All too soon, Gustave’s visit came to an end. Even though she knew the day would come, Evelyn was loath to let him return to his home.“Do you really have to go?” Evelyn asked sadly. Gustave tightened his arms around her, wordlessly trying to reassure her.
“You know I have to,” he gently reminded her. “Believe me, I would like nothing more than to stay here with you and the kids, but I have responsibilities back in Champs Les Sims.” He pulled away and took her hand in his, staring deeply into her eyes. “Right now, I simply cannot abandon those responsibilities.”
Evelyn sighed and dropped his hand. “I know,” she admitted softly before giving him a wan little smile. “Promise you’ll stay in contact though?”
Gustave pulled her into his arms again. “Always,” he promised with conviction in his voice. With that and another tender kiss, he left, leaving Evelyn behind with the two children.
Evelyn was saddened by his departure, but at least she still had something of him. As always, their child managed to cheer her up simply by being her normal, cheerful self.Not long after Gustave left, Evelyn received another temporary guest. Ariko had finally graduated from High School and returned to Evelyn’s house for the day to spend some time with her sister and thank her once again for supporting her. With a slightly more mature look, Ariko looked ready to step into the world of adulthood. Her time at Fort Starch Military School appeared to have done a lot of good in helping the slightly irresponsible teen to mature.
“Ariko!” Evelyn exclaimed and pulled her youngest sister into a hug. “How have you been?”
Ariko smiled happily in response to the question. “Good! Fort Starch was…amazing. It was very tough and hard, but still really amazing. I’m really glad you sent me there,” the younger woman enthused.
Evelyn smiled at her sister, glad that things had managed to turn out so well. Her thoughts turned to the baby still sleeping peacefully in her crib in the children’s room.
“I suppose you want to see Mia?” Evelyn suggested, indicating towards the direction of the children’s room. A complicated expression settled onto Ariko’s face as she stared silently at Evelyn for a couple of seconds.
“Not particularly, no,” Ariko confessed uncomfortably. Evelyn raised her eyebrows, slightly surprised at the woman’s confession.
“Why not?” Evelyn questioned curiously. Ariko hesitated slightly before she answered.
“You were right, you know,” she admitted. “Back when I gave her to you, you told me that she’s not my child anymore. You were right. She’s not mine anymore, and I don’t want to needlessly complicate her life. You’re her mother, not me.”
Evelyn frowned slightly. “Are you sure?” Evelyn questioned, slightly hesitant. Ariko gave her a small smile and a decisive nod.
“Let her believe that you are her mother,” Ariko pleaded. “I don’t want her to grow up with the knowledge that her mother didn’t want her.”
Evelyn shook her head, refusing the request. “I can’t do that, Ariko,” she refused. “It wouldn’t be fair towards either her or my own child. I adopted her, so she is my daughter now, but I will not raise her to think that I am her biological mother.”
Ariko sighed and nodded, accepting Evelyn’s choice. “Then, at the very least, don’t tell her that I am her mother,” she requested. “I don’t want her to see anybody but you as her mother.”
Evelyn studied the woman in front of her before nodding slightly, wordlessly agreeing to Ariko’s request.
They spent the rest of the day discussing Ariko’s plans for the future and the next day, the younger woman departed for the small community where they both grew up in. Evelyn was still not convinced that Ariko’s decision was the best for little Mia, but she promised not to tell the girl about her real mother, not unless the girl had a genuine interest in meeting her. Evelyn just hoped that the decision wouldn’t come back to bite them one day.
Soon enough, it was Mia’s birthday. She aged into a pretty little toddler with her biological mother’s hair and eyes, but her face resembled her unknown father’s features more than her mother’s. Even so, she was still a beautiful little girl.
Evelyn soon discovered that Mia was completely different than Chantia. While Chantia was enraptured with the xylophone, Mia preferred the blocks. She loved playing with it, shaking her hands excitedly and smiling brightly whenever she managed to get another block inside the little wooden box.
Another difference was the girl’s temper and attention span. Teaching Chantia her essential skills had been a joy to Evelyn, but with Mia is was incredibly difficult, as the girl usually either lost attention or threw a huge fit.Still, Evelyn tried her best to remain patient and eventually Mia had learned her words and how to use the potty. While Evelyn was incredibly glad about it, Chantia was a little less impressed. She didn’t like that her mommy spent more time with the girl she said was Chantia’s sister than with her.
She pulled on her mother’s shirt. “Mommy, can you read to me?” Chantia begged, clumsily offering her mother the book. Evelyn glanced at her.
“Not now, sweetie. I’m a bit busy right now.” With that the woman returned her attention to the girl sitting in front of her. Chantia’s bottom lip trembled slightly, but instead of crying she just sat down beside her mother. Her mommy wouldn’t ignore her if she sat beside her, like her little sister was. Her mommy would praise her when she noticed Chantia reading the difficult book on her own.
She didn’t. Her mommy didn’t even look at her, not once! A frown creased Chantia’s brow before she stood up and angrily stomped away from her mother. Maybe if she hid away from her, her mommy would come to find her! Convinced that the idea would work, Chantia walked away, deciding to hide in her mother’s room.
Unfortunately for her, her plan never got that far. Once she entered the room and noticed the basket standing in the corner, she forgot completely about her plan. Fascinated, she walked over to it with wide eyes. Was it the laundry basket her mommy told her about? Would it attack her? She stared at it for a long time before she decided that no, it wouldn’t.
Her eyes widened as a thought occurred to her. Maybe there were other things in the house to see! Excited, she left the room, eager to see what other mysteries the house held.
She saw something moving in the kitchen. Curious, she decided to follow it, trying to find out exactly what it was. It passed through the kitchen door. Chantia reached up to the handle and turned it, opening the door and eagerly followed the moving thing out of the house.
The moving thing kept remaining slightly in front of her, keeping Chantia’s attention. She followed it all the way to the chess table, but when she finally reached it, it disappeared. Chantia remained standing in front of the chess table, waiting for the strange thing to reappear with the steadily falling snow slowly settling onto her shoulders.
She remained standing in the cold until her mother frantically found her and swept her up into her arms, but Chantia paid no attention to her mother. Somehow, she knew it was not the last she had seen of the strange moving thing.