Cheerless #6 (final). Sabrina, Libby, et al. are © Hartbreak / Paramount / Whatever. Adymm, Ophelia Jones, the members of In Absinthia, and this work of fiction are © myself.
[NOTES: MERRY CHRISTMAS, and welcome to the sixth, most over-dramatic, and FINAL installment in my Cheerless Trilogy - uhh, Sextilogy? I was going to wait and take another look at this before posting it, but I couldn't help but take a quick breather from family and pumpkin pie to provide the first chapter as a holiday gift to my modest panel of Sabrina enthusiasts :) In a spurt of random helpfulness, here's a list of the six parts in proper reading order:
1: Cheer-Streaked 2: Swords & Axes 3: Cheer-Stained 4: A Thread Breaking 5: Cheers Roll Down 6: Cheer-Soaked
I do promise that, pending some kind of unearthly wave of inspiration FAAAR in the future, when you read the last chapter of this it will be the last chapter in the whole damn saga. Some of you will find that sad... some will find it long overdue. Either way, I hope you have as much fun as I did, and that we can all look back on the ride with fond memories. Again, enjoy the rest of December and read on!]
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One of the things I remember clearly about that day was that there wasn't a single cloud anywhere in the sky. It was also warm; maybe seventy. Birds sang everywhere, like they were glad of a day where they didn't have to huddle in their nests, or peck at frozen earth for grubs to bring home to their young. The breeze carried the smell of growing grass, and flowers, and earth. It was beautiful.
Hands briefly rested on mine and my father's shoulders as people passed us, whispering consolations. It was hard to take; they should know their words couldn't do anything to ease the pain. Didn't they realise "at least she went peacefully" didn't help at all? Yet, on some level I appreciated the effort, small though it was.
The epitaph read, "Beloved Mother And Grandmother." It was fitting, but I couldn't help but feel there had to be more; like something about the warm quilts she knitted, or the way she could sing any song from before 1950 without missing a single word, or... or how much I loved her. I guess it did say that last part, which is something.
Meanwhile, Dad and I were a mess. As we glanced around at all the other mourners, tears sprung up every time we thought they were gone, and seeing old friends of Gran's only reminded us forcibly that she was gone, and would no longer bring so much joy to those around her. Even so, my eyes kept resting on all the faces that could still bring joy to me, that were so close... and yet miles away.
Adymm's hands were clasped in front of him; the look on his face said that he'd been through this before, and I know that he only has one living grandfather. Any other day I would have ran to him, to be in his arms and let him tell me everything wasn't going to be terrible forever, but... I wasn't sure I was allowed do that now. Besides, my father needed his daughter by his side, and I wasn't going to abandon him, not now.
Standing behind him and off to one side were TQ and Milnot, who mostly looked uncomfortable and out of place. They were here for me, because they wanted to be there if I needed them, but... other than that, they were complete strangers to everybody else gathered there. My heart went out to them.
And then there's Roxanna and Ophelia, hanging around by all the mausoleums and mourners, whispering quietly and trying not to look completely depressed. Ophelia, in spite of initial weirdness, had become a very good friend in a very short period of time, and I wouldn't trade her for the world, even if they were having a two-for-one special. Roxie, on the other hand... well, I wasn't sure what to make of Roxie anymore. Recent events had made it very hard for her to get along with me, but she came all the same. And she wasn't the only one who showed despite personal issues...
Looking as alone as she possibly could, a black-clad Sabrina tried to blend in with the shadows of an expensively-large tombstone with a statue of an archangel on top, yearning to be invisible. Couldn't she be invisible - was that not part of her package? But I knew she and Roxie only came because they knew it was important to me. Regardless of how bad things had grown between us, they must have lost someone close to them at least once in their lives, and didn't want to see me go through it without knowing I could count on them if I needed. Except... other than that one last foothold, all the trust was gone, and it was going to have to take a major renovation project to rebuild the bridges we'd burned.
As Dad and I stared down at the casket, as they were lowering her down into her final home, I found myself thinking about anything else. About the seething animosity, the broken promises, the secrets and the lies... and most of all, the girl who never stopped being there for me, even when words were impossible. The very girl who I once hated.
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FYI, you are definitely not catching me on my best day.
Though I can barely bring myself to write this chapter at all, you might not know exactly what's going on. For those of you who do, skip this section as you probably have been for the past several volumes. For those of you who don't, hi. My name is Libby Chessler, berieved party and ex-cheerleader with a plateful of problems. There are hundreds of them, and they'd all take forever to explain, so I can only hope whoever's reading this is able to pick them out as they go along.
Okay, okay - because I'm an excruciatingly nice person, we'll go over some of the finer points of my miserable life very quickly, but I'm trying to budget my time wisely here, so let's get on with it.
My parents suck dog doo. That may sound gross - because it is - but it's only fitting. Once upon a time several years ago, the heads of the Chessler household decided they hated each other so much that it was in everyone's best interests if my father moved to New York City while my mother and I stayed in Westbridge, Massachusetts. Needless to say, "everyone's best interests" usually means "the parents' best interests, children be damned because they're supposedly too young to care". A year or two later, the old battle axe went gaga over some hotshot executive guy named Reed Von Brown, who had an annoying brat of a son named Russell. Engagement ring, blah blah blah, I'm stuck with them. Then, when I'm at the end of my Senior year of high school, it finally happens - Libby is no longer important to the Von Brown picture, and is cast off into boarding school so they can whisk away to Tokyo and live the kabuki life! Convenient and painless for everyone involved... except me.
Luckily, dear old Dad wasn't about to shirk his responsibilities. Now, back when they divorced he was mostly a deadbeat, trying to write sci-fi novels while Mom screamed in his ear to get a "real job" like her. Due to this, the courts obviously granted her request of full custody, and when her and I made it mostly clear that he was unwelcome in Westbridge, he stopped coming around. Meanwhile, since getting out of that environment, he'd become something of an underground sensation, selling stories to pimply-faced losers all across the nation (and some parts of Europe); I guess she really WAS stifling his creativity, as he accused her of frequently when they were married. After the private academy released me at graduation, he invited me to live with him in the Big Apple... and compared to moving to the Far East or thriving in soup kitchens, that was the only sound option. Thus, yours truly began attending Columbia U, where I'm doing well in most areas other than math.
C'mon, who the hell likes MATH?!
For some reason, I'm in a band. We call ourselves In Absinthia, which is a bastardisation of both the Latin phrase "in absentia" and this ancient liquor that supposedly made you see some pretty interesting shit if you drank enough. My boyfriend (the guy I wanted to give me some squeezin', remember?) is in it, and I can sing, so I kind of got roped into fronting their group. As much as I resisted it, and as much as the whole subculture still freaks me out a tad, I do actually enjoy the limelight and performing, and our songs aren't half bad - in fact, we just got signed to a record label! We're gonna try to set up some studio time in a couple weeks.
Speaking of my boyfriend, though... things have been rocky with Adymm and I lately. It seems like we're always getting into these stupid arguments, or misunderstandings, or one of us is hiding things. Unfortunately, the "one of us" has mostly been me, and that brings me to a major point, and the thing that seems to be driving a wedge between my beau and I on a fairly steady basis...
If I'm not wrong, and I really really REALLY hope I am... I may or may not have some latent bisexual tendencies. Now, some of you are going to immediately shout, "that's sick!" and shut the book or click the "X" in the corner of the window or whatever, but trust me, so would I if it weren't my life! Thing of it is, for one reason or another, I seem to end up locking lips with the same gender, and the frequency of these "flukes" only increases. My heart belongs to Adymm, I know it does, but... why am I always finding myself gardening in feminine soil?
Heh, that sounded more like something Ophelia would say.
Luckily (depending on your definition of "luck"), I can lay most of the larger problems in my life squarely on the shoulders of one person and one person only: Sabrina Spellman, AKA "Freak Of The Century". Well... okay, maybe we more or less buried the "freak" hatchet by now, but back in our high school days I always thought of her that way, because I was extremely stuck-up and she was so different from me... and only two days ago (yeah, that recently!) did I find out the true reason. Sabrina, average blonde bimbo and science geek, is a honest-to-god, dimension-hopping, teleporting, spell-casting witch! It's everything I always suspected, laid out like a map to El Dorado leading me to a treasure-trove of vindication!
But there's a hitch. Sharply contrasting with the enmity we once had, now I like Sabrina - a lot. And when I say "a lot", many of the inferences you're making right now have a distinct possibility of being true... except they can't be, because I refuse to let them exist, previous un-platonic brushes notwithstanding. Anyway, as important as that is, it's beside the point, because the point here is that I found out she's a witch when she used her supernatural powers to save my life. You see, just as I was moronically chasing her across a busy New York City street, a gigantic semi truck came thundering along, and it was nanoseconds away from serving me up at the Roadkill Café... when she teleported me to the roof of my apartment building. Ergo, even though I'm not sure about whether or not I trust her anymore, or if I can even accept this whole crazy situation as true... I owe her. I owe her big. That's on top of the whole liking her part.
As you may have figured out by now, this all kind of boils down to, "My life sucks a fair amount of cock, except that I'm too lez for that"... which isn't wrong. What am I supposed to do about it, though? Gimme a break, my grandmother just died, and she was my favourite family member! But don't worry; I'm going to try in my own, ass-backwards way to make some personal progress as this story unravels, and you'll see what I'm up against and how I handle it. Maybe then you'll understand what it's like being... well, being Libby.
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"What do you say we get out of here?" Dad said after most of the other grieving acquaintances had left Oak Park Cemetary for their cars. "Find some place to grab some burgers or something."
"I'm not hungry," I replied, brushing my hand lightly over the top of her headstone.
He sighed. "I know, sweetheart, but- but you need to eat, anyway."
We stood in silence for a few moments before someone spoke that I wasn't expecting... and I wasn't sure I wanted to hear her voice at all.
Maybe this has never happened to you, but there are times under very extreme circumstances when, despite the fact that you know what you want to do, what you should be doing... you find yourself doing exactly the opposite. So was the case now.
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