1.21. For the Birds



Luna grips the armrest on the passenger's side of the family's SUV. Lydia has asked her to teach her to drive, and it's proving to be an anxiety-inducing endeavor.

"Don't ride the break and the gas at the same time," she snaps.

"I'm not, mom!"

"Yes you are! This isn't a standard--you only need to use your right foot."

Lydia rolls her eyes and sucks her teeth. She presses down on the gas, determined to prove that she’s not as incapable as her mother seems to think she is.

"Slow down," Luna shrieks, "you're going to hit Lark!"



Lydia slams on the brakes and the car screeches to a halt. She narrowly misses hitting Lark, who is madly pedaling on her bike.

“See, this is what happens when you don’t pay attention.”

“Whatever. I wasn't even close,” Lydia turns the wheel, completely ignoring her blind spot as she makes a u-turn.

“We’re not even a hundred feet from the house and you’ve almost committed vehicular homicide. Wait, what are you doing?”

“Turning around. I’m going to ask dad to teach me to drive instead.”

Luna is relieved. Both of her teenage children are terrifying drivers. Their instruction is better left to someone less neurotic than her.


Despite the best efforts of her sister, Lark safely makes it to her destination: a quaint community garden a few blocks away from their home. Her favorite part of the garden is a small chicken coop. She likes to talk to the chickens. They rarely respond, but it makes her feel better to get her thoughts out into the universe.


“Hi, Mother Clucker,” Lark greets a brown hen who is perched on top of the coop. Mother Clucker is the mother of most of the other community chickens. She is also uncharacteristically unafraid of humans, a trait that makes her a darling to Aurora Skies’ residents. In fact, her friendliness towards humans is the only reason she wasn’t slaughtered as soon as she stopped producing eggs. “This is going to be my last time visiting you like this,” Lark continues.
Mother Clucker tilts her head.


“I’m sorry. That came out wrong. I”m aging up tomorrow,” she explains, “so I won’t see you again like this--like a kid. I’ll be a teenager.” She puffs her chest out proudly, but the waver in her voice betrays her fear.


Mother Clucker, true to her name, clucks loudly.

“Okay,” Lark deflates, “so I’m a little scared to age up. Being a teenager looks really boring. Like all Lydia cares about is her boyfriend and school and prom and overthrowing the current president of student council.”

Mother Clucker’s eyes are fixed on Lark, so the girl takes that as a sign to continue.
“I mean, I guess some boys are okay,” Lark trails off for a moment, “but what else do I have to look forward to?” The elderly hen throws back her head and lets out a cackle. 


Lark looks thoughtful for a moment, “you’re right, I hadn’t thought of it that way.” Lark doesn’t expand further, so any eavesdroppers would be at a loss as to what was so comforting about the hen’s words.


Lark chats with Mother Clucker and the other chickens for awhile before she loses interest. When she was younger, she truly felt like they were talking to her. But now that she’s on the brink of teendom, their voices seem fainter, and it takes concentration on her part to hear--or imagine--what they’re saying. And then there’s the nagging voice in the back of head that tells her this activity is for the birds. To her dismay, it grows louder each day.


Lark’s second favorite part of the community garden is the plants themselves. There’s a garden at the Bee household, but Lark isn’t allowed in it. She once--once--weeded a tomato plant by pulling out the whole tomato plant, root and all, so her father forbids her from helping with the gardening. But despite that single mistake, Lark feels that gardening is the one thing she’s good at. Case and point, she’s nursed the grapevines in the community garden back from the brink of death. 


The grapes are delicious, even with a light coating of grit and dirt. She is proud of herself for taking care of the plant, but her success will go unnoticed. Her parents don’t know the exact details about her excursions to the community garden, and no one keeps track of who tends which plant. So Lark labors in anonymity. She doesn’t mind. That anonymity means that the community garden remains her secret place.

***


Lark spends her last night of childhood playing video games with Lydia. It’s an ancient racing game, a game that she has played so many times that she has all of the tracks memorized. But she’s too excited about playing with her older sister to care.

Lydia, meanwhile, is enjoying the ease with which she’s crushing her competition. Truth be told, she only offered to play with her little sister because she’s had a rough week at school. Kristofer has been distant ever since his ex-girlfriend Janelle started snubbing the two of them, and the current student council president--an outgoing senior--seems to be favoring another freshman to fill the position next school year. She’s trying to join the debate club to round out her skills, but the coach has a ban on freshman and Lydia’s inability to demonstrate her worth is negative proof that she doesn’t belong on the team. And  the cherry on top: she got a 98 on her most recent trigonometry quiz. It’s upsetting, to say the least.

As the sisters play, Lark’s excitement reaches a fever pitch. She’s so close to beating Lydia, she can feel it. She squeals as her polygonal car passes Lydia’s. Suddenly, a loud pop erupts from the television. The screen turns to static.

“Great,” Lydia wrinkles her nose, “look what you did.”

“What I did? We were both playing. It could have been you.”

“You’re the one who always breaks things, you little gremlin.”

“Yeah, well you have a fart face,” Lark snaps back.

“You’re so immature,” Lydia rolls her eyes, “whatever. I don’t have time for this. I have homework to do.”

“Nerd,” Lark calls after her sister. She swears to never forgive her older sister for this slanderous slight against her good character. To think--her, a gremlin?! How preposterous. 



But she forgets her oath the following day, her birthday.

“Hi,” Lark chirps as she waves at the guest in front of her, “I’m Lark! I don’t know you. Why are you at my party?”


Stephen Valquist looks at Luke with confusion. He had come home after school with Luke so the two could work on a group project. He doesn’t know anything about a party.

“It’s her birthday,” Luke explains.

“Oh,” Stephen shifts awkwardly, “um, happy birthday.”


“Thanks,” Lark grins, “I like your hair. It looks really soft. I’m going to be a teenager. Wait,  that’s not weird, right? That I complimented your hair?”

“Uh--” “So how do you know Luke? I didn’t think he had any friends.” “So,” Luke interjects, “let’s get to that science project, Stephen. Have a good party, Lark.”



Lark’s party is sparsely attended. Her cousin Lowell, already a teenager, is the only one of her friends who actually made it to her poorly planned weekday party. Other than that, the only guests are her parents and two of her father’s friends, Stefan and Miriam Svard.


But Lark is too focused on her cake to even notice. There are only three candles even though she’s much older than three, but that’s a plus her in opinion--they’ll be easier to blow out, so her wish will come true.

Even though she’d been looking forward to her birthday wish, she had hardly considered it. Lark thinks back on her anxiety she had about becoming a teenager, the fear she felt at the thought of change. But that seems so silly now, especially after the enlightening conversation she had with Mother Clucker. The hen’s comforting cackle echoes in her ears. She shouldn’t be afraid of change. No, she should embrace it--change means new opportunities.



She closes her eyes, makes her wish, and blows out the candles. Her body begins to sparkle. In the blink of an eye, she’s a teenager. Lark gives a faint smile to her parents, who are cheering her on. She hopes her wish comes true. She could really use some excitement in her life.


***

Author’s note: This chapter is short because when I looked back at my screenshots, I realized how many gaps I had in my gameplay. I also didn’t have a narrative in mind for the point from Lark’s near  abduction and the intro of Sheba until now. I was just kinda...playing. But I have some stuff planned for Lark who, if you haven’t guessed, is the heir. I’m totally happy with how she turned out, btw. I rolled to determine who was heir and I’m not stoked about her rolls, but I really like the way she looks.

Lark’s party was desolate because it was prom that night. All of her friends were already teens. Lowell was the only one who didn’t run off to prom, though Lydia and Luke kept running back and forth between prom and the Bee house. It was bizarre and annoying so I decided to just not include that.'

Comments

  1. Great chapter! I had to laugh inappropriately at Mother Clucker. Lark looks good as a teen! Hopefully she makes some human friends soon.

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    1. Thanks! Why did you laugh--Mother Clucker is a totally innocent name. ;) Lark has a couple of human friends already--they just haven't really appeared in the legacy yet. Soon, I promise!

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  2. Mother Clucker, great. Love it. 10/10 best chicken name

    I love Lark, I too hope she gets friends who aren't chickens and don't have names that sound like punchlines to an animal joke (there was a cow and chicken in the queue, the cow said "moove" and the chicken said "cluck off I got here first")

    Prom's just a nightmare in game >.< (well, when it works for me it is) it's unrealistic and just irritating

    Are we going to be seeing Stephen some more? I feel like we are because of his interaction with Lark... *becomes suspicious*

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    1. Thanks! I was very proud of that name. :)

      Lark has a couple of human friends, I promise--they just haven't been properly introduced. Also, that joke is wonderful. I love animal jokes. :D

      I hate prom, especially since it's just an annoying rabbit hole adventure.

      I hope so! He actually randomly visited the Bees right at the beginning of Lark's party, and I thought he was adorable so I made sure Lark met him so she could befriend him at school. :)

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  3. Lark was such an adorable kid. I love how well she deals with all the injustice life throws at her. Both the conversation with Mother Clucker and the one with Stephen were so cute and funny :) I can't wait to see how she develops now.

    Teen Lark is such a stunner! I love that hair and her lip color. *u* Also, that second to last picture has to be the sassiest age up pic in existence.

    For Lark's safety, maybe you should postpone driving lessons for Lydia indefinitely. I wouldn't put it beyond her to try and usurp her little sister's heirdom.

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    1. Lark is incredibly well-adjusted considering how overbearing her mother is. I think she's had a happy childhood, though! I regret not showing more of the happy stuff, like her playdates with her cousins and all the friends she made. I'm trying really hard to make her happier and more confident than Luna without her becoming as mouthy and inappropriate as Polaris and Nova.

      Teen Lark is a total fox, though she looks a lot weirder if her hair doesn't cover her ears. I was totally impressed by her sassy age up, which is why I included it even though her party was so bleak.

      OMG I hadn't considered that! But Lydia is really power hungry, so that's a possibility...

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  4. Teen!Lark is stunning. I hope that she eases into adolescence and puberty well... I feel quite bad for her though. She seems to be forgotten a lot by her parents. And, of course, was almost run over.
    Mother Clucker made me laugh a lot. My chickens back home all have names of dictators or rulers with hen puns. From Broodica to Attila the Hen. So I have a soft spot for chickens <3

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    1. Lark is a total optimist, so I'm sure she'll do well. Her parents just kind of disappeared, didn't they? I swear they're good parents.

      Those are amazing chicken names--Broodica is especially brilliant. My grandmother kept chickens so I have a soft spot for them, too. Unfortunately I don't have enough land to keep chickens, and I'd only be able to have hens due to my city's laws. ;_;

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  5. Poor Lark, so neglected that she makes friends with farm animals. Lol, but she's awesome tho so I'm sure she will grow up well!

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    1. She's just so friendly she can make friends with anyone. :D And she grows up perfectly fine, I promise. :D

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