Who are the Real Monsters?
Finding ourselves on two comfortable couches in the library, the four of us sat back and relaxed. Our bags were stacked on the table in front of us with the study part of Study Hall already forgotten. Mostly we talked about what was going on with school, meaning who was going out with who. Normally I just listened. I hadn’t been in the Skogshaven High long enough to know everyone’s names and really I wasn’t all that interested. I did find out from Juro, who was in Miki’s math class that he was asking all my cousins about me. Juro told him I was from Hawaii, which was the truth and that I appeared during the festival, which was also true. Juro found the whole thing hysterical. I was happy for him and planned to show him how happy next time we got together in the dojo.
Walking through the rows of books I spied a familiar figure. “Ren.” I called out to my cousin, I was positive that he didn’t have Study Hall. Giving me a look, he reluctantly walked over to our table.
“Hi cuz, I didn’t know you had Study Hall.”
“Oh, I’m here for a class project. I’m looking for some reference books.”
“Sounds exciting.” Agwe grinned. What was rather odd, Ren didn’t give her any nasty looks. I couldn’t remember a time that he didn’t shoot daggers at her.
“I’m sure. Hey, I haven’t seen your dad in a few weeks. Where has he been?”
Ren shrugged. “He is with your grandmother.”
“Oh, I would have thought he would have at least have said good bye to me before going out of town.”
“Out of town?”
“My grandmother is somewhere in Japan with my mother. They are on some sort of scavenger hunt for my birthday or something.”
“Oh well, I don’t know anything about that. I have to go. See you later.” Without another word, he walked away. I rather feel sorry for him but he always did have a problem with getting into trouble.
“Weird. What’s up with your cousin?” Agwe asked.
“He’s grounded until he’s thirty.”
“Too bad.” She laughed, leaning closer to me, she asked. “So what did Sile say?”
Looking over, satisfied Tabitha and Rose was busy gossiping, I answered. “Not a lot, I talked to her last night.” Agwe already knew as much as I knew. I was sure she was passing it to her mother but that didn’t bother me. It couldn’t hurt that more than one person looking at why I suddenly turned into a girl. “She is still confused why there was no enchantment found.”
“It’s like you were always a girl.”
“Funny, not that I can provide proof anymore of course, but trust me I was 100% guy.”
Agwe giggled. “You know coming from you, in the way you look now, it is pretty funny.”
Looking down at myself, I really couldn’t disagree. What I didn’t tell Agwe, the idea of staying a girl sounded like a good idea. Perhaps it was the magic influencing me but I was no longer in a hurry to switch back. Sure, I wanted to know why, but I was thinking of telling my grandmother that the ceremony wasn’t necessary anymore, as I planned to stay a girl. I felt bad about it; especially if my mom and grandmother were searching all over Japan, but at least we could still have a great party.
“So how is Sile?” She grinned.
Blushing, I smiled. “She is taking me out to dinner this weekend; we are going dinner and dancing.”
“Sure, good music and lots of great dancing.”
Agwe laughed. “If you say so…the place sounds a little too loud for me.”
“You think Katie Perry is too loud.” Tabitha joined in. “’The Necropolis’ is so Dench.”
Agwe raised her eyebrow. “When did you ever go to there?”
Rose and Tabitha looked at one another then giggled. “We sort of went by one weekend, danced a little. It’s different.”
“What and you didn’t tell me?” Agwe said hurt.
“Like your mother would have allowed you to go.” Rose rolled her eyes.
Grinning, I said. “I can sympathize.”
Agwe turned and looked at me. “And you…how can you of all people, get to go dancing with Aya following you around everyplace?”
“What…who is going dancing?” Rose said. “Kimme?”
Agwe looked at me and mouthed, “Sorry.”
“With Miki?” Tabitha asked excitedly.
“No” It comes out a little too loudly than intended and I cover my mouth in embarrassment.
“Oh then can we come?” Tabitha’s almost jumping up and down in her seat.
“Tabitha.” Agwe groaned.
“No serious, we should all go, it will be a lot of fun. Rose and I didn’t stay long because we got too nervous; but if we went in a group.”
Agwe looked at me in sympathy. I giggled. Taking the group out on my date wasn’t something I wanted to do but it could be fun. I was a little nervous about introducing them to Sile but decided that I really wanted them to know her. I would have to bring it up with my girlfriend later. ,
“You too Agwe, you’re almost as bad as Kimme here.” Tabitha pointed a finger at her friend.
“No I’m not.”
Rose looked uncomfortable. “We don’t have to bring a date or anything?”
“No boys right, just us girls.” Tabitha started to smile then made a frown. “Kimme, you said you were going with someone?”
I grinned. Tabitha was hard to stop once she got rolling. Waving my hand, I said. “No that’s fine, just us girls.”
Aya reached over and sprayed her body with water. If she didn’t hurry, she would be late picking up Kimme-sama from school. She had been working out in the dojo all day and the time had lost track of time.
“Is what I have heard true?” Rika Shisaa burst through the bath entrance, to confront the Umeki bodyguard.
“You need to be more specific Shisaa-chan. I do not know what you believe is true or not.” Why was this woman bothering her when Aya had better things to do?
“Kimme-sama is going to the St. Hill’s for dinner tonight.”
“You have heard true.”
“I find this unacceptable.”
“Then it’s good you’re not invited.” Aya stood up and walked across the room, drying off while she walked.
Rika Shisaa stood there for a moment before following. “She should have no contact with the St. Hill’s.”
Sachiko Imai, Kimme’s grandmother walked out the back room, clouds of steam following her. “Rika-chan, why all the commotion?”
“Your granddaughter is having dinner with the St. Hills tonight.”
Sachiko turned to the half-dressed Aya. “Is this true?”
“Why is this the first time I have heard about it?”
Aya looked at Kimme’s grandmother for a moment then shrugged. “It’s just a meal; do you wish to know all of your granddaughter’s activities throughout the day?”
“No but I wish to know her associates.” Sachiko frowned. “You see no problems with this relationship.”
“None, Imai-sama, they are just friends. The mother invited her over for dinner.”
“I see.” She turned to Rika. “This might not be a bad thing.” Raising her hand before the other woman could object. “When she is the head of the Umeki family she will have to deal with many sorts of people and many of them will be enemies.”
“As you say Imai-sama.” Rika bowed. “I still don’t approve.”
“Your objections are noted Rika-chan, but you are slightly prejudiced against the St Hill family already. If Kimme-sama wishes to foster relations with other Were families and use them perhaps to help us hunt Yo-kai then I approve.”
“Imai-sama.” Rika bowed deeply. “I will say no more of it.”
“Aya, you will tell me of any new ‘friends’ my granddaughter acquires from now on. I also expect you to attend this meal.”
“Hai Imai-sama, as you will.” Aya bowed then continued to get ready; she was going to be late if she didn’t hurry.
The drive to the St Hills residence took her to the far end of the park. Most of the houses inside and directly outside Skogshaven ranged from over hundred to fifty years old. Only when you went down the other side of Main St., towards the hospital, did houses that were more modern dot the landscape. Eastside Medical Center had brought an influx of medical professionals to the sleepy little town. Some of the hospital staff commuted from as far away as Worcester but many moved into new modern houses put up by savvy developers.
“There’s the house Aya, well the mailbox anyway.” One thing that might separate Skogshaven communities from many was that for the most part the trees were not removed from the properties. The driveway was long, winding back from the street. “Must be fun trying to get out of here when it snows.”
Agwe’s house seemed to be part of the surrounding woods; it had a very natural feel to it. Still it was a good size house, at least five bedrooms. The three-car garage was full but there was a small side parking area where Aya parked the car.
“We are being watched.” Aya said looking around.
“Of course we are, they heard our car drive up.” Leaving Aya behind, I quickly made my way up the few steps to the front door. Before my finger could even touch the doorbell, the door opened.
“Hi Kimme.” Agwe stood in the doorway with a grin on her face.
Behind Agwe stood her mother, the resemblance was startling. Her mother also looked much young than I expected. “Hello Kimme, I am Agwe’s mother, Oshun.” She spoke with a very light what sounded like French accent mixed with something else. For a moment, the accent reminded me of Nina the owner of ‘The Necropolis.
“Mrs. St. Hill this is my…friend Aya Yoshida.”
“Ahh yes, Mrs. Yoshida my daughter tells me that you drive Kimme whenever they go into town. I have often thought that Agwe needs someone like that to keep an eye on her.”
“Mother.” Agwe rolled her eyes.
Aya smiled, “Please call me Aya. Well, I have been ‘watching’ Kimme ever since she was a baby.”
“Really, well please call me Oshun. Agwe go ahead and take Kimme upstairs and show her your room while Aya and I look over dinner.” Turning to Aya, she said. “Perhaps we can share some wine?”
Watching the pair walk away, Agwe sighed. “Why do I get a bad feeling about this?”
“Is your father not here?”
“Oh, he will make it for dinner. He’s just late as usual.” Following her upstairs, Agwe pointed out the other bedrooms. I knew she had two old brothers. One was a sophomore at some college in Georgia and the other worked with her father.
Agwe’s room was nice; she had an eye for colors although there was definitely an ocean theme going on. “You like the fish, huh?” She must have had a dozen stuffed animals that were all fish. Between the posters, the stuffed animals and the decorum, I felt like I was at sea world.
“Orcas are not fish and neither are dolphins.” She correctly pointed out, picking up a large killer whale stuffed animal.
On her dresser was a line of swimming trophies. “Oh so you like to swim too? I didn’t know that our High School had a swim team.”
Agwe reached over and threw a stuffed shark at me. “It’s the big thing full of water next to the school.”
“Oh see, that’s the problem, I tend to ignore big things full of water unless there is salt in them.” I smiled which both got us into a fit of the giggles. We talked about our Oceans for a little while and then Agwe excitedly opened her closet to reveal some of her scuba equipment. She already had an Advanced Open Water Diver certificate but this summer she was going to work on her Rescue Diver certificate. One of the things she had talked about was becoming an instructor; however, her mother had other plans for her future. She and I had a lot in common.
Agwe was holding one of the large stuffed orcas in one hand, while trying to slip a pair of goggles on him with the other. “You know what we should do after graduation.”
“Hmm.” I found myself sitting on her bed staring into the eyes of a cute stuffed Blue Tang.
“Run away together.”
“Do you think Greg would object?” Greg was Agwe’s current squeeze. Since we met, she had gone through at least two boyfriends.
Grabbing the Orca, she plopped down next to me. “That’s not what I mean, goof. You and I head off some place, like my grandmother’s house in Martinique. My cousin Daphnia turned it into a bed and breakfast.”
Nodding she leaned her head on my shoulder. “I can open a scuba shop and you can teach surfing.”
“Any decent wave action in Martinique?”
“I think so, maybe. If not you can just.” She reached over and wiggled her hands.
I couldn’t help but laugh. She kept expecting me to have some sort of magical talent. Maybe I did, I just don’t know how. Obviously, I expected the ceremony to have something to do with it. Still, I wouldn’t mind being a magical girl as long as I was also able to wear the cute outfits.
“Yea but I don’t know how to…” I wiggled my fingers.
“Too bad, we could find it helpful. I’ll even sign up as your Warden.”
“I would like that.” Agwe had been extremely helpful in educating me with what she knew about the Unseen in Skogshaven.
Agwe mother calling for dinner brought us both back to reality. Once everything was cleaned up, Agwe reached over and gave me a warm hug. “Thanks, Kimme.” I happily returned it. I knew she wasn’t thanking me for helping her clean her room.
“Mrs. St Hill, the chicken is really good.” She had cooked it in a spice I hadn’t tasted before. The dish was a mixture of chicken, rice, tomatoes and a bunch of other vegetables. On the table were a number of other meat dishes but the best one was a pork dish mixed with plantains.
“Call me Oshun, and I’m glad you like it.” She smiled. Her father seemed rather nice, although he seemed to be the type to take work home with him. It took most of dinner before that ‘I’m still at work’ glaze left his face.
“So I hear you’re quite the surfer.” He said. “We are very proud of Agwe’s accomplishments in the pool.”
“Maybe I’ll get her to teach me how to scuba dive.” Agwe gave me a grateful look.
Reaching over Agwe’s mother put some more of the pork on my plate. “Perhaps, so what are your plans for your future? Aya said something about you working for your parents?”
Nodding, I bit into one of the delicious plantains. “My mother is a collector of antiques. Although I’m not one hundred percent sure what my father does.”
“I’m the same way Kimme, all I know is my dad fixes teeth.” Agwe laughed.
Aya happily served herself another helping of the pork and plantains as well. “Are you going to become a Dentist like your father Agwe?”
“No thanks, not really into sticking my hands into other people’s mouths.”
“Agwe is going to come to work with me, isn’t that right.” Oshun smiled.
Looking at her mother for a second, she said. “I’m still thinking about it.”
That put a little damper on the rest of the dinner conversation. After dinner, we sat around the living room talking about school, keeping well away from anything related to our future plans. For dessert, we had fruit and some sort of honey covered confection. Eventually it was time for us to go.
“So Aya, what do you think?” It already had gotten dark not that it bother Aya any.
“I agree Kimme; they are a very nice family. You should continue to cultivate a relationship with them.”
“So…what did you and Agwe’s mom talk about?”
“Mostly raising children.” Aya smiled. “and how difficult daughters can be at times.”
Cringing, I tried to change the subject. “Agwe wants to open a scuba shop in Martinique.”
“So her mother told me. Oshun has higher aspirations for her daughter.”
Looking out the window into the night, I said. “Doesn’t seem fair.”
“What about you, Kimme? Do you feel that it’s fair that you are expected to work for your family?”
I raised an eyebrow. That was a very strange thing. Coming from someone who has been drilling into me for almost eighteen years the virtues of family it was an interesting question. “I don’t imagine I’ll object too much, really. Well unless I find out my parents kill baby seals for a living or something else equally gruesome, I don’t mind the family thing.”
“Your family is looking forward to you joining them.”
It’s not as if I was going pro as a surfer. Other than becoming a professional beachcomber, I had no real exciting aspirations. Wasn’t that strange?
Agwe and her mother stood at the door and watched their guests drive away.
“So what do you think?” Agwe leaned against the doorframe. For some reason she couldn’t shake off this feeling of dread.
“Your friend is very nice. Her bodyguard is something else as well.” Oshun St. Hill was surprised when Aya called asking to accompany Kimme for dinner. She was equally surprised when her daughter explained that Aya was Kimme’s bodyguard.
“I think she’s her Warden or she is going to be.” The young girl shook her head. “Plus, Aya isn’t right.”
“What does that mean?” Oshun looked at her daughter with a half-smile on her lips.
“She doesn’t feel right. I can’t explain.”
Oshun St. Hill reached over and hugged her daughter. Ever since her child returned from Mami Wata watery embrace, she had ‘feelings’ that should not be ignored. “We cannot get involved my love. You know that. The families must not involve themselves directly with each other’s obvious internal matters.”
“But I have this feeling Kimme is in danger.” Agwe put her face into her mother’s breast and let out a soft sob.
“We must not, child.” Oshun frowned. “But you may go talk to Sile Martin.”
Agwe head shot up. “Really?” Wiping the tears from her face, she looked at her mother.
“I was wrong about Mrs. Martin. She might look like the bride of Kalfu but from what Nina told me, Sile is not at all what she seems.”
“Could you be wrong about Martinique?” Agwe asked, still with tears in her eyes.
Her mother lovingly wiped them away. “How about you work on that Rescue Certification this summer first, just give me some time to think about it, OK?”
Oshun St. Hill’s father had worked the waters around Martinique all his life. Once day he vanished and unlike her daughter, he had not returned. She was terrified that one day Agwe would disappear again under the ocean waves but this time for good.
Authors Notes: A special thanks to djkauf for a little elvish editing. If you like the story please leave a Kudos, if you have the time I would love to hear from you. Thanks to all for reading! - Elsbeth
© Copyright - Elsbeth2011/2012
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