Saturday, 18 February 2012

Chapter 1.2: Backstreet Symphony

(There is no music of any sort in this chapter. The title is from the first album of the English band Thunder. There’s no significance in the ‘Backstreet Symphony’ part but there is significance in the Thunder part. I’m not really a fan of hard rock but I wanted some sort of Thunder reference and that was the first thing my sister told me)

   After hearing some horrible rumours about her romantic interest Hank Goddard from Cycl0n3 Sw0rd, Bryony hurried over to the Goddard-Wan residence to ask Hank about them. Hank convinced Bryony they weren’t real and offered to become an item with her to prove he was genuinely in love with Bryony. Bryony decided to stay the night at Hank’s, as she was too tired from a day of work and a night of Woohoo.

   Woken up from a sudden wave of nausea, Bryony hurried downstairs to the washroom but was intercepted by Pauline Wan, Hank’s roommate.
   “Hello, my name is Bryony Summers.” Bryony shook Pauline’s hand, who looked surprised to see her. “I’m Hank’s girlfriend.”
   She had never realised how exciting it was to call oneself someone else’s girlfriend. It had a much more special ring than ‘friend with benefits’. Unfortunately, Pauline didn’t seem too happy for her. She seemed more amused than anything.
   “Oh? So you’re the new girl. Let me tell you something, Hank is NOT a keeper. We used to be engaged but then we broke it off.”
   Bryony gasped at that. She had never heard that Hank had used to be in a serious relationship before. He had admitted to past girlfriends, but never something as serious as an engagement!

   “Don’t fret your pretty little head.” Pauline assured Bryony upon seeing Bryony’s shellshocked expression. “Hank and I weren’t serious; it was a spur-of-the-moment thing, really. But Hank isn’t the kind of guy you want to have a long-term relationship with, trust me. Have you heard? He works as a gigolo. It’s pretty funny; some cop he is!”
   Bryony looked down at the ground. Had she been mistaken about Hank after all? She hurriedly told Pauline what Hank had told her; about how Hank was serious for Bryony and all the past girlfriends or relationship were all flings.
   “But he didn’t say anything about his gigolo job, did he?” Pauline pointed out shrewdly. “He may be kind of a sleaze, but he’s a charismatic sleaze. He can turn almost any problem into his favour.”

   Further conversation was interrupted by Bryony rushing into the washroom and vomiting.
   She wasn’t sure if it was due to some nasty virus she caught at the hospital or due to the nausea she felt earlier. Heck, it could even be due to the shock of Pauline and Cycl0n3’s information.
   As she flushed the toilet and sat on the cold tiled floor for several seconds, she thought about her relationship with Hank. It was certainly fun and Hank himself wasn’t that bad of a person. Perhaps she should keep quiet and enjoy the warmth of their relationship?

   The next day, Bryony noticed a strange rainbow light from the science facility on her way out of work and decided to check it out. It reminded her a little of her colourful hometown of Cake Island and felt deep in her heart that if she ignored this strange incident, she would regret it forever.
   There, she couldn’t believe her eyes. A black unicorn stood proud and tall as it trotted about. Bryony couldn’t resist. She hurried over and held her hand out, trembling with excitement as the unicorn sniffed her hand a few times.
   And that was Bryony Summers’ first meeting with Thunder the unicorn.

   Two months passed…
   Bryony realized that she had become pregnant with Hank’s child from the Woohoo they had performed the night they became a couple. Though they met less than before due to their hectic work schedules, so far Bryony hadn’t heard any news about Hank’s supposed gigolo job and eventually, her worries about him and their relationship faded from her mind.
   Every night after work and whenever she had time during weekends, Bryony would visit the science lab or various lakes around town in order to meet and befriend Thunder. It took a while before the proud creature allowed Bryony to touch him but eventually, she managed it.

   The nausea and back pains that came with Bryony’s pregnancy was often soothed by Thunder’s kindness. Whenever Bryony arched her back in pain, she would feel warm light encompass her body and the pain would vanish. It didn’t take long for her to realize it was her friend Thunder helping her.

   Bryony loved spending time with Thunder and she desperately wanted his companionship with him at all times.
   “Thunder, we’re BFFs, right?” Bryony asked him one day as she rubbed his neck lightly. He nickered in reply. “How do you feel about moving in with me?” Thunder’s tail swished in what Bryony interpreted as delight.
   Bryony warmly welcomed the new addition to the Summers family, and decided to let Thunder keep his name.

   Although Bryony was a little worried that Hank would call off their relationship once he knew he would be a father, he was very supportive of her and often invited Bryony to his house to speak to her belly.
   Despite this display of affection, Bryony had heard plenty of rumours during the two months at Sunset Valley of Hank sleeping around with other women despite having Bryony as a girlfriend, and his name was starting to become synonymous with the word ‘sleazebag’ around town.
   Bryony didn’t mind too much. Her feelings for Hank were genuine and she didn’t want to pressure him into a committed relationship if he didn’t want to. As long as he cared for her and their child, she would allow him to do what he pleased.

   Bryony was at home alone when she went into labour and she couldn’t call Hank due to him being at work. Though Thunder seemed to want to help Bryony to the hospital, Bryony was unable to mount the unicorn in her state and ended up calling a taxi.
   To her surprise and joy, she ended up giving birth to triplet girls.

   Clementine was the oldest of the three and she was very brave for a toddler girl. Bryony was very surprised at times to see Clementine reaching out and trying to climb out of the crib, completely unfazed by the height or her lack of balance. She was a heavy sleeper though, and would be completely knocked out the moment she touched the mattress.

   Nyra was the middle child of the three and the most similar physically to Hank. She didn’t like to be around others, whether it was her sisters or even her own mother and preferred to play dolls by herself, which was probably why one of Hank’s distant relative sent them a mysterious doll in the mail for Nyra. She was surprisingly sharp though and often picked up on changes in Bryony’s emotions faster than even Bryony herself.

   And finally, Azalea, the baby of the family. Azalea, like Nyra, liked to be alone and disliked being in the presence of too much people. However, there was a slightly unsettling feeling about her that set her apart from her siblings that Bryony couldn’t really put her finger on. Bryony was very excited about the fact that Azalea inherited her Cake Islander genes.

   Around the same time, Thunder met with a horse that the Landgraab family next door had purchased. It was a beautiful mare named Milly and Thunder took an immediate liking to her. Whenever Bryony was too busy to play with him, he would take it upon himself to pay Milly a visit.
   Though the Landgraabs were initially surprised, delighted and frightened by the mysterious black unicorn in their midst, they eventually got used to Thunder coming and going as he pleased.

   One of Bryony’s coworkers, Morgana Wolff, called her to congratulate her on her birth and inform her on recent office gossip developments that had happened during Bryony’s time off.
   “Oh, I heard that they’re Hank’s kids?” Morgana said after a several minutes of chatting about how one of the patients had hit on one of the receptionists. “I thought he was afraid of anything tying in with commitment! Try asking him if he’s interested in marrying you, Bry!”
   Bryony thought about that and decided it was worth a try. She wasn’t planning on marrying Hank, as she felt that taking care of three toddlers by herself wasn’t too hard at the moment, but she just wanted to hear his thoughts on the matter.
   Needless to say, Hank was more interested in the current situation, even when face-to-face with one of his daughters.

   “It’s not that I don’t care about you and the girls,” Hank said. “But I’m really happy with my life right now and I’m not ready to commit myself to a family yet. I’ve still got things I want to do and I feel like if I’m tied down to a family, I’ll never be able to do them.”
   “I think I understand.” Bryony said slowly. “Okay, Hank. That’s fine, there’s still time for you to think about it.”
   Without another word, Bryony picked up Nyra and left.

   Thunder’s relationship with Milly was developing far faster than Bryony’s and soon, the two of them decided to take each other as a mate. It was the start of the Summers Unicorn Herd.

   Though the sight of Thunder running across town was once something considered an urban legend, it was now so commonplace that instead of watching and gaping from afar, many townspeople have approached and tried to befriend the magnificent creature.
   And it wasn’t one-sided either. Thunder often liked to sniff and nuzzle random strangers in an attempt to make friends. The pregnant Zelda Steel is his latest admirer and friend.

   The news that Bryony Summers was the girlfriend of Hank Goddard and the two of them had triplet girls out of wedlock spread like wildfire. Though Bryony expected her name dragged in mud like Hank’s was, she was surprised that the media portrayed her in a very sympathetic light as the innocent newcomer who was tricked by the womanizing Hank and forced to take care of three children by herself. It wasn’t too far from the truth, but Bryony disliked the way the media worded it.
   Now that the paparazzi were onto him, Hank was forced every few weeks to fork out $300 of childcare money to Bryony to help her take care of the three.

   Not that Bryony cared too much about that. She was far more interested in Thunder’s love life. She liked to visit the Landgraab estate to play with and groom Thunder’s mate Milly to try and make a good impression on both the Landgraabs and the slightly jumpy mare.

   With the money saved up from Bryony’s medical job and the child support fees Hank sent her way, the Summers soon had enough money to renovate the house and start construction on the Summers mansion. Bryony hoped to make it as grand and magnificent as the Landgraab’s or the Alto’s.

   It became tradition every Sunday for Bryony to take the girls outside for fresh air, since they couldn’t use the stairs yet.
   “There, there, Azalea. The grass isn’t wet or anything.” Bryony cooed, trying to get Azalea to let go of her hair so she could set her on the ground. Despite Azalea’s loner personality, she was surprisingly set on sticking as close as possible to Bryony’s side.
   Meanwhile, Nyra liked to play with her doll Frodo and sing to him. No matter how much Bryony tried to get Nyra to play with Azalea or Clementine, Nyra persisted on playing with Frodo by herself. Clementine, as the oldest and self-proclaimed ‘most mature’ of the three, often looked at Nyra with the most condescending expression on her face whenever Nyra played with Frodo.

   “Watch out, Nyra, the claw is coming!” Bryony exclaimed dramatically as she made a claw with her hand and tickled Nyra with it. Nyra flailed and squealed with happiness, causing Bryony to giggle.
   Despite Nyra constantly ignoring others in order to play with Frodo, she still responded well to Bryony.

   Azalea was a whole different story.
   “Look, Azalea! You’re flying!” Bryony cheered while imitating the sound of a plane, all the while tossing Azalea in the air or holding her up high while racing about. Azalea never cracked a smile, and only looked down at Bryony, who frowned in thought.
   Come to think of it, Bryony had never seen Azalea smile or laugh at things that normal children would. In fact, the only times Azalea really smiled was when she played with the dollhouse by herself. Perhaps Azalea was a far more extreme version of Nyra?

   "This is your daughter, Heartwood.”
   Thunder nickered lightly in surprise. He had been pleasantly surprised that day when Milly was the one who sought him out when usually it was the other way around and had curiously followed her to the Landgraab estate when she told him there was something he needed to see.
   He wasn’t expecting a smaller unicorn version of MIlly to greet him.
   Milly explained that the Landgraabs wanted to sell Heartwood due to her being a unicorn and Milly couldn’t stand for that and wanted Thunder’s family to adopt Heartwood. Unfortunately that meant adopting Milly too since Heartwood was still too young to be secure without her mother.
   Thunder thought about that. His master Bryony was a very childish soul; she genuinely loved unicorns and would no doubt welcome the two with open arms. Unfortunately, he also realized that financially, Bryony was in trouble due to recent births and renovations. She also would not have as much time as before due to her own children.
   But as Thunder looked at his beautiful mate’s heterochromiatic eyes and saw the hopeful look of his daughter’s, he knew what he had to do and accepted the two into the Summers family.

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