Heir Vote

Wow, I can’t believe the heir vote’s already here. It feels like it’s hardly been a week since I’ve started this rainbowcy, and now we’re nearly to generation two! Don’t worry, though, there’s still a few chapters of Blanca left. 🙂 More heartbreak incoming! /sorry I sunk all of your ships, it’ll be better next generation prolly

Another note before we begin: I know I mentioned this on the last chapter, but just to clarify, each candidate has a different roll, and the generation will begin as soon as Blanca’s completed all of her rolls and wrapped up her storyline. And also, we’re voting on the spouse/partner color!

Now onto the kids!

Screenshot-91Flannery Dove

Current Age: Child

Traits: Loves the outdoors, Perceptive, Loser

Story: Sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll. Flannery chases the bottle from party to party, shouting rock songs at the top of her lungs and praising modern industry for Pabst Blue Ribbon. Each evening, she puts her brother to bed, then dons her party dress, only returning home to shower in the morning before heading out again, often on the arm of her best friend, Seaweed or her twin, Pastel. Orchard has become a bit too small for the group of friends, though, and when they meet a handsome man with a Sloppy Jalopy, they decide to take a road trip to Neon City to see a concert of the famous Pandora Spring and protest Orchard’s strange tasting water. But as they wind their way through the mountains, they discover something far more sinister than their water supply…

Screenshot-93Pastel Dove

Current Age: Child

Traits: Excitable, Brave, Insane

Story: Pastel’s always been into the supernatural. Reading pot leaves and finding omens in vomit has made her into a hit at the parties she and Flannery attend nightly, much to her own disgust. The real frights and mysteries call to her. Unsatisfied with simply tampering with tea leaves, she decides to use her psychic senses for good. Pastel dons a black suit and sets out into Orchard to put the Vanishing’s souls to rest. The more spirits she saves, however, the more messages arrive on her answering machine, and the more everyone seems to know about her personal life. She twists the fame, for better or worse, until she must make a deadly choice. 

Screenshot-87Boston Dove

Current Age: Toddler

Traits: Good, Loves the Outdoors

Story: Boston is the only child his mother has ever loved. Despite her faults, she’s sheltered him from his sisters’ wild partying and his father’s attempts to contact him. After a mostly happy childhood, he wants nothing more than to have a normal, happy life. A white collar job, kids, a wife, and a white picket fence. Boston Dove, family man. He thinks it sounds lovely on a postcard. Surprisingly, his dreams seem to be coming true. Sure, his sister’s crashed on the couch until she can pay for rehab, and his boss thinks he’s the Antichrist, and his wife’s coming down with a deadly disease, and boy, the water sure does taste funny. But that’s all normal, right? Boston Dove has the perfect life. What could possibly go wrong?

Thank you for voting!

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1-14: The Invisible Girl

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Perhaps it was a conscious choice, thinks Blanca as she stares into the prized photograph. Her watering can trembles in her hands. The townspeople saw it coming. They saw the twisted, contorted future-first the starvation and the riots and the chaos and the rats in the elevator, then the creases in poor Blanca’s forehead, and they knew-they must’ve!-that Hell lurked just around the corner, running high rise fast in the form of a redheaded, sleekly dressed, shady eyed man. A smooth talking man with careful hands and fanciful gifts, of no reservations and contrary proclamations; with a kind smile for every lie he told, and with a dreary habit of breaking everything he tried to fix. Funny how she already thinks of him in the past tense. A sudden thought. Has she remembered to feed the children today?

Oh well. Not like they’re home for dinner, anyway. Water drizzles down on the parched watermelon plants. She used to be such a sweet girl… She smiled at each spot of sunshine and kissed the toes of Mayer Hawthorne’s stone feet. Those massive, grey feet are crumbling now. She’s sure, but she’s too afraid to check.

Her swollen belly bumps against the wall. She sighs. The girls are at school, probably, or wandering the curdled waters of the swamp, or splaying their legs for any old fool with a pretty promise and a calloused hand. Blanca curls her lip. They’ll end up just like her, and horribly, she can muster up little desire to change their futures. If she cannot change her own, how can she save her daughters’? Or her unborn child’s, for that matter? History marches on. The unfortunate crumble into dust.

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Once she attempted to rescue Pastel. The moonlight seeped through the windows, and in its pale lunacy, hope. The conversation started innocently enough. Pastel’s hands on her mother’s island of a belly, and a strangled whisper. “Mama, what’s going on in there?” asked Pastel. “It feels like a party. Boom boom boom. Wub wub wub.”

“A party?” repeated Blanca blankly.

“A kegger,” said Pastel. “You know? Glade, my friend-he talks about them all the time. His mother likes large parties.”

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Blanca blinked, confused. She decided not to bother with the strange slang. She doesn’t speak child. “Well, there’s no party in here. Just a baby. My baby.”

Pastel’s eyes widened. Her fists clenched, though Blanca couldn’t tell whether from disgust or excitement. “Why?”

“Things just happen.”

“Babies don’t just happen,” lectured Pastel. “Mama, you’re a liar.”

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“You can’t trust anybody,” said Blanca darkly, looking away. The most important words I’ve ever heard, she thought; her mind, as usual, returned to Rouge. Her eyelids fluttered open and shut. Her first true lesson, her first success as a parent, not with him, but without him, solitary efforts, solitary success.. Maybe she can change things for the family.

“And that’s why we have magazines,” replied Pastel curtly. She stepped around her mother’s belly, hands perched on her minimalistic hips in an uncannily mature fashion, mouth forming a wide “O” as she called for her twin, the casual observer. And all Blanca could say was, “Well.”

 

***

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As Blanca’s pregnancy progresses, Flannery begins to disappear at night. First for only short periods-a half hour or less before sunset, but as the second trimester dawns she vanishes for hours, often not appearing until after school the next day. Blanca hardly notices Flannery’s absence until Pastel raises her voice. Without her sister, the solid anchor, Pastel pouts and cries and blames her mother for her poor grades and her mannish profile; when admonished, she retreats sullenly to her room, and doesn’t appear until the school bus arrives in the morning. As the sun rises, she pulls her thick red coat over some ludicrous outfit and marches into the blizzard, chin raised high against the elements, an overstuffed binder tucked haphazardly under her toothpick arm. She boards the bus without an apologetic smile for her mother. No wave goodbye, not even a backwards glance. Blanca could die.

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Blanca only leaves the house once the bus is out of sight. She waddles to the mailbox on her swollen feet. The first mail coincided with the first day of school. Each morning brings a newspaper. The cover always sports some sort of propaganda-all hail the new mayor, the Messiah, and his whore-turned-Madonna wife! No pictures accompany Mayor Herman’s messages. He knows he’s not as good as Hawthorne, thinks Blanca sourly, as she throws today’s paper in the garbage. Hawthorne wouldn’t forget about me. She opens the mailbox, looking for a letter from the newly crowned mayor, from anyone, really. Hands on her hips, she sighs. Her back aches, and the mailbox is empty. She slams it shut, then retreats to her writing desk.

After school. As they plod towards the house, Flannery and Pastel’s chatter overrides the keyboard’s. Blanca sighs. Her head and back ache something awful. “First we’re going to bake cupcakes, then we’ll doodle on our homework-don’t tell the teacher, you promise? Then we can make a snowman! We’ve got plenty of sticks for arms and stones for buttons. When that’s all finished, we can ask the eight ball for our fortunes. Pastel really likes fortunes, don’t you, Pastel?”

“Oh, I love them! They’re so otherworldly. You know, while we’re in the swamp, we might find some ghosts. Flannery never sees them, but I do, and maybe you will, too. Oh, don’t look so scared! I’ll protect you, Seaweed. I’m a lot tougher than I look.”

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Seaweed? Mama used to talk about seaweed like it was a luxury. What for? Was it sushi? The door crashes open, and in step a rosy cheeked Flannery, smiling Pastel, and a stranger, a boy. He smiles crookedly at Blanca. His bowl cut is as lopsided as his mouth. She frowns at him. “Nice to meet you, Ms. Dove,” says Seaweed.

Blanca ignores him. The last strange man to walk in this house… she struggles to finish the thought. “You never mentioned bringing home anybody,” she says to her daughters.

“Oh, don’t mind her,” says Pastel. “Mama’s just been in a bad mood lately. Flan says it must be the baby, but I think it’s because she doesn’t like me. Do you like me, Mama?”

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Blanca sighs. “Of course I do, Pastel.”

Seaweed swallows uncomfortably. To ease the tension: “You’re very pretty, Ms. Dove”-he eyes her belly-”and I’m sure you’ll have a pretty child, too.”

A lump forms in Blanca’s throat. She stares into the screen as her eyes start to blur. She doesn’t dare turn around. Her voice cracks in the first word. “You’re very kind, Seaweed.”

“Thank you, Ms. Dove,” says Seaweed.

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“Do you like music?” asks Flannery to Seaweed, and suddenly, easily, Blanca has disappeared to them. A tear slips down her face. The world has forgotten her, and there is nothing she can do to reverse it. She’s gone-the harrowed, the lost, the invisible girl. Nobody’s going to look her way.

“Some,” says Seaweed. “Dad’s still fixing our antennae, so we don’t get much radio.”

“I’ve got records,” says Flannery brightly. “The old ones, too. They call it rock and roll.”

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“I like Pandora Spring”-Flannery cocks her head to the side, and Seaweed rushes on, a courier of exposition-”she’s from Neon City. She’s really pretty and has a voice like an angel. I’ll play her for you sometime. Maybe Mom’s got some records.”

“Who?” calls Pastel from the restroom.

“Pandora Spring!” replies Seaweed.

“She sounds lovely!” calls back Pastel.

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“We should go to a concert,” says Flannery. “Of Pandora, or anyone, really.”

“Maybe we should throw our own,” says Seaweed, and Flannery claps her hands in delight.

“Oh, that sounds wonderful!” she cries.

Blanca doesn’t turn around.

She’s never seen her daughter smile.

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Later that evening, when Seaweed has gone and the girls are outside building a snowman, Blanca scoots out of her chair. She runs a hand through her ivory hair and sighs. Her back burns beneath her sweaty shirt. “A hot shower,” whispers Blanca to herself. “It’ll calm me down. Fix my back. Maybe me.”

She steps into the bathroom, but before she can turn on the water, sharp pain stabs her abdomen. Liquid, red and sticky and wholly frightening, seeps through her jeans. “No, no, no,” Blanca repeats. “No, no, no, no.” She slides her pants to the floor and reaches a hand inside her underwear.

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And then she screams, and screams, and screams, and as she screams, her daughters place the head on their snowman king. “He’s lovely,” says Pastel with a smile. “Probably not as lovely as Pandora Spring, though. D’you think we’ll ever meet her?”

Flannery thinks for a moment. “Maybe.”

Pastel narrows her eyes and puts her hands on her hips. “Do you hear that? Someone’s screaming.”

“It’s just a party, I’m positive.”

“Or a murder,” giggles Pastel. The girls collapse in a giggling heap. “So silly,” laughs Pastel, “I’m so silly. So, so silly.”

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Inside, Blanca cradles her newborn child. “Boston Dove,” she says, squeezing the baby’s chocolate arm. She wonders vaguely where his color comes from, but decides not too worry about it too much. His eyes shine red, like Rouge’s, and his nose sits wide, like hers. A gurgle escapes his lips. Suddenly, a strange tenderness comes over her-a warmth like that of a fireplace on a winter’s night. She smiles down at the child. “Welcome to Orchard, Boston Dove,” she says. “I hope you’ll be ruthless. Only the strongest survive, little one. Your father taught me that, and I’ll teach it to you.”

Little Boston vomits on her blouse.

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Outside. Flannery wraps a tattered yellow scarf around the snowman’s fat neck. Pastel shoves rocks in his face. Two for his eyes, three for his mouth. A carrot nose is propped between them. “You know,” says Flannery as she fastens a stick to his side, “the screaming’s stopped.”

“Then the murder’s finished,” laughs Pastel.

“You’re hilarious,” says Flannery. The cattails’ shadows crosses her face, and she smiles at her sister, extending a friendly bare hand. “Mama would want us in bed now. Want to buy some magazines?”

                            

Crystal Castles – “Vanished

A/N: Look forward to an heir vote later today! Just a quick note on how I’m doing heirs, though:

First, each heir has a different roll. This is to increase the variety between heir choices, and allow the spares to be fleshed out more. HOWEVER, the roll won’t be explicitly revealed until after the vote!

Second, heirship will be assumed not at young adulthood, but when the previous generation has completed all of their rolls, whether that be child, teen, or young adult, unless the story demands a time skip. 🙂

Oh man, I am so excited for this heir vote! It’ll be open until Saturday and will also have the next generation’s spouse color on it, too. Thanks for reading!

1-13: Dreaming

Warning: Contains mild sexual content and language

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Three minutes pass as she sits, frozen, her fingers still glued to the keys. During the second minute, the knocking stutters to a stop, and as the third falls to the fourth, footsteps begin to stomp heavily towards the street. In a flash, Blanca is at the window. She fiercely rubs her steamy breath from the glass; as the window clears, her lips turn to a surprised smile. She reaches for her coat and runs out the door. “Wait!” she cries, nearly tripping over her frozen bicycle. “Don’t go!”

She catches up to him and throws her arms around his neck as if he is a savior of the swamp, or a strong antibiotic. But instead he is a statue, stiffly gripping his rainbow umbrella. She pretends not to notice. “Hello,” says Rouge slowly, enunciating each word as if practicing for his inauguration speech. “How are you?”

“I missed you,” Blanca murmurs into his neck. It is snowing, and the flakes melt on her warm cheeks. Her freckles are crying, Rouge thinks. He shifts uncomfortably. Blanca raises her shining eyes to his.  “I forgive you now.”

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“I need to talk to you,” he says, though he can’t recall what about. He hardly remembers why trekked down Blanca’s backwoods lane. Three hours home and he hasn’t even crawled, like a spoiled child, into Velvet’s arms. It’s not like she called me while I was gone, he thinks bitterly, but he loves her all the same. His thoughts hesitantly return to Blanca. She smiles hopefully.

“Then talk. I haven’t had adult conversation in seven years,” she laughs a sputtering laugh. For a moment, Rouge thinks she’s coughing up her intestines. Blanca continues. “I’m willing to listen.”

“Let’s go inside, then,” says Rouge, pulling his sunglasses from his pocket and sliding them over his eyes. He toys around his pocket for a moment, then frowns; a strange smile quickly replaces it. Blanca cocks her head to the side. “Come on,” Rouge urges. “Let’s go.”

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She smiles back hazily and starts towards the house. Rouge waits for a moment. He glances back at the road behind him. Snow already fills his tracks.

He follows Blanca inside. They shake the snow from their shoes and hang their coats on the doorknob. Rouge stares at Blanca, and Blanca stares at Rouge. “There’s something I’ve been meaning to tell you,” says Rouge impulsively. He tools around in his pants pocket, and discovers what he’s been looking for. “In the city, I got a gift for-”

Blanca closes the space between them in three strides, throws her arms around his neck, and presses her lips and body to his. She squeezes her eyes shut. She doesn’t-she can’t-want to see his reaction, because if she sees the hurt in his eyes and the words in his throat, the world, no, the goddamn universe, will cease to exist. No explosions, no murder. A simple, mindless, effortless vanishing.

Stiffly, her hips lay against his. Her fingers hang, like winter’s brittle icicles, from his broad shoulders. His lips freeze over beneath hers, but she remains, a wax figurine, poorly melded into all of his nuanced crevices. His sunglasses form a crease in her forehead, but she could care less. All that matters is that he is here; he is here, and the whether he returns for business or pleasure or broken hearted loneliness-oh, she could care less! She walks through a dream of summer breezes. The sky blooms in isolated technicolor. The tomatoes pull their vines towards the sun soaked earth. And inside them is Rouge, redheaded Rouge with the perpetual sunglasses. Sunspots dapple their lenses. She is broken, and in her summer dream, he outshines the sun, and his failings.

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Rouge shivers. A draft seeps through the windowpanes. Blanca doesn’t move. Rouge pushes his hands against her bony hips and her lips part from his, slightly open, slightly distraught.

He sees the danger in her eyes and, with an inward sigh, leans forward and brushes his lips against her cheek. Her freckles seem to crawl inside his cold mouth; the floor drops below Rouge. He pictures Velvet, and she is frowning. He kisses Blanca again. She responds with heightened ferocity. She nibbles his lip, and Rouge wonders if her teeth represent her revenge. Spirit. She’s not irreparable, thinks Rouge, and the situation hopelessly, irrevocably shifts.

“How do I fix you?” Rouge asks suddenly, breaking away from her hungry tongue.

“I just want to be close to you.” She buries her head in his shoulder.

“I don’t know if I can do that.” Velvet’s face again. Her scowl envelops her chin.

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“You did it once.”

“And you forgave me.”

“I did.”

“Why?”

“I don’t know. It’s better to forgive and be together than to hate you alone,” she sighs. “I could never really hate you. Loneliness robbed me of that.”

“I’m sorry.” An awkward pause. Blanca traces a finger down Rouge’s forearm. He clears his throat. “I can’t leave something broken until it starts coughing up its insides”-he chuckles-”because, well, then it’s off to the dump.”

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“I don’t care about the dump,” says Blanca, suddenly fiercely honest. “I want you and all of your life and conversation and the togetherness that brings. You won’t stay the night. I know that by now. But you can at least sit with me a while, can’t you? For old times’ sake?”

“I’m not lonely,” says Rouge, but he wraps his arms around her waist. She’s not gone yet.

Blanca chokes out a laugh. Her nails dig into his wrist. She rests her head on his chest and smiles sadly. He holds her there, a deserted island in the middle of a snowstorm, with trembling hands. Outside, the snow whirls past the windows, and the trees bow under the icicles weight. The lake freezes over; the corpses thaw in their graves.

Blanca, finally. “I missed you.”

“I can’t stay.”

A song, crackley and faded like the static she once heard it through, flickers into her mind. The tune escapes her mouth like vomit. “But baby it’s cold outside,” she sings softly. Her voice cracks.

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Rouge chuckles. “I just came here to..” He doesn’t really remember why, and can hardly bother to find an excuse. The ring in his pocket, he remembers. Not for her, but for the aquatic eyes, those muted eyes… He sees Velvet, and she is crying, freshly, like the day he left.

“To see me?” asks Blanca hopefully. She kisses him again.

Rouge closes his eyes. “I wanted to…” Again he can’t say it.

She kisses him again. His eyes remain shut. She tugs at his hand, pulling him towards the bed, undoing his belt buckle. “Shit,” he whispers. “Shit.”

Blanca tucks his sunglasses in his pants pocket, then pulls them to the floor. Her eyes smile sadly at him and her lips brush his collarbone as his shirt crawls over his head…

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She never learns.

She never forgets.

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An hour later, she awakes, alone. Bones heavy and eyelids soft with sex and sleep, she swings her legs over the side of the bed. Her fingers grip the sheets. She bends over and reaches for her underwear, then slides them up over her aching hips. She wonders where the girls are. Probably in their room, she thinks. A sigh. They’ll never meet their father. Another sigh. And I think th-that’s okay.

A rustling by the window. Blanca throws her hands over her chest. The shooter from the other night, it’s him, isn’t it? Ready to kill the suffering survivor, ready to end twenty years of lonely, ready to evade the law and strike down the cornered albino. There’s no law in the city of the dead. Blanca squeezes her eyes shut, and braces herself for the final blow

It never comes.

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“It’s just me,” says Rouge, and Blanca breathes a sigh of relief. “I was just waiting to say goodbye.”

Her lip trembles. All relief sinks through the floorboards. Confidently, unconfidently: “I’m not surprised.”

“You’ll hear from me again.” He pulls on his clothes while Blanca ponders.

“Do I even want to?”

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Rogue pulls his phone from his pocket-an idea!-and hands it to Blanca. “Here,” he says, “this might help.”

“What is it?”

“Take a picture. To remember this. Just, erm, hit the center button.”

Pleasantly surprised, she grabs his hands and arranges them on her waist, then drapes her arm around his shoulder. Blanca kisses him softly and squeezes her eyes shut as the flash goes off. Rouge immediately disentangles himself. The phone returns to his hands, and he presses a button on the side. An image slides from a slot on its bottom, and he hands it to Blanca. “It’s a really smartphone-newest model,” he explains.

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Blanca nods vacantly. She holds the picture tightly in her hands. Another random, pointless act of pity, she knows. Her bed will remain forever empty. To reaffirm this to herself, she nods once more, pathetically.

Rouge nods back and steps out the door, into the wild, into the black magic Orchard.

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Blanca hangs the picture on the wall beside her bed.

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She stumbles to bed and curls up beneath the ratty covers. Her breathing slows as the minutes turn to hours. Sleep comes as the snow falls in droves beneath her windows. In the sky, a flicker. Next door, Flannery and Pastel dream about the strange man who passed by their window. Pastel dreams of an apple orchard and the red haired man, toothily offering her a Gala apple from the bottom of a rucksack. Flannery dreams of the coastal city, of the man lurking around every corner, waving his red flag in front of every passing car.

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Dawn. Blanca awakes. Her stomach screams and coils in on itself. Blanca nearly cries out herself. She staggers to the toilet and falls to her knees. Purple and black watercolor bruises begin to bloom. Her back arches and nails scratch the tile as her insides empty into the bowl. Her vomiting echoes through the whitewashed bathroom-a horrible retching, like duct tape ripped from human flesh. Tears slip down her face. Another burning heave. Ease. A shaking hand wipes a trace of vomit from her mouth. She stands up slowly. Her hips burn. Her lower lip quivers. “Not again,” whispers Blanca.

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She flushes the toilet and buries her head in her hands.

                                      

St. Vincent – “Cruel

A/N: Sorry for the long break between updates.. I’ve had some really bad health problems these past six weeks, and just when I thought I was through, my arm gets infected. Anywho, only like two weeks left of school (and like four massive projects due, huzzah), and then I’ll try to be updating weekly.

On another note, Blanca’s generation is nearly to a close! An heir vote will be up in a chapter or two. We’ve got to do it early, because it totally determines how Blanca’s generation will end and how much crazy’s going to go down in the finale. 🙂 AND I haven’t forgotten about the 1000 pageview special! I’m just waiting to write it until summer, when I’ll have more time and more energy to plot like a madwoman.

But wait, there’s more! I’m sorry I’ve fallen behind on a lot of your stories, and plan to get caught up this long weekend, if I don’t spend it watching Arrested Development 24/7.

Thanks for reading!

1-12: Mothers, Daughters

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Blanca is dreaming. She is walking along a long, seemingly endless bridge, and beside her plods a grey skinned man, puffing on the nub of a cigarette. The sun shines, pale and grim and tirelessly bitter, on them. She turns to speak to the man, squinting in the bright light, but he offers only his profile and a thin spiral of smoke. She glances down at the concrete, then back to his hooked nose. Again he stares straight ahead. “Mister,” she begins and falters. “Mister…”

The nub has burned down to his fingernail; he raises his index finger to his lips and takes a drag. “It’s not big deal,” he says, lips unmoving. “We don’t need names, not in this place.”

“I named my children,” says Blanca. “I named them years ago, when the sun still shone.”

“The sun’s shining right now.” His knuckles drip with ash.

“Your hand-”

“What about yours?”

Blanca looks at her hands. They’re not there; a pair of stumps stares up at her. “I suppose I don’t have any,” she says, and the man look at his own and begins to wail, wail, wail.

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Blanca awakes with a jolt. Her youngest, Pastel, flails about in her crib, screaming as if the house were being invaded by the Vanishing itself. “Shut up!” snaps Blanca. Pastel screeches louder, and then Flannery chimes in. “Shut up!!”

She pulls the covers over her head and curls her knees to her chest. “I was happier alone,” she whispers, and as the children begin to crawl and grow hair and tap on xylophones, she is still whispering it. Even as she holds them in her arms, tugs up their diapers, and tosses them bottles-the like of which she discovered in the grocery store, still as pristine as the day they rolled out of the factory, only spoiled when her daughters mash their nippes inside their sticky mouths. “Happier alone,” repeats Blanca as she tosses one in the trash. “Happier alone.”

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Some days, the children send smiles shivering up Blanca’s spine. Flannery taps on the xylophone, and it reminds Blanca vaguely of a song her mother used to hum. She sings along to the meandering, childish ditty. Pastel laughs to the beat, and suddenly the whole little family is laughing, and it’s as if outside doesn’t exist, as if the town never vanished, as if Rouge was never born. Blanca loves these days, playing conductor behind the frostbitten windows. She can forget Rouge and his snip-snapped promises, the mysterious Velvet, and the bodies that should be lining the streets. All is well. The night creeps in; even with twin toddlers, she still finds time for Orchard’s secrets. She muses on them almost daily, and records her thoughts on her computer before she falls to fitful sleep.

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The worst days are when she cannot write. Either Pastel is picking the leaves from the watermelon or Flannery’s diaper is leaking or the goddamn toilet is jammed, and the whole day crumbles around her ankles. As she fixes the toilet she remembers that Rouge once sat upon its snow white seat. As she shoos Pastel from the planters she remembers snapping at Rouge for perusing her papers-had that made him leave? And the wondering nearly drives her mad. The baby cries, and she, in her perpetual state of utter disconnect, mindlessly changes the diaper. Outside, the garden beckons and the autumn air demands Blanca’s presence, but instead she thrusts a bottle in Pastel’s flushed face, and the baby cries.

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In the absence of intelligent conversation, Blanca begins to speak with herself and her babbling babies. “What would Rouge do?” she wonders as she toys with Flannery’s hair. She’s forgotten to feed the children again, and Flannery wails her disapproval. Blanca purses her lips. “He’d probably leave you in the middle of nowhere, just like he and my mama’s friend did to me. Would you like that, baby Flannery, with your strange black hair? Would you?”

Flannery sobs unintelligibly.

“I didn’t like it,” answers Blanca. “I didn’t like it one bit. And neither would you, I bet.” She briefly considers leaving her daughters in town square-maybe the waving hand in the grey car would swoop them to safety?-but decides against it. They’d almost be as bad off as they are today, quivering under the care of their vacant mother.

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Flannery squeals once more, and Blanca sighs. “I never meant to be your mom,” she says bluntly.

Across the room, Pastel screams. “I’ll get the bottles,” mumbles Blanca. “It’s the least I can do.”

Years whiz by in this tumultuous, rollercoaster manner, and only the safety straps keep the family from plummeting to certain death. Pastel’s sobs mark the beginning of each new day, and Flannery’s snores see the previous out. Blanca sleepwalks through it all. Her stumbles are punctuated by a sentence typed in a haze, a scramble of letters scrawled on the bed sheets. In the space of a sleepy blink, her children crawl to their feet and scramble through the house like baboons. Words, not unlike Blanca’s, spew from their mouths at an alarming rate. Their mother can hardly respond to their questions about her favorite color, the records under the turntable, and strange humming rising over the horizon. Blanca can only counter them with three succinct answers.

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The first. Pastel approaches Blanca with brows furrowed tightly. “Mama,” she asks, “why don’t we leave the house?”

Like her mother before her, Blanca says, “Because the boogey-man loves to eat red haired children.”

This does not work well on Pastel, who simply scoffs and stalks to the garden. Flannery, however, only sighs at the ageless excuse.

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The second. This time it is Flannery who approaches, the xylophone mallet still dangling from her fingertips. “Mama,” she asks, “how old are our records?”

“Older than me,” replies Blanca, “and older than you.”

Flannery nods slowly, and without another blink returns to the realms of classic rock and smooth jazz.

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The third. Pastel, again. “Mama,” she asks, “why’s the house all in white? Where’s the red for me, and the black for Flannery?”

“If we could afford to paint, we would.”

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After years of unanswered questions, the girls turn to each other for answers. When the lights go off and the moon shines bright, Blanca catches hints of hushed voices and muted replies from their room next door. A pang shoots up her chest. Across town, a gunshot. She yanks the blankets over her head and squeezes her pale eyes shut. The girls scream. Silence, thick as the sewage running through the swamp, follows. Blanca grinds her knees together and her nails into her shoulders. “Not since the city,” she whispers.

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In the morning, only a thrush hails in the new day. Blanca eases her bones from her bed, stretching her arms over her head as her feet hit the cold hardwood. Goosebumps prickle her exposed belly. She shivers and peers out the window. Frost coats the ground like a security blanket. A yellow school bus waits on the dirt road.

Blanca’s lip trembles. Slowly, mechanically she retreats to the dresser, and throws on a coat and pants. She tugs on her shoes at the door, then slips outside.

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Her daughters already stand in the icicle garden. The bus driver pokes his head from the window and waves to them with a gloved hand. His gaze shifts to Blanca, and she shyly raises her hand. “We’ve finally got the school up and running,” he calls to her.

“Who are you?” she asks. “What has happened to Orchard?”

“Progress,” he grins toothily. “Things will pick up after winter, I promise. This town will come back to life before your vegetables.”

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Before Blanca can reply, Pastel says, “Come on, Flan, it’ll be fun. A real adventure!”

Flannery smiles. “Let’s go,” she replies, and for the first time in their lives, they leave their home, tightly gripping each other’s hands, not glancing once behind them.

“We’ll keep them safe,” calls the bus driver to Blanca.

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“But what about me?” mumbles Blanca. The bus driver closes the doors behind her daughters. The bus pulls away, a trail of smoke puffing out from its tailpipe, and huffs down the road, over the hill, and out of sight. Now completely alone, Blanca has nothing to do but return inside. She settles at her computer and rests her fingers on the keys. Her eyelids flutter open and confused shut until her head falls to her hands and a little snore escapes her nostrils.

An hour later, she awakes to a pounding on the door.

                                                  

Belle & Sebastian – “Mary Jo

A/N: I absolutely love this song. It really sums up Blanca’s generation and how it will progress. There’s only around five more chapters left of this generation! These next ones are really going to pick up the plot and drive Blanca’s story to an end, and provide some more development for Flan and Dove, too. Beeteedubs, sorry for the break between this update and the last. My birth control has been making me very sick lately. I’m considering going off of it at the end of this cycle. Bleh.

On another note, there’s loads of extra moments between the kids and Blanca that I couldn’t work in the chapter, but will definitely be uploading to my Simblr! Check it out if you want to see some adorable pictures of everybody. 🙂

Another beeteedubs: the pageview special poll is still going on, so if you haven’t voted yet, please head over there! Voting ends Wednesday.

Thank you so much for reading!