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Caroline turned down the television volume as the group began giving each other their opinions of the program. Violet was so proud of Senator Kindle and Senator Jenkins. They had become a significant fixture in their community, and they were very outspoken. They fought for the Prohibited as hard as she fought for them. Her heart was open to them and all sympathizers that were willing to put their careers, safety, and privacy in jeopardy. Senators Kindle and Jenkins were assigned multiple Prohibited to travel with them across the country as they spoke at gatherings and did interviews. They needed them alive, and they had the power to keep them that way. It was an honor for Prohibited to protect sympathizers. There wasn’t anything a Prohibited wouldn’t do for a sympathizer.

Caroline sat down next to Violet. “So, what did you think?” She asked.

“I thought it went very well. The more our opponents speak, the more asinine they sound. It boggles my mind how these people have any followers at all.” Violet replied. “But, yeah, I thought it went well. Six weeks ago, I thought our world was coming to an end, but I’m so glad it has mostly stopped. I think we are finally getting back to normal, don’t you think?

Caroline nodded. “I do. It’s still unbelievable the amount of damage that was done to our city. But we’ve done a great job of rebuilding. Dr. Marsh’s facility looks better than it did before. I just don’t understand how Normals feel the need to destroy.”

“Me either.” Violet said, but it wasn’t true. She did know what it felt like to want to destroy, and it made her sad. She hadn’t felt that way or acted out again since the day of the gathering, but she couldn’t put it entirely out of her mind. She had been working with Sandy, a psychologist that Dr. Marsh had recommended. She had made great strides in the last two months. Sandy was another sympathizer, and Violet and she had become very close. There were rules between a psychologist and a patient, but they had surpassed those rules. They had a lovely connection, and Violet was grateful for it.

“I thought it was hysterical when Senator Jenkins put that judge in his place.” Caroline giggled. “Micah is amazing. I’m so glad he’s on our side and not theirs.”

“Me too.” Violet smiled. “That was funny, though. That judge is ridiculous. And could you believe Congressman Morgan? I mean, really. If we just stopped rallies and gatherings, then they wouldn’t need to respond. Please! Oh, and it’s okay for us to live among the Normals if we just minded our p’s and q’s. Monitoring? Tracking? Limitations? Is he serious? I just don’t understand how anyone can be happy with that thinking.”

“Right? What is wrong with them? But do you think that they’ll be able to take away our right to vote? I mean, if we lost that, it would set us back so far.” Caroline asked Violet.

“I don’t think so. I think we have far too many people on our side now, and the changes we’re making would make it too hard for them to retract our rights to vote. It should be on our radar but not a huge focus.” Violet responded.

“Good to know. Senator Kindle did a great job too. She sure works hard for us.” Caroline smiled. “And honestly, I think she does it for the right reasons and not simply for the votes.”

“I agree. She does work hard for us. I like her a lot. She’s coming here next week, and I’m supposed to meet with her again. I’m really excited. She has some great ideas and has some rallies planned for the next few months. Actually, I think I’ll be traveling quite a bit over the next few months.” Violet continued. “I might even do some national interviews.”

Caroline looked surprised. “Really? Wow. What made you change your mind?”

“Senator Kindle has given me some good advice lately. She has an in with many of the Prohibited and even the hidden. She has insight and communication with politicians who sympathize with our kind but aren’t ready to show a force yet. So, she speaks for them as well. She’s encouraged me to go public more often. She’s convinced that it’s time. I trust her.” Violet smiled at Caroline.

“I think that’s great, Violet. I’m so proud of you.” Caroline hugged Violet.

Just then, the doorbell rang. All Prohibited stopped what they were doing and looked at each other. Their home rarely had visitors without notification first. One of the prohibited looked through the peephole and then turned around towards the group. “Violet, it’s Normals.” He said as he backed away from the door.

Violet got up and walked towards the door. She looked through the peephole to see the large group of Normals. She turned and looked at the group and gave a readied nod. She turned the doorknob and opened the door. The Normals, to include children, stood in front of the group.

“Hello.” A large figured man said. “Do you mind if we come in?”

Violet turned towards the group of Prohibited, who stood with shocked and confused faces. “Yes, please do.” Violet responded as she opened the door wide for them to enter.

As the 13 Normals entered through the doorway and into the large living room, the Prohibited separated to make room for the group. They all stood around, wondering what was about to happen. They instantly recognized all of them as part of the regular group that stood outside their home daily, mocking and yelling obscenities. The room remained silent as the Normals group formed in a circle with their children hiding behind them. Violet closed the door and welcomed the group. “How can we help you?” She asked.

“Well, um…” the large man began. “I… um… thank you for letting us come in. We’re sorry for just showing up, but we figured that there probably wasn’t an exact way to do this right.” He turned and motioned toward his people. “We wanted to come here and apologize.”

Every Prohibited could have been knocked over with a feather. “Apologize?” Violet asked.

A woman holding a child’s hand as the child remained hidden behind her leg stepped forward. “Yes. We want to apologize. After that day, you know, when you came down the driveway and told us to leave, we recognized that we had truly hurt you.” She pulled her child’s hand so that the child was at her side now, but the child kept her face hidden. “I admit, we were scared and angry for a while after, but then some of us recognized that our actions were hurting you, all of you.” Her voice quivered, expressing how hard this was for her to say. The Prohibited listened.

She continued. “To be honest, we haven’t necessarily liked your kind, but we hadn’t realized that you had been affected by our actions. We’ve been protesting you for so long, and we’ve never gotten a response from you other than kindness, that we’ve always thought you didn’t care. Actually, that just made us madder.” She said with evident shame. “But, that day, when you reacted, it kind of hit us. You were so angry and hurt. It was scary, but after we had some time to think about your reaction, I guess, the reaction that we had always wanted, we found that it didn’t make us feel better. In fact, some of us got together and talked about it. We realized we had always wanted a reaction from your kind, but we never got one. When we finally did, I guess, it made us understand that, you’re human.” She continued. She motioned to the rest of her group. “We never considered you human before. That’s hard to admit. But once we did, it forced us to take a long hard look at ourselves. We’re ashamed. We’ve been role models of hate for our children, and we, well, we’re truly sorry. We just wanted you to know that.”

All the Prohibited processed what they were hearing. They had never experienced this before and weren’t exactly sure how to respond. Violet stepped up to speak. “Thank you.” Violet said, not knowing exactly what to say.

The woman looked down at her daughter and turned her daughter’s face upwards so that she could look at her. “I want to apologize to my daughter. We want to apologize to all of you. We’ve been wrong. We’ve acted like idiots. We don’t want ever to harass you or hurt you again. We thought you should at least know that. We want to get to know you if that’s okay?” She said as she looked at the sea of golden eyes that surrounded them. “We would completely understand if you didn’t want that, but we would like to.”

Violet looked at the woman with a smile. “Of course. We would love that.”

The Normals took a collective sigh of relief. No one knew what the next steps were. This was an unprecedented moment. Violet knelt to face the young girl, who was seemed confused and afraid. Violet tried to look at the little girl who continued to bury her face into the side of her mom’s leg. Her mom tried to comfort the girl by telling her that it was alright and nudging her to look at Violet, but the girl wasn’t having it. Violet addressed the little girl as she shrank down to her level. “Hi, Sweetie. My name’s Violet. It’s so nice to meet you.” Violet said in soft tones. The whole room waited for the little girl’s response.

“Amanda, sweetie, can you say hello to the nice lady?” Her mother looked down at her. The little girl vigorously shook her head no as her face remained pressed against her mother’s leg. “Amanda, it’s okay. She’s a nice lady.” Her mother replied.

Quietly Amanda responded as she looked up at her mom. “Her eyes.” The little girl pushed her face back into her mom’s leg. Her fear was apparent.

Violet fully understood. Her eyes were shocking to most adults, and for this little girl who had been raised to fear Prohibited, it must be even scarier. Violet looked up at her mother and then at the other Normals and then back down to Amanda. “Amanda, I understand that my eyes must be a little scary, so I’ll tell you what I’m going to do. I’m going to close my eyes tight, and I will keep them closed until you tell me to open them. Does that sound good?”

Amanda hesitated and then looked up at her mom completely avoiding Violet’s gaze. She gave her mom an approving nod. Her mom looked at Violet and then nodded.

“Okay. Here I go, Amanda.” Violet closed her eyes tightly but kept her face facing Amanda. “They are closed.” Amanda continued looking up at her mom, who nudged her to look at Violet. Amanda slowly turned to see Violet with her eyes shut. Amanda studied Violet’s face for any other differences and didn’t see any.

“Amanda?” Violet asked.

Amanda whispered, “Yes.”

“Are you there, Amanda? I can’t see you.” Violet smiled.

Amanda looked back up to her mom for assurance, who in turn gave it to her.

“I’m here.” Amanda spoke a little louder.

“Oh, good.” Violet continued to smile. “Amanda, can you hold my hand? It’s a little scary with my eyes closed.”

Amanda contemplated for a few seconds. “Okay.” Violet reached her hand out, not knowing where Amanda’s hand was. Amanda slowly brought her small hand up and began to wrap it around Violet’s. Violet smiled.

“Oh, my goodness. Thank you, Amanda. It’s a little weird with everything dark. Can you do me a favor?” She asked Amanda.

“Yes.” Amanda replied.

“Can you walk me over to the couch so I can sit down? With my eyes closed, I can’t see a thing.” Violet asked softly.

Amanda looked up at her mom, who was smiling, and then back at Violet. Amanda held her mother’s hand and Violet’s hand, and as Violet stood up, she guided both of them to the couch as Normals and Prohibited made an open path for them. Amanda helped sit Violet on the sofa and then sat down between Violet and her mom.

“Thank you so much, Amanda. I appreciate it.” Violet said as her face remained straight ahead. “Amanda, I think we have some cookies if you’d like some.”

Amanda looked up at her mom, who gave her another approving nod. Amanda turned to Violet and said, “Yes, please.” She sounded more confident now.

“Caroline, would you mind getting us some cookies?” Violet asked as the whole room remained silent, watching the scene unfold. Caroline got a plate of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies from the kitchen and then placed them on Violet’s lap. Violet put her hands on the plate and felt for the cookies. Violet took a cookie and held it out in front of her as if Amanda were standing right there. “Here you go.” Violet said.

Many people in the room began laughing. Violet could hear Amanda give a little giggle.

“I’m over here.” Amanda said, sitting next to Violet.

“Oh, my goodness. I’m so silly.” Violet said as she blindly tried to give Amanda the cookie.

“What do you say?” Amanda’s mom asked.

“Thank you.” Amanda told Violet.

“You’re very welcome.” Violet said. She picked up another cookie and began placing it up to her face. She put the cookie up to her forehead, then up to her cheek, and then up to her ear. Again, more laughter, even from Amanda.

“What’s so funny?” Violet asked, fully aware of what she was doing.

“You’re not doing it right.” Amanda then helped Violet bring the cookie to her mouth, this time without any anxiety or hesitation.

Violet took a bite and told Amanda, “Thank you.” She continued to place the cookie anywhere, but her mouth as Amanda and the other children watched and laughed. The other children began to ask for a cookie. Violet would hold out a cookie, waving it dramatically as each child tried to reach for the cookie. Children’s laughter began to fill the air. “Gosh, it’s so hard to eat cookies with your eyes closed.” Violet said to the group as the children eagerly began to get in on the gameplay and cookie eating. The children were now comfortable and laughing. This is what Violet had intended.

Amanda looked up at her mom and took a bite of her cookie. She looked back at Violet and said with a mouthful of crumbs, “You can open your eyes now.” She took another bite. The feeling in the room had become more relaxed. Some parents knelt next to their children as Violet began to open her eyes slowly. As she did, some of the children verbalize their interest with ew’s and aah’s as crumbs fell from their mouths. One of the boys even exclaimed, “So cool!”

Violet blinked her eyes a few times, looked at all the children with a smile on her face, and then turned to Amanda. Amanda, who was now chewing with full cheeks, grinned. All was well. Everyone began looking at each other and smiling. People began introducing themselves and shaking hands. Caroline brought in more cookies, and even the adults began to partake. Bottled waters were passed about and the room filled with conversations and laughter. Prohibited talent to make Normals feel peace and calm was evident if given a chance. This was the beginning of something very new and exciting.

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