I can’t believe that school starts tomorrow. It feels so strange and wrong to realize that you won’t be waiting for me at the end of your driveway in the morning. It’s just not fair. We’re finally seniors, and we had so many plans for this year!
At least Di says Mart is talking to her, and she says he seems to enjoy being in Ithaca. She also sends her love and says to tell you she’ll write to you when she gets a chance. Dan, too, and I know you’ve heard from Jim. Oh, and Di also said to let you know that Terry and Larry are completely lost with their ringleader gone. Please do tell him that we all say hello.
I need to sign off, though, and go to bed. Miss Trask just reminded me that it’s already getting pretty late, and tomorrow’s going to be rough enough without adding a lack of sleep to it. 🙂
Let me know how you’re doing, and how your first day of school goes!
I got your email, and I wish I had been there with you and Di today. I miss you so much, and it still doesn’t seem real that I’m so far away from you all.
I honestly think Bobby’s coping better than I am. He seems to love his school, and he’s already made friends with some kids next door. They seem like nice kids, I suppose, even if all they seem to talk about is comics and Magic: The Gathering.
I really wish you were here with me, Honey. I never realized just how much I depended on you and on all of the BWG’s, though, until suddenly you’re there and I’m here. This school is nothing like Sleepyside where you know almost everyone. It’s so big and hectic, and there are creepy murals everywhere. And it just figures that out of the two high schools in Moperville, I would wind up going to Moperville North – the only one that requires uniforms. They’re so icky, too – black skirts, white short-sleeved blouses, and black vests. I can’t believe that they actually make us wear skirts to school, let alone these stupid vests that serve no purpose. There’s this one girl who absolutely refuses to wear the vests or the skirts, though. I’m not sure how she gets away with wearing the guys’ uniform, but rumor has it that the administration is afraid of her. I can’t believe that’s true, but still, I can’t imagine anyone openly defying Mr. Stratton like that. Besides, even if I could, I couldn’t do anything to cause even more problems for Moms right now. She’s got enough to deal with without me or Bobby adding to it.
And since our curriculum was different, I’m the only senior in a couple of my classes. I’m still not sure just how I wound up in a “generic science” class, but the principal insisted. I didn’t even know that there was such a thing once you got to high school, but at least it should be easy after the chemistry and biology we’ve already taken. I hope so, anyway, because I’m not sure how I’m going to like the teacher. We had our first lab today, and the first thing he did was inform us that if we’re doing an experiment that manages to come to life, he and the school aren’t responsible for what happens. He said it with such a straight face, too, and it seemed like he was completely serious. Uh, if my science experiment comes to life, I think we’ll have more problems than the school can solve!
Let everyone know how much I miss all of you. One year can’t be all that long, can it?
She took her change from the cashier and picked up her lunch tray, looking quickly across the crowded cafeteria for an empty seat, preferably one that faced away from the mural on the far wall. Eating lunch alone was bad enough, but she knew that having to look at the huge painting of a perpetually perky student would definitely send her into the tears that she tried so hard to keep hidden under the surface. She took a deep breath and started walking through the still unfamilar room, jumping when someone touched her arm.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to startle you,” the girl said. “You just look sort of lost, and I thought you might like to join me and my friends for lunch.”
“I feel lost,” Trixie admitted reluctantly, forcing a smile at the very girl she had mentioned in her email to Honey the night before. “This school is huge.”
“I thought you were new here,” the dark-haired girl answered as she steered Trixie towards a table where three others were already sitting. “I’m Susan. Welcome to Moperville North.”
“I’m Trixie,” she said, smiling at the first measure of friendliness anyone had shown to her in the day and a half she had spent at the school. “It’s nice to meet you.”
Susan returned her smile as they reached the table. “You, too.” She put her lunch tray down. “Everyone, this is Trixie. I asked her to join us for lunch.”
“Hi,” the blonde girl across from Susan greeted her as she sat down on the stool next to Susan. “I’m Sarah.” She motioned to the boy beside her. “This is my boyfriend, Elliot.”
“Nice to meet you,” Elliot said. “I think you’re in my math class, aren’t you?”
Trixie looked at him and blinked. “I think so. Mr. Brown, last period?”
“Yup,” he nodded. “We’re in for a rough year, or so I’ve been told.”
“I hope not,” she sighed. “Math’s never been my strong suit.”
“It won’t be that bad,” the purple haired boy next to Susan assured her. “And if it is, my girlfriend promised to help us all if we need it. I’m sure she’ll be willing to help you, too.”
She looked at Susan hopefully. “I’d really appreciate it, my brothers used to help me, but they’re both in college this year.”
“I don’t think so!” Susan exclaimed, shaking her head while Sarah giggled and Elliot bit back a grin. She shook her head at Trixie’s stunned expression. “I’m sorry, and I’ll be willing to help you, but I’m not Tedd’s girlfriend. Grace goes to Moperville South, with Elliot’s sister and some of our other friends.”
“Sorry, I didn’t mean…”
“No, we can’t expect you to know who’s who already,” Susan assured her. “It’s not your fault. And honestly, Grace is a whiz at math.”
“And everything she puts her mind to,” Tedd added, a note of pride in his voice. He took a bite of his sandwich. “So, are you new to Moperville? Where did you live before?”
“Yeah,” she sighed wistfully. “Just moved here from Sleepyside, a small town in New York that no one’s ever heard of.”
“Oh, please,” Susan said. “You think anyone has ever heard of Moperville?”
I’m sorry I haven’t written sooner. School’s not the same without you, and everyone keeps asking me and Honey where you are. Want an interesting tidbit? Jamie Kenworthy was extremely disappointed when he found out you’re not in Sleepyside. Nick Roberts was, too. Looks like Jim may have had some competition this year. 😉 Don’t tell your brother, either, but Mallory’s been moping ever since the two of you left. Yikes. Kids sure do get crushes early now, don’t they?
In drama, we’re working on Into the Woods for our fall production. I can’t believe we’re actually doing a musical this year, but so far, I think it’s going to be fun. It’s about what happens when fairy tales collide, and I’m playing Cinderella. Ruthie Kettner is the baker’s wife, and Jane is the witch. We recruited Honey to help with costumes, which she seems to be enjoying.
Don’t worry about me, Di. I’m okay, or at least, as okay as I can be after everything that’s happened. Into the Woods sounds like it will be a lot of fun, and I wish I could be there to see it or to help out with sets again.
I know you said not to, but I told Bobby that Mallory said hi. I’ve never seen him turn that red, so apparently the crush goes both ways. Yeah, they’re too young, but I seem to remember this girl in my kindergarten class who had a crush on one of my brothers….
Then again, I was only thirteen when I met Jim, so I guess I can’t talk either, can I? Of course, so was Moms, and we see how it turned out for her. Great, now I’m on the verge of crying again.
That’s not good, because I actually have plans tonight. I think I told Honey about Susan coming up to me at lunch last week and introducing herself. She and her friends have pretty much welcomed me into their group, and they asked me to go to the movies with them tonight. I’m kinda nervous, because it won’t be just the five of us. Elliot’s sister – Elliot is Sarah’s boyfriend, and Sarah’s Susan’s best friend – goes to Moperville South for reasons I haven’t quite figured out yet and so does Tedd’s (Elliot’s best friend) girlfriend. So they’re going, and then two more people, I think, that they go to school with. I’ve never met any of the ones that go to South, just the four that I eat lunch with now. They kinda remind me of the Bob-Whites, even though they’re not a formal club, but I can’t imagine one of the Bob-Whites, or anyone in Sleepyside for that matter, having purple hair like Tedd does. No one here thinks anything about it, though, and I see kids, and even adults, with all sorts of weird hair colors. They’re all really nice, though, even if things are different here.
Have I mentioned how much I miss all of you?
“Trixie!” Aunt Alicia called up the stairs. “Susan’s here!”
“I’m on my way,” Trixie replied, quickly clicking send and exiting the browser. She stopped long enough to wash her face, and she sighed as she looked in the mirror. Her eyes were red from the tears she hadn’t quite managed to keep from shedding. She looked at her almost bare dresser and shook her head. Di or Honey could have done something to hide the tell-tale signs of tears, but she knew that even if she did have the make-up to use, she would have neither the time nor the knowledge to use it. She would just have to hope that no one would notice.
With a final rueful glance, she grabbed her purse, and stepped across the hall to wave at Bobby, who was so engrossed in his video game that he barely acknowledged her. Trying to clear her mind, she impulsively stopped at the foot of the stairs and hugged her aunt. “Thanks, Aunt Alicia. Did Moms say what time I have to be back?”
“No,” Aunt Alicia’s blue eyes twinkled. “And I wasn’t going to ask. What time does the movie start?”
Trixie looked uncertainly at the tall girl standing just inside the door. “Susan? Do you know?”
“Seven-thirty, I think. We may go get something to eat afterwards, though.”
Aunt Alicia nodded. “That’s fine. Just call us if you’re going to be out too late, Trixie, so we won’t worry.”
“I will,” she promised. “Will you try to drag Bobby away from his game for a while?”
“On my way,” Aunt Alicia assured her. “Either that, or I’m going to have to learn how to play that thing myself.”
Trixie managed a grin. “You might enjoy it. See you later!”
“Thanks, Miss Johnson,” Susan said. “I’ll make sure she gets home safely.”
The girls made it no further than the front porch before Susan turned to Trixie. “You know we’re here if you ever want to talk.”
“I know,” Trixie said. She rolled her eyes and gave a small half-smile as she followed Susan to the car. “It’s times like this that I wish I’d listened to Honey and Di when they tried to teach me about make-up.”
“It’s not that obvious, Trixie. But if you do want to talk, I’ll be happy to listen.” Susan assured her, getting in the driver’s seat and fastening her seatbelt. She waited until Trixie had done the same, then pulled out into the street. “I’m not trying to pry, I promise. I don’t know why the three of you moved out here, and I know it’s none of my business. But I’ve learned that it helps to talk, and you may find that we’ll understand whatever it is you’re going through.”
“Thanks,” Trixie said, speaking in a small voice. A few silent minutes passed before she took a deep breath. “You know about Bobby, my younger brother, but we have two older brothers, too. They’re both in college this year, back in New York.” She turned away and stared out the passenger window. “Right before Mart, my youngest older brother, graduated high school last year, he caught my dad cheating on my mom.” She angrily brushed unbidden tears from her eyes. “It was even worse because she was an old friend of the family. Moms tried so hard to forgive him, but she hasn’t been able to. So then Aunt Alicia offered to let the three of us come out to stay with her, and well, here we are.”
“I’m sorry,” Susan said softly. She squared her shoulders. “I was right. I do know what you’re going through.”
“Your parents aren’t together, either?” Trixie asked.
Susan shook her head and took a deep breath of her own. “I was only four when I caught my dad cheating on my mom.”
“It’s hard enough now,” Trixie admitted. “I can’t imagine what it must have been like when you were that young.”
“It’s hard at any age,” Susan told her, glancing briefly at her before turning into the movie theather parking lot. “If you’re not up to this, Trixie, we’ll understand.”
“No,” Trixie shook her head. “I mean, yeah, I’m all right.” She smiled weakly. “Besides, I’ve got to find out just what everyone sees in this Jason D. Poit they keep talking about.”
“If you figure it out, let me know,” Susan commented dryly. “I’m more in to sci-fi, myself.”
“So’s my brother Mart,” Trixie said as she grabbed her purse and stepped out of the car. She took a few deep breaths to compose herself. “Do you see any of the others here yet?”;
Susan quickly scanned the crowd lining up at the ticket window. “I don’t see them yet, but that doesn’t mean anything.”
“Wait, Susan,” Trixie said, gesturing towards the end of the line. “Is that someone waving at us?”
“Okay, yeah, they are here,” Susan admitted. “That’s Grace. That means we’re just waiting on Justin, Nanase, and Ellen.”
“No, you’re not,” came a voice from behind them. “Traffic was terrible after we left Nanase’s house, then we had to stop by Ellen’s so that Nanase could change.”
“So sue me,” someone else retorted. “Like I was going to show up in public in that outfit?”
Trixie turned just in time to see a petite red-head jokingly shove the blond boy who was laughing at her, and she felt herself relax at the familiarity of their teasing. “Hi. I’m Trixie.”
“Oh, sorry,” Susan said. “Trixie, meet Nanase and Ellen.” She grinned. “I’m sure you figured out that the boy-toy is Justin.”
Justin rolled his eyes at Susan. “After a while, you’ll learn to ignore her, Trixie. It gets easier, I promise.”
Nanase laughed at all of them. “It’s nice to meet you, Trixie.”
“Yeah, welcome to Moperville,” Ellen said. “Elliot tells us you’re new in town.”
Trixie nodded. “We moved here right before before school started.”
“Glad to have you,” Justin assured her.
“It’s about time you all got here,” Elliot called out as they approached the sidewalk. He held a shopping bag out to Ellen. “Mom asked me to make sure you get this.”
Ellen peeked inside, then blushed. “Thanks.”
“So, what is it?” Tedd demanded. “You can’t just leave us hanging like that!”
“Yeah, I can,” she retorted. “Justin, give me your keys. I’m going lock it in the car.”
“I’ll come with you,” Nanase said, quickly following Ellen back into the parking lot.
“And you must be Trixie. I’m Grace,” the dark-skinned girl standing beside Tedd introduced herself. “Welcome to Moperville.”
Before Trixie could reply, she saw Grace’s friendly, open expression close, and she felt a hand on her shoulder.
“Hey, there.” A tall blond that she vaguely remembered seeing in the halls at school smiled down at her. “What’s a beautiful thing like you doing hanging out with freaks like these?”
“Lay off her, Tony,” Elliot said, taking a step towards them.
Tony shook his head with a laugh. “What do you say, babe? You, me, just the two of us?”
Almost as if by instinct, Trixie found herself swinging a huge wooden mallet that had suddenly appeared in her hands. The handle broke as the hammer made contact, then disappeared as Tony groaned and picked himself up from the floor.
Trixie gasped in horror realizing what she had done, and she hastened to apologize. Susan chuckled. “Don’t worry, Trixie. It’s nothing Sarah and I haven’t done a million times.”
“Yeah, there’s a reason they call Susan ‘the hammer-queen,'” Tedd added, pretending to shrink back from her.
Susan stepped forward towards him, and he did move to stand behind Grace. She stopped and pointed towards Tony, already flirting with another girl a few yards away. “See, he’s not hurt, although it looks like he may be about to get another hammering.”
“But what… how… what…?” Trixie stammered. “I hit someone with a hammer that magically appeared and then vanished in thin air!”
“Yeah, it happens,” Susan said. She smiled gently. “It really is normal, Trixie, I promise. And the great thing about them is that only women can use them. They won’t work if you’re really in danger, of course, but whenever a male says or does anything offensive to a woman, he gets what he deserves.”
“But how do they work?” Trixie demanded. “It’s just not possible!”
“You’ve already said it,” Sarah explained. “It’s magic. I don’t know how Susan first learned how to use them, but she’s the one who taught me.”
Trixie turned to Susan. “But you didn’t teach me! How did it just happen?”
Susan blinked, then shrugged. “Don’t ask me.” The line moved forward, and she unzipped her purse as she prepared to step up to the counter. She turned back to Trixie and laughed. “I don’t suppose you’ve ever been to Paris, have you?”
I’m sorry I missed your call last Saturday. It would have been good to hear your voice. I don’t believe I just admitted that, but heck, I even miss Bobby. Just don’t EVER tell him I admitted that, or else I’ll tell him just what you hide in your dragon box.
Di told me that you’ve already made friends out there, but I have to admit that I’m a little worried. I know you’re capable of taking care of yourself, but one thing I’ve learned is that we were all sheltered way too much growing up. Everyone isn’t as innocent or as good as they seem to be, and no matter how far apart we are right now, you’re still my little sister.
Take care of yourself, and watch after Bobby. Give Aunt Alicia my love. I’ll try to call you again as soon as I get a chance.
I never thought I’d admit it, either, but I do miss you, too. Don’t worry about me. I’m actually doing better. It’s still hard, but I talked to Susan the other night, and it really helped. She’s been where we are right now, and even though I know it’s affected her, she’s come through all right. Don’t tell Jim, because he wouldn’t understand, but in a way, I’m almost glad now that we did come out here. It helps knowing we’re not alone, you know?
Speaking of my friends, don’t worry, Mart. They’ll never take the place of the Bob-Whites, but they’ve been really nice to me when I was all alone. And trust me, I really can take care of myself. I’m seriously thinking about signing up for a self-defense class, though. Nanase, Elliot, and Justin all take a martial arts class together, and they’ve invited me to sit in on one of the classes with them. I want to go and see what it’s like before I commit to joining, especially since it may cost more than I can afford.
I know Daddy is giving Moms child support and she’s working now, but I know that Aunt Alicia’s spending a lot, too, and I don’t want to ask for anything I don’t have to have. That’s another thing I was going to talk to you about. I want to look for a part-time job. Since I don’t have the Bob-White station-wagon to use or even your jalopy to borrow, and with Moms having to work, I can’t depend on borrowing hers. I need a car, and all of my savings so far need to go for college. I’m just not sure where or what to apply for, nor what kind of car to look for (if I can ever afford it), so any advice would be appreciated.
And yes, I will admit that I asked you for advice. I miss you, almost-twin.
Speaking of twins, everyone who says we look alike should see Elliot and Ellen. I know that they are actually twins, but still, I had no idea brother and sister twins could be identical. After all, you can tell Bob and Barbara are brother and sister, but it’s almost eerie looking at Elliot and Ellen together. What’s even scarier is that they even act alike sometimes. I had to laugh, though, because Ellen claims that Elliot is just like her, only directed by George Lucas! I thought you might get a kick out of that, too.
Anyway, Moms is at work (and that’s a sentence I never dreamed I’d have to say, Mart), and Aunt Alicia has to run some errands in town. Bobby wants to go to the comics shop, and I think we’re going out for dinner. They’re ready, so I need to go, but tell everyone I said hello!
Love you, twin of mine!
“And what are you looking for again?” Trixie asked as Bobby almost pulled her down the sidewalk. “Are you sure they have it?”
“Everyone has the X-Men, Trixie,” Bobby told her. “And Duck says this is the best comic shop around. If they don’t have something, no one does.”
“Just remember Aunt Alicia’s waiting for us so we can go eat,” Trixie said, sighing as Bobby opened the door marked “Salty Crackers Comic Shop.”
“I won’t be long,” he promised. “I know exactly what I’m looking for.”
“Can I help you?” a somewhat familiar voice asked, and Trixie smiled as she recognized the boy standing behind the counter. “Oh! Hi, Trixie.”
“Hi,” Trixie returned the greeting, chuckling at the expression on her younger brother’s face. “What’s wrong, Bobby?”
“You know Justin?” Bobby asked, his eyes wide.
“Uh, yeah,” Trixie said. “Susan introduced us at the movies last weekend.”
“Do you know Nanase, too?” Bobby queried, the urgency of the newest X-Men almost forgotten in his surprise.
“Yes, I’ve met her, too,” Trixie answered. She looked apologetically at Justin, but her curiosity overcame her embarrassment. “How do you know them?”
“I met Justin when I came here with everyone last weekend, and Nanase came in with one of her friends,” Bobby explained, awe in his eyes. “But everyoneknows who she is, Trixie! And you actually know her?”
“Yeah, she does,” Justin interrupted, an amused grin on his face. “One day, one of you will explain to me just why all of you have such a crush on her.”
Bobby flushed and looked down at his shoes.
“X-men, Bobby,” Trixie gently reminded him. “Don’t forget Aunt Alicia’s waiting on us.”
“Oh, yeah,” Bobby repeated, seizing the opportunity to disappear among the shelves.
Trixie shook her head as she walked to the counter. “Sorry about that, Justin. Just please tell me he wasn’t causing trouble in here last weekend.”
“No worries,” he assured her. “There’s a whole group of junior high kids who come in all the time. They usually just sit around playing whatever RPG they’re most interested in at the moment and trading cards.” He grinned. “Sometimes, they even buy something.”
“Let me know if he gets out of hand,” she told him. “I’ll make sure that someone comes to get him.”
“I’ll remember that, but I doubt he will,” Justin said. “So, are you getting used to Moperville?”
“Somehow, I don’t think I’ll ever get used to it. That really freaked me out the other night.”
“I can understand that,” he chuckled. “I’ve never been on the receiving end, but you can imagine that Tedd’s gotten quite a few.”
“Why am I not surprised?” Trixie grinned.
“Probably because you’ve met him,” he joked. “So have you thought anymore about sitting in on one of our classes?”
She nodded. “I’m not ready to commit yet, but I do want to see what it’s like. Nothing like that was ever offered back home, even though I wish it had been.”
“Well, Greg’s a good teacher,” Justin told her. “And it won’t matter that you’ve never had any training. I didn’t start until a couple of years ago myself, and we’ll all be glad to help you if you need extra practice.”
“I appreciate that,” she told him. “Hopefully I won’t have to bother you too much.”
“It won’t be a bother at all,” he assured her. “Elliot and Nanase both helped me a lot when I first started, and we’ll all be glad to do the same for you.”
Bobby appeared at the counter before she could reply. He carefully put his selected comic on the counter and dug in his pocket for his money. Taking the change and bag from Justin, he took Trixie’s hand and silently pulled her towards the door.
Trixie was completely befuddled by the quick change in his attitude, but she smiled apologetically at Justin. “Thanks, Justin. Nice to see you again.”
“Yeah, you, too,” he nodded. “I guess I’ll see you in class tomorrow night?”
“Unless something unexpected comes up, I’ll be there,” she told him, giving him a quick wave with her free hand. The moment the door closed behind them, she turned to Bobby. “All right. What’s wrong?” She was stunned to see tears in his eyes.
“I don’t like to see you flirting, Trixie,” he told her. “You’re supposed to be dating Jim!”
She was taken aback. “I wasn’t flirting with Justin, Bobby. We were just talking!”
“But you’re still dating Jim,” he repeated. “You shouldn’t be talking to other guys like that!”
She put her arm around him and led him to a bench conveniently placed nearby. “I promise we were just talking, Bobby. That’s all. Do you really think I would do anything to hurt Jim?”
“No,” he said in a small voice, shrinking away from her. “But I didn’t think Daddy would do it, either. I can’t watch it again, Trixie. I won’t!”
Trixie gasped as missing pieces fell into place, and she had to struggle to appear calm. “What are you talking about?” she asked.
“You know what I’m talking about,” he told her. He wiped his eyes with the hem of his untucked t-shirt. “Daddy said that him and Mrs. Dodge were just talking. He said they were friends.” He looked up at her. “I’m not stupid, Trixie. I don’t kiss my friends when I think no one’s looking.”
“No,” she shook her head, reaching for him. He let her pull him towards her. “Did you talk to him about it?”
“No,” he admitted. He ducked his head. “I didn’t know what to do, Trixie. I didn’t want to tell Moms, but I had to!” His lip trembled. “It’s my fault that we’re here, Trixie. If I hadn’t told Moms, she’d still be happy, and we’d still be in New York!”
“It’s not your fault,” she told him. She swallowed hard. “You did the right thing, Bobby.” She sighed. “You did what Brian, Mart, and I couldn’t figure out how to do.”
“You knew it, too?” he asked. “I swear I didn’t tell anyone else, Trixie!”
“Mart saw them, too,” she said simply. She manufactured a smile. “Besides, it’s not that bad out here, is it? We’re getting to know Aunt Alicia better, and we’ve both made friends here.”
“Yeah, but it’s different,” he said. “I know I have lots of fun with Duck and everybody, but it’s not the same. I miss Terry and Larry and Davy.” His lower lip quivered. “I’m mad at him, but I miss Daddy, too. I just want everything the way it used to be.”
“Me, too,” Trixie said gently. “But everything changes, Bobby, and life goes on. If everything stayed the same, Jim and Honey never would have moved to Sleepyside. Would you have wanted that?”
He shook his head. “No, and I know what you’re saying, Trixie. I just want none of this to have ever happened.” He scooted closer to her. “And I’m scared I’m going to lose you, too.”
She hugged him tightly. “You won’t lose me, Bobby. No matter what.”
“Promise?” he asked, a tiny bit of the shadow on his face lightening.
“I promise,” she repeated softly, reaching over to ruffle his hair. She looked up and saw their aunt walking towards them. “Come on, Bobby. Ready to go eat?”
“Yeah.” He grabbed his bag and jumped up. He started walking up the sidewalk, then stopped and look back at Trixie. “So, tell me about Nanase. How’d you meet her? Is she really as nice as she seems?”
Just a quick note to let you know I’m thinking about you. Well, actually, to ask you something, too. I’ve talked to Brian about coming down with him, Mart, and your dad for Thanksgiving, if your dad agrees. It’s still several weeks until Thanksgiving, though, and it turns out we have an unexpected long weekend next month. I’d stay in a hotel, of course, but I want to see you, Trixie. I want to meet these friends you’re always talking about and to see where you live. I need to go to class now, but I’ll call you later tonight, and we can make plans. I miss you, Trixie.
“Jim’s coming.” She stared blankly at the computer screen. “In just a couple of weeks.” Her heart pounded. “I should be ecstatic.” A heavy feeling in the pit of her stomach made her pause. “Why am I scared?”
“Trixie? Are you all right?”
She took a deep breath to compose herself, then looked up from the monitor at her aunt. “I’m just confused. I just got an email from Jim, and he wants to visit next month. He doesn’t expect to stay here, of course, and I do want to see him, but….”
“I don’t understand. I should be happy he wants to come, and I am,” she sighed. “I just don’t know, Aunt Alicia. We weren’t exactly having problems before we moved here, but it wasn’t just right either. The last two weeks before we did move were the best we’ve had, and you know we’ve been emailing and he’s been calling me, but what’s going to happen when he gets out here? He’s said he wants to meet my friends. What if he doesn’t like them? And Bobby already thinks I’m cheating on him, and I’m not, and I finally convinced Bobby of that, but is he going to think I am?”
Aunt Alicia sat down beside her and took her hand. “Trixie, Bobby’s got a lot on his mind with things he’s too young to understand. You can’t let that bother you. And why wouldn’t Jim like your friends?”
“They’re not like the Bob-Whites,” Trixie said softly. “I mean, they are, in a lot of ways, but they’re not. Susan and Nanase both use magic, and after going to that martial arts class last night, I think Elliot does, too. And Susan’s a feminist. I can just see Jim trying to lecture her about something and being hit with the hammers.”
Aunt Alicia smiled. “So you’ve learned about the hammers?”
“Yeah,” Trixie said. A reluctant grin crossed her face. “The hard way. Some jerk hit on me at the movies last weekend, and the next thing I knew, I had this huge mallet in my hands.”
“Hard way for you or hard way for him?” Aunt Alicia chuckled. “Look, I admit that I don’t know all of your friends, but from what I do know, they seem like good kids. Besides, what does it really matter if Jim doesn’t approve of them? You’re the one who lives here, the one who goes to school with them.”
“I know, but it’s not that easy,” Trixie frowned. “All my life, I’ve had Brian and Mart, and since I was thirteen, Jim, and they’ve always done their best to ‘watch out’ for me. This is the first time I’ve ever had the chance to do anything without them insisting on knowing everything I do. I feel like I’ve got to prove to them all that I can take care of myself. Does that make sense?”
“Yes, but Trixie, you can take care of yourself. You’re a smart girl with a good head on her shoulders.”
“Thanks,” Trixie flushed. “But none of the boys ever see it that way.”
“Then that’s their problem,” Aunt Alicia said. She squeezed Trixie’s hand. “And I know this may be hard to hear, but it may be for the best, Trixie. You’ve been dating Jim for how long?”
“Forever,” she sighed.
“You’re pretty serious, then?”
“Yeah,” she admitted. “I don’t mean we have any definite plans, but he does include me when he’s talking about his future.”
“Then if he’s really coming to second-guess your decisions, do you really want your entire life to be that controlled? They don’t get better, Trixie. It only gets worse.”
“He’s not exactly controlling,” Trixie explained. “He just worries about me.”
“Just please be careful, sweetie. I don’t want to see you hurt.”
“I won’t be,” Trixie sighed. “I’m worried over nothing, aren’t I?”
“Probably.” Aunt Alicia patted her shoulder. “So, I was wondering how your class went last night. Did you enjoy it?”
“Yeah,” she nodded. “I didn’t know until I got there that it’s ‘anime-style’ martial arts, and I have no idea how it actually works, but Nanase and Elliot are really good at it.”
“Is it something you think you might want to take?”
“Maybe?” Trixie answered. “I know I do need some sort of self-defense class, and the teacher seemed nice, even if he is rather imposing. I just feel kinda silly putting that much time and money into something that seems so out there.”
“Does it work, though? I mean, could you use what you learn to defend yourself if need be?”
“Yeah,” she nodded. “Justin says it’s helped save lives more than once.”
“Then what does it matter if it’s not exactly karate or judo?” Aunt Alicia asked. “As long as you get out of it what you want to get out of it, and it sounds like you will.”
“I know,” Trixie agreed softly. “And it’s not like I have to commit for a long time, either. If I decide it’s not what I want, I don’t have to keep going.”
Aunt Alicia smiled. “It sounds to me like you have your answer, then. And don’t worry about the cost, sweetie. I’ll argue that out with Helen, but it will be worth it to see you protected.”
“You can’t…” Trixie protested.
“I want to, Trixie. Besides, you’ll get more use out of that than another necklace or jewelry box, wouldn’t you?”
Trixie didn’t know what to say, so she simply hugged her aunt. “Thank you.”
“You’re welcome, Trixie.” The older woman returned the embrace, then said, “And tell Jim that if he doesn’t mind a sleeping bag in Bobby’s room or the couch in the den, he’s welcome to stay here. If you want him to, that is.”
“I think I’d like that,” she said softly. “Thanks, Aunt Alicia.”
“Trixie!” Bobby called just then from the hallway. “Jim’s on the phone for you.”
“I didn’t hear the phone, did you?” Aunt Alicia grinned.
Bobby flushed. “I had to ask someone in my class about my homework. Jim beeped in.”
“Are you still on the other line?” Trixie asked, taking the cordless phone from his hand.
He shook his head. “No. Go talk to Jim, Trixie.”
“I’m going,” she replied, planting a quick kiss on the top of his head as she left the room with the phone.
Author’s Notes: And a universe that began with a major break from tradition takes a definite turn for the surreal, and I really hope I haven’t lost anyone. None of these characters belong to me (although I did name a math teacher). The Trixie characters are, of course, property of Random House, and the rest all belong to Dan Shive and appear in his webcomic, El Goonish Shive.
Yes, I know it’s unlikely that Trixie would actually go through with hitting Tony, however, in the context of the comic, it’s no more violent (and has about the same effect) as when she kicked Mart in Unexpected Guest. Hammerspace is used in EGS as it is in anime – for comic relief. And yes, while Trixie doesn’t realize it, the unusual hair colors are completely natural… and not only does magic actually exist, but the laws of physics don’t quite apply.
I want to say this, too : it goes way beyond what anyone could expect for an editor to not only help keep me straight in one fandom, but to actually read over four years worth of archives of comics in another fandom as well. Thanks, Cyndi!