1.20

Note: Before I start this chapter I want to apologise for the photos of Lily… I know it’s still the old wall paper and furniture in their room. I took the photos before I redecorated it, and kinda sorta maybe forgot to take new ones…. So imagine something less childish in those two, or just ignore the background, it’s up to you 🙂

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The evening was beautiful. 

It was late summer, and the sun was slowly setting over the sea. It showered me in warm golden light as I sat down on the bench, as I had done almost every evening since we had bought it.

All four of my children thought just sitting outside watching the sunset was boring, but I enjoyed it. It was relaxing, and calming, and it gave me time to think in silence without being interrupted.

I know it’s such a clichee thing to think, but I couldn’t believe how quickly the years in Sunset Valley had gone by. It really did seem like only yesterday that I ran away from home, and yet at the same time it seemed lifetimes ago. I had wondered a few times what had become of my parents, but I never had the courage to contact them. What would I have said to them, anyway? Had they changed at all, after I left? Did they ever wonder where I went, or did they miss me at all?

Then it would always occur to me that they could just as easily have contacted me. Our name was in the phone book, after all. If they had tried, they could have contacted me years ago.

So I decided it was for the best. Not knowing what happened to them hurt a little, but I never once regretted the choice I had made so many years ago.

“Mind if I join you?” Kobi asked me as he walked up to me.

“Not at all” I smiled, and moved over a little. He had joined me every evening he wasn’t working so far. Sometimes, when he came home from work and I was still outside, watching the moon and the stars rise, he would sit with me then, too. And sometimes, we would say a few words, but mostly we would just sit next to each other, enjoying each others company.

There were times in my life where I wasn’t so sure if we would ever make it this far. Sitting in his arms now I was wondering how I could ever have doubted him. It’s true that Ruby made things difficult for us on a few occasions, but they all seemed longer ago than they really were, and I was happy to say that we came out fighting and had won. It wasn’t easy, but very worth it.

Watching my children grow up made me realise just how precious every moment really is. I didn’t like thinking about it, but I knew that something could happen to me or Kobi, or maybe both of us, and our children would be-

Well, as I said, I didn’t like thinking about it. The thought of anything happening scared me, so I had finally written my will. I knew we were both still young, but accidents happened every day and I wasn’t willing to take chances.

Illusion had grown into a responsible young man, and his birthday was slowly sneaking up on me. He had been a great help to me all these years ago, and I was very proud of him. I honestly thought we had done a good job, and I knew that Kobi felt the same.

Just as I had thought on their birthdays, I had to keep an eye on Lily. They had not been teenagers for long, but already I kept hearing her on the phone every other evening. I heard her giggle and even though I couldn’t see her (she would usually go to her room for these phone calls and lock the door) I could just picture her blushing.

I wasn’t sure what the name of this young man was, but my Lily was falling for him and all I could do was watch it happen. Or listen, since she had never actually brought him home. At least it always seemed to be the same boy on the phone, which made me sightly less nervous.

Lily often did her homework with Brink, who would be reading a book his teacher had “recommended” for him. We had not had the phone call yet, and to be honest there had been no obvious signs, but I had a feeling Brink was getting lucky a few times too often. Call it instinct, but I just knew he was sometimes skipping classes. He had not said anything, but I knew all these books he brought home were his teachers way of making him catch up on his work. Also, I never actually saw him do his homework, but he assured me that he was always getting it done and as I said, his teacher had never complained to us or asked us to come in for a few words, so we figured it couldn’t be as bad as we often feared. It’s easy to be wrong, after all, and we didn’t want to accuse him of something he didn’t do.

Brinks enthusiasm for it may not have been as big as Lily’s, but they were both into sports. They had both joined different sports teams at their school, and every now and then we would run into them working out in the living room. They also both used their training dummy in the back garden a fair bit, but again Lily seemed to be more interested in it than Brink was.

Rosee was the complete opposite to her sister. She was more quiet, and never needed prompting to do her homework. Unlike her siblings, she even seemed to enjoy it. She had joined the debate club at school, and was on about taking a part-time job. I was worried she would have too much stress and not enough fun, but she assured me that these were all things she wanted to do.

Now I’m not saying I was complaining about this, but unlike her siblings she also didn’t show any interest in boys. Or girls, for that matter. It gave me less to worry about, but on the other hand I was also concerned that she was putting too much effort into her work. I was happy that she took school so seriously, but she never brought any friends home. She would come home, do her homework while Lily was on the phone to her secret boyfriend we all knew about, and then she would go into their room when Lily came out, and study some more on their computer.

She was dedicated, but was she too dedicated? Was it even possible to be too dedicated?

I even tried bringing the subject up every now and then. Rosee was doing her homework, and I thought I’d join her for a casual chat.

“I heard Lily and Brink are going to the cinema with some friends tomorrow night, why don’t you join them?” I got the same answer I usually got from her when I mentioned it. A frown.

“I don’t know, mum, the house is going to be quiet with them out for a few hours. I’ll be able to concentrate much better on school work.” Honestly, I didn’t think it was all really school work. Her siblings never got that much to do, and Illusion never had this much to do at home either.

“I think they are both bringing… someone.” I never really knew how to start this conversation without making it awkward. By now I must have brought it up more often than I was aware off, though, because Rosee cut me off.

She tried to hide it, but I knew she sighed. “Yeah, mum, I don’t really have anyone I would bring. Not like that.” Next she would usually get back to doing her work, which also automatically ended the conversation.

I cuddled further into Kobi’s arms. The sun had almost completely disappeared behind the horizon now, and it was slowly getting darker.

Whatever they chose, I would be happy as long as they were happy. I wasn’t looking forward to their birthdays, but luckily most of them were still quite a few years away.

And once they were all moved out with their own little families and hopes and dreams, I would still have my ever faithful husband. I knew now that I never really had to worry. I also knew how incredibly cheesy it was, but I loved him more every day. And nothing or no one would ever change what we had. Not even Ruby.

Until death do us part.

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Note:

And this marks the end of generation one! 🙂 It’s gone quick! 🙂

The next chapter will be the beginning of generation2, Rosee Charm Lace. I have big plans for her and can’t wait to get started, so the first chapter might just be out before next weekend 😉

Thank you again for reading, everyone! I really appreciate your comments, and hope that you have both enjoyed this generation, and will enjoy the second one even more 🙂

MischiefTheKitten

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1.19

A few years had passed since Kobi had moved back in with us. At first it had been a little difficult, and my emotions seemed to have been just as confused as I had been. I was incredibly happy to have him back home again, but at the same time it took me a while to get over everything that had happened. I knew that he had not kissed Ruby back that day, but his lips had stilled touched hers and it took me a little while to accept that.

The last few years however had been great. The day Kobi had moved back in he had promised me to make it up to me. Even though I had forgiven him he insisted, and did his best to make every day special for me in some way. Sometimes he would surprise me with flowers, or a back rub just before we went to bed.

I had not thought it was possible after everything that had happened with us in the past, but there was no denying it. I was falling in love with him all over again.

There wasn’t one day he didn’t tell me how much he loved me, and I didn’t doubt his words once. Ruby was definitely out of our lives for good now. There had been neither phone calls, nor any strange letters, nor any unexpected visits. It looked like she was finally true to her word, and we were grateful for the peace that meant for us.

The kids were growing up so quickly, and the older they became the easier it was for me to see both Kobi and me in their features. Rosee especially seemed to be a perfect mix, and seeing the resemblance in all of them put a smile on my face each day. That, and also the fact that Kobi had become a lot more romantic. I knew it was part of him trying to make things up to me, and I wasn’t complaining. Getting some alone time was much easier now that all four of our children were at school. Kobi was still working mainly afternoons and evenings, and my schedule was still fairly flexible, so we made the most of the time we had together.

With the triplets’ birthday being just around the corner, I couldn’t help but be reminded of how long we still had left before we had our big birthdays. Kobi’s birthday was much sooner than mine, and even though I was looking forward to having him home a lot more once he was retired, I was also beginning to worry.

Neither one of us had ever really been particularly healthy. We weren’t exactly living off junk food, but we didn’t exercise regularly either, or did anything else to stay fit for that matter. We both had our fare share of stress and hard ship in our lives, he even more so than me because of his demanding job.

I knew that sooner or later, it would be time for us to write a will. One of the children would be inheriting our house and the grounds and responsibilities that came with it. But they were still so young, it was impossible for me to make that decision already.

Once they are older, I’ll have to have a talk with them. See what their plans and dreams are. See who they want to become. But for now, I was happy in Kobi’s arms. It could wait a little while longer.

“This is so exciting!” Rosee exclaimed as Brink went up to his cake. Her little pink eyes were sparkling, and even though I was sad that my children would no longer be children I had to agree with her.

I couldn’t wait to see them all grown up, and see what they were going to do with their lives. All three of them were excited to start high school, no matter how much Illusion tried telling them that their excitement wouldn’t last once they got there.

“Make a wish, Brink!” Lily clapped and danced on the spot. Our little kitchen was so full with guests, I was surprised she managed to move much at all. Raspberry’s whole family had come, and already filled up a big part of the kitchen just by themselves. All three of my birthday kids had invited some friends from school,  some of which had brought siblings along. On top of that we had invited Azalea so that Illusion wouldn’t feel too left out.

Needless to say, our kitchen was packed.

Brink took a deep breath in and blew out all his candles at once. I couldn’t be sure of course what he had wished for, but if I had to guess I would have said that not having to share a room with his sisters was part of it.

And there he was, my handsome young man. He took so much after both of us that it was impossible for me to pin down who he took after more. Before I could really think about it though, Rosee’s voice filled the room.

“Me next!” Eagerly, she blew out her own candles and grew up right in front of my eyes.

She became such a beautiful young woman that I immediately made a mental note to keep an eye on her. I didn’t think she realised it, but Pine, the older brother of one of Lily’s friends, couldn’t take his eyes of her that evening either.

“Your turn, little sister!” She said to Lily, who gave her an excited smile back.

“I won’t be little much longer! Watch me!” The two of them had gotten along so well as children, I could only hope their strong friendship would continue now they were both teenagers.

Lily grew up to be every bit as beautiful as her sister, and I prepared myself for them fighting about boys pretty soon.

We still didn’t have much money, but we had managed to save up just enough to buy them some birthday presents.

The girls got new beds, a wardrobe and a desk with a computer. I had told them to share the latter with their brothers, but was sure I would have to remind them every now and again.

For Brink and Lily we had bought a training dummy. They had expressed a wish to have one several times now, and we figured we had enough money left over to surprise them.

We also added a little bench underneath our bedroom window. The sunset was beautiful from this part of town, since the sea was so nearby and there were hardly any trees blocking the view. It would be the perfect place for me to relax, and I knew that Kobi was looking forward to joining me, too.

We also fulfilled Brinks unspoken wish, and bought a new bed for him which we placed in his brothers room. We had talked to Illusion about sharing his room, and he had assured us that he was alright with it.

Since he had to sacrifice his personal space, we had decided to also buy him a present. His last birthday had gone unnoticed compared to the party we’ve had for the triplets, so in a way it was also a late birthday present for him. He had wanted a workbench for a while now, and we thought that now was a good moment to get him one.

 

1.18

When I got up the next morning I was nervous as soon as my eyes opened. How I had gotten any sleep at all that night was a mystery to me, but somehow I had managed it.

It was 8am now. I had half an hour until Kobi would get here.

I knew it was sheepish, but I had phoned him last night when I knew he would be at work. I knew he wouldn’t be able to answer his phone, and that I would have to leave him a message instead. I knew I was being a coward for not talking to him, but I had no idea what to say. This way, it couldn’t end in awkward silence.

I had not heard anything back from him at all, but deep down I knew he would come. Somehow, under all those nerves, I had a good feeling about today. He would either come back home, or tell me he couldn’t forgive me for not giving him a chance to explain what happened sooner. Either way, I would know for sure.

I rushed through my usual morning routine in the bathroom, heard the front door close as my children went to school, and got dressed. Technically, I still had five minutes, if he turned up, and I considered having some toast but felt sick immediately after thinking it. I was too nervous to eat, I decided, and paced up and down in the bedroom.

Exactly at 8.30am, I heard a car door being shut.

I made my way over to the window and looked outside, only to find Kobi standing in the garden and see a taxi drive off. He looked just as nervous as I felt, and on top of that he looked very unsure of what to do. I was just as glued to where  I was standing as he seemed to be, and unwillingly watched him for a few seconds before finding the courage to go out there and greet him.

His eyes found mine immediately as I walked up to him. He looked worried, and definitely seemed worn out. Was it true what the letter had said? Had he really been forced to sleep on park benches? He looked exhausted, I thought, and I wondered how much of the letter was the truth and how much was exaggerated.

I took a deep breath in and walked up to him. The whole time he watched me, his eyes not once losing their focus on me, but he stayed where he was.

When I eventually reached him, I wasn’t sure what to say.

“Whisper. You’re really ready to- You won’t-” Something in his voice told me he had been crying a lot, and it made me feel awful. If everything in the letter was true, I had put him through a lot of stress and misery, all  because I didn’t give him a chance to speak before.

“I’m sorry I didn’t let you tell me what happened, Kobi, I-” Before I could finish my sentence he put up his hands and shook his head.

“No, please, let me explain.” I nodded in defeat, the tone in his voice breaking my heart all over again. “I don’t blame you for being mad at me, Whisper. If I had found you with some other man in the same position I would have snapped, too. I swear to the great Berry above, nothing happened. I know what it must have looked like to you, but I promise you I didn’t kiss her. I would never hurt you, Whisper, I would never do this to you. Please, believe me.”

And I did. He sounded as broken as I had felt over the last few days. I knew in my heart he had not kissed Ruby.

“I know. Ruby wrote me a letter, it explains everything.”

“She did? I- Whisper, I understand if you can’t forgive me but please, give me another chance? We were happy, weren’t we? I promise you I can make you happy again!”

“Finding you like this really hurt me, Kobi.” I believed that he didn’t kiss her back, but it didn’t explain why she was in our living room to begin with. It would probably never have gotten this far if he had not invited her inside.

“I know, and believe me, I’m sorry! I should never have let her inside the house, Whisper, but she said she had only wanted to talk! I thought- I thought- I don’t know what I thought! I know nothing I could possible have thought can justify what happened, Whisper. I know I hurt you. I’m asking you for a chance to make it up to you.”

“I forgive you.” I was still hurting, and I knew it would take a while for that feeling of emptiness to go away, but I had missed him. The last few days I had spent aching for him, and I didn’t want to wake up another morning without him by my side.

“You- You mean it?” His smile seemed tired but genuine, and I realised how much I had missed seeing it.

“I do. I don’t want to be without you for another day, Kobi.”

“I bought you these!” From behind his back he pulled the most beautiful bouquet of flowers, and a memory suddenly popped into my head.

“Are those- Kobi, are those the same flowers that you gave me when you proposed?” But I already knew the answer. I would recognise those flowers anywhere. They weren’t the pink ones he had given to me then, but they were the same rare type, and they smelled just as beautifully.

“I tried to get pink ones, but they were sold out everywhere. I’m sorry, Whisper, I know it’s not the same.”

Carefully I put the flowers down, and stepped into his arms.

It felt so good having his arms around me again, that I decided they were the best place in the world for me.

“They are perfect. Thank you, Kobi. I’m sorry I didn’t let you explain sooner, but I was so hurt!” I felt his arms close around me, and stepped a little further into his embrace.

“I know, Whisper, and I understand. Please know I never wanted to hurt you, and I don’t want to hurt you ever again. Allowing Ruby into our home was the biggest mistake I have ever made, and I didn’t think you would ever let me come back to you. I love you, Whisper.”

“I love you, too.” He kissed me, and all the sadness from the last days washed away. I could even feel that awful emptiness shrinking.

Raspberry had been right. Everything would be okay.

1.17

“Whisper! Oh Berry, it’s good to see you!” I let Raspberry hug me and wondered how I could put this, the reason why I had asked her to meet me in Candy Cane Park, off for as long as possible.

“It’s great to see you, too.” It seemed like it had been a very long time since I had last seen a friendly face. Of course that’s not to say that my children weren’t nice to me, but I could see in their eyes that they worried about me. Raspberry had the same look in her eyes, too, but it had been a while since I had last seen her, and it made a very welcome change.

“You look tired. Exhausted, actually. Are you not sleeping well?” It had been almost a week since I had found Kobi with Ruby. Since that day I had cried myself to sleep every evening, only to wake up every few hours, cry a bit more, and eventually fall asleep again, repeating the same questions in my mind over and over again. Why did he do this to me? How long had he been doing this to me?

Then I got that letter, and I found myself unable to sleep asking a very different question. Was it possible that the letter was telling me the truth?

“I’ve had some issues sleeping. Wouldn’t you?”

Raspberry gave me an apologetic look before continuing her interrogation. “And you look thin. Are you not eating properly?”

“I just didn’t feel hungr-”

“You’ve got to eat something, Whisper! How much weight have you lost?” I knew she meant well, but I really didn’t want to talk about all the things his betrayal had done to me. Especially if what the letter was stating was actually true.

“How much weight have you gained? I didn’t realise you were this far along already!” She had mentioned to me that she was pregnant again. But we had both been busy, and I had not actually seen her since she had told me.

“Whisper-“

“Hello there, little guy! Or girl? Do you know what it is yet? No, it’s too early, isn’t it. Oh but you’re a fantastic mother, you’re looking forward to either gender I-” I knew I was rambling a bit, but I was really nervous just thinking about that letter. If I could buy some more time I was more than happy to do exactly that.

“Whisper, what is it? You sounded nervous on the phone.”

I let out a long, maybe slightly exaggerated, sigh. I did want to tell Raspberry, otherwise I wouldn’t have asked her to meet me. It was just hard to begin.

“You’re right, no more talking around it. I think I- I-” I was about to start crying again. Honestly, I was surprised there were any tears left in me, but there they were. Slowly making their way into my eyes, already burning the corners and making my sight blurry.

“I th-think I may h-have made a m-mista-” My voice had started trembling already, and before I had a chance to finish my sentence, tears were overwhelming me.

“I’m s-sorry! I-It’s just-” Not giving her a chance to protest, I literally threw myself into my best friend’s arms.

“Oh Berry! What’s wrong, Whisper?What do you mean, you think you made a mistake?”

Instead of answering, only sobs would leave my lips. I buried my head in her shoulder, hoping against every logic in my brain that somehow, she wouldn’t notice I was crying. I felt absolutely pathetic, sobbing into her shoulder in the park where everyone could watch me losing every bit of my sanity.

“Oh, sweetheart. Whatever happened, surely it’s not worth all those tears? It can’t be worse than what Kobi did to you.” I wasn’t sure how Raspberry thought this might cheer me up, but cried at the irony. Because actually, in a way, it was a lot worse.

“It i-i-is!” My whole body was shaking, and I felt bad for putting Raspberry on the spot like this. How she had been this patient with me I couldn’t understand.

“How about we sit down over there? You look like you could do with sitting down.” I nodded, grateful for the idea. My legs were feeling more than a little weak, so sitting down anywhere seemed like a good plan.

I let her lead me across the lawn and sand, but didn’t see properly where she was leading me to. I had stopped crying after she had assured me everything would be alright, but my tears were still blurring my view.

“Here you go, sit down. We’re at the swings.” I did as she said, and felt a lot more stable after a few seconds.

For a few moments we sat next to each other in silence, but I could feel her worried, curious eyes on me.

“What happened? On the phone you said something about a letter?”

I took a deep breath in, and told her.

I had read the letter several times, its truth sinking in a little more every time. The guilt building up quickly as I read it word for word:

Whisper,

I know you don’t think you can trust or believe me, but you can take my word for it when I say that I love Kobi every bit as much as you do. He may not have been my first love, but he was the one love for me.

I know he has made his choice, and even though I have no reason to want you to be happy, I want him to be happy. And I know now that he had happiness with you. I interfered, and I have watched him suffer for something I have done.

I know what it must have looked like when you came into the living room. You should know that he was faithful to you. I forced myself into his arms, and had you come in only two seconds later you would probably have seen him kicking me out. Kobi was every bit as surprised when I kissed him as you were finding us, and I don’t know if you saw it in his eyes as well or not, but his heart broke the second he spotted you. He knew he ruined your relationship when he saw your heart break at the same time as his did.

You should have let him explain, Whisper. Maybe then he wouldn’t have had to sleep on park benches those last nights, or showered in the gym.

Kobi is a good guy. He was always loyal to you, and as far as I can tell always will be.

He deserves another chance.

R.

“She didn’t sign her whole name, but I know it was Ruby who wrote the letter.”

For a moment we just continued our silence from before. I knew what I had to do, but somehow I still needed to know that my best friend was thinking the same. I needed to know I wasn’t making another mistake. So much had gone wrong already, I had to make sure that my next step at least would be the right one.

“What do you think?” Oh Berry, she asked me that?

“I think I made a big mistake kicking him out, Raspberry. Ruby is right, I should have given him the chance to explain.” I hated to admit it, but I knew Ruby had been right.

“So you’re going to give him another chance? What will you do?”

“I don’t know. I’ll have to invite him over, tell him we need to talk.” I watched Raspberry nod, and knew it was the right thing to do. I could hardly make this situation any worse now, after all! Could I?

“Let me know how it went, Whisper. He didn’t stay with us for long, but it was obvious that he regretted what happened. He loves you, he deserves another chance. You both do.”

There was nothing more to say, so I nodded and went home.

Brink and Lily were sitting at the table doing their homework, while Rosee and a blue girl I had not met before were doing their homework on the floor. Illusion had already gone to work and wouldn’t be back home for a few hours yet, having to do his homework once he was back. It had not gone past him that we were struggling for money, and he had insisted on taking a part-time job. I hated seeing him as exhausted as he was, but there was no talking him out of it.

I looked at my children, and decided I would phone Kobi in the morning. He would come over, he would tell me that everything in the letter was true, I would feel like the worst berry-being in the world, and everything would be okay.

I looked at the photo he had taken of me, and felt a big weight somewhere in the pit of my stomach.

I really hoped he could forgive me.

1.16

Why would he do this to me?

I had spent the rest of that evening on my bed. I had heard the door a few times, followed by the voices of my children. Illusion had come back home first. He had not said anything, of course, but I knew it was him from the second door that shut only a few moments later. I didn’t know how much time passed, but eventually I heard the door open again and my triplets talk to each other. Whatever they were saying didn’t register with me, though. I heard them come home, I heard them talk, but that was all I cared to understand.

I wasn’t sure how much time had passed when I heard my own door open.

“Mum? Are you alright?” I didn’t want Illusion to see I had been crying, and out of fear that my voice was still shaky I pretended to be asleep. I knew I would have to tell him sooner or later. He and the triplets would be wondering why their daddy had not come home, and while the kids were too young for the truth I could tell them part of it. I would make up half a lie, say daddy wouldn’t be home for a while. I’d say he had to take care of business elsewhere, but just thinking that this business probably meant being with Ruby brought fresh tears to my eyes.

Illusion, however, would not take a lie for an answer. I was a bad liar, and he would see through it and ask for the truth. So I might as well tell him. Somewhen.

“Mum, please. I know you’re not sleeping. Your eyes were open when I came in.” I felt guilty, because now he knew for sure that I wasn’t just tired. I did say I was a bad liar, didn’t I? When I stayed silent, he eventually gave in.

I could hear him sigh. “Well, we have ordered some pizza if you’re hungry. It should get here in about thirty minutes or so.” Figuring that I probably wasn’t going to start talking now he left the room. I could hear his feet drag over the carpet. I really wish that boy would lift his feet more. 

Just when I had decided that I wasn’t hungry and wasn’t going to get up my phone buzzed. The motion surprised me so much that I jumped, and even got up to see who was phoning me with my heart beating so fast I thought it was sure to stop itself.

It was Raspberry. I was reluctant to answer, and just stared at the blue-glowing screen for a while, hoping she would give up and hang up. She didn’t, so it was my turn to sigh and I answered.

“Hi, Raspberry.” My voice sounded worse than I had thought. Half the letters didn’t come out at all, and the ones that did come out sounded unnaturally hoarse.

“Whisper, what happened? I’ve got Kobi standing on our doorstep, saying you kicked him out!” I frowned. Of course he’d go beg at their door. He was good friends with her husband, after all.

“Did you ask him?” I could feel new tears burn my eyes. I really didn’t want to talk about it yet. All I wanted to do was scream until no more sound would come out. And hit him. I really wanted to hit him. And demand an explanation, even though it didn’t really seem to matter.

“We did, but he just hangs his head like a kicked puppy. He looks like he’s been crying. Whisper, what happened?” Oh, he had been crying? What reason did he have to cry? I was the betrayed one, wasn’t I?

“He kissed Ruby.” As soon as the words had left my lips, those tears that had been burning my eyes were starting to roll down my cheek. I tried to breath evenly, but it was no use.

“He did what? Oh, sweetheart, I’m so sorry. Do you need me to come over?” I really wanted her to. Having a good friend hugging me and comforting me, telling me lies about how everything would be okay again seemed perfect.

“No, I want to be alone.” Curling up on my bed, pitying myself, and crying myself to sleep, however, seemed even better somehow.

“Of course. Give me a call if you need anything.” I was thankful for her offer, but said goodbye after that.

Just as I was about to lie back down on my bed my door opened again.

I looked over my shoulder to see who it was, and saw little Rosee standing by my bed. She looked worried, and seemed to avoid meeting my eyes. She was a very smart girl, and I bet she knew I had been crying.

“Mummy, are you okay? Are you ill?” Her sweet little voice had an immediate soothing effect on me. My tears dried up, and I decided to fake a smile when I was around my children. They were too young to go through something like this, and I didn’t want her to think I was ill.

“I’m fine, love. Mummy just had a hard day, you don’t need to worry.” Those words stung badly as I realised what I had said. I had just promised her she didn’t need to worry when really, I didn’t know what was going to happen with Kobi and me. My memory was catapulted back all those years ago when he had promised me the exact same thing, about him and Ruby. Obviously he had been lying.

Did Rosee know I was lying?

“Oh. The pizza is here now.” I put on my best fake smile and hoped that it would put her mind at ease.

“Thank you, sweetheart. I’ll be out in a minute.”

And I was. I used a tissue to dry up the last of the tears, washed my face clean of them, and went to join my children. But as soon as I smelled the pizza I felt sick, and turned back around. I really didn’t feel like eating, and decided to do anything but.

However, in turning around my eyes fell on the photo Kobi had taken of me.

I thought he loved me, and now I was paying the prize for having been so stupid. My entire body was aching, my heart worst of all. There was so much pain inside of me, and it seemed to share an equally big part of me with that awful feeling of emptiness, that would replace the pain every now and then.

In a way, feeling that emptiness was comforting. When I felt empty, I was devoid of all emotions. There was no more hurt left inside me, no more pain, sadness or betrayal.

Even my broken heart seemed to stop cutting me.

A few days passed. The kids went to school, came home, did their homework, and eventually went to bed. During all this, I would be curled up on my bed. Occasionally, I would get up, nibble on some dry toast before throwing most of it away, use the bathroom and get straight back to bed.

The kids never said anything. They didn’t ask why their daddy had not come home, and I suspected that Illusion had convinced them to give me time. Or maybe he had come up with a lie himself. Either way, they left me to being miserable.

One evening, after the kids had already gone to bed, I decided it was time I owed Illusion an explanation. I knocked on his door, and went into his room.

“Mum! How are you feeling?” He was obviously surprised to see me, and I realised how invisible I must have been to my family over the last few days. I felt guilt burning up inside me, but swallowed it for now. For now I had to talk to Illusion.

“Can I talk to you?” Immediately he jumped up from his bed and came towards me, worry crossing his face.

“Of course! Are you going to tell me what’s wrong? The triplets keep asking, and I’m running out of ideas.”

“Yes. No.” I sighed. This was going to be difficult.

“We all know something’s up, Mum. Dad hasn’t been home in three days.”

How was I going to tell him that his father had cheated on me?

“Your father… did something, Illusion.”

“Huh? You mean… he hurt you?” I felt bad that my answers probably were not helping. I felt bad that I had offered him answers, and still he had to put the pieces together himself.

How was I going to tell my oldest son, who adored his father more than anything, that his father had been having an affair? That I had found them in our living room with her? That my heart was broken and would most likely never be the same again?

“He hurt you? You mean, he hit you?” I shook my head, and before I knew it tears were rolling down my cheeks.

“Oh, Berry, don’t cry!” I could sense how helpless Illusion was feeling. I felt terrible for putting him through this, and felt more tears following because I felt terrible about it.

“Mum? What did he do?”

Before I could answer my amazing son pulled me into a hug, and comforted me until no more tears would come.

And when they finally stopped, I told him the truth.

A few more days passed. Each morning I would wake up crying. Because Kobi had kissed Ruby. Because he still had not come back home to tell me he was sorry. Because it still felt like he was not sorry at all,  because he had not come home.

I had about three-hundred unanswered calls on my phone, all of them from Raspberry. Not a single one from Kobi.

I was slowly beginning to accept that he might never tell me he was sorry, because it was beginning to look like he really was not.

My boss was not happy with me because I had not been to work in a while. I was considering to quit my job, and just sell my paintings, but it seemed like such a big change in my life and I was not sure if I could stomach another right now.

I was fully concentrating on my latest painting when I heard something. The kids were at school, I was completely alone at home, but I had been sure that I had heard the slightest sound coming from the kitchen.

Slowly, I put down my paint brush and went to see where the tiny noise had come from.

At first I didn’t see anything different, but then I spotted it.

On the floor, half-pushed through the door, was a letter. A letter with nothing on it but my name.

1.15

Too soon it was time for the triplets to have their birthdays. Because we only had a small party for Illusion last time, we suggested he could have his birthday the same day as the triplets. As much as we wanted to give him his own big party, we couldn’t afford to throw two big parties in such short succession, so we were more than a little relieved when he agreed to sharing his big day.

To make up for it, we let him go first. He was so excited that he kept clapping his hands most of the time, and he kept looking around to make sure we were all paying attention to him.

He grew up into a very handsome young man, and I prepared myself mentally for the amount of girls that we would have knocking at our front door soon.

Next up were the two girls. I carried Rosee to the cake while Kobi carried Lily. As much as I was looking forward to them being able to use the fridge and the bathroom on their own, I was sad to see my little girls grow up. They had been my perfect little angels as toddlers, and I was hoping they would stay sweet and innocent at least a little bit longer.

Their brother Brink had to wait until last. Some of the guests had gone by then, and the sun had started to set. I felt bad about it, and made a mental note to have him grow up first next time. Which I was hoping was still a long way off.

“Come on, Illusion! Join me!” Brink had grown up to be quite the athletic child, and immediately claimed the TV, more specifically the sports channel, as his own.

“Nuh, I’m good over here, little brother.” Brink adored Illusion, and would try to talk him into working out with him. Illusion, however, was perfectly happy sitting behind him and giving him some motivational words every now and then.

The girls were just as energetic, but they dealt with it in a very different way.

“That’s not fair, you can’t do that!” I could hear them shout and laugh from their bedroom as they had pillow fights, and was silently wondering how long Brink would be putting up with it.

“Can too! You’re too slow for me, Lil!”

“Aaaaargh, I’ll get you!” It was nice to have their laughter fill our small house, but I secretely hoped that they wouldn’t hurt themselves or each other with the zips or buttons on their pillows.

The weekend couldn’t come quickly enough. To my surprise, three children were proving to be just as challenging at times as three toddlers had been, and I was glad to get out of the house for a while.

Illusion had gone to the swimming pool to meet a girl he knew from school. Her name was Azalea Blush, and even though he had not said anything yet Kobi and I knew that he was falling for her hard.

Brink, Lily and Rosee had decided to go to the park together. It wasn’t far from home, only a short walk away. I was happy to seem them getting along so well, so I had allowed them to spent their first day away from us.

I myself had gone to the art gallery. It was something I had been meaning to do for a while, but I just never managed to fit it in between changing nappies and teaching toddlers how to walk. I had really hoped that Kobi would come with me, but he said there were some things he had been meaning to fix around the house, and now that the kids were all somewhere else at the same time he wanted to seize the opportunity and get fixing. Whatever there was for him to fix, personally I thought that everything was working fine for a change.

When I got home I went inside, half expecting Kobi to watch TV or learn some recipes, with several plasters covering his hands and a hammer lying abandoned on the floor.

Imagine how I felt when I came home to find him and Ruby in this very obvious position.

I couldn’t trust my eyes. Was he doing what I thought he was doing? The door fell shut behind me, and Kobi looked up, complete horror showing on his face. Oh Berry. It really is what it looks like, isn’t it? I could feel myself go numb inside.

“Whisper, I- Oh Berry, let me explain wh-” He sounded mortified, and his voice was shaking.

“Be quiet.” I could feel how everything I had felt for years now slowly drained out of my body until there was nothing left but anger. I felt completely empty inside, apart from the slowly growing anger that started burning inside of me, and which slowly made its way to my heart.

It didn’t take long for it to reach its destination, and I unleashed my fury towards Ruby.

“What on earth are you doing with my husband?” Before I even finished that sentence I felt my rage burn brighter. It was fairly obvious what she was doing with my husband, wasn’t it?

“Whisper, I-” Just the fact that she had started her meaningless excuse the same way as Kobi made me feel sick. Were they still this connected? How long had this been going on? Had he been cheating on me for months, or maybe even years?

Her voice was poison to my ears, and I had to fight very hard for some self-control.

“Get out.” I didn’t know how my voice sounded this calm, but it didn’t matter. Nothing mattered anymore.

“Please, if you just-”

“How dare you! Get out of my house, and don’t you dare set foot in here ever again!” I tried my hardest not to shout, though I didn’t know why I bothered. My voice was shaking. My whole body was shaking with rage.

I waited until I heard the door close behind her. Then I turned to Kobi.

“How could you, Kobi? How?” My anger was slowly fading, and I could feel sadness bubbling up to replace it. It was getting harder to control my voice, but I wasn’t going to cry. Not while he was still here.

“Whisper, please… I am so sorry! Please, if you just let me explain I-”

“What is there to explain? There is nothing you can say to me that will make this better!”

“But I-” He sounded so desperate, and I could have sworn I heard disappointment in his voice. How could he possibly be disappointed when he was the one who had cheated on me?

“No but, Kobi! I don’t care what you have to say, you kissed Ruby! You promised me it was over!”

“I did, and I promise you I-” His voice was pleading with me to hear him out, to give him a chance to explain, but my own voice was slowly starting to shake harder. I was not going to cry and show him just how much he had really hurt me. I just wasn’t.

You promise? I can see how much your last promise meant to you!” My eyes were beginning to sting, and I could feel how I was losing control over my emotions. “Please, just… get out.”

“You don’t mean that.”

“Please. Leave.” And he did. With his head hanging low he walked straight past me, and left.

I waited until the door was shut behind him, then I burst into tears.

The man who I thought had loved me had just walked out of my life. My sobs were getting harder rapidly, with each one I could feel my heart break a little more until there was nothing left to break.

All emotions had left me. I was completely empty.

1.14

“I’m not phoning you too late, am I? I can phone you back if I woke you up or if -”

“Don’t be silly, I don’t care what time it is! But if you must know, I’m up anyway. Illusion just left for school.” It was so good to hear his voice! Since we had gotten married, or really since Kobi had moved in, we had not spent one night apart. The closest to this we had ever come was on my Bachelorette party, when I eventually made it home somewhen in the morning.

Even then we had still spent some hours together in bed, even if I was too passed out to remember any of it. I was not used to Kobi being gone the whole night, and I still had six more night left to go. It had taken me awhile to fall asleep, and when I had eventually fallen asleep I had kept waking up and felt restless while I was awake.

“Good, I’m glad I’m not keeping you awake.” The truth was, I had been up for several hours. Around 5am I found it impossible to get back to sleep, and got up earlier than usually.

“Are you at your hotel yet? How is everything?” I had seen a few photos of Egypt and would have liked to come along. I didn’t want him to think I was miserable staying behind though, so I didn’t mention it to him.

“Yes, I’m here now. It’s beautiful, Whisper, you would love it! I can see the pyramids from where I’m staying, and the market isn’t far away either. It’s late afternoon here, but I’m thinking about taking a walk down and see what sort of things they are selling.”

“That sounds beautiful, Kobi. Take some photos for me before you’re leaving, alright?”

“Will do! How is everyone? I trust the kids are behaving?” I gave a little chuckle, because in that very moment I could hear the first sounds of their usual morning chatter coming from their room.

“So far they have been perfect little angels, but they are only just waking up now. We’ve got some more speech training planned for today, same as usual.”

“I be they’re going to love that! Listen, I don’t want this phone bill to get more expensive than it has to be. I’ll phone you again in the evenings, and before I’m leaving.”

“Of course, my love, don’t worry. You must be aching to see the market!”

“I’ll be sure to take some photos for you.” I could hear his smile through the phone, and it made me smile in return. “I’ll speak to you later, Whisper. I’m sure the triplets want your attention by now.”

“They do. Have some fun for me?”

“I’ll do my best! I love you!”

“I love you, too!” Then he hang up, and not one moment too early.

“Mummy! Let me out!” It was amazing how loud a little toddler could shout when he wanted your attention. I got all three of them dressed, and gave them their bottle, before taking Brink into the kitchen with me.

I didn’t know why, but he seemed more willing to learn to talk in the kitchen, and would not say a word until I sat down on the floor with him. I can’t say I understood his preference, but there was no denying that he learned faster there, and before I knew it he was talking up a storm.

“Mummy, Daddy home?”

“Soon, sweatheart.” I wasn’t sure what else to tell him. Would he understand it if I told him “only six more days”? Would he know how much longer that would mean?

“Want daddy, mummy.”

“I know, my love, me too.”

Illusion had found himself his first proper hate subject. I remembered when I was in school, I could not stand doing maths! Illusion was a smart child though, so we always imagined he would do brilliantly at maths and everything else including numbers. Which he was, his new found hate came from somewhere else.

“This is soo hard! I don’t know what to do with this!”

“What is it you have to do?” Dreading that his answer might be “I have to solve this equation with y” or something along those lines, I carefully peaked over his shoulder. To my relief, it was nothing like that.

“My teacher wants us to write this stupid story about a bunny that gets lost and has to find its way back home. She wants us to write what happens to the bunny on its way back home, but I don’t know! What do I write, mum?” I never imagined that a creative subject would give him a headache, but there he was, looking absolutely desperate.

“Hmmm… What have you got so far?” I wanted to help him, but I also didn’t want to do it for him.

“Nothing much. I wrote that the bunny meets another bunny, and he shows him the way back home, but that sounds so stupid!”

“I don’t think it sounds stupid.” He looked up at me with tired, disbelieving eyes. “How are they getting back home? Do they have to go somewhere… dangerous?”

“Somewhere dangerous? You mean… like… a dark forest?”

I gave him my best encouraging smile. “Yes, that sounds great!” He gave me a smile that told me he was grateful I tried, but didn’t think it would work.

“Thanks, mum. I guess I better finish this.”

The rest of the week went by in a very similar way. Illusion would go to school, I would spend most of the day teaching the triplets and Illusion would come home doing his homework while I would talk to his father on the phone. Illusion had handed in his homework about the bunny, but did not know when his teacher would mark it. Fortunately for him, there was no more creative writing waiting for him for the rest of the week.

One evening, as I was just getting ready for bed, I heard a sound coming from our living room. It could not have been Illusion, because he had already gone to bed about an hour ago, and it definitely couldn’t be the babies, because I had already put them to bed, and they weren’t old enough to leave their cribs on their own.

Kobi was not supposed to leave Egypt for another day and seven hours yet, and it was too late to have visitors.

Thinking that maybe Illusion had left the TV on, I went to switch it off. Imagine my surprise when Kobi was standing in our living room!

“Hello there, beautiful! Did you miss me?” It felt so good to have him back home that I instantly threw myself into his arms.

“Kobi! What are you doing home already? I thought- I thought-”

“I finished learning the recipes yesterday, so there was no more point in staying longer. I figured you might prefer to have me home, and I missed you and the kids.” This was without a doubt the best surprise I had ever had.

“It’s so good to have you back home! How was it?” I was so eager to know everything about his trip, and see the photos he had promised he would take for me.

“It was beautiful, my love. You would have loved being there! I know it’s not the same, and actually has nothing at all to do with Egypt, but I bought you a present on the market. I really hope you’ll like it.”

He handed me the most beautiful white box with a lovely red bow around it. It felt relatively heavy, but wasn’t that big, so I couldn’t guess what was inside it.

“A present? Kobi, you didn’t have to! Can we even afford this?”

“I thought, since your birthday kind of went by unnoticed I should get you something. Then one morning I was walking over the market and saw this on offer, and I thought of you. Open it, I really want to know what you think.” I was too curious to wait any longer, so I opened the bow and the box – and my heart made a small jump. The box contained a camera, and it wasn’t a cheap one, either!

“A camera? I love it, Kobi! Thank you!” For the second time since he had gotten home I threw myself into his arms. I didn’t feel quite so tired anymore, and happily let him carry me into our bedroom.

In the months to follow, life returned to normal. Kobi still enjoyed cooking all our family meals for us, and had received the promised promotion at work. With the extra money that was now coming in I thought it might be time to think about expanding our home. The triplet’s birthdays were coming closer, and Illusion was also getting excited to celebrate his birthday even tough it was still a little while away.

So one evening over dinner, we decided it was time to invest some money into our house.

We built a nice big room for the triplets and used up the rest of the wallpaper that we had initially bought for Illusion’s room.

We didn’t have much money left at the end for toys, but bought a rug very similar to the one in Illusion’s room.

Also, Kobi tried out my present on myself. He took a portrait of me, had it printed in a rather large format and insisted on hanging it up in our living room. I loved it, and wondered what other photos we might add to the collection.

I was about to get back to work, and with Kobi’s promotion things were definitely looking great.