Over the next few months, Rylan struggled academically, at the weekends however he hosted his exclusive club hangout; no girls allowed. They fought scary monsters, rescued distant lands from invading aliens. Ziva hovered on the side-lines when she tried to join in, the boys ran off to do something else. It wasn’t all games, Rylan’s group studied together, they copied each other’s work into their own words, Aria disapproved but there was a massive improvement in her son’s behaviour. The relief for the household alone was worth it, Jose had been worried that the plaster would crack or the doors would fall off.
Aria trained hard both her clients and herself for the next competition, her absence from the house had a significant effect on Ziva. As a toddler, she charmed everyone, their attention saw her flourish. As a child, Ziva buried herself in her books and at school, this thirst for knowledge made her unpopular with her peer group. It was rare Ziva misbehaved, but the rejection by Rylan and his friends influenced her growing defiance. Entering her parent’s bedroom, throwing paint on the floor, stomping her feet into the mess she created. Pounding upstairs. she captured her father’s attention as he dozed on the sofa. Jose was firm with this behaviour, rather than being able to play or study, Ziva found her Saturday doing chores. Ziva used this time to consider her future, on their last birthday she received a doctors play-set, it sounded fun, she could heal people, discover new illnesses or work in science, the potential was that she would find a cure. The young girl journeyed deeper into her imagination and with every chore, she elaborated on her vision of the future.
The family was living separate lives, Rylan had his group, Ziva her books, Jose spent his days creating style and Aria spent most of her time at work, unable to appreciate the mundane. Sunday was competition day and Jose couldn’t face another day lost in yelling boys and a moody daughter locked in her bedroom. Today would be for the family, he woke the children early, with a hearty breakfast, pancakes, bacon, and lashing of maple syrup. The excitement grew as they walked towards the bowling alley, and on to the train station, it was 7 am as they boarded the train bound for the coast. Images of ice cream sundaes, sandcastles and swimming in the sea filled their thoughts, a conversation whispered, excited as to what secret adventure Jose had planned. Their destination was near Brindleton Bay, the stretch of the ocean looked grey, pebbles scattered across the sand and the small group of people with wellies and bin bags. Jose had signed them all up to help clean up the beach, the twins stared hard at the ground, reluctant to take another step
Ziva noticed an older gentleman struggling with a bag, watching as he got it caught on the brambles as they inched their way towards the beach. The bag split, its contents spilling onto the sand, the man grumbling to himself as he tried to gather up the additional mess. Her anxious expression, shaking legs, refusal to open her mouth to offer help made her feel six inches tall. Staring at the pretty raven-haired girl, the man paused, smiling he offered her a spare bag. As they worked he told her of the days when Brindleton was famous for fishing hauls, and every ship had a cat, every house a dog. Relieved at the man’s pleasant nature, Ziva found herself relaxing, enjoying the gentle breeze as they gathered up plastic bottles and crisp packets.
The promise of ice cream was all it took to get Rylan interested in the clean-up operation. Enthusiasm waned the second he stepped in his wellies, but his mouth watered at the thought, tasting the cold sweet chocolate ice cream, the crunch of coloured sprinkles, with each wrapper and tin can he collected brought him closer to heaven. Progress was slow, to win the ultimate Sundae he required a plan, or at least, sabotage. Targeting the older boys seemed foolish, but he slipped into their group, holding the bag as they filled. Taking the full bag, Rylan ran with it and a couple of other partial filled bags to a quiet part of the beach, emptying the latter collection into one. No-one noticed for an hour as Rylan stole other people’s clean up efforts. Grabbing his arm, an older boy caught him taking a bag, Rylan shrugged, begrudging the stern comments, irritated the boy told Jose, his sweet prize lost.