Chapter 26:

Book 2, Ch. 1: Cinnamon

ANNO DOMINI ~Allium~ [Beta version]

***THANKS FOR READING!***Bookmark here

I feel like it's been forever, fellow Honeyfeed users! I have to apologize for the hiatus, but it was necessary to disappear for a badge rank even dropped all the way down to bronze... To be brief, I've been busy with work and going through a transition in life. Also, I'm very meticulous about this story, so I needed to make sure everything in this second volume is in order before I started sharing it.Bookmark here

Finally, I'm ready to share the first chapters of Book 2. This is a whole new arc and picks up shortly after the end of Book 1.Bookmark here

On a side note, I have awesome artwork for this story done by Rusembell. You can check it out on DeviantArt, such as this illustration of Chris, Robbie, Bret, and Lavi here:Bookmark here here

As always, if you like the story, then a "Like" will be much appreciated. I also love comments, so feel free to babble away and I'll do my best to reply!Bookmark here

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BOOK 2, CHAPTER 1: CINNAMONBookmark here

Ophelia Collins was a skinny woman in her early forties with brown tied-back hair and sharp cheekbones. Her pursed lips seemed to tug at the lines around her eyes as she stared angrily at her stepdaughter, Marilyn Collins. She was tightly clutching a piece of paper…a piece of paper that Marilyn recognized immediately.Bookmark here

It was early in the morning before school, and Marilyn, who was still in her sleepwear of a cartoon-print T-shirt and baggy, silk shorts immediately knew she was in trouble. These sorts of confrontations often took place in the hallway of her home, so Marilyn was not at all surprised by the situation she had just found herself in.Bookmark here

“I found this in your room yesterday.” Ophelia gave the paper in her a hand a couple shakes, not breaking her solid gaze away from Marilyn. “I meant to talk to you about it last night, but I had somewhere to be.”Bookmark here

Marilyn didn’t dare look at Ophelia, keeping her eyes directed toward the new expensive, dark brown wooden baseboards lining the bottom of the hallway walls. She was afraid to say anything, and was unsure of how to defend herself, let alone know if she had the right to defend herself at all.Bookmark here

“Care to explain, Marilyn?” Ophelia asked, her tone upfront and demanding.Bookmark here

Reluctantly, Marilyn replied quietly, “It’s for a submission form to an art magazine for a contest.”Bookmark here

“Hmph.” The sharp-featured stepmother gave a quick nod of disapproval. “And, by looking at it, it seems like a portion of it was cut away.”Bookmark here

Again, Marilyn was hesitant to say anything.Bookmark here

“You’re holding the instructions. I…removed the submission form and sent it in with a picture.” She made eye contact with her stepmother, receiving the chills of a scornful glower. “I entered a photography contest.”Bookmark here

Ophelia rolled her eyes. Her suspicions had been confirmed. She looked over the paper in her hands again.Bookmark here

Les Fauves?” Ophelia said, wrinkling her nose. “Is that the name of this magazine?”Bookmark here

“…Yeah.”Bookmark here

“This is what you’re doing with that expensive camera you’re always lugging around?” she asked sternly.Bookmark here

“It’s my camera,” Marilyn said, finding her boldness. “I bought it with my money from when I worked at that deli over the summer.”Bookmark here

“Oh, so never mind about saving any of that money for college, then?”Bookmark here

“That was the most expensive thing I bought.” Marilyn took great care in not letting her tone become too “rebellious,” or there’d be consequences. “I saved more than half of the money I made. I still have it.”Bookmark here

Ophelia rolled her eyes again and exhaled impatiently.Bookmark here

“I don’t see the point in this art crap,” she muttered, shifting her weight onto one leg as she crossed her arms, “but your father is all about letting you do what you want.” Her glare and voice intensified together. “This social parasite…this coveted and overinflated idea of modern entrepreneurship and following your dreams…it bugs the hell out of me.”Bookmark here

She looked at the paper in her hand with a grimace before turning that disgusted gaze toward Marilyn.Bookmark here

“That’s a big reason why your generation is full of lazy dreamers like you. The hardworking adults like me have broken our backs to build a better world for you…all just for us to say, ‘Hey, look at my kid who doesn’t return the favor of hard work to us, because she wants to bask in the wonders of the world that we made real, and follow her heart.’ Selfish, that’s what you are. I thought the Millennials were a worthless bunch, but you kids are the ass-ended entrails of the blighted path paved by those Millennials.”Bookmark here

Tears were begging to form in Marilyn’s eyes, but she fought them back, as they’d be one more weakness for Ophelia to exploit. She gripped her cartoon-print T-shirt with both hands and dug her toes into the new carpet Ophelia had recently purchased when the house was remodeled—the house was now gorgeous.Bookmark here

“What were you doing in my room to begin with?” Marilyn asked as loudly as she could without her voice cracking.Bookmark here

At first, Ophelia was offended by that question, but her face stretched into a sneer.Bookmark here

“I was placing a new candle on your dresser,” she said, now finding amusement somewhere in the conversation. “It was one of those cinnamon-scented ones you have an attachment to, so I was showing you a kind gesture for being such a good kid by buying you another one. I was willing to overlook the fact that they stink up your clothes.”Bookmark here

Marilyn knew the game that Ophelia was playing, trying to use guilt as a weapon. Unfortunately, Ophelia was a good player, and Marilyn was not.Bookmark here

“You know what?” The tone in Marilyn’s voice, along with the way she moved her eyes up to look directly at Ophelia, were both crossing a frightening line that Marilyn was often too afraid to cross. “My real mother was from the same generation as you…but she would have loved me for following my heart and pursuing art.”Bookmark here

Again, Ophelia appeared to take offense. Her sharp cheek bones were like spiked frames for her piercing eyes. However, yet again, her expression segued into another sneer. She walked briskly up to Marilyn and shoved the paper from the submission form into Marilyn’s chest.Bookmark here

With a pearly-white grin of perfect teeth, Ophelia brought her face inches from Marilyn’s and said, “Your real mother slit her wrists in the guest bedroom right on the other side of the wall where you were sleeping. She’ll never praise you again, Princess.”Bookmark here

Ophelia walked away and headed downstairs. Marilyn let the paper fall to her feet; she had less than twenty minutes to get ready for school.Bookmark here

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Joining the flow of students going to school, Katie Vickers passed through the main gate of Lyonbole Public High School. Through the crowd, she spotted Marilyn’s naturally-colored burnt orange hair and sunny yellow blouse, so she hurried over to greet her friend.Bookmark here

“Good morning, Mary!” Katie said with too much energy for the time of day. “Hey, I got a new hairband today. Isn’t it cute?” She patted the aquatic-themed hairband nestled into her strawberry-blonde hair.Bookmark here

“That’s nice,” Marilyn replied flatly, barely looking at the hairband.Bookmark here

Katie instantly caught onto Marilyn’s mood.Bookmark here

“What’s wrong?” she asked concernedly while the two of them approached the school building’s quadruple-door entrance. “You look upset, or something.”Bookmark here

“It’s fine.”Bookmark here

“No, no, no.” Katie shook her head. “There’s something wrong, isn’t there?”Bookmark here

Marilyn sighed and looked away. When they entered the beautiful, modern, stylish school building, Katie kept prying.Bookmark here

“Are you not feeling well?”Bookmark here

“No, I’m fine.” As she walked over the polished hallway floor, her flip-flop sandals lacked the typical staccato clapping sound that usually accompanied her every step.Bookmark here

“There were a lot of people getting sick,” Katie told her. “You should be careful of your health.”Bookmark here

“I know.”Bookmark here

Katie frowned.Bookmark here

“Is it something you can’t tell me?” Katie asked concernedly.Bookmark here

Marilyn was silent for a moment, then said, “I’ll tell you later. I…just don’t wanna talk about it right now.”Bookmark here

Out of nowhere, Katie wrapped her arms around Marilyn, halting them both in the middle of the hallway full of students. The sudden action caught Marilyn off guard, but there was no breaking free from Katie during one of her famous Hugs-O-Love.Bookmark here

“I respect your decision!” Katie said loudly, almost wailing. She was definitely being overly dramatic, which was a common trait for her as part of her natural behavior. “No matter what you choose to do, just know that you’ll always be in my heart, Mary!”Bookmark here

The embarrassment Marilyn felt continually grew as she noticed how many students had stopped to witness the spontaneous act of Katie-powered love. As the inescapable hug tightened around her, she could overhear what the other students were whispering among themselves.Bookmark here

“What are they doing?”Bookmark here

“I dunno, but I think one of them just rejected the other.”Bookmark here

“Rejected? You mean, like…a confession?”Bookmark here

“Well, Katie is kinda nuts, don’t ya know?”Bookmark here

“But I never suspected those two were…lesbians…”Bookmark here

“Uh…I don’t think they are. I think.”Bookmark here

Marilyn began to panic. The rumors were starting already, and they sounded particularly nasty. In high schools, rumors had express passes for the quickest routes, enabling them to travel very far very quickly.Bookmark here

“Katie,” Marilyn said, tapping her friend on the back. “You’d better let me go. People are saying weird things.”Bookmark here

Katie released Marilyn from her love hug.Bookmark here

“Promise you’ll tell me later,” Katie told her softly. “I’ll try to help, okay?”Bookmark here

Marilyn smiled, unable to turn down Katie’s big puppy dog eyes.Bookmark here

“It’s just…I thought about my mother this morning…”Bookmark here

“No!” Katie pointed a scolding finger at Marilyn. “You mustn’t think of such sad things!”Bookmark here

“I know…”Bookmark here

With another tight hug (and a rustle of rumor-laced whispers), Katie held her friend closely.Bookmark here

“I’m here for you, Mary,” she said softly before letting go of Marilyn. “Okay?”Bookmark here

“Okay,” Marilyn replied quietly. “Thank you, Katie.”Bookmark here

Marilyn straightened her yellow blouse. At the corner of her eye, she noticed another one of her good friends walking up to her. The tallness, mean-looking eyes, and T-shirt for the American post-hardcore, progressive metal band Two-Dimensional Tragedy suited the typical image for Chris Findale.Bookmark here

He smiled and held up his hand as a greeting gesture.Bookmark here

“Hey,” he said.Bookmark here

Instantly reconfiguring her body language, Marilyn gave Chris a bright smile.Bookmark here

“Hi, Chris!” she said happily, swallowing down the emotional overload she had received from Ophelia only an hour prior. “How are you?”Bookmark here

“I’m good,” he replied. “Just another day at school, ya know?”Bookmark here

Marilyn smiled a wide smile, feeling the strain from doing it so forcibly.Bookmark here

“Don’t be such a downer, Chris,” she joked.Bookmark here

Chris chuckled.Bookmark here

“Yeah, it’s hard to be when you’re so cheerful.”Bookmark here

As the three of them walked down the hallway and chatted, Chris caught a whiff of the trademark scent that always accompanied Marilyn: warm cinnamon.Bookmark here

Jio Kurenai
James K.
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