1.14. The Other Side of the Coin
In contrast, Luna’s life is quite boring. She’s fine with it, though. She might be nothing more than a baby warden right now, but at least her life is uneventful. She’s more than happy to settle for uneventful--she’s seen the other side of that coin and she doesn’t care for it.
Lydia has learned to walk, making her a full-blown terror. She toddles around the house, yelling “wok wok wok!” Luna follows Lydia with a watchful eye during her escapades. She has to keep herself from being a helicopter mom because while it’s painful to see her daughter fall, she needs to learn how to pick herself back up.
“Cake?” Lydia asks when she sees her mother eating leftover birthday cake.
“It’s spicy, sweetie. You wouldn’t like it,” Luna lies.
“Cake.” Lydia knows cake isn’t spicy, “Cake! Cake! Cake!” Each iteration of the word becomes a little whinier.
“I guess I need to hide when I eat something like this,” Luna says, annoyed. She’d like to spoil herself for once, and eating cake for dinner is exactly the kind of spoiling she needs.
“I’m sorry, honey,” Quentin says. Really, he’s just relieved Lydia’s asking for Luna’s food instead of his.
“Fool,” Lydia remarks, “you could have had cake.”
“Lobster is fancier.”
“Who cares about fanciness? Cake, Luke. Cake.”
Luke regrets his decision, but is too proud to go back on it. “Whatever. Enjoy your cake, plebeian.”
“Ah-tey,” Lark squeals, “ah-tey!”
“What is she saying?” Luna asks.
Lark doesn’t seem to be asking for anything, though. She’s content to play with her fairy bear. They decide Ahtey is the bear’s name--that has to be what Lark is saying.
Quentin still plays with the house band at the theatre in the evenings, a gig that’s becoming tiresome as he gets older. He recently tried his hand at composing music. He’d eventually like to move completely to composing, a field he’s certain must be lucrative. He just needs to pitch his music to the right person. Until then, he leaves his wife alone four nights a week, with no backup against the growing threat the children pose.
“Piano, Luke!” Lydia orders.
“Yeah, dummy, I’m playing a piano.”
“No, piano. This part of the song should be soft.”
“Then stop yelling!”
“Ugh. If dad were here you would play it right.”
“I’m pretending I’m Thelonious Monk. It’s not my fault you can’t keep up,” Luke says as he clumsily improvises on the piano.
Elysia watches the children with bemusement. The twins bicker just like her siblings used to. The desire for a second child hits her hard. She never wanted to be a mother, but now that she has a child, she can’t imagine having just one. Lowell can’t grow up alone.
“It’s fine, Crimson. Go relax. Dinner will be ready soon,” she says as she chops an onion. Crimson lets out a tiny gasp as she narrowly avoids cutting her own hand. Luna is dangerous in the kitchen--he’s personally witnessed her start two fires. He's surprised she's managed to pass on her genes.
“No, really. I’m happy to help cut onions or something.”
“Crimson, go sit down. Spaghetti is easy. It’s basically just boiling water.”
Crimson continues to hover, but he doesn’t offer any more help. He’s relieved when Luna manages to finish dinner without mangling herself or burning the house down.
“Is dinner good?”
The majority of the table agrees, save Luke: “It’s okay.”
“That’s not very nice,” Luna says.
“Yeah, you’re supposed to lie,” Lydia adds.
“Lydia,” Luna’s voice is sharp, “what have we said about lying?”
“Practice makes perfect?” Lydia offers. What did Luna do to deserve such mouthy children?
“Just eat your food, kiddo,” Crimson says. He’s not good at being authoritative.
“But the onions are cut too big!” Luke has watched enough cooking competition shows to know how to cut vegetables.
“Well then chew more, okay?” Luna wants to add a “that’ll shut you up, know-it-all” at the end of that suggestion, but she stops herself. She should at least act like she’s more mature than her children
Quentin arrives home in the middle of dinner, but he declines to join the rest of the family for dinner. “Stefan brought donuts today, so I’m not hungry,” he tells Luna. She reminds him he’s not a teenager anymore, and hasn’t been for years, so he needs to eat real food. He assures her that he’s eaten enough, though (“I had like five donuts, Luna. I’m fine”). Instead, Quentin offers to put Lark to bed. It doesn’t make any sense, but he misses her immensely whenever he's at work. How can he love a useless little creature so much?
“Good night, baby girl,” he whispers.
“One song, okay? Just one.”
“Ba,” Lark agrees to the terms.
Quentin sings in a smooth, tenor voice that fills the nursery: “go to sleep you little baby, go to sleep you little baby, your momma's gone away and your daddy’s gonna stay, didn't leave nobody but the baby.”
Lark lies down and smiles contentedly, her eyelids drooping as her father serenades her to sleep. It takes only a few moments for her to fall asleep. Quentin sneaks out of the nursery, careful to not step on any of the creaky floorboards. He’s memorized the path he must take to successfully retreat without waking her.
The twins have gone to bed, and Lowell is asleep on Luna and Quentin’s bed, pillows piled around him to keep him from rolling off. This leaves the adults free to discuss things without interruption. Elysia, Luna, and Crimson are already engrossed in conversation when Quentin comes downstairs.
“Crimson is refusing to knock me up,” Elysia says, glaring at her boyfriend.
“I just think we should fully think about the consequences of having a second child.”
“I doubt our son will be normal,” Crimson says. In his opinion Lowell is exceptionally smart and talented, but he's bound to be a little eccentric if he’s anything like his father.
“Elysia has a point. Children do better with siblings,” Luna doesn’t have any scientific evidence to back up this claim, but she couldn’t imagine being an only child.
“We can barely handle one,” Crimson frowns.
“What do you think, Quentin?” Crimson turns to his brother-in-law for support.
“Shut up,” Quentin raises his hand.
“Shh!” Quentin looks towards the ceiling, “did you hear that?”
“Hear what?” Luna asks.
“Footsteps. Someone’s upstairs.”
“Could it be one of the twins?” Elysia asks.
“No, Lark’s room is above us,” Luna looks worried.
“Keep talking,” Quentin stands up, “I’m gonna check it out.” Before he heads upstairs, he grabs a baseball bat out of the umbrella rack that’s by the door. It’s a strange place to keep a bat, but the umbrella rack seems to collect oddities.
“Don't you weep pretty baby, don't you weep pretty baby,” the man sings in a raspy voice, “you and me and the devil makes three, don't need no other lovin’ baby.” He doesn’t seem to notice as Quentin tiptoes into the bedroom.
Mercury doesn’t see it coming. Quentin swings hard, his aim flawless. The bat cracks against the back of Mercury’s skull. He’s taken worse hits, but this stands as one of the most surprising.
For once, Quentin is relieved his father made him participate in little league. It was an impressive swing.
I know that there are a lot of coincidences in my Simverse. But you know what? A plot is just a series of coincidences. So there.