Sunday, 23 November 2014

The Four Stars Chapter Eleven

Previous chapter: A Little Solitude, Please!

Chapter Eleven: One More Outing.
I'd like to clean up their pasts, but I can't fix everything. ~The Watcher.
It was a particularly gloomy morning when Francesca woke up crying. She wiped her eyes as she got out of bed. "The nightmares came back. Always the same. I'm locked away as a toy to some rich person and not allowed to 'suffer' the mundane," Francesca muttered, her heart feeling hollow yet heavy. "But the way I was treated in the dream made 'mundane' life bearable."

Woke up on the wrong side of the bed?
She logged on to her computer and tried to distract herself by playing Puzzle Cove. It didn't help, although Sinopia collected some more money in her fortune. After an hour, Francesca logged off from the game and browsed random things, including ideas for work in the next few days.

The bad dream still bothered her as she read jokes. She heard one of her cousins call everyone to breakfast, so she shut down the computer and went downstairs.

"It's not like I can tell Attie or Hera about the nightmares, they won't understand. I told Isabel about these nightmares before we moved here, but I don't want to burden her again with the same," Francesca thought as she took a plate of pancakes and sat down to eat them. They were coated with a thin layer of honey and topped with a cube of boiled pineapple, which she enjoyed.

She listened to her housemates go on about work. Attie complained, "I don't understand it, why on earth do I keep missing the meetings when I stay to work overtime? Even if I drink some energy soda, I crash anyway."

"You should lay off the soda, it's bad for you," Hera remarked.

"Who's the dunce who decided to fix a programming bug and ended up taking the blame?" Attie snapped back. "I didn't ask for your advice. Next time, tell tales on your coworker. Sneak, it's not that wrong to tell tales when it's something important."

Isabel glanced over to Francesca and said, "Hot day, isn't it?" Francesca nodded. "Don't get snappy, dear cousin," Isabel continued.

"I won't, not without good reason," Francesca replied as she finished her pancakes. She left the plates for Attie to wash up. The younger Lion was still complaining to herself when Francesca went back upstairs to brood.

Hera was about to see herself in the mirror.
"I need to catch up on my running," Hera said when she saw herself in the mirror. "But first, I've got to settle my work for the computer club. Good thing I'm off today."

--------

Francesca went out by herself again when Hera was napping, and after the Lions had gone to work. She sent a simple message to alert Isabel just in case. This time, she headed to the public park. "Maybe I can stop thinking about those nightmares if I hang around other people," she thought.


She got comfortable and started practicing. That was when she saw a tanned balding old man out of the corner of her eye. "Oh, crud," thought Francesca. "I hope he doesn't recognize me."


The balding man called Mortimer out rudely.


Now with mediocre violin music.
Mister Rose didn't recognize this plump young woman with the tumbling brown curls, but he was in the mood to be mean. He called out to a skinny pale man in a pressed shirt and pale pants, "Hey, shrimp!"

"Yes?" Mortimer asked, turning around suspiciously. "What do you mean by calling me a shrimp?"

"You suck, you stink, your mom's a llama and your dad was a dustbin!" the old man continued ranting at Mortimer.

"What? No!" Mortimer yelled. "Your parents are even worse if you go around making fun of everyone. Do you know what manners mean?"

"I don't give a hoot about manners. You're too uptight, just like everyone else," said Mister Rose.

"I heard you heckled a young lady about her front end. Keep those sort of thoughts to yourself and get your eyes off Bella!"

"What if I don't?"

"Bella will definitely think of something," Mortimer remarked as he stalled for time.

Mister Rose honked with laughter. "Save that for when you run crying to your nanny, loser!"  he sneered. Mortimer ran off in great disgust at the mean old man. At this point, several people came up to hear Francesca play the violin.

Once they saw her, however, they started doing their own thing. The redheaded man took a picture with a plump woman as an elderly one watched them. Mister Rose was still there, and he took the opportunity to make fun of Ana's mother, who happened to have blonde hair tinged with blue. "Call that a dress? I can do one better!" he exclaimed to her.

She glared at him and muttered a threat under her breath. He walked off without a word as the violin music slowed to a stop. Francesca put away her violin and sent a message to Isabel's phone, then walked home, leaving the townies to their own devices.

--------

Hera decided she might as well start jogging, and the Lion Twins were surprised to see her doing so.

"I didn't expect to see you run, Hera," said Isabel. "What made you do it?"

"Nothing better to do," Hera replied. "Where did Fran go?"

"She said she wanted to reason out life by herself at the park. It was a text message," Isabel replied and sat down to watch television. She flipped over to a soap opera. Attie joined her after getting a slice of cake from the fridge.

"Aren't you worried?" asked Hera. "She's your cousin."

Isabel answered, "She's not a baby, she said in that message she'll be back soon for dinner."


Just as the people on the show were about to crash a party, Isabel's phone went off in short bursts of ringing. She picked it up and looked at it, then muttered, "She's got nightmares again."

Attie looked up. "Who did?"

"Francesca did," Isabel replied. "It's kind of personal, though."

Hera asked curiously, "What nightmares?"

"Hera, you probably don't want to know," Isabel said solemnly. "It's embarrassing, and a little worrisome."

"I'm not a kid, I'm only three months younger than either of you Lions," Hera said as she continued running. "I can handle what you're going to say next."

Isabel sighed. Then she said, "Alright, but don't spread the news here. Francesca's nightmares involve her being a concubine to an abusive man who... uh, forced her to sleep with everyone and everything. This is no fun woohoo."

Hera's brown face went green. "I don't understand," she said. "Why would she have those dreams if nobody forced themselves on her in reality? You said the other high school kids left her alone as she was this weird kid that kept to herself."

"Maybe she's anxious about romantic relationships," Attie said, scarfing down her slice of cake. "Then her brain twisted it into this mess of a nightmare. You know how she broods over things. Old fuss pot. You should console her."

"Could be, but she's never expressed an interest in men beyond that brief crush on Voltaire Hernandez," Isabel replied. "Least she had the sense to keep it to herself and not blurt it at him. He's old enough to be her dad."

"Don't forget she had Johnny Depp on the brain before that," Attie laughed. "When the other girls had Beiber on the brain instead." The three women cracked up laughing, then calmed down just before Francesca came home from the park.

"Did I miss something?" Francesca asked as she sidled past the Lions to sit on the sofa. Isabel and Attie shook their heads. The plump young woman sat down and watched the soap opera with the twins.

"I'll get myself something to eat," Hera chirped. "You should do the same." Francesca got up and got a simple meal to eat while watching the show.

--------

That night, Isabel went to Francesca's room. The younger woman was still wide awake as she lay in her bed. "Those dreams... I think I might have figured them out," said Isabel.

"Huh?" Francesca asked. "What do you mean?"

"Attie thinks those dreams are your worries about romance going awry," Isabel said, sitting at the foot of the bed. "I think it's your brain's way of making sense of stress. Like when your dad got ill and you had to stay with us."

"But I'm not planning to romance anyone," said Francesca. "Not so soon, anyway. I thought I got over that time after my dad got well again."

"Well," Isabel remarked, "It could be a warning to be careful in future. If those dreams get any worse, tell me, ok?"

"I will."

Isabel then said before leaving, "Good night, Fran," and shut the door behind her. Francesca drew the blankets over herself and drifted off to an uneasy sleep.

Next chapter: Nasty Little Prank.

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