I woke up on Saturday morning in a foul mood, though I didn’t know why. It was a blast-the-music, slam-the-door, scream-at-the-world feeling, and I was at a loss as to how to control it.
I didn’t want to take it out on the kids, but as I was eating breakfast with Kylie, my frustration got the best of me. When I’d calmed down, I said to Kylie, “Sorry, kiddo. I’m in a bad mood. It’s not your fault, though — not Cole’s, either.”
“It’s OK, Emma. We all get mad sometimes. If you need a hug, just let me know.”
She’s such a good kid. “Tell you what — when you’re done eating, why don’t you and Cole go fishing down at the stream for a while.” It was a pretty secluded area, and I figured nobody would bother them there. They’d come to really enjoy fishing, so they were happy to oblige.
“Hey, Cole — look! I caught a goldfish!”
“Cool! Let’s see who can catch the most fish — or the biggest.”
“Yay — I caught another one! This one’s little, too, but it sure is pretty!”
By the end of their contest, Cole had caught three small fish, and Kylie had caught six, one of which was a large tuna.
Meanwhile, I was having some fun of my own. I’d brought our breakfast dishes into the bathroom to wash them and noticed the sink was still dirty from yesterday. I started to clean it, but as I scrubbed around one of the handles, water suddenly started shooting out of it. Ugh. First the toilet — now the sink. I repaired the sink, cleaned it, then washed the dishes. By this time, I really needed a bath, too.
After my bath, I checked on our garden and saw that it needed watering. Today was the last day of spring. I’d learned from my research that our lemon trees, garlic and sage plants were hearty enough to thrive in any season. Carrots and strawberries wouldn’t survive the summer heat, though, so I harvested the 15 carrots from the family garden.
I walked over to where I’d found wild strawberry bushes and harvested all I could find, not wanting any of them to be wasted. Along the way, I picked up another crystal, a fossil and a frog.
Then I went to the community garden down the street and found a fresh crop of daisies, a few more carrots and lemons, as well as some sage. I saw a man over by the food stall buying a cup of coffee. I ambled over to see if I could start a conversation with him and pull myself out of my funk. It was about 4:30 in the afternoon by now.
I introduced myself to the man — Rocco — and we chatted a bit. I tried telling him a couple of jokes but they didn’t go over very well. Out of nowhere, he started singing. It was a little awkward being serenaded by a stranger. I was getting hungry anyway, so I said goodbye and went home.
For dinner, I had tajine, a Moroccan stew I’d picked up at last night’s Spice Festival. As I was eating, Rocco came over and plopped himself aside me on my bed. Way to raise the level of awkwardness, dude. Since it was the only place to sit besides the toilet and tub, I had to make allowances.
The next thing I know it feels like my mind is being probed. Oh, no. Not again! Who is this guy?
“What did you just do to me?” I asked Rocco. His eyes look like they don’t quite fit in their sockets. Is he even human?
“I wanted to get to know you so I analyzed your personality.”
“How the hell did you do that?'”
“If I tell you, you have to promise to keep it a secret.”
“Fine. I hardly know anyone here anyway.”
“I’m not from around here. I’m from planet Sixam.”
“But you look human.”
“This is my disguise so I can observe humans in their natural habitat.”
“Well, that explains your fashion sense. Dude — get a longer shirt if you want to blend in.” I couldn’t help but snort.
“And what the hell? You could’ve just talked to me. This is the second time this week some guy has gone poking around in my brain, and I’ve had about enough!” Shit. Great time to throw a temper tantrum. I hope he doesn’t zap me or something.
Instead, Rocco looked sheepish, and I felt kind of bad for snapping at him. Maybe he didn’t know any better. “So, you’re an alien, huh?”
“Yes. Are you going to yell at me again? I don’t like it.”
“As long as you behave, I guess we’re cool. I didn’t really mean to yell at you. I’m just having a bad day.”
“Maybe I can help. Want to see where I’m from?”
“You’re not going to kidnap me and take me to outer space, are you?”
“No. I thought we could lie on the ground and look for my planet up in the sky.”
“Oh, yeah. Well, that’d be cool.”
We lay down on the ground and Rocco proceeded to show me where Planet Sixam was, as well as a few other planets and moons I didn’t know existed.
By this point, I thought aliens were pretty cool. I guess that makes me a xenophile.
I told Rocco that if he wanted to keep his secret, he should probably get going since the twins would be back soon.
After I’d done the dinner dishes, I Googled what we’d collected today and it was worth $939. Tomorrow, I’d make it a point to sell everything we didn’t need to get some cash in my pocket again. I’d really like to expand the house soon.
At 9:00 that night, Paolo texted me about going to a karaoke bar in San Myshuno. I wasn’t sure if he was asking me on a date, but I was desperate for fun. I thought the twins would enjoy it, too. He said it was cool if I brought the kids, so we met him there.
I greeted Paolo with a friendly hug. “Thanks so much for the invite — and for being understanding about me bringing the kids along.”
“No problem — glad you could make it. Let’s head inside.”
We walked into one of the karaoke rooms, and I spotted a handsome Asian man in a leather jacket. I’m not shy, so I went over and asked if he’d join me in a duet.
“Sure — I’m Akira, by the way. And you are?
“Emma. Nice to meet you, Akira.”
“Same here. You can pick the song.”
The only available option was country music — not my favorite, but there were some country/pop crossover hits I liked.
“How about this one?”
“Works for me. I’ll start the machine as soon as you’re ready.”
“Ready!” We both picked up our mikes and got ready to sing our hearts out.
I looked up and saw several people had come into the room as we started to sing. Paolo wasn’t making much eye contact. I was hoping he didn’t feel awkward that I’d asked Akira to sing with me instead of him. I noticed a pretty, pink-haired girl in the back of the room with her eyes glued to Akira. Please don’t be his girlfriend. That would suck.
As we’re singing, I can see in my peripheral vision that a man in a bright, floral suit was eyeing Akira as well. I side-eyed him, remembering him from the atrium at the Fengs’ apartment building. Sweetie, I think Akira plays for my team, not yours. At least I hope so. Otherwise, I’m the one who’s barking up the wrong tree.
We ignored everyone else, facing each other as we sang along with the music. I’d never sung karaoke before but was doing my best to stay in tune and keep up with the lyrics.
By the time we wrapped up the song, the room was packed with observers. I was getting a little claustrophobic.
As we put down our microphones, Akira said, “Miko, you’re up,” and the pink-haired girl got up to sing. So, you two know each other. Akira and I chatted for a minute before he walked out of the room. Not wanting to be a total stalker, I walked over to the next karaoke room with Paolo.
The yellow room wasn’t crowded like the fuchsia one was, thank goodness. Maybe it’s because this shade of yellow makes people look jaundiced. I’d much rather have the pink tone reflected on my pale skin than this mustard yellow.
Cole wanted to give karaoke a try, so he sang a solo while we all watched. We gave him a big round of applause when he was done.
Then Paolo and I took a turn. It was his idea to come here, after all. I knew he wanted to sing a duet with me. So, we belted out a tune. Toward the end, Akira came in to watch.
As soon as we finished, I asked Akira to sing with me again. We had fun and finished the song on a high note.
We chatted for a few minutes, and I found out Akira didn’t have a girlfriend. I got a little overconfident and told him I thought he was really cute. He didn’t say anything at first and then got embarrassed.
I thought I’d ruined everything. Not one to give up on my newfound crush, I quickly apologized.
“I’m sorry if I embarrassed you, Akira. I didn’t mean to. I don’t always think before I talk,” I shrugged. “Can we go outside to talk for a minute? It’s getting really loud in here with everyone singing.”
“Can you please forgive me?”
Akira sighed. “Yes, of course. C’mere, Emma,” he said as he pulled me into a hug.
I nearly swooned.
“You must have women throwing themselves at you all the time. I can see how that could be annoying after a while.”
“You really think that?” He raised his eyebrows and then chuckled softly. “You’re very sweet, Emma.”
“Yes, you are.”
“Maybe we can hang out again sometime?”
“Maybe we can. Why don’t you give me your number?”
I tried to play it cool, but I was screaming inside. “OK. Sure.”
I wished the night would never end. It was ridiculous o’clock before we finally stopped talking and I realized the time.
“Oh, my goodness. I have to get the kids home.”
Akira was taken aback. “You have kids? And here I was worrying that you might be a little young for me.”
“Oh, God, no. I mean my little brother and sister. I’m their guardian. It’s a long story, and I really need to get them home.”
“Wow — yeah, it really is late. I should go, too. It was really nice meeting you, sweet Emma,” he said with a wink.
“Great to meet you, too, Akira. Have a good night.”
The kids were still inside listening to the karaoke singers. “Let’s go, you guys. I can’t believe I kept you out this late.” They looked as exhausted as I was.
When we got home, it was tough to decide whether we were more hungry or tired. We decided to grab something quick to eat before hitting the sack. It was after 4:00 in the morning.
All of a sudden, Kylie decided she didn’t like her dinner.
“But you love burgers! You’re probably just overtired. I’m sorry I kept you out so late. Why don’t you get some sleep.”
We all trudged across the lot to get some much-needed shut-eye. I don’t think any of us will be waking up bright and early tomorrow morning. Huh. It’s already tomorrow morning. I sighed. The things we do for love….
Phases! The whole family is now going through one phase or another.
It started with Cole on Thursday. He’s going through a mean streak and feels like being nasty to other people.
Then, Emma woke up today in a loud phase, with the urge to yell and crank up her nonexistent stereo.
Finally, tonight, Kylie entered the picky eater phase.
And now for a peek at skill levels:
Obviously, Emma picked up the singing skill from the karaoke bar, nearly completing level one. She also gained half a level of comedy skill, along with some gardening and handiness.
Kylie gained two levels in mental skill from the time she spent fishing. She also posted a slight gain in creativity skill.
Cole gained nearly a full level in mental skill from fishing, plus half a level in creativity and a slight gain in social skill.