Life was truly chaotic.
I know what you are thinking. Four toddlers in a house, isn’t that to be expected? Absolutely, if I was talking about the monsters at all, I would definitely agree. Yet the chaos of our lives involved them very little, which considering how much mischief they could get into, says a lot about the events I am about to explain.
It probably had a lot to do with the addition of Travis to our island. The toddlers saw him like a brand new toy, fawning over him and fighting for his attention at the same time.He didn’t complain and knowing Travis as I thought I did, I’m sure he was quite pleased with all the attention. I casually watched him from inside the house as he played with the toddlers outside, keeping my promise to stay away. I figured Jin must have said something to him after he found me alone of the beach that day, for now Travis was always outside. Jin was never far away mind you, keeping a close eye on this young man he didn’t quite know yet. I watched him too, trying to compare the Travis I had gotten to know over texting and Skype, to the man he actually seemed to be in person. Travis was a good guy, of that I never had any doubt. He had this carefree, easy going manner…like he had no cares in the world. And the guy always seemed to have some form of a smile on his face. It annoyed me to no end.
The first night after he had arrived and saved me from “him,” Jin had gotten quite stern about making Travis leave. Travis relented, but said he would be camping out on the small island next to our home. Jin argued insistently, when Travis informed him the small island next to our home was actually public land. Jin stormed down to the basement, pulling out the deed, only to concede that Travis was right. The next morning, after Sun had said her peace I’m sure, Jin stood on the beach and motioned for Travis to come over. Together they struck a bargain; in the service of keeping me safe, Travis was allowed to stay on the island during the day, but he was to stay at least fifty feet away from me unless I was in danger, and sleep off the island at night. This arrangement had been going on for almost a month now and as much as I appreciated him for being there, it was incredibly awkward as well. For me at least, as it didn’t seem to be bothering Travis at all.
After six weeks of this routine, I was starting to relax……….
Until one night we were woken by Biscuit’s insistent barking at the side of the house by Jin and Sun’s bedroom.
Jin jumped out of bed and exited the house through the back door, while Sun dragged me to the nursery and locked the door. It was one of the planned strategies Jin had made us practice over and over again. He wanted to be prepared for any “attack” we may face. Jin walked the perimeter of the lot but saw nothing until he walked around to the front door, and there he was.
He snuck up on him from behind, just as he was entering the front door. The alarm sounded, sending the quads into cries of terror. I grabbed Bonnie and hid myself down on the floor in a corner, holding her closely to my chest. Her screams became whimpers that matched mine. Mama had managed to calm the other three, placing them all in one crib and held them against her as they stood. It was a terrifying moment, waiting to hear any sound. I stared at the door knob, willing it not to turn.
In the mean time, Margot came running up the stairs and nearly knocked over the robber, who had just begun to panic at the sound of the wailing alarm. Jin took that opportunity to pounce and tackled him to the floor. To cut a long story short, the police took him away and determined he was just an ordinary robber and not “him.”
As scared as we all had been, the fear went away and we resumed our lives again. All except Margot. Something that night changed for her and she became a different person. Anxious all the time, pacing the floor as if she could never quite settle. She became obsessed with making baby food, insisting we never had enough and constantly stating, “we must be prepared.” Every surface of the kitchen was covered with small bowls of food.
Eventually, Mama had to hide the food processor to get her to stop. Yet one set of behaviors replaced another. She took to getting up in the middle of the night to wake the toddlers and pull them from their cribs.
Which meant I was up with them for all hours trying to get them back to bed. I asked her what she was doing, but she couldn’t give me an answer. Just mumbled something about “being safe.” This went on for almost a week. Exhausted and fully irritable, I tried to talk to Jin about it, but he assured me he would handle it.
“Stay in bed tonight and if I hear anything going on, I will get up.”
So I did, and the next morning,
Jin walked into the nursery to find Alex and Bonnie sleeping on the floor, Bella was in her crib but Anna was no where to be found. Jin came to my room first and woke me up, thinking Anna might be with me. We searched the house and I found her sleeping on the floor next to Margot’s bed in the basement, while Margot was fast asleep.
It was then we fully understood, there was something very wrong with Margot and the three of us took turns watching over her day and night. She had begun to take naps during the day on the front porch in addition to her full night sleep.
Mama Sun spent the most time with her, doing activities together and talking about Margot’s life to keep her mind active.One afternoon, they had just finished baking a pie together, when Margot stated she was tired and wanted to take a nap. The day was cool and the rain had been falling steadily since the morning, so Sun suggested she nap in her bed and she would come wake her when dinner was ready.
Mama made Margot’s favourite meal of dim sum and went downstairs to bring her up to eat.
She had taken the time to change in her pajamas before lying on the bed.
“Mama,” Sun called. “Supper is ready. Mama?” Sun carefully reached over to lightly touch her mother’s hand and wake her softly. Her skin was cool to the touch and seemed ever so thin across the bones of her hand.
“Mama?” Sun cried as the realization began to set it. “No. No, no! Mama? Please Mama. Wake up!” Sun pleaded. “Mama please,” she whispered in such desperation.
Margot’s death changed the whole feeling of the household. Mama Sun left to go to France and bury Margot next to her sister. It caused quite the uproar as mama didn’t want to go on her own, but Jin could not leave me or the island. Travis volunteered to be security guard while we all went as a family. He even said he could watch the todds while we went. Imagine the look that was directed from Jin in regards to that idea! I volunteered to stay behind and help Travis but Jin went on and on about my safety and having to hire all these police to stay on the island while he was gone. It was a mess and in the end, mama was gone two days. Just long enough to travel both ways, have a small funeral with herself and a few friends to celebrate Margot’s life.
With both of them gone those two days, the island felt completely different. Jin relaxed his rules regarding Travis and he moved into the house, sleeping on the floor in a sleeping bag. Rules or not, we were all too busy trying to get everything done to “socialize” or do anything Jin may be fearing in that suspicious brain of his.
We had one big issue come up. Bella took to wandering around looking for Margot and calling “gama.” I guess in my hatred for her, I never realized Margot was close to any one particular quad. Although I guess I should have, considering my relationship with Bonnie. It’s not that I loved her any more than the other three. I just seemed connected to her and now Bella, was missing her sim.
No one else would do either. In between the fits of tears, all her attentions became focused on her doll, preferring it to anyone or anything else.When Mama returned, she was in no better emotional state than Bella was, but she did try to soothe her as best as she could. But Bella didn’t want her mother, she wanted gama and we had no idea what to do. In the end, it was Anna who saved the day.The quad who resembled Bella the most, wouldn’t let her sister cry anymore and so she pulled her into play time, giving the rest of the household some peace and Mama time to grieve alone.
As soon as Mama returned, Travis moved to the beach, choosing a different spot to make camp than across the water on the island. I had to keep reminding myself he was out there, easily seen through the window so I wouldn’t forget and start changing my clothes in plain sight. Jin had removed or forgotten perhaps, the rule of Travis and I staying at least fifty feet apart. I didn’t know if Travis had finally won Jin’s approval or if he was tossing a bit of trust my way.
I do want to state, that I never actively sought out Travis to gain his attention. I didn’t have to, for he was always looking for me. Like this day here, when he was in the house playing with the todds and I went outside to enjoy the sun. Next thing I know, there he was to hang out.
We didn’t get a chance to talk very long at all. Basically all he asked me about was my hair and had I thought about changing it back to black. Once I answered him, he asked if I wanted a push. Two pushes in….here comes Jin.
Sits himself down, doesn’t say a word and just watches.
Like, okay, this wasn’t awkward at all. I politely excused myself, saying I needed to go help Mama with the todds.
Over the next little while, Travis and I found time to spend together as friends. He tried to teach me what he knew about rocks. I found it fascinating, but I’m sure I retained little of what he told me. I was just happy to have someone to spend time with.
Our time alone was always short lived. Before we knew it, there would be Jin, butting in on whatever we were doing.
I can tell you with complete confidence that Jin has never taken the time to read on the beach while laying on a towel. Seriously, what on earth was he so worried about? It couldn’t be he was worried about me being hurt. I was safe with Travis. I wasn’t his girlfriend or anything, but still I knew he would never let anyone hurt me.
Besides Travis hadn’t shown any indication he thought of me as anything more than a friend, and I have to say, I was really okay with that. No really, I was. Friends was good. Especially since he was my only one. Little by little, I began to feel better. More like the person I was before Jilly died….but maybe wiser and more grown up.
Before we knew it, the beginning of Fall was looming in a few days. The island had been quiet with no attempted contact or signs of danger. There were days when I hadn’t even given “fake Alex” a single thought and I understood the fear had slowly slipped away. The court case still hadn’t come to trial and Jin was no longer being hassled by the press. All seemed good and even I knew it was time. So when Travis came to me to shyly explain he would be leaving in a few days to attend university, I wasn’t the least bit surprised.
“I’m really sorry Jade. I’ve enjoyed my time here with you, I hope you know that.”
I nodded my head at him and smiled.
“It’s just that petrology has always been my goal and I can’t do that without attending school.”
I swallowed around the lump in my throat before saying, “It’s okay Travis, I understand. You go and I will be fine. How long will you be there?”
“The program is two years.”
“I see,” I replied in some disappointment.
“But we can still talk, text or Skype like we used to do. It’s not like it’s goodbye, right?”
I told him of course he was right, and we agreed to always stay in touch. Travis informed me he would be leaving the following day.
That night, Sun cooked a big dinner to celebrate Travis’s new adventure of university. We ate till we were stuffed, then Jin set off fireworks which lit up the sky and amazed the toddlers.We laughed and we danced around the beach to music and the bright lights of sparklers as we wrote words and drew pictures in the air.
With the moon set high in the sky, the slight breeze had turned crisp and we had fog blowing from our breathes. We knew it was time to say goodbye. I stretched up on tip-toes and hugged Travis in full view of Jin. Even daring to give him a little kiss on the cheek.Two years, he whispered quietly to me. I sucked in a small breath before covering my mouth with my hand and running inside. I cried myself to sleep that night, completely tuckered out from all the fresh air and sad emotions running through my body. I fell asleep into a deep slumber.