Aria and Braydon made their plans, the serenity offered in Granite Falls, a quaint lodge, fishing spot, romantic forestry walks, stargazing and cuddling near the campfire. Despite reservations, Aria agreed to the plans and the chaos the twins had in mind for their graduation and birthday that same weekend. The twins arrived home excited, discussing their last exam, happy they had survived school, the promise of their young adult life awaiting them. Rylan grabbed the pastries from the fridge, imagining the fake news stories he’d tell, the epic dance moves, competitive console racing, no nagging or chores, time to chill and party. Ziva answered the phone, it was Braydon’s neighbour, he had popped over for a cuppa when he noticed him slumped in the armchair, the neighbour assumed his friend was sleeping. Her mother arrived home full of energy, ready for their break at Granite Falls, devastated to discover his passing.
Rylan stuffed an éclair into his mouth, Aria sat, tear-stained face; Ziva holding her hand. The twins offered to cancel their weekend plans or at least postpone them to another time, Aria shook her head, she understood they needed to celebrate all their hard work alongside their friends. She took a deep breath, sighing she hauled herself up, grabbed the mixing bowl and set to work on the decadent chocolate cake. Ziva looked sorrowful, it was clear Aria wanted some alone time, Rylan grabbed a few sausage rolls as Ziva ushered him from the kitchen.
This was the day Rylan had waited for, he was a young adult; it eradicated his curfew and nothing could stand in the way of having the life he wanted. His results were better than expected with his marks scrapping a B grade. What mattered most was the party, introducing himself to the hoover, he tackled the lounge, but as with most things, Rylan found other distractions namely the importance of picking the night’s playlist, leaving Ziva to clean up the kitchen stacked high with pans Aria had used to create the buffet. Ziva’s teenage journey had been much smoother than her brothers’, she found school fun and exciting, seeking challenges to push her knowledge and skill. Whilst she didn’t have a paid job, her voluntary work had helped her catch the attention of some influential people offering support in a variety of potential jobs.
The few hours baking had been enough to temporarily quell her grief, the quiet moment in her bedroom saw her succumb to tears. The time she spent with Braydon seemed bittersweet, as a friendship blossomed, his subtle charm that caught her by surprise, lost. He looked peaceful, his head nestled against the edge of the chair, his face soft, appeared younger in appearance. Aria half-smiled, their conversation that morning, the excitement over a fishing spot, it was perfect for her to relax, continue reading her novel to him. Their short time together were memories to treasure, he made her happy again after losing Jose and gave her renewed hope she would have someone in her twilight years. Tears welled in her eyes, her grief interrupted by the doorbell and Rylan cheering the arrival of friends.
Aria sat anxious on the bed, desperately trying to focus on her book. Beneath her in her lounge were twenty or so young adults cheering, she cringed at the broken glass, the loud music and laughter. Aadhya hogged the controller, with Sai and Rylan throwing popcorn at her. The kitchen was chaotic, food spilt from plates to the floor and trampled into the carpet. Taking the party up a notch, Rylan lined up some shots, Sai unable to handle his drink staggered outside, singing incoherently, startling Ziva and a few of her friends. She turned back to the burgers, their conversation interrupted by the vocals and sudden yell from her friend Laura. Sai grabbed the frame support surrounding the rocket, ascending with a drunken clumsiness that worried the girls. Moving the burger aside Ziva rushed over, although the structure was sound, she worried how it would fair with a man swinging from it. A small crowd gathered, she persuaded Sai he could jet off, powered by “operatic” singing after eating, reluctant, he clambered back down and slumped on the floor, Laura handed him a burger in the hope of sobering him up.
The crowd return indoors, earth grounding Sai and burgers finding their way into everyone’s hands. Rylan’s next bright idea involved lining up against the kitchen wall each with a beer, the challenge to drink it all whilst performing a headstand. Their shoes scuffed up against the wall holding their positions, bubbles snorted through their nose as they struggled to swallow against gravity, resisting the urge to vomit.
Ending their party, a giggling Laura pulled Sai to standing, legs wobbling beneath him, hands resting on her hips, they joined a conga line through the house. Quiet streets erupted, vibrant drunken energy snaked its way home, a few stragglers danced, kicking mud on the lawn; Ziva winked at Rylan, flicking the sprinklers switch, surprised, they ran down the street joining the conga. The twins collapsed on the sofa, their silence bringing Aria down to the horrendous mess the party created. Locking the door, she paused, watching her sleeping children, covering them with a blanket.
Rylan hung his head over the maple bacon pancakes, head pounding, stomach-churning, his clothes clung to him, crumpled and covered in food and beer. Ziva didn’t fare much better, sleepy efforts to stuff in huge mouthfuls, hoping to feel better, her hair shielding her eyes from the light. Aria lacked sympathy, rolling her eyes as she gazed at the mess surrounding them. Clanging paint tins, mops and buckets made the twins groan, Aria, agreed to host and provide the food, the twins were adults and responsible for the cleanup, a perfect hangover remedy. She smiled to herself, settling on the patio chair, a coffee and good book in hand.