“Daddy how is Violet our sister when she lives so far away and has a different mommy than the rest of us?” Starry asked before I even had a chance to open my eyes one Saturday afternoon. “What?” I asked her back hoping I didn’t hear that question right as I opened my eyes to see her standing over me with a perplexed look on her face. “I asked Mommy how Violet was our sister if she lives in a different place, with a different mom and Mommy said that I should asked you.” She explained slowly as she tapped her foot on bottom of the bed with every word as if it would be a reminder that she hated to repeat herself. It was a lot easier when she was a toddler before she could talk and ask questions.
“Violet is your sister because she is my daughter… and uhh you both don’t need the same parents to be brother and sister…. Look at your uncle Ashen and me, his father is my step father but he is still my brother.” I said hoping that I had explained it well enough to dance around the subject and for her to leave the subject alone as she would soon hopefully forget about it. “But does that mean Violet mom’s is our stepmom?” Starry questioned in a way that proved how wrong I was.
“No…No, Violet’s mom and I were never married and we won’t ever get married so there for she can’t ever be your stepmom.” I replied stumbling over my own words as Starry just looked at me as she narrowed her eyes “But mommy says that you have to be married to have kids like you guys were…” she said trailing off as she seemed to put two and two together so I decided to throw her a curve ball “You’re grandmother wasn’t married to my father or grandpa Fade, here call her.” I said as I handed her my cell phone from the nightstand and made a hasty get away to the bathroom, making sure to lock the door behind me.
Things were different now that Indigo and Starry were in school. Different in a good way such as Indigo excelling at school and almost bringing a different friend home every day afterwards. Weekends usually included at least one of the camping out with her on our living room floor as they stayed the night.
But it was also different in a bad way. And thus begun the many of parent teacher conferences at the beginning of the year that consisted of the same thing.
“Mr. and Mrs. Meringue I’m sure you are concerned why I called you into today to discuss your daughter Starry.” Mrs. Crabapple started out as she spoke nervously and we both nodded in agreement. “It’s not that she isn’t doing well in school academically, she is doing great. But… she doesn’t seem to be progressing socially. At recess she always plays alone in the court yard far from any of the other children or when it’s time for them to pair off into groups she is often very resistant to join a group until I direct her to one.”
“We’re just a little worried that she going down a bitter route for such a young berry. Are things alright at home may I ask?” She inquired as she nervously fiddled with one of her pens for a moment before slipping it into her drawer. “No, nothing has really been happening at home.” I answered truthfully, it had been years since anything had happened and things were going very well at our house. “Starry has always been a quiet girl and has liked to keep to herself, that doesn’t mean that anything is wrong with her.” Aubergine spoke up after a quick glance at me; a defensive edge was hedging in on her voice as I felt my own anger rising. Little did both Aubergine and I know that this would be the first of many years to come where we would repeat this meeting with every one of her teachers up until she reached middle school.
“My wife is right and I don’t really think anything is wrong with our daughter. And if you don’t mind I think this meeting is over. She’s doing well in school; if she doesn’t want to work or play with the other students then she doesn’t have to. Now that, that’s settled if you have any real concerns about my daughter say them. Otherwise we’ll be leaving right now.” I said trying to make the note of finality in my voice quite final before I walked out with Aubergine quickly trailing behind me. Starry was sitting on a chair outside the classroom with Indigo next to her as the door from the classroom opened quickly they both jumped. “Let’s go home girls.”
When we got home Starry went up to her room and Indigo went to play outside. Porfirio was alone sitting on the couch playing video games I noticed as I paid the babysitter, a distant cousin somehow related to us through my mother’s side. “Where’s your friend Midnight? I thought he was staying for dinner tonight?” I asked my son as I sat down while picking up the controller next to him and begun to play the with him.
“He’s uhh… out… playing… outside… with Wisteria.” Porfirio answered in between moves as he quickly pressed the buttons on the controller not looking away from the screen for a moment. “They were… playing… in the tree house together… before they told me… I mean I decided to go in.”
What the fudge ripple?
“Are they still playing out there?” I enquired feeling my stomach begin to tie into knots. “Probably, I don’t know.” He replied irritated as his character just lost but I was too busy lost in thought to really hear him. Wisteria… Alone… In the tree house that I built with a boy… A boy... My daughter is alone in a tree house with a boy. I have a daughter…
“I’ll umm be right back.” I said under my breath as I quickly strode through the kitchen and out the back door. The sun was starting to go down and Aubergine was starting to cook dinner.
From the tree house I could hear a giggle which made me quicken my pace before I found myself under the tree. “Wisteria Plum, could you come down here for a minute?” I requested as my voice was a little sharper than I intended This was turning out to be a bad day.
They quickly both scrambled down from the tree house, my daughter and Midnight Chiffon. “Whats wrong daddy?” Wisteria asked a bit unsure. It would only be a small amount of time before she became a teenager next year and started high school. High school… And teenage boys that only had one thing on their minds with their fudging raging hormones. Well I’ll show them, meet raging dad. None of the things that I had done would ever happen to any of my four. Four?!?! How could I have four girls? Oh fudge… Berry what I am I going to do? I guess I could ground them until they turned thirty…
“Dad!” Wisteria practically yelled to break me away from my thoughts “What’s wrong?”
“What? Oh um… Midnight can’t stay for dinner tonight… And since it’s just about dinner time he has to go home…Right now.” I said while they both stared up at me like I was losing my sprinkles. “Ok I’ll see you in school Wisteria.” He waved before running into the house to grab his book bag before he left. “Dad did you hit your head?” Wisteria asked me while she continued to study me. “No why would you think that?” I replied nervously running my hand through my hair as the cold realization continued to hit me that I did indeed have 4 daughters as she quipped “You’re acting weird.”
“Mom, Guess what? I got my first kiss today. Midnight kissed me on my check” Wisteria announced dreamily at the dinner table after Midnight went home and we had just sat down. “Aww how sweet.” Was my dear, dear sweet wife’s reply. “Yeah he’s my boyfriend now, we are soo holding hands together at recess tomorrow.” She chatted cheerfully as Porfirio grumbled “Yeah he used to be my best friend.”
My reaction was a bit different than my wife's and before I knew it I almost choked on my food as I heard Wisteria make her announcement. “What! Boyfriend? Midnight? No, no, no you are too young to have a boyfriend Wisteria.” I interjected into their conversation bringing it to a halt before Wisteria protested “But Daddy I really like Midnight!”
“Yes and you are not even a teenager yet Wisteria. So there is plenty of time for you when you are old enough.” I countered back to her as I finished my plate and got up from the table before heading to my office. I didn’t want to think any more on this subject than I already had, I wasn’t ready for my oldest or really any of my girls to be growing up this quickly. It seemed like just yesterday we were bringing Wisteria and Porfirio home from the hospital.
For a while I sat in my office chair subconsciously tilting my chair back and forth as I thought about an offer I had gotten to teach a writing class. It had been a while since I had last worked and even though we didn’t need the extra money, I was growing restless just being at home. I didn’t know or understand how Aubergine did this every day and loved it. We had discussed me going back to work and surprisingly she was in favor of it. Now I just sat in my chair staring at the computer screen with my acceptance email all typed out when a quiet knock at the door broke me from my trance.
“Daddy? Will you read me a story? Indy has mom reading her a story and I was wondering if you would read one to me…” My youngest asked hopefully as she stood in the door way dressed in her pajamas. “Sure kiddo. You got one in mind?” I replied back with a smile. My little Starry, she reminded me of myself growing up in my mother and Fade’s house sadly. With a small smile trying to break free she answered “Yep, I’m going to go get it!” as she scampered off to the bookshelf in the hallway. “I’ll meet you upstairs.” I called after her before turning back to the screen to hit send.
As I read the story of Pumpkin Jack and Florentine, Starry interrupted me with a question of her own. “Am I in trouble since you had to have a meeting with my teacher?” She asked concernedly as she took her eyes off of the pictures in the book to look up at me. “No sweetie you’re not. But why don’t you want to play with the other kids?” I asked after answering her question.
“It’s not that I don’t like the other kids, I’ve tried to be their friend but they just don’t like me. I’ve tried to talk to them or play with them at recess but they didn’t want to, so I started playing by myself at recess.” Starry answered unable to look at me anymore and for a moment I actually wanted to go into her school and make the other kids like her but I knew that I couldn’t. I couldn’t solve her problems for her but I could help her resolve them. “And Florentine wondered where the boy had come from with the strange coloring.” She read before changing the subject as she asked me “Do you think there are berries out there that look like that daddy?”
Later that night after I convinced Aubergine to join me in the hot tub instead of doing the laundry, I said to her as we were both relaxing in the bubbling and hot water. “I’m telling you it is karma. KARMA! That I have four girls, its karma for my past and all the things I did. Now they are going to have those things done to them by those little berryhat boys. I just know it!”
“Roux she’ll be a teenager soon and I don’t see you worrying about some girl taking advantage of Porfirio.” Aubergine was quick to point out before she leaned her head back while closing her eyes as she sighed. “That’s different.” I said quickly but she wasn’t finished talking “How? What if he is like you as a teenager? It’s a wonder you didn’t have a kid or two before you graduated. What do you want to do ground them until they are old?” She countered back with a raised eyebrow and an amused smile. “Maybe, but I won’t admit anything since you are on their side.” I said as I made my way over to her as she laughed and replied as I put my arm around her “I’m not on anyone side but I do think that they should experience things as normal teenagers do. And besides I think we raised some smart girls so they might not all be like the ones you’ve dated.”
I hoped she was right and with every day that passed I kept up that hope. By the time Wisteria and Porfirio were teenagers it almost became a mantra. With eyes as blue as the ocean I had a hard time believing it anymore. I knew it would only be a small amount of time before boys came knocking for her. As soon as she was able to attend the High School she was signing up for after school classes and cheerleading. The latter which Indigo adored as she watched her sister prance around the house the first day she got her uniform.
I think Porfirio was just excited about being able to go to the beach by himself now without an adult since becoming a teenager. Most of the days after school he would head there to surf and coming home only when it got dark with sand throughout his hair and clothes that he would track all over the house. After a few weeks of that Aubergine had enough and delegated the sweeping and vacuuming to him as his new chores.
During school breaks and holidays I would fly to the airport in Chambery to escort my daughter back with me on a plane to my house. Since her mother made a living working in the world of fashion she often arrived in the latest in kids clothing that even her older teenage sister would look enviously at before asking me for some money to go shopping with her friends. Since Wisteria had the second largest room with her own bathroom she shared her room with Violet when she would visit. Wisteria didn’t mind the arrangement too much most of the year she had her room to herself and Violet was just glad to be around her siblings that she didn’t get to see often. In fact on the plane ride over this last trip she informed me that she was going to have a little brother soon.
I guess I should have seen it coming after they had gotten married a few years ago the same year that Indigo and Starry had started school. For the first time I felt the pain that she had felt knowing that now she would always be with someone else. Full of shame I regretfully admitted that even after all this time I still loved her, I was never able to let go as hard as I tried but in a sense I was happy that she had. Though if anyone asked me I would deny it with everything I had. As long as I kept that part of me buried deep down inside and lived every day with my wife that I did loved with an incomplete heart like it was our last, I could keep on living that lie. Having my family and Aubergine made the choice of not being with Shiraz worth it and I would never give them up, not even for the love of my life.