The Children – Rachel and Jonathan (to be continued)

A fire burns low in the hearth, emitting a deep, velvety red glow that swaddles the room in shadows and warmth. Across from the hearth sits an oversized but broken in dark brown leather couch, now appearing nearly black as a silhouette, guarded on either side by knotted wood side-tables topped with a glass of undoubtedly warm milk and a napkin displaying a few crumbs. Laying upon the couch, the most curious young lady I have ever beheld. Eyes crystalline blue as topaz now tightly shut, knotted golden hair strewn across every surface it can reach, flowing down her right shoulder like the cascading confusion that fills her mind. Breathing in steady, deep draughts, the serenity of the scene is a fine masquerade in comparison to her dreams. Her eyelids quiver as her eyes shift back and forth, desperately hoping beyond hope that they’d open to release her from the horrific scenes playing out behind them. To no avail, her night terror continues on with vigor.

“Go back from whence you came, you spiggity liggle jobbity!” This may seem quite humorous to you and I, but how often do terrors in the night actually make sense to those foolish enough to wake up? “I’ll globble your brigobrough with my nuffinty blumputs if it’s the las’ thing I do!” With that, the jobbity shot its fearsome gaze in her direction, threatening to petrify her arms and disintegrate her toes, but she blocked it with a happy thought of a knight in shining armor just in the nick of time. She lunged back with a sunflower and a cup of chai tea, aimed directly at its focal point. The jobbity dodged most of the attack, but a pedal and a few drops clipped its shumpty, knocking it slightly off-balance. This bought her enough time to get back to her feet and send a slurry of nostalgia that was sure to hit its mark. Her aim was straight and true, but her belief in herself wavered, causing the direct hit to weaken even as it approached the beast. With a gurgling chortle, the jobbity flobbed at the jib. This was it, she knew it. Why did she always always always have to have an explanation ready for why she can’t do it? She spent what seemed like an hour hopelessly watching the flob when it finally was mere millimeters away from her face. “I am ready,” she said. With that, the jobbity collapsed and imploded. Simultaneously, the scene melted into a canvas of watery chalk on a rainy day, and she slowly opened the lids of her eyes, finally free and yet tragically devastated that she could not have reveled of her victory for more than a moment.

“Rachel, sweetheart,” a hearty, merry voice whispered as a coarse yet tender hand lovingly smoothed her hair, gathering the bits that poured over the arm of the couch, “I made you some eggs and toast for breakfast. You fell asleep on the couch. Did you have bad dreams again?” “Don’t be silly, da. There’s no such thing as a bad dream. I started sleeping in my bed, but the jobbity threatened me… I knew I’d need the glow of the fire for this one. It warmed me up, and I think I got it in the end, but then it all melted.” With a chuckle, he helped her sit up and escorted her to the table, still trying to correct the rogue strands of hair. She hopped into the seat in front of the plate of sunny side up eggs and lightly toasted wheat bread, cinnamon sugar sprinkling onto the plate as she bit into it. He turned to ask if she wanted some coffee with her breakfast, but she was so contented by the toast that he didn’t bother to ask and poured her a tall, steaming mug, adding just a splash of cream. She smiled brightly and garbled, “Shanksh da.”

Some peoples smiles light up a room, but not Rachel’s. Hers could light up the whole of the night sky, even with a full moon and all the stars. They say smiles are contagious, but the epicenter and origin of that contagion is Rachel. I myself have been in such a foul mood that I literally couldn’t think of one decent thing to say about myself or anyone else, and so I stayed silent for the entire morning. (I’ve been told by several sources that if I have nothing nice to say, I shouldn’t say anything at all.) It was a miserable morning to be miserable on and there wasn’t a darn thing anybody could say to make me think differently. I hit my head in the shower, dropped my soap several times, bruising at least three of my toes, ripped my pants while trying to put them on in a hurry because I was running late, and discovered to my chagrin that I had not prepared my pantry for the next day, so I had nothing of substance to eat for lunch. So I gave up on the day and decided I’d at least do one thing I enjoy: sit at a coffee shop.

Head low and bobbing lazily, feet scraping the pavement with my shoulders hunched, I slumped over to a café called Cultured, and as I reached out to open the front door, who but Rachel should greet me with a big, toothy-grinned and squinty-eyed smile, and say, “Top ‘o the Monday mornin’ to ya, mister! It’s quite the lovely day we’re having!” Without a hesitation or second thought, I returned the greeting, “Sure is, kiddo!” and bounced my merry way over to the counter to order my coffee, whistling the happiest tune I think I may have made up on the spot, the hint of a skip filling my gait. I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face! The cashier laughed at how goofy and wide my smile was. It wasn’t until I looked to find a table that I thought about what I was there to do. The goal was to improve my mood in some minute way, but that had been done for me already and in such a way that I could hardly believe I’d ever been unhappy before in my life.

I was perplexed. I had to think about what it was that turned my day around, and when I had finally figured it out, Rachel was already out the door and down the street, dragging her dad and brother along as she bounced and sang something about being a silly cherry tart, her father laughing and trying to hush her because she didn’t know what she was saying.

Back at the breakfast table, Rachel’s dad put the dishes in the sink and poured three more coffees- one for himself, one for his wife, and the third for Rachel’s brother, Jonathan. He beamed as he watched her hum, chewing her eggs and slurping her coffee. He was so proud of his little princess. “BRUCE! What’s my name again?!” Rachel’s mom called to her dad. “What the devil are you talking about?” He shouted back, knowing that this would be some sort of silly setup. “WHAT’S MY NAME?” she asked again “Uhh… Deborah?” With that, she slid into the kitchen, arms outstretched and theatrical, and said, “No! It’s Deboooooraaah!” She was dressed in electric blue sunglasses, a lime green, feathery boa, and a large yellow sunhat in addition to her pajamas. Humorously suave and sassy, as she called it, she strutted over to her place at the table, lifted her glasses to wink at Rachel, and blew a kiss to Bruce, both of them laughing from their stomachs, Rachel fell off her chair.

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