Tula is not phased in the slightest that Guy grew up with her. It makes total sense that her bestest friend is a kid too!
"So, when you grow up, what do you think you're going to do?" Guy asks excitedly. Now that he can walk-and talk- the possibilities seem endless.
Tula's not really sure, but an orchestra conductor could be cool- all those people, doing what she says... hmmm.
She suddenly stops talking as her grandparents' door opens.
"...Tula? Tula? Tuuuuulaaa?" Guy is ignored.
Marko shuffles past, saying hello to Tula, then goes out the front door. Tula has no idea what he could need to do outside at this time of night.
"Tula, what the heck? Heeeellloooo?" Guy waves his hand in front of her face. Tula slaps it away.
"Quit it! I don't think they can see you," she hisses. Otherwise her grandfather would have said hello to both of them.
Guy scowls, and Tula glowers back, "And if you keep on annoying me, I will hit you so hard that your stuffing will come out."
They lapse back into silence when Krista comes out of the bathroom.
"Hi mom," Tula says, shooting a warning look at Guy when he opens his mouth to talk.
"Hmm? Oh hi sweetie," Krista mumbles absently. She was watering Persis' spotlight mushrooms for her, seeing as she's asleep and forgot, and is going outside to check if any of the plants are thawed enough to be tended to.
After Krista shuts the front door, Guy bursts into giggles.
"I didn't think I could be quiet the entire time," he says in between laughs, "I was about to explode!"
Tula quickly follows suit, laughing heartily, "Yeah, I thought I'd crack any second," she lies. Keeping calm doesn't really seem too hard, but it seems better to just go along with Guy.
"Hey, I have a idea," she says suddenly, "I just need a glass of water..."
Plumbbob, is he ever going to be quiet? Tula thinks acidly, I wonder if gluing his lips together would work...
She takes a big bite out of her hotdog, "Wow this is really good grandma!" she accompanies the statement with a big smile. Persis glances at her granddaughter, and smiles a little in return.
Pffft, adults are so easy to read, Tula thinks triumphantly to herself. Just a cute smile seems to go a long way.
"Hey, Tula! Hey, are you ignoring me!? 'Oh look at me with my food and my tastebuds ooooh I'm so great!'"
Kids, on the other hand, aren't as easy to sway...
Tula primly places her hotdog on her plate, and fights to keep from jumping from the table and telling Guy to just shut up.
Tula's eyes snap up to her grandfather's. Stupid fudging Guy, distracting me. "Sorry grandpa, what was that?"
"You're excited for school, right Tula?" Marko repeats himself.
"Oh yeah, I'm super excited!" she says truthfully. At least with other people around, I can just pretend Guy doesn't exist...
Tula then twirls some her hair around her finger, deliberately lowering her gaze shyly, "But what if the other kids don't like me? Maybe I'll just stay home instead..."
"'Maybe I'll just stay home instead'" Guy mimics behind her. Tulip digs her nails into the seat, but shows no other outward reaction.
Persis looks up from her cereal, "School isn't that scary, Tula. I'm sure you'll make friends," she says reassuringly.
Marko looks up from his book as well, "Your grandma's right. Just be nice and smile!" he grins widely in demonstration.
Tula giggles on cue, "That's silly, grandpa." Besides, I already know that...
She gets ready for school and is soon dashing out the door.
"Hey, grandma, I think there's something wrong with your mushrooms... they're all kinda rotting. Maybe mom over-watered them last night?" Or maybe it was the extra cup of water Tula splashed on them, she can't be expected to know, right?
Persis looks at the spotlight mushrooms. "No, those are just weeds. Easily fixed," she reassures Tula. Seeing the disturbed look on her granddaughter's face, she adds, "Your mom's not in any trouble, don't worry about it."
"Oh, ok..." she says dejectedly. Man, I thought that would work... no one in this house is ever mad at each other. She thought it would be interesting to see. Oh well.
After an intense and interesting first day of school comes the homework. Tula finds the work easy and wonders if she should really bother with any of this at all.
Does it really matter if I write in what 10/2 is? she thinks as she lazily scribbles in a 5, Or that I show my work? Ugh.
She can't escape her assignments with her mother hovering over her, though...
"I'm done!" she announces, a smirk on her face.
Krista looks up in surprise, "But you only started 10 minutes ago!"
10 minutes too long if you ask me, Tula inwardly sneers. But it is true, she sped through her math worksheet, not troubling herself with writing out every. single. step. of her workings. It's not like the teacher doesn't know how to do it mentally. And it's easy to focus when Guy isn't lurking around, buzzing by her ear like an annoying mosquito. And all it took was asking him to gather some 'nila berries', she thinks with a smirk. He's been in the backyard for hours, looking for that imaginary fruit.
"It wasn't too hard," Tula replies nonchalantly, putting her homework away.
"Mhmm," Krista mumbles.
"Mom, can I have pumpkin pie? I'm hungry," Tula asks. She has found that as a child one must ask permission for things. A hindrance, but a necessary one to be normal.
"You need to eat your dinner, Tula, not dessert. There's hotdogs and Goopy Carbonara in the fridge."
"If you get to eat meat, then I should get to eat dessert," Tula pouts, "What kind of a vegetarian are you, anyways?"
Krista looks guiltily at her hotdog. Sticking to veggies is hard, especially when you have an inventing project to complete in a few days "or else" and don't have time to make something meat free.
"Don't talk to me that way," Krista admonishes. The guilt in her tone throws off the delivery. She looks at her watch; if she wants to finish off 5 hollowed out cow toys by tomorrow afternoon, she needs to get started soon.
Tula sees her opportunity, "Just this once, mom, I promise. I won't tell anyone..."
Not having time to argue, Krista brings Tula the pumpkin pie.
"Don't tell your dad," she adds hastily.
Tula smiles as she takes a big bite out of her pie.
Krista hurries off to the inventing bench. Those toys aren't going to make themselves, unfortunately.
With Guy still looking for those berries, Tula doesn't really have much to do. Seeing her father unoccupied, she approaches.
"What is it, Tula?" Paolo asks. Not sensing any annoyance in his voice, Tula proceeds.
"Do you think you could teach me how to play chess sometime?" she asks seriously, "I heard it makes people smarter, like you..." she looks at the floor, playing with her hair and avoiding eye contact.
Paolo smiles at his daughter, "You're already smart, Tula." His brow furrows at her shyness. He remembers being her age and being isolated. Could it be that she feels lonely?
She beams at him, "You think so?"
"Of course! But if you really do want to learn, I would be happy to teach you." She probably needs some time to come out of her shell, Paolo concludes, at least I had Xara and Tulip at her age, she doesn't have any brothers or sisters to play with at home...
"You sure you aren't too busy? I know that being a soldier takes a lot of your time... maybe I shouldn't have asked, I'm sorry." Her cheeks turn red, and Paolo feels a pang of regret; he and Krista are so busy working, Tula must feel neglected now that she's older. "I can just ask grandpa..." The pang becomes a full-blown wave; His parents spend more time with his daughter than he does!
"I'm never too busy for you, Tula."
She throws her arms around his waist, "You're the best dad ever!" She inwardly cringes at how she sounds, but Paolo still pats her head affectionately.
"Thanks, Tula. And you're the best daughter ever."
And don't you forget it.
Ugh. I don't like this chapter. I shouldn't be saying it, but I really don't. I feel like I've written too many cliches here and was waaaay too heavy handed with what I wanted to express about Tula's character, but there it is.