3.9 Night Out (Part Three)

The dock was empty when we got there, and we had to wait for the last ferry to arrive. Sidney entertained himself staring out into the water, and the drunkies collapsed onto a bench. I was lost in thought still, imagining Leila, imagining how the night would’ve gone otherwise, imagining what it’d be like if she was here now.

Anastasia noticed me zoning out and grinned. “You look so happy right now.”

Now everyone’s attention was on me. I couldn’t hide the smile.

“What happened?” Aaron asked.

“April kissed a girl tonight,” she practically squealed. “It was so steamy!”

“Barely,” I said. My face must’ve been red. “It was, like, one kiss.”

“Dang!” Aaron said. “We leave you alone for five minutes!”

I laughed. “I didn’t plan it.”

“I was totally gonna make fun of you for not having fun with the rest of us and you had the most fun.”

“I mean, I didn’t roll around in the grass while drunk.”

Anastasia laughed. “You could’ve if I didn’t stop you.”

Definitely red, but I didn’t want them to think I was completely uncool. “She was cool. She said she knew you.”

“Everyone knows me.” Anastasia gave a little hair flip. “I think I’ve seen her around.”

“I didn’t know you liked girls,” Sidney said.

I gave a shrug. “I didn’t really know either.”

“Right on!” Aaron said and offered me his hand in a high five. He never does this. Normally Sidney and him do their own thing and totally ignore me, even when we’re just hanging out around the house. He says I’m a baby, even though I’m only a year younger than him. I guess beating him to a first kiss made him rethink that, or he was just drunk.

“That’s totally awesome,” he said. “You gonna tell mom and dad?”

I shivered again in the cold. We could see the ferry in the distance, cutting clean lines across the bay. “I don’t know. I haven’t really thought that far ahead. It’s sort of a brand new development.”

“They don’t care,” Anastasia said. “And if they do, just move in with me and the dads.”

I shook my head. “You would freak out if I moved in with you. One time I borrowed a dress from you and you went on a rampage.”

She waved a hand. “I never.”

Aaron returned to Sidney’s side. I stood next to the railing, away from them, watching the ferry get closer. I’d been basking in the glow of my first kiss, a great night out, a positive interaction with my immediate family. I hadn’t ever thought about liking girls before, but I hadn’t really thought about liking boys either. Mom and dad wouldn’t care, but it’d be weird to tell them, right? How do people know for sure? Do they look at someone and know? I’ve never crushed on anyone, not really. Actors and actresses, maybe, but that’s not real. I glanced at Anastasia, who’s told me about a few of the boys she’s fooled around with. She didn’t get anxiety over that sort of thing. She knows what she wants.

Do I know what I want?

The ferry came and picked us up, and the sky was lightening around us as we trekked back up the hill to the house. The boys went inside immediately to crash, but Anastasia tugged on my arm.

“Was that totally uncool?” she asked. “I didn’t mean to out you like that.”

“No, no, it’s fine.” I hadn’t thought about that either. I didn’t feel ‘out’. Does that mean anything if you were never ‘in’? “I would’ve told them anyway.”

“Okay, cool.” She breathed out. “I’m excited for you! You got your first kiss! With a cute girl in a club! It’s so cool.”

“I know.” I giggled again. The excitement still vibrated in my skin. “It’s definitely a story.”

She smiled. “I can figure out her number and stuff. You’re out here often enough.”

“No.” That hadn’t occured to me. A chance encounter in a dimly lit club was exciting and dangerous. Holding hands as we walked to the coffee shop sent a different sort of tingle through me. “Don’t worry about it. It is what it is.”

“Okay,” she said. “I’m gonna crash.”

“Yeah.” I followed her up the steps. “Me too.”

As soon as I laid down, the energy came out of me. When we were kids, Anastasia and me would cram into a bed together, but I just wanted to pass out, so I took the couch. The buzzing in my head faded out. It barely felt like I’d been asleep at all when the comforting smell of coffee invaded my nostrils. I heard movement in the kitchen, quiet voices, a door opening and closing. I moved my legs as I felt someone beside me.

Uncle Lance, I realized. Despite how exhausted I felt, I lifted myself back, offering a sleepy good morning.

“How late were you guys out?” he asked.

I shrugged. “Is there a good way to answer that?”

He sipped his coffee. “Did you stick to the island or the mainland?”

“Mainland,” I murmured.

He nodded. My sleep brain considered that he probably knew exactly what Anastasia got up to, or at least more than she thought she let on. Aunt Mira told me enough stories about their childhood to know they got up to just as much trouble as we did tonight.

“Hey, Uncle Lance,” I said. “Can I ask you something?”

He looked at me. “Of course.”

“When did you figure out you were gay?”

A long sip of his coffee. I could see the gears working in his head. He was silent for a minute, and then he held his coffee in both hands as he leaned forward.

“We had this talk with Anastasia, you know,” he said. “When she was way younger. Quentin probably never had to sit you down and tell you why you didn’t have two dads.”

I waited. Anastasia hadn’t ever told me that. I doubt it’d be a capital issue either way.

“It’s personal,” he said. “No matter how soon or how late. I always knew I didn’t like girls, but it wasn’t until I met Ellis I knew why.”

“Was it him specifically?” I asked. “You met the right person, and that was it?”

“Not entirely.” He swirled his coffee. “I’d started noticing boys before I met him, but he sealed the deal.”

I picked at the hem of my skirt. “You weren’t ever confused?”

“No,” he said, like he’d made a decision. “But it’s not always like that.”

“‘Cause it’s like girls are super cute, but boys are too, I think.” I tried to think of all the boys I knew, but most of them were related to me. “And just because I kissed one doesn’t mean I can’t kiss the other.”

He smiled at me. “It must’ve been a good night.”

My face went hot, but I pushed on. “Maybe I am gay and I like boys as a concept? Is that like a thing?”

He held up a hand. “You’re sixteen, April. You’ve now kissed a total of–”

“One,” I murmured.

“–one person, which is as many as I have, admittedly, but still a small number. Maybe you’re bi, maybe you’re not. It’s okay to be confused. It’s okay to try things out. As long as you’re comfortable with it.”

I chewed on my lip. It didn’t seem like anyone else in my family was confused about anything. Sidney and Aaron knew what they wanted for their whole lives. May and June were still babies and had more of a handle on what they wanted than I did. Mom and dad lived a picture perfect life, and Aunt Mira had gone through a rough patch, but all she had to do was focus, and she’d solved all her problems. It’s like they just knew, while I’m over here struggling to figure it out.

“Did you ever–” My voice was so small, and I pretended it was because I was tired. “Did you ever feel scared?”

He leaned in like he was telling me a secret. “Terrified. You’re great-aunt had a wife and adopted a kid, and I was still certain your grandma and grandpa would flip out. And sometimes, when no one knows, you can get to pretend it’s not real. If you’re not sure, it can give you time to figure it out.”

“It’s not mom and dad I’m worried about.”

His face softened. “It can be rough. Mira beat up so many kids for me.”

I stifled a smile. I did know that. “I guess I’m worried about feeling like a liar, maybe? This was exciting and new, but what’s if that’s all it was.”

“Don’t overthink it,” he said. “And don’t be afraid to try things. Just, you know. Safely. Don’t do anything you’re not comfortable with. All that jazz.”

“You’re pretty cool, Uncle Lance,” I said.

He tipped his cup at me. “That’s what every old man wants to hear. And if you want to crash upstairs, go ahead. No judgement.”

I trudged up the stairs, pulling off my boots and tights before I climbed beneath the covers of their bed. I was too tired to think on it any harder, but the anxiety that’d placed itself in my chest was lighter. I went to sleep and dreamed of pink hair.

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3.8 Night Out (Part Two)

I was pretty much immediately overwhelmed by the club. These big neon squares lit up the dance floor, exposing a downstairs VIP room. Loud bass thumped straight into my chest, speeding up my heartbeat, and there were so many people! A few I recognized as Anastasia’s friends (I guess the club really doesn’t care about age!), but I could tell some people in the crowd were older. I wanted to bounce up and down, I wanted to squeal, I wanted to dance!

Everyone there was really into it! A guy immediately danced up on me, and I quickly slipped into the crowd, grabbing Anastasia’s hand as she started swinging her hips. The music was fast, and the DJ raised their hands up to the crowd, who all shouted in return. As Anastasia dragged me towards the front, I glanced around for Aaron and Sidney.

I laughed when I saw Sidney taking a selfie! He’s such a loner normally, but he looked genuinely excited to be in the club. Once he put his phone down, Aaron high-fived him, and then I couldn’t see them anymore as the crowd closed around us. Anastasia threw her hands up with the crowd, pulling my arms up too. The music changed quickly, but the crowd seemed to keep up. I don’t do much dancing in Willow Creek, and next to Anastasia I probably looked so so silly. How do limbs even move like that, you know?

The crowd moved a lot too, with people flowing to take up space left behind. Anastasia kept pushing her way forward, and I tried to follow. I found her near the lights as she fumbled with something in her hand. I realized they were IDs.

“Hey!” she shouted when she saw me. I had to lean in real close to hear. “Do you want a drink?”

Maybe I should have, right? Teen years are for doing stupid stuff (actually Aunt Mira says young adult years are for doing stupid stuff, but she got hers in early), but I don’t know. It made me really nervous. If we got caught, or if we got too crazy, or if something happened. I don’t need Aaron telling me I sound like dad, I know I do. But Anastasia waved at Aaron and Sidney, who followed her to the bar.

It bothered me a little that they did, but Anastasia does this sort of thing all the time. If she was going to get caught, she would’ve gotten caught by now, right? Maybe I’m too straight edge. But whatever! Because when they walked away, I turned around and saw maybe the most perfect person.

Leila. It’s a good name. Her pink hair caught my eye. I told Aunt Mira I wanted to dye mine, but she told me it was too pretty to change (lies, but whatever). There was a hint of skin between her shirt and her shorts, and. I don’t know. The music played a little faster. Our eyes met. Her lips quirked up in a smile.

I must’ve sounded like such a dummy. I tried to say hi to her, but the music was so loud, and I had to shout. She said something in response, and when it was clear we couldn’t have a conversation like this, she pointed a finger to the side of the floor. I nodded and followed after her.

“That’s so much better!” she said when we were clear to the side. The music was still loud, but at least there weren’t three people between us. “I’m Leila!”

“April!” Now I felt extra stupid. Like what if she was so much older than me, and I was so silly kid who’d snuck into a bar with her big brother and cousins. I thought my outfit was cute when we left, but now I felt like a kid. And this really pretty girl was in front of me, and I’m definitely going to embarrass myself.

“April,” she repeated and grinned at me. “You snuck in here, right?”

I could’ve thrown up right there. “How’d you guess?”

“I know Anastasia.” She laughed like that was it’s own little joke. “She’s here all the time. Takes everyone from school she can. I’m surprised this place keeps its liquor license.”

I tugged on my ponytail. “She’s my cousin. We’re here for the weekend.”

“Showing you a good time! I like it!” With her turquoise lipstick and bright eyes, she was like a lightbulb staring at me. She made the rest of the room dim. “Tell me she isn’t dragging you to the tourist traps too.”

I shrugged, trying to look cool. “We come here a lot. Mostly it’s the coffee shops and the square.”

She shook her head. “So trendy. I wouldn’t put it past her. So you’re only here for one night?”

I nodded. She moved closer to me, putting her hand on my arm.

“Someone ought to show you a good time,” she said.

I wish I could remember what we talked about. I wish I could remember every word and how she said it. I know she talked about going to parties every weekend (if only!) but being bored of the fake kids that made up the teenage nightlife (can’t relate, all of my friends are related to me), how she’s begging her parents to get a cat (dad says no way not another mouth to feed), and that her favorite color is pink (so’s mine). The music was so loud, we stood so close together, and she kept her hands on my arms, and sometimes she’d dip her face so close to mine I could feel her breath. I’ve never liked anyone before. I’ve never looked at someone and felt a storm inside my chest, rumbling and tight, static charge making my hair stand on edge. It’s like the sun rose over my head.

At first we stayed close to the dance floor, where she bopped along to the music, and then at some point we moved away. Maybe we were looking for privacy. But we ended up by the door. Leila was smiling at me, and I’d worked up the nerve to do what I wanted from the moment I saw her. I leaned in closer, and then I heard Anastasia behind me.

“So,” she said, “I may have lost your brother and Sidney.”

I stared at her. My head was in a daze from the conversation with Leila, and the music was just as loud where we stood. It took me a second to realize what was going on.

“Where did they go?” I shouted.

She grimaced. “I think they left? We were doing shots and–”

“Anastasia!”

Behind me, Leila was laughing. I felt my ears get hot.

“Sorry,” I said. “I have to deal with this.”

“It’s okay.” She laughed again and put her hand on my arm. In a second, she’d pulled me forward.

No one’s ever kissed me before. I don’t think I did it right. In movies and stuff they always mack down immediately, but I just pressed my face to hers. Every inch of my face burned all the way to my ears, and my chest pounded harder than the bass.

And then she pulled away. With another smile and a short wave, she hopped back down to the dance floor. I turned back to Anastasia, who had the decency to be apologetic about it.

“You hate me,” she said.

I smiled at her. “Only if we don’t find Aaron or Sidney.”

We did another pass through the club, and I glanced at Leila in the center of the floor, laughing with one of her friends and bouncing up and down to the music. Part of me wanted to ditch my stupid brother and spend the whole night holding her hand, but dad would go absolutely ballistic. When the inside proved empty of annoying family members, we followed the back door out.

Windenburg is always colder than Willow Creek, and the sharp salt smell of the ocean was a slap in the face. I shivered in my short skirt and tramped after Anastasia. She wobbled as she walked and more than once grabbed my arm to keep from tripping. You can walk pretty much anywhere here too, and for a minute I was worried the two dummies had made their way back to the town square, but as soon as we walked around the other side, I found them.

I can’t believe. Four drinks and Sidney drags Aaron outside to stare at the stars. These two idiots are in the best city ever, and they’re doing what they do in our backyard all the time. I sighed as I stepped over them, nudging Aaron with my foot.

“Come on, dummies,” I said. “What time is it anyway?”

Anastasia checked her phone. “Close to when the ferries stop running. Want to get to the dock?”

I nodded as the two boys got to their feet. Aaron grumbled as he brushed off his jeans.

“It’s too early to go back,” he said.

Anastasia rolled her eyes. “It’s almost 2 am. The party’ll shut down anyway.”

“Going back to the house is lame,” he grumbled. “Let’s do something.”

I giggled as I poked him. Aaron always pretends to be the most mature and smartest, and here he was acting like a baby.

“You’re drunk, dummy,” I said. “And if the ferry shuts down we’re stuck here.”

“It’d be cool to see the sunrise from the island,” Sidney said. I can’t believe he’s even quieter when he’s drunk. Just shuts his mouth for long stretches until he decides there’s something important to say.

“You’re so lame.” Anastasia threw her arms around the two boys. “The dads have fancy coffee and we can go lay out by the Bluffs. It’ll be super nice.”

She knew fancy coffee would get Aaron. The guy’s obsessed.

“Alright, alright,” he said. “We’ll go wait for the ferry.”

I was relieved, a little. Rangling my brother while drunk isn’t the most fun thing in the world. Anastasia at least seemed to be able to hold her own. Lights still bloomed pink and purple, and I touched my fingers to my lips. It was like a switch was flicked, and now my whole body was lit up. I glanced at the club one more time as we walked to the docks.

3.7 Night Out (Part One)

I was so so nervous for this weekend. It’s not like we haven’t spent the weekend at Uncle Lance’s before, but this weekend is special.

Anastasia told me not to worry. “It’ll be great!” she said. “I do this all the time, and the dads don’t even know.”

Sidney sat quietly in the corner of her room, and I wonder why he even came. I think Aaron convinced him.

Aaron who acts like we’re going to get in the worst trouble in the world. He kept saying what a bad idea this was.

“Imagine if mom and dad found out,” he said. “We wouldn’t see daylight for weeks.”

I rolled my eyes at that. Aunt Mira’s told me ton of embarrassing stories about dad in high school. Worse for Uncle Lance. If he found out we were sneaking out, we’d probably just get a finger wagging and nothing else.

“Don’t listen to him,” Anastasia said. “Tonight’s going to be awesome. I swear, we do this like every other week with my friends.”

Not that it made me feel so much better. Anastasia’s friends are crazy. I’ve only met them a few times, but they’re total party animals, like Anastasia, the dance machine. Everyone in Windenburg has to be so so cool and interesting. One time I called her “Ana” and she flipped out on me. It’s pretty hard to compete with the cool kids around here. Much easier in Willow Creek, where there’s like three of them.

Anastasia doesn’t even try at being cool, probably helped by Uncle Lance and Uncle Ellis already being super cool. They hang with the artsy crowd or whatever. They used to live in San Myshuno like forever ago, and Uncle Ellis always talks about how much he misses the arts center there. All Aaron ever wants to talk about is the food. Mom and dad took us to a couple of the festivals, and now he won’t stop talking about it.

It’s super nice seeing my uncles together. Something about watching Uncle Lance cook for his husband makes me feel all warm and fuzzy. Anastasia says they’re so goofy, but she doesn’t have to see my parents every day. They’re actually really sweet. It makes me almost want to get married. Almost.

“Dinner looks great, Uncle Lance,” I said. I always play up good kid around our various parents. I learned pretty quick it’s the best way to get away with anything. Aaron could probably learn a thing or two from it.

“Not as good as your dad,” Uncle Lance said with a smile.

“Uncle Q is teaching Aaron now,” Sidney said as he stuffed his face.

“Whatever,” Aaron said, like he always does when we talk about him. “It’s cool.”

“As long as you get good food out of it.” Uncle Ellis gave this look to his husband, the same kind I see dad give mom all the time. I bet it’s really nice living with just two dads on the island. I’d love it. “Where are you kids going tonight?”

“Just out,” Anastasia said quickly. “Probably the Bluffs and then town square.”

Uncle Lance nodded. “Sounds about right. You guys don’t party too hard.”

We all looked at each other. Anastasia looked the picture of innocence when she said, “We never would, dad.”

We had to take the ferry off the island. Windenburg is so cool. The water’s chilly, and there’s this mist off the island that makes it look kind of spooky. All the buildings are super old and historical, and there’s always a party happening somewhere. Willow Creek’s quieter, which I like sometimes, but there aren’t views like this. Eventually the ferry dropped us off, right in front of this huge building. Purple and pink light blinked off of it, and we could hear the bass from the outside. Sidney already looked uncomfortable, but I think he was playing it cool.

“This is so wild,” I told Anastasia.

She grinned at me. “You haven’t even seen the inside yet!”

“I know, it’s just–there’s nothing like this in Willow Creek.”

“That’s because you live in lame city.” She waved a hand towards the club. “You guys ready?”

We pushed open the red doors to the club and looked inside. The music pounded inside my chest, and the lights were dim. I’d expected one of the older buildings, maybe a pub or somewhere small. This was a lot.

It looked like it was going to be a good night.

3.6 Swimming

Today was supposed to be a super fun day. All of the cousins came over to swim in our pool! It’s super cool having a pool in our backyard, and dad grills the best! Even though it’s all vegetarian, but it’s still good.

We have a super cool dive platform and I wanted to show off how good I was! The parents are always in the hot tub because they’re so boring, and I’ll swim up and down the pool while they watch. Diving’s fun too!

I did it perfect! Everyone was right there! They shoulda seen!

I guess it’s okay that they didn’t. Everyone was having so much fun. I’m not like June and May where they have to be the center of attention. Or Aaron where he has to be the biggest jerk.

It would’ve been fine if Aaron hadn’t started messing with me! He said he could do a cannonball better than I could dive, and I told him that’s stupid, and then he laughed at me!

He’s always messing with me. He tried to convince me the monster under the bed is real! And he always dares me to do stupid stuff. He made a weird face at me and swam to the other side of the pool where dad was making veggie burgers.

Dad loves cooking for us. Aaron says he wants to cook like dad too. If he cooked more and talked less, he might be a cool big brother.

Instead he’s a mean big brother! We were all eating our lunch, and he started making fun of me for picking the lettuce off my burger! He said it was all vegetables anyway. May and June laughed at it too.

He said I was too chicken to jump good and too chicken to eat my lunch! He’s so mean! It’s not fair that I have an older brother that’s mean and two younger sisters that are just as bad. I wish May and June would go back to being babies. They act like it anyway.

Aaron is always the one that starts the fight, and then I get in trouble for yelling at him! He laughed when I told him to stop being mean, and then dad told me to sit by him while everyone else jumped back in the pool! I tried to tell him, but he doesn’t listen! I wish Aunt Mira had been there. She never backs down from bullies, and she punches good. Not that she’d punch Aaron for me. I wish she’d teach me how to punch.

It should’ve been a nice day and he ruined it! And there’s nothing I can do because everyone’s always on his side! He has Sidney, and May and June always laugh at his jokes, and I have nobody. I hate being the odd Dabney out!

3.5 Twin Day

Today was so much! I know we have a big family, but they’re not usually all in the same room together!

It started in the morning, with Aunt Mira making phone calls. She knows a lot of people! Her phone rang all day long! She says a lot of them are from work. I want to work someplace where you have that many friends!

Mom said dad was stressed out because we had so many people coming over. They spent all morning cleaning.

June and May didn’t help at all! They both went outside to play on the monkey bars! I’m surprised May wanted to get her pretty dress all dirty. June never cares. She keeps her hair in braids even when she sleeps so she doesn’t have to wash them. They’re both such pains.

And of course Sidney was out there too, catching frogs until mom and dad made everyone go inside and clean up. The party’s really important, dad said. Everyone’s going to be there.

He made me change out of my bear outfit even though he said it’s fine if I keep wearing them. But he promised he’d take me to get ice cream tomorrow if I wore my party clothes today. I guess that’s okay. It was nearly party time anyway, and Aunt Mira was so so so excited to see her favorite person in the world.

Uncle Lance is her twin, and they’re those little black and white pieces that make up a circle. He’s super quiet and keeps to himself like Sidney does, and Aunt Mira makes a scene every time she walks into the room. But together they work perfectly!

Aunt Mira always says how sad she is that Uncle Lance lives all the way in Windenburg, even though we see Anastasia all the time. Dad says they used to go everywhere together, and Aunt Mira even fought people for him!

May and June were super excited to have them over too. It’s like because they’re twins they get special treatment or something. But I guess seeing Aunt Mira and Uncle Lance together makes me get why someone would want a twin.

Not if my twin was May though. All she cares about is how pretty she looks, and she always acts like she’s so much cooler than she is. And June is worse, because she doesn’t care at all and acts like it doesn’t matter. Maybe if my twin was someone like Aunt Mira, who would punch people for me if I didn’t like them. That’d be nice.

Dad made the cakes ’cause he’s such a good chef. Mom always jokes she’s going to buy him one of those tall hats. I think it’d be cool, like we had our own butler.

Sidney’s dad was invited too! I don’t really know what to call him. One time I called him Uncle Ray and dad said I shouldn’t, but he tells me not to call him Mr. Bridges. He didn’t bring his husband with him, which is kind of lame, but Aunt Mira said he did it to be nice to her. I think it’d be nicer if she had one more person at her party, but there were already a lot!

Sidney got super excited anyway to see him. Sometimes Sidney says he wishes he could live with his dad, but never to Aunt Mira, I don’t think. I don’t think Aunt Mira would like that at all.

Uncle Ellis was there too! Uncle Lance plays guitar and Uncle Ellis paints. Sometimes I think it’d be cool to live with them in their house in Windenburg, where everything is artsy and they lounge around listening to music. I bet it’s super nice.

Aunt Trillian is mom’s sister, and I think she has the right idea not having any kids. Once I asked her, and she said she’s happy being a free spirit. I think that means she gets to do whatever she wants. That’s what I want to do!

And with all the Dabney kids in one place, I called our club to order.

That’s right, I made a Dabney club! And I’m the leader! Everyone has to do what I say or they get in trouble.

Except Sidney never does what I say. But he always does his own thing. And Anastasia goes along with me, but I think she’s just being nice.

And now June and May are old enough to join our club, and it’s pure anarchy and disorder! Maybe on twin day I can let it slide. Maybe one day they’ll turn out cool like Uncle Lance and Aunt Mira.

I don’t think so. At least they’re younger than me, so I can put them in their place. Not like dumb Aaron and Sidney, who always say they’re older than me so they can do whatever they want. June has to listen to me. I’m her older sister. So there.

I don’t have a twin, but with this many Dabneys in one place, who needs an extra one.

3.4 Bear Phase

I made an important decision today.

I’m a bear now.

It’s basically the best. I feel all warm and cozy in my costume. I scared Aunt Mira with it, and then she posted a picture of me on her blog. May and June hate it, which means they leave me alone.

I was totally fine being all by myself in my awesome bear costume. I was sitting quietly, playing with my toys, making bear noises, and dad asks me to sit down.

He asked me why I was wearing this, and I told him I wanted to be a bear! He asked me if it had anything to do with Aaron spending the night with Sidney over at his dad’s house. No! I didn’t want to go with them on their fun boys only weekend in San Myshuno! Dad’s the one who’s all mad about it, even though Aunt Mira says it’s fine over and over again. Anyway, I’m not a girl anymore, I’m a bear! So what does it matter?

Dad told me I could wear this as long as I wanted if it made me happy. And it does! I’ll just be a bear forever! Or at least until mom makes me take a bath. It is getting a little warm in this thing.

3.3 At Home

I guess I do kind of like having a lot of people home. I’m never lonely for one!

There’s usually a couple of us watching TV, especially right after school. Aaron does his homework, and Sidney tries most of the time. I’d rather sit on the couch. School’s pretty boring.

Aunt Mira always says hi to us when she comes in. She likes watching TV a lot, and she’ll always watch something with me if I ask. She likes scifi shows a lot, which is cool most of the time.

She usually goes upstairs and punches a bunch after. I want to punch too! I hope she teaches me some day.

Dad cooks pretty much every night now. He says grandma always did it better, but I don’t really remember grandma’s cooking. He has all her recipes in this little notebook, and sometimes Aaron goes through them. Dad’s vegetarian, which means he doesn’t eat meat. He says that’s what grandpa was too. Aunt Mira says she tries her hardest but she really misses chicken a lot of the time. Some of the kids at school make fun when we pack the soy stuff into our lunches, but dad cooks really good.

He likes it when we all sit together too. Lots of times mom or dad are missing at night, or Aunt Mira goes out with her friends, but there are lots of nights too where we all sit together. We fill up the whole table!

Dad says I’m not “motivated” at school, which I think means I’m bored most of the time. He tries to help me with my projects and helps me with math, which is the hardest. Aaron doesn’t need any help. He’s just super good at all his subjects, like a big dork.

Mom spends a lot of time in the study because she writes. We have to have three computers in the house because everyone’s using one all of the time, and mom’ll sit there for hours.

She has a book called The Darling Dabneys, and it’s about me! She wrote it when I was the baby. Her friend drew all the pictures, and she made me super cute! It’s my favorite book of all time, even though it’s for babies. I don’t think anyone else I know has a book written about them.

Mom gets really excited when she sees me writing in my journal. She says I could be a writer some day too! Maybe, except I don’t know if I can write like she does. Dad writes too, but it’s his jokes.

Mom sneaks into my room even though she swore she wouldn’t read anything I didn’t want her too and tells me I’m doing a really good job. She better not read this. These are my personal feelings to be shared with NO ONE. Especially Aaron! You better not read this!

Aaron probably doesn’t care anyway. He’s too smart to read my dumb words. Mom and dad bought him a chemistry set because he wanted one so bad. They bought me my violin too, which is nice, except I know they did it to make me feel better. May and June get stuff all the time, and they don’t have to wait for one of us to do it first. I guess it’s fine though. Aaron doesn’t mind if I play while he messes around. Maybe he’s not such a jerk.

3.2 Big Family

I think maybe our family is too big. Mom and dad have four kids! It seems like a lot to me, and when I told Aunt Mira that, she laughed and said I knew what I was talking about.

She said mom and dad love each other so much that they had to keep making babies. Is that what happens when you’re in love? You have to make a baby? I don’t know if I want that.

I mean, already there’s Aaron and me and May and June, which is a lot, because that includes mom and dad. And then Aunt Mira and Sidney live with us too! And pretty much every day Alicia comes over after school. Her dad is my dad’s cousin, so I don’t know what that makes her, but I always call her dad Uncle Jarred. Dad says it’s less confusing. Her little brother’s still a baby, but when he grows up, he’ll probably hang out with us too. And on top of that, Anastasia comes over from Windenburg pretty much every week. So that’s seven kids already! Too many!

I mean, Anastasia’s super nice. She’s really girly, which is okay because sometimes I like girly stuff too. She talks a lot and always wants to be friends with everyone. Her dads signed her up for dance lessons and sometimes she shows off, but I like it when she comes over.

And Alicia’s the coolest! I think it helps that Aunt Seema is also cool. She has tattoos like Aunt Mira and used to live in San Myshuno and takes us to the park lots. Aunt Mira says Alicia is “edgy”. I don’t know what that means, but I wish I was edgy too.

I like having the girl cousins around. I know there’s more girls than boys in our house, but it doesn’t feel like that sometimes. Sometimes it’s the Aaron and Sidney show.

They spend all their time going off together. Sidney captures frogs from the pond, and I know Aaron steals stuff! He never says, and I never told mom and dad, but he always looks for little things to put in his pockets. They act like they’re so cool! Even though they’re both only a little bit older than me, they act like I’m a big baby.

Anastasia says “it’s a boy thing” like she knows because she has two dads. Alicia says our dads were really close even though they were cousins. I think they’re just big pains.

And it’s not like they don’t play with the other kids too. I don’t think Sidney cares as much. He mostly likes being by himself outside, but he never gets mad if we join in. It’s Aaron who’s a big jerk.

I don’t need them anyway. There’s a hundred Dabneys, but there’s only one me.

3.1 Dabney Day Out

Quick note: I debated when to start Gen 3 because, thanks to the new expansion pack, my game is completely broken. I’m trying to fix it, and there may be some file transferring involved, and I’ve backed everything up but who knows what’ll happen. I have the first few written out, so I’m going to slowly post those until I get to a place where I can play my gosh darn game again. For now, enjoy our Gen 3 heir.

Mom bought this diary for me. She told me I could write whatever I wanted in it, and it didn’t even have to be true. No one else is allowed to read it. I don’t really know what to write though.

I guess mom and dad are pretty nice. They spend most of their time with May and June, and dad works late lots, so sometimes I don’t get to see them. Dad does jokes as his job, which is cool I guess, but I don’t get a lot of his jokes. Mom writes books though! We have a lot of them in our bookshelves, and I really like to read them! Lots of them are about me. Well, the family. We have a pretty big family.

Aunt Mira lives with us, and she’s the best! Sometimes, when dad works all night, and mom has to finish her story, Aunt Mira gets to be my mom. When there’s something scary under my bed, she promises to fight it! Aunt Mira could fight anything, I’m pretty sure. Granddad bought her this punching bag, and almost every day she punches it. I asked her to teach me, and she promised when I was older she would.

On the weekends Aunt Mira takes us to Magnolia Promenade! My cousin Sidney is her son. I’ve met his dad a few times, but dad doesn’t like it when he’s around, so they go somewhere else. I don’t know why they’re not married, but Sidney’s dad has a husband like Uncle Lance, so I guess that’s why? I asked once, and dad said he’d tell me everything when I was older. Man, I can’t wait until I’m old.

She took us all out last weekend, even my big brother Aaron. He’s super annoying and thinks he’s super cool because he’s like a year older than me. Sidney and him always go off and do stuff outside together and never ask if I want to play. But Aunt Mira asked me if I wanted to come ’cause she’s looking for some more toys to finish of her collection, and I said yes!

Aunt Mira doesn’t act much like a mom. She dresses cool and her job is online or something, and she knows a lot of famous people I think. Whenever Sidney begs her for toys, she buys them. Mom and dad never buy me what I want.

Voidcritters! They’re so awesome! I make Aaron play with me and he says it’s lame except I know he always has fun except when I win. I saved up a bunch of my allowances to buy some packs, and sometimes I find them in weird places, and sometimes I can trade them! But at the store, they had a bunch of the super rare ones!

I wanted one more than anything! They had a Dicoatl! Mom and dad would never buy it for me, and it costs way more than my allowance!

I begged Aunt Mira! Please please please! I’d do chores for weeks, I’d even be nice to my dumb brother! And you know what she said?

Yes! She said she always wants to finish off the last piece of her collection, and she can’t let this one get away. She said I could make it up to her by being an awesome niece. I think I’m already pretty good at that.

And then she took us all out for ice cream! Like I said, Aunt Mira is the best! I love mom and dad and Uncle Lance and even my sort-of Uncle Jarred, but I’m so glad Aunt Mira lives with us.

I hope she takes us shopping again soon. Aunt Mira always goes to the flea markets in San Myshuno and she promised promised promised she’d take us one day. I really want to go! Maybe some day soon!

2.49 The Next Step

We celebrated Summer’s birthday today, and I can’t think of a more fitting way to remember how much we’ve done in the past few years.

It feels like a thousand things are different, and a thousand things are the same.

I’m exactly as in love with Summer as when I first met her. She’s never stopped being the smart and interesting person I know. She’s sold several books at this point and has many more she wants to write, and she even asked me to collab with her on one.

All the emptiness we’ve felt in the house has been completely filled.

Sidney and Aaron are blooming up, and May and June are starting to walk on their own. April’s going to spring up soon too, and with this many kids in the house, it’s any wonder we haven’t gone insane. Lance and Ellis have submitted all the paperwork to get a kid of their own, and Jarred has two brats now. Our kids are all going to grow up together. It’s crazy to think about, how big our family has grown. There’s cousins and aunts and greats everywhere you look. We’re going to run out of space.

Four toddlers at once. Mom and dad barely survived twins, I don’t know how we’re going to get by with four. We’re all working folks, and with mom and dad both passed, we no longer have the free babysitters we’ve come to rely on. It’s made a thousand percent worse by the construction, but it we don’t change the house, we’ll never fit in all these kids.

Luckily it finally finished after so much time.

It still needs a little work until we can save up some more money, but it’s a little more “party ready”, as Mira puts it.

The most important thing is the space. June and May will be sharing a room forever, but at least they won’t be sharing it with three other kids.

Mira also no longer has to live in her tiny old room. We’re learning to share.

With so many people in the house, we need to. I try to cook whenever I can, especially now that my schedule’s more lax, but it’s going to be a lot of work wrangling these kids.

Still, I love looking down the table. I see Summer, my beautiful wife who’s built this perfect family and this perfect house. She’s been nothing but supportive the last few years, and I can’t imagine a day without her. I see my sister, Mira, who struggled with herself for the longest time, and now she’s a professional who runs social media for an agency. Her son, Sidney, a sarcastic but energetic kid who loves the outdoor even more than mom did. I see all of my kids, Aaron and April who have managed to break the Dabney curse of a troubled childhood so far, and May and June, still babies but so sweet. I see this beautiful house and this fantastic life my parents built for me.I can look back on my life and know I accomplished with it everything I intended to. And I can put all my energy into helping my kids accomplish everything they’ve ever wanted to.  I see a bright future for my kids, and a happy ending for me.

 

A/N: Thus ends Gen 2! Quentin was a pretty good heir, but I can’t imagine his story going any further than this. I’m going to take a break for a minute while I prepare for Gen 3’s heir: April Dabney. I’m still updating the Plum Tree App family tree, but I realized I didn’t have a complete picture of how interconnected the family was, so I went on Family Echo and made this. This includes Summer’s side of the family, along with the extended family of Jarred and Seema, and Ray and his people. As with the last gen, I went ahead and randomly rolled everyone’s traits and aspirations.

I’ve been through a ton of life changes while Gen 2 was happening, including moving into my new place. Hopefully by now I’m settled, but it may cause a brief pause in the updating of this blog. As usual, you can check the links in Other Blogs for recommended reading while I take this (what I’m sure is a) very brief break. See you for the next generation!