2.4 – Failed

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Get out of bed. You’re turning into your husband.

That was a horrible thought. But at least the first part was correct, because I had to get out of bed, get Farrah ready for preschool and Eli ready for school, while Lachlan slept. As usual, these days.

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I’d let him rest. I heard him pacing and muttering last night, but I can go to sleep straight through it nowadays.

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I just wanted today to be a good day. I mentally crossed my fingers and hoped that Lachlan gets an interview back and finishes some job applications and that Elias is happy and follows his routine without any backtalk. I thought about Dianne and Brice and how I wished they’d have a half-decent day so I wouldn’t go to bed thinking about the state of my best friend’s marriage on top of everything else. I just want everyone to be OK. I love them so much…

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And you have failed them.

Not…yet. And I have my own life to worry about. I’m an important person with my own needs too, as my old therapist told me. But this is my family…they’re the most valuable people to me! I don’t know most of who I’d be without them.

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I still can’t make it better. I can’t make Elias or Lachlan happy. I can’t even stop Farrah’s tantrums half the time. All I’m good at doing right now is running the Lotus Flower…but that was never my only goal in life. I don’t want to be absent from my family, I just want them to feel better…wouldn’t it be so much easier if you just left them alone? You’re no good anyway.

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Shaking my head at the horrible thought, as if that would make it leave, I went to go wake my son.


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When I checked my phone between classes, I had three missed calls from Eli’s school. What the hell could that be?

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“This is Sarai Hayes, correct?”

“Speaking, what is the problem?”

“Your son has missed nearly one-quarter of his class periods since school started. Obviously this is very serious and we’d like to see you tonight at-”

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I froze. Eli was missing school? But Lachlan or I had dropped him at the gates every day since school started! He’d go in – we saw it! Annoyance bubbled up inside me – why do you have to cause so much trouble, Eli, this isn’t what I wanted!

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I wanted a kid…whatever that may bring. It’s brought this, I suppose. My nails dug into my palm and I took several breaths.

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“I’m sorry to hear that. We will of course be speaking with him about this behaviour.” I robotically managed. “Call my husband about the meeting.” I told her. “I’m very busy today.”

“Ah…right…your husband.” said the woman in an awkward tone. “I thought…right.” This wasn’t the first time I’d been mistaken for a single mother. Thanks, Lachlan, and your inability to just name the kid normally.

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“Yes. You have his details. Call him.”

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Lachlan can deal with this. He doesn’t deal with anything else anyway!

…Apart from depression over losing his job. I’m an awful wife – hell, a straight-up fucking vile person – for thinking that way. Besides, he started taking medication again and got therapy lined up for the next couple months. Yet I still kept on resenting him up until now. What’s wrong with me?

You know exactly what…

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I’ve known for years that self-destructively bathing in the memories of my teens and early twenties is 100% a shitty idea…yet throughout the day, I kept on doing it.


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Lachlan stopped me before I opened Eli’s door. “He’s doing some writing. He started yelling and crying and wouldn’t tell me anything. I think…we should let him cool off. Have a proper talk this weekend.” I could deal with that; it was already Thursday night.

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He set Farrah down and she made for her dollhouse. We headed to the bedroom to talk.

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“How was the meeting?” I asked.

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“God…they ranted on and on like he was some kind of malicious hell-raiser, doing this all for shits and giggles! But that’s not our Eli, sunshine…it can’t be.”

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I nodded my agreement. “I don’t think it is either. There’s something else going on. Maybe he needs another therapist…Jay’s great but he just focuses on his ADHD…”

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“I mentioned him seeing someone else. Big mistake.” Lachlan sighed and buried his face in his hand. “He said that he doesn’t like seeing the doctor and that he won’t go to another. It really set him off – what did I do wrong?”

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His voice was almost a whimper, and he was collapsing against me. I could tell he just didn’t have it in him to talk anymore. Maybe I should have given my classes to Shannon and not let my depressed husband deal with our angry, truanting son.

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Lachlan went straight to bed after taking his pill. He’d at least made some dinner, and there was a plate for me already in the microwave. So thoughtful…and all my thoughts about him had been bitchy and cruel today. My stomach squirmed in guilt…awful, you’re awful.


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Before going to bed myself, I checked my emails. It was the usual stuff – bank emails, work stuff, mailing lists I’d accidentally ended up on, random family news.

And something from a sender not in my contacts. A Nolan…Nolan Fox.

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Oh.

It felt like my heart fell right out of my chest there and then. A tear leaked out of my eye. My first son, the precious baby I gave up for both our sakes…he wrote to me himself…he’d be almost seventeen now. It couldn’t be anyone else…I don’t know anyone else with that name!

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My mind filled up with awful scenarios. I made a mistake choosing Darren and Lela and they weren’t good to him. Or he wanted to chew me out for giving him away like nothing (although at the time he was everything…and has stayed in my thoughts to this day).

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Theorising like this just made me feel worse. All I could do was open the email.

Dear Mrs Hayes,

My name is Nolan Samuel Fox. I’ve known for a while that you are my birth mother. I’m sorry to bother you but my parents said last year that I could write to you myself if I chose to. And I finally decided to reach out. I just want to know more about where I came from.

Mom said you were nice, but that you seemed kinda alone, when you were pregnant with me? Sorry if that’s too much to say to a stranger…but if you were, I hope you’re not now. Hope you’re still nice though!

I know that over the years you read and replied to my mom’s emails, and that you’ve got pictures of me. So I guess you really did care about me – thanks. I also guess that you’d like to know if I’m happy or not – and I really am! My parents have been really great to me – really encouraging and supportive. They love me and I love them a lot…I’ll always see them as my parents. But if you wouldn’t mind it would be nice to get to know you a bit as well.

But I have a question. I hope you don’t mind answering or me asking. I just want to know – why did you give me up?

Regards,

Nolan Fox

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Dear Nolan,

This is Sarai. Thank you for reaching out. I’m glad to hear that you have such wonderful parents and that you’re happy. Yes, your mom had it right. I was alone when I had you. I’m not any more.

That has a lot to do with your question, in fact. I’m not really sure how to write it down. But I do want to give you as honest an answer as possible, believe me.

I would like to get to know you as well, but I will speak to your parents first, if that’s alright. Thank you again for your email.

Regards,

Sarai.

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2.3 – Don’t Wanna

I’m back sooner than I thought! Not sure how regular posts are gonna be but I had some sudden inspiration to get a bit of work done on this story! Hope y’all enjoy!

Also, C/W: Use of ableist slurs towards POV character in this one.

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There’s something wrong with me.

Of course the doctors already told me that last winter – ADHD – but now it’s SOMETHING ELSE wrong. So that’s TWO things wrong with me. At least.

Mom and Dad did everything I wanted this time cos I wrote all those dumb notes to their friends. The toys were pretty cool and I guess I kinda felt bad…

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Anyway then Dad made lasagne and brownies before Mom came home from putting Farrah at Auntie Kaylyn’s. So it was just us! We played loads of games…

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I got to eat loads of food and have soda!

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But it still felt kind of lame because the triplets weren’t there. I’ve known them forever but they’re really smart and I’m just NOT, even if Mom says I am. Whatever. Anyway, the triplets are always busy or maybe they just don’t wanna be around me cos I’m dumb but either way it makes me super lame.

Mom and Dad always taught me to be nice to everyone but all the kids in school just laughed at me. But then the triplets didn’t so I hung out with them for AGES but now I can’t anymore I guess. Boo.

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So I got sad at my new party and I didn’t wanna say anything but I think Mom noticed. She always figures out things like this and talks lots about feelings crap. I thought she was gonna do it but then she didn’t. I bet she does it tomorrow though.

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I don’t wanna have a talk! I just wanna be left alone! I want the triplets to want to hang out with me again! And I want mom and dad to stop fighting with each other! I can hear them downstairs. Farrah’s gonna wake up even though Mom said she needs to sleep lots cos she’s small.

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…I guess I can just sit with her until it stops.


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“Dad says we’re moving.” Baxter always talks first.

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“Something to do with Dad’s work.” Sadie said. “So we’re going to live in Riverview and go to school there. Sorry.”

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Flint shrugged. “Eh. It’ll probably be fun. I wanna get out of here anyway. Dad said we should tell you though.”

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“Well…thanks.” I couldn’t even talk right. Like Farrah. Even if the triplets talk about stuff I don’t understand and kinda laugh when I fail my homeworks because I forgot to do it or got distracted and did the wrong thing…I don’t want them to go! Who ELSE is there at school?

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“Anyway,” Sadie started going through Mom and Dad’s bookshelf and I didn’t know what to say! Mom always muttered angry stuff when I let them near it cos they take forever to give back her books. “Did your parents get anything new? I don’t get allowance until next week.”

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“We can’t take those, remember Sadie? Cos we’re gonna leave and we can’t steal Mrs Hayes’ books.” said Baxter.

“Oh.” Sadie frowned and put the book back. “What are we supposed to do then?”

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“I guess we’re gonna go home then.” Flint rifled through the stuff on the TV stand. “Where’s your phone?”

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“Kitchen.” I mumbled. Why can’t I talk right? Am I stupid? “But…you guys don’t have to go! We can play this new game I got – you have to put together a robot and-”

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“I can assemble a real circuit at home.” Baxter interrupted. “We’ll just go. See ya round, Eli.”

But I was NEVER gonna see them again. I just knew it.


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There’s sooooo many things on my stupid noticeboard! Cos I gotta go to school for fifth grade today and it’s the first day. Don’t really wanna go to fifth grade. Four grades is enough.

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Mom just rolled her eyes and gave me a bowl of weird oatmeal. I wanna decorate the table with it like Farrah is but Mom isn’t very happy right now. So I’ll try and eat SOME.

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Ew!

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“Eli…” Crap. There’s the I’m-mom-and-I-ruin-everything voice. “You – well, you don’t have time now.” At least she took away the gross oatmeal. But I had to put my book back and she said I couldn’t take it to school cos I’d just read it in class and not pay attention and forget things like I apparently always do which is what she said. Maybe I do, I dunno.


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“Hey. Spaz. Hey! Are you listening to me?” Casey yelled, waving his hand in my face. I thought he was gonna punch me. It’s so not fair! I WAS listening! I was just thinking as well.

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Liane and Aaron were giggling from across the classroom. The four of us are the ‘problem students’ according to every teacher ever but I’m not a problem on purpose like them! Anyway we all get paired together for work and stuff and it’s BAD.

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“Spaz!” Casey shoved me in the shoulder. Mom and Dad gave me a big lecture when I shoved him out of the chair last time so I didn’t do it this time. But I was so mad.

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“Eli’s such a retard.” Liane snickered.

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I hate fifth grade already. Mom said it’s too soon to say that cos it’s only been three days but I definitely hate it! Lots of kids, not just Aaron and Casey and Liane, call me ‘spaz’ and ‘retard’ now. I KNOW those are way worse than ‘weirdo’ or ‘dummy’. Doctor Jay said they shouldn’t be calling me that but what does he do anyway? He’s not here. He can’t make it stop.

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No-one did anyway even before they all told me about this ADHD thingy. The triplets used to just stand there.

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I guess they weren’t very nice friends. I said it to Mom in the summer and she made a huge deal and told me I could make better ones.

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None of the other kids want to be ’round me anyway.

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On Thursday I decided I was sick of this CRAP. So after Dad dropped me off I acted like I was gonna go sign in at school but then I RAN down four blocks to the old park. I don’t wanna be in school if everyone’s gonna be mean and my teachers make me work with Aaron or Casey or Liane.

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“Scram, kid.” said some way older boy. Even older than Colton and…Kaylyn’s daughter. I forgot again.

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“Aww.” This girl was COOING like people do to Farrah!

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I scowled. I’m not a baby!…Although I nearly cried last night so maybe I am.

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“How old is this brat? Seven? Eight?”

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“I’m ten!” I protested. I’m not THAT small! Or a brat…that’s Farrah!

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They all started jeering. “Ooh, ten! You’re really long in the tooth, kid!” What does that even mean? I touched my mouth and my teeth were still the right size. What?

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I ignored them and started playing on the monkey bars. They actually started being kinda nice and the girl said I was strong. And nobody called me mean names or made me do work or got annoyed when I didn’t do things in the ‘proper order’ like it says on my noticeboard.

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I decided I would stay there until lunch! PE is in the afternoons and I’m not bad at that and the mean kids pick on the REALLY weak kids instead of me.

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Dad asked me if I had a good day. I actually did…but parents ruin everything so I’m not telling him WHY I did cos I know it’s against the dumb rules. I’m totally going back to the park though!

 

 

Update

Hi everyone!

University is absolutely kicking my ass right now and between studying, working and having a social life, I’m having a hard time finding the motivation to play Sims. I have so much planned for this story but for now I will be officially on a break :(. Hope to come out with more soon.

2.2 – Effort

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It had been hard to keep my brave face on for the entire party. I had to act like our second celebrant wasn’t periodically running off and refusing to talk to anyone or look them in the eye.

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Sarai, calm down, there must be a reason for this, and you will talk to him as if there is one. There were still guests in the hall – Lotus Flower members at that – and besides, I’d always refused to yell at my children. This wasn’t even the worst thing Eli had done – no matter what he did, I wouldn’t break that rule. I swore it to myself years ago.

Lachlan and I had become bonafide experts in ADHD since his diagnosis in January. This wasn’t it. Something else was up. By the time everybody left, I was fuming at the kid. I’d tried so hard to put together some semblance of a celebration for him – I forwent my usual carob and coconut cake in favour of something way too creamy and sweet that I knew he’d like, I invited as many kids as possible…it wasn’t perfect but couldn’t he at least appreciate it!

Maybe I’d been selfish celebrating my own…no, it’s my birthday. I’m a person as well as a mother. It was OK to do this. But I’m still talking to Eli.


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“Elias Carson Hayes.” He was upstairs with one of the new toys he hadn’t even bothered thanking Bill and Charlotte for. “The party is over now.”

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He just gave me the most insolent look and mimed a ‘phew’ action – wiping his forehead with an exaggerated exhale.

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“Don’t look like that. What were you thinking this whole time? You didn’t talk to anyone. You didn’t even thank anyone for your nice gifts. What the hell has gotten into you, Elias?”

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“Maybe I didn’t want the dumb party.” he sneered. I clenched my fists, my nails digging into my palm – do not scream. Do not pull a Clarissa. You’re better than this.

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Taking several deep breaths, I continued. “I tried my best! I know it’s not exactly what you wanted but I did try! I invited some kids your age and I got your favourite cake! I’m sorry the triplets aren’t around for a party.” They got less likeable to me each year. Bart had straight up told me that they didn’t want to go to one of Elias’s parties. So I sucked it up and lied to my own kid. “But I did try, Elias.”

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He shrugged and sat on his bed. I followed. “Didn’t try hard enough.”

“No, Eli. That is not how you are to react to someone – anyone – making an effort for you.”

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“Fine!” he huffed. “Thanks I guess, Mom. Now leave me alone!”

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I didn’t budge an inch. “Why didn’t you like our party, Eli? Anger’s all gone. I’m not mad anymore.” I was, albeit less so, and finding out why Eli was acting out was more important.

“It was your party.” he mumbled. Aha, there’s something.

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“I know it was at first, but we went through this – I made it yours as well.”

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“Whatever!” He jumped up and stamped his foot. “You didn’t make it mine right! All the kids were horrible! It wasn’t fun. I did try and talk properly and make you and Dad happy.” he admitted, his voice breaking down into a sob. “But it wasn’t fun and I just got sad.”

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“Come here, Eli.” My heart lurched. I felt like the worst mother ever. “I’m sorry you were sad. I wish you would have said something instead of running off. But you know – if you’re sad you should just tell me instead of giving me attitude, hm? It’s better for both of us.”

“I don’t wanna be a baby.” he muttered.

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“You’re my baby, and I love you very much.” I rocked him from side to side, and he didn’t even try to wiggle out of it like he usually did for the past couple of years.

“Mushy, mom.” he said with a tiny scoff. I just laughed a little.

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“How about this?” I suggested. “We have a party of our own – me and you and Dad and maybe the triplets if they aren’t busy.” I already knew they would be. “Iris or Colton can watch Farrah for the night and Dad will make your favourite foods and we can do anything you like.”

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He instantly perked up. “Yes! But if the triplets come…don’t, like, be embarrassing…”

“Us?” I smirked. “Never. But there’s one condition.”

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Rolling his eyes, he sarcastically groaned, “Great!”

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“Look at these great presents!” Everybody had been so generous this year. I was still cringing a little inside because none of them got thanked. They must think I raised a really rude kid or something. “None of the people who gave them to you know why you ran off without saying thank you, so they’re going to wonder why. If you, over the next week, write them all thank you notes, we’ll have that party.”

He sighed. “OK, Mom. I’ll try.”

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“You’ll do it; I know you can.” I assured him. “Maybe we can put a little schedule on the board. There’s only…” I mentally counted. “Five. If you do one per night after all your homework, it’ll be like nothing – and you’ll have another party!”

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“OK.” he agreed. “Thanks Mom. And I’m sorry I got all freaked out.”


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“Thanks, Sarai. I know he liked it, don’t worry about it. I’m sorry about my tearaway kid.” Dianne was on the phone apologising for Caleb, who had spilled several drinks and tore down a set of string lights.

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“It’s alright, I expected this.” I said. “Seriously, don’t worry, Di. We both know that young boys don’t always behave right – look at Eli today!”

“Yeah, but he’s not just being a shit for the sake of it. I could tell he wasn’t too happy today…I really hope he settles. This whole ADHD thing is rough on him, I think.”

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“Yeah…” I sighed. My only plan for my kids is that they live happy lives, but even that simple thing seems quite difficult! “Eli hates being different like that. It’s been really hard. But y’know…hopefully he adjusts.” My son has never been good at taking big changes well. It took him a good couple months for him to even tolerate Farrah.

Of course, now he adores her…I don’t think he’ll ever love ADHD but hopefully he can accept and work through it.

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“Sarai, you’re a great mom, and we can all see how hard you try. It’s gonna be fine.” Dianne assured me. “I gotta go. Brice is leaving on another work trip. Sales conference in Pleasantview. See ya!”

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Now to clean up. I searched the entire downstairs for Lachlan, and when I couldn’t find him there, I went upstairs, even though I was sure he wouldn’t be there.

Except he was there, lying on our bed, facing away from me.

“I’m tired.” he immediately said.

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I shrugged. “So am I. We have to tidy, though.”

“This party was your idea.” he almost snapped. Rage welled inside me. Was he seriously gonna play that card with me? It was my idea but he said he wanted this too!

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“Are you serious, Lachlan?” I cried.

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“OK, I’m sorry. That was really shitty. But…I am just…exhausted. I don’t even feel like I can move. I’ll make it up to you.” He pulled the covers over himself and turned towards his front.

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He did look bad. He had since GreenBox downsized. I had a son sulking in his bedroom and a husband doing much the same one room over. Recently it felt like I was the only one trying in this house, spending my non-working hours holding my whole family up by a thread.

2.1 – Birthday

(Everyone’s ages – Sarai & Lachlan – 40, Elias – 10, Farrah – 3, Dianne – 42, Colton – 14, Caleb – 9, Clarissa – 70, Miles & Adela – 73)

(Also, sorry it’s been two weeks, tbh the reason there hasn’t been updates is because I bought a Switch and got really obsessed with it for a while because I haven’t had a console in so long. But I’m back working on this story now. Hope you enjoy!)


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When I went downstairs Dad was facepalming about something but then pretended like he wasn’t. Maybe he doesn’t want this party either. “Eli!” he said. “If you set the table in five minutes, we’ll let you have two pieces of Mom’s cake, OK?”

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It’s still pretty annoying that they’re so flipping obvious about doing what the doctor told them. I was almost tempted to pretend like I ‘got distracted’ and stop setting the table on purpose! Then I wouldn’t get cake though, and that’s the only good thing about this stupid party.

I’m turning ten and I have to have my party with my mom who’s turning super-old (or forty) anyway and is making me do this dumb party with her! It’s not even my party. It’s super-duper obviously hers but I guess she felt bad that the triplets couldn’t come on my actual birthday in a few days so she made me join even though that’s NOT BETTER. And I don’t really know anyone else.

I just know I’m gonna have to watch Farrah – still more fun than talking to all the boring adults! It’s funny. I remember when she was born I really didn’t want her, but I don’t really mind now. She can be kinda fun.

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“Play!” She can’t even walk right and it always looks like she’ll fall over. Mom and Dad just laugh when I say it and they say the same thing – ‘it’s cos she’s so little, Eli’. She was kicking this cat toy around and squealing.

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What if she falls?

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“Play!” she insisted, when I went to her. I didn’t really wanna say no.

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“Eli…” Uh-oh. She was using the Mom voice. “Why have you put all the cutlery on the floor? Come here, Farrah.” Farrah started crying! Moms just ruin things! Like when she made me stop doing swimming on Thursdays to go to the doctors. But I get to do it once school starts again.

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“Mom, let her play!” I protested. It’s so not fair! It was fun! And it’s apparently my birthday as well and Farrah’s my sister and I’m supposed to be nice to her anyway so why can’t we do fun things together? Someone should look after her cos Mom and Dad don’t even care right now. They’re doing stuff for the party. And I didn’t even mean to get distracted!

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“Sorry, Eli. We need to get ready.” said Mom. “When did she get that dust in her hair? If you’re going to play with your sister, try to keep her clean.”

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Oops.

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“Now pick all of this up and put it in the sink. Turn the water on and remember – don’t look away. I’ll get Dad to come in and help you but until then – don’t look away.”

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Doctor Jay said they only tell me this super-annoying stuff because I’ve got ADHD. Basically it’s just that I’m too hyper and I don’t get still enough or do the right things. But according to him and my parents I can, but I just have to try. Boring!

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“You haven’t flooded the kitchen, huh son?” Dad mocked me when he came over. I scowled. I was getting so sick of them!

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“I’m not stupid, Dad!” I snapped. “I can listen…sometimes. I just forget things and everything’s boring!”

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He held up his hands. “Whoa, sorry bud. I was just teasing you…thank you for washing all of the cutlery. That’s really helpful. Next time we go out, we’re gonna get you a soda.” Mom hates soda because again – moms don’t like anything that’s fun!

Dad wrote it on one of the sticky notes and put it on the board. The board is super sucky and boring and it’s full of sooo many things I’m supposed to do. The doctor told mom and dad that it would help me remember stuff but all it does is make mom and dad remind me of stuff I would have remembered anyway…maybe I would have.

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“Now go get your stuff out of the hallway. Auntie Dianne’s gonna get here in fifteen minutes.”

“Do I get extra stuff if I do it in fifteen minutes?” I asked. So I was kinda making fun…

“No. Just do it.”


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This has been the worst party ever!

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Random people that I don’t even KNOW keep telling me that I’ve grown lots and stupid sappy stuff. I don’t care what you think! And I know I’ve grown lots since whenever in the Dark Ages you saw me last so don’t TELL ME.

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Caleb and this other kids, Yann, were being really mean and tried to push me off the monkey bars. But that wasn’t very long cos then Mom called all the kids for lunch. Colton and Iris just talked to each other. They’re pretty cool…so they don’t wanna talk to me. NOBODY who’s cool actually does.

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And THEN some other kid (Dani or something) started chatting to Caleb. He stopped being nasty with Yann but then he wouldn’t even talk to me and just talked to Dani the whole time! And everyone else who’s not a grown-up is Farrah and Jacob who are super little anyway. They played together. It’s so not fair. Farrah doesn’t even talk properly and she has a friend here and I…I don’t.

So I was just sat eating lunch in silence apart from when my parents told me to get back to the table even though it was boring.

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Then Mom brought out the cake, which was really good, even though I’m only allowed one bit because I didn’t set the table properly.

“Happy birthday to you…happy birthday to Sarai and Eli!” They all had to rush out MY name. It sounded stupid and it just reminded me that it’s not even my party.

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Me and Mom blew out the candles, and the second I sat down something cold hit my lap.

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“Oops.” Caleb snickered. He’d thrown my drink at me on PURPOSE! Dani and Yann fell about giggling. I wanted to punch them right there and then – I swear I could have.

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“Screw you Caleb!” I yelled out. Some of the adults looked at me so I didn’t say anything else.

“Maybe that wasn’t very nice.” Dani considered as I tried to dry my trousers.

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“W-whatever.” Caleb had this gross cocky look on his face. I wanted to hit him. “He’s just a freak-boy who I could totally beat in soccer even though he’s a whole year older than me AND his mom makes him skip all the practice so he can go to the nuthouse!” he jeered.

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I couldn’t even look at anyone after that. It looked like I PEED myself and it wouldn’t dry! And Dani and Caleb wouldn’t stop laughing. I decided right then that I was just gonna sit by myself and eat my cake when I FINALLY got some and drink the lemonade Auntie Dianne gave me.

I felt so pathetic. I must be really pathetic if this is my birthday.

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Then I realised all my fun gifts were inside waiting to be opened! By ME! “Bye-bye!” I yelled, and I got to run away from the boring adults and mean Dani and Caleb and the dumb party that wasn’t even mine.

Mom and Dad were yelling after me but I didn’t even care. Cos I’m DONE…even though I left my DS outside. Oops.

 

2.0 – Bad

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Elias’s Weekend News – 3rd March

I can still remember the stupid talk Mommy and Daddy did with me AGES AGO..and now things are even WORSE then I thought it was gonna be! They lied It’s so not fair! And its all FAHRA’s folt anyway! She just crys all the time and I haer it at nit nd can’t sleep

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Mommy said that she was gonna have another baby and I was a bit confused and then they said all this stuff about how they love me but they also love eatch otherr and they want a second baby and it’s gonna be my lil sibbling but I don’ want it

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“Hey bud.” Lachlan came up behind his son and ruffled his hair. “How are you doing on the homework?” He looked over Elias’s shoulder and tried to make out his large, messy scrawl. Kid’s only six after all, he thought.

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“I’m not done!” Elias cried, covering his workbook with his hand.

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It didn’t matter. Lachlan had seen enough. At least Eli was voluntarily doing homework, but the rest of it worried him. He took the seat next to his son. “Maybe leave it for now, Eli…we should-”

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“I have to.” Eli softly protested. “The triplets are gonna get really good marks and they’re gonna ask me ’bout it and I don’t wanna be bad!” he cried.

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“You’ll never be bad.” Lachlan assured his son, patting him on the shoulder. “You’re trying very hard at this and I know you’ll get a good mark. And your friends aren’t trying to make you feel that way either. They’re just proud of their own marks-”

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“It’s not like that though!” Eli wailed. He jumped up and started to run off. Lachlan immediately followed, pulling his son into a tight hug. “I don’t know how to write or do math good and they can all do both and they think I’m stupid!”

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“They don’t think that. You aren’t. You’re a really smart kid, Eli. And sometimes you can’t write down your ideas as well as the other kids…but that doesn’t make you any less smart. Your mom and I know you’re amazing.”

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“Yeah.” Eli mumbled bitterly. “But you still put Farrah here.”

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“Eli, having another kid doesn’t mean we love you any less – we love you and Farrah equally. I know it’s been a bit hard so far, but things will change. Farrah needs a lot of help right now ‘cos she’s so small, but she’s gonna grow up and we’ll have more time for you. I know we don’t do lots together since she was born but we didn’t stop loving you.”

“Ok.” Eli muttered, staring at the floor.

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“Now,” Lachlan began. “Are you sure that’s what you want to write about? I don’t think it’s making you feel very good.”

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“I don’t know. Nothin’ else has happened anyways.”

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With a sinking feeling, Lachlan realised it was true. Eli’s weekends hadn’t been much fun for the past month. But it was only 1pm on a Sunday. Plenty of time to do something. “Again, I’m sorry, bud. We’ve just been very busy with your sister. But it’s not too late to find something. Maybe we could call your Auntie Dianne?”

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“No!” Eli yelled, stomping his foot. “Don’t wanna go there.”

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Lachlan raised an eyebrow. As far as he knew, Elias had been fine staying with Dianne and her boys when both parents had to work. “Are you sure?”

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“No!” his son insisted.

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“…Oh, OK. How about we ring the triplets’ mom?”

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Eli shook his head and picked up the notebook. “It’s OK. I’ll just do the writing. Upstairs.”

“Hang on…is that a new notebook?”

“Yeah.” Eli quietly admitted, refusing to look his father in the eye. “Lost the other one.”

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“Don’t you need that?”

“No.” Eli answered almost immediately. Lachlan resolved to talk to his son’s teacher about that one. Eli lost everything, it seemed. The problem was only getting worse.

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“I just saw Eli running past here…he looks so upset, Lach.”08-14-19_9:59:54 AM.jpg

Lachlan gave a heavy sigh. “He is, sunshine. He’s written all this stuff about how he hates Farrah and we lied to him about what it was gonna be like.”

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Sarai looked stricken. “Oh…have we done something wrong? I tried so hard to explain it right…but he’s still so young!”

“He’s having a hard time with Farrah. He’s so upset he won’t let me call Dianne, or Bart. He doesn’t wanna see other kids right now, I guess.”

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“Well…Colton’s so much older. And from what I’ve seen Caleb can be a bit loud for our Eli. And he really doesn’t have much in common with those tiny geniuses!” she replied, shaking her head at the mention of the Freeman triplets.

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“He normally likes them…” Lachlan considered. “I guess six-year olds are pretty changeable, so-” He cut himself off when he saw his wife’s tears. “It’ll be ok, ‘Rai. He’ll get used to Farrah-”

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“What if he…he doesn’t think he’s good enough to be with his cousins and the triplets?” Sarai whimpered.

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“The thought crossed my mind as well.” Lachlan admitted. “But I think we’re projecting. He’s a happy kid most of the time. I think he’s just adjusting.”

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“He better be. He can’t grow up feeling like we did.” Sarai wiped her eyes. “But I think you’re right, it’s just – stupid hormones.”

“It’s not like you had a baby a month ago.” Lachlan joked.

“Maybe we can put him in sports.” Sarai suggested. “I know Di already takes Colt and Caleb. She wouldn’t have to watch him for the whole evening on Tuesdays and Thursdays…”

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“It’ll focus him too hopefully, the kid never remembers what he’s doing! I don’t know who taught him to use the microwave but I’m getting sick of opening it to see cups of forgotten milk or old chicken nuggets!” Lachlan exclaimed. Sarai giggled.

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“Yes, I think we’re doing what we should be, with him.” she considered, sighing. “I just hope it’s enough.”

 

1.35 – Elias

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“LACHLAN!”

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“Oh – OH! Is it-?”

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“Yes, it’s time! Get my bag!”

He was rooted to the spot, muttering something.

“Go!” I hollered.


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“…losing too much blood!”

“Get him out of here!”

This wasn’t supposed to happen. Stay awake, Sarai! I tried to will myself back to consciousness…but of course I failed.

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“Mom?” There was no mistake, she was there, right in front of me. Her youthful appearance combined with the long white dress she wore gave her an angelic appearance.

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“Sarai, darling!”

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“Mom!” I screamed. Why was she so tall? I started to run right towards her but I couldn’t quite get through. There was a strange, flowing barrier between us, barely visible, but there all the same. Frustrated tears started to leak out of my eyes.

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“I’m so proud of you, sweetheart. But Sarai, you have to listen to me-”

“Sarai!” someone called, but they weren’t in the room.

“Am I dying?” I cried. “What if I let him down? Them all down?”

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“Just listen!” Mom instructed, eyes soft and kind, like an angel. Then she stepped through the barrier and enveloped me in a hug.

“Tell me how to do this.” I sobbed into her shoulder. “I don’t know how.”

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“You will know.” she promised me. “Of course you will know. You’ve worked for years to get here. You are so strong, Sarai.”

“Why am I unconscious then?” I muttered.

“SARAI!” came that same voice. Yes, I knew that voice – it was –

“Lachlan?” I whispered. Obviously I didn’t know him at ten. What’s going on?

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“You won’t be for much longer. Wake up, Sarai!” Mom let go of me and stepped back through the barrier.

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“Mom!” I barely managed a whisper as I reached out for her. “Take me back! Just for a bit! Tell me it’s OK! I need to be OK for them!” All I could think about was getting back to her; she made it through the barrier, why couldn’t I? I have to get to her…

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“Now, now, Sarai. You know I can’t do that. You have so much life to live…I’m just a ghost. But you are still alive. You’ll make it – and more. I believe in you.”

“But I-”

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“You don’t need me. You’re an adult and a person and you’re real, and I will only ever be a memory. A memory who loves you…but there are other, living people who love you too. And you’ve worked so hard. It would break all of our hearts if you left.”

Though I was only ten, I remembered years of on-and-off therapy and calling myself out for every hateful thought I tried to heap upon myself. Of teaching myself to fearlessly love Lachlan and my friends. Of pouring everything into my business and making it successful.

But I still felt like that little girl who wanted nothing more than her mother’s arms. In a way, I was…

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“Mom-”

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“Please…you can’t leave it all now. Wake up, Sarai.”

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That was my mother’s voice, fading away into the distance…I didn’t want her to go, but I have to go back.


I went back. The strange yet encouraging dream ended, and I woke to a finished labour, a relieved husband, and my new son, Elias.

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Now I’ve been home with my family for a month. My OBGYN told me that there was a tear in my uterus as I delivered. I bled too much and briefly lost consciousness, but I woke up fine. In a couple years I’ll get the all-clear to have another child, if I want to…let’s see how well I handle this one.

My son was born perfectly healthy, weighing 7lb 2oz. What a relief. Lachlan says he nearly lost his shit when I was unconscious, but we’re all fine now.

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My dream-mother’s words rang true in my head…I have a lot of life to live, and yes, I can. I’m truly a mother now, responsible for this little life Lachlan and I created in love together…it’s a daunting idea, but one I think I’m ready for.

“He’s perfect, sunshine.” He says it a lot – we both do. I think it even more.

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“You don’t have to remind me. He really is.” Gazing into his sweet little face, in my opinion the face of perfection, made me tear up. “He’s so amazing, Lachlan. I love him so much.”

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“So do I.” Lachlan’s voice cracked. “We’ve gotta do this right, Sarai.” We talked about it a lot – we never want our son to feel the way we did when we were younger. He’ll feel loved and supported by his parents.

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“We will.” I assured him, sounding more confident about it than I actually felt. Like Dianne said – it’s scary as hell. And I’m frightened…but also elated and excited.

Obviously I’ve been with Lachlan for years…and I’ve had my closest friends even longer. But with Eli, I really felt complete. Like I finally have everything I want – and it took a lot to make a lot of it happen. I’d do it all again in a heartbeat to keep what I have now.

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“This is amazing.” I said softly to myself, as Lachlan and I got lost in our son’s wide, perfect eyes. “My life is… amazing…and I love you both so much.”

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Finally I did it! I hope you were all satisfied with Sarai’s story, and that Gen 2 doesn’t take this freaking long to finish. Join me next time (probably not for quite a while, I’m on holiday and then I’m taking an exam) for the start of Generation 2: Elias.

We pick up when Elias is already six years old, so here’s pictures of him as a toddler with his parents.

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Adorable, right?

1.34 – Letter

Hi Mom,

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I found the old letter during the move. Believe it or not, it’s a move of progress, not me running away from someone yet again – I’m moving a little way out of the city. Not quite suburbia, but somewhere a little quieter. And closer to my workplace…

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A lot has changed since the last letter. I still don’t know if I believe you can read this, but I want to write it down anyway. I’m pretty anxious right  now so it’ll be nice to remind myself of how far I’ve come.

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I got married over a year ago, to a man named Lachlan Waterman. I bet you wouldn’t have guessed that from my last letter – me, afraid of love and in absolute hatred with herself. However, I got past that in a lot of ways and…I’m married now! I’m really happy with him, honestly. Lachlan is an amazing man and husband. I adore him, and we treat each other well. 

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I also started my own business with a friend. The Lotus Flower yoga studio is doing better than ever! And yes – I’ve met and made real friends as well as meeting my husband. I’m not alone anymore, Mom.

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But the real reason I wanted to write again is because I’m pregnant again. Finding out was a nice birthday present for my Lachlan. And guess what – the baby’s going to be a Hayes, like you and me! I won’t get into it but Lachlan doesn’t want the baby to be a Waterman for various reasons. He and I are overjoyed but…when I found out it got me thinking about the past. I’m so excited yet so much of the self-doubt that pours out of the old letter is setting back in. It was nearly seven years ago now, and I was so sure I couldn’t do this. And now? I’m still pretty sure at times that I can’t do this. But I’m working on it.

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August 26th – 1st day of 1st grade!

I ended up having the first baby, by the way. His name is Nolan Samuel Fox. Yes, Fox. I gave him up to an older couple with a wealthy income and nice house in Willow Creek.I get emails from his true mother, Lela, every so often. He’s six now, and I have no doubt that I made the right decision. I don’t think I could have done everything I did and grown and changed as much as I have with a baby in tow.

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Not that I’m disparaging single parents at all, obviously! I know where I came from…and I’m grateful you kept me. I still sometimes think about how sad it is that you couldn’t follow your dreams or get married to someone who deserved you or see me grow up – maybe I would have grown up different…but there’s no point dwelling on the past, I guess.

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So onto the present and future – things are different for me now. For one thing, I – we – planned this one. There’s the money to raise a kid, and the father’s obviously in the picture. But I was – and still am – so scared. I don’t know the first thing about being a mother.

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But then Dianne – yes, that Dianne, she’s my best friend now – I’m sure you’re happy – she said that nobody knows how to parent, and that every mother she knows doubted themselves at some point. Including herself – she had a baby as well! Colton is three now! She and another friend, Kaylyn, have been bringing their kids round for practice. Aunt Adela gave me some of her old parenting books and a few helpful tips. I’ve realised I had a lot of support extending beyond my husband – and I think I can do this.

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Then I found the old letter –  I’ve changed since I was pregnant the first time. That girl wasn’t ready to take care of anyone, but I’m different now, Mom. You’d be happy about that, by the way. I’m not just different. I’m a better Sarai. So maybe…but I’m still not sure. Sometimes this all feels like a mistake.

I haven’t told Clarissa. I still remember how she screamed at me when she saw me pregnant the last time. And I know she wouldn’t react like that this time because the circumstances are different…but I just can’t face it. I guess I’m just a coward. I still say shit like that. Old habits die hard…but this one’s pretty dormant now. I know you’d like that.

Anyway. This has just been a pretty relaxing writing exercise, because I don’t think you can see it…it’s nice to imagine though. But I do feel better, so thanks.

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I can smell Lachlan’s teriyaki salmon cooking, and I need to go thank my wonderful husband. Might eat more than my share but I think it’s pregnant woman’s rights! This man’s child is inside me and it can get pretty uncomfortable…so I’m gonna eat his delicious food!

I love you so much, Mom.

Your happy, loving daughter, Sarai.

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1.33 – No Objections

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Lachlan didn’t want a big wedding with the formality and the massive expense of it all. Mainly because he didn’t see the point, but also because word got back to the Watermans somehow. I guess he’d told some of his high school or college friends and the news just travelled. He knew they’d muscle in and turn it into something ridiculous, expensive and impersonal that we wouldn’t even want. Having met them one Thanksgiving, I was inclined to agree.

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I was never that little girl who dreamed of her wedding day. In fact, I didn’t even think about weddings until that day I saw those rings on the computer screen. I didn’t mind at all, and given my busy schedule, decided that a small wedding would be best.

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Besides, I couldn’t imagine saying everything I wanted to say in front of so many people. The very thought made me anxious.

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It was decided that we were going to hold a tiny ceremony, practically an elopement, at Myshuno Meadows, under the same beautiful dusk that he’d proposed under. It’s been only two months since then, and the wedding’s Friday. The guest list was limited to Dianne and Kaylyn on my side, and Dax and his husband Jaron for Lachlan. Our honeymoon would take place in September – we’d planned to head to Sulani. The weather would be as good, but the prices cheaper.

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With encouragement from Lachlan and Dianne, I told Uncle Miles, Aunt Adela, and Michael of our plans.

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“I can accept that.” Miles said. “It would have been nice to see you get married, Sarai, but it’s your choice.” For a second, my stomach lurched with that familiar guilt; my brain screaming that I was making a terrible, selfish choice. It’s also for you and Lachlan, your future husband and the man you love, we kind of have to be the most important thing here.

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“But,” Adela added. “Perhaps we could host a meal or something – a barbecue! Just something small, to celebrate you two getting hitched!” she exclaimed, clasping her hands together and beaming.

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“Thank you,” Lachlan said, gratefully lowering his head. “That’s very kind of you two.”

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“What can we bring?” I asked.

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“Nothing!” Adela exclaimed. “If you think that you two are bringing anything, think again!” And we all laughed.


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“Sarai, my amazing, beautiful sunshine, you have brought so much light into my life, by being kind, warm and caring. You’re one of the strongest people I know. I love you, and I can’t wait to start our lives as husband and wife.”

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“Lachlan, angel…I don’t know what to say, apart from…from the day I met you, you have been caring, understanding and loving. You have been my rock. You’re resilient and intelligent and I couldn’t be a luckier woman. I love you so much.”

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Tears pricked the back of my eyes. Why am I crying?

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It’s because I’m absolutely on cloud nine right now, isn’t it?

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Wedding day!

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When Lachlan and I walked into the garden, we were greeted by a smattering of applause. They all looked so happy for us.

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“Hope it all went well…no objections, I hope!” Miles joked.

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“I was actually completely against my best friend marrying the man she loves.” Dianne deadpanned. “Ow, Colt, hold still! Mike, could you – I need to give Sarai a hug!” She shoved Colton into her brother’s arms and dashed over to wrap me in a bone-crushing embrace.

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Everyone else offered me their congratulations. Miles fired up the barbecue and everyone started chatting and eating and just generally having a good time. They’d picked excellent food and the weather was gorgeous.

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I was halfway through a burger when the doorbell rang. Adela immediately ran to get it, quickly returning with whoever it was. I could hear their footsteps in the hallway. Something about the clack-clack-clack of what sounded like high heels was ominously familiar…

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“It’s your sister, Miles.” Adela informed us all. A hush fell over the party.

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There she was. It’s been..five years. Five years since I saw this woman in person. The woman who raised me. She never even met Lachlan, and I’d liked it that way.

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“Did you not expect me?” she asked.

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“Well…I didn’t think…” Miles began awkwardly.

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She sat down. “It’s a family celebration, isn’t it? Hello, Dianne – what a sweet little boy, he’s growing up really well.”

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Dianne nodded and gave a wavering smile. I noticed her worriedly eye Colton and scoop him up into her arms. Good call. “Yeah, Aunt Clarissa. He’s wonderful.” Despite her complaints about his behaviour, her face lit up when she said it.

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“Look, we didn’t think you’d want to come.” Adela finally said. “Sorry, Clarissa. We were surprised is all, feel free to grab something to eat.”

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“I’ve eaten,” she said. “I wasn’t planning to stay long, I’ve got lots of work to do, and then a conference call.” On a Sunday? “Sarai? Can I speak to you?”

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I froze. Clarissa – the one person who has consistently been better at making me feel shit about myself than well, me. What was she going to say? My leg shook, my toes tapping against the ground.

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“You don’t have to.” Lachlan whispered, squeezing my hand under the table.

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I took several deep breaths, willing myself to hold it together. After all, I spent years unlearning every idea of myself that Clarissa helped me instil within myself. One conversation cannot undo all of that. It can’t. Otherwise what are you worth?

“Fine.” I said with a biting tone. “Let’s talk. The living room should be free.”

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Lachlan and Dianne gave me incredulous, frightened looks. I nodded at them, showing that ‘I got this’ – even though I really wasn’t sure if I did or not.

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Clarissa huffed and led me out of the room. When we got to the couches, she directed me to sit across from her. Like an interview – fuck that. We’re both adults talking about our lives. I sat next to her instead.

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“Why did you get married so suddenly?” she asked. “I hear nothing and out of the blue – Miles tells me that he can’t come to help me with my furnace this week because he’s hosting a celebration for your…marriage.” She screwed up her face like it was an ugly word. Maybe it was to her, because she’d never come close to that her entire life.

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“It wasn’t sudden. We’ve known each other for years. We became friends after he showed me around a property and-”

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“A property? Did you finally buy a place to live?”

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“Might buy it. I’m still renting with Lachlan but we’ll find somewhere. No, that property was for my business, which I own and run myself.” I couldn’t help adding a little boastful edge onto that. Fuck you for saying that I’d never amount to anything, that I was stupid and threw away all my opportunities and chances. I did NOT.

…I think you almost did, Clarissa. Who’s left in your life?

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“-Well.” She looked slightly stunned. “Congratulations, I suppose. Rather volatile to put all of your eggs in that basket, but if you’re happy…”

“I am.”

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“I guess Kendra would have been happy with you too.”

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It was funny. All my life she told me I never would have been enough for my mother. And I always wanted it to not be true, and I wanted to hear it from Clarissa. Now that I finally had…it didn’t matter.

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My thoughts were interrupted by a tapping on my shoulder. “I don’t think I’m wanted.” Clarissa. actually sounded rather crestfallen, and uncharacteristically soft. “I’ll leave you with this. I suppose you and your husband’ll want children someday, and they should know their family history.” It was a picture of her, my mother, and Uncle Miles, when they were young.

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Miles, Kendra (19) and I.

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“Thanks.” This might be the last time I’ll ever see her. There had been no apology, no acknowledgement of the way she treated me. She still hadn’t given me the chance to confront her – she steamrolled the conversation as always. Never change, Clarissa, I sarcastically thought.

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Why would I fucking bother with her anyway?


“What are you doing?”

“Emailing my parents. The rest of them can find out through them, they’ll be complaining for a while.”

“But I thought-”

“I know what I said. But I changed my mind. What can they do anyway?” he said with a crooked grin.

1.32 – So Lucky

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Who would have thought I’d end up here? Nobody, least of all me.

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It was surprisingly enjoyable to play homemaker, though I know I’d get bored of doing that for real. And I’d start feeling guilty for not having a job…if Clarissa taught me one good lesson, it’s that I should be financially self-sufficient. I wouldn’t give up the studio for this in a million years. But on Wednesday and weekend nights, when I have easier days, I can relax and pretend.

It’s been almost three months since Lachlan and I moved in together. Two years since we started dating. Nabila’s friend took over the rest of my lease, and now Lachlan and I are renting his original apartment.

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It was scary at first. I thought he’d get tired of me if we were around each other so much. Then I found out he was thinking the same and we just had to laugh at ourselves. Laughing’s a good way to tell all of those horrible little insecurities to just fuck off.

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Making sure to be quiet, I walked into our shared home office with a plate of fish and chips – adapted to be healthier by yours truly. “How’s it going?” Lachlan had a lot of paperwork due. I’d been bringing him meals in here all week.

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“I’m actually almost finished.” he said. I went up behind him and rested my head on his shoulder, quickly kissing him on the cheek.

“Good!”

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I immediately released him once I saw what was on one side of the monitor.

Rings. Loads and loads of rings, with the name of some jewellery shop in the browser bar.

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Oh God…he can’t.

“I need to fix some schedules, I’ll be in the bedroom.” I said, rushing out of the room.

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He didn’t seem to notice that I had noticed, or even register my shock. “OK, sunshine. I’ll come keep you company when I’m done.”

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The schedules were a lie. I shouldn’t lie to him. What am I doing? Liar! He can’t marry you!

You will tell him the truth when he comes in to keep you company while you ‘work on your schedules’.

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When I saw those rings, I itched to remind him of everything – my previous inability to form relationships, my sexual history, the often overwhelming sense that I’m a disappointing, bad person.

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This man loves me despite all the shit I’ve done and how broken I was, and still am sometimes…

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Something more dawned on me.

Lachlan’s had his struggles, but I love him no matter what. He’s not always perfect – though pretty damn close – but I still love him. To me, he’s amazing.

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I guess to him I am to. Maybe our past struggles don’t make us any less loveable or marriageable – well, Lachlan’s definitely didn’t.

And to him, neither did yours.

He came into the bedroom just five minutes later; obviously having actually realised something was up. I should have clocked that on my way out of the office. The loving concern on his face made me fall for him all over again, for what felt like the millionth time.

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“Did I do something wrong?”

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“…I did all my schedules.” I admitted. “Sorry I ran away, and lied. I just…I saw…”

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His face fell. “Dammit – but don’t feel pressured or scared, please, it’s just an idea. For now. To be honest, I can see it happening, Sarai…see myself marrying you. It’s something I truly want.”

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“I just…I never thought I’d get married.” I told him, sighing. I’d never believed that anybody would stick around long enough to do so, let alone actively want to. Sometimes it was still hard to believe.

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“Neither did I…but then I started dating you.”

I could have protested and brought up all the bullshit in my past. Honestly, I was tempted. However, looking into Lachlan’s eyes, the words died on my tongue. Images of a possible future flooded my brain, and I felt myself smiling.

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I didn’t need to say anything. I think he could tell by the look on my face. But I made sure he knew it. “I love you. So much. And I think I know what my answer would be.”


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07-27-19_12:53:19 PM.jpg“Hey, squirt.” I greeted Dianne’s son, Colton, who was determinedly mashing at his peas.

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“Ra-ra!” he yelled, still unable to pronounce my name. A few flecks of mush hit me in the eye.

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“You better eat those,” Dianne chastised gently, ruffling his hair. “Anyway. Michael’s coming up as well, if you don’t mind. He and Amy had a massive fight and he’s bummed as hell. I invited him out of pity.”

“Oh shit.” I winced. That might make my news go down a little less well…dammit, I refuse to feel guilty for this! I got engaged to the person who I’m 99.9% sure is the One. Michael can handle it.

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Selfish…people get married all the time. Why do you wanna brag about it?

I wouldn’t sound too gleeful – it was just sharing news. It’s fine! I’m not bad for this.

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“Hi, Michael.” It had been too long. “How is everything? You alright?” I asked.

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He raised an eyebrow. “Did she tell you?” Turning to Dianne, he folded his arms and groaned, “Come on, Di! It’s not that bad, why’d you make it like…a thing?

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“Ok, little bro.” Dianne smirked. “Colt, come on!” she complained as he started throwing handfuls of squashed peas onto the table.

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“Want nugge’s!” he yelled.

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Dianne buried her face in her hand. “He said he didn’t want those when I started making lunch. I’m tired of this sh – stuff.” she hastily amended. “Never mind. Pretty sure you two can guess where I’m at, so how about you?”

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Catching sight of the plate of chicken nuggets on the side of the counter, I wordlessly got up to heat them.

“I got passed up for a promotion – and yeah, I am in a pretty big fight with Amy.”

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Dianne gave a sympathetic little hiss. “Damn, Mike. That’s really tough. But you work really hard, I’m sure you’ll get up there one day…and if Amy isn’t right for you, someone is.”

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“I know…” Michael muttered. “It just sucks right now. I’m pushing through it, though.”

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“That’s what you’ve gotta do.” I reflected. “Just remind yourself that things start looking up, and that feeling like shit doesn’t have to last forever.”

“Yeah…don’t hate me for saying this, but I’m amazed you came out of all of that shit when you were younger…like this.”

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I smiled and shook my head. “I guess you’re right. Sometimes I can’t believe it myself. Speaking of that…” I stuck out my left hand. “So Lachlan proposed last night.”

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Dianne gasped. “I knew he’d make an honest woman out of you! OK, we have to start planning immediately!”

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“Congrats, cuz. I’m really happy for you.” And despite what was going on in Michael’s life, he truly looked it. How did I get so lucky to have such supportive people around me?

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“Siny!” Colton shrieked, pointing at the ring. All three of us adults couldn’t help laughing a little at that. He was being a pain in the ass today, but still so cute!

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“Don’t go catching baby fever, Sarai.” said Dianne. Then she stiffened and awkwardly recoiled. “I mean…sorry.”

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“It’s fine…but I think you may be a little too late for that warning.”

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