The next day was somewhat awful for everyone involved. Neither sister would speak to the other, and Adaline was not going to put herself in the middle of their argument until they’d calmed down. The day after, things had still not improved, and she headed off to work at 9:00 AM sharp, and tried to put the situation at home out of her head while she got sorted in the mailroom.
People were always needed in the mailroom, as it was always busy, especially so with the large firm Adaline worked with. They were as in demand and ever-changing as tech support, really. She was busy enough that she’d almost forgotten about the girls by the time she arrived back home, exhausted.
Stanley was waiting for her outside, a smile on his face. “Adaline! How was work?”
She smiled, smoothing down her work dress. “It was busy. How are the girls?”
Stanley winced. “Blossom came back from school riled up and tried to pick a bit of a fight over the television. I tried to handle it, but Cherish didn’t let her temper get the better of her, and I’ve sent Blossom upstairs. Cherish is in the kitchen.”
Adaline smiled, and kissed his cheek. “Darling, I’m certain you did what was best. You always do.”
They walked into the house holding hands like they used to when Cherish was a newborn, and Stanley silently thanked the Watcher that he and Adaline had ended up together. Sure, the girls fought, but as a family, they were happy enough. And as a couple, they were still very much in love, after all these years.
Adaline kissed his cheek, and leant over to whisper in his ear. “I’ll talk to Cherish. You go relax.”
He kissed her gently, and then moved to sit down on the sofa, close enough to help if the chat with Cherish went downhill. Adaline sighed, a little lovestruck, before sitting next to Cherish.
“How was school?” she asked, and Cherish smiled to herself.
“And how are things with your sister?” Adaline asked. Cherish’s smile fell slightly.
“I don’t…really want to talk about it, Mom.” She turned away, picking up her plate and heading over to the sink. Adaline sighed.
“I want everyone in this house to at least be talking. We won’t be if this goes on.”
“Well, she shouldn’t have done that! She knows why!” Cherish turned to her mom. “Doesn’t she understand how embarrassing it is?”
“Why don’t you tell her?” Adaline tried, as a last resort, before wrinkling her nose up. “You can also tell her to stop playing around with the chemistry set, if that’s her creating that smell.”
A smell like rotting socks had begun to float down the stairs, and Cherish rolled her eyes, but knew there would be no stopping Adaline from making her do this. She headed up the stairs. Well, fine. If that was the way it was going to be, she’d talk to her sister. But she didn’t want to!
Blossom was desperately trying to stop the smoking vial from doing anything worse. Oh, Plumbobs. She must have added the wrong chemical, and created this awful thing! It was a truly disgusting smell, too.
“Gross.” Cherish held the sleeve of her sweater over her nose. “Don’t you have a neutralising chemical or something?”
Blossom blinked, and then held up a vial of blue liquid, and poured it in, watching as the vial turned a peaceful green colour.
“I…didn’t think of that,” she admitted, embarrassed, and Cherish sighed.
“You didn’t think of a few things, though. I’m not exactly surprised.”
“Like what?” Blossom corked the vial, and carefully put it away in the compartment of the table. Cherish hesitated, and Blossom looked up at her.
“When I was…a bit older than you, Bloss, there was this girl in my year. She really hated me. She thought all the boys liked me better or something, and she was really mean to everyone, like, real mean. She used to accuse me of some nasty things, and when the spot happened, and the ‘Blemish’ thing happened, she kept it going. Even when I didn’t have any spots, she’d make sure people called me that. Every time I tried to make it go away, it made it worse, and every time I got spots, it got worse.”
Blossom stared at her. “Didn’t you tell anyone?” Didn’t you have to do that with bullies?
“Didn’t matter when I did. She’d do it, still. She was so nasty. She got the boy I liked to dump me through that. It doesn’t really matter now, Bloss, but it felt so awful. You have to understand that it really, really hurt.”
“I…” Blossom swallowed. “I’m sorry.”
“So am I,” Cherish said, unexpectedly. “I know we aren’t exactly the best of friends, but I…I acted really awful, these past couple of days. You wanted to get your own back, yeah?”
“Yeah,” Blossom admitted. “And look cool in front of Taryn. I mean, she thinks you’re really cool! And you dye your hair! I can’t be as cool as that!”
“Hey, small fry. Listen.” Cherish knelt down to her sister’s level. “You’re every bit as cool as me. And if people can’t see that, you move on, okay? Find friends who do.”
Blossom shook her head. “Taryn and I are friends! But…Polly always hangs around with Olivia, and they giggle and are really silly. They play Kiss-Chase with the boys.”
“Nauseating.” Cherish grinned, and straightened up. “But I guess that everything’s going alright in school?”
“Yeah. Although, I do have homework. On my first day!”
“Don’t blow it up,” Cherish joked, and Blossom smiled before she could think about stopping it, and the two of them laughed, before Cherish headed back downstairs, leaving Blossom to do her homework.
Cherish had had a much better first day. Willow Creek’s high school was a small one, and a new girl attracted enough attention that she made a few new friends almost immediately. Lily, Penny, and Alison were three girls who’d welcomed her into their small circle. She was already in all the group chats, had all their numbers, their Snapchats, and she’d promised to message them all when she could.
And then there had been a boy who seemed to have taken a shine to her. One John Wesley, who attended the school with his sister, and who had said how refreshing it was to meet new people with a wink in her direction.
She was taking out the rubbish when she noticed him standing nearby, looking a little shocked to see her.
“Miss Harman!” he said, smiling at her.
“Mr Wesley.” She allowed a little half-smile back at him. “What are you doing around here?”
“Oh, I walk around here every now and then. See the sights. I live with Paris nearby, and this just so happens to be my favourite part of Willow Creek.”
“Oh?” Cherish asked, her cheeks a little pink.
“Mm. I mean, I can show you…hang on, here we go.” He fished his phone from his pocket. “Mom and Dad are pretty busy, most of the time, so they decided to get me and Paris a place in the Creek so we can attend high school while they go all around the world. It’s a lot of fun. We’re really independent. I mean, the place isn’t much, but…”
“It doesn’t need to be.” Cherish smiled as she saw a picture of John and the impeccable Paris stood with a blonde woman who looked like a model and a man with the smile of a fox in a living room not much bigger than theirs. “Is that your dad?”
“Yeah, Senior. He’s John Wesley too.”
“Must be confusing.” You’re my favourite John Wesley, she thought to herself.
“‘Course, Senior doesn’t think me and Paris should spend too much, so we get a bit of a small allowance. He’s such an old fogey. Thinks I should marry the second I get to university.”
“My mom married when she was out of high school.” Cherish smiled. “She and my dad were really happy.”
“Oh, for sure! Marriage for love is so much better than marriage for money. Girls just always seem to be flirting with me, and I always know it’s for money. Like, honestly, I’d like just for once to be flirted with because someone likes me.” He smiled at Cherish. “Sorry, I’m rambling.”
“No, no! I mean, some of the people at my grandparents’ parties try to flirt with me for the same thing. Because we’re an old family, not a rich one, and people love status. My mom’s a Summerdream by birth, so people want the status. Back where my grandparents live, the Summerdreams are like, one of the oldest families. It’s so dumb!”
“Summerdream? Like, the Veronaville Summerdreams? My great-great-grandma used to live there!”
“Yeah, Desdemona Capp! She met my great-great-grandfather when they went there on business. That is so neat!”
“Woah, that’s totally weird!” Cherish stared at him. “That means our families knew each other way back when!”
They stared at each other for a minute, before laughing.
“You better head back, or they’ll think I’ve kidnapped you. Here.” He fished a pen from his pocket, writing on the back of her hand. “Message me when you can!”
He started to walk away, and Cherish went pink, looking at his number.
He gave me his number!
That night, while Stanley sat through in the living room watching a late movie, Adaline went to sleep early, pleased that her daughters had reconciled, and that for now, the household was peaceful. The little house was no longer full of horrible silence, but instead a relaxed atmosphere had taken its place, letting her easily fall asleep.
Blossom went to sleep, dreaming of a planet made of marshmallows, relieved not to be fighting with her sister for once. She sort of missed being able to hear Cherish’s phone go off, and being in the same room as her sister, oddly enough.
And across the hallway, Cherish went to sleep, dreaming of a time when Veronaville was the place to be, of being in a long ballgown, and dancing with a handsome young man who looked not unlike John Wesley.
“My lady Summerdream, may I have this dance?”
“My lord Capp…”