Monday, April 30, 2018

Chapter 143: The Good Twin


In the aftermath of the horrible full moon incident, Holland's terrified father has doubled his efforts to enforce self-control and obedience in his pack... or rather, just in Holland.

For scratching the computer desk, Holland has to get up every morning at dawn to water the garden.



For getting in a fight at school, he has to do everyone's laundry. For the foreseeable future.




For accusing Luke Lau-Landgraab of having a "weird aura", he has to wash the dishes every night.




Feeding Larry and cleaning Larry's cage is just a random chore assigned to teach responsibility.

If Larry is happier in Holland's room than he was in the barn, he cannot express it.




Every full moon after the first bad one goes roughly the same way. Holland wakes up the morning after with fuzzy memories of going into the woods with his father with camping supplies, only to transform into some angry beast that howls at the moon and sniffs trees and digs in the filthy dirt.

Someone, either his mother or his father, must have washed him up a bit while he was unconscious and dressed him in cozy pajamas, but somehow that doesn't make it any better. It just makes it more humiliating.



Holland has become sensitive to every smell, whether in were form or not, and has decided he hates most of them. The first thing he does after school is run for the bathtub.

"I think Sev's real dad is my mom's boss," he confides in the rubber duck. He's not supposed to spill random insights like that, so he doesn't tell anyone about their 'weird auras' anymore... thought he gets a strange pleasure from sharing the secrets with inanimate objects.



Dysen gets to tell people about their "auras" all the time, but it's usually nonsense designed to make a quick simoleon and ensure a returning customer.



Today's situation is a bit different. Craft sent Dysen to deal with a Ms Jill Marchesi, the owner of this charming villa. She reportedly thinks her home is haunted, and wants to hire "one of the mystical types" to appease the angry spirits.




Dysen can tell right away the house isn't haunted. Marchesi made up all the stories about shadowy figures, and about sinister voices, and about cold water from the faucet spontaneously turning to scalding water. It's just a bid for attention in an otherwise dull life, and a hope that notoriety will make the property worth more.



Depressingly, Marchesi has her young daughter believing every creak in the old house is an angry spirit advancing on them. Little Suzetta is a nervous mess, and can barely sleep at night.




Dysen considers his options. He could deny the villa is haunted, but Jill wouldn't accept that. She would continue to lie to herself and her daughter.



So, he sits down on a rug (a rug he claims "has seen some things") and fake-meditates to pretend to speak to the angry spirits that don't exist. It would be good business to come up with a reason he can only appease the spirits "temporarily", thus necessitating he should return every once in a while to perform a fake but pricey therapy ritual, but he's too disgusted by how worked up and frightened the child is to go through with something like that. He spins a tale tailored to make Jill happy—one full of drama, tragedy, forbidden love and scandaland claims to have banished the spirits for good.



Suzetta hugs Dysen and thanks him.

Yet for the first time, he feels a little bad about the job.




Apollo and Sev's homework arrangement still stands. As he's aged, his mother has only gotten more dismissive of his existence, and he delays going home for as long as possible. Polly's parents don't mind when she insists he stays over for dinner, though Molly is perplexed as to why they aren't plotting to go to prom together. Sev seems like Polly's closest friend and all.

"My mom asked me if you were gay, can you believe that?" Apollo grumbles. "It's like people think a man and a woman cannot be just friends."

"Did you tell her about my plan to become a travel writer and bang exotic foreign chicks?"

"No. I did not tell her about your creepily planned out life."

"Hey, somebody's got to plan my life. Otherwise I'll be stuck in this same town, living with my mom... except she'd kick me out because I make her feel old." Sev would have had a much happier childhood if Cara Selmone had just told her ex about the twins he fathered, but she was too proud for that, and Sev can't wait to escape his jerk brother and ditzy mother... the only family he's ever known he has.

Sev and Polly have been plotting ways to escape Monte Vista for a long time. But while he's latched on to writing and has been working hard to make his plans a reality, Polly can't decide what she wants to do. She considered the military—soldiers willing to be shipped to other bases often are, to handle training and issues that arise due to so few sims in the military—but the military has so many rules and strict hours, it doesn't seem like any fun.



"So did you ask Zag to prom yet?" Severino interrupts her thoughts about the future.

Polly grins. "Not yet! I thought I'd be nice and give you your chance first..."

"Me? A lowly commoner with The Great Zag Ziggfield? Please."





Apollo keeps herself in shape, just in case she changes her mind about the military.





"I shall extend The Olive Branch!" Olive Whitfield does a little spin to cast her level 99 peace spell (which is actually just sparkly lights that do nothing), only to come face to face with her father. "...Ack!"



Dysen stares at his daughter, his jaw dropped open but no speech bubble coming out. Holland, complicit in the playtime shenanigans but ignored for the moment, begins to chew on his nails... even though he's wearing gloves.

Olive poofs the incriminating wand out of her hand. "Oh no, how did that get there? We can't really prove it was ever there."

"You have disappointed me," her father says.

He then strolls into the house without administering any tangible punishment whatsoever.



"Did that just happen?" Holland complains.





Apollo ends up going to prom with Zag.

"Such a radiant dress, on a radiant lady."

"Thanks! Nice shoulder pointy things."

"I agree. They are glorious and I had to have them."



It takes a really high self-confidence roll to show up to prom wearing this.




Anyway! Prom is uneventful for Apollo. She dances with Zag and drinks punch. Jane Toledo and Samuel Lu-Poirot are crowned prom queen and king. Sev attends with Lydia Lu, mutual friend and Sam's half-sister, but doesn't have much to say about his date when prom ends.

"He intentionally tripped me up, in front of everyone," Sev complains instead about his twin brother, Valerio. "Who does that?"

Apollo giggles. "I'm sure Lydia understands. You're the good twin."



"I never fight with my twin," Olive inserts herself into the teens' conversation.

"I guess that makes you the good twin," Sev says.




Zag and Apollo are dating by the end of the week, but despite his choice of venues—the expensive club Danza, for example—the two keep it casual. A night out once in a while, a shy kiss or three. Zag is focused on his private music and singing classes, bent on becoming a professional musician, and has little time for the normal frivolities of the teen scene.




Still, he likes to have fun when he can fit it into his schedule, and he's attracted to Apollo.




As the night of the next full moon draws closer, Holland has trouble falling asleep at night.




So he climbs out of bed and... just kind of stares at the fire downstairs for a while.




The full moon is not until tomorrow night, but Holland is so stressed out thinking about it, he changes early. To say he's used to the transformation by now would be a lie, but he is more experienced, and manages to keep the agonized howl totally silent as not to wake his family.



 The boy crouches, taking in his surroundings with altered senses. He hears the shrew in the cage behind him, awakened by the magical light show most likely. It's tiny feet pad against the aspen chips in its cage as it approaches the glass. Holland scowls. "Your cage smells HORRIBLE, Shadow."



Anyway, all the staring-at-fire gave Holland a craving for marshmallows. He recruits a partner in crime so it's not too lonely sitting up, defying bedtime.

Olive shivers in the cool autumn night air. "I like how Mom and Dad bought you weird were-owl PJs."

Holland looks down at himself. The brownish green owls are almost passable as cute animals, but the red ones have black eyeballs and especially devilish horns. "Ugh."

Olive smiles. "Your eyes shine in the darkness like stars."

Holland blinks. "...Huh?"



Dysen chooses this second to storm outside to yell at Holland for not being in bed. "How are you supposed to concentrate in school tomorrow if you're up at 3AM?!"

"How am I supposed to concentrate in school tomorrow when I have to turn into a werewolf tomorrow?!" Holland yells back.



"Don't even! Not one more word! You're grounded!"

"I was essentially grounded tomorrow anyway!" Holland's retort sounds a little silly; he hasn't gotten the hang of enunciating around the fangs yet.

"Get to bed!"



Holland screeches, spinning around to claw at the chair he was sitting in before he stood up to argue with his father. "You wouldn't punish me if I was my sisters!"

Olive stays wide-eyed and frozen, holding a marshmallow up to her mouth without ever eating it.

"You're being unreasonable," Dysen objects.



"I hate you!" Holland screams.

Dysen stares, confounded. Isn't this how his father dealt with things? His father always reasoned with him somehow. Why isn't it working? "Turn back to normal and stop making a fool of yourself."

"No!"

"Holland. I'd ground your sister if I was in any way concerned she'd screw up and bring us unwanted attention. I'd ground your sister if she were a werewolf who could lose control over something as simple as not enough sleep. When Molly told me about Olive's magic, at first I thought she'd be as impulsive and as difficult to control as you. But for the most part, she's responsible. She understands why I ask her to do things. You're just convinced I'm out to get you. Stop being such a child."



The transformation leaves Holland feeling weak and helpless. He runs back into the house, crying.




"I wish you wouldn't scream at the children," Molly admonishes her husband, once she's calmed their son down.

"I'm sorry, Molly. It's just... I get so worried, it's hard to think rationally."

She glares, obviously not understanding. "If you were worried about him, you wouldn't raise your voice like that. It scares him."

"That's not fair..."



"How? How is it not fair?"

"Seriously?" Dysen rolls his eyes. "You got a man killed because you were scared for your kid."

"Oh, now it's about me?"



"I'm just saying, bad decisions don't mean we don't care."



"As long as you admit yelling is a bad decision."



"I admit it. I'm sorry." Anything to make this painful conversation be over.




_______________________________________________________________
Etc.: not a single cat picture. awful chapter.

7 comments:

  1. Aw I feel bad for Holland. Both he and Dysen have good points; I hope his teen years aren't even harder on him...

    And oh Molly. I can see her childishness a little bit in that last conversation. But I get her point, seeing your child struggle so much and then him being reprimanded for it must be hard.

    I wonder what they'll do about Olive's magic?

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    1. I'd feel bad for Holland too. Even if you wanted to trivialize what he's going through ("superpowers and some chores? big deal!") his emotional suffering is intense and very real for him. It's hard to watch a child have self esteem issues.

      I don't think any of the characters here are 100% right or wrong. They all approach a situation from their different perspectives and, in the heat of the moment, have difficulty seeing things from the other person's point of view.

      The real question isn't what *they* will do about Olive's magic... it's what will *Olive* do about her magic? ;)

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  2. I can't believe I haven't commented on this chapter yet! I read it eagerly as soon as you posted it and have been thinking about poor Holland since then, but somehow I forgot to type those thoughts out until now (this morning I woke up with a start when I remembered!)

    I wish Dysen would teach Holland how to embrace and control the werewolf state instead of trying to punish him for something that's not the child's fault. His argument that Olive is more responsible is really unfair - Holland does all these chores and even the laundry (!!) while Olive plays around with magic OUTSIDE. That's just as likely to attract attention. I'm with Molly in that yelling is not the answer, though her hands-off approach is probably not right either. Poor Holland :(

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    1. Molly wants everything to be perfect and happy rainbows with her family, Dysen is terrified and wants them safe. He trusts Olive because he's psychic and he knows she has taken his warnings seriously (even though she thinks she can sneak things under his and everyone else's radar) while all Dysen senses from Holland is resentment. Is that fair? ... Well, no, not really, but Dysen thinks it is.

      Holland was also supposed to rake leaves, but the trees never turned, lol.

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    2. Oooh, okay, somehow I forgot about the psychic part! Most parents assume they know what their kids are thinking, but Dysen is actually right XD I guess that makes things different. Still, poor Holland! That kid does more chores than I do.

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  3. Yeah, I'm agreeing with Holland more and more. Olive was up past bedtime too, and she wasn't yelled at. I know Dysen has reason for that, but from a kid's perspective it's just not fair.

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    1. Leave it to a psychic to somehow miss how their own actions are misinterpreted by those close to them, eh?

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