I’d never understand the phrase ‘are we there yet.’ Kids never asked that. They could obviously see they weren’t at point B by looking out the window, something my sisters had been doing a lot over the past three day. The real question was something along the lines of-
“How much time left?” That. That was what I heard far too often within the 36 hours of driving I’d covered.
“About half an hour, Magie.” I loved her to death, but a seven year old could only ask so many questions before you had a mental break.
“How long is half an hour” she questioned as she tried to adjust once more in her booster seat in the back.
“30 minutes,” Lorie chimed in before I could even wrap my fried brain around the question. Lorelai had definitely been my rock in the last week, though I had to keep pushing back my impending guilt for making a fourteen year old step up to responsibilities she shouldn’t have to worry about.
To this day, I still can’t understand completely why our parents had each of us so far apart. By the time I was eight, Lorie had just begun to crawl, and sleepover I hosted when I was 15 were definitely limited by Magie’s irregular sleeping patterns at the time. It wasn’t completely unusual for witches to have children so far apart- something along the lines of fertility problems and the dangers of raising kids who couldn’t control their capabilities yet in the same home- but that didn’t make it any less embarrassing when I was asked nowadays if little Lorie was my own.
In a way now, she kind of was. These are the things I had spent the past week contemplating over: the fact that I now played a larger role in raising two young girls than most older sisters did.
In a way, I wish I could say my parents were dead without the shadow of a doubt, but I can’t. Neither could the police I concluded after the only information they had on their case was they found their car flipped in the middle of a forest with no signs of foul play. That didn’t keep them from hinting at the idea of them never being seen alive again. I can’t remember much between the time I was told by an officer and we packed up the car, but I do remember when I found the phone number hidden in the my mom’s emergency purse. I knew it had cash that would hold us over until I could get access to the main accounts, but a car ride from Ohio to California was the last outcome I expected from a measly phone number.
The roads seem to get less crowded with cars as we got closer to the address she gave me. I still was a little hesitant on meeting my supposed grandmother. My mom had never really talked about her, and when she did, it was rarely with respect. ‘A difference in opinions’ mom would sum the fallout up to. Lorie couldn’t seem to care less and Magie… well she just seemed excited with any family she could get right now. I told the both of them that there was a chance we wouldn’t see them for a long long time, and it ripped me limb from limb to see that cute little girl with rosy cheeks cry herself to sleep as she sniffled against my chest. I just didn’t want her to be disappointed anymore.
None of us deserved any further disappointment, so uprooting all of our lives was the biggest gamble one could ever take. It didn’t really settle in until you sat in front of ‘Tilda’s Flower Emporium.’
“So, is this our final destination,” Lorie asked as she leaned into the space between the driver and passenger seat.
“At least for the moment,” I replied, trying to collect myself and everything that had been pulled from my purse on the drive.
“And you’re sure you’ve never met this woman in your life.” It was more of a statement than question. Only now did she have to bring up how stupid this might be.
We both pulled our bodies from the warm, sticky seats and stretched under the California sun, almost forgetting what a cool breeze felt like. “Not that I remember, but she knew who we were and I do know that our Grandmother’s name is Tilda.” I didn’t know if I wo I was trying to convince most at this point: Lorie or myself.
By the time Magie crawled out of her booster, she was already excited to be on solid ground for the inevitable future. “It’s so warm here!” She squealed in excitement as Lorie helped plant her on the concrete. She immediately ran over to grab my hand as I finished getting my bag together. I had to remind myself that this was for her; the both of them. I’d like to think that I could take care of them by myself, but we couldn’t do it back in Ohio. There were too many memories that would keep up from moving forward, so when I called Tilda and she offered us a place to stay, I knew it was a sign.
“Ready Freddy?” I asked the both of them. The hesitant thumbs up and tugging forward of my arm where what got me to finally move towards the building.
The inside of the shop felt and smelled nicer than it did in the car after three days on the road, and the welcoming tone that played when we entered the building was comforting. Something relatable you could find even across the country.
“I’ll be there in just a minute,” a voice from the back shouted. God, I hope it was Tilda. Should I call her that? What if it’s not her and I have to explain to some stranger how I’m meeting our grandmother for the first time.
“I like those tiny white flowers, O,” Magie whispered up to me.
“We call those baby’s-breath, sweetheart,” a woman chipped in as she came over from behind the counter. “Silly name, I know, but we use them to make arrangements look even prettier.”
Right away, I knew this was her. Not only did she sound exactly like she had on the phone, but as she got closer, I saw the resemblance mostly in her smile to mom’s.
“You must be Tilda,” I began hesitantly.
She stopped and put her hands on her hips, taking the three of us into her gaze. “And I’d have to be blind to not know when my own grandchildren are standing in front of me.” I could tell that Lorie was becoming slightly more relaxed as we went through introductions. Tilda quickly went to grab some of the baby’s-breath Magie had been pointing to and leaned down, placing it in her hair. “You must be Magdelena,” she said as she arranged it within her wild mane. “You’ve got your father’s eyes. I know that much.” She pushed herself of the ground and peaked over behind me. “And that must be Lorelai. If I didn’t know any better, I’d mistake her for Diana, your mom.” It was only then that she gave me her full attention. “And you’re Ophelia. My stars, I’ve only ever seen you once other than in photos.” She placed her hands on both sides of my shoulder. I wasn’t very used to people being so brazen with their emotions, but it seemed to be oddly comforting. “I’m so glad you all came here. I know it was a long trip but we find our strength in numbers.”
“Do we live here now, Ms. Tilda,” Magie asked as she ran her fingers over the flowers in her hair. I couldn’t tell if she was hoping to leave the shop, or settle down somewhere in it.
Tilda got a laugh out of that. “Well not in the shop, dear, but I am hoping you’ll stay in town. And you can call me Grandma or else I’ll feel exceptionally old.” She quickly moved to gather her keys and large handbag before leading us back out of the shop. “If you all are ready, I can take you back to the house. Just follow closely. Beacon Hills isn’t somewhere I’d wanna get lost.”
Continuation of this! I have a couple more nights of sleeping difficulty planned for poor Nursey, and eventually the whole thing is going up on ao3. This one got long. And if someone could help me figure out how to make the “keep reading” work for mobile…that would be GREAT - the internet is failing me.
Nursey’s bus leaves for Maine at 9:45am from Port Authority, and Nursey finds himself sprinting through the uptown building at 9:40 after initially going to the wrong gate. His duffle bag bounces against his side as he clambers down the escalator, finally arriving at his gate two minutes before the bus is supposed to depart. Panting, he hands his ticket to a very bored-looking driver, and hauls himself onto the bus. He finds a seat near the back, wanting to avoid the inevitable fall on the way to the shitty on-bus bathroom later on. Stowing his bag overhead, Nursey finally drops into his seat and lets out a long breath.
Me: made it :)
Dexyyy: Proud of you.
Dexyyy: What’s your ETA again?
Me: supposed to be around 7:30 I think? Bus takes fucking forever. Stops and shit