In my thirties, I discovered the joys of being a parent.  And the pains.  Looking back now, it feels like even those pains are beautiful. 



Honestly, now that he had reached the cabin, he was at a loss for what to do. Tytha seemed to have the repairs in hand. While he hadn't expected any occupants, he certainly didn't expect a banshee. Really, she doesn't seem evil, likely some kind of quest NPC. She hasn't attacked again and she was likely just as startled by me as I was by her.

So what am I doing here? I joined the game in the heat of the moment to distract me from what's going on with my daughter but do I really want to play? Sure, Bert wants me to play, but this is really his type of game. I don't want to do chores... or I guess they call them "quests", and I don't want to run a guild. I have no desire to change the world or build something grand. Really what I want to do is spend time with my kids and grandkids... and great-grandkids? Charles thought carefully. I remember being told I had a great-grandson and great-granddaughter but... was it a friend telling me? Shit, what were their names again?

Charles stood and started angrily pacing... sure it was a very slow angry pace, but it was what he was doing.

Dammit, my wife wouldn't have forgotten their names. Would have had birthdays and wedding dates and divorces and all of it memorized like a goddamn sticky note. If they still make sticky notes. She would have given me so much shaming for forgetting I would have had to take a walk to calm down.

After he paced several times, he finally calmed down. A quick glance at the banshee showed her concerned face.

"What are you looking at?" Charles grumped at her. She looked away and hid her face behind her hair. Charles didn't notice though; he had more important things to do than care about a fake person's feelings. Like remember if I have great-grandkids.

Charles sat back down with a huff and opened his contacts searching under his family until he found his eldest son's son's contact.

Charles III

Last contact: 2 years 5 months 3 days.

Huh, I know I talked to him more recently than that, didn't I? Virtual Thanksgiving dinner? Charles reached up his finger to make the call but paused before touching the icon. Do I have the right kid? He is the oldest grandkid, but that doesn't mean much. It'll be embarrassing if it's not him. Eh, it's not like he's gonna pick up anyway. Young men always have more important things to do than talk to their grandparents.

Parent. Grandparent.

With a resigned sigh, he hit the icon and watched as it highlighted neon blue and faded several times before it offered a chance to leave a message. Charles declined. He might be embarrassed to ask about the potential great-grandkids, but he would do it. What he wouldn't do is leave a video recording the question to be passed around for chuckles next Virtual Thanksgiving.

With a hmmph, Charles went back to sit on the floor of the porch again and watched Tytha work. Since his distraction, she had somehow turned the trees to planks and was measuring and cutting them. Industrious young woman there. Just looking at her made him feel tired all over again.

He glanced over at the banshee who looked back. "So, you got a name?"

In response, she nodded.

"Me too." He said, and then watched Tytha some more. The damn woman was wagging her tail and humming cheerfully. It's like a bad dream. I bet she'll skip into the house and hammer the nails with a beat. What's wrong with young people? Most don't know what real work is and the ones that do, act stupidly happy to do it. When I was that young, I dreaded hard work like any normal person should.

Having his maximum fill of viewing someone with a good mood, he decided to prod the ghost. Who knows, maybe she'll leave if I ask her to. Isn't like she's been doing anything here.

"So, I reckon, you been here a long time?" Charles asked slowly.

The ghostly apparition nodded.

"So, it's about time for you to leave then? See the world?"

She stared for a moment and then slowly shook her head no. Her hair followed her movements as if it was floating underwater.

It was worth a try.

"Well... I figured that I'll be moving in and staying a while. Gonna have my kids and grandkids come visit. Soon, I hope..."

The woman looked interested but didn't say anything. Damn, just like a psychologistAlready this conversation is tiring. I'll finish it later.

Charles never did finish his earlier thoughts about why he was playing the game.  It started as a way for me to distract myself and an opportunity to find another way to visit with my family.  I guess I'll give it a week or so and see what happens.   Playing isn't really worse than sitting around watching old movies.   Let me put a reminder in the calendar...

When the calendar opened, Charles mentally kicked himself.  Sure his wife would have known when the kids and grandkids and maybe great grandkids birthdays were from the top of her head, but Charles, he'd have put them in the calendar so it reminded him!  He began urgently, though not necessarily quickly, looking for the kid's birthdays.   Mentally filtering it, he found them all.  Unless there was a new one I didn't add... shaking away the thought, he eyed the grandkids names carefully, mentally adding pictures to the reminders and trying to figure out who was who.

Let's see... Charles II, he had four grandkids, Charles III, Lily, Lara, and Cynthia.  William didn't have any.  Diana had two, Eric and Erin.  They're both in college... no, they would have graduated by now.  Hell, all my grandkids are old enough to have kids. Maybe they have a profile on something I can look for...

Charles was interrupted in his thoughts by hammering from inside the house.  When did she walk by me?  Charles didn't care too much for the sounds of hammering and reached the decision to go for a walk.  Most noises seemed to interrupt his thoughts and it was becoming a real annoyance being around folks. 

As he was standing, he saw a very short man dashing out from the forest fleeing from a four-armed brute.


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