Dear Diary, look! The family is together again! Isn’t it amazing? Every time I see my parents, but especially my father, it feels as if all is right with the world. He and Leela are elders now which feels very strange to me. But on the other hand, there was a time when my father was so ill, no one expected him to make it to his elder years, so I’m eternally grateful for this time we have together.
The reason my parents are here is that they took Marty for a few weeks’ vacation in order to spend some time with her. They did this with both Charles and Laurent but decided to take Marty by herself because she was the only girl who was a teen. They’ve promised that once the younger girls are teens, they will take them on an exciting adventure, too.
I missed Marty so much! While she was gone, I realized that it’s really she who brings much of the hilarity into our daily lives. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not playing favorites as each of the children have their own ways of endearing themselves to me. Sometimes, though, you don’t realize something special until it’s no longer there.
Imagine our surprise when the girl who approached us didn’t look like Marty at all, but rather a polished young lady that deserved to be called Martha, not some boyish nickname. Gone was her flyaway hair and torn overalls. In their place, stood a pretty girl in capris and orange t-shirt.
I couldn’t tell who was more stunned, myself or Matthieu. Marty looked from one of us to the other before finally saying, “Don’t you like it?”
Catching my breath in my throat, I hugged her close to me, smiling. “You look absolutely amazing! Your outfit is very fashionable.”
After giving me a small smile, she turned her gaze to her father. “Daddy?”
Crossing my fingers, I silently prayed that Matthieu would not say what was on his mind because if I was reading his expression correctly, he didn’t care much for this change.
“Do you like these clothes?” he asked after clearing his throat.
“Yes, I really love them. I would’ve dressed a lot nicer before if I’d known there were so many clothes to choose from! You wouldn’t believe the racks and racks of all kinds of colors and prints to try on, Daddy! It’s so exciting! And the shoes! Don’t get me started on the shoes!”
Matt’s eyes narrowed for a moment at my parents but then he rubbed his chin and embraced our daughter warmly. “You look pretty as a picture.”
“Thank you, Daddy. Wait until you see what else I brought home! I can’t wait to tell you all about the trip, too!”
“I can’t wait to hear,” Matthieu enthused.
I took that moment to hug my parents. “It’s so good to see you both. I’ve missed you so much.”
“We’ve missed you, too, honey.”
We chatted briefly then about how everyone was doing and the children all said their hellos. Then they were off to the park to play with the other children on the island, Laurent leading the way.
“How can you wear that ugly outfit?” Carrie asked, her nose scrunched up with disgust.
“I like it!” Marty answered.
“It’s ridiculous looking if you ask me.”
“Well, no one did ask you, Carrie,” Charles broke in, steering the bunch out toward the road.
“I think it’s all right,” Theo said.
“You do?” I heard Marty ask as they continued walking.
Maybe Theo was finally noticing her, I thought. Or perhaps he was just sticking up for his friend. Time would tell.
It was high time I invited everyone inside. As they made themselves comfortable in the living room, I passed out nice tall glasses of iced tea. Speaking of, before me, Matthieu had never had iced tea and thought it was crazy to drink it cold, let alone over ice. This is just one of the improvements I’ve brought to our island.
As I came in to sit down, Matthieu was saying, “I really appreciate what you’ve done for Marty, but I wish you hadn’t bought her all of that clothing.”
“Oh dear,” Leela said. “We never meant to cause a problem. Marty seemed so self-conscious in her clothing and I only wanted to make her more comfortable.”
“I don’t see what the big deal is, really,” I said. “She likes what she’s wearing and I can tell it’s boosted her self-confidence.”
Matthieu sighed lightly but with exasperation. “You don’t understand. The clothing rules we have here are strict. She was already breaking them by wearing overalls. We live simply here for a reason.”
I have a feeling he would have continued but we were interrupted by a sharp knocking on the door.
“Won’t you have a seat?” I asked as I showed Agathe and Laci St. Cyr into the living room. I was being polite, but Agathe rarely visited because she was so busy and Laci had never once been here. Trouble was brewing and I figured I knew why.
“We won’t be here long,” Agathe said.
“We’re actually here on business,” Laci cut in, her thin lips drawing a disapproving line on her face.
“And what business would that be?” Matthieu asked.
“It’s about your daughter Mathilda,” Laci said.
“Martha,” Agathe corrected. “We understand that she went on a trip with her grandparents to the mainland and beyond and that she is home now in a rather… colorful outfit.”
“Word gets around fast,” my dad said under his breath.
Laci gave him an icy stare with her piercing blue eyes. “It’s a small island and it’s our business to know what is going on.”
“I’ll thank you to address me,” I said, stepping closer and becoming annoyed that Matthieu purposely blocked me with his body so I couldn’t move any closer. Was he afraid I would attack them?
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Alice in the hallway, listening.
“Very well,” Laci said.
“Actually, I was speaking to your Aunt Agathe, or have you taken over her responsibilities now?” I responded, meeting her frosty gaze head on.
“I have been letting Laci take on more responsibility as part of her training, but there is no need for unpleasantness,” Agathe smoothly said. “I’m sure Martha is very excited to be home and I trust she had a wonderful time with her grandparents. My only concern is that after today, once she’s settled back in, things will go back to normal.”
“Normal.” I could feel the hairs on the back of my neck standing up and my pulse quickening.
“Blue, you know as well as every other resident there is a dress code. We don’t cotton to popular fashion in any sense. It is disruptive to our lives and creates wants in the young that we don’t need. I hope you can understand.”
“Agathe, we’ve been friends for a long time, and I don’t want to argue with you. However, she is my daughter and I will do with her as I see fit. If she wants to dress in her new clothes, then she will do just that.”
Agathe bristled at my words, her back straightening even more. Laci turned to her and said, “This is what you get for allowing a new comer on the island. She will never fit in.”
I had run into this sort of thing before, although in much milder doses during my time in Winchester. There were always people who thought if your family hadn’t lived here for the past one hundred years, you were a newcomer.
“Excuse me, young lady,” I said with more bite in my voice than I’d intended, “but I’ve lived on this island longer than you’ve been alive!”
“Perhaps it would be best if we continued this another time,” Matthieu suggested.
“I hope you can speak sense to her,” Laci spat.
“Laci, they are right. They have company and we’ve taken enough of their time.”
“Well, I don’t agree. Not until something is done about these people intruding into our lives!”
With a shock, I realized she was speaking about my parents. “These people? You mean my family? They are our guests and you have no say in that either.”
“I am sorry for the interruption, Blue. But Laci is right in this matter. We take our rules and privacy very seriously and I think it’s best if Mr. and Mrs. Capra go back to the mainland as soon as they are able.”
“I’m astonished, Agathe, that you would stoop to telling me what my daughter can wear and who I can have in my home as guests.”
“I realize that and again, I’m sorry. But you are living on our island and, honestly, I’m a bit surprised and thankful that we haven’t needed to take drastic measures before now. Often when people move here from the outside, they don’t fully realize what they are getting into.”
Finding it difficult to keep tears from my eyes, I said, “We’ve always been such good friends. I can’t quite believe you’re speaking to me this way.”
She touched my arm briefly as if to say that we still were good friends, then said, “It’s difficult being in charge. And it’s even harder teaching someone else to take my place. The rules cannot be broken… even for friends.”
That night, I didn’t sleep a wink. Instead, I paced the bedroom, then the hallway, until finally, I gave up and came downstairs. The house was dark and quiet as I padded into the kitchen to start some coffee. It was then that I found I wasn’t alone. Dad and Leela were sitting at the table, with coffee already in hand, speaking quietly.
When the sun rose and the breakfast mess was out of the way, I found Matthieu spreading hay.
“I always know where to find you when your mind is troubled.”
“It’s best to keep busy,” he said, pushing the pitchfork back into the haystack.
“What are we going to do?”
Not pausing from his work, he said, “Marty is going to follow the dress code and your parents will go home. What is there to do?”
“I cannot believe you’re saying this to me!” I shouted. “Will you stop with the hay for two seconds so I can talk to you?”
Slowly, he leaned the pitchfork against the hay and turned to me, wiping sweat from his forehead with the back of his hand. “I know this is upsetting, but there is nothing that can be done. This is how we do things here and it never works out well to go against them.”
“So that’s it? You’re going to let other people dictate how we raise our children and conduct our household?”
He looked at me incredulously as if I’d grown a third arm or something. “That’s how we live, Blue. Our ancestors left a terribly run society to set up this community and we’ve maintained our rules and our ways ever since. You know this.”
“Matthieu, two busybody women marched themselves into our house yesterday! They were rude to my parents and to us!”
“Yes, they were. It’s what they do, unfortunately.” Sighing, he tried to take my hand, but I resisted. “I will agree that Laci will be especially hard to put up with, but that just means we’ll have to do what is right.”
“What is right is to protect our child! Do you realize the damage this may do to her? Do you understand the level of hurt at telling my parents they have to leave and are not welcome here? Do you?”
“And do you understand what our life here means? It’s everything to me, Blue! Everything! There isn’t anything I would not do for you and the children. We must preserve our life here!”
“Or maybe we should get the hell out of dodge!” I yelled. “Being here isn’t worth the pain it’s causing!”
Matt’s jaw dropped and for a moment, he was silent. Then, lowering his voice to a calm tone again, he said, “I love you and our family. You cannot be asking us to leave the only life we’ve ever known.”
Had the line been drawn in the sand? Could we not come to some kind of agreement? Was there any middle ground? It didn’t feel like it at all.
“Laci and Agathe have crossed a line and I know they won’t back down. I want to leave here, Matt. And I’m not leaving my children behind if I go.”
With tears in his eyes and before I could push him away, he grasped my hands in his.
“Please, don’t leave.”
“You could come with me.”
“This is a hasty decision and shouldn’t be made while you’re angry. Please – ” his voice broke and for the first time since meeting him, he had to wipe tears from his eyes. “I love you, Blue.”
Feeling my resolve weaken, I squeezed his hands. “I love you, too. The thing is, this is not over. Not by a long shot. But I’m not going to go sneaking off in the night.”
All at once, he pulled me toward him and into his strong arms. His fingers trembled as they wound their way into my hair and I rested my chin on his shoulder.
“I don’t know how, but we can work this out,” he said.
“I hope so.”
Later that evening, we put our problems aside, determined to give the twins a good birthday. Lissie, the older of the two, went first.
And also got the first piece of cake!
Upon studying her face, I couldn’t believe how much she looked like me even though she had Matthieu’s coloring. Of course, I assumed her sister would look similar.
Then it was Carrie’s turn.
My goodness! What lovely girls they were! I couldn’t wait to see what their futures would entail.
As I served the cake to my guests and thought about my parents leaving sooner than they’d planned, my worries rested heavily on my shoulders again.
I didn’t know what would become of us and I couldn’t believe the dreadful way I was feeling was because of some silly clothing. Should we leave Winchester? Would Matthieu come with us if we did? I couldn’t bear the thought of my family splitting up…
Author’s Note: Well, well, well, what a problem we have! 🙂 You didn’t think everything could be all roses, did you? Yet, here we are, very close to the end of Generation 3. I did sniffle a little when I saw Leo as an elder. It will be so hard the day I have to let him go.
Our heir poll will be held on September 2 and the girls are the nominees: Marty, Lissie, Carrie, and Susan. In the next chapter, Susan will age to teen. My hope is that you will get to know all the girls well enough that you can make your choice. I’m so excited! 🙂
If you would like to see the girls as young adults, I did put up a Generation 4 chapters page!
Oh, one last thing! Today, with the twins’ birthdays to teen, Blue achieved her Lifetime Wish of “Surrounded by Family!” Congratulations, Blue!
Thank you so much for your support!