W.I.T.C.H. Fan Fiction ❯ My Niece ❯ Day 7 ( Chapter 7 )
[ T - Teen: Not suitable for readers under 13 ]
Day 7I woke up to a second straight gray morning, which meant that there would likely be rain again in the forecast. After getting dressed, I went over to the kitchen area, where Wilma was sitting at the table, looking tired. “Had a hard time sleeping last night?” I asked as I went to grab the cereal.
“A little.” Wilma answered. “I’ve had a lot to think about.”
“Oh, a whole assortment of things. The job shadows, the spiritual therapy center, your rock music story… it could go on forever. Maybe you had a point on thinking too hard on things.”
“Well, better late than never to realize it.”
Wilma just looked at me peculiarly, and then said, “Anyway, I don’t know if you are the right person to ask about this, but I’ll do so regardless. Besides float tanks and Watsu, what else is offered at the spiritual therapy center?”
“Well, as far as I know, besides those two things, they offer a Thai massage package, reiki sessions, and something called Waterdance. They also conduct classes on yoga and tai chi/qigong. There has been talk about expanding the services there, but I personally think that they have enough services there to begin with.”
“What do you know about them?”
“Not much. I do know that the Thai massage package comes in three parts: first is the body massage, which is kind of like an assisted yoga session. Then there’s the foot massage, which is pretty self-descriptive, though they also use an abrasive scrub to get rid of foot calluses and dead skin. Finally, there’s the herbal portion, in which they massage you with a heated, porous pouch filled with various herbs. As for the rest, I don’t know much else. You are better off asking Sharon about them.”
“OK. But how do you know so much about the Thai massage package and not all of the rest?”
“Well… eh… I hate to admit it, but not long after I moved to Whitesage, after a few restless nights I decided to take up an offer for a Thai massage, believing it would be like a regular massage. Boy was I ever mistaken!”
Wilma almost cracked a smile when she heard that, and then she asked, “I’m taking that it wasn’t an overly pleasant experience.”
“Yeah.” I replied. “I mean, I did feel better as a whole for quite some time. But the whole process made me feel like I went through a noodle extruder.”
Once again, I kind of saw Wilma strain to keep herself from laughing about my massage misadventure. I then said, “Well, hopefully your swimsuit has dried out enough to be of use for later today.”
“Oh yeah, it is. Having been swimming for years, I’ve learned a lot of things like that. I actually checked my swimsuit last night, and it has dried out.”
“Good. And I’m pretty sure you remember not to eat anything before the therapies.”
“OK. Well, I guess we better get to eating. We may not need to eat all that much, but we shouldn’t starve ourselves.” We then got to eating breakfast and the rest of the morning went by uneventfully. Soon enough, we were dressed, Sven was all leashed up, and out the door. I was quite happy that, this time, we both had umbrellas. It wasn’t raining yet, but it looked like it could at any moment.
We arrived at the Co-op first, where I dropped off Wilma. I then dropped off Sven at the Howl House, and finally I made my way back to the Mystic’s Emporium. I was quite surprised that it wasn’t raining by the time I arrived there, but in any case I was glad I didn’t need to use my umbrella.
The day as a whole was quite simple. There were more customers showing up than there had been, and a lot of religious materials came off the shelves. I didn’t ask the consumers why they were buying such stuff, but I figured that the reason had to do with the Stupidian elections going on. Perhaps people were getting extremely nervous about the ‘extension’ results, and weren’t taking chances to sway the election more into their favor. Or perhaps they were gathering up supplies to either spiritually protect Whitesage or curse Stupidia. Whatever it was, it was best for me not to know, lest I be the target of their potential wrath.
Eventually my time of work was done, and it was time to leave. I went off to the Howl House and picked up Sven, and then I returned home. I was quick to find Wilma sitting on the couch, looking quite ready to move onwards to the therapies. As soon as she was done petting and cuddling Sven, she turned to me and said, “I sure hope it won’t take long for us to get to the Spiritual Therapy center, Arthur.”
“It shouldn’t. I mean, most of Whitesage is relatively easy to access on foot, and the rest can be reached via the bus transit.” I said. “And we’ve got plenty of time to reach the place; we don’t need to hurry. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to wash my hands and get some more money into my wallet.” After saying that, I went into the upstairs bathroom, where I proceeded to clean my hands, and from there I headed downstairs to my office, where I collected enough money to make up for all of the expenses for the past few days and for those to come. I was not expecting to pay this much for the week with Wilma, but at least I knew how pricy it was to raise even a small family, and I had developed more respect and sympathy for Susan and what she was putting up with than I had before.
After gathering up the money, I went back upstairs to see Wilma playing with Sven. “Are you ready to go, Wilma?” I asked.
“Sure am. I’ve actually got my swimsuit on underneath my clothes, so I’ll be ready to start as soon as I arrive.” Wilma responded. She was obviously itching to get going for a long time.
“Well, go get your jacket on and as soon as I do so, we can get going.” We then got our jackets on and after fetching Sven, who was still leased up (I was planning to have him come with us and to walk him about as the therapies were being conducted), we were on our way. As we walked, I asked, “So, how did the job shadow go?”
“Oh, it went well.” Wilma answered. “I was quite amazed at everything they sell there, including some things I never imagined.”
“Well, the numerous breads, for one thing. I didn’t think there was too much in regards to bread, but was a variety I wasn’t expecting. They also had all sorts of really powerful-smelling soaps there, and I couldn’t find a single thing that wasn’t organic.”
“Yeah, it’s like that over there. In fact, it’s like that in nearly every Co-op in existence from what I’ve heard. But since that is the only one I’ve ever been in, I can’t know for certain.” That was the end of the conversation for the two of us, and the rest of the walk went by quietly until we reached the Spiritual Therapy center.
The Spiritual Therapy center was hard to miss: compared to the rather drab buildings that were so commonplace throughout Whitesage, the Spiritual Therapy center looked like a cross between an English manor and a Greco-Roman temple. Also unique was how new the building was: it started construction in 1997 shortly after David Waychka took over as the figurehead. It was completed the next year, and despite its annotations, it was immediately popular with just about everyone. Knowing the services it offered, I could easily see why.
I walked with Wilma up the staircase, right up to the front door. I then tied off Sven’s leash onto one of the hooks, and Wilma and I went inside. Unsurprisingly, Sharon was waiting for us in the lobby. “Oh good! You made it!” she said as we walked into the lobby’s center. “Shall we get started?”
“Eh, before that, I would like to know about payment.” I said. “Do you want me to pay now? Or later?”
“How about you pay after the services are rendered.” Sharon suggested.
“That sounds fine with me. OK, I’ll just be walking about town with Sven, but I’ll be back in about two hours.” As I turned back, I said, “Enjoy yourself, Wilma.” To that, I heard Wilma say, “Thanks.” I then was outside again, taking Sven’s leash off the hook, and I was off, walking about.
For about the next hour and a half, Sven and I traversed every part of Whitesage. There wasn’t a sight that we didn’t see, though there were a few times where I stopped and had to think. The first of these being the ravine area where Sven led me to Wilma in the first place. There wasn’t too much to think about, but I certainly felt bad for Wilma and the situations that led her into this mess. I hope this never happens to anyone else again. I thought as I tried to move on.
Then I moved into the school section of Whitesage. It was a place I rarely frequented, but perhaps unconsciously I made myself go there. I looked at the secondary school in particular, looking into the windows. There was some rooms lit up, though they were very dim; I figured that it was the janitorial staff cleaning up the place by candlelight or by oil lamp. But beyond that, I couldn’t see much. For a moment, I thought, What if you stay here, Wilma? You can’t obviously get a job and hope for the best. You’ll wind up back in school, and I don’t think you’ll be any happier here than you were back in Heatherfield. Especially with the way school is set up here. Then, in the back of my mind, I saw her approaching the school building, extremely apprehensive about entering, but still going inside anyway. And then, for no apparent reason, I saw myself, roughly about Wilma’s age, doing the same. Why am I thinking like this? I thought as I watched myself stroll down the walkway towards the front doors. I’m not getting any younger! In all honesty having to take care of Wilma, I’m getting older much faster! I turned back to Sven, who just looked at me as if I had lost my mind. I probably was, so we left the school section, with me still trying to clear my mind.
After that, Sven and I headed off to one of the small parks in my neighborhood. Being that it was at night, I was the only on there. I sat down at one of the gazebos and looked up towards the sky. It was no longer cloudy and I could see the stars across the horizon. But whereas it was a relaxing sight on most evenings, I could not settle down here. Maybe it was the thoughts back in the school area that was still bugging me. It was just hard to tell. I looked back at Sven, who had lain down on the gazebo floor. Then I pulled out the papers which Mrs. Rickenbacker has sent to me. Nothing had been completed, and I sadly figured that it never would be. My musings on the papers were interrupted when I heard some loud barking nearby. I looked up to see Verda and Jaspal walking through the park, and it looked to be Verda who spotted me first. Getting up from the bench and grabbing Sven’s leash, I walked over to talk to Jaspal. “Oh hi Arthur.” He said as I approached him. “Kind of odd for you to be out and about at this time.”
“Yeah, I know.” I replied. “But it couldn’t be helped. I had to take my niece over to the Spiritual Therapy center to try and straighten her out.”
“Oh? Is there something wrong with her?”
“Not anything unusual for an average teenager: she’s just confused and fretful in regards to the situation that she’s finding herself in, and I figured that the best way to help her was to send her there to fix her up. At least temporarily.”
“I see. Hopefully whatever is bugging her will be resolved. I wouldn’t want her feeling terrible and conflicted working in the kitchens tomorrow.”
“Oh yeah, she’ll be doing that as her final job shadow while she’s here. Provided that tomorrow is her last day here.” I said gloomly.
Jaspal kind of noticed that I was kind of out of sorts and said, “What do you mean by that?”
“Well, to be honest, I’m kind of worried that Wilma will want to stay here instead of returning home to her mother. She probably still thinks that going back to Heatherfield would be a fate worse than death, when in fact everyone there misses her terribly. One of her friends has been so distraught over her departure that she’s liable to wind up in a mental hospital.”
“If that’s the case, why don’t you tell her the truth?”
“If I do so, she’ll never believe me. And that’s just one issue: I feel somewhat responsible for creating the mess for not trying to prevent the marriage between Susan and Tony. And if she does decide to stay here, I can’t help feeling that she is following in my footsteps, however unconsciously, by running away from the problems involving her.”
“I still think it’s best to tell her about these things. I know how hard it is to talk to teens about this; my nephew is testament to that fact. But I’ve always known, both on a religious stance and in a common-sense stance, that the truth is the best way forward, and the sooner you tell her about these things, the better the two of you will be, whatever happens.”
“I sure hope so. I just don’t want her to jump the shark again, like she did last week. It was already hard enough to explain things to everyone in Heatherfield once. I’d hate to do so twice.”
“It probably won’t happen like that, Arthur. Anyway, just be sure to tell her the truth before it’s too late. Truth is eternal, life in all of its facets isn’t. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to get back to the Tejawswini Palace. I’ll see you sometime tomorrow.”
“You too, Jaspal.” I said as he walked away. I then started making my way back to the Spiritual Therapy center, trying to think about how best to apply his words to the situation. If only it was easy to display the truth to Wilma without thinking of me being a giant liar. I thought. I just wish it wasn’t me to deliver the facts.
Before I fully realized it, I was back at the Spiritual Therapy center, tying Sven’s leash to one of the hooks and then walking inside. I was the only person in the lounge, and with no sight of either Sharon or Wilma, I sat down on the couch provided for whoever came by. There wasn’t anything to read, so I had to make do with looking at the artworks on display, as well as keeping to my thoughts. They were all random thoughts, like in regards to the sales I made earlier that day, but every now and again a thought came into my head that revolved around Wilma, her mother, her friends, her boyfriend, and/or everyone else she left behind. I felt a sense of responsibility for all of it, as well as guilt. Whether or not it was the truth, I had the feeling that all of this mess was somehow connected to me and my inabilities to prevent Tony and Susan’s marriage and the ruining of both Susan’s and Wilma’s lives a few years later. I didn’t know if this was considered normal thought process for a parent, but if it was, it was certainly humbling.
All of that musing came to an end when I heard footsteps come from the hallway off onto the left side. A few seconds later, I saw both Sharon and Wilma emerge. Both were dressed as they were when I had arrived, but Wilma was noticeably different. For one thing, her hair was damp, much like it was when we left the RCA center swimming pool a few days ago; this did not take me by surprise. What did was her facial expression: unlike so much of the past few days, which showed at the very least indifference to the outside world, Wilma looked deeply relaxed, and with a big smile on her face. It was easily apparent that she really enjoyed the therapies administered to her. I then asked Sharon, “Do clients usually come out like this?”
“Sometimes.” Sharon answered. “But that’s not important. What is important is that things went extremely well.”
“I can see that. So, do you want me to make the payment now, or will you send a bill my way? I think I can pay it right now, just to make life easier on us.”
“That would be just fine. The overall cost is ¤95.000.”
It was an awful lot, but I had the money at hand, so I pulled out the currency and got it paid out. With that, I then turned to Wilma, who at a glance looked as if she was about to melt. “Well, I’ve paid everything. We better get going.” I said to her.
Wilma slowly turned towards me, and softly said, “Oh. I… see. If we… have to.” She kind of sounded as if she wanted to stay here, but at the same time, she sounded as if she knew that it was time to carry on and she accepted that. We then made our way out, and as I did so I said to Sharon, “Thanks for everything. Bye.” We stopped then to take Sven’s leash off of the hook, and we made our way down the sidewalk back to my place.
As we walked, I asked Wilma, “So, how were the therapies?”
“Oh. Those things. I… I… can’t describe… it. I feel… liberated. Separated from… sadness. It was… something that I… wanted to last… forever.” Wilma slowly stuttered. “Everyone… needs… to experience… what I… went through.”
I acknowledged that fact, but I still didn’t know if it helped her make up her mind about everything going on about her. At any rate, it at least brought an end to the stress that was wrecking her composure.
Eventually, the three of us got back home, and I unleashed Sven who quickly got onto his cushion and curled up for sleep. I turned to Wilma and said, “I’m heading downstairs to take care of some things. Call me out if you need anything.”
“Oh, don’t worry… about me. I’ll probably… go straight to… bed.” Wilma said. “And… Arthur… one thing.”
“And what’s that?”
“Thanks so much… for the therapy… idea.”
I halfway smiled for hearing that, and I replied, “Your welcome. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going downstairs.” I got downstairs and into my office, where I called Susan. After the usual greetings, I asked her how things were going. “Reasonable. It was actually kind of a long day for me, with all of the work going on. Just out of curiosity, how was your work?”
“Hard. We had an awful lot of sales, much of it devoted to spell-casting. And before you ask, no, I don’t know the reasoning behind the purchases, nor do I want to know.” I, of course, was lying a bit, but it was best not to get into the theories involved.
“OK. What about Wilma?”
“Oh, she’s just peachy. She took part in the therapies I told you about last night, and I’ve never seen her so relaxed and happy. It’s too early to tell what effect the therapies will have on her, but so far the effects have been very positive.”
“Well, that’s good to know. Now that you mention it, I did come across a place in Heatherfield that offers such therapies you mentioned. Maybe I should start taking part in these things.”
“If you want to, Susan. Other than that, is there anything else worth noting in Heatherfield?”
“Not that I can recall.”
“OK, I better let you go. I’ll talk to you tomorrow.”
“All right. Bye.”
“Bye.” After hanging up, I turned on my computer and checked my E-Mail. As like with the phone calls, Taranee had sent out another message…
Hi Arthur. I hope everything is going OK where you are. You are probably better than I am, knowing how lonely it’s been without Wilma. She was the first true friend I made here in Heatherfield, after all.
We are all looking forward to seeing Wilma return this weekend. And for me and the rest of her friends, it can’t be a moment too soon. Cornelia, in particular, has been so upset about the whole thing that she refuses to leave her bedroom and has not been eating all that much. Obviously, she’s still blaming herself for the incident, and it’s gotten to the point that only by seeing Wilma right in front of her will snap her out of this stupor.
I guess that’s all for now.
After reading that, I turned off the computer and made my way upstairs. I could hear Wilma sleeping when I got towards the bathroom. Once there, I got my teeth cleaned and I then went to bed. The last thing I remember before my eyes closed completely was one last thought towards Wilma: Please, return home.
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