“It was the most amazing experience I’ve ever had as a musician!” she gushed to to Xia when she returned home after midnight.
“I wish I could have been there,” Xia said, pouring her girlfriend a glass of juice. “The pre-mission mission ran really long. It’s really a routine excursion, but this will be my first trip into space!”
“I’m going to miss you, but I’m so excited that you’re finally going to reach your dream. You’re literally reaching for the stars, huh?”
Xia smirked. “For a couple of old geezers, we’re sure not slowing down, are we?”
Sky snorted. “You’re doing a great job at being an embarrassing old woman. Now you need to get to bed, or you’re going to nod off during blastoff.”
“That’s right! I have to get my beauty rest. Not just for me, but for geezers everywhere!”
It was after dawn before they finally got to sleep.
Abby was a wreck. She’d been trying to soldier on, but it just wasn’t working. After the casting director stopped her in the middle of an audition and asked her not to come back, she lost her last grip on composure. She burst into tears and fled home.
“I woohooed a casting agent,” she said. “And then someone found out and reported it to a gossip magazine.”
“Oh my gosh,” Dylan gasped. “Why would you do something like that?”
“Because I want to act!” Abby cried. “Do you know how hard it is to break into acting? Do you know how many people start their careers on the casting couch?
“Dylan…” Abby murmured. “I thought you of all people would be horrified.”
“I am horrified,” Dylan said gravely. “I’m horrified that you must fights wolves like this agent in order to pursue your dreams. It shouldn’t be like this.”
“You’re right,” Abby said. “It shouldn’t be like this. Thank you. You won’t tell my moms?”
“Mama reads gossip mags to find the stories about herself. She might find out anyway. But I won’t tell her. Abby… I’m sorry you’re going through this, but I want to set your mind at ease. You have never done anything to make me respect you less. I don’t think you ever will.”
“Thanks, Big Brother. I guess you’re so, well, old-fashioned that I was sure you’d think less of me.”
Dylan smiled a little. “I think we have different definitions of ‘chivalry,'” he replied.
Plum Marmalade seemed to be having a bit of trouble with reality.
She surprised Sky with a bouquet of purple roses one day at an autograph session. “They were so bright and beautiful, they made my heart sing! And that made me think of you.”
Sky’s eyes darted to Leah, who was watching nearby, as she accepted the flowers. “I think maybe these would be better for your wife?”
“Ah yes, my wife! Have you met my darling Leah? Doesn’t she have the most sparkling blue eyes?”
“I’m sorry,” Sky said to Leah. “I didn’t do anything, I swear! Is everything all right with Plum?”
“It’s not as bad as it looks,” Leah said with a grimace. “Plum’s on a new medication, and it seems to make her a bit loopy. We’re working with the doctor on a better dosage.”
“If you need any help, let me or Dylan know.”
“I think we’re all right. Thanks anyway!”
“Don’t let’s leave without an autograph!” Plum gushed.
Sky scribbled on a scrap of paper. “That, at least I can do,” she said.
Xia, on the other hand, was in a break in her astronaut training. She was prepped and ready for her first mission, and now all there was to do was wait.
“I don’t know what to do with myself!” she confided to her friend and boss, Anita Bookabet.
“We are both women of leisure,” Anita said with a chuckle. “We should find some fun way to waste taxpayer money.”
A phone rang while Sawyer was irradiating a life fruit seed. He had to look around for a moment before he realized it was his phone. His phone never rang.
“Why are you calling?”
“Hello? Is this Sawyer Sample?”
“Yes I am.”
“This is Sharon Leonard. I was wondering if you’d like to go out.”
“Go out? Go out where?”
“To Fiddler’s Green?”
“I guess so.”
His mom was always telling him to be more social. He guessed it couldn’t hurt. While he was driving to the pub, he finally placed the name. Sharon Leonard was a girl in his science class.
She was waiting for him as he stepped out of the car. “Hi there.”
“You’re the one who laughed at me when I got into a fight at Honeydukes,” Sawyer said when he saw her.
“He was a real moron.”
“I could tell. A real mouth breather. Anyway, I was mean to you, and I was hoping I could make it up to you.”
“How would you do that?”
“I could buy you dinner?”
“I’m not sure if that would make it up, but I’m happy to eat.”
So they did. Sawyer was able to find hot dogs on the menu at Fiddler’s Green. That made him feel better. Then Sharon suggested that they go upstairs and play shuffleboard for a while.
Shuffleboard was a pretty dumb game. He could analyze the velocity of the pucks, but his analysis didn’t have much effect on the outcome.
Sharon kept talking, but it was repetitive stuff: what he thought of his teachers, whether he had any hobbies. Pointless drivel like that.
Finally, Sawyer had to stop. “I’m sorry, but this game is boring. You’re pretty of stupid. I think I’m going to go home and find something more interesting to do. Thanks for inviting me anyway.”
He left her gaping at the shuffleboard table as he headed home.
Dylan found Andria surveying the living room with a distressed look on her face.
“So much electronics!” she said with a scowl. “All out in the open where everyone has to see them!”
“Have you ever thought of living off the grid?” she asked eagerly. “We totally have the resources. All these technical doodads destroy our connection to the land.”
“Good heavens! I had no idea you felt so strongly,” Dylan said. “I have no particular love for electronics. They seem kind of garish. I don’t think the family would be too eager to move to a farm, however.”
“Is Sawyer really going to live her after he graduates from college?”
“I honestly do not believe Sawyer should live on his own. He taunts us and complains, but it’s the only way he knows how to interact. He is special, and he needs us. I will not turn him away.”
Andria smiled wanly. “I was pretty sure you’d say something like that. All right, then. We’ll work something out.”
Dylan scowled. “It’s her story to tell, but it involves the foulest of knaves,” he said. “It’s been all I can do to keep myself from tracking down this villain to give him… a really stern talking to. Oh, Andria, none of my experience in life has prepared me to defend my sister’s honor. What should I do now? Challenge him to a duel?”
Andria folded him into her arms. “You can’t defend her honor, my love. But she can, and I think she will.”
“Thank you so much for agreeing to meet,” Abby said. “This is a really awful subject. I wasn’t sure you would talk to me. When I started looking for celebrity tell-alls about me and Nemo Hodgins, I started finding articles about you. I guess we’re in the same boat.”
Aminali Ibari was the newest rising star with Plumbob Pictures. She’d recently completed filming a supporting role in the film adaptation of The Dog Barks for Thee, which would hit box offices next month.
“Don’t read those articles,” Aminali said seriously. “They’ll drive you crazy. I want to put all that behind me and focus on acting.”
“You’re a pig-headed woman,” Aminali said. “Take that as a compliment. If you go public against Nemo Hodgins, I will back you up.”
“It’s about time we started standing together,” Aminali said. “Good luck to you.”
I didn’t expect the big show venue to be so awesome. If you get close, you can see how artificial the big crowd looks, but it’s a still a fabulous effect.
Abby looks like she’s wearing too much makeup. I could have sworn it looked more tasteful when I was playing it. Ah, well, I’ve played weeks ahead of this, so we’re stuck with it.
Sharon Leonard invited Sawyer on a date. It was the only time he was invited on a date while he was a teen. I thought it was pretty funny that it was the same girl who made fun of him earlier. They had an attraction of 0. He couldn’t stand her.