It was finally the weekend and we usually spend it in the near by city, Richdale. My older siblings Lamar, Nia and Jordan stay with our grandparents since they attend the magic school. They usually stay with us during the summer but my siblings were involved into some summer programs that will help with the college applications. So we often visit the city to spend time with them. I have other siblings in Richdale, Topaz’s twin Opal moved to Richdale after having a set of twins and marrying their father. L2 and his family moved to Richdale last year. Echo got married, her husband and 2 daughters live there too. And Eli lives there with his grandma since he’s attends the magic school too.
There was a game at the stadium Friday night and would be another one Saturday morning in Richdale that my dad had to attend to. He decided to stay in Richdale after the game Friday since he would need to go back in the morning. Mom still had some things to do at home, so we didn’t go into the city until Saturday morning. Normally I would hope we would go on Friday night but since meeting Noelle, it didn’t bother me so much. I asked mom if Noelle could come with us one day. She said maybe later when our families get to know each other. I couldn’t wait to show my first friend all the fun we could have in Richdale.
Most of the time we stayed with my mom’s parents. It was big enough for my large size family. Their house was always fun. They had so many cool things to do. They have a movie room, a game room, a playground and a pool too. We have a pool at home too but their house is more fun. We always looked forwarded into going to see our grandparents.
Although we now know the truth, our grandparents aren’t our biological grandparents but we were told that nothing changes. We looked at them as our Mama and Papa, and they looked at us as their “sweet babies” as what mama called her grandchildren. Our grandparents knew that my dad had told us the truth of how we came to be. They acted as nothing was different and we did as well.
Sometimes I wonder with us knowing the truth at such a young age was a good thing. I believe we may have felt differently if we were older. Kids are more resilient than adults. They wanted to tell us when we were a little bit older but that would probably be a bad idea. Sure we were hurt for a moment but we were promised that nothing will change.
I was happy to tell mama about my new friend Noelle. Mom teased me by telling Mama that I had a girlfriend. I denied it, saying that Noelle wasn’t my girlfriend, she was just a friend, my first friend. Of course Mama teased me as well, I was annoyed just being a child but I knew she didn’t mean any harm.
“So can my friend come stay here with me one day?”
“Sure when it’s okay with her parents. I plenty of room for you sweet babies to bring friends over.”
“Cool! You will like her! She’s really pretty and has grey eyes. She’s from Bridgeport and she really likes genies. I’m the first one she met!”
“Aww, so you think she’s really pretty?”
“Yeah I guess.”
“Sounds like you want her as a girlfriend. Ha ha ha.”
“No I don’t! She’s my friend!”
“Yeah for now but I’m sure that will change.”
“No it won’t!”
I went outside to play in the sandbox with Montell. It was a nice summer day and mama and papa rather have us play outside than to stay indoor. I did like playing outside, the area where my grandparents lived was nice and quiet. It was slightly outside of the city and they had a nice view of the lake. It was nice to hear nothing but nature, my grandparents only had one neighbor.
My uncle Isaac lived next door, he’s also mom’s twin brother. Uncle Isaac is a professional basketball player, a coming star at the time. He has a wife named Anastasia, she’s a fitness guru with her own workout video. I remember her being the most beautiful woman I ever seen at the time. She has gray eyes and maybe that’s why I liked Noelle’s eyes so much. Uncle Isaac and Anastasia had 4 kids at the time but she looked amazing for being a mother of 4. My cousins were a lot older than me, so I really didn’t hang out with them so much.
“You think we’ll see Anastasia today?”
Montell had as much as a crush on Anastasia as much as I did.
“Maybe. Mama said we are gonna go to the lake today. Why?”
“You think she’ll like me? I’m wearing my best shirt. Ana said she likes red cars.”
“I’m gonna marry her one day.”
“But Uncle Isaac is married to her. She’s our aunt, Monty.”
“Yeah but not our real aunt. Only cause Uncle Isaac married her but I think she’ll marry me. Last time she said that I was cute.”
“She said I was cute too. So I guess she likes me too.”
“She can’t like you! She know that you’re a….”
“I’m a what? A freak?”
“That’s not what I mean! You’re not a full genie. She only likes real genies.”
“But I am a real genies! I will have my powers too one day.”
“I hope so.”
Montell and I could hear papa calling for us. It was time to go the lake. I liked the lake, it was nice to stare into. I couldn’t swim, so I usually just stuck my toes into the water and sat on the edge of the shore. I use to wiggle my toes and sometimes kick around in the water, splashing one of my sisters. But today I get to do more.
This summer I get to swim around in the lake with the other for the first time. I was uneasy about it cause one of Giana’s friends drowned last summer at another lake. I didn’t know how to swim and I was told that I was strong enough to do some light swimming.
Mom geared me up for my first swimming lesson. I really didn’t want wear all of these safety swimming gear. It felt uncomfortable and I looked out of place. Mom said it was for my own good and told me to suck it up after whining how I didn’t wanna wear it. I watched the other swim around and laugh. What I’ll give just to be normal.
Mama was gonna teach me for today. Papa was going to but he forgot to pack his swim trunks. I guess I didn’t mind Mama teaching me instead. But I really wanted Anastasia to teach me but she wasn’t here yet.
“Are you ready, Rai?”
“I dunno. I don’t wanna drown.”
“Don’t worry about that sweetie. Mama gotcha, I’m not gonna let any of my sweet babies drown. Your floaties are going to help you. It’s why your momma is making you wear it.”
“So I won’t drown?”
“No baby, you’re gonna be just fine. You’ll be swimming in no time.”
My first lesson was to learn how to float. I felt like a rock and would sink if Mama let go of me. Mama tried to assure me that I would be fine but nothing seem to put me in ease. I felt at any moment I would drop to the bottom of the lake if Mama let go of. Knowing that the floaties would keep me afloat, I worried what if one suddenly popped. As a child I always thought the worse of things. I’m such a nervous wreck.
“You’ll be okay baby. Just pretend that you’re feather.”
“I can’t! Please don’t let go of me!”
“You’re gonna be okay. Mama isn’t gonna let anything happen to you. Just relax.”
“I don’t think I can!”
“Relax Raiden. Count to 10. You gotta relax. You don’t wanna stress out. It’s hard on your heart.”
“1…2…3…4…5…6 I dunno think I can, Mama!”
“Yes you can, baby. Count to 10.”
I started to get a hang of floating on my back. Mama felt it was time to learn how to move my arms and legs around. I was so awkward trying to kick my legs and move my arms. I looked like a helpless bird trying to fly with a broken wing. I couldn’t get my legs and arms to move in the same rhythm. I was actually glad Noelle or Anastasia wasn’t here. I didn’t want them to see them making a fool of myself.
I didn’t really get a hang of swimming that day. I was so nervous about going underwater. But Mama didn’t want to give up on me. She knew I would learn how to swim, but I really needed to relax. That was my main problem. Jordan tried to give me some words of courage but I still felt useless.
Mama refused to give up on me. No matter how much I moan and whine. She did her best to encourage me when I didn’t believe I could.
Mama felt that we should take a break for while. I was given an inflatable lounger and was told to be careful. Mama carefully helped me onto the lounger and asked Jordan to keep watch on me.
I kicked back and relaxed on the longer. I thought the last few days that I got to hang out with Noelle. I didn’t it was strange that I was thinking about her a lot. I was just happy to finally have a friend to play who wasn’t related to me. She told me all about Bridgeport and her family.
Noelle had 3 older brothers, she was the youngest and the only girl besides her teenage aunt. Her mom is pregnant and Noelle hopes the baby would be a girl so she’ll have a little sister. They moved to Riverview because Noelle’s dad job moved to Richdale. They decided to live in the suburb Riverview because they felt it was a nice town to raise their growing family in. Noelle’s grandparents passed away and they took in her mom’s teenage sister. Noelle doesn’t really like her much, she said all she does is complain. She didn’t want leave Bridgeport cause she had a boyfriend.
I felt a sneeze coming on, I tried to stop it but ended up letting out a big sneeze. I lost my balance and topple over off of the longer into the lake.
I was in full panic mode for a brief moment. I quickly came to surface due to my floaties. I thought I was going to die although I was only underwater roughly for 30 seconds. I coughed, trying to catch my breath. I looked around to see if anyone notice and I saw Jordan trying to swim towards as quickly as possible.
“Hey man, you okay?”
“You weren’t watching me!”
I was angry at Jordan and I furiously splashed water in Jordan’s face. He was supposed to be watching me so this kind of thing wouldn’t happen. I always had a short temper and easily snapped at others. It matter how little or big the issue was, I’m just never good at keeping my cool.
“Sorry! But stop that shit! You’re getting water in my eyes!”
“Well I got water in my eyes when I fell!”
“Yeah?! That doesn’t mean you can splash water in mine! You need to chill out!”
Later on in the afternoon we had lunch at the Sweetheart Cafe that Mama owned. I love eating there cause the food was always good. Mama opened the cafe when mom was just 15. Mama felt that Richdale could use a place that served homemade soul food. She named it Sweetheart Cafe after her famous Sweetheart pie. It’s the best pie ever. It’s made with a Navox fruit called Suriah which translates to “Sweetheart” in English. The Suriah fruit is extremely sweet and red in color and looks similar to raspberries. Mama’s Sweetheart pie is a poplar choice and I couldn’t wait to have a slice.
Over the years, Mama added on a bakery and a tea room. Mama loved to bake sweets and drink tea. We usually have a sugar rush after spending the weekend with Mama. It’s always a hassle for my parents on Sunday night when getting us ready for bed. We are just so hyper from all the pie and cake we ate. Mom always complained that she gives us too much sugar. But Mama always say, “They are my sweet babies, I gotta keep them sweet.”
Most of my family from my mom’s side was at the cafe. Family meals were always great, we chat and tease each other and catch up on each other lives. The game was over with and Dad joined us with his big appetite. Most genies have huge appetites but I swear Dad has a bottomless pit for a stomach.
Dad talked about how Isaac’s team won and he was impressed by Isaac’s new moves. I really haven’t been into basketball, Dad does takes us to games at the stadium since he gets free tickets. I only went cause I like hanging out with my dad. My brothers besides Antonio are really into sports. It would be a while before I actually gotten into watching sports. After everyone was done with their meals, it was time for my favorite part. Sweetheart pie! Mama called it Sweetheart pie not only because what the fruit means but once you have a slice, you’ll fall in love with Mama.
Afterwards we all headed to the Main Street park. Dad said Eli would be there and I was excited to see Eli. I don’t always see him when I’m in town. Eli was an active kid and his grandma kept him busy with special programs. I guess that was cool but my dad started to complain that he wasn’t able to spend enough time with Eli and urge his grandma to free up his schedule on the weekends.
Eli was often confused as my little brother since he was a lot shorter than me. Eli was born early like me, his birth mother set her house on fire to get my dad’s attention. She got hurt in the fire and ended up giving birth 4 weeks early. Mom said I was once smaller than my litter mates but had a growth spurt when I was 3. Spoiler alert, Eli ended up taller than me when he turned 16.
“Hi Rai! Are you gonna stay the night at my house with Dad?”
“Yeah! Your grandma’s house is kinda fun. April isn’t gonna be there is she?”
“I dunno. She likes to hang out with her boyfriend on the weekends.”
“I guess that’s cool. You should come over to my house so you can meet my friend. We got new neighbors. They are from Bridgeport and Noelle thinks genies are cool.”
“That’s cool! Maybe I can come over next weekend. I don’t have to go to magic camp anymore.”
“Is magic camp fun?”
“Yeah but some of the kids are jerks. They keep calling me small fries cause I’m little with red hair like ketchup. One of these days. I’m gonna be tall one day. That’s what my granny said.”
Dad asked Eli and I if we were ready to go. We told him yeah but Orion and Solar said they wanted to come too. We all got into Dad’s car and headed towards Eli’s home. He lives in a witch community called Salem Grove but is often nicknamed Witch’s Cove or WC for short. Only witches lived in this area because a witch owns that area and made it where only their kind are allowed to live there. It was made to bring witches closer together and inform a coven since covens aren’t as popular now days.
We came over just in time. Eli’s grandma May was finishing up making when we arrived. Ms. May, is what I called her was also a pretty good cook. She’s a pastry chef at the downtown bistro and she often bake cookies, cupcakes and cakes whenever my dad and I stay over. I always eat well whenever I’m in Richdale.
Ms. May does have a full house. She lives in WC with her long-term boyfriend Myron, their daughter Nora, May’s daughter April and April’s toddler daughter Dakota. Ms. May has been married twice before meeting Myron. I always asked her why wasn’t she married to Myron. She told me that she and Myron love each other, getting married wasn’t gonna improve their love or change anything. Ms. May and Myron didn’t feel the need to get married since they both had failed marriages.
After dinner, Eli, Orion, Solar and I went outside. It was getting dark and Orion thought it would be cool to tell ghost stories since we were in WC and not too far from the cemetery. It was fun to tell scary stories at night, especially in WC cause strange things had happen in this area. Not sure if it was true but I thought maybe these stories were true.
Orion told us the story about a little girl named Grace who went missing 40 years ago. She was last seen near the Serra river, she was hiking with her father in the Serra woods. They say a drifter found Grace by the river, she was lost and couldn’t find her father. The drifter lead Grace up in the hills near the waterfall and pushed Grace off and onto the river below. Grace’s body was never recovered and the drifter was never seen again. They say if you go onto the Serra woods at sundown, you’ll see Grace standing by the river. She will ask me if you seen her father. If you say no, Grace will walk away and disappear into the woods. If you say yes, Grace will ask you to follow her. Grace will lead you up to the hills and stop once you reach the top of the waterfall before she pushes you off. They say the renamed to waterfall to Grace Falls in her honor. But the name is ironic given how she fell from the waterfall.
Once it got too dark, we were told to come inside. It was getting close to bedtime and we decided to play with some blocks before it was time.
“Let’s do something more fun that this.”
“Like what, Eli?”
“Let’s set up some pranks in April’s bathroom.”
“Why? What did she do?”
“She keeps eating my cookies and drinking my juice boxes. And I get in trouble by granny. April won’t admit that she ate all the cookies and drank all of the juice.”
“Hmm. I think that would be fun to mess with her.”
We headed towards April’s bathroom. Eli said April sometimes come home after he’s in bed so we had to do this quick. Eli messed with the sink so when April tries to wash her hands, water will spray in her face. Orion uses his magic in April’s shampoo that will change the hair of her hair. And I set up the toilet to spray water back at her. April was gonna get triplet pranked and it was gonna be hilarious to hear her scream.
Like predicted, April came home while we were in bed. Eli woke us up when he heard April coming up stairs. We heard April on the phone with her boyfriend, telling him that she’s gotta use the bathroom. We snicker once we heard the toilet flush and April shrieking when the toilet water sprayed back at her.
Naturally she would go to wash her hands only to be sprayed again. We started to snicker harder when we heard April shriek once again.
We heard April mumbling as she headed to her bedroom. We knew she was getting ready to take a shower and she needed to get her bathrobe first.
“Those evil jerk kids! I know you punks did this! My hair better not be ruined!”
We laughed hard as we heard April yelling in the bathroom still. I think we were almost in tears from all the laughter. We quickly stop laughing when the door flung open, it wasn’t April but it was Nora. She told us to shut up and go to bed. We continue to giggle before we finally drifted off to sleep.
We had a great weekend, loads of fun with family in Richdale. We got in trouble for the pranks but it was totally worth to be honest. After breakfast Dad told us that he was taking us to the movies and then the park with the others. We had a lot of fun but once the clock hit 3:00, I knew that it was time to return to Riverview. I always got sad when we had to leave. I wished that we lived here instead of Riverview. Other kids play with me here and it’s a lot more fun. Dad often have to go to the Richdale stadium and Mom often have assignments here too. I didn’t get why we didn’t just live here.
As we took the 20 minute drive back to Riverview, I started to happy again as we got closer to home. I thought about telling Noelle all the fun I had. I hoped she had as much fun as I did. This was probably the one time that I was happy to return home from Richdale.