Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Chapter 73: Oona Does Not Say Goodnight

Thurs December 3, 2074 12:18 am: 48 King St.- Dorset, Pleasantview


"Lights out, buddy. It is way past your bedtime." Oona ducked her head into her son's bedroom, clutching the edge of the door. Conrad was absorbed in a video game. A tiny man disappeared behind a snowdrift and reappeared in the shadow of its wake, gouging deep tracks in the snow. Oona stepped fully into the room.

"I know. I was just practicing for when the storm comes," he said. Oona bent down to collect one of his shirts from the floor, folded it and placed it on his bureau.

"Storm?" Conrad banged aggressively on the keyboard.


"Yeah, there's gonna be a blizzard. Essie told me." Oona frowned. He hadn't spoken about his imaginary friend Essie in ages and she hoped that he had moved past that stage.

"Honey, I think you might be getting a bit too old to still be talking to Essie," she sighed. Conrad snorted.

"I'm not getting too old to talk to Essie, she's getting too old to talk to me! She said so. She's too old to walk here all the way from the park and her knees creak and so I pro'lly won't see her again 'til spring, when she's a little girl. Just like last year." Oona had forgotten this detail of Essie's existence-- that she grew young and old with the seasons "in a circle", as Conrad said. Oona smirked to herself. Tiresome as Phoenix might have been, he raised a very creative little boy. Oona turned down the sheets on Conrad's bed.

"Well the weatherman on Channel 6 predicted clear skies from now until infinity so I think it's safe to turn off the video game and go to bed."

"He wouldn't know about it yet." There was a simple and perfunctory assertiveness to Conrad's tone. The line between the real and the imagined often blurred for Oona's son. She beat his pillow flat.

"Then we aren't in any imminent danger are we? There will be plenty of time to practice our snowboarding later. To bed, Mr. Horne." Her command was law. Conrad exited his game and climbed onto his bed where he sat cross-legged. His jaw slacked as he stared out of the glass door that lead to the balcony.


"Essie said that I'm supposed to find something in the snow and it's going to be bad but I shouldn't be scared when I find it. What do you think it is?" Oona frowned, pulling his sheets over his legs to incite him to lie down.

"I don't like Essie telling you about things that might be scary," she said. Conrad screwed-up his face in thought.

"I know and I told her that I didn't think that you would like her telling me 'bout scary stuff but she said that she had to tell me so that I wouldn't be too scared when it does happen." Oona brought the comforter up to his chin and kissed his forehead.

"I don't want you going to bed frightened."

"I'm not."

"How much does your mommy love you?" Conrad grinned and withdrew his arms from under the covers, opening wide. Oona tickled his ribcage through his cotton jumper. He squirmed, making a high-pitched sound.

"Night-night, Conrad."

"Night, Mom."


November 17, 2064 9:43 pm: Arbormoor Manor- Arbormoor, Pleasantview (Ten Years earlier)


Cricket's elder brother Cyrus was a rake. In the aftermath of Oona's snarling rejection of his nearly-cunning advance, they each sat frozen, eyes focused on the crowd. Oona wished that she could be the sort of woman that her mother was in moments like these. When Kelly LeCroix made a rebuff, it appeared in the guise of a crystalline laugh that showered down upon the offending party, softening the blow and intensifying her mystery. There was an art to the way that Kelly flirted, advancing and retreating in equal measures in order to hinder progress. Not so for Oona. Oona did not flirt. She spat and hissed and seethed and spat again. It was offensive to her that a man, any man but particularly a married man, would look at her twice, assuming that she might take an interest. He'd heard that she was an artist's model. Not really, no. Well yes, she had sat for a set of sketches once. Yes, she knew that Vincent Randall was a big deal but they were just doodles. They met in a restaurant in Riverblossom. It wasn't important which restaurant. Yes, she had heard that he was something of a recluse but no, she didn't know the guy personally. They barely talked. What did he look like? He looked like... A dude? Oona didn't know. Just a regular guy. Early forties. Normal build. And no, she didn't want him to get her a drink. She wasn't even old enough to drink. No, her mother wouldn't care if she had a drink but her father might. It was the principle of the thing. And if his hand crept any closer to her knee, she swore to God that she would scream. That last vow went unspoken but it held true just the same.


Oona was fed up with this party. She was tired of these people-- Cyrus LeCroix-Capp in particular-- But there was no escaping her entrapment. Downstairs, the archway leading into her bedroom had no doors and the noise alone would keep her awake, not to mention her dread of being pawed by some drunken, rowdy son of a bitch. Donna and Sean's friends were a common breed of yahoo and Oona wasn't thinking about their caste. They were just revolting people. There was a couple sitting in the window to the left of her. The man was pouring sangria down the woman's front and licking it away like an alley cat lapping rain from an upturned garbage bin lid. Maybe Oona should go to bed. Maybe she would get lucky and one of these people would murder her in her sleep. She could be reborn as something graceful but ugly. Like a moth or something.

Cyrus's exposed golden eye flickered in her direction. He had thin, mournful lips and blotchy skin. If not for his freakish eyes, Oona would have found it hard to believe that he was Cricket's brother. Anyway, Oona was naturally suspicious of anyone who asked too many questions about "Vincent Randall". Her father had been monumentally angry when those sketches went public. She didn't think that his relationship with Mr. Tricou would ever fully mend. There was a lot that she didn't understand about what passed between those two. But of course, she wasn't meant to understand. It was a shame because Oona liked Mr. Tricou a lot, even in spite of how unpleasant he had become over the past couple of years. Or maybe that was part of it.

The change had come when he started to grow his hair long. Her father presumed that Mr. Tricou was having problems in his personal life but Oona could not imagine what a "personal life" meant for Kvornan Tricou. Did he have family left? Friends? What did he do all day? And with whom? The longer that she knew Kvornan, the more apparent it became that she had never really known him at all. This new Kvornan, who was all steel eyes and bared teeth, did not come to her with gifts or embraces. This new Kvornan did not coo at her in Ashkay about how tall she was getting. This new Kvornan was always angry or on the verge of it. He whipped out his sketch pad to settle his thoughts and drew with fury in his heart. His lines were deep, thick, storm-laden. To Oona, his work was the real manifestation of his divinity.

Sometimes she fanticized about him coming to her window at Arborboor and whisking her away. She didn't know why she had thoughts like that but she did. She had them while she watched his hands moving across the page but also during those rare moments when he seemed more emotionally spent than anything else. His weakness had its own aesthetic just like his rage. Oona supposed that most girls her age nursed crushes on atheletes and pop singers--

"I think you're very beautiful." Cyrus's voice pulled her out of her thoughts. She scowled at him, more for the interruption than anything else.

"You'll have to excuse me," she said, standing. As she walked away in no particular direction, a man took a seat in front of Cyrus, speaking a rapid and vulgar Ashkay. Oona thought she heard the words, "townie poontang", which she chose to ignore just as she ignored Cyrus calling her back.


The place was wall-to-wall with faces that she didn't recognize, bodies that collided with hers intentionally. She wondered how Cully was contending with the noise and thought sourly that she was probably the only person present who was at all concerned that there was a toddler in the house. She peered through the tangle of dancing limbs, hoping to catch sight of her father's navy suit. Her knight in cufflinked armor would deliver her from this prison tower. She could be asleep and blessedly alone in thirty minutes time. Oona powered her way through the crowd, searching as best she could without staring at any one person for too long when towards the back of the room, she heard a familiar, tinkling laugh.


"If you ask me, it's marvelous but according to certain husbands of mine, I'm not to be trusted as--What did you call me the other day, pappa?-- Oh, right! 'Not an artbitor of taste,' whatever that means. I think that my tastes are highly sophisiticated. He's just too young to know what's good and what isn't." Kelly was stretched across Cricket's lap, her back arched wantonly. She looked like a figure from a Fuseli painting but smiling wide and red as the devil. The blonde woman that she was shouting at cackled hysterically. They were drunk. Drunk and probably also high. Oona had not waited a moment too soon to make her exit.

Cricket was watching her through his bubble gum pink hair as she approached, unnoticed by her mother. Oona couldn't stand Cricket but when she thought about it, this was little fault of his own. As a person, he was quiet and inobtrusive which were both qualities that Oona liked in other people. If she was anti-Cricket then it was her mother's fault for marrying him. Oona was embarassed that her mother should have married a man who was nearly as close to Oona's age as he was to her mother's. Worse, he was a resident which made Kelly a resident and consequently, Oona as well. She had been too young to have any legal say in the matter but Oona would have prefered to stay a townsman. Being townie-born amongst residents was just as socially awkward as being townie amongst residents. At least when she was a townie, everyone around her was townie as well so she didn't feel the need to dress a certain way or correct her speech or look a resident in the eyes when she spoke to them, which was something that she had been mentally conditioned not to do for the whole of her life. Everything was just that much more strained since her mother married.

They bought Arbormoor at Oona's father's behest. Kelly and Cricket were easily swayed by the idea of a fixer-upper manor in the woods as it appealed to both of their eccentric sensibilities. Only Oona knew that her father had his own interests in mind. Though it was the wisest move to make, the unfortunate result for Oona was that she had to live in a fixer-upper manor in the woods. Nevermind that the place freaked her out. The noises. The inexplicable moisture that accumulated on the floors in certain rooms. She swore up and down that Arbormoor Manor was haunted. When she told Mr. Tricou about her suspicions, he merely grunted in response. Oona couldn't tell whether it was an agreement or a rebuke.


"Look at what the cat dragged in. Done playing with your uncle already, sweetheart?" Kelly barely raised her head but threaded her arms deeper around Cricket's body. Oona cringed, her unblushing cheeks growing hot just the same.

"Don't call that creep my uncle. Is Dad still here?" Oona snapped. Kelly stretched her limbs while Cricket petted her hair fondly. Kelly made kissy faces up towards him. They were such weirdos and it was so gross.

"Your father left ages ago. Why? Getting bored with-- with the old people already?" Oona was not paying attention to that last. A dusty green bottle rolled across the floor and tapped the side of her shoe. It was unlabeled and the glass was wavy, primitive even. Oona wrinkled her nose.

"What have you been drinking?" With that, Kelly started to sit up but found the task too daunting and collapsed back onto Cricket's lap once more.


"It's a lovely red that we found in the cellar behind a false door a few days back. It's probably pure poison but it makes you feel just wonderful. You really must try some." Oona didn't know if her alarm was registering on her face. Kelly was not giggling any longer and now that Oona was taking a good look at her, something did seem off. Something more serious than intoxication. Her eyes were bright and slightly glazed. Her skin was like wax. This was her mother's body but perfected, stylized. It was an image that Oona would carry with her forever, never to be forgotten. She did not know it then but this was the last time that she would see her mother alive.

"You idiot." It was all that Oona could manage to say before she turned tail and ran. In years to come, she would regret it but at the time, she was too agitated to at least kiss her mother goodnight. Her father had checked that house. He had checked it again and again. Oona had come with him on one occasion. They tapped the walls and listened for hollows. They ran their hands across the floor to feel for hidden latches. They looked. There had been no secret wine cache. The place was empty. How could this have happened? She had to call her father. He had to fix this. This was not right. None of this was right.


On her way out the door, Oona caught Cyrus's stare. His golden eyes seemed to flash emerald in that instant. Green as the lichen along the swamps of Arbormoor.


  1. LULZ at Jorge's hair! Man, it is weird seeing that guy happy :S

    So... did Addison lie to her, or did they just do a really bad job of inspecting the place? If the former, then why do I have the feeling that it has something to do with Kvornan? Speaking of Kvornan, I wonder why he was sketching Oona. That whole flashback was quite ominous.

    Poor Conrad :( His parents' separation is really starting to take its toll on him, isn't it? :(

  2. He is also wearing eyeliner. :p If only we could have had a close-up! I will post one to BBL.

    Oh no, Addison didn't lie but Kvornan did have everything to do with the sale of Arbormoor. Kelly and Jorge found the stash when they were horsing around one day. Addison never explained to her that if she found old wine bottles anywhere in the house, she was never to drink them but to let him know right away. He couldn't figure out how to tell her that without going into further detail about why so he let it slide. He did check, after all.

    Back then, Addison lived in Camden (Elise's neighborhood) in a house with a swimming pool. One afternoon, he and Kvornan were in the backyard talking and Oona was sitting by the pool, dipping her feet with a towel wrapped around her shoulders. Kvornan liked what the light was doing so he started sketching and talking and yelling at Oona not to slouch.

    Conrad is dealing as best he can. Oona is letting Phoenix see his kids. She just doesn't want to be around when he does.

    More on all of these topics as DBL continues. ;)

  3. Why do I get the feeling there's more to Conrad imaginary friend? Maybe because it's Blue Lake, I'm just getting paranoid. :/

    Poor Oona. Kelly doesn't seem like she was the best mum around. And that wine! And Cyrus! What's going on there? I think I might have to reread the chapter.

  4. OF COURSE there is more to Conrad's imaginary friend! Stay tuned. ;)

    Kelly was the kind of woman who got to be of an age where she should have bucked-up and become a responsible adult but never quite did. The idea of being a figure of authority bothered her. She would have much more readily been Oona's gum-chewing buddy than her mother. Which is to say that she wasn't the worst mother around but that she had children at a time in her life where she really was not ready to give up her independence. Parties that lasted well into the night and young, pink-haired pretty boys were still on the menu for Kelly.

    Cyrus could be idly curious or there could be something more sinister that even Jorge and Donna don't know about.

    The wine! This is about to become a big deal. Breadcrumbs on this subject exist throughout the story but soon you shall find an entire loaf of bread.