Gen IV Chapter 44 - Fine on the Outside

Things seemed to be back to normal, Meilin had made the usual call to go to the library the very next day and Aerie was relieved. She was almost certain for a moment that something was wrong. She decided not to press her daughter and it pained her not to. It had been two weeks and she had only gone straight home once, and that was to ask if she could play at Maggie's again.

She glanced over Allaine's shoulder to see Calypso still focused on the building blocks, she really loved them and was oblivious to the world when she played with them.

“As I was saying” continued Aerie, “I don't know what I'm supposed to do, every interview I have always ends up the same. They want someone with more experience, but my resume makes it obvious that I don't have any, so why bother giving me an interview in the first place?”

Allaine nodded, “I know what you mean, the people here can be biased. Are you sure you don't want to give it a shot at the hospital? I'm not suggesting med-school or anything, but something like record keeping?” Aerie shook her head, “I'd rather not, it would look like a handout and I wouldn't want that. I want something more flexible, Calypso's almost old enough for school but I need something with flexibility.”

Allaine's smile faded as she took a more serious tone. “Aerie, I'm not ashamed to admit that you're probably the only real friend I've had.” “Where did this come from all of a sudden?” questioned Aerie, feeling a little pressed as the large green eyes stared back at her. “Because I feel that I could tell you anything Aerie, anything at all and I know you wouldn't tell a soul. I know there is more to it, it's not that you don't want to apply for the position at the hospital, you're avoiding the building completely.”

“I simply want to know, as a friend, why you're avoiding the hospital.” Aerie lowered her eyes for a moment as she thought of how to respond. She glanced up at Allaine to see those green eyes locked onto her own. Aerie knew her well enough to know that she wasn't going to let it go, but she wouldn't press her much further either. She was simply concerned, Aerie knew it, and felt a little bad that her friend felt she didn't trust her.

Aerie let out a deep sigh, “Allaine it's not that I don't trust you, let's just say I've had a rough life. Despite the fact that my sister is a doctor, I've always had bad experiences in hospitals. Both births had complications, and even then there are very unpleasant memories related to that. Simply stepping into a hospital brings back memories that scarred me years ago...”

Allaine's expression lightened and a gentle smile spread on her face. “I'm sorry Aerie, I should not have brought it up, but thank you for trusting me enough to tell me. I know what it means to deal with something like that, I won't ask about it again.” “It's ok Allaine, you didn't know. What-” Aerie stopped herself before she could ask what Allaine meant by her comment. “Did something happen to her?” Aerie thought to herself.

She took a moment and looked at her friend, to really look at her. “She's actually really pretty” Aerie thought to herself, “yet she's not married and doesn't have any children..” “Something the matter?” Asked Allaine as she gently placed a hand on Aeries forehead, “your cheeks are flushed.” “I'm fine” Aerie replied as she laughed it off, “just a little stress from the job search, some white wine and a good book and I'll be fine.”

Allaine's eyes grew wide as she snapped her fingers, “that's it! It's perfect!” “What? What's perfect!?” replied Aerie in shock by the sudden outburst. “You like books right?” Aerie nodded, “I'm not a big bookworm like my daughter, but yes. Why?” Allaine gave her the cheesiest grin Aerie had ever seen her pull, “I found the perfect job for you. A co-worker of mine owns the local bookstore, he was complaining about how he can't find someone consistent to look after the place.”

“A bookstore?” Aerie thought to herself, it seemed perfect, it was low-key and she wouldn't stand out. “So he's looking to hire?” questioned Aerie, Allaine nodded, “you'll get the job for sure, it's perfect! I'll put in a good word for you at work.” Aerie thanked her, Allaine's on-call pager going off as the two hugged. “Well, you're used to this with your sister being a doctor and all” she laughed already heading for the door as Aerie waved her with a nod. “I'll call you about the job when I can!”

Aerie was relieved and excited. She loved being home with her girls every day, but she knew she had to do something. Calypso seemed to know her mother was excited, causing the little tot to become more excited, which Aerie didn't think was even possible. She didn't need to be held anymore, and still tried running as fast as her little legs could carry her towards her mom to play.

When Meilin arrived at home earlier than usual Aerie made some sandwiches. It was one of those rare days when she knew something was bothering her daughter again, much like that day last week. Aerie put on her best smile and waved her daughter to stop as she stood from the table. “Meilin can I talk to you in a little bit?” She nodded, “ok mom.” This was confirmation for Aerie, that shaky whisper of a response again, “just clear the table and go ahead and start your homework, I'll be back in a moment.”

After she checked on Calypso who was oblivious with her blocks again her cell went off, it was the architect that built the home. Aerie had left a voicemail at his office when he didn't answer earlier. “Yes, I was calling about what we discussed, Just one floor for now. Mhm... Yes, I already sent the email and the quote was fine. I'm looking forward to it, thank you.”

She hurried him off the phone, hinting that she had to go. She strolled into the kitchen to make a cup of coffee, not that she needed it, she just wanted something warm to drink while she sat down for her chat with Meilin.

“Ok Meilin” She said with a smile as she sat down, how are things at school? Is everything ok?” Meilin's eyes never left her homework as she nodded. “It's ok mom.”

“Are you sure everything's ok?” she pressed, unconvinced. “It's fine mom.” Aerie was hurt, “is it that she doesn't trust me?” she thought to herself. She and Meilin were close, very close, and she knew it. With a pained expression she took a sip from her coffee before clearing her throat. “Meilin Sakura Ryuzaki, what aren't you telling me?” Meilin flinched at hearing her full name, and for the first time she looked up from her homework, her eyes moist with tears moments away from falling.

“You can tell me baby, you know I won't get mad at you whatever it is. You can tell me anything, you know that.” Meilin sniffled and wiped her tears before they could fall. “Promise you won't tell the teacher?” Aerie nodded, “I promise.” It was clear that Meilin was uncomfortable about telling her and it bothered Aerie, still, she waited patiently for her daughter to share what was bothering her.

“My friend, kids at school aren't nice to her.” “Maggie?” questioned Aerie, Meilin nodded. “They're mean to her and I don't know why. They call her mean names and stuff, sometimes they pull her hair too, and push her down during recess.” “Did you tell the teacher?” asked Aerie calmly, she was relieved to know her daughter was willing to talk to her about it, and proud she cared about her friend.

Meilin nodded, “they still didn't stop, they just make sure the teacher doesn't see them. I told them to stop, but now they-” “They what?” questioned Aerie, a little concerned as to why her daughter stopped so suddenly. “Nothing mom, it's ok.” “Meilin” Aerie spoke softly, the tears had welled up again, she took a napkin and dabbed her daughters flushed cheeks. “Can I go to bed now please?” Her little voice breaking as she said it, almost pleading. Hearing her daughter like this broke Aerie's heart, she had pressed her hard enough, “yes baby, but you know you can talk to me when you want. I will always be here.” Meilin nodded as she ran upstairs, leaving Aerie to finish her lukewarm coffee alone.

Aerie finished her coffee and headed into her office, “she's not even in Jr. High yet, and she's already shutting me out” Aerie sighed to herself. Stepping into the office and staring at herself in the mirror.

After a moment Aerie's eyes started to wander, and she really began looking at herself. “How did time pass so fast?” she wondered to herself, “I'm not a size 1 anymore, that's for sure. When did I let myself go? I can't remember the last time I even went for a jog...” Feeling a little depressed Aerie headed upstairs to change.

Once she finished changing she pulled her hair back into a pony and headed downstairs. “No time like the present” she said to herself as she headed back to the office. “I'll just work out for an hour or two before bed.”  She knew she didn't really feel like working out, it was already 9:30pm, but she needed something to help keep her mind off of her talk with Meilin.  

She stretched for a few moments before grabbing the pull-up bar. “Simgods I'm heavy!” she thought out loud, grunting through her first pull-up.

As she finished her 3rd pull up she found herself unable to even attempt to lift herself again. “Three? Just three?” she winced as she grunted, straining to lift herself, her arms feeling like they would fall off. “Three pull-ups and my arms are spent, this is sad.” She trudged upstairs to take a shower, “an hour or two huh” she laughed as she looked at the time. “I'm spent after working out for 15 minutes, I'm getting too old for this...”

After a quick shower she found Calypso playing with her doll, and despite giving the pouty face Aerie dressed her for bed. “Pouty face or not, it's time for bed” Aerie laughed.

Despite her efforts to stay awake, Calypso was fast asleep after only four pages.

A few days later Meilin headed over to Maggie's house. She lived just down the street with Grandma Su. It wasn't until her 3rd visit that Maggie told her none of them were real brothers or sisters, they were all adopted. She also told Meilin that it was important to call before coming over but never explained why.

Why Meilin suddenly remembered this, she wasn't sure. She had already left and was in Maggies front yard before she remembered to call. It was too late now so she simply knocked on the door. A girl answered the door and narrowed her eyes as she looked at her from head to toe. “She's not here.” Meilin could see behind the girl into the house, there were a couple of boys not too far behind her. They seemed to be kicking a pillow or something, Meilin couldn't tell.

Her eyes widened as the boys yanked up what they were kicking and saw that it was Maggie. She opened her mouth to say something just as Maggie looked over and saw her at the door. Her eyes were puffy and she shook her head quickly at Meilin gesturing not to say anything just as the boys pushed her into a room and slammed the door shut. “I said she's not here” Yelled the girl at the door.

“But she's right-” Before she could finish her sentence the girl had stepped outside and closed the door, grabbing Meilin's hand and yanking her off the porch. “I said she's not here Mud-Lin, and don't tell anyone what you think you saw either.” “Mud-Lin” Meilin thought to herself, she didn't recognize the girl until she called her that. She was one of the mean-girls. The ones that laughed when they tripped you, or accidentally knocked you over when they walked past you. “We don't want to play with weird girls, you should go play your weird games with other weird people. Green Bean is not here, and we're playing kick the green bag. So go home, and if you tell anyone, we're going to start playing kick the Mud-Lin.”

Meanwhile back at home Aerie was headed downstairs, Allaine had called her to let her know she got the job at the bookstore. She just needed to go introduce herself. Still fussing over her weight Aerie trudged downstairs in some sweats and a hoodie. “Might as well multi-task.” She mumbled to herself. Allaine offered to watch Calypso while she went and Aerie was grateful. She didn't know anyone else well enough to watch her.

As Aerie stepped in the kitchen to get a drink she noticed Meilin at the table with her homework. “I thought you went to Maggie's to play?” Meilin sat silently and shook her head.

“Why not?” Questioned Aerie as she approached, “she had to do homework.” Aerie's smile faded, “why didn't you do your homework together then?” As she asked she noticed the dirt on Meilin's shorts and the bottom of her shirt. “If you didn't play then why are you so dirty?”

If she didn't know any better she could have sworn Meilin flinched at the mention of it. “-ell” “What was that hunny? I didn't hear you.” “I fell” repeated Meilin, in little more than a whisper. Before Aerie could sit with her juice Meilin had grabbed her homework and headed upstairs. Aerie sat at the table and took a sip as she heard Meilin's door close. She wanted nothing more than to go up there and press her until she told her what really happened, but she knew that would only push Meilin further away. “I fell?” Aerie repeated to herself as she shook her head, even a blind man wouldn't believe that blatant lie. Aerie made a mental note to call Claire later that night, she had a high-schooler, perhaps she could give some tips.

It was the first time Aerie was grateful she bought the new Prius Hybrid. Granted it saved her a bundle on gas, but it was quiet. Very quiet, it actually let her think.  She knew something was wrong and Meilin wasn't telling her.  She just didn't know how to confront her daughter without pushing her further away. 

Before heading to the bookstore she stopped by the market to pick up a few essentials. Meeting a military woman who waved her down as she stepped out of the store. “You're the new girl in town right?” Aerie nodded with a smile and introduced herself.

“Names Jasmine, Jasmine Cross.” “Pleasure to meet you” commented Aerie, trying to hint she had somewhere to go. Then it hit her, she didn't know any good jogging paths but she often saw military personnel jogging back in Neverglade.

“Mrs. Cross-” “Oh please, call me Jasmine” interrupted the woman, waving off the pleasantries. Aerie smiled for a moment, “Jasmine, do you know any good jogging paths? I haven't been here long enough to find any.” “Oh sure honey” laughed the woman as she pointed, explaining the route she took back in her glory days. Aerie thanked her and headed to her car.

She stopped by the gas station and grabbed her pack to change into something decent before pulling up at the bookstore. Mr. Cross, whom she assumed was Jasmine's husband but refrained from asking about the relation, was pleased to meet her and obviously relieved to find someone interested in minding the store. Aerie was in and out of the bookstore in half an hour.

Aerie stopped back by the gas station before parking her car and stretched. It had been years since she went for a good run.

She started at a good pace, but recalling her complete failure with the pull-up bar in her office, slowed to a decent pace just to be safe.

It wasn't until her cell went off that Aerie made herself stop to answer it, she would have ignored it completely until she could catch her breath but she realized it was from her own home.

When she picked up Allaine's voice chimed in. “Aerie? I was just calling to ask what you wanted for dinner? I know you're probably tired from all the running around so I figured I would save you the trouble.” Aerie waved her off, “trouble? Allaine I should be thanking you! You're the one that offered to spend one of your days off to babysit my little monster. You've done enough just by watching that bundle of energy, you don't need to push yourself. I'll be home in about 45 minutes, we'll order pizza or something.” With that she hung up and continued on her jog.

Following the path Jasmine had explained to her Aerie found herself and the end of it, bringing her to a quaint little park she hadn't even noticed before. “This place is beautiful” the thought to herself as she caught her breath. It was calm, peaceful, it made her remember the scholars garden in China. “I could easily meditate here, I'll be keeping this place in mind.”

She regretted leaving so soon after discovering such a nice place to rest, but she wanted to arrive home early to shower before ordering the pizza with Allaine; and she still needed to make that phone call to Claire, Meilin had been on her mind since she saw her at the dinner table, dirty, and trying her best to fool her mother despite the fact her little cheeks were flushed and her eyes puffy from crying. “Hopefully Claire has good advice, I could really use some right about now.”


  1. MESSIN WITH OUR GIRLS?! I'll rip their little heads off! >:(


    1. Mally - I agree! Meilin really wanted to go stop them once she saw what was happening in the house when the adult was gone. She's very shy, softspoken and rather timid. So it was pretty hard for her to take that first step. It's good hearing from you! I always like your comments. :D

  2. !!o.O!! Oh my, that is NOT cool.

    I am glad Meilin opened up a tinnnny bit to her mom, and hopefully she will more soon. I know she is scared. I wonder how much it will take?

    Good update. Nice to see that Aerie has found a place she can attach to for meditation, or just relaxation.

  3. I love the closing shot. It's beautiful. I really hope Meilin gets help with the bullies. And I hope Aerie finds a job soon.


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