“You want to what?!”
“Move to Starlight Shores!” I proclaimed with excitement to my mother the day after the wedding. I had it all planned out and I had done my research into Simland’s city of the rich and famous. The housing there was surprisingly affordable and there were so many more opportunities for everyone there than there was here. It was a fresh start where we could all start over and make a new name for ourselves in a new place. No more Redneck Waverunners, as the kids at school before I went to Smuggsworth liked to call me and the rest of my family.
“Are you crazy? We can’t leave Sunset Valley! This is our home! All the memories I have of my family are here! In this house!” Mom cried, getting teary just at the thought of leaving this place. I couldn’t understand it. Why would she want to stay here in this dump where there wasn’t enough room for everybody and things were always falling apart and everyone in town thought our family was just a bunch of low-class, worthless layabouts who weren’t good at anything except having more kids than they could afford? Couldn’t she see that I was doing what was best for our whole family? Couldn’t she see I was only trying to help everyone?
“Mom, that’s ridiculous sentimentality!” I argued. “You’re always going to have those memories no matter where you are! I’ve worked everything out. If we pool all the family funds together, we can get a nice place in Starlight Shores. There’s talent agents swarming the venues down there looking for young, up-and-coming stars. The twins would have a real shot at doing something with the musical talent they have. Wade can get transferred to the army base there and I’ve already been relocated to the office’s branch there. Whatever Lake and Brook end up being interested in, they’ll have the opportunities to pursue what they want there, too. We can fix this family!” I argued my case as best as I could. I don’t mean to boast, but my education at Smuggsworth provided me with the charisma I needed to overcome my shyness and convince a cat to become a dog if I wanted to.
“This family doesn’t need to be fixed, Alton! It’s fine just the way it is!” she shrieked, raising her voice. The noise brought the whole house into the kitchen to see what was going on. Even Vixen poked her head in and started sniffing around. I couldn’t help myself. I exploded. Not only was she in denial about how messed up our family was, but she was embarrassing me in front of everyone! Looking back, I regret it now, but then, you couldn’t have stopped me from spewing every nasty thing I’d ever thought about my mother and my family. I’d been bottling it up for so long, trying to stay in control of everything, but how could I stay in control when my own family wouldn’t cooperate?
“ARE YOU INSANE?!” I bellowed. “LOOK AROUND YOU, MOM! THIS IS THE MOST SCREWED UP FAMILY IN EXISTENCE!” Everyone went silent at that, even Mom. I think they were scared. I’d never shouted like that before, ever, in my entire life. “You have six kids with I don’t even know how many different men! Hell, I don’t even know which of my siblings are my full siblings or my half-siblings to tell you the truth! You live in a glorified shack that isn’t big enough for the eight people and the dog already living here and you’re bringing in MORE kids because YOU CAN’T KEEP YOUR DAMN LEGS CLOSED!” I screamed out all my pent-up frustration at her.
“Alton…” Turquoise’s shaky voice pierced the silence that was left behind after that, but I barely heard her. I wasn’t finished.
“You know what the whole town says about you, Mom?! You know what I had to grow up hearing from the other kids at school every day? ‘Alton Waverunner’s mom’s a whore!’ And I couldn’t say anything to defend you because THEY WERE RIGHT! You wonder why I was so happy at Smuggsworth? Is it really a surprise? For once, no one knew me or my family and I didn’t have to hear people call you a slut at school every day! You have NO idea what that’s like! It’s humiliating, Mom! I’m embarrassed to be a Waverunner!”
“THAT’S ENOUGH!” a voice louder than mine boomed and everyone jumped, except me. I didn’t have time to because my father’s hands were on my shoulders and pulling me roughly away from my mother almost as soon as he shouted that. “How dare you speak to your mother that way?! I thought we raised you better than that! We sent you to Smuggsworth so you could reach your full potential, not so you could turn into a self-righteous snob who thinks it’s okay to disrespect his parents! Your mother’s due any day now! She doesn’t need this stress!” Dad shouted at me.
I felt about two inches tall. He was right, of course. I still thought I was only trying to help this family, but saying those things to Mom… I didn’t even mean to, really. It just kind of exploded out of me without any warning. I opened my mouth to apologise, but the words got stuck in my throat. I was too proud to take any of it back. Proud and yes, stupid, but at the time, I didn’t see that.
Dad sighed and put his hands on my shoulders. “Look, Alton. I know you’re trying to help us and I’m proud of you for that, but we don’t need help. Yes, our house is small and maybe the neighbours don’t like us so much, but who cares what they think? They don’t have a big family to love like ours. They’re the ones missing out, not us. We have more than our rich neighbours will ever have,” he tried to explain to me. “We’re not moving to Starlight Shores. We like it right here where we’ve always been.”
Something inside me hardened at those words and I clenched my fists. They just didn’t understand. They couldn’t dream big so they were doomed to stay in this cesspool for the rest of their lives, but I still wanted more out of life than that. I was better than that. “Fine. You don’t have to move to Starlight Shores, but I still am,” I told my parents coldly.
My mother burst into sobs. “Alton! You just came home! You can’t leave again! You can’t!” she wailed.
“Yes I can, Mom!” I retorted. “I’m a grown man! That’s what grown men do! They leave home and start their own lives and that’s what I’m doing! I tried to help this family, but you obviously don’t want my help, so fine! You can stay here, but I’m going to actually BE someone! The girls can come with me if they want. I’ll help them find talent agents so they can do something with their lives.”
“No! No, you can’t leave and take more of my babies with you!”
My father put his hands on my mother’s shoulders comfortingly. “Come on, let’s step outside for a minute,” he told her and led my crying mother out the front door, but I could still hear and see them out the window.
“Maybe this is a good thing,” he reasoned with her. My mom was crying so hard, all she could do was shake her head. “Listen to me. Alton’s right about one thing; he’s a grown man and needs to live his own life. We wouldn’t be very good parents if we didn’t let him do that.”
“But the girls–”
“The girls are old enough to choose for themselves. I wouldn’t stop them from living their dreams, either and… with the new baby, there won’t be room for everyone and money will be tighter than ever. Everyone’s going to be suffering soon. If Alton moves out with the girls, it’ll leave some room for the new baby and leave us with some extra money in our pockets to take care of the kids still in our house. You know they’ll be safe with Alton. He’s always taken care of them.”
“He needs to do this, Azure. He’ll come back home when he’s ready, trust me,” my dad told her, holding her close.
“Mom…” I tried to talk to her when she came back in with Dad, but she wouldn’t even look at me.
“I can’t talk to you right now, Alton. I’m going to bed,” she announced sullenly. She only made it to the bottom of the stairs before she stopped and clutched her belly in pain.
And the apocalypse unfolded.
In seconds, Wade, Aqua and Turquoise were all jumping around and screaming wildly in a panic. I was just frozen in place. I didn’t know what to do. Thankfully, Mom did. She sighed and rolled her eyes before groaning in pain again.
“Oh for Sea Gods’ sake! It’s not like I’m dying. I gave birth to six of you, didn’t I? Calm down,” she told everyone as my father came running in and ushered her out the door, presumably to catch a cab to the hospital.
When my parents walked in the door with a baby carrier that had three newborn babies inside, my jaw dropped. Triplets?! My mother had triplets?! She went from having six kids to nine in one day! I suddenly had eight siblings! Eight! This was madness! She announced that there were two boys and a girl. Tempest, Tide and Coral. More siblings that I hardly knew, just like Lake and Brook. More siblings that I was going to end up taking care of when my parents died because if I didn’t, they’d be put into the system and I couldn’t let that happen to my family. I came so close to being a number in the system, along with Wade and the girls. I’ll never forget that day. Ever. It still haunts me even now, as an adult.
Eleven people and a dog in one tiny little house was just too much. Mom and Dad needed more space in that house more than ever.
It was time for me to move out.