Shadow Oaks was a small town with a lot of life to it; though in previous years, it may have been described as a dying shit-hole. But a lot had changed in the past two years.
Only six months ago Shadow Oaks had been threatened by a catastrophic disaster that was determined to destroy both the town and its people. Many of those that had been exposed to the horrors of this destructive calamity and prevented its success had, after discovering just how far they were willing to go for the safety of their town, been working towards making Shadow Oaks a better place.
The first few months after the calamity were the shakiest, of course. Many people were traumatised, and only half the town seemed to believe that there had even been any sort of danger to begin with… they hadn’t seen it personally, after all, so it must have been made up!
They were lucky, to be able to live so ignorantly.
Privileged, to not have been exposed to the horrors that much of the youth of the town had faced.
Because, while the town had been saved, not everyone had gotten out in one piece.
Both figuratively and literally.
Many of those who had saved the town had found themselves emotionally and physically drained. Some had contacted doctors and therapists, or gone on holiday to try and de-stress and gain back some sense of control….
Or, like poor Becky Bloom, some had found themselves completely broken by the trauma of it all, and been admitted into psychiatric care….
Today was the end of Becky’s second week home after her stay in Warm Waters Psychiatric Hospital, and she was waiting for her stepmother Isa’vanna to come in and wake her for breakfast.
And waiting… and waiting….
Perhaps it would have made sense to simply get up and feed herself. She was awake, after all. And lately she’d been in the habit of getting herself dressed and downstairs for breakfast.
But today, she was craving the familiarity of Isa tugging her blankets away and scolding her for sleeping in. That strict attention that Isa always paid her as she was nagged out of bed was something Becky had missed deeply these past few months, and she was hoping that if she didn’t show up downstairs Isa would come up and fetch her.
Becky’s ear twitched, and she heard the excited chirping of her pet mimics in their pen by the window as the unmistakable sound of Isa approaching her room filled the hall.
But… instead of the loud, startling knock Becky had grown up with… Isa paused at the door.
Becky raised her head in anticipation, waiting a very long moment before a gentle knock-knock was tapped out.
‘Rebecca?’ Isa called, her voice soft. ‘Becky? Are you awake?’
Becky bit her lip, and lay back down to snuggle deep into her blankets. If she stayed in bed, Isa would surely come in to get her….
Becky’s silence was followed by the sound of Isa turning on her heels— And Becky sat up and let out a horrified whimper as she realised that Isa wasn’t coming in to get her.
‘Huwnk!’ a honk sounded from the pen under Becky’s window and she heard a quiet thump as Don Flamingle, her lawn-flamingo shaped assistance animal, leapt out of the pen and landed in a heap on the floor. ‘Huwnk! AWK!’
Isa’s footsteps paused as Don’s own tap-pap-tapped their way to the door and he leapt up at the handle. He grabbed ahold of it, contorting his body to twist it, and the door creaked open.
Slowly, Isa entered; scooping Don into her arms as she bit her lip and looked to her daughter.
‘Becky? You’re awake?’ it was half a question, half an acknowledge. ‘Sorry I… mustn’t have heard you answer me.’
Becky swallowed, and opened her mouth to reply— Only for the words to catch in her throat again and nothing to come out.
‘Oh, Becky!’ Isa let out a mournful sound as she hurried to her daughter and sat beside her. She wrapped an arm over Becky, holding her close and tight, and pecked kisses onto to the girl’s face. ‘Oh, honey. I’m sorry. I didn’t realise….’
Becky let out a heavy sigh, and leant into Isa’s embrace. ‘It…’ she managed. ‘It’s… okay.’
Another kiss on her cheek; this one interrupted by Don attempting to join in and licking both women on their mouths.
‘Ugh, Don!’ Isa scolded, jerking her head back and giving the mimic a disgusted look. ‘Young man!’
‘Brrup!’ Don responded, stretching out his long neck so he could peck at Isa’s mouth with his pseudo-beak. His real mouth, the one on his stomach, was open wide as he panted and snorted and drooled with his tongue lolling out to the side. ‘Grorp! Glup! Trup!’
‘Good boy,’ Becky scratched at the spot where Don’s neck met his back, and she felt her words coming out easier as she grounded herself with him. ‘You’re my good boy, aren’t you? The best boy!’
‘Brup! Brrup! Brrest! Brest! Boy! Best boy!’ slowly, but surely, Don’s trilling and snuffles became clearer and clearer to Becky as she pet him; sounding more and more like words as her head cleared and the druidic magic in her blood began to work again. ‘I am the best boy! I take care of my Alpha Becky! Yes, yes I do! I am a very good boy! I don’t bite. No I don’t! I am a good beta! The best beta! I make friends! Lots of friends! And I have a very important job! Yes I do!’
‘Yes, you do!’ Becky confirmed, picking Don up and holding him high as he wiggled his legs in excitement. ‘You’re a very important boy! Very important!’
A laugh from Becky’s side drew her attention back to Isa; who was grinning wide-but-tired at her daughter.
‘Ilhar?’ Becky started, Isa’s native term for mother sliding off her tongue easier than any other word that morning as she lowered Don and lay her head back against the older drow woman. ‘I love you.’
‘I love you too, Becky,’ Isa’s fingers played with the ends of Becky’s hair as they sat together.
‘And I love my pretty pink Mimi!’ Don declared, stretching his neck out to its full length and waving his head from side to side. ‘My pretty pink Mimi! I love my Mimi! Yes! Yes I do!’
‘Mimi loves Mimi’s Flamingle!’ a trill called from the pen; followed by the excitable chirps of infant mimics. ‘Yes! Oh! Yes, babies! Mimi also loves Mimi’s babies!’
Becky grinned as Don leapt from her arms and hurried back over the fence of his pen to his family. She watched as he licked at Mimi (a beautiful pink mimic that she had cared for since her early childhood) and then giggled as he settled down and scooped his brood close (four little mimics that, during Becky’s time away, had been affectionately nicknamed “the chirplings”).
‘Heh,’ Becky rubbed a hand on her cheek before realising with a jolt— ‘Wait— Ilhar? What’s the date? Isn’t today…?’
Isa grimaced, and Becky immediately knew the answer.
‘It’s the wedding!’ Becky exclaimed, leaping to her feet and rushing for the door. ‘Oh, my god! Why didn’t you tell me?! We have to get ready, Ilhar!’
‘Becky— Becky, relax!’ Isa called after her daughter, and followed her down the hall and stairs. ‘It’s not until this afternoon. You have plenty of time to prepare—‘
‘—No! It has to be perfect!’ Becky retorted, running into the lounge and narrowly avoiding slipping on all the documents she’d left lying out as she’d prepared for the wedding that she was hosting later today.
It wasn’t her own wedding of course— If it was she wouldn’t be half as worried. No; this wedding was much more important than her own could ever be!
It was her mimics’ wedding.
Mimi and Don had been wanting to get married for almost a year, now. And incident after incident had pushed the preparations back until about five months ago when Becky had taken Mimi out and booked a venue and told everyone that this was the date. And it was not changing.
She felt so incredibly guilty that her babies had been forced to wait this long; it wasn’t fair! And the only way Becky could think make it up to them was to make sure that today was the best and most special day of their entire lives!
‘I need, like, all of today to get it ready!’
Isa rubbed her temples as Becky began frantically sifting through the papers scattered across the floor. ‘Becky. It will be fine! She’ll be happy with it, however it goes—‘
‘—It has to be perfect!’ Becky repeated. ‘It has to be exactly what she wanted, or she’ll be so upset!’
‘Becky— You know that’s not true,’ Isa gave a sigh, and shook her head. ‘She was happy with a piñata full of meat for her bachelorette party. I don’t think she’s going to notice one or two things out of place on her wedding.’
‘It has to be perfect!’
Support the Author:
Make a one-time donation
Make a monthly donation
Make a yearly donation
Choose an amount
Or enter a custom amount
Your contribution is appreciated.
Your contribution is appreciated.
Your contribution is appreciated.DonateDonate monthlyDonate yearly