Paolo sighs, "Don't you have anything better to do?"
Xara grins widely, "Why does this... bother you?" she swings her hips side to side.
Several minutes pass.
"How's your work out going? Whatchya workin' on?" she asks as intrusively as possible.
"Awww, are you ignoring me? That really hurts my feelings," she pouts.
"What are you even doing?" Paolo asks exasperatedly.
"What does it look like? Dancing, silly!"
He shakes his head. Why is his sister so weird?
"Can't you do that somewhere else?"
"But then no one would see my striking elegance!"
"'Elegance' is a bit strong..."
Xara ignores her grouchy brother and keeps on dancing. He doesn't know what he's talking about, her dancing is awesome.
Marko, I think you have a problem...
Persis went out seed gathering a little while ago and has expanded her garden. She spends many tiring hours under the sun tending to it, but it suits her just fine. Plants don't talk, after all.
People, however, talk, especially at parties.
"Your parties are always great, Mr. Winterly, thanks for inviting me," A recently aged up Pablo Parrott compliments Marko.
"You're not in school anymore, just call me Marko," he says with a smile. Inwardly, Marko looks Pablo over disapprovingly. Trying to flirt with my daughter while you have a girlfriend... I'm on to you, buddy.
This does not stop him from taking a selfie with him. Keep your friends close and your enemies closer, right?
It's Xara's birthday!
Some of the guests think this party is boring...
But no matter, Xara is enjoying herself, at least.
SHE. IS SO. EXCITED!!!
Another graceful age up. I didn't have to edit any part of her outfit!
Xara greets recently aged up Keith Chandra. Yesterday she was mad at him for leading Tulip on and lying, today she just smiles and shrugs it off. It was just teen drama, right?
Now that she's an adult, she talks about adult things, like work.
"I have no idea what I'm going to be! I never took the recruiting fairs seriously," she frets. While Tulip was working, studying, and preparing for her entrance exam for the police force, Xara just lived life as usual. Drama club, friends, rushing through homework... what is she going to do now?
Keith listens and nods sympathetically. Besides his father's totally legitimate and law-abiding "business", there's not much he can think of doing. So far every single one of his adult half siblings have gone into that line of work, leaving just him, Krista, and Robi Riffin as the only Parrott children not in yet. His mother, Vallari Chandra, is elderly and only has a part time job. He needs to come up with something, and fast...
Tulip decides against a cake, seeing as she now has to subsist off of plasma, and comes out of the bathroom only after fixing her outfit.
"Hey, Paolo, I need to give you some elderly sister wisdom and stuff," she says with a laugh. At Paolo's eye roll, her tone becomes more serious, "No, really. You're really smart and I think you can do something great with that brain of yours... you just need to apply yourself. You're going to graduate soon, so you need to start thinking of these things..." she sighs. She hasn't been able to get through to her younger brother about this before, but maybe he'll at least think about what she's saying.
"I'll be fine, don't worry about me, Tulip."
I can't help it, she wants to say, you're my little brother after all. Instead she smiles and laughs with a shake of her head.
The next morning starts early. Tulip has found the recruitment ad for the police station in the local paper and called straight away. She'll take the test the next day, after her graduation ceremony.
Feeling a bit wistful, and confusingly sad about starting the rest of her life, Tulip decides to play a game of chess with her father.
"Have you found a place yet?" Marko asks, his voice thick. The girls announced their plan to move out shortly after the party, much to Marko's distress. He knows his daughters are technically adults now, but they're still his children...
"Yeah, Xara made friends with those people who live in that huge house on the hill," the Peacock-Ring family moved into town when Tulip and Xara were still toddlers and immediately bought up the enormous dwelling, "And they're looking for someone to help split the rent. Between the two of us, I think we can handle it..."
Yes, the two of them can handle it. Xara just got a job! Meet Appaloosa Plains' newest rookie musician!
All too soon, it's time for the twins' graduation. Marko tries to keep his mind off of the anxious sadness he feels at seeing his daughters in their graduation gowns by focusing on the happiness and pride for them. He cheers as Tulip and Xara enter the school building together, side by side.
They leave the same way too. Xara graduated with normal grades and a certificate saying, "Most Likely to Burn Down the House" Aww, thanks guys!
Tulip, on the other hand, graduated valedictorian. She barely registered being voted "Most Likely to Save the World", and instead marvels at her diploma. Her future is in her hands.
"Ohhh, my braniac brother... you'll probably be valedictorian too," Xara sighs, tears pricking her eyes.
Paolo blinks, clearing away his own tears. "Don't be sad, you're only going to be a few houses away..." he mumbles, just as much to himself as to Xara.
Then he puts on a smile and hands her a present. "I got this for you, after you got that job at the theatre..."
"A guitar pick?" she says with confusion. Then she sees the receipt at the bottom. Her eyes widen.
"You got me a guitar!? Oh my goodness, thank you!" she squeals.
She sweeps Paolo into a tight hug. He returns it for a moment before detaching himself.
"I'll miss you, squirt," she chucks him under his chin.
He rolls his eyes but replies, "I'll miss you too."
"You look so nice in your robes," Persis says softly. She didn't expect to feel so emotional about this- the girls are only moving a few streets away after all, and everyone grows up- but here she is, looking at the ground and holding back tears.
Tulip smiles. "Thanks mom..."
Tulip pulls her mother into a hug. "I'll come visit, I promise!"
Persis returns the embrace, "You better, or else me and your father are going to be at your place every.single.day."
Paolo finds himself swallowing the lump in his throat as he watches his sister and father hug each other goodbye. Why does he feel sad? It's not like they'll be very far...
But when he gets home with just his parents, it's like his sisters are light years away. The house is just so...quiet...without them here.
It doesn't help that he feels like he's third-wheeling his parents...
To try and overcome this overbearing quiet, Paolo puts the stereo on blast and works out hard. If Xara were here, she'd just dance behind him all annoyingly...
He shakes his head. With his sisters gone, he'll have more space and freedom! He can come home and do his homework in peace without all the teasing... and the jokes...and the conversation...
So much better!
Persis wonders if there's any special significance to the fruition of her life fruit plant on the same day that her daughters have moved away...
There probably isn't, but if she thinks about it hard enough, she's sure that she'll find a connection.
She just needs time.