For some reason, I really like that title.
Anyways, just a warning ahead of time: LONG POST INCOMING . I have a bit to display in this post (including a full Bonus Episode for Arc 1 of Keepers of Balance), and this blog post took me a while to write out (I’ve been multi-tasking while writing this, so it took a little longer than usual).
First, uuuggghhhh, today was a day. Won’t go into detail. Tired of wasting mental power wondering why people act the way they do. At least I got my bills paid, today. And despite the chilly and wet morning, today turned out to be a rather nice day. I was able to walk home after depositing rent in the bank. I didn’t want to take a nap today, but when I got home, I sat on the couch and snuggled with my babu (Niax). We both fell asleep. Oops. Oh well. I didn’t wake up that great, but it was a nice nap. And I like cuddles~
To spare a few words about how I feel about the month of May…I don’t like it. Seriously, I don’t. It’s petty, but I know my #1 reason: Mother’s Day. Reason 1) I have to work Mother’s Day. How busy is it? Well, take the crowd we get for Yom Kippour and multiply it by 2. Though (that is, if drama doesn’t rear its ugly head), the tips do make it worth it, so there’s the silver lining. Reason 2)…Not gonna lie, I’m bitter towards the holiday in general. And this 100% due to the bitterness between me and my mom…or rather, the woman I used to call my mother. Because I still want to have a good night, and end the day well, I won’t go into detail tonight…and maybe, not at all. It’s a rather emotionally trying time for me, because it reminds me of what I don’t have, and I’d rather be at home…but I have a job to do, so I make do.
Anyways, enough of my petty issues. You guys came here for the story, right? Well, without further ado, I, Cassandra Silber, Present to you: Keepers of Balance: Bonus Episode #1: Night’s Comfort
Another day was nearing its end.
The sun was slowly sinking over the horizon, the leftover snow and ice of February glistening in the sun’s dimming rays. The golden light slipped through an open sliver in between a set of wine-red curtains, illuminating the corner of the room’s occupant, shining right in his eye. He groaned in annoyance as he got up to close the curtain completely. He tied the flaps together before sitting back down, picking up his favorite pen. Soon, the quiet sounds of a pen scratching against thin notebook paper filled the room once more.
Poetry. One of the only things that have him solace and comfort in his life. The only thing that he didn’t feel pushed or judged in. This was a very rare opportunity of silence for him, and the eldest Hawthorne child sought to make good use of it.
“I take these steps to learn of my own mind…” he muttered to himself, finishing his last line. He set his pen down onto the desk before picking up his notebook to read his latest brainchild:
“‘For all good things come to an end, this is the lesson learned by all. No matter the cost, without a price, it all fades away. Words said that betray parental love; etched in scars of equal on both sides. So, with deepest love and sorrow, I take these steps to learn of my own mind.’”
He read his poem in a low voice, his words echoing clearly in the near-empty room. He stared at it for a moment, going over it both in his mind and visually, wondering if he really wanted to keep it…
“Ian! Rose! Dinner!” The sharp voice of his mother pierced through his wall with ease, making him jolt unpleasantly back to reality. As predicted, his moment of solitude ended. Ian sighed heavily and stood up, closing his notebook. He stretched as he opened his bedroom door, meeting his little sister, Rose, face-to-face.
“Salve.” She greeted quietly, giving Ian a small smile. Ian recognized the foreign greeting. Latin was one of the small strings of odd—and unapproved—interests the siblings shared. Their parents gave up trying to decode it and simply turned ignored it…unless they caught wind that their children were talking about them behind their backs. Ian suppressed a light shudder when memories of Rose’s punishment for insisting that they said nothing bad came unbidden to his head…the blows coming even when the pair never said anything bad about them at all. Ian shook it off, giving her a small smile as he pulled her into a short, but firm, one-armed hug.
“Salve, sis,” he greeted quietly after letting her go. He looked into her tired ice-blue eyes. “How was school?”
“…Malum.” She didn’t meet his gaze.
Ian’s brows furrowed as the English word popped in his mind, his look turning from confusion to concern. “Bad? Why-?”
“Table! Now!” The sharp voice of the mother reached their ears again, cutting their time, and Ian’s inquiry, short.
With a final glance at each other, they went to the large living room that also served as a dining room and sat at the rectangular table, the siblings sitting directly across from each other. The spaces at the ends of the table were for their mother and father.
Ian donned his expertly practiced expression, casually leaning back. He deliberately slouched in his seat, his fingers drumming on the table. Rose sat up, perfectly straight and still, but her gaze was low, focusing on the table instead of anywhere else. The room was silent, save for the sounds of dinner being made in the kitchen. The soft, yet condescending voices of their parents caught the teenager’s ears, but he couldn’t pick up what they were saying. It didn’t matter to him; he knew that they were having a conversation about their shared disappointment in their children. Specifically, him.
After fifteen minutes of silence, their mother walked through the kitchen doorway, carrying a large covered casserole dish. His father tagged along behind her, bringing out a tray of biscuits that were circled around a silver gravy boat.
Ian’s stomach gave a happy jolt. Despite everything, he looked forward to the meals at home. It usually meant a peaceful time, in the past. However, his happy outlook on the meal darkened as he recalled the meals becoming less and less cheerful. The food lacked the love it once had over time, as the small family began to fall apart.
Ian’s mother—a small and thin Asian woman—placed the large casserole dish on the pot warmers that were laid out on the table beforehand before going back to the kitchen. Ian’s father—a tall Caucasian man who was nearly as thin as his wife, with fading hair that used to be red—placed the tray next to the dish and sat down at the end of the table in front of the windows. Ian leaned back in the chair as he passed, catching the glare in his eye and reciprocating the glare. Before he could scold his son, his mother came back into the dining room with a pitcher of iced tea and set it in between the dish and the biscuit tray before sitting down at the opposite end of the table.
“Grace.” Ian’s mother commanded. Everyone present bowed their heads into their hands—except for Ian, who didn’t move from his lax position.
Ian’s mother raised an eyebrow, shooting Ian a dirty look.
“Ian, sit up properly and bow your head,” she commanded sharply, slightly lifting her head. “Rose, please say Grace.”
Rose nodded shakily before lifting her head to get a glance at Ian, who fluently ignored his mother’s command, internationally looking bored and uninterested: downright disrespectful.
“O-our Heavenly Father, k-kind and good, we thank Thee for o-our daily food. We thank Thee for Thy l-love and care. B-be with us Lord, a-and hear our prayer. A-amen.” Rose recited, her voice giving way to a small quiver.
“Amen.” The sibling’s parents said in unison. After that, everyone started helping themselves to the homemade spread that sat before them. For a while, they ate in an uncomfortable silence, with nothing but the clinking of utensils against plates shattering it.
“So, how was school today, Rose?” Ian’s mother asked his sister, who was poking at the casserole, her gaze snapping from their unfocused state to look at her mother.
“…It was alright…” Rose replied slowly, her eyes drifting back to her plate.
“Nothing exciting at all?” their father asked, taking a bite of the casserole.
Rose shook her head. “No…I had a test in Algebra today, but I know I did pretty well…” Rose replied in her quiet dead tone, nibbling on a biscuit after she had replied. Their father nodded all the same as he, too, helped himself to his wife’s biscuits.
“And how about you Ian?” Their mother asked, turning her sharp gaze onto Ian, who narrowed his eyes a little, shooting an undiluted glare at her.
“Same as Rose: nothing to report.” Ian stated coldly.
“This would go a lot easier if you didn’t lie about everything.” Ian’s father scolded as he helped himself to a second serving of casserole.
“I’m not,” Ian insisted, turning his angry glare over to his father. “Nothing happened today, okay?”
“Oh, okay,” Ian’s mother snapped, diving into her purse for a moment before popping back up, waving around an envelope in her hand. “If nothing happened, as you claim, then why was I called to the school earlier this morning to pick up this!?”
Ian’s mother literally threw the envelope at Ian, who caught it effortlessly. He took a couple of sheets of paper out of the envelope and scanned it.
“What does it say, Ian?” his mother asked in a sickly-sweet tone that fooled no one.
Ian read the official drop out acceptance repeatedly, his heart starting to feel lighter: it was a step closer to leaving this place.
The sharp voice of his mother brought him back down to earth as she peered at him, drumming her fingers impatiently. “What does it say, Ian?”
“It says here, that I don’t have to deal with the school’s bullshit anymore.” Ian replied coldly, a throaty chuckle accompanying it. He tossed the letter onto the dinner table, folding his arms indignantly.
To the normal passerby, it sounded like a bomb went off in the house.
“What do you mean you’re dropping out!?” Ian’s mother exploded, standing up sharply, her pointed face red with rage. “Why on Earth would you want to throw away your education like this!?”
“Because it’s of no use to me!” Ian shouted back, standing up as well.
“ ‘Of no use!?’ So, being able to get a job, being able to provide for your family, and becoming a normal, functioning person in society—all of which you need education to do—is ‘of no use’ to you!?”
“Well, now you’re finally starting to catch on,” the teenager spat, narrowing his brilliant gold-blue eyes.
“Ian, what do you expect to do with your life, if you’re not willing to get a proper education?” Ian’s father asked in a quiet, cold voice. It was very rare that the balding red-haired man would raise his voice. “Do you expect to just ‘figure it out’ along the way?”
“If I have to, then so be it.” Ian replied in the cold tone he had inherited, and learned, from his father.
Ian’s mother, however, was as short-tempered as she was short. In sharp contrast to her husband’s calm expression and demeanor, she was red-faced and visibly fuming. Rose’s eyes were as wide as the dinner plates, as they darted between Ian and their parents nervously, her heart pounding a million miles an hour.
Oh no…Ian, no, don’t push this any further…the teenaged girl silently pleaded as she watched the standoff between her parents and sibling.
“What was that?” Their mother asked through clenched teeth, her dark brown eyes narrowing dangerously.
“I don’t believe I stuttered, mother.” Ian spat back just as coldly, his eyes staring coldly back. The battle between hot anger and cold fury was near tangible in the air. Rose watched anxiously, her hands trembling violently.
Finally, the father stood, towering over Ian and his wife, his body casting an imposing shadow over the entire table. This alone got their attention as all eyes swiveled onto the elder man, whose ice-blue eyes swiveled coldly onto Ian.
“Think long and hard about your answer to my question, son,” Ian’s father said in a hard, cold tone. “Do you want to stay here, continue your high school education, and go off to become someone in this world……Or, do you want to leave? Leave, and throw away everything we’ve done for you. Everything we’ve set up for you?
“You have always complained about never making a choice…so now you get to make one.”
At that, Ian’s father sat down calmly and continued eating, his mother slowly following suit. An uneasy silence fell upon the table once more. The only one who wasn’t seated was Ian, who simply stared into a blank silence. Rose watched her brother with uneasy eyes as she watched the decision dance in his eyes. Finally, he snapped his gaze back to the table, his glare going unnoticed and unaddressed by his parents. Without another word, he turned sharply on his heel, only to be stopped by a small hand gripping his own. He looked down at her and saw the silent plea in her eyes for him not to go.
Ian held the gaze for a long moment before squeezing her hand lightly and letting it go, and walking into his bedroom, closing the door with a soft slam.
“He’ll be gone by morning, just like before.” Their father murmured as he took a sip of water. “And just like before, he’ll be back by tomorrow night.”
“As if we’ll let him back in this time,” his wife spat, her face contorting into one of disgust. “If he wants to go through this phase again, then fine, but this time, since he wants to break out…then if he really wants to come back, the he’s going to have to break back in.”
Rose simply stared down at her plate, her parent’s idle conversation dying down to the simple, familiar clinking of dishes as the dinner continued without him. Neither one noticed Rose’s silent shock and distress.
I have a strong suspicion that if Ian leaves this time, then he’s not coming back for sure…
It was late into the night. Ian slipped out of his room silently, closing the door softly behind him. He crept out into the living room, looking around cautiously. He silently crept to the door, gently placing a wide hand on it, and quietly started to turn the handle…
“So…you’re really leaving?”
Rose Hawthorne’s soft voice broke the silence, startling Ian. He quickly turned around to find her standing a few feet from him. Her cellphone illuminated her face, and a small area of the room. His heart panged with guilt when he saw the glare of recently shed tears on her cheeks.
“Rose…I can’t stay here, anymore,” Ian said with a soft sigh, quietly shrugging off his backpack and walking over, avoiding the areas of the floor he knew creaked. “I know I’ve tried before, but this time, I think I finally have the strength to stay away this time…as well as an actual plan.”
“What…what are you going to do?” Rose asked slowly, her blue eyes narrowing slightly. Even in the dim light, Ian could see the flecks of gold that speckled her brilliant blue eyes. The flecks were an odd trait in the Hawthorne Family…a trait they shared with their grandmother, and their great-grandfather before them…but not their father.
“I’m heading north to Canada. Not too sure about what I’m doing after that, but it’s a start. I have to go through Detroit to do so, but I’m sure I’ll find a way across somehow.” Ian explained quietly, taking a glance at his phone. It was nearing midnight.
“…I wish I could go with you.”
Ian’s eyes met his sister’s, a small frown crossing his face. “Why not? I know you want to go, too. So why not come with me?”
Rose bit her lip, her long raven-black hair falling over her face a little before Rose tucked it behind her ear, suddenly avoiding his gaze.
“I…I don’t want to be a burden…” Rose started quietly, turning her face away from Ian completely. “I don’t have any skills involving survival, I don’t know how to read people like you can…I don’t know how to lie for my own life.
“I…I can’t come with you, Ian…but…but you should go anyway.” Rose finished, looking at her brother, tears falling freely from her eyes.
“Rose…” His mind groped about frantically for something to say. The look in her eyes was threatening to kill him. He felt the urge to stay—stay once more because of her—tear at him, ripping through him like a rapid tide.
A loud thump from upstairs followed by footsteps caused the siblings to freeze, their eyes going wide as they listened. Time was running out, and Rose knew Ian had to make his choice.
“It’s up to you…but if you stay here, you will never be able to leave, let alone attempt to.” Rose said quietly, stepping forward to wrap her arms around him, squeezing him lightly in a hug. Ian stood still, his eyes wide and going blank in surprise. Rose stepped back after a moment and couldn’t help but laugh a little. Ian’s eyes were completely wide with shock, the gold coloring in them gone almost entirely, going through a state of shock she fondly called “blue-screening”.
“Go! Before they catch you,” Rose hissed. They heard the door upstairs open and close shut. The sound of the door closing seemed to restart Ian’s brain. He blinked and gasped softly, the gold returning to his eyes in full force. He quickly turned around to sprint to the door, only to skid on his heel and turn back, wrapping Rose in a tight hug.
“See ya later, sis…” Ian murmured in her ear, listening for the footsteps of their parents. So far, it seemed whoever was up had stood still, as Ian couldn’t hear their footsteps anymore.
Rose forced out a sound that sounded like a cross between a sob and a chuckle as she replied, “Even now, still refusing to say goodbye, huh?”
“Because this isn’t goodbye, and you should know that. What was that phrase you taught me the other day? V-vale…V-vale so…”
“ ‘Vale, cara soror’ is what you say…” Rose reminded him, her choked laughter shaking her small frame in his arms.
“Vale, cara soror, then…I promise on my honor that we will meet again.” Ian said softly, feeling her slight squeeze.
“Vale, frater carissime,” Rose replied, smiling a little even as he took a step back. “…And please don’t become a living Asian stereotype by the time you see me next.”
Ian shot his sister the mischievous, cheeky smile that told her that he was about to get into all sorts of trouble…but still come out with something to show for it, before turning, grabbing his backpack and swinging it over his shoulder. He quickly unlocked the door before opening it slowly. He carefully and expertly slipped his hand onto the alarm triggers, pressing them firmly to ensure the alarm would not be triggered. Carefully and quietly, he slipped out of the door and—shooting his sister a final smile—quickly snapped the door shut, leaving the house quietly and without a trace.
Rose simply stared at the door after he left, her smile threatening to collapse before she heard the footsteps once more, except this time quicker than before. She quickly spun on her heel and quietly sprinted to her room, closing her door quietly and sliding out of her bathrobe and into her bed just as the living room light turned on.
She laid there in absolute silence, her heart pounding wildly as she dared not to move, let alone breathe, hearing their footsteps loom closer. Her heart skipped a beat when she heard her door click open. She was thankful she faced away from the door, as the beam of light that slipped in when the door opened would’ve made her eyes twitch for sure, giving her away. However, she instead, did what her brother taught her to do, and simply breathe.
She slowed down her breaths, making it seem like she was deep asleep, when her heart was really pounding wildly in her chest. She was almost sure she was visibly trembling. Low voices rumbled in her room, belonging to her mother and father. She couldn’t make out what they were saying, but by their tone, something was final, and she caught her brother’s name shortly before they left the room, closing the door softly behind them.
Rose simply laid there, her body and mind numb. She knew Ian wouldn’t come back home. She didn’t know if he would die out there or make it, but she knew for sure he wouldn’t be coming home this time.
The realization began to sink in as silent tears fell from her eyes, slowly progressing into soft sobs, curing up underneath the covers. However, despair wasn’t that burned through her. An odd sense of relief followed, the idea that he was freer now more than before dawning in her mind and heart.
She had always wondered how her brother found comfort in the night, in such darkness…but as the darkness drew on, she felt eased as she thought of it and her brother. She knew the same darkness that covered the night, comforted her and Ian, as he made his journey for…wherever he was going.
As she fell asleep, her wished her brother well…and hoped dearly that he would, if only for once, stay out of trouble.
Even so, Rose Hawthorne had the feeling that trouble would likely find him before he could find it.
So, yeah, that’s that. It clocked in at 8 pages–3,380 words. Not too long, but I’m proud of it either way. The poem near the beginning was actually written by Niax. He’s an aspiring poet, and has been writing poetry ever since I knew him and before. His passion is poetry. He listens to it in the morning before work, and I remember when he used to pass me notes with romantic poetry, trying to win my heart. Safe to say, it worked. I’m not the biggest fan of poetry, but I also wanted him to be more involved with the project, aside reading the Episodes on the computer (which he doesn’t like doing, anyways). And don’t worry: we’ll see Rose again.
OneDrive finally created an album for the pictures taken on my phone at the zoo. Here’s one that is a favorite of mine:
Ugh, I HATE that it was facing away from me. But I still thought of it cute enough to show.
Anyways, if you’ve made it this long into the post, then congrats. I hope you all enjoyed the free snippet. As for the near future, I have some things to say.
There has been quite a lot of drama around the shop, lately, and a good portion of it is threatening to take away our tips we earn. Honestly, I can’t have that happen, but because some people want to press the “issue”, and some people don’t want to handle it like how it’s supposed to be handled, then I may have a “looking for work” sign on my head as I speak. Let’s just say this: I don’t have a car. I have to take a cab to work (our bikes are shit right now, and we have other things to pay for). Tips are what ensures me that I have money to get to work. You fuck with my money: you fuck with me. With us. Anything happens to those, I’m out. I really hope shit improves before June. If not….then, as usual, I will roll with the punches. I may be being passive-aggressive here, but it’s not professional, and it’s endangering my financial situation. Which is a shame. I used to enjoy working there.
As for the month and the holiday it’s accompanied with…I will probably be taking a break editing Keepers of Balance this month. I need/want to edit the second Bonus Episode of Arc 1 and post it onto here. The third proper Episode of Arc 1…it deals with a heavy topic. Because of the subject matter (despite it being written by yours truly), it will probably trigger more down-spirals than I can handle. Niax has suggested that I work on either a different Episode, or a different project altogether. For sure taking his advice.
Despite everything, I really hope things turn around. I really, really do. Gods help me to get through this month. I hope you all have a wonderful day. I’ll talk to you all either on Wednesday or Thursday,