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Some days it’s easy to forget what happened to Mum. I can laugh and have fun doing the things I normally do. Then there are other days when something happens that reminds me of her and I fall into pieces. I wish she was still here. There are some mornings when I swear I hear her voice in the hallway but then realise it’s all in my head, wishful thinking.

1558

Izzy and Jo appear to be doing fine. I’m the only one still sad over Mum’s death. I guess I’m the only one struggling to move forward. I don’t have any friends at school but I do have some online friends that I talk to on gaming forums and they have all expressed condolences when I told them about my Mum’s death but there was only one person there who reached out to me in more personal way.

His name is Cyrus. We started PMing each other using the names QueenBlicblockIV and CyBORG28 when he wanted to find out how I managed to beat level 456. Then he complimented me on my cool username and asked why I decided to be the fourth queen, to which I explained IV sounds like my name Ivy and then he explained the Cy in his name is for Cyrus. After that we no longer referred to each other by our usernames as we started talking more about ourselves and our personal lives than we did about gaming. He also tragically lost his father in a house fire a few years ago so he can relate to what I’m going through and we talk almost every day now even if it’s just for a few minutes before bed. I don’t want to dampen anyone at home’s good mood by bringing up Mum and my feelings so it’s nice having him to talk to as he gets it.

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1559

His words actually made me feel better and it gave me something to look forward to. Now every time I thought about Mum I would make myself think about a good moment I had with her instead of wallowing in the sadness of losing her and it actually worked. I was no longer depressed when I thought of her or was reminded of her. I eventually was able to move on.

Eventually, I figured out why it was easier for everyone else. They were all distracted by the things going on in their own personal lives. Like Johanna, who I caught making out with some guy in the hallway.

1559a

Based on what I heard she was trying to get him to come in so she could introduce him to the rest of us but he actually came to deliver some bad news. He was being shipped off to boarding school in the morning.

“I’m sorry I didn’t tell you sooner.” He said. “I thought I would be able to convince Dad but he ended up siding with Mom. She thinks I need to go to stay out of trouble. She’s still mad at that prank I pulled on the VP.”

1559b

“Terry…this can’t happen. I mean, you’re moving away?”

“Yeah… it sucks…”

“This is awful! What’s gonna happen to us now? Long distance relationships never work!”

1559c

“I don’t know… we’ll figure it out babe. Don’t worry. I’ll call you tomorrow as soon as the plane lands okay? I love you.”

They shared one more kiss before he had to leave and then I watched as she quickly wiped her tears, sulking all the way into the dining room.

“Hey.” I began as I sat down by the table. “You okay?”

“I’m fine. Just something in my eye, that’s all.” She lied.

“Who’s that guy?”

1559d

“What guy?”

“Uh, the guy you were just kissing by the door.”

“You were spying on me?!” She practically growled.

“I wasn’t spying. I was coming down the stairs and saw you guys. Not like you were trying very hard to be discrete.”

“He’s my boyfriend. We’ve been together for over a year and now he’s moving away.”

1559e

“A year! Why didn’t you say anything? Why haven’t we met him before?”

“Because…”

“Because what?”

“Because it’s my business, that’s why! Why are you so nosy?”

1559f

“I’m not trying to be nosy Jo. But you’re my sister and you’ve been dating a guy for over a year and keeping it a secret. It makes me wonder why.”

“Listen, just cause you’re in charge of the legacy doesn’t mean you’re in charge of me!”

“That’s not it at all. I’m only concerned about you.”

“You’re not concerned. You’re just jealous because I’m your younger sister and I got a boyfriend before you even had your first kiss, loser!”

1559g

Yes, a part of me was slightly jealous that she had these first milestones before me but it’s not like I had any prospects and she had many so of course things will happen a lot faster for her. A lot of guys at school expressed interest in her and Izzy while none of them seemed to even know I existed. But this was not about jealousy, this was about finding out why she was keeping secrets from us. My sisters and I may not always get along but we always knew what was going on in each other’s lives, until now.

“What is your problem? Why are you so defensive?” I asked.

Isabel then walked into the room and answered the question for me. “Because he’s Terrance Baumgartner, the slacker who’s always pulling pranks in school.” She obviously knew the whole story. I wonder why she didn’t tell me before now. “If her friends find out she’s dating someone outside the clique she might lose popularity points.”

1559h

“That’s the reason? Seriously?” I asked and she just huffed and went upstairs without finishing her meal. Jo is so weird. Terrance is a good-looking guy. I don’t know about his personality but if he managed to impress her then he must be good in that area as well. She certainly has her priorities out of order to put her friends’ opinions ahead of her feelings. Maybe during their time apart she will start to realise what’s more important.

It also seemed like Dad had some secrets of his own very similar to Johanna’s.

1560

I heard him talking to a woman on the phone many times. He even asked me to babysit Gabriel for him while he supposedly went out to run errands. What kind of errands can someone do at 8 o’clock at night? He was obviously dating again which wasn’t a problem for me. Mum died a while now and they were even divorced before that so if he had a new girlfriend I didn’t see why he felt the need to sneak around and hide her from us.

1561

Soon it was his birthday. He didn’t want to have a party even though we wanted to throw him one. He said he preferred to have a family dinner with us and said he was going to invite a friend of his. Izzy and Jo didn’t know about this woman as I didn’t tell them about the conversations I overheard so I was the only one who knew that this friend was not just a friend. I was a little anxious to meet her honestly because I was curious about this new woman in his life of whom he was so protective.

Isabel decided she would bake the birthday cake. She was so confident about it too when she announced she would take up the task since none of us knew how to bake anything but as she was mixing the batter, I saw that confidence waning.

1562

“Did I remember to put the baking powder? Oh crap! I think I forgot the baking powder!”

“No, you did.” I said reassuringly.

“I don’t remember adding it. If I forgot to put it then the cake won’t rise. It’ll be heavy and gross.”

1563

“You mixed it in the flour, remember?”

“Oh yeah, you’re right.”

In the end, the cake turned out okay and Dad loved it. He praised her for her effort and went on and on about how good it looked and how it was just like Mum’s cakes. He didn’t even mention to her that chocolate was his favourite cake because he didn’t want her to feel bad. He’s such a good Dad like that.

1564

He blew out the candles on his cake and became an elder. It was weird seeing my Dad with grey hair but he looked rather dapper with his new look. He actually looked more like a Dad.

1566

Just after he aged up his mystery guest arrived. We were all so shocked to learn who it was that none of us said a word, not even when we all sat in the dining room after slicing up the cake.

It was Addie!

I mean, she and Dad were always friends but I didn’t think it was ever more than that. When did it become more than that? The thought that maybe they were seeing each other when he was still married to Mum did cross my mind but I couldn’t ask my Dad a question like that.

1565

Jo and Izzy talked to her like they normally did. They were happy to have her here since we weren’t allowed to have a lot of visitors over since Gabriel was born. Addie knew about him already, Dad told her and she agreed to keep the family secret. I did miss having Addie around as well but it was odd knowing what I know now. She and Dad never flirted or anything but I saw the way they looked at each other as they spoke and it was glaringly obvious to me that they were in love.

Dad had a girlfriend… and she was our family member!

1567

Talk about complicated! I didn’t want to say anything because I knew Dad would tell us in his own time so I kept quiet and collected the dishes and pretended not to see everything I saw. But I couldn’t help but wonder what else I didn’t know about. I hope Izzy isn’t also secretly dating someone like Dad and Jo because then I’d start screaming!

1568

I might just be overreacting to all of this. Everyone is entitled to keep certain things to their selves so I shouldn’t expect them to be an open book with me all the time about everything. I just don’t like being kept out of the loop. It seems like I’m the last to know everything. I mean, for all I know, Izzy and Jo already know about Dad and Addie and didn’t say anything to me because they thought I couldn’t handle it. Everyone thinks I’m so naïve and need to be protected all the time but it’s not true. I can handle things. I can! I think Cyrus might be right when he said I should voice my opinions more often instead fading into the background like a typical wallflower. But being a wallflower is so comforting! Still, he’s right. I do need to come out of my shell more often and then maybe my family members will start to trust and confide in me.

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