, I doubt you would."  I smile at her

       "Hang on, Gravel is in the Berry Shores prison."
       "Yeah ... I've had that worry from your Mother, but I've had a word with Shale, and if your family move to Berry Shores, then he can pull a few strings to get Gravel moved back to Sugar Valley."
       "He would actually do that?!"  she looks surprised
       "Yes.  Gravel was shipped out to Berry to keep him away from Granite, Mace and Slate, so once they have left town there is nothing stopping them from moving him back here.  Something Shale would feel better doing anyway, because Cherry and Berry are just a little too close for his liking."
       "Just think we would be free of both Strawberry and Coral!!"  Mint starts laughing
       "Yeah I guess that is one bonus about leaving Sugar."  I laugh at her
       "You know, I'm actually up for the move already, even if Parsley isn't, which I doubt he will be!  I am going to do it, even if I end up having to relocate alone without him.  He can sit and wallow, I went the better job opportunities!!""
       "Are you two not getting on?"  I frown at him
       "Yeah we are most of the time."  she rolls her eyes
       "Only most of the time?"
       "We keep arguing over having kids, he wants them and I don't.  He is also too stuck up his Dad's ass, I'm already sick of living at Prelude's and want my own space and our own place."
     "Doesn't he want you to get your own place?"
     "No, he doesn't seem to want to cut the apron strings or seem to want to do anything about find our own place ... I wish I'd stayed here with Mom now.  I love him but he aggravates the hell out of me - he's got no drive, he'd much rather just wallow.  I can't even get him to move out of his Dad's house so I doubt he would even consider living in a different town!!"

       "He needs a good kick up the backside, he's messed you about enough already!!"  I tut  "You know, If you are not happy living at Preludes and you want your own space ... have you thought about Bay's place."  I smile at her  "It's empty, and it's going to stay that way now until he sells it or rents it out ... why not ask Bay about it, I doubt he'd mind you making use of the place."
       "Aren't you supposed to be staying there?"
       "Yeah I should have been staying there until after the trial, but I'm here now instead.  It is not just your Dad that she needs help with, the trial is going to be very hard for her mentally, like it will for all of you, especially if she is on her own.  She needs someone here with her, and there is no saying how it is going to affect your Dad."  I laugh  "You know me and your Mom have always been good friends and if I'm honest I'd much rather be here than alone or at home while the trials on, I can see Mace and Granite driving me cuckoo with all the stressing they are doing, Mace being a drama queen over it all is going to make me even more nervous and I'm already dreading it!!"
      "Maybe I should just move back in with Mom!"  she mumbles  "She's beginning to worry me!"
      "That's up to you, but you don't have to, and you don't need to worry about your Mother, I'm here so she won't be on her own."  I smile at her  "I think it is your own relationship that you should be worrying about more right now .... it sounds to me like there are a few cracks appearing already, which need sorting out before you get in too deep!!!"
       "Yeah I guess ..."

Suddenly there is a loud smashing noise.  We all stop talking, and just sit listening to try and work out what the sound is.  The noise continues, banging and smashing.

I jump up off the chair and run out into the living room.   The noise as I suspected is coming from Alpine's room and I can now hear him yelling!!

        "It sounds like your Dad has lost it again, and is smashing up his room."  I glance at the girls  "Run upstairs and lock yourself in your Mothers room."
        "But you can't deal with him on his own."  Mint mumbles
        "It's all right, I'm used to it, and I've got sedative in the kitchen.  Now GO!!"

As I watch them run up the stairs, Alpine comes tearing out of his room.  He looks angry, he ignores me and starts to smash up the living room.  I wander what has set him off this time.

I run back into the kitchen to get the syringe that is ready filled with sedative.

I take a deep breath before I go out to tackle him.


Note - this is the first time you have ever seen Mint, she has only ever been a name in chapters - and now maybe you can see why I have always kept her hidden, because there is no mistaking who's daughter she is.  With Bay and Fudge it is not so noticable because they do take after Caramel more, except for their hair - which you probably would not have spotted because Forrests dreadlocks hide his hair a little.