IT’S NOT A WONDERFUL LIFE: PART TWO
Parker was dead: to begin with. There is no doubt whatever about that. He’d been bitten, drained of all his blood, his heart was no longer beating, and his murderers had even confessed–happily–to the crime. Two of his classmates had witnessed it, though their fate was much the same as his own, making their word not worth all that much. Young Parker was as dead as a doornail.
And yet… he was going home for Christmas.
I was really excited to go home for Christmas. I haven’t seen a lot of my parents since moving into Revamp Manor and I’m not used to having to share attention with a whole two other people. If I wasn’t supposed to be an only child, my parents would have had more kids for crying out loud! And Revamp Manor had distinctly been lacking in Lucky Charms Saturdays.
The only bummer was that as soon as I got home, I started to feel like I was coming down with something.
The problem was not exactly that Parker was coming down with something, since Vampires don’t really have to worry about things like the flu; the problem was the insane amount of sage and other types of incense placed around the house to ward off unfriendly spirits and the like.
“Oh Gingerbear, you’re finally home!” his mother called as soon as he walked in the door. “Forrest! Our darling little Boo Boo is finally home!”
There was a lot of hugging and some tears, and then finally Parker made it to his room to unpack his bag. It was good to be back in the Parker Sanctuary again. Even though it felt a little stuffy…and what was that earthy, bitter smell? His mother must have been lighting incense in his room again, probably as a welcome home present. It sure was nice to be at the center of someone’s universe again! He tucked his little cooler full of blood under his bed, where he was fairly certain it wouldn’t be discovered. This was going to be the best Christmas ever.
Finally, after weeks of patience, I got to go back home. I don’t think I had literally one second of peace and quiet at the Manor. And I have to live with two stupid, gross boys there, so it was nice to have my own bathroom that no one else is allowed to go into again. It was also nice to be able to watch Beauty and the Beast again without having anyone look over my shoulder and make stupid, immature comments about the plot. Kristin Kreuk is totally the best actress on TV and Raymond is a moron for making fun of her! Also, it was really nice to not have a grown up hovering over me every second of the day. I mean, don’t those people have anything better to do than watch us all the time? Seriously, get a bridge club, people!
Anyway, so I got home to an empty house, which was perfect, and my mom had even left my favorite brand of microwave dinner just for me. And her credit card! I totally would have called Jessica to come over for a Beauty and the Beast marathon, but she’s not really talking to me right now. Whatever, it wasn’t my fault.
I really didn’t see much of my parents until Christmas Day, when all of my mom’s friends came over for the big holiday party we throw every year.
When I got home for Christmas, everything was as chaotic as it usually is that time of year. My two little brothers were all jacked up on sugar and running around the house and my little sister was crying about something that they broke in the process. But even though I knew I wouldn’t be getting a moment’s peace to myself, it was still better than having to see Skylar and Parker every day.
But then my brother, Joshua, started to piss me off almost immediately. Apparently, one of his annoying little friends has an annoying big brother who happens to go to school here. So naturally, he had to go tell our little brothers about the school gossip concerning Skylar and me.
“Raymond has a girlfriend! Raymond has a girlfriend!” Joshua was following Raymond around the living room chanting.
“Eww,” Bethany joined in, “do you guys kiss? That’s so gross if you guys kiss!”
“Yuck!” Timothy chimed in. “I bet Raymond’s got cooties now!” He suddenly looked concerned, “Mommy!” he yelled, “Does Raymond have to go to the doctor if he got cooties?”
Raymond finally managed to get away from his siblings and to his room, where he promptly bolted the latch and threw himself down on his bed. He buried his face in his pillow and screamed a few times. It probably wasn’t a good thing when you started envisioning yourself taking a bite out of your little brother’s neck.
Of course, being the upstanding big brother that I am, I took my siblings’ teasing in stride.
Suddenly there was a knock at the door.
“Raymond,” his mother said, “I really wish you wouldn’t lock yourself up here all alone. We’ve all missed you terribly and your brothers and sister really want to play with you.”
He could feel his temper rising, but how in the heck was he supposed to tell her he couldn’t go out there because he might rip their throats out? He sighed, “Okay, okay, just give me a minute and I’ll be out.” He opened his cooler full of blood and had a little snack before braving the living room again; maybe if he wasn’t hungry, it wouldn’t be so bad.
Unfortunately, I just kept feeling worse and worse. I couldn’t even enjoy the ice cream sundae night my mom planned for me. My mom could tell I wasn’t my normal, awesome self, and finally asked me what was wrong. I knew I had to put on a brave face for her so she wouldn’t worry, but she saw right through it and took care of me, like she always does.
“Oh, Boo Boo! I’m so sorry you’re not feeling good! Come on, lay down on the couch, okay? Don’t you worry about anything! Sister Lightbringer is coming over for dinner tonight and she’ll know just what to do!”
“But, mom, I thought it was just going to be the three of us!”
“Now, Parker,” his dad spoke up from the armchair, “sometimes having company is a good thing. I’m reading this book right now, ‘Even Better Vibrations: Cleansing Your Child’s Tarnished Aura Through Positivity’, and chapter three is all about social interaction and how it can help bring light back to your aura.”
Parker knew there was no arguing with that. “Sure, makes sense,” he said quickly. “I’m just going to go lie down until dinner.”
The day of the big party started out pretty great. Of course, I woke up to lots of presents and got to spend the afternoon playing with my new tablet. My mom even got our cook to come in for the morning so I could have bacon and eggs.
We have the Christmas party in the evening. They’re always pretty cool because I get to buy a really expensive dress for it every year so that I can look my best. I mean, it’s not like I can let any of my mom’s friends’ kids outdo me or anything. Especially with the whole “getting in trouble and getting sent to a troubled-teens home” thing, my mom really wanted me to make a good impression this year.
“Oh my goodness, don’t you just look fabulous!” Susan burst out as soon as Skylar walked up to her mother’s circle of friends.
Denise gave one of her little squeals, “Oh, honey! If I didn’t know you had a boyfriend, I’d try setting you up with my son!”
“Wait, boyfriend? Sweetie, I didn’t know you had a boyfriend? I do hope he’s handsome!” Regina burst in.
Skylar had a moment of confusion as she tried to figure out exactly who Susan meant, and then she realized the only person she could have been referring to. Raymond. The fact that Denise was Trevor’s mom only contributed to the end of her life. But, she gave her movie-star smile anyway.
“Well, of course he’s handsome!” Skylar said quickly. “Though, not as handsome as your son. And he’s really smart and everything, but he just won’t let me have a moment to myself. He’s always buying me things and saying how perfect I am, and I just need a second to breathe sometimes!”
Denise nodded, looking sympathetic. “Oh, honey, I know exactly how that feels.”
Regina rolled her eyes. “I’m sure you do.
“Well, don’t keep us waiting, dear,” interrupted Heather, “what’s his name? We must know all the juicy details!”
Just then Lisa Holloway came sweeping up to the group, a cocktail in either hand. “Oh! Skylar, honey, why don’t you go say hello to your aunt!” She gave Skylar a hard look that said, don’t you dare tell these women you’re seeing someone from the group home!
I’ve never been the biggest fan of Sister Lightbringer, but my mom seriously never does anything without asking her first. Like that one time I was showing some of the girls at the playground my awesome merry-go-round skills and I broke my arm and Sister Lightbringer made me drink that horrible “miracle brew” of hers. It did not help my arm heal faster, it just helped me lose my lunch.
Needless to say, she was not my first choice for a Christmas dinner guest. Especially since I was sick already.
Parker heard his mom calling him and headed down to Christmas dinner. Of course, Sister Lightbringer was already seated at the table, smiling at him encouragingly as if he were on his death bed or something.
“How are you feeling, little sapling?” her voice was dripping with syrup.
“Fine,” Parker said quickly, “perfectly fine. I’m feeling pretty awesome, actually. Yup. Awesome, with a capital ‘A’. No need for medicine or anything!”
“What a brave young pup you are raising, Harmony!” Then Sister Lightbringer turned her attention back to Parker, “but you don’t have to be strong for me. Besides, I’ve brought just the thing to help!”
“Oh,” Parker said weakly, “I’m…not supposed to eat it, am I?” He really didn’t think he could manage another ‘miracle cure’.
Much to his relief, Sister Lightbringer shook her head and pulled out a small, leather bound book. “Oh no. I’ve found a ritual that will work wonders with any minor ailment.”
But his relief was short-lived. He was lying on his back, looking up at his parents and Sister Lightbringer, and then she started to chant.
I’m not going to lie, my patience was definitely being tested. I mean, between Skylar, and the loss of my glasses, and my siblings? That’s a lot for a man to take. But take it, I did.
Raymond was back in the living room, closing his eyes and counting to ten as his siblings continued to pester him about his new girlfriend.
Finally, just when he didn’t think he could restrain himself any longer, his mom came in and sat on the couch.
“Raymond, where are your glasses?” she asked, noticing for the first time that he wasn’t wearing them.
Raymond scowled. He hadn’t thought about that particular complication. “I lost them,” he mumbled.
“What? Raymond! How in the world could you possibly lose them? Those were terribly expensive! Besides, you can’t hardly see without them, you would have noticed the second they came off!”
Bethany pointed and laughed at Raymond, “it’s just because he’s so in love! He can’t even think straight!”
Raymond felt the growl building up in his throat, “Bethany…”
“Oh, Raymond, let it go,” his mother sighed, “what in the world do you expect me to do about those glasses? Your father is not going to be happy when he hears about this, you know. Honestly, we expected you to be more responsible.”
Raymond took a deep, calming breath. This was all Skylar’s fault. “Mom, fine. It wasn’t that I lost them, okay? Someone broke them.”
“Who in the world would do a thing like that?”
“Well, I kind of got into a fight. Just a little one, though!”
“A fight?” His mother looked horrified.
“But she totally deserved it!”
Raymond immediately realized what a grave mistake he had made, but before he could even think of a way to backpedal, his mom was stalking off to the kitchen, “Your father needs to know about this! I’m going to call him right now!”
There was a moment of stunned silence after she left.
“Raymond got in a fight,” Bethany said softly.
“And he has a girlfriend,” Joshua added.
Timothy giggled. “And cooties!”
It really was Christmas, wasn’t it? Well, for everyone except Raymond, that was.
Everything was going perfectly, that was until my mom’s stupid friend Missy just wouldn’t shut up and ruined everything.
Skylar was once again surrounded by her mother’s “Lonely Housewives Club”, and unfortunately, the conversation returned to the subject of her love life.
“So, dear, you were just about to tell us who this lucky young man is that you’re seeing,” Missy said, hiccuping and taking another drink of her Long Island Ice Tea.
“After all, it’s not as if you’ve made him up, is it?” Heather asked, swaying a little. “Regina, don’t you remember when you did that?”
Regina smiled coldly. “No, I don’t recall. But I do remember that one time your first husband ran off with the poolboy…”
Denise broke in quickly, “oh, no, I’m sure he is quite real and a decent young man. After all, it’s not as if she would be so desperate as to date one of those trouble makers she lives with now.”
Susan was just tottering over with a pitcher of eggnog when she just happened to catch the end of what Denise had just said. Well, kind of. The pitcher shattered on the floor as she gasped loudly and hurried over. “What? Skylar! How could you date one of those delinquents! This isn’t The Breakfast Club! You’re going to ruin your whole life!”
“What?” Skylar felt trapped, “No! I would never ever date one of those idiots!”
But Missy was staring at her in horror and shaking her head. “Oh my God. I did hear the name Raymond from my daughter. That’s him isn’t it! That’s who you’re seeing!”
“I am not dating Raymond Robinson!” Skylar screeched, “I don’t care what your daughter says we were doing in the closet at the Halloween party!”
Regina’s hand flew to her chest. “Oh my! They were in the closet together!!!” she whispered–rather drunkenly and loudly–to the others.
“They what?” Lisa cried, appearing suddenly.
“Oh, we were just hearing about how your daughter was canoodling with that shady Raymond character in a closet! In front of the whole school, apparently,” Missy answered–much louder than was necessary.
“Mom, I swear we didn’t! It was just a misunderstanding that turned into a stupid, stupid rumor and now no one will let it go!” But her pleas fell on deaf ears…the damage was already done.
So naturally, I ended up lying on the couch with my mom and dad and Sister Lightbringer standing over me and starting to do this weird chant that was supposed to get rid of any “bad spirits” that were making me sick. And somehow, it made me even more sick. I don’t know why.
Well, we all have a good idea why. Most likely having to do with the whole “Parker being dead as a doornail thing.”
Sister Lightbringer began to chant, and Parker began to convulse and scream. Harmony and Forrest, of course, were horrified, and even Sister Lightbringer seemed to hesitate.
That was when his mother asked, “What’s wrong with him, Sister Lightbringer?”
“His…his spirit is rejecting the purification!” she gasped dramatically, “Unholy! Unholy!” she screamed, backing away from Parker slowly.
It was awhile before Parker’s parents could get her calmed down, but eventually they had her–mostly–convinced that it was just a bad reaction to something he had eaten earlier, nothing more. She still left early, and in quite a hurry, though.
Parker briefly wondered if this little incident was going to come back up in the future.
Unfortunately, even heroes have their breaking points. And though I fought valiantly to keep my cool, I had a moment of weakness. Of course, I recovered quickly, but not before my parents had a chance to misunderstand exactly what was going on.
“Shut up, Joshua!” Raymond yelled.
But Joshua just kept jumping up and down on the couch chanting, “Skymond! Skymond! We all ship Skymond!” Timothy jumped up onto the couch with his brother and joined the chant. It wasn’t as if he knew what he was saying, but it was making Raymond mad, which was good enough for him.
It all happened in the blink of an eye. Raymond flew across the room, and his parents walked in just moments later. They seemed rather upset. Maybe it was because they were still not happy about Raymond’s glasses being broken in a fight. Maybe it was because he was standing on the newly upholstered couch with his shoes on.
Or maybe, it was because he had both of his brothers dangling in the air as he held their collars in a death grip while Bethany screamed bloody murder.
Well, as you can see, my holidays weren’t really all that great. My social life is completely in shambles and my mom isn’t even letting me use her credit card anymore. And now I’m back at the Manor surrounded by idiot boys and no one understands why my life is over.
So my holidays were pretty good, even though I was sick on Christmas. My parents weren’t super happy with Sister Lightbringer by the end of the day, so that’s a plus. Though, come to think of it, they were kind of quiet the rest of the time I was there. Oh well, I’m sure it was nothing to do with me. Well, hopefully next year is just as awesome as this year!
So that was my holiday season. Like I already said, it was pretty awful.