Omicron: "It was awful! I thought I'd have so many friends, but they all just laughed at me."
Epsilon: "They teased you about your mom?"
Omicron: "Yeah. They kept saying that I didn't look anything like her, and that she wasn't around because she was ashamed of me. She's not, right?"
He looked up at his older sister, tears starting to form in his eyes.
Omicron folded his arms tightly and frowned, blinking the tears away.
Omicron: "Why did he have to do that? I hate him."
Epsilon: "I don't know, Omi. It doesn't make any sense."
He sighed and unfolded his arms, looking around the playground.
Epsilon: "Huh? Do what?"
Omicron: "Your hair. Big Sis said that they teased you about it, and I remember how it was before. It was all...funny."
Epsilon's voice was bitter as she replied.
Epsilon: "And now it's not?"
Omicron: "No! Well, I guess, but it's less funny. I like it."
Omicron: "Well, I still like it. It looks like that stuff I learned about in class today, um...the white stuff that comes during winter?"
Epsilon smiled a little.
Epsilon: "Thanks. I'm getting used to it, I guess."
Their conversation fell silent as the two siblings looked around the empty playground.
Omicron: "We should go. We're gonna miss the bus."
Epsilon: "Already did, I saw it go while we were talking. Don't worry, I have some money for a ticket on the regular bus. Al was right, odd jobs around the school pay really well."
Omicron: "Maybe they'll let me do some when I'm bigger like you."
Epsilon: "I'm sure they will."
Soon it was time for graduations. Both Alpha and Epsilon were graduating their respective schools this time around, though only the older sister had a school-organized ceremony to attend. So as not to let her younger sister feel left out, Alpha splurged on a cake that the younger Woods children could enjoy while she was at the school.
The results of the test surprised her. She hadn't thought that she had many skills that a university would appreciate, but she tested high enough to receive awards in both the technology and physical education subjects. More importantly, as a result of her well-rounded skills, the university was offering her a $1000 partial scholarship. She crunched the numbers, double- and triple-checking every operation, but she could still hardly believe her results. If she took a 12-credit load, even the partial scholarship would be enough to cover her tuition and housing. She could go to university! As soon as Epsilon walked in the door, Alpha ambushed her with the news.
Alpha: "You'll never believe what I just figured out."
Epsilon blinked in confusion, looking distracted.
Epsilon: "Huh? What?"
Alpha: "Earth to Epsi! Get out of your own head for a minute so I can talk to you, and then you can go back to whatever it is you were thinking about, okay?"
Epsilon: "Yeah, I'm sorry. What did you figure out, Al?"
Epsilon: "That's great! I know you wanted to go if you could, but there wasn't a whole lot of money."
Alpha: "Oh no, there's plenty of money. We're just not allowed to touch it."
Her dry reply was tinged with disgust, though she kept her expression neutral.
Alpha: "You're right. I'm happy that I can go, but I'm not sure if I should or not."
Epsilon: "What do you mean? Of course you should go!"
Epsilon: "Don't worry, we'll be fine. We're not that little anymore. Omi's old enough to be in school, and I went out today and got a part-time job. We'll have plenty of money once I get my first paycheck."
Alpha: "Oh, really? I could never do that because I had to take care of the two of you, but I guess you don't have to worry about that. Where'd you find work?"
Alpha: "I thought cemeteries creeped you out, too."
Epsilon: "No! I don't know how many times I have to tell you, Al. They're not creepy, only the one we have is creepy."
Alpha: "Are you sure you weren't just feeling sick that day, or something?"
Epsilon: "Definitely not. I went back a few days later to make sure I hadn't been imagining things, and I felt the exact same way once I got inside."
Alpha: "That doesn't make any sense."
Alpha: "At night?"
Epsilon made a face.
Epsilon: "Yeah, I know, vampires. I'll be very careful, I promise. I know you met one once, but don't you think that one might have just gotten way too into Spooky Day? I checked all the town records, and nobody's gone missing or any strange happenings like that. He was probably just traveling, or something."
Alpha: "You're probably right. Still, you're my little sister, and it's my job to make sure you're careful."
Epsilon: "Oh, I definitely will be."
Alpha: "I'll miss you guys so much!"
Epsilon: "I'll miss you, too. Don't forget to write, okay? Proper letters."
Alpha: "I won't. I'll give you my phone extension once I know it, so you can call and yell at me if I do forget."
Epsilon: "Count on it."
There was only one more thing left to do before Alpha could leave for university.
Alpha: "This. This is what I'm talking about."
James: "Right now, I'm not at all sure what you're going on about. Just move, I'm hungry."
Alpha: "No! I'm tired of moving. I guess what I'm trying to say is, I'm going to be out of your hair. Forever."
James: "That's great. I'm still not sure why we're having this conversation."
Alpha: "Before I go, there's something I have to tell you. Just one thing."
James: "Then hurry up and say it, already!"
Alpha: "You are a terrible father. You only do the bare minimum required to get by. Less than that, even. You spent your time entertaining a string of lovers, half of which you shamelessly knocked up, rather than take care of your own children. It's disgusting, and frankly I'm ashamed to be related to you."
James: "That's not-"
The room fell silent, except for the chatter of the weatherman on the TV - snow tonight, continuing through the small hours of the morning tomorrow, with four to six inches expected!
Alpha: "Don't have anything to say for yourself? I thought you wouldn't. I'll get out of your way now."
~ * ~
That's two chapters in a row that Alpha's had to put on her angry face! Hopefully now that she's out on her own she won't have to use it quite so much. She grew into such a pretty YA, I swear she didn't look that good when I aged her up in CAS to peek ahead. Maybe it's just the haircut that flatters her.
This chapter was pretty much a giant mess of dialogue. So many conversations that needed to be had. If I was better at pacing, I would have avoided it all falling in one chapter. Oh well.
Did James deserve that? Probably. Alpha needed to get it off her chest, at any rate. There's only so much that meditation alone can fix.