Monday, 4 March 2019

The Forgotten Hollow Tinies: Interlude C - Mummy's Day Off

Shortly after the birth of Jules, Gregory Ridley came by to see me. Over the years, as my children had been growing up, he and I had formed a friendship: chatting as we passed in the street, often popping into each other's houses for drinks - just your run-of-the-mill neighbourly amicability.

























On this occasion, he came bearing gifts in a beautiful basket. He knocked politely, and as I answered, I fear that I came across as rather rude: groaning as the sun hit my strained eyes, and wincing as bolts of pain shot through my exhausted body. His concern was immediate.

























"Amelia? Are you all right?"

"What?" I answered sleepily, half-yawning. "Oh, hi, Gregory... yes, I'm fine. Just - you know - exhausted."

"The little ones zapping your energy?"

"Oh, you'd better believe it. I'm having trouble getting Jules to sleep - not to mention I've just found out I'm expecting again."

"Really?" Gregory said, surprised. "So soon?"

"Yeah." I replied casually. "Still, no rest for the wicked, I guess."

"You're hardly wicked."

"Tell that to Mrs. Casper."

"Oh, don't you mind that old windbag."

Looking down at the basket he was carrying, Gregory suddenly remembered the reason for his visit.

"Oh! I brought these for you," he said brightly, holding the present out to me. "Bath salts, candles... load of relaxing stuff. I saw them over in Bluewater Village, and thought of you."

Touched by his kindness, I took them from him, smiling.

"Thank you, Gregory. That's really kind of you."

As he grinned back, we paused for a moment in a heartwarming silence - disrupted suddenly and sharply by the wail of my youngest child in his cradle, causing me to wince.

"I'd best see to him," I said to Gregory, nodding towards the house. "Look, if you don't mind waiting for a while, would you like to come in for a drink? We can carry on our chat."

"Sounds good," Gregory answered. "I'd love a cup of tea."

"Oh," I gasped, embarrassed. "Well, I've not had chance to go to the shops this week, so I only have juice..."

With a soft chuckle, Gregory waved his hand dismissively.

"No problem. Juice would be great."

Sighing with relief, I led him inside.

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Once I'd got little Jules settled, I poured Gregory and myself a glass of orange juice, and sat down with him at the table - groaning again as my back made contact with the chair. Gregory reached out a hand instinctively, but I waved it away.

"I'm fine, Gregory, really - thank you. I'm used to it by now."

Once I was settled, I took a sip from my glass, and turned towards the gift basket.

"Thanks again for the present," I told my guest. "You didn't have to."

"Oh, it's my pleasure,"  Gregory replied. "I know the kids must keep you running ragged - I figured a nice bath would be perfect when you get some "me" time."

I spluttered with laughter.

"Chance would be a fine thing," I said light-heartedly. "It seems that every time one of my kids outgrows the cradle, there's another one ready to fill the gap. They keep me busy, all right."

As he took a gulp of juice, Gregory seemed pensive. I noticed his eyes widen as his sought-after brainwave struck, and he turned to me excitedly.

























"You know," he began, "there's a new spa open over in Windenburg. I saw it in the paper - people are saying good things. Maybe you could go over there for the day - get a bit of pampering? It would help you feel better."

As I imagined such a treat, I sighed weakly.

"That would be wonderful," I whispered. "But, no - I couldn't. I'm not sure I could even afford it."

"I'll pay," Gregory replied. "Consider it part two of my gift."

"Oh, Gregory, really," I protested. "I couldn't ask you to - "

"I want to. Please. You're my friend."






















"Look, I'm grateful, but... well, who'd take care of the kids? I don't know any sitters who'd be free for the whole day."

"Well, I'm free."

I turned to him.

"You are?"

"Yeah. In both senses of the word. I'll look after the kids - no charge. I've nothing else to do. You go out, enjoy yourself."

As I hesitated, he clasped my hand in his, and looked into my eyes.

"You've raised all of your children alone for so long," he said softly. "You deserve this - you've earned it."

As I sandwiched his hand between both of mine, I smiled at him.

"All right," I answered. "If you insist. Thank you so, so much."

Gregory said nothing - replying simply with a contended nod.

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As I travelled over to Windenburg and found myself standing outside of the new state-of-the-art spa building, my mind was abuzz with worries. Would Gregory be OK on his own with the kids? Would they behave? Would he hate me forever after today?

But then, as I stepped inside, donned a fluffy white robe and began my treatments, all of my fears and concerns were about to melt away. 























A long soak in a Jacuzzi bath filled with rose petals - accompanied by gentle melodies - soothed my soul, and made me feel at peace.















A hot stone massage relieved the pain in the back, the tension dropping away like a weight released from a balloon.
















A foot rub eased the swelling in my ankles, and the ache caused by chasing my children around all day, every day.

























Finally, I wound up my treat day by trying a pregnancy yoga class.

I was so busy enjoying myself that I lost all track of time. When I finally found myself walking up the grave-strewn path to my house, evening had already started to fall. There on the lawn, checking the leaves of one of my drooping pot plants, was Gregory.



















"You need bug spray on this," he remarked. "I'll bring some around for you tomorrow."

"Sorry I stayed out so long," I said sheepishly.

"No problem - I wanted you to make the most of it. Did you have a nice time?"

"Oh, it was bliss - thank you. I hope the kids weren't too much trouble?"

"None at all," he answered assuredly. "They're a great bunch of munchkins. If you need a sitter again, call me anytime."
















As he smiled at me, I swore I could feel butterflies fluttering in my stomach. It was bizarre: none of my other gentleman friends had ever made me feel like that.

"You be careful with that one, Ridley!" hissed a acid-filled voice from the roadside. "She's a good-for-nothing slut!"





















Annoyed, I turned my head sharply to glare at her.

"Walk on, Mrs. Casper," I snapped. "No-one here is talking to you."

























"I don't need permission to speak from a harlot," came the blistering response. "I'm telling you, Ridley - keep your distance. She's eyeing you up for her next child benefit cheque."

I could feel the flames of fury breaking out across my face. I was about to give that old witch a piece of my mind, when Gregory suddenly approached her, incredibly calmly, and stared her down.














"Ms. Livingstone is a friend," he said matter-of-factly, "and I don't appreciate you talking to my friend like that. Her children are well-cared for, so however many she chooses to have is not your concern. I'd bet good money that you're just jealous of her since you haven't any family of your own to love you, you miserable hag."

Mrs. Casper choked on her own bile.

























"How dare you speak to me like that!" she roared, outraged. "I refuse to stay here and be insulted!"

She turned on her heel dramatically, marching away. As he watched her performance, Gregory smirked proudly, and waved her off.






















"Goodnight, Agatha," he called. "Try not to be a bitch to anyone else before you get home!"

I stifled a giggle desperately. Once the coast was clear, Gregory turned back to me, and I felt my heart skip a beat.



"Thank you," I whispered. "For sticking up for me."

"You're welcome," he replied. "Don't you listen to that cow - her dried-up heart hasn't got any love left in it. Besides... what are friends for?"

Incredibly grateful, I rushed towards him, embracing him tightly.






















At first, Gregory was taken aback by this. But soon, he relaxed into my arms - wrapping his own around my body tenderly as he returned the gesture.





















"I should check on the kids," I said, pulling away - more than a little reluctantly.  "Thank you again for everything."

"It's no trouble - really. I'll bring over that bug spray first thing tomorrow morning."

"OK... I'll see you then. Goodnight."

"Goodnight."

After I'd watched him walk out of the front gate, I entered the house. Henry, Gabriel and Freyja were all gathered in the front room, quietly playing a game together. As I closed the door behind me, they looked up happily.

"Mama!" cried Henry.

"Hi, Mum," Freyja said chirpily. "How was your day?"

"Wonderful. How about yours? Did Mr. Ridley look after you all OK?"

"He was great!" Gabriel replied eagerly. "He played with Henry all morning. He even read him a book before naptime."

The toddler giggled, clapping his hands enthusiastically at the memory.






























 



















"Then," Gabriel continued, "when Freyja and I came home from school, he helped us out with our homework."














"That's great to hear," I said, relieved that everything had gone so well. "I guess I'd best go and check on Ianto and Jules."

"No need, Mum," Freyja said quickly. "Gregory took care of everything. They've been fed, had their nappies changed, and have been tucked up in their cradles. He said he didn't want you to worry about anything tonight."

My goodness... it seemed Gregory really did care about me. About us. Me and my children.





















Happy and relaxed, I scooped Henry up into my arms. 

"I think it's bedtime for this little man, too," I said. "Gabriel, one more hour, then it's your bedtime. Freyja, don't you stay up too late either - I want to be the last one in bed tonight, understand?"

"Yes, Mum."

"Good. You've made me very proud today."

____________________________














I kept my composure all the way to my front door. There was no way I was going to let that woman see me as weak... as vulnerable. 

I didn't want her pity, her sympathy - neither hers, nor that of her latest love slave Ridley. The poor deluded fool: she was bound to use him for a baby and then throw him away, just as she had with all the others. It was deplorable.

It was only later, once I was safely locked away in the privacy of my own front room, that I finally let the tears flow.

























I refused to let Ridley think his petty words had hurt me. I wouldn't give him the pleasure. Besides, they were nothing compared to the pain I had long carried so secretly in my heart. 

I didn't want to hate the girl. Truly, I didn't. But whenever I saw her, surrounded by her ever-growing brood, the sound of children's laughter floating through the air like music, her young, delicate hands gently caressing yet another baby bump...

... the memories were more than I could bear.

Monday, 25 February 2019

The Forgotten Hollow Tinies: Part Seven - Babies, Birthdays and Bedroom Plays

Back at The Old Mausoleum, we're carrying right on from where we left off. Our next potential baby daddy, Joaquin Le Chien, has just arrived... and it seems the girls are curious about Mummy's new friend.




















After ushering her daughters away to her bedroom, Amelia heads to bed herself - with an eager Joaquin in tow, completely bowled over by her kiss.



















Loving the bunny slippers!

















For the procreation professional that Amelia has swiftly become, one attempt is all that's necessary.






















Although, given that this is her ninth pregnancy, you think she'd be able to cope with the symptoms a bit better by now.

























With the deed done, Joaquin's out the door, and it's back to the other old grind for Amelia - daubing masterpieces onto canvas for profit.

























With the new Ministry of Labour function - and with labour being something Amelia knows a lot about - I decide to make her destined role into her official title.









And what a mother she is - doting on her children constantly. She's almost reached the top of the Cooking skill with all the tasty meals she prepares for them... although sometimes, when you see the cereal bowls that the kids grab behind her back, you have to wonder why she even bothers.












Mind you, Amelia does need to bake plenty of cakes. As the end of her latest pregnancy nears, we have a whole hoard of birthdays coming up!

To start things off, Gabriel becomes a toddler.

























Then Freyja becomes a child. Don't let that grumpy face fool you - she's actually a Goofball.

























Sadly, her celebration is marred by the fact that she falls ill almost right away. Still, after a few glasses of orange juice and some medicine, she's soon right as rain.

























Finally, the three eldest girls - Clara, Dahlia and Einin - all come home from school with As. Time for a triple birthday! (Although I hit the wrong button whilst getting a screenshot and ended up missing Dahlia's cake ceremony... gosh darn it!)

























Now that they're teens, it's makeover time!

Since Clara is very accepting of her fate as a Reaper, and due to her special supernatural gifts, it seems only fitting that her attire should reflect her gothic personality.

























Dahlia, on the other hand, is every inch the glamour puss.

























As for Einin... this is actually how she looked the moment she aged up. Her trousers weren't to my taste, so I tweaked those, but otherwise, I was pretty pleased with the outcome!

























As baby Henry starts crying in his cradle, both Clara and Dahlia rush to the nursery to attend to him. Once he's settled, they have a friendly chat between themselves - although their timing is far from stellar. Looks like Amelia has an audience for this birth!















It's another boy!

























I is for Ianto, so charming and smart.

(Baby 9 - Ianto Le Chien Livingstone)
















Sorry if that grossed you out, girls... but you did insist on staying there to talk. No-one made you watch.

Einin's welcome is far warmer by comparison. As Amelia goes to answer a knock on the door, she gives Ianto his first bottle feed.

























Well, well, well... it appears Amelia's reputation has begun to proceed her, as random men have started visiting her in the middle of the night. Still, a baby daddy is a baby daddy, and if one is willing to come straight to her, then all the better! 

Seizing her opportunity, she seduces him at once.

















His name turns out to be Jamar Palacios. Looks a bit of a silver fox, doesn't he? Sadly, with little Ianto's arrival, we have a full house... so he'll have to stay on standby for a while until we're ready for another little bundle of joy!

















__________________________________________________

Welcome to the Livingstone Skill Mill!



















With special sessions of playtime and tutoring, Gabriel's brain grows day by day - until he's finally ready to begin his childhood and start school. For his makeover, I took inspiration from his secret agent father.

























As for our elder spy child, she takes after her father in a different way - developing a passion for fitness.





















All three teens, longtime members of Grim's Study Buddies, continue their nightly homework sessions at the dining table - with Gabriel and Freyja as their newest inductees. Their mother, knowing that it's only a matter of time until the girls enter adulthood, often sits with them - grasping every last possible moment of loving interaction with them that she can.















Yet, she can't stop the march of time. In what seems like the blink of an eye, babies C, D and E all receive their Reaper marks, and are summoned away from the nest to commence their dark duty.














This triple farewell leaves a gaping hole in the household for Amelia to fill. After taking some time to cry for her daughters' departure, she calls Jamar to keep her company through the long, lonely night.

She relies on her tried and tested three-stage method: kiss, bedroom, WooHoo.























Well, if it ain't broke, don't fix it! After a quick bathroom detour, Amelia's soon rushing back to the bedroom to share the good news... and to send Jamar on his way.























Two days later, after studying hard at school, Freyja steps off the bus with an A grade, and is ready to enter her teenage years. Once again, the cake ceremony produces a rather charming pre-set look - which I decide to keep.

























Turns out we have more fitness fanatics in the family. Freyja, running on the treadmill is all well and good... but must you really do it while your mother is sleeping?






















Gabriel is also a ball of energy, spending his spare time on the monkey bars.

















(Though, in calmer moments, he does enjoy playing a quiz with their new Lin-Z smart speaker.)



There's isn't really much point in Amelia working out at the moment. Besides, she's far too busy with her painting, nursing her babies, and baking yet another cake for yet another birthday.

























It's Henry's turn! Our "Bella Goth revenge baby" has blossomed into a cute, inquisitive toddler!

























Right away, the dollhouse becomes Henry's favourite toy.

























As he plays with him, Gabriel strives to be an excellent big brother...















... whilst Freyja is all too happy to help with Henry's formative education.

























Amelia feels his heart lift as she watches her children getting along so well... until she is distracted by an all-too-familiar pain.

























We're into double digits, folks! And this baby is a J, just like his father!















J is for Jules, with a love-laden heart.

(Baby 10 - Jules Palacios Livingstone)

Amelia has no time to rest on her laurels. True, her routine is becoming a bit robotic and predictable, but at the end of her day, her happiness in the afterlife depends on the completion of her mission.

She decides to phone up another acquaintance from the Discotheque Pan Europa - Travis Scott.



















Maybe he's heard wild and passionate tales from Joaquin down at the club, but Travis arrives pretty quickly. After a bit of smooth talk and flattery, he's Amelia's for the taking.

It's back to the three-part plan.



Naturally, it's another success story.

Upon being informed about his imminent fatherhood, Travis is less than thrilled. He tells Amelia that's he's just popping out for a "pack of smokes"... then scurries out the front door, never to be seen again. (Ah, well - his loss.)


He doesn't even stop to say hello to the other visitor walking through Amelia's front gate...

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Apologies if this challenge is getting a bit repetitive for you - but the next update will be a Story Interlude! Thanks for reading!