Hill Top Daycare

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Hill Top Daycare

Post by wakeangel on Mon Aug 02, 2010 1:24 am


The rough ponytail she wore when driving whipped in the wind as Lyssa Montgomery drove her Jeep up the winding mountain road towards Whitechapel. At this altitude, the warm summer breeze turned a bit chilly, and she shivered in the shadowed turns. It wouldn't be long, though. She glanced down at the cardboard box nestled in the bucket seat next to hers, and hoped that bringing it was the right thing to do. It felt right, but that didn't mean anything.

Nestled within the box, each page lovingly protected in plastic sleeves, lay ten years' worth of Mrs. Sheehan's love and wisdom. She just wished she'd had the courage to bring it three months ago. The thought of baring her every mistake and embarrassment of the last ten years to public scrutiny was daunting, but some things were more important than personal comfort.

She wished, more than anything, that she wasn't making this trip. Not for this reason. It was the same as it had been three months ago, the sense of loss that threatened to overwhelm her. She blinked back sudden tears to clear her vision. There'd be more than enough time for that later. The rest of her life, but now she saw that in her distraction she had approached the next turn too fast.

With a whoosh and a slight squeal of tires that would have made her best friend and mechanic, Mano, wince, she shot up and over the last rise and began the winding descent into town. Just that suddenly, the entire valley spread out before her, rolling hills, small patches of forest, and, nestled within, the picture-book perfect town of Whitechapel.

Near the center of town the tall, white spire of the old Presbyterian church that had given the town its name overlooked the park square. From here she could see almost every shop and house in town, from the high school with its manicured football field, to the historic State Theater, and on the far side, on a hill overlooking everything stood Hill Top Daycare and her favorite oak tree in the whole world. Below it and to the right a supermarket parking lot had once held the trailer park she'd grown up in, but she hardly gave it a glance.

A few minutes later, she blew by the only hotel and breezed into town. Each of the several times she'd been back to visit in the last ten years, it had felt odd to see how much had changed and yet how much everything stayed exactly the same. Today was no different. Men and women she recognized rubbed elbows on the streets with many she didn't, but they nearly all had the same look, the 'Small Town USA Look' she called it. She sometimes thought she envied them that sense of community, but she knew for a fact she envied their closeness to Thomas and Linda Sheehan.

Two blocks past the town square, she parked the Jeep in the driveway of Loretta Hubbell's bed and breakfast. She'd been lucky to find a room still available here. On previous visits, when she hadn't stayed as a guest of the Sheehans, she had much preferred its cheerful homeyness to the impersonal feel of the hotel. Gathering her things, she went inside to register.
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Re: Hill Top Daycare

Post by Guest on Mon Aug 02, 2010 2:24 am

Timothy sat in his cubicle and stared blankly at the piece of paper on his desk, too stunned to really feel anything. Mr. Sheehan was dead. The man he considered his father, the man who had watched him grow up, was gone. He just couldn't believe it. And so, in disbelief, he stared.

One of his coworkers stopped at his desk and prodded him with the end of a pen. "Tim, you okay?" he inquired, still prodding him with the pen. Timothy didn't move, didn't react at all. He barely felt the end of the pen poking into his shoulder. The coworker just walked away.

After almost ten minutes he finally shook himself out of it. Unsurprisingly, he felt detached from his sense of loss. Just like the computers he worked on, he let very little of his inner workings show. His fist clenched into a tight ball and began to shake, but other than that, there was no sign of his feeling of loss. He got up from his cubicle and walked to his supervisor's desk, letter in hand.

"Mr. Fredricks, I need to request some time off." he said in a tone completely alien to him. It almost didn't sound like he was talking. The tone said "Give me what I want or I'll do terrible things." Was he really that angry at Mr. Sheehan's death? Was anger even appropriate? He really didn't get emotion, his own included.

The supervisor looked up at him and asked for the reason he needed off. Timothy, unable to speak, just handed him the letter. Mr. Fredricks looked it over and handed it back. "Was this Mr. Sheehan someone close to you?" Timothy nodded. "Very well then. Take all the time you need." Timothy nodded again in gratitude and went back to his desk to gather his things.

He folded up his laptop and put it in it's carrying case along with his current coding sheet and his external hard drive before heading for the door. The drive back to his apartment seemed much longer than the 30 minutes it took to make his way home. Fittingly, it had started raining as he drove down the city streets, making the town look even lonelier.

He walked up the stairs to his one bedroom apartment and sat his laptop on the couch before sitting next to it. Another wave of emotion crashed into him without warning and he leaned forward and rested his head on his hands. No tears came, just another suffocating wave of sorrow that made him forget to breathe for it's duration.

He finally sucked in breath and got up and began to pack his bags for Whitechapel. He threw a few button down shirts and pairs of assorted jeans and khakis into his bag along with his personal hygiene necessities, a nice jacket to wear to the funeral, and his glasses case. That being done, he walked over to his computer and shut it down, and went to make himself a dinner he could barely taste before he set out for Whitechapel.

The drive there was uneventful, and gave him plenty of time to remember growing up in Whitechapel under Mr. Sheehan's protective wing. He smiled at some of his better memories of the Sheehans and for the most part this helped to combat the feelings he was struggling to comprehend. Still, a wave of nostalgia washed over him when, after two hours of driving, he finally came up to the lake that he and Mr. Sheehan had fished in all those years ago.

A cool breeze rolled by as he pulled his Scion to a stop beside the lake. He opened the door and walked to the edge of the lake and watched the sun slowly set over the lake's edge. It was a truly beautiful site, and one he promised himself he'd come back to. He thought more about Mr. Sheehan here, and a smile crept over his face. He had truly loved the old man, and was genuinely sorry to see him go. It was this nostalgia and feeling of happiness that accompanied him to the town's bed-and-breakfast, where he pulled his vehicle in and rented his room for the next few days.

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Re: Hill Top Daycare

Post by The Melancholy Spirit on Fri Aug 06, 2010 2:08 pm

The elder woman wore a raised brow and a slight grin on her face as she looked at him. Daniel blinked and shifted his eyes.

“Setting a fashion trend boy, or did you just have a nice romp in the leaf piles with a young lady?” Her grin grew wider and she chuckled low and heartily. Daniel felt himself smirk as he ran a hand through his hair, pushing free the weather dried leaves. He stepped out of the entrance hall and into the room where she sat, a few twenty dollar bills resting on the stand beside her chair. Daniel picked them up and spoke a low thanks.

“Likely take a while for things to recover around here,” she said as he slipped the money into his pocket. “People were just starting to find some sense of comfort after Linda passed, now Thomas?” She shook her downcast head and sighed. Daniel gave a nod.

“I’m afraid they may never recover,” he said quietly.

“Oh, I’m sure they will. It will just take time.”

Daniel ran a hand through his hair. “I was leaning more towards the encroachment of corporations. This town was able to keep away from it for a long time but…”

She waved a hand at him, cutting him off with the simple gesture. “Don’t be so negative boy. It isn’t like we have a mass of city folk moving in here every year; just the tourists that stop in along their travels. We’re quite safe from corporation corruption if you ask me.”

Daniel smiled. “How can anyone argue such logical optimism?” She gave him a stern glare before breaking into a smile.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Shortly later Daniel turned a corner in time to see a vehicle pull up into the local bed & breakfast. The person stepping out of the driver’s seat was recognizable only for a single reason. They’d been recently reacquainted at Linda’s funeral. Leaning a shoulder in the wall of the building he debated walking up to her. Having no idea what to say he stalled long enough that she gathered her things on her own and was into the building before he had moved.

“You could have at least offered to help with her things…” he muttered to himself as he pushed away from the wall and started walking again, his head turned down with hair veiling his face.
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Re: Hill Top Daycare

Post by wakeangel on Sat Aug 07, 2010 1:49 pm

The fact that Loretta Hubbell had saved Lyssa's favorite room for her almost made up for the over-perfumed bear hug of sympathy she'd been subjected to upon opening the front door. With a sigh of relief and weariness at finally being alone, she tossed her bags carelessly on the bed and set the cardboard box of letters on top of the dresser with all the care one would give priceless art. To ease the tension knotting her neck and shoulders, she ran a hot bath in the claw-footed tub that dominated the middle of the bathroom.

She hadn't slept in thirty-six hours, and now that she was off the road, her system was starting to shut down and demand rest. Soon, she promised herself as she undressed, discarding her clothing in little forgotten heaps. The bath steamed invitingly, and she stepped in, leaning back with a sigh against the back of the tub and closing her eyes.

She saw him then, both of them, Thomas and Linda, kneeling in their garden, laughing together over some rare find, her nose smudged with dirt. The scent of roses and hyacinths filled the air along with the lazy droning of honeybees. The couple leaned in, touching their foreheads together in a gesture of intimacy and affection so familiar, like dozens of others she could pick out of her memories of them. She couldn't understand why such a beautiful gesture would leave her with such a sense of loss.

Linda looked past her husband then, saw they weren't alone. Her face lighting with joy, she patted Thomas' hand. “Oh look, Tommy. Lyssa's here!”

Instead of the quiet smile Lyssa expected, he frowned at her. “It's far to soon. You shouldn't be here.”

“Oh!” Linda laughed, giving Thomas' hand another pat and rising to brush the dirt off her knees. “Of course it's not that time. She's here about that other thing.”

“Oh?” His frown lightened into perplexity, and then, “Oh!” Understanding dawned and his smile became as wide and welcoming as his wife's. Together they came forward and embraced her, surrounding her with their love and acceptance.

A long moment later they stepped back, and Linda gripped Lyssa's arms in her hands, looking at her intently as if searching for something. Whatever it was, she seemed to find it, for she nodded once in satisfaction at her increasingly bemused friend.

“What is it?” Lyssa asked. “What thing?”

“Tommy and I wanted to talk to you, honey, to let you know that it's time. It's been two years, sweetie,” she said gently, “and you've grown so strong and happy in every way but this.” Thomas nodded in silent agreement over his wife's shoulder. “You have to open your heart again, and to someone other than a couple of oldsters like us and that handsome best friend of yours. As wonderful as he is, and as much as we'd love to have him as part of the family, he already has his soulmate, and you have yours,” she said with a finality that brooked no argument.

While Linda talked, the buzzing of the bees took on an odd rhythmic quality. She stepped back, giving Lyssa's arms a final pat. “We love you, and we want you to be as happy as we are, dear.”

The buzzing around Lyssa became more insistent, as if they hovered right near her ears. Annoyed, she swung her arms, trying to shoo them away. Thomas put his arm around Linda and they turned back towards their garden.

“No! Wait!” Lyssa called out, but they didn't seem to hear her.

The buzzing pulse thundered at her, driving her back, when she tried to reach them. She turned, trying to spot the beehive but couldn't find it. She realized with a sense of growing urgency that she couldn't spot a single bee either. Turning back to ask the Sheehans, she saw with growing panic that they were gone. Alone in the garden, with the noise of non-existent rhythmic bees thrumming in her ears, she stood and watched the color bleed from the flowers.


Cool water splashed onto the tile floor as Lyssa bolted upright in the bathtub. Her fingers were pruney, and the sun slanting in through the window bore the golden warmth of late afternoon. On the stand next to the tub, her phone buzzed insistently. She wanted to smash it against the wall for waking her, but as the clouds of sleep cleared from her mind, she realized who it must be.

Crap! She'd never called Mano to let him know she'd arrived safely. He must be frantic by now. Surging out of the water, she nudged the plug loose with her toe. Scrambling to wrap the fluffy hotel robe around her, she reached for the phone just as it went to voice mail.

Twenty-three missed calls. She winced. Oh yeah, she was in trouble. She'd be lucky if Search and Rescue didn't bust down her door within the next few minutes. Feeling guilty, she hit the call button. He picked up on the first ring.

“Hi, Mano. I can expl...”

“Where. The hell. Have jou been??” Mano's Hispanic accent, thickened with worry, cut her off.

“I'm sorry, I..”

“I was so worried! Jou haven't slept, jou're upset, and jou drive those dangerous mountain roads like a bat out of hell. For all I knew, jou could be dead at the bottom of a cliff somewhere!”

“I'm fine.” She hid the smile in her voice. “I just fell asleep in the bathtub and...” Her dream came rushing back to her and tears welled up in her eyes.

“Jou could have drowned!”

“You know for a mechanic, you make a pretty good mother hen. When are you going to marry Carmen and get yourself some eggs to sit on?” She tried to hide the fact that she was crying, but even to her ears the joke fell flat.

“Madre de Dios,” he cursed on the other end, his irritation with her flashing into concern, “I knew I should have come with jou.”

“No, you shouldn't have! You have your own crap to deal with, and I-I'm fine I swear.. I just had this dream about them before you called, or while you were calling, I guess, and...” There was no hiding the tears in her voice now.

“Oh honey,” he crooned, his voice full of worry. “Are jou sure? Because I can tell my boss to go fuck himself and be there in four hours.”

“And get fired? No.” She crossed the room to curl up on the cozy window seat cushions. Swiping at tears, she struggled to sound more upbeat. “We both know what a jerk he is.”

“That would just make it more satisfying,” he assured, and she knew he'd do it in a second- for her.

A few minutes later, she hung up the phone and leaned her head back against the window sill. She wanted him to come so badly, wanted to lean on his support. Letting Mano become her security blanket would be a bad idea in the long run, though. It just sucked that the only person left in the whole world she could bear to hug was hundreds of miles away. She could really use one right now.

...It's been two years...We just want you to be as happy as we are...

With no more demands on her time, no arrangements to make, no driving to do, the dam she'd built over her emotions burst and the grief she'd been unable to express finally came bubbling to the surface. She cried, sobbing out her loss, and, thinking of Linda's words, for the scar on her heart that she didn't think even they could have healed.
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Re: Hill Top Daycare

Post by Guest on Sun Aug 08, 2010 8:32 pm

With his laptop case in one hand and his suitcase in the other, Timothy walked into the entrance of Loretta Hubbell's bed and breakfast, not expecting recognition or seeking it from anybody there. But Loretta Hubbell recognized him all the same. "Timmy, is that you? Look at you all grown up! It's been so long since you've peeked your head into Whitechapel that I was beginning to think you weren't ever coming back! It just proves that even the big city can't wash away the Sheehan's touch.

Too bad about them, first Linda, now Thomas. I assume that's why you're here. You poor thing, I'll set you up next to the girl that just arrived. Pretty young thing, that Lyssa, although she seemed a little tore up. It's understandable, considering. Come right along."

Timothy just nodded silently as Loretta talked, the words barely making it over the buzz that filled his mind. He walked behind her down the hallway of the quaint hotel to the room that was apparently his. She opened the door for him, and without asking for payment ushered him in. He sat his laptop and suitcase on the end of the bed and before he could turn around to ask about when he was supposed to pay she was gone. He just shrugged his shoulders silently and closed the door. He'd pay her in the morning. For now he had to at least attempt to deal with his grief.

A shower always helped him clear his mind so he shut the blinds, undid his button-down work shirt, and stepped out of his khakis. Most days he felt like he worked for the Geek Squad, and he dressed the part. Granted, he never left his office during work, but a bunch of geeks in jeans and t-shirts didn't look good when Corporate decided to come in for an inspection. Down to just his underwear, he grabbed his shampoo and soap from his bag and stepped into the bathroom for a shower.

As he stood there, letting the warm water pound his body, he sucked in a deep breath and slowly let it out, not noticing the odd drop of water going into his mouth. As he exhaled the emotions slowly washed out of him along with the sweat and grime that one accumulates from day to day life. First came the grief, and with the grief came tears, he let the sobs shake him but the noise he made barely overcame the noise of the shower.

After the grief came anger, and with the anger his fists balled up again, despite having never been used in a fight. He grunted in outrage that Mr. Sheehan had been taken from him, in anger at the mere idea that the Day Care could be bought out by ANYBODY, that it would belong to another or worse, be destroyed.

After the anger and grief had washed their way down the drain, he finished cleaning himself off and walked back into his room. He threw himself onto the bed and just laid there, eventually rolling over to stare at the ceiling while the buzz washed back into his brain. Not thinking had it's advantages, and he was going to use them to their maximum potential.

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Re: Hill Top Daycare

Post by Lara on Tue Aug 10, 2010 3:13 am

A lone sheet of paper lay crookedly on the table in front of her as Jennifer cradled her head in her hands. The plain envelope it had come in earlier that morning had seemed so innocent in her mailbox, nestled comfortably in between her phone bill and a coupon for the town’s local bar as if its content weren’t something that would shatter what little stability she had left to pieces. She had managed to read the neat, typed script on the page only once before breaking down yet again. She hadn’t needed to read it at all to know exactly what was written; after all, word travels so quickly in such a small town. Even now, the words rolled through her head almost on repeat, each date another jab at her heart as the barrier in front of her emotions was whittled away.

You are invited to attend the wake and funeral of Mr. Thomas Sheehan. …The first viewing, to be held Friday night, will be family only. Viewing will be held for the public Saturday evening. … The funeral service will take place Sunday morning... A follow-up reception will be hosted at the Hill Top Daycare Sunday afternoon. All are invited to attend.

The Daycare will be open to the public every day from noon to six p.m. for those wishing to pay their respects.


At least her mind hadn’t gone entirely numb, as it had when she had first heard of Linda Sheehan’s death three months earlier. As close as she had gotten to Mr. Sheehan over the years, her connection to his wife was…had been much stronger. It had been that way for most of the girls, she recalled. While the boys had crowded around Thomas year after year, the girls had flocked to Linda, and Jennifer could remember many a fond afternoon at the daycare spent in the older woman’s company.

As happy as they were, it hurt too much to think back. She took a deep breath, not knowing where she would find the effort to straighten back up, but a voice caught her attention and provided it for her.

“Mommy? Mommy, what’s wrong?”

The worried pitch was unmistakable. With effort, the top of her eyes rose over the tips of her fingers, and Jennifer took in the small form standing in the frame of the doorway. Taking a second breath to steady herself, her shoulders locked and she sat back up. “Nothing, Mia. Mommy was just thinking,” she said, somehow succeeding in pulling a reassuring smile out of nowhere.

“Thinking about what?” Her daughter looked unconvinced, and in another situation, Jennifer would have found the look of pure doubt amusing.

“A lot of things,” Jennifer said softly, then cracked a more genuine grin. “Too many things, in fact. But you know what I’m thinking about right now?”

“What?”

“How much I’d like for you to come give me a big hug.” She opened her arms, and her daughter needed no further prompting. Jennifer rocked backwards with the extra weight, resting against the back of the seat as she wrapped her arms around the smaller body and pulled Mia up into her lap.

They were both content to sit there in silence for a moment, Mia’s head resting gently in the crevice of her shoulder. Jennifer’s mind began to drift again, the scene being enough to take her back to a similar time in her own childhood. The positions had been reversed, but the feeling of being safe and secure remained the same. It had been so satisfying to just sit there, wrapped in the arms of someone who could care so unconditionally during some of the more difficult times in her life. Even now, she could still hear Mrs. Sheehan’s soft voice telling her how everything was going to work out just fine…

“Mommy?”

Jennifer’s eyes opened slowly as she emerged from the memory. Glancing down, she saw Mia gazing back up at her, eyes filled with a mix of emotions. Such a brilliant shade of blue, so different from her own amber brown…so much like the girl’s father. She couldn’t help but smile; David might have been a bastard for up and leaving her when he had found out she was pregnant, but if there was one thing she would thank him for, it would be having such pretty eyes to pass down to her daughter.

Still on her lap, Mia drew herself up on to her knees so she could look her mother in the eye. “Are you thinking about the daycare again?” she asked curiously, tilting her head to the side. The endless curiosity might have been trait she had gotten from her mother, but the motion was all her own.

“No, sweetie, not this time. I’ve been doing enough of that these past few months,” Jennifer responded before admitting, "...But I was thinking about Mr. Sheehan for a bit."

“Are we going to the fun-er-all this time?” Mia’s lips drew into a pout even at the thought; the girl had adamantly expressed her dislike for the cemetery during Mrs. Sheehan’s ceremony to the point where Jennifer had ended up excusing herself right before passing through the gates. In retrospect, it had been a welcome excuse to leave; while Jennifer had loved Mrs. Sheehan dearly, the thought of watching as her body was lowered into the ground had been more than she could bear. The wake had been hard enough…

She couldn’t help but chuckle at the child’s pronunciation. “Funeral,” she corrected before shaking her head. “And no, not if you don’t want to.”

“I don’t!”

Good. She hid her relief behind a gentle smile, then hugged her daughter one more time and ushered her off her lap so she could stand up. “Alright, then we won’t. But we’ll still be attending the wake tomorrow,” she reminded her, “So you need to get to bed.”

“But Mooooooom!” The whine came instantly, but Jennifer had already had four years of practice when it came to making sure things like this went smoothly.

“No buts. Off to bed.” She paused for effect before looking her daughter in the eye, adding, “Though, I suppose there’s time for a quick story…If you get there fast enough.”

Mia’s eyes lit up just as Jennifer knew they would, and the little girl sped off without another moment to lose.
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Re: Hill Top Daycare

Post by wakeangel on Tue Aug 10, 2010 4:01 pm

Sharp pain in her neck roused Lyssa. At some point, she'd cried herself to sleep in the window seat, her head canted at an odd angle. Sitting up, she found herself oddly calm as she watched wispy clouds scud across the face of a nearly full moon. Its silvery light cast the only illumination in the room, and judging from the lack of lights shining from the buildings beyond the wide window and gardens, the time had to be fairly late.

Her thoughts drifted back to her dream and to Thomas and Linda. The sadness was still there, but she managed to keep it from overwhelming her this time. Two of the four most important people in her life were gone, and so suddenly. The gaping hole left in her life by their loss aside- She laughed bitterly then. As if she could ever just set it aside. But their loss gave her an unreasoning, selfish fear for Carmen and Mano. If anything happened to them now, she didn't think she'd ever recover.

Rising to find something to occupy herself with other than melancholy thoughts, she rolled her neck and stretched on the thick pile rug next to the window to work out the kinks. Her stomach took her renewed activity as its cue to snarl at her for largely neglecting it over the last few days. She checked her phone. Almost two-thirty in the morning. She could safely assume at this point that she'd missed dinner, and, other than her complaining stomach, she was glad. She wouldn't be subjected to Loretta's well-meaning solicitude, the curiosity of the other guests and more supportive hugs than she could stand.

Her hunger settled in for a fight. She tried to ignore the pangs as she went into the bathroom to wash up, but when her toothbrush started to look delicious, she gave up. It wasn't like she'd be able to get back to sleep tonight anyway. Lyssa had stayed here enough times that she didn't think Loretta would mind her rummaging around in the B&B's spotless kitchen as long as she cleaned up after herself.

Decided, she washed her face, dragged a brush through the tangled waves of her hair and used the light spilling from the open bathroom door to rummage through her bags for the pajamas Carmen had sent to her as a birthday present. She felt a bit guilty that she hadn't even unpacked yet. More sleep was probably not in the cards for tonight though, so she'd have plenty of time to fix that. A few minutes later, wearing shorts printed with cartoon-ish hot peppers, cacti and sombreros and a tank top proudly proclaiming her status as a 'Hot Tamale', she slipped out of her room.
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Re: Hill Top Daycare

Post by The Melancholy Spirit on Tue Aug 10, 2010 4:54 pm

Daniel rubbed his forehead, staring at the clock through slit eyes. With a groan he pushed himself from the position on the floor he couldn’t remember getting into. Low lighting illuminated the room, revealing the numerous instruments and recording equipment. He raised a brow at the fact something was still recording. When he noticed that more than one window was open he smirked at the thought of just what might be on the ‘track’. After turning it off, without bothering to play it back just yet, he rubbed his eyes while attempting to stifle a yawn. The attempt ended in vain.

He found himself wide awake though. As were many mornings and nights. His sleeping habits were far from desired and even farther from healthy. It wasn’t something he was proud of or aimed for. It just sort of happened. After several minutes of lying on a bad listening to relaxing music he rolled off the side and headed for the door. Living downtown allowed him the freedom to get to one of the seldom twenty-four hour business, open only for tourists and truckers really. The small town also made it easy to get out in the wilderness. Daniel loved it. During his time in the city and the months spent on tour he had missed the peacefulness greatly.

A few minutes later he was inside one of the closer businesses. A handful of men and a few women sat inside talking to one another. Most were taking a break from long hauls, the weariness in their faces being the only evidence one needed. A few others were relatively young; passer-throughs. None really gave him any attention as he got a cup of coffee and found a seat near a window.

“Wish I had time to stay for the service,” one of the truckers said, an elder man. “New the guy rather well, we like an uncle. Shame whatever happens to befall the place now they’ve both passed. Likely won’t be anything good.”

Daniel glanced over at the table where the three men sat accompanied by a woman. Daniel recalled even when he was a kid at how rare it was to see a female trucker. These days it was becoming all the more common though.

“The town ain’t goin’ to be he same after this,” another man said, pouring a thick layer of cream into his coffee. “It’ll be the kids who suffer the most, though. Tradition is a terrible thing to be broken, especially by such a grim thing as death.”

Daniel tapped his fingers on the edge of the table as they continued talking for the following minutes until he eventually spun out of the chair and made his way for the door, leaving an untouched cup of coffee behind.
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Re: Hill Top Daycare

Post by Lara on Wed Aug 18, 2010 12:49 am

Sleep – or, rather, lack thereof – had left Jennifer feeling exhausted. She had put up with the tossing and turning until 3:02 in the morning, the time being exact because she had been watching the clock for an hour and a half before accepting the fact that she wasn’t going to get any rest that night. With a sigh, she dragged herself out of bed and into the living room. Flopping on to the couch, she turned the TV on, volume low as to not wake Mia, whose bedroom was right down the hall, and focused half-heartedly on the latest infomercial. ‘Maybe I can bore myself to sleep…

Mia found her mother reclining on the couch five hours later. She approached softly, noticing that her eyes were closed, and at first thought she had fallen asleep while watching TV – something she was never allowed to do, so could her mother, for that matter? - but Jennifer’s eyes fluttered open a few seconds later.

“Good morning, Mia,” she said, smiling as she sat up a bit on the couch, rubbing lightly at the bags likely under her eyes.

“Morning, Mommy,” she responded, then paused and added, “How come you slept on the couch? I’m not allowed to sleep on the couch.” The girl put her hands on her hips indignantly. “I want to sleep in here tonight!”

Jennifer chuckled. “I didn’t sleep on the couch, dear, I just closed my eyes for a second. And the couch isn’t for sleeping on, your bed is!” she pointed out. “It’s much more comfortable.”

“How do you know?” Mia’s eyes narrowed slightly, and she pursed her lips. “Have you been sleeping in bed?!” she demanded to know.

Though her mouth twitched, this time she managed to hide her smile. “I’d think you’d notice if I was sleeping in your bed.”

“Then how?” She didn’t sound like she believed a word of it.

“Well, don’t I come in every night to read you a story?”

“…Yes…”

“And when I read you your story, don’t we curl up in your bed together?”

“I get it, I get it.” Mia sighed and rolled her eyes in a comical fashion, and Jennifer laughed once again. The little girl then abruptly changed the subject. “Mommy, can we have pancakes for breakfast today?” she asked brightly.

While the idea sounded incredibly tempting, Jennifer knew that she was in no state of mind to cook, given that she had gotten all of maybe ten minutes of sleep that morning - that is, unless the show that had been on at 6:30 in the morning had repeated itself at a later time, and she had just happened to wake up with only a slight confusion as to what was currently going on in the episode…

“Not today, sweetie,” she said, shaking her head in a tired fashion. “Why don’t you have some cereal? There’s a box of Frosted Flakes in the cabinet.”

“I had Frosty Flakes yesterday,” Mia said, coming to stand at the edge of the couch.

“But they’re your favorite,” she pointed out, resisting the urge to sigh as she spotted the stubborn look setting into her daughter’s eyes. “There’s nothing wrong having the same thing twice, anyway.”

“No, I want pancakes,” she insisted, lower lip beginning to jut out into a pout.

“Mia-“

“Pleeeeeeease?”

Jennifer massaged the bridge of her nose, closing her eyes and taking a deep breath. When she opened them again she saw Mia’s hopeful expression. This time, she really did sigh. “…Alright, we can go to Joey’s.”

“Yaaay, Joey’s!”

She couldn’t help but smile as she watched the four-year-old’s version of a victory dance.

-~-

“Pancakes, please,” Mia said, smiling sweetly at the waitress, her feet thumping lightly at the backboard of the booth they had been seated at.

“Sure thing, Mia,” she said, a grin on her face as she wrote the order down in her notepad. The teenage girl then looked over at Jennifer. “And for you, Ms. Aster?” she asked.

“Coffee,” she responded, glancing around the café, taking in the surprising amount of customers. “Lot of people here today,” she couldn’t help but comment.

“No one feels like cooking today,” the girl said, taking a look around as well. “I figure we’ll have just as many, if not more, during the lunch hours.”

Jennifer nodded absently, looking now at individual faces in the other booths. She could see quite a few people that she knew, which wasn’t surprising, given the size of the town. Maybe when she was more awake, she would say hello to a few of them…

“…Your usual, then?”

She blinked, then refocused her attention on the waitress, who was waiting for her response. “I’m sorry… Could you repeat that?”

The girl smiled kindly. “Just asking if you wanted your coffee the usual way.”

“Oh. Yes. Please. Thank you, Rachel.”

Rachel nodded. “I’ll get that for you right away, Ms. Aster.” She then grinned over at Mia. “Make sure she gets some rest later,” she said, winking at her. Mia giggled as the teenager then walked off to place their order.
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Re: Hill Top Daycare

Post by The Melancholy Spirit on Fri Aug 20, 2010 12:33 am

At some point Daniel had meandered his way into the park. The sky was still dark and specked with numerous shimmering little dots. It was another of the things he loved about the small town of Whitechapel in comparison to the metropolis. Ending up collapsing onto a bench he found himself rolling unto his back, staring up at the stars as sleep crept upon him and finally took over.

His eyes blinked, revealing daylight on through the shutter-like backside of the bench. He could feel something small poking him near the spine in his lower back. With a groan he rolled up, putting his feet unto the ground as he rubbed his eyes. When his vision cleared he found himself looking sidelong at the tilted head of a little girl just a foot from his own face.

“Jesus Christ!” he exclaimed, jumping back slightly. “Ah, fuck,” he muttered as he realized just what he said. Then he slapped both hands over his face. “Damn it…” When he removed them the girl was still looking up at him, an expression caught somewhere between confusion and a giggle. Daniel sighed and pushed his hair behind either ear.

“Didn’t your mother teach you not to poke people?” he asked.
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Re: Hill Top Daycare

Post by Lara on Fri Aug 20, 2010 2:44 am

Breakfast had gone well, and mercifully fast. Jennifer's coffee had cooled and gradually emptied from her cup as she drank, though she hardly noticed in her daze. Lack of sleep had begun to affect her despite the caffiene - though she was used to long nights in order to keep up with deadlines due to her nature of work, it had been a while since her last all-nighter.

Come to think of it, it had been almost three months ago since her last purposeful all-nighter... She had thrown herself into her work, determined to use it as the perfect excuse to-

"Mooooom, are you done yet?"

Jennifer blinked, focusing back on the table and her daughter's impatient expression. "...Almost, Mia," she said after a moment. "Just let me finish my coffee..." It wasn't until she raised the cup to her lips that she realized the cup was already empty.

Mia watched as her mother lowered the cup again, then asked again, "Are you done now?"

"...Yes, I suppose I am." She continued staring down at the empty cup, trying to figure out when she had even drank from it, let alone finished the brew. Obviously, it wasn't doing its intended job.

"Yay! We can go to the park now!" Mia beamed as she pushed her chair back and jumped down to the floor.

Another blink. "The park?" she repeated, confused.

"Yeah! You said we could go, remember?"

Jennifer furrowed her brows, trying to recall saying any such thing. "And...when did I say that, exactly?"

"Right before you finished your coffee," Mia said, smiling and looking innocently back at her.

Her eyebrow raised this time. Judging from the smile, the four-year-old had known quite well how out of it Jennifer had been. "Well...alright. I guess we do have a few hours to kill," she conceded, finally releasing the coffee cup and standing up. Digging into her purse, she pulled out her wallet and left enough money on the table to cover Mia's pancakes, her coffee, and an ample tip. Rachel had been working extra shifts in order to pay for her college tuition this semester, and Jennifer knew all too well about the difficulty of making enough to pay loans off.

"Bye, Rachel!" Mia called merrily, waving as they both headed to the door.

"See you, Mia! Bye, Ms. Aster! Come again," Rachel called back with a wave of her own, already heading to their recently vacated table in order to clear it for the next customers.


The park wasn't all that far from the cafe, but, not wanting to continue taking up a parking space when she had no idea how long they'd be there, Jennifer drove the short distance and parked in one of the open spots. There were a lot at this time of day; most people who came to the park this early tended to be the ones who lived close enough to walk. As soon as the car was parked, the back door was open and Mia was racing off towards the playground.

On her way, she spotted a figure lying down on one of the benches lining the walkway. Curiosity getting the better of her, she skidded to a stop and studied the man, taking in the long hair and black clothing before looking back at his face. His eyes were closed, and she took it to mean that he had fallen asleep.

That couldn't be comfortable, she decided. And besides, it was way past the time people should be asleep! Having taken both things into account, she did the first sensible thing she could think of.

She poked him.

Standing back, she frowned as he continued to slumber. This was going to be harder than she thought... It was time for a different tactic. Switching her target from his arm to his back, she began to poke him repeatedly, figuring that the repetitive motion would eventually wake him up. By this point it was more for amusement than anything else; after all, her mom probably wouldn't be too happy when she found out what Mia was doing... but then again, her mother's warnings had always been "don't talk to strangers".

Well, she wasn't talking to the stranger. She was poking him. So there.

The man groaned and slowly sat up, rubbing at his eyes. Mia tilted her head and looked at him curiously, watching as he finally took notice of her. His words startled her slightly, and she couldn't help but start to giggle as he stammered his way through a word she had never heard before and another she had heard her mother muttering when she thought Mia wasn't listening.

She blinked innocently at the man's question - more of an accusation, really. "No," she responded with a bright smile, just as Jennifer came walking up at a brisk pace.

"Mia! You know you're not supposed to run ahead," she gently reprimanded her daughter before noticing the man sitting on the bench. "Oh! I'm sorry, is she bothering you?" she asked.
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Re: Hill Top Daycare

Post by The Melancholy Spirit on Fri Aug 20, 2010 2:56 am

Daniel looked at the woman’s shadowed silhouette. His eyes half open, still adjusting to the outside light, he grimaced as he stretched his arms and popped his back in an arch. He rubbed his forehead for a moment. He gave the girl another brow-raised glance before looking up at her mother who, for some reason, seemed quite familiar to him. The first twenty or so minutes after waking up were not the best for his memory. He had the scene of a woman and her daughter standing in a cemetery stuck in the forefront of his mind; someone from the recent funeral, perhaps? He had attended more as a distant observer than anything and talked to scarcely anyone.

He drew in a long breath, putting his hands on his knees as he stood up slowly in an attempt to avoid the head rush that followed regardless. “No,” he responded calmly, shaking his head slightly. “Better a curious girl for an alarm clock than a curious bird, I guess.” He rubbed his eyes some more before looking at the mother again, this time his vision and memory coming more clearly.

“Wait… Jennifer, right?”
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Re: Hill Top Daycare

Post by Lara on Fri Aug 20, 2010 3:20 am

Jennifer couldn't help but chuckle as the man grumbled and continued rubbing the sleep from his eyes. It was good to know that Mia's endless curiosity wasn't bothering him.

Her eyebrow raised slightly as the man on the bench called her by name, and she quickly scanned his face and image in an attempt to recall his name as well. It wasn't hard to know someone's name in a town as small as Whitechapel, but at the same time, it made it all the more awkward when the name didn't come up immediately.

"...Yes, that's me," she said, smiling lightly. His name wasn't floating into her mind despite the fact that he certainly looked familiar. However, she was very good at diffusing potentially awkward situations. Or at least, she liked to think she was. "And you're-"

"Hi, I'm Mia! What's your name?" Mia suddenly interrupted, grinning up at the man now that it was evident her mother wasn't going to scold her for talking to a stranger. Though maybe he wasn't a stranger after all, since he knew her mom's name...
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Re: Hill Top Daycare

Post by The Melancholy Spirit on Fri Aug 20, 2010 3:45 am

Daniel glanced down at the girl as she interrupted her mother. He looked on in silence for a while. Children, small children at least, had never been held in high regard with the man. In fact they tended to freak him out more than anything. In that matter they ranked right alongside large porcelain dolls with eyes that followed you from every angle. Granted it was typically children who didn’t speak that were the worst. This girl was talking, that was a bonus. Still, it didn’t help much to relieve the awkward feeling he had.

One would find it odd, considering his views on children, that he gave up a career in a well-to-do band to help in an after school program for musically inclined kids in a middle-of-nowhere town. Truth was Daniel himself found it odd and wasn’t exactly on terms of understand with himself.

His eyes went back up to Jennifer. It was then he realized he had been silent for well over a minute. He offered a faint smile before turning back to the girl with a smirk. He lowered himself in a kneel, resting his hands on his knees. His hair was still tucked behind his ears, allowing his face to be fully visible to the girl.

“Morning Mia,” he said to her. He bit the inside of his lip, wondering how varied the reading material was that her mother allowed her. He laughed a little, remembering an incident during college when a friend introduced him to her niece by his last name and the girl went into a near hysteria that the character from the famous play wasn’t dead.

“My name’s Romeo,” he said through his grin.
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Re: Hill Top Daycare

Post by wakeangel on Sun Aug 22, 2010 11:04 am

Lyssa shoved a bagel in her mouth as she walked down the steps of the bed and breakfast and out onto the sidewalk. Last night's abortive attempt at food filching had ended in defeat in front of a newly installed, locked kitchen door. Credit for the new security consciousness and a few other changes she had noticed could probably be go to the niece who had recently begun helping to run the B&B. If Loretta had been her aunt, Lyssa would have recommended many of the same changes, but she mourned the necessity. It was just one more sign of the outside world encroaching into Whitechapel.

Thank God for continental breakfasts, one change her current mood heartily agreed with. It saved her from having to deal with the other guests and all the obligations of 'polite company'. Her stomach snarled in agreement, eagerly awaiting the bagel's deposit. Puttering around trying to fill the wee hours had seemed interminable. She'd cleaned her room, pressed her clothes, and then spent hours thumbing through the box of letters.

Shortly before his death, Thomas had sent her a big box containing every letter she'd ever written to Linda along with a short, note from Thomas: She told me you want these. Now you'll never be without her. As she worked the pages into chronological order with Linda's replies, she'd come to understand his words. Every week, for ten years, she'd detailed her life into letters to Linda, thousands and thousands of pages covering nearly every occasion, event or concept she could think of, and had received equally detailed responses full of wisdom, humor and love.

She had in her hands a priceless gift, and she knew she needed to share it. She'd already begun typing them up, starting at the beginning. It might take her a few years, but eventually she'd finish and then she could share Linda with the world, or maybe just those who had known her. Lyssa didn't know yet. It just didn't feel right to keep the letters to herself.

She took the last bite of a bagel she didn't remember eating, and blinked, noticing that while lost in thought, she'd kept walking. Her feet were about to turn her left, towards the hill. She wasn't ready for that yet; she kept going straight instead. Up ahead, the town square and its park, with its huge old oak and maple trees beckoned. Good, a nice safe place without painful memories. Hell, her mother had always been too 'busy' to take her places, so before the age of nine when she was finally allowed to leave the house by herself, she didn't have many memories of it at all.

A small smile quirked her lips as she entered the park and passed the tree where Ben Pearson had stolen her first kiss. She'd been such an affectionate thing, just wanting to make other people happy. Understanding that he'd just been trying to take advantage of her hadn't come until much later. Last she heard, he'd been forced to marry some poor girl he'd gotten pregnant, and they'd moved away to the city. If someone hadn't broken them up that night, she might have been the pregnant one.

The trees shaded most of the park, and in the morning hours gave it a feel of hushed expectancy. There weren't many people here yet, and she enjoyed the serenity. Picking a low enough branch, she swung herself up onto a nearby oak and settled into the crook where it met the tree, Using the trunk as a backrest, she let one foot dangle down. She had a good vantage of the park from here so she could peoplewatch.
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Re: Hill Top Daycare

Post by Guest on Mon Aug 23, 2010 6:48 pm

Timothy woke up that morning to a gnawing feeling in the pit of his stomach. He roused himself up and out of his bed and pulled one of the t-shirts he had packed as well as a pair of his jeans. After dressing and grooming himself he put his glasses on and grabbed his laptop. Leave or no leave, he still wanted to get some work done while he was gone.

He got into his vehicle and drove down the town's main drag searching for the old diner his mom had worked at, and parked outside the entrance. The old sign still said Joey's, and the whole place still looked like it had when he was young, a 50's style diner that had some of the best breakfast in town.

He settled himself into a corner booth and set his laptop up, once again sliding the mobile card into it to access his work server, and opened up his coding program. Just as he was starting to dive into his work, the waitress interrupted him and asked for his order. "Blueberry pancakes with sausage and some coffee please." he asked and immediately looked back down to his laptop and started working again. While his food cooked he checked his email and the dozen or so other sundry things he kept up with online.

The waitress returned with a heaping plate of pancakes and his coffee and, for safety's sake, he folded his laptop up and put it in it's case next to him. Timothy dived into his breakfast and left a twenty on the table, remembering how delighted his mother had been whenever she got a large tip.

He walked outside and took in his surroundings fully for the first time since he'd arrived. Whitechapel was beautiful during this time of year, so he decided to go check out the park, his favorite place when he was young. He left his laptop under the passenger seat of his car and started walking through the park to take in all the nostalgic memories that were beginning to claw their way up through his subconscious.

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Re: Hill Top Daycare

Post by wakeangel on Wed Aug 25, 2010 10:32 am

People watching was hard to do when the only other people actually in the park were on the other side and mostly blocked from view by branches. Though from what Lyssa could see, the little girl looked adorable. She settled back deeper into the crook of the tree, leaning back to look up through shadow dappled leaves at the fluffy white clouds scudding by. While she couldn't call what she found here happiness or serenity, there was a certain quietude to the moment that acted as a soothing balm on her ragged soul.

The sound of a car door closing nearby piqued her curiosity. Raising her head, she peeked down, but through the leaves she could only see pieces of the man entering the park . Sitting up quietly, she straddled the branch and leaned to the left until she could see better. As he came more fully into view, she realized he was young, about her age. Something tugged at her mind and she cocked her her to the side, trying to place where she'd seen him before. Maybe they'd gone to school together?

Either way, he'd be passing beneath her in a few moments. Should she say anything? Linda would have. She knew that, and let it guide her. He passed beneath the outlying branches, entering the protective arc of the tree and Lyssa broke into a wide smile of recognition. “Hey! Hey, I do know you!”

Seeing people she'd gone to Hill Top Daycare with always felt good. There was something about them, as if Thomas and Linda had left some kind of indelible stamp on them, that marked them as special, and now it was doubly so, a last link that connected them all.
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Re: Hill Top Daycare

Post by Lara on Wed Sep 01, 2010 9:25 am

The overall friendliness of the town and the fact that she at least knew of the man even if she didn’t know his name stopped Jennifer from tensing as he crouched down in front of Mia. Or at least, that’s the reason she gave herself as to why overprotective instincts didn’t immediately kick in. That and the way he was moving himself, slowly and in a way that would bring him to the girl’s level, rather than towering over her and thus seeming intimidating. The half-smirk that crossed his face was nice, too – that is, it was nice that he was indulging Mia’s curiosity rather than brushing it off, as he could have easily done.

Her lips quirked into a smile as he introduced himself. Romeo. A true charmer. She nearly chuckled, but contained it, instead glancing from him to Mia. Judging by the grin on his face, he was expecting at least some sort of reaction; either that, or he had experienced enough interesting reactions in the past that he was just assuming another was about to happen.

Mia reacted as Jennifer knew she would. The child’s features stretched into a cheery smile, but all she did was clasp her hands behind her and rock back on her heels, saying, “It’s nice to meet you.” Settling back on the soles of her feet, her next comment was one that Jennifer hadn’t quite been expecting. “Is that really your name?” she asked, eyes widened in simple curiosity. “I’ve never met anyone named Romeo before.”

Jennifer glanced back at him, wondering how the apparent charmer would respond. A memory tugged at the back of her head, a different name wanting to associate itself with the man in front of her, but she couldn’t quite make it out just yet.
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Re: Hill Top Daycare

Post by Guest on Mon Sep 06, 2010 6:50 pm

"Hey! Hey! I do know you!"

The words brought him out of the depths of memory. He looked up into the brown eyes of a young woman perched in the tree he was passing under. She claimed to know him, and he wracked his brain for a few seconds trying to figure out from where. She looked like an older version of one of the kids he'd went to Hill Top with. He just couldn't quite place who. He brought his hand up and scratched the back of his head, feeling quite awkward from the whole situation.

"Uhm.... hello?" he stammered at her. "I think I know you too. Are you one of the kids from Hill Top? I went there when I was young, I'm just here to pay my respects and take a sabbatical in Whitechapel. I'm Timothy, Timothy Sharp. What's yours?" Her eyes seemed to have a spark all their own as she stared down at him, and when their eyes met he couldn't help but blushing just a little bit. This ghost from his past was definately a cute one.


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Re: Hill Top Daycare

Post by wakeangel on Tue Sep 07, 2010 9:09 pm

“Timmy! Sorry, Timothy,” Lyssa corrected herself, emphasizing his name as she leaned forward, resting her elbows on the branch and her chin on her hands. “I always hate it when people don't use the name I ask them to, and here I go doing it. It's just hard to remember when you get used to calling someone by a certain name and then they go and change it, not that you shouldn't have. Timothy suits you better now.” She stopped her rush of words to take a breath.

“I remember you! You and Thomas were really close.” she said, her smile fading sadly. “I'm here to say goodbye too.”

Lyssa let herself slip to the side, as if falling off the branch, but her legs wrapped tightly around it until she hung upside down, her face at eye level with him. She cocked her head to the side, placing the cute, shy boy he'd been to the quietly handsome young man in front of her. He'd changed quite a bit, just like Linda used to tell her. A...what was it? A computer programmer.

She wondered what he'd think if he knew just how much her friend had told her about him and the other Hill Top kids as they grew up. Linda had loved bragging on 'her kids', and Lyssa had always been curious about how things and people had changed since she'd left Whitechapel, so pages and pages of the letters from Mrs. Sheehan had involved snippets of information on the others and town news.

“I'm surprised that the fact that you found me up in a tree didn't tell you everything you needed to know about who I am,” she said, doing a penny drop, letting go of the branch with her legs, flipping and twisting as she did to land on her feet in front of him. A bit of a smile grew again at her success in refraining from falling flat on her face. “Whew! I haven't done that in ages! I'm Lyssa, Lyssa Montgomery. You guys used to call me 'The Huggy Monster'. Walk with me?”
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Re: Hill Top Daycare

Post by Guest on Tue Sep 07, 2010 11:33 pm

Lyssa! That's who it was! recognition flashed across his face immediately along with a grin. She had been one of the sillier kids at Hill Top, one who definately earned her nickname. Back in those days, he was always guaranteed at least 3 hugs a day. One from mom when she dropped him off, one from Mrs. Sheehan when she saw him, and one from the Huggy Monster. Of course, he didn't enjoy it then, because back then like every little boy knew, girls had cooties. Every day it was the same thing, circle circle dot dot, Mrs. Sheehan gave him his cootie shot.

And now she was dead, and so was Mr. Sheehan. Timothy's grin faded as quick as it had appeared. He looked down at his toes, and back up at Lyssa. It had been such a long time since he'd seen anybody from Hill Top, or anybody from his old life, really. After high school he'd moved right off to college, and decided to stay in that town and find work there. He hadn't been home in four years. The realization slowly spread throughout his consciousness. He missed this town, he realized.

Timothy shook himself back into the current moment, the past fading from consciousness. Right now there were things more important than delving back into a nostalgic stupor. Things such as Miss Lyssa Montgomery right in front of him. He'd regained focus right as she asked him to walk with her. He smiled sheepishly and accepted her offer, taking off with her down one of the beautiful park's many paths, slowing his stride so that she could keep up. All these years later, and Lyssa was still climbing trees and being her spunky self. It was good to know that some things never changed.

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Re: Hill Top Daycare

Post by wakeangel on Wed Sep 08, 2010 8:16 pm

Lyssa watched recognition light his eyes along with a small smile that faded quickly. So, he did remember her! She put her hands in her pockets, walking close to Timothy out of necessity on the narrow path, but careful not to touch him. Several times in the last few years, some poor guy or another had tried to touch her or hug her and retreated, feeling rejected at her outright panic earlier on or, more recently, thinking she was disinterested from her awkwardness. The last thing she wanted to do was make him feel bad because of her hang ups.

He was quiet, not saying much, as they walked the path towards the central fountain, and Lyssa got the distinct impression that it was the norm for him around others. The sunlight filtered through the tall trees to cast dappled shadows on the ground, and a soft breeze, still bearing a hint of the night's chill, brushed her hair back from her face. Most people wouldn't believe it, but she knew very well what it was like to not fit in, to feel uncomfortable around others and to be shy.

A sudden urge to link her arm with his, like she'd probably done a hundred times as a kid, she pushed aside as ridiculous. It'd just make them both uncomfortable. Instead, to break the silence, she blurted out the first thing that came to her mind.

“I used to beg my mom to bring me here when I was a kid, but she never had the time, so I don't remember much about this park until I was eleven,” '...aside from when Thomas and Linda brought us here...', she thought sadly, but did not say. “Then I practically lived here when I wasn't up the hill.” She colored slightly, wondering why, out of all the things in the world, she'd chosen to discuss her mother's inability to find time for her only daughter.
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Re: Hill Top Daycare

Post by The Melancholy Spirit on Thu Sep 16, 2010 9:07 pm

Daniel smirked, casting his head into a down and leftward glance. A hand rose and ran slowly through his hair, stopping at the back of his skull to tend to an itch that seemed to have come from nowhere. When he looked back the girl his eyes drifted momentarily to her mother, whose eyes had fallen on him as well. He glanced down again, his smirk faded entirely. Memories of cities and how distant and weary people were in the crammed metropolises crashed unto him like a rogue wave. It was so easy to be completely alone in such a crowded mass of people. It made him feel both at ease and anxious at once. Here, in such a small town, it was the exact same; only flopped upside down. It was so difficult to be alone in such a small community.

“It is,” he responded at last, “Daniel Romeo, to be precise. People have always loved to call me by the last though. A light-hearted, cruel jest, if you will.” Placing both hands on his thighs he stood upright, his hair once again tumbling like drapes over his face as he looked down on Mia. “Truthfully I’ve grown used to it though. More people use it than my true first name.”

His attention was stolen as two forms came into his peripherals. The image was blurred, like looking through a haze brought forth from weariness. He turned his head slightly, allowing him to see more than just the eye-catching movement of two other figures in the park. One of them he didn’t recognize, the other had a memory the moment he caught a sidelong glance at her eyes. He presumed the man with her was another who used to go to the daycare, or someone she brought with her. Either way, he turned his attention back to the pair in front of him.

Even still, further words eluded his tongue.
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Re: Hill Top Daycare

Post by wakeangel on Sun Sep 19, 2010 1:04 pm

Whatever Timothy's response might have been to her random bit of openness was cut off by the ringing of his cell phone. With an apologetic look, he glanced at the name of the caller and said, "Sorry, I have to take this."

Lyssa nodded and strolled the last few feet to the fountain to give him some privacy. She remembered the games they used to play here, running along the lip of the fountain, timing each other to see who could balance well enough to run fastest. The rules were that if you were gonna fall, you had to fall into the fountain, so nobody got hurt. Anyone still dry at the end of the races got bragging rights. It had been great fun until the day Joey Bradburn, afraid of getting in trouble for messing up his new shoes, fell outside the fountain and broke his arm on the concrete sidewalk.

The rise to the edge of the fountain seemed shorter now, and much narrower to her big adult feet, but she clambered up anyway, arms out for balance. She stood for a moment finding her footing before taking the first few steps around the fountain. It was both harder and easier than when she'd been a kid, and she was out of practice. She was shaky at first, but gained confidence as she went, almost, but not quite jogging the last few steps back to the 'finish line'.

Timothy waited there, a somber look on his face. "I've been called back to the office," he explained. "If I can't get back in time, would you please pay my respects to the family?"

"Sure," she nodded and watched from her perch as he walked back to his car and drove off.

He looked calm, but the set of his shoulders told her he was upset at being called back. Why was he even leaving? She'd have told any boss to kiss off if he tried to make her miss this. And what kind of boss called someone in to work on a Saturday when they were out of town for a funeral? It was only then that she realized she'd forgotten to get his address so she could write to him.

She considered what to do next and the playground caught her eye. Ooooh, swings... Jumping down, she headed over. The family she'd seen earlier was there too, but she didn't think they'd mind. They were too busy talking with each other. Toying with the chain of the swing, she realized they looked familiar, or at least two of them did.

One beautiful little face graced a picture in the box in her room, one of several pictures Linda had sent her from a school recital, and the other stared moodily off of a CD case in her Jeep. If that girl was Mia.... then that made the familiar-looking woman next to her Jennifer! They were all Hill Top people! Elated, she forgot the swing and approached them.

"Hi!' She smiled in greeting, "I hope I'm not interrupting, but I know you," she pointed to Mia who just melted her heart up close, "and you," she pointed to Daniel, "and I'm pretty sure you too," she turned toward Jennifer last. "I'm Lyssa, Lyssa Montgomery. We're all Hill Top kids."

Sheesh, Lyssa, she thought to herself, you sound like a creeper.
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Re: Hill Top Daycare

Post by Lara on Sat Dec 18, 2010 9:48 pm

“Oh yes, Danny… Or do you prefer an ‘older’ name now, Daniel? Dan?” She surprised herself with the light teasing, recalling the way her younger self had insisted on the name, refusing even then to call him by the Shakespearean nickname so many had seemed fond of.

A flush crept across her cheeks moments after the line came out, already feeling embarrassed by the lighthearted comment. ‘It must be the lack of sleep,’ she told herself. After all, he had already said that the childhood nickname had over time become more than just that. “I just… I mean, I would rather call you by your first name, and well, it’s been quite a while since we last saw each other…” she shrugged, making the attempt to appear more casual. Why was she rambling like an idiot? ‘Definitely the lack of sleep…’ For all her years in the journalism field, she always had been a little awkward in personal conversations that had nothing to do with her work…

She was saved from total embarrassment by a series of distractions; or at least, that’s what she would tell herself no matter what his reaction ended up being.

The first involved her daughter. Mia, with the attention span of most normal four-year-olds, had by that point become bored with the conversation and was glancing back towards her original goal, the towering slide at the edge of the playground. Jennifer knew without looking what currently held the child’s attention from practiced experience –after all, it had been her favorite attraction at the park, and her daughter had inherited that same love for it.

Sure enough, not a moment later came the piping question, “Can I go play now?”

“No one’s stopping you, sweetie,” she responded even as her mind began to whir again. While killing a few hours at the park had been, and still was the plan, she hadn’t anticipated on having a distraction of her own aside from watching Mia run around. She couldn’t help but wonder how long Daniel would bother to stick around once the girl was off playing, and if he did, how quickly the conversation would dissolve into awkward sentences. Then again, he had technically been here first, and so it wasn’t his place to end the conversation and leave…

The second distraction was the entrance of other people to the area, and it was a welcome reprieve from the thoughts that came about from the first one. The two people approaching seemed at first like a normal couple from the way they were laughing and joking with each other, but out of nowhere the male took a phone call and hurried off. They were too far away for Jennifer to hear the conversation, and that was probably for the best. The woman stuck around though, and actually began to head for the playground equipment, a familiarly cheery expression on her face. That would be alright, because she would be heading for the swings, not the slide, so Jenny wouldn’t have to try and get there first. She had always hated waiting in line…

It took a moment to register what was wrong with that last thought. Jennifer shook her head from the memory that had unexpectedly begun to surface, wondering briefly where it had come from. The woman hadn’t even made it to the playground yet, let alone head for any particular attraction, and who was she to say-?

As if still expecting it, her head turned slightly and she watched as the young woman approached the swing set. And, how strange, she looked familiar, though once again Jennifer couldn’t place why. Maybe if she was a bit shorter…

Almost on a whim, she turned back to Daniel, the question “Do you know that woman?” on the tip of her tongue. It seemed silly, but maybe he would be able to put a name to the face where she couldn’t. Before the question actually came out, however, she realized that the woman had abandoned the swings and started to walk towards them.

Mia had returned by that point to try and convince her mother to come play as well. Romeo seemed fun, so maybe he would too, if he didn’t decide to leave. The other woman, however, interrupted the child’s chances of getting them both to come over to the playground as she smiled and greeted each of them in turn.

Lyssa Montgomery… If the name hadn’t rung a bell, the bouncy demeanor of the girl in front of her certainly would have. A broad smile spread across Jennifer’s face as Mia looked up at the newcomer, her plans momentarily abandoned.

I don’t know you,” the girl stressed, putting her hands on her hips as she frowned in confusion. “Who are you?” The name given didn’t mean anything to her, and she was now demanding more information in order to put the pieces together.

“Lyssa went to the same daycare as Daniel and I,” Jennifer said as way of explanation, the smile still in place as she looked over at the other woman. “I haven’t seen you in a long time, though. I’m surprised you recognize Mia.” In the back of her mind, pictures she had sent Mrs. Sheehan were floating into view. The old woman had always been so proud of the accomplishments of ‘her children’. Frankly, Jennifer wouldn’t be surprised if the pictures had been passed on at some point.
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Re: Hill Top Daycare

Post by SanityStealer on Thu Feb 17, 2011 10:40 pm

The letter had been misdirected at first, as the postman informed her apologetically when she ran outside to check the mail when it came in – after Linda Sheehan’s death, Vivian had depended more than ever on her correspondence with Thomas Sheehan – and the second she’d read it, the redhead was out the door and climbing into her Bug. The trip to Whitechapel was sixteen hours in full, not including the stops she’d had to make for gas. There had been no stops for food, and only one reluctant bottle of water had been purchased.

She had eventually arrived at Whitechapel in the early hours of the morning, just as false dawn was beginning to poke its lazy head out from beneath the covers of night. Unfortunately, Loretta Hubbell’s excellent bed and breakfast was still closed, so Vivian had simply parked at the side of the park that she used to play at and fell asleep in her car, unwilling to go to the incredibly impersonal hotel that Whitechapel also housed. This sleep hadn’t lasted long though, and it was only an hour later that she was up and walking about, her lime green Bug still illegally parked.

As the hours passed, people started to drift into the park, a fact not lost on the sleep-depriven Vivian. Instead of waiting for them to wander over to her and comment on her bedraggled appearance, for she was still wearing the same clothes she’d thrown on yesterday morning and her curly red hair was knotted badly about her face, Vivian looked around and found the apple tree. As she approached it, good memories surfaced of picking ripe, juicy apples and hiding amoung its boughs in a particularly interesting game of hide-and-seek. The corner of her mouth twitched upwards slightly before settling back down into a tired, saddened line.

With a sigh, Vivian leaned back against the apple tree and let herself slide down to the ground, drawing her knees up to her chest. Her head fell forward and her forehead hit her knees with all the force of an woman exhausted with grief and lack of sleep. “What am I supposed to do without you guys?” she whispered quietly, allowing herself to give into the sorrow and despair that she hadn’t been able to while driving for fear of causing a wreck. “You two were the only people who supported me, told me it was okay to be myself…”

She sniffed, and bit down on her lip to keep herself from crying. “At least you’re together again,” she murmured, lifting her head and rubbing at her face with her forearm. “That’s something.”

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Re: Hill Top Daycare

Post by wakeangel on Mon Feb 28, 2011 9:03 pm

I don’t know you,” Mia stressed, putting her hands on her hips as she frowned in confusion. “Who are you?”

Lyssa's heart clenched at the adorable seriousness of Mia's pose and forthright speech. 'Just like her mother,' she thought with a fleeting stab of envy as Jenny explained things to her daughter. Danny...err, Daniel stood nearby, his inscrutable expression mostly hidden by a fall of long hair. His body language, too was so familiar that she wondered if he'd wheel and run like he used to if she started walking towards him with her arms outstretched for a hug. Not that she wanted to embarrass either of them by trying to find out.

Instead, she crossed her legs and plopped down on the ground near Mia, her arms propped on her knees. Smiling back and forth between Mia and Jenny, she said "I wrote back and forth to Mrs. Sheehan a lot, and she sent me a picture of you," she smiled at Mia, "in the prettiest fairy costume I have ever seen in my life!

"Besides that, how could I not recognize her?" Her smile was for Jenny now. "She looks exactly like you did!

"Did you know," Lyssa asked Mia conspiratorially, "that your mom was the biggest slide hog in the world? Or that Danny, err.. Daniel would run away if you tried to hug him?"

Surrounded by the legacy left behind by the Sheehans, the bands of grief around her heart eased slightly. She'd been dreading facing her loss alone, without even Mano for support. Maybe she didn't have to. They had to be saddened too. Maybe they could all help each other get through this.

Giving Mia another smile, she looked up at Jenny and Daniel, her eyes pleading. "Hey, umm.. do you guys have plans later? I wanted to go, uh..." she wasn't sure what Mia knew or how she'd take the subject, so Lyssa opted for discretion, "...visit, but I really didn't want to do it alone."
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Re: Hill Top Daycare

Post by The Melancholy Spirit on Thu Mar 24, 2011 1:02 am

He remained silent for the moment, allowing the conversation between the girls to progress fully. There was a pause when Lyssa asked if either of them had plans, explaining the query by saying how she wanted to visit but didn’t want to go alone. Daniel couldn’t blame her really; most people he had come across didn’t do so well under such conditions when they were alone. Oddly enough he was the opposite. People just made the situation awkward for him, and the more people the more awkward it became. He couldn’t blame her though, and was uncertain how Jenny would want to approach the entire ordeal with Mia around. Clearing his throat and brushing hair from his eyes, Daniel glanced between the two of them before responding.

“Either works,” he responded. “Danny or Daniel, that is.” He offered a faint smile. “As for running from hugs, I was under the impression that girls liked those sorts of games.” The smile grew into a smirk. “Anyway, I don’t really have any plans.”
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Re: Hill Top Daycare

Post by Lara on Thu May 12, 2011 4:45 pm

"She sent me a picture of you in the prettiest fairy costume I have ever seen in my life!"

Jennifer remembered that play. Mia had been three, and the teacher at the early-learners' preschool had insisted that she would be perfect for the fairy queen. Her daughter had taken that moment to rediscover her "inner shyness" and had refused the main role, but Jennifer had convinced her to at least play a member of the court...

Mia's eyes widened at Lyssa's conspiratorial comments about the playground. "You always tell me I have to share," she said, swiveling to look accusingly at her mother.

Jennifer could only shrug and smile guiltily, caught by the truth in both statements. "We all have to share," she responded, "Even when we don't really want to." Lyssa's second comment made her glance over at Daniel, still smiling. "It appears Lyssa has blackmail material on both of us," she added with a chuckle. Telling her daughter that Daniel wasn't a fan of hugs would have the same effect as telling her not to look for her birthday presents; it would spark a new challenge.

She could already see Mia eying the man curiously, a thoughtful expression on her face, and resisted the urge to laugh. She'd let him find out the mistake of that slip on his own... Judging from his smirk, he'd do fine.

"Do you guys have plans later? I wanted to go...visit, but I really didn't want to do it alone."

Lyssa's quiet words brought Jennifer back around to reality. From the way the other woman's gaze shifted towards Mia, Jennifer understood why the request wasn't more direct. She nodded. "We were already planning on going," she started, her smile a little sad. "It would...be nice, to have other people around." Being alone had made Mrs. Sheehan's wake's even more difficult. Having to walk up to Mr. Sheehan, having to see the look of despair in his eyes as he looked at her, only half-hearing her words of sympathy...At least this time, she wouldn't see the ghost of her own past reflected in a return gaze.
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Re: Hill Top Daycare

Post by wakeangel on Thu May 19, 2011 12:41 am

“I never said we didn't,” Lyssa grinned widely at Daniel before looking back to Mia with a wink, “chasing them down just made it more fun.”

The accusing look the little Jenny look-a-like was giving her mother, turned her own smile a bit guilty. “Nobody is born knowing how to share, Munchkin.” She whispered to Mia as Jennifer spoke with Daniel. Mia's gaze followed her mother's, her expression considering, and Lyssa wondered if it meant Daniel was about to get glomped. “We all have to learn, just like you're learning.”

Relief washed over her as Jennifer openly accepted her plea, and Daniel didn't deny it. As much as she'd tried to put on a brave face for Mano, she really hadn't wanted to say goodbye alone. “After lunch, then?” she asked tentatively, drawing her knees to her chest, crossing her arms over them and rocking slightly, just like she always did when nervous- and sitting down.

She knew her next stop now, and knew she wanted to make it alone. She'd only been back once since Linda's death, to help Thomas with some things around the Daycare, and the wounds had been too fresh, the grief too raw. She just couldn't make herself go visit Linda's grave then.

Now, a sudden urgency gripped her that made her want to jump up and run the six blocks to the cemetery. She did jump up, but running off would be rude, and she didn't want to- at least not without saying goodbye. Dusting off her backside, she looked from Daniel to Jenny to see if her suggestion met with their approval.



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Re: Hill Top Daycare

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