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 "At first I thought I was a shadow to the world.

Sadly my thoughts were wrong. Even a shadow casts darkness into the world. How I would long to even be something like that, even if it meant I was wrong. Anything would be better than being trapped as nothing. Nothing at all..."

-Unknown

Eric:

Please let us find a park close to the manor. I was praying so hard my hands were clasped together, a remnant from my childhood. Jane gave me a queer look before returning her eyes to the side of the road outside her parents house. "I can't see any free spaces."

"None at all?!" I cried. I tried lifting my head up as high as possible to see over the barrage of cars that surrounded us. "Why is your family so big?"
"Because we really, really enjoy procreation," she laughed, "It's just because everyone is bringing their friends is all."

"Well, they need to have less friends. The whole town is basically here." 

Eventually we found a park five minutes down the road. My legs were already cramping from the thought of having to walk. I know, you'd think I was a spoilt child...and I really had been these past two years during college. It was all trains and trams in the big city. I guess the days of being lazy were over.

As soon as I stepped out the vehicle, my legs planted themselves in the gutter, where a stream of water was flowing down. I looked at Jane in sorrow but she showed me no sympathy. "You know you're a child, right?"

"I want to go home," I whined sarcastically, getting onto the footpath and flicking the water off my shoe.

"You are home," Jane snickered. "Now come on, unless you want it to start pouring again." She shouldn't have mentioned the idea, for just as we reached the gate to her house, spats of water starting hitting the top of our heads. We made a mad rush to the manor, our legs dashing across the muddy road. The front porch was huge, covered in the muddy shoes of other guests. The house was multiple stories high, and the land spanned wide and far. This home had been in her family for generations, and the age showed, with vines climbing the walls and the grey exterior falling victim to tufts of white fungi.

As Jane rung the doorbell, I wiped my shoes on the doormat and stood beside her patiently. Vanessa was the one to open the door. The eldest sister of Jane, she was rather gaunt looking, with skinny arms and a prominent jawline. Her light blue eyes were huge and her neck stood like a podium, holding up a bobble head. Her black hair her was left dangling freely, merging seemlessly with her forest green dress. She looked like a Victorian doll.

When she saw me, her eyes lit up and she flung forward, embracing me in exactly the same way Jane had done when I arrived. "It's been so long," she exclaimed. "The last time I saw you, you were so little...and pimply. Now you're all grown up and rather handsome. Jane, if you won't have him, can I?"

"Be my guest," Jane said walking inside, "Him and his childish behaviour are all yours." Her laugh echoed as she walked through the house.

Vanessa let go and smiled. "She seems rather cheerful you're back."

"Isn't she usually this cheerful," I asked as I was directed to the party.

Vanessa sighed. "Usually, yes, however recently she's been a little down. Ever since moving in with Gary. I told her being in his company all the time wouldn't do her well. I'm glad she brought you along and not him." Her voice seemed rather resentful towards our friend. It was to my gathering her sister didn't approve of Jane's crush. I couldn't blame her. It was going on six years now and still, nothing had amounted.

We made our way through the house and into the backyard where they had set up a pavilion of sorts, using white tarps to stop the rain. Beneath, everyone sat at benches which had been put together for dinner. The area was full of noise and laughter. There were at least a hundred people present and it made me nervous. I couldn't even see Jane in the crowd so I ended up clinging to Vanessa like a lost boy, eventually sitting down beside her. We had just begun conversing with the third sister, Ariel as Jane found her way to my side. "I was looking everywhere for you," she sighed.

"Sorry," I replied, "I thought staying put would be the easiest way to find me."

Ariel squealed at her sister. "Jane, look at this," she commanded with glee. She shot her hand forward and wriggled her fingers intensely, drawing half the crowd in. A ring bounced out shining, even in the dismal weather. A blue sapphire in the shape of an oval was the main attraction, with a simple silver frame. "Ryan finally did it, he proposed!"

Jane's couldn't contain herself, stealing the hand, and pressing the ring as close to her face as possible. A few seocnds later she lifted her head with her mouth agape. "Tell me everything." As the story goes, they were on a wine tour, and it was within the grape vines that surrounded them, that he bent to his knee and pulled out the ring. It was everything to her, even if she wasn't the most sober. She was never one for going 'all out' on occasions so this simple proposal meant the world to her.

"When he bent down on his knee, at first I thought he was joking," she recalled. "I nearly bloody slapped the fool, and then I saw the ring."

"She broke down," Vanessa interjected. Ariel sneered at her sister.

From behind us, the sweet angelic voice of their mother sung out to us. "Vanessa, don't ruin the story." The daughter replied only with a giggle. Kathryn directed her voice to me. "Eric, it's so good to see you. I haven't been in touch with your family for so long. How is your mother?"

She came around and sat on the opposite side of the table. "She's doing well," I replied. "The city life suits her."

"That's surprising," she said, with a raised eyebrow. "I never took her as such a person as to enjoy the hustle of those places, especially as she grew up on a farm with that family of hers. She was always so quiet. I still remember she looked so frail when she first came to our highschool. She had no idea what was happening, being educated at home all her life."

I smiled at the thought of my mother. She sounded so different to the woman I knew today. Now she was a strong-willed woman, running her own publishing industry, with a personality that exuded confidence and dominance. If she wanted something, she was determined to have it. "She's changed for sure."

"Especially after the divorce," Kathryn said. She apologised as soon as she said it. "You know I love your father more than anyone, but the two of them just were set on different paths."

"It's fine," I tried to smile. Kathryn had a tendency to say things exactly how she perceived them. She lacked the social skills to be more civilised if that was the word. However, I had grown up with this abrupt honesty, so I wasn't taken aback too much...yet.

"How is Daniel going," she asked. "I know I should visit him more, but things get so hectic with the busines; I don't have the time to even eat these days."

"I havent seen my father yet," I replied.

"What, why?" She looked absolutely shocked. It seems she didn't quite realise just how long I had been here for. Jane went on to explain this to her mother.

She laughed outrageously at her own stupidity. "Silly me. I'll be in the mental home next, I swear it. Poor Daniel. I do miss him."

It was the first time I had thought about my father being mentioned as a mental patient since the divorce a couple years ago. It was one of those things I tried to ignore as much as possible. It was easier to forget, than to remember where he was. Yet hearing it, made me feel phsyically sick. I suddenly felt horrible for pretending nothing had happened at all. What kind of son was I to pretend the predicament he was in, didn't exist. I didn't know what to think of myself. What made it worse, was the fact that the thought of seeing him hadn't crossed my mind until now.

I tapped my fingers on the table, wondering how he would feel if he knew his child hadn't thought about him for two years being locked up, without a sense of freedom. It was cruel of me. What made it worse was Kathryn laughing about the matter as if it was all okay. She was just as blind as I was. We were cruel.

I suddenly felt small and overcrowded. I realised that we were sitting in the middle of everyone. The noise seemed to grow louder, closer, and my own thoughts we getting confused within all the chatter. It was the shame. I didn't deserve to be here. Without thinking I stood out of my chair. "I'll be back in a moment," I promised before heading to the manor in silent turmoil.

 

"I think I may be in some kind of dream. I see the leaves blow, however there is no cool breeze to feel. Although my feet are planted firmly on the ground, I do not feel the friction between my feet and land. It is as if my nerves are dead. I can touch a tree, a rock, even the sea, but do not feel the brittlness of the bark, or the cool smoothness of the waves..."

-Unknown.

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