The name “Eliza”, forbidden, Rylan refused to back down or discuss making amends with their daughter. He had disowned her; exclaiming it was her who needed to grovel, seek forgiveness from the family until she did, he had done with her. Emilie sobbed; the family she’d worked so hard to create, torn; the hostility within the remaining family, their arguments in the street. Charlotte skipped school, making her way to the city to visit Eliza, and Patrick locked himself in his bedroom, refusing to speak, playing his music loud. Growing tensions worsened as Charlotte was turning thirteen. She hated her cute girly outfits; Emilie refused to spend money on her daughter’s changing taste or dyed them to suit the dark vibes she felt was necessary.
Karma has a sense of humour; Charlotte mused how bad family life was as the weather reflected their tensions. There had been storms for days; Rylan warned everyone, except he failed to heed his advice beneath the umbrella; lightning seized the moment to shock him. He was lucky; the umbrella ignited, leaving him cold, soaked, and singed. The dog felt forgotten; Emilie attempted to busy herself with housework, birthday celebrations and figuring when Eliza could visit without Rylan knowing. Sparky took himself for an extended walk as Emilie collected the mail leaving the front door ajar. A day passed until anyone realised; Rylan believed this showed he no longer belonged with them, and should he return, they would put him up for adoption. Emilie pleaded it was her responsibility; she spent the day searching, finding him basking, enjoying the sun, a few metres from where they used to picnic with the children. His tail wagging, sad brown eyes, Emilie laid with him, ruffling handfuls of thick brown fur, understanding things needed to change, but questioning how, when Rylan was unwilling.
The noticeable absence of Eliza hit Charlotte hard; becoming a teen, her sister said, was a “rite of passage”, a time to discover her calling. Charlotte felt bitter resentment towards her sister and their father; neither seemed pleasant, and Charlotte tired of speaking to Eliza online. She failed to understand other people’s reasons. They were no longer a family; they were people who tolerated each other enough to live together. Her birthday came to the cheerful song, but Charlotte felt the weight of expectation and disappointment.
When Eliza last snuck to the house for a visit, Charlotte had ignored her; Keyboard Commander was the game her friends competed, she wanted the top score. Rylan came home, horrified to find Eliza sitting in the kitchen; he launched into a tirade of responsibilities, her negative influence and demanding she stopped harassing his family. The arguments between Rylan and Emilie had made Patrick retreat into his room, and joined mealtimes with cold conversation, slamming plates, Patrick ignored the rules, taking his dinner upstairs. Charlotte sobbed through her dinner, wishing everything to end.