Chapter 48: ILONA and CARA ACT I of V of A FAREWELL TO GRADE FIVE
“Okay, I suggest we have a lottery or something!” Madison shouts excitedly to her friends. “Skreech!” she continues with some kind of animalized pirate voice, with the one hand covered by the puppet flapping about, “maybe she is saving the world from Daleks! Put ten shekels on that idea!” Her other hand, grasping her wand, assumes a voice of slight Britishness, “or it is possible she is really Batgirl? We have not seen her and Batgirl in the same room together! Put twenty Fizbins on that concept!”
Susan and Collette exchange painful looks. Rubbing her temples, Susan glances at Madison. “You have completely smushed together far too many cultural references, in such a nonsensical way, that even for you is impressive.”
“And scary,” Collette adds.
Clara sighs. “Part of this is my fault. I loaned, which means I want them back Maddie, my Gail Simone Batgirl comics to her. Hence her enhanced craziness today.”
” Skreech! Enhanced craziness! Enhanced craziness! That sounds like my motto!” Madison zooms her hand puppet around everyone, still sporting her pirate slash animal voice.
“That being your motto would not surprise me,” Cynthia interjects, walking up to the girls in the schoolyard. And everyone quickly notices she is not alone.
“Y’know, when you left class just before lunch,” Madison switches easily to the British style accent again, waving her wand in big circles at Cynthia, “I knew it was because you were helping someone escape to Midgard.”
“That someone is in your class,” Collette grins, “hello Cara.”
Cara sends a smile to Cynthia, than steps forward to greet all the girls.
“I see, Collette is it?, knows who I am,” Cara states, with no nervousness visible to Ilona, “My name is Cara, I am in grade five here at SummerFall, and I will be staying with Cynthia for the next little while as a foster child.”
Ilona is quietly stunned by Cara and her grace, her confidence, her nobility.
She did not really know this girl, except for a passing moment or two in the last year or so, and each unremembered contact had no lasting impression, almost like Cara was trying to, hoping to, disappear.
All those thoughts of what was are gone now, vanished from reality, because it is clear this is a new Cara before her. One who has a new life.
In the seconds it takes to process this freshness, everyone is gathering around Cara and exchanging hellos, giving hugs, and slapping high fives.
When Ilona finally gets some face time with Cara, they smile together and hug. And it is a tight hug. One where she can tell Cara does not really want to let go from. Ilona does not move or quiver in the slightest, knowing she has to be here for Cara, her newest friend, who despite her outer shell of calm, still has some internal scars.
Cara’s arms lessen their grip on Ilona, who slowly pulls away. Cara needs a friend who is the spark of energy that zips through her spine, Ilona thinks. Scanning a million possible words in an instant, all of what to say to bring happiness to the moment, Ilona quickly realizes the universal love of literature will work here.
“So, read any good books lately Cara?” Ilona asks in the most chirper way possible.
Cara doesn’t really smile, which surprises Ilona, and answers unhappily. “The last book I read was the one with the man with the trident on the cover, and that was because I was forced to by Sabrina, my mother.”
No one says anything about the word forced, or the tone, or the first name mention of her mother, or how a happy joyful book could become an object of slight derision. All except Cynthia, who comes up behind Cara and reassuringly touches her shoulders. “It is alright Cara,” she says quietly, than switches easily to a normal volume, “Maybe you can try the trident book again? This time with all of us, all your friends, with you?”
Cara turns her head towards Cynthia and breaks into a hug smile. “I would love that. Reading it with no burdens attached.”
Ilona tries to glance at her friends, all to see if they understand the how and the why of what Cara is talking about. She quickly figures out they are as clueless as she is. How gaze returns to Cara, whose eyes show she understands what everyone is thinking.
“Sabrina, my mother, was abusive towards me for years. I finally called the police and now she is in jail,” she brightens a bit now, “and I am now safe with Cynthia.”
Susan moves forward and yanks Cara into a massive hug. “A bit tight,” Cara half gasps, half giggles.
“Deal with it Muggle,” Susan replies, “we do that all the time around here.”
“Okay,” Cara says, “but what’s a Muggle?”
All the girls slap their foreheads in unison. Madison’s hand makes a loud whack sound when it lands, all because of the puppet, which is thankfully uninjured. Clara shouts, “this is like Ilona all over again!”
Cynthia laughs. “okay, you girls start the long journey to get Cara caught up with, well, everything important, and I shall get things ready for her.”
As Cynthia peels off to the side, Ilona notices her pulling out her notebook and beginning to tear up paper strips.
The rest of the girls start making light chat with Cara, asking her what books she has read, which shockingly is almost zero. Conversation veers to Madison stating, through the puppet, of how Ilona and Cara and Clara look kinda sorta alike, especially with the eyes. “Maybe yer clones or cousins or something?” she babbles in the piratey animal voice, causing Collette to rant for a minute or so about what clones really are. To derail this self-proclaimed nerd moment, Susan asked Collette what she thought of the almost completed new Lost finale, only awaiting Ilona to copy edit the few pages left. “Her help has been massive,” Susan states happily, making Ilona blush. Collette gave her thumbs up to the inclusion of aliens and the return to life of the polar bear, and gently prodded Ilona to get those precious last pages done.
Before Ilona can answer with an “Ooops! I was busy reading and forgot!” which is her usual response she guiltily gives, Cynthia pops back into the conversation.
“Cara, here are slips of paper with all our numbers on them. This will do until Mama and I can get you a smartphone.” Cynthia smiles warmly as she hands them over to Cara.
“Paper slips?” Cara asks as she stares at the small pile.
Sensing another chance to alleviate Cara’s long pain, Ilona jumps in.
“I got this Cynthia,” Ilona nods, “the first slip is all our numbers, homes and cells. The other slips are for you to write your number down on, which will probably be Cynthia’s home number until you get your own phone. If you ever want an insane conversation, call Madison and Clara. If you want an intellectual conversation, try Collette and Susan. And if you just want someone to talk to, about anything, call Cynthia, or maybe even possibly me.” Ilona says all this very matter of factly, with eyes locking onto Cara, all trying to emulate the calmness of Cynthia all those months and months ago.
“That is us in a nutshell,” she finishes with a warm smile, and quickly remembers to add, “and now you, who will quickly find your own destiny.”
“One little change,” Cynthia breaks in while gently touching Ilona’s arm, “If you want help writing something, try Ilona.”
Ilona stares open mouthed at Cynthia. “All I did was help Susan a bit, that’s all. That doesn’t make me… creative, or, or helpful, or anything like that.”
Susan wags her finger at Ilona and takes on a parental tone. “Begging your pardon, but baloney. You helped shape and reshape my ideas into a story that is a waaaay more coherent tale than what they put on television.”
Collette shrugs, “I have to admit, I do like some parts of your version better. Really touching what you did with Vincent the dog.”
“Thanks,” Susan replies, “and that second part with Vincent was Ilona’s idea.”
“Well, it just seemed natural and all,” Ilona states rather plainly.
“Maybe natural is the operative word here,” Cynthia grins as she pinches Ilona’s cheek.
“And just wait,” Susan exclaims, “When we go live soon on wattpad! People will read it online, on the app, on tabl–”
“Apps? You know about apps?” Cara interrupts. “How to make one? How to beta test one? How to market one?” She rambles on, glancing desperately between everyone.
“I know quite a bit, but Collette is the expert,” Susan replies with a surprised look, pointing at her friend.
“You want to talk apps?” Collette intertwines her fingers and stretches them out in front of her, “So lets talk apps.”
Cara twirls around to Cynthia in one quick motion and slams out, “I really need to borrow your laptop, please please please.”
Cynthia swings off her backpack and whips out her laptop. “No problem Cara, it is okay.”
Working at lightning speed, Cara boots up the laptop and, through SummerFall’s wi-fi, she accesses her e-mail.
“This,” Cara hands the laptop to Collette, who takes it so she and Susan, peering over her shoulder, can see, “is what I have been working on for awhile.”
All the friends witness Collette’s and Susan’s faces as they scroll through whatever is on the screen. And they all see stunned surprise.
“You did all this coding yourself?” Collette exclaims, “This is excellent work, looks almost completely flawless. Amazing.”
“One thing,” Susan asks while staring slack jawed at the screen, “with your mothe-, Sabrina, being as bad as she is, how did you do all this without facing some… repercussions from her?”
Cara smiles a mischievous smile. “This is my secret e-mail account, where I backed up all the coding I was doing. It started on Sabrina’s computer, but continued whenever I could on the school library computers. She has no idea.”
Madison pokes Cara with her wand. “For all of us stuck in the 1980’s here, what in the name of Katniss are ya all talking about?” Her British accent remarkably stays in place, Ilona thinks.
Cara laughs at Madison, and replies by quickly adopting a fake British tone as well. “I have invented an app, one that tracks world’s records. And all I need now is to finalize it and send it out.”
“That will not be a problem,” Collette beams, “my father can help with all that, and more. He is a computer genius.”
Cara stares with glowing happiness at Collette. “Partners?” She smiles, sticking her hand out to her new friend.
Collette hands the laptop over to Susan and grabs Cara’s hand, shaking it vigouressly. “Partners!” She shouts.
The handshake morphs into a colossal hug, with both girls rocking each other, tears streaming down.
“This is going to completely change your lives,” Cynthia says in a soft voice, gently touching her friends backs.
Madison waves her puppet hand in the air. “What? How? Huh? Change? Did Collette and Cara just become rich or something?” Her animal pirate voice screeches louder then usual, even by her standards.
Cynthia turns to the girls, smiling. “If all goes according to plan, both Cara and Collette’s father will make a lot of money. An internet ton of money.”
Madison whistles. “Holy muffins. Are we talking J.K. level here?” No one but Ilona notices she has dropped the Britishness.
Cynthia winces a bit, “Probably not J.K. level, but really really great generally.”
Madison saddles up beside Cara and Collette, who are just now finished hugging, and loudly whispers, “pssst! Can I borrow a million or so? I wanna buy a Tardis.”
Everyone laughs and high fives fly all over.
Ilona watches the happy face Cara now lives with, and gives her new friend a hug.
And notices it not as tight as before.
Song For This Chapter: Heart of Gold by Neil Young
First serialization started on Friday, June 7th, 2013.