Denver Cereal Denver Cereal

Chapter Five Hundred and twenty : Have courage (part three)


(part four)

Thursday early morning — 5:05 a.m.

Aden came down the stairs, turned at the main Castle living room, and went into the kitchen where he saw Blane making breakfast. He stopped short. As if he was shocked, he put his hand on his heart.

“Very funny,” Blane said. “It’s my turn to make breakfast. Jeraine and I are competing for best breakfast. He won last week, but this is muffin week.”

Grinning at himself, Aden took a travel mug down from the cabinet and went to fill it coffee. Blane took a carton of half-and-half from the refrigerator.

“No dairy,” Aden said.

“Sorry, I forgot about your delicate system,” Blane said, while swiping his hand in front of his nose as if something smelled bad.

Aden snorted and got the soy milk out of the refrigerator. He poured some in his travel mug and screwed on the top. He gave Blane a long look.

“So?” Aden asked.

“So?” Blane asked. Intentionally avoiding Aden’s question, Blane gestured to the oven, “I have three kinds of muffins — sweet for the fairy kind.”

“Are the envoys still here?” Aden asked.

“We’re going to have to use a flame thrower to get them out of here,” Blane said.

“Or just stop feeding them,” Aden said.

Blane nodded. The bowl he was stirring with a wooden spoon, he added,

“Blueberry, easily digestible fiber, no sugar, no-gluten — for Honey and the perpetually dieting,” Blane said.

Aden stuck his finger in the batter and then put it in his mouth.

“That’s surprisingly good,” Aden said.

“Surprising?” Blane said.

Aden grinned and gestured to the full, unbaked muffin tins.

“Keto,” Blane said. “High protein. Oat fiber. Charlie and Nash are trying to ‘bulk up,’ whatever that means. Delphie’s eating them for her blood sugar.”

Blane shrugged.

“Bacon, sausage — for cavemen like you,” Blane grinned. He gestured to where a pan of bacon awaited. Aden picked up a piece. “Tofu scramble with marinated portabellas and sweet potato.”

“Tanesha’s favorite,” Aden said. “Slick. Get back at your competition by making his wife’s favorite.”

Blane gave Aden an evil grin.

“Steamed vegetables for my lovely wife, who is still breast feeding,” Blane said. “And yours who is not breast feeding but likes vegetables anyway.”

“Noelle eats them too,” Aden said.

“Tink too,” Blane said.

“Takes all kinds,” Aden chuckled and finished his bacon.

“So,” Aden said. “I saw you leave.” When Blane didn’t respond, he added, “Last night.”

Blane shook his head as he stirred the muffin batter in the bowl in front of him.

“I went for a walk with Nelson,” Blane said. “I dropped him off and came back to the Castle.”

“Nelson was not with you when I saw you leave,” Aden said.

“Stalking much?” Blane asked, with an exaggerated aggression.

“You want to tell me,” Aden said. “You need to tell me.”

“Hey, give the man a break,” Jacob said, coming down the long stairs.

“What are you doing awake, slacker?” Aden asked.

Denver Cereal continues tomorrow…

Chapter Five Hundred and twenty : Have courage (part two)


(part two)

Thursday morning — 7:05 a.m.

Paris, France

“What did she say?” Sissy asked.

Mari had appeared out of nowhere just as Sissy’s alarm went off. Sissy was now putting her to use by having Mari brush Sissy’s hair. It was only a struggle because Mari was attempting to do Sissy’s hair without using magic. Every time Mari had put up Sissy’s hair with magic, Sissy wasn’t able to take it down at night. They were sitting on Sissy’s bed looking at each other through the mirror on the wall.

“That’s just it,” Mari said. “She didn’t say anything.”

“Nothing?” Sissy asked.

Mari nodded into the mirror, and Sissy looked surprised.

“And you were sassy and everything?” Sissy asked.

“Very disrespectful,” Mari said, nodding.

“And she didn’t respond?” Sissy asked.

Mari shook her head.

“Wow,” Sissy said. “And you said everything we practiced.”

“Every word,” Mari said.

“Pshew,” Sissy said with a gust of air.

“I know,” Mari said. “I thought she’d be furious …”

“How dare you!” Sissy said in an almost perfect imitation of Mari’s mother, Queen Fand.

“Exactly,” Mari said. “I don’t want to say this because I can’t believe it’s true …”

“What?” Sissy asked.

“I don’t think she knew who I was,” Mari said.

Sissy didn’t respond. She could feel in her gut the truth of what Mari had said. Her heart didn’t want it to be true. She couldn’t think of anything to say.

“Yeah,” Mari said. “That’s the truth isn’t it?”

“Seems like,” Sissy said. She opened her mouth to say something consoling but Mari was positively beaming. “What?”

“It’s the best news I’ve heard in a long time,” Mari said. “I can live my life, my own life. My life.”

Mari giggled.

“Aren’t you upset?” Sissy asked.

“I know,” Mari said with a nod. “I should be. I really should be. But right this moment, I just feel relief. Like ‘ahhh’. I can just live for a while. I just have to be courageous enough to do it.”

Frustrated with Sissy’s hair, Mari dropped the brush and snapped her fingers. Sissy’s hair was up in a beautiful knot with a shimmering bow.

“Pretty,” Sissy said, looking side to side at her hair. “What will I do tonight?”

“Pull on the bow,” Mari said. “It just occurred to me that I could give you a way to take your hair out.”

Sissy grinned at her smart friend.

“I think I might get upset,” Mari said. “Someday. Maybe. Don’t you think someday …?”

“You don’t have to be upset about it,” Sissy said.

Mari nodded.

“It’s okay if you’re not upset,” Sissy said. “But you might be tomorrow. Or maybe next week.”

“For now?” Mari asked. “I’m just going to enjoy it.”

Mari kissed Sissy’s cheek and disappeared. Chuckling at her friend, Sissy quickly put on her leotard. She checked herself in the mirror before heading downstairs for another day.

Denver Cereal continues tomorrow…

Chapter Five Hundred and twenty : Have courage (part one)


(part one)

“Enrique destroyed my life,” Blane said. “Destroyed me. He would have killed me if it weren’t for Jake. Well, Delphie too. As it was, he took away my home, my possessions, my livelihood, all of my friends, and … even my own sense of who I was. Then I finally build my life back, have a real home and children and everything, and he’s there telling everyone that what I want was him.”

“You’re afraid of losing Heather,” Nelson said.

“No,” Blane said, and then shrugged. “I mean, sure. I’m afraid of losing Heather, but I don’t think I’d ever lose her over this.”

“How would you lose her?” Nelson asked. He quickly added, “Just out of curiosity. You know, what’s the lay of the land?”

Blane nodded and fell silent.

“If I betrayed her,” Blane said. “Or betrayed our children or our life. If I was anything but myself and … So no, she wouldn’t end things over being with you, even if you join our family. If I lie to her about it or you or … Anyway, I can’t lie anymore because everyone I’m around just knows anyway.”

“Really?” Nelson asked.

“Really,” Blane said. “You can see that they know.”

He sighed.

“It’s hard to be human around so many super humans,” Blane said, and then nodded. “It forces me to try to be a better person.”

Blane stopped walking to look at Nelson.

“Heather likes you,” Blane said. “Even the girlfriends like you. That’s like a badge of honor or a gold star from the heavens.”

“Good to know,” Nelson said with a grin.

“You mention before, when I was …” Blane said. “I remember that feeling of freedom, that easy safety of ‘How bad could it be?’ But I was naïve. I’d come out of hell in the foster system. I thought nothing could hurt me. I was care-less. I wasn’t care-full with myself, my health, my heart, my life — and I lost it all, every bit of it. I will never do that again.”

“You don’t want to risk being hurt.” Nelson nodded.

“No,” Blane said, shaking his head. “I’m going to get hurt. I could get hurt walking across the street. I could fall down on our walk or fail at my acupuncture practice or … Hurt is a natural part of life. I just …”

Nelson stopped walking to look at Blane.

“I think it matters to me — you and me,” Blane said. “I’m surprised but it matters to me a lot. You matter to me a lot. I don’t want to start because …”

“What if I fuck it up?” Nelson asked.

Blane shook his head.

“That’s what I think,” Nelson said. “After all of this time, I finally have a chance at a real dream, my real dream and I …”

“I’m your dream?” Blane asked. Shocked, he gawked at Nelson.

Nelson looked at Blane. Even in the dark of the night, Blane saw the embarrassment on his face. Nelson had said a lot more than he’d intended to. Nelson gave Blane a quick nod and turned to walk again.

They walked in silence as they made a loop around the park. Back to the entrance, Blane stopped walking.

“I think you’re right,” Blane said. “It’s hard because we care too much, because I really care about you, about this. It’s not fun and games. It’s real. It’s life.”

Looking relieved, Nelson nodded.

They walked out of the park. Nelson said his good-byes and went into his house. Blane let himself into the Castle. When he got to their apartment, Heather was asleep with Wyn on the bed. Blane smiled at them for a moment. He turned to go to the bathroom when Heather sat up in bed.

“Just go,” Heather said. “We’ll be here when you get back.”

“I …” Blane said.

“Have courage, my love,” Heather said. “You are so focused on what you might lose that you forget what you might gain. This is your life — your short human life. Why not make it magnificent? We’ll be here either way. We’d just like you to have all that life can offer.”

Blane turned to look at her. After a moment, he nodded and left the Castle.

Denver Cereal continues tomorrow…

Chapter Five Hundred and nineteen : Home again, home again (part six)


(part six)

Wednesday night — 9:45 p.m.

“Well …” Nelson said.

Blane looked at Nelson for a long moment. He opened his mouth to say something.

“I should probably go,” Nelson said. “I’ve got work tomorrow.”

Blane closed his mouth and gave Nelson a nod.

“I’ll walk you home,” Blane said.

Nelson grinned at the idea that Blane was going to walk him to his house across the street and four houses away. Blane shrugged. Rather than object, Nelson put on his jacket and they left through the side door. Blane was closing the outside gate when Nelson turned to him.

“Why do you think this is so hard for us?” Nelson asked.

Blane squinted at Nelson.

“I mean, I can tell that you like me,” Nelson said. “And I really like you. I don’t know why …”

“I don’t know,” Blane said.

Blane opened his mouth to say what he thought, but Nelson continued talking.

“I mean,” Nelson said. “I remember when you were with Enrique. You were so free, so …easy. Nothing seemed to bother you. You kissed people when they came into the house. You were ready for a hug or a back rub. I … I mean, you didn’t have sex with any one of us, except maybe Enrique, but you were so open, available. Now, it’s like there’s this wall between us.”

Nelson glanced at Blane.

“Sorry, to just vomit words,” Nelson said. “I’ve just … It’s just …”

Nelson scowled.

“I’ve wanted to say something for a long time,” Nelson said. “I don’t want to lose this, lose you, but I don’t know how to scale the wall!”

“I don’t know how to either,” Blane said with a sigh.

Blane jammed his hands into his pockets. They started walking. They passed Nelson’s house turning up 16th Avenue toward City Park. Blane stopped walking at the crosswalk on 17th Avenue.

“Do you mind walking for a bit?” Blane asked.

Nelson pointed back to his house and then where they were. Blane grinned. When the light turned, they walked across the street. They were well into the park when Blane spoke.

“You mention, Enrique,” Blane said.

Nelson nodded.

“I … That whole thing …” Blane sighed. “You know, he came to the hospital and harassed Heather when I was in the ER. He told them that he was my true partner and Heather was …”

“Heather couldn’t have possibly cared about that,” Nelson said.

“Oh, she wasn’t upset,” Blane said. “He just made everything so damned hard. It’s like … I mean …”

Blane swallowed hard.

“Enrique destroyed my life,” Blane said. “Destroyed me. He would have killed me if it weren’t for Jake. Well, Delphie too. As it was, he took away my home, my possessions, my livelihood, all of my friends, and … even my own sense of who I was. Then I finally build my life back, have a real home and children and everything, and he’s there telling everyone that what I want was him.”

Denver Cereal continues on Monday…

Chapter Five Hundred and nineteen : Home again, home again (part five)


(part five)

Undisclosed location

Mari was not the most powerful child of Queen Fand. She was definitely the cleverest and certainly the most stubborn of Queen Fand’s children. Mari worked for less than a day before she found the trail of her mother. She bounced around the world until she zeroed in on her mother and the other fairy queens.

She arrived inside a gorgeous crystal cave deep inside the earth. The air was moist, but not too humid. Somehow, the crystals reflected the light of the stars. For a moment, Mari stood where she’d landed. She breathed of the warm, moist air.

She almost chickened out. Gathering her courage, she set off across the cavern to where the fairy queens were lounging beside a warm salt bath.

“Mother,” Mari said, as she approached.

Queen Fand looked up at her.

“Before you say anything, I want you to know that I am aware that you planned to have me killed in the last war,” Mari said. “While I understand that I am not in the line of succession, I deeply resent you throwing me away like garbage. I have spent my entire life in the service of your every whim.”

Mari felt such a rush of betrayal that she had to swallow hard to keep speaking. Queen Fand scowled and opened her mouth.

“You have no right to dispose of me,” Mari said. “I am your child, your flesh and blood, who had worked her entire life to do your will and bidding.”

Mari panted with rage. Queen Fand gave her a blank look.

“I am here to tell you that I have had enough,” Mari said. “You wish me dead; I am dead to you.”

“But …” Queen Fand said.

“Don’t tell me that there is no longer any war,” Mari said. “How long will it be before you decide you need another war?”

When Queen Fand didn’t respond, Mari snorted.

“I figured as much,” Mari said.

Without saying another word, Mari turned in place and stalked away from the group of fairy queens. She disappeared from where she started.

“Any idea who that might be?” Queen Shanti said.

“None what so ever,” Queen Fand said.

The fairy queen sisters giggled with laughter.

“She did seem very upset,” Queen Fand said.

Queen Fand looked toward where Mari had disappeared. Shrugging, she got up and went into the salt bath.

Denver Cereal continues tomorrow…

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