Twelfth Night

       
“How are you feeling?” Olivia asked, cradling the baby girl, watching Catherine feed the boy.
       
       “Like I could fly!” Catherine beamed at her friend and then winced slightly. She looked down at the
infant suckling at her breast and stroked his fur-covered arm. “Hey you... that hurt.” She smiled back at
Olivia. “He’s a bear! He’s eaten three times since this morning.”
       
       “Can you blame him?” Olivia made herself and the girl comfortable, sitting cross-legged at the foot of
Catherine’s bed. “He’s so tiny! He’s got to eat a lot so he can grow up big and strong like his daddy!”
       
       The two women smiled at each other at that, lost for a moment in blissful normalcy. Vincent was still
no where to be found, but for the last four days it just didn’t matter to Catherine. For the last four days he
was merely off to the crystal cavern or navigating in the Catacombs. She allowed herself to believe that
he would be back soon. That in no time at all he would come home to his loving Catherine and his new
twins. In just a day or so they would be a family. It was the first time in months that anyone had seen
Catherine smile for no reason. She was just happy and no one was about to take that away from her.
They gladly agreed to keep up the fantasy... at least just for now.
       
       The excitement of the two new arrivals seemed to throw every restraint into the wind. The children
were regular visitors to Catherine and the two newborns. Many of the adults came to apologize and
congratulate Catherine. Lena had been the first to come to her. With little Catherine in tow, Lena had
apologized and tearfully explained how wrong she was, how she should have been the first to understand,
and how she so wanted to be part of the twins’ lives. The next were Jamie, William, and Pascal who
claimed that they had never hated her, but thought it best to quietly concede with Father’s wishes. Upon
her forgiveness, Jamie begged to sit and hold the twins for ‘just a minute’ that turned into a half an hour.
       
       Mouse had been the last. Catherine had actually been terrified that he wouldn’t come. But she smiled
at him when he tearfully, but honestly approached her. “It’s wrong what you did.” He proclaimed. “But it’s
okay. Mouse had to be punished once, but did something good, so it was okay. Catherine had to be
punished, but did something very good. So it’s fine with Mouse.”
       
       She smiled largely at him. “Okay, Mouse.”
       
       “Okay, good!” He bounced enthusiastically, glad to be friends again. “Okay, fine.”
       
       “Okay, good. Okay, fine.” She had repeated him quietly.
       
       Contrary to what she had claimed before, Catherine decided against a naming ceremony right away.
She had taken one look at her twins and decided that she would wait for Vincent. But the children
harassed her for a name for the twins. She hated to give them names before she knew that their father
approved. Still, she agreed that it was getting tiresome calling them ‘girl’ and ‘boy’. The children had
suggested names, the most laughable being ‘Thing 1' and ‘Thing 2'. Apparently Dr. Suess’ Cat In The Hat
had become that month’s popular favorite, and taking note of how active the twins seemed to be, the two
creatures released to create havoc was the perfect name according to the little ones.
       
       Catherine hated to see the children try to get attached to a name that would be changed soon.
Although she did agree that, for the time being, temporary names would be alright.
       
       Samantha had approached her with them first, logically explaining that it would be fun, and since the
names really didn’t fit the twins, the other children wouldn’t be so inclined to keep them later on. Catherine
had thought it over for a minute, then smiled, and then giggled. Shakespeare; the perfect filler names.
Samantha suggested the twins from Twelfth Night.
       
       Viola and Sebastian.




Cloud’s Illusions

       Jacob awoke slowly, rubbing his eyes furiously against the blinding light that fell on him unrelentingly.
He climbed his way up the wall that he had laid against to a sitting position, and finally cleared his eyes
enough to open them.
       
       In a moment he had processed the entirety of his surroundings. The walls were a brighter purple than
he had ever seen, the crumpled bed sheets were a stunning white, and the carpet that had always
fascinated him was a color that resembled the off white of many tunnel clothes. The curtains were pulled
full open letting in every shred of light filtering into the city.
       
       Panic set in instantly. He was Above, in broad morning daylight! Oh, how beautiful it was! No, this
was bad! He had to remind himself of that.
       
       Anna lay asleep next to him, perfectly sound and content. He immediately shook her awake.
       
       “Anna!” Jacob practically rocked her back and forth with all his shaking. “Anna wake up!”
       
       She was awake now. She was sitting upright in bed next to him, shaking her head to clear it of the
sudden confusion. “What?” She mumbled with a yawn. “What’s the matter?”
       
       “I’m up here!” Jacob whispered in his panic. “What do I do? Anna? What do we do?”
       
       Still disoriented, Anna looked around herself, examining her room and the brightness of it. “Jacob?
What are you doing here?”
       
       “I just woke up, and I was here! What happened?” He asked, desperately grasping for her
explanation and attention.
       
       “I dunno.” She looked around her room once more and eventually came back to Jacob. “Where’s
your dad?”
       
       “I don’t know.” He looked as though he were about to cry.
       
       This was scaring Anna now. The seriousness of the situation was becoming suddenly very clear to
her. She slid off the bed and with fierce determination, took Jacob’s hand. “Come on, maybe my mom will
know.”
       
       Jacob hesitated. He remembered the night before. This strange woman had been screaming and
yelling at his father, holding Anna hostage against them. She had frightened him beyond belief. And then
he also remembered the aftermath of it all. Her soft green eyes and something in her that he felt strangely
familiar with. Slowly he followed suit, sliding off of the bed and following Anna.
       
       Her bedroom door opened to a onslaught of smells. The children recognized some of them, but
others were a mixture that they couldn’t decipher. Pancakes, waffles, bacon, eggs, and some type of
burnt smell that threatened to overpower all of the other wonderful smells. Anna led Jacob cautiously
through the single hallway of her apartment in wonder.
       
       It smelled like a restaurant. The good kinds. Her house had never smelled so wonderful before. Was
she dreaming? She had to be. Vincent would never leave Jacob Above during the day. This was a
dream... Anna was certain. It was just so real, she could sense everything around her. Maybe she was
awake.
       
       The pair rounded the corner into the kitchen and stopped just at the threshold. Anna gazed in wonder
as her mother, with quick, sharp movements pulled burnt toast out of the toaster. Steam, smoke and
snapping sounds filled the entire area. Her mother seemed to appear from the smoke as she rushed to
the garbage can just inside the threshold.
       
       “Damn! Ow!” She threw the toast in the garbage and whirled back the way she came, plunging back
into the smog.
       
       She never saw the children standing there with wide eyes and smiling faces. She simply set her
concentration on the stove. She flipped bacon, pancakes and french toast. She rolled sausages, unstuck
the eggs and then dropped some more toast into the toaster. It was a sight to behold, from what they
could see. The smoke was getting worse.
       
       Without warning a siren wailed in alarm. Catherine ran to the smoke detector and began waving her
towel in front of it, cursing at it as quietly as her adrenalin would allow. The siren finally stopped and
Catherine dropped back off of her toes with a large sigh. And there, standing before her were Anna and
Jacob, pulling their hands away from their ears. Any distress was instantly gone. Her brightest smile was
in its place as she greeted the children. “Good morning! Breakfast?”
       
       “Mommy... what did you do?” Anna pulled Jacob cautiously into the kitchen. She looked around as if
something would jump out and attack them.
       
       “Oh,” Catherine began breathlessly, hurrying back over the stove and putting more well cooked
french toast on an already growing pile, “well, I didn’t know what Jacob liked, so I just made everything we
had. What would you like Jacob? Go on, sit down. Don’t be shy.” She spared at second to look back at
him with her glowing smile.
       
       Cautiously, Jacob slid into the chair at the far end of the kitchen table. He watched her every move,
studied everything about her. Her hair was pulled into as high of a ponytail as she could manage, and her
pajama bottoms were tied tightly around her waist, her sleeveless nightshirt falling well beyond the
waistband. She moved differently from anyone he’d ever seen. She was quick and precise. She never
tried to embellish her work, as William did at times to show off. No, she was focused and, though
fumbling, she had every move planned while she was finishing the previous action. He scanned the length
of the counter at all of the steaming (and sometimes burnt) selections.
       
       “Jacob?” Catherine rolled the last of the sausages onto the waiting plateful. She shut off all of the
burners and stepped back to survey her work. “Well... what would you like?”
       
       “How much did you make?” Anna spoke before he could, amused by her mother’s obviously short
lived ‘good idea’.
       
       “All of it.” Catherine assured. She looked straight at Jacob now, and waited. After a few seconds,
she saw how uncomfortable he was and finally just took charge. “Okay, we have... French Toast,
Pancakes, Eggs, Sausage, Bacon, and Toast. I can make you a different kind of egg if you’d like. We
have ingredients for omelets, and I can make scrambled, or...”
       
       “Are we feeding the city today, mom?” Anna again piped up, already pulling a plate out for herself.
       
       “I hope that’s for Jacob, Miss Anna. He’s a guest... and today is special.” Catherine smiled back at
him again.
       
       “Of course. Who else?” Anna lied as she set the plate in front of the boy and whispered ‘sh’.
       
       “So?” Catherine prompted Jacob again.
       
       He glanced around nervously, and finally spoke his fears. “Where’s my Father?” He asked innocently.
       
       Catherine faltered for only a moment. Thoughts of Vincent were to be left behind today. She didn’t
want to think about how or where he was, just for this one day. This was Jacob’s day, Anna’s day... her
day. But he needed an explanation, she understood that. She couldn’t be childish about this. “Your father
and I...” it was the first time that common phrase had passed her lips and she let it sink in for a moment,
“we agreed that there would be no harm in letting you spend the day with Anna. He’ll be back to get you
tonight.”
       
       Jacob beamed with excitement. “Really? I get to be Above? All day?” Catherine nodded in
assurance. Jacob jumped out of his chair and hugged Anna, who bounced with excitement.
       
       God, they were so beautiful together. Her babies. Catherine watched them with as calm a smile as
she could manage. It had been silly to think this day would be ‘Vincent- free’. Jacob looked so like him.
Those odd and beautiful features... the first thing she saw after she recovered from the attack, the first
thing she saw after she gave birth. His beautiful golden mane, only slightly darker than his father’s. And
those eyes... the azure blue that she couldn’t help but loose herself in. But, everyone else had been right...
he had her smile.
       
       Anna couldn’t be left out. Her dark skin, her blonde hair that fell so gracefully it could easily be taken
for a waterfall. Her every motion as smooth as a cat. And as she danced around the tiny kitchen with a
boy that she had no idea she had once shared a craddle, much less a womb, with, Catherine found
herself dumbstruck with wonder.
       
       These children had miraculously found each other. Perhaps she and Vincent were not meant to live
happily ever after, but their children surely would. She was positive of that through every passing moment
that day. She promised with everything in her at that very moment, she would do everything in her power
to keep them together. This time she would fight harder... and with a vengeance.
       
       “Alright!” She settled them down. “Are you going to stand around celebrating or do you want this
breakfast before it gets too cold?”
       
       “We want it!” They exclaimed, jumping into their chairs and picking out their favorites.
       
       There was still mounds of food left by the time all three of them had eaten their fill of the delicious
foods. Jacob had eaten the most, taking six pieces of bacon, four sausages, and four pancakes. He
explained to Catherine (who didn’t really need to be told) and Anna that many forms of meat were rare to
receive Below.
       
       Anna fell back in her chair dramatically, sighing heavily. She wrapped her arms around her full belly
making sick faces at Jacob.
       
       “Well,” Catherine mimicked her daughter, “I’m about to explode.”
       
       “Make sure you clean up the mess afterward.” Anna quipped smartly.
       
       Catherine made a face at her daughter, causing Jacob to burst into giggles. “Anna, would you help
me clean this up, please?”
       
       Anna nodded obediently and hopped down. But Jacob sat up quickly and eagerly. “I can help.” He
volunteered. “It’s all I’ve been doing for the last month anyway.” He said ruefully.
       
       Catherine furrowed her brow, not really comprehending what he meant by that. Anna immediately
explained. “It’s his punishment for coming Above without his dad.”
       
       “Ah.” Catherine nodded in acknowledgment. “Well then...” Jacob slid off the stool, waiting for a task,
“feel free to not work today.” She smiled at him.
       
       He had taken a step forward before what she had said sunk in. He returned the smile happily and
backed up against the wall to be out of the way.
       
       “So Jacob,” Catherine began, raising her voice over the running water, “I feel a little reckless today.
How about you?”
       
       Still a little awkward around this incomprehensible woman, Jacob shrugged. “It seems to be a
reckless day so far. Why stop now?”
       
       “Exactly what I say!” She smiled down at Anna who watched her mother curiously. “So, how would
you like to be shown around the city today?”
       
       The room was stone quiet except for the constant sound of the running water. Anna glanced between
her mother and Jacob, as if she believed that her mother had gone blind and did not see that Jacob
couldn’t be exposed to the city. Jacob actually began shaking. His mind was racing, and Anna could
actually see his heartbeat increasing rapidly.
       
       Finally Anna began tentatively. “Momma, Jacob can’t...”
       
       “I know all about that, Ann. Believe me, I know.” She smiled slightly and spoke sincerely. “My
question still stands; would you like to see the city?”
       
       Jacob was frozen, his mouth hung open. “I... I can’t...”
       
       Catherine whirled around from the sink, and approach him calmly, sinking to his level and taking his
tiny, furry hands in her own dripping wet ones. “Jacob,” she stared into those beautiful blue eyes, “for one
moment, I want you to forget. Forget about who you are, what you look like. Just pretend that none of that
matters, for one moment.” She stared so hard into his eyes that she was sure that she felt something stir
inside her, something that went well beyond a motherly passion... something that had been lying dormant
in her for many years. “Close your eyes.” She whispered. Without any hesitation he did, and she tightened
her grip on his hands. “Now forget. Forget all of it.” Slowly she watched her smile crawl across the little
boy’s face. All of a sudden Catherine felt so free! She could fly if she wanted to. Tears welled in her eyes
at this magical feeling and she smiled with Jacob. “Open your eyes.” She whispered. His eyes fluttered
open and she was again staring deeply into that enigmatic blue ocean. “Would you like to see the city
today?” She posed the question as if it was the first time she had asked.
       
       Jacob’s smile just got bigger. He nodded furiously, conviction within the very depths of him. She had
made him truly believe that he could. And he held onto that feeling with everything in him.
       
       “Good.” Catherine smiled and let go of his hands, standing back up. She turned around to Anna and
found her daughter’s emerald eyes swimming with tears. She wiped her own eyes and sniffed back her
emotions. “We’re having a picnic on the roof today.” She informed both of them.
       
       Anna’s eyes grew twice their normal size and her smile exceeded even that. “You can see almost the
whole city from the roof!” She informed Jacob who was still staring at Catherine, entranced.
       
       “We’ll take the key and lock it so that no one can follow us. What do you think, Jacob?” She smiled
down at him. “We’ll spend our day in the clouds.”
       
       Catherine had no warning... no time to prepare. Jacob simply launched himself at her, wrapping his
tiny arms around her waist and holding her tightly. She had been startled, but melted into the hug,
pressing his head against her stomach and running her fingers through his thick mane. Jacob didn’t let
go. He held her tightly, refusing to lose her it seemed. It was then that Anna noticed her mother crying. It
was a rare sight, and Anna moved closer to see this odd scene better. Catherine immediately wrapped
one arm around her daughter and pulled her as close as she had Jacob. Anna wrapped one arm around
Jacob, and one around Catherine as her best friend buried himself in her crying mother.
       
       The wall around the rooftop was high, high enough that both Jacob and Anna had to climb on tip-toe
to see down over it. The half of the roof against the adjacent building (which was a few feet shorter) was a
garden that a few of the tenants would keep up. Jacob spent the first half an hour up there, sitting within
that garden, asking for names of each flower he saw. But finally he moved to the wall where he was able
to watch the world he loved, in the daylight. Catherine called the children over near the garden where she
had spread out a picnic for lunch.
       
       Jacob stared at Catherine, confused, his head swimming a bit. “Why?” He asked innocently.
       
       “I’m just curious.” She smiled, quickly recovering with; “You’re Anna’s best friend now... I’d like to
know a little about you.”
       
       Anna trotted over to the blanket spread across the concrete of the roof. She picked up a cracker and
a piece of cheese, and popped them into her mouth, shrugging at Jacob when he gave her a slightly
panicked face.
       
       “Okay.” He answered timidly, not sure what this would entail.
       
       “Are you just called Jacob? Or do you have full name?” Catherine scooped a little dip onto her chip
and carefully balanced it into her mouth.
       
       “Just Jacob. My grandfather’s last name is Wells, but we don’t use it or anything.” These seemed like
easy enough questions, and he felt free to speak of whatever he wanted around the mother and daughter.
He and his father were the big secret of the tunnels. Once you knew about them, the rest of it was nothing.
       
       “He was named after his grandfather!” Anna proclaimed for her friend. “Just like I was named after
Grandma Caroline.”
       
       “Mhm.” Catherine acknowledged quietly, busying herself with picking up the lunch items.
       
       Jacob, in his innocence, just kept going. Catherine had asked for information. How was he to know
how much certain details stung her? “My grandfather is doctor! He used to live Above, but he found the
tunnels, and brought my father down there. We do all sorts of things together. He reads to me whenever I’
m sick and father can’t be there. He took care of me for a long time after my mother left.” He was quiet,
reflecting on his own thoughts. He didn’t even see Catherine freeze and begin to bite her lip. She did all
she could to move away from the story, packing up food and pulling out games, but her curiosity pushed
her to listen. “I was just a baby. No one really likes to talk about her. Sometimes people tell me that I look
like her. They say that I have her smile. Grandfather denies that completely, though. But... grandfather has
never liked her. He said so himself! Everyone else says that she was really kind. Beautiful too! Father
says that she had ‘hair like silk, eyes like the sea, and a face like an angel’.” He was suddenly quiet and
solemn. “I don’t think that she left, though. I think that she died.”
       
       Catherine was still, and finally looked up into Jacob’s far-away eyes. “Why would you think that?” She
tried to make it sound casual, but the question arose in her with such heartbreaking passion.
       
       Jacob seemed to come back to her, eager to share with someone who didn’t mind speaking of his
mother. “Sometimes, whenever I’m sad, or I don’t know what to do... I can hear her. She whispers the
answer in my ear... sometimes.” He looked away, slightly ashamed of his confession.
       
       The rooftop was silent for a few moments. Catherine was working her hardest to not show her pain at
his words. He thought she was dead. What would happen when and if he ever found out who she was?
What would he think of that voice in his mind he had so long believed was her speaking to him. ‘Damn
you, Father! These children would be forever scared by this’, she was sure.
       
       “What was her name?” Anna’s sweet voice compassionately broke the quiet tension.
       
       Catherine looked up quickly at the two children. If anyone had told Jacob her name, that would be the
end of the preciously kept secret. The truth of everything would be revealed that moment, 3:00pm, on
Catherine and Anna’s apartment building roof. The world seemed to watch Jacob in anticipation.
       
       Finally, the boy’s large, bright blue eyes met both mother and daughter’s faces. Sadly he spoke, “I
don’t know. Father’s never said.”
       
       Catherine realized that she had been holding her breath as she exhaled it all. Relief washed over
her. There was still time. Time to understand this situation before she was forced to explain it to her twin
children.
       
       “Mom won’t tell me my dad’s name either.” Anna stated, an obvious jab as she glanced at Catherine.
       
       Finally, something she was practiced at. “Ann, not now.” She gave her routine answer.
       
       “I was just pointing out something we have in common.” Anna smiled with mock innocence.
       
       Catherine smiled, and shook her head. She climbed off the picnic blanket and mussed Anna’s hair
as she walked past to the concrete wall on the edge of the roof. She let the tension go in her body as she
leaned against the wall. The last few hours were some of the most glorious and stressful of her life. She
had been holding so much in... everything. It had taken every ounce of control to not hold Jacob for every
second of those few hours that they had spent together. She was exhausted now, and, like always, as she
gazed out at the city its power seemed to pull all of the tension away from her. She didn’t look, merely
smiled slightly as she sensed a presence move next to her.
       
       For a few seconds there was calm, peace... the kind right before the storm hits. Catherine wasn’t
herself, not the one that she knew at present. She was someone that she had left behind years ago.
Young, energetic, willing, determined, and idealistic. She was tormented and happy; she was in love with
a man buried deep below their beloved city. And for those seconds, standing there the way she was, it
was Vincent standing beside her. And she and him were looking out at the world that rejected them in this
daylight, but would soon embrace them as night fell, as they had done countless times in the past.
       
       Catherine looked at her companion at her side, and was not at all surprised to see Jacob at her hip,
staring into the distance with her. She smiled and ran her fingers through his mane of wavy honey hair.
The boy never flinched, as if this were a common reaction from a total stranger. She pulled Jacob close
to her side, and found Anna on her other side. Holding her children close, and gazing out at the bright city
below them, Catherine remembered the time she and Vincent had been seen by the watcher. Only for a
second did she panic... and then she pictured what this must look like to anyone who might be watching.
Vincent had imagined that if someone were watching, they would be smiling on the pair. Well, here she
stood with their children. Were they smiling still?
       
       For the first time in a long time, she truly hoped so.
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