tagNonHumanNostalgia Ch. 06

Nostalgia Ch. 06

byDreamerByTheDiamonds©

Author's Note: There's a character's surname, which is Takagi, but I think I might have misspelled it somewhere. Sorry about that. I tried to catch all the misspellings, but I might have missed some. I'm stupid sometimes.

*****

Mason and Kennedy's birthdays were two days apart. So, they liked to celebrate both their birthdays on the same day. They scheduled an informal dinner party. Ana looked forward to going. She had two presents wrapped up for the occasion, a bottle of wine and a pearl bracelet with a single cabochon birthstone.

It was a lovely autumn afternoon, sharp and cool. Ana drove up to her parents' two story house located just outside a suburb, far enough for privacy and close enough for socialization, if desired. Ana saw a very expensive looking wagon of a car, and there was also saw a red sports car.

The Williamsons and the Dalcas. Of course.

What an interesting circle of friends.

Worrying that she might be late, Ana parked her car and collected her presents. When she was at the front door, she heard laughter. She pressed her fingertip against a doorbell, which alerted everyone in inside with a cheerful noise.

Kennedy answered the door and gave Ana a hug that felt and smelled like a beloved old pillow. "Thanks for coming. Oh, you brought presents? You didn't have to!"

Well, she certainly did, otherwise she'd never forgive herself.

Ana wasn't late after all. Dinner was served as soon as her parents opened the presents. In the cozy dining room, Ana ended up sitting across from a certain someone, someone she remained civil yet cold to.

The man with green eyes, green with gray.

The man with a nose like a claw.

Did Mihai notice that he was often looking at her?

Hell, did Ana's dad notice?

As for Mr. Williamson, at least she was pretty sure that he had given up on trying to get her attention. He hadn't invited her to any events, hadn't even texted her. Maybe he found someone else to flirt with. Maybe he reconciled with his wife? The couple seemed functional enough, but they could have been faking it for all Ana knew.

Goodness, Mrs. Williamson certainly had a pretty bracelet, a gold bangle with pink and white stones. Ana had to compliment the woman. The need was practically in her blood.

"Oh, this thing?" Jennifer Williamson said as she held her wrist up. "I don't know. I was thinking of pawning it off."

Mr. Williamson made a noticeably hurt expression, and a choking little snort came from him, but he held down whatever emotion he had wanted to show, and took a huge bite of food. Ana wondered if she was the only one who noticed that.

When it was time to go, Ana thought that she had to refrain from looking back at Vlad Dalca. It put a curiously mucus-like sensation in her throat and stomach, but it was for the best.

Still, Ana knew that man was still looking at her like ... like she was pretty damn important.

Some days later, Ana received a phone call from, of all people, Mihai Dalca. He had asked Kennedy for Ana's number. With a happy, yet imploring voice, he invited Ana to his birthday party, and then to his father's birthday, which was a couple of days from his birthday.

Ana was tempted to hop and skip at the opportunity. It would be an excellent chance to explore the famous mansion those Dalcas lived in. Besides, Mihai was a nice fellow ... and Vlad was intriguing.

And besides, Mihai did recently buy her a crap-ton of delicious, oh so delicious garbage food.

Uncertain, Ana made a sound like, "Ahhhhhmmmm ...?"

To her surprise, Mihai said with a calm, understanding voice, "You don't have to come. My dad's interested in you, and while I don't know how you feel about that, I do know that you might be uncomfortable."

Ana nearly dropped her phone. Then she stubbed her toe on a coffee table. "Ow!"

"Are you alright?"

"Yeah! Yeah, I'm fine." She folded her legs onto her living room floor, painfully kneeling. "Are you ... are you angry at me? I'm younger than you. I don't want you think that I'm the sort of person that exploits older men with money."

"What could you possibly do? Could you seduce him into granting me an inheritance?"

"Huh? He's not planning on leaving anything to you?"

"Why would he? He's already given me enough money to keep me in comfort forever. Anyway, if he doesn't get married, he might just leave everything to some random charity, but not out of kindness. He'd do it just to feel better about himself."

"Uhm ... well ... okay, but please don't gossip about me and your dad."

"Why would I? I'm not the type. Are you worried about what your parents would think?"

Ana sighed so heavily that her whole torso felt scratched and raw on the inside. "I think so, but I'm worried about a few other things too."

"I'll assume that's none of my business. Well, I'm disappointed that you won't come to our parties, but it's okay. I'm not mad at you. I hope to see you again, though. Goodbye."

"Okay, thanks." Ana said. "Goodbye."

***

Crumbling, fragile little leaves at the mercy of human feet, broken and dry, ground into the grass and pavement, they were simple things, pretty things, and they had Ana thinking of pumpkin pie and lazy naps.

The park was so lovely.

A jog with a sweater, it was a good thing. It helped to keep her heart active and her brain comforted. No need for old fashioned workout videos or new fashioned waist trainers, which was just another way of saying corsets in Ana's opinion. She thought that any modern woman who willingly wore a corset in the hopes of losing weight was likely a dumbass. Those things didn't magically take weight away. They just squished your body into something unnatural.

"But," Ana thought as she paused near a tree and caught her breath, "there are lots of unnatural things that are really good. Modern medicine. Flushing toilets. Sex toys. And cooking. Cooking's probably the best thing in the world."

Continuing with her jog, Ana let her mind relax and her muscles work. Her world was cool yet it also burned. Her ears were stinging. Her hair was flinging around in its ponytail.

"Ana!"

She halted and turned around. It was Mihai, wearing his own sweater and sweatpants, his hair up in a bun. He waved at her and approached with a grin. Then he kissed her cheeks. "I'm glad to see you. I was planning on calling you today."

"How was your birthday?" Ana asked as she reached back and tried to smooth out her hair.

"It was pretty nice, I ate a cake shaped like an electric guitar. Dad's birthday was nice too. I got him a round cake with a landscape painted on the perimeter."

"Were there any party games?"

"I pinned a donkey's tail to my dad's ass." Mihai's cheeks rose and his gray eyes shone. "Then he punched my arm. That was on my birthday."

Ana folded her arms. "What did you do on his birthday?"

"I played a drinking game with him. He won."

"Oh, that sounds like fun." Ana didn't think it was something she'd ever do, though.

"Very fun." His smile shrunk a bit. "So, what are your plans for Halloween?"

That was an easy question to answer. "I'm going to put on a costume and give candy out to the neighbor kids."

One of his hands rose and flourished to one side. "Would you mind if I visited? I don't think any children will come to my house, but I'd love to give them candy."

Frowning, Ana asked, "What about your dad?"

Mihai shrugged. "He said he was going to find a bar and drink until he can't walk. I'm glad I found a chauffeur for him."

"Are you worried about him?"

"Ah, no more than usual."

Ana assumed that was a positive statement.

***

Wearing a costume that mimicked a concept of a ghost, a dirty white dress and flesh covered with milky white paint and occasional false blood, Ana Davis sat on an ottoman she had dragged into the little foyer. Mihai was on a collapsible metal chair across from her, dressed like a kind of Grim Reaper, with a skull-like mask over his eyes and a Styrofoam scythe leaning on a wall. The ceiling light above them was bright and not very spooky at all.

They had so much candy that there was no way they could get rid of it all by trick or treating. So, they were munching on the sweets as they waited for more children to arrive.

"That kid dressed like an angel was funny," Mihai said as he took a sip of water and then popped some bubble gum into his mouth.

"Yeah. I snuck an extra chocolate bar into her bucket." Ana put a gummy candy in her mouth and started chewing.

Mihai blew a small bubble. Then he popped and licked it back behind his teeth. "It's pretty late. Do you think we'll have anymore visitors?"

"It's not too late. Let's keep waiting."

He nodded and pulled his black hood away from his head. His hair needed a good combing. "Hey, what's your favorite candy?"

A rough swallow, fingers rustling and searching in a bowl for something else to eat, and Ana replied, "Anything with fruit flavors."

There was a knock at the door. The two people got up and answered the door. A set of parents were behind a set of twin boys. They were all dressed like jack-o-lanterns.

"Trick or treat!" They held up their bags and their grins.

Mihai cooed down to them, "Oh, you guys have nice costumes!" He even reached down to pat each boy's head while Ana put a handful of candy in each bag.

"Thank you!" one boy said.

"Thank you!" said the other.

As the boys left the stoop, Ana turned to Mihai and said, "I think we can stop now. Do you want to stay for a bit?"

Opening up another piece of candy, Mihai answered, "I'd love to. Let's just watch some silly YouTube videos."

"Do you like watching Let's Plays?"

Mihai put his gum in a wrapper and a chocolate thing on his tongue. "Yeah. Better than watching TV."

Ana's laptop was hooked up to a big TV so that they could watch a Japanese person play a horror game with English voice acting and Japanese subtitles. The two sat on a couch and focused on eating something other than candy, buttery microwave popcorn and sugar free lemonade that came from a two liter bottle.

"Ah ha ha ha! Hey," Mihai said at one point, laughing so hard that Ana thought he might explode, "did that girl just say fucking?!"

"She said, 'Atashi mou fucking," Ana clarified. She said the word fucking with a cutesy, high pitched voice, as the Japanese gamer had done.

"Oh, so she was trying to say, 'I'm fucking too?'"

"I think she doesn't quite know what fuck or fucking means, so she's just trying to use the word the best she can to help her learn." The video ended then, but before Ana thought to go to the next video, she asked Mihai, "Do you know any Japanese?"

After a swallow of lemonade, and a satisfied hiss of a breath, Mihai told her, "I have a basic understanding, I think, but I'm not about to brag about it."

"How did you learn it?"

A shrug. "I've traveled around a lot. It was a useful thing to know when I was in Kyoto. What about you? How did you learn?"

"I went to high school in Tokyo. My uncle is an English teacher there." Ana took a sip of her drink, smiled, and leaned over her laptop. "I'm lucky to have had such a good life. I still have a good life." She clicked on the next video.

After several more fun videos, Mihai announced that he needed to go home. He patted her arm and gave a gentle goodbye.

Mihai really was a nice guy.

As she cleaned everything up, she thought to herself, "I really did have a good upbringing. My Dad, my Mama, and Kennedy too." They all have been so loving, and she had been given a wonderful childhood, better than some could hope for.

But some children had parents that ... well ... were disgusting monsters ...

Takagi ...

Ana put her butt on her sofa and lazily stared at her TV. YouTube was still there, blazing at her, lighting up the dark room.

Takagi-san ...

A sad little teenage girl ...

Wearing glasses.

Her hair mostly chopped and cut away, with bald spots.

Scars all over her face and arms, thin scars, scars from what had to be a knife or something similar.

"That's not right, Davis-san," she had said with an eerily calm voice. "Father didn't do this to me. That was someone else, but that's not something I worry about anymore."

Ana closed her eyes and sucked air through her teeth as she remembered that girl's placid voice.

"But, what father did ... please promise you won't tell anyone. It's too shameful."

A sweet, gentle girl.

"I trust you, Davis-san." And she smiled then. "And you can call me Chou-chan if you want."

Even though Takagi-san asked her not to tell anyone, even though Takagi-san was her friend, even though she didn't want to betray her trust, Ana decided that she should go to a police station. She didn't know if there were any phone numbers for any special organizations for this sort of problem. She just thought that if she went to the police, that would be enough.

But the next time Ana was at school, Takagi wasn't there, and someone told her that she had committed suicide. Her shoes were left on the roof of the apartment building she lived in.

Ana still wondered if she should have done something ... asked more questions ... anything ...

If Takagi-san was alive and in a situation similar to Ana's ... she would be grateful, and she'd accept every opportunity for happiness, even short term happiness.

How ... how foolish it would be to deny oneself happiness!

Right?

***

A phone call, Ana was the one who made it.

"Hello?"

"Hello? Mihai? How are you?"

Mihai's voice was so bright. "I'm fantastic! I'm glad you called. Are you alright?"

Ana sat down at her work desk and nervously twirled a pencil in her fingers. "Yeah, uhm ... so I was wondering about something."

"Hm? What is it?"

"Have my parents invited you to Thanksgiving dinner?"

"Well, I've never celebrated that before, but now I guess I should, right?"

Ana clacked her pencil against her desk's tabletop. "So, you haven't been invited yet?"

"No, but I think I might be soon."

"I think so too, and I'll be there. I need to be. They're my parents."

"Okay?" He seemed to sense that she was leading him somewhere.

Ana leaned back in her seat and exhaled. "Hmmmm ... they'll probably invite your dad too, and ... well ... that's okay."

Surprise put a rise in Mihai's tone. "That's okay?"

"Yeah. That's okay with me, and I'm looking forward to Thanksgiving, but could you do me a favor?"

Almost sounding offended that she would turn that into a question, Mihai coughed out, "You don't have to ask for it. Just tell me and I'll see if I can help."

"Don't tell your dad I said that, okay?"

"Ohhhh ... I understand."

Did he? Ana wanted to make sure. "I'd rather tell him on my own, or rather, tell him something similar." It was a little embarrassing to say, especially to Mihai.

"Don't worry about anything. Okay?"

Ana replied, "Okay."

***

There were silly, flat sculptures of wood shaped like cartoon turkeys in rows outside the pathway up to the stoop of her parents' house. Ana liked them. They were innocent, silly things.

When she entered the house, her dad went to her and hugged her. "Hey, Goosey. Are you doing okay?"

"Yeah. It smells really good in here." That wasn't a lie. Ana later found moist turkey with pan gravy, chestnut stuffing, roasted acorn squash soup, Brussel sprouts, garlic mashed potatoes, artichoke stuffed mushrooms, cranberry sauce, Parker House rolls, apple pie, and pumpkin pie. It was all fabulous and comforting. There would certainly be leftovers, and Ana planned on borrowing some of her father's plastic containers to take some food home with her.

During the meal, Ana spoke with the Dalcas, both of them, as if they were old friends, and whenever she thought that Vlad Dalca's eyes were warm, she smiled. At one point, Mihai mentioned Christmas shopping, and then a Christmas Eve party he wanted to throw. Of course, Ana's parents both agreed to attend.

As for Ana, she looked right at Vlad's harsh face, and she said, "I'd love to go, if it would be alright."

Vlad Dalca's brow smoothed out and a scoop of pumpkin pie slid off of the fork he held.

"Oh, that would be great!" Mihai said. "I'm planning on inviting a lot of people, but it would still feel lonely if you didn't come."

"Mihai," Vlad said as he smiled and recaptured his forkful of pie, "don't forget to remind Angela to clean the floors the morning after."

Ana blinked at him for a few seconds. "Hey, who's Angela?"

Mihai answered for his father. "That's the maid."

Oh. Right. The maid. Because of course they had a maid. Mansions were difficult to maintain all alone.

Ana nodded. Her voice danced and gurgled a little. "Okay. That's uh ... pretty wicked neat, I guess." She cleared her throat.

***

That Colonial Revival beast of a house was beautiful. White walls, gray roofs, asymmetrical extensions, balconies, all dusted with a thin layer of snow and dimmed afternoon sunlight.

As Ana drove down the driveway, which was very long indeed, several snowmen, reindeer, and different versions of Santa Claus all were there for her to admire. Someone had to have been hired to put all that up. She just couldn't see the two Dalcas taking the required time.

Her mother's voice fluttered in her ear.

"Christmas in Romania is so much fun! Christmas here is a little boring. Nobody here will even listen to our caroling. Remember when that crazy lady called the police?"

Then Ana's brain was soaking in the memory of her father's wan face and stuttering voice. There had been a car accident.

And then ... for a long time ... Ana asked everyone over and over why everything had to change.

But she was distracted and grinning when she was out of her car. She made sure to carefully gather all the presents she got for her parents and for the Dalcas. Not only did each Dalca have a Christmas present, but she also brought a bottle of wine and small bouquet of non-romantic flowers.

There were a great number of vehicles all around with tire tracks in the snow. Ana did see her parents' car ... and a white limousine that might have belonged to the Williamsons, but all the other cars looked practically alien to her.

Oh shit! There was a static cling decal of Santa Claus in a 1950s inspired space ship on one of the windows. It was so comical and endearing!

Something about Christmas excited her like nothing else.

And, considering what she was hoping might happen on this day, well, Ana nearly skipped, which caused her to slip in the snow and drop a present. She crouched down, pinched the gift back up, and went on to the entrance.

So ... many ... stringed lights ...

A frame of rainbow sparkles!

Ana rang a doorbell. Ding dong!

The door opened. A great, bustling noise slammed into her face. There were people all around, drinking, eating, and listening to cheesy Christmas music that reminded Ana of old movies. Before Ana, there was a lean man wearing crisp black pants, a white shirt, a tie, and no jacket, not even a waistcoat. He nodded at her and said, "Good afternoon! Are you Ana Davis?"

Blushing, Ana said, "Yes Sir."

"Then please come in," the man said, reaching out to her with white gloved hands. "Would you like for me to take your presents and put them under the tree?"

"Oh, thank you." She carefully put the packages into his arms. Then she kicked snow off her boots and entered the building. "Oh, the wine and flowers aren't Christmas presents. They're like extra presents. Could you give them to the host, please?" She honestly didn't know where Mihai or Vlad were. So many people! And it seemed that they were following American rules, shoes on. No wonder Vlad wanted to have the floors cleaned afterwards. Also, Ana wanted to hurry to the food. Christmas food is often the best food.

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